Childhood vanished like the bad man in a kid's film, leaving behind dissolving snapshots of the long bus-trip to the grandparents' home through a long empty road they called the Bypass. Then home changed, roads changed, people grew up, grew old, died.
I remember once going back to visit with my dad- that first tiny apartment where my earliest memories are. A big yellow front door and limewashed walls with blue pathes of damp making maps of countries yet undiscovered, a calling bell tune surely dreamt up by a tone-deaf person somewhere and the ceiling fans from a company called 'Ranjan' that I pronounced 'Ran-Jan'. I thought all of that was mine. That all of it was forever. And then one day a truck arrived and we folded our world in straw-lined packing boxes and home became a goodbye in a flurry of moments that slipped out of incomprehending hands. When I went back a few years later everything looked different, though they were there as they had always been- th…


The Quest of Saint George’ by Frank O. SalisburyThe Quest of Saint George’ by Frank O. Salisbury) #1
There’s a kind of relaxation that comes with the experience of travelling, of being transported somewhere without any direct effort on your part- this sense of a flow, of a movement towards somewhere. As the destination draws closer, an anxiety creeps in, because you know that soon, too soon, the bus or the train or the car or the plane or the boat will stop, and you will have to step out of the safe cocoon of passive inaction and be responsible for your own direction again. It’s like the breaking of a spell, or a reverie. But step back and think of the before- the past actions that led you to this journey, and may be finding a new route will become that much easier. Or may be not. Who knows! The ice melts, the oceans part, the forests shift and the maps change all the time. You are on the ride of life anyway, and there is only one destination, eventually. But maybe you can pick up a not…

In Quest of Happiness

Have I drunk of the hemlock? How else do I explain this numbness of the soul?As part of his death sentence, Socrates was offered a cup full of hemlock, and ordered to keep walking after. I read this story in fourth standard history book and somehow remembered that last part- “You must keep walking.” Years later, a professor in college explained that the effect of hemlock begins from the legs and makes its way upward, till it reaches the heart and stops it. And the brain knows the gradual numbing of the toes, the feet, the legs, the thighs… it feels the slow but certain disconnect from everything that orients it in the world, and it knows the assured arrival of death. Sometimes on the infinite cosmic stage, the trappings fall away, briefly, to reveal the utter nothingness of it all. Ennui, we term it. Must I smother my soul daily thus wasting this one, singular chance that comes with an expiry date without an alarm bell? But what feeds a soul if the body dies? The soulless work of days m…


Dusk is a kindred spirit. Have you ever noticed the colour of the twilight sky- light, but not light, dark, but not dark, and the street lights lining the streets- bright and sharp, but not really needed yet- everything seems to be in a vacuum, waiting for something. The rush of the day is over, the rush of the night yet to begin, and the world moves around you in fast forward while you seem to be suspended in slow motion. They pick up tired  smiles, and cheerful anecdotes, and they all have a destination, a goal, and you ask- What is home? Where is home? Why am I going there? And I'll leave again, tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and return in the evenings once again. "...and Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday and Saturday according to the same rhythm"  Is that all that is there? Through the days and weeks and months and years? And for how many years must Icarus fall before he can rest in the sea?

Reincarnationists say that this world is only a temporal scho…

A Letter to My Lost Loves

Will you be my forever, Will you be my light? Shall we walk along the river Hand in hand all night?
When I was 12, my best-friend tried to keep pace, waving as lovers do in slow-motion movie scenes, as our car slowly backed away from my childhood, forever. And I left behind the alphabets in three languages, and numbers, the basketball court that I had never liked anyway, and half my heart. I brought with me memorized phone numbers, and pin codes and promises to keep on a dark snowy road in a bright, hot country.  No wonder they melted. Later, I would learn of the road not taken and ponder on the what-ifs, but that was many many years after love had taken my hand again, when I had forgotten to be surprised even by the absence of pain.
Sometimes I try recalling that 12 year old, to touch some part of that bereaved solitude crying in silence in a class of strangers. Where has she gone? Among my decades old accumulated paperwork, there is an old handwritten essay about visiting old friends. Some…


There’s this word, or idea that I like. Journey. Odyssey. We are travelers in time and space, all seeking, knowingly, or unknowingly our purpose in life. Pilgrimage. That’s another word. Draupadi and her five husbands knew this when they embarked on the final journey of their lives (perhaps a lifelong path of wandering homelessness taught them that) – the one we call the ‘Mahaprasthan’- the Great Exit. And that’s true too. We journey to a purpose while also moving onwards towards the final leave-taking. Estragon and Vladimir were travelers too, even if all they did was wait beneath a dead tree.

But what if our paths are ellipses, an Ouroboros circling Godot? What if we were all just lonely planets lost in our own orbits of individual, inexplicable sorrows? And the hope of meaning and purpose, like the sun, gives us light and life-sustaining warmth, but we can never really touch it, and getting too close would burn and blind us, and so it’s much, much safer to remain content with change…

A Rose by any other Name...

What's in a name, you say?
In Kalimpong I overheard a little girl complaining about the name of the mountain to her father.
"What kind of name is Kanchenjungha? I don't like it."
"And what do you think the mountain should be named?"
"Megha Mountain. Because it touches the clouds."
A while later, as her parents called after her, I realized she had given the mountain her own name. We were leaving, so I didn't get around to asking them, but I have questions.
Did she mean to claim the world as her own, or did she want to become the world? Or did she, as a child, recognize that she was, in fact the world- she was the mountain in the horizon and the clouds kissing its snowy peaks?
Kanchenjungha is a Tibetan name, by the way, meaning 'the five treasures of the snow', named after its five high peaks. The mountain is worshipped by the people of Darjeeling and Sikkim.
And mankind has long worshipped the immensity and beauty in the world, recogn…