Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ab Bas Karo

Ab bas karo, in aankhon se sharaarat si behti hai
Yeh makhmali neend, humein so jaane ko kehti hai

Tharraatein labon ki chahat se waakif hain hum
Yeh muskaan tumhari adhoore armaan sehti hai

Chand se muhabbat, sunehri kirno se bair
Andhera tham jaaye, aankhon mein khwahish si rehti hai

Ek raat hi toh hai paas, jisse neend ne nishaane par rakha hai
Ehsaas badnaseeb, umeedein khaare paani si behti hai

Aur un aankhon se kehdo ishaare karna band kare
Yeh nasheeli zubaan, zaalim, bhoole armaan sulga deti hai

Ab khush ho, is nashe se baandh jo subah tak le aaye
Makhmal se ishq ki chubhan sone hi kahaan deti hai

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hum Aapki Kyun Karein? - Guest post by Neelkamal Pandey

Hum aapki kyun karein?
Aapne humein paida kiya, toh kya?
Aapne kiya, hum hue! 
Hum humaari sehmati se toh nahi hue.

Hum aapki kyun karein?
Aapne humara laalan paalan kiya, toh kya?
Aapne kiya, humne liya!
Humein karke zimmedaar toh aap hue.
Hum humaari sehmati se toh nahi hue.

Hum aapki kyun karein?
Kehte ho bahut suvidhaayein di hain, toh kya?
Aapne di, humne li. 
Arre suvidhaayein thi tabhi toh di na. 
Ismein hum kahaan kasurvaar hue?
Hum humaari sehmati se toh nahi hue.

Hum aapki kaahe karein?
Doosre se tulna kyun karte ho?
Har race mein kyun bhagwana chahte ho?
Aur usmein bhi awwal number lavana chahte ho.
Ghode toh hum hain nahi, 
Kiya toh aapne manush hi hai. 
Aur who manush aaj niraash hai.

Tulna karna, race bhagwana hi hai
Toh bhai ghoda paalo na.
Manush par kaahe apna daav laga rahe ho?
Woh toh khud sansaarik jue mein vyast hai.
Us se kyun aas laga baithe ho?

Dekho, tulna karna band karo.
Ghadi, ghadi shikaayatein band karo.
Aapne kiya, ab hum ho gaye hain. 
Apne pairon par – ladkhada hi sahi – 
Par khade ho gaye hain.
Hum ab jad-buddhi nahi hue.
Hum humaari sehmati se toh nahi hue.

Vishwaas rakho, who bhi dridh.
Karenge hum kuchh adbhut, yeh kar liya hai pran. 
Parajay sweekar karenge nahi
Jeevan ki aapa-dhaapi mein ghoomenge nahi
Karenge, nishchit karenge
Vilamb hoga, samay lagega, nishchit woh bhi
Ban-na hai peepal ka ped,
Jhaad patte nahi.

Apne diye hue sanskaaron par vishwaas rakho
Thoda hi sahi, par dil ke paas rakho
Sanskaaron ke diye se bahut se aeb jalaane hain.
Atah sansaar ko apna loha manwana hai.
Aur phir,
Phir aapse wahi prashn poochhna hai.
Ki kyun kare hum aapki? 
Aaj tak nahi hare jeevan ke jue
Hum humaari sehmati se toh nahi hue. 

- Neelkamal Pandey

The poet

About the poet - Kamal, as he is known to me, is one very unique and talented kid. I have not known him for long, but in that brief period, I have seen him grow and mature - in manners difficult to put in words. He has overcome inhibitions - and the above poem is one big and priceless example of the same. Even though it begins with a strong statement, lets all understand, this poem seeks not to disrespect or subvert any established notions  - it merely is a plea, which reveals the heart which many of us felt heavy with while growing up. It is an expression, to let out that which is stifling and restricting. It is a request, a sensitive one, to be trusted for one's abilities. It is that which  most of us can relate with.

This kid is a beautiful addition to my life - and discovering him, and knowing about him has been a process I have enjoyed a lot. Among his many facets now known to me, another is that he is a prolific painter along with being a poet. Below is a painting he made as a dedication to Nirbhaya - the braveheart whose imprint will remain on our collective psyches. I only wish Kamal keeps exploring himself and the world around him, and is able to arrive at a destination which does justice to his talents. 

Ode to Nirbhaya by Neelkamal Pandey

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Looking Through Glass by Mukul Kesavan

They say, fiction triumphs where history and historiography meet failure. True enough. Through imagination and innovation, fiction tries to recreate those stories which are of little concern to historians - for history is not much but a political chronology, or a tale written about civilizations lost to time, or a record of battle won and lost. However, fiction is different. Fiction  seeks to carve out stories where to a non-curious, non-keen eye exist none. Even better is the experience when you see the confluence of a historian and fiction writer of great merit, as I happened to notice in Looking Through Glass by Mukul Kesavan. Mr. Kesavan is a professor in the Department of History in my university itself, though I never have had the good fortune of meeting him. I know it clear in my head what I have to say upon coming face to face with him - a simple thank you for giving me the best magical ride through the devastating annuls of Indian pre-independence history, from a post-independence vantage point.

Looking Through Glass is a novel that looks to recreate history, though not in a manner as simple as you would deem. The narrator, on a journey to Benaras to immerse his deceased grandmother's ashes in the holy Ganges, finds himself fall off a bridge into another time zone. He falls into the year 1942 from India of the 1980s and begins an amusing, but revealing tale of inevitabilities that were taking place in that period of struggle, where divisive tendencies had not only taken firm root, but were also raising their heads at ugly junctures in public and private life. The narrator, a Hindu, stays with a Muslim family - with a story and history of its own - passing off as an amnesiac. He almost acquires the role of the man of the house, till he starts on his way to Benaras, joining an anti-British rebellion en route. His travails in Benaras include meeting and dealing with a aspiring porn-film-maker, and rescuing an unwed, pregnant girl, Parwana - all this while being under the tutelage of a local wrestler giving regular sermons on the importance of celibacy for conserving strength. His journey continues to Delhi, Simla and perhaps back to Delhi (has been long since I read this beautiful work of fiction) - spanning the most crucial years of political wrangling regarding cartographic surgery of India and on ground violence devouring the peace of entire communities to forever leave them embittered. All this, being seen through the surreal lens of a photographer, who is an anachronistic observer in the setting.

This novel makes use of the technique of magic realism in a rather sudden way, at the very beginning. Its is not a very simple narrative, for it is a fusion of genres of fantasy and historical fiction. The novel is rich with rhetorical ploys where the author, in essence a historian, is conveying his hardened perspective on India's historical development to his audience, perhaps focussing on giving voice to the one community whose collective opinions had been drowned under the persuasive influence of its leader toeing a rigid separatist line. These tendencies of the author are distinctly noticeable in the way he creates his rather strong characters, ordinary citizens, supporting ideas which are in contravention of what was historically ascribed to them.

Mukul Kesavan
This novel doesn't stop at being a fantastical lesson on history. Besides telling you plainly that independence as partition were affairs larger than the exchange between Congress and the Muslim League, it also encompasses other interesting sub-plots, one of which is crude kind of sexual comedy. This is made visible in the section about Gyanendra, a film-maker aspiring to remake Kama Sutra, victimizing a woman, who can also be looked at as a victimizer in a way. One can, of course, not forget the fact that sexual violence was inextricably linked to the physical violence in the years leading up to Partition. By evoking lesser known streams of ideological thoughts on the idea of India and its various communities, the novel also makes a sincere attempt at political rewriting of historical facts. For throwing light on all this, the narrator has made use of flashback as well as flashforward. He has both, the retrospective and the prospective tools of analysis in his hands, because he picks up a nameless protagonist who has fallen into the lanes of history from a very contemporary reality. This narrator is in a position to see people struggle, but by the virtue of his temporal vantage point, sees how futile these struggles are because he knows precisely what turn history will take.

Lastly, the novel is so dearly loved by me because of the lightness of tone with which the author is able to convey the seriousness of matter. It is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable novel, which does not leave you sombre or depressed. And this is not to say that it is not hard hitting, or that it does not send its message home. 4.5 stars from me, and absolutely, highly recommended!

Book Details -
Author - Mukul Kesavan
Publisher - Penguin India and Ravi Dayal Publishers
Published - 1995
Book Source - Part of a course on 'Literatures of the Indian Sub-continent', Department of English, JMI
Genre - Historical Fiction/Fantasy Fiction
Price - Rs. 325
Pages - 378

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Chalo Ab So Jaao

Jab aankhein moondein let jaati hogi tum,
Toh pariyaan thoda kam mehsoos karti hongi khud ko, 
Pariyon ki duniya ki shehzaadi lagti hogi na tum,
Aankhein band kiye, ek muskaan chehre par liye,
Apna ana ko tumse bachaane ki koshish mein,
Yeh neend liye baithi hain tumhaari
Chhed rahi hain laakh khayaal
Tumhe dekh jal rahi hain baari baari

Par meri baat suno,
Inhe jeetne mat do,
Subah intezaar kar rahi hai tumhara
Aankhein moondo
Dil ko shaant karo

Aur chalo, ab so jaao...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

And Then...

And then,

A silkworm cocooned and marooned on a leaf, 
Would know of its power with which to weave,
Silk that would last more than a century,
Silk to change grotesque into pretty.

And then,

A butterfly flapping its large wings vibrant,
Hurriedly pursuing nectar and scents,
Would know of the power encased in its form,
The power to unleash a mighty storm.

And then, 

A man caught unaware in the grind,
Burning within with a will to drive - 
Darkness out and light a candle, 
Would know of the power with which to handle
The desire to change the world as we know,
Into a land where virtues flow. 

And then, it glowed!

Naive in thought, and usage of words, the above poem had to make it here because it was the first time I composed something during an exam! Yes, so, a souvenir from there.

Picture credits - Madhurjya Saikia. I have already told you guys he is a superlative photographer, not something to forget. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

That's Not The Point!

Baat yeh nahi hai ki tum sundar ho.
Kyunki tumhe tumhaare bare mein bataane baithe,
Toh yeh baat bahut chhoti hai
Kya dhang se tumhe shabdon mein bayaan kar paayenge
Is soch pe shanka bhi hoti hai
Par ab baat karne ki thaan li hai
Der se sahi, waqt ne bhi yeh khwaahish jaan li hai
Kuchh lakeeron ko andekha kardoon
Toh is bhool ko andekha tum kar dena
Kuchh sawaal main khade kar doon, 
Toh unhe jawaabon ki roshni se tum bhar dena

Ab baat yeh nahi nahi ki tum jawaab likh deti ho
Baat toh yeh hai phir bhi kitne sawaal
Hal kiye hain tumne
Kitne hi pareshaan, neeras kono mein
Rang bhare hain tumne
Yeh toh jeevan ke us pehlu jaisa hai
Jo khali bhi, aur dukhdaayi bhi tha
Par jiske bare mein main jaanti nahi thi
Jab tak tumne usko bhar na diya
Dekhi apni achchhai?
Mere jeevan mein ek dukh ko aane se pehle tok diya

Ab baat yeh bhi nahi hai ki tum achchhi ho
Par tum yeh zaroor sikha deti ho
Ki achchhai kya hoti hai
Koi aankhein padh paaye tumhari toh jaane
Ki sachchai kya hoti hai
Par yeh jo aankhein hain tumhari,
Yeh jheel ke khamosh paani jaisi hain
Jinki gehraai maapi nahi ja sakti
Jinki kahaani aanki nahi ja sakti
Kabhi kabhi, khud se hi bhar
Chhalak jaati hain, kuchh kehna ho jaise
Tab darr lagta hai, aur mann kehta hai
Yeh moti sab khud mein sametoon main kaise?

Baat yeh nahi hai ki tum ek kahaani ho
Baat toh yeh hai ki tum mein kisse baste hain
Jeevan ke jo mool hai, who unhi kisso mein toh sajte hain
Ek ek seekh, sabak, ek ek kissa, 
Kitni khubsurti se piroya tumne 
Us mala mein, jo kuchh bhaari zaroor hai
Par amulya bhi, anubhav aur gyaan ratn se
Jiski chamak adrishya zaroor hai
Par jo roshni phailaati hai seedhe antar man se
Kuchh roshni ke kan tumne mujhe bhi diye
Un pyaare palon mein jo tumhare saath jiye

Baat yeh nahi hai ki tum mujhe pyaari ho
Baat yeh hai ki shayad tum khud pyaar ho
Jiska pehla hissa jab mujhe mila tha
Toh samajhne mein thodi der lagi thi
Vishwaas nahi kar pa rahi thi na, 
Jisse dhoondha bhi nahi, woh apneaap dikhi thi
Par ab, tum jitna bhi do
Woh pyaar poora, par kam padta hai
Aur miloon, dekhoon, seekhoon aur jaanoo
Yeh lagaav (jo tumse hai), ab tang karta hai
Mujhe pata hai, tum aisi hi rahogi
Par mere aas paas se kabhi gaayab mat hona
Ek rishta mila hai maayoos sadiyon ke baad
Jaayaz se thoda darna, aur tumse yeh darkhwaast karna
Ki chahe jis raste zindagi le jaaye,
Theek lage, toh mujhe saath le chalna

Akhir mein, baat yeh nahi hai ki tum Aastha ho
Matlab, Aastha toh tum ho hi, 
Par us se kitni zyada ho, yeh batana ab mumkin nahi hoga
Kabhi aur uthayenge phir kalam
Yeh baatein khud tak rakh pana jab aasaan nahi hoga 

This poem came to me on one inspired morning, when I walked out of the warm quilt to tap away on the keyboard my understanding of perhaps the most precious, unexpected gift life sent my way, in her. I wish calling her beautiful, or good, or awesome, or amazing, or even phenomenal was enough. But it is not. Beauty resides so deep within her being, that it makes her glow with a kind of radiance I have not observed in men or women around me. She is different, and rich, and a personification of most manifestations of goodness one can perhaps conceive or conjure. But that's not really the point. I mean, anything I say about her will never be sufficient either to describe what she is like, or to describe what I feel for her. I only, time and again, wish that she, Aastha didi, remains around me always for those doses of inspiration, and those reassuring words of understanding which have come to mean so much to my daily existence. Loving her is a privilege I hope to keep for life. 

Wish you the warmest winters Aastha didi. You've learnt to give the perfect hugs at the perfect time! 

One of those rare times when she is not camera-shy :) 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Let's Grow Up Together

Dear PACH,
Can we call it the best group picture, like ever?

You're growing up into a terribly demanding kid. Kid, yes. You're that insistent, even nagging, and you cannot, just cannot stand any lack of attention from those who nurture you. I am a case in point. At the conclusion of your tenth edition, I had made a promise to myself, that for about a month and a half, I will maintain a safe, sane distance from you. But then, you crept into my dream, as a definite vision of what could a perfect incarnation of yours look like, and I jumped right back in. You see, I like holding your hand and leading you there, there where we all imagine you should be. I am privileged you grip my hand right back, and trust me. And then we travel together, in a caravan, of course, of a growing urban tribe of poets, and arrive at surreal junctions like the one which just went by. Lets talk a little about it to each other, shall we?

I was talking about you to Navin ji the other day, and one thing we concluded was that your setting this time was impeccable. Karan Bhola and Cheistha Kochhar need to be thanked for allowing us to meet you in the amazing, pristine, beautiful Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication, which also serves as the Young India Fellowship Programme campus. It was green, and of course, that made our already hyper, young environmentalist, Aavika, chirp even louder with glee. We expected it, of course. That is one of the cooler things about you PACH. Your family has members who are known by their distinctive traits, distinctive preoccupations, distinctive inspirations and styles and perspectives on life - but they all seamlessly blend together to make you into the vibrant tapestry of gem-like thoughts. Hell yes, you're studded with all precious, not semi-precious, ideas, which are brought to table by people who dwell on comics, superheroes, first crushes, unrequited love experiences, nature, creatures, languages, family, bonds, individualism, devotion and innumerable other incongruous, yet complimentary motivations. You, its all you PACH. 
When we invited you to take it all out, and how you obliged us! 

Do you know the best thing about being where we were? The fact that we were under an open sky, not bound by any space. I could, for once, see poets relax, find their own comfort zones, walk around, freshen up their thoughts, loosen up their bodies and drink in both the chill and the sun with equal alacrity. May be you should always call us to places like this - which are free, so our thoughts could travel free. Well, poetry is a medium of travelling, to distant lands, to hearts of people - and this, of course, I learnt from Ekanksha, in an exquisitely worded introduction. Oh, introductions are the special things about you. People like talking about themselves, we love hearing about them - it all just adds up perfectly. PACH, perfection is boring. Don't be perfect - just always be better than what you were the day before. It has kind of been the trend so far, so, lets not pressurize you in that direction. 
The beautiful amphitheatre of SACAC

Three huge paragraphs, and I have not even arrived at the point, the pivot, the peak, the prime reason why this PACH was a touch above from the others. Actually, leaps and bounds ahead of all previous ones. This reason is a name - Ashok Chakradhar. A poet who is an institution in himself. While anticipating his arrival, we were hoping to meet a celebrity, one who would enamour us, meeting whom was what our collective dreams were made of. However, the actual tryst with him proved to be astonishing and humbling, both at once. In him, we met a listener, a poet and a teacher - not a celebrity. He came, he became a part of you PACH - and he took keen interest in both, knowing you and commenting on you. All good comments, goes without saying. 

Chakradhar sir was eager to listen, laugh and appreciate. Whether it was Govind narrating his love story in broken Hindi, or Dipalie finding solace and silence in her beloved's grace; whether it was Mago's poem which tickled Newton and Einstein, or Anup's ingenious, rhythmic verses giving brief lessons on living - Ashok ji heard them all with interest and enthusiasm. Aditya's ghazal needs no commenting upon anymore. Aavika, our little environmentalist, impressed Ashok ji with her naughty Sunday song, dedicated to an imagined lover. I had a short vain moment when Ashok ji appreciated Daastaan, the poem closest to my heart after 'A Thousand Times Over'. He mentioned something about having tears in his eyes after my recitation, but I will let that pass, lest I not be able to control this pride knocking so firmly on my door. The true show-stealer, however, was this poet who calls himself 'Umar'. His poetic dimension was so well hidden from me, that to this day I marvel and sense disbelief in my heart regarding it. While Ashok ji, but obviously, was mighty impressed with his compositions, I could only let my tears lose in response. His words were filling me up so much, that I actually wanted him to stop! Now that, PACH, is something new I experienced. 
This capture is amazing for the smiles spread all around, especially on 'Umar' sahab's face

Ashok ji himself couldn't hold back, and he recited something in front of us which the world as yet does not know about. I'll keep the specifics of the composition to myself, since all my letters to you PACH are sort of a public affair, but what I will let out is that in my view, his poem was a PACH epic. It was long, but it only kept getting better with each succeeding part. The tone, the rhythm, the vocabulary and the recitation - each was a lesson, each leaving us absolutely bewildered. I felt certain emotions the dictionary has no terms for - and I know for a fact that I share this bewilderment with you PACH. There is no way you do not understand this feeling. Sir was full of grace, humility and the lasting image I will carry of his will be that of a teacher sitting in the midst of 35 odd students, teaching them about Abhida, Lakshana and Vyanjana...

In hindsight, I cannot believe sir gave me a high five for a naive comment during his recitation :)

And the shawl! Looked so perfect on him. You do very well know how much more I want to talk about Ashok sir, but then, there are other poets I MUST make a mention of. 

Dipalie said something very intriguing and remarkable about you PACH. She said, if the air around and within you is canned and carried to different places, will creative genies cast their spells on everyone they come in contact with? Essentially, she was giving voice to the shock and awe I experience when first time poets, or people who are still nascent in this realm of writing churn out completely incredible, top level verses. I mean, so many have come to your gatherings admitting that they never write, of if they write they don't write in a particular language, and that they don't share their creations with anyone or in public. Now, how many of those very people have gifted you surreal words and expressions you want to neatly and carefully compile together in a treasure trove of poems which will undoubtedly leave the world stunned? The number is too good to be true. 
Iti, Ekanksha and Mago - three outstanding poets PACH is blessed with

When we last met you PACH, people shared too much. Right from the beginning, where Ekanksha put our day long journey on the perfect track, till the very end, by those melodies stolen from Rafi sahab and Jagjit ji's corpus, each moment you breathed, I lived a little more. The Elephant in the Room, by Vaishali, left a giant impact on each heart. Navin ji's reflections on truth, which went from lived experiences, to philosophical abstractions to realistic deconstructions was akin to a compilation drawn from our collective childhood. Jyoti and Anup's duet was soft, lyrical, lilting. Anurag's composition reflected mature thoughts and word usage. Neha's poem, read in absentia, was rich with genuine devotion expressed in unforgettable phrases. Mansi always adds that spontaneity and ebullience to the group. Ghosts of Neha Bawa's past still haunt my heart. Iti, demure and dignified, touched each soul with her ode to the most special, umbilical bond which life grants us. 
In his smart winter attire, the writer par excellence

And, even though I feel out of breath recollecting such vast list of poem, each uniquely special and remembered by me, I cannot help but make a distinct mention of Kamal, whose poem was so amazing, that I cannot even begin to describe it in words. "Hum Aapki Kyun Karein?" is a simple question, but demands some understandably difficult answers. I want a larger world to read that poem, PACH - it had so many echoes which have so far only reverberated within the walls of heart. I invited him as the next guest blogger on Nascent Emissions - I think he will agree. 
The photographer-painter-poet

All these, each one of these, make you so special. PACH, you cannot be a lifeless concept. You are growing, one meet at a time. The pace of your growth has been scary, but hey, some crazy magic works here, remember?

I want all this love, disbelief and fondness to grow, as you grow. I want myself to grow, as you grow. You keep acquiring newer meanings for me, dear PACH. Its an enormously satisfying, calming feeling I am blessed with in time present. 

Winters are here. Let's promise each other some warmth and some awesome balmy days we spend holding each other's hands. 

With love and bright hopes for future, 


PS - I have to admit, that at times, so much happens during a single PACH meet, that I find myself incapable to registering and processing it all. It is for this reason that writing these letters is so important for me. This is where it all sinks in. This is all like being in love. For so many of us.
In the subtle glow of setting sun...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pyaar is PACH


You know writing to you means a lot to me. A lot more than these letters are ever able to convey to you. I always thought of you as this grand entity, to whom I could write a lot of letters, about the kind of difference you make to my life - and you would give my letters a cursory glance, a benign nod at most, and then forget about it, allowing it to sink somewhere in the deluge of fanmail you get. But you, PACH, you're different. Nervous and excited, as I entered your ninth carnivalesque gathering, little did I know that you would have ready for me letters and notes and colours and brush-strokes - an entire collection of artistic treasures in response to all these words and love-filled gestures I have sent your way. Its only someone with a heart as large as yours who could have managed it - yes, you!
"P aur CH ki shaadi se kaam achchhe hue hain
Mubarak ho aapko, PACHche hue hain!"

Remember that day you were born? Oh, I am talking of your rebirth - not in that faraway land, but in my own backyard. That was the day you filled me with mirth, and filled three other quiet quills with inspiration. Yes. You were born as an inspiration, or better still, you were born to inspire, to motivate, to instil in tentative minds an urge to explore their dormant creative facets. I am not kidding - you can ask them around. Yes, you can ask those very faces who were waiting to burst into cheers and laughs from behind the colourful door at Bade Bhaiya's house. Tell me, aren't you glad that genuinely amazing people like Bade Bhaiya, Bhabhi, Sripriya and Amma associate themselves with you? That they not only open the doors of their house, but also of their hearts for you? That their love reaches you not just via the warm reception you get, but also through the aroma of most sumptuous, home-made food that is laid down specially for you? That Manmohan bhaiya always manages to find time to share his compositions with you despite having ultra-busy schedules? Also, aren't you, like, totally flabbergasted to have someone like Sandeep bhaiya add dollops of exuberance to your already lively existence, and then, to have him invite you over for a snug session somewhere in the chilly month of December? Yes yes, I know you are excited to go over and revel in the mutual exchange of happy, positive energies - but there is time till we get to that. 
Bade Bhaiya - "Larger Than Life"

S P Uncle, Manmohan Bhaiya and Sripriya -
I consider myself lucky to have met them :) 

I am not able to get over the love that poured out of sweet dish which Amma made for us. And the subtle cheer which Ambika bhabhi carried in her personality. And also the wisdom which poured out of S. P. Uncle's simple versus drawing a contest between technology and traditions. This time when we all met, there was a perfect confluence of enthusiasm and sagacity - an experience that can only be felt, not delineated. When the teacher and taught are present in the same room, with no walls separating them - as spectators what you get are little hints into what 'perfection' in life comprises of and what the true definition of a 'blessing' is. It all happens when you go places, PACH. And you are zooming around at a pretty mind-boggling speed. You still give us ample time to sit down and savour moments and allow them to seep deep into our beings. How you manage such crazy, magical, impossible, contradictory acts - well, its time I stopped asking you that banal question. 
When excitement was on its uphill journey 

I hope the superboss does not mind this little transgression I am going to make while whispering something into your ears. I remember this day I gave my mother a long-ish letter, written in my unbelievably grotesque handwriting, with a lot of random crayon strokes forming the background. She said nothing, merely read it and smiled - and this day, I know she was happy and proud. But more than either of them, she was surprised - because she did not think I was capable of such expressiveness (and yes, I am trying hard not to sound vain, but PACH, I know you understand. PACH always understands). I wrote that letter for no specific occasion; only because I felt like doing it, and invested great hours into perfecting each sentence, so my mother understands how important she is to my life. The sense behind narrating this non-eclectic incident to you is to try and approximate the immediate thought which occupied my head between the end of surprises and beginning of introductions. PACH, you surprised me. Well, I know thats what you intended - but no! Its not the surprise that surprised me - your capacity and capability did. Your skills and warmth did. Your eagerness to love did. Your will to share did. Your remarkable maturity did. The gleam in your eyes did. So much more did. I feel like telling you what I often tell Anup - whoever gave birth to this phenomenon, it now has acquired a life of its own. It just knows where to go, how to progress. 
"Poore PACH ka jama chittha, ek jagah chipkaya hai"

You have little idea of what you pulled off. Given a week's distance, I am in a better position to understand and appreciate the spectacle. To Neha, I need to say - I cried. I should have been howling, but I could not understand half the buzz which surrounded me. Its a great feeling to be subdued once in a while - take my word for it. I might try and repeat the mommy metaphor here - but, you get the drift. 
One day, we'll read and not eat this one :) 

Dear PACH, how does one pack so much together? Do you know what all? Drama + Mad laughs + Chocolates + Feelings + Love + Tears + Sugar + Bling + Disbelief + Riddles + Poems + Colours + Energy + Creativity + Blessings + Beauty + More disbelief + Even more love + Wishes + Fishes + Hugs + Tales + Some more love... and I'm cutting short this list only because I am too sleepy. You can still know that you made me feel infinitely special. I can go ahead and say that this was one piece missing from the jigsaw of life. Only you were capable of putting it there with all crazy, gaudy shades. 

This picture carries one of the rarer, photographed smiles of
perhaps the most prolific poet I know - Navin Dutta. I'm learning from him, each day. 
He just might be narrating his letter to his future wife here.
Wonder how many would be scurrying in his direction after hearing him out. 

I came back home and I cried. Shamelessly. I cried remembering the surprise and the things that followed thereafter. I couldn't get over the fact that people from such diverse backgrounds and experiences sat down together and shared anecdotes without any fear or inhibitions. My favourite part of the day was when a voice that has alternately and ironically been called the fairer, but second sex found expression in a poem which contained echoes from a pleading womb. A few of us related incidents where our gender became our curse, but then, the elders in the gathering assured us that things are changing - that daughters are the glory parents are eager to embrace. PACH, I felt secure among all those good people, and I am carrying the satisfaction of having arrived at a good and pure place in life. 
Nautanki! But bahut pyaari wali

Aastha didi - why could have I not met you sooner?

This letter is not even close to its end, but, I would quote the tiny princess of PACH here and rest my quill till the next (festive) tryst with you. Also, because I am sleepy and will drop dead in next five minutes. So, as Aavika says - "Kuchh baatein adhoori rehne diya karo, mann bhara rehta hai."

You see that guy in his staple red shirt?
I am proudly his fan! 
There, right there are seated some of the most awesome poets Delhi has been witness to. 

PACH, among the many epithets you've acquired, I love it when they say - Love is PACH, and PACH is love (I heard both). I'll thank you once again, with a kiss this time. I am happily, crazily in love with you. 

More love, 

Alter ego. Happily so!

PS - We're meeting next a day before Diwali. You're all like family now, and it only makes sense to share some sweets and hugs with you on this grand, bright, merry occasion. No firecrackers, unless they are of the Mago variety which cause laughter mayhem whenever lighted. Even if you have never been to PACH, and are reading about it for the first time, trust my word and book this Saturday for us. Drop a mail to for an invite. We're looking forward to you all! 

I wish I had preserved this!

Heights of craziness is this - gifting me Afremov. How?
(Thanks Kamal!)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Ek Baar Phir" - Guest Post by Sidhant Mago

Ek bench.. park mein bench
Hari ghaans, khadi ghaans
Aage sadak..thodi kadak
Sakht sa waqt
Thandi hawa
Khayalon ki umas ki dawa
Kaise bhool gaya, kohra bhi tha
Ya nahi tha..
Ya mujhe laga ki..tha
Kyun main bench par
Paer ghaans par
Aur hawa ke sahaare
Us dhundhle kohre ke beech se
Meri or ek chehra...
NAHI aaya

Ek ghar..furnished ghar
Rocking chair...aage peechhe
Ek carbon paper
Khamoshiyon ke neeche
Chhapa bhi kya, ehsaas?
Ghadi theek thi, samay par
Khidki par os thi
Ya nahi thi
Ya mujhe laga ki...thi
Kyunki main chair par jhoolta
Chair ghadi ke pendulum si jhoolti
Aur us carbon paper ko hataane
Us khidki se os ko mitaane
Achanak se ek haath...
NAHI aaya

Sewaiyaan thi... mannatein thi
Jannatein thi... namaaz thi
Kuchh haath soch hi rahe thi
Aur kuchh already mil chuke the
Kuchh gale jhuk hi rahe the
Aur kuchh already mil chuke the
Ek masjid... jo door thi
Par yaad hai?
Woh rota hua bachcha?
Woh paas tha
Ya nahi tha
Ya tha
Ya mujhe laga ki...tha
Toh maine bhi wahi kiya
Hasa diya
Par phir un sewaiyon ke saath
Woh gala aur woh haath
Us bachche ko hasaate
Eid aayi... par mera yaar
NAHI aaya

About the author
Sidhant Mago is known to the world as Shanky, and to me, he is known as one of the best persons to
have ever stepped on this planet. And I mean it. He is one of those people whose company guarantees unlimited laughter, for humour is his forte. More often than not, you'll be taken by surprise at the kind of wit his very general comments contain. However, the thing about him which impresses me most are his perspectives - on life, on love, on friends, on society - and on every other conceivable thing. Within him is contained an inexhaustible reservoir of creativity, which has many, varied manifestations  - mostly funny, non-serious stuff, or what he proudly calls 'cheap humour'. But then, there is this side to Shanky's creativity too, reproduced here with his permission. And what better day than today to share this poem, which takes one to the melancholy behind a celebratory day.

To all reading this, Eid Mubarak!

And special wishes for Aaqib Raza Khan, whose beautiful photographs have adorned my blog-posts time and again. 
This one falls among my favourite of ARK clicks.