Sunday, January 30, 2011

Common Wood shrike

It was while I was focused on White-bellied Woodpecker that this bird quietly hops in and goes about its business with not much fuss. A rather clean looking bird that is purely arboreal, they are generally found in small parties that prefer grooves and gardens, moving from branch to branch searching for insects and their larvae. Found throughout India these ash coloured birds have dark eye bands under a pale brow.

Zbigniew Herbert

the earth is the same everywhere
wisdom teaches everywhere the man
weeps with white tears
mothers rock their children
the moon rises
and builds a white house for us

Zbigniew Herbert (1924-1998) was born in the city of Lvov, then part of Poland and now in Ukraine. In 1939, as a 15-year-old, he experienced the annexation of his hometown by the Soviet Union. Lvov was seized by the Germans and was recaptured by the Soviet Union. Mr. Herbert wrote his first poems during the Nazi occupation of Poland. Mr. Herbert once gave this advice to younger writers: ''Life is more complicated, more mysterious and more convoluted than the party, the army, the police. Let us detach ourselves a little from this truly horrible everyday reality and try to write about doubt, anxiety and despair.''
“Life is like knitting: one has to attach the old thread to the new. Before we descend to the grave, the garment should be fit for wear. One has to know what kind of garment it is, which parts of it are poorly made and which are of better quality. It is important to realize that about one's own life, and also about the life of that nation or society in which one's private life was spent”.

Mr. Cogito

Go where those others went to the dark boundary
for the golden fleece of nothingness your last prize
go upright among those who are on their knees
among those with their backs turned and those toppled in the dust
you were saved not in order to live
you have little time you must give testimony
be courageous when the mind deceives you be courageous
in the final account only this is important
and let your helpless Anger be like the sea
whenever you hear the voice of the insulted and beaten
let your sister Scorn not leave you
for the informers executioners cowards--they will win
they will go to your funeral and with relief will throw a lump of earth
the woodborer will write your smoothed-over biography
and do not forgive truly it is not in your power
to forgive in the name of those betrayed at dawn
beware however of unnecessary pride
keep looking at your clown's face in the mirror
repeat: I was called--weren't there better ones than I
beware of dryness of heart love the morning spring
the bird with an unknown name the winter oak
light on a wall the splendor of the sky
they don't need your warm breath
they are there to say: no one will console you
be vigilant--when the light on the mountains gives the sign--arise and go
as long as blood turns in the breast your dark star
repeat old incantations of humanity fables and legends
because this is how you will attain the good you will not attain
repeat great words repeat them stubbornly
like those crossing the desert who perished in the sand
and they will reward you with what they have at hand
with the whip of laughter with murder on a garbage heap
go because only in this way will you be admitted to the company of cold skulls
to the company of your ancestors: Gilgamesh Hector Roland
the defenders of the kingdom without limit and the city of ashes

Be faithful Go

A Clear Eye on the World
The pebble
is a perfect creature
equal to itself
mindful of its limits
filled exactly
with a pebbly meaning
with a scent which does not remind one of anything
does not frighten anything away
does not arouse desire
its ardor and coldness
are just and full of dignity
I feel a heavy remorse
when I hold it in my hand
and its noble body
is permeated by false warmth
-- Pebbles cannot be tamed
to the end they will look at us
with a calm and very clear eye

An answer

This will be a night in deep snow
which has the power to muffle steps
in deep shadow transforming
bodies to two puddles of darkness
we lie holding our breath
and even the slightest whisper of thought

if we are not tracked down by wolves
and the man in a Russian sheepskin who swings
quick-firing death on his chest
we must spring and run
in the clapping of short dry salvos
to that other longed-for shore

the earth is the same everywhere
wisdom teaches everywhere the man
weeps with white tears
mothers rock their children
the moon rises
and builds a white house for us

this will be night after hard reality
a conspiracy of the imagination
it has a taste of bread and lightness of vodka
but the choice to remain here
is confirmed by every dream about palm trees

the dream is interrupted suddenly by the arrival of three
tall men of rubber and iron
they will check your name your fear
order you to go downstairs
they won’t allow you to take anything
but the compassionate face of the janitor

Hellenic Roman Medieval
East Indian Elizabethan Italian
perhaps above all French
a bit of Weimar and Versailles
we carry so many homelands
on the shoulders of a single earth

but the only one guarded
by the most singular number
is here where they will trample you into the ground
or with boldly ringing spade
make a large pit for your longing

Mr. Cogito on Virtue

It is not at all strange
she isn't the bride
of real men
of generals
athletes of power
through the ages she follows them
this tearful old maid
in a dreadful hat from the Salvation Army
she reprimands them
she drags out of the junkroom
a portrait of Socrates
a little cross molded from bread
old words
--while marvelous life reverberates all around
ruddy as a slaughterhouse at dawn
she could almost be buried
in a silver casket
of innocent souvenirs
she becomes smaller and smaller
like a hair in the throat
like a buzzing in the ear
my God
if she was a little younger
a little prettier
kept up with the spirit of the times
swayed her hips
to the rhythm of popular music
maybe then she would be loved
by real men
generals athletes of power despots
if she took care of herself
looked presentable
like Liz Taylor
or the Goddess of Victory
but an odor of mothballs
wafts from her
she compresses her lips
repeats a great--No
unbearable in her stubbornness
ridiculous as a scarecrow
as the dream of an anarchist
as the lives of the saints

When once asked what is the main reason he writes
“Writing-and in this I disagree with everybody-must teach men soberness: to be awake. To make people sober. It does not mean, not to try. But with a small internal correction. I reject optimism despite all the theologians. Despair is a fruitful feeling. It is a cleanser, from desire, from hope. ‘Hope is the mother of the stupid’ (a Polish proverb). I don't like hope. A despairing soldier fights better. . .”
This poem “The Rain” has become my favourite. What a charming little poem.

The Rain

When my older brother
came back from war
he had on his forehead a little silver star
and under the star
an abyss
a splinter of shrapnel
hit him at Verdun
or perhaps at Grünwald
(he’d forgotten the details)
he used to talk much
in many languages
but he liked most of all
the language of history

until losing breath
he commanded his dead pals to run
Roland Kowaski Hannibal

he shouted
that this was the last crusade
that Carthage soon would fall
and then sobbing confessed
that Napoleon did not like him

we looked at him
getting paler and paler
abandoned by his senses
he turned slowly into a monument

into musical shells of ears
entered a stone forest
and the skin of his face
was secured
with the blind dry
buttons of eyes

nothing was left him
but touch
what stories
he told with his hands
in the right he had romances
in the left soldier’s memories

they took my brother
and carried him out of town
he returns every fall
slim and very quiet
he does not want to come in
he knocks at the window for me

we walk together in the streets
and he recites to me
improbable tales
touching my face
with blind fingers of rain

Thursday, January 27, 2011

White Browed Bulbul keeps a low profile

Bulbuls are rather upfront with humans but White browed though very common not many might have actually seen one, an inconspicuous but rather noisy bird these are found in bushes or scrub jungles often on the outskirts of human settlement. Olive colored above and paler below white brows are found in South India and Srilanka

C.Jinarajadasa: a Theosophist poet

Mirrored in this flower,
Lies my world;
Flower, dear flower,
As your petals unfurled,
Saw you a flower
In the heavenly world?

I picked the collection from Theosophical society book stall. Jinarajadasa (1875-1953) was born in Sri Lanka, a Singhalese Buddhist he did his higher studies in Cambridge. He served as President of the Theosophical Society from 1945 to 1953, an exceptional linguist he wrote on wide range of issues. He says he is “passable minor poet”, somewhere else “I am not a poet-yet”. The blurb says he believed in the Japanese adage about writing a poem on each and every facet of life, be it a sunset, human relationships or yearning towards the infinite. Some of the poems are quite interesting. Here i quote few...

Cock Robin’

Who killed his heart?
‘I’, said Karma,
‘We’, said Dharma,
‘Ours was that part.’

How did you kill?
‘With love’s arrow
Dipt in sorrow,
Shot with a will!’

Who said it speed?
‘I’, said Monad,
‘We’, said Triad,
‘We saw the deed,’

Who shed a tear?
‘I’, said the sky
‘He was my dear.’

Who sang a dirge?
‘I’, said the sea,
‘For he loved me
From verge to verge.’

Who made his grave?
‘I’, said heaven,
‘I was given,
His heart so brave.’


Once there walked in Galilee,
One who brought the Godhead down;
Those who had the eyes to see,
Worshipped Him on bended knee,
Though of thorns He wore a crown.

For that you did God reveal-
Since you brought the Godhead down-
For that i to you did kneel,
Mine the fate past all appeal,
Yea, of sharpest thorns a crown.

Who love us, give us their loveliness
With which to deck our souls;
Who love us, give us God’s eyes
To read our fate writ on His scrolls.


I have fought a good fight:
Brothers, is it not so?
Have i not brought you light,
And surcease of woe?

I have run my course:
Not mine the victor’s crown:
Spent the speed of horse
As the sun goes down.

I have kept the faith:
Attest it, O sun,
Through life and through death.
To the One, the One.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Black headed Cuckoo Shrike

Few decades back Cuckoo shrike used to be found in abundance, preferring well wooded surroundings than forests these birds are rare sight these days, as the trees got cut they have vanished. Indeed the avian species have significantly suffered in ‘silicon city’; thoughtless and haphazard development is to be blamed. These Cuckoo shrikes could be spotted on the canopies of big trees sifting through each leaf for insects, having completed the inspection they fly to another tree. I found this one relaxing most likely after tiresome sorties.

Annie Besant: A life less ordinary

Annie Besant (1847-1933) was born in London to a devout Christian family, married to a clergyman at an early age, her challenging religious dogmas led to matrimonial discords-she even contemplated suicide, finally to divorce. She became a freethinker. A stunning orator, her denouncing religious intolerance made her an outstanding public figure in an orthodox Victorian age. She wrote and published her own book advocating birth control entitled The Laws of Population. The idea of a woman advocating birth-control received wide-publicity. Newspapers like The Times accused Besant of writing "an indecent, lewd, filthy, bawdy and obscene book". She was separated from her children, undaunted she went for higher studies these too were squashed as she was denied her degree. She became associated with Fabian society, she organised strike by Match girls and won for them. Later she dissociated from secularism and freethinking to adopt spiritualism as she came in contact with Blavatsky and through her to Theosophical Society. Later she became the President of the society. She moved to India in 1893 and lived here till her death. She was the one who nurtured J.Krishnamurthi who later differed with theosophists and moved away. Annie Besant was also politically active instrumental in bringing two factions of INC after Surat split, starting Home Rule Movement as also publications for the cause of Indian freedom. She reached the zenith of her political career when she elected the president of INC in 1917.

These amazing lines i am quoting from her autobiography much before she immersed in spiritualism, what i like about these is the raw energy in her thoughts.

"I do not believe in God. My mind finds no grounds on which to build up a reasonable faith. My heart revolts against the specter of an Almighty Indifference to the pain of sentient beings. My conscience rebels against the injustice, the cruelty, the inequality, which surround me on every side. But I believe in Man. In man's redeeming power; in man's remolding energy; in man's approaching triumph, through knowledge, love, and work."

"It therefore becomes the duty of every one who fights in the ranks of Freethought, and who ventures to attack the dogmas of the Churches, and to strike down the superstitions which enslave men's intellect, to beware how he uproots sanctions of morality which he is too weak to replace, or how, before he is prepared with better ones, he removes the barriers which do yet, however poorly, to some extent check vice and repress crime.... That which touches morality touches the heart of society; a high and pure morality is the life-blood of humanity; mistakes in belief are inevitable, and are of little moment; mistakes in life destroy happiness, and their destructive consequences spread far and wide. It is, then, a very important question whether we, who are endeavoring to take away from the world the authority on which has hitherto been based all its morality, can offer a new and firm ground whereupon may safely be built up the fair edifice of a noble life."

I asserted: "The true basis of morality is utility; that is, the adaptation of our actions to the promotion of the general welfare and happiness; the endeavor so to rule our lives that we may serve and bless mankind." And I argued for this basis, showing that the effort after virtue was implied in the search for happiness: "Virtue is an indispensable part of all true and solid happiness.... But it is, after all, only reasonable that happiness should be the ultimate test of right and wrong, if we live, as we do, in a realm of law. Obedience to law must necessarily result in harmony, and disobedience in discord. But if obedience to law result in harmony it must also result in happiness—all through nature obedience to law results in happiness, and through obedience each living thing fulfils the perfection of its being, and in that perfection finds its true happiness." It seemed to me most important to remove morality from the controversies about religion, and to give it a basis of its own: "As, then, the grave subject of the existence of Deity is a matter of dispute, it is evidently of deep importance to society that morality should not be dragged into this battlefield, to stand or totter with the various theories of the Divine nature which human thought creates and destroys. If we can found morality on a basis apart from theology, we shall do humanity a service which can scarcely be overestimated." A study of the facts of nature, of the consequences of man in society, seemed sufficient for such a basis. "Our faculties do not suffice to tell us about God; they do suffice to study phenomena, and to deduce laws from correlated facts. Surely, then, we should do wisely to concentrate our strength and our energies on the discovery of the attainable, instead of on the search after the unknowable. If we are told that morality consists in obedience to the supposed will of a supposed perfectly moral being, because in so doing we please God, then we are at once placed in a region where our faculties are useless to us, and where our judgment is at fault. But if we are told that we are to lead noble lives, because nobility of life is desirable for itself alone, because in so doing we are acting in harmony with the laws of Nature, because in so doing we spread happiness around our pathway and gladden our fellow-men—then, indeed, motives are appealed to which spring forward to meet the call, and chords are struck in our hearts which respond in music to the touch." It was to the establishment of this secure basis that I bent my energies, this that was to me of supreme moment. "Amid the fervid movement of society, with its wild theories and crude social reforms, with its righteous fury against oppression and its unconsidered notions of wider freedom and gladder life, it is of vital importance that morality should stand on a foundation unshakable; that so through all political and religious revolutions human life may grow purer and nobler, may rise upwards into settled freedom, and not sink downwards into anarchy. Only utility can afford us a sure basis, the reasonableness of which will be accepted alike by thoughtful student and hard-headed artisan. Utility appeals to all alike, and sets in action motives which are found equally in every human heart. Well shall it be for humanity that creeds and dogmas pass away, that superstition vanishes, and the clear light of freedom and science dawns on a regenerated earth—but well only if men draw tighter and closer the links of trustworthiness, of honour, and of truth. Equality before the law is necessary and just; liberty is the birthright of every man and woman; free individual development will elevate and glorify the race. But little worth these priceless jewels, little worth liberty and equality with all their promise for mankind, little worth even wider happiness, if that happiness be selfish, if true fraternity, true brotherhood, do not knit man to man, and heart to heart, in loyal service to the common need, and generous self-sacrifice to the common good."
'Why should I seek for truth, and why should I lead a good life, if there be no immortality in which to reap a reward?' To this question the Freethinker has one clear and short answer: 'There is no reason why you should seek Truth, if to you the search has no attracting power. There is no reason why you should lead a noble life, if you find your happiness in leading a poor and a base one.' Friends, no one can enjoy a happiness which is too high for his capabilities; a book may be of intensest interest, but a dog will very much prefer being given a bone. To him whose highest interest is centred in his own miserable self, to him who cares only to gain his own ends, to him who seeks only his own individual comfort, to that man Freethought can have no attraction. Such a man may indeed be made religious by a bribe of heaven; he may be led to seek for truth, because he hopes to gain his reward hereafter by the search; but Truth disdains the service of the self-seeker; she cannot be grasped by a hand that itches for reward. If Truth is not loved for her own pure sake, if to lead a noble life, if to make men happier, if to spread brightness around us, if to leave the world better than we found it—if these aims have no attraction for us, if these thoughts do not inspire us, then we are not worthy to be Secularists, we have no right to the proud title of Freethinkers. If you want to be paid for your good lives by living for ever in a lazy and useless fashion in an idle heaven; if you want to be bribed into nobility of life; if, like silly children, you learn your lesson not to gain knowledge but to win sugar-plums, then you had better go back to your creeds and your churches; they are all you are fit for; you are not worthy to be free. But we—who, having caught a glimpse of the beauty of Truth, deem the possession of her worth more than all the world beside; who have made up our minds to do our work ungrudgingly, asking for no reward beyond the results which spring up from our labour—we will spread the Gospel of Freethought among men...

If man by study of the conditions surrounding him and by the application of intelligence to the subdual of external nature, had already accomplished so much, why should not further persistence along the same road lead to his complete emancipation? All the evil, anti-social side of his nature was an inheritance from his brute ancestry, and could be gradually eradicated; he could not only "let the ape and tiger die," but he could kill them out." It may be frankly acknowledged that man inherits from his brute progenitors various bestial tendencies which are in course of elimination. The wild-beast desire to fight is one of these, and this has been encouraged, not checked, by religion....

Jinarajadasa who wrote a short biography of Annie Besant writes “i can conceive of no truer biography of her than these three words: She made men.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Red breasted Flycatcher : A tiny Siberian visitor

The case of Siberian Cranes are one of the saddest, i gather they have stopped their migrations to India. The blogger had the rare fortune (in retrospect rarest) to witness these majestic birds in the Bharatpur (Ghana bird sanctuary, Rajasthan) in the winters of 1998-2002. It used to be the most awaited event, those days I didn’t have camera and used to borrow binocs, we used to sit around to witness these birds. Very fond memories of sharing food with absolute strangers, as they recorded the bird. Siberian cranes were events, now only memories. To think that those rather quaint birds are not going to be here is a quite painful.

So to spot a bird which in all likelihood is a migrant from Siberia was quite a pleasant surprise. Red breasted Flycatchers are abundant visitors from Europe to central Asia extending upto Siberia during winter, they can be found anywhere, in the forest or outskirts of human dwellings provided there is enough cover, a rather quiet bird that prefers not to be disturbed, it flits from bough to bough. The movements are jerky and restless, this tiny bird of the size of sparrow has a nasty temper is ready for a fight at short notice. This one I thought came forward to challenge me and kept observing me annoyingly until I cleared the place, then it flew back to its perch. Bigger birds use thermals to fly long distance that I guess is relatively easy. Small birds like this one generally migrate during night; it must be really challenging. Quite a miracle.

Nissim Ezekiel (1924-2004)

This is not a time for satisfaction:
the shock, scandal, outrage of the world
become a fever in my room.
Withdrawn into myself
I am this fever and cause of it,
the meaning without a cure for it

A foundational figure of post colonial Indian writing in English, Nissim Ezekiel was a rare Indian Jewish writer, indeed one of the very few considering that Jewish population is rather sparse as most migrated to Israel. He belonged to Mumbai Jewish community: the bene Israel. He worked as an art critic as also professor of English, meanwhile he came out with steady collections of poems. Reading his poems are always a pleasure, he was one of the earliest Indian English poets I picked up (I really didn’t have much idea about English poems, so started with one side of the rack at Sahitya Akademi Delhi!!), in the year 1998 or so I used to carry his copy while I travel. I distinctly recall reading him in Nainital, later that day while negotiating in market I was still thinking on the use of words and brilliance of his creations! He grows on you, as he does he strips and enters the core with few well chosen words, it’s remarkable- very rare in Indian English to maintain the Indian essence, the urban quandary.

To save myself
From what the city had made of me, I returned
As intended, to the city I had known

While you read his poems you realise English is just another Indian language! He is definitely one of my favourite and I did dabble on the lines he wrote ‘The patriot’ or ‘Goodbye Party to Miss Pushpa TS’ in my earlier scribbles, it really is quite fun. You get the hint listening to conversations of people but irony comes out quite well when you convert into writing, have to be careful as it dangerously borders condescending (Considering that I also speak not very perfect English! So what do you do sirji? Nothing serious just simply writing and going here and there. The other day i am telling myself how i can make more money by talking shawking only!!). To be frank I am not really comfortable writing or reading poems wherein the focus is on English spoken by common people, but I try translating the Hindi, the irony is authentic in such cases. Anglophile elitist snobbery, scorn of mediocre ‘urbane’ on non English speaking is rather common these days, they also think it is humour. But must say Ezekiel handles it remarkably well, he captures the idiosyncrasies amazingly, his sensitivity is rare (think of Naipaul in early fictions, the Trinidadian Indian English). When you read you don’t see ridicule you see empathy, we like the characters in their writings. That is great writing, that is great poem.

Anyone who is aware of Indian poems must have read Ezekiel-popular being ‘Night of Scorpion’, available on the Net and is part of academic curriculum. He was also a mentor to younger poets, such as Dom Moraes, Adil Jussawalla and Gieve Patel. These poems in the blog are chosen randomly, I strongly suggest the readers to buy the collected poems (Oxford Publication, introduced by Gieve Patel). It is difficult to put too long poems in the blog, else one will have to reduce the number of poems, not to forget this blog is about birds!
By the way today i.e. Jan 09 also happens to be Nissim Ezekiel’s death anniversary...

If it were so as i say it is,
In poetry, precisely so,
A face, savage, singular
But well-defined identity,
Homage would be done to it
By such a sleep, such a lucid flow
Of time, that i would be
In poetry defined
As in reality i should be so.
A poem is an episode, completed
In an hour or two, but poetry
Is something more. It is the why
The how, the what, the flow
From which a poem comes,
In which the savage and the singular,
The gentle and familiar,
Are all dissolved; the residue
Is what you read, as a poem, the rest
Flows and is poetry. This should be so,
Precisely so.

The stone

I have learnt to revel in the stone,
Hard, cold, heavy, shapeless, solid stone,
To turn away from all that seems to flow
Elusively; time, water, blood around the bone,
The flare and flux of what is merely show
For something real like a common stone,
Not to be caressed, like flesh, but hard as bone.

I have learnt to love the texture of stone,
Rough or smooth but all unyielding stone,
Which plays no facile game of outward show,
And holds itself together as a bone;
It does not feel the paralysing flow
Of everything not hard as stone
But share its nature like the hidden bone.

The classic poem ‘The Patriot’

The Patriot

I am standing for peace and non-violence.
Why world is fighting fighting
Why all people of world
Are not following Mahatma Gandhi,
I am simply not understanding.
Ancient Indian Wisdom is 100% correct,
I should say even 200% correct,
But modern generation is neglecting-
Too much going for fashion and foreign thing.

Other day I'm reading newspaper
(Every day I'm reading Times of India
To improve my English Language)
How one goonda fellow
Threw stone at Indirabehn.
Must be student unrest fellow, I am thinking.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen, I am saying (to myself)
Lend me the ears.
Everything is coming -
Regeneration, Remuneration, Contraception.
Be patiently, brothers and sisters.

You want one glass lassi?
Very good for digestion.
With little salt, lovely drink,
Better than wine;
Not that I am ever tasting the wine.
I'm the total teetotaller, completely total,
But I say
Wine is for the drunkards only.

What you think of prospects of world peace?
Pakistan behaving like this,
China behaving like that,
It is making me really sad, I am telling you.
Really, most harassing me.
All men are brothers, no?
In India also
Gujaratis, Maharashtrians, Hindiwallahs
All brothers -
Though some are having funny habits.
Still, you tolerate me,
I tolerate you,
One day Ram Rajya is surely coming.

You are going?
But you will visit again
Any time, any day,
I am not believing in ceremony
Always I am enjoying your company.

Goodbye Party for
Miss Pushpa T.S.

our sister
is departing for foreign
In two three days,
we are meeting today
to wish her bon voyage.

You are all knowing, friends,
what sweetness is in Miss Pushpa.
I don’t mean only external sweetness
but internal sweetness.
Miss Pushpa is smiling and smiling
even for no reason
but simply because she is feeling.

Miss Pushpa is coming
from very high family.
Her father was renowned advocate
in Bulsar or Surat,
I am not remembering now which place.

Surat? Ah, yes,
once only I stayed in Surat
with family members
of my uncle’s very old friend,
his wife was cooking nicely...
that was long time ago.

Coming back to Miss Puspha
she is most popular lady
with men also and ladies also.
Whenever I asked her to do anything,
She was saying, ‘just now only
i will do it.’ That is showing
good spirit. I am always
appreciating the good spirit.
Pushpa Miss is never saying no.
Whatever I or anybody is asking
she is always saying yes,
and today she is going
to improve her prospect ,
and we are wishing her bon voyage.

Now I ask other speakers to speak,
and afterwards Miss Pushpa
will do summing up.


The saint, we are told,
once lived a life of sin-
nothing spectacular, of course,
just the usual things.
We smile, we are not surprised.
Unlikely though it seem,
we too one day
may grow up like him,
dropping our follies
like old cloths or creeds.
But then we learn
the saint is still a faithless friend,
obstinate in argument,
ungrateful for favours done,
hard with servants and poor,
discourteous to disciples, especially men,
condescending, even rude
to visitors (except the foreigners)
and overscrupulous in checking
the accounts of the ashram.
He is also rather fat.

Witnessing the spectacle
we no longer smile.
If saints are like this,
what hope is there then for us?

Paradise Flycatcher
White streamers moving briskly on the green
Casuarina, a rouse the sleepy watcher
From a dream of rarest birds
To this reality. A grating sound
Is all the language of the bird,
Spelling death to flies and moths
Who go this way to Paradise.
Its mask of black, with tints of green,
Exactly as described in books on Indian birds,
Is legend come alive to the dreamer
Whose eyes are fixed on it in glad surprise.
So many years ago, its predecessor
Came-it was an afternoon like this-
And clung with shaking streamers
To the same Casuarina, catching flies;
But fate that day, not the dreamer only,
Fixed his eyes on it and shot it down.
It lay with red and red upon its white,
Uncommon bird no longer in the mud.
The live one flashes at the watcher
Chestnut wings; the dead is buried in his mind.

“Paradise Flycatcher” was written for Zafar Futehally. Living legend is a clichéd term these days but when it comes to Zafar Futehally he really is a legend. This blogger was at a function in Lal Bagh Gardens yesterday on the occasion of release of ‘Numerically linked book’ (compiled by Crest Technologies, Edited by Joseph George), and had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Futehally. It really was an honour. The picture herein was taken during the function.

A scribble...

To take the man on the street seriously

The man on the street don’t seem to be bothered
about tyranny and terror these days
his steps are steady, aligned to an imaginary path.
Not for him the daily talks on freedom and price rise.
An inertia that couldn’t be explained from his diet
No he is not going to look this way or that way
Isn’t bothered about history or economics
Whether monsoon has become erratic
Carbon monoxide fills the bedroom
Development don’t need trees
Doesn’t give a fig about foreign investment or corruption scandals
And that,
Some have gods everywhere
Other’s only at one place
And would massacre if suggested vice versa.
No he isn’t bothered
Maybe he stops for a while, catch his breath
But he doesn’t, he is running now
He is fleeing the soul: the Humanity’s soul
Refuses to accept his fate
He has decided to escape.