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."



life in a local train

never again, she said.

she said it with certainty, her face pale, her lips loosely bound together, her nose flaring. a couple of minutes later, she shook her head, raised her eyebrows and closed her eyes. her breathing slowed. her panic ebbed. the smells of jasmine came mildly. they tapped at the tip of her nose before entering, and all of a sudden, she smiled. she asked me where i was going. 'chembur', i said. she nodded at me purposefully. i nodded back. two stops after, i stood up. she jostled through everybody else and took my seat with a sigh.

never again, she said. breaking my heart.


old loves

some days i miss
my old email accounts.
rediffmail, with a first-name-only address
yahoo, whose password i haven't changed in twelve years.
hotmail, back when msn was cool.
but i miss more
the emails i got
when i first fell in love
with poetry.

when i discovered that
poetry can be understood,
can be felt, can be loved,
that it doesn't have to be
in strange phrases from the '30s
that it doesn't have to be explained,
that it can be about
puppies, match sticks, bits of soap*
that it can be broken words
that make sense
only to you and me;

that we can learn to love
ourselves, that i could learn to
love you.

some days i want to
go back and read the emails
we wrote to each other
that we so cruelly deleted
when we decided
we love ourselves
more than we love

kukkapilla, aggi pulla, sabbu billa
heenamga chudaku denni,
kavitamayamenoy anni.


prapancham oka padmavyuham,
kavitam oka teerani daaham.

- srisri, mahaprasthanam.