I wrote this after the 26/11 attacks by terrorists on the iconic Taj Hotel in Bombay in 2008, India’s own 9/11 😦

I will never forget waking up to the news of the attacks on the morning of my Birthday on 27/11 – what a beginning to my Fortieth!! Just as I was reaching a milestone, my city was reeling under the onslaught of terrorists with their wanton violence. The attack felt almost personal this time, coz the Taj was a place my family and I frequented often for meals and special occasions. Anyone of us could have been there on the given day and one of cousins, with whom I share a Birthday, very nearly was! It just put everything in frightful perspective. I did celebrate my Birthday and looking back, I think the only reason I could was because my friends made the day super special for me 🙂 and because distance allowed. We were still in Singapore then and I could switch off the TV and pretend at least for a few hours that all was well with the world. But it wasn’t and as the tragedy stretched on I was left wondering what the World was coming to. Why do events like 9/11 and 26/11, happen over and over again? Is it because we, as responsible citizens, let them – with our narrow vision of the World, our reluctance to get over our prejudices, our unwillingness to compromise and our penchant for talking without listening? Is it the often senseless foreign policy of our countries that is mostly (certainly in India), vote-driven and not solution-oriented? It’s all of that and more, I know. I just wonder when we humans are finally going to get it right.

The reason I thought to re-post this, was because with all that ‘s happening in Japan, surely we must see that in the disaster-department’ we are not a patch on Mother Nature. She can do what we can only dream off, on a humongous scale, in the bat of an eyelid, with no warning, no pointless posturing and no mercy. The only thing that then remains is for us battered humans to pick up the pieces, the ruptured threads of our lives and try our best to move on. To somehow find Hope amidst ruin and salvage what’s left of our broken spirits. To rise again, Phoenix-like, from the ashes of our existence. What gives me heart is how we manage, repeatedly, to do just that! A year after the horror, the Taj Hotel, opened it’s doors again to visitors from all over the World 🙂 President Obama visited it on his trip to India and paid homage to Her courage and spirit.

And so no matter how cynical I get about the future of the human race, somewhere in a corner of my soul – Hope Floats 🙂


She stands majestic by the sea,

Her brick walls steeped in history,

A century of memories, witnessing all,

Love, Intrigue, Scandals & Balls,

The birthing of Nations, Coronations of Kings,

Anniversaries, Birthdays, Luncheons & things.

Yet after all that She had seen,

Tragedy loomed, grim, unseen.

On a black day in Time ,

When the nightmare began,

Her walls lay shattered,

O cowardly hand of man!

Milky marble burnt to cinders,

Hot coal fires, fatal embers.

Her spirit torn asunder by a billion silent screams,

Blood; Blood everywhere, flowing crimson streams.

Dark those days and darker nights,

No respite, relief in sight.

The nightmare continued – endless, fey,

The sky coloured a morbid grey.

The world watched silent, as it always does,

Doing little, saying much.

Determined she battled for freedom & grace,

Wrenched herself free from Death’s embrace,

Lives surrendered, Innocence lost,

Victory was hers, but alas the cost!

People cheered, forgot their fears,

Visions dimmed by happy tears,

She rose again, phoenix-like,

A beacon of hope from the ashes of Life!

If She can do it, perhaps so can I?

Spread my broken wings and fly,

High above in cloudless sky, spread my broken wings and fly.

– Harsha



This is something I wrote a while ago, when I first moved back to Goa to live with my parents. Yes you heard me right! It was also the time that Ishaan (my son) came into my life, and as you can imagine ‘quiet time’ was for other people…people who had lives, while mine went up in smoke! Oh! I know I was feeling overwhelmed and things are so much better now, but still ever so often, the mind craves quiet and solitude. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but it’s become a life-quest of sorts…this search for peace and solitude. I know I’ll be feeling this way again come April when Ishaan starts 2 long months of summer vacation! And don’t you tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about!


I crave a peaceful haven,

Amidst the buzzing in my brain,

Where crazy plans & idle thoughts,

Bring calamity & pain.

Where I can find much needed calm,

From daily drudgery,

And wallow in the sweet retreat,

Of my hallowed sanctuary.

Will I ever find it?

That  place, that’s all my own?

Or am I doomed to live & die,

Ever seeking and alone?

That space I visit in my dreams,

Where no one dare trespass,

Where in the quiet of my mind,

Stillness comes at last.

– Harsha

Inferno…another poem!

I’ve just finished two serious non-fiction books back to back. Stranger to History by Aatish Taseer and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Both well written accounts, the former autobiographical and the latter a biography of Henrietta Lacks, a hitherto, uncelebrated woman, who unknowingly made a contribution to Medical science that revolutionized the field of genetics and Tissue Research (Will post my review later).

So after such heavy reading (although the books were surprisingly easy to read by my non-fiction standards!), I needed a palate-cleanser and so I turned to Roald Dahl 🙂 For the life me I cannot understand why I haven’t read him before! Yes, I confess I haven’t! Dahl and Seuss are not authors I read during childhood for reasons best known to nobody! But better late than never and I have been having a ball reading extracts from his stories and the genius of the man just blows me away! I don’t know why he should be labelled a children’s author either…none of his stories are fairy-tales in the true sense. Many are pretty graphic and gritty and don’t smooth over the rough stuff, especially his Revolting Rhymes which had me in splits 😀 There’s a lot of ‘cutting of heads with thwacks of the sword’ and the like, which perhaps not everyone would want to read with kids? They are real stories of real people told in the most fantastically imaginative ways 🙂 I for one though will have no such issues when it comes the time to read them with Ishaan! Something tells me, he’ll love reading about the BFG and Esio Trot and Crocky Croc 🙂 My favorite so far is Esio Trot and I’m going back to the store on Monday to get a boxed set of his classics like Mathilda, James and the Giant Peach and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 🙂 The illustrations that accompany the stories are a treasure! A huge reason why I love children’s books to this day are the pictures. I wonder why as they grow up, authors & readers, begin to feel pictures are redundant 😦

I know, I know, you’re wondering what all this has to do with the unlikely title of Inferno 😛 I’m getting to that…Geez a little patience people! Reading Dahl’s poems made me want to write poetry again. I have written two recently that you can check out here & here if so inclined, and quite enjoyed the experience 🙂 I’m not a prolific poet but for me the writing of poetry brings more personal satisfaction, coz I find it more difficult than prose. Also there’s something about rhyme that just knocks me off my feet 🙂 This particular poem on Fire took me a while to write, because I edit myself severely when I’m writing. Now that it’s done, the thought of a series on the 5 elements, Earth, Fire, Water, Air & the Void seems attractive! That’s me…never happy to leave well enough alone 😉 Meanwhile, without further ado, here’s my take on Fire.

Happy reading while I try to write something more Dahl-esque 😛

Happy Weekend People 🙂

Loved these candles in a church in Barcelona...


Mellow flames that sing & dance,

Burn yellow, red and gold,

Shining warmth and comfort,

Soothing to behold.

From the first time that they came alive,

In putting stick to stone,

The radiance of fire,

Through centuries has shone.

Glowing orange embers,

Shutting out the cold,

Melting milk & chocolate,

For children, young and old!

Baking pies & cookies,

Roasting birds and nuts,

Melting cheese and toasting bread,

In warm and cheery huts.

Shaping glass and metal,

Weapons old & new,

Fireworks on summer nights,

In scintillating hues.

Flames can be kind and gentle,

As we have seen above,

But the fury of a fire,

Hides in the gentleness of doves.

A violent reaction,

To a flame upon a stick,

The dainty, humble kitchen match,

Brings down forests, old & thick.

When luminous and steady,

A traveler’s delight!

In a fire-breathing dragon,

Lies the bane of every knight!

Burying town and city,

‘Neath stones and dust and ash,

Molten flowing rivers,

Life extinguished in a flash.

The flames, they hallow and they cleanse,

The spirits of the dead,

Sometimes they feed on fuel,

Sometimes on souls and dread.

Spreading light and sparkle,

Innocently shone,

The flames that roast a chicken,

Can char it to the bone.

So listen to your mother,

When she warns you little thing,

“Don’t play with fire, Darling!

That’s how it all begins.”

Beware the gentle flame my friend,

Lest it burn that tender skin!

Trust not its gentle shimmer,

An inferno dwells within!

– Harsha




This is the first poem I ever wrote…

It was just after watching the movie of the same title, starring one my all-time favourites Robert DeNiro. The movie is based on a true story of what happens when long-term comatose patients start waking up after they receive a revolutionary drug.

A poignantly beautiful movie about the fragility of life, it got me thinking about how they must have felt, when they awoke to a ‘Whole New World’ & where they might have been during all those years of silent vigil.

I don’t know why I’ve been thinking about it today – maybe it has something to do with ‘The Year of the Rat’ and new beginnings or the fact I will turn 40 this year, or the fact that we are waiting for our Baby to arrive, or all of the above! Or maybe it’s just my gut telling me, 2008 – is truly the year of my Awakening!


What is my cage?
If not of bars, of thoughts,
Of words, of dreams.
What is it that keeps me from myself,
If not a cage.

What is it that brings me joy?
Helps me fly, touch the sky.
Keeps me from drowning, keeps me afloat,
A touch of sunlight, a ray of hope.

Where is my soul if not within,
And is my heart in perfect sync?
My mind, it soars,
My eyes, they bore,
Into the future and the past,
Until I am at peace at last.

– Harsha

‘Father Time’

I honestly don’t remember how this next one came to me!

Wish I could say it evolved from some intellectual thought process or better yet – arrived fully formed into my head like manna from heaven! The fact is, haven’t a clue – vaguely remember thinking ‘rhyming’s a bitch!’

So here He is ‘Father Time.’ Be careful he won’t stay long…

‘Father Time’

Sometimes it’s hard to know,
If ‘Time’ is friend or hateful foe.
Racing along when he should walk slow,
Standing still when he needs to flow.

He’s ‘Father’, he’s money,
And sometimes just funny!
Laughing, crying. angry, sad,
And at times, just plain bad.

He has his own energy, walks his own pace,
While men run his awkward race.
Some with passion, some with grace,
Some with red and puffy face!

He has a mind all his own,
To terrorize, humble, soothe or clone.
No beginnings, never ends,
Worst of enemies, best of friends.

He pays no heed to human emotions,
Traveling along in his own motion.
Raising mountains, filling oceans,
Watching the rise and fall of nations.

Does he mend broken hearts, and heal broken bones?
Or maybe turn men to stone?
He turns tiny seeds into giant trees,
And then cuts them down with scary ease.

He can be as gentle as a baby’s breath,
Or cold and hard, still as death.
How might we stop him, make him care?
To solve his riddle, who would dare?

– Harsha


A dear friend of mine organized a dance festival a while ago that showcased Indian Contemporary Dance. It was my first serious exposure to the madly chaotic yet strangely serene world of creative arts – and I enjoyed every loony minute of it!!

I’ve always had a secret yearning to be creative in the way great artists and authors and dancers are. Creation is mystical to me – often mundane always magical!

The festival allowed me to interact closely with artists practicing their art of dance and I came away impressed by their dedication, moved by their courage, mesemerized by their passion. They seemed normal enough during the day, but on stage at night, they were transformed into mystical beings, lost in their world of song and dance, oblivious to us mere mortals fated only to watch.

I come from a family that loves music and the amalgamation of music and dance at the festival made me think of the music in our everyday lives and inspired me to write this next poem…


Music is all around…

In raindrops falling soft and light,
Or thunderstorms, crackling bright,
In the quick march of army boots,
And the low notes of a night owl’s hoot.

In the pitter-patter of little feet,
In the silence of a golden sleep,
Dreams unleash their silent beats,
Music dwells in every heartbeat.

In a baby’s cry and a mother’s sigh,
On quivering lips and mountains high,
In a lover’s song and the temple gong,
Loud and clear, pure and strong.

In the timeless changing of seasons,
And sometimes, for no good reason!
All around us music plays,
In lullabies and ‘Amazing Grace’.

From swaying trees and rustling leaves,
In the trickle of water before the freeze,
Or wafting by on an ocean breeze,
Music brings a sweet release.

Through the gay abandon of letting go,
In the eyes of parents, all aglow,
In the laughter of children and magic of song,
All around us music abounds.

In the maddening chatter of teenage voice,
Where old friends gather and rejoice,
In nostalgic melodies and modern rhymes,
Music takes us, on a journey through time.

In a beautiful dancer’s form and grace,
Music claims eternal space,
Swaying hips and tapping feet,
Moving to the rhythm of soulful beats.

Over and under, inside and out,
Whisper, holler, yell and shout,
Can’t escape it, won’t let go,
Makes spirits sing and passion flow.

In the stillness of morning and calmness of dawn,
Lie infinite beginnings of magical songs.
Conquering boredom, softening thorn,
In every moment, music is born.

– Harsha