Sunday, June 28, 2009


The news of Michael Jackson’s death did not affect me much. Of course it’s sad he died, it’s sad when anyone dies. Well he was great, i suppose. He had it, he definitely had it. World famous. An icon. A king in his own right. They said he had it all—talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. A great success since childhood and into middle age. No one could undermine that. He had taken the world by storm. In his heyday, the late nineties, it was almost impossible to watch a news channel without seeing him. He was omnipresent in the media world.

But i just wasn’t one of his fans. When i first heard him singing ‘Bad’—here i’m not denying his skill—it just irritated me. I simply didn’t like his voice or his stuff, never really watched him dance. Perhaps that’s why i didn’t feel anything as such when he died, for all his name, fame and following.

On the same day that the king of pop died, an 84 year old woman died quietly of cancer in a corner of Mumbai. This death affects me more, much more. She’s neither my relative nor my friend. I had not talked to her even once, though i once saw her at a function.

Neera Desai, whom my boss affectionately calls ‘Neeraben’ was a person who did her bit to uplift the downtrodden and underprivileged. She was a pioneer of women’s studies in India. She had set up the country’s first research centre for women’s studies at SNDT Women’s University and wrote several books on women’s issues. She was especially concerned about dalit and tribal women.

I’m going to miss ND more than MJ, although he and i share the same initials!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

flute player

at the station
sweltering heat
milling crowd
engines roaring
loudspeakers blaring.

a soft sweet sound
bringing to mind
cool mountain breezes
green pine forests
rippling brooks
youthful dreams.

i searched
wading in the crowd
and found him
stark blind
gray haired
creased care worn face
a rupee coin in a bowl
making music
on a flute

tears stung my eyes.
does one who gives such delight
get so little?

i gave him a note
and listened on
dreaming of
grassy hillsides
singing winds
dancing streams
and happier times.

Monday, June 1, 2009

at andheri

shoulder to shoulder
bumper to bumper
bodies jammed
inch crawl
slug rush
rush rush slug
the train! the train!

masses of flesh
wriggle squirm
hurry burry
hurry scurry
scurry scurry
oh the train!

masses masses
no faces
yeh hai mumbai
meri jaan!