Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Grief




It pours in
Fills up to the brim
Overflows
On to already
Wet cheeks

Questions
With no answers
Senseless actions
The ending of lives
In ways
Incomprehensible

What is this strange
Human condition?

No answers
Just prayers
For Peace
And Healing
So we go back
To really feeling
The deep Love
We're made of


- 2014




Sunday, August 30, 2015

On coming Home

Seattle Skyline from Kerry Park
That first glimpse
Instant recognition
My heart skims
That languid expanse
Your terrain
Perpetual inspiration
In-step I dance
With pitter-pattering rain
Wandering about
Wondering aloud
An ongoing exploration
Arms outstretched
An extended embrace
Unending experimentation
My pulse quickens
Adventures beckon
Unlimited horizons
I soar higher and higher

Each night
I hold you close
And my heart
It just knows

I am home.

-August 29, 2015





Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Peeling back the layers



When Agastya contacted me last December to invite me to get involved with Pratidhwani's production of Mahesh Dattani's Dance like a Man this summer in Seattle, I remember the distinct feeling of my heart going - 'oh yesss!'

I fell in love with this play way back when and right from the first table read with the group in March, I felt it in my bones that this was going to be a terrific experience. The stimulating discussion right after the reading made me grab a copy of the script right away and I'll admit I spent a fair amount of time reading and re-reading it.

As I pulled the lists of props and costumes, I marveled at the deft composition within the two acts… the layer upon layer that Dattani has added for each character. And the myriad questions he forces us to confront within ourselves.
While it is easy to see Jairaj in the image of his father Amritlal due to the built-in transitions, they are different on so many counts. And yet, when Jai speaks about his son, he can't escape projecting his own desires by wanting to 'make him into a dancer' so he can dance on his own father's head. Talk about the eternal "circle of life"!

The other aspect I enjoyed tremendously in this play is the bouncing around of the Yin and the Yang. Such a reinforcement that each of us embody both the principles of the male and female. And certain aspects come to the fore in different situations for each of us. Like Ratna's taking charge and driving the important decisions for her family, and the nurturance that is evident in Jai's character.

This brings to mind the idea of 'Two Spirit' - a term I learned fairly recently, that is used by some indigenous North Americans to describe gender-variant individuals in their communities, specifically people who are seen as having both male and female spirits within them. This same idea has existed for a long time in Indian mythology - the "Ardhanareeshwar", which represents the synthesis of masculine and feminine energies of the universe - Purusha and Prakriti.

This idea captures the essence of this play for me… And as I sat painting an abstract interpretation of this Ardhnareeshwar, as the colors flowed, it was fascinating how some aspects of the painting were mirror images while others shaped up as unique.

Isn't this what we need to celebrate today in our world?
This melding of energies, this getting back in balance with every aspect of our own Self. And alongside, a celebration of what the 'other' is, and can be, if we move past the narrow, humanly-defined ideas of identity and gender and race, and just allow for human-BE-ing!

And just as the Shakti, the female principle of God, is inseparable from (or the same as, according to some interpretations) Shiva, the male principle of God, just as the union of these principles is exalted as the root and womb of all creation, so too is each one of us full of creative potential.

So no matter what 'choices' our parents made for us, no matter what path we may have traversed to be where we are today, no matter what anyone tells us we must or mustn't do, we owe it to ourselves to recognize our own potential and come out and play. To love, to laugh, to Live. And to share our unique art with those around us. To leave behind the labels - man/woman, black/white/brown/yellow/etc. etc. etc.

To simply, DANCE!!

Ardhnareeshwar - an abstract interpretation
Ardhnareeshwar - an abstract interpretation

PS: This painting, along with a couple more of mine and several others by local artists of Indian origin, will be on display and available for sale at ACT Theater during the run of Dance like a Man - July 24-August 9, 2015.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

One step at a time

I keep on keeping on

Despite the heart wrenching moments
When my insides churn
When the fires of longing
Deeply burn

I keep on keeping on
One step at a time

Despite the heartache and pain
Knowing there's nobody to blame
Just Life at its finest
Bleakest, scariest,
Daunting, enchanting
Hypnotic, comic, poetic

Stirring me into action
Rousing me from isolation
Pushing all my buttons
Pushing my boundaries to

Express
Explore
Exhilarate

I keep on keeping on

Dogged
Determined
Drawing strength
From the faintest ray of sunshine
Pushing past my dark storms

I keep on keeping on
One step at a time

Letting Love nourish my soul
Soaking each and every pore
Letting my spirit soar
Feeling it in every heartbeat
Allowing myself to warmly greet

A new Me
Each moment

I keep on keeping on

- June 6, 2015
Pic courtesy: Holly Gregor

Friday, April 24, 2015

Reflections, in two parts...

Part 1 - The Masks

We meet, we greet
Discuss, converse
 
We part as friends
Though when 
Our meeting ends
Why do I feel 
So much worse?
 
Do we realize?
It was only
 
Masks 
That spoke

You put one on
And so did I
 
Masks to hide
The sheer terror
Of vulnerability
Masks that divide
Camouflaging possibility

Masks that disguise
The error of our ways
Or simply ritualize
This deep-rooted malaise
Masks that entertain
Some even with warpaint
 
I want to ask
That we get rid of our mask
 
I want to break out
Of this mold
And show you
In all my humility
All the chinks in my armor
With deep inner clarity
To cleanse myself
Of all that isn't truly mine

So you can see me
In my full shining glory
To open up
Your own heart
Share your own story

So we can both be
Who we're really 
Meant to be
 - March 24, 2015


Part 2 
...fragments...

We meet
We greet
Again

And over and over again
We share the laughter and tears
Our joys and our fears
Repeating the same refrain

And when the masks drop
There's a pause
We finally stop
Stop the labels and the libel
Forget the Geeta Koran or Bible

We see the tears behind the laughter
The laughter beyond the pain
The joys despite the fears
There's that Love all over again

Look around yourself
Can you find those
Shattered battered pieces
Left lying behind

This bit from someone's childhood
That from a youth
One from a lost brotherhood
The other whom no one could soothe

Fragments...
Squinting and glinting
Shards
Piercing yet hinting

When you pick up a piece of me
And I
One of yours 
The alchemy of Love binds

This new part
Makes a new whole
That leaves those old holes
Far behind
- April 18, 2015

These were born as gifts for the participants of Yoni ki Baat 2015 - a journey I took with ten incredible women that culminated in a performance where they shared their authentic stories centered around women's sexulaity, and a part of Aaina - the annual festival for South Asian women hosted by Tasveer.

Picture credit: Arati Rao, to commemorate the reflection, the Aaina that is Life.

Monday, March 16, 2015

California dreaming




Photo credit: Kendra Faith


Many a steep climb
Many a rolling hill
Many moments
When time stands still

Of gorgeous sun soaked days
And warm-hearted, laughter filled stays

Of family and friends more than that
And staying close no matter what

Of cherished memories galore
And new favorites I've come to adore

Where new beginnings unfold
Where it's completely okay
To break the mold

San Francisco
You invite
The very best
From us
San Francisco
You delight

- October 20, 2014

Friday, January 16, 2015

"them"

Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
I am not "them"

And I wish today
To talk to
You

You, who look around
Whom peace has never found
Always someplace bound
Chores and tasks abound
Nose to the grindstone
Aboard a never-ending
Merry-go-round
Your own voice,
An unheard, muffled sound

You, who can't hear
Your Self
Yet think you're invincible
To you
I am invisible
You pretend
I'm not around

You, who walk past
My cardboard sign
I see the fear in your eyes
Even though you resign
Yourself to my presence
I know you'd prefer
I certainly confine
Myself to places
Where you can't see me

You, who won't pay
What you know I deserve
Yet partake happily
When I'm there to serve
Your interests
And if I observe
How unfair it is
You question my nerve
Citing how there are
Resources to conserve

You, who want to bear
Arms against me
Fearful you are
It's clear to see
No matter what my plea
You force me to flee
Since we are basically
Separated by a sea

How long will I run?
How long will you hide?
Though you ignore me
I'll always be by your side

When will you wake up?
When will you see?
When will you
Remember?

I am not
"them"
I am
Simply
You.

When will you
Remember
Who
YOU are?
-October 17, 2014