Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Journey from Kashmir to London

A dog-eared copy of Crime and Punishment changed his life. My friend Basharat Peer from Tehelka told me the story of Iqbal Ahmed, who left Kashmir in 1993 to work in London. He was 26. Iqbal worked at a number of places and is currently a porter in a London hotel. It was in Kashmir that he got hold of the classic book and decided to become a writer. His loneliness as an immigrant and the way London failed him inspired him to write a book titled: Sorrows of the Moon, A Journey Through London.

You can read his experiences he shared with the London Review of Books here.

Only one Dream

This is a box item from Page number 113 of Fimlmfare, May 2005 issue. I was flipping through this magazine to pass time as my Hair Dresser Pran drank tea. And then suddenly this page flashed in front of me. As Pran got busy with cutting someone's hair, I silently tore away this page. I could not resist because for long I had been wanting to lay my hands upon these lyrics. These have been penned by Gulzar for film Kinara.

Gulzar says he always wanted to write songs that could be part of narrative. Ek hi khwab... was one such experiment. Gulzar remembers taking this song to Pancham (RD Burman). When he came to learn that Gulzar wanted him to put these words to music, he smacked his head and exclaimed: Koi kaam seedha nahi karta hai.

This song was recorded in Bhupinder's and Hema Malini's voices. Bhupi was given a pair of headphones and asked to strum his guitar spontaneously. Bhupi did it in one take.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

You have come, what for?

Life comes a full circle
I wait for it
To come to me
After taking
A merry-go-round

I have a gift for Life
A watermelon
Packed in a condom

I will hand over
The gift, to Life
And wink my eye
Saying: Chattri se Azaadi.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Design of Madness

He was mad. His madness did not require him to wear torn clothes and let saliva drip from the corners of his mouth. Or to mumble to himself. Or to throw stones at people. His madness had its own way. Its own design.

Like this. He drank whisky with roasted grams. Sometimes he would begin drinking at three in the morning. Switch on his CD player and listen to the melancholic songs of Talat Mehmood. And cry very silently as the night broke down into sunrise. And then he would wet his hair, look into the depths of his retinas in the mirror and laugh. Laugh till he collapsed.

Sometimes he would begin writing in the evening. He had held himself for long. No longer anymore. He would put choicest Bhangra tunes on his player. After pouring himself half-a-finger whisky, he would begin typing. And then rise suddenly from his seat and begin dancing. His dance was so intense that frenzy would hide itself. When one song finished, it meant five hundred words and innumerable tiny droplets of sweat on his forehead. And then another half-a-finger, another song and another five hundred words. And a round sun of sweat on his shirt.

Aaja mere khaetan di bahaar ban aaja
Faslan da roop da shingaar ban aaja

Come on, be the spring of my fields
Come, be the ornament of my harvest

That was Amarjit Sandhu doing a private show for him. He danced with his eyes closed. He would even type with his eyes closed. And blindly take a swig from his glass. When he was exhausted, he stood in front of the mirror again. Looking intensly at himself, as if the mirror enabled him to see the blood surging in his arteries, he would laugh again.

By that time, Maya would appear. He would kiss her delicately, undress her and enter her. While he made love, he would recite poetry. Mostly James Thomson.

And so throughout the twilight hour
That vaguely murmurous hush and rest
There brooded; and beneath its power
Life throbbing held its throbs supprest:
Until the thin-voiced mirror sighed,
I am all blurred with dust and damp,
So long ago the clear day died,
So long has gleamed nor fire nor lamp.

Maya would begin to ebb away from his febrile consciousness. She was an illusion after all. But his madness was real. The words that you read right now are a testimonial.