March 18, 2009

hyderabad ramblings

Prose may contain poetry…prose could be poetic… but prose can’t really be poetry…at least not for me!

So after writing some prose, thought I’d post a poem, for a change. But it’s not something new that I’ve written. Actually wrote it four years back - after returning from a trip to Hyderabad in June 2005… Could it really be four years ago? But a poem’s soul is eternal… so how does time matter?


hyderabad ramblings

a visit to another urban settlement
a city a space
of charactered cacophony and harmony
shaped and being shaped, yet
defined by the letters
of “hyderabad”
a name an identity a weight
of history and association
but your hyderabad is not my hyderabad
and yet it is still hyderabad
with a bit of the same for us all
but with more
that is different for us all

old city auto ride
through streets with and without names
to destinations that are strangers
and destinations that are friends
with friends
lanes within lanes
labyrinths of mazes but
mazes with direction and purpose
mazes that are intentions and where
destinations lie
within

grey cream white green
flags walls windows
mosques
shops houses stores
of every imaginable and unimaginable type
reticent resilient
to time to outside transformations
and to master plans.
impediments or testimonies?
you decide they decide
you accept you don’t accept
but they last, most of them.
sometimes they are not so lucky
they get demolished, and people
get evicted and abused
but they find spaces, they defy
they create openings where
doors are closed
and they resist they fight
they survive they live
and they are alive

pillars domes bridges
autos two-wheelers chickens buses
irani cafes - the anachronisms
that change but don't
meat shops and mithai
sweet rich lassi
with or without malai
the more special the more
coloured the more thick
the more creative
the more distant from the original

bangled lanes of chudi bazaar
bangle shops the chudis
lac metal glass plastic
or other clinkable adornment
you choose, there are many
choices before you to confuse
and the lane of more
gold red loud wedding wares
constantly in demand
for people always seem to be marrying –
marrying people marrying things
marrying property
buying doesn’t stop

the market is not just money
here but a
web of interaction
of chaos din and colour
with wanderers gazers shoppers
people we watch follow
and innocuously laugh at
even though we know they are just
co-travellers
lost and finding
in the crossings of this web
web of turmoil web of love
web of existential spaces
that defines by being undefined

and on a quiet street unfazed by time
little hands work little beads
on metre after metre
textile after textile
hour after hour day after day
threading weaving designing
intricate patterns on cloth
rather than in life

i want to study in the nizam’s palace too
and write at the table where royalty dined
where children’s laughter now
chases away ghosts of ostentation
a palace for a school
for all schools are palaces...
the best palaces that could be

a ‘rampyaari’ paan
what might that mean?
to a man, his lover
to a bhakt, a compliment
to the irreligious, just a name
to a paan addict, a delicacy
just rightly sweetened
the way life should be

pigeons nets worshippers hot earth
holding the mighty ‘mecca masjid’ high
and i sit on the steaming black bench
in order to come back again
this seat, this stable element of stone
will bring these wandering feet back
will beckon me to this spot again
as the fable goes
so i sit not in disbelief not in belief
but in good humour
and yet i want to believe i will be back
in this old city of ‘hyder begum’

yes it is a city named after a woman
perhaps one of the few
but do we think of her when we say
hyderabad?or is it just a name a place
defined by association by memory
by personal experiences
and people we love and don’t
and food we crave and relish
and sights we internalise and see within
ourselves on a distant day from
another place

and in this city of lettered unfamiliarity
a calligrapher inks black letters
of ‘insaaf ’ on white paper
a word i take back with an intention
to make permanent.
permanent: justice
an oxymoron, still?
a word that might adorn me though
i'd much rather it were breathing
in the walls of courtrooms
in the corridors of fate
and in the living hearts
of humanity

a girl takes a three-day trip
that like every voyage
will linger in different internal spaces
of her being
in different ways
some for long some for a while
some in ways she won’t know
or forget or remember

***
20-VI-05

1 comment:

  1. love your style.... you rock girl!!! x

    ReplyDelete