Thursday, June 30, 2011

Distance of Sound

Must have by Neha

I travelled a distance to meet sound
The journey went inside me
The journey went outside me
Like two atoms of hydrogen and
one of oxygen coming together to
form water - The H The 2 The O as H2O
One of me merged with an ocean of sounds.

I became the thumping of a drill making
out with brown earth on a sunny Saturday afternoon
I became the deep breath
pulling me to the present moment. Now.

I became the boombox playing a distant song.
The distant song I went and found as I
walked closer and closer and closer.
So close that I felt it in my pulse.
I became the tapping sandals of the girl
in yellow shirt dancing as if boombox got
electricity right out of her.

I became bus tires screeching on dry grey road.
The car engine roaring. The van horn begging
for attention. The volunteer fire truck alarm says
someone needs me. Needs me NOW. A call for help.

I became the laughter of the
little girl in pink dress
swirling around the tree. This is fun.
This is free when nothing is.

I became the voice of men
passing time. Or maybe time was passing them.
The man in oversize safari walking like
a high tide wave. Half drunk half alert.
He says : Hey Baby!

The drill is making out with the brown earth far away.
I enter the gates of historic house of man who broke
the chains - the ones inside mind and out.
I became the sound of wind brushing against my face.

The house sits on a hill watching the neighborhood
like a guardian deity of a kind. I am ready for a hike.
I became the footsteps climbing
the stairs. The breath just a little short of itself.

I became the park service guide's baritone voice.
I became the phone beeping in between. The door
opening. The air conditioner buzzing in the room
where he once sat - the man who broke the chains.

I stepped out to the backyard.
I became the sound of a rite of passage going on
under the shade of crisp green trees.
I became the vocal cords of a Jennifer Hudson
waiting to be found. The African drums beating.
The woman in white reciting a poem.
I became her poem. She called me 'at the crossroads'.

I head back.

I became the birds chirping, crickets electrifying
the afternoon. The motorbike breezing through the
snailing traffic. I became the drill making out
with brown earth. No. This is not the climax yet.

I walk on.

I became the silence of the glass
front of a worn down closed store.
The sticker on my face says :
It must have been here all along.

It must have been. I just heard.
Many voices.
Many beats.
One city.
Welcome to Anacostia.

- Neha

Dedicated to KCDC and Robert Peterson's sound recording immersion!

Cafe Timetravel

Which road to which Rome ? by Neha

Old world cafe in a new world strip mall becomes a coffee grain brewing through the filter paper, living a life between that side and this other world, like the end of morning
frozen in time between sleep and half consciousness - stirred by the
intoxicating smell of coffee they meet to speak of soccer scores,revolutions,
politics,pirates - all in the old world cafe in the new world strip mall
where they seek the flavor they tasted day after day
for many many years but the one they left behind and now they
don't want to let go of how it felt when they sipped the hot fuming coffee
from tiny white ceramic cups with golden engraving while
making slurping sounds - they challenged each other who could make
a louder sound and the crowd joined in the revelry - but that
was old world cafe in the older old world not the old world cafe
in a new world strip mall where engines roar on the highway and pedestrians
are few and far- but they had to leave for the new world where they walk like a plant uprooted from the ground it belongs- here but not quite-
morning frozen in time between sleep and half consciousness
the sun shines outside the old world cafe in the new world strip mall
while the sunsets on the new old world cafe


Friday, June 24, 2011

Ballad of a wilful woman

So she follows the cruel journey
That ends not anywhere,
And dreams, as she stirs the mixing-pot,
She is brewing hope from despair.

- D H Lawrence , From "Look! We have come through!"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Apni Dhun Mein Rehta Hoon

Apni dhun mein rehta hoon
Main bhi tere jaisa hoon

O picchli rut kay saathi
Abke Baras main tanha hoon

Teri gali mein sara din
Dukh kay kankar chunta hoon

Mera diya jalaye kaun
Main tera khali kamra hoon

Apni leher hai apna rog
Dariya hoon aur pyasaa hoon

Aati rut mujhe royegi
Jaati rut ka jhonka hoon

Apni dhun mein rehta hoon
Main bhi tere jaisa hoon

- Written by Nasir Kazmi , Sung by Ghulam Ali

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tyranny of Things

We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny.

--E.B. White, Writer (1899-1985)

We judge because they judge us
We fight because they fight us
We answer their fury with our fury

We become insensitive with our senses
We want to speak so much we forget to listen
We worship the symbols not the meaning

We divide me, you, us, them, they, theirs
We are perfect they are not
We are born of angels they of devils

We use peace forces
We grow tyrannical fighting tyranny.
Such is the tyranny of things


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mary Morison

O Mary, at thy window be,
It is the wish'd, the trysted hour!
Those smiles and glances let me see,
That make the miser's treasure poor:
How blythely was I bide the stour,
A weary slave frae sun to sun,
Could I the rich reward secure,
The lovely Mary Morison.

Yestreen, when to the trembling string
The dance gaed thro' the lighted ha',
To thee my fancy took its wing,
I sat, but neither heard nor saw:
Tho' this was fair, and that was braw,
And yon the toast of a' the town,
I sigh'd, and said among them a',
"Ye are na Mary Morison."

Oh, Mary, canst thou wreck his peace,
Wha for thy sake wad gladly die?
Or canst thou break that heart of his,
Whase only faut is loving thee?
If love for love thou wilt na gie,
At least be pity to me shown;
A thought ungentle canna be
The thought o' Mary Morison.

- Robert Burns

Hotel by a Railroad

Hotel by a Railroad by Edward Hopper (1952)

Listen to me, I ..
Wait with you. Wait for you.
Wait for the early morning train tomorrow .
To visit the home of your childhood.
It has been thirty years
since you went back.
I hear the sound of engine.
This hasn't changed in all these years.
Years since you made castles in sand.

I see you glance outside the hotel
window - looking at the porter.
Are you thinking how you have been
a porter too? In a way. Carrying the
burden. A new one every single day.

I see the pigeons making the sounds
pigeons make. I wonder.
Do pigeons think of porters too?
I wait with you.
Not to settle the past
but to accept it.

I wait for you. To feel my pink satin gown.
This new rose perfume I got for you.
The housemaid has changed the bedsheets
with fresh tea spots and old stains.
I wait for you to change the bedsheets too.
As we take the early morning train tomorrow.


The Old Wisdom

When the night wind makes the pine trees creak
And the pale clouds glide across the dark sky,
Go out, my child, go out and seek
Your soul: the Eternal I.

For all the grasses rustling at your feet
And every flaming star that glitters high
Above you, close up and meet
In you: the Eternal I.

Yes, my child, go out into the world; walk slow
And silent, comprehending all, and by and by
Your soul, the Universe, will know
Itself: the Eternal I.

-Jane Goodall

Saturday, June 04, 2011

You, Your Shadow and Your Reflection

"Reel" by Neha

I see the three of you together
You, your shadow and your reflection
None aware of the other
Yet so visible from where I look at you.

You, your shadow and your reflection
You real.
Your shadow darkness
Your reflection light

For me. All of you.
You, your shadow and your reflection.


Bird on a Wire

"Wired" by Neha

Like the bird sitting on
a live electricity wire,
To live without a care for all
the current flowing right under.


Smell of Morning Grass

" To Grass" by Neha

Smell of morning grass
One part musk one part earth
Flooding my senses
I pause as I run.Stop.
Morning grass of my childhood.You.
Bare feet feeling dew drops on you
Tiny steps running all over you
Children playing catch and run
Girl waiting for her turn on swing
Her friend rubbing nails together
to make her hair grow till knees
Laughter club laughing out its heart
Yogis stretching from north to east
Smell of morning grass flooding my senses.You.
They should make a perfume filled with you
Morning breeze brings me back.
I let the smell of morning grass flood
my senses.Taking it in.You
I run. Again.


Mohabbat karney waley

Mohabbat karNe wale kam nah hoNge
Teri mehfil main lekin hum nah hoNge

Zamaane bhar ke gham yah ik tera gham
Yeh gham hoga to kitNe gham nah hoNge

Dilon ki uljah ne bardti rahengi
Agar kuch mushWare baaham nah hoNge

Agar tu ittifaaqan mil bhi jaeN
Teri furqat ke sadMai kam nah hoNge

'Hafeez' oon se mein jit na badGumaaN hooN
Woh mujh se is qadar barham na hoNge

-Hafeez Hoshiarpuri

Listen to this beautiful ghazal by Mehdi Hassan on YouTube

Ye aarzoo thee

yeh aarzoo thi tujhe gul ke ru-ba-ru karte
hum aur bulbul-e-betaab guftagu karte

payaam bar na mayassar hua to khoob hua
zabaan-e-ghair se kyaa shar ki aarzoo karte

meri tarah se maah-o-mahar bhi hain aavaaraa
kisi habib ko ye bhi hain justajoo karte

jo dekhte teri zanjeer-e-zulf kaa aalam
aseer hone ke aazaad aarzoo karte

na poochh aalam-e-baragashtaa taali-e-"Aatish"
barasati aag main jo baaraan ki aarzoo karte

- Sung by Abida Parveen

Let's talk in questions

"unlock"by neha

You don't have the answers
Nor do I. This we agree on.

So let's talk in questions
You ask one
I will answer with another.
Can a question be our answer?
And maybe some answers will be hiding
along the curves of these questions

Let's talk in questions
Tell me why?


Friday, June 03, 2011

Hum hain mushtaaq

"Ghalib's Haveli in Delhi" by Neha
Hum hain mushtaaq aur woh bezaar
ya ilahee! ye majra kya hai?

[ mushtaaq = interested, bezaar = displeased]

Main bhee mooh mein zabaan rakhta hoon
Kash! poocho kee "mudda kya hai?

[ mudda = concern/ issue]

Jaan tum par nisaar karta hoon
Mai nahee jaanta kee khuda kya hai

Bas ki dushwar hai har kaam ka aasaan hona
Aadmi ko bhee mayassar nahiin insaan hona

[Dushwaar=difficult; Mayassar=possible]

Jalwa fir arz-e-naaz karta hai
Roz-e-baazaar-e-jaaN_sipaaree hai

[ jalwa = splendour, jaaN_sipaaree = resigning one's life into the hands of another ]

Karne gaye the; usse taGHaaful ka ham gila
kee ek hee nigaah ki bas KHaak ho gaye

[ taGHaaful = negligence, gila = complaint, KHaak = dust/ashes ]

Ishq mujhko naheeN, wehshat hee sahee
Meree wehshat, teree shohrat hee sahee

[ wehshat = solitude, shohrat = fame ]

Apnee hastee hee se ho, jo kuchch ho !
Aagahee gar naheeN GHaflat hee sahee

[ hastee = existence, aagahee = knowledge/information, GHaflat = negligence ]

Fir mujhe deeda-e-tar yaad aaya
Dil jigar tashna-e-fariyaad aaya

[ deeda-e-tar = wet eyes, tashna (or tishna ) = thirsty ]

Aa, ki meree jaan ko qaraar naheen hai
Taaqat-e-bedaad-e-intazaar naheeN hai

[ qaraar = rest/repose, bedaad = injustice ]

Poochtey hain woh ki 'Ghalib' kaun hai ?
Koi batlao ki ham batlaayain kya ?

- Mirza Ghalib

Keeping it real

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

- From " The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams, First published in 1922

A Few Yards of Cotton

A poem draping herself
like a few yards of cotton
going around femme mystique
forming the pleats
some perfect
some half formed
some moving with her
some against her
some making her watch her step
some giving respite in hot summer
some silent as her eyes
dreaming a distant dream
some rustling in symphony
with her glass bangles
A few yards of cotton.
Like Life.
A poem draping herself.

- Neha

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Miss. Julie

August Strindberg subtitled Miss Julie “A Naturalistic Tragedy,” and set down, in his preface to the play, one of history’s most strident definitions of naturalist theatre as also one of the finest pieces of writing I have read.

From the Preface

"In the following drama I have not tried to do anything new--for that cannot be done--but I have tried to modernize the form in accordance with the demands which I thought the new men of a new time might be likely to make on this art. And with such a purpose in view, I have chosen, or surrendered myself to, a theme that might well be said to lie outside the partisan strife of the day: for the problem of social ascendancy or decline, of higher or lower, of better or worse, of men or women, is, has been, and will be of lasting interest. In selecting this theme from real life, as it was related to me a number of years ago, when the incident impressed me very deeply, I found it suited to a tragedy, because it can only make us sad to see a fortunately placed individual perish, and this must be the case in still higher degree when we see an entire family die out. But perhaps a time will arrive when we have become so developed, so enlightened, that we can remain indifferent before the spectacle of life, which now seems so brutal, so cynical, so heartless; when we have closed up those lower, unreliable instruments of thought which we call feelings, and which have been rendered not only superfluous but harmful by the final growth of our reflective organs."


"Not long ago they reproached my tragedy "The Father" with being too sad--just as if they wanted merry tragedies. Everybody is clamouring arrogantly for "the joy of life," and all theatrical managers are giving orders for farces, as if the joy of life consisted in being silly and picturing all human beings as so many sufferers from St. Vitus' dance or idiocy. I find the joy of life in its violent and cruel struggles, and my pleasure lies in knowing something and learning something. And for this reason I have selected an unusual but instructive case--an exception, in a word--but a great exception, proving the rule, which, of course, will provoke all lovers of the commonplace. And what also will offend simple brains is that my action cannot be traced back to a single motive, that the view-point is not always the same. An event in real life--and this discovery is quite recent--springs generally from a whole series of more or less deep-lying motives, but of these the spectator chooses as a rule the one his reason can master most easily, or else the one reflecting most favourably on his power of reasoning. A suicide is committed. Bad business, says the merchant. Unrequited love, say the ladies. Sickness, says the sick man. Crushed hopes, says the shipwrecked. But now it may be that the motive lay in all or none of these directions. It is possible that the one who is dead may have hid the main motive by pushing forward another meant to place his memory in a better light."


" In regard to the character-drawing I may say that I have tried to make my figures rather "characterless," and I have done so for reasons I shall now state.

In the course of the ages the word character has assumed many meanings. Originally it signified probably the dominant ground-note in the complex mass of the self, and as such it was confused with temperament. Afterward it became the middle-class term for an automaton, so that an individual whose nature had come to a stand still, or who had adapted himself to a certain part in life--who had ceased to grow, in a word--was named a character; while one remaining in a state of development--a skillful navigator on life's river, who did not sail with close-tied sheets, but knew when to fall off before the wind and when to luff again--was called lacking in character. And he was called so in a depreciatory sense, of course, because he was so hard to catch, to classify, and to keep track of. This middle-class notion about the immobility of the soul was transplanted to the stage, where the middle-class element has always held sway. There a character became synonymous with a gentleman fixed and finished once for all--one who invariably appeared drunk, jolly, sad. And for the purpose of characterization nothing more was needed than some physical deformity like a clubfoot, a wooden leg, a red nose; or the person concerned was made to repeat some phrase like "That's capital!" or "Barkis is willin'," or something of that kind. This manner of regarding human beings as homogeneous is preserved even by the great Moliere. Harpagon is nothing but miserly, although _Harpagon_ might as well have been at once miserly and a financial genius, a fine father, and a public-spirited citizen. What is worse yet, his "defect" is of distinct advantage to his son-in-law and daughter, who are his heirs, and for that reason should not find fault with him, even if they have to wait a little for their wedding. I do not believe, therefore, in simple characters on the stage. And the summary judgments of the author upon men--this one stupid, and that one brutal, this one jealous, and that one stingy--should be challenged by the naturalists, who know the fertility of the soul-complex, and who realize that "vice" has a reverse very much resembling virtue."


"My souls (or characters) are conglomerates, made up of past and present stages of civilisation, scraps of humanity, torn-off pieces of Sunday clothing turned into rags--all patched together as is the human soul itself. And I have furthermore offered a touch of evolutionary history by letting the weaker repeat words stolen from the stronger, and by letting different souls accept "ideas"--or suggestions, as they are called--from each other."


"I believe love to be like the hyacinth, which has to strike roots in darkness before it can bring forth a vigorous flower. In this case it shoots up quickly, bringing forth blossom and seed at once, and for that reason the plant withers so soon."


From the Play

You're mighty queer, do you know!

Perhaps. But so are you. And for that matter, everything is queer. Life, men, everything--just a mush that floats on top of the water until it sinks, sinks down! I have a dream that comes back to me ever so often. And just now I am reminded of it. I have climbed to the top of a column and sit there without being able to tell how to get down again. I get dizzy when I look down, and I must get down, but I haven't the courage to jump off. I cannot hold on, and I am longing to fall, and yet I don't fall. But there will be no rest for me until I get down, no rest until I get down, down on the ground. And if I did reach the ground, I should want to get still further down, into the ground itself--Have you ever felt like that?

No, my dream is that I am lying under a tall tree in a dark wood. I want to get up, up to the top, so that I can look out over the smiling landscape, where the sun is shining, and so that I can rob the nest in which lie the golden eggs. And I climb and climb, but the trunk is so thick and smooth, and it is so far to the first branch. But I know that if I could only reach that first branch, then I should go right on to the top as on a ladder. I have not reached it yet, but I am going to, if it only be in my dreams."



No! Forgive me instead what I have been saying. I don't want to strike one who is disarmed, and least of all a lady. On one hand I cannot deny that it has given me pleasure to discover that what has dazzled us below is nothing but cat-gold; that the hawk is simply grey on the back also; that there is powder on the tender cheek; that there may be black borders on the polished nails; and that the handkerchief may be dirty, although it smells of perfume. But on the other hand it hurts me to have discovered that what I was striving to reach is neither better nor more genuine. It hurts me to see you sinking so low that you are far beneath your own cook--it hurts me as it hurts to see the Fall flowers beaten down by the rain and turned into mud."


Have you not loved your father, Miss Julia?

Yes, immensely, but I must have hated him, too. I think I must have been doing so without being aware of it. But he was the one who reared me in contempt for my own sex--half woman and half man! Whose fault is it, this that has happened? My father's--my mother's--my own? My own? Why, I have nothing that is my own. I haven't a thought that didn't come from my father; not a passion that didn't come from my mother; and now this last--this about all human creatures being equal--I got that from him, my fiance--whom I call a scoundrel for that reason! How can it be my own fault? To put the blame on Jesus, as Christine does--no, I am too proud for that, and know too much--thanks to my father's teachings--And that about a rich person not getting into heaven, it's just a lie, and Christine, who has money in the savings-bank, wouldn't get in anyhow. Whose is the fault?--What does it matter whose it is? For just the same I am the one who must bear the guilt and the results--"

Read the complete Preface and Miss.Julie here

Like the Water

"The Element" by Neha

......Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.

- Windell Berry ( From " My Story As Told by Water")