salt (ii)

walk till your feet burn.
the sun sears the skin off your heels.
salt dries into your wounds
till you can’t tell
where your body ends and
pain begins.

walk till your eyes burn.
the heat dries the tears off your face
the sweat off your neck
till you can’t tell
where the sea ends and
pain begins.

walk till your blood burns.
till anger boils the words off your soul
your burdens off your heart
till you can’t tell
where the body ends and
the sea begins.


on some days, i just want to stay in bed, eat everything (and/or a whole plate of biryani) and netflix till i die.

these are days that warn me of oncoming periods.


big shoes to fill

so i just found out that the course i took over (gender, health and public policy) from a fairly senior professor has a history. this professor has been teaching this course for 19 years now and she took this course from srilatha batliwala! eek. 



"teaching is like telling a story."

"there has to be a moral?"

"no! you have to start at the beginning."

sigh. btw, i <3 teaching. it's such a rush. 


can you see it?
it's wrapped inside a
silk handkerchief
and hidden away.
it's masked to seem
pretty and mysterious
like a story on a
rainy night, with lightning
and thunder.
but if you can see it
don't tell me what it looks like.
don't tell me how naked, how
raw, how vulnerable and scared
it is,
my sadness.


i'm sitting at my cubicle, staring at my screen and i can't comprehend why everyone around me isn't crying the way i want to cry. there's something deeply personal about this, yet, i have no idea why my emotions aren't transcending, why it hasn't crippled me yet, whether this is about what i'm seeing or if i'm finally processing deaths i hadn't thought of before. grief is a funny thing. like art or jokes, you always need context. 



darling please, layla.



i'm actually moving. things are being put into boxes. it's really happening. 

i feel like i'm tearing my heart out and abandoning it here in this city. it's a terrible, terrible feeling. and i just don't want to go. the rational part of my brain knows why i'm doing it, but the rest of me is shivering. i'm constantly holding back my tears. 

i've lived here for nearly seven years now. i want to say oh i'll be back in two years la la la but cities are brutal. they'll just move on without you. when (if) i'm back, there'll be a faint smile of familiarity in 4s but no asking random people to scootch because i need a table. market cafe won't instantly give me a double cappuccino. the auto rules would have changed. summerhouse won't be the place everyone's at on a friday night. my swimming pool won't recognize me. my niece won't be a baby anymore. my nephew'll be in the 7th standard *shudder*. people i love would have moved away, gotten married, gone on with their lives. what i'm really afraid of is not having someone to call at 7 PM to say "bro happy hours for another hour. wanna get a drink?" or just walk in to a good bookstore (okay, midlands) and spend two hours there and not buy anything and leave. (where i'm going has only the shittiest bookstores ever). i'm scared of not being anonymous, of not meeting interesting people, of having to build up a whole life for myself from the scratch. of not running into people i haven't seen in ages. of not being a delhi person anymore. and i just don't want to go.   



"I don't think it'll ever end. Like a postmodern nightmare. Till the end of time."

"I had one of those last night."

"Oh no. Those are the worst."

"Yeah! I dreamt I was saving the world but the tragedies were so great and never-ending, that even though I was winning I was losing. So I kept walking from one room to the next (like in that new Radiohead song) and each new room was a new tragedy. I was all alone at home. I woke up at like, 4, moved out of my bedroom with my blanket, put on the television and watched Sex and the City till I passed out on my couch."

"In the dream?"

Honestly, I don't know.


(whatsapp. g.)



my mother writes poetry about
her mother.

she writes about age,
memory loss, senility,
about watching her mother's
mind disintegrate, about
not remembering
names, faces, dates, childhoods
not knowing
recipes to dishes she has cooked
everyday, laughing
at things she has no comprehension of
anymore: the television, soap,
remote controls, shoelaces.

"she can still read," my mother says
so they read together:
the vishnu sahasranamam.
"she thinks she can sing" my mother says
so they listen to her sing.

i wonder if i
will have the strength
to write poetry


a book review

Read my review of 'The Lost Generation: Chronicling India’s Dying Professions' here on Open Road Review. 

An excerpt of the review:

"If progress were a linear story moving swiftly from a traditional past to a modern future, technology would be the ghost that haunts Nidhi Dugar Kundalia’s insightful new book, The Lost Generation: Chronicling India’s Dying Professions. At the very end of that story, our bodies will be anonymous and unmarked by tradition, healed by those trained in science and medicine, perfumed by scents whose flowers we don’t recognize. We will have a friendly app to mourn for us on Facebook. The Rudaali will cease to exist except in song, for we would have no need for her anymore. The godna artist, the ittar–waala, the street dentist will be relegated to sepia stories representing a past we have run away from."




i have nothing profound to say this valentine's day. nothing cute, nothing silly, nothing at all. 


that kind of year

Fourth working Sunday in a row. *grump*



sunday was my last working day at my old job. i'm not going to talk about why i quit - it's a moot point, it's over and that's all there is to that. this post is about sorting out the muck in my head: it's about trying to figure out why i can't write anymore. 

i've said this before - i took that job because i wanted to travel. i wanted to see the country in ways i hadn't done before. i had spent way too long in a university, and i was aching to get my shoes dirty again. it was romantic in my head (it still is): i'd spend days on trains, lug my black and yellow featherlight vip suitcase up and down railway stations between towns whose names don't matter, meet people whose names i won't remember, gather stories i can never tell. i was indestructible when i took the job. i didn't figure i could be worn down by the people behind those stories, that hotel rooms inspire a dull throbbing loneliness, that at the end of the day i would be left with exhaustion (both physical and emotional), that i would be so angry about the world in general, that beauty would be so hard to find in depth and complexity. 

n-ben (last month), who was gathering firewood for a long, cold night when i met her. she's over 75 years old and alone. she has no shoes, no warm clothes, no house, no children. a brother who beats her, a sister who protects her. h, the lines on whose face were hard to count, who lost her children to the earthquake, who lives in a house made of wood, who scrambled around in the dark for half an hour to show me a heavily photoshopped photograph of her daughter. s, a dalit woman whose ghoonghat was yanked down by her friend when a man passed by the door, who doesn't sit on chairs because "yeh hamara culture hai" (a line delivered to me, seething with irony, anger dripping from its every syllable, so sharply i think she cut me with the kind of mastery only uma thurman in kill bill could manage.) m, a mahadalit woman who is fighting her upper caste mukhiya everyday, for whom caste is a debilitating physical reality, who articulates the everyday indignities she faces, who wears bright pink lipstick in defiance, who lives in a house made of sticks under a roof made of plastic sheets. these women are numbers on an excel sheet, omitted stories in boxes, anecdotes in a world that seeks "evidence". 

what am i allowed to feel? what am i allowed to think? how involved am i allowed to be? here we are, seeking a paradise experience between death camps and suicide bombers*, sitting in cafes that can be delhi, muzaffarpur, istanbul or paris just the same, seeking happiness in things so deeply embedded in the urban and elite. are all these just discontinuities in a world whose boundaries are drawn by technologies, filtered through screens, pixellated and defined through narratives we are taught not to hear, linearities we cannot draw because the locus is so damn hard to find. what the fuck am i supposed to feel? where am i to seek clarity, because goddamn it, i feel like i'm walking through a fog right now. 

*if i may borrow that phrase from romesh gunesekara. 


there is no joy

as particular as seeing a well-formatted table paste the same exact way onto a word document from excel.

what? i use office for mac, ok. life sucks. 



khwaish me lipti zaroorat ki duniya...

(ye duniya agar mil bhi jaaye to kya hai, piyush mishra.)



"somedays i write something and i feel like i'm my favorite writer."

-her (spike jonze)

(on most days i'm just the very worst)


i can't write anymore

it's something i've resigned myself to. i spent close to a year trying. there's nothing fluid about it anymore. so i'm going to stop making myself do it. it's only you and me now, blog. 

i had a moment today - i was listening to the latest all songs considered episode. and they played someone like you. and it's never been a song i listen to voluntarily - but i'm at work, doing the most boring task in the world (data entry) and i teared up and stopped what i was doing and went, fuck. 

i hate emotions. and i can't write anymore. that's what i'm trying to say here.