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indrani robbins

sarees tell stories

maharanis, construction workers, ics officers – a saree wearer’s longish ramble

six yards, five and a half metres, sometimes nine yards, of material. you have to wrap it around yourself. tuck here, tuck there, make the pleats, hold the pallu in place. it must be so difficult. one must sit still or move around in luxury cars or palanquins if one is in a saree. yet a saree has never demanded that. not really, not ever. in fact, if your palanquin is late, you can simply hitch up your saree a…

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Poetry

let it go

sometimes, i think, just let it go even if most certainly absolutely positively you know something someone’s saying is not quite so just let it go strange how those lines came out rhyming was it my thought or was it the timing you know, astrology and stuff that keep stymieing nuptials and negotiations, the stars and their diming? but really, just let it go even though reality may be different yet who’s to tell it is just so isn’t yours…

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indi

the replacement bug

we think we can replace everything. friends, pets, kidneys, countries, even computers. no, seriously. lost someone? broken something? house taken by a typhoon? mysterious ailment got your nine (or is it ten) year old imac? never mind. you can replace it. we even have a replacements.com. yeah, we’re not hanging around aching for things gone, shattered, destroyed by time… we’re going to replace it. like that. but what if you feel a sense of emptiness that refuses to budge even…

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Espresso Shots

nolen gur, balaclava, and bombs

“if you don’t want a child, just use nirodh!” said the ten year old. “nirodh!” there was awe and bursting curiosity in the nine year old’s voice as she struggled to keep her voice down, “what do you do with it not to have the baby?!” “shhhh! shh! mgpgmmph!” the other nine year old warned, index finger on his lips, he had just stuffed a whole nolen gurer kancha golla, that delightful sweet made of tender cottage cheese and new…

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Poetry

to an unknown soldier

my soldier, you are goneto paradise or beyond this universe’s realmi have no way of knowingthe aching winds bring news from farmy soldier, you are gone if there’s paradise on earth they saidit was there it was there it was therewho sent the minstrel of deathriding his bloodlust, detonating his carnagemy soldier, you are gone your child’s tears will soak through to her heartyour mother’s eyes will never know peaceyour father your son your country will weepyour instant will remain…

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sarees tell stories

the other blue banarasi

in the middle of may or was it june last year, when a good friend and his wife invited us to their daughter’s wedding in kerala in december, and i said, yes, would love to come, i was fully prepared for an enchanting time in the deep green southern state which has an even deeper affair with red. today, the only state in the country with a communist government. i would be passing through bengaluru. when i lived there, it…

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Espresso Shots

the girl called rhino

a wail rose up in the calm late afternoon air. the tail end of it came stalking into the room with the plump little girl, who threw herself on the bed, burying her face in the cushion lying on top of the carefully covered pillows. the wail turned into a smothered whimper now, though as far as the calm of the afternoon was concerned, both had the same effect on it. “oh ma, why’re you behaving like that? what’s the…

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ADiction

who put the toy in the binaca toothpaste box?

everything is complex, nothing is without its politics, yet when the voice you know so well does its familiar lilt and stretch and sound segues to the next hit song, or you seize and peruse the toy that’s just popped out of a toothpaste box, that joy, that spike of thrill, there’s no complication in it. no politics either. which is why perhaps the mind grabs it all and puts it away in a safe place, knowing one day, it’ll…

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sarees tell stories

checks and no balance from chettinad

it was a couple of years ago i think, that a good friend of mine said, since i loved sarees so much we should go to chettinad together. chettinad? i was surprised. what did chettinad have to do with sarees? chettinad was about chicken with a distinct peppery taste, which no matter how many recipes i looked up on the net, i never seemed to get right. it was about food: spicy, aromatic, delicious. it was about the famous chettiars…

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