Saturday, August 29, 2015


Red Hills, near Chennai, 1969

I am a traveller 
of that path
which has a beginning 
but no end

Bhashwati wrote:

Distance and expanse is what i thought of
And how a human life is but a speck and how the distance between its beginning and end that is a human's journey from birth to death, which seems so momentous to us is of no import in the unfathomable expanse of the unknown which carries on with business as usual, regardless of all the lone travellers that come and go.

The composition is very humbling. 
Clouds, cumulus, the tree multi limbed and man all alone in the twilight zone straddling the light and the dark, the diabolic and the divine.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Embers of Desire, Ashes

This haunting song (see the video and English translation below), with music by Khayyam and lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, is considered to be one of Mohammed Rafi's best. To recover from the melancholy of it takes longer than one usually expects. Rafi's selection of a high octave from the start, as opposed to starting at a lower pitch and gradually reaching a climax of hopelessness, was a novel experiment. It was close to Kaifi Azmi and Rafi's hearts.

jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai

ab na wo pyaar na us pyaar ki yaadein baaki
aag yoon dil mein lagi kuchh na rahaa kuchh na bachaa
jiski tasveer nigaahon mein liye baithi ho
main wo dildaar nahin uski hoon khaamosh chitaa
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai

zindagi hans ke guzarti to bahut achchhaa thaa
khair hans ke na sahi ro ke guzar jaayegi
raakh barbaad muhabbat ki bachaa rakhi hain
raakh barbaad muhabbat ki bachaa rakhi hain
baar-baar isko jo chhedaa to bikhar jaayegi
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai

aarzoo jurm wafaa jurm tamannaa hai gunaah
ye wo duniyaa hai jahaan pyaar nahin ho saktaa
kaise baazaar kaa dastoor tumhen samjhaaun
bik gayaa jo wo khareedaar nahin ho saktaa
bik gayaa jo wo khareedaar nahin ho saktaa
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai

I do not know what your eyes keep seeking in me
In this pile of ash
There is no spark
There is no ember 

There is no love now
Nor memories of it
The fire that devastated my heart
Nothing of it was left
Nothing was saved
The image you have in your eyes
I am not that lover
But his quiet pyre

It would be good if this life passed joyfully
But that is not to be
It will pass in sorrow
I have saved the ashes of my devastated love
They will scatter away
If you nudge them again and again

Desire is a crime, Love is a crime
Yearning for love is a sin
In this world there can be no love

How should I explain the rules of the bazaar
One who has sold his soul
Cannot pretend to be the buyer

Pravin Gandhi wrote about my blog post Leaf:

Why so self-deprecating! Reminds me of an extremely beautiful, but extremely despondent, Rafi song " jaane kya dhoondti rehti hai ye aankhen mujhme, /
Raakh ke dherey mei, shola hai na chingari hai"

Escape to the Future Past

the moment I tried to grab it
the present became past
the future was contingent
and the past was irretrievable

my pleas to time
to pause, rest awhile
take in the scenery
understand and explain itself
were in vain

trying to stop time
I sat down
grew old and died
time did not attend my funeral

unstoppable, it surged on
illuminating eons
leaving behind darkness

Bhashwati wrote:
Your composition is marvellous especially because of the title which makes the sum of the shapes (angles, curves), the textures, and the twenty shades of light and grey create the impression that an escape is in fact possible. Everything inside the frame seems to be part of a 'real' extra terrestrial realm as against a 'fantasy' one. Probably it is the vehicle that time uses to surge on to illuminate eons.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


I am a leaf
without a branch
I am a cloud
without destination
I am a path
without direction
I am an ocean
with dried-up waters
I am a light
without a wick
I am a fire
without a flame
I am a peak
without a mountain
I am a god
without a temple

I am alone in a crowd
alien to myself

I am a broken moon
a maimed sun
a lost identity

I am I am
a misplaced time
dislocated space
a fragmented life

Saturday, August 22, 2015


Kirit Sanghvi commented:

I really do not know what you make of it, but for me a beautiful photo conveying so many meanings.
My reply:

First, the object: to depict life, its instinct for survival, embedded in its one or multiple DNAs. 

The picture attempts to depict one of the oldest surviving creatures in the depths of the oceans, where life on earth as we know it began with a single-celled creature which we called amoeba, and which lives and thrives with a single DNA, no organ, no appendages, not even a brain or reproductive system. In man-made zoology, it falls under the category of Phyllum Protozoa. The creature I have depicted is slightly more evolved, and comes under the Phyllum Rotifera.

One may speculate as to whether, when mankind perishes, with its own efforts and exertions, these elementary life forms will survive. Alternately, whether these most rudimentary and the earliest forms of life, in water, can outlive mankind and continue to exist by adaptation and metamorphosis, until the earth ceases to be a habitable place, not only by man, but also because of the demise of our solar system, etc.

Third, how did I take it? A perforated tin cylinder with a bulb inside was photographed from an angle to resemble a deep-sea creature / species representing millions of similar kind.

I hope this would clarify your query. In case of doubt, please do not hesitate to ask.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Beyond the Beyond

the minute conscious revealed 
within the mass of the subconscious 
seeks to understand our universe

explores unceasingly 
the outer and beyond

who knows 

perhaps to understand
the inner

The human brain, as infinite perhaps as the external universe, or actually more, because what it does not or cannot know, for all practical purposes, does not exist; seeks to reach out and bring the external within its grasp, incrementally.

It has mostly misunderstood and underestimated its infinitely small place within the external universe.

The quantum of the activity of the subconscious, because of its apparent overpowering by the conscious mind, is grossly misleading, so much so that except for seekers after understanding in specialised branches such as medicine and behavioural sciences, and psychiatry, it is underrated if not altogether forgotten.

Let it be known that it is the subconscious which is the ultimate driving force for all human curiosity, action, endeavour, hope and, almost certainly, its demise.

Charu wrote:

I am identifying, for my own convenience, the first photo, the spark as the conscious; I will name it 'fool's gold'. The disc by elimination is subconscious which is as intricate and as atomic as it shows. I will parse the second para first, when you say 'It' I believe you are referring to 'Brain', then, are you suggesting Brain knows its own existence and its size and worth in the Universe? Going to the third para, understanding voluminous intricacies residing within the subconscious the specialty branches named in your write-up not only have underrated and forgotten them, but also perhaps often misunderstood them. Coming to the first para, isn't the 'Unknowables' by the brain is what majority of populace chasing constantly with 'Fool's Gold'? And the chasee's name starts with big 'G..'. Total agreement with the fourth para. I have understood the content, but need some clarity.


Bhashwati wrote:

Of Beyond-s

What lies beyond the beyond
can be known only on reaching the beyond
those who have attempted the journey
are flailing limbs in the shifting sands 
that comprise the road to beyond

those that resist the call of beyond 
dedicating themselves to the here and now
determined not to look beyond
are flailing their limbs too
trapped in quotidian tentacles

Is it even a choice

To go beyond or not to be... ?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cardiac: Life Before Death

Hemantha Kumar wrote:

...Lamha Lamha Saansein Khatam Ho Rahi Hain
Lamha Lamha Saansein Khatam Ho Rahi Hain
Zindagi Maut Ke Pehloo Mein So Rahi Hai
Zindagi Maut Ke Pehloo Mein So Rahi Hai
Us Bewafa Se Naa Poocho Meri Maut Ki Wajah
Woh To Zamaane Ko Dikhaane Ke Liye Ro Rahi Hai... 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sign Language

a welcome or a warning?

Hemantha Kumar wrote:

...raaz khulne ka tum pahle zaraa anjaam soch lo
ishaaron ko agar samjho raaz ko raaz rahne do... :-)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Stone Age Clock

Time is running out.

Bhashwati wrote:
The gritty grainy surface seemed to me like it could open up to swallow time itself along with the only creatures conscious of its existence.

That 'civilisation' is destined to go full circle back to the 'uncivilised' stone age and past.    

Miriam Guichard

Miriam Guichard, former Director, USIS, Chennai
apart from many other things

My dear Miriam:

The last I heard from you was in response to the lines from my poem,

"...I have lived through storms
they have become my address
my mark will be there
for those who want to find me..."

You responded,

"Your words touch me deeply. But then, that is what they are supposed to do, n'est-ce pas? Continue to write dear friend that I may continue to live."

And I promptly replied,

"Continue to live life tall, and I will write, speak, sing, love, from here, or there."

You, apparently, did not or could not, keep that promise; but that did not obliterate a wondrous friendship spanning over more than 25 years, almost all of it from far away. And we were close in the towns of Chennai and Bangalore, the friendship was invaluable.
You will not read this, but I will not grieve, because you are restful. It would no longer matter to you whether I sing or do not. In fact, enviably, Nothing will matter to you, which non-existence is the best part of our existence.

Lovingly, enviously,

Ramesh Gandhi

Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Golden Cage

Rabindra Sangeet: the extent of its voluminous enormity I have always marvelled at, as probably many other ignorant people like me would also have done:  the variety, the ingrained musicality that every word generates, without the need for artifice to be sung or set to music.

Among those thousands (are they millions?) of songs, there are many, actually too many, which almost every Bengali singer or even singers from other disciplines and languages, have sung, rendered to music in their own typical style.  There are too many for me to claim as those which are my most favourite. Let me put it this way: most of them are my favourites. Among those that haunt me, and there are many, one of them is Dinguli Mor Sonar Khanchai (Daily My Golden Cage). I am obsessed with it, as I am obsessed also with many others. My reproduction of this one here should not be construed as special partiality.

At one time, the rendering of Dinguli by Pankaj Mallick was my most favourite. Now, I feel that Kishore's emoting surpasses the other master. Hence what follows below. I hope at least some of the people who read this will feel their minds and hearts flutter with a mixture of emotions, both at Tagore and Kishore Kumar.

Without a doubt, it would comfort me to hear from those who will take the trouble to tell me what they feel about this effort:

Dinguli Mor Sonar Khanchai
those many-hued days of mine
did not remain in the golden cage I made for them
they could not bear the bonds of laughter and tears

I had hoped that they would learn the language
of the song of my heart, but they flew away
without baring their hearts

as in a dream I see those days
some forms that hover around that golden cage
now lying shattered

can so much pain be imaginary
are they shadow birds
that they said nothing even to the skies


din guli more shonaar khaanchaaye
royilo na, royilo na
shei jey aamaar nana rongeir din guli
kaanna haashir baadhon
taara shoilo na, shoilo na
shei jey aamaar
nana rongeir din guli

aamaar praaneir gaaneir bhaasha
shikhbey taara chhilo asha
udey gailo 
udey gailo
shokole kotha boilo na 
koilo na
shei jey aamaar 
nana rongeir din guli

shopone dekhijaino tara kara shey ferey aamaar
bhaanga khaanchaar
chaaro pashey
aito bedon hoye ki faaki
ora ki shobe
chhayyar paakhi 
aakaash paarey 
kichhui ki go koilo na, koilo na
shei jey aamaar 
nana rongeir din guli

Friday, August 07, 2015


losing its bearing
latitude and longitude
depraded by the depraved
just one single species
that it spawned

losing its coordinates
proximate to extinction

blurred definition of 
arctic antarctic 
equator capricorn
all into cancer

who called it dear mother
who made it out to be blue

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Broken Heart

what is it, a broken heart
what does indeed break, gets broken

when the heart breaks, 
is it sometimes or always
mutually broken

or as a dialogue
or a line of poetry used by writers
as a metaphor

as far as is known
the metaphor, broken heart
is an expression
which in one way or another
has a mention or story
about a broken heart
or many

is there a statute of limitations
for the age when it is possible
to break or have a broken heart
or is it timeless and unbound

is it only a loss
a vanity hurt and broken

Charu wrote:

The muscle that beats and pumps blood is nicely nestled beneath rib cages and is entirely impossible to break, physically. It can tilt on its axis, it can become 'leather' , it can also have a hole but break, no. Metaphorically, it can be broken unilaterally but often bilaterally too. That breaking of heart if between lovers is, perhaps, egos shattered. But a mother's broken heart at a child's passing, perhaps not. I have heard it said, so and so died of broken heart. It must not be the physical break, but the hurt of shattered ego must be so immense that the person withdrew from life, physically and literally. And, I do believe it is possible. In picture I see an unwrapped unboxed rose. Did someone sent you a mending of heart kit?

Sunday, August 02, 2015

The Broken Nest

As Satyajit Ray reached the zenith among the film-makers of his time, from all over the world, people inevitably had to speculate: What was Ray's favourite, or critically the best, among his films; Pather Panchali, Apur Sansar, Kanchenjunga, What? Until all admirers and critics agreed, and Ray never denied, that he loved his Charulata more than any other, before or after.

It is probably the only film in which he included Tagore's own poem from the novella on which Charulata was based, Nastanirh (The Broken Nest). The poem, Aami Chini Go Chini, was sung by none other than Kishore Kumar, arguably the most versatile and talented singer of the time (whose first wife, Ruma Thakurta, was related to Ray on one hand, and to Tagore on another). 

Kishore, in his autobiography, wrote that when the invitation to sing without any musical accompaniment, came from Ray, Kishore actually panicked. But finally he sang the song in the film without music, and not only that, he went beyond: Kishore, who had an incredible eccentric insecurity, such that he would go to any length to ensure that he received payment for his work in advance, including creating a laughable and crazy situation unless he was paid, this man, Kishore, actually flew to Calcutta and back with his own money (!) and, when Ray could afford to pay him only Rs. 5,000 for singing, he declined for the only time in his life, and was proud to sing for Ray for free.

Kishore Kumar

Please also visit my earlier blog post Nastanirh: The Broken Nest (September 27, 2012) in which I have posted some pictures related to Ray's film, Charulata.

Just in passing, I would like to relate here another important anecdote: Tagore actually wrote Nastanirh (filmed as Charulata), based on one of the very important aspects of his life: the confused relationship between him and  his sister-in-law.

Aami Chini Go Chini (Bengali)

আমি      চিনি গো চিনি    তোমারে ওগো বিদেশিনী।
তুমি      থাক সিন্ধুপারে    ওগো বিদেশিনী॥
তোমায়  দেখেছি শারদপ্রাতে,    তোমায়    দেখেছি মাধবী রাতে,
তোমায়  দেখেছি হৃদি-মাঝারে    ওগো বিদেশিনী।
আমি     আকাশে পাতিয়া কান    শুনেছি    শুনেছি তোমারি গান,
আমি     তোমারে সঁপেছি প্রাণ    ওগো বিদেশিনী।
         ভুবন ভ্রমিয়া শেষে       আমি      এসেছি নূতন দেশে,
আমি    অতিথি তোমারি দ্বারে    ওগো বিদেশিনী॥
Aami Chini Go Chini (English translation)

I feel like i know you really well, o my fair lady
Your home is across the wildest seas, o my fair lady

When I see you during the spring sunrise
When you pass me in the fragrant nights
When you catch my sight, o my fair lady

I waited for you so long, only to hear your song
I dedicate this life of mine, to you my fair lady

Traveling far and near, I have reached you o my dear
I'm a guest at your door, o my fair lady 

Bhashwati wrote:

In the matter of broken nests embodied in broken feathers.

The colours are exquisitacious.
Not to worry, this too will become a legitimate word in a few years.

But viewed in the context of your title it is the tactile nature of the composition that struck me..
When something is as pure and refined of texture as your feather, it can only be ephemeral in the world that we inhabit and have rendered coarse and crass by our eager submission to the gross and the dross in our consciousness.
A nest created of a fabric so delicate as the feather here, can never survive the wear and tear of quotidian coexistence.
Noshto Neerh and Charulata at least have the fig leaf of an intruder, most human nests dont even need that. Bruised egos and failed expectations suffice for the nests to implode.

Do these awful thoughts make me sound like a misanthrope?  
Only singing tunelessly musiclessly 

aami jaani go jaani kaahini onek noshto neerheir.

Charu wrote:

This post is an assemblage of many things. It is in part an homage to artists and their artistry: Tagore’s prose writing and poesy, Ray’s filming and direction and Kishore’s singing. It is in part a connection of several lives and with their preferences, traits, follies and personalities. It is in part a talent exhibited in the posted pictures.

The glorious photographs have associations built into them…falling..falling..fallen; the feather. The ruffled ends indicate trouble in the nest; either destroyed or stormed. Yet, some part of the feathers shimmer calm and tranquility.