Wednesday, 6 June 2007


limbs awaken
the momentary chill
shivers through lithe digits
the perils of gravity and lightness
lost as light is submerged in vaporous breaths


velveteen shadows ride through the
rippled reflections of white moonlight
filtered through the filigreed branches

there is movement in the void

eyes are
watching you

twinkling like the stars that you can't see

your scent fills their lungs
your image fills their eyes
tonight they have come after


Saturday, 2 June 2007


The aeroplane/airplane started losing altitude exactly 4 hours and 20 minutes after departure, making my stomach churn ever so slightly. This made me a little queasy… Heh! As if I wasn’t feeling uneasy already. The clarity of the blue sky disappeared as we descended into the gathering mass of clouds and the plane began to rumble a little as we sank into the murky fog of the nearest cumulonimbus which was shaped, unsettlingly, like a particularly brilliant mushroom cloud… the kind that made Oppenheimer quote the Gita. My head was, quite literally, in the clouds… and it was not a good feeling. As the plane broke out of the clouds, the view was spectacular. The ground was a crucible of multicoloured barrenness – white, yellow, brown, ochre, amber, red, orange, grey. Miles and miles of desert extended as far as the eye could survey. Then as we got closer to ground, specks of black came into view… little blots on the desolate horizon. Squinting and straining my eyes, I realised what they were. Huge steel constructs, massive iron-clad monsters, luminous metallic giants bobbing up and down with robotic precision. Oil wells, like gigantic, mindless zombies sucking black milk out of the earth’s bosom. Watch me smile.

So we landed and we walked out of the plane into an air-conditioned promenade which led to the airport. The airport was fancy - all marble, glass, neon and light. My first few steps into the airport and there were hot women everywhere. After collecting our baggage and documents we walked on, my mother and grandmother looking for my father, while I looked at the women as surreptitiously as possible. My father was waiting of course, and there was a quick exchange of greetings and embraces and then we were off.

Kuwait is a curious mixture of the west and the (middle) east. The roads are huge and well laid out, just like those of any American or European city. Traffic moves very fast here and the cars are fancy. Hummers, Porsches, Ferraris, Mercedeses, BMWs, Audis, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, you name it, they’ve got it. There are skyscrapers and high-rises, there are humongous shopping malls and perhaps every major fast-food chain in the world. But there are local market places too, and small hookah shops and burqa-clad women and dishdasha-clad men, and grand mosques with elaborate facades and intricately carved walls with rich inlay work, and eating joints peddling the rich local flavour. There are green patches too, though they are rare. There are small areas here and there, along the coast mostly, where some landscaping has been done. The grass needs to be watered all the time and therefore, the sprinklers are always on.

There are all kinds of people here. The local Kuwaitis are actually a minority; they are severely outnumbered by the expatriates. Apart from the innumerable Indians, there is a huge number of Philippinos, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, a host of people from the Arabic countries including Egyptians, Lebanese and Syrians, not to mention Europeans, Americans and Africans. The local Kuwaitis are the ones with the money and the power. They invest and govern. The dirty work is done by everyone else.

The thing that struck me as I first entered the city was the lack of people. As an Indian, I am used to seeing people a large number of people on the roads, everywhere, all the time. But the difference between my country and this place is stark. The streets and pavements are never crowded… but that is perhaps because it is always too hot to be walking around. The heat is oppressive – 45°C in the day and 35°C at night. I am used to temperatures like that… I’ve grown up in Delhi, for God’s sake! But it’s a different sort of eat here. It’s a humid, sweltering, sweaty, drab heat as opposed to the dry, searing heat in Delhi. But that’s quite all right, because ever place is air-conditioned here. Even the cheesiest, seediest, sad little shack will have air-conditioning.

My dad has been showing us around, but really there isn’t much you can do here except eat and shop. And the Kuwaiti people have a monetary system which is quite different from the systems in other countries. The currency consists of Kuwaiti Dinars (called KD) and Fils. 1000 Fils (not 100 Fils) make 1 KD. The denominations are slightly strange too. 20 KD is the highest value note you can get. Then there’s 10 KD, 5 KD, ½ KD and ¼ KD. And then you have coins worth 100 Fils and 50 Fils. It takes a little time to get used to the system.

My days are spent lazing around, sleeping, eating, reading and watching the telly, since it’s too hot to even think about stepping out in the daytime. In the evenings we do step out, but as I said there isn’t much to do, and I hate malls. I live in Gurgaon, the land of malls, and even though the malls here are bigger, better and fancier, the novelty has faded. I am now focussing my energy on eating. I am going to try out every cuisine available here. Just you watch. I am going to come back a bloated rum ball (without the rum).

I finally met Sindhu a couple of days ago. We had coffee and snacks and talked. It was nice to finally meet a friend here. I have been warned by friends back in Pune that if I don’t come back with good booze from the duty free, there will be dire consequences.

In other news, I am tackling Gravity’s Rainbow with renewed vigour.

“What’s that?”
“What’s what?”
“If I knew what’s what I’d be racing turtles in Central High!”
Sometimes Archie Comics can be wonderfully hilarious.

More later.