Thursday, August 25, 2016

Moving

I used to think that the final phase of writing up the thesis will happen in serene monastic settings.
In one place, as per an ordered schedule. Beginning with a coffee and dawn and ending with a smile at the word count of the day.

Instead, it is going to be written in stolen hours. Between trains, flights, auto rides.
As I relocate from one continent to another. As I move back to a full time job,
and a new empty rented flat.

Looking at the emptiness of that flat is kind of scary. Kitchenware, bed, mirror, gas stove, pressure cooker, internet..what if I forget something...when do I write? May be at the time between the local bazaar and office? There is of course friendships which are my rocks in this old new city. But, after three years, at least a few of them might have crumbled a bit?

Delhi, why did I come back to you? Because you seduce me with the possibilities of a home that has the lovely hues of a mirage? Because, I wanted the crowds, the heat, the warmth, the madness, the winter which is prettier than spring? Because I wanted to share poetry and tea with G? Because I wanted to argue with R about some inconsequential philosophical strain over takeaway food? S has left, leaving a packet of emptiness near CR park.

Tell me once again. Why did I come here? Because I need the seat belt of a tenured job? Because I thought this could be a place from where I could start my journeys? Because the illusion of a destination is a good thing?

Have never been good with answers.
.......
But, may be there are things worth remembering. We were talking about arriving and living in London with that clear quote in our heads, "will leave at the end of x years". K was talking about the anger she felt at her Delhi home. Everything was in its place, as if some one lived there. At London, the place where she lived was very make shift. As if everything there was just waiting for the return ticket.

And, the words of another friend "You know, life is what happens in transit. There is nothing beyond that". Delhi, may be I should look at you with wonder in my eyes. As if you were a new place. Is slightly tired of moving a zillion times. I know, I will move again . But may be it is important to treat every moment as if it is forever. To move into each house as if the move is for good. Carrying only the essentials. Not because it is a temporary move. But, because life itself isn't permanent. How terrible is it to live forever like Nosferatu. But, the momentariness of our butterfly lives, they deserve their glimpses of eternity

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A migrant's notes to Europe

Bags are not packed. But, I will leave soon.
May be I am going to a place which is the nearest that could be called home.
Or, home is scattered across the globe, in many places. Amidst many people.
Despite the violence and nightmare of borders.

Here, I was a migrant.
Or was I?
The genocide inducing newspapers, landmines of questions at borders, the matter of fact manner in which refugees get drowned before they can have a foot on holy white lands-all of this used to remind me, day in and day out:YOU DON'T BELONG HERE.

I have walked through the structures of empire and have got marked by the hierarchy of skin tones.
But, was I an outsider?
Who is an outsider?

I know, my skin is not supposed to belong to this continent. Even after a few generations, there will be questions. "Where did you come from?"
I know the wandering Jew. And the wandering Palestinian.

But, is this place as much home as anywhere else? Laughter, tears, love, heart break, death..how is it that a place where you have felt it all is alien? Here, I have learnt and unlearnt. Made simple discoveries. England isn't Berlin, Germany isn't Warsaw, Poland isn't Pamplona. Spain isn't somewhere else.

In sign language, the waitress who doesn't smile at that cafe in Poland gifted me a croissant. I have walked back from the Berlin memorial for murdered Jews, with a splitting head ache and a sense of horror. I could see from there a different memorial, a different genocide. Those who will knock at your door, in a place thousands of miles away. A rioting mob. Muslim, Hindu..Not Indian enough

How do you convince nations? Borders?
"I am not a dangerous entity"
.......
Or may be you should ask them to pickle their borders, boil their nations.
.......
There must be ways to be among different places, different people. As I pack my bags and leave, I am leaving my places, my people. In London..Warsaw..Berlin..

We will meet again. May be in a pure-vegetarian stall in Delhi, in a shady bar in Mexico, or in an airport that looks like any other airport.

We will meet again. As the wind which blows away my meagre currency notes, as the dawn which descends on my train window, as the roads where I get lost, as the clouds which walk with my tears, as the turning which slows down to give an eye full of flowers for my losses, as the fire by which I learn new words, new rhythms.

          Till then, Good Bye.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Warsaw

Tathagatha,
Speak to me of moments which turn ephemeral in the play of light
Red, pale brown or golden.

Tathagatha,
Speak to me of illusions
Like the sweet or pungent or sour compote

Rains which wash away nothing
Centuries which walk like the endless wait of the traveller who will never reach anywhere.

Tathagatha,
Speak to me of those who have gone
And those who are yet to arrive.
The loneliness of roads
Jet lag of seasons
Anonymity of crowds.
.........
It is the season of pellets in the mountains
They stay awake night and day
Finding ways to count their dead
I file my taxes again
To buy the monsoon of pellets.

Tathagatha,
Speak to me of change of tides.
The infinity of oceans
Revolutions of peace
Fearlessness of words.
..........
Tathagatha,

Have you ever walked through centuries
Which tower over you in sand red and pale yellow?
Carrying the undead curse which won't float away with the aging of years.

Places spin inside head, journeys walk like fog, seasons fall like the nausea of dreams

Tathagatha,
I know you don't peddle cures.
But, there must be a shrine somewhere for endings.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Berlin

Below me a cityscape floats
Blue like the tunes of an unsung song

Berlin-
We don't know each other
We have been strangers passing along, always in a hurry

You have never asked me my name
And, I have never asked you yours.
I have never held your hand in a map
And walked through your very straight roads, looking for nothing.

Your past, the people you lined up for the concentration camp
My future, my head in line before a rioting mob
I have always been careful to avoid eye contact
I am scared of the things I might see

But, amidst the trams, hustle bustle
I do have conversations that walk late into the night
Figuring the world we live in, exchanging traveller's tales
Friends who mean a lot, despite the kilometers and years

Tomorrow
I will be a tourist
I will walk through the graves you made
The walls you built and broke

Let us count our foibles
My penchant for wrong words
Your ugly buildings
My thoughts which ramble as incoherent words through strange alleys
Your cars which try to squash pedestrians.

But, before I catch the last train and leave, a few words

frozen yogurt-grave of Brecht-strange walk back when you feel a lot and nothing-conversations that I collect like miser's coins, to treasure and play back again-the shy Chinese girl who makes it her job to ensure that the lost stranger crawls through the city's traffic to the right tram-
Maybe, I could love you; if not for the history.

Friday, June 24, 2016

.....

It is the morning when the island decides to be an island
Big upheavals around, the hate which wafts around as if it were the smell of coffee, has now the affirmation of the correct number of voters.

Should be thinking of bigger churnings.
Instead staring at the mourning of imaginary losses.
Of stuff which did not exist.

On a quiet morning or evening, I (or the collections of me-s which are called I) will leave.
May be there will be rain. May be it will be on a cab, with two suitcases 23 kgs each.
May be there will be no excess baggage.

No good byes. May be, we have never even met.

People in the kingdom of day dreams mourn the loss of stuff which didn't happen the most.
.........

Looking for houses, quarreling bitterly with the auto-wallah, having a shawarama with an old friend under the blessing of dusty trees and a caravan of plastic tea cups. May be I will find a house, one bookshelf, bed, table and chair, a sofa for overnight guests-carefully calibrated furniture which can be disposed off with the next move.

Dilli, may be  you might be the nearest I might ever have as a home.
......
Home is a bus, which travels through the mountains.
The altitude sickness, throwing up from the window-that is the price you pay for being a vagabond.
A small price to have a magnificent view from the window
.......
There are bigger prices.
Conversations which do not get movie endings..unwritten notes, unshed tears. How does it matter? After all, you are just passing through.
.....
Hello roads, bus rides, train journeys, queues at the airport..
I am forever yours. Will pawn the last bit of trash I have , Will chase impossible deadlines for a bit of cash, Will send beggar's notes around to funders..

Just be a bit more easy. The dust in the eyes some times get washed away.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Deleuze Scholars



Statutory Warning: If you are not one of the strange birds called academics, the following post might make you whistle and say who gives a fuck. Mind you, academics do. And, some of them might still content analyse your vocabulary.
.................
Conference in a lovely small town in the small island which goes by the name England.

We are talking about laughter and being radical. Academics take stuff like radical/political very seriously. In case the revolution arrives through the backdoor and social media, we wouldn't want to be counted among the aristocracy of pen pushers (with no sizeable incomes unless you are a Professor Emeritus or something similar in the food chain).

Let me introduce the cast.

White Man 1: Is apparently the leading light in continental philosophy. While continental breakfast might have lost its sheen as a result of Indian/Mexican/Chinese or something else, continental philosophy has not yet reached any such lowly plight. Along with other White Philosophies, it remains the only worthwhile thinking to get at what the powers that be call knowledge/understanding.
(Stuff which prompted Dipesh Chakrabarty to talk about the need to provincialize Europe and Hamid Dabashi to ponder about whether non-Europeans can think)

So, White Man 1 carefully unentangles the thought of our master thinker Deleuze to interconnected webs which can trap a potato in Rhizome. The pearls of wisdom which condescends to fall from his throat lights up the nooks and corners of White Philosophy. His hands move around with the grace of a dancer. He also comes down to get his hands dirty by casting the net of pragmatics to catch and form categories in movement. Unadulterated Great White Thinking spotlessly clean from similar notions which have existed around the world. Here, it might be worthwhile to glance at the rage of an indigenous woman academic while she listened to another Great White Thinker Latour talk about ideas which have all the while existed in indigenous thought without giving even a cursory acknowledgement to them. The problem is that while prophetic wisdoms dawn on Great White Philosophers, they never look for any non-white thinking which might have similar notions. And, the problem is also that  people ranging from Buddha and Nagarjuna to the Incas forgot to leave citations about the Great White Thinkers who will appear on earth centuries later to provide revelations.

Now, let us move to our next character.
White Man 2
Our man has not yet reached the stature of White Man 1 in the field of White Philosophy. But, he is already high and mighty enough to be a keynote speaker. In a short while, after the BIG BOOK, he too will become a leading light of White Philosophy. Meanwhile, he spends the precious time he has got with White Man 1 to compare notes. He mentions about scholarly hotel musings during his lecture and constantly sends a notion or two to White Man 1 for greater clarification. Seated among the audience, White Man 1 carefully catches and unentangles these notions and sends them back with masterly approval.

White Man 2 informs us about the visions our master Deleuze has had about present day societies of control. Never ask what society, whose or where. Because, 'present time' is Great White Time. All the browns, blacks, yellows, reds etc. are running hard to reach that time. White Man 2 is also reflexive and talks about white privilege and his own place in it. But, these acknowledgements  have nothing to do with philosophy since thinking is a burden of white men.

After the keynote, White Man 2 sits through and yawns at presentations which do not have a rhizome in them. And, he asks the enthu cutlet speaker who wants to get at political mobilizations whether we (white philosophers) should take up audience studies. That is a kick in the balls because philosophers do not do 'vulgar' audience studies.
.............

I leave feeling a bit sad about the revolution which this white radical/political thought is going to bring. The sadder thing is that I won't even be able to laugh at  it because the terms for laughter are already set. Begin from Plato/Aristotle (leave out the brown Arab thought which might have contaminated it during Europe's 'dark' ages). Have a stopover with Kant, may be Freud or Bergson and reach a climax with Deleuze or some one similar.

But I feel better remembering the joke of another presenter.
"How do you know whether it is a fake Messiah or the real one?
The real Messiah never arrives"

"How do you know whether it is a real revolution?
Real revolution never happens"

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

velocity

Is back...from the place I will leave soon..in 7 months..that is soon.

There isn't a bone in body which isn't aching. Train journeys, cabs, autos, flights..they buzz through the body and head. Waking up in many places without toothbrush.....Love from friends, new places, new and interesting people in the old city....Should be thankful for everything. Dear film, I have been giving you more than I can. May be I do owe other kinds of debts.

Like sleep. Sleeping for a few days without interruptions.
Melting away of email mountains.

Calming the buzzing bees in the head which want to move from one idea to another; faster than the pace of the body, faster than the pace in which a webpage opens.
May be with a cup of tea in a far away mountain...with nothing to do, other than staring at vastness and rugged slopes which build a pathway to sky.
Walking down alleys which demand nothing from you, rivers which don't look like industrial fluid.
Listening to a far away flute. Lying down on grass feeling the smallness of earth, the infinity beyond.

May be one day, which isn't that far.
May be then losses which haven't been mourned properly will receive their last rites and will float away for good.