Thursday, December 23, 2010


tears ran lightly
down her crinkled cheeks
as she touched

his softly radiant face
you look just
like your father

she wiped his nose
(the size of her fingertip!)
with the frayed edge

of her cotton saree
there, there
amma's coming soon

he bawled loudly
eyes closed tightly
baby toes clenched

she put him on her lap, 
head on knee
rocking him gently

almost instantly
there was silence
a moment, mid-air
dark iris-filled eyes
stared at her 
carefully, suspiciously

sucking one thumb,
he reached out curiously
to touch her tears

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


sometimes we need to hear
what we don't want to 
sometimes we need to hear
what we don't.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


she stands
high and mighty
regal, royal
haat of this country

large neat roads
with important-sounding names
old-red charm
of forts and monuments

janpath, quick bargains
lush colours, against
the pillar-white
of connaught place

hauz khas
trees and brick
dim alleys
quaint shops, cafes

pigeons, peace
at jama masjid
rickshaws zip
through narrow gallis

paratha, lassi
kebabs, rabdi
metro, people
in impersonal proximity

big cars, small cars
those on foot
those on the footpath
she sustains all

she is proud
she does not embrace
but will lend herself
to open arms.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


bamboo for paper
silkworms for silk
leaves for tea

old for new
raw for ripe
life for life

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

potted plant

the thirst was killing
she writhed and screamed
pain spasmed

through her once strong veins

a little water, a drop
he walked in, she saw

him hang clothes

on the washing line
so close, she gasped

for breath, wanting,

begging in despair for
a little water, a drop

but he disappeared
and she knew she had lost
she collapsed heavily

sucked out of her
the green of the
freshly-washed shirt

beside her
drop by drop, into
a green puddle on the floor.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

presto agitato

hours and days
melt into
a single-minded trance

fingers run up and down

like mice, hiding
dodging, scurrying

in a hurry, in restless

despair, jumping
up and down, on their toes

trying to find a hole

to sink into, and disappear
without a trace

Thursday, October 28, 2010

no longer

sometimes I wonder
if we've lost the dream
now that we've lived it

sometimes I wonder
if the dream awaits
in doubtful distance and time

I know for sure
that this
is not the dream

reality's getting in the way 
shoo it away,
but it stares at you, unblinking.

Friday, October 22, 2010


sinking into
pillow-cheek comfort
one hand

covering a ear
the other
clutching at nothing

half-drawn blanket
shut eyes, mind
and sleep takes over.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


old man, in mundu
rowing his boat
gracefully, slowly

wooden oar
pulling gentle waters
nudging little waves

towards the shore
ripples dissolve halfway
into the backwaters

beneath coconut trees
that lean
to welcome him

into cosy green
he steps out
his bare feet

the same brown
as the wet soil
he stands on.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


grey pigeons flock
to tombs of dusty brown
look how they lace
delicate carving of mosques

old city sepia
sharpens its
street-shiny glitter
here, have some irani chai

drive from secunderabad
of old british feel
over flyovers opening into
banjara hills

of restos, pubs
shop at glitzy malls
or stop
at general bazaar

watch from tankbund
colourful sailboats sail
in blue laziness
soaking in the sunset

welcome to pearl city
a biryani paradise
all high tech, with
zero traffic sense

when your automan
madly meanders his way through
tension kaiku re?
sit back, take lite.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


the old self
is wearing off
it no longer fits.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


everyday faces
lock me up 
I'm hungry
for one I know

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


big-eyed child
honesty won't
get you too far

learn to lie
just a little bit
to find your way.

Monday, September 20, 2010

keith jarret

he fills you up
growing from
your head
down your spine
waking up
sleeping nerves
playing a little
tune on them
finding the
tips of your toes
racing through hormones
fuller and fuller
tipping lightly
this way, that way
tripping delight
let's go
bounce with bud now.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

western ghats

great gushing
torrents of water
pour over the hillside
thundering, roaring

in other places
rippling streams
run crystal clear
through muddy green

fresh smell of eucalyptus
blue beds of kurinji
dark-leaved coffee
neatly pruned tea

dense forests
echo with the sounds
of crickets, frogs
shhh! listen

wild eyes
glow at night
creatures, large and small
roam their territory

the morning light
exposes some stories
tiger scat,
deer hair and bone

but the forest
constantly nourishes
new life - purple frogs
flower buds

birds, snails
a butterfly here
and other beings
well-protected from human eye

every rain replenishes
this moss underfoot
thick canopy
nurtures life overhead

you, carefully tucking away
your treasures
like a lady would
money in her saree-blouse

you, the mother
giving, yet
guarding in your embrace,
breathing, awake.

Friday, September 10, 2010


the train slows down
pulling into
katpadi station
look, brahmapuram

watch from the window
VIT, lit up at night
in that unavoidable
silencing awe

girls walking back
to C, D, E blocks
with late slips
shadows under the shades

men's hostels
twin buildings
little squares glow

a story living
in each light
but a story
different from yours.

Friday, September 03, 2010


brown gunny bags
piled on the platform
emanate a strong,
humid smell of fish

auto annas
dark, suspicous faces
and prices, you timidly say

city of bargains
saravana bhavans
and crowded subways

take the train
to ooru suthufy
cramped sweaty bodies
and the relief of footboard-breeze

lighthouse beach
sand in between toes
fisherman, burger man
boy with a monkey

old british houses
stand beside urban aparments
wide roads, lined with
a variety of vendors

colleges teeming with activity,
jro, saarang
students shopping at spencer's
and landmark, four!

home to kalakshetra,
music academy
the hindu
and nalli's

pondy bazaar,
glittering, reflecting the heat
filter coffee
in tumbler and dabarah

busy, colourful
dendritic streets converge
into mount road
the spine

the city, actually,
a large, peaceful village

a melting pot
in the sweltering heat

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


offer me no comfort
I'm afraid
I might start seeking it

Sunday, August 29, 2010


tree-shadowed roads
quiet cafes
happy weather
spring in a step

weekend bangalorians
on brigade road
buying earrings, chappals
bags, belts

late night cars
hitting the high note
roadside bars,
dim dingy pubs

wafts of laughter
draughts of beer
artistes, visiting cards
80s rock

koshy's coffee
blossom's books
mtr's rava idli
radio indigo

majestic bustling
with incoming
and outgoing life

the city
being a city
in spurts of energy
breaking vibrantly through
its sleepy, easy tone.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

street rain

saree-rag lady
child on her hip
through the car window
stone-faced man looks away

glistening tar
open drains
a lone wet chappal
in the gutter

a woman curses
as a bike
cuts through the puddle
muck-white salwar

under the bus stop
strangers huddle together
in overlapping

look here,
mud-covered tyre
and there,
newspaper print leaks

street rain,
revealing, concealing
filling up, washing away
the secrets of the city.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


half the battle won
is knowing
what to say
where, and when

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

seeking silence

you take away
too much

before and after
leaving regret,
uncertainty and unrest

here's the door
go, find
someone else's speech

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


half-open window
morning calls
for a smoke

he sits close
to the mattress
slightly cold floor

quietly watch
these four-walled days 

he lights another
in no hurry.

Monday, July 19, 2010

morning, broken
breaking apologies 
in exhaustion 

too tired
yet burning
to seek comfort

bone-crunching pain,
what are you worth?

Friday, July 09, 2010


they came
once every week
the same table
the same orders

neither of them
were strikingly attractive
he noticed
yet they were pretty

their voices grew familiar
as they'd laugh
and sometimes
talk in low voices

he'd get to work
cheerily, every thursday
making small talk
with customers

hoping that
nobody would take their table
and the clock would
bring them in, he'd beam

but one evening,
an hour, two
and a couple
made themselves comfortable

he stood at a distance
in cold politeness
taking their orders

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


you're looking
at that
which didn't happen
and saying
that it
wasn't meant to be
how do you know
if you haven't seen otherwise?

what is your fatalism
but a comfortable excuse?


wet mud
trampled leaves
a collage of footprints

by the side
bright yellow
five curly petals

washed happy
little flower
smiles from the soil

Thursday, June 24, 2010


heavy eyelids
aching heels
tired thoughts
scurrying like mice
in all directions

so tired
like paul once was
distracted half-sleep

soft dark room
crawl into the double-bed
prayer of thanks
large pillows embrace
slip into quiet.

Friday, June 18, 2010

steady voice
ready, wide grin
he knows
every word he sings

effortlessly into the mic
loving those
thumb-funky chords
as much as we do

casual flow-lines
soul running through
his veins,
guitar strings

extraordinary person
i've quietly read,

and admired
from a distance
and for long

broad-smiled hello
genuine warmth
that makes one
instantly connect

simple man.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


1 am
2 am
3 am
and so on

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I've found
that it's quite true

there isn't anybody

so burn your
sparkling optimism


dhaba express
across the road
cane chairs, chombus
egg curry, rajma and rice

lets go no?

Sunday, May 30, 2010


blue bandi
lime juice man

sits empty, ablaze


putting up
bisleri water sign

next to him

brown backed boy

too hot

to wear skin

holds glasses

to deliver
to those
wanting steaming hot chai

on the hottest

of hottest summer days.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


poke harder
and I shall
dig deeper

but you could
keep trying.

Friday, May 21, 2010


look, how you dance
in a barefooted trance
tripping, spilling

guitars going mad,
lightning rhythm

swirl, twirl
light as air
hand in his, and his

foot tapping
head nodding, bobbing
up and down

stepping in
to the groove, shine
red cheeked laughter

Sunday, May 09, 2010


they met
over and over again
desperately trying
to feel
the way they used to

they knew
it wasn't working
who goes first?

Saturday, May 08, 2010


on the terrace
they sit quietly
sharing a joint

black hands
holding hers
talking softly

trailing off
into a constellation

breaking into
a tune
now and then

unknown to everyone.
when you're young
there's no fear.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


let it stay
this way
this is just right

let not
the anonymity
melt into familiarity
too quickly


I'd rather
I'm holding it
so carefully

what if I spill?
then it will
no longer
belong to me

Saturday, May 01, 2010


late night darkness
empty, still

i can hear
drunken murmurs
from down the street

i can hear
the neighbour's
phone ring

i can hear
the drip in the
bathroom, steady

as constant
as the rhythmic whir
of the fan

i can hear
the trees, restless
longing for movement

i can hear
my heart beat
in my head

i drown myself
in the music

Thursday, April 29, 2010


like a python

gnawing at the insides
eating away

Friday, April 23, 2010

matter of time

it took up
so much energy, yet
we didn't burn out

we just put

it all aside
and it's piled up now

questions, answers

that are waiting

to undo this balance
that we're pretending
to have achieved.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

oh yes?


all of you
are governed
by circumstances

that revolve
around you

at your naivete
to have believed
in constancy


the existence
of a
no matter what.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

long nights

heavy head
morning mirror
toothbrush foam

sleep-swollen eyes
force yourselves open

Sunday, April 11, 2010


this voice, shushed
I hope
you can't hear it

but it has spoken
to you
in my head

so many times
that I feel
you know already

and I wait
for your response
in careful, subdued anticipation

just for
the sake of the game
inwardly, I already know.

Friday, April 09, 2010


my neck hurts
now let me
arrange these pillows
and settle down nicely
on the bed
sleep and rest
for a month

then I'll get up
and run around the world.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

and listen
to all the noise
mixing sharp,
bright colours
into long exposure times

silence creeps alongside
in large, unseen
rubber-boot strides
till it decides
to take over
and make itself heard.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Ten o clock
the warden’s
on her rounds
silence, doors shut
till she disappears

and then, sniff
I smell maggi
Somebody knocks
at our door
Hey, do you have
any new movies?

Next door neighbour
walks in, looking about
in dismay
I haven’t even started
writing lab record!
gimme yours na?

the rest of us
pick a movie to watch
some of us
distractedly messaging
free sms - student pack

a phone rings,
and her face lights up
as she walks out
the movie’s over
and after post movie analysis
we finally retire to bed

four am
trip to the washroom
a rat darts across the floor
brushing past my feet
and I shudder
suppressing a scream

at the mirror
a girl, in green face mask
and henna hair
smiles and says hi
witch! (who is she?)

a big cricket
sits near the toilet
threatening to jump
at me anytime
I pray
and hurriedly exit

peeping into
an open window
on the way back
she’s at her desk,
still writing record

girl on the phone
now sits against
the corridor wall
talking in a low voice
tearful, boy-fights

this hostel
never sleeps
I enter my room
climb up my bunk bed
carefully, my room-mate’s
a light sleeper

but she wakes up
ei you know what!
I saw a rat!
we talk sleepily
it’s dawn now
alarms start ringing

rows of buckets
bathroom queues

skipping breakfast
running to class
everyday stories.

Friday, March 26, 2010


there's really
no need
to say much

works its wonders

Monday, March 22, 2010

being the man

swiftly you take matters
into your own hands
with natural efficiency

straight backbone
and finely cut features
pleasing, yet almost harsh

there's a roughness
surging through
your spirit

in defense,
in pride,
in strength

quickly shaken
but quicker to hide
displaying the inaccessible

carelessly concealed
and one can
quietly observe

the shades of a boy,
so striking,
in you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I am myself
when I'm alone
but I need you
with me
to be the myself
that I like better.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

long distance call

I had
only the usual
irrelevant updates

I did this
and I did that
and then I went here
and then I went there

what did you do?
and you say
'nothing much'

but I like
to hear you listen

to hear your low voice,
warm coffee mug

I like saving
the spaces
for later recall

and then
sometimes I feel
I can touch
the intangible

Friday, March 12, 2010


oh horror, horror
you found an error
I stared
how did two
become a five?

I squirmed
and wanted to
melt away
but I had
to sit and

brave through
another two hours
then I ran away
and hid face
for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


this one
is not just some
intangible wispy mist

it has volume

it has muscle

it's elastic
it's tough
poke, prod

and it will
bounce back
into shape

made of
stronger stuff,
this full-bodied soul.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


reason stumbles
blindly over emotion
logical fights illogical

and miserable,
refuses to budge

but sometimes

you have to pick
this or that

and do what you have to
there really is
no middle path.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

make up, made up

short skirts
high heeled attitude

plastic waxed face
with pencil eyebrows
straightened hair

that once fell
in admirable curls
but she wanted to look

perfect in the photos
she knew that
she musnt pout

but turn on
that practised
half-dreamy smile

and look
in the plunging neckline

and aim
the dark black eyes
straight into the camera

she also knew
what men liked more
not the drunk,

skin-showing nightbird
but this girl.
So with bindi and chappal

she wore
her well-prepared
simple look for today.

Monday, March 01, 2010


you little round

bundle of fur

unbelievably soft

small, fragile boned

unbound energy

excited running about

with a slight limp

you love to play

unguarded curiosity

sniffing at everybody's feet

licking everything

on the floor

following strangers
faithfully at heel

but at nights
you creep in gladly
inside his shirt

find a nice warm spot
and curl up there
like an
affectionate child

and both sleep in peace

boy and pet

pet and boy.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


like houses
I've lived in

sunny days
spent colouring
black and white notes

I've moved out
packing cartons
shifting to another block

a few things behind
every time

they lie forgotten
collecting dust
in some hidden corner

I go back
once in a while
to pick them up

and sing along
cobweb covered emotions.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

break up

halve a whole
to create
two strangers

burn down
each others
lucid memories

erase a life
we dont dare
to remember

shovel in the years
cover it up
with sand

and you plant seeds
but they'll never grow
the soil's too dry,barren

so this is where
it all ends
you called it love

this joke,

(written in 2008)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

haji lane

narrow alley
crayon graffiti
scrawled, smudged
on the walls

two boys sit
in a corner
yellow light
with guitars

playing a bluesy riff
smoking, 8 pm
a passing cat
stopped to listen

retaurants, pink
aladdin and
his magic cafe
jeannie-type girls invite

mezze platters
welcome to istanbul!
a man pops up out of nowhere

boutiques in a row
hip youngster bling
dresses, bags,
the funky paper shop

two hours later
we pass by
the same duo
sitting at the corner

smoking, wandering about
the same riff,
the cat curled up
at their side.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


in spite of
knowing you so well
I poked and prodded
and provoked

to get words
that I knew
I could hold
against you

I wanted
to hurt you
because I was hurt

if I have succeeded
I shamefacedly say sorry
if I haven't
I do the same.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

he was rather pleased
in this new place
this small town

where nobody knew him
it was quiet
it was just right

now he wouldn't have
to talk business
with endless clients

over fancy dinners
and wine
(by then he had learnt

the trick to sealing deals)
he wouldn't have to
hang out with

leching groups of friends
over the weekends
at bars where

fifteen year old girls
smoked in style
and laughed loudly

he had all those scenes
though, in charcoal
his well-kept secret

long nights,
sketch after sketch
with a gripping fervour

his resignation
was not sudden
but carefully planned

he had thought
about it for long
he had all the material

he was full of ideas
and had saved enough
to set up this studio

with a pottalam
by his side
he sat at his desk
and started working.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


you thing of beauty
on my window sill
strutting about
on your skinny pink legs

red iris,
shiny neck,
that cere, like a
proud nose stud

you catch me looking
and grace a side profile view,
a half-smile
like a shy indian bride

i put out my hand
to spread some grain
and you (darpok!),
show interrupted,

fly off above
to the opposite building's sill,
watching curiously
from a safe distance

what now?
do you expect me
to say 'ao ao'
like he did in ddlj?

come and eat
whenever you want,
silly bird.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I don't know enough
to believe
but I don't know enough
to disbelieve either

so let's just be
on the safer side.

Monday, January 25, 2010


in an instant
I saw that
you felt the same way

look away now,
let it go

let it slip away
lightly, floating,

leaving only
its memory
heavy, haunting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

edit 1

oh, look!
another manuscript
on the table

tucking into it
with pencil, eraser

colourful pens
circling, marking

at delightful mistakes
and misprints

(look, he forgot
the ni
in organism!)

over endless
pages of proofs

to pick words
and mind those em dashes.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

piano class

dimly lit rooms
with ancient
convent windows

diamond peepholes
in the walls
dust-light streaming

kawai, yamaha,
pearl river

gleaming new
in the exam-room
shiny pedals

while others
in the adjacent rooms
chipped keys

slightly out of tune
till mathew
pays his visit

dark brown wood
smelling of
years ago

of songs,
compositions, that many
hands have played

with fingers,
little, big
graceful, clumsy

of moods, emotions
that have sunk into them
over the decades

of sombre chords,
lively melodies
legatos, staccatos

faithful, they stand

Friday, January 15, 2010


grumpy morning
I open the office door
thinking of
all the pending work

'good morning maydum!'
a voice rings out

he beams
in his
checked shirt,
polished shoes

it's impossible
not to smile back.


if you want to give
then give
of yourself

if you dont
then you might as well
be a recluse

but just
dont get stuck
in between the two

it is all about
and taking

not about
and taking back.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


you said
let's start
all over again

but there is
no such thing

because the past
forms this present
even if you don't
want it to.