Saturday, 30 July 2011

In Which Everything is Illuminated

On looking through the camera I often recollect the moment when I really looked at Monet’s paintings for the first time.

If it must be told, it was a dinner, in some year when I was barely in my twenties. The main attractions of the evening were mutton and beer. Being vegetarian and a borderline teetotaler my mind gladly drifted to other things. As it is the mind needs very little provocation to do so. Framed on the wall next to the entrance to the kitchen was a photocopy of one of Monet's gardens. The painting shall remain unnamed to protect the identity of all those concerned. My eyes fell upon it. Thankfully I was not under the influence.

In that unforgettable instant I had an epiphany and everything was illuminated to me. Objects appear as they are because of how light falls on them. As the nature of light in Delhi, where everything seems to exist behind a thin layer of dust, is miles apart from that of light in the Pacific Northwest, where the clouds reflect as much as they absorb, this fact gets reinforced constantly. More so when taking photographs. So one starts to read light all over again. And, in my case, fall in love with a entirely different color palette. 

However, just because something isn’t illuminated, it does not mean it is not there. As Goethe observed: Where there is much light, the shadow is deep. But more importantly if the eye does not want to see it, neither light nor glasses will help. *  Thus light can take us only this far and no further.

*German proverb

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Owl and the Pussycat

              Deep within the arboretum a napping owl is woken up by the crows. They circle the branch it sits upon cawing their disapproval. Without skipping a beat the owl looks up, looks down and looks around. Except for a couple of uncomfortable crows there is no one in sight. The wind gets entangled among the branches and whispers a garbled song about a boat and a ring. The leaves flutter sympathetically. The sun peeks from behind the clouds to offer a warm word but it melts away on the tall shoulders of the trees. And all are silence once again. The only sound that penetrates the silence is a distant, incessant buzz. Cars and more cars slicing through great lakes, chopping through the forests, gurgling and puffing but never quite making it to wherever it is they want to go. Will they ever go? But this is not what the owl awaits. It closes its eyes and goes back to sleep.

                 In the heart of Haight-Ashbury a white cat maintains its lonesome vigil. Without skipping a beat it looks up, looks down and looks all around. Nothing is happening here. No change. All the voices are from a past that is all but dead. Only the ghosts are smoldering. The ghosts piss on the sidewalks. The ghosts spit on the doorways that disgorge shining eyes and bright smiles. Eyes that flash plastic and lo! Dreams come true. All is happiness. Or so they believe or they dream. Those eyes and what is behind them. The cat doesn’t know. The cat doesn’t dream. It only awaits. But has almost forgotten what. It’s been that long. There were so many roads. Which one was taken? Which way did they go? Without blinking its eyes the cat waits and watches.
Dark star crashes
pouring its light 
into ashes

Reason tatters
the forces tear loose
from the axis

Searchlight casting
for faults in the 
clouds of delusion

Shall we go,
you and I
while we can
the transitive nightfall
of diamonds *

*Dark Star a song by Grateful Dead.

Monday, 11 July 2011


A blue, blue sky to sail on for ever after.

A fistful of clouds–to blow on, blow off and blow in again.

Timed to a sparrow's gentle serenade.

Sprays of grass–summer's sweet scent.

A butterfly's invite to siesta and sun-kissed dreams.

A wreath of wildflowers for the greatest glory of them all.

The breeze carries the hymnal–The ocean whispers Amen.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A point upon a map of fog

Careful now.
We're dealing here with a myth.
This city is a point upon a map of fog;
Lemuria in a city unknown.
Like us,
It doesn't quite exist.

– Ambrose Bierce