Saturday, July 30, 2005


We are in receipt of your letter dated…
and are constrained to note
that you adopt a tone unbefitting
a subordinate – and we quote…
While we’ve no objection to your quitting,
please be informed that approval’s awaited.

We cannot but observe - and we could cite -
that you speak most insultingly of those
who, you must know, are your superiors.
The tenor of your communication shows
your contempt or, what’s more serious,
seems to suggest a deliberate slight.

You’ve called our beloved CEO a sod,
a word we’ve carefully looked up and find
is short for sodomite: a grave imputation
not just unwarranted, but unkind
in view of his well earned reputation
as a family man, and a man of God.

As for the comic army you mention,
please be informed that we’re outraged.
The idea is monstrous, you seem to imply
that we’re jokers ossified and aged:
a bunch of geriatrics who refuse to die,
and who’d be better off with a pension!

Your insolence merits disciplinary action.
However, we’re compelled to take a lenient view
(oddly, you have friends in our higher ranks
who have good things to say about you,
and it’s to them you owe your thanks),
and dismiss it as a minor infraction.

You’ve been trouble, say what you will, but
the fates and a few have been indulgent:
you’ve got by on your language and brains
(the one useless and the other redundant),
and forever have caused us posterior pains.
And by the way, who on earth is Gilbert?




At four they shout songs in church
I see people shining, talking a strange language,
Clapping hands in the Holy Spirit.
I grow up on books
The pictures and words etched in my mind,
The mind grew as I ran at home.
At six, I am an organist
And the music flows as I read.


The Bible I got
For being the “Best Youth” in church
Sits somewhere in the bookshelf,
I never opened it beyond the first page,
The page where the printing is faded
Stating my ownership;
My sister now takes it to church.


The picture I drew won a prize at school,
Daddy smiled,
Mummy smiles with him,
To keep them smiling
I sit silently and win more prizes;
After the second, never first,
But they don’t mind,
And I don’t care at all.


My sister comes home
Every year for two months
And at eight I sing Careless Whispers and Wild World,
I read Jeffrey Archer at ten.
She stayed home from eleven,
At the houses on Old Passport, Holiday Inn
And Airport Roads.


At school I watch the others play
I join them and their laughter
But I don’t run with them any day.
After school I go
And play the piano,
I hide for hours,
I stay alone.


I watch the Wimbledon final
And my dad pushes me
To go for drawing lessons,
He wants to see
The architect in me,
But now I draw


I go to sleep on DaVinci and Van Gogh
Wake up with a start to Dylan Thomas and Coleridge;
I took a flight on Air India,
Brought my guitar for protection,
And with a pen for a sword
I stand on a bridge,
Fight the mad pushes of the waves
Tearing the skin,
The salt spray makes it burn.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Taking Stock

When I segued from student to working man, I weighed much less. Much water has flowed under the bridge, much avoirdupois accumulated on the frame.

All those years ago, I could bench-press my current weight. Now, I can barely bench-press what-used-to-be-my-weight then.
My body bothers me.

On the other hand, I have achieved what I used to consider one of the marks of 'coolth', back when I was in college. I know aall the suits in all the watering holes in town, most of them by their first names. (Not just the ones who wear those brass name-tabs, gerrit?) And I'm now confident enough to send back a dish if I don't like it. Ohhhh, sexy!!
Back then, I very definitely was not part of the gang that frequented the only disc in town. At the Oberoi. It was called the Pink Elephant, and after our college celebrated its sesquicentennial (look it up), an Old Boy threw a party for us at the Pink. I think it took a week to get rid of the smell of teenage puke. Free booze for 18-yr.-olds, the man was mad.
The only other time I entered the Oberoi (“back then”) was when I was walking down Chowringhee to catch a bus, and suddenly I just had to go. Lovely marbled restroom, oh joy, but half a mile down a slippery-floored corridor. Try that some time when your innards are making like Krakatoa before it blew.

When I was 18 I tried to write poetry. Occasionally I even wrote something that could pass as poetry.
These days I post on a blog. Sometimes, on two blogs. Or even three. But I haven’t written any poetry in years.

I think I was about 22 before I learnt to shut up.
I still have to remind myself, now and again. But I’m getting better.

I was 15 years old when I first heard “Scarborough Fair / Canticle”, “Bridge over Troubled Water” and “For Emily, Wherever I may Find Her”. Also “Patterns” and “Cloudy” and the “59th Street Bridge Song”. (My first time in New York, my friend thought I’d lost it when I insisted we make a detour to see that bridge. Great guy, but he used to like ABBA. I mean, a grown man who hummed “Fernando”?)
Then I fell in love with Kishore Kumar. And found R.D. Burman, Floyd, Tull, Al Stewart, Led Zep, Tom Lehrer. The amazing voices of Billy Joel and Shubha Mudgal. Along the way I sampled Silk Route, Traci Chapman, even Lucky Ali (yes, I DO like the Hrithik number).
One amazing night at IIT Delhi started with Shiv Kumar Sharma and went on to Amjad Ali Khan. Hari Prasad Chaurasia summoned dawn with Bhairavi and I’d discovered something. Years later, thanks to SPICMACAY and Prof. Qureishi, I sat in a small room and heard Shruti Shirolikar and once Zakir Hussain.
But …
… when I hear THOSE two sing their songs again, I’m still 15 years old.

I first went to Shiraz (“Golden Restaurant” … w.t.f. is golden about Shiraz anyway? Perhaps their biryani), at the corner of Park Street and Lower Circular Road, back in 1982. Thanks to J. No wonder he was my best friend. That was when a hundred bucks was still a Big Deal. One time J and I won that much in some college fest and blew it all at Shiraz. Ran up a tab of over 90 bucks and left the rest for tips.
To put that in perspective, the average human being would have found it difficult to finish a plate of biryani and a side order of rezala for fifteen rupees. The first time I took my wife out (that same year and no, she was not my wife then), it was to Shiraz. We had 5 bucks apiece and bullied another 5 out of Rajesh S with some obscure reasoning. We sat downstairs where it was cheaper, we paid our money and we ate our meal. We were full, we were happy.
The last time we went to Shiraz was … well, last week, actually. They still make the world’s best biryani. And the most amazing tandoori roti. The bill was a ridiculous amount, perhaps barely enough for a soup and dessert at Churchill on Colaba. Some things don’t change. Mmm mmm mmmm. And in case the point isn’t clear enough, MMMMMMMMMM!!!!

I wonder which year I learnt to say Hullo to a woman’s eyes instead of her chest. I do know it must have been some years after I was 16.
But I’m proud to say it’s been several years (decades, even?) since I greeted even the hottest woman with my eyes directed a few inches below her clavicles. Even on that memorable occasion on the Long Island Railroad four years ago when, for more than an hour, I half believed that bald is sexy. Somewhere in a finer and better world where true heroism is recognised and feted, I’m right up there with Sir Galahad. Or Bedivere at the very least.
(Ummm … I must confess I still do lech at times, but my priorities are different now. Brains and a sense of humour certainly, but also eyes, hands and voice. Most definitely eyes, hands, voice.)

I used to try to help people. A lot of it was due to Enid Blyton and Richmal Crompton and all that rot about one good deed a day. (Do kids these days even know about William and the Outlaws?) My good intentions were rarely appreciated, even on the rare occasions when I didn’t goof up big time. I did donate blood several times in college, though.
I really am better at helping people these days. Or so they tell me. Double difference there. Not bad.

Back then, I never had much money, but I don’t recall ever wanting much money either. Just didn’t think about it, I guess.
These days, I do want money. A fair amount. Still don’t have much. That hasn’t changed.

There was this picnic when I was in my first year in college. Half the people who went had only one condition – I shouldn’t be part of the scene. Major popularity.
I’m still told that I’m obnoxious. But it’s usually said with a smile. At least, I think it’s said with a smile.

I was tagged on that book meme that went around. Never did respond. How does one list 5 books? Or even 10?
What was the first book I read? I really don’t remember. The last was (a minor embarrassment) The Half-Blood Prince. Finished last night at 9 p.m.
That feeling when one has a new book to read. “The keen thrill of anticipation that surpasses every possible emotion … love ambition sex music food success, nothing can compare.” Something else that hasn’t changed. Thank God.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Letter of Resignation Unlikely to be Tendered

Please be informed that I wish to leave.
To retire while my mind is whole –
a miracle in itself, when you consider
three decades and more of battered soul,
the price I’ve paid for being an outsider.
It’s time I returned to what I believe.

In the thirty years or more aforesaid
I’ve seen brains scoured with caustic soap:
the kind that purged natural law and reason
and left spines snapped beyond hope -
for decrying the absurd was high treason.
I’ve seen lives shambled, and some dead.

I’ve lived and survived better than most
( to be sure, there weren’t too many of me).
I gave a damn or half for the corporate climb -
you know, I’ve hated grease since I was three!
So I ploughed my furrow, did my time…
That you couldn’t have me was my boast.

Please be further informed that God
doesn’t sit on the eighteenth floor. Not all
your cravenness can make that worthy
whom you fear more than mortal,
nor adulation make him less than earthy:
like you and me, he’s just another sod.

Be informed I’ve had enough. Enough of paper,
enough of your mindless comic army
that would have done Gilbert proud:
any more of this and I’d be driven barmy.
And not caring, I can afford to say it aloud.
I’m through with this stupid career caper.

And yes. Lastly, please find enclosed a snap.
A mountainscape, as you can see. And lest
you jump to conclusions, it isn’t the Swiss
or Austrian Alps where your kind recuperate or rest,
but something closer home you miss –
and thank God (mine) it’s off your map.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Silent symphony

Dancing laughter
pirouettes to silent music
drums of the yellow orb
and shimmering strains
drizzled by moonlight violin
rhythms of the tides too,
never missed half a beat.

The dancer was led
to the floor of grass and spunky weeds
children and flowers rivaling each other
who will spin more dreams
silently stood they, the magnificent
deserts, oceans and night-sky
reminding the one who waltzes
the ecstasy in stillness around him


Thursday, July 21, 2005


It’ll soon be a year since your slaughter.
A year since you dined and feasted
on my hacked and gouged flesh: my mind’s walls
bear witness to that carnage when you tasted
blood, and your demented madrigals
of lust turned my soul to water.

Even now it intrigues me how finely
you took to killing: how blind I must have been
to miss the light in those devil’s pools
of your eyes…though, even if I’d seen,
what good would it have served a fool’s
purpose? You’d have killed just as unkindly.

Well, I’ve put myself together, you know.
Not quite what one was – can’t expect that,
can we? You were thorough, and hate
corrodes and preys on love’s larded fat -
but yes, a whole of sorts again, oblate
though scared of falls. I sit low.


Monday, July 18, 2005

A rainy lesson

From behind the wheel
I watched the quartet
in a verdant park
across the boundary wall.

Bare torsos
no apparent concern
unfettered joy
as they romanced the rain

Squealing in delight
swinging high
catching the rain
earlier than otherwise

Instinct worked
desire surfaced
dain beckoned
and the door opened

Logic intervened
thoughts of shoes
and formal clothes
slammed the door shut

Unmoving in the seat
I stayed trapped
in cabin space
smoldering, simmering.

On the swings
the lads reached higher;
In my heart
I could sense envy arise.

Better sense prevailed
instead of jealousy
I embraced delight
in just watching joy

My spirit deserted me
to take the vacant swing
but only for a moment
for, it was time to drive again.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I am peaceful !

Silly Fool
Feeling so balanced
walking the tight rope
stretched on the floor

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


You would anticipate peace
But then, what happens?
Silent screams of the dawn,
Then low morning moans
That rise to wails of torment
As the nightmare deepens
And merges with the darkness.

Then you decide
To silence demented demons
With a chorus of your cries;
A howling, from which you
Would never wake.
And though the sun
Stalks you like a raving psychotic
You only see
Shadows chasing you.

Through all this you try
To pick the shards of your sanity
Searching for the memory
Of your completeness in mirrors,
Always praying they don’t disappear,
Or you don’t break them.

When dreams go gray,
Doors remain locked, and drums pound
In your head,
You pace up and down
Like a caged animal,
Trying desperately hard to forget
A time when you thought
That drum beats were music
And you once held the keys to all doors
That open into a blue sky.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

LEH (12/09/04)

In my lens the lone street cants and drops
beyond perspective’s edge. In the distance a loaf of brown
straddles roofs against a cobalt sky, all there is to this town
of backpacks, yak butter and tourist shops.

Yet, take the colour away, the plastic hues
of mountain wind wear which white men bring, or even those
the locals flaunt brought from Lhasa, Shigatse or God knows
where: coral, jade and lapis lazuli blues –

and a mezzotint or woodcut stills this frame.
Through the viewfinder, and the sepia of two centuries
nothing seems changed in this anachronistic freeze:
the ancient thoroughfare slants just the same,

that distant hill not a curve out of true,
weather and years notwithstanding. The sun beats on slate
or stone, little more than caravan rests for the long wait
when passes froze and the winds blew.

But time dissolves in a dreamer’s sighs.
Through cars and army jeeps my driver threads his way
to where I am, lost in this windswept town of another day,
seeing it through mad Moorcroft’s eyes.


Friday, July 01, 2005

Earthquake. . .

In the faint tremors
Of your quivering lips
My world tumbles
As it seeks them for a kiss

© Dan Husain
March 16, 2005