Friday, October 13, 2006

Rustle [from the diaries]

The sunflowers open their face to the sun
And I think of you drifting somewhere in the city
A March breeze tosses my heart
I think of you again.

They have raked the autumn leaves
And heaped them at the side of the street
I brush my rustling thoughts of you
And gather them in a gentle corner of my mind.


Summer [from the diaries]

A koel has gone insane
This summer.
She sings saucily
Through hot afternoons
Urging mango ripes to overflow
She sings into the sunset
As if
She decides when dusk should fall.

Hers is a wanton call
Coaxing the sap out of drying barks
Seducing the juice
From summer blooms

A koel has gone mad
This terrible summer

It’s pecking at my heart
To pour its liquid song
Into my veins


Preparing [from the diaries]

By the time you dropped off the flowers
At my door,
By the time the trousseau arrived,
By the time the jewellery that grandmother had saved
Arrived by parcel from another city,
By the time you went and changed
Into your brand new suit

Did you notice how a few stars dropped by
To timidly witness our grand moment?
A gruff sun having left
For not being looked after well.


Sunset [from the diaries]

In each of our cities
The sun sets in different ways
It hides behind scaffoldings sometimes
It sulks behind soot stained buildings.

How does the sun set in your city?

Does it pale into the neon lights?
Choked by a passing bus
Does it hitch a ride sometimes?

White, dusty skies
Red lettering running to sell engine oil
Against a bizarre tree

My city hums with me.

Choking me with its venom
Spewing me onto its roads
Driving me from sun to sun
Lamplights on the run.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Take My Trip

This is the Maldives. The turquoise blue is for real. It's not a trick of light. The beach is genuinely pearl grey.

And there is nothing to do. Except snorkel, fish, sun and beer.

If there is any song tucked away in any part of your heart, you deserve to treat yourself to the Laguna Beach Resort, Maldives.

Just don't go alone. Alone can be very lonely here.

Grey Blue

It isn't as though I am not familiar with grey-blue. It is a feeling I've met many times, around the gentle bend of a song, in a chilly office when you suddenly look up and realise that the sky has darkened and most of the cubicles are empty, and the electrician is switching off the tubes, one by one, by one...

The quiet hum of machinery, the drone of a distant TV with a couple of office boys and a security guard hunched up around it, half guilty for being there while I still work, so snapped up into irritating attention whenever I pass by to visit the ladies or walk into the studio.

A radio station is a funny place to work in. A monstrous machinery of people, strategy, technology, database and planning - to talk to one person. Its astounding. While an ESPN gears up to cater to a billion people during the EPL, a Star Plus grooms itself to please millions of viewers per saas serial, what is our job? To make ONE person smile.

The rest follows. But the day you loose sight of that one person, you're sunk. You cannot address yourself to a mass on radio. The only way to procure the masses, is to forget them and focus on the individual.

That, I think, is what Amitabh Bachchan used to do. Talk to an audience of one. And get the nation by the balls of its imagination. O yeah, its his birthday tomorrow. Happy birthday big b.

Grey-blue often keeps me company while I work here. Today I was chatting with the jocks team in Jaipur about who they are really talking to, and why... and I started to do this typical character sketch of an average middle class listener. What does he think about, what are his insecurities, how does he feel, what does he wish for? 6 matches of the ICC Champions Trophy are happening in Jaipur, but does this guy have a ticket? Can he buy one if he wishes to?

And I suddenly felt that unbidden lump in my throat and that slight pin prick behind the eye lid. A tad embarassing when you're addressing a gaggle of giggly barely-out-of-teens.

I don't know when grey-blue will show up in this line of work. That's probably why I love this job so much. Sometimes, when I'd work really late, and the office would be deserted, I'd step into the on air studio, before leaving for home, on a chilly winter morning. I'd know that the roads outside would be fogged over at 1 or 2 a.m. and just before braving that cold lonely drive, I'd push open the solid thick wooden doors that lead into the On Air.

Normally the engineers would've darkened the room before leaving. And the entire studio would be in dim, weak starlight streaming in from the massive glass paned windows on a clear night. Else the sound of the radio would be filtering in through the dark, and just the red and yellow lights on the consol would be glowing, and twinkling, and blinking... like friendly magic.

I've stood there, in the shadow, on many a night, and felt grey-blue curl up like a muffler around my neck, a rug at my feet. I've heard the strains of a soft song filter out of that twinkling blinking friendly magic, and reach its gentle fingers out into the night.

And as I stood there, I have imagined that same song soaking into a romantic drive a young couple is taking on the gurgaon road; sinking under a blanket where a teenager has hidden a radio; caressing an old man as he nods off to sleep on his rocking chair; keeping a night watchman company in his wooden shack, accompanying a call center executive as she works late into the night with a steaming cup of coffee by her side.

Our entire working, planning, thinking, strategizing, meeting - for that one moment.

Do you know that what you hear on your radio set is actually playing 8 seconds after it plays out from the On Air studio? Jokingly once, a jock of mine had said about the On Air - if the rest of Delhi is in the present, then this studio is the future.

As I have stood there late into the night, watching the blinking lights, and feeling the emotions that seep out of that room to touch lives, hearts, moments, situations, fights, cuddles, huddles, arguments and pain; interest and boredom, aloofness and involvement - I have felt for a split second that I genuinely did stand in the future and beheld magic near enough to touch.

And I have quietly left the room, wrapped in grey-blue, wondering if any of us understood the power we held in our hands. And if we'd ever put it to the right use.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Lost and Found

We used to play
Hide and seek

And school had a wooden box
Called Lost and Found

Whenever I had to hide
I'd want to jump into that thing

But it scared me
Because there was always the fear
Of not being found

If you hide
You can be sought
And its altogether friendlier
In the parking lot

But the lost and found box
Had an attitude

It smelled of hope.

A desperate tiffin box
A forlorn pencil holder
An altogether abandoned umbrella

Each looking up ingratiatingly
At every half interested head
That peeks into the lost and found box

And what if your status changed
From lost to 'stolen'
Instead of 'found'?

Then where would you belong?


There was a larger purpose here.

I'm sure of it;
I had kept it most carefully.

You know how it is
With these carefully kept things.

Stashed in trunks
Stored in strange places
Remembered so hard
That it guarantees forgetting.

I know I'd parked it here somewhere.

A larger purpose
With a lilac view
Those rose tinted things
Fighting mildew

I even remember the paper I wrapped it in;
An old newspaper with an inspiring editorial
And the mothballs just in case...

Do purposes evaporate?