Friday, February 27, 2015

Millenium Chhole

The 1001 th poem on my blog 

Chholes  for the new millenium. 

(A very popular dish made from Kabuli Chana/Garbanzos in India)

Clearly, one admires the restraint exhibited by folks when faced with a dish like this, as they actually stop to photograph it, before preparing to imbibe.

But time has now come to applaud , those dedicated , yet busy, family folks, who come up with amazing yummy dishes day after day .

My friend Deepak Amembal,  often posts wonderful photos such as these, which cause hunger pangs for every one else in the morning hours. Sigh.

शेकडो वर्षा पूर्वी
काबुल हून पर्वतराजीतून
थंडीत केलेला केलेला प्रवास ,
आणि आता भारतीय नागरिक ;
अनेक वर्ष , अनेक गावातून ,
केलेले मसालेदार प्रवास ,
कधी टोमाटो शी वाटाघाटी,
कधी चीन्चेशी गुजगोष्टी ,
वेळ प्रसंगी चहाच्या पत्यांशी दोन हात ,
वेगवेगळ्या प्रसंगात धीराने
तंदुरी रोट्याना सामोरे जाणे,
पराठ्याञ्चा मान ठेवणे ,
आणि कधी कधी तर
अतिविशाल भटुर्यांचे भाव खाणे सहन करणे….

आता ज्येष्ठ नागरिक झाल्यावर ,
ग्रेवी मध्ये पडून राहणं बारा वाटतं ,
सोबतीला इकडची तिकडची बडबड करायला
कांदे मंडळी तत्पर ,
नुकतीच लाटलेली
खास तव्यावरची गरम चपाती
तूप लाउन हुश्श्य करत शेजारी आली ना ,
जुनी मैत्रीण भेटायला आल्यासारखा वाटत,
आणि मग वाटत
आयुष्याचा सार्थक झालं ,
आता कुठल्याही दातांशी दोन हात
करायला आपण समर्थ आहोत ….
 A difficult trek
from Kabul
thru the Hindu Kush
mountain ranges,
in the thick of winter,
a slow settling down
as a citizen,
in the subcontinent;

Years and years
of interesting spicy travels,
tangling with tomatoes,
sometimes with a
grief soaked tamarind,
and at times,
even with
tea leaves
on a break
from their forecasting duties.

Being relentlessly pursued
by Tandoori Toms,
minding one's P's and Q's
around Parathaa Lords,
and even tolerating the
boasting of the puffed up Bhaturas.

Now a senior citizen,
it feels good
to relax in the gravy,
with the
onions all cut up,
and gossiping about things,
as someone arrives.

A hot chapati,
fresh off the tawaa,
exhaling in wonder
at the slather of ghee,
arrives in the plate
like a long lost friend
coming specially to
look you up.

A life well lived,
and one feels
suddenly empowered
to handle any
skirmishes with teeth
in the future....

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kiska Raastaa ?

My friend , Deepak Amembal recently completed a three country , 3 month motorcycle trip along with his friend Aditya Raj Kapoor.  He recently posted this photograph from their ride in the State of Orissa (on the eastern coast of India), which is actually depicts a situation that is seen across India,  on roads, or otherwise.

As Deepak titled his photo , " Big trucks drive motorcycles off the road .."

Big powerful types, with a blatant disregard for rules, riding rough shod, over ordinary folks who have a strange inclination to follow rules, pay taxes, endlessly wait, and sometimes hear questions like "Kya ye #$@#$ ka raasta hai ?"  

Sometimes, the dog may possibly have a better solution.

Big lumbering folks
carrying every one's expectations,
soon lose sight
of balance
in living,
as they
disobey rules,
hog every square foot,
defy instructions,
all the while thinking,
they now have power.

Till they meet,
a smaller citizen,
carrying his own loads
and worries,
following all the rules
the country
laid down for him,
and who keeps to the left
within bounds
waiting to move ahead
in the world.

At some point,
the biggies learn,
and let the smaller types pass.

That's our story.

Smaller folks,
following rules.

Bigger ones,
pushy and careless,
guaranteed a space .

And because
we are a democracy,
even a dog has a choice .....

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Udeedaa Daughters....

Along with humans, I think meduwadas also have a mind.  I think they have also evolved, and keep up with the world.

In the old days, it was desirable to be perfectly round, brilliantly golden, and traditionally respectful , to the  chutneys and saambaar lined  up  alongside.

Today, the meduwadaas are imperfect in shape, but make up for that in spirit.  Joyful in spicy makeup,  posing for someone who will later eat them, as they go down spiritedly fighting with the chutneys, a dimpled smile on their face.

Made these because the daughter likes them.  Their last appearance on Facebook and Instagram happened, before she dug into them....

उडीदा बाईच्या मुली ,
सकाळी सकाळी
मिरची आल्याचा साज्श्रुन्गार करून
काळ्या मिर्याचा टिक्का लाउन
कढीपत्याचे अत्तर उडवून
स्वतःला गरम तेलात झोकून काय देतात ,
मग सोन्याने मढवलेल्या जणू
झळाळत बाहेर काय येतात,
आणि कुणा एका कॅनन ला बघून
स्मित करताना
त्यांच्या गालाला खळ्या काय पडतात …

बिचार्याना काय माहित ,
त्यांच्या भविष्यात
चटणीशी दोन हात करत
कोणाच्या तरी पोटात जाणे
लिहिले आहे ,
ते सुधा
फेसबुक वर 

 Daughters of the
Udeeda Bai ,
in an early morning
spicy makeup session,
studded with
chilly ginger blush-on
a black pepper beauty spot,
and a spray

of their favourite
Kadhipatta perfume...

A wild leap
into hot oil,
a golden bronze facial,
the wonder of
their deep dimples
as they smile
for Lady with the Canon..

Famous last smiles.

They are destined
to go into
a Canonite stomach,
fighting bravely
with the Chutneys.

It says so,
that too ,
on Facebook ....


Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Angst of Aarey Bai

My friend, Slogan Murugan , alias M. S. Gopal , posted this amazing capture of the Aarey Milk Colony landscape, from a vantage point, I think, somewhere in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), in the northwest of Mumbai..

The last green lung left in the concrete obsessed city of Mumbai,  there is a growing movement of people, the  Save Aarey Milk Colony Group  fighting to keep the Aarey Milk Colony from being used for all kinds of construction of locomotive sheds and other infrastructure decreed by those who think that is development.

Am probably some of the few who remember the Aarey Milk Colony,  as a predominantly milk-dedicated place, dotted with dairies, cattle sheds, small hostels for caretakers ,  milk processing units , and places where  those working there could stay. You could see  cattle in long sheds, nodding and dipping their heads into bins , probably having their green feed, and a drive on the then sparsely populated toll road through Aarey Colony, would often intermittently smell of milk and cattle in some places.   

No more.   Today,  avarice has won over sense.  The place has been given to builders, and studios that shoot TV serials.   And now, possibly to the Metro .  

Aarey Bai, looks back, misty eyed ,  at it all.....

Aarey Bai

Her eyes mist up,

with memories
of greens,
calves and smells of milk,
stares by concerned
mother cows,
caretakers bringing in
and cajoling them
to eat their greens;
young kids on a school picnic
breathing in
what was then,
pure and fun.

She stores the
and the mist
in the
pen drive
of her mind.

for the last time,
before it all turns brown
with the exhaust
of locomotive yards
and automotive paths,
scheduled to
make extinct
everything green...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Keep Calm, and Be Bozo....

Very clearly, Bozo, Mumbai's dog-with-a-blog, is an erudite, well read individual.

Now in his late middle age, yet often troubled unnecessarily by loud and roaring two wheeler elements in the vicinity (as often happens in Mumbai) ,  he is still able to get a good afternoon's short nap, on the cool floor in Bandra,  confident in his ability to face the world on a daily basis.

A great supporter of the Canine Education Project, Bozo reads books, and this blog also has an earlier poem in honor of that .

Presenting, Bozo,  the clever chap.....

(The Desert Storme mentioned below, is a fancy bike that occupies the garage and much of Deepak's time,  and is  Bozo's traditional competitor )

(With apologies to Gurudev)

Where the mind is without fear and the head relaxes,

Where knowledge
that the Desert Storme is in garage
and not with Deepak, cheers;

Where the world has not been broken up into bike rides
By Bisons 

on unusual pothole free roads,

Where indulgent sniffing
comes out from the depth of the nostrils,

Where tireless wagging stretches its tail towards Deepak,

Where the clear sight of a happy Bozo
has not lost its way
Into the dreary garage of the Desert Storme,

Where the mind is led forward by breakfast smells
Into that ever-widening thought and yum-action

Into that kitchen of freedom, my friends, let me awake.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Jhadoo ke Mann Ki Baat

My friend Dr Meena Gomati Narayan shared this photograph  posted by her friend. 

Somehow, Jhadoos (Brooms) today have taken on a new meaning.  As an election symbol.

And despite the newspapers and televisions highlighting jhadoos in a very in-your-face kind of way,  this capture, of presumably new, colorfully tied new jhadoos , displayed in a pristine white, albeit clinical setup , with ribbon identifiers, clearly brought something else to mind.

( As a child, we had a palm tree in my parents house, and i have actually seen someone sitting with the dried fronds, and a very sharp knife, and creating these masterpieces; except they were tied much more firmly . )

Little Jhadoos,
tied with an
id ribbon

lying in the Jhadoo Ward
after a traumatic
but exciting political
through the Election Vestibule...

As the country celebrates,
an old toothless
Adharless man
in a rural field somewhere,
to collect the
dried palm fronds,
and sits in a shed
finely cutting frond lines
with his native sharp implement,
sharpening ends.
smoothening stick surfaces,
and then tying
them in groups.
and collating together
so his wife can
carry them
to the weekly market,
and earn their meals...

Like milk that thinks
it comes from a pouch
the new collection
of Urban Jhadoos,
think they come from a shop.

And despite the
new generation
in the Jhadoo ward,
the jubilation,
and the shouts
nothing has really changed
for those simple folks
in the fields,
working with their hands,
unaware of majorities,
power, promises, and losses,
for whom
AAP is not a party,
but a sign of respect
for someone
who works alongside them...

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hail the Sant !

You might have seen this plant several times, without paying much attention.  And you probably did not know that it is called Tradescantia Pallida, often referred to by folks as purple heart. 

My friend Amit Amembal grows these in his balcony, and posted this  today, with some amazing information . 

This plant does Phytoremediation :  it actually has some wonderful capabilities, that allow it to handle the pollutants and bad stuff in the soil  , and treat it in a sustainable way, without creating mounds of trash, smells and junk, which are the hallmark of our garbage system. 

For scientific types, Phytoremediation consists of mitigating pollutant concentrations in contaminated soils, water, or air, with PLANTS able to contain, degrade, or eliminate metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil and its derivatives, and various other contaminants from the media that contain them.

There is only one word  that one may add. 

Sant, which means Saint in Marathi/Hindi.

All Hail  Sant Tradescantia Pallida !

कुठे नोस्ट्राडामसची भयानक भविष्यवाणी ,
कुठे जग वाचवायला येणार्या
भव्य  संदेश घेउन येणारा
कोणी  एक दिव्य संदेष्टा …

आपल्याच सान्निध्यात , आणि
आसपास वास करणारे
संत त्रादेस्कान्तिया पालीडा
यांचे जीवन कार्य ,
अचंबित करते …

वसुंधरेची वाट लावणारे
तिच्यातले अपायकारक घटक ,
आपले विष आसपास च्या पाण्यात
बेमालूम मिसळणारे रासायनिक चोर,
ह्या सर्वांशी असंख्य हात करून,
आजूबाजूच्या जगाच्या नकळत
त्यांना सरळ करणारे
आणि अतिरेक झाल्यास
त्यांचा बंदोबस्त करणारे
संत त्रादेस्कान्तिया पालीडा,
आपल्या जाम्भ्ळ्या  मंडळींबरोबर
आपल्या सुरक्षेसाठी
दिवस रात्र कार्यरत असतात ….

शेवटी प्रश्न पडतो,
कि हल्लीच्या फोफावलेल्या
कोन्क्रीट  जंगलात ,
आपण अशा
परोपकारी संताना
जगून देणार कि नाही ?

You don't need
Nostradamic guys
with dire predictions

warning us about arrivals
of entities
to change the world.

We have within us
Sant Tradescantia Pallida,
an expert
in detecting
those that
shouldn't be where they are,
detecting them,
then quietly
engaging with them,
so that
they give up being bad,
or simply turn over,
for want of a better word,
and in toughest cases,
simply arrest the
progressing culprits.

The question is,
will we let the
Good Samaratans live
or simply make them obselete
in our increasingly concrete world. ?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Young, the Bald, the Beautiful

February 4th, 2015 is World Cancer Day.   We remember and honor all  cancer survivors, fighters, and those brave hearts that are no longer amidst us today.

"Hair for Hope" is the signature fundraising event of the Childrens Cancer Foundation.

A young girl, Rhea , all of 12 years, two generations younger to me , and daughter of one of my young friends in Singapore, has pledged  to donate all her hair and go bald , on March 20, 2015, during the "Hair for Hope" event at her school, to raise awareness of the disease as well as encourage donations.

Do check the post here  to find out how you can help and encourage.

A congregation
of slim young protein filaments,
shining cascading black
brilliantly agog
to other filaments
at the
International Keshsaambhaar Conference.

And amidst
those filaments,
painfully misty eyed over
heat treatments,
unnatural colors,
assorted wild snipings,
and twisting their lives
into tired curls,
there are some proletarian types,
divided and united in plaits,
and occasionally
arm twisted into buns
with decorations,
and some,
who stand enchanted
by how they photograph
and look
as hair blows about their face
thanks to unnatural blasts of air.

And then
quietly strong
away at another session,
millions and trillions of them,
held together
by sheer bands of
young dedication,
gratefully descending
onto a young shoulder,
patting it,
and sliding down
to rest against a young back.

A mindful organic mothering
with a coconut oil,
proud to have been a part,
these cascading ones,
playing with
so many combs
so many brushes
so many headbands
so many clips
and so many knots
their lives straightened out,
all very proud
as to where they come from,
and where
they will be travelling soon.

In tribute
For those proteinous filaments
who lost lives
thanks to the collateral damages
in the Therapy Wars,
so that others may live,
these twelve year young
glowing shining ones,
offer themselves,
on March 20 , 2015.

An amazing decision,
by a little girl,
who must know what it is to
let go off something
you value and love so much,
but who wants to do
her own thing
to support
those who faced
a troubled life with Big C,
and never had that choice.