The Lemons, by Eugene Montale

An excerpt from The Lemons, by Eugene Montale, a Nobel poet:


Look, in these silences
which things sink into
and seem on the verge of
opening their closest secret,
you’d expect once in a while
to uncover some mistake
in nature, the world’s still point,
some weak link, the loose thread
that leads us at last
to the heart of truth. Eyes
rummage in every corner:
the mind seeks agrees argues
with itself in this perfume
that floats – as day fades –
over everything; a silence
in which, in every dwindling
human shadow, a troubled
divinity could be seen.


Beautiful isn’t it?


I’ve had a long and tiring three months across all fronts- personal, work-wise and so. Music has always helped me calm down, last night with a impending forty page document I took to reading music. I read one of my favourite songs after ages- The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel. It goes thus;

I am just a poor boy, though my story is seldom told.
I have squandered my resistance,
For a pocketful of mumbles, such are promises.
All lies and jest.
Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

When I left my home and my family I was no more than a boy,
In the company of strangers,
In the quiet of the railway station, runnin’ scared.
Laying low, seeking out the poorer quarters,
Where the ragged people go.
Lookin’ for the places, only they would know.

Asking only workman’s wages I come lookin’ for a job,
But I get no offers,
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue.
I do declare there were times when I was so lonesome,
I took some comfort there.
And I’m laying out my winter clothes, and wishing I was gone, goin’ home
Where the new york city winters aren’t bleedin’ me, leadin’ me goin’ home.

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down,
Or cut him ’til he cried out in his anger and his shame,
“I am leaving, I am leaving.”
But the fighter still remains, still remains.


Here’s what I thought. The Boxer is whoever and whatever you want it to be, your story and mine is the journey we make of it. I also thought of peace and justice and the value of going on. I’m now writing page 30.


Jesus Among the Neocons

            Had Jesus, the Shepherd of  sheperds,

            been a bodily traveler among us

            today, he might not have been able

            to ride any plane, or cruiser,  or bus

            into the United States,

            or to conquer any of its many hates.

            What with his Asiatic visage

            and sable skin,

            compounded by his Bin Laden beard,

            he would have had to dare

            more than the fates.

            Supposing he had entered the place,

            aided by some technical subterfuge,

            would he have recognized the New World

            as love’s haven, or christian refuge?

            The born-again, beefy giant

            at the check-point tray

            might have slapped the cuffs

            on him even as he made his pliant

            in unintelligible Aramaic huffs;

            and no sooner than you think

            he might have landed in Guantanamo Bay.

            Once  secured there, O Jesus,

            answer me this:

            would you have pleaded anew

            ‘father, forgive them; 

            they know not what they do?’

            Or, would you, more realistically,

            (as Luke has you say) express

            your wrench and anguish thus:

            ‘father, why hast thou forsaken me’

            in a glittering, golden wilderness

            from whence the reigning evil one

            decrees to demonise Creation

            with dirty uranium and white phosphorus?


Easter thoughts in a lovely poem, forwarded to me by e-mail.

Words and Music

One of my all time favorites music-wise is Simon and Garfunkel. A song, to my mind, is beautiful if the words that accompany the tune are beautiful too. Here are some of my favorite paragraphs from a bunch of S&G songs:

The Sounds of Silence:

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning,
In the words that it was forming.
And the sign said,

“The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.
And whispered in the sounds of silence. “

I Am a Rock:

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

Leaves That Are Green:

I threw a pebble in a brook
And watched the ripples run away
And they never made a sound.
And the leaves that are green turned to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand.

A Most Peculiar Man

He died last Saturday.
He turned on the gas and he went to sleep
With the windows closed so he’d never wake up
To his silent world and his tiny room;
And Mrs. Riordan says he has a brother somewhere
Who should be notified soon.
And all the people said, what a shame that hes dead,
But wasn’t he a most peculiar man?

A Poem On The Underground Wall:

Now from his pocket quick he flashes,
The crayon on the wall he slashes,
Deep upon the advertising,
A single worded poem comprised
Of four letters.

And his heart is laughing, screaming, pounding
The poem across the tracks rebounding
Shadowed by the exit light
His legs take their ascending flight…

Diamonds on The Soles of her Shoes:

People say I’m crazy
I got diamonds on the soles of my shoes
Well thats one way to lose
These walking blues
Diamonds on the soles of your shoes

Homeward Bound:

Tonight Ill sing my songs again
Ill play the game and pretend
But all my words come back to me
In shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony
I need someone to comfort me

The Dangling Conversation:

Its a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

and finally,

The Sun is Burning:

The sun is burning in the sky
Strands of clouds go slowly drifting by
In the park the lazy breeze
Are joining in the flowers, among the trees
And the sun burns in the sky….

Now the sun has come to earth
Shrouded in a mushroom cloud of death
Death comes in a blinding flash
Of hellish heat and leaves a smear of ash
And the sun has come to earth

Now the sun has disappeared
All is darkness, anger, pain and fear
Twisted, sightless wrecks of men
Go groping on their knees and cry in pain
And the sun has disappeared.


An upturned matress brought to me this relic on a yellowed bit of paper. Does anyone know who it is by? :

teach me how to
turn my face before the blow
strikes the hooded head
of the bound prisoner
like vinegar on the bleeding lips
of Christ
teach me how to
pretend pain is unfelt unless
I can feel it
blood spurts from
the nose of the deer
teach me the way
to drive hard and fast
into the stationary beast
imagining the sound of breaking bones
is freedom’s love song
teach me to
grind my heart into
sausage stuffing for
the next thanksgiving celebration
teach me to lie
looking you in the eye
while I slit your throat
teach me the devil’s
glorious way
teach me
that everything is useless
and everyone is nothing
teach me
about life
by feasting on death
teach me the secrets
of war

The Worst Is Over…

Yupsie Daisy! My worst exam is done. I still have a couple to go, but oh well, those don't cause as much pain as the one I just finished with. So a double whooooopie and such!

Paresh has tagged me, so I'm gonna get back to blogging with this meme. Its a killer too, anyway here goes:

5 people who top your shit list….. and why:

  1. George Bush: For killing the innocent by the thousands for starters. I recommend the Bush Doll to anyone who hates Bush as much as I do.
  2. Narendra Modi: As above
  3. Varna: For being an incomprehensible idiot
  4. The teacher who taught me 'Logic' in 2003: For making me feel as degraded as I ever could and ever will
  5. The bugger in the train: Who first introduced me to what it feels like to be sexually assaulted….

I should also quote this paragraph from here

" Suffer from a sporadically sanguine mental disposition provoked by minority haters, pig-headed authoritarians, homophobes, imbeciles, know-it-all types, idiotarians, preachers, war mongers, chauvinists, rich show-offs, weepy characters, ‘frandly’ freaks, cows and other despicable species."

Close brushes with death/danger:

  1. Jaundice with an insanely high level of bilirubin at 30 something
  2. Flash floods at Palikaranai in the middle of seven waterfalls and Lobo's pool
  3. Crossing Delhi roads
  4. Activist stories too long to be reproduced here
  5. Suicidal lows at various points in time

5 Preferable modes of suicide, in descending order:


  1. Plastic vacuum air bag
  2. Jumping off the 13th floor
  3. Seemingly bottomless wells
  4. Overdose… painkiller, sleeping pills… actually anything
  5. Slash wrists and slowly bleed to death

5 Guilty pleasures:

  1. Navy cut… sigh… sob… sigh. Not any more.
  2. Butter Chicken and Ras Malai
  3. Harry Potter
  4. Long hours of cleaning up and rearranging when I ought to be working or studying
  5. Money spent on books and music, especially since they cost so much to posses

5 things you never want to forget:

  1. First ever debating victory at Miranda House
  2. Meeting Naveen and two years hence
  3. Being able to divide without tears
  4. Discovering that I am alien and can hold conversation with dogs
  5. Pink Floyd, Wine, Steak and slow dancing au revoir and a particularly beautiful new year celebration– boat ride under the moonlit sky on the Narmada

5 things you wish to forget:

  1. Waiting after fights when I have been wrong
  2. Attending middle and high school
  3. Falling from grace
  4. Being poor
  5. Emptiness and loss

5 really exotic dishes you have tried:

  1. Orange Sauce Duck… French
  2. Handi Ghosht… Food Street, Lahore
  3. Aubergine Bake
  4. Savory Miso Soup with Seaweed
  5. Mexican Fried Ice Cream

5 crushes/loves in your life… in chronological order

Bad question!

  1. Little boy in school in class six
  2. Hot neighbour
  3. Close high school friend
  4. Collegiate acquaintance
  5. Special someone

Strangest dream you ever had:

Hmmm…. Being shut in a white room, with no exits and floating in midair. There is another: Entering a wooden decorated hall, flooded with golden light only to find a roomful of people dressed in flowing green robes speaking a language I cannot comprehend.

5 most valued personal possessions:

  1. Memories
  2. Self Respect
  3. Devices that allow connectivity
  4. Money
  5. Love

5 favorite superheroes….. and why:

I don't believe in super heroes….Though if I must:

  1. Gandhi
  2. Martin Luther King
  3. Che
  4. The Narmada heroes
  5. Everyday Entrepreneurs

Aha… time to tag. Here goes: Geetika, Ravi, Paneer, JhQuest, Varun, Talamasca, Red and anyone else who feels like wearing their heart on their sleeves for a bit! 😀

Beautiful Words

From Train, Drops of Jupiter. One of my favourite songs, favourite paragraphs follow:

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere,
With drops of jupiter in her hair,
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s time to change,
Since the return from her stay on the moon,
She listens like spring and she talks like june,

Tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the milky way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated

Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were looking at yourself out there

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the milky way
And tell me, did venus blow your mind
Was it everything you wanted to find
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the milky way

Dance away

One of the things I will always regret is not continuing to dance. As a child (as in most South Indian households, though mine doesn’t strictly qualify as one) both my sister and I went through the motions of learning Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music and so on… I remember the pangs of jealousy when my sister got to perform on stage before I did with a whole bunch of acclaimed dancers.
One of my cousins too is a qualified dancer now. Over the years I attempted to keep up dancing and singing and even playing an instrument but somehow never managed to get around to a sufficient level of expertise. So here I am someone with a sense of rhythm and well… that is about it, really.
There’s definitely something I love about Indian Classical dance forms though. Maybe it’s the fact that they manage to combine theatre and dance so exquisitely together. Or perhaps I find the movements, the beats and the feeling overpowering.

This verse by Tirumular sums it up nicely:

“We bow to Him the benevolent One
Whose limbs are the worlds,
Whose song and poetry are the essence of all language,
Whose costume is the moon and the stars…”
“The dancing foot, the sound of the tinkling bells,
The songs that are sung, and the various steps,
The forms assumed by our Master as He dances,
Discover these in your own heart,
So shall your bonds be broken.”

The beauty of it is that dance is a means of communication. This makes them the dance of the mind, the soul, the being and the universe at the same time. Few things possess such a quality all at the same time. Its all about bliss and harmony… central to all that governs the Aesthetic tradition in India, the Rasa theory in fact. One could argue that there is little innovation (as Dr. Rekha Jhanji does) in Indian art, strangely though it takes nothing away from the sensuous quality of Indian dance. Due in part to the fact that the Indian aesthetic tradition was never really about the artist as much as it is about the form and meaning of what it seeks to depict.