Paradox City

A room full of teenagers, laptops out, air conditioner running, fingers clicking down as they scroll through terabytes of data in just a few seconds. Just outside the window, a boy only a few years younger than them sells balloons to those driving by. He has seen every car that has ever ridden the streets of the city, but can’t even spell the word “car”. He shuffles down the street in his ragged t-shirt to his brother who holds a smartphone in his hand, because the Internet is free, but a meal cost him his childhood.

A few kilometers away a woman walks into a Gucci store, a gentleman brings her a sealed plastic bottle of water and her offers her a seat as she begins to announce her choices for the day. At the same time in a chawl a woman makes her way to the water pump, sweating as the sun beats down on her. She wonders how she will carry the bucket back, an ache in her neck tells her to stop but she has no choice.

The same sun shines down on a businessman boarding his private jet, he slides his Cartier’s further up his nose, awaiting takeoff. Just down the runway, in a jhoppad-patti a man puts on his uniform, the scar on his arm looks uglier than before, but missing a day of work would mean that he would have to starve his family for the night.

Welcome to paradox city, where everyone is in a rush, where everyone is someone’s foil. A place where India’s richest man lives a 100 meters away from some of the country’s poorest. A place where everyone is connected but nobody knows to whom. A place where time is money, but no one has the 24 hours they require. A city that knows how the world beats but can’t seem to find its own pulse.

20 million inhabitants, each calling her their home; living and dying in her arms, what a beautiful disaster you are, my paradox city.


We’re in the same boat

You stand at the bow, bouncing with the waves, your hair ruffling in the wind. The sight is beautiful… but the background begins to redden. The bleeding sun tainting the sky, the sea and the shine in your eyes. There is fear.

As darkness draws in, blanketing the world around us you take a seat to steady yourself. Apprehension and salt lace the air just before a crack erupts in the sky! A fleeting light illuminating the panic striking across your face before we plunge into the dark trenches of night and thunder. The sounds boom all around us and soon the rain crashes over us sending chills through our bones matting our hair against our cold foreheads that long for warmth.

You try to hide, find a safe place but you don’t turn to me. The waves rock us back and forth, mocking the comfort the action once brought us. You’re almost thrown over by the shock, the strike and the showers but just as the ocean widens to engulf you within I extend my hand. Stretching out against the forces that will our separation. You reach out and accept it.

We fight the forces together, but your expression pronounces your wonder. No words exchanged over the last of the roaring winds but when the storm folds and the dust settles, you look into my eyes, where my love lies, and that’s when you realize, we’re in the same boat.

The same love, the same pain, the same storm, the same rain. And so we sail onward across another sea. The ocean rising, the sail waving to the breeze through another set of storms and the same revolving sky on the same boat called life.

Golden Wings

All I want is to fly,
fly with golden wings that take me beyond
beyond where my brown ones can go
Fly to a destination so high that I’m friends with the stars and the sky.

When I’m there, will I smile?
When I’m there, will I fall in love with the sky?
Tell me, giver of golden wings, what’s the price?

There are no free lunches, they say
So do my wings cost me my humanity?
my sanity? or will they lead me to vanity…
Tell me, giver of golden wings, how will I have to pay?

All I want is to fly,
to be mindless and be friends with the stars and the sky.
Too bad I’m still human, and worry about the price
Giver of golden wings, thank you for teaching me to try.