Sunday, 6 May 2018


Could it be
so out of my ordinary 
that I would think of 
this place as such.
Wood, and sand
some rocks and
a coral reef regrown
two fish, seaweed 
and a pile of shells I found. 

When this place 
reduces my life to 
simple elements -
glass, stone
metal and plastic. 
Just things,
bereft of intricate meanings 
and high frequency waves
designed to manipulate. 

I will live, for now 
on worn out fishing boats
that stay grounded 
repurposed, recycled,
to carry more weight 
on land
Than they did 
on water.
Miraculous, just being
here, now, 
in this moment. 


Wednesday, 2 May 2018


you cruel thief
You give me
a present
And yet,
all futures come
like the next days torn wrappings,
taking bits of you away
on the coat tails
of sticky tape.


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Searching for the Goddess

Rivers, unlike seas, carry fresh water instead of salty water, and that is why it is said that they bring life to the land. Ancient cities were born and flourished on the banks of mighty rivers. It is this life-giving role of a river that enables one to call it mother, assigning most rivers in the world to the female gender. We all know the famous Ganga and her sister the Yamuna; but today it seems fitting to talk about the mysterious Saraswati. It is said, that parts of the Rig Veda were written on her banks, and so, it is no small wonder that she is considered a river of great importance, and mentioned in post Vedic texts as well as in Vedic Sanskrit. It is also inevitable, that the river Saraswati, personified in time as a Goddess, came to be known for her purity, as well as the teacher and patron of students of wisdom, language, speech, music and the visual arts.

The Goddess Saraswti had several attributes that made her stand out amongst the other Goddesses; the many stories of her birth are fascinating, (any well-placed Google search will share this with you). However, as far as origin stories go, I find this one to be my favourite.

This drying up of the river, (Saraswati), was a turning point in many of the beliefs of the people, and is noted in the Upanishads. Here, this act is explained in a myth. The Gods wanted someone to transport "fire" or Agni to the sea. The gods entrusted the Sarasvati River to perform this task. After gaining permission from her father Brahma, Sarasvati gathered up all her waters, and formed a body. She then carried the fire to the sea. The myth holds many symbolic meaning to the religious changes that were developing with the emergence of the Upanishads, as well as the physical changes of the river. The fire in reference, Agni, was the sacrificial fire and served as the link between humans and the gods. Sarasvati's mission was to take this fire and deliver it to the sea, which can be associated with the ocean of consciousness, an aspect of the absolute. In doing so, the fire would become extinguished, and at the same time, would be removed from the world of man. The gods choose the Sarasvati River as the only one able to perform this task. Due to the purity of her waters, and the fact that she is water, she was able to accomplish the task.

In this event, Sarasvati has moved from a sacred river, to a goddess; she is a goddess of purity. She has also deposed of the ritualistic sacrifice as the sole mode of reaching the gods and the absolute. As mentioned in the Upanishads, the sacrifice changes from fire and rituals, to an internal process. In pursing knowledge, a sacrifice of the self is necessary to exit from the karmic world. In this knowledgeable state, the person becomes liberated through disciplines of the body, breathing, and mind. As a result, from removing the sacrificial fire and replacing it with a sacrifice of the self through obtaining knowledge, Sarasvati has now become the goddess of knowledge and learning.’

And so, the River Saraswati was not only a bringer of life and culture to a civilization, but also an agent of change; and finally a role model of sacrifice as she gives herself up in the process of flowing to the ocean through the desert lands she is said to have dried up over, (or, is perhaps now, flowing under).

I tell this story because, even now, the life of the Goddess is tied to the river. Beside the famed Kumartuli in Kolkata, flows the Hooghly River, a distributary of the Ganga. Every year, a trinity of Goddesses emerge from her womb; Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga. These three aspects of the divine feminine, by turn take center stage in worship and then are returned to the sacred place from where they came- the river.

Bamboo, cut down from groves upstream comes in on barges, and is deposited on the banks of the river that flows by the train lines and the potter’s quarters in Kumartuli. These lay submerged in the water, till they are softened and bendable. These will form the skeleton of the Goddess Saraswati; the bamboo structure upon which straw will be tightly bound, creating the muscles and sinew of the Goddess.  A mixture of clay dredged up from the bottom of the river will coat the figure, becoming her skin. Her head will be sculpted out of the same grey clay and affixed onto the body. More clay will be mixed with jute and applied onto the body, creating the folds of her clothes. She will be painted and decorated vibrantly, in her symbolic colours; her pets and associated demigods will surround her. When all these elements are in place and her body is finally a fit home to house her spirit, her energy is invoked, a mantra is whispered and she finally takes up temporary abode in this beautifully appointed home.

At the end of the puja, Saraswati is returned home. When her spirit returns to the ethers, her body made of earth and water is returned to the river. She merges back into the earth, the universal mother, the womb. Like her namesake, the ancient hidden river, she disappears, awaiting those diligent enough to seek her out again.  

A big thank-you to Manjit Singh Hoonjan, who took me through some amazing spaces in his city; all the while reminding me of the importance of an empty memory card. Those visiting Kolkata, please do look up Calcutta Photo Tours. You won’t be disappointed.  

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Influenza A

Influenza A
I’ve got to say
You really are a piece of work

You invade on sly
You multiply
You are ruthless, shitty and completely berserk

You don’t care for special days
For birthdays or school vacays
Your scruples are most definitely extinct

You greedy, gluttonous piece of shit
Infecting just one person doesn’t cut it
Your idea of fun and mine are clearly inversely linked.

My daughter’s birthday has come and gone
And yet you persist, you linger on
You unwanted, parasitic, germ

Get out of my head and body too
If the dodo is extinct, why not you?
This is most surely the end of your term!

Find some other living tissue for your needs.
Something else on which you feed
The year has ended fiend, now scoot.

Finally, the fevers gone away
But mucus, why the heck do you stay?
2018 please come- give this germ the boot!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017


I am sorry.
I love you.
 I am gathering
my strength.
I say,
Whatever you want.

Whatever, you say.
The day is dead
like that tree outside.
Branches sawed off,
awaiting its final execution.
Its sap, congealed,
 like the words in my throat.
To the back of your head
I say,
Can we talk
finish this.

Whatever... talk.
Outside, a dog barks.
Then silence.

when the day is fresh,
when time has passed,
when our actions over-take our words,
when you open your eyes... tomorrow.
I say,
we can talk tomorrow.