Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Skin-Whitening Cream and Soaps

All you white-skinned men and women
Showing off on the television’s tinsel domain
Makes me wonder if a black man or woman
Has a place in this land of dark God Neelkantan.

I shake my head and in I groan in pain
God! What have I done to deserve this bane?
You created this land of dark people and Gods
And dipped them in tubs of skin-whitening suds.

Now all I see are dark faces white-washed
Hair as if streaked with rays of golden sunlight
Creams that promise white skin in a week
With which you can marry a stud, not a geek.

Girl on television you may be a big star
But beneath the discolored skin you are hiding a scar
The way God created you is on hold
With skin-whitening creams you have been sold.

Yes, they say the cream sells more than aerated drinks
Thirst is nothing so far as you don’t look like Michael Spinks
Armed with cream and umbrella you must march
Down the ramp to celebrate the Ides of March.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


When you feel let down by the world’s trechery
When the air is thick with arrant buffoonery
When fools go where mortals refrain
When atomic wars threaten to draw the final curtain.

Dance gently to the rain’s mad rhythm, my friend
Go gently into the rain, don’t hesitate.
Raiiiin oooo raiiiiinnn oooooo! (2)

When anger is on every face and begets new anger
And nobody’s stuffy ears are willing to listen
To an old man playing a guitar and tambourine
Tossed around on silver seas and wastelands.

Dance gently to the rain’s mad rhythm, my friend
Go gently into the rain, don’t hesitate.
Raiiiin oooo raiiiiinnn oooooo! (2)

We are here to make the night last long
Don’t fill our nights with the ghost of hunger
Protest we must if our rights are trampled on
Guns we must face and be prepared for confinement.

Dance gently to the rain’s mad rhythm, my friend
Go gently into the rain, don’t hesitate.
Raiiiin oooo raiiiiinnn oooooo! (2)

This rain will pass and another monsoon too
Try not to shield from its fury, it’s liquid onslaught
Then we will dance on fallow fields and limpid lakes
What remains of its legacy in its wake.

Dance gently to the rain’s mad rhythm, my friend
Go gently into the rain, don’t hesitate.
Raiiiin oooo raiiiiinnn oooooo! (2)

(c) 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Doodles at the Sahar Airport

Distraught mothers waving sons goodbye
Harassed men pushing carts loaded with many bags
Sweet-looking, brusque, beautiful hostesses
New mothers holding wonder-eyed babies
The computer professional, knapsack on shoulder
Executives striding confidently, nervously
The confused tourist carrying backpack too large
Painted women whose stilettos make them imposing
Confusion of passports, boarding cards, endless queues
Gun-holding security men in starched uniforms
The strong smell of disinfectant, sanitized food
The airport is where voyages are embarked and disembarked
Not in steamy hot man-o-wars of yore, but
In air-controlled seclusion, and sequestered egos
Where every man and woman is an explorer
Compressing months of travelling into a few hours
And merging people into one palimpsest of cultures.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Code Coolie

You pretend you are a code warrior, fighting
Battles with the lines of code you are writing;
You carry a back pack to work in the software park,
Dream of being Bill Gates and steering a sports car into the park.

ASP, Java, Oracle, SAP are your fine forte,
Logic, workflows and syntax your areas of comfort;
Your happiness centres on a chicken tandoori,
And a movie in the mall in East side of Andheri.

You will marry a fast-talking high-strung woman,
Happiness will be a short honeymoon to Konkan;
Then fights will start in blessed conjugal-dom
Cries of “Need my space; I need my freedom.”

The U. S. A.’s a happy energetic place for everyone,
But there are immigration officers and mad men with guns;
Then you will have children, one or even two,
And your joys will re-appear over a year or two.

But what of your parents who made you walk upright?
You left them, backpack over shoulder, into the night;
They cry hard tears, “Where’s our child, tell us truly?”
“Have we worked all our lives to beget a Code Coolie?”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Oh! Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Oh! Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
Holiest of holy cities
Cursed by the Nazarene:
Nameless, faceless,
Besieged, bombed,
Occupied by militias, armies,
It's unbelievable that once
The messiah of peace walked your streets.

Now you are rubble,
Bomb-hit houses
Lying in a mangled haze
Your hospices filled with the dying
Now you show signs of prosperity
But death still waits at your doorsteps.

The Cedars are bereft,
Alleys are filled with twisted steel,
Your people are not given -
A chance to survive, make peace.
Inside you there are enemy streets
Where children fear to walk
Afraid of hidden gunmen.

Will you rise from this debris?
Bring peace to your proud monuments,
And foliate your naked Cedars
With the leaves of verdant summer
In their shades women wouldn’t wail,
Of disappearances, shootings, and ransoms,
Of men who misunderstand the love of God!

To a Reluctant Writer

You can pick meaning off words,
You can paint pictures;
You can laugh at them,
Who laugh at you;
You can mourn
The follies of the unwise.

To write is power,
Of words, thoughts,
Limitless and boundless,
As the sky above and earth below;
You will never be alone
When words churn in your mind.

You can be heartbroken,
And cry and cry;
But a poem would wipe tears,
Puts a smile on your face,
Erase the pain
Of loneliness and love.

So won’t you write?
A letter, a poem, an essay;
We would gladly plunge in its depths,
Smile at its humour,
Relish what pains it took you,
And forgive friendly trespasses.

Anthonybhai's Song

Anthonybhai’s Song

(In Mack English)[1]

Kya, re? Know something, men?
Dis big, big; new, new instrumen’
Mobile phone and internet, wot?
Such confusion really I neva thought.

This pre-paid-post-paid I don’t unnerstan’, please tell,
Anthony’s simply want to know, what the hell,
You are not to be seen only, these days,
And you don’t call, even on Sundays.

I feel you’re going far, far away,
Some fuckin’ Katlik boy’s come your way?
I will break his legs, just you watch,
I won’t let you be an easy catch.

I know pucca you are flirting girl,
It shows in de way your lips curl,
You have no patience only with me,
But for him, that bugger, you’ll bend and curtsey.

“Wot’s my fault?” I aks Fadder Fonseca, he say:
“Son, forget her, forgive and pray
Treasures and eternal life in heaven above
Are your rewards than this worldly grave.”

I say, no, Irene’s my senorita, Fadder,
I don’t want to be treated, no way, like a ladder
Another man to step and take my girl away,
To the holy alter; and then “I do” say.

[1] A pidgin dialect spoken by Goans, East Indians, Ango-Indians, and other communities mainly found on the West Coast of India.

Apocalyptic Rain

(Dedicated to: father who died on a rainy day.)


The day he dies
The rain murmurs on glass
Through night and day,
Like apocalypse is today, now
It courses down the eaves at 3.30 a.m.
At 4.30 a.m. it’s still trickling
In the hospital courtyard

At home 
In the dark
We pause to look at the sky
And murmur, “It’ll never end.”
“The rain will take us as did father.”
"Will electricity come?"
We are wondering whether
The food will last
The oil lamp will burn till midnight
Till we sleep the wearied sleep
Of farmers and day labourers
Of those days
When only the rich had electricity.
And in the morning
We wake up in a daze
To hear the rain still pounding
Pitting the stones
Drilling holes into roads
Fearing the worst
The swirling deaths
Washed out homes
That came calling on July 26
The day the skies wept.


Once a boy
Hanging on to straws
Who, when a rainy symphony plays,
With open book on knees,
Reads “Paradise Lost,”
And dreams of poetic fame
Lost in a haze of innocence
“Will he ever survive this world?”
“Look at him, he is so silent.”
“Why is he so different?”
“How has he become thus?”
They ask
The ones who fail to prepare him
With their love.


The dream of trophy girls is now
The tattered cloth of a mendicant,
Stained and threadbare,
Threatening to rend
At the most delicate touch
As rain comes down
On hills and weaving coconut palms
Marble monuments, their treasures plundered.
And the sun-shielded glass
In a city a thousand kilometres away
Reeking of human enslavement
The rain stops
11.30 a.m.
Just as the pounding in the brain
Make tea
Drink cupful of heat
Lay down to rest
Sleep the tired sleep of the lazy
Wake worn out to rain pounding again
Rivulets on glass
Head aching from countless
Confusing dreams.


When we go to fetch his body
From the morgue
The rain comes so thick
That the river Pampa changes course
Marooning the house
He built
Our abode
Of parsimonious money
He made from the pain of my hunger
The house of our deprivation.
As the flotsam recedes
Leaving the ground slushy
In the 1.30 p.m. rain
He is interred
At the family church
At the family graveyard
When the bell tolls mournfully
After the priests and assemblage
Dropping mud on his coffin.
He must have heard
The thudding
Soil and stone
On palm trees
The wind sighing in leaves
The susurration
Of tiny rivulets
Into his new abode.
Felt the wasting
Of a body
Drowned in grief
Soil to Soil
Earth to Earth
Dreams having flown
In the 4.30 p.m. rain.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Old Church

The old church –
Thief of the best Sundays of my childhood –
Is dilapidated.
The courtyard is unkempt;
The parsonage is surrounded by weeds;
The Belfry and Vestry need maintenance;
The Alter, I don’t know;
The garden has a few shrunken shrubs;
And, some shriveled betelnut trees;
The trees under which we ate potluck lunch are gone;
So is the Sexton’s wooden cottage.

Yet, there it stands erect;
Having seen Governors, freedom struggles,
Teargas shells, riots,
Deaths, births, weddings, confirmations, and christenings,
Passing by below its arches.

Yes, now when the bells of St. Mary the Virgin toll
A sad funereal message,
I feel like a child again,
Lost in innocence.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Science Does!

The world is suffering from:
Mice Fever;
Bird flu;
And so on and on and on and on….

But science is only obsessed with inventing:
Live video Streaming;
You tube;
MP 3;
Google search;
Tablet computers….

And you say science has advanced?
You say science saves mankind?
Invent some vaccines,
Bring in some new medicines,
Or, is it too much to ask?
For science to do this disagreeable task?

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Don’t You Know I Have It in Me

(A song I wrote this morning. Boom, it was there in my mind with lyrics music and all.)
Leave me in peace
I want to be alone
Let the way be clear
Let the silence surround.

I surrender to my loneliness
Life’s battles forgotten
The iron-and-concrete city’s far away
And I lose myself, my agony, my angst, my sanity.....

Don’t alienate me
Ostracise me
Criticise me
Marginalise me
Stereotype me
Don’t you know I have it in me? (chorus)

Let me to my serenity
The chosen path is long and lonely
I have no bitter memories
Of loves gone wrong.

Don’t alienate me
Ostracise me
Criticise me
Marginalise me
Stereotype me
Don’t you know I have it in me? (chorus)