Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Man Sat On The Unused Track Staring At The Salt Pans And Contemplating His Life.

Kieran liked to sit on the unused iron rail. He'd been staying in the building opposite the track even before engineers surveyed the site. He was there when labourers worked through the unsheltered heat and the blackness of the night to lay the track and as trains passed by on the two working tracks beside it, even though none of them made their way over to this loner. He wondered why.

Once upon a time, the land opposite the building, on the other side of the tracks, was full of salt pans. Now, they were all gone. He had heard that buildings were going to rise, seven or more storeys tall, singing out to the skies above. Roads, grey as the monsoon skies, were to be built. The West would finally be populated. But on marshy land, how?

Every morning between seven and eight when the sun was behind his back and not yet strong enough, he sat on the unused rail track pondering things he had never thought of earlier while standing on his balcony.

It was one such day. The 745 Churchgate had just passed him by. He'd leave in twelve minutes. A group of boys passed him by, wanting to play a game of cricket on the hardened land. One of the boys--his name was Roy, though Kieran would never learn of it--stood over him.

"Why do you sit here every day? Come, play with us."

"No, I'm not interested in playing. Why don't you sit with me?" he countered.

Roy thought for a second and sat beside him. The boys hollered at him, but Roy just waved at them. Another train passed behind, the 748 Virar.

"I stay two buildings next to yours. I see you every day here."

"Yes, I like this spot. It's peaceful."

"What if a train stands at this place one day? Where will you go?"

"I doubt this track will remain stranded forever, but I'll decide when that happens; trains have never made their way to this track so far."

"Oh, I never knew that. Why do you think they made this track then?"

"God knows."

Roy remained silent.

"Do you know why you were born?" Kieran spoke again.


"Good. Because I don't know either the reason I was born. We can't explain our own purpose. What can we know about this track?"

Roy just nodded in agreement. The cricket looked inviting now.

Another train whizzed past, the 749 Churchgate.

Kieran spoke again, "I like sitting here. There's noise, there's quiet. It's maddening and peaceful at the same time. How many places like that do you know?"


"Well, you know one now."

Kieran looked towards the boys hitting the ball hard, playing towards the tracks.

"Aren't you concerned that one of you could come under a train while fetching the ball from the tracks?"

"Yes, but what else can we do anyway? There's nowhere else we can play."

The 753 Virar passed by.

"I'll leave in five. Then you can go play with your friends."

"Oh. I was enjoying this. What time do you come here? I'll come earlier tomorrow."

"I'm here at seven. But I don't think you'll see me here again."

"Why not?"

"I enjoyed the solitude."

"Oh. I'm sorry, I didn't know I disturbed you."

"No, no. It isn't your fault. You're curious and it's a good thing to be."

Kieran looked back.

"That's the 757 Churchgate. I'll take your leave now." Kieran stood up.

"You know what I liked most about this place? The unrestricted view. And it'll all be gone one day. Goodbye!"

Roy looked on as Kieran waited till the 757 passed by on track two. He turned around to look at the stark land in front of him. He then heard ghastly screams. The boys stopped playing and the ball went, as it was left unprotected, to the square leg boundary. Roy turned around. The 758 Virar had hit Kieran.

The next day, at seven, Roy walked past the tracks, carefully looking both sides before crossing, eager to sit at the same spot as Kieran. It was no longer unused though as a tired train had finally found its resting home there.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Hairfall (Skyfall Parody)


Co-written by Jahan Singh Bakshi and Runcil Rebello.

(To be sung to the tune of Adele's Skyfall)

Verse 1:

This is your hair,
close your eyes and shampoo 'em,
feel your hand through your hair,
see your hair glow again.

Your shampoo sucks,
your hair is lost and stolen,
so overdue you owe self,
a shampoo brand new.


If your hair falls,
and it rumples...
we will shampoo
and wash it all

If your hair falls,
and it rumples...
We will shampoo
and wash it all together...
This hair fall.
That hair fall.

Adele's Hair: Shiny and Silky due to our Shampoo's Charm

Verse 2:

Hair fall is where we start,
the dandruff and lice apart,
where black meets white
and hair is dry.

You may have my conditioner,
you can tame that mane,
but you'll never have my shine.


If your hair falls, (if your hair falls)
and it rumples (and it rumples)...
We will shampoo (we will shampoo)
and wash it all together

If your hair falls, (if your hair falls)
and it rumples (and it rumples)...
We will shampoo (we will shampoo)
and wash it all together...
This hair fall.


No more hair fall,
use our shampoo,
give us a call.

Verse 3:

When you call, we receive.
What you care for, we do.
We know you'd never laugh.
Without our security.
Keeping you from harm.
Is our shampoo's charm.
In your hand,
take our can,
and let it spray.

Our Shampoo comes in sachets that look like cool Bond Gadgets too.

If your hair falls, (if your hair falls)
and it rumples (and it rumples)...
We will shampoo (we will shampoo)
and wash it all together

If your hair falls,
(if your hair falls)
and it rumples (and it rumples)...
We will shampoo (we will shampoo)
and wash it all together...
This hair fall.


No more hair fall,
use our shampoo.
No more hair fall.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Carnival

I was given five words by my friend Cheryl to incorporate in a story. Those five words were: shallow, burnt, forehead, butter and window. The story lies ahead.
I’ve used Konkani in the story. The spellings are highly dubious; the meanings aren’t.
Sussegado: contentment. (pronounced as sus-eh-gaadh)
Dhaar uktem kor: Open the door.
Soglem ekhuch gho: It’s all the same.
Yeh ghe poishem yeh moinyechem: Take this month’s money.
Borem haan: It’s good.
Konkani shikla chhedu: The girl has learnt Konkani.
Chhedo borom haan: The boy is good.
Deo borem kor: Literally means God Bless You. But is used in various instances like wishing someone good night or thanking someone.
Mami: Mom’s sister.

A deep cut would have been better. Even a burnt finger wouldn’t have hurt as much. Staying alive was one thing; staying alone another. Claire was bored. And alone. And she knew not what to do. She’d tried reading the Stephen King and Murakami that she had beside her bed. Hernan had sent a few CDs over with the newest movies, but she had watched just one from it. Midnight in Paris. For a day or two, she too wanted to return to the past. To the city of Bombay where she had a few friends.
“Goa is fine for me when it’s a holiday. I can’t dream of staying there. Maybe when I’m old; after I retire. When I want to be lazy, when I’m content with life. Sussegado. Not now; it’s too soon,” Hernan had said, sitting with Claire at Marine Drive, the evening before she was to leave for Mapusa.
“You’re scaring me, Hernan.”
“Oh! Don’t be. Who knows, you may like it. Solitude is plenty there. That’s what you want, right?”
Loneliness was what she was experiencing now. She looked out of her first floor window towards the bus station. A horde of travellers were entering Goa; most dressed in the floral shirts and Goa-print tees that she had come to know Goans hated. It was 9 am and Carnival time. She’d go to watch the one at Panjim that evening. But she had nothing to do for the rest of the day.
The sun was beating down on her forehead. It was still not hot, not the sweltering heat Mapusa experienced later during March. Her short hair would keep her from sweating. She had been to the beaches so often since she’d landed in Goa that she had tanned herself. She was dreading travelling in the summers, but it was still February now, so it was fine. She slept with a bedsheet every night. She tossed about and by the morning the bedsheet was lying at the bottom of the bed. She woke up slightly later than usual. Establishments were by and large shut down in Goa for four days due to the Carnival.
“They just need an excuse,” Claire had told Hernan over the phone the night before.
“Man, what I’d not give to be in your place! Work here is killing me.”
“You’re the one who wanted it, Hernan. Don’t cry.”
“I’m not crying!” Hernan screamed. “I’m just saying.”
“Just saying, my foot! Have you had dinner?”
“We ordered butter chicken. Looks like I might have to stay till one or two tonight.”
“You should start looking out, you know.”
“I am. I am. You should too.”
Claire looked at her calendar. It was the 15th. The landlady would come anytime now. It was already past nine. She went about clearing her dishes when she heard a knock on the door.
“Clara!” the matron hollered. “Dhaar uktem kor.”
“Coming.” Claire shouted and ran to open the door. “Aunty Marie, my name is Claire. How many times should I tell you?”
“Claire, Clara, soglem ekhuch gho,” Aunty Marie said. She was the typical Goan aunty Hernan had told her about. Sweet, short hair, and wore a dress. Her English was passable, but she was fluent in Konkani. Claire had heard the 45 year old sing at the morning mass on Sundays too. She liked her.
“Yeh ghe poishem yeh moinyechem,” Claire said. She had learnt a little Konkani in the past ten months.
“Borem haan. Konkani shikla chhedu,” Aunty Marie said counting the money. “Going for Carnival?”
“Yes aunty.”
“You going with any friend?”
“No aunty. I am alone. I’ll be going by myself.”
“Borem. See, my nephew is come from Bombay. He wants to go for Carnival but no one at home free today. Can you take along?”
“Your nephew?” Claire hesitated. She would have preferred company, but she did not know the nephew.
“Don’t be scared, Clara. Chhedo borom haan. You want to meet?” Aunty Marie asked politely.
“Be careful of these Goan aunties. We could be very good matchmakers if we wanted to, you know,” Hernan had said the first time Claire told him about Aunty Marie.
“Come on ya, you tend to generalise everything,” Claire rebuked him.
“If I don’t generalise my own people, who will?” Hernan asked innocently over the phone.
“I’ll give you his phone number, Clara. You speak to him when he comes back, okay? He’s gone to the market. Here, take his number. Five…” Aunty Marie started after seeing Claire’s phone in her hand.
Claire saved his number to realise that she did not know his name. She cried out to Aunty Marie, “What is your nephew’s name, aunty?”
“Savio, Clara. Savio D’souza.”
“Savio,” Claire entered his name. “Deo borem kor, aunty.”
“Deo borem kor.”
Claire shut the door and wondered what to do. Should she call him or just go alone? She did not even know the guy: how he looked, who he was. Nothing. She decided to log onto Facebook to see if she could come up with something.
She logged onto the social networking site that had been her lifeline for the past few months. She typed Savio D’souza in the search box only to come to face with at least fifty results. Savio D’souza was a very common Goan name.
“Savio, Joseph, Francis, Peter, Paul, you’ll find one at every street corner and sausage shop in Goa,” Hernan told her that evening at the Drive.
“Why is your name so different then? Hernan.”
“Ask my mother; don’t ask me. She found this in a book she was reading,” Hernan said as he threw a stone into the water. “Thought it went well with our surname.”
“Hernan Heredia. Hmm.” The sun had set and the Drive’s streetlights had taken over.
“Hello!” said a deep voice on the other side.
“Hello,” Claire said softly.
“Hello, who is this? Can you speak louder?”
“Hello, hello!” Claire spoke in a slightly louder voice which was still shaky. “Is this Savio? I’m Claire speaking.”
“Who Claire?” Savio said in a highly suspicious tone.
“You won’t know me. Your aunty Marie gave me your phone number. She told me that you wanted to go to the Carnival today and since I was going alone, she asked me to take you.”
“WHAT!” Savio screamed on the other line.
“Yes. Really, Hernan.” Claire told him as he just stood outside her door looking at her. He hugged Claire tightly, something she would come to miss over the next few months.
“Mapusa. Why are you going away ya?” Hernan asked. Claire could not make out if he was happy or displeased.
“I want to. Twenty six years in the same city. I need to see other places too.”
“Oh well, I can’t argue with that.” Hernan said, avoiding Claire’s eyes.
“Of course you can’t argue with her Savio!” Claire said to the 23 year old seated on her couch.
“But how could she just do this without telling me?” Savio sat with his head hung low, not able to meet Claire’s eyes.
“Savio, it would seem as if you think I’m some mean person. The interest you are not showing makes me think I’m worthless,” Claire said, constructing her sentence carefully.
“Oh,” Savio looked at Claire. “Nothing like that, Claire. Nothing like that. You seem like a wonderful person. Just that I would have preferred that Mami had told me first.”
“So what do you want to do now? Claire asked, still weighing every word she uttered.
* * * * *
Claire splashed some water on Savio as he was coming into the water. Bagha was crowded for a weekday but then she reminded herself that it was the Carnival.
“So how many more days, Savio?” Claire asked while Savio threw some water on her.
“A week more, and I’m back to Bombay,” Savio said as he stood still looking at the people enjoying themselves around him.
“So you still think you shouldn’t have come to the Carnival with me the other day?”
“Actually I told myself I’d go when you told me on the phone itself. It all depended on how beautiful you were though,” he said nonchalantly. “I’m quite shallow that way.”
Claire looked at him and then both burst out laughing.
“I’ll come to Bombay to meet you,” Claire said.
“Or maybe I’ll come to Mapusa to meet you.” Hernan said.
“You won’t forget me, will you?” Claire asked.
“Are you crazy?” Savio shouted, and hugged Claire.
They continued walking on the seabed. There was still some time for the sun to set. Claire’s foot tripped over a log in the water.
“Does it hurt?” Savio asked.
“No, not as much as I was hurting a few days ago.”
“That’s pleasing to hear,” Hernan said softly, when he called her that night.
“What happened?” Savio repeated.
“Nothing,” she smiled.
Hernan smiled too. Claire turned around to walk inside the airport. She waved to her parents and younger brother. But mostly to Hernan.
“I love you,” she mouthed.
“I love you too.” Savio said as they wrote their names on the Bagha sand.
The Carnival had begun in Mapusa.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

In The Dark, They Love.

They find comfort in the darkness;
youngsters raise their arms.
They love freely without the prying eyes of voyeurs.
They love freely with the prying eyes of voyeurs.

They follow the trail of their passion
as Eros leads them on.
Eros and Erebus smile, happy.
The lovers, fearless, as they embrace

the uncertainties around them.
These blithe silhouettes dance into the night.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bittersweet Home

So I wrote these few lines with some semblance of a rhythm. It's about Bombay and how bittersweet it is to the people here. Anyone sweet enough to put a tune to it?

Bittersweet Home

Verse 1

Sitting in the sunset’s light,
screaming for some closure.
The waves come and pass me by
the darkness is my torture.
They say life moves too fast over here
This is the city that never sleeps.
But how can they just pass me by?
Not paying attention to the girl that weeps.


She asks too much of you.

She takes as much as she gives you.
She nurses you all night,
and then spits you out, all pale and trite.
She loves you just as much as you love her.
Like a silhouette, I can never trust her.
I love her so, oh my Lord!
The Drive, trains, beaches and tetrapods.

Verse 2

I travel in the train at night,

I’m losing my composure.
The breeze whips my hair
Telling me it’s all over.
I’ve seen stories born and die each day here.
This city ain’t for the meek.
Was I just another face in the crowd
or swallowed for her keep?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

forget. visit. enjoy. love. write.

four water signs
the broken glass

soapy water

bees' knees
kings beer black label

old monk neat
port wine number seven

walk to madhrem

flower girls
you're so cute
bent trees

gujjus at bagha
a museum robbed
a rebelo ancestor
st. francis xavier

eighteen june road
tea market
watering hole
ram manohar lohiya

sweet water lake
sufjan stevens



Friday, February 10, 2012


Born and brought up in Bombay, I've rarely travelled out of this island city. By the time I turned twenty, I'd been to Goa twice; once when I was four years old and the second time when I was ten. I'd been to a few places within Maharashtra as part of school or college trips but those were one day outings spent in the confines of the resort we went to.

Any other town, city or country was pictured in my mind according to the descriptions in books, how it was visualised in films or how it played out in stories told to me by people who were lucky enough to have visited these places.

Thus I had built in my mind certain images of places. Everyone does it, right? For me, Delhi was the political hub. So people would be in safari suits, travel in Ambassadors. I remember Nestle was situated near Connaught Circus. I used to think it was an actual circus with trapeze artists and animals but topped with the essence of coffee and the gooeyness of noodles.

Pune was Poona; I knew the British called it that and they used to go there for their holidays. So I always thought Poona was full of Brit-era bungalows. I somehow also knew it was colder there.

That's the thing if you don't travel much; you have a certain picture of places in your head. We thrive on our imagination and if we come to know a certain place's actuality is different from what we thought it would be, we're disappointed, even living in denial to some extent. People like me, after all, who do not get the chance to travel much have to live it through other means.

Since I've turned twenty, I've travelled quite a bit. I've been to Goa, eleven years after the previous visit (and I'm a Goan. Beat that!) I've been to Lonavala and Nasik. I've been to Pune too. I couldn't situate any of the British bungalows, but I was right about the cold. Also found Pune to be similar to Bombay. MG Road was like South Bombay. Fergusson College seemed as if it was built alongside Xavier's, Wilson and Elphinstone. Pune even had Irani restaurants!

I've yet not been to Delhi though. But when I do, I hope I find the circus with the trapeze artists and animals with the aroma of Nescafe and the slippery Maggi sauntering around it.

Or the child in me will be disappointed that he did not imagine well enough.