Take a deep breath…

Take a deep breath- you were told

As you watched your anxieties unfold

You focused on your breath, in and out

As you registered your inner voice shout

In anger and frustration, you let it ricochet

Inhaled and exhaled, watched your anxiety melt away..


Through breath after precious breath, life flows

You focus on each breath, deep and slow

Positive thoughts and energy you inhale

Let the negatives leave you as you exhale

Be mindful of your breathing and you

Discover the mind-body connection too

As you focus on your breath, you center your mind

In doing so an intrinsic calmness you find


In a fast paced world when rushed you feel

Take a deep breath, a moment of slowness steal…


At first I was climbing,

Up a rope I crept

Sometimes l slipped a bit

I was not adept

But the climb I continued

I stuck to it tenaciously

Because I wanted to reach

A spot high enough for me

So I could find my wings and fly

Into the vastness of the sky


I was never able to reach

The height that I desired

I am now stuck on a ledge

I cannot climb any higher

Suspended in mid-air

I am stuck without a rope

I cling to the ledge desperately

Sustained by impossible hope


I cannot fly away from here

Nor can I look down at all

But I cannot be stationary

So sideways I begin to crawl

Until I see hanging down

Before my eyes, a rope

A lifeline has been handed to me

Therefore with renewed hope

I grab it with all my strength

And pull myself up vigorously-

Now I am climbing again

The climb to fulfill my destiny…

The greener grass

Wasn’t the grass greener on the other side?

Or was it my brain that to me had lied

Or was my vision altered in such a way

That distant colors appeared brighter that day

Whatever it was, I certainly believed

That the truth was what my eyes had perceived

And the greener shade of grass across the divide

Made me jealous and curious, then made me decide

To seek that greener pasture, its lure

Helped me proceed when I was unsure


On the other side now I have been

For quite some time, the grass I have seen

On this side and that, and now my lens

Distorts my view- the green appears more intense

On the side I had moved from years ago

I was naïve then, I did not really know

That there is an optical illusion here

The grass on the other side greener does appear

To all of us, but that is rarely true

I’ve seen both sides, and I can tell you

Each side has an almost equal share

Of good and bad, so it’s futile to care

About which side we end up on

Let us tend to our own green lawns

In a summer state of mind..

In winter, I dream of an endless summer… when I dream of summer, I dream of an Indian summer…

(Painting of a mango tree by my son)

Ah the taste of summer!

The succulence of mangoes

The sweetness playing on the tongue

As it tries to replace

The sandy grittiness of the “loo”

Watermelons bland (and sweet)

The earthy taste of water

Kept cool in earthenware..


Ah the touch of summer!

Surfaces that scorch the skin

Drying chillies in the sun

Handprints made on dusty furniture

(Dust left by the scorching “loo”)

Dripping beads of sweat

The palpable relief of a splash of water


Ah the smells of summer!

Sweet mangoes, mint, “khus”

The intoxication of jasmine at night

The earthen scent of first rain of the season..


Ah the sights of summer!

Buffaloes cooling off in ponds

Cloudless blue skies

Sunrises and sunsets

Gracing tall domes and minarets

The night sky full of stars..


Ah the sounds of summer!

Prayer bells and cymbals

Early morning “bhajans”

The call of the kulfi vendor

Crickets chirping, mosquitoes buzzing

The call of the “koel” heralding monsoon


The Indian summers, scorching hot

Are seared in my memory, I cannot

Separate summer from these memories in my mind

I remember with my senses, nostalgia I find…

Goldilocks had it right

Why do we overdo everything, live in superlatives

From body shaming to body positive

From being too inhibited to being too bold

Does the middle ground no longer any appeal hold?

Breaking taboos and barriers is good

But does that mean all of us should

Tilt our behavior to the other extreme

Where liberal ideas start to seem

Equally oppressive as any expression of dissent

Is promptly shot down, in a manner vehement


There is a Goldilocks spot to be found

In everything, if we look around

And settle somewhere in the middle- it could be

A place where both extremes converge eventually

The polarization and strong feelings that extremes evoke

Would decrease, less fires would be stoked..


Before I expound on hypothetical ideals, I should look

Within myself, adjust my playbook

When my thoughts towards the rigid extremes deviate

I should try to center them to a more neutral state..

Being present in the moment

Is it me or is it my environment

Is the noise within me or ambient

All I want to do is be more present..

In this kernel of time, in this moment

I don’t want to sit in isolation and meditate

Right now, but I want distractions to dissipate

How do I remove superfluous thoughts from my mind

What should I do, so that focus I can find


I rid myself of my omnipresent phone

And close my eyes, visualizing myself alone

Lost in deep thought, in a state of flow

In a peaceful place where I want to go

A minute or two later I open my eyes

It has been more beneficial than I initially realize

To create this mini- pocket of meditation in my day

I am immersed in the moment, in a better way


The world shall continue to distract me constantly

To minimize its effects, the onus lies on me

By closing my eyes and channeling peaceful imagery

My mind I can from distractions set free

When I chose

I feel stuck, I cannot leave

From this place, I cannot cleave

All my ties, there is much at stake

For myself and my family’s sake

I am forced to be here, though

I just want to break free and go

To another place, get a fresh start

To rejuvenate my mind and heart

The greater my desire to leave, the more

Trapped I feel, than ever before


To choose the life I want, I am free

So let me rephrase this differently

Despite all the flaws in this place

I choose to stay, I am ready to face

The challenges that exist here

I uphold my decision without fear..


From being a hapless victim of circumstance

To feeling empowered to choose my stance

Nothing has changed but my conscious thought

That it’s my choice, an imposition on me it is not

Divided by social media

All the vitriol bubbling inside

All the disdain that they’ve had to hide

Those strong negative sentiments in their minds

The deep-seated biases that an outlet cannot find

All of them roll off in the form of comments

That range from sarcastic to hateful in content

On social media posts that do not reflect

Their world-view, they cannot tolerate, much less respect

Any opinion that does not reverberate

In their echo chamber, whoever does not resonate

Their opinions is wrong, subject to ridicule

Thus social media dominates using divide and rule..

Unrequited Ambition

Where should I find solace

When every fiber of my body aches

With the pain of unrequited ambition

Each time I fall, it hurts like an incision

Being made inside my chest

I think I am trying my best

To excel but success is evasive

I pray for the powers above to give

Me a sign if I am headed in the right direction

I can’t recognize my faults on self-reflection..


The fire burns inside furiously

But forward it no longer propels me

This fire of ambition I try to ignore

I cannot help it, I just want more

From my life, from myself indeed

This desire I perceive as a pressing need;

A relentless pressure on my heart and mind

Somehow some solution I need to find


I pour my heart out in words, in art

To bring temporary succor to my heart

But ambition is like a wound festering within me

And I know of no definitive remedy..


I shall keep looking, maybe one day

Through the dense woods, I shall find a way

Forward from ambition in whose web I currently remain

Tangled, stuck, and in immense pain

You are not what you do

I have been thinking a lot about this- a lot of us try to do more and more because we have somehow imbibed this erroneous belief that we are as good as the work we put in, whereas that is not true. It is hard to change such a deep-seated belief.. this poem is as much for me as it is for the reader

You probably learnt this and internalized it too

That you are, at the end, what you do…

Therefore to be a better version of yourself you think

You need to do more, bringing yourself to the brink

Of exhaustion and burnout trying to find

Something you do by which you can be defined

But… you are not what you do, though

It is hard to let this deep-seated belief go

Do what you can without emptying yourself out

You are who you are, with or without

All the work that you do, the hours you put in

Just take a deep breath and let it sink in

When you detach your self-image from what you do

You will be a more confident, relaxed version of you

The itch to travel

Is there anything else that can scratch

My itch for travel, can anything else match

The lure of physically being in a new place

Away from the bustle of city life, in an open space..

Not that I don’t travel vicariously

I let books, food and music transport me

To different places quite often indeed

But those indulgences do not fill the need

For physical travel, the craving is still there

But I have no trips planned anywhere…


Is travel a means of escape for me

Or do I just want pictures instagram-worthy

Or am I trying to keep up with the Joneses this way

Perhaps all of the above are involved, I would say

But the overarching reason to travel is one

I long for new experiences at every turn

The plethora of experiences in a new destination

Is what I travel for- that’s the best explanation


In a nutshell the only thing that would satisfy

The urge to travel is travel itself, therefore I

Should start planning my next trip now

So that I can travel when circumstances allow

Do not hold me back…

Why do I allow myself to be held back by fear

I stay in my comfort zone, holding on for life dear

I say I am cautious, I reason I am measured in my approach

When on my placid life, excitement tries to encroach

I don’t want to fall, I don’t want to fail

I am terrified of the thought that life might derail

The plans (A, B, and C) carefully crafted by me

Therefore my life stays within the realms of safety…


I close my eyes but am afraid to visualize

Indulging in an adventure, thus I fail to realize

The dreams that would need me to step outside

My cocoon of comfort where I mostly hide

My life is good enough, but a nagging voice says

Maybe my potential remains untapped in many ways

In being among supportive people, I am fortunate

I have to conquer my fears to change my fate..


I don’t make resolutions for a new year

But this year I resolve to face my fears

One small step at a time beyond my comfort zone

This is a journey I have to undertake alone

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