Saturday, December 30, 2017


all his ganas
instead of dancing in hilarity
are cowering behind him 
to avoid the curse of the living

they are frightened of those 
who are still alive
with whose dead bodies 
and cremated ashes 
they will cover themselves 
and dance and jump 
in the dance of death
intoxicated by cannabis

Thursday, December 28, 2017


is there a path to eternity
can there be a path to eternity
or should eternity be left alone

since by both its meaning and scope 
the universe is eternal
a path
any path
terrestrial or cosmic
is also eternal

so what should we understand
when we humans talk
of a path to eternity

is it pure profundity 
or self-serving rhetoric

Monday, December 25, 2017

Silent Music

By the time Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, perhaps his most famous work, was first performed, in 1808, he was increasingly becoming deaf. According to a popular version of the story, the first time the Fifth was performed, with Beethoven himself conducting, he was facing the orchestra and did not hear the applause of the audience. Being temperamental, he is said to have been very upset, until some of the people on the stage turned him toward the audience, whose continued standing ovation was one of history's longest. So, interestingly, Beethoven saw the applause, but did not hear it himself. The picture depicts the silence which he heard.

A popular book fictionalizing Beethoven's life was Romain Rolland's Jean-Christophe, which won him a Nobel prize for literature in 1915. 

It would be relevant to mention here that when Mahatma Gandhi visited Europe to attend the Round Table in 1931, among the few people that he met in France, the most prominent was Romain Rolland. Also, it was at that same Round Table Conference where Winston Churchill disdainfully referred to Gandhi as the half-naked, seditious fakir from india.

My picture, though, was not taken either in Vienna or Berlin, but at the plain old Music Academy on Cathedral Road in Madras, in the mid-1970s.

Thursday, December 21, 2017


if it is lucky
has its beauty

a painting
a photograph 
of an artificial flower
an imitation of an imitation

human effort
striving toward
sometimes almost touching
the effortless 
perfectly imperfect

Bhashwati wrote:

Artifice is lucky as it has its beauty and seems almost to be touching the imperfect beauty of the original.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Clavicle Music

light and shadow
the lovely bones

(Utica, Upstate New York, 1972)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Children of Sunset

Juhu beach, Bombay, 1954

Bhashwati wrote:

Children of sunset bilkul puraane nahin lagte :)

There is as much pull in the image as there is in a high tide 
pull of nostalgia, of lost days

The setting sun has always been a good receptacle of loss...
The fifty shades of grey and light in the elements encompassing the two small human forms are a perfect combination of hope and despair.

Thinking of koi lauta de mere


Friday, December 08, 2017

Self, Calcutta

I was eleven or twelve, standing in front of our barsaati, Brabourne Road, Calcutta.

Bhashwati wrote:

Haai tere tevar!!!!

Haai teri zulfein :) :) :)

i suppose the thoughts may have been:

"Vaise to hum tasveer nahin khinchwana chaahte na hi jeena chaahte hain, jeene hi nahin wale magar luck by chance jee gaye to aisi tasveer kheencho ki bhavishya mein hamaare bhoot ko dekhne wale samajh jaaein ki hum 11 mein bhi utne hi buddhishaali they jitne 81 mein honge. Agar nahin they to kam se kam buddhishaali soorat to bana lete they."

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Monday, December 04, 2017

UFOs, Arriving, Departing

or departing

after observing
the depraved, malevolent
discord below

being more intelligent
than we
as they arrived before
we reached them

they should be in a hurry
to leave

Bhashwati wrote:

I would like to believe that The UFO s shrink in horror as they approach earth and then as they depart they regain their vigour and strength in evident relief at having escaped forced or voluntary proximity to beings such as those inhabiting earth.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Two Women

The Italian author Alberto Moravia wrote a novel called Two Women, which was made into a haunting film by Vittorio de Sica, starring Sophia Loren and Eleonora Brown as a mother and her twelve-year-old daughter, struggling to survive in Italy just after World War II. Loren won an Oscar as Best Actress for her role in the film.

The delicate expression of love and joy in the sculpture contrasted in my mind with the painful, desperate love of the mother in novel/film.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Contours of Reality

Boston, 1997

What is reality? What is truth? What is distortion? What is illusion? What is a lie, to deceive? What is a lie that comes from the unknown, or fear, or misguidance? Metaphysics is the equipment human beings have to respond to these and other such related questions. But then, human beings being fallible, apart from being variable, would deal with metaphysics also differently. So then, we become rudderless, at which time superstition and religion creep in and pervade. The irony is that religion is the ultimate self-deception, but then, most of mankind relegate their incomprehension to it, and to some design somewhere by some derelict designer, and wade through their lives in delusions, and belief in contentment emanating from them. Sigh.
Update: Anonymous wrote:
The image is a volume in itself. i could fill each grid with fresh meaning.

What a timely text.
But there is an absoluteness to it which would make it appropriate at any time, all times.

Mankind, relegating incomprehension to religion does acknowledge that it is deifying a derelict designer?
And in a stupendous feat of stupidity then designs its own dereliction to match the 'divine' randomness?

What a bizarre situation.
First we propound the brazen lie that God created man in his own image although no one has seen that God image.
Then we go creating ourselves in what we claim is the divine image: arbitrary, whimsical, erratic, heedless, ruthless, all knowing, tyrannical, receptive to flattery, bribery, completely irrational and even more completely unaccountable.

Thank you
Update: Charu wrote:

How can these statements ever be questioned?

All encompassing; there is not even a sliver of opening where a disputing argument can sneak in...

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Fisherman's Child

Ennore, 1950

Bhashwati wrote:
The fisherman's child's photo is reminding me of an old song which has something about destiny or god playing with human lives the way a child plays with sand on the sea shore.

Master madan ch atma or pankaj mullick.
If  can remember i will share but for now:
the image is very humbling.
For the human being, less than a speck in the midst of vast forces of land sea and sky.. what vainglorious presumption led us to believe we will control forever with no consequences? 

And then the child... so vulnerable and yet in its innocence so confidently embedded and at one with the universe, without fear.   
bahut khoob.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Daughters of India


Trying to rescue a very old and damaged negative, I was reminded of the poster for the classic film, Mother India, with Nargis shot from below, a vast sky looming behind her. These girls present a much more hopeful picture, pleased to be photographed.

Friday, November 24, 2017

You Claim to Know Everything

You claim to know everything that can be or that has to be known about life. Is there knowledge beyond what you claim to know about life?

No, because the knowledge that concerns us is only what happens or can happen or be experienced as we journey through our lives. Therefore, to know about life fully is for all practical purposes to know about everything, including death.

So, tell me something about life.

Well, life is transitory, capricious and in what we call the universal scheme of things, absolutely futile.

Is that all?


So then, what are all these -- faith, ambition, achievement, yearning, lust, fulfillment, tenderness, joy, hurt, anger, despair...

Transitory, capricious and futile.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


Stark black and white here, but in reality in full bloom, with criss-crossed branches, and a variety of colors which is countless and ever-increasing. Never a dull moment.

Monday, November 20, 2017


it had life in it once
now it is lifeless
It will drift
become part food
part something whatever else

maybe in its invisible form
it will come out of our faucet

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Upside Down

given a point of view and a viewer
who can say what is up and what down
in absolute terms
everything everywhere
everything but everything

is upside down

Monday, November 13, 2017


Without air conditioning; or, within.
the slowing down, stopping of the breeze
the growing silence within the heart
is the journey ahead
or has it ended

Saturday, November 11, 2017


of colours and aroma
to entice
to germinate
its natural
ignorant that these cycles
can be interrupted
for food
or fanciful

Friday, November 10, 2017


foot arm elbow 
dissected chewed 
opened for study repair
rbc wbc capillaries
muscles skin 
exposed to be covered
or consumed
no matter what
no question
no doubt
earth to earth

Wednesday, November 08, 2017


spilling out of the Petri dish
to evolve or be destroyed
before developing into...

Monday, November 06, 2017


rain, rain
I must be really parched
scorched and barren
even more than the earth

to welcome
your advent
heralded by proper ceremony
of dark, overbearing clouds
lightning and thunder-claps
or unannounced with temperamental outbursts

your cool spray on my temples
through the window
the sound of your caress
on the mildly protesting panes
and whispers
coaxing the leaves to submission
and the intoxicating aroma
of aroused passion rising from the earth
diffuse into my being
and stir to life my deadened hopes

in humility I feel wrapped
with visions of your power
infusing life or destroying it
as you reign unrelentingly
moodily bestowing your favours
tenderly in a compassionate shower here
or lashing in devastating fury there
germinating now or uprooting
impetuously, inexorably
in a stupendous act
of inclement copulation
urgent, hysterical
insatiate and overwhelming
demanding nothing less than total surrender

and even as you depart
leaving the earth
ravaged and ravished and fecund
in pain it pines and thirsts

as I do
as I lie on my bed by the window
crippled, wasted, discarded, empty

Saturday, November 04, 2017


Fighting nature's fury while being its martyrs; in calmer times, providing shelter and gentle breeze from sweltering heat.

Thursday, November 02, 2017


with our minds, hearts
and brains

on our present

and past

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Satellite Apartments

in space
for aliens
or humans

38,000 miles per hour

within earth's orbit
sunrise sunset
every hour


being thrown out
by internal controls
or external objects
or gravitational
or magnetic forces

other planets

galactic debris
or stars
or whatever

its longevity uncertain
as when terrestrial
so also orbitally

Sunday, October 29, 2017


The Colossus holds up the sky.
He can't remember for how long 
since he was torn away from a cliffside 
and tortured with chisels 
and propped up 
and consecrated 
and prayed to 
and frozen into place 
by expectations.

The sky looks angrier 
than his unmoving eyes have seen. 
It was a burden 
which his broad shoulders could support; 
now it threatens like an enemy. 
It couples with earth 
to rock him on his pedestal. 

He must uphold. 
He cannot bend. 
If he falls, ashes. 
We all fall down.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a play by Tennessee Williams adapted for film in 1958 and again in 1984, was one of the earliest cinematic productions of Williams' work. The 1958 film, directed by Richard Brooks, starred Paul Newman; Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie the Cat; and Burl Ives. It was nominated for six Oscars.

As much as the original play was recognised in the theatre, the film was a great entry into the popular imagination for Tennessee Williams. It was very polished, even though it was hard for people to appreciate Williams. He was always enigmatic, difficult to understand: almost, given the period of his creative years, bordering on mild to extreme perversion; or else misunderstood.

For more information and a plot summary, see Wikipedia.

The American Consulate in Chennai had a regular program on book discussion, where the learned heads of teaching institutions, and writers, were invited. It amused me that at the end of a discussion of Tennessee Williams' work which I headed, several of these gathered around me with curious questions: How did I know Tennessee Williams so well, when others hardly understood him? Had I met him personally? I replied that not only had I not met him but honestly, I had not even read the book, except for the text on the cover and a couple of random paragraphs.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Furling and Unfurling

the sun
furling and unfurling

a new day
a new beginning
a new arrival
a new departure

the new 
as in old

Bhashwati wrote:

The words,

A new departure

the new
as in old

holds the key. 
The day furls even as it unfurls, the hours of light pass into the depths of darkness. The same familiar cycle forever and yet often the heart craves and the mind yearns for lasting light, for arrivals divorced from departure, for life free of death... as if such were even possible. 
But if conscious life must live, it can only do so by denying all consciousness of reality.

And the image brings to mind an old song by Jaan Nisar Akhtar, Javed Akhtar's father, : 

Katra katra pighalta raha aasmaan
Rooh ki waadiyon mein na jaaney kahaan
Ik nadi dil ruba geet gaati raahi

Sunday, October 22, 2017


either beginning or end
first stirring of life
or the last image
chanced upon by
aged unseeing eyes

an image
of dawn or dusk
of beginning or end
not seen but felt
before the last breath
from scattered pieces
of mind

last breath
in wondrous glow
of dawn or dusk

Friday, October 20, 2017

Memories Overlapping

memories overlapping
other memories
likewise overlapping others
until they diffuse
and fade away
into nothingness

Bhashwati wrote:

What an unbelievable composition with what a wide range of elements in the same frame.
Vaise i dont get it why people chase that elusive being called god when there is the miracle called light that one cannot admire and worship and appreciate enough.
And how you manage to play with it is no less miraculous.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Life, the Alluring Prison

My offering, with a thousand salutes, to all my fellow prisoners.

Ek haseen haseena zindagi
khamosh tammana
berahm aasmaan ke niche
bhitar baahar

A beauty, life beautiful
silent yearning
under the merciless sky
within without

Thursday, October 12, 2017


as in unaware
of good and bad
happiness or otherwise

wise beyond wisdom

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Small leaves
blown by a cold wind
scutter over stone.

Linen cool under my hand,
and the door ajar
to ease his passing.

This is his new address,
where forever
he will be unreachable.

Traveller, if you pass this place,
be gentle,
he is resting here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Conversation 2: Past Present

Bhashwati wrote:

Actually not one but several conversations are happening here.

The diminutive adult who may have been a helper or attendant at an earlier point and could be conversing with his memories of those "better" days which actually may have been hard days of toil for him but considering the ravages of time on the building and his own life, the present must seem far more unbearable.

And then theres the gnarled knotted tree bent but not broken and still visited by spring. conversing with itself and with the walls that will never be revisited by old glory.

And the doors windows pillars passages conversing together in a perennial assembly of mourning.

And the light outside and the dark shadows within, they may be conversing too.

To say nothing of the embedded traces of lives that have lived loved lost within these premises. 
Would they not be conversing with each other too?

Bahut khoob hai.

i wonder where it was hidden all these years.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Up the Downstairs

when I went up and down the stairs
I stopped midway
and looked into the letterbox
where I found only cobwebs

and I wondered why
my heart always sank

and then I thought that somewhere
there was another letterbox
with someone looking into it
and not finding my letter
and feeling as disappointed
as I did
and saddened
as I was


As I grew up 
I learned to give 
before I took 
except unhappiness 
which were mine 
and mine alone 
not to be shared

but that could not be
cannot be

(written in 1956)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Conversation: Future Past

between the eroded wisdom of the past
and an uncertain future

Bhashwati wrote:

This time round what has struck me most is the texture, actually the many textures that are part of the image. The grainy, the lined, the soft, the hard, the solid and the shadowy.
It caught me by surprise because i have always only noticed the boy and his communion with the stony wall. There is so much more that is kneaded into the composition.

Friday, September 15, 2017


A baby, fallen from the nest, frightened of everything; even gentle, fond protection, trembling so much that friendly caring became cruel. Our efforts to feed nuts, and anything other than that, all were suspect. Touching it, not touching it, all failed to reassure it that we wanted to be friendly and play with it. Nothing worked until we let it escape, even as we feared that it would become instant prey.

Bhashwati wrote:

How scared it looks of the unfamiliar protection that is being proffered.

Instantly brings to my terribly troubled mind's eye the millions of refugee infants and children who find themselves at the receiving end of conflicts they have no conception or comprehension of and ejected and evicted from the familiar environs of their short life they have only fear and mistrust of the entire human world.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Kashmir on Fire

In Man's history of war, peace, greed and lust for territory and whatever goes with it, a time always comes when the cause and reasoning are not only challenged, but all factual veracity is wiped out. Human tragedy in political and other arenas that he both suffers and inflicts, ceases to be within reach of comprehension, and, irony of ironies, if solutions are reached, their being right or wrong is not only ignored, but becomes meaningless.

What then, one can pertinently ask, Is History? A bunch of variable lies.

Photo-collage by me, using broken glass image by Amarjeet Singh Nagi for India Today.