Saturday, December 8, 2007

four degrees of separation


Stream your fingers
through the flames
of a mid-morning dream

and see how broken glass
broken bone
make perfect symphony

the walk

many walks
over many a earth
were made
to reach this place

many journeys


the dull, aching pieces
of a tornado
coming together

are the allowances of the heart

for when you ache
you are to break

in the slipstream
of a very cold laugh

another dream

the thing they call warm love
is so liberating;
so caging

where slivers
of your razor thin selves
over an offspring of feelings

© Rochelle Potkar

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

we once watched the sun together

Just like you allow the hills
to seduce you
and have cold winds wrap
around your shoulders

Just like you match
every heartbeat with
its undulating echo
across the valley

I crave the beaches
- my home -
where the warm waters lap
leaving me shivering
I lie in the sand
watching wing-flapped screensavers

I remain as still as a rock
just the way you do
on the cliff
releasing a silent prayer

In that quietness
as the sun sets
We both can feel
the earth has moved

© Rochelle Potkar

(to VP)

a day in life

It was an early, rainy morning and the sky was painted a dull grey.

I had placed my mirrored bag and transparent umbrella on the adjoining seat and had just fished out Pamuk’s book to read while at the wait, when he arrived.

I wouldn’t have raised my eyes. I shouldn’t have raised my eyes. Because I lost the paragraph I was, just a moment ago, concentrating on. In front of me just a table across he - dressed in a lose t-shirt and lopsided jeans with chappals - settled, doing a customary round of nods. The girls in front of him seemed unperturbed.
But something inside me quickened, thickened, melted like cold drops of frozen water sliding across the glass of cold coffee.

I quickly bent my head, tucking a wisp of hair behind my ear, trying to trace over to the paragraph I had last left the story. I was going to appear cool, no matter what. He must have looked my way because there were few other people in the café and certainly no one like the girl-woman dressed in a white t-shirt and rolled up jeans, hair flowing to the beckoning of the wind, one hand heavy with copper bangles, so deeply engrossed in reading her book that she did not even stir when the rain announced another hiccupped bout of its ferocity.

The tiles on the porch caught the glint of drizzle. I could sense the bristles of rain wetting my toes but I managed to keep my body very still and breath low and very ordinary.

I read a paragraph thrice noting how unbearably elusive its meaning was getting.

He moved suddenly to answer a call on his mobile and that was the chance. I asked the waiter to get the bill and without stopping to look or think I lifted my things.
I had to find myself a place of reclusive safety in order to preserve what was happening inside me from getting outside.

I reached the warm insides of a new place and searched it. There were people playing in the bowling alley. Two turned conscious if I was watching them at their goal. I smiled and quickly joined in.
Anything to wade off that energy.
Anything to de-mystify.

How funny thoughts are, even for the very same person. You may think one thing of the past and miss out the thing happening in the present, though my thoughts were more on a tangent, going awry. I never thought that he must have searched for me when he came back to the table wondering where that girl-woman so deeply engrossed in reading should have disappeared.

By this time, the girl-woman was heaving a blue ball, her fingers tucked in its grooves, towards eight dancing white pins. She was taming the growing violence in her body with each move, her face a thousand shades of crimson.
A man and his little son were looking on nodding encouragingly every time I knocked down those pins. My scores were quite good said the scorekeeper.

By the end of it all, I was spent. I leant toward a pillar breathing lightly.

A glance at the clock reminded me that the festival was about to start. Totally oblivious to the heavy greetings of rain, I exited the alley.

The boy at the café was hurriedly shifting the tables and chairs toward an inch inside. I studied the way in which the rain had invaded, caring least for man-made boundaries.

Just then I catch him watching me with those drunken, lustful eyes.

He: where did you go?

Me: where do I go now?

He turned to continue the conversation he was having with someone and my eyes caught the nape of his neck that the breeze revealed when it blew his hair aside. The urge to bathe his neck with the warmth of my breath was too much. I stood in the corner wishing the crowd dissolves me.
But every time he turned, his eyes found out mine, utterly disregardful of the people he was with.

I was recording how helpless and weak I felt.

The only other thing gaining power that day was the rain.

© Rochelle Potkar

Thursday, November 22, 2007

a blue dream

music swirling
across undulating metaphor

faces of hard, gritty disillusion
sparked against
the warm belly


a place haunted in blue
and a street, cobble stone prostitute

A quivering old face of wrinkles
searching for solitude

A girl standing over a bridge
waiting for love to return
A boat with a lantern
going by

He, a weather ravaged boy
partakes her breath
off the street

night lamps glower with a halo of flies
a life-large clock spins a universal lie

a town in daze
ripped open by a long, chugging steam train

the blue God
- God of Love
face blackened
heart submerged

haunting echoes,
evil men
hail and snow

rain on
her cheek
wind in
his hair

an appeal of their heart
quickened and threadbare





© Rochelle Potkar

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What happens?

What happens when a second-hander has a will of steel, patience, strategic thinking and gumption?
He will eventually or instantly succeed, even if:
his ideas stink
he has no originality
he fails to find the stream/river/rivulet of who he really is

What happens when an ideal man has the same will of steel, patience, strategic thinking and gumption?
He changes the world
He creates a new planet

(an observation)

- Rochelle Potkar

Second-hander: a person who collects his opinions and sensibilities from others, more or less bypassing his own reason and values.

(Randian) Ideal man: a person whose ability and independence leads to conflicts with others, but who perseveres nevertheless to achieve his values.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

our circus

The resolutions were forming in my head. Each pixel whirred into a specter of rainbow light before settling into oblivion. Some walked the tight rope. Some rode the one tyre bicycle. Some walked on stilts looking over the heads of those who hoola-hooped. Some could see only two rays coming out of the prism. They said the prism was bad, others argued it was their eyesight.

We bit into candy floss, our mouths getting covered in its smells. There were village belles with bells sewn onto their skirts which made noises providing us with our sense of direction. There was fog over the giant wheels or maybe clouds that were cut through by shards of neon light. There were the screams from tattoo shops and roars from caged lions.

I sat in the corner near the frozen round-a-bout wondering if this was where I was supposed to be. This was a rather tough world. Rather hard. Rather wicked…no not wicked rather empty, insecure? Rather envious…no not..., rather sad, apathetic.
I felt pity and contempt and fear. The round-a-bout set in motion.

I continued sitting, watching. The boys made a big so-sha about not seeing the light streaming through the tilted prism. The girls fussed over bangles that would go with the deep blue of their mirrored embroidery. A sweet meat man untiringly made pyramids of his sweets which the flies covered and protected against the moisture in the air.

The man walking the tight rope was coming back. The girl on the bicycle circled around a path that marked an infinite loop. You should have seen her face. There was a mask of content. The only other face that rivaled hers was the man with placid expressions. Running across his chest were blades and hooks tugged into his chest. Dried blood erupted in straight lines like a dug out palace garden.

And did you see the fortune teller? She sat cross legged caressing the baldness of her crystal ball and when the boys came to her she drew roadmaps on their palms. Did they ask which countries they were leading to?
No. They just tendered the exact change and left.

And did you hear what the man said when the girl asked which was better entertainment: laughing mirrors or almond bhang. "It's the same thing".

'though, there is a difference', I wanted to shout.
One is within, the other without.
but the rain quietened us out.

© Rochelle Potkar

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

who will throw the first stone?

be warned

I take each stone
thrown at me
and turn it
into a chip
for my mosiac paintings

no stone is wasted on me
no stone is wasted by me

Friday, October 26, 2007

half a life

He places his note on the dark, breathing mahogany. It bathes in the sunlight fluttering and swirling around in the wind.
He wishes it reaches her before long and draws a curtain to cut the drift. The note is the harbinger of his misfortune for he is sick. In his long, calligraphic hand he has written what he must feel in the quietness amongst himself.

“If I don’t see you
a part of me walks

Seeing you
is an unbearable

what real misery
love is

and this may not even be love
but some lesser known disease
colonizing me

I will find its name
if you are still there

or abandon this mission
and walk away
leaving half of my self
writhing in pain

if we meet someday
we will join our unfinished hearts
to see if it makes for a decent shape

every crevice can find its answer
every edge its jaded whole”

He galloped away the pain, riding inside a cloud of dust.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Okay, now I am human and thought I had a limit of endurance to the onslaught of movie trailers but I was wrong. I am beyond endurance or I am endurance myself in tinges of blue where a girl with long long legs, (hmm, good camera angle) runs and runs across a blue mossy wall, along a blue pond reflecting a blue moon in a purple-blue sky. She runs and runs away from the boy’s song, I guess.
And the boy! is in a white towel against a blue window in ‘provocative’ transparency. This is the first time I have seen a man in a towel who isn’t following protocol i.e.:
1. bathing when his girlfriend enters and his towel falls and she screams and he screams and hides behind inadequate objects.
2. lying on a day bed, phone in one hand, gun in the other, massaged by four bikini girls.
Here, actually there is a male towel dance! Some points for innovation. (gay icon award, notwithstanding)

And after running, the girl starts twirling till she is shy of the bankruptcy of those twirls. The boy spots the crescent and convincingly complains “Dekho chaand aaya, chaand nazar aaya”. Then, he does his robot dance.

I hear there are 14 songs and ask someone Bansali’s age, wondering if senility happens at 40?

As an afterthought, I pray the movie is different from the trailer and that it has a storyline and makes for good entertainment like ‘Hum dil de chuke…’ (for most part of it).

In the end, I would like to have said, “only the trailer was bad”.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Some of us, and the verandah called art films

We gathered under the canopy of mildewed skies, our hearts seeking horizons beyond our own, on which we had but a dim gaze.
We knew there was not much to achieve and we recognized the footfalls of emptiness that came knocking at our door each night and if not, then every alternate day, begging for alms of self-loathe.

We settled in those desperate whonked-out velvet seats, brushed bald in places with overuse and meandered along the path of altered recognition, slipping across its edges, tight-roping a thought, carrying crucifixes, ribbons of grudge and awe.
Some just held on to their breaths, some dozed off to the rhythm of a large fan zzooo, zzooo zzzzo, till the picture-curtain as large as a verandah swallowed our silent dismals giving us new meaning. Dressy or dressed down, they were our own thoughts that came back to us. Why do you think we had different interpretations?
Some spoke into mobiles and got shush-shushed across dark diagonals.
United in grief, united in laughter, we walked away alone, individual, as the credits rolled on. Our cuddled, close-knit consortium was not to be spoken of, only felt.

Some of us:
Sam, you were a liar who searched for employees/writers to employ in your dreamt up, unavailable, non-existing projects. You searched for young women. The younger the better and promised them the things you knew they desired through your well-endowed script. Only that existed not the dreams in it.

Jeremy, you were a film student wannabe. I say a film student wannabe because you still had to learn to learn. You force-fitted earlier lessons on new experiences and refused to give new experiences a chance. But you were cool in your humor because you used Sam as a butt of all your jokes. Sam hated you too but he was evaluative. He would have liked to see if your skills had any use to him.

Baba, you were old and bent and dressed up in all pink khadi, white shalwaar like a branded scriptwriter. I am never acquainted with your work, Baba. I have not reached that place yet where I can sit at the edges of your pen and look into the reflection of your scribbling. But you were present at every place I rolled my gaze. You must be someone great if not to others then at least to yourself.

Actor, you always asked me about the ‘what-next’s’. Was that coincidence? I would like to think so, because you showed no flicker of recognition between one and the next. Clean shaven and chikna, dressed in denim you looked handsome. Didn’t you feel stuffy in that huge jacket worn even at noon or were those your armors that kept at bay anonymity? I looked at you when you looked to see if others were looking at you. But I looked away when you looked my way.

Ponytail, you want to talk but you restrain in the alignment of your purpose. You could have at least asked me my name. Or what I do or if I would have a chai? I wouldn’t refuse, I swear. We have known each other for long - losing and emerging from the crowd of thought, feeling, and dream. Just yesterday, when we crossed over the promenade escaping our eyes, I had this feeling you would miss me if I die and I would, if you. Some knowing happens without words.

-c- Rochelle Potkar
More of us, soon.

(at least that’s the empty promise one should give)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Our lovers – flash fiction

appears in the online Shine! journal, Mar '09 issue

Friday, October 19, 2007

The color maroon

Warm as wax, he said, laying her. He drank into the nectar from her lips, one hand playing with the curve of her neck, the other traveling over the geographies of her body. While her lips turned raw and delicate, he moved to her throat, tasting the curves of its bone.
His thick hands moved over her breast, teeth crushing its nipples. He wanted her to return and that’s why he wasn’t too rough.
Relishing the inside of her thigh and suffering his tongue into its moistness.
She glanced at the clock. Another fifteen minutes and it would all end. She wondered if he would let her go. Their clothes lay in a heap on the floor, he still in between her thighs. He entered her now allowing the eager welcome to grip him, licking at the bruises he had blazed on smooth skin.
Time over, she tried to push him away but he rode deeper and deeper into her darkness lighting candles that the winds couldn’t blow away. They were one now, his hands around her waist, fingers entwined in her waist band. She lets out a cry and he unsuccessfully bridges a thumb over sore lips trying to stifle those cries.

Later, he watches her dress. The shimmer of fabric dim the sight of clevage.
She stood naked in front of a large mirror examining the maroon bruises, coating them with blobs of lacto calamine - the New lacto calamine they advertised on TV.
She has another appointment at eight. She drapes a soft silk sari over a deep burgundy blouse and wears her favorite tear drop earrings.

A name flashes on her mobile. He has reached and is waiting for her.

girl interrupted
woman fulfilled

(c) Rochelle Potkar

* a behind-the-scenes interpretation of Laga chunri mein daag.


I imagine you to be who I want you to be.

In that case you are mine.
In that case you are a myth.
In that case you may be a muse.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Black Friday Vs. Laga Chunri mein daag

When I first watched Black Friday on DVD (as I was away when it released in theatres) I couldn’t sit past the first half hour finding the scenes too raw and gritty for my taste. I didn’t connect and ‘a time for everything’ concept was working its magic on me (or so goes the sheepish excuse).

Then, I watched the movie again after reading the book and was glad to know that the force, fear and horror translated through. In fact, in some places Kashyap does even better than a mere translation on celluloid. Like the scene where boys are running after one another and the police are running after the suspect in the opposite direction. Brilliant. It shows how the game of chor-police is still very much on.

Few other quick notes I made:
Tone – mood of desolate (the removed from archives feel)
Passionate concentration with which the movie is made
Dialogs stick to the character’s state of mind
Choices of apt locales: toilets, rooms, hotels, booths, police station, red light area etc. depicting the real environment of the character
‘real conversations’
The characters are as alive as some of the fictional characters like Ellsworth Toohey or the more recent Teza in The Lizard’s cage. (It should be the other way round, I know, where fictional characters should be equated for their realness.)
Indulgence in efficient cinematography in spite of a tight minute-to-minute shot scenes

Striking observation: the humanness of the perpetrators, the victims and the police provide a balanced display without judgment. Clean. A peek into S. Zaidi’s mind: when you understand everything, you forgive everything. (and ironical.)

Word play: passion, light, color, raw

Half of the movie is told through:
TV file footage of the actual rescue operation
Music and song (shows the state of mind of Badshah khan)
Voice over on other occurrences
Narration (by an outside, invisible authority)
Witnesses’ confessions: voice over on the unfolding of those scenes

The chances at comedy: Amitab Bhachan’s dialog playing in the background when a suspect is on the run through the slums. Wicked.
The toilet scene: a policeman standing on either side of the toilet where the ‘suspect’ is shitting
The man at the police station who is shunned every time he gets up to speak to the officer. (Metaphorical)
And the dialogs stick to the book as much as they can. When not they extend very skillfully from the book.

Other things:
The book brings in the context and makes the film more accessible. If I hadn’t read the book, I would have found the film too fast for comprehension. There are too many characters and too many things happening.

Also, the structure of the film is a challenging (from the viewpoint of the student in me) and complex though efficient (from the viewpoint of the viewer in me) one.
Not all details are covered in the film e.g. Rakesh Maria’s life or the back stories of victims like the chaiwalla who dreamt of owning a cloth store some day and supplemented his earnings by selling t-shirts on Saturdays at Churchgate station. Or the stories of the victims’ families.
There was a sense of disjoint but I can’t pin from where that was coming. The editing, perhaps or censorship woes?

Laga Chunri mein daag
When one knows the taste of blood, all there is to say is:
Resources like star power, big banners and generous budgets should to be used wisely.
A patchy film shrouded in mediocrity.

Well the idea was strong, some of the characters well-shaped, but the plot a handicap.
If the end of the story was so important that a call girl finds a husband who accepts her with her soiled choonri and blah, then their relationship should have been developed more than glossing it over with a mere train song and ducks in a pond.
The story didn’t hold together. Good thing I have a short memory span for rubbish.

-Rochelle Potkar

*these movies were viewed on the same day.

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Exorcisms of many an Emily

Watching the Exorcism of Emily Rose late last night, gave me the chill. What an engaging story. First: it was based on the life of Anneliese Michel and second: the screenplay by Scott Derrickson (also the director) and Paul Harris Boardman was simply good. The court room scenes through which most of the story is told in flashback unfurls unpredictably through a tight script, intelligent dialog and a fast-paced sequence of events.

The story isn’t an answer to exorcism. Neither a battle of one systemic thought over the other, rather a balanced presentation of science and paranormal with a subplot revolving around the legal moves and motives.

Being a believer in angles, I kept a tiny statue of Michael, the Archangel while watching this film.
In one of the books on paranormal, an author claims that she had encountered Micheal during an OOBE (Out of body experience). She said, he guarded the gates of the soul to see that wayward soul trafficking (demonic possessions) is guarded against.

Friday, October 5, 2007

how many loves are permitted?

Rather dramatic, this poem of yours
or should i say it was, the choice of
crimson that you chose to paint
her neck with, in a faint chain
enmeshed with death or
latent lust that coaxed
life out of her porcelain form;
each tug another act of love.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

a movie that impresses

When you have a movie that has great content and wonderful real-life characters what more can you ask for? Warm Springs is one such movie. Based on the life of Franklin Roosevelt and his life between politics it takes you through a story of [let me use the phrase] ‘triumph of spirit’.
It gave me a behind-the-scene peek into the life of the former President of America who remained at the helm of American operations for three consecutive voting cycles. The film is also (1) a the story of his wife who possesses an underdog-like grit and gumption, subtle stubbornness and simple unwavering vision of what her little world should be like (2) and his best friend and his relentless political ambition and …(3) his mother (a well-portrayed side character ‘twas).
The unfolding of the philosophy of heart-breaking helplessness and the enterprise to change it into something different if one still had to continue living was endearing. This was one movie that really hasn't ended (for me). It carries on at a parellel plane somewhere.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Peace vela, a non-report (of a non-day)

Sometimes one wonders why certain things happen. I had confirmed my attendance at the Peace Mela many days ahead and thought that I was looking forward to hear Javed Aktar, Peter Griffin and Rohinton Daruwala render their poetic thought. This wasn’t going to be that easy.
The day began with fever and tiredness and exhaustion of the previous day's house cleaning and clutter removal drive. I missed the whole morning of 2nd October and woke up at noon. Doing an ‘eena meena mina more’ I still decide to go.
“Horiman circle”, I told the cabbie. He took me to Bombay Gymkhana saying “here’s where all people gather”. A kindly gentleman corrected the error in my path by ushering me with further directions.

I sit on the steps of the Asiatic Library waiting for the show to begin, sipping my diet coke. Soon enough I realize I am in the wrong place. I had to be at Horiman garden at this time. The poetic renditions, for which I had tossed the gold coin, was over by then.
And by the time I check out the Peace Tree I lose my place on the library steps.

I am awarded with one perspective though (presented below) and the occasional male gaze. So all is not lost.

The placards dangling from the Peace Tree are clichéd and beaten path. Even David Israel’s poem doesn’t cut grass. Most writings were force-fitted, forced-rhymed and similar in the imagery of non-violence, Gandhi’s philosophy, blood, war, war weapons, war cries, war widows, orphan wails and word play of ‘peace’ and ‘piece'. But there were some exceptions, like:
1. the story about two soldiers who would have been friends had they met at another place, another time: a railway station, probably.
2. the peace a girl gets after tasting her mother’s sweet meats made from pure ghee.
3. (not interesting but certainly different account) of a childhood recollection of learning of Gandhi’s assassination on the way to her town’s customary prayer meeting.
4. Jerry Pinto’s poem is inward-looking and self-involved but cuts through the white noise on the Peace tree. I had a grouse that it cut the reader out and made her feel like an outsider but a strong poem it was.
Two bats silently dangled from the inner branches of the Peace Tree. If they were trying to convey some philosophical message by mimicking the placards, I clearly missed it. But then I missed the musical too.
I was in the right place at the wrong time.

In the night, I dreamt of Jugal. I and an unknown friend were telling him things I had discovered about Caferati. It was a long conversation or rather a passionate confession and I could see Chinese bamboos quivering in the background. That’s all I remember and then another tangential dream where there were scores of flies or insects covering something. I wanted to know what they were hiding but my dream mileage had run out. I was awake into a new morning, looking through sore (conjunctivitis) and sleepy eyes at a ‘come alive’ painting. Someone had created morning calm and set it rippling across the Powai lake. There were three boats pegged onto this translucent surface. Here now peace had arrived, a whole day late.

© Rochelle Potkar
Renaissance Hotel

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Movie Review: Ganashatru

I am very bad when it comes to reviews: interpretation being contaminated with imagination. Nevertheless, I had a wholesome experience of watching and assimilating Ganashatru (Bengali, English subtitles) at NFC auditorium with barely four to five people around. The auditorium reminded me of yesteryear movie halls and that just added to the environment of watching a film that is also as dated in terms of occurrence though not relevance.

Ganashatru is about a righteous but shaky, good-at-heart but unconfident Dr. Gupta who finds that the temple water in his town (Chandipur) is infested with bacteria and likely to cause a major water-borne epidemic. He sets out to bring this to the public’s notice through a report printed in the newspaper. But his influential brother, a temple trustee will have nothing of it. Firstly, the temple's coffers bring in a lot of money and secondly, Chandipur is being marketed as a religious destination.

There are others who stand to gain or lose if the truth about the temple waters is revealed. And these people are in the process of realizing their gain or loss turn by turn; like the editor and sub-editor of the newspaper, the temple proprietor, the doctor’s family especially his equally righteous daughter and to be son-in-law, the publisher and finally the religious public. The polarity of each ones thinking is brought about through engaging dialog and convincing sequence of events. The public announcement which turns the doctor into a public enemy is smoothly depicted.

I didn’t lose interest for a minute except when cracking open the cover of a mint lozenge. I don’t think I need to rate a Satyajit Ray film but I would it would get a 10 on 10 for content, convincing characterization, flow of events/sequencing of thoughts, intelligent dialog, editing (that avoids boredom), and plausibility of the story’s end.

Good telling
Good listening

Rochelle Potkar

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Sex troll

rehashed from 800 lovely words
to 500 measly words

shortlisted as entry 34

Picks of the Day

All books are divisible into two classes, the books of the hour, and the books of all time.
John Ruskin, British writer

When I want to read a novel, I write one.
Benjamin Disraeli, British statesman

Great artists have no country.
Alfred de Musset, French poet

Newspapers always excite curiosity. No one ever lays one down without a feeling of disappointment.
Charles Lamb, British essayist

Life is a disease, and the only different between one man and another is the stage of the disease at which he lives.
George Bernard Shaw, Irish dramatist and critic

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Dog diaries [diary entries - prose]

I have four adorable and well-disciplined pets.
The first one is an old, bent male
The second, his son, is a taut, young male
The third, I guess, his mating partner, a young, sweet-smelling female
The fourth, their litter, a whinny little male

22nd June: My oldest male pet is having an affair with Jhonny’s old female pet and must say they make a cute couple. But both of us are concerned about their mating, moreover because my pet is bent and wrinkled and moves about with a stick. (LOL) When I earlier acquired these pets, I thought this old guy was going to rebel against me with his wooden stick. Only after careful observation, did I understand it was to support his unsteady walk.
I am quite worried about this old chap. Sometimes, I want to go with him on his walks but the younger pets revolt.

5th July: The young male is a sweetheart. Well-trained, he follows me around the house and is always up and willing for his exercise routine. He reacts to my command ‘throw’. I make him do 20 throws and I get the ball for him between each throw. Hardwork you see, but worth the while. My guess is if he does his exercise regularly he could stave off the fat from his middle. I can never understand where he loiters during the day but he always returns home before nightfall, his long colorful collar flapping in the wind. If he sees Jhonny on his return outside our door, he will greet him but never touch or hug him. Man, I am forced to conclude, is a faithful animal.

6th July: My young male’s mate is this pretty, sweet-smelling thing. I enjoy all her smells and stick close to her. She has been trained to cook for me and serves me after her mate returns home. It’s an experience having these pets.
They sometimes mate, usually on Sunday afternoons.
Is it common for humans to voice off sounds like us?. Er…I asked Jhonny but he says his female pet doesn’t mate so he would never know. I find their mating sounds rather strange. ‘aaaaww, yew and yewww’
At the Youth Club, they tease me of being over-protective of my female pet.

11th July: Jhonny may be my best friend but it is not actually so. I suspect he envies me my pets. When we were younger he envied me my fur. Only at the Club you would see another side to Jhonny - for he is intelligent and can come up with great ideas. Just the other day he raised an issue on ‘Midnight urchins - a Menace to our pets’. This was when we heard the news on our morning howl broadcast that one of the street kinds had mauled a human pet in the wee hours of the morning.
But it disturbed the members of the Club no end to think of such social issues. Most of the ladies excused themselves, saying they were late for their grooming appointments. “Who wants to discuss these issues? We have better things to do.” I heard them growl.
However, Jhonny got a lot of respect that day from the male dogs, even if grudgingly, for thinking beyond day to day pet problems.

14th July: Today’s my little pet’s celebration. They called all the other little pets from around to celebrate, even the ones that scream on the playground. They blew balloons and I smashed the ones that were extra. I poked my teeth into the soft sugary white thing set in the middle of the room. It was delicious and had all these little sticks pierced into it with lights on them. The little brat loves me too. Loyalty flows in his him just like in his father. I can forgive him for many things: whimpering at odd times in the day, screaming, dropping his food, water, making a hell of a noise. He seeks a lot of attention and Jhonny has shown me ways of wrestling the attention back. “Shit”, he says, “works”. “Shit in another room. That is a way of showing you will not take things lying down” and it works100%.
I like the way my other pets share in my responsibility of taking care of the little brat.

1st Aug: Jhonny, Licki and Pubert are the most active members of the Club. They are working on the study of Pet Care: crotch, ass and mouth checks and are to come up with a list of guiding principles soon.

Pubert, is working separately on his thesis “the changing paradigm of urban dogs” but I aren’t so interested. Sometimes, I feel the female dogs are right in revolting against the choice of subjects studied, discussed and researched at the Club. ‘We are getting too boring” says Twinkle in a low, husky voice. “It would be better if we worked our tails on flea management.”
I wish I could mate her, but she’s with that German Sheppard Raja.

11th Aug: I had a fight with Pubert today. It was after my discovery that Jhonny’s old female pet stores cow piss in a bottle.
‘Why not our piss?” I protested.
“Tommy, you are getting too fussy” he said. “Where is your sense of equality, dog? The poor cows shiver on the road while you live in a warm place with pets at your beck and call. Never mind if some of them like cow piss. What are they going to do with it anyways? Spray some around. Well then, when they do that you can spray yours. Equality, dog. The other breeds look up to us.”
Hfmph! Such kind of sermon I would have to listen to and so I won’t mention it out loud again. Life is meant for bigger things.

15th Aug: The guiding rules of Pet Care: crotch, ass and mouth checks is out. We inaugurated it at the Club today. Licki read the rules to us.
That way we would know of our pets viruses before they do. And I can tell them so when I detect one. Like this other day when my younger pet came to massage my head before a night of peaceful sleep and I sensed that he had a crotch virus. You know the smells. One has to just learn to never mix up regular ones from the new. And the new ones have to be watched out for as long as they are around. I try and do most of the checkups myself, everyday, time permitting. I even smell their mouths if I suspect them of eating my leftovers.

18th Aug: It was a good day. It rained and the smells around the leaves and bushes were great. Especially, the dung and garbage smells, hmm divine.

21st Aug: Jhonny might have less on love because he has only one old pet but he has most of the good ideas for the Club coming up to him. He proposed we take up our observations on pet behavior seriously, so that we can be just as loyal to them. “Goodness should be rewarded plus we want to save them from those noisy boxes.”, he said. ‘That way we would get more time with them’ I agree whole-heartedly.
Last year, we had a tough time bone-storming over how we get our pets’ faces off the noisy box.
Force piss at unexpected places
Loud barks
Night-time growls
Vomit half-digested meals in front of them
The last is to be done only and only in case of emergencies like ‘a match’, whatever that means. (Though, I enjoy watching their expressions during ‘a match’. They whimper, moan, yell or just stay dead quiet, biting their nails or chewing their lips.)

25th Aug: My female pet has just entered the room. She always takes her chance with me when her mate is out. I wish she was a bitch. I would have shown off her smells to Jhonny.
Anyway, let’s get these nails done with now.

(c) Rochelle Potkar

Thursday, August 30, 2007

A vegetable story [flash fiction]

‘You have no insides. We need people of substance.’ This startled poor potato. She had come all the way from Dehradun in gunny bags and through dirty vegetable vendor hands not to hear this. Certainly not. ‘What do you mean’? She said asserting herself, making a mental count of all the pockmarks on her face. For she thought that was the problem. Ugliness. She looked around before facing the glistening Brinjal, purple and pure in the reflection of tube light, peering at persistent pea pod and happy apple and the lazing, oblivious green ladyfinger.

What do you mean? She said again, clearing her parched, starched throat. Sniggered, Brinjal “Oaf, you are opaque and we have no tolerance for people with no substance. Look at you. Inside out you are the same. Where in the world is ‘substance’ these days? Is it the stuff of dreams?

Pensive potato thought long and hard. Her story was long. To be dug from the grounds and collected in hoards of potato pile, to have the daylights stifled out of you in musky gunny bags, to travel head-bobbing for hours, to reach damp wooden carts, to be caressed and felt up by dirty hands, to be bargained for and weighed on the other side with filthy dark iron bars, was that a story of no substance? Was it of no substance to sit outside the fridge while other people got a cool chance to spread their wires and threads inside? Sitting on trays under proud, pungent onions who threw their flakes around and stinging garlics who pierced them with their every look?

The last rung of the stack was for her and her kin and she said not a word, made no bones about it. So she had no story or that wasn’t a story enough? What about from where she came – Peru, Bolivia, Andes?

Were they not the food of Spanish sailors or Jews in hiding or the only recourse during the Great Irish famine?

She retraced. Yes, indeed she was full of starch and no seeds but that was her substance that it bound and flavored other people’s lives, without acting corny, starchy or preachy.

She sighed and waited for the potato peeler to bald her in residues of thick brown curling tails. She was getting ready for the lamb mince and would be asked to jump into the simmering pot just when the time was right, when the mince had almost cooked, when the spices were ripe, when the cardamom had bloated to its fullest ego and the cinnamon had turned a dark trite. When the turmeric had spread its territory and water had merged and changed its color, she was asked to jump. Give herself up and all that she stood for and thought of: from where she came, what she belonged to, the perilous journey, the smell of the sea … just give up and jump. Make the cooking a success.She sat sullied in places, sprinkled. She allowed the culture of the pot to enter her pores and tendered with every heated blow till she melted into it.

The Brinjal and glistening tomatoes carried on their journey in another vessel which settled by poor potato vessels on the dining table but they weren’t ready to look her way. Poor potato had to remind herself ‘that she was not alone’. In any misery, there were always others just like in every party’. This pearl of wisdom she heard from the old mother of the dirty vegetable vendor. She scanned her knowledge to note of the others who had no seeds in them, no substance. But she couldn’t think of any and her time was up. A huge spoon was lightly stirring the mince and it scooped to load itself with mince and her in it, in one fast swing.

All have seeds she cried as she thought, landing on the side of the big man’s plate. ‘alright, let me think of one good thing before I die’ I don’t want to die sad, unaccomplished and substance-less and just then she remembered – a heart rending message that came to her from the depths of her soul ‘if I have no seeds, I will have no worms’. She entered the man’s mouth and hit against the side of his fleshy soft mouth and ground against the harshness of his teeth but without the crumble of heart. This realization became her substance then. It was only later when her soul resurrected was she told that with or without the epiphany she should have known she was not substance-less. Everything has its place over or under ground. ‘you should have never believed them in the first place’. ‘But because you did you had to be sent a second message of hope and relief’.

Encouraged now, she cares to meet us with smiles amidst her pockmarks and stubbly green pimples at every grocers’ store. She is inexpensive and easily available and can be snacked: fried, mashed or stuffed. She will be around for the next famine, draught, and war and if you are in hiding from those vicious Nazis don’t forget that she can abide to different recipes, even a soup maybe.

(c) Rochelle Potkar

Dream catchers (verse)

Moon beams sweep the sky
Of ochre light
Red earth
White virgin sand
Green leaves
ambushed with dragonflies

A bristle of rain
A boy creeps up like dusk fear
Eyes blooming like fire flies
Hands; clammy and warm
pinches the long tail of one

White rainbow feathers
Brush against bone
The animal curls up and burns
teeth into skin

like an angry dream

the boy allows it to fly

moon beams ride across the night

…yet another dream…

(c) Rochelle Potkar

My God has come [verse]

My God has come
to ask a favor

Return some peace

I give it
What is not for me
is not mine

A crumbling heart

A sliver of light

(c) Rochelle Potkar