(Pic by Sahar Z)

In this life I am Christopher Columbus. Reversing the tide of history. Navigating the rough seas of knowledge and confusion. Sailing in search of an undiscovered ancestor. Actually an ancestral landmass. The original America. The land of myths and tales of maverick travellers and nautical thrill-seekers. A land so rich, so abundantly endowed with all kinds of organic gifts, superlative inventions and ideas of transcendence that its real appearance would blind the eye and cause the jaw to drop in disbelief. An alchemist's dream where base metals were golded and gold served as garnish on food. For currency they used a peculiar form of goodwill, exchanged each time with a broad shining smile. It was a vague transaction where worth and value are intuitively fixed and carried over. In the belief that goodness and virtue were realisable in the afterlife. In the realm of hard-nosed, non-abstractionist discourse this land was actually a no-land. For 'land' by verbic definition described a touch-down on solid ground. And this land was too other-worldly for that. It was proto-utopic, meaning it existed even before the word became a word.

It was also a land of mixed identities. Mixed orthodoxies. Surfacely mixed but unified at the centre. No one really had original claims to this land. Everyone had been 'new here' some time or the other. This land had an enormous capacity to absorb: peoples, cultures, languages, beliefs and DNA. And mixing was necessary. As some early Zoroastrians smartly suggested, it was like mixing sugar in milk. Numerous languages were spoken in this land. Numerous customs co-existed, like electricity cables meeting at infinity or never. Numerous gods were prayed to every morning at its temples and altars. There was also, as St. Paul discovered in the city of Corinth, an altar to an unknown god. A god of the future, as yet unmanifest and discarnate, probably serving time in another universe, another galaxy.

This land had a strange effect on anyone who came here. Conqueror, exile, escapee, refuge-seeker, wanderer-everyone who came here was touched and transformed by a primeval electricity that crackled in the air. Something like that early lightening that forced matter and spirit to produce life on earth.

So where was this land? A bit of 'back-tracking' will show you where. This land is the grand precedent of America, the 'New World' of Columbus. The land of milk and honey and opportunity for those dissatisfied with their Old World status quos. America is today a patchwork quilt. Of white, black, yellow, brown and also sometimes little green men and women.

But the America of today is not the original. We all know that it was discovered accidentally. Discovered while looking for the Indies, the mythical and elusive Gold Bird. A proto-Utopia of diversity and yet strangely a unified hole, a cipher bubbling with transcendent wisdom. And to this ancient Gold Bird I, as Christopher Columbus, dedicate this post.

Here's to India, the original America!
Two roaches. One fed on bidi ends. The other fed with green vegetables. One born in the wash basin. The other in the kitchen sink. Both lived one cockroach lifetime. The bidi-ends one grew big, fattened up. He also got a hump on his back. But all his life he stayed in the wash basin. Never leaving it. Never learning the joy of flying.

The kitchen sink one grew big. Grew bigger wings and flew out of the sink. The bidi-ends one remained stoned in the wash basin. Thinking often of flying but never really flying. The kitchen sink one never thought... but he flew and flew and flew.

Till he hit a wall and died. The bidi-ends one died peacefully in his sleep.

--These were the results of an experiment carried out by Mahadev, friend and disciple of Lamarck.
(Pic: Sahar Z)
How the hell did they SPEAK this language?
It is the end of an important season in Brotherpur. And the beginning of another: the season of sobriety and fasting. It is a time when the lolling cows are swarmed by armies of mosquito-pilgrims. They have arrived fresh from the drying swamps nearby.

The mosquitoes have come for their annual bovine Eucharist.

This is the time when the dark swamps of sewage overflow have begun to sink into the earth. Like colour from a chameleon's skin. The colour of the new season is dirty green. More dirty than green.

Sandwiched between two dirty greens is Ring Road, tar-black, and in parts, grey with dustings of yellow earth. Ring Road is not like the other roads of Brotherpur.

Ring Road is Brotherpur's new, improved jugular.

And it sniggers at those who have no use for it. It sniggers at the old and the ancient who hang over Brotherpur. It sniggers in its many motor voices and its many changes of skin colour.

Ring Road is fast speed and upward movement.

The infrequent silences of Ring Road are filled by laughter from Budge House. Budge House too sniggers in many voices. Many colours.

Budge House is the house of laughing birds.

The budgerigars at Budge House laugh a lot.

Budge House is also Blue House for it is blue, like navy blue. Not military green but navy blue. The budgerigars are under military rule. A teeth-coloured plaque names the owner of Budge House. He is an RETD. LT. COL., a man abbreviated and exed by his employer of over 40 years.

The RETDLTCOL is also called 'Miltree Sir' by those who work for him.

Miltree Sir's five dogs, one of them a trained-to-kill Rampur hound, have very low tolerance for Balloon Man.

Balloon Man passes Budge House everyday at 12 noon on his creaky old Atlas cycle. He doesn't use Ring Road because he thinks he isn't fast enough for it. He only uses Ring Road's folded-arm of a service lane.

Listen to him. Here he comes… 'Namaskar. This is All Indi-ya-ya Radio.'

He is never late. 'It's five seconds past 12 O…'

The budgerigars have stopped laughing. 'This is A.I.R.'s Brotherpur Service…'

What colour balloons has he got today? 'A duet by Lata Mangeshkar and…'

Can we choose? 'From the film…'

The blue, pink and white one for boy who's just turned two. A whistle for the snotty girl. A winking mask for the…

'The song has been requested by Pup-poo and his mother and his friends Bub-loo, Pin-key, Chee-knee and Good-do from…'

Lay-jow, lay-jow bail-loon lay-jow.

The Balloon man is singing his 'take-away' song. Miltree Sir's dogs have also joined in. With their clenched teeth and angry snarls they are following Balloon Man and his bicycle as they cross Budge House. Balloon Man's bicycle is covered with a huge rubber and plastic veil. There are guns, bugles, horns, wind-up cars, TVs with scrolling screens, whistles and dumroos. Long wavy balloons trail over him like Medusa hair.

'Phishoeeow… phishhh'.

'This is All Indi-ya-ya Radio's Brotherpur Service. And now the news headlines in English…'

People match their clocks to Balloon Man's arrival. He's only missed once, since he started business at Ring Road.

The Ring Road has teeth. They are white and rock-solid. The white rocks show only at the edges, where the road grins. Its gums are dusty patches of grass. Clearings in the grass are filled with water and moss. When the moss breathes tiny bubble domes appear on the surface of the dirty green water.

People like Balloon Man get hurt when they get too close to Ring Road. Balloon Man knows this from painful experience. A twisted ankle and a twisted wrist. And five bicycle wheel spokes in his back like Bhishma Pitamah's. That was the only time Balloon Man missed work. And missed it sorely for a whole week!

Ring Road had leapt at him like a hidden muggermuch. Balloon Man still doesn't know what really happened that day. He thinks his bicycle slipped on a clearing of moss and water. He thinks he is 'accidental' because of his stars. But in truth it was the new, improved Brotherpur getting its back on the old.

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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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