War

Caught in a maelstrom of emotions
Held back by taut words
In the familiar company
Of a familiar stranger
I see beads of water drip
Down the sides of our glass
Like reason sliding off words
Which have tasted blood.

And faces contort in ways
Sending shivers down my spine
Because here comes the killing blow
The sweeping gesture of finality
Woven using judgemental syllables
With strings of papercuts down
Our skin while ink marks of dignity
Hang by the skin of our teeth.

We fight proxy wars unbeknownst
To each other in our minds and hearts
Because we’ll be okay that way won’t we
We can be strangers that way again.

Can’t we?

Dear Mumbai

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for four years, I have called you home.
my roots might lie elsewhere,
but here i learnt to fly.
here i learnt to never compromise on the things which matter,
or the people who do.
here i fell in love, again and again,
and patched up heartbreak with lyric and rain.

i’ve navigated your shadows,
sung your songs,
written poems for your seas and for your twilight.
i’ve seen night turn to day
through spirit stained glasses.
walked lanes and bylanes
through wafting smells of food
and the chorus of hundreds of voices
singing the same song
in different languages
using different words.
i’ve died and lived here so many times
i have lost count.

you have been my co-conspirator,
my muse, my riotous palette;
my symphony and my cacophony.
you’ve accepted my darkness and my light
my kinks and foibles
my love and my other demons.

friends and lovers,
sea-spray and laughter.
rains and dusks,
trains and shadows.
dregs of dreams
distilled in alcohol
as poems, songs we forget.
you shall be missed.
see you around. đŸ™‚

Photos by the superb Aneel Neupane. Check out more of his work here

Sikkim Part I – Aritar

I have always had a thing for the hills, travelling to different places in the Himalayas as a kid with my parents. Our yearly trip to the Himalayas was something I used to look forward to all year back then. When I decided that I would travel as much as I can all of 2014, it was only natural that a lot of those travel destinations would end up being in the Himalayas.

Though I had travelled to Goa in February that year, Sikkim was my first proper trip of 2014. A friend had offered to host me if I ever came down there, and I decided it was high time I take her up on the offer. Having a place to crash made things easier for me since I was on a tight budget of sorts. This, however, was not my first trip to Sikkim. I’d been here as a kid in the early 90’s with my family, and then again spent a whole month here in 2001 when my uncle was posted here. It felt comfortable to answer the call of the hills by going someplace i was already familiar with. It was a short 4 day trip (partly due to budget), and I travelled there by the cheapest means possible – taking a train from Sealdah (in Kolkata) to New Jalpaiguri, and then a 5 hour shared car ride to Gangtok. A lot of my trip involved plans to roam around Gangtok, get good food, play with the 3 dogs at the place I was staying and chill in general. There were two places we decided to visit outside the city; the monastery at Aritar, and the Changu & Nathula stretch.

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The three gorgeous and extremely lazy dogs that I shared my time there with.

Aritar monastery is one of the oldest monasteries of Sikkim; located at 4600ft. and around 4 hours from Gangtok, it provided the perfect day’s getaway. Sunny weather, pretty roads and good music kept us company on the way. We actually found it a bit hot there, not the weather one would expect from Sikkim in March. By the time we reached it was noon, and were glad to be out of our jackets while we soaked in the sun. At the base of Aritar is the Lampokhari Lake, which turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. A small lake which was originally one of the oldest natural lakes of the state but has recently been converted to an artificial one, it is the only lake to provide boat rides. That, and the concrete embankments takes away part of the beauty of the lake. The walk around the lake was however a lovely experience. Being a weekday, the place was almost deserted and we circled all the way round, stopping midway for quite some time at a temple present by the bank.

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The real surprise lay on top of the hill, at the monastery. The place itself was not particularly ornate. We found the monastery to be a few buildings around a field where 10 odd monks in training, all between 4-7 years old, were playingplaying with a football made out of gunny bags and string. We sat there for almost an hour while they played on, oblivious to the world around them.

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The kids did come over to us to have pictures taken. There was a grocery shop beside the field where we went to get hot tea for ourselves and chocolates for the monks; the owner said that the the kids join the monastery while very young, though they do get to go home on weekends.

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This was by far the best match of football I had seen in a long, long time.

We drove back as the sun was setting, nodding off occasionally in the car. It had been an idyllic day, and not quite how I had envisaged the trip would be at that point. But considering that the trip was supposed to be more getaway less adventure, the relaxed day provided us the perfect opportunity to unwind as well as rest up and prepare for the next day’s adventure – Changu and Nathu la.

Stranger Land – part II

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Yellow green ochre brown
laying a silent trail
to the crown where
the air meets the sky.
The thunder and rainkiss
before the mirrorlake ripples
to the dreams of clouds
with a bit of coffee smoke
mixed up in it on the way down.

Later, as the sun sets over rainbow puddles
on patchwork cobblestones
the tiny boats huddle together
to trade stories of the day’s adventures
and other such mundane things,
And as the trinkets in shops go
softly out of focus at dusk,
we leave our reflections behind
in the lake and breathe deep
the memories wafting out as
graffiti and smoke and melody.
Hold in a bit of this stranger land forever.
This way, every tale from now on
will be of Adventure
and other such mundane things.

stranger land – part I

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Patchwork cobblestone roads
colours and lights and prisms
of goldenhued footsteps
and smiles of deep blue skies
with a chance of rain.
Courts of pigeons in flight
from everyday mundane
leaving momentary fairytales
in their wake. Nobody notices but
Tunes from bylanes and smoke in
the rooms between songs flow even
as out of focus raindrops and
crystal hues peek through windows.
This city is a morningdew song.