Tuesday, December 16, 2014


“Mama, why do they call coriander cilantro?”
“We call it that too, sometimes.”
“No, it’s Chinese parsley.”
“That sounds like medicine!”
“Only if you get your medicines from the Hakim.”
Those are witch-doctors, but Ayurveda is a real science.”
“India never even had witches. Hakims are just herbalists.”
“Something has to give: 
     tourists spend exorbitantly for those homeopathic sugar-pills.”
“Whatever you say, but none of that stuff lead to fMRIs.”
“Maybe it did. Even if they don’t publish about it, allopathists still eat it!”
“You know that coriander is actually medicinal right? 
     There’s empirical evidence.”
“Yes. Grandmother used to put kothimbeer on swellings,
     and they went down right away.”
    “Is that coriander? The guy at the bodega calls it dhaniya.”
“Google says they’re both Hindi; just like English has two words for it.”
And it’s not a bodega. He’s a street vendor.”
Sabzi-wallahs can be street vendors or not—”
“Mine comes over if I text him; beats the queues at Reliance FreshMart.
“—Thela is what we call it. Yes, and it’s healthier, straight from the farm.”
“That’s a cart. A street-cart.”
“Well, it’s not exactly a cart…”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Evergreen Creepers

New creeps up,
Behind your ears,
Over you shoulder.
You will hear yourself-
In someone else's voice.
Smile, with a pained heart:
Pending disapproval,
And the elusive, 
skating-rink which is acceptance. 

When new creeps up:
Love yourself like you never could.
Who else is there to love? 
The time of hope and butterflies
Has flown too far away, 
Just like you have.
Horizons are just lines today, 
They are not borders that represent:
Fresh starts from withered heights, 
Where life continues, stubbornly on. 

Yet, when new creeps up, 
You too should be onwards. 
Pointed ahead, heedless of the fact that 
Change never tells you:
That it's the person standing right behind you, 
In every forsaken supermarket line.
Old friends are old questions.
Or, suddenly in your hand
Metal is a savior
From empty conversation; 
In rooms that are portraits of
Nostalgia, not truth. 

New creeps up
and asks difficult questions:
Maybe I'm really a cat person
Maybe I never was in love 
I don't know if I'll ever be?
There are no answers. For:
When it innocuously knocks, 
You will find out:
Lovers are worn concepts,
Carpets, who see too much footfall.
Cats are transient multitudes 
Of lives plagued with
Ifs and buts. 

New creeps up: 
It saunters over, to help you realize
That home lies 
in two or many places.
Your heart's somewhere in between the
Polar forces
of familiarity. 
The forces that take form in all those
Invisible waves and teleported voices,
They seem to repel
All the warm bodies with foreign accents, 
Who home vitality in their strange cadence.
Gravity is meaningless, 
when new discreetly arrives.

New creeps up, and
There are no easy decisions.
Time won't stand still,
Not even for me
(Not even in a daylight-saving land).

But as a cold, shrewd, kindred soul once said:
Regardless of which (equally) fatigued path you tread, 
Tomorrow is always a new day. And
Every uncaged bird will tell you that there is
Agony in bearing an untold story. 
Let me say:
There is nothing more excruciating 
Than conceiving an unlived life. 

So be polite and greet her, 
when new creeps up. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Watchful, as a hawk above a golden field, 
I see myself in your arms. 
It is a dream I cannot shake, 
A thought that once could have passed; 
But now has settled, 
For the long stay. 

Frost-- the world has ended in ice today:
Yes, and your bitter cold is silent. 
Frozen words are sharp stalactites, 
Unseen, they still pierce the heart. 
Yet, I ask: who ever arrived 
that did not depart?

Let us be on our way, and

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dinner with the only Greek Puritan

Dear, dear boy: 
Come on over. 
Sit down. 
Have a drink?
12 years aged, 
It’s not the only icy beast 
In this warm, warm room. 

Here, I like silk ties; 
You’re wearing a sweater, 
Your jacket is leather, 
The clothes aren’t striped, 
But your forehead is furrowed. 

It’s my mistake, 

I made you up more than I listened. 
A man’s locution in a boy’s voice, 
Bellbottoms hugged your fecund thighs. 
How was I to know that I 
would be nervous?
That it would not be me, sitting there? 
No, no, not I, but the meager
(of lucky, lucky me)
across the table from you?
Tomorrow's headlines won't read:
"Anxious artist meets her creation.”

It’s a wonder, but
despite it all, 
I'm almost head-over-heels.
Or I’m just dizzy from all the walking.

With you, I will: loiter and amble--
But only 
If you bring:
The polka-dotted scarf, 
The bauble-lipped snicker, 
Your eyes’ lascivious glimmer--  
Indeed, my faith did flicker:
Be true- was this our very own last supper?

Are you the apostle holding the knife?
And am I rich with unspent coin?
Or was it never supper at all:
Did we merely consume a most ordinary dinner,
Of strange sustenance that only made us thinner?
(Were you also cursed with fanciful expectations?)

Who could ever know? 

I, for one, never knew-
To me, you
were (presently, or perhaps never?)
The ironic fertilizer of my fields:
A hardworking mule, my favorite muse--
Always busy, inciting all the words.
Good! In fair exchange,
I offer you-
Reap my succulence, this sweet fruit:
My (catalyzed) literacy. 

To be sure, it inevitably is
the way of men and Gods:
To come and go.
The fairer ones:
We linger and kiss,
Virtuous, just, until--
The only dilemma is posed.

You are not an easy problem to solve.
But really—
Who could ever have known?

My good sir, please tell me:
Where is Aphrodite when you need her?
We both know:
I am no king of Cyprus.
But be my Galatea and bear me Paphos?
(Secretly, I’ll admit I’m concerned more with the process
than creation.)
Let me not fawn over a deafeningly silent rock!
I console, love with my soul, I understand,
(Lesser, I am consoled, loved and understood.) 
But you’re the oddest oddity, and--
I have quite the collection.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The City that Slept with Me

New York, 
You’ve grown on me.
Like an unruly vine grows on the
wrought-iron gates
of some distinct Bronxville home. 

I promised not to be loved.
After all my sordid love affairs
I promised not to be loved,
But to only love instead. 

You broke my bitter promise, 
And you kept it, all at once-
You’ve loved me like a mother 
Who gives her naked body 
To sustenance. 

New York. 
You've made an unreliably honest 
woman out of me. 

Your winding suburban streets
Have wound themselves right into my heart
And the bursts of air from your city subway vents
Have filled the many crevices of my brain 
And made me a feather-light babe
In love. 

I have parted with my heart, 
On several of your streets and intersections.
And given many a cavernous kiss, 
On your numerous rooftop bars.
And, I too have marveled 
at the droves of your electric stars 
As I joined them in a fast-walking-city heaven; 
Like everyone, with googlemaps open

Your labyrinth of expository village walks
Have worked me into a sweating, heaving mess.
And Ive felt the tingles when 
Your crowded subways thrust 
Nostalgic smells like Old Spice
upon me. 
Indeed, even the bee-line buses’ warm heaters,
Have made me moan in delight 
On not just one, 
But many a frigid evening. 

But no, 
I won't say I'm in love. 
For you have patiently taught me that 
There are dangers in no-filter.
And in forgetting that people are kindred strangers.
But still:
I knew the stubborn truth last night, 
When the sight of your skyline brought a smile
To the very edge of my ears.

I'm only a brief visitor to the intricacies of love, 
Just like every other 
museum perusing
not-quite New Yorker.
But I do see the overwhelming substance of it:
Just like every other 
overspent adventurer
and transitional passenger. 

And, it inspires me to know:

I once left home for ye*, New York. 
But today, I'm coming home to you. 

*Until familiarity provides such liberties,
An enclave, as it is, shouldn’t be singular.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gandalf, who is dearly missed.

The air is a little heavier today, 
happier too
With you afloat in it somewhere
What we needed must have been given:
Mother always sung me to sleep, 
“Don’t you worry, my darling child, 
Providence has a heart of gold;
Now, now, don’t cry.”

But little girls grow in strange ways.

They learn to hate the silly things like
The sweet smell of sweat, and
The buttery soft grease of their scalps,
The bruises of childhood that 
Scream of trees climbed and glass doors broken, 
Of dogs outrun, brothers overtaken...
And the slightest of sometimes: 
Of learning that love can be angry, 
And very, very real. 

We grow in strange ways, 

But find hope in all the usual suspects:
And you know that you were one of them. 
I've held your hand and felt your peace, 
And let it dance me to the rooms of joy:
And given you thanks by questioning my motivations. 
(At Christmas time, you were the man 
who asked your grandchildren to gift you 
their favorite candy.) 


The air is a little heavier today. 
But, it’s happier too,
With you afloat in it somewhere. 
You will waft into 
All the long white beards, 
And soft, deliberate voices; 
All the electric rooms, 
And chocolate covered almonds
That I will one day see again
Many, many times. 

And when you do come,

Adrift on the zephyr of a sunny morning, 
Just to whisper in my ears
Your precious, precious words 
of encouragement: 
I should hope to let you know that 
I did grow-
I comfortably filled:
The shade of my brown 
The way my lips are sort of dark
And the quiet place that truly holds my heart,
The majestically mundane solace of 

A place that could never be but named 

After you. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014


It’s a long day when 
the cold persists
and a cold persists 
and there isn’t anyone to 
talk with.

Green dots are grey.
Green dots lie to my face.

Remote controls
and faces afar: people I know 
so well… 
With bodies I’ll never touch
And stories that are trapped
In electricity. 

But at least they 
They are connected
I’ll never be afraid to cry to them.
When I laugh I'm not scared to
Show them all my teeth. 

Long days which 
Long nights. 

They’ll ease into mornings. 
You’ll see the light. 
Bright, warm days are ahead 
Spring doesn’t know how to wait. 
It’s everywhere, springing

And then
When I want to talk 
I will have flowers to talk to 
And birds to sing me to sleep.
Although I know
Screens talk,

They do not speak. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


I have a flyaway soul. 
There is an anthology of song, barely hidden
Underneath the eyelids of the winds
that blow through me. 
An anthology you may never see. 

My flyaway heart
Is a page folded in half. 
The woman in me is strong.  
With a firm grip she will:
Lead you into her ocean of thought. 
She never seems to hesitate;
But she never rushes in. And
Every time you win, 
You wonder what made her concede.

My flyaway heart
Is a page folded in half. 
You may only ever meet the little girl in me
On days I won’t be convinced of my beauty. 
Shy, vulnerable, naively trusting:
Mischievous enough to have my way by agreeably smiling
and letting you think you’re wielding something that could be mine
In a skipped heartbeat, 
Or a twinkling eye. 

I have a flyaway soul.
You could be a friend who knows
My fierce loyalty and unabashed honesty. And once you
Give me your worst to tame,
You’ll be a grateful friend who knows I do not disapprove. 
Perhaps you’re a friend who’s learned over time
The familiar drink with me is about 
All the ludicrous stories that are stubbornly true-
you’ll laugh till you cry, I’ve been a purple elephant for you. 
And maybe you know, I can tell you everything inside me in a 
bear hug or handclasp, only uttering quiet silence.

My flyaway heart 
Might once have been yours. If you know that 
I love my own skin enough to know exactly how to- 
never forgetting to blink- get deep under yours. 
Or you could be a lover in who I am incapacitated 
A soldier’s first sweetheart; tethered to an almost broken promise.
Too lost in the moment to see it’s brevity. 
And it certainly was once yours, and in part ever will be, 
if you’re someone perfectly beautiful and I broke you coldly.
Or are ever still a woman or man who’ll always wonder  
what you might have seen if  you’d caught onto my tail
as I flew into the night, instead of letting me slip away. 

No one ever captures flyaway soul standing still, 
It only stays perched long enough for one:
single-faceted, uni-angular, ankle-deep picture. Just one
Frozen moment in time. 
You can know a flyaway heart if you dance with it,
step matched to step.  
And surprise yourself to know that you knew all along:
I can choose to be a wildcard, 
I can choose to be a ticket home, or
I can choose not to choose at all. For 

I have a flyaway soul. 

Monday, March 3, 2014


I’m screaming ‘love’ from way above the rooftops. 

I suffer from the insanity of sinning repeatedly: I have broken tacit laws and become emotionally attached. I have dared to remember that love is a beautiful thing, too beautiful for fear to keep me away. 

I’m tossing a gold coin with pain on one side and love on another, and I have won every time:

For love has held my hand through the world of roses, poets, and art. It has given me music to match my feet that dance to the tune of being in love. It’s made me give into the thrill of crossing stars, the pleasure of being on edge everyday when ‘casual’ was a dull, isolated orgasm. 

Love is
a sun-kissed free fall
holding the hand of 
butterflies and uncertainty. 
Of never knowing
Of not caring to be sure
Of hope with a little skip
in your feet
and heart.

I am unafraid. I care for people who do not inhabit my body and mind. I trust to be trusting, I love to be loving. I am a light who shines to shine, 

fearless of being seen. 


of closing my eyes
To a child-like despondent waiting
of looking at life 
Like an endless “find me” puzzle
that’s hiding all the vital signs. 
Of loving learning
Of things new
Of people’s secrets:
their untempered truths. 

Love is in 
the hand-clasping
That leaves little shadows on the pavements

the loving feelings
which make a dull living bright and vivid. 

Love is sharing
a full life, a full heart.


I am in love, at your feet. Saying what I feel, holding your hand and marking your neck, missing you in my sleep, letting love songs make me weep: bathing you in the effervescence

of love. 


I am like a waterfall, 
I come from my mother,
who is everything. 

I rush with force and spray you 
with a mist of sparkling drops 
that help rainbows sing.

Surely you know that:
There is no point to me

unless                                                                                              I’m overflowing.

Three Tears

I’ll call the song 
Three tears 
and a glass of champagne.
The woman is always beautiful, 
With soft hair and supple skin
Angel lips that will never let 
you kiss in peace again. 
Her eyes are big, but not wide. 

I’ll call the song
Three tears 
and a staring contest with iMessage. 
She reads quickly, 
And puts together 
Things you fear to say
Even to yourself. 

I’ll call the song 
Three tears 
and a mirror-turned-alarm-clock. 
People always know,
Bad is anything but invisible. 

She stands there with streaks across her face,
Crying till she tastes 
her bitter make-up. 
Always take up 
the cause of a beautiful soul. 

I haven't met an ugly soul.

I’ll call the song
Three tears 
and a world of people who can’t decide. 
Life could be better, 
Life is perfect. 

I’ll call the song
Three tears 
and a heart that can't give to get. 

Songs of three tears
Are not melodious. 
They are dark and 
waiting for the fourth. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Translation: Piya Tora Kaisa Abhiman (Hariharan)

Beloved, what pride is this of yours?
Encumbered clouds have brought the Monsoon,
and the blossoming of Kadam flowers.

From Mathura, four Kahaars have brought the palanquin.


(He) Didn't come, didn't come:
The deeply colored,
Saffron-skinned; lover of mine
(Didn't come)

My courtyard is left silent and mundane, deserted.

Beloved, what pride is this of yours?
(That causes you to do this?) 
You have shed and let flow water from your own eyes, 
You made for yourself: your very own river Jamuna, thus.

And bathed in it a hundred thousand times.
Still, your bath just doesn't finish; 
(it seems purposeless)

(Even at the end) 
Dry hair, an unkempt facade
Heart lifeless.
(Your sins will never be washed away)

Beloved, what pride is this of yours?

I beseech you friend, 
Tell me, why should I dress up?
No more do I want to wear bangles or necklaces.
(I want only to)

Only cover my body with sandalwood,
Sandalwood is akin poison. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014


My secret window stands without a wall.
It shows me the only world I know, 
The only world I've barely discovered. 

Blue bird whisper to me softly,
A new story or three everyday. 
Old women are mocked endlessly, 
I'm a scapegoat in my teens
Because I learned what you taught me. 

Secret window, where's your wall? 
The curtains only move to reveal all I know,
The same that I've barely even discovered.

A world of people hurt, and hurt for pleasure. 
A world of chain smokers
And naysayers
And lives
I don't know how to save.


We’re growing children of life. 
With silly pranks on the tips of our 
elongating fingers
and crocodile tears
In big eyes that our faces have still to match. 

You are a ray of sunshine and a beam of moonbright
I am a glittering waft of perfume that blows through
you like a summertime song. 

We’ve loved with hearts that are growing into love
and taken and given and hidden and sought. 
But honey cannot be turned into 
the bitterness of neem. 

I cannot carry hate in my heart 
Or anger in the trembling of my neck
Right under my ears 
In the back, 
Where my eyes are not. 

For we look towards tomorrows. 
And we are children that must know happiness 
It is what has built our bodies
And it is the food we give our hearts. 

I am a growing child. I am feeling things
for the first time. 
I am also a spring that surprises you on a walk
To a mountain 
that is aflame with the rising sun
And flows and bends and knows
That mountains can be carved. 

I learn from my heart. 

Let us be the bees and flowers who kiss
And grow and spread
And live through one another.
We are young and there is time
to take root in an orchard 
Where we will find the trees we want to take root by
When we learn how to share the sunlight. 

Let us be the bees and flowers who are friends
And carry love with us
For it is not physics
(Who was once a man to me) 
And is allowed 

To make our burdens lighter.  


You're beautiful in the night.
A glowworm nest broke on the ceiling,
I'm mesmerized and 
Falling again.

Banks are closed in the night,
The streets are empty,
Taxi rides are quick and then 
I'm with you.

We say these too much:
Lovers sing of joy and smiles
Of certainty and the bright
Of the day's morningsong.
We are creatures of the frigid night-

Nightbird, you have a prettier call
Pity it's so deceptive.

We are in a freezer right now,
Frozen into each other for better or worse,
Summer will come and we will
Defrost and flow
And know 
If or not we come from separate shores.

For now nightbird, fly to me and sing.
Let me brush away your tears and fears,
With my tongue and fingertips
I am a smooth talker,
You are a night of bliss.

You're a blanket.
The night is snowy cold.
I want the whole world to know:
I'm falling again.

The lips of death give frosty nighttime kisses.
We're never going to fly to the Caribbean.
Because nightbirds,
Don't fly into the sun.

Except for
When they do.

I wonder with ifs
Hope that skips
In a 
Summersea heart.

Will you?