Friday, May 25, 2007


Beijing 01

Madhuri and I went to Beijing on 19th and came back on 24th May. I was attending an AACSB conference. Mads went sight-seeing. These are some impressions of Beijing.

The first evening we went out with Leo to find some veg food. In the vicinity, there was a Department of Chemistry of the University. So we saw lots of students moving on the streets. Then there were the street food joints serving hot and spicy stuff. The aroma was inviting indeed but we stepped aside. I could see many couples moving around, some clinging close to each other. I remarked about it to Leo.

Leo looked at me and said, 'But, it is normal, isn't it? Not so in your country?' It struck me that the Chinese have progressed primarily because they have shrugged off a lot of the baggage of conservative and unrealistic notions about life. In the restaurant again there were many couples. A boy got too close to his girlfriend. I became uncomfortable. Nobody seemed to mind. So I surmised this again was considered normal.

I heard this word 'normal' a few times more in conversations with the Chinese. I wondered if in India we had the same notions of what is normal between boys and girls. I thought about it and felt that it was very important to remove false notions about distance, separation and customs from the minds of young adults. That way they could see the challenges before them and take responsibility for their life.

I asked our guide if there were instances of misbehaviour with women on the public transport. She looked at me askance. Misbehaviour? Everyone behaves responsibly. That is normal, she said.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Fading not fading

Born into an alien land
he made it his home.
Grew up playing his way
through and out of confines.
His skin glowed and admiration followed.
But his head didn't turn, though held high.
He kept his head and used it wisely
to home in impossible winners.
Adoration grew to make him
into some kind of magician.
He knew who he was - human,
attracting love, fear and jealousy.
When he failed, he did not fall
to the hue and cry around.
He is fading, they said
and why can't he just bow out.
But they couldn't do without him.
Insults and humiliation
to him a part of the game.
He came back and played
like he always had with
that touch of class his own.
The magic still intact.
The magic of being human
utterly and totally.

-in honour of Zinedine Zidane

Friday, June 09, 2006


Summer 2

Summer mornings break early
and summon me to the balcony
for the morning breeze.
Old men, mid-age women
in clean clothes march in
and around the park
to a pink fitness.
Water bottles in hand
platoons of construction
workers march to
the public toilets
to begin another day
of construction for
clean bodies to dwell.

Gurgaon June 06.


Tiny leaves green
shade steelbars grey
from the sun blazing hot
Birds chirp in the breeze

The boy at the traffic signal

(In Delhi, you come across boys trying to sell all kinds of books when cars stop at the Traffic Signal)

The boy sits
on the side of the road
in the shade
books on lap
drooping head
about to doze off.
Just then a car honks by -
in the scorching heat
the prospect of a sale
long awaited?
A forlorn look
the boy gives
and does not move.

Delhi, May 06

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Fighting with myself

From time to time
I look for my past.
Sometimes I find it
Breathing down my neck
Dictating what I should be doing.
At times I lose sight of it
And feel a lot lighter.
Then I hear the familiar footfalls.
As they come nearer
The whispers grow louder
- But whispers still –
Telling me what I should have
Done and not. At such times
I find myself listening with strained
Ears to every small note and get tired
Only to fall asleep.
Sometimes I fight with him
And tell him to shut up.
I can’t bear to hear all
Those curses and all
Those murky burps
The burning sensation inside.
When it is not there, I look for it
And when my Past stares me in the face
I turn away and avoid.
I have heard that this ghastly creature
Can also be friendly. I don’t believe it
Nor do I want to try it. Don’t you think so?

Thursday, July 07, 2005



As one phase comes to an end, a new beginning is made. Like all
beginnings, there are both cheer and anxiety as your companions. Let
cheer walk with you and anxiety walk behind. Anxiety will keep you
from taking undue risks. But let it not walk ahead of you, for then
it will block your vision. Let cheer walk by your side, for then you
will hear birds chirp, see a child smile without reason and speak to
the flowers waiting to bloom. When there is a spring in your step one
too many, let anxiety slow you down. When steps become weary, let
cheer drive away the burdening thoughts. May every step bring you
closer to the joy of living.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


More than a meeting

I met the chairman in his office at his request. This is not usually done, so as to maintain cordiality and independence from the elected members. Other colleagues can also suspect that such meetings can be used for private ends. So it is the unwritten rule that one does not meet the elected members outside formal fora. For me this was the first time I was doing so.

He wanted to know the progress on the project. I explained the situation and gave him my view regarding the causes of delay. He then talked of the dynamics around the project and wanted to know as to who would take the responsibility of the new institution in future. He then asked me if I could continue for a couple of years more. He would ensure I get all the facilities. The whole discussion had by then acquired a grave tonality. I was in a frame of mind, where my commitment to the society was going to once again outweigh my commitment to myself. I caught myself there and asked for time to consult my wife. I also mentioned the need to take care of my health and related issues.

After talking it over with my wife, several instances when the elected members behaved shabbily came back to my mind. I did not allow that to affect my commitment to the society. But I had decided to act in line with my dignity and honour. The decision to go for furlough was a part of this line of thought. No amount of compensation for the pettiness of those actions can now suffice.

It's time to move on...

Monday, April 04, 2005


The gentle tap

The gentle tap on the shoulder
When I looked back there was no one
I checked again
but there was no one.
Some invisible intimation perhaps.
A friendly tap to pause
or stop in the track of thoughts
ranging from taking liberty
with fancies
to fancying philosophical ways.
An eager signal to look back
on those who made the path
and now lie forgotten
and remember them with gratitude.
A soft reminder that one is
not alone even in
the private space of one's
I came out and asked if
the building housed invisible
'Isn't that obvious?' They said.
'The body houses the soul and
you have not had time to
heed.' And added:
'one doesn't talk about
such things
at dusk.' Mumbai, 1 Apr 05.

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