Friday, June 23, 2017

Laying down the law

Lay down the rules
of the ground
on the ground.

Draw lines
on both sides of the ruler:
the line they cannot cross,
and the line you will not.

the two lines
by a space
flat and fat like a ruler,

Fat and flat like a ruler.

a poem after a long while, and perhaps not a very good one, 
but still a start.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

How To Prepare

* Write a list:
* Wash your hair in the morning.
* Do your jobs - remember all the mini-tasks.
* Set an auto-response for the time you are away. .
* Set reminders for when you are back.
* Say goodbyes.
* Pick up the shopping left over at the store.
* Go to the parlour. Get hair done.
* Do the packing at home; gifts, clothes, medicines, telephones, chargers, money, all that stuff.
* Oh yes! Passport! Ticket! Pen!
* Maybe also paper
* Say goodbyes (again).
* Make a list. A new one.

Monday, August 1, 2016


Some window seems to be banging against the sill,
and I cannot find it.
I'm afraid I know which window it is,
and of what I may find behind it..
The dogs have been barking, that cannot be good.
This is a very very quiet, dark neighbourhood.
I live alone; I'm afraid of being alone,
I wouldn't like living with someone.
and I'm afraid I'm not alone...

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Where I am

Since this is the place where people say you should start, I'll start with where I am. I'm in a nice little place in Lajpat Nagar, New Delhi. It is what I like to call a railway-compartment style apartment, with one room after another. You have to pass through the salon to get to my roommate's room, then you go into the dining room to reach my room at the very end with a tiny balcony. The best part of this place - which I admit is slight underused - is the roof. It has a view of the nearby garden, many many trees, and of course the buildings in the area. On some days it is nice to go upstairs in good weather, with a tea or a cigarette and take it all in, and breathe it all out. It's been two years in Delhi, and they've been a bit of a roller-coaster. I must say though that I've been a little happier when it's been harder. It has worked out. I have had great help. A very good counsellor, supportive family and friends - some of them have been doling wisdom that I only took up later, and then realized what a difference it made. I've come through - a little better, a little stronger than I thought I would. There's still a lot of questions, a lot of areas where I feel lost. I'm learning, though, and I know more than I did before to deal with the newer questions. We're all in the same boat.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Arriving in Cairo

So we meet again – Cairo and I – sooner than I thought we would. I had left in August, promising to come back in December, and somewhere after a month into life as a Dilli ki Billi, I realized I had not been making enough, and that coming back would inevitably mean an attack of nostalgia and longing that would be difficult to resist. 

And sure enough, already on day one, before I even stepped on to Egyptian soil, I found myself wondering if it would not be good to come back. Any thoughts of the nature were immediately changed after Mom’s reaction. She didn’t know I was headed home for the winter holiday season when she opened the door with: “Tu? Kyoon? Too kaise aa gayee?” (“You? Why? What made you come back?”). And immediately she asked if this meant I had left India. I said no it was a surprise. “Good, then you can stay now. We can go back together, in September.” 
And all the while she claimed not to be (happily) surprised, she was dialing up my Dad. 

-          “I can’t reach Chitra. I don’t know where she’s been.”  (yes, we Kalyani siblings get it from our parents.)
-          “I just spoke to her this morning.”
-          “Yes, but I tried again, and I cannot reach her. I don’t know where she could be.”
At this point I took the phone from Mom.
-          “Yes, this girl roams out too late at night. That’s just how she is….”
And Dad starts laughing, “Very good. Hahaha. Very good.” 

And after a very short-lived sense of satisfaction at my arrival, they both launch into complaints about how they could have asked me to bring stuff from India. Here, may it be noted, I had told my Mom that “a friend” (for I am on good terms with myself) would be visiting in case she would like anything.
Mom’s told a few people since.

The taste of home.

Before I came to Cairo, I had made a mental list of three things I’d ask Mom to cook for me. In the span of a day she’s already made me those three dishes. The first was tomato curry, I’d written it down somewhere in Delhi, and when I arrived, without me asking, the first thing Mom puts into the cooker are tomatoes to boil for a curry. She seems to always instinctively know. And Mom always shows her love through food. If you don’t get asked to eat when you are at my place, it’s usually not a good sign. So after all her shock and surprise, her first question was, “Do you want to eat?” I took some tea first, and then for dinner we ate curry. Nothing tastes better than home food.

Ta3m el beyout fe shaware3
Ta3m el shaware3 beyout….
- Massar Egbari, Ta3m el beyout

I also had another dinner planned. I had to see Corinna before she left for Germany, and so we decided to meet with MattMatt for some Sudanese food in Dokki. Peanut sauce with eggplant, bread and Lentil Fattah, and some beef curry that I insisted on smelling since I wouldn’t eat it. MattMatt tolerated all this. We mostly talked about Corinna’s cat Fayrouz. All through my walk from Zamalek to Dokki with Matt, I regaled him with repeated expressions of “I’m so happy.” 

I am so happy. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal. I guess because it feels like stolen happiness, like this all could easily not have been. And I’ve been stealing it since my last night. 

For a small reason, the last night in India was a bit of a disappointment. Thanks to Stephanie, an old friend from grad school, I have a small jade stone with “Courage” engraved on it. I had carried it in my pocket, and it had carried me through the day. I felt in my pocket for the stone when my heart felt like it was about to sink. And it was where the phone was when Neeraj called back and said I should come over to his birthday party after all. When my plans for the evening did not pan out, I took up the offer and arrived at his doorstep with my bags. I spent the night dancing with and getting to know what I'd now happily consider some very good friends: Revati, Judith, Melodika. The plan was to leave from Neeraj's place to the airport at 4 am. At 2 the party started to wind down, and by three-ish I got into Melodika’s car, and she offered to drop me at the airport. It all worked out!

MattMatt had given me the book “The Buddha in Daily Life” when I was going to India. I read it on my way back to Cairo. Like the stone, it is one more thing holding me together.

On Amman to Cairo, there was a man sat next to me whose bag-tag said “El Warsha Theatre.” I asked him if he was indeed from the theatre, and mentioned I’d worked with D-CAF that had worked with their company. He turned out to be the founder of El Warsha. We had a long discussion which he punctuated with many quotes, anecdotes about people I knew, people we knew… I had actually forgotten all my Cairo money in India, and had planned to take a taxi home and pay by borrowing money from the kiosque downstairs, as I had done on so many occasions before. I didn’t have to. My flight companion offered to drop me home as his driver was coming to pick him up, and we were both happy to extend our conversation in which we discovered common friends and books and authors we loved.

I looked around Cairo – the sun beat warm upon as when we were outside the airport, a welcome reprieve from Delhi’s sunless winters, and as I arrived home there was a beautiful yellow sun setting over Zamalek. We drove down into Agouza, and I was happy happy happy.

I haven’t stopped saying it since. I am happy.

“You? Why? What made you come back?” she asks.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Queer You Go!

What should one make of this queer coming together of events:

A friend on facebook put forward this revelation:


i have this to put forward: i often feel jealous of 'queers', i think they belong to the future and that they simply possess something or experience something that i don't. not that i personally believe in sexual identity at all. i have freed myself from self-identification altogether. Yet i am always curious to experience or internalize about anything that is not yet incorporated with my repertoire of life experience, especially if it is something that i generally feel positive about. I used to decorate my face with eyeliners and eyeshadow makeup when i was young, around the time i was in high school and university. i both liked my appearance and the way i felt toward myself when i did this. i did not mind that this was challenging to my self-image as a man, perhaps because at the time i had no self-image at all and i had nothing to lose. also our ancient grandfathers used to do exactly the same thing and i was aware of that, i was actually proud that i was reviving a tradition that ancient men used to do. men in so many different cultures around the world decorate themselves and in some cases in Africa men do it more than women. Anyways i did not mind all of this and the whole thing felt natural to me to the extent that once i forgot all about it and unintentionally went down to the grocery shop, in Cairo, to buy some eggs while i had my eyes all rounded up in black, purple, and pink! I also wore a "Zannoba" flipflop that day which is generally considered to be a feminine thing to wear in the streets. they stared at me in shock at the grocery, and i laughed about it later! Just a funny story, which only make me wonder "why" did i stop beautifying my face the way i liked? the pressure in the streets definitely had something to do with it. Sometimes i wonder and say: perhaps if i had the freedom to keep doing it, and saw that others were equally free to do it in the society, i would have eventually developed sexually in directions other than those which led to my sexual experience and self-realisation thus far. While i am totally aware that self-beautification is not conditionally related to queerness, nor is it really contradictory with heterosexuality or manliness as i understand it in the first place, and although right now i have become 30 years old and think certain things can no longer be changed or reversed in my sexuality, with which i am also generally satisfied, especially that, although i am fearless, i have not the energy, nor any particular urge toward sexual exploration, yet in the end, the most realisation i have from this facebook status that has grown too large and might become a facebook note(!) is the conditional relationship between social freedoms, and the development of individual identity. And here, we're not just talking about, say, one's political orientation or opinions about one's own career or any of this bullshit, we're talking about the development of sexual identity or/and practice; something that grows permanently deep in one's body, mind, and soul. We all know that it is something that you cannot really develop entirely independently, but only in some social context and environment or another, yet it seems that while most adults eventually accept that their children should be allowed to choose for themselves what profession or career they wish to pursue, which is something that is entirely changeable in the future and all in all seems just bullshit to me, we are yet unable to consent and provide the same degree of freedom regarding the development of our children's very sexual identities, practices, and experiences. And then we wonder, why is it that on top of all the misery in which we live, we can't even have orgasms the way we read they should feel!! How the fuck have we become more decadent than other mammals? The answer is simple: mammals, all mammals except Humans, want their newborn to survive physically and be in good health, they don't care about how and who they will fuck later on when they grow up and whether they will be like their parents! This is always for the evolving self to decide, in total and complete freedom, without pressures, without references, without limitations, without any goal or purpose, other than the pure, deep, and self-propagating pleasure and happiness of the living organism. There, and only thereby, will you get your orgasm!!

Browsing through some other facebook entries I came upon these instances of switched-dresses 

Portraits of Men Wearing their Girlfriends' Clothes

And there is yet another link along the same lines...

And then a bit later, yet another link pops up, and if you ever had the question, What Does Pin-up Photography Look Like With Male Models? you need not wonder any more.

Maysara's account was the most touching to me personally because I felt the truth of his words. The other day I met a guy with painted toenails. I made immediate assumptions about his sexuality.

Only today did I also remember how I found nailpolish in a guy's apartment and was really surprised that he said it was his, rather than a girl friends'. Also I know that when his girlfriend left pajamas at his place he tried them on ;)