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Wednesday, March 07, 2018


"Turn your thoughts away from cold, unfeeling light
and listen to the music of the night."
Andrew Lloyd Webber - Music of the Night.

The music stopped.
The shrill monotone resumed, unceasing.
The Phantom, hands trembling, stood unmasked.
The facade, fallen
(should've known, most man-made things don't endure).

Alas, he realized --
the mask was never to hide behind
but to practice apathy.
Recalling his boundless cruelty,
he wept.

"A lack of empathy is an acute failure of the imagination."

Friday, February 16, 2018

North by Northwest

(needs work)

Peering across the Michigan,
A momentous decision.
Pondering the unknown,
Art and Science tussle.
A surrender!

Friday, January 06, 2017

Of Nature and Man

Two peasants on a pilgrimage
Stepping across boulders and bridges,
Guided by God's wind.

As they summited and saw
A cathedral that scraped the stars,
the one peasant submitted
(equal parts awe and pity):
"Nature taught me God was beyond Man,
This structure reminds me
God is scripture and sculpture."

Mused the other,
Man-made Gods inspire awe
And Mountains and Valleys are wondrous still,
But the People I meet are the wonders of my world.

"Intelligence is an ability to appreciate beauty in many forms."

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

A memory

Everybody dies
And you'll be dead to me long before you die.
A stolen glance, a sideways nod, a catch of breath ---
Not nearly enough to remember you by.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


"Some quarrels last a lifetime."
I disagree.
Even the most brutal war ends eventually.
The default human condition is peace.
Is it a smiling peace that walks hand in hand with prosperity,
or is it a quiet peace that sulks over a cemetery?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cloudless nights

Cloudless night, unblinking stars on a shimmering sea,
Boats on the Bosphorus, ranged in constellations beneath me.

Cloudless night, Orion swaggers above me,
I smile and dream of things that cannot be.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


Poker is not a game for sentimental fools.

"Poker is fun", she said, "Shall I teach you?"
He nodded.

The first hand was a comedy of errors, and she corrected him gently.
"Let's call that a practice hand", she grinned.
"Okay, I'm ready now", he responded.

Something must have lost its way in translation.
When he was dealt his second hand
(which, defying beginner's luck, was quite bad)
he blurted it out and went all in.

She blinked, confused. "You're bluffing. I'll call that".
Out came the flop, turn and river.
A royal flush for the lady!
She clapped her hands in delight "I win!"
"I'm curious. Seriously, what cards do you have?"

He was perplexed.
Why didn't she believe him?
He clenched his cards to his chest.
"No. You took my money, I'm keeping these cards."
She smiled protesting, "That's not how poker works!"
He pocketed the cards and made to leave.

Poker is not a game for sentimental fools.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Spanning an impossibly deep gorge
hangs a ribbon-bedecked bridge.
On snowy mornings,
It is a mirror beneath my feet.

When I step across without a care,
It swings merrily in the wind.
And when, with a sigh, I shuffle across,
It heaves and shudders and sinks.

A matter of time, if it keeps step with me,
The sinking bridge,
ribbons and all,
will surely fall.

"It's strange that one does not start to value things until one is about to lose them. There is a bridge from my heart to yours, spanning all the vastness of distance. Across that bridge I have been used to writing to you about our daily round and the world we live in out here. I wanted to tell you the truth when I came home, and then we would never have spoken of war again. Now you will learn the truth, the last truth, earlier than I intended. And now I can write no more.
There will always be bridges as long as there are shores; all we need is the courage to tread them. One of them now leads to you, the other into eternity -- which for me is ultimately the same thing.
Tomorrow morning I shall set foot on the last bridge. That's a literary way of describing death, but you know I always liked to write things differently because of the pleasure words and their sounds gave me. Lend me your hand, so that the way is not too hard."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

In limbo

She scattered rice grains on the balcony floor.
Back home, sparrows would hop around expectantly.
She wished there were some crows around here.
Resting her head on her elbow on the sill,
She waited.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fruit Chaat

A confused retelling of the trek to Marhi peak

At length they reached the base camp: mostly-pleasant trekking,
they were tired but happy.
He did not want to wait here for too long,
the peak was still not visible on the horizon,
no clue yet how to get there.
Marhi: tourism videos offered a seductive peek,
breathtaking landscapes set to lush soundscapes.

"Fruit chaat". They noticed a feeble old man with
neatly sliced tropical fruits arranged attractively.
The mango was too ripe to refuse, they gathered around him.
"Don't bother peeling the skin, uncle", he piped.
"Are you from the Garhwal Himalayas, uncle?" he asked,
small talk soon to be forgotten. "Chamoli" he nodded.
"City-folk are enamored with Rohtang", he continued,
"Marhi is so much better. You will like it here.
Here, try these peaches,
these fruits from around here aren't quite our Chamoli size,
but the flavor is just as good."
He launched into a monologue about Chamoli and Marhi,
most of which would have been forgotten if the
stuck-in-a-landslide-outside-Chamoli-for-almost-a-day thing
hadn't happened less than a week later.
"And these delicious fruits are just wasted on city-folk,
they want it cut and spiced till there's nothing of the fruit left."

"So, what's there to do at Marhi?", they interrupted.
"Well, for some, its the journey to the peak,
for others its the view. What is it for you?"
He hedged and parried, "And how do we get there?"
"You folk seem tired and in a hurry.
There are some mules for hire there", he gestured,
"but I suggest you walk up if you can.
The horse trail heads to that waterfall there, and a little beyond,
there's a bit of snow and if you look back and squint,
you'll probably see me with my fruits". He gave a toothy grin.
"That trail is unremarkable, and even if you change your mind
and try to explore on foot, it is filled with horse droppings."
They squinched their faces, mountain-folk say the darnedest things
when others are enjoying delicious fruit chaat.

"And if you want to walk up, well you can go wherever you want.
Following the river to its source is one way to get there."
"There? Where exactly?"
"Oh you need to basically scale that sheer cliff there,
and from there you will be able to see the peak in the distance.
If you are following the river, you will need to cross it
in two places at least.
There isn't a bridge at the first spot, so be careful.
The second spot I'm thinking of,
there should still be a layer of ice on top.
It has been a warm week though,
so you might want to find a longer way around".

Jaws dropped. "How is any of this safe?!"
"It is worth it", he laughed gruffly.
What a silly perspective.

One mumbled, "So, about the mules."
Another said, "It is getting late as it is. We could just stay here and rest a while."
He was not convinced. Sure, that cliff looked mighty menacing from down here,
but that probably meant there's so much hidden from view up there.
They don't sing songs or write stories about the easy way out, so no mules then.
"I'm going up. We've made it this far, look around,
we blinked and we got here. We'll go up and be back in no time too.
And the chaat-man says it will be worth it."
(This sort of bravado got him in trouble in the Valley of Flowers a fortnight later,
he got lost following a trail up a vertical mountain-face alone.
What a silly perspective.)

"Well, if you put it that way, there's no way I'm staying here either.
To the top we climb" chimed one.
"Slowly, steadily we'll get there. No dilly-dallying though,
and no hurrying, ok?" confirmed another.
A third sighed, crackpots each of them.
And it would be up to him to ensure no one broke their limbs in this crazy trip.
And it would be up to him to figure out how to scale each obstacle they found.
He framed a rough timeline for when they should reach the top,
and when they should get back.
At that point the pictures from the brochures tempted him.

They got back to the fruit-seller's stall a little after sunset,
and saw another group of travellers huddled around him.
"Cut those pineapples thinner, uncle."
"And dice those apples smaller,
And peel the skin a bit more?"

They gave him a knowing smile and he winked back.
Bah, City-folk.