August 30, 2011

Of Dreamworlds and Catastrophe

You weave dreamworlds and catastrophe out of big-city rejects. Reject cell-phones, footwear, football jerseys, tie-up bras, sunglasses, CDs. Counterfeit doesn’t quite catch it. A mofussil version of commodity is created. A purely original creature of limited resource and fantastic urge. You may scoff at these products and their adolescent desire to be like the real thing. They adorn many adolescent breasts filled with eager sexuality. The morning runner carries around leaping jaguar on his thighs. Cell-phones are repaired with new batteries and new keypads. Carefully blanketed in plastic covers. These are blessings of modernity. They must not get blemished by rain and dust. Maruti vans are repainted. With a message for Champa at the back. Champa wears a shiny butterfly on the butt of her jeans. She smiles coyly and expects you get the message. If you don’t, she conveys her indignation in SMS short-form in the dead of the night. You would not want her wait too long at the bus-stop next to the B-grade movie hall. Next to a blown-up photo of exposed breasts and an angry man. Probably called Sunehri Raat. Or something in Bhojpuri. It would ruin your nightly fantasy if she stood there too long. Her innocence corrupted in the evil company of murky sexuality. But you’d like her to waver in the hedge behind the park sometimes. Retaining guilt and shame, of course. Or else your nightly fantasy would be ruined. It’s the only thing this nightly fantasy. It keeps you going as you hang out of the trekker, as you jump across heaps of garbage, brave the kicks in your lower abdomen, fall asleep in your sweaty armpit, expect the next dot to appear soon after you join the first two. You pull together leftovers and rejects from everywhere. And weave this world. Whatever floats across the river. Whatever the big city doesn’t care for anymore. Whatever turns into mouldy obsolescence, you pick up. It’s your next dot.


Waits for trains can be lazy or anxious. If the train is late and you are in a hurry, you may want to contract the time of wait that is inevitable. Worrying about whether you will get to your destination at the stipulated time or no. If the train is early, and you are late, you will dash across, trying to expand the pre-determined span of time that the train means to halt for. If the train is yet to arrive and you are not in any hurry to get on it, you will bide this time leisurely. Speaking to the timespace created by the elevated concrete dias called Platform. Plastic watches and fruit juice and urine will dance in front of you. Making you inhale time through the concatenation of thing and being that make space. You might also use this time to pull out of your pocket your own peculiar worries, pleasures and exhibits. Your prominent double chin or a lost lover will resurface at this point. It might mingle in the mixed company of urine and potato chips. The beggar might enter your personal thicket of worry and joy. A wafting tune of a B-grade film might entertain your wait. I am presuming that you, like me, are shy of talking to strangers. If you're not, then, you will probably make small talk about the declining state of the railways with a neighboring office - goer. I do not understand the lot of you chitchatters on platforms. I watch the peaceful sweat on fatty arms from a distance.

In a different timspace, platforms stage struggles with the harsh north wind. That one would have to pull one's wool collars up against. One might run into the glass cabins for waiting passengers. But I always found those nauseating. Grey residue of snow collected on the tracks. Grim, stout railway guards nodded as they passed you. You wondered if they liked their job. From the hazy grey, a pale light sharpened as your train approached. The drama of the cold ended, leading you into the respite of heated nausea.

August 7, 2011


Garbage is the intimate enemy. It greets you at the foot of your door. It crosses bridges between rich and poor, industry and commerce, agrarian and urban. It flows in routes of its own drawing, making new places for desire and disgust. Youth pass by carelessly, as if they were certain it would be wiped out soon enough. Deities look on forlornly. Women cover their faces with saris. Men square their shoulders. I shut my eyes. And it rains.

These narrow alleys house small blast furnaces, sooted sinewy youth, Bhojpuri movie theaters, locked factories, broken windows, handcarts, wheelbarrows, trucks, buses, swearwords, tears, sweat and blood. G.T. Road (North) turns into G.T. Road (South). Workers and small enterprises turn into shopkeepers and schoolgirls. They discuss today's exam. The boy teases them for the mistakes they made. They jostle for breathing space and stench-free air. Running until the stench dissolves. Chicken are chopped into biriyani. Blood turned into curry. Rats hidden away in dark holes.

The rains come down in merciless mirth. Tugging at doors and saris. Pulling out forgotten stories from dark crevices. Breaking boundary walls of clean and dirty. If they didn't come, we'd pray to the rain gods. And wipe our burnt faces. Water is boon and curse. It melts, wipes and runs about ungoverned. Solid is governed easier than water. A stone stays where you put it, if you manage to keep it there. But water flees. As if it can't read boundaries. Between garbage and commodity. Sacred and profane.