Friday, May 13, 2016

Into the bus

And what was that I breathed in? I went and sat as close to it as possible. Alcohol, warm alcohol. Not ethanol, but alcohol. How could it be warm and still be alcohol, but it was so warm. And there was a softness wrapped comfortably around it. Softness like talcum, it was such a fluid combination. And it wasn't a 'worn' smell like mine. It was born in the dawn of a night that isn't ending.
I tried to glug it down as I realized that it wasn't mine to drink. It stayed elusively close, but didn't let me have it.  

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Why don't I cut my hair?

They irritate me. Immensely. Why don't I cut them? It's not because I think God's creations are perfect. And this is a crass explanation for why Sikhs grow their hair. It was only to distinguish their identity, to disobey the Mughals and to ensure their 'unique' faith didn't die. If this is my belief, why don't I cut them? 
Why am I trying to distinguish my identity? Is my hair such an important part of my identity? What threats my identity that I need to hold on to something unique. This isn't even unique. 
It can't be the fear of letting go, of a change. No. It's just hair. They have just been around for most of my life. Not much in the larger scheme of things.My irritation with them even annoys those around me. 
What is this albatross I have carried around my neck for so long? 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Lessons from Coetzee

When we are jealous, we make up stories against ourselves. We work up our own feelings, we frighten ourselves.

A child loved too much, a child become the object of such intimacy that it dare not be allowed to live. Murderous Tenderness, Tender Murdurousness. Love turned inside out like a glove to reveal its ugly stitching. 

He could imagine staring into the fly's eyes while its wings were being torn off: he was sure it wouldn't blink; perhaps it would not even see him. It was as though, for the duration of the act, its soul went into the female.

I have lost my place in my soul.

How does Coetzee know Dostoevsky like this? Or the dirty corners of our souls like Dostoevsky did?

Saturday, March 28, 2015


I am walking through his plants and I find a Bonsai and a Croton sharing a little piece of potted land. He really thought everything can co-exist, didn't he? When his creepers would spill over to even his Aero Kerias he wouldn't stop them. All this knowing he had been battling parasites sharing his body's resources for years. Perhaps knowing he would finally get consumed by the appetite of another.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

5 Questions with 5 easy answers for that man

What do I write for a man like that?
How do you celebrate a man like that?
How do you mourn a loss like that?
What will I say today to a man like that?
How do I live without a man like that?

Never a dirge.
Never ceasing the celebration.
Never letting the mourning surpass the celebration.
Never let me go.
Never a day without him.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

For wanting to live

And having to give up. For that man who ceased to exist and his Bonsai plants. And for Anne.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Retirement like that

When every birthday is an occasion to rejoice.  Reading Rumi and Panchtantra to each other. And babysitting doggie- paddling in the water. Quibbles over food and cooking. Long phone calls to young relatives. And all that love coming our way. Sports and Arts. A little car. Friends for weekends, vacations. A home that has the sun and smells like a warm carpet in winter and wet leaves in the summer. Helping to search for each other's spectacles.

A retirement like that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cheddar, Labneh, Brie, Feta, Quark, Circassian

All the fish in their tank. Cheddar was the candidate- he always sought more for his school. He would find it, invent it, create it, execute it. If it meant a nudge or two at the other fish- so be it. He kept telling the school about the fish in the Singapore Strait, then the Malacca Strait and then the Gulf of Thailand, Java Strait, the Indian Ocean. About the colors of the waters, the expanse of those waters. Their aspirations were growing, their appetite too. And there just wasn't enough cheese in their little tank. The kids had gone to see all these larger waters, larger buildings but not the cheese, Singapore had no cheese to rival the fish back home- but it had those large waters. The fish decided- we'll move our cheese!This was Cheddar's plan-  when the kids left, they would leave their cheesy bodies and rush to those waters too.

Labneh hoped to find some peace with Brie in larger waters. Of late Brie had seemed disinterested, distracted and worse- irritable. She had started chewing off more of Labneh, larger bites, harder bites. Labneh wanted some peace, some corals to swim around, and green waters. He had always looked at the plants in the balcony from the tank and wanted to swim around them with Brie. 
Brie wanted the same too, but she wanted different things everyday. On the day the kids left- she wanted to drink all the alcohol they had left behind. 
Quark was being too wise for Cheddar. Quark said- we are too domesticated now. We'll be sandwiched with eggs and bread on either side of us in no time in those large waters.
Feta was mostly ignored. He always feared- the little girl would eat him with her fruit loops one breakfast. He liked Brie- she treated him like the smelly cheese he was- but she acknowledged him at least. 
Circassian nodded to everything- Cheddar's pompous speeches, sweaty efforts, Labneh's consent, Quark's protests, Brie's aspirations, Feta's ignominy. When the time for the plunge out of the tank came- Circassian didn't follow suit. Circassian stayed put in the tank. He had his Victory. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

I am the Tintin

You came from Brussels. You lived with keys, keys to my places, keys to other’s places. Of course, you are the detective; there are no locks for you.
Let me tell you how you died- It started with an arm amputation. Herge said to me “This wasn’t good, Jasmine, take better care of him”. Then I found a fake leg in the cupboard- prosthesis. But you hadn’t lost a leg- you lost an arm. You could never become a ‘slow man’. Your fox terrier- Snowy and you had to run together. You could never be the one feeling like you were dragging a weight.
And then there was the more grotesque death in store for you. What was worse was me dragging you around even after you died. I dragged your weight around. I didn’t feel the weight of you around my shoulders like an albatross but I smelt the weight of it.
I thought I will put you to rest for so many days Tintin. Herge died too. Herge quoted like Flaubert - I am Madame Bovary-I am Tintin, only I can be Tintin. I can be Tintin, hence Tintin exists.
You even made a big tantrum before I put you to rest. You disappeared, you reached the authorities in uniforms but they turned you over to me. Where were you trying to leave unfinished?

Did you leave like Herge left Tintin and Alph Art?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

They just left

The family had just left, plates on the table, the smell of food in the living room, towels on the floor, bedsheets with their bodies impressions. They stormed into the place, started looking through everything for a trace of their tale- where did they go, why did they flee so quick, some of them are examining ‘ecological, societal, macro-level factors’. I just look for him.
I fight back my pride, and search with them, through things he must have touched. Also searching for a reason. I notice some of them have started pocketing some of the things from his house, their home. I stop them vehemently, return the stuff to its place. They say- they will never probably come back, what use is it to anybody anymore. I am thinking of how distant they are from our lovely truth- they think of a crime, the thrill of the chase of solving a puzzle, marauding and looting. Such vehemence. I am looking for what happened. I search too- through things I would never touch ordinarily, stitching a story I think I started and he says he invited me into.
It is like I have blocked that little period of when it happened. Like when I design experiments- I block a factor to shut out its noise, to understand others better. What was I trying to understand if not him? I thought he was the pivot of all my excursions. I just know he is gone now. He left in a hurry-he didn’t take his watch as if the time that had passed had to be left behind. He didn’t take his brown shirt.
They are still searching, tumbling through glass and crockery and gilded articles. I turn away from their faces, my face will betray how it hurts. There is so much motion in his large house, the colors and the shine blind my thought like tears blind my sight.
We find nothing- I don’t find him, they don’t find them either.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Another shirt

So much detail. But not like the detailed lines on your palm. There is no quirk, no surprise to this detail. It looks like a regular product post the Industrial Revolution. Mass produced- the same shirt with the same little 'shells'.  Episodic, repetitive. Indistinguishable. Excelling in its quality for it's uniformity.
And yet so unique. On you, it pauses the world and asks it to deliberate. You said they weren't shells, but eyes, you're right. It is you being the pivot of a lot of attention.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


I can't believe this proximity
I can't believe this distance

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Open Letter

Dear Anzhela,

You left me with a gift I cannot thank you enough for. Also, you left me with inspiration to write and I am so thankful to you for it. I want to write to you about my Russian experiences. The most significant of them.

My Russian association began with this story book: In the land of sunbeam bunnies. 
This is what the cover looks like. It taught me an important lesson very early in life- do not always believe the written word. It so happened that I made a grammatical error in my homework- and my father corrected me. And I protested- “The sunbeam bunnies say so!” It was then that my father told me- just because it is in print, it doesn't mean it is right- the Russians know Russian, not English- they are capable of making a mistake- and you should be capable of recognizing it. Slowly I learnt that lesson well. Not just grammar, the written word means nothing till you want it to.

Anzhela, I told you about how I was considering a job in St. Petersburg many years ago. This happened many years before I read Dostoevsky. Many years before Crime and Punishment moved me like the strongest reading experience ever possible. Many years before I visualized St. Petersburg like Dostoevsky describes it. And this happened many years before you taught me how to say the gentleman's name- Dostoevsky, properly. And before you told me about St. Petersburg- the way you see it and the way he saw it.

On a sudden trip- me and my boss suddenly decided to go to a city I had always wanted to visit and study TRIZ (теория решения изобретательских задачteoriya resheniya izobretatelskikh zadatch). And there I heard of Altshuller and his incarceration of 25 years in the Gulag. And how he proposed the theory of inventive thinking through that time.

A friend talked about the Trans-Siberian railway- travelling from Moscow to Vladivostok and I thought of how nice that journey would be, perhaps nicer than any destination.

I met you in the port town of Vizag- a city where only the sea and the men of the sea made the news. India's military ties with Russia, especially the Navy's would find their way into my newspapers everyday.

And that evening when I showed you around the Indian Handicrafts bazaar in Delhi- I asked you- “I want a Matryoshka doll when you come from Russia next”: You just smiled. And just before you left- you pressed a Matryoshkya doll into my palm. How did you ever know that I always wanted one, and how did you contain the surprise gift for so long? You left me stuck in that moment, it was magical: Matryoshka Dolls have always fascinated me. A toy that never ends... I also look at Mise en abyme also like this: the idea of never-ending joy, that there is always something to look forward too. 

I look forward to us like that too: there is something around the corner always. Things for us to discover together or about each other. Like how you spell your name as we bought money with money. Like us calling Russia 'Rus'.

I miss you.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Le Chatelier's Principle

I wrote this very long ago in one of my plants:

The plant is smelling wonderful in whiffs. These are not my fancies. In the pressing smell of toluene, there would be brief and yet long pauses of a wonderful smell. Not a natural smell, it would be very chemical, like esters put together, but it was so fresh- like a wet morning flower. And it happened through the day next to the Agitated Nutsche Filter. Every disturbance is undone. The Le Chatelier's Principle.

Friday, July 26, 2013

I'm still here

It surprises me, that i am still here.

Friday, October 26, 2012

A recent discussion of Chivalry

My reaction to Chivalry:

I'm no feminist usually, but it does disgust me. But my disgust turns into amusement soon. I am no Victorian lady, I am able bodied and wear convenient clothes, all of these enable me to- Open my own doors, Pull out my chairs, voice my statements as loud as I need them to be. 
What amuses me men dithering around me thinking it's scoring them points while I'm laughing my heart out!
'Understanding and consideration' is better deserved by the needy not women who play needy when they need to. Chivalry is the 'modality' that needs to be kicked back to the Victorians and their era.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Header

The header is a collage of Felix Vallotton's woodcuts. How did I discover Felix Vallotton? Well, I did.

Here is another woodcut, not from the collection in the header- The Assassin. I love the drama in this image.

Dreams and Fears

Like a child throwing a fit, I threw my things away. I picked up all I could reach and threw it. I looked around at the expanse of my clutter. I felt secure with the mess around me. As if every one of those objects served as a defense. Then he came, he picked out every one of those in exacly the order in which I had dispersed the pushed them out of his way and moved closer and closer to me. Then he stood facing me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

He is there

I see him playing a keyboard in the corner of the big white room as I lead my life.

The notes are interspersed with his laughter, that strange guttural sound he makes.

I also keep hearing him say ‘Jasmine’. And weighed breaths. He lurks in the corner, never stops playing, never comes to claim the spotlight.

Sometimes I turn around to check if he is there. He plays the same tunes, interrupts with the same laughter and calls my name the same way.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

In loving memory of Romeo

You little lovely being, you spread so much joy, I hope you find peace.

Friday, January 13, 2012

They are tearing it down

They are tearing it down. Piecemeal, little pieces in every direction, all the time. Can it still be piecemeal?

Like a cat jumps at its scratch post and slides its claws down the length of it. Disintegrating the wood. Freeing it of itself.

The debris is being broken further. Further and further. It looked like a piece of the autoclave an hour ago. It looks like a piece of something now. It could have been anything- a part of a remote, a part of a chromatographic circuit etc. They are leaving no grace for the remains.

And who are these agents of destruction? These men who work unscathed by the dust, by the sound and by the sheer magnitude of their task, they are no ordinary men. While we cringe our noses, try to filter our breath, search for places to plant our feet in, distract ourselves from the sound, these men-they lumber on. At times we stop and examine their work, it is almost moving to see the building that shelters us facing the savageness. It seems that the sheer ferocity of their task propels their beast. They pound at the Aluminum harder, cut through the meshes faster and ram the crumbling walls harder. They look into your eyes through a glaze; something in them is hard to reckon with.

In a little spot in all this destruction, there is something being constructed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Say it, Say it, Say it

When my computer says 'This may take several minutes', it means it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The can was fluorescent green

I picked it off my friend’s shelf. The can was fluorescent green. I didn't expect much from it, "Just don't let me stink". I sprayed it, it seemed ok and then I busied myself with exiting the place. I picked up my bag, found my hairclip, dusted my shoes and slipped into the long drive to work.

In office, as it sat down beside me, I asked the Smell- "Where are you from?” it replied “From a girl's bedroom". "But I know you", I said. "You think I smell like your cousin and her room?" "Perhaps" "You think I am a homely feminine smell? Like a half-open girl's dressing drawer with sunlight shining into it?"I get distracted by my vacuum calculation. The size of the nozzle just doesn’t seem right. I turn around to ask my colleague. The Smell catches my attention again as I look over my shoulder. “I’ll get back to you later, let me design now”, I push the smell back into that drawer and shut some of the sunlight with it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There is a palm tree

It is some kind of a palm. I walk past it everyday. Sometimes it sways with the wind. Usually it just looks down at me as I walk by it. Yesterday I found a fruit lying under it. But the fruit was not from the palm. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Strange gifts from friends. 
This was from one who shares a penchant for libraries. 
Thank You!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Where, Here?

"Have you been here often?"
"No, not since the last time I met you here."

Thursday, October 7, 2010


So I've been thinking of buying a car. I always thought I'd buy the most fuel-efficient, low maintenance, sturdy mechanics car, but I have a lovely little brother. He loves the big, shiny things in life and can be very persuasive with his charm.So I thought of a lot of cars, thought of my budget and again thought of a lot of cars. Then came the new Alto K10 but bros said it looks like a creature from Tralfamadore. Then I thought of the Chevrolet Beat and kept thinking about it. At this very opportune time, my friends also decide to buy new cars- the Volkswagen Polo and the Ford Figo. Another friend drives the Fiat Punto.  And I noticed that I was noticing cars all the time. Piqued by my lack of attention, my Maruti started getting even with me. Clutch Bearings, suspension, steering wheel, all the big expenses that my little car could ask for came home uninvited. One not so fine day, in the midst of the IFFCO Chowk mayhem, I was trying to turn right. And I cursed as I hit the indicator. My last memory of it was that it was not working for a long while, like my odometer and I was used to getting exasperated every time I tried to point my car right. But that morning it worked! The mechanic had fixed it. I had been so flustered by the repair, trips to the mechanic, by the new car search , the car loan stuff, selling old car search. The blinking indicator was like a poultice. The rhythmic blinking was somehow so peaceful, so distant from the conundrum of a new car.
It was probably the right indicator.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An Anand Karaj

My cousin sister is a practising Sikh born into a Sikh family. She married a man who is also an apparently practising Sikh born into a Sikh family this June. Recently, they went to get their marriage registered in Punjab. The clerk asked them for a picture from the "Anand Karaj", and my sister replied, "Oh, I don't think we had that ceremony". The clerk was obviously taken aback and she asked again- " Did you walk around the Guru Granth Sahib four times?". It was then that the newly-wed couple registered that they did participate in an "Anand Karaj", and in fact it was the "Anand Karaj" that they had dressed up so gaudily for. It was why their profiles mentioning their hobbies were on that matrimony website. It was what they invited all those guests to. It was where the bride shed those tears. It is what the Sikh communion is, it was the occasion that was marked by those recitals of those laavans that they didnot strain themselves to listen to, but did 'walk' around the Guru Granth Sahib to.  It was the "in-between" those two evenings of partying. 
I attended that Anand Karaj that June, or did I really attend one?

I know that non-Sikhs are not encouraged to participate in an Anand Karaj. How do you distinguish between a non-Sikh and a "lets party after this" Sikh? So many such questions, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010


The floor was littered, with the exigency of their moment; they didn’t wait for the soprano to soar, they soared on another floor, while this lay littered.