The stone,
my love,
is just a
metaphor.
And waiting
is not
my style.
So would you
be kind
and die
soon,
'cause the
building
may take
a while.

Translated from the original Persian,
titled THE SILENT STONE, believed
to have been spray-painted on the Taj Mahal

soon after it was thrown open to the public,
circa 16 hundred something.
A piece of paper, flying, angrily, on the runway. Flying, like a single-seater plane losing speed and direction. Flying like a big bad eagle out to bully smaller birds.

The paper: white, typewritten and freshly escaped from an envelope.

The envelope, freshly escaped from a grinning bag of airmail.

The paper slid out of the envelope, got run over twice by the wheels of an airport trolley. The glue gave way. The paper stepped out of its cage and stretched itself straight from a triple fold. Like a cat waking.

The bag, smiling and stamped black and blue with code-markings, sits self-satisfied in the plane's underbelly. Unmindful of the weight of words. Unmindful of an escaped letter.

With the airport far behind, the paper keeps flying. Whapping into bird herds, making friends of some fearless ones that fly with it curiously, cautiously watching its unfeathered flight from a distance.

Some unusual type of currents take the paper by its corners to heights from where it feels the anger of the sun. The air in these higher reaches is cold and penetrating. The paper melts and and shivers at the same time.

Below the world changes into squares of green, grey and brown. Buildings become small, like faded lego. The river looks like an opened vein. The paper has never seen this arching world, trapped as it was in the flatness of a writing pad.

Another gust of uncommon wind takes hold of the paper again. The paper with its words is pulled down by the downward wind. The paper and its words spiral down a staircase of speed. The squares begin to change into lego. The lego grows into lifesize buildings. A building turns into green colour flats.

The paper prepares for touchdown. The speed staircase stops at a balcony with a white iron swing. A further wind, the last breath of the speed staircase, carries the paper to the door of the flat. A dog named Caesar hungrily licks at the sliver of sunlight below the door. Caesar can see the paper. He licks and paws and pulls till the paper is inside.

Caesar likes the taste of paper. He takes the daily paper from near the white iron swing to his sleeping master every morning. But this is afternoon. So Casear keeps the paper for himself. Licking it till the paper becomes a ball of edible words. Then he swallows it.

The paper dissolves in Caesar's stomach. A message from above, brought down to earth by uncommon winds only to be eaten.

By a dog.
"Crunt problem," says Ramsaran as he removes his green plastic tester from the plug point. It's a lone, derelict three-pin socket that has been discovered just a few days ago. Its plastic body is cracked and discoloured, from white to grey. Some former tenant has tried, unsuccessfully, to seal its three holes with a putty-like substance. Perhaps in an act of vengeance. Sealing off a non-performing plug point. Perhaps this plug point was not meant to be used. An accidental plug point, first made and then on hindsight unmade. Erased, badly but with potent intent. It's crunt problem is in fact a problem of transmission. Power doesn't reach it. It's been cut off from the larger circuitry of the house. By design or accident I don't know.

Ramsaran suggests getting a new covering. Maybe then it will work. The alternative to that is to go to the root of the problem. Find exactly where the "crunt" has stopped flowing. But replacement seems like an excess. Maybe this hole in the wall has a larger purpose, I try to tell Ramsaran. Ramsaran is silenced by disbelief and the sudden discovery of what's unarguably extreme stupidity. "O-K. This remain no-crunt hole!" he says throwing up his hands. I say, "Yes, no-crunt hole" and smile a smile of gratitude. Ramsaran can't see the humour in it. "Any other problem?" he asks. I say, "No". He says, "O-K" and heads towards the door.

At the door, he suddenly turns around to face me. "Who is ill-tishun?" he asks. I have an inkling where this might be leading. "You, of course... but I was..." Ramsaran cuts me short. "No problem. Me just checking." With that Ramsaran raises his right hand to his temple in a pidgin salaam and moves on.

Back inside my room, I stare once again at the plug point that will not work. Stubbornly staring back at me with its three partially closed eyes. No crunt but still not useless. Built into the wall like an Electric Monument. No crunt. No life. But still going on.
This is something that came to me last night...
It's called the WHO IS I project and it requires your help.
Please visit it @ http://whoisi.blogspot.com
and leave your mark there.
Remember the key to this question is imagination.
So let your's soar.
The road on a rainy night is like a black mirror.

It's a mirror that turns headlights and streelights into long quivering pillars of light. On such nights, these quivering pillars of light light up the road like a city under glass. An undercity of black lights! The undercity is a city stuck to its sky. Upsidedown.

The undercity is a dark twin come up for some air and attention. Suddenly made visible by the rains. An illusion realised in space. Like moments in a film. Moments that ARE simply because they HAVE BEEN.

These are things we know. And yet we can never find out.

On rainy nights the twin undercity comes up to snigger at those labouring in the overworld. The Upside Up, Downside Down people of the regular world. The dark citizenry of this dark undercity comes up to see the overcity of light and regularity. And to throw eerie back-glances, from an upsidedown perspective, at the overcity-world above.

It's a funny sight, the play of light on blackness. The rising of Hades on rainy nights. Like the birth of Venus. The coming alive of an unknown, unseen undercity.

Most drivers of cars and two-wheelers are oblivious to the undercity's appearance on rainy nights. They're more worried about getting wet. Or busy making waves of rain and gutter overflow. Or perhaps they think the undercity is a reflection, no more.

The columns of light dance on the black mirror like laser swords. Sometimes they also make dazzling shapes of light.

It's a spectacle to see light enter the domain of darkness.

Delhi on such a rainy night made me think about the nature of light. How when light enters a surface (a non-reflecting one) it disappears. How it's seen only when it is refused entry. How some things become visible only when they are refused entry. How light creates undercities of black light when refused entry.

Or do undercities really come up to look at their twins sometimes on rainy nights?
I am sitting by the Ganga, up in Rishikesh, somewhere near the soles of the mighty Himalayas. This is where the river shines like bottled water, uncontaminated by the mud-brown guilt of redemption-seekers and industrial effluvia.

I am lazing on the grey sand that holds in its heart the memory of the sea—its final future as well as its distant past. The sand despite its aeons of memory has nothing to say. But the river speaks. In baby gurgles and noisy licks of the sand bank.

The river is young and reckless here, enjoying her freedom from the Recluse Liberator’s hair-lock. Adventurers come to this stretch of the river to celebrate her liberation. They ride her various moods of escape. They ride these rapids in boats built for turbulence and turtle-turns.

The Ganga is playful here. She’s not the somber laundry-mom of the plains, where she takes on the task of washing, tumble-drying and ironing souls. Readying them for another life.

But beyond the froth and gurgle of new liberation she also seeps wisdom into her banks. Into the groundwater. Into the taps of 'drinking water'.

Ganga’s mystery, in the form of flowing water. She’s a goddess without temples. She's a force but she's also benign. Raging, but powerless to human encroachments. She is elegant and graceless at different points. She’s shy and shamelessly in-the-face. She’s naked but her nakedness is invisible. Like the emperor’s new clothes. She is reticent but she can tell you her backstory in a flash. Ganga is saint and slut rolled into one.

As her stories pull me deeper and deeper into a warm-and-chilling embrace, I can almost taste the salt in her waters. Are they tears of joy? Or tears of pain? I enter her gingerly, not wanting to disturb her absorption in her painful pleasure or pleasurable pain.

But she sends me an eager wave that yanks at my towel. Once, twice and thrice. And the towel goes with it like a flying rug under water. And suddenly I see her water face grinning at my nakedness. As if saying 'Gotcha!'

I am the face
on the torn
movie poster
I am the face
of the moment
look at me
carefully
without blinking
and find
yourselves
explained and
enlarged.

I am the famous
flat, paper
copy of a flesh
and blood
somebody
I am also you,
you and you
and maybe
also me.
I am the
eyes on
the road
nothing
misses me
there's
nothing I
seek, hide
or remember
or remember
to seek
and hide.
I am the face
that can’t
look back
or stick out
its tongue
and enjoy
the sounds
and smells
of the moving
street.

I am the face
on the torn
movie poster
next time
when you
come to my
street know
that I am not
just a face
on the torn
movie poster
but I am,
oh yes, I am
the eyes
of the wall
as well.
Parallel lines are supposed to meet at infinity. Or never. But these touchy feely parallel lines keep falling into each other’s arms. It’s not love, but necessity. The screaming, kicking metallic clang of necessity. It’s necessity wound tightly inside electric-powered engines.

These steel lines have their stomachs sucked in at the points of their necessary embrace. Like Roman tens with not enough leg space. Trains change tracks at these points of not enough space.
Trains never leave these tracks. But the tracks don’t go anywhere. They just look like they’re travelling.

They seem to move with you if you’re looking down at them from train doors and windows. Far, in the parallel distant, they are as stationary as their makers intended them to be.


These tracks are clasped on to ribs of hardy wood with twisted eight-shaped claws. The wooden ribs in turn are nailed to foundations of cement and broken rocks. Trains unlike cars don’t run on air-filled rubber. Trains run on discs of steel that become invisible with speed. At these times the steel discs are just flashes of coloured wind. It’s as if there’s nothing else but coloured wind between the trains and the tracks.

Sometimes at high speed and on sudden braking the steel-on-steel friction produces fireworks that scream and enter people’s heads like cold ice picks.

These tracks are actually fallen ladders, forced flat on the ground by the force of necessity. They don’t go anywhere. They just give the impression of movement.

Tracks are very confusing because within their bracketed space they hold many contradictions. Of necessary meetings between fallen ladders made possible by twisting the principles of infinity. All in an effort to make things move.
I met Anger
at the bus stop
he was there
blowing
hot fumes
of black tobacco
from the
radioactive fields
and boiling-blood
irrigators.

On the bus
Anger gripped
a steel pipe
and gave the bus
a solid shake
then he kicked a man
in the balls
spat on a woman’s face
snatched a ragdoll
from a baby’s hands
and pulled hair
off the driver’s head.

At the next stop
when Anger got off
the steel pipe gave
the bus a solid shake
the kicked man
punched his neighbour
the spit-face woman
pulled her daughter’s plait
the ragdoll baby
bit his mother’s hand
and the driver ran over
a man on a scooter.

At another stop
I met anger again
waiting for
another bus ride,
another shake
of silent steel
some more balls
to kick
faces to spit
ragdolls to snatch
hair to pull
and to make
the world
fighting fit.
It’s been a lazy morning. The crowds outside the temple are gradually coming alive with the business of the day. A couple has been brought to the priests’ gallery. They have been accused of a great sin. Love outside marriage.

They have been known to be living together for years. The couple has been brought to the temple by angry neighbours and busybodies. The priests recognise the woman as someone who’d once refused to get her son initiated into the faith. This is their moment.

The couple is produced before the assembly of elders. The neighbours and busybodies want justice. And some respect for the law. The priests are only too willing. Just then one old and wily priest calls all the elders aside. “We can kill two birds with one stone. That arrogant man, we can nail him if we ask him to mediate in this case.”

The others need no time to think. They say okay, thinking this is their chance to get even for the slights the arrogant man and the sinful woman have thrown their way. They go out of the temple where they see the arrogant man teaching his rag-tag groupies. "You sir," they call out to the arrogant man, “we have a case we can’t solve, can you help us? Please.” The arrogant man looks at them and smiles. It’s a knowing smile that pierces through the fat of their intentions.

“This woman has sinned,” they chorus. The sinning man they have forgotten in their eagerness for revenge. “Judge her. By the same law that you keep throwing at us time and again.”

The arrogant man smiles. “Go ahead and stone her,” he says looking at them as if they were all one person. One self-important, nitpicking, niggardly midget with an appetite for piffle.

It’s as if the arrogant man’s gaze has fixed the men. Each man suddenly feels alone, transported to lives past. To moments of great shame. Moments they never want to see the light of day. Moments, over which they have laid layers and layers of alabaster and fine marble. Like mausoleums built over worms and skeletons.

Each man sees the arrogant man’s face pasted on his shame. Like an insult. A stinging slap. The priest sees the face on the body of a girl he had abducted for a night of pleasure. He had later threatened her with a public flogging if she opened her mouth.

The trader sees a friend of long ago whom he had swindled of a fortune. The friend also had the arrogant man’s face.

The temple guard sees the face on the beardless boy he had used and then murdered outside the city walls.

The tax-collector sees the arrogant man’s face on the peasant whose field he now owned.

How could the arrogant man know, they think. How could he know of our hidden shame. They start to leave the scene. Shaken. Changed. Struck by what some people call a soul-slap.
These days nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing my breakfast with eagles.

I am not sure whether they enjoy my company as much as I do theirs. But sometimes, I can almost see them looking at me from the corners of their sharp eyes. And winking.

The eagles and I are separated by a glass wall. I am enclosed in the air of conditioned comfort. In my eighth floor cafeteria and they are outside: soaring, somersaulting and surfing the thermals like trapeze artists.

They are practicing. Bettering their mastery of the air. But they make the work seem like so much fun.

Sometimes, I also see them thinking. Sitting at perches high and perilous enough to cause vertigo in lesser birds. I see the eagles dwell on the vastness and the minutiae of their world. Without being seduced by one or perplexed by the other.

I see the eagles as a symbol of staggering equanimity. They don’t sing. They don’t dance. They don’t cuckold. They don't stalk. They KILL only when hunger visits. Otherwise they're content just using their magnificent flappers.

I don’t think food weighs heavy on their minds. That they can get any time, in just one clean swoop of wings, claws and calculated force.

I think eagles don’t have the fancies and phobias of low-fliers.

Am amazed at how much my breakfast friends have taught me by simply being themselves.

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As an art practitioner I work in a variety of mediums, what you see here are glimpses of my many creative projects. If you like or feel strongly something here please don't forget to comment

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