18 July, 2014

On translation

Two decades

A chance meet after a score of years,
Once again, after a decade or two --
By the rustle of rice stalks
In an Autumn wind --
When evening brings the nesting rooks
 In the midst of river reeds and waving grass

 In the hunt for dewdrops by soaring kites
 Swooping gently like the droop of sleeping eyes
 By the windows of the gnarled trees
 Shadows pooling in the eventide
 Crawling in the bracken as in our childhoods lost
 With the mist of two decades entwined
 If, timeless, we were to meet again!


 -- Inexact translation from "Abar bochhor kuri pore", Jibanananda Das.





Snowbird, blue skies

Snow bird in a blue sky
Soon to melt without a trace
Too harsh the honest glare of day
And Summer's fields of parched, cracked clay.

03 July, 2014

To look back a stranger

 It's bright and sunny, the poolside is awash with tanning beauties and I'm resisting the urge to sneak away for a quick puff. On a whim, I realize many of us as children often dreamed of having a day in our life like this. The Sunday's rest: blue skies, blue waters, deck-chairs, barbeque and sun-tan.



  Reminded of a snatch of conversation that draws me back about three years ago. Too tired and dulled by the sun to trace the thread that connects the present to that time.

 "You know - most of what you do is so that you can talk about it later." T's crazy-eyed gaze, always challenging, always alluring. I knew she was half-crazy, that's why I wanted her.

 Feigned chuckle. "Huh?"

"Yes. Years later, when you're a lonely lonely old man, you would sit like some ridiculous  feudal zamindar and tell the youngsters that whatever they did, you had done before. Writing, poetry, trekking, debate, drama, painting. A bit of everything, but nothing in reality. Ami ekkale shob korechi. Just so that you can do your 'been there, done that' shit. That's your real reason."

 T had a habit of painting pictures with her words. Probably a side-effect of her Murakami obsession and usual  daze.

 It was comforting to cut off that conversation with cheap chilled beer (a delicacy not to be scoffed at in a sweltering Calcutta summer). And blame her madness upon something that came disconcertingly close to the truth.

 

goodnight julia


 Cowboy Bebop is the best anime, and one of the best series, I had been luckily able to watch while growing up.

 The saxophone of Goodnight Julia always brings back a skinny kid watching Animax, dreaming of Orcs, lightsabers and a passage offworld from his personal Tatooine. And of course, the wonderfully bleak dystopia, the mock-western bravado, the Julias that often shape our lives, unwittingly.

21 June, 2014

travelogue

 For a person who has spent most of his life rooted to a single city, traveling anywhere is both wonderful and a bit of an adrenaline-rush.

  The travelogue now stands: Calcutta, Amherst, New York, Boston.

 Attending a conference where you have no publications is a curiously cringeworthy predicament. As a friend at the workplace sagely advises - the solution is simple: get published. The publish or perish credo of academia has never been more prominent.

 Anyhow, one more place to be added to the not-so-very-impressive list thanks to aforementioned conference - Columbus, Ohio. That checks off the mid-West. Phew!

 It's been a year of my PhD. I have counted stars, jogged on acorn-strewn trails, imitated whales (yes) and grumbled about long-distance relationships. Done zero research.

 Today, in 4 hours time, I shall be most pleased to do a Rick rendition. "Of all the gin joints ..."

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