hints, allegations and things left unsaid...
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It will be, without a figment of doubt,
an utter disgrace
If what you mean to me, in words,
I try to trace
And yet words; for these are words indeed,
have been put down
Help me; for I know not what to say, or how,
help me invent a noun
posted: 30.5.05 | permalink | 8 comments

Sultana Of Sand
The day our hero saw the land,
I was christened – sultana of sand

Other queens, three in all
Were torn and thrown, for matter small

When in a noisy game of poker
A drunkard player took them for joker

Said his fellows; now at their surliest
“We are playing poker, poker's no jest!”

And so a way to land he was shown,
Like cards before him, into the sea he was thrown

Through his clothes, when water tore
He saw his peril, his stupor wore

He swam madly for an hour
On that night of tempest, shower

Fatigue, delusions, hallucinations
He saw mermaids, their apparitions

He started when one of them told
You’re lucky – a queen of spade you hold!

At first, (startled) he could not believe
A mermaid knew, I hid in his sleeve!

He swam and swam with lot of gumption
“I’ll see land soon” – his only assumption

The mermaids laughed, the sea dissolved
In his head his world revolved

Just then a lucky, giant wave bore
Our man all the way to the shore!

Minutes later, when dawn came
Birds of prey eyed their game

On his eyes when sunbeams fell,
Fatigue broke its cruel spell

His marvelous escape he didn’t realize
“Our vessel was fine, it didn’t capsize!?”

Then as he looked at sea from land
He recalled his ordeal at first hand!

He smiled, stood up and began to plod
Through the wet sand, the sandy clod

He took me out, and said this
“thank you lady, you deserve a kiss”

That moment on we parted ways
“He is a king”, the world now says

“I too am a queen” or so I tell them
Better here, than inside his harem

posted: 29.5.05 | permalink | 12 comments

It's Raining!
It is so beautiful outside that I have been rendered speechless, wordless.

posted: 27.5.05 | permalink | 6 comments

A musical meme from Deirdre
Deirdre passed me a meme (I bring Narcissus immense pride by using three ‘me’s in one sentence). Music to me is life, and I usually prattle off basic necessities of life as – Air, Music, Water, Food, and in same order. It is therefore, a pleasure putting this entry together.

Total volume of music on my computer: 8.6 GB and stagnant. Thanks to my Sony Hi-MD player, I’ve been extremely tardy in ripping the CDs that I brought recently. I copy them to my hard disk in Sony’s proprietary (ATRAC3) format (sob!), transfer them to my player and delete the original copy. With a playback time of roughly 30 hrs per AA alkaline, and at roughly 17 hrs per disc (132 kbps), the mini-disc is my primary repertory for my favorite music these days.

The last CD I brought: My last two CDs were birthday gifts from a friend (they came together and so I mention both) – Classic Yo-Yo (Yo-Yo Ma and others, Sony Classical) and Handel’s Water Music (Martin Pearlman conducting Boston Baroque, Telarc). The one’s I purchased last were Haydn’s String Quartets Op. 50, “Prussian” Nos. 1-3 (Kodláy Quartet, Naxos) and C. P. E. Bach’s (Johann Sebastian Bach’s second son) Sonatas for Flute and Harpsichord WQ. 83-87 (Béla Drahos, Flute and Zsuzsa Pertis, Harpsichord, Naxos).

Song playing right now: Azaadi, from A. R. Rahman’s latest soundtrack Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose – The Forgotten Hero.

Five songs I listen to a lot, or that mean a lot to me: Western classical dominates my listening habits so I really don’t have ‘songs’ that I can list down, but here are “works” I often find myself turning to for my moments of heaven on earth:

  1. Felix Mendelssohn’s Venetian Gondola Song – the last of his six Op. 30 Songs Without Words (Sylvia Capova)

  2. Frédéric Chopin’s Nocturne No. 6 in G minor, Op 15, No. 3 (Samson François)

  3. Joseph Haydn’s String Quartet in A-flat major, Op. 20, No. 6 (Hagen Quartet)

  4. Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101 (Alfred Brendel)

  5. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K.467, (John O’Conor with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting Scottish Chamber Orchestra)

So Deirdre, in light of this list, whom do you think is a bigger dag :-)?

ThreeFour people whom I pass the baton to:
posted: 26.5.05 | permalink | 11 comments

Hints, allegations and things left unsaid
Hints, allegations and things left unsaid, is not a title that I had to invent, it’s a title that simply "came" to me from somewhere on the fringes of my subconscious memory when I was looking for one for my blog and it was there for good reasons.

Some ten years ago, when cable television was still seeking roots in most big cities in India, MTV resorted to rather interesting means of gaining a foothold into the Indian market. They tied up with our national broadcaster – Doordarshan (DD), and purchased two hour slots on DD Metro from (if I remember correctly) Monday to Friday. The telecast was from 5-7 PM or thereabouts. Hardly primetime, and still just right for their audience. After all, I remember waking up from my afternoon siesta and tuning into it. Back then, I was in high-school. Even if I were in college, this time would have been perfect. A quick, unobtrusive two hour jukebox session before you resume your mundane chores.

I don’t remember how long this experiment lasted but there are other things that I do.

DD’s telecast standards, except on few rare instances, have been far far below international norms. Being the sole broadcaster, they had a frightening monopoly and could get away by airing programs with shoddiest of production values (the monopoly now is questionable but I am told that production values have continued to plummet over the years). MTV back then, had felt like a draught of fresh air (a compliment they are unlikely to hear from me ever again). The slick music videos were unlike anything we had seen! Suddenly this world of colorful, dreamlike moving images was ours to behold and inhabit (if only for two hours). Each video left its indelible impression. The seduction of impressionable minds was total.

Amidst the crowd of music videos, the one that stands out in my memory even today, is that by alternative rock group Collective Soul for their number Shine. The video was shot in black and white and depicted the group’s members singing in woods on a sunny wintry afternoon. The warm “feel” of this video suited the accompanying music well; unmatched by other music videos of that time in sobriety and unpretentiousness.

Shine was from Collective Soul’s debut album ‘Hints allegations and things left unsaid’.
posted: 24.5.05 | permalink | 6 comments

A hurried visit to Kolkata
I hate mopping – not for the physical workout that it offers, but for the mental workout it does not. Still, it is a chore that’s inevitable – unless I choose to live like Ms. Havisham (the reader is directed to Great Expectations for more information on the lady and her slovenly (if grandiose) quarters). Since I do not, Saturday, was spent putting my house in order.

I traveled to Kolkata this Sunday. What I had thought to be a 12:55 flight, turned out to be a 9:55 one. One effect of this sudden realization was the sudden start with which I left for the airport – the evacuation was so rapid and so complete, that people in my apartment complex would have thought that my house must’ve shaken under a tremor and would have wondered, why didn’t they feel it.

The same evening, I managed some time out for a quick drive to Vidyasagar Setu.


Next morning, before hitting Kolkata airport, I could stop at Victoria Memorial – thanks to its proximity to our office. The visit turned out to be a damp squib – the memorial is undergoing renovation and is closed to general public. Thankfully, they let you stroll and click in the surrounding lawns.


The traffic police constables there, in their quaint white liveries, looked like they had been carved out of same stone as the statue of Lord Curzon at the memorial lawns.


The flight back on Monday, for reasons best left to Airlines Gods alone, comes via Hyderabad. I spent over 3 hours 40 minutes inside the plane – the most I’ve ever spent onboard a domestic flight. Dickens’ Great Expectations was to be my in-flight reading material. Incidentally, these lines struck a chord:

“Buried how long”
“Almost eighteen years.”
“You had abandoned all hope of being dug out?”
“Long ago.”

The words were still in his hearing as just spoken – distinctly in his hearing as ever spoken words had been in his life – when the weary passenger started to the consciousness of daylight, and found that the shadows of the night were gone.

“Eighteen years!” said the passenger, looking at the sun, “Gracious Creator of the day! To be buried alive for eighteen years!”.

My version:

“Stuck for how long”
“Almost four hours”
“You had abandoned all hope of being let out?”
“Long ago.”

The words were still in his hearing as just spoken – distinctly in his hearing as ever spoken words had been in his life – when the weary passenger started to the consciousness of Bangalore airport, and found that the shadow of the portly gentleman sitting next to him was gone.

“Four hours!” said the passenger, looking at the setting sun, “Gracious Creator of the dusk! To be buried alive in a narrow aluminum tube for four hours!”.
posted: 19.5.05 | permalink | 6 comments

What you see, is what I see too -
that harem of hens,
King Rooster - cock-a-doodle-doo
Playing across the same fence
I also see some food -
food so big and bellicose,
I just crouch and brood.
(This my friend is my repose)



p.s. The picture of the kitten was cropped to eliminate distracting background.
posted: 17.5.05 | permalink | 3 comments

A trip to Vijayawada
I have been late in penning down my memoirs from Vijayawada and Vizag trips. Like cotton seeds drifting through summer breeze, those memories drift and become distant each day. I would have posted them all the moment I was back, but it so happened, that April proved even more eventful than the busy March that had just marched past. A good two weeks into May and John O’Conor’s recordings of Schubert’s impromptus and Beethoven’s bagatelles seem to have provided the requisite stimulus for me to recount at least first of the two memorable visits.

I and Jani had driven to Vijayawada from Hyderabad the same day as Sonia Gandhi was visiting Hyderabad. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw on our way to Vijayawada, trucks ferrying supporters from nearby villages to the Congress organized rally. Earlier in the morning, while driving from Airport to the heart of the city, I was somewhat aghast to find the city covered in litter of congress pamphlets, tricolors and other propaganda material – as if providence had plotted with party workers to ensure a rain of congress paraphernalia the night before. That complex construction, being assembled by the collective toil of my facial muscles, which is otherwise referred to as scowl, was demolished by a bolt of smile, when I saw that an enterprising party worker had contrived to insert the flagstaff of a congress tricolor into the hands of Ambedkar’s solitary stone effigy at a park in such an clever manner, that it seemed, the effigy itself must have come to life for a few seconds to enthusiastically accept the flagstaff.

We reached our hotel after five hours of driving, of which about forty five minutes were spent meandering through roads and bazaars of Vijayawada in search of our hotel.

Vijayawada, as Jani had always told me, is the home of ‘Babai Hotel Idli’. He had introduced me to this culinary delight at Chutneys in Hyderabad during a visit last year. The dish derives its origins from the humble idli (rice pancake). Succulent, hot idlies are served soaked in ghee with a dollop of home made butter on top, along with coconut paste and a dash of spice powder. On the whole, if it isn’t obvious from the description, this is such a delicious twist to the quotidian idli, that at its mere sight, an abstinent, austere sage will be tempted to end his fasting, while lesser mortals like myself, typically consume their year long supply of cholesterol in one sitting.

We reached ‘Babai Hotel’ at seven in the morning. The restaurant, set in a quiet neighborhood, had aura of an old man, who goes about the business of life with a practiced routine, but is burdened by the knowledge that his best years are already far behind him. And still the memories of the restaurant’s heady hay days, haven’t quite diminished – our Auto bore us there on mere mention of ‘Babai Hotel’ - without us having to qualify our destination any further. The building, where we stood after our auto-ride, could have been another one of those unpretentious houses in the locality but for the maroon Telugu lettering on a green board (much newer than the hotel itself) that identified it as ‘Estd. 1942, Babai Hotel’.


When we went in, to my surprise, the place wasn’t exactly buzzing with activity (like the hurly burly of Bangalore Shanti Sagars that I am used to). Jani and I sat across a wooden table on quaint wooden benches and waited for the waiter. I caught a glimpse of kitchen adjoining the main seating area. The waiter was meticulously laying out plantain leaves in a row and was putting together their trademark dish. The three or four people that were there before us, all had air of regulars visiting the restaurant for their daily breakfast; for a moment I felt a little out of place. Shortly we were given menus that we flipped through as a mere formality, for we knew well what we were here for - Babai Hotel Idlies.

The idilies came and pleased both our tongues and tummies. We did try another dish but our palates had already tasted a better variety elsewhere. The meal was washed down with hot coffee.

While paying the bill at a makeshift counter in one corner of the room, I surveyed the wall behind. Few feet above the cash counter hung a magnificent painting depicting dusk at a mythical battlefield where Ganesha, having slain the demons, stood triumphantly (this was the first time I had seen depiction of Ganesha as a warrior with bow and arrow, in a battlefield). As my eyes drifted down, I saw a framed citation stuck to one of the columns next to the wall. It was a short note from Rashtrapati Bahavan (President’s Residence), expressing former President Neelam Sanjeev Reddy’s gratitude for the services of Babai Hotel’s proprietor.


As I carefully kept the receipt; which I had demanded because I wanted to carry a souvenir from this historic restaurant, in my wallet, I couldn’t help but marvel at how a small restaurant in a small Andhra town; in this world of brand names, trademarks, and bloated marketing budgets, had not only invented a dish but had also propagated it throughout the state – while keeping its original name, that gives out the dish’s provenance, intact.


posted: 12.5.05 | permalink | 5 comments

Holy Cow
They worship me as holy cow.
Still, I’m milked and forced to breed;
and burly cops just tried to tow,
this holy cow that cannot read

Holy Cow
posted: 6.5.05 | permalink | 9 comments

Notes from a campsite
Sharing room with seven team members on a camp offsite last week was an experience, unparalleled in the short history of my existence. I had the rare distinction of acquiring the topmost berth on our two storey bunk bed, a distinction I’ve learnt not to acquire ever again. What goes up must come down – especially when what has gone up requires the use of restroom facilities at 3:00 AM.

Three of my fellow roomies, happened to be prolific snorers. On being confronted the next morning; like all prolific snorers, they denied it with the vehemence of a hungry bull approaching a matador. I was woken up several times - not by the collective, fugal, commotion of their snores, but by tremors that they induced in my bed. Students of physics will realize the intense violence with which the bed shook, when I state, that the snores had some how chanced upon the resonant frequency of material that constituted the bed. I am, of course, exaggerating here but this colorful description should give you a general idea.

So there I was, sitting in my bunk bed, looking as haggard as a newly hatched chick, trying to divine why my precioussss (Golum style) sleep had forsaken me. Just then, it occurred to me with resounding clarity that is often seen in a drunkard resolved to sing, that destiny has chosen me to be the official bard of my team.

Here are the first four lines of an attempted, aborted sonnet:

I’ll sing you a lullaby
You sing one to me
If sleep becomes my alibi
My snores will sing to thee

There were other highlights too. Alcohol, among other things, induces an irresistible urge to guffaw. Alcohol induced laughters come in various alcohol induced varieties – and we had all the documented specimens on display. From agitated armadillo to bemoaning baboon variety, from cackling cat to depressed donkey variety, from elated elephant to flagrant fox variety, from gurgling gator to howling hyena variety, from itchy iguana to jaunty jackdaw variety, from kinky kangaroo to lugubrious leopard variety, from mischievous monkey to nimble nightingale variety, from ogling orangutan to panicky pony variety, from quivering quail to raucous raccoon variety, from sickly salamander to tranquil tortoise variety, from upset uta to vivacious vesper variety, from wailing wolf to yelping yak variety, and last but by no means least, the zesty zebra variety, were all on display. My apologies if I missed out your favorite animal or laughter.

Another memory, that time will take a long time to dilute, was that of the clear starry night sky. In cities, the haze only allows the sky to present a rather dull, drab view. If by chance, you get a clear rain-washed sky, the ambient city lighting won’t allow your pupil to attain dilation sufficient for viewing all the stars that dot the firmament. I wonder if our next generation, will live oblivious of stars, and on stumbling upon their existence by accident, will suffer consternation akin to that of cave dwelling ascendants of thousands of years ago.

Things at our hilly campsite, faraway from even the remotest traces of civilization, were, different. After a very long time, I saw not only the prominent constellations but even the faintest of stars that crowd the sky each night. And when the moon rose, it felt as if I were attending a coronation ceremony, which had attracted thousands of chatty princes from far corners of the galaxy, but as the King rode in, they fell silent and waned away.

Birds woke me on our last day of camping. There was a general background of chirping, through which at least two distinct chirps stood out – like the cellist and the violinist of a double concerto.
posted: 2.5.05 | permalink | 10 comments

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