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April 16, 2018

The air smelled sweet when they were together. Sweet and, not soft, but yielding, like microwaved ice cream. When his skin pressed hers and his hands found the creases in her skin, their bodies produced a smell- not quite vanilla, not butterscotch, darker than honey, softer than licorice.

He didn’t taste sweet. He tasted slightly bitter and vaguely salty. He sometimes smelled musty, sometimes sour. So did she. So she knew that the sweetness was the result of their togetherness, and she learned to expect it when she felt the texture of his back against her stomach at night.

That was how she knew she never wanted to love anyone else, because when he was gone she curled her knees under her jawbone and could not find a cookie that would satisfy her, no caramel tasted exactly right. She sometimes convinced herself that she could live without their sweetness, though she knew she could never forget what it was like or pretend that it wasn’t what she wanted. So what tempered her when they were no longer together was her faith that he remembered the same thing, or something different but equally unique.

Salt and oil are preservatives but sugar grows old; it ferments. It crystallizes, it crusts, it dissolves. This both worried and gladdened her. She wouldn’t have trusted a smell that promised to last forever unchanged. The frailty of the sweetness reassured her that it was real. It waxed and waned, for some months it was gone altogether and she felt like she was talking to a different person. But it returned when they both realized that they were unwilling to learn what life was like without it.

The sweetness grew cloying, sometimes, and produced a stupefying lethargy that kept them in bed all day with their kneecaps overlapping.

On the day he told her he loved her, when their bodies were intertwined on an orange couch in the garage of a house that she would one day live in, she replied that she knew, she could tell. She had smelled it. It was warm that day, on the couch in the garage, and the air, the air was soft and sweet.


For old love. October 2012.



December 18, 2010
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There is no poetry to describe
the beauty of this moment
but the beauty of this moment
begets poetry, necessitates it.
Watching the sunset in Diu
with no camera that could ever capture
the kiss of breeze on skin
the way the waves ripple
with perfect mathematics
the deep and utter peace
that envelops me like a lover
after three months of chaos called India.
I could jump to my death,
splatter against the sharp and furry rocks
and still feel that I was floating,
somersaulting through a blissful forever.


December 18, 2010
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Has the wind dancing through my hair
traveled from Africa to meet me?
Should I surrender myself to the ocean,
where would the current take me?
This island on the Arabian sea
gives solace to the part of me
that needs ocean, wind,
sand beneath my feet.
Someday I will leave here,
zip my backpack and drift on.
But my imprint will linger in these grasses
and they have left their mark with me.

One step

December 18, 2010

I’m almost ready.
give me another five minutes
I will follow
down the path I can’t quite see
hold one moment, please.
I will dance on this precipice
a second longer
always almost ready
wait for go.

On the balcony

December 2, 2010

Sitting here,
watching kites spiral
above the rooftops of Jaipur
I remember the smell of the ocean.

They jerk and twist and climb
like a girl with a high school crush
and a heart that flies high and falls fast.

I’ve been a vegetarian for years,
but I want hot dogs, Barbeque,
ketchup and charcoal.
Me and you, throwing frisbees in the park
After it gets dark
we’ll walk home slowly hand in hand
And I won’t
even realize how precious
the moment is until it’s gone,
and I’m alone
on the balcony.

Woman peeing on the roadside in Jaipur

December 1, 2010

Sari hiked and bunched around your thighs
legs apart, clear yellow stream
that splashes a bit against the sidewalk
then mixes with dust and flows to the curb.
I walk past careful not to stare,
but my mind is watching you;
Part of me thinking You go, girl-
I’ve seen a thousand men urinate
on the side of the street,
backs turned, hands at their crotch.
But you are the first woman.
Then again, I doubt that you are pissing
as a statement on woman’s liberation,
any more than the people squished on the RSRTC bus
have chosen public transport for environmental concerns.

Excursion to Bikaner, October 2010

November 29, 2010

Excursion synthesis
of finding sense from mess
of trying words for making thoughts
confusion mixed with perspiration
punkah can’t spin fast enough
Azim Ji is tightrope walking on a tangent
education girls and refugees
9 year olds with wedding bangles
ex-Pakistani Hindus in a camp
to know what it is to be stateless
to be camping for 63 years
one woman tells me kuch karo
do something, kuch karo,
something must be done.
I am searching for the reason I am here
where is the change that I could bring
The help that I could give
Or am I here to take your picture, drink your chai
then back to US, it was nice, goodbye.
Gouttam Ji is bored and in the corner
taking pictures of Awadesh Ji on the sly
Budget resource allocation
disparity population
lobbying for healthcare and education
trying not to compare an apple to an orange
a cupcake to a laddoo
Let us dive into the pool at midnight
remove our clothing and our cares
Let us while away these slow discussion hours
and think of buying trinkets down the road
Is there a limit to my interest
in these burning urgent issues
am I flying westward chasing sunsets
while copiously jotting down notes
Will we walk with shoulders burdened
by our lack of blissful ignorance of thought
and will we sip our tea like someone
who has been and heard and seen and knows a lot
with our intellectual theoretical
abstractual transpractical
theorems and forums and thoughts
Maybe someday down the road
I would like to think that change will come
if even only one of us
could give this whole parade purpose
implementing siphoning
progress from bottom to top
someday, kisi dina.
right now it’s hard to imagine anything
from this sweaty but well spoken
note-taking, daydreaming lot.