Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Flee from memory

To flee from memory
Had we the Wings
Many would fly
Inured to slower things
Birds with surprise
Would scan the cowering Van
Of men escaping
From the mind of man

- Emily Dickinson

Friday, 26 March 2010

Sorry for the inconvenience

The other day you told us there’s some stuff you’ve been meaning to write about since ages. But this damn weather, this lassitude, the sheer exhaustion that is life gets in the way. What can one do but silently nod. For when you speak how can anyone interrupt? And what does one say to you, anyway?

So you carry on. Today it is about the hundredth Facebook status about maids. We always knew it was a bad idea to get you onto Facebook. Or maybe not. We listen to the long but amusing rant about the stuff that people feel is imperative to share with their ‘friends’. For how can anyone’s week be complete without hearing about how someone’s maid has taken the day off, left work or simply vanished from the face of the earth. How we all managed to get by without these updates is stuff that sociological studies are made of. Amongst the many ‘likes’ and comments there’s always the ‘overseas’ friend who’ll remark, ‘Welcome to my life since the past 9 years.’ Only to be swiftly rebuked for even daring to compare life in some corner of New York or London with the misery that is life in some tower in South Mumbai or flat in South Delhi regardless of a daily ‘full time’ maid. In all this the most wondrous thing is that besides the name and maybe the address of the ‘absent’ person little else is known. It is always about the person not being there. And the grave inconvenience caused.

Your observations are sharp and humorous though liable to get you swiftly unfriended in the Facebook world. Soon everyone starts discussing status updates, sharing and modern day friendship. But I think about Nirmal, Lado, Ayesha and Yamuna. And Kancha, Sobhan, Digpal, Subodh and Ajay. The invisible millions of India whose absence is more profound than their presence.

Now fond remembrances that make life so much richer because at some point in time they were present.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Dark blue coat

by Rainer Maria Rilke‎

The sky puts on the darkening blue coat
held for it by a row of ancient trees;
you watch: and the lands grow distant in your sight,
one journeying to heaven, one that falls;

and leave you, not at home in either one,
not quite so still and dark as the darkened houses,
not calling to eternity with the passion of what becomes
a star each night, and rises;

and leave you (inexpressibly to unravel)
your life, with its immensity and fear,
so that, now bounded, now immeasurable,
it is alternately stone in you and star.

(Translated by Stephen Mitchell)

Friday, 12 March 2010


(All photographs by Anvita Lakhera.)

Identified as drably coloured, in conservation status they are categorized as LC- Least Concern. Anyone who has watched these birds for any length of time would testify that these words aren't quite what you'd associate with them, in normal parlance. For there is nothing drab about them when it comes to squabbling in the undergrowth or simply stalking the balconies in teams of seven plus members. They appear to be most concerned about everything that is happening in the neighbourhood. Gregarious, they chatter nineteen to a dozen and at the drop of a hat are ready to congregate in large groups for what appears to be frantic socializing.

The babbler may appear dull but then that maybe because we see things as we are, not as they are.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Quite empty, quite at rest

(All photographs by Anvita Lakhera.)

Quite empty, quite at rest,
The Robin locks her Nest, and tries her Wings.
She does not know a Route
But puts her Craft about
For rumored Springs -
She does not ask for Noon -
She does not ask for Boon,
Crumbless and homeless, of but one request -
The Birds she lost -

- Emily Dickinson

Monday, 8 March 2010

Into my garden come!

(All photographs by Anvita Lakhera.)

There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum;
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come!

- Emily Dickinson

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Thirteen ways of looking at a blackbird

A lot more ways of looking at the blackbird here
(All photographs by Anvita Lakhera.)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.


I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.


The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.


A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.


I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.


Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.


O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?


I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.


When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.


At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.


He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.


The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.


It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Long weekend

A mislaid postcard from Vienna. A mind numbingly boring phone call that shouldn’t have been. A skirt that once went to college. A book on Redoute’s Roses. A song that goes ‘one, two, three marlenas’. A juvenile sparrow among the petunias. A poem about a water drop learnt in middle school. A cool breeze mistakenly conveying the idea of winter. A boy painted silver and blue accompanied by five others painted red. A sparrow, then another and another - more sparrows among the petunias. A cup of tea after three long months. A scene from Bergman’s Seventh Seal re-enacted from memory. A thought shared with a twelve year old. A white cat chased by two dogs - one black and the other also black. A comment on life, human arrogance not unlike something by Nietzsche. A drawing of Rudbeckia Pinnata copied from An Illustrated History of the Garden Flower. A photograph of you from Saint Paul de Vence. A shooting star viewed from the balcony. A tree with four swooping bats. A moon that seemed would never rise again. A really long weekend.

Only to end with one persistent thought: What’s with Indians and our fascination for the word musings?