Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I like this word -- 'elsewhere'. It has an other-worldly ring to it, something illusory and impenetrable. Indeed, however far and wide we go, we never reach 'elsewhere'. It's simply unreachable -- it remains elsewhere, forever away from us.

Last weekend, on Saturday evening to be precise, while sitting at the foot the Gateway of India, the word came upon me fleetingly, almost imperceptibly. It was a perfect evening; before my eyes lay the vast Arabian Sea and behind me the fabled city of Bombay (Mumbai), teeming with life. I tried to absorb the evening with all my senses. But, without my knowing, I felt something amiss, as if something was not quite there, as if something had moved elsewhere.

I felt this way before, I knew. I felt this way when I stood before the majestic Taj Mahal. I felt this way when I saw the awesome snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas. I felt this way when I visited the haunting ruins of history in Delhi. I felt this way when I flew above the clouds for the first time (on an aeroplane, of course!).

It was the same feeling of elsewhere.

Whoever said that wishes were like wild horses, was right. They gallop away all the time, to elsewhere. Everytime I reach a place of my longing I encounter the same feeling -- not here, elsewhere.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Suddenly sleepless

I tossed and turned in my bed trying to get a wink of sleep. But it was one of those sleepless nights. I tried all the sleep-inducing methods I knew -- counted a lot of imaginary sheeps, read Oxford English Dictionary, gave a nice tel-maalish to my head, turned on the radio (yes, I'm a little outdated that way), put the ceiling fan on full speed -- methods that have worked for me in the past. But nothing worked tonight.

Sleep, although one of the most divine experiences, can become a nasty thing when it doesn't obey you. So I lay in my bed, wide awake and deeply irritated, feeling unadultrated jealousy towards all those happy souls who were having a good night's sleep. It was frustrating. I felt like screaming at the top of my voice and waking up everyone. But although eccentric at times, I'm not completely insane. So I dropped the idea of shouting my lungs out and retreated to the cosy orner of my balcony instead.

Outside, the night was startlingly quiet; nothing moved except the faint breeze. Dark silhouettes of trees stood there with a stony silence. The occasional barking of a dog or the flapping of a nocturnal bird only helped deepen the silence. There was nothing I could do but stare blankly at the darkness of the night and feel the silence seep into my body.

I know a dark silent night can lift the lid off different turbulent emotions. But all I felt was rather calm -- my agitation withering away with the passage of time. And standing there on that sleepless night I got to know loneliness all over again.

Monday, January 15, 2007

From a distant afternoon

It was a drowsy summer afternoon. The sun was fierce and the roads were all empty. The air was still and hung like a heavy curtain, not a leaf moved anywhere. The nighbourhood was absolutely silent -- only a faint sound of a radio occassionally wafted from somewhwre.

In the courtyard, under the shade of the mango tree, however, a little activity was going on. Handfuls of earth were being dug up. A young woman was doing the digging while a little boy fetched a mugful of water. She poured the water on the dug-up mound of earth and kneaded them until they became soft clay, ready to be given shape. She rolled one small clay ball and started making a human shape. When the hands and legs were created, she took a smaller ball and made a little head out of it -- complete with a little nose, a tiny mouth, two little button-like eyes, and two protruding ears on each side. The little boy was looking at the procedure intently, hunched on his knees, and insisted that he also tries his hands. He was given a lump of clay and he tried imitating what he saw, but his result was disappointing. So she took his tiny little fingers in her hand and helped him mould the clay balls. And after while there stood another identical little human figure. The boy was thrilled at the result.

"They look beautiful, maa", he said, beaming.

The mother smiled too and said, "Yes. But they are still soft. We'll have to leave them in the sun to dry now. And you can play with them tomorrow."

Then they left the two clay figures in the sun to dry and went inside the house, the little boy trotting happily, his hand clinging to his mother's fingers.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


And then the evening descends. Neons light up the shops, vehicles crowd the roads, and people race against each other to go home. The roadsides come alive with vendors and hawkers. Bargainings go on. And despite the diesel fumes, dust, and honking vehicles I see people sighing a sense of relief -- the day has come to an end.

Isn't there something festive about the way each day ends?

I watch all these from afar, from the distance of a moving bus. I watch the bustle outside and say to myself, "But I'm in no hurry. I can afford to be late." Since I am not worried about reaching home, while commuting from work, I distract myself with little games -- often with words. I pick up random words and, in my head, arrange them into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs, and paragraphs into.... Well, it doesn't go beyond that. I lose track.

Thus, when I sometimes pick the pen and paper late at night, I find stray sentences and odd words coming out of my pen. Sometimes they fall in place and a little piece gets written (like this one). But often they don't and remain buried, unfinished.