In which I demonstrate a lack of understanding of cars

“You know, I’ve never understood gears”, she said, staring with great interest at the giant horn behind one of the glass cases of the museum. 
“Like, I can understand theoretically how they work. You have these circular things with wedges in them. And they have other circular things stuck in them. And so when one moves the other one moves too. But doesn’t the other one complain? Like the other circular thing is literally being forced to move because the first circular thing wants to move. It must be a sad life.”
I gently reminded her that gears didn’t live. 
“Have you ever done anything with gears?”
I have. When I was in tenth grade or ninth grade or something, we had a long course or something about robotics. It was like a workshop or something. Our final project was to design a car that moved. 
“Ooh, did you manage it?” 
We had moved on to another exhibit. While I knew this museum had something to do with palanteology, I had no idea what this thing was. It looked like a black hole. I told her so. 
“It’s palaeontology. And did you make the car?”
We made the car. My only contribution to the project was philosophical. Or, as Jasmine said, it summed up to the totality of the human condition. Zero. I told him he needed help with his arithmetic. 
“Dude, we know how shit turns. You want to take a left, you make sure the left wheel stops. The other wheels still move, but because the left wheel is not moving the whole thing moves in some sort of circle. And the car turns to the left. You did jackshit to make this car.”
I suppose wheels are not like gears. When one stops the others are just supposed to adjust. I told him to go to subterranean regions of fire and ice. I told him this was not a car. It only had two wheels. There’s only so much you can take from a guy named after a white flower. 
“So you didn’t make a car. You made a bike. Typical.”
We had now moved on to the next exhibit. It contained the most relevant thing to palanteology in the museum. Empty. We stared at the exhibit, transfixed. 
“I told you, it’s palaeontology.”

When we walked outside the museum I asked her what she was going to do. 
“I need a shower. Those ichthyosaurs make me feel dirty.”
No. About me. About us. 
“Do you have any of my towels at your place? I don’t want to go to the hellhole right now.”
I didn’t have any of her towels at my place. She had never asked me this question before. 
We walked to my place. It wasn’t very far away, but it took a while. She was having some difficulty with her converses. 
“I’ve gotten used to heels”, she explained. “Anyway, you don’t need to walk slowly because of me. I know you walk fast. Go ahead. I’ll see you at your place.”
I told her that actually I had stretched a tendon in my knee some time ago. We walked on in silence. I didn’t like that. She wasn’t one of the silent people. She liked to hear herself talk. It reminded her that she was alive. She always needed something to remind her that she was alive. She only read murder mysteries. She downloaded pictures of dead bodies. She went to palanteology exhibits. She ate exclusively non vegetarian food. And then there was me. She was surrounded by corpses. 
“Get it right at least once, babe. It’s palaeontology.”

The only person at home right then was my great grandfather. She really liked my great grandfather. He would try to burst into tears whenever he saw her. He couldn’t cry, my great grandfather, because his tear ducts had completely dried up during the war. It didn’t stop him from trying. 
I told him the tear ducts might fill again if he had some water. 
He blew air through his rotten teeth. No one could understand him except for me. I don’t know why, but what he said made complete sense to me. No one could understand him because he didn’t have any saliva in his mouth. He hadn’t had a sip of water since he had got caught in the rains 32 years ago. He had rushed in, had a single sip from the glass of water my mum offered him and turned pale. He had screamed his last words then. “Everything is acid”, he had screamed. “Help, my mouth is burning”, he had said. Then he had shut up and sat on a sofa. My mother was worried about him, because she didn’t understand him anymore. 
“Eat my head”, he was saying. I nodded politely, and asked him if I could do something for him. 
“Suck the blood out of my body. Please. It burns. Lad, it burns.” 
I’m not a vampire. I told him I would after the cricket world cup ended. Kapil Dev was on 74 not out. We couldn’t hear the match on radio because of some dispute with the broadcasters. Guess we would have to wait for tomorrow’s newspapers. 
That placated him. My great grandfather was actually a fossil. The gears… they did not work. I often told her my house was as good a palaeontology exhibit as any in the world. 
“It’s paleontology”, she said absently, staring at the exhibit.

When she came out of the shower she said we needed to talk. 
“Yeah. I think so t-“
“Shut up. We need to break up.”
I stared at her. 
“Yeah. I’ve been thinking, and we’re about as done as anything.”
I spotted a wrinkle. Growing, like an insidious creeper. 
“We’re mutually incompatible.”
Feeding on her face like a parasite. 
“You’re like one of those gears. You don’t move unless you have to. Unless one of the circular things you’re up against moves.”
Gnawing on her subtle cheekbones. 
“How do I even know you’re alive? You’re a dinosaur. Your great grandfather is more alive than you are. He’s rotting, his skin is peeling away and his blood is boiling inside of him, but you’re the one who’s the fossil. You make this place the palanteology exhibit.”
Palaeontology. Sucking on the cerebrospinal fluid. 
“I thought it was the ichthyosaur but it was you. You were the one making me feel dirty. I wish I had my towel. All yours stink of dead flesh.”
Stripped away of all the luggage, I saw her at last. She was a wheel, not a gear. I had thought I was moving because of her, and now I realised I was moving despite of her. 
“Goodbye. And I’m sorry. But you’re like a contagious disease. I can’t keep the pus from bursting out any more. I’m sorry.”

That night I sucked the blood out of my great grandfather’s body. Most of it had evaporated, and the rest came willingly enough. I told him Kapil hit 175. He sighed in ecstasy. His spine buckled, and his eyes sank inside of him. My mum gave him some water, and he sucked at it desperately. Then he cried. His tears fell on my hair. It burnt. Everything seemed to be burning. 
Everything was acid. And I was my own funeral pyre.

“I’ll have you know that my arithmetic is perfect,” Jasmine growled. He hated it when he was called Jasmine. 
It’s a little more complicated than that. If the sum total of the human condition was zero it meant it wasn’t zero. It couldn’t be nothing without being something, and of it was something it wasn’t nothing. A paradox. A wheel which is a gear. 
“You still did jackshit to make this car.”

Potentialities

It was pushing 6 AM in his watch’s granite face when Nataraj found out that his sixth attempt at qualifying for the N.C.C
exams had also, regrettably, and with a shoulder shrug from his contact inside the place, failed. The
contact looked at him and wondered if he would ever see the face he was seeing again. Nataraj looked at him and wondered at
the same thing.
Nataraj did not check to see which part of the exam he had failed. Not that he didn’t want to know, but because it did not
matter in the least. Tomorrow would come the application for re-evaluation, and then the job. His landowner wanted to kick
him out, so that would follow. Tomorrow the parchment he held in his hands would matter, but right now Nataraj was walking in
the early monsoon rains and all that had mattered was the ‘P’ on the envelope. There was no P on the envelope.
Nataraj had decided this was to be his last attempt. He liked the idea of the army, in some cloudy parts of his brain that
looked forward it looked good as an extension to his universe. From Nataraj, to Nataraj, Soldier. It looked natural enough.
It had potential. He was sure he did not like the idea so much. It was time to find some other phrase which would look
alright next to his name. He was glad it had taken 6 years for him to come to this decision. It had taken him fifteen before
deciding Nataraj was actually okay.
What was in the envelope is actually a pretty good story, one which ought to be narrated and written and then digested. This
is another story, about stories. A singular thing about stories is that they are not actually life, not in the realest sense.
Think about it. We are all twigs that move this way and that in a liquid made up of the utterly mundane. At its most perfect,
the twig does not move at all. There are a few currents that move, nevertheless, in this ocean of the utterly soporific. They
are allowed to remain, because… well, because heck, it doesn’t matter anyway. And these currents, deviations from the norm,
are exciting not because they offer the unpredicatable but because they offer the break.
This is all true, or maybe the sea is wracked by terrible storms and etc.

Nataraj sipped his cutting chai outside Dadar station while staring at the sky. It wasn’t raining now, but in Mumbai the
rain, if not exulting in orgasmic glory is always on the precipice, always waiting, arranged on the sky as the sun’s
attendants, when he chose to make an appearance.
Nataraj thought the clouds, and the sky behind them looked like his life. Instead of asking him to stop being so arrogant as
to compare himself with the Sun, his brain agreed with his judgement, and immediately sent out some images. He couldn’t see
what awaited him. Did he want to see?
He finished his tea and began walking to the tracks. On the overbridge a Mystery Event took place. It seemed to him that a
coin had just come down from the heavens to repose, like an accident, in front of his legs. He bent and looked at it. It was
a vague golden in colour, and if it had something engraved on it he couldn’t decipher it. Then he saw another coin, lying
feet away from him. He shuffled and bent over to it. It was the same coin. He kept walking, crouching and bending for more
coins. If he dallied anymore he would miss his train, but Nataraj knew he was in the midst of a Story. It behooved on that he
do whatever he was to do, and not let anything interrupt. The coins left the overbridge and led him into the city. He
continued behind them until they led him to the sea. He stared at the waves for a minute in despair before it seemed to him
that something golden hid behind the waves where he had found the last coin. Slowly he crept into the waves and then gasped.
huge hoard of these golden coins lay behind a seemingly wrecked boat. He wondered about the coins for a little bit. Where
were they from? Which stories had touched these coins and how many would touch these after him? Why was something out of the
14th century happening to him now? His friend Ajay had once found a wrecked boat too, but inside it there had only been
underwear, and sea weed. He gasped again, because he was out of breath and swam rapidly to the surface. His mind fashioned a
heroic escape against spirits that would not let go, but he swam back the perhaps 10 meters relatively easily and then wondered what to do.
Where would he go from here? The sea battered winds into his questions.
And like everything else, to wind even the water crumbles. The coin falls to the ground, seemingly from the sky near Nataraj’s limbs. Too tired and dejected to consider looking at it, he steps on the coin and onwards, to his local train that would leave him near his job. He leaves, and his likely humdrum existence continues, no longer to be plundered for a selfish man’s needs. He probably gets up the next morning and applies for re-evaluation. I wonder if he really doesn’t apply again.
Maybe I shall see him another time, his hands poking into his trouser pockets, head a little bent, lost in stories. I bet he regularly thinks he holds the world on his shoulders. He doesn’t. He is not the sun.
And as for the coin, it has different stories to tell now.

Save the oceans… and a poem

yesterday (or was it the day before) was world oceans day, which provides the setting for this one really.
and i can reference the fuck out of all the water related stuff out there (as I have) but can we all also take a moment to realise that around t
he worlds the seas and the rivers are fantastic reservoirs of all kinds of lives and all kinds of stories and we need to preserve, protect and engage with the countless lives that provide and draw sustenance from the sea and this is not an imposition or whatever but a responsibility because we have the means to do it and the information necessary, all we have lacked so far is the initiative.
Here is something we can all do to help in our little ways : http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/…/5-things-you…/

Further, the great barrier reef – one of the largest and most enthralling preserves of biodiversity is under threat by coal miners (of which a little wittle company called Adani may be known to many Indians) and here’s something very little you can do to help when the time comes to it: https://www.greenpeace.org.au/action/?cid=84&src=SHFB1

Even further, a nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan has been leaking TONNES of nuclear waste material into the ocean since fucking 2011 and this is a problem that has just not been talked about for some reason. here are some relevant links for that : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/…/130807-fukushima…/ and http://www.globalresearch.ca/fukushima-radiation…/5434258

let’s all do our little bit to help and make this a better world for all, humans, sharks and phytoplanktons to live in.

this was a comment by myself about a poem by myself – only this is far more important to me.
if you can point me to some other resources through which a broke 20 year old english grad can help then please, do.

oh, and the poem

there is a maze in my head which is a little replica of the labyrinth between me and you
every sentence is a voyage – this one took off on a little dinghy exploring a little gulf, and it navigated through a few backspaces and some treacherous stray thoughts of dolphins and wings and a keyboard who’s keys do not remember being used so much and spell check helped me out with the spelling of treacherous, twice, before i reach the ocean and have little else to say, nevertheless a full stop is not appropriate at the end of this one
every sentence is a voyage through uncharted territory through the maze in my head to the maze between us to you and
it is difficult, finding the words to sail through all these problems of interpretation – some don’t see my canoe because for them it is a submarine twenty thousand leagues under the sea and I a captain nemo, (or am I Aronnax?) and others see me dressed in my finest livery prepared to sink like a gentleman to my ice-cold fate dressed to the nines and when the sky looks like a statuette and the winds don’t help maze and perhaps this is a nightmare this maze does look like a giant whale and even as I dream that the ishmaels find coffins to survive I find I am actually ahab and fall to a cavernous doom.
some days i am ullysses and what was tennyson’s great lie? to strive, to seek and to die on the way. isn’t that our doom and our greatest boon, we are always on the way.
i have lost my way, but the ocean is like that for human beings. only we choose our beginnings and endings before leaving and the beginning and the ending is always a lie because the sea is ephemeral and is never the same again and it doesn’t seem like the land is the sea but it is, it is.
so it is a complicated little journey and perhaps i should apologise because it seems clear that i’m never making it out because the maze is just so pretty and I have gotten so used to being a log that is washed this way and that by the waves of our times
between the maze in my head and the maze in yours though we can still find each other because the maze is not really a maze, on the ocean you can go in any direction you please and you know as well i do that it gets lonely at sea – I’ll take an ocean that contains both me and you

songs and dances

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music
*
she gave up dancing for the mirror and
for me and began dancing for the trees
she has stopped groping around for the music
she says the music touches her now

her eyes bleed now, once a month
and her gaze feeds on the songbirds’ silence
she says she only began to see when she went blind
*

i wish i could see you dance again
but time has been grains of sand that run through
dead fingers into the breezes of forget
i want to hear the ghungroo again, love
… i think
*

his skin is alabaster
and his shirt always smells of cigarettes
but his voice is a haze
it has been filtered through packets and
packets and packets of four squares
and by time and the smoke screams
its own epitaph
knowledge is a deadly friend
if no one sets the rules
*

a bulging beating miasma pulses
is that all i can call this beating heart?
love, all i had for you were stories
plucked from the fungus in my head

all i had for you were stories
my fingers gambolled with pens and keyboards
and my silence screamed its lungs out
and touched a music that was always around
all i had for you were stories
but the stories were never for you
*

i saw shiva drowning in a sea of milk
the ganga sprang from his hair
the ganapati idols burped and trumpeted
that freedom is a deluge
and that i walk on sea-foam and polythene bags
i ran after lalbaugcharaja
the madman tried to drown himself in the sea
the madman tried to drown himself in the sea
ganapatibappa morya
pudchavarshi laukarya
i was only trying to breathe freedom, amma
*

in my nightmares i touch you again
and your fingers are warmer than mine
your eyes shine more than mine
and the music is not an echo but a
torrent
but this cascading waterfall is not
my cascading waterfall
*

Fragments, consider revising

Listening to a robot japanese voice mechanically translate random shit you wrote up while all this time annie lennox was singing about how the ships have come to carry the dead and the dying to the west to valinor where the music is in the trees in the rivers in the stars and manwe smiles and winks and wags his fingers and maybe on the way tulkas will belch out a little something something he ate a millenium ago when he was awake and all this time little bilbo baggins and frodo nine-fingered a broken heart and a breaking heart will in their heads slowly try to forget that this is how you win an oscar
Listening to a robot japanese voice mechanically translate random shit you wrote up while all this time annie lennox was singing about how the ships have come to carry the dead and the dying to the west to valinor where the music is in the trees in the rivers in the stars and manwe smiles and winks and wags his fingers and maybe on the way tulkas will belch out a little something something he ate a millenium ago when he was awake and all this time little bilbo baggins and frodo nine-fingered a broken heart and a breaking heart will in their heads slowly try to forget that this is how you win an oscar

Manikaran

burning bridges in billowing towers
fire and rain kissed in the ecstasy of
destruction as you killed god
with that deathray in your head

there is no calm before the storm
eternity is that single moment in the eye
shiva is dancing on the mountain top
and his feet crush his temples

and the mountain dances to parvati’s
song – all mountains do not have festering lava
but all mountains want to burst
everybody wants to burst

into stardust, and golden music
that coagulates on their skin like oil
that hisses itself onto a single matchstick
that hovers, waltzing on parvati’s gossamer
silk threads before
sinking

here ice is water and water
steam – the river, too bursts
with warmth as it trickles down
nataraj’s fiery forehead
the rice feeds hungrily on her
as her trembling fingers float over
the golden energy
and the dal blooms when she touches
its soul

wahe guruji di khalsa
here, sipping on eternitea
god wakes from his dreams
and breathes sunshine on the dying embers
of everything

Manikaran is a temple town. It has a Shiva temple and a Gurudwara where any are welcome at any time for as much food as they want.
And tea. For eternitea.

Love Story

like a wave of electricity through your innards
like a pigeon and another pigeon in the bed of the sky
like stolen kisses worth one kind word each
like a second that just wasted away

like the great scars you show off
tattoos that prove you lived
like the boy in second grade
you always blushed when you thought about

like bread bought long ago
gone stale with age and time
like memorials built with love and music
broken pieces of rubble and concrete

like reams of paper I threw away
with cupcake wrappers and vegetable peels
like the sun that set yesterday and
decided to retire