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A Traveler's Saga

Photo taken at Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Vibhor Dhote Oh! What are these days I have found myself in! The bagpacks I carry n...

Friday, December 25, 2015

My Murderer’s “Second Chance”

A tribute to the Nirbhayas of this world, to those who did not get justice, to Jyoti
#IndiaFailsNirbhaya

They were my sisters-
Those two poor daughters of an Indian village,
Clad in what they call decent clothing for women,
Found one morbid morning,
Dead and hanging from the branches of the tree,
The same tree around which you and I had played once.

Yesterday I saw my mother, with tears in her eyes,
When she said she saw no hope
Of justice in this nation where once I lived.

“Avenge my death,” I had once said to my friends,
To the people who once loved me;
Maybe they still do
And fate must have silenced them.
Maybe the sticks they were beaten with
While protesting against what was wrong,
Have put lashes on their hearts, and locks on their mouths.

The same juvenile lad who had once
Watched me writhing in pain,
Probably, with a smile on his face, as I moaned,
I heard he is now going to start working soon.
And have a “career”, I heard them telling him.

He who then used that deadly rod
Is now going to use needles and scissors, they say.

Strange is fate that it gives second chances.
I, however, was destined to die.
A “career” I too had dreamt of -
A dream that ended with my life.

Tomorrow, who knows, the tailor boy
May stitch and earn,
Or he might get a “second chance”
To rape, kill and burn.

But the dead will stay dead, buried and quiet,
My sisters – they will wriggle in pain and cry.

It’s not about one boy or one death,
It’s about a thousand crimes and only a hundred reported.

Tomorrow, when young children would walk the streets with heads held high,
Who’d save their dreams, when the rapists would, this way, thrive?


Saturday, December 19, 2015

Cities

So that was it,
Stepping on broken pieces of glass, bare feet till your toes too bleed,
Splinters that pierce the skin, that flow within you like blood, never to be found again...
Where darkness ended, another night began...
And that was the way things were for them
When they lived in different cities...

Five years later when they were united
They expected the world to turn all rosy,
The pain to go away
And happiness to stay.
So when they met, they made promises to keep.
To live in the same city.
But that was the way things were in that city.
They now live in different families

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Beyond the Hilltop

Where does the serpentine road lead?
To the hill's top and beyond.
A tiny hut resides at the end of the road,
The road ends where people do not go.
There rests in peace my muse and love
Within a coffin made of soil and leaves.
Sometimes, she sits atop the mountains people do not see,
Touching the clouds, she smiles in glee.
And when the wars will end and birds will sing.
She will turn the serpentine road around,
For a new world to lead.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Exploring the City of Lakes - Udaipur


I like solitude, to be left alone for a date with my thoughts. It’s beautiful the way you do not feel lonely even though you know not a single person in the place you are in, in the city you are in.
Although I have travelled alone before, gone to places all by myself, I’d never be entirely alone- I’d meet friends in the city or along the journey. This time I decided to make my comfort zone a little wider, to add one more escapade to it- a solo trip of four days and three nights to Udaipur, a must-visit city for tourists in the state of Rajasthan, India.

Beginning with the transportation from Gurgaon/Delhi to Udaipur- I luckily got flight tickets cheaper than that of train. I booked the tickets only a week before my departure date; train fare was somewhere around 1700 INR while airfare was around 1500 INR. (However, the return tickets cost me a fortune so I still suggest taking a bus or a train for those who have the time and patience/)

I expected Day #1 to be an uneventful one for the fact that I landed at the Maharana Pratap Airport at around 3:00pm and had promised my parents that I’d not be roaming around after sunset, being ensnared by the I-am-a-girl-and-hence-vulnerable mentality. The airport is around 20kms away from the city, and pre-paid taxis are available at the airport to be taken to the city with a fixed fare of 670 INR for Non-AC and 750 INR for AC. The taxi journey to the city comprised of gaping at the beauty of the majestic hills around. As informed by the driver, the city was once surrounded by walls, the remnants of which I saw while entering the city from the airport.  It took me around 40 minutes to reach the hotel I booked for myself – The Archi at Sukhadia Circle.

 


The hotel was quite good with service being the best part of it. The location was quite safe for solo female tourists like me and is a good locality to choose for one’s stay in Udaipur.



Sukhadia circle had some sort of a mini fair going on with children playing in those tiny merry-go-rounds and a chain of mobile stores selling all sorts of street foods – from pani puri to barf ki chuski.
The evening of Day #1 was spent searching for the famous boiled egg ki bhurji which I had read about, from many tour-advising sites. I chose to walk to Chetak Circle, the happening centre of the city with people everywhere, buying items ranging from sweets to home decorative – a distance of around 2kms from Sukhadia Circle.

There were mobile stores standing just opposite to Chetak Cinema Hall that no longer operates, selling boiled egg ki bhurji that looked more like a thick curry garnished with egg that was first boiled and then crushed, served with eight slices of bread on tiny plates made of steel.



Looking at the meal, I knew dinner was so not on the cards for day # 1; and somehow, that was going to be the case for the next two days.

While returning from Chetak Circle to Sukhadia Circle I boarded one of those autos that carried around 10-11 passengers, taking only INR 10 from each. (Don’t forget to ask the driver where the auto is going because there are around three- four different destinations and routes for such autos from the same place of origination.)

Day #2 began with an ambitious checklist of places to visit but ended with the understanding of the age-old debate between quantity and quality; I chose the latter.

A taxi took me to Sajjangarh Biological Park, a drive of around 5-7kms from my place of stay. The entry tickets to the park cost around 30-40 INR per adult, and for the tour three options were available – walking, taking a golf cart that charged 50 INR per head per ride and cycling that charged a fare of 20 INR per cycle per hour. I chose convenience and hence, the golf cart ride of 90 minutes or so. Since, I was alone I had to wait a little till the golf cart driver got a sufficient number of people (6-8) to take on a tour.

The tour reminded me of Vivek sir who had taken me on a trip to Rajaji National Park, earlier this year when he explained the features of various exotic birds and introduced me to new plants as well. Needless to say, at Sajjangarh Biological Park, I had to metaphorically poke the driver to get information out of him about the animals there. This place is for those who are enthralled by looking at animals. The only delightful scene for me was a Cheetah which came out of its cave to greet us by ceaselessly walking to and fro. When asked if it was a sign of irritation, the driver claimed that the big cat has been a dweller of that place since birth and it enjoys attention. “When the viewers will leave, it will again go back to its cave and sit there idly,” the driver added.

The entry gate to reach the Sajjangarh Palace is just adjacent to that of the Biological Park. The entry fee was of INR 50; private cars were charged somewhere around 200 INR whereas taking their jeep cost 90 INR per head, to and fro.

The Sajjangarh Palace is also called the Monsoon Palace, the reason for the same being the fact that it gets hidden by clouds during monsoon, as told by the guards, and the fact that it was built by Maharana Sajjan Singh in 1884 to watch the monsoon clouds. The journey from the main entry gate to the top of the Bansdara Peak of Aravalli Hill Range, where the palace is located, consists of a narrow serpentine road where drivers need the skill to maintain a range of speed that isn’t too low to move uphill or too high to crash with the vehicles coming downhill. The view of the palace is a treat to the eyes once the 5km long journey to the top of the hill is covered. The hilltop allows you to get a proper view of the city at the front, the mountains surrounding its back, along with the two famous lakes – Fateh Sagar Lake to the left and Pichola Lake to the right.



A small pond with blooming blue water lilies greeted the visitors about to enter the palace while I could spot a gray Langur sitting on a tree, watching the strangers patiently.

I am not a fan of Rajput Architecture so the hilltop view is what captivated me the most along with the feeling of freedom you get when you stand alone in one of those Jharokas, letting the soft breeze play with your hair and dupatta. It was, I considered, one of the best places to be, lost in one’s own train of thoughts while admiring the creation of the nature, questioning one’s own purpose of existence.

 


After the wonderful time spent at the Palace, the driver dropped me back to the main gate from where I got an auto which dropped me to the main road, a ride of INR 30. Another auto, shared with around 10 other people, took me to Fateh Sagar Lake, charging INR 10.

Two Red Wattled Lapwings spotted near Fateh Sagar Lake, Udaipur

Tourists visit Fateh Sagar Lake to take boat or jetty rides and visit the islands of this artificial lake. The museum in front of the lake was what held my interest as I proceeded to pay it a visit. They say you need a vehicle to take inside Maharana Pratap Memorial and so I took an auto with me. An auto driver charges from 50 – 100 INR depending on your negotiation skills. The entry tickets cost 50 INR for the visitor and 25 INR for the auto. Larger vehicles would be charged more.  
My suggestion would be to either take a personal vehicle or choose to walk since there is a lot to learn from in this place. My auto driver eventually got tired of waiting and complained about the time I was taking, making me feel guilty. There are seven spots and they begin with the statue of Maharana Pratap on his horse, Chetak, built at the top of Moti Magri.


A stall near it makes you wear traditional Rajasthani attire to be clicked which made me all excited and eager to try the attire. I could hardly move my arms properly once I was dressed by the men there.


The hilltop gives a good view of the lake; the Monsoon Palace too can be spotted sitting proudly on the Aravalli hill range.


The next spots, in order, are Hakim Khan Statue, Bhamashah Statue, Veer Bhawan, Bhiluraja Park, Sunet Park and Jhalaman Park. I chose to skip the parks as I had no intention of getting photographs and it was getting late already. The best place was to visit Veer Bhawan that gave you a glimpse of history including the battle of Haldighati.

My takeaway – one of the biggest sacrifice, in history, of a mother, Panna Dhai, the maid of the then prince Udai Singh, when she, in order to protect her master when he was about to be attacked by his Uncle Banbeer, placed her own son Chandan, who was Udai Singh’s playmate, on the prince’s bed. The uncle mistakenly killed Panna Dhai’s son while another maid carried Udai Singh in a basket of vegetables to a safe place.

The next place I visited worth mentioning is a store named Crystal Forest. It stands right in front of the staircase leading to O’zen café at Jagdish Chowk, near the City Palace Campus. From outside it was just like any other store, which I entered to buy a souvenir for my parents. I bought a small wooden owl, the chest of which doubled up as a cage holding another small wooden owl inside.


As I struck up a conversation with the store owner, Ajay Mehta, I realized the immense potential the person has. He is passionate about studying as much as he can about precious gems and minerals, has a good collection of stones from different places and makes well-crafted designs himself creating beautiful earrings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces and anklets using shells and gems. He showed me an oyster shell that had pearls of various sizes and shapes on it and explained how different kinds of pearls are used for different functions. He even makes jewellery out of the customer’s self-made designs.



If you are one of those interested in ordering a design or making a purchase, please drop a mail to sanhitabaruah@gmail.com.

Day #2 ended with a sumptuous meal at the famous-among-tourists O’zen café that provides a pleasant ambience and western cuisine. The popular café also shows the James Bond movie Octopussy in the evening, and I was the only Indian sitting there sipping mohito and relishing burger and salad.

On Day #3 I shifted to another hotel for some “royal treatment” as mentioned on the website explaining the heavy moment charged. The hotel is named Raj Kesar Regency, at Shikarbadi Road, and has a beautiful interior. However, the location isn’t good enough for tourists to stay as it is situated in the outskirts of the city. No availability of private autos and unavailability of cabs there just support my previous claim. I took a shared auto, charging 10 INR per head, which took me some 4-5kms to a bus stand where I left it to take a private auto to Bagore ki Haveli.

I absolutely loved Bagore ki Haveli; its museum had a very good display of items used in the ancient times along with a lot of information about the living style of the Kings and Queens of the eighteenth century. From the world’s largest pagdi to the ancient “pub” where all the gambling, drinking and Hookah smoking happened, the palace is worth a couple of hours of your time. It also has a room for puppets depicting the various position-holders of a kingdom and a museum depicting the royal wedding.

I was lucky to have visited the palace when an exhibition was going on by a married couple from Ahmedabad.




The wife, Dhruti displayed beautiful paintings made on a handmade paper derived from the bark of the Argali (in Nepalese) or Theyshing (in Sikkimese) tree, brought from Sikkim.



Her husband, Mayank Ghedia, an architect by profession but a nature photographer and artist by heart displayed pictures taken using various glass objects and a torch light that created beautiful illusions reflecting spiritual experience. Mere words can’t explain the extent to which I was mesmerized by his creations. The photographs I liked the most are named ‘Bride’ and ‘Wings of Joy’and, respecting my budget and his art as well, I bought a stack of his photographs that came in smaller sizes than the ones on display. I consider myself a fan already, and I am eager to attend his exhibition in Delhi when he conducts one. Drop me a mail for more details, pictures and explanations.

Half a day was spent admiring the various facets of  Bagore ki Haveli and the view of the Lake Palace, which is a palace built on a small island in Lake Pichola, that could be enjoyed from the Haveli. I headed through the narrow byelanes, looking at stores selling beautiful kurtas and bags, to the City Palace, expecting the best experience of my visit to Udaipur. To my utter dismay it was a holiday and hence, the palace was crowded as much as a metro station is during rush hours. I could not muster the courage to get in the queue and have a look at its museum amidst perspiring people, so I decided to have my lunch in the complex, instead. The only restaurant in the complex was the famous and highly-priced Palki Khana. As shocking and disappointing as it seems, even the restaurant was crowded with people paying around 800 INR for a coffee or so.



I decided to go see the other places and then move to the exit. One of the guards frowned at me for paying 100 INR (entry fee is 250 INR for adults and 100 INR for students) to enter the complex but not visit the museum. I meekly explained that I was saving the museum for another less-crowded day. Before exiting I had a good look at the part of the palace where the present king lives and of the hotel-turned-palaces nearby; none had a vacant table at the restaurants.


One of the gates led me to Dudh Talai where I had a ride on a camel’s back. The scariest part for me was climbing the iron ladder to reach the tall camel’s back and then position myself, while still holding on to the ladder, in a way, to be seated comfortably, as if it was a motorbike. The 10 minutes ride was literally bumpy but fun to experience.

The next thing to do was to reach the top of the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Park to buy tickets for a ropeway ride to the temple of Karani Mata. People had to wait for around an hour owing to the rush of tourists eager for the ride. A restaurant there caters to the people waiting for their turn, serving delicious chhole bhature and pouring extra milk in the tea when “special tea” was ordered, as told by one of the tourists there. I didn’t have to wait for long as I was a solo traveler and, hence, was accommodated with a family of five. The sight of the city around from the temple was amazing; sunset from the top of a hill is a sight to savour.



Day #4 began with the announcement that my flight was “preponed”, leaving me no time to make any more plans for the day. A quick look-around of the sweet shops in one of the markets accompanied by purchasing of the delicious rabri ke laddu, made of fried thickened and sweetened milk, was my last activity before leaving for the airport.


 As I returned to my hostel at Gurgaon that evening, the taste of the laddu was what brought a smile to my face as I reminisced the wonderful time spent in the City of Lakes, Udaipur.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Your Story

Someday you will tell them your story.
But darling, do not think that they'll listen to it.
They will hush you up.
"Pretend that it never happened,"
They will tell this as they avert their eyes.
They will not pat your back.
They will not see how brave you were.
They will only see the scars and not the wounds.
All they will wish for is those scars to disappear.
But dear, when you have born those wounds
With all your heart and might,
Dare you not lose the scars.
Scars that define who you are now,
Scars that will tell your story
When the world will shut their ears,
Scars that will pat your back
And remind you of the courage you had shown,
For, darling, you will need to be brave
Again
And again.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Habit

Broken bones and a bruised face,
He checked the mirror-
The nightmare's back again.
Palms that bled and fingers without nails.
An empty heart and a blank page.
He feeds himself on the frozen salad-
Last year's leftovers, he did not forget.
He could let go of sleep
Or he could sit and bleed.
He chooses to embrace the red
So, within the four walls, he stayed.
Why stay when you can leave?
But all of this has happened before,
Not a curse, it's a habit, he said.

Prejudice

Exactly a year ago, I was stranded all alone on the highway of Kharghar​, devoid of people, with the cell phone on my hand losing its marbles just when they were needed the most.

Two men and a flock of goats were the only living beings to be seen on the road, if I do not take in account the grass that lost its greenery to the dirt of the vehicles that pass by, probably years ago.
I went to one of the two men - the one whose clothes were less disheveled than the other, but disheveled nonetheless and as dirty as the grass I stepped upon.

He combed his dark, oiled hair with his long and thin fingers as I approached him.

I ask him in a polite tone, hiding the desperateness inside me," Bhaiya, aapke paas mobile phone hoga? Ek call karna tha".

He shakes his head and I almost lose all my hopes on making a call to my friend.

He says, "Phone nahi hai. Par mere tab se call ho sakta hai, Chalega?"

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Shattered

They say when you tell your dreams to the world
The Universe makes them come true.
I have seen dreams shattered into pieces,
Lying on a bed of thorns, I have seen them go all wrong.
They say it's dark when dreams become nightmares,
When dark shadows grow darker,
Forming the shapes of the monsters inside you.
They say dark is the colour of blood
That oozes out of your eyes when your world shatters,
Your dreams die, and you break down.
I have seen light creep in the dungeon
Only when there was nothing left behind.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

You and I

Somewhere far,
In another constellation of stars,
Maybe you're right
And maybe I'm wrong,
And maybe I'm not as sick and frail and unsound,
And maybe you stay
Like the darkest of nights that didn't leave today.
A thousand years would go by,
Only to let in a thousand more.
Maybe we smile
There
Lying beneath the countless clouds of a faraway sky.
Maybe time stands still
For it no longer matters
Or maybe it gently passes by
Like the breeze from a land we visited once.
Once, Twice or thrice, maybe we shed tears too
On the wounds of distant scars
Slowly healing
The way rainbows disappear.
Maybe we smear dirt
On each other's faces
Like children play
With their eyes closed
But hearts open,
And maybe we no longer deny
That there still exists true love
Somewhere far
Beneath the same sky we look at tonight,
Love that overpowers eternity,
Oblivion and destiny.
Love, when it is just you and me.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Forgotten Forevers

If only truths were spoken,
I can say forevers can be counted,
On the tiny fingers of love
Born a few years ago,
On the walls painted red,
Every year on the same date.

But love has grown up now.
The red walls have been repainted,
This time, on another date,
Only to be repeated year after year,
One false forever after another.

And truths, these days, are spoken
The same way promises are made,
With gritted teeth and crossed fingers.

At the end of the day,
All smiles seem fake,
The fake forevers remain
To be counted upon the stars,
One after the other,
Some forgotten,
Some too dim to be seen,
But a forever, nevertheless,
Another star to keep.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Do you believe in MAGIC?

I wasn't old enough
When I first believed in magic.
Over the years, I have learned
To believe in it,
Even more.
Believe that doors will open,
Or at least, a window will do;
Believe the bars will be shattered,
Or at least, they will melt
The way blocks of ice-cream do.
I wasn't old enough,
When I first saw magic,
In a stranger's smile,
In a bar of chocolate
Handed to me out of the blue.
Over the years, I have seen
Magic still lingering around me.
I have believed in magic,
I still do.
The way I stumble and fall,
The day when things can't go more wrong,
The way it's all good again,
Faint smiles
And the tears I wipe.
And I still see magic
Before I go to sleep
The way the bird near my window
Probably smiles with its weird beak.
And everyday I wake up,
The bird awaits my call,
It flies away
As I take my morning stroll.
Gestures of kindness
And the humble people I meet,
I believe there is magic,
At every step, in every deed.
I am old enough now,
And I still believe in magic.
So when I smile at you,
I hope you do too.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Faces

A second of eternity
Pouring into a frail heart,
Mouthful of love
And handful of trust.
Wounds that lasted
But only for a moment,
Have turned to rotten flesh,
And used-to-be-lips-and-a-face.
Then love comes again
Like a rainbow on a clear-sky-day.
The dark clouds must have
Withered away in pain.
A new skin appears now,
Fresh and unsullied
To be wounded again
But this time, with memories.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Babies' Cry

Morbid days and morbid nights,
Trees that no longer live,
Blood in grandmother's hands,
Red fluid that bled thick.
The blood now powdered
By her hands that crushed
The necks of mint leaves.
Baby faces on the walls
Painted yellow and pink.
The same faces haunt at night,
Nights that remind them to laugh,
Laugh and giggle
Over their dead bodies
Thrown in the kitchen garden.
Trees that no longer live,
Plants that died in grief,
The tiny yellow leaves
Of the stems that grew on the bodies,
The roots that captured the hearts.
The blood is now powdered,
Maybe underneath grandmother's pestle.
The mortar smells of rotten flesh,
Grandfather's misery and mother's tears.
The babies laugh as they protest,
They would have bled every month anyway.
Ten dead babies and a newly born,
Grandmother's love and souls torn.
Let the baby live
That bleeds only once
At the time of its death
And not every month...

Monday, August 10, 2015

An Extra Cup of Tea




A lover of simple things and simple gestures as I have always been, I rub my eyes idly as I open them to celebrate the wee hours of the morning. An unusual air of serenity surrounds me each morning when I manage to wake up before the sun rises. The tiny alarm clock on my table confirms that it’s six. Half an hour of walking around the beautiful lake nearby leads me to my favourite destination – the tea shop.

Those were the days when life was as simple as it should have been. I had just left my previous company. There were another two weeks left for me to go home, which, in turn, meant another week free of the worries of packing my clothes and selling the furniture. I decided those days would be completely mine – days of my very own life dedicated to solely the one true owner of it.

I would walk for half an hour or cycle for a few minutes each morning. I would sit on my favourite seat in the park, hum songs that heal my soul, and dance to the tunes of those songs in my head which need no time to lift my spirits up. I would then go to the tea-shop, order a cup of “crisp tea” as I called it, being entirely unaware how a cup of tea can literally be crispy. I would observe the various people who would sit at the stall to chat, or to hurriedly finish their breakfasts to get back to work, or to simple ogle at the legs of the only female customer sitting there – me. I would later pick a book, my choice during those days was the Cobalt Blue by Sachin Kundalkar translated by Jerry Pinto, lie flat on my stomach on my comfortable bed and read it till it takes me to places only my poems can take. Home-delivered pizza or pasta would later be complimented with a walk around the area in the evening, followed by a cup of coffee at a coffee shop famous for its cold coffee dressed with tiny chocolate blocks. Nights were spent watching some season of Friends and again reading or writing. For me, those were my Utopian days – days when I had no worries about the future, about the past or about any materialistic demands other than food and my favourite cup of tea.

One of those days was the day when my cup of tea had a story to tell. I find myself at the tea shop, the very shop that never keeps me waiting, serving me the best cup of tea I can get while being in Mumbai, within a minute of my appearance near the vendor.

The vendor is not a person who would talk a lot or entertain questions; I don’t even know his name. But my almost-daily visits to his road-side shop had certainly built a bridge that’d make him serve me one cup of tea without I having to ask for it.

He hands me the glass tumbler that held the magical tea that would awaken my cells and keep me energized and happy for the day. I pick the glass and sit on the low walls around the shop, just like all those men who don’t want to keep standing do.

I take a sip of the elixir; I take a pause to admire the taste and another to admire its effect on my moods. My lips stretch a little longer to form a smile; my mind believes today’s going to be a good day. The tea has the perfect amount of sugar in it – it’s neither too sweet, nor too bitter. A gentle breeze blows at exactly the moment the Universe wants it to. I put the tumbler beside me on the wall I sat on. I close my eyes and I feel the breeze while the taste of the sip of tea spellbinds my tongue that gently touches my palate to feel the goodness.

A second elapses, my phone rings, I pull it out of one of the pockets of my jeans, and in the process, hit the tumbler. The tumbler falls on the street and breaks into a couple of pieces, the elixir it contained now flows out of it, in four different directions.

I feel more sorry than embarrassed, I ask for a piece of cloth to mend the mess I made. The tea vendor quietly brings a piece of dirty cloth and stops the elixir from flowing any longer. The cloth absorbs the elixir and falls inside a trash can from the hands of the vendor.

I look at the trash can with sorry eyes for the tea that has been wasted. The vendor brings another cup of tea for me. “It’s okay, ma’am,” he says, “this cup is on me.”



Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ashes from Half a Moon

Blind eyes of the night,
Half a moon to gaze at,
Half a moon to cry for.

She steps on broken hearts,
Pieces of fierce glass
That used to be mirrors.

She walks a little too close
To the burning walls of hell.
The gates will burn too;
The fire can no longer contain
The wave of iced hearts.

She picks the broken pieces
Till her fingers bleed,
Till those walls turn to ashes.
She steps on the ashes,
Till they embrace the ground
Till one can no longer tell
Ashes from the soil.

A slow death, she says,
Is the cure to all pain.
And her last world is 
Now ash, soil and blood.

She flies to a new world,
Of iced hearts and blind eyes.
Half a moon to gaze at,
Half a moon gazing back.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Unread Letters

I hope you still write her letters,
I hope tears still fall from her eyes,
Reading those letters she never found.
And when you look at the letters you never sent,
I hope it's her eyes that see the love wrapped,
For they no longer need to know the words.
But even when words fail to work magic,
I hope you still believe in your letters...
I hope you still write her letters
But I hope you send the letters you wrote..

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Night's Conversation

I turn out the lights
And he turns on the radio,
And it's almost like a routine
The way he approaches the bed
And I approach him.

We smile at each other
With other people
On our minds.

We start with a gentle peck
And then probably a kiss
Of feelings close to disgust.

He kisses my scars
Scars that remind me of wounds-
Wounds that he wasn't a part of.

It isn't love
And we both are in pain,
And we make love,
A good night's sleep is preordained.

I turn out the lights
Inside my head as well.
"Oh, stop thinking."

He turns on the radio
And a million thoughts
Approach his mind.

Tomorrow,
We shall not remember each other
for I have someone else to go to
And he has someone else in his mind.
But we'll smile at each other-
Smile close to disgust.

And we'll call it love
When naked bodies meet
Knowing not,
That love it is not.
For our naked souls await
To be revealed
And a good conversation
Was our sole need.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

After Years

So many years have gone by
And age has made both of us
A lot older than we used to be,
A little wiser than we used to be.
And when the yesteryears
Enter stealthily through the doors
Of a veiled moon and a dark cirrus,
We look back at what we used to be
And what we have become today.

So many years have gone by
And I don't see a single sign of you
And you see me not in who I am today.
I have changed as I should have -
I have built a small hut in a new village now.
You still are in the city we used to live in.
And maybe we'd have been so much happier now,

But I have changed as I should have
And you, you still have those grey hairs
Like the rays of moonlight falling on my face now.
And when I have changed as I should have,
You still live in the city we used to live in,
Looking the way you used to look,
And maybe, just maybe, you haven't changed a bit,
The way you should have changed.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Open Doors

Of late, I have realized I left too many doors open.

I have this habit of not shutting the doors when I should, of leaving some space as tiny as a cleavage. Some doors I have shut a long time back. I didn’t simply shut them; I slammed some, the way only a teenager does when she is angry because her father snatched away her iPod. Some doors I struggled to close, one inch a day. A few of these doors are still left ajar, not awaiting someone’s arrival, but knowing there is nothing to hide behind closed doors.

Closed doors – I think it’s easy to close the doors, to hide underneath the blanket of comfort, to pretend there is no world outside. Of late, I have realized easy is no fun at all.

I have been trying to unlock the doors I shut eons ago. The rusted latches refuse to comply. Some doors I closed a few years ago, are giving up trying to stay shut.

I look at the rooms these doors protect – mostly empty, devoid of the life they once used to hold. Was it only after the treasure was stolen that the doors were locked? Or the fear of theft made me empty the rooms? Where is the treasure now? I can barely remember.

I sit on the pile of the remaining pearls. Three empty spaces stare at me – those spaces used to hold doors once, one carved of wood, one made of iron and the third was a mere curtain, pretending to be a door.

The curtain was the first to be torn. The wooden one was broken one fine morning. And the one made of iron had disappeared into thin air on one mystical night, the way rust eats up a tiny piece of nail when left unattended for ages.

I sit on the pile of the treasure left behind – a few pearls I can count on my fingers. Yesterday, I believe, the count was more. I can barely remember.

Of late, I have realized I have left too many doors open.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nothing Lasts

The star that burned
Into ashes today
Was once the star
Of his mother's death.

And the same ball of fire,
She had seen
When he was born,
She'd made a wish.

And now that you pick
The stardust lying
On the cold hard ground,
You call it special,
You call it lucky.

But he picks the same
And calls it dirt.

So, what's its name,
In this ephemeral world,
Where identity changes
And names don't last?

Monday, June 15, 2015

When She Comes

On some nights
When no one else is awake
She sits on my chest.
She walks in and out of the door
Till I recognize her face.
And when he falls asleep
In my arms,
She gently cuts his throat
And lets him bleed till dawn.
She is named
As she should be -
The ugliness of glee.
And the corpse
That lie beside me now
Was no one but a memory...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Excerpts from the Pages of my Diary

I was just going through my diary to find out what happened the same time last year. Here's what I found worth sharing. Food for thought for me. What about you?

*

"It doesn't seem like you're living a life, it's almost like you're travelling on a train with a destination unknown.

You're sitting on a seat near the window looking outside, imagining how things are there outside, how is it like to live in the houses that you pass by. And when you’re busy noticing the outside, you at times do not pay heed to your surroundings inside the coach.

And thus some passengers who got down at a station midway fail to capture your interest, or maybe it is because of your deviation of interest towards the outside. While at other stops new people get up, and you like their company, you share and you laugh.

But sooner or later they get down.

Because it's your journey, you're the traveler and they just accompany you for some distances.

And then, maybe when you reach your destination there will still be passengers in the train, passengers you've mingled with or passengers you hate, people who were there since the train had started or people who got in just before the last stoppage, and like it or not, they will get off the train with you, at your destination which also proved to be there destination."

*

And one fine day everything seems to be simply wrong. Why is it so hard to be happy? Why is it so hard to genuinely laugh even for a single second?

Why is it that we spend our entire lives learning to grow up but always miss our old innocent selves? We claim to be happier now for we make more "practical" decisions. But maybe life was better in those times when decisions weren't supposed to be made, they just happened when we were busy living instead of juggling time between merely surviving and living some moments.

I don't expect to achieve all the stars of the Universe. I think I expect very little from life - I just want everyone to be happy, but including myself.

*

You know you're living your life right when you check the pages of your one-year-old diary and find that you have ticked off all the items of the checklist you made- your short term goals.

Now, that I smile thinking about this little achievement, I wonder if I should really call it living if I had to make a checklist at the first place.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Men like You

I tried to save him
From the demon I knew I'd be.

He came a little closer,
Claiming his love for me.

But all the men
Who've ever loved me
Have loved but only
For a short time of Spring.

Now in the middle of this storm
When he still hasn't left,
I wonder if he's real
If he isn't a daydream.

For I've heard of men like him
But never really seen one.
I've met men like him before
But only
In my poem.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

All Lies

She rewrites history,
Everyday,
She says.
I see lies.
And when he smiles,
And claims he is fine.
I see lies.
More lies.
And when I look at you,
And you make me feel good
I see you through,
I read your book.
I see lies.
More lies.
All lies.

Yesterday,
When you said
Things will be alright.
I knew at an instant,
That feeling,
That vibe.
You're going
To lie,
again.

Shackles of lies,
In everything I say.
And when I write
Our story today,
I see lies,
I see them, everywhere.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Who is She?

Who is she,
That ugly old woman?
She says she grew up
Facing the vagaries of life.
Oh, didn't I do the same?
I would tell her
Had she not been so vain.
I looked at her eyes,
Puffed up as if she just cried.
I've spent sleepless nights crying,
I could tell her,
Had she been my friend.

Who is she,
That woman who looks nothing like me?
She is dressed up in black,
Mourning the death of someone akin.
Haven't I mourned deaths?
I have mourned them
Till there were no tears left.
I would let her know
But she seemed tearless herself.

Who is she,
The lady I couldn't like?
She runs her fingers
Through her long grey hair
And sings songs of despair.

'Who are you?'
I asked her, at last.
The answer I couldn't bear
As I kept looking
At the image in the mirror.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Stay

When he made that charming cup of tea,
And when he smiled, so lovingly,
You knew you were changing,
Your stone cold heart was now melting,
One pebble at a time.

And when he touched you, gently,
You just smiled.
Oh, did it hurt then?
When you knew he was leaving?
Or, were you just embracing
The moment, without grieving?

His presence,
His perfume,
Did that make you forget
About someone you left
Long before he came?

And when he talked about his love,
Did you reminisce yours?
Or is it him you thought about,
And his lost love of yore?

When he asked about you,
You knew you were ready to tell,
To tell him about all you know,
And all that has bothered you, ever so.

Did you tell him then that you were broken?
Or did you just shed a drop of tear?
Tell me, did you just smile,
And pretended to be just fine?
Did your heart want to cry?
Did you feel like running away to hide?

When he caressed your hands,
You knew you wanted him to stay.
You knew if he just stayed,
You'd heal a little more,
You'd smile for a little longer.
And maybe you'd also laugh,
The laughter that's been missing
From the last few days.

Tell me, did you tell him all?
Did you ask him to stay?

I know,
You didn't.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Door

I took a step
And it dragged my body along.
I don't wanna go,
For I know what's behind that red door.
I fear I may ruin,
What has already been torn.
They say
Fear is nothing
But your future in your nightmares.
When I sleep these days,
I see that red door.
The door bleeds
And the cave, it guards,
Shrieks at midnight.
I don't wanna go.
But on some dark nights,
When the moon disappears,
I find myself caged
Behind that red door.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Goodbye

I have seen fresh flowers decay;
I have seen them rot and die.
So, I know things end
And I could just sulk and cry.
Tears slosh within me like waves.
No, don't look at me in the eye.
For even if your eyes touch mine
I'll just run away, hide and cry.
Things will never be the same
Now that you're leaving my side.
Who knows if we'll meet again
Or if it indeed is our last Goodbye.
Goodbye.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Blah Poem

When I was fifteen
Growing up was the new thing :-)

I said no kissing
Till I turn eighteen :-/

A secret room for two
When I turn twenty-two <3

But now I'm twenty-four
And I throw him out that door  :-/

Tomorrow I'll be twenty-six
And I'll be in a fix  :-(

For when I'm thirty
Things might get dirty :-O

Because I'll again need you
When I turn thirty-two :-)

But when we both turn sixty
Being together will be risky :-/

For we'd want to be fifteen again
And break the promise of kissing too late. :-P

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Song Of The Dead

She whispers words in my ears,
Songs in my head,
Dark songs in my soul.
She vanishes as dawn breaks.
And when the night
Covers me
With its starless blanket,
She appears again
On the doorstep.
Two gentle knocks
On the wooden door.
Third,
She calls out my name.
She then whispers my name,
Again and again.
She sings songs of the past,
Songs of the dead.
She wears the moon
On her face.
But tonight's a moonless night;
She bears no face.
She whispers death in my ears,
Songs in my head.
Songs forgotten,
Songs of the dead.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Fake

I bite the bitter leaves
Of the tree that grows in my backyard.
I pick up the yellow ones,
Dying and pretending to be
Beautiful,
Both.
I hear her speak,
In that familiar accent.
She laughs aloud;
A shrill pitch in her voice.
Deep red lipstick on her lips.
A little more flare in her hair.
Her eyes beam as she talks.
I look at myself,
Then I look at her.
I was more real
With the leaves I hold on to.
She plucks flowers
From my backyard.
I feel sorry
Both for the flower
And her.
Fake, I called her once
And made her cry.
He called her beautiful.
I looked at her again,
And that made me cry.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mist-ified

Mist
In the air,
Thinning out
As it travels
Inside your soul.
You let it out,
Too soon.
You don't
Let it affect
The words
Your lungs breathe.
You float
For some seconds,
Ephemeral.
Later,
You sink in,
You let yourself drown.
Mist
In the air.
Now you're one.
The air outside.
The air inside.
You're the mist you breathe.
In every breath
You take
It is his name.
He says
The air that infuses
And permeates your soul.
You're the mist
Who lost its identity.
You're the mist
You breathed in.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Couple

The hopeful, loyal girl
Waited as she promised
She would.
He has forgotten her face now.
She doesn't remember anything
More than his name, anyway.
There were days when they both
Wailed in the pain of separation.
"I'll come back," he said.
"I'll wait".
Promises are mere words.
Words were forgotten.
"He is probably dead by now,"
She declares,
Clutching the collar of her cane.
They are no longer young.
She doesn't remember much
Of even the previous day, anyway.
She chants his name
As she claims her deathbed.
She remembers how he used to smell.
"Probably he just passed by," she sighs at the familiar smell.
Traces of tears on her wrinkled face.
How would he know?
He has forgotten her face.
She is dead now.
Did it matter, anyway?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Between Love and Romance


I'm far from being a romantic person. Loving? Not at all. I giggle at the wrong time. My laugh is too loud. I dance weirdly. I often find myself away from people or I find a way to push them away.
But I giggle, laugh and dance anyway.
And whenever I find myself alone, I sing, I think and I write. That's the closest to love that I can ever be. And when I hug the trees and kiss the sunset, when I admire the birds fly and I dance on the beach, that's the closest to romance that I can ever be. I make poems in my head. I make them all the time.
I have always been in love. I'm still in love. I pour all my love to the notepad I write on. I romance the pen. The poems that are still lingering in my head, they say I'm incurably romantic. I still keep my poems. I live more in my imaginations than in reality. And if that's not love, I don't know what else is.
I don't need a him or a her. I'm in love with love itself. I'm a story in another story. I'm somewhere beyond romance. I'm somewhere near love. In between all the love in the air and the romance in the souls, I'm eternal - I'm a poem...

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Cup of Coffee

Like a cup of warm coffee
Kept on his table from long,
He takes a sip from me
As he kills a little piece of my heart
Every time he does.
He then keeps the cup away.
I long for him, hurt,
For just one more sip,
One more kiss,
One more time together.
"I promise I'll forget you," I lie.
He gives it a thought,
Reminiscing the last kiss.
Bitter.
He refuses.
Another chance?
He reconsiders.
Our lips meet yet again...
And while he takes the sip gently,
Taking in all of me slowly,
Killing a part of me as he does,
I know it is not over
Because after a little while
I'd ask for another chance,
He'd comply.
I'd call it love,
Knowing very well
That someday the coffee will be cold,
He will move on to another
Cup of warm coffee
Probably not as bitter
As my so-called love.

How I Learnt Cycling in 4 Hours

I’m 23, turning 24 after a month. I weigh 8kgs more than I should. I walk clumsily. I’m prone to colliding with objects that don’t move. I can’t cross busy roads alone. I can hardly run a few metres without stopping for breath.  And I do not know cycling.

In my defense, I never got the opportunity to learn cycling nor did I have much interest in it when I was young. Now that I realize I’m 24 and I just theoretically know to drive a car and nothing else, I decided to learn to ride a bicycle.

First Blocker – There are hardly any schools that would teach you cycling. Of course, I think there are none.

Solution – I spent 50% of my savings (Yes, I hardly save anything) and bought a new bicycle – a blue Avon Foster bicycle (I call it my bike, no other names, I’m not 8 anymore :-P) on 29th March 2015.

Second Blocker – They laughed when I asked for training wheels. “Not available,” they said.

Solution – I decided I have all the time on earth, so I can do without the extra wheels.
And thus, I bought my first bike at the age of almost-24, and I was ready to learn. My friend and colleague, Venkat volunteered to coach me.

Session 1: 30th March’15
Time: 7:30am – 8:00am

I was being too cautious. I was too afraid to fall. With the amount of fats I have in me with hardly any muscles I had no energy to push the pedal well. He’d push the cycle, the cycle would hardly move a couple of meters, and it would tilt; I’d stop.

I was whining that I’d never be able to do it right, that my weight would never make me balance it well, and I have no energy. I feared I’d fail miserably.

I returned home learning what I thought was nothing.

Session 2: 31st March’15
Time: 8:00am – 8:30am

It was just like Day 1, except the fact that Venkat would push the cycle enough that it would go further, perspiring as he did. The cycle would go lop-sided as I’d be unable to balance to my weight. I just had a little fun as I got to pedal for longer seconds, while he was somehow both pushing and balancing the cycle. His patience was laudable, my progress was not.

I decided I should not waste his time much, that I should just sell the cycle off and quit. He encouraged saying, “at least I didn’t have to teach you about how to handle the handle. You’re doing it all by yourself and you’re doing it well.”

I learnt using the brakes that day to save me from falling because I was so afraid to fall in front of other people. We were practicing on the narrow roads near his apartment.

1st April’15

I intentionally overslept in the morning. I didn’t turn up.

Session 3: 1st April’15
Time: 11:00pm – 12:00am

I was tired of failing, so I decided I should just stop being so cautious about falling and let myself fall. I wore my sports shoes, long trousers, brought antiseptic cream, muscle pain relief gel and I was ready for the day, I mean, the night. We chose the night time as it was cooler during the night-time and that would help Venkat perspire less. And I was in no mood to lose this time.


The first time he pushed, I rode my bike for a few metres, and then fell on the hard ground. The second time he pushed I did fine but when I tried to pedal myself I fell again. By the end of the day, he would just give the initial push to the bicycle and I’d ride for more than 80metres. I was more than happy. My calves were badly bruised, I had scratches on my palms and legs from falling. I was in pain but the pain was worth it. I realized I’d be able to do it.

Session 4: 2nd April’15
Time : 11:30pm – 12:30am

For the first few times, Venkat would push me and I’d ride for the length of the entire road (150 metres or so). After a while, I learned to push my own weight myself. I’d pedal, balance and enjoy the ride. While returning, I’d just lift the cycle and turn it around for I didn’t know to take U-turns. While attempting left and right turns, I fell badly on the ground as the stem of the bike was looser than it should be. My knee was wounded, bleeding and in pain. We called it a night.

 3rd April’15

The knee was in so much pain that we dropped the practice for that day.

Session 5: 4th April’15
Time : 11:30pm – 12:30am

The worst part was over now – I had already fallen, so there couldn’t be anything worse, there was no more fear. I practiced U-turns till I perfected it, and then I was all good to enjoy the ride. He’d be on his bike – a Hero CBZ and I’d follow him on mine. The feeling was awesome  as I rode myself home, 2kms away.

5th April and on

I’ve been on my own ever since, confident. I ride my bike daily as I drive to and fro my friends’ place. I go to the market on it and I go to the tea shop on it. I have even gone cycling on a very busy market road after which I decided that people don’t really follow traffic rules here, and it kind of pissed me off. Sometimes, I cycle out of necessity and sometimes I do it for fun.

Lesson learned: Dare to fall. Once you are done with the falling, the fear, which is so much larger inside your head, disappears and you’re all game to learn.