Thursday, April 30, 2009
into dreamland with all the peace.
Remember how I sang for you,
as you dozed off, saying goodnight that day.
It was not so long back, when you;
trusted me with your thoughts, while I;
gave voice to my heart and sang out loud.
Those were songs, that showed I cared,
sung just for you from the soul's depths,
half asleep yeah, but you swayed with them sure.
I rocked you in that cradle high,
till you went silent, sleeping beauty with all the charm.
As I watched you dream, your eyes moved in tune;
with visions of angels, kings and princes all.
I sat back in my own heaven,
my day was made, the angel's happy at last.
The words of songs, dear to many,
I whispered to you to make you merry.
I poured out my heart and laughed and cried,
to make you feel that life's all fair.
The stories I said, the bedtime ones;
took you on a flight to wonderland.
It was meant to give you wings so strong,
with which you’ll fly and reach the stars.
What I sang - the poor man's songs,
were just another one of my fits, you thought.
But baby, Lullaby it was, bad or good;
and it all came from deep within me; right here you see.
It was my way of saying, I care;
perhaps you never knew, so I tell you now.
It was my way of saying I'll be there;
perhaps you never knew, so I tell you now.
It was my way of saying I'll protect;
Perhaps you never knew, so I tell you now.
It was the my only way to say how special you are;
but you never knew as you had heard them all.
Many have sung for you and many will again,
as you're an angel loved by all,
who's left for me to sing;
poor man's lullaby nobody wants.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
to get all of 'em to realise.
That I ain't sinister, I ain't bad;
I ain't a pain either, but none hears my tale.
I make them happy with words and deeds,
acts of love, of simple care.
In return I get cold caresses,
distanced by sugary words, courtesy extra.
With errands small I cross loyal frontiers,
possible cos of my simple heart.
In return I get shattered hopes,
"No, you can never be one of us."
I was there for people day and night,
ready to jump into a game of death.
In return I get no life, but hemlock slow;
classic case of mistaken cause.
I gave many, the sweetest of honey and dew,
little packets of joy from my soul straight.
In return why am I ignored and left,
this pain in my tale, when will it end.
The season's shifted I guess,
with it the landscape too.
Tropical paradise, where I lived,
has turned into a sandy dune.
Before, I could see green for miles,
when I stand atop my hill, my home.
The greenest Meadow it was Oh boy,
so full of life, the place I saw.
I only need to call out then,
and a breeze would blow from the other side,
right from the heart of the Meadow it came,
giving me comfort and refreshing love.
The shift of season could never touch,
this Meadow I love with all my heart.
It'll remain green for eternal time,
rain or shine, it won't wither at all.
God's gift to me this Meadow so green,
walking through which I feel immortal so.
Meadow, Meadow where do you hide,
eternal Meadow, where have you gone,
I can only see barren lands now.
I see only sand and dust,
where once rivers flowed, ones of love.
The Meadow's shifted west from here,
making oasis out of the desert out there.
I search for the Meadow here and there,
but I have to wait for the season to change.
Will return; the Meadow sure will,
but when; is the question of worth,
only time will tell, it has to I guess.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
“Let the Lord’s peace be with you all,” the priest said.
It was Sunday mass at Santhome and as I turned to my left to show the 'meaningful sign of peace' (bow to the person sitting next to me), I look up just to make sure it was my friend Ryan and not another face in the crowd. I had to make sure it was true. I smiled - "peace be with you."
Then I looked beyond him and wished the same to Madonna, Ryan's sister, after which I just smiled and smiled and smiled... as the mass became a real celebration for me. It was for the first time in Chennai I could receive peace from a dear one. And today I got it from two special ones - the ever-concerned big brother Ryan and the ever-happy kid sister Madonna.
Intoxicated by the feeling of being in the realms of care and love, I just wanted to jump out into the aisle and dance, in tune with the really hip song the choir was singing after the concluding prayer. But I stayed put, praying for this lovely moment to return more often. But I know it won't. At least for a couple of months as Madonna is leaving tomorrow for her home, summer holidays you see. And Ryan will follow a week later. Sad isn't it. But I might as well enjoy the what I have and celebrate it.
Earlier, during the sermon, the priest had mentioned about the importance of being honest to yourself. “Only then you will receive the peace of the Lord. Otherwise it will be a futile exercise of bowing your heads while your heart bleeds,” he had added.
I have always been honest to myself as far as relationships are concerned but I never could get peace at church because Sunday’s were always the same old story of spiritual and musical high during mass followed by the physical zone of depression when I realize I have no family here in Chennai to share the Sunday afternoon with - just casually talking, or just laughing out loud.
I go to church, I attend service, only to come out and see the entire congregation go out with their families, back to their warm houses, while I take my vehicle of choice and ride across town to the almost-empty office and sit there and wait for colleagues to arrive.
But all those days have changed thanks to Madonna and Ryan. Slowly I have been experiencing “family” when I am with them - my ‘cousins’ right. So Sunday's have started to become less and less depressing and so much more fun.
I had already reserved a table for three at Barbeque Nation. It was time for three meat-eating Mallus to dig into some grilled stuff. It was a pre-holiday treat for the bro-sis duo and I wanted the taste of the food as well as the memories of the day remain with them for the next two months, until next time that is. I don't know about memories of the day but the taste will surely stay I guess.
Now the best part! The booking was for 2.30 pm at the restaurant and the mass finished at 1 pm. Don't you know what that means. I get to spend that much more time with the pair and absorb in as much love and energy as possible.
Lucky me! But my luck is just for this day right. A week down the road I will be the same old Leslie, sitting behind the priest and then slowly trudging my way to office after the sermon.
The one extra hour that we had was spent appraising the graffiti Ryan and his friends had done in their college campus and walls. No, it wasn't an act of vandalism. Ryan's college encourages creativity you see. He is studying game designing and playing video games and drawing stuff on walls are all ways of slowly developing into a game wizard. Good life he is having I guess. Why didn't I study in this college?
Lunch time folks! Barbeque Nation follows the real barbecue spirit I guess. You get to marinate and grill your own food on your table and eat it. We had to wait a bit to get our "reserved" table though but I guess it was worth it as Ryan seemed very excited about the whole idea.
“I have seen this barbecue thing in one cartoon,” he said smiling. “I don't remember which one. But it seemed a lot of fun when the characters were eating fresh catch at the beach after grilling them.
“I never thought I could experience that over here in Chennai. It's fun,” he added, as he took out one of the spikes and offered me a juicy prawn with ginger sauce brushed on it by his artist sister Medo.
From then on it was the busy routine of waiter bringing in more and more meaty pieces of barbecued delicacies as the former wrestler (me), the former athlete (Ryan) and the former Riyadh Barbie (Madonna) gorged on as much calories as we can take in.
And in between the chit chat, or rather the shouts as the music was a little too loud, I asked them: "So since the lunch setting reminds you about a cartoon, which cartoon character will I be?"
The ever-witty Madonna had the answer. “Johnnie Bravo”, she quipped, and I just burst out laughing. That was the name my little cousins and in between my mom used to call me long back. Bang on target Madonna. You sure seem to have got a good measure of me. “He (Johnnie) is a big flirt you know. He runs behind girls,” she added.
The second comment invited a quick response from me as I tried to defend Mr. Bravo as though I was defending myself. “I am no flirt,” I almost said. “Well Bravo has a loving heart you know.”
It was my turn then. “You are one of 'em Powerpuff Girls,” I said to Madonna. But at that time I couldn't name which one of the three she was but as far as I know, she could only be the black-haired, green-dressed, strongest girl of the three. Later, using Google search, I found out the name was Buttercup. Why of course. An apt name for Medo too, a real sweet girl.
But looking at Ryan I couldn't think of a character until he himself suggested Mr Bean. Well Ryan is skinny and slightly “Beanish” in looks. But he had one more reason for naming himself Bean. “I just love the actor,” he said. “Rowan Atkinson,” as me and Medo nodded our approval.
Everything was good about the lunch it seems - the happy almost similar faces in front of me suggested that. But I was missing something. “This place should have a dance floor,” I said, listening to the dance-worthy music being played at the joint.
I was happy though and nothing could stop me from dancing. As me and Madonna went to the buffet counter to fill our dessert plates, I started dancing while the poor girl went to the other side of the room and kept on saying “I don't know you, I don't know you... He's not with me!”
Ryan, however, was oblivious to all this. He was busy with his larger-than-normal but “mathematically-correct” portion of Gulab Jamun.
So the events turned out, in a far off land where Johnnie Bravo took Buttercup and her brother Mr Bean for lunch and then they lived happily ever after...
Fairy tale indeed! I hope it's not a one-off dream. I hope it happens again and again. Fingers crossed...
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I was off to Kochi, where my roots run deep.
Looking around in the train I thought,
who’s here more happy than me.
Then I saw a spring blossom,
right there in early summer.
Bubbly she was, with sparkling smile,
my bubble bursts, she is happier, I'm sure.
She hopped into the iron cart,
just making it, as the loco hissed 'n moved.
But no fears or tensions there,
she was cool and fresh as ever she was.
"Papa, papa; she used the phone,
as she sang the triumph to her father dear.
A second's delay would have ruined her trip,
but she would never cry, she's not that type.
Lost she seemed in thoughts then on,
looking out at the passing lights.
While I waited for a chance to knock,
and ask her why she is happy so.
Then she took out her guiding lines,
a book which had her work of months.
Student she was I was sure,
Physics it was, a science student eh!
I ask her if she was loving science,
to later help the human race.
Yes, she said, with an honest ease,
"I am on my way for an exam sir."
Avoid the sir I wish I said,
teacher I was, but long time back.
Now I am just a snoopy type,
who writes stories in printed sheets.
Then she reveals her name to me,
perhaps with it the secret too.
"The name's Harshita," she smiles again;
"always happy that's the meaning." – Oh I'm charmed.
I'm sure her dada knew,
that she would forever be happy in life.
No wonder she got that name,
fit for a fairy - she sure was one.
As she climbed above to rest for the day,
and prepare herself for next day's tests.
I looked up and prayed to Gods,
keep her smiling, don't let her change.
Then I turn to my friend, newly found;
and wished her best for the whole of life.
"Goodnight dear," I said again;
tomorrow is yours, go win 'em all...
- Leslie Xavier
(On a newly found friend during a train journey,
a young girl so full of life - you just can't help but admire)
Sunday, April 19, 2009
noon lashing whips on my scarred body.
My heart shedding tears – of joy and pain,
as my body gets drained – spirits and the water within.
Panting I was with my effort of heart,
juggling a bag, as I struggled to balance on wheels.
Pedaling ain’t easy I found,
under the relentless old summer sun.
With my bag filled with love,
and heart filled with unbound joy;
I reached your doorsteps and I knock,
with nothing but a kid’s smile up front.
Then I hear those words so harsh:
“Not here, stand yonder, by the roadside there.”
I stood as you wished, thirst my constant pal;
and pondered, hurt deep, what wrong did I do?
... Is this where I should be,
low down where I belong.
I sang then, just for you, the birthday verse,
as you cut the cake with a magic knife.
We smiled and laughed and sang again,
later after the gifts unfurled.
But then again a sudden change,
the dawn brought forth a bolt from blue.
I hear a different tone, one so cold,
when I was waiting for a warm morning wish:
“I won’t come to the House of Lord,
so save the treat for some other day.”
The effort of heart it was again,
packets of an edible fruit;
It’s not just about eating and feeding,
it’s about how deep it came from me.
Once again the reminder came,
as I sat depressed behind the priest at work.
... Is this where I should be,
low down where I belong.
My life moves in circles round, a vicious one;
same old story of reality checks,
From a mother, from a friend;
it has even come from within my self.
“You don’t belong here, though you deserve to;
you do have the right, though don’t dare to fight.”
These are the words which echo,
all throughout the spots I’ve been.
Good at heart how long can I remain,
when near ones treat me as a strange delivery boy.
How long can I hold on now,
when the same stakes pierce me all over again.
When you’ve been “nice” the whole of life,
but never got what was deserved.
Then you just move into the dark - a corner,
to brood as the truth comes to light…
… This is where I should be,
low down where I belong.
- Leslie Xavier
(The cycle continues, one which takes me back to a place, where it all began, just to start again the journey full of pitfalls… Perhaps it will continue till something “snaps”, but I just can’t define what or when the actual “snapping” would take place)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
First day in a new ‘old’ school,
fears and all the childish whims.
I meet you and what ye do,
make sure I got the welcome cane.
Foes we never could be,
as from then on we are in it – a pair.
The first it was of many to come,
teachers spanked, but together we stood.
Then came the days of love
- of music and of the fairer kind.
Books, cassettes videos and all,
we saw it and learnt it whole.
Remember your finger spins,
and those late night fitness runs.
Those were the days we never cared,
of jobs, life or even losing hair.
Splitting ways – you went on your own,
to learn the art of nursing wounds.
While I stayed put to live a lie,
in the cheap thrills of campus fame.
You became hard and strong,
but remained honest deep inside.
I learnt from you buddy of mine,
to look beyond and dream things big.
I never tried but things changed,
I flew away from the nest I grew.
The day I got a job of worth,
I remember you were amongst the happiest lot.
Up and down, life went on,
you never flinched, as things got bad.
now that you’ve got your call,
to reach the shores were Caesar once ruled.
You will flourish in the Roman land,
and will reach a higher plane.
Look you will to these old days,
Of rains, pains and joking pals.
The you will open this book,
the first you used to learn your new tongue.
“Parla pocessino Italiano,” you’ll smile;
remember this book buddy, Oh yes you will.
Born into love, in the most amazing of families, I was never far away from care. Even when I left home for my first of many trips in search of knowledge – be it school or college; as well as during my quests for laurels in the ring, the care was still there, love was still there.
Friends dear were around me, though they never could replace family. But I was so much into life, so much alive, that I didn’t even miss not having a girl’s love during my teens, something unthinkable among straight boys these days.
It all changed, the day I decided to step into this city called Chennai - a move which has given me a career of much hype and afforded cards which I could flash out and swipe while lavishing on my loved ones. But this place has shut me out away from those very loved ones, shut me out from love, which I had gotten so used to for so many years - things which I never took for granted but, but still was taken away, with brute force.
And as I search for care in this “Ghost” town, I cross the fine line of sanity in a precarious game of “hop n jump” and that too every single day.
I find life only to then lose it, and I realise love and care can’t be brought just like that. You give care, no guarantee you’ll get it back; you give hope, but they brand you as an emotional “hopeless” in return. You worry for them and in return they ask you “why do you take things so seriously?”
It has to be serious. When it comes to love and care and a feeling of belonging and togetherness, it better be serious. Or you will lose everything in a flash and then you cry and fight and shout but you will never get it back.
Then you will sit in a deserted beach and write...
Care-free; but why me?
I go visit the waves to wash my feet,
and with it the pains of a day.
Which began with songs so warm,
and midway turned cold as ice.
By the waves Da Gama crossed,
watching the splendour of the Arabian Sea.
This place was were I learnt to run;
holding hands of my guiding stars.
But today is so dull and grey,
and the twilight sky is gloomy too;
No crimson only thunder and show,
It opened up as I took the sand.
Gods are kind to me today, I feel;
this rain is something I badly need.
It will give me a cleansing bath,
but more than that it hides my tears.
Why do I cry, when I’m at home
tears are for the days to come.
When I move back to my “Hell on earth”;
with no one there to hold my fort.
Hell of a place, but why so,
somewhere you have earned so much.
What’s that I have gained out there
Other than silver and broken words.
Months and months of rut – bland and deep,
had made me nearly the zombie kind.
The ones you see smiling with care,
not to feel but to eat you alive.
I do am getting wasted too,
rotting inside from neglect sheer.
From the people I turn with hope,
now and then for a little love.
That’s been my story so far,
in a town, where “life is fun”.
Not for me, no play in the sun,
from the time I left home for more.
Why was I left care-free here,
when all I wished was something else.
Money fame are nothing here,
when you don’t have kin to share the sport.
Do you belong there, people ask,
the place has made you man of say.
But the city “sweet” had cancer-ed me,
with a deadly one that eats your soul.
Now why me, of all the ones,
I’ve never taken things for grant.
Everything I cherished, true I did,
but it all changed as I sailed out East.
Now the cruel bit is here,
I go back there as I’m a man of word.
I chose pain over love and bliss,
just cos I’ve duties there.
But why follow the rule of honour,
when you can take the way of love and desire.
But being a man of fiery values,
I decide to take the coal-walk.
Fool I am to miss care,
more of a fool to avoid love.
And that too for a life whose worth,
is measured by your byline count.
Still I will make this trip,
in a few days time, to the city so dark and dim.
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
I’ll soon be that, it’s a matter of when.
But till then I will eat it all,
the fruits of all my toil in sun.
Things which I don’t deserve,
I’ve never been that kind, you do know right.
But life ain’t fair for the good old men,
who never run behind foolish gold.
That again makes me ask,
Why me, I wanted care, nothing else.
Why am I cast away in soot,
when I deserve to be in the land of dew,
where wine flows, in rivers of love,
and care-free we’ll never be there.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
the girl's pure as a flower.
She ain't gonna leave her roots;
to get me with all the loots.
Why can't I fight for her,
like I did for another mother.
Maybe I'm too tired to run;
and catch life with all the fun.
She's astrue - friend and all;
and had been there as a whole.
But once you move just to my thoughts;
where'll I get those loving shots.
Things would be the same I know,
you'll be loyal, and stick with the "No".
Guess I'm the lesser kind,
not to enjoy this bloom of a find.
Friday, April 10, 2009
What’s all this buzz about,
I ask to the working man.
Well that’s life and busy he’s to be;
With all the buzz or he’ll miss the bus.
Let me guess what everyone’s thinking – an attempted poem gone wrong? Well not exactly. These were my thoughts when my dear friend Shilpa took me and James Hardy to her bedroom window to show us their guests.
“This is something we humans should pick up from the bees," said Shilpa’s mom, pointing at the beehive just outside the glass panel, six floors above ground at the Coromandel Towers in Kilpauk.
“Be busy like them and you will be happy and you won’t have time to worry or be sad. Be a busy bee in life,” she adds, as I move closer to the window to see the hive, teeming with life.
But aunty there is more to it than the obvious, I wanted to argue...
Shilpa’s mom’s attempt to point to us, perhaps, life’s most essential of values through the example of bees, throws light into the profession she was once engaged in with passion. She was a Hindi teacher at a private school and perhaps misses the kids and the buzz and the fun which I, being a former teacher, would understand and appreciate.
“Hindi is such a beautiful language, isn’t it,” she asks, in between her conversation with Hardy in the National language. The lady was so glad Hardy was from Bihar. And perhaps the same passion for the language made her delve deep into Hinduism and when she hears that I was a former wrestler, her eyes sparkle again.
She asks: “Do you know Leslie, today is the day of wrestlers.” And as I race through the microprocessors of my sports-journalistic brain to find out whether there is a wrestler's day at all, she clarifies her statement.
“Today is Hanuman’s festival.” But of course, the ‘Ram devotee’ is the patron God of wrestlers, brahmacharis and body builders.
During my wrestling days I too fancied myself as a Hanuman devotee though I could never be a branhmachari. Then again, I believe, the definition of brahmachari is not abstaining from love. For me brahmachari is a person who is in search of truth, the ‘brahma’. But I don’t want to look back now to those days of impulse-driven runs and check whether I was in search of any universal truth, perhaps I was.
Anyway, back to apartment 6D in the Coromandel Towers for now. We are here, as guests of Shilpa for a “traditional veggie lunch” and her mom has prepared a treat it seems. But it has to wait as the guest of honour is not yet here, riding his Iron-horse. I am talking about the most creative designer in town – S Kannan, former Tamil Nadu junior cricketer and now, designer at the Times of India.
But I didn’t mind as my lunch is usually at 4 in the afternoon. So it was time for pleasantries and introductions.
It’s fascinating really, Shilpa’s family I mean – nothing Nuclear about it. She lives with her parents and her brother Shankar. We couldn’t meet her dad as he was away for a family function in Palakkad, Kerala. Her grandmother, Shilpa’s “room-mate”, still talks in Malayalam, a language she picked up when she was first married into the family in Palakkad.
Then there is her uncle, an accountant by profession and a gentleman by nature, and his wife, a yoga teacher at a school in the city and they have a son too - a commerce student and an ardent Manchester United fan, who loves Tevez.
Yoga! That sure brings back some memories. My mom used to train yoga when I was small and I remember sitting next to her while she went through her routine of morning exercises. I used to wonder why she is doing all these stretching alone when she could actually come with us to the karate class and train with the family – me, dad, and uncle - Lenin.
I talk to Shilpa’s aunt about yoga, an art which has always intrigued me though I have never practiced it. Besides she deals with young kids, a job I would die for. And being talkative myself, I was happy in her company... A nice lady!
Now the question! What's more nice – the lunch or Shilpa’s ever-smiling mom and aunt. I can’t make that call, as I was too busy trying out the ‘vapella katti’, ghee with some ‘dal’ powder, rice and the most amazing of ‘sambars’. It sure was a treat!
And then the dessert! No I’m not talking about the ice-cream after lunch. I am talking about the all-season pass Shilpa’s mom gave us when she said: “Kids, if ever you feel like eating home food, do step in.”
“Of course aunty, I shall come daily if you don’t mind; just waiting for Shilpa to leave town,” I actually said. And Shilpa’s mom was happy to hear that... the invite is open, a sweet gesture and enough proof that my secondary thoughts about the beehive are true indeed.
Look at those bees outside. They are all busy with their duties, but ultimately it is to ensure the well being of their home sweet home. They all cling to each other in a perpetual hug of love and the bond creates the sweetest of drinks – honey.
This is exactly what’s happening in Shilpa’s home, don’t you think. There’s a queen bee, the grandmother, Shilpa’s mom and dad and bro and aunt and uncle and cousin, a big group indeed for these modern times but a group which will bring in all the nectar from outside and create sweetness, which me and my two friends experienced today. The power of love and the value of loved ones is something I have always known and with instances like these, the message gets tattooed deeper into my heart.
And as me and Shilpa stand on their ninth-floor terrace, catching the glimpses of Chennai from up above, I feel sad – the day’s over, but I feel happy, the day was sweet. The day, which began in a little pain.
I had woken up this morning all sore, last evening’s slip and the doctor’s orders, both fresh in my mind, reminded by the ever so unnoticeable limp and the pain. I had a fall yesterday from my cycle of course. And yes, it was my fault.
But I had to visit Shilpa and her family, a lunch-invite for the whiz-kid Hardy, the ‘smoking-gun’ Kannan and yours truly. And so I dragged myself to the morning chores, after waking up “early” at 11.45 am. I had to be at my friend’s place by 1.15 and this was not an office assignment. So I had to be there on time. But will Mr Hardy be awake?
The host, Shilpa made sure she’s woken up the day-sleeper, with a doze of unrelenting calls, miscalls and messages. By the time I reach Hardy’s room the fellow was already in the second phase of his bath I guess. I was outside his room and the sailing correspondent of the Times of India, took a good part of 15 minutes to finish his happy time there.
After stepping into his obstacle-course-of-a room for five minutes or so, we were off to Kilpauk and a date with sweetness, and ended gaining new friends and of course a “Hive for all seasons.”
Thursday, April 09, 2009
... As as the whistle blew, she flew;
and as the dust settled, I withdrew.
I sit here, waited upon;
by a smiling hawk, all for a tip.
I can't help but look back,
when did I last see this waiter's face?
For weeks I've been at places,
similar men I've seen;
but I didn't have time to notice;
who were they and what they were doing.
I was too busy with life,
radiant from the one across.
The tips flowed to the man-server,
but I never looked at his face.
Why should I when the angel was here,
whose gentle ways were true to the core;
with no compulsions of the material kind;
but worth millions in its own right.
I remember those fork fights,
made in jest for the desserts on course.
I never wanted to win those jousts,
cos it was for her, the treats and songs.
Those moments when she'd order one,
then look at me - "it's your turn now".
I never wanted to make that call,
cos it was for her, the bread and words.
I sink deep into this cushioned cross,
and bite into my so called lunch;
Trying to converse with the spirits above,
while my brio goes down to the floor.
I wipe my hands clean of specs,
but can't wipe the red-stained clot.
I think I would make a call,
to see if she's safe and sound.
Rude why she has to be,
I just spoke to make it sure;
No dust had fallen on her,
en-route to her very blood.
"Sorry" is a strange word,
but stranger is this cruel old joke.
Don't expect things to last,
everything changes and for the worse.
None will know where I'd been,
what I'd done, good or bad.
None will know the amity deep,
that I'd shared with this pal of mine.
Why it has to be like this,
am I too bad to be named a friend.
It's no claim for fame or silver coins,
just the wish of a loving heart.
I saw future clear my dear,
I'd said, I'd be dull and sad;
standing near that window of iron.
As you smiled saying no, nay, nay,
the window moved in a sudden jerk,
I tried to pull it back to me,
a silly joke, but done with hope;
but my strength failed me one more time.
A week's time is nothing in life,
but this "stranger" act is painful; Oh yeah.
I've never asked you more than this
- just the "good" in dawn and dusk.
Even that is faded now,
forgotten in a few hours trip.
Memories keep me alive dear
It did when I watched you turn into a dot...
... As the whistle blew, she flew;
and as the dust settled, I withdrew.
- Leslie Xavier
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
our paths have many a common lines.
But it was written, we’ll meet as strangers;
by the roadside, as business like as things could get.
A favour you did that day,
bringing me, a message from home.
A letter which meant I’d get to keep,
fruits of my hard work for the month.
We met that day - you wary, me grateful,
But I saw you off today, at the train station
- three months of know-how,
making you a comfy self with me.
From the silly talk the first day – the hi and bye,
to the shared memories yesterday – ‘the see you later’;
These words are my tribute, yes;
to the special friend - my Elixir, you.
From the first bite of frozen Swiss brew,
And the first slice of Italian delight.
Your take on me – “a nice guy it seems”,
but I just was a nicer friend.
“Call me”, a message came;
a mild afternoon it was, the month of Feb.
I did and what I hear,
a “nomination”, that you hold so dear.
What that call means, don’t you know;
It means you saw me close.
A person who you’d love to share,
your triumphs as well as sorrows small.
In return, I gave you that day,
‘Nothing’ cake, with icing of love.
You smiled, the sun shone bright.
Elixir it is, or tell me what.
Then came the endless talks,
of life, thoughts and things we care.
The musings of the musical kind;
and the granted gift to sing lullaby soft.
You don’t know what it means,
to know I’m needed here,
And that too by a person, you,
as special as they come this age.
Then came a day when you had some work;
demands of a hectic course.
You declined to have a quick-bite;
the weekly lunch we’re used to now.
But the reason you gave, made me cry;
Oh tears they were, drops of joy.
I want to spend time with you, said thee;
“not a quick lunch” at a fancy place.
The difference in me you’ll never know,
but as I dance during office chores;
My pals here wonder what’s gotten me,
friends, this Elixir has touched me deep.
It’s something - friendship and more than that,
reason which, is beyond me dear.
You’ve helped me in a bigger way;
than the gifts ordinary, I dote on you.
Between my fits of sadness here,
and the shows of delight at silly moves.
You’ve helped me find a reason within;
reason to remain the man I am.
I’m selfish, ask me why;
I want to be here in this bliss so fine.
So that I could laugh out loud
and tell this world I’m here, and here I am.
The worldly tips and spraying defense;
the martial training, the survival tricks;
all of ‘em are to make it firm,
that my Elixir remains, safe and sure.
I do it all for a cause my own,
for happiness, safety and peaceful nights;
I would be there to see you safe ’n sound,
and glow always with the sunshine smile.
I will live till you fulfill your dreams,
and make my reverie too come true.
That would be the happiest day,
in between all the worldly pains.
My Elixir, I’ve wished so much,
but the serious one is this special quest;
May we remain friends forever,
you, me and the world of care…
- Leslie Xavier
Monday, April 06, 2009
Again Shilpa! Again the same old story of going out with friends for lunch or dinner and then writing first person perspectives of seemingly normal going-out sessions. I know what you guys are thinking. "Leslie, get a life man,"right!
On the other hand I can't help but think what sins this journalist girl commit to go through such a predicament - of being tormented by me, every single day from the moment I started talking properly to her, last Wednesday. Besides, it's definitely not a privilege to be mentioned in the blog of an obscure critter like me. If it was a celebrity blog, then Shilpa's torment would have been worthwhile. But in this little writing space, it isn’t, sadly, but I sure hope it changes - my metamorphosis from obscurity to someone like Salman Rushdie, which would mean I get supermodels as girlfriend every other month.
This morning was the same as the rest, waking up depressed thinking of a good night wasted yesterday by sleep and dreading about the day ahead, ordinary and mundane.
However, this day's theme was "making a second ear piercing", when I go to Kochi, if I go to Kochi that is. I woke up and the first thing I wanted to do was phone amma at home and ask her to buy and keep an ear ring for me. But I didn't... as I didn't want the mother of two to expect my arrival on Easter and then feel disappointed over my "unavailability due to pressing work at office", which involves making pages which "any fool could make and that too better".
It seemed my plan would remain with me for now, till I reach the "Queen of the Arabian Sea".
So back to life in Chennai and with no theme left for the day, I went about fulfilling a request from my dear friend Madonna. She wanted me to check out which train to catch for her Easter visit to Mary, her sister in Salem. And I did better, I booked the up-and-down tickets and with it sealed her fate of enduring the full blunt of early-summer Tamil Nadu sun, as I bought tickets for a day journey.
I would have brought her AC tickets but she gets "nausea traveling in AC". It's funny as she has spent almost her entire life in AC rooms and cars back in Riyadh. It probably shows how badly maintained our Indian Railways' trains are in general. You get away with it in open sleeper class compartments but in closed AC bogies, the stench of years of dirt and dust gets to you, and big time, and dear Madonna knows that.
Besides the day train would mean she will reach her destination safe and sound in "broad daylight". Perhaps she has not heard about the broad-daylight robberies and murders happening around town. I decided I would arm her with something she could use to neutralize potential dangers - a pepper spray canister, full with the potent stinging chemical of course.
That's where Shilpa came in. I asked her where I could get one in Chennai and she suggested Spencers.
We meet there and our first stop in the mall was the food court as I badly wanted to break my 24-hour fast and my friend insisted I eat healthy food from the healthiest of junk-food joint - Subway. So Tuna Salad it was and as we dug into the "very filling" portion, I realized, it's not even a week now since I first spoke decently to this lady, but a good friendship has developed. So be it.
Our pepper spray hunt, by the way, was futile. None of the so-called import goods shops in the mall had it, the sales-person; most of them girls, had funny suggestions. "Try Spencers Daily," said one, probably amused at two "dumb characters" asking for pepper in a foreign-goods shop. Clearly, she thought we were in search of the non-lethal curry spice.
But the afternoon did turn out to be spicy for us after that.
Shilpa wanted a nose-ring and as we tried the silver shop at the mall we realized they only sell in pairs.
"Come on Leslie, be a man, rather a stud, for Christ’s-sake," whispered my ego from inside and I obliged.
We decide to buy a pair and take one each, I will use one as a second accessory on my left ear, while Shilpa will get her nose-ring. It's a win-win situation. But I wanted to pierce my ear and complete the job then and there. Of late I've been pretty impulsive as far as inviting pain I guess.
Shilpa was amused but smiled and said, "why not". After making sure a million times that the 'silver stud' the jeweler was using was sterile, I bow my head, in submission, for the new accessory on me, a silver stud, my second stud... When the gun was fired I didn't even flinch because I had fulfilled my morning theme...
Am I happy or what...
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Well I always fancied myself as Conan the Barbarian, the fictional warrior king, made immortal on the silver screen by the 'Terminator', Mr Arnold Schwarzenegger, a.k.a California governor but formerly, Mr Universe and the holy grail of all budding body builders.
Being brought up in the 'gym atmosphere' at home and getting involved in the carnal yet romantic sport of wrestling during my teens, it's natural I was inspired by Arnold and his "near perfect" physique, which made him 'the man', during the eighties and nineties.
I have no problems being 'the man' but a Barbarian, me! Are you sure dear friends?
Today was fine Sunday, rather hot, but fine it will be as I knew that for a change, I would have a friendly soul beside me at church. Shilpa, my office buddy wanted to “see what the holy mass is all about”, and I can't say no.
I am getting a chance to portray myself as a good Christian right, God knows I'm not. And with Shilpa I can explain the bible and she wouldn't attempt to contradict because I have a feeling she is not much read in the ways of the Catholic Church.
The Sunday will make a turn from fine to finer, I was sure, as Madonna and her brother Ryan will join me and Shilpa and we were planning to try out Arab cuisine at a restaurant nearby. So a great day it ought to be.
Shilpa was all excited about her date with Christ it seems. She had asked me to phone and wake her up at 10 in the morning so that we could make the 12 noon mass at Santhome. But before I shook off my weary head to pick up the phone, she messaged saying she was up and away and will meet me in no time.
Of course I had to rush, but I did manage to brush my teeth and take a bath before wearing my sun-protection - a t-shirt, jeans which I've been wearing for nearly a month, and of course my sun-glasses and UV block cream. Man I'm a metro-sexual, not a Barbarian, I'm sure.
But then people do have other ideas, and why not. It's a free country right.
I took Shilpa into church and she did her best to follow the ballet we Catholics perform during Sunday service - the seemingly well-rehearsed routine of standing up and sitting down and kneeling with grimaces and again standing up.
And finally the time came for receiving communion. I asked her if she would love to receive the "Body of Christ." Of course she knows the importance of this ritual and there was no question of not respecting the church over here.
“Yes,” she said, with all the enthusiasm of a first-grader being offered a chocolate ice-cream. I intimate her about the routine she should follow while walking to the priest to receive communion and I walk behind her to make sure she doesn't fall at the last hurdle.
Anyway that was the first instance when I was called a Barbarian today.
Well, Catholic Church used to consider people outside their order as Barbarians, a convenient usage to brand people beyond their control as hopeless cases. It's not true and we all know it.
With her words, the nun questioned Shilpa's worthiness at receiving Christ's gift and at the same time questioned my Christian integrity, which I feel is as good as calling me a Barbarian. Let it be.
But this Barbarian believes that Body of Christ is every human being's right and not just the estate of Catholics. And Shilpa or anyone else could receive it provided they know what it stands for.
Anyway we came out of church in one piece and met the ever-pleasant brother-sister duo of Ryan and Madonna. “Shilpa, meet Madonna; Ryan, meet Shilpa,” the words flowed from my mouth as I made good use of my PR skills. But it seems that wasn't required as Madonna seemed to like Shilpa. Besides, the Catholic incident at church acted as an ice-breaker and we all had a good laugh about it.
But more was in store for me at the restaurant.
We sit at a table as my friends decided on what to order while I was getting my tummy ready for the feast. But then I noticed that only my plate didn't have spoon and fork around it, the usual instruments, learning to use which is essential to prove one is not a Barbarian.
And as I complained about it, Madonna jumps in with her conclusion. “Probably they figured you eat like a Barbarian,” she says, her eyes sparkling, betraying her elation at being victorious in the area of wit, which is generally my domain.
If the accusation at church was abstract, the second one was direct. Guess I may be a Barbarian after all. No problems at all dear friends. I feel proud. The biggest so called Barbarian was Genghis Khan, the Mongolian emperor who saw his rule being imposed over the entire civilized world at one point in time.
So dear “angel friends of mine”, let this Barbarian be what he is and please excuse me for now. I've got a whole lot of conquering to do in this world, catch you all later.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
sparks of faith, trust and hope in her eyes.
Things which could only come,
through years, a score, of being around.
but also the person's thoughts;
who else could get it right,
who else other than his sister own.
- High Noon at Santhome Church.
Prayers, wishes and love all round,
Sibling bond shining through.
but could never figure their silent words.
Thoughts which one would only know;
by knowing the other for "18 years".
- they have each other in a lonely world.
But we all seem to have someone,
what matters is whether they'll be there.
big bro he'll always be.
He says it between the spoken lines,
words which I could catch with ease.
lonely Sunday's will never be there.
Sprinkled care I'm getting now;
sharing smiles of the loving kind.
(... to a lovely brother-sister pair, Ryan and Madonna)
Me and Shilpa at office
It's hard to see miracles these days, let alone be part of two in one day. Thursday was one such day I guess.
After the Thai adventure with my “lunch connection”, I was on my way to drop her when I got a call from my newly-found friend at office - Shilpa.
It’s an irony. Though Shilpa was aware of my miserable existence in office and I was aware of her presence on the floor, we hardly talked - until last Wednesday, when she submitted her resignation. It has happened to me once before, acquainting with a person the day she seals her destiny to leave I mean. But at last I was able to prove one age old saying wrong. Lightning does strike twice, who said it won’t.
The other funny part is that we both shared the same weekly off – Thursday for almost a year and only now I know about it. So much for my mother’s wish that I should start socialising more with the “girls in office”. Poor mama!
Anyway Shilpa phoned and I was expecting the call too as the day before she had suggested we meet up some place, “say the beach or something”.
“Great Idea,” I had said. So while on my way to Santhome church I get her call asking me whether the beach-walk is on. Of course it’s on. Otherwise I will end up cycling out to ECR and I was in no mood for my usual marathon effort because my tummy was full to the brim with Thai delicacies and the Chennai sun was in love with me more than even, caressing my skin so firmly that it was burning.
She suggests meeting at the beach and I said yeah but when I mentioned I was at Santhome she changes her plan. She has never been to the Basilica...
Then it happens one by one, the miracles!
After spending quality time in the serenity of the House of God we decide we have had enough of spirituality for a day and head to Marina beach, to catch some waves.
Shilpa has been living in Chennai for many years now and her Tamil is good indeed, though it has too much of mannered talks, I felt. But still the auto guys outside church thought we were tourists, lost and tired from our day’s tour of the city. Well we weren’t lost and we sure weren’t tired and that’s what my friend tried to convey to the first auto driver who approached us asking us whether we needed wheels to complete out day’s quota of sight seeing.
The second miracle happens. The auto guy offers to take us anywhere in Chennai for just twenty bucks. “It’s been a long day and no business sir,” he reasons. “Just twenty rupees sir and hop on.”
One guy gave up then another one came, and when Shilpa used her well-maintained Palakkad Tamil on him, he gave up too.
A miracle indeed, I’m sure anyone who’s been in Chennai and travelled in an auto will agree. Chennai auto ‘brothers’ are known for their buccaneering endeavours, perhaps a quality they inherited from their sea-faring ancestors. No offense departed souls, I know you guys were no pirates, but these fellows are...
You must be wondering what the first miracle was. Well it happened back in the church. Imagine, Leslie Xavier, taking Shilpa for a guided tour of a church and that too, a place where St Thomas, an apostle of Jesus, was laid to rest. If the auto incident was a big miracle, then this must be the miracle of the century.
I was never close to church, but I do like to believe I am close to God in my own way. But still that doesn’t qualify me to be an authority on church matters. But I was talking like a Roman Catholic theologist and Shilpa was game for it too.
We spoke about St Thomas, the Catholic Church, Gothic architecture and of course, I shattered the silence of the church with my loud far-from-mellow voice, which I used to bad use again when I sang the hymn, “I Surrender,” which is my lunch-connection friend’s (Bunny’s) favourite.
The late-afternoon sun from the west was doing its magic through the stained glass windows of the Basilica and my friend was sure enjoying it, if not my constant chatter.
But then came the final straw. We went up the stairs to get a bird’s eye view of the altar and I suggested we climb the spire, the bell tower rather. Shilpa was ready again but half way through she decided I’m mad and she is not. She got down and with it finished the guided tour of the National Shrine of Santhome Basilica.
But I guess the church tour triggered another guided tour, in which I will come to know who this soon-to-be-former-colleague of mine really is as a person and she will probably know the real Leslie.
Right now she knows that “I am a good guy but not a guy to be messed with”. Probably true, but let her decide whether her assessment is true after knowing me for a little while more.
For the time being, we had a nice even at the Marina, me talking and at the same time watching grown up kids play in the water, while she was observing me make sand cakes using the cup we had used to drink ginger tea.
A nice evening indeed, made memorable, let me guess, by the two miracles? No, made memorable by a friend who shares a pretty obvious parallel with me. The hair!
We both have curly springy dry hair, of course hers much thicker than mine and I admit I’m a little jealous as she doesn’t have a fast-receding hairline.
God sure loves women more!
Friday, April 03, 2009
To be honest, it probably was not in the league where we could say, "it was an enchanting gourmet trip to Thailand". But for the couple of amateurs that we are, I guess it was fine. We had our Thai lunch, from one of the "good" if not the "best" Thai restaurants in town and we enjoyed it every bit, partly because the food appealed to our taste buds and partly, at least for me, it was a company I cherish.
Well it was yet another Thursday, weekly off, another day to feel lost, as I usually am when my body can't cope with a mind which is still on overdrive, from the previous weeks' up-and-down run in the valley of no return - my office, the ever-alert newsroom cum editorial.
It was time for the weekly rendezvous with my friend to renew the 'lunch connection'.
Checking out the different foodie joints in Chennai is what I do with her and this week the draw went to Thai cuisine and the first name that came to my mind was a small door I see every other day, while going to work.
I usually take the TTK Road while cycling to Nandanam and to my office, just because the trees lining the street protect me from the relentless mid-afternoon Chennai sun. And I sure have noticed the name "Benjarong", which they say is one of the best Thai joints in town.
But is it true? Is Benjarong Thailand personified? I don't know as I'm not familiar with Thai cuisine and even Thai culture, though I do know a few things about Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and the bicycle I ride is also an import from the South East Asian paradise.
So Bangkok, here we come, albeit in an auto rickshaw, not Thai Airways.
The place itself, when you enter, gives a feeling you can chill, be yourself and have a nice left-to-ourselves lunch.
But then it better be, otherwise who'll bother to go there next time. I know I won't. Because for me, the ‘gastronomical’ journey I undertake with my friend here is rather secondary to the emotional joy-ride I take when I sit opposite her and indulge in talks, ranging from the choir girl I would love to fall for, to how vast her chocolate wrappers collection is.
Yes, I know what is going through everyone's head now. Who is this friend, who's eccentric enough to collect wrappers and end up having a treasure huge enough to fill up the entire cupboard in her room and who fights tooth and nail for it when her roommate tries to clean the mess.
Well, the people who know me think I myself am a weirdo at times. So I guess we are just friends made for each other.
Anyway like I said, we are in this Thai "island" in the middle of "Tam-Bram country" and I am not the least worried whether what we eat is authentic or not. It looks, smells, tastes and even sounds OK to both of us. The food was great. So our gourmet curiosity is satisfied.
But beyond that, the whole experience, at least for me, was not a flight to Bangkok, but a flight to the roof of the room we were lunching in! A trip which showed me my inner self in relation to the special friend opposite me.
A trip I took, when I was sitting in front of her, eating my desert, while she had already finished hers and was eyeing mine with suspicion. Yes shedug into my dessert bowl as well, that’s what makes her special. No cosmetic airs about her at all...
Coming back to the flight; I floated up to the ceiling, had an outer body experience so to speak. I was above the table and I could see us both chit chatting. What are we doing there? No beating around the bush here. I wanted a straight forward answer. So Leslie, what's up doc?
Can't you see? We are finishing our lunch and with it, we are finishing another page of our "Friendship Log". A page which has some weird "leaf and peanut laced in a sweet sauce" appetiser, a chicken starter wrapped all over in bamboo shoots, pan-fried noodles, lamb, and dessert - all Thai style.
But more importantly a page which also had, the speciality of the day - "the chets and molus" fermented in love, the sweetest of ingredients known to any chef, and of course, the words of mutual respect, admiration, and, how can I forget, the small fights...
And yes, the three dots mean the story will never end here, it'll continue, my hope is... for eternity, if not forever.