Sunday, February 12, 2017

Park Blues (circa summer 2016)

Let’s tuck in our shirts

Lest this get messy

Food from Italia

And keychain from Spain

Us sitting next to each other, again.

Let’s blow off some steam (or smoke)

With a fanta, not coke

A chipped orange nail

In the bushes, a bloke

The bar stools and ash

A plane up above

 Hands rough and soft

Some talk about love.

The wasteland is empty and bare

And the smell of coconuts is still in her hair

The bag swings alone on a nicotine buzz

And destinations are reached.

 As they always must.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Selling short.

It’s a warm day, and I reminisce -
Am I dwelling in the weather,
Or is something amiss?

As snow crunches slowly under my feet,
(And I Yelp brunch places nearby to eat)
I think of my journey of 13 long years:
Have I grown wiser, conquered my fears?
Though I don’t have your initials carved in my arm,
I took on your name, I visited your farm,
I learned your jargon, befriended your kin,
Kept you in the loop, invited you to din.
Was your solo audience, your biggest fan,
Enamored by your wit, charmed by your pan(ache).

But who am I? An illusion, a daydream forgotten fast,
Teenage memorabilia, a memento from the past?
A photograph in your album, a number in your phone book,
A random hug in the middle of the night, or maybe I’m just a crook.
But I would move mountains to keep your dreams alive,
My best kept secret, always by my side.
You were the perfect song in my playlist of life,
With a voice that melted icecaps, and eyes that lit fires.

But I stop short, hold back my secret smile
I see decay, a barren wasteland stretched for miles.
While I fill up bottles and set them adrift,
You keep on rowing, alone in your ship.
You float in the midst of the signs,
And have been privy to all my designs.

While I could press delete and make promises till October
(And try to be provocative when I’m not sober)
I’ll say in my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith
Till next November (or till you believe) – I’ll wait.

Monday, December 12, 2016


I’ve been wallowing in a self-induced JJ nostalgia-depression these past few days. Reliving a moment of my past with every song: from the Walkman days, to heartbreak in dorm rooms, unrequited msn messenger chats, and rainy drives with Amma on the canal.

Am I trying to regain some lost sense of wonder through all this? Do I thrive on sadness (as someone recently suggested)? Do I need to ‘feel’ to stay alive? I am not able to reconcile these emotions yet, but am allowing myself to experience organismically – for starters.

So when I heard, after the immediate stage of disbelief and confusion, I decided to embrace my sadness. And this time I had the luxury of expressing myself with absolutely no regard of others around me, the public, or passersby. Put on my headphones, blending in with my fellow commuters, and played my favourite unplugged version of JJ's Aitebar on repeat.

And I mourned.

I stood in the subway car, eyes glazed, tears streaming down my face gently. I wasn’t just mourning the innocent lives lost on that ill-fated flight, or solely the life of my childhood music icon, but my childhood itself: the hours spent collecting coke caps, waving flags to dil dil Pakistan, the hours spent rewinding and forwarding cassettes with tere liye hai mera dil,  tumhara aur mera naam, and other favourites. The months spent listening to Aitebar, completely heartbroken. That song got me through all of 2008. And parts of 2009.

So I owe a large part my life's most excruciating and happy memories to Vital Signs - the soulful, intense lyrics - and melodious voice of the handsome JJ. The glorious pop revolution of the 80s and 90s which inspired our generation in so many ways.

When Amma and I watched old Bollywood songs and she reminisced, I always used to wonder how it felt like to lose an icon you grew up watching on TV, or listening to. But now I understand how devastating that loss is. And how personal, the tragedy.

So, I thank you for the music. For the joy and the pain. For daring to follow your dream in an uncertain and suffocating political environment. For breaking down barriers. For paving the path - Woh raasta
Jis par nahin,
Koi gaya.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

13 years ago
At a game
You wore a Jersey with letters
I use to sign my name.

12 years ago
We warmed our hands
On a dying blue flame
While listening to our favourite bands

11 years ago
We begged for tens
Sat in windows
 And stole glances through your lens

10 years ago
I cleaned your wound
And touched your arm
With the inspirational verse (not yet tattooed )

9 years ago
We walked down aisles
In gowns and robes
All heart and smiles

8 years ago
I sat in a dark room
Worked hard and grew
And came back home too soon

7 years ago
Was the magical storm
The best week ever, which
Ravaged everything. And was gone

6 years ago
Pressed rewind for too long
Then made new friends
Erased old photos, deleted songs

5 years ago
Walked down the aisle
Hoisted by brothers and kin
Began the long, cold mile

4 years ago
The world was supposed to end
But there was unfinished business
And scholarship money to spend

3 years ago
New beginnings once more
First realization, first reality check
First walk out of the door

2 years ago
Walked alone again
Always together, yet always alone
And the next few years would be the same

1 year ago
I wrote a poem about a tree
A birth and many deaths
And collective memory

This year is almost over
And this poem made me miss my train
I was so angry I could cry
And blame someone else, all over again.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


White beams of light filter through the cloudy sky
I think of the raincloud, and of days gone by
As the electrical storm outside billows
It's the storm within, which slowly unfolds

Little talk I offer, which might speak aplenty
I'll be myself; I'm so tired of pretending
So I set out to walk all those miles to your door
But I meander outside, like each time before
Peek through the keyhole then shrink to the ground
Hide behind pillars, afraid to be found
Like Alice, searching for the antidote or key
To the end of this quest; the anwer to this malady
The next life you say, thence we can put it to rest?
If the end is eternal, is this just a test?

I have sat in the waiting room of life before
Watching your littles ships sail to my shore
But let's leave them afloat for a while if we may?
I'm not pinning my hopes on another rainy day.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Peregrine, for You.

There once was a peacock, grey and dull
(Like the skies in November a few hours past one)
Who wandered inside our garden one day
(And we named it Perry, short of Peregrine)
The wanderer - the one who'd lost his way.

But unlike the fallacious lyrics of Lost
He became someone's muse, after many years passed.
One morning he flew away from my parent's lawn
Without warning or a sign - he was gone.

Offended by his unceremonious exit
We doubted the depth of our relationship.
But were happy he found the courage to be free
(And surprised to learn that 'he' was infact a she!)

(Like Peregrine) we meander through ragged lines,
Change a few platforms, following the signs
Inhale the aroma of coffee and cool breeze
Hear familiar tunes when alighting the Jubilee (line)

I am Perry, finding my way through the crowd
Past sirens and drawls, dragging my luggage around
The wheels keep on turning on streets of cobbled stone
As I stumble and trip, finding my way home.

"Are you ready to stand on the desk
For a change of view?
From all you left behind - to start anew?
(Will you have a zero tolerance policy too?)"

"I'll fix my lapel, wear my 'hand' on my blazer
 I'll asperate, like the (brightly) burning tiger
With a roll of an r and a "cheers, mate!"
I'll come out victorious baby, it's never too late."

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Mid-Term Break

Seamus Heaney     

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbours drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying—
He had always taken funerals in his stride—
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble'.
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four-foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four-foot box, a foot for every year.

Friday, September 25, 2015


 Give me a song, a mixed tape on life

A lifeboat, a jetpack, a kit to survive

A knower of things, I’m too scared to own

 Expose me; strip me down to the bone.

Explicate my meter and (eye) rhyme

(While singing desi mashups of Adam Levine)

Curl me into a ball, take me back to the start,

When I made a fumblin’ play for your heart

Write me a book, or some song about a thief

With ‘Goodbye cruel world’, etched overleaf.

Make me happy ( like mad), as I was once told

Engulf me in your warmth, when I’m lonely and cold

If I’m abysmal black, be the light that shines through

‘Cos if I'm mine, then I 'm yours.
I am you.

(I sometimes wonder, if you knew).

Saturday, July 25, 2015


When overcome with emotion and fear
Don’t make me listen, I don’t want to hear
Of vows and promises and what we owe
And all those oats we did not sow

It is what is it is,

And other trite phrases

People love to say.
To say naina jab se mile’

A familiar friend, a rainy drive

Was all I needed to feel alive
In that moment, when tears weren’t as sad

As rueful and honest, cathartic and glad

The arousal of passion from the weak and the rent
From bodies broken, and senses bent

My sight, my ears, what more is left to lend
A four year road trip - a beginning and an end.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

There’s half a moon in the sky,
But I found the twinkle in my eye,
And though the spot seems big and bright
I’ll let it shine, with all my might.
A sexy patch they say, will do?
If so, I’ll join your squinting crew
One stolen pair of shades, not two
(He converses with strangers and scientists too!)
The ugliest, most unflattering (nostril) view.

Two patches of damp grass, an albino afar
The world’s most complicated car.
Orange lip stains on a paper cup
A unisex bathroom with a vampire pin-up
Pizza with cream, coffee without
A tube light selfie, please teach me how to pout?
I smile and I frown, do tell me when to stop
In time for the world’s most beautiful tear drop.

The whir of engines, clouds of smoke
Two crisp hundred rupee notes
Uninsured, let’s drive to our ends
Bruised, and battered, the strangest best friends.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

On illusions being dangerous things - she said.

I could have been a flickering blue flame
Ebbing away through the night
An injured player on the field
Not going down without a fight
A passenger in your car
Doing the moonlight mile
A thirty-something thousand dress
Waiting to go out of style
A naïve heart, bitten twice
Yet never thrice shy
Save only when some lens removed
Looked you in the eye
It all came back, the crooked mirth
The poems and the books
A brush of finger (tips) and perfume
Some talk of being a crook.
Taken by the visions and revisions
Of time and tide within
Spending this lifetime and the next
Tucked safely under your chin.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Birthday Blues

The sun shines much brighter in the morning sky
In the gaping hole left by the tree that had died
Perhaps years ago, but we kept telling ourselves
It needed more water, its root were still well
The two crows that sat atop the dried pines
Have found a new home, while I struggle in mine
Free they were, to flap their wings and move on
To build a new nest, new day, new dawn.
Yet I sit by myself, here alone in my den
A few blinking lights, stack of papers, a pen
Typing into the wee hours, a familiar path
My mind is lit up, but my thoughts, they are dark
On a path we fear to tread, but love all the same
It feels like twenty something all over again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


after a shitty day, all you need is to hear your one year old say alayoo (for the first time), followed by 3 bites on your face.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Well this is just a simple song
To say what you've done
I told you about all those fears
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
When you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun

When I was just nine-years-old
I swear that I dreamt
Your face on a football field
And a kiss that I kept
Under my vest;
Apart from everything
But the heart in my chest

I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone
Don't go thinking you gotta be tough, and bleed like a stone
Could be there’s nothing else in our lives, so critical
As this little home

My life in an upturned boat
Marooned on a cliff
You brought me a great big flood
And you gave me a lift
Girl, what a gift!
You tell me with your tongue
And your breath was in my lungs
And we float up through the rift

I know that things can really get rough when you go it alone
Don't go thinking you gotta be tough, and bleed like a stone
Could be there's nothing else in our lives, so critical
As this little home

Well this would be a simple song
To say what you've done
I told you about all those fears
And away they did run
You sure must be strong
When you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun

Remember walking a mile to your house
Aglow in the dark
I made a fumbling play for your heart
And the act struck a spark
You wore a charm on the chain that I stole
Especial for you
Love's such a delicate thing that we do
With nothing to prove
Which I never knew

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Small fish, big waves. Your poyles will always fascinate me.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sleeping with an empty heart doesn't inspire fanciful dreams. The details of the wallpaper, the foreign languages, the moving staircases. What does one have to become to fill the crevices and cracks of life, without turning into a spindly line.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Do you get mugged by a mugger? or a thug? Anyway. I did.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

One of those weeks…

Everybody’s minding their own business a bit too much. My best friend at work has been asked to resign. My other friends are late. Some are stuck in a traffic jam. My driver is exceeding his limits. The construction workers are hammering on our heads. There is no water. Rain is this place’s only chance of redemption.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I used to know what Jeff who lives at home felt like. But not anymore. When time felt, languid, slow and thick, like molasses. When simple objects became meaningful, regular utterances had undertones and the imagination played incessant tricks. The imagination is still an artful dodger, but this time it is in control, aware.

It meanders just the right amount to cause amusement, a flight of fancy, the glimmer of an idea, yet to return home, and park safely in the cul de sac of the mind and heart. It is quite empowering to know how to control the mind; to feel just the right amount of pleasure or pain. We endure pain, only with the hope of eventual pleasure. And what’s the fun in pleasure without pain?

We both agreed that happy people don’t change the world. But unhappy people may resort to darker means to achieve their goals. Hence, the delicious balance between pleasure and pain, dark and light – enough to empower, yet enough to defeat.

Knowledge is definitely power, but I recently heard a loathsome female on television refute Foucalt’s claim rather simply: Power is Power.

And I got the powaaah!

p.s I have conquered the new blog template.

B-bird is the word

Scuttle, Dodo and me.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I am so sleepy at work today; I can barely bother to put up a fake front of being productive. I miss being a student sometimes, apart from the ‘being broke’ aspect of it. But anyway, I was recalling the evil S story (my first colleague at my first job) who had the worst nakhras I had EVER heard in my life (for reference look up posts circa Nov-Dec 2008). The admin coordinator is using my extension right now and I’ve had a newfound urge to write.

Wow I’m really sleepy. Moving on, the first and most anal thing about this place is that you have to beep and punch (both) in and out when coming and going. School gets over at 2pm. Since I am driving nowadays and there is always a few minutes discrepancy in all the clocks at work, I left at 1:58 and 1:59pm respectively the last two days. When I came in today, there were 2 red circles around my sign out timings (which is a mark of being late – which the ‘auditors’ check and then cut your salary). Oh, another new policy – if you leave early for an emergency/appointment etc you’re marked absent and they cut 4 grand per day.

I got my hair relaxed to beat the humidity in Karachi; after an over enthusiastic chopped off long bob in Lahore - one day before heading back to Karachi in January - went Krusty the Clown on me. I went to work with my amazingly blow dried hair for the next few weeks. When I came back a few weeks ago, the school principal had had the exact same thing done!

I can’t believe they’re making me open a third bank account! WTF. An accounts guy just walked up to me with a poster (I kid you not) of a sample form for Habib Bank. Before I transferred to this branch I applied for an SCB account twice (they lost my form, and then spotted a mistake 2 months later and made me re-apply), when I finally got my account made, I got transferred. Here they said they shifted to another bank so I had to go all the way to Sharah-e-Faisal (which is literally down the road from here, but still) twice and apply. So now, I have 3 bank accounts. Oh, sorry the fourth is on its way, apparently.

Mrs. T is my best friend on campus, even though she’s 35 years older than me! We trade movies and have patties and chai in her AC wala office. Until the canteen shut for summer break, so now we starve with chai. It’s funny that I call her Mrs. T (her last name is the same as a famous tea brand) and funnier when her husband got sick and she left early so I messaged her: “I hope Mr. T is feeling better”. Haha

Oh and the admin coord with whom it all started. She is so annoying sometimes; the executive secretary (who leaves a lot to be desired himself, refer to the following paragraph) can’t help roll his eyes every time she gives him work - with a million instructions – mostly unnecessary. Once e I had to ask her what the environmental squad was called: The Environmental Squad OR the PAF Environmental Squad - A one line answer. What I got instead, “You see, this was my initiative. It started in 2009 when we set up this squad. They were green robes and organize charity events. I got their approval from XYZ and so forth.” 20 minutes later, I asked, so is there a PAF in front of it or not? There is.

And what to talk to Joaquim! I can’t write the entire name here for the sake of anonymity, but what a name! He never speaks Urdu, always replies to Urdu in English, plays Angry Birds all day and doesn’t even hide it! Once I had to use his PC to copy a DVD and a message popped up on his signed in Yahoo Messenger “hey sexy ;) “. Clearly, he does a lot more than just play angry birds (or so I’m told).Now I’m going to go fill out the poster sized form staring at me.

p.s. I was thinking how funny it is that I have alternative Z’s n Karachi to make up for the lack of their active presence in my life nowadays. But most interestingly, I can’t believe I have met a new khan in the big city. Not the bus, and not the real khan, but the resemblance is uncanny. This is probably another post in itself.

p.p.s Blogger has a new look, and I am not liking it.