March 4th

Image result for bhima river in maharashtra


The bald hill stooped, pearl-pink and grey-

(A silent hippopotamus ashore):

You said, “green is all gone” –

Rubbed clean off like a slate

By the hand of the last rain itself?

A rivulet ran, broken,

Brown and harried,

Following the engine of its season late into oblivion.

Hunted by the Sun athirst, all water

Had ascended or sunk underground:

Still we drove on,

The country-side blond and brown,

Broken sometimes by a green tide of mango-trees,

As parrots screeched,

Crossing the road overhead:

You said, “ keep looking for water”.

And we did.

We always do – waiting, and driving,

Through the news head-lines and road diversions

Of the dry season,

Till we attain, briefly, but again,

Our season, our marble lake or silver stream.

©Krishnamurti Ganesh

(For Shivani)



Image result for peepal tree


With leaves, back-lit by the Sun,

Glass-green and veined

And in starlight,

Dark tufted chins,

The Peepal tree’s

Roots cleave the earth,

(Taut with muscle and bone

The standing trunk)-

Poised hooves of wild horses:


A hill-stream descends,

A cow’s-bell tinkling –

Stillness swings in the night-branches

Like infant-apes,

Moving the tree forward:


Here’s a nucleus

Detached, whole,

Never going wrong –

And all light moving


Or star-beyond.

©Krishnamurti Ganesh


Mumbai Fire Brigade

Image result for mumbai fire brigade's bird rescue


The terns, the parrots and the crows

All fly nest-ward- except one crow

Upended, from a branch dangling,

Its feet entangled in kite-string;


A fire-engine! Its bells are heard-

Called to rescue the hapless bird-

A man points out the right branch then,

And the Mumbai Fire Brigade’s men


Raise their ladder up to the bird,

A Fireman’s up without a word;

They leave as swiftly as they came-

(they save birds as well as douse flames) –


As the loosed crow flies away free,

A cheer is heard around the tree –

“All hail the Mumbai Fire Brigade!

They’re stuff of which legends are made”

©Krishnamurti Ganesh

O Americar !

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In September, the trees and bushes wear their most dazzling hues,

Their best foliage, eye-devouring: Candles burning brightest at the end.

Then winter moves in, a long season to live and wait out.

Always we hear the unrequited wailing of the cars on the roads, lying on our quiet bed,

A ceaseless sea of breakers crashing eerily, early and late, on the shores of our slumbers-

We unwittingly killing the deer and us unwittingly killed by them as the hunted turns hunter:

Yet, nothing can stop Americar.


This is a kind of Self-Removal Act. We drive away or we die-

Hear the sound of gravel chattering in the under-carriage.

When we had horses, we traveled as well.

We moved from on-the-saddle to at-the-wheel when we rolled out the cars-

The taming of vast America!

Our wheels are a flying lasso, and we whip destinations over to where we are – in our cars.

The pealing birches and the skyward oaks go deaf in the lashing of the wheels’

High tides upon their margins:


There is no loving or hating it, only the needing it. We chose.

When we wear the body of the car, get under its roof, it’s familiar, home-from-home,

We can feel disembodied. The car runs by itself, taking us with it where it would go.

The noise, the echo, the sough, the- rough- sea- crashing- on- a-rocky coast- roar,

The metal and fabric tensions, the bonnet’s pushing of the wind aside and up, playing it like a trumpet,

The howling cars running down the riverine roads.


With objects and smells not permitted to move in, keeping the quarrels inside, hate

In the cool cars, on a dull, grey day with a concealed bite in it.

Past post-boxes (with their red flags up like smoking pipes), as approved by the Post Master General-

You should deliver our mail in the car, O Post Master General, and have post-patrols!-

No eyes for the eye-piercing green of the views, the speaking looking ahead,

The not missing anything on the road ahead.


The taming of America by our carsmen, the carboys, riding lonely on the road

Of petrol-hoses and card-swipes, the road-rubbing of the tyres, then cars rested at last like horses-

(Inhospitable distances for the visitors from overseas, imposing all but incarceration);

Inexhaustible driving just to live, just to survive.


We learn to love occasionally the disembodied being that sits at the wheel, and

Relishes the joy of getting away, the thrill of going somewhere else, the doing in miles

What we can never know inside.

Has it been found-what we seek if we seek it?

These questions can wait.


Who knows the truth or speaks it- that the nature, the beauty,the terror and magnificence of this land

Don’t suit us hollow people –

This country we robbed off the natives – as it did them, with their wisdom and their Gods-

That we have profaned this land – with our excesses and over-lit screens!

Notwithstanding – it’s too late to regret –

” I am in blood stepped in so far that should I wade no more, to return were as tedious as go o’er.

Strange things I have in head, that will to hand….”

We won’t let the country’s wheels come off, for anything.

Meanwhile, Time and the Planet call time-on us, and the gasoline.

Capturing all the other Iraqs left cannot help but you bet we will try.

(Libyaward ho!) We have killed so many at so many places before,

While, all the time, full of self-adulation and self-righteousness, and grand-standing about virtues!

We are such old hands at terrorism, we thrive on it,

We learnt it long ago in claustrophobic England, where we come from-

We got a whole continent by it.

We Americans have real lives, real blood, real flesh – unlike the rest of the planet,

As everyone knows.

In time, we shall hunt again and again, as will our sons, ours sons’ sons

To make the world safe for the civilized people, for America and our cars with the endless thirst……

We shall top up for tonight.

There is a big enemy, a dragon not civilized like us, growing everyday but who’s afraid?

Who can stop Americar?

©Krishnamurti Ganesh


The Girl Who Wore The Red Frock

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Girl in the red frock, three years old,

Said, “Papa left me behind though

I wore the red frock”, and she cried:

(It was her best going-out frock);


Mother consoled her, with a laugh,

‘How was he to know that, little one,

That you would wear the new, red frock,

Instead of just the usual one?” :


The child didn’t understand at all,

And soon forgot, as children do;

(Her Mother, she says, told this tale

Whenever nostalgic she grew


About the days that won’t come back);

Now, her Mother died long ago

And Old Father has left her back

One last time, in her Khardi home:


(He wore a raging red fire

When last seen): and I feel forlorn,

Less for the death of her sire,

Than for her, when she’d red frock worn


But was sadly left behind and

Felt so distressed then; I’d strive

To expiate the incident –

Now that there’s no Mother alive


To comfort- she’d not be in tears

When the colour she wears is red,

For they loved their child of three years

Not more than I the wife I wed.

(For Shivani)

©Krishnamurti Ganesh


(Pic by Svetlana Protsyuk)


The sea-sand is pricked by crabs

Resurrected by water

In retreat. A sea-gull makes

Another in the mirror


Of the wet sands. A hundred

Metres distant from dry ground,

On its moss-encased legs stands,

The old pier. The waves pound


The land, charged with air and fire.

They spread out in the evening

Like a fanned-out deck of cards.

Shores of remorse departing,


The sea, deep inside its dream,

Through every exhibition

Of Sun and Moon, it would seem,

Works its own absolution.

©Krishnamurti Ganesh

Aarey lake

Image result for aarey colony lake


On the Sunday, as on other days,

The birds come for the fishes,

An eagle nips one off like a bud,

The terns peck in the scum,

The duck cuts a straight line on the lake-skin,

Like a ship’s prow;

A shore-tree’s reflection makes

Twins, stuck root-to-root;

A baby kingfisher looks ahead,

His back, black-blue, shining like oil-slick,

And he is so keen to get his own fish;

The time was ten but hot in the traffic below

To my right where it was getting on towards noon,

While for me beside the lake,

Beneath the gulmohur,

It was cool dawn

©Krishnamurti Ganesh

Parallel Universe: Life on the Rails III

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I am looking ahead.

Behind the partition, behind my head, is another head that faces its own forward.

Turned in the opposite side, my future is his past.

Neither has a present.

Neither is in one.

If you counted my two other neighbors and the passengers behind each of us, we make an eight-headed God.

The refuse and junk of my vision, the man behind me re-sees.

I am chucking the scenery behind like a back-pass in Basketball.

The present is unseizable, an unsucked fruit that I fling back.

Neither can he hold it long enough.

On the rails, my future into his past.

We cannot seize the day.

Solemn, silent sentinels, not knowing Time is not.

Beasts condemned, staring ahead.

The refuse, the junk of my vision, the man behind re-cycles, re-uses or tries so to do.

He sees what I see after they go past me.

Neither sees enough for the eyes to grasp.

Faces go past me.

He is borne away, taken back from them.

His is a leaving, a being borne away; mine a being left, a near collision.

I have travelled at the back of a bullock cart, facing back and out while the driver sat facing forward.

And, on a horse-cart with oat-stalks slung under it in a gunny hammock.

A Jatka.

The present is constantly lost in the trying to process the future and the past, crushed between, dregs wasted and flung away at either end.

We are both exhausted by our eye-hunger.

My double at my back is staring out the rushing scenes and perhaps, looking to get a focal destination of light, or of the mist yet to recede far from him.

My historical perspective is too racy.

I read the post-cards, not sure if they are addressed to him or to me.

He re-assesses my discards, unable to fix the water-marks, the landmarks.

Still, like a tankard or cistern, the scenes fill up black and rich and unknowable in their flight.

In the end, the content is discovered.

There is content, context, body, being, a black face stuck with mirror-pieces, a folk-doll.

That is what happened to all that flew past me to my back-partner, his vision and my side-long scurrying searches, “Did you catch what I threw?”

Meanwhile, either of us might get his eyes fixated on an object that never dissolves in all the dissolving dark speed.

My illusion of the future and his of the past are revolving on the fulcrum of the wheel of the present but do we care to know?

Orbital! Straight lines curl up as circles and circles uncurl into straight lines.

He is throwing himself backward, body-less.

Our four eyes are satiated with the food we cannot eat.

We fix our gazes five feet – I, ahead, and he, his ahead.

Though each has his own ahead, he knows only that things are parting from him.

I can’t go to the door.

He makes as if he can see them off.

He can’t.

When I strain my head back and look at his face as he is whisked away, his eyes glow with a gladness, like a hand held out to be shaken.

©Krishnamurti Ganesh


Image result for Paul Kee 'Field" 

(Pic: Paul Klee)


We pass walls of charred rock, through damp traps of tunnel, with panic fear, ear asphyxiating, fear of blindness once the tunnels cease.

There is pink, purple, red grass drying in the Sun.

As we climb, I conduct the height, the steepness, pushing myself up on the naked balls of my feet, insteps, and a nerve falls out of the body, a bone of lightning falling half-way down a brown ravine.

There is the label, the forehead of the mountain that’s risen above the tunnels. The mountain has blind, black eyes, dark circles under them and nostrils breathing out heat, a waist swelling green, hip-bones like a giant bull’s horns, but no navel, signifying an unconventional origin with no coil of connectedness.

A stiff hippopotamus rock stares, marble tears frozen in one eye. In that aloftness, my legs are streaming down stilt-like and elongating to place a safe foot on the rubble four hundred feet below. The legs are growing as they fall by a Procrustesean pulledness, and by gravity, by not fear but a reflex need to gain a firm footing when you never could wish wings.

Threshing is over and done with. Igloos of straw sit all around the harvested field. Rusted fishplates are stacked in the foreground making a visual distraction from the tens of blond huts, certainly accentuation. The field of off-white, cream coloured stubble coarse and tough, glows pale-golden in patches with a brown skin the colour of leather and mud. There is a wind-wafted straw smell.

Growing things are dwarfish and ridges ensquare the field that looks scrubbed of all growth, even latent growth, which is, simply, never true. Too much sight, too much subjectivity, surface-surfeit. Things are not always what they do not seem, not always, as you peel a little of the universe off your skin.

©Krishnamurti Ganesh



Life on the Rails: space and identity

Paul Klee Mountain Train

(Painting: Paul Klee’s ‘Mountain Train’)

The Traveling Ticket Examiner, fondly abbreviated to “TT(E)” in India was explaining to my neighbor.

“I tell you he is higher berth, you are lower”.”

“Caste is coming in Railway trains also?”

He looked around to gauge the reaction. No reaction.

“But I believe Ambedkar”, he said to me, “he said to abolish caste”.

I smiled weakly and nodded.

I had made the mistake of meeting his eye.

This may become tiresome.

Had I started something?

Fortunately he shuffles off when the seat’s proper claimant appears.

His was the lower berth in the next compartment, it turned out.

By and large, caste has worked well for India over the centuries.

It may work for several more if only our politicians and ‘reformers’ would leave it alone.

Having a caste and being proud of it for the group identity it gives you is productive,  sensible and makes for self-respect and discipline, provided you don’t talk of ‘higher’ and ‘lower’.

Now there enters a set of transgressors.

They have penetrated our family and ‘legal’ space.

The head of the invading family is tall and wears a disgruntled look.

A vague, quick ping of memory goes off in my head.

Have I seen him before?

I have seen most people before.

I like the shape of his nose.

Is he a Rajasthani?

I decide not to resist him.

His brood scattered over three compartments is coming together and pitching its tent in our midst.

The immigrants appear to know they are transgressors which makes them less threatening.

Tame aggressors with a sense of right and wrong are not difficult to forgive.

Once I get a signal of guilt from another, I find it possible to get remote and withdraw into myself.

Two of us are sleeping on the upper berths and till they wake up and want to sit below, this large family can use “our” space.

There are times when one starts to skirmish over one’s space and it turns out that space was not one’s in the first place.

One such mild face-off occurred as I was musing thus.

A man showed me his ticket, it was the berth number I had been allotted and was in possession of, and the bogie was the same.

He was getting pretty impatient for me to see the light and to take my things and vamoose.

As I held my ground, a neighbor well-versed in railway literature, perused the Norman conqueror’s ticket and declared,

“This is for tomorrow’s journey”.

In the silence that ensued, the Norman conqueror’s wife impressed one and all by not upbraiding her husband in front of us.

Not just berths but all possessions are hard to establish as ours, and the same applies to what we identify as ourselves.

Our places upon this earth are rented, never owned, notwithstanding the documentary proofs.

So are, in essence, our identities which too are merely rented.

Our bodies, we are told, we have taken on rent for our pleasure and that disease and death are the fee.

In the very act of proving our identity it changes, given the obstacles in communication.

Conversations destabilize our identities and that is why they are said to be good for society.

Besides, shouldn’t I know that I am real and that I really do exist in space and form?

Unless someone acknowledges me, how do I know I physically exist at all?

Just one mirror isn’t enough.

I can’t even see my own back in it.

I may say I want privacy.

I consider this an excuse to avoid knowing who I am not, for it is by usage and social exchanges that I can understand that I am no different from anyone else.

This will help me to tear down the wall of my special identity, on whatever pretext i may have it.

Anyway, the world is not so constituted that it can provide everyone the private space that he needs.

All this is tedious philosophy but not deep and so nobody will drown in it.

Let me return to the train reality.

How do we open our packed lunch and eat in front of so many strangers in this small space?

We shall share.

Sharing is a social strategy.

We will at least make the offer.

It will break the ice for now.

Anyway, our families shall inevitably and comfortably frost over again later, as before, by mutual benign and natural neglect.

Possibly by the time we reach Bina, the next junction.

That’s the nature of things.

I conclude this one has been somewhat thought through.

It’s time to unbox the bluff and social manner.

©Krishnamurti Ganesh

Samvatsara Vikari, Chithirai 30 (May 13, 2019)