Stop and Start (and kill 2 years in between)

1:00 am at night or morning – depending on where you are coming from (or going to?).  A spat with the boyfriend living thousands of miles away, and an attempt to fight a red-ant manifestation in the house at 1:00 am with boric powder is perhaps the best time to contemplate whether one is in fact a ticketed passenger on the lifeboat named “Status Quo”? Headed for nowhere in particular and docked at a place called “Wit’s End” for longer than I care to remember?

I don’t think Status Quo will have me after all. Getting itchy feet again – too long at the same place in the same city and nowhere to run. Rather, everywhere to run  and nobody to come looking! At one time in my life, that would have been such a liberating thought! To want to believe that nobody would come looking for me, and yet, now that touch and taste and feel of another human body are such rare treats, I do want to be frantically pursued. Not found, perhaps, just pursued, with worry and concern. That’s all. A little bit of curiosity too, if you care to throw that in. And love, if such a thing exists.

I am trying to reclaim lost ground here, if you will. All these months and years of not writing, of not losing myself only to realize that I am as close to who I am or will be, as ever, today at this very point. And that I am becoming more of me every single day! Is that a good thing or a bad thing!

There are those days then again (like today) when all I want to do is walk off from my life, and find the most desolate, most windswept, most unpredictable and pressingly overcast corner of the world and start living there! Take to the road, travel the length and breadth of this country, if nowhere else. Travel along a latitude or a longtitude, mapless for 2000 miles in any direction and lose myself in the cartwheel dust of places with names that feel exotic as you swirl them around on your tongue. And wonder do the same names taste different on a foreign tongue, as opposed to a local one? Do they have characteristically more zest, more bite on a traveller’s tongue or do they just need cultivating until spicy turns zesty and bitter, tolerable, and after some time, nearly welcome?

Along the same lines, do I need cultivating slowly on someone’s tongue or mind or heart or am I just one of those tastes which you either love or hate on instinct – like roasted wasabi peas or radish roulade, if such a thing existed? Or worse yet, are indifferent to – like bananas or bread?

And yet on a parting note,  consider this: Is it really worth making such a right royal fuss over anyone who is for the large part (72.4% or so) made up of water? When you put it into perspective such as this, it makes most of us look like idiots.


Now that I think

You did say we are close enough

As though I should be grateful

Of what good is the word “enough” between lovers?


Enough that I should not be wanting for more?

Not thrilled, for thrilled is never bound by “enough”

But a little more than happy

Happy…with the liberties you have allowed me

In the little doorways you have left open for me

To stumble upon you

And by consequence, me


Except that you omitted to mention

That your day isn’t dark enough

And your nights aren’t light enough


While I am out gathering up the remains of my day

So that I may bring only the dusty grains of it for you

To dissect


Laugh at


And validate

For the tomorrow when we will do this same exercise

Sitting in chairs across the opal colored room


Two paces further than where we were yesterday.


No rain

There’s a distinct Midwest scent in the air today – an Ohio state of mind if I may, Gordon Sumner notwithstanding – of standing at the corner of Gerlach Hall right knee bent backwards, and leaning back on the wall behind, ruminating about an elusive Indian monsoon with a faraway look. Of salt and pepper hair speckled with silver rain droplets and an indulgent smile, no, make that indulgent laughter, while going – so what is “make-out’ weather in your books? Of insisting – this, right here, this weather!! Of slinging a blue backpack on the right shoulder, car keys dangling from a velvet black glove, trench coat trailing the last snow of the season and thinking – the Caribou Cafe in the Short North and some hazelnut mocha and an intimate conversation. Of a rain that drizzles apologetically, half sorry for its existence, forever shy of its Indian cousin’s vigor. Of wanting to take the clouds by the shoulders and yelling at them – get some muscle, water bearers!!

Not that this Ohio state of being involves blood gushing to the temple sort of thing that one may typically associate with a drizzly New York night filled with limitless possibilities.

It is a Midwest night after all today… with definite, yes, definite but limited possibilities. Anything can happen, but only one of a very few things may happen. See what I mean? It is that whole alternate reality thing that Murakami talks about – how do I know that this reality of mine is the only reality? How do I know, for instance, that this is a reality and not some made-up stage set with carefully chosen characters and incidents, or worse, that it is not happening only in my head, but out there? So, essentially, we need another reality to validate this one and a third one to validate the second one and so on and so forth, until you realize that perhaps it is all a chain of realities validating each one in turn. But like a chain, you’ll never know where it started and where it ends….back to the chicken and egg problem, see what I mean? Which is the reality and which the illusion?

So anyway, this sense of déjà vu – this Midwest summer is all around me this summer, but what if nine years back, if I had chosen to remember or feel, I might have felt that this was in fact an Indian summer waiting to happen nine years hence?


That’s the thing with realities – you never know which one is in the past and which in the future. Or perhaps it happens when rain is all you can think of and all that you get is no rain.

All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
I like watchin’ the puddles gather rain
And all I can do is just pour some tea for two
and speak my point of view
But it’s not sane, It’s not sane…”

Get Your Own (blue sky)

Six am at the northeast window
slow motion raindropped
down a frosted window pane
one last cloud wrung dry.                             

 It was going to be a good day.
After all.
He was glad for the fistful of
formless blue sky
headed his way.

She lay there smiling
wordlessly watching his every move
as he laid out
her favorite summer dress
Yellow with dancing daisies
and lace trim at the edges
She would be nice to him
Pliantly, she let him
slip it on
over her head.
Today was his day
of a thought bubble blue sky
and hers of complete surrender.

All their disappointments
no longer hanging heavy,
lying in wait
for love’s return,
the rotting waste of proud silences
lay lifeless and spent
at his feet.
No more dressing decay up
for others to envy.

He touched up her
moist, half-open lips
with beeswax gel

Picture perfect
Still life.

That’s right, he thought
as he whispered
unto her cold earlobes
One last time
“It’s a good day, darling
Go well into the day
Thank you for my piece of blue sky
You’ll get yours anyway.”

I wonder how

I wonder how I shall ever tell him

About you  Its not as though I love him a lot less Or you his share as well I could always blame it on time to take the fall For all my failings and trespasses for this old love left out in the summer heat.  Time – that has mildewed this once everyday-is-a-Sunday love into a disgruntled ageing green Don’t-mess-with-me today-is-a-Monday love

Stolen it of its audacity and curious newness Is this the start of all things that come unbidden, uninvited Silently displacing the old with a quarter nudge  I try to cold shoulder this new love that you bring in letters you write Slanting forward lines…punctuated by hesitation

leaving me to guess that which was not written I try to disengage from the words you speakwords that are happy to adorn my ears like a hollow earringechoing with unfilled gaps 

leaving me to guess that which was unsaid  Is that all it takes then to grow fond of the new and tired of the old The way your tongue makes word patterns Or the way your fingers draw name circles in my head  I wonder how In a fickle world such as this I will ever tell him about you Or you about another.

The Goa beat


Its all about the Goa beat – slow, sweet tango, coming straight at you from the open paddy fields, endless winding roads running close to forest trails, and brown mountain tops with breathtaking windows to the sea from all sides. You want a room with a view, the Western Ghats chuckle silently to themselves. And you get the joke. Finally.


As you lean out of the four-wheel drive you have spent the last ten long hours in, and watch the quaint little inn come up in the distance with a sign that says “Granpas Inn” with a rocking chair painted underneath it, Sheryl Crow winding road takes on a whole new meaning. All songs were written for some day in each of our lives, is what I believe. This one, today, is all mine.

Bougainvillea Hotel, as it is also known by, charms you and takes you by surprise – much like the delight of finding an out-of-print limited edition Asterix title amongst the commonplace ones sold in every bookshop.  With a 300-year old history behind it, now owned and operated by an excitable, energetic and business-like woman called Betina who also happens to be the grand daughter-in-law of the original heir to the property, the hotel, rather the B&B is everything a B&B should be and more.


Quaint sunlit courtyards, yellow and red painted stone walls, wooden doors with antique brass knuckles, cool red earthen floors, hibiscus flowers that seem to sprout out of every room and every window, arched doorways throwing long shadows that open into yet another secret garden, and wooden bookcases housing fiction in German, French and English, in unexpected corners. Ask Betina what her husband’s ancestors did for a living to be able to afford an estate like this, and she says “oh he was in the post” – as though it was the most natural occupation that allowed one lifestyle licenses like this! She never heard of the term “going postal” I imagined! I chuckled silently.

Ambling through the sprawling gardens of bougainvillea and hibiscus that surrounded the estate and the Brahmani Yoga center (attached to the inn), I made my way towards the back which housed the pool (a modern day addition), where people were busy burning themselves well done in the sun, and on to the suite of rooms which was going to be ours.

With an outdoor patio made of red stone and clay (reminded me of that poem, Red Earth and Pouring Rain, somehow), the thatched high-ceilinged suite had a private open backyard with an outdoor shower, for the more adventurous and risqué folks, yours truly confesses to being a big prude in that area! Imagine my delight, though, at finding a tub next to the French windows that looked on to the open backyard, with trees, lizards, butterflies and clinging ivy for company and not much else! Needless to say, the next three days were spent soaking mercilessly in that tub whenever I got a chance, for no less than an hour each time with a bottle of King’s beer and holiday reading. Follow your bliss – yeah, pretty much!!

Time to hit Goa’s European eateries, part of my secret interest in Goa is housed there – the Yorkshire pudding at a little cafe in Candolim could easily be the closest to the real thing. After all, the stomach is the way to a woman’s heart too – whoever said food wasn’t on the list, surely had never met me nor any of my friends!

Lila Cafe  Lunched at the Lila Café enroute to catching up with the rest of the folks who were arriving later today afternoon. The sauerkraut was not quite what I had hoped it would be, and the sausages were also just about okay, but it was nice to know that you could get sauerkraut around here, if you so desired. Lila Café, run by an expat German couple, who migrated to Goa about thirty years ago, is almost a landmark of its own on the Anjuna stretch. Facing a river, the café is housed underneath a huge canvas tent of sorts and white sheer curtains tied to wooden beams that support the tents, flap gently in the sweet frangipani laden breeze. It is unreasonably easy to kill close to three hours in that place just gazing out to the river beyond. Took many mental pictures and filed them away for later cataloguing.

Customary halt at the Cavala Inn on Baga and several cups of coffee later with its manager (whom I have come to know pretty well by now), met up with the rest of the usual suspects, who had finally made it in, after several stops on the road to accommodate someone who just couldn’t keep it all in! Every hour was a winding road alright for them, haha!! 

We proceeded to wind our first night off with a candlelit dinner at the beach, disrupting much hand holding, foot stroking and eye gazing of other couples, by way of our loud laughter, bad jokes, 8 drunken friends who had nothing much to say in general, chairs that sank two inches in the sand, three hungry dogs who kept up their end of the bargaining for food, lots of silly pictures, and a race to the edge of the water and back, on a full stomach. All of this interspersed every few minutes by the general bitching about the folks who had the sheer good luck to be born in Goa.

Finally wrapped it all up with a midnight swim at the B&B with four other equally drunk and silly friends– the water delicious and warm – and another hour-long soak in the tub, after which the hands on any clock seemed pretty purposeless. Can’t think of a better way to lose one’s purpose in life. My phone’s battery was on its way out and my own was just coming to life. Let the slow sweet tango begin. I’m ready to learn the steps all over again.

There are knights who know and those who don’t!

I just got knighted, or whatever it is they call it these days.  To the First Order of Procrastinators. So I have been sending in my application for membership to this Order unfailingly everyday for the last 15 years or so, and Finally (that deserves an all-caps),  I am Initiated(!!) into the Order – not just any order,  mind you, the only original one here – the First Order of Procrastinators. Yes, there’s a God up there somewhere, and he is a woman. All ye who know me, know I am the goddess of procrastination, especially when it comes to replying to letters and mails. But I shall have you know (before I sell myself short), my skills in this area extend themselves to all spheres of my life. 

I am the proverbial tree-hitter. You know, that person, who, when she realizes she is finally on time for something, will find ways to delay herself unwittingly just so her inner genetic clock is in sync – in sync with friggin what, you may ask? The answer, my friend, eludes, or as Dylan would like to remind us, the answer is blowin’ in the wind, only in my case, it is prolly caught in the high hanging branches of a goddamn tree that had no business being there in the first place!  I devise (consciously, yes, I do) ways to delay myself, should I (God forbid!!) actually find that I am going to be on time or worse yet, before time (Sacrilege! Hell will freeze over before this ever happens on God’s sweet earth) for an appointment with someone/something. Like finding a tree to hit that had no business standing in the very same spot it has been standing for the last 20 years, or deciding that very morning to make a jug of iced tea and pouring it all over my just-crisply-ironed white shirt, before heading out to meet a friend for a brunch that will take at least 40 minutes of driving time, and I had only 5 extra minutes on me in which to make it, in the first place. But the tea incident sets me back just so that my inner genetic clock gives me a nice sharp pat on the back. It approves.   The point of this long-winded monologue?? Well, I have a reputation to protect, folks, and I have been doing a darn good job of doing that all these years!! Friends in the know now know better – so they turn their clocks backward, or wait, is it ahead? No, backwards by half an hour to 40 minutes. Point is, I have been gunning for the membership (actually, secret admission this, I have been gunning for the title of Meta Knight) to the Order since I was seventeen or something…and finally She (God) relents.    And what act of God prompted my acceptance, might you ask….well, this time not only was I late, I forgot to pick somebody up from the airport altogether and did not show up at all! Which, one might argue, is not the same thing as procrastination! Nevertheless, I did not let my inner procrastination goddess down. Phew! She drives a hard one alright!

Your friendly neighbourhood voyeur

There is something to be said about the late evening local train commute home.

The crowd begins to thin out and you feel lucky that you can actually find a seat facing the direction of the train engine (my first lesson in local train commuting 5 years ago in the city, when I was told you just have to find a seat – kill if you have to – in the direction of the engine, to get the wind to whip your face and hair out of any sense of civilized decorum). All is suddenly not so bad with the world, and you wish you hadn’t forgotten to recharge the i-Pod whilst breathing in smells of fresh bhel and sevpuri from the laps of secretaries in navy blue knee-length skirts, most of whom will get off where I will. 

No, it is really not all that bad.

The momentum does get to you. Perhaps it is not the momentum at all. Perhaps it is the fact that rarely do I get to get off work at regular hours, when normal folks go home. So, a 9 or 10:00 PM train is by definition the signal to kick back and ruminate about the lives of people who populate the train compartment at that hour – which is what I do – all the time.

Yes, go right ahead and judge me. I am a closet voyeur. Always have been, always will be.

I am the kind of person who, when I was living outside the homeland (I will omit where, for fear of sounding pretentious), would peer out of double-decker buses into the warm amber living rooms and (yes, hold your breath) bedrooms of people who had deigned to leave their curtains undrawn, precisely for the visual and mental courting pleasure of voyeurs like me. It is not that I have an overwhelming interest in catching half dressed people milling about in their jammies or red silk boxers with leaping frogs on them or worse thongs, oops, I meant things – it is their lives that interest me. That and their china, curtains and chintz tablecloths, to be precise. Yes I am your regular schizophrenic, alright. Plus, I like the moving people inside the houses not to mention the colors of the walls and the homes themselves. Gets all the wheels turning, the mental 3-miler on the treadmill – clockwork orange, or in my case, green!

Afterwards, I can amuse myself endlessly about the imagined conversation at the dinner table of a young just-moved-in-together couple inside a studio apartment, or the office politics that the single-and-free-to-mingle investment banker must be facing, or the interfering mom-in-law of that pretty looking girl who looked so fidgety. Or it could even be the whiny dog and what’s on his plate. Thank you but I already knew I was a freak. Hah! I beat you to that discovery, didn’t I?? Had about a 3-decade start!

Of course nothing gets me off as a couple getting it on! Just kidding! Threw that in to see if you were in fact still paying attention to my pointless ramblings.

But seriously best view of all? An old wrinkly couple in the dusk of their years, sitting at the dinner table, drinking a beverage (for my personal inner movie compulsion, I will assume it is hot chocolate or eggnogg) and wrapping a toy (for what I presume to be a favorite grandchild) when he suddenly pulls out a squeaky gag gift for her (you know those papery things which fold out into silly colorful shapes?) and they giggle uncontrollably. My bus stopped outside their apartment, so I will never forget that scene. And their utter mirth. At something so vicariously simple.


When double decker buses with easy viewing into people’s lives are not within reach, I will simply settle for a spot on my local train sandwiched in between the secretary in the navy blue skirt and the chipped nail-polish, and the lovelorn undergrad student on the mobile phone with her boyfriend.

Failing all else, I will simply step up to the open door of the moving train, lean out, and breathe in the pungent damp night sky as it lights up with one single stroke of lightning, and wish for all evenings to be as simple as this, in their ability to drown out the other voices in my head.