Saturday, April 1, 2017

Loneliness of a film

I am a jew in Germany, some where in the 1930s. There should be other things which concern me. Like the smell of genocide which wafts through the air. Will it arrive at my doorstep in a few years, months?

But, being fickle, I worry about other things. Like a film which remains largely unwatched. I remember the blood, sweat and tears of making it. Smell of fear, police men who delete footage, paranoia , hunger. Patches of poverty as you save up for another hard drive.

Now as the film sits alone in a corner, with hardly any audience, I wonder…which is the harder phase? There is no censor certificate, showing it has to be like walking on eggshells. Getting screening spaces is becoming harder and harder. Then, there is the panacea for all-an online release. But, being on the net means risking safety issues. So, the film sits alone, in the corner. These days it never gets up and comes to me with wistful eyes to know what I am doing about getting more screenings. I send emails and emails and emails.

Entering in festival circuit has meant over a 100 rejection letters. From dozens of different countries they write the same line, may be they get it from some template in the internet. “Unfortunately, we were unable to select your film to this year's edition of the festival. We had watched a large number of documentaries, which were carefully considered and the limited space in our program has forced us to make many difficult decisions.” I look at the vimeo link. The link was never played by some festivals. They screen the same films again and again, in a strange kind of film festival incest, blessed by PR managers.

 I walk alone through the tunnel, worrying about the film. I remember the man who travelled across with a rag tag projector and showed the films that theatres refused to show, creating a new audience. He died alone, penniless.  May be I should get a projector and go to places with a group. But, I don’t have the money for the projector, there is no group and most of all, I am not a man. With a bit of vomit in my throat I remember the progressive middle-aged film curator who had an almost 7 minute conversation with my chest.

May be some films are not meant to be seen. May be I should worry more about the impending genocide.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Writing Up

Strong like wood, iron, glass
Film looped over neck
Tried-lost, tried-Lost, Tried-lost
How many times should one become a spider?

Shatter like wind
Feel the embrace of void
Words, words, word count
Even the briefest of wonders
Don't arrive anywhere near by

Over coffee, tears
"Unfortunately we cannot screen"
Nazi salutes in the morning
Words pile over
Like ants moving out of a dead head

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Notes From Kafka Land

It is a cold morning. I need to buy a new blanket. The headache is not going away.May be I need to go to a doctor. And, how am I going to pay for the auto ride to work?

Yesterday, emperor of my country announced that Rs.500 and Rs.1000 denominations will be paper from midnight. The banks will be closed today. And, ATMs may not work. I have 100 rupees in my wallet. It won't even pay for my ride to and from work.

A subcontinent of chaos. As the ruler rides a dilapidated old ragtag vehicle at breakneck speed to fall from the edge of some precarious mountain top, I have a window seat. There is a tattooed number on my head. Most people tell me that at some point of time, I will be pulled from the bus and thrown to certain death. I have seen students disappearing. Anyone who has a tongue is hounded by guard dogs. Whole provinces walk with eyes blinded by pellets, trying to bury their countless dead.

I sit back at my window seat and hold my lone hundred rupee note tightly. Next to me, middle aged men are chanting their daily Nazi hymns. Every day they chant them at the crack of dawn. One day, I might disappear. But, everyone in the bus is heading the same way

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Half here, half somewhere else.
Circles which walk through continents without the aid of any passports
Same script, different faces.

May be, there is an option to walk away
Without performing the part, leaving the stage empty.

The unknown
The taste of today which isn't tomorrow or yesterday.
Head clerk who hates paper chewing
Hoarder of time when letters from the thesis gets up, pulls out a chair and
clunks cups of tea for a conversation.
Moments which rebel and walk out to buy the last tickets for a play by an Iranian man (may be white rabbits /red should email the author).

Scowl which makes you want to buy a ticket, to get on to a set of wheels.
Traveller, circles make me dizzy.
Sit down by the 500 year old fort/palace/mosque/pigeon house.
Walk by the pond or whatever is left of it.
In the mild chill of evening, talk about the metaphysics of unsaid prayers with a very dear friend.
Sun will drench in red and you will walk into a play about red rabbits.
And, you would walk out, feeling guilty of having killed the portly old man on stage.

Write without names
Read without lines
Lose with grace, again and again.
Tear that envelop, read the script and toss it over to some unseen bin

Walk with just the steps of today.
As if you are in a new city where you don't know how to wade through the traffic, din, dust and strangeness

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Before War

Perhaps one day, the color of your skin, the God in your name, the rhythm of your native tongue, the food on your table, the drink in your glass, or some thing else which is insignificant will make your head roll in a genocide. You live in that shadow: the next riot, the next mob that will come to your door. They might arrive in months, or decades or a hundred years later.

That wait can pull down the movement of your days, or you might forget it during a journey to the mountains.

It is the season of war in the republic which is slowly turning into a banana. Men whose faces carry the sign of murders and rapes with honor, shriek war cries through television channels and streets into your head.
As they get ready for war, I suddenly feel the need to go to that tiny restaurant. To eat appam and fish curry. Before the season of righteous bombs begins, hoard as much normalcy as possible.

The world is full of war, this is our share of it. In the mountains, forests, my tax money harvests bodies of dead teenagers, curses of wailing broken men and women. I remember the Syrian boy who came to my kitchen in Europe. His travel across oceans, lorries..his parents waiting to die with the next bomb in Aleppo.

As we wait for bombs, genocides, tornadoes of hate..
May be, should hoard enough of life.

Well made tea..a lethargic afternoon sun, a knock on the stranger's door that may or may not get answered, a drink at the edge of the evening before it falls over, the lazy Saturday when no work gets done, the biriyani which arrives in silver foil, laughter which stumbles on inconsequential things..

Before it all ends.

As I was moving back to India under the premiership of Hitler, with a Muslim name in my passport; my mentor who is a European Jew said, "you are too optimistic"

Great platoon commanders of hate wait for us at different time zones of history. Past and future blur with the fiction of today.

May be I should live. Before the concentration camp becomes an industrial complex, before the mob reaches my door, before days sink into a very dark winter.

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, 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


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

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.

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.

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

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

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