Welcome to my A-Z 2018, for which I am revisiting Africa, the continent of my childhood and my dreams. The posts are, as always, infoheavy and opinionated, but they are sectioned off - some music, the day’s topic, couple writers, a slideshow from the safaris – plenty ways to cherry-pick. So you may consume just as much, or as little, as you're cool with. Zero obligation to agree with any of my views either, feel free to air yours :)

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Z is for Zorba




is for Zorba


Zorba was a foreman, that’s not to say
he wasn’t a dab hand at play and foreplay -
he played the cimbalom,
asked a courtesan, “madam
which door may I use to go the whole way?"





A final shout out to Arlee Bird the creator of the challenge and a big, fat thank you especially to Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh for being the exemplary co-host and personality he is, and to all the other co-hosts as well.  Also a warm vote of thanks to all visitors and commenters for their words of encouragement and laughing at the right places even when they didn't feel the least like laughing :)  


Okai. So. That's that.  A-Z.  Done. Survived. Happily exhausted. The best kind of exhaustion is when you're knackered from doing too much of what you enjoy. Got to grab that badge when I wake up.  Z is for zzz...and oh yes, nearly forgot.  Fistpump!! Yay! See you in May!




Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Y is for Yuri


is for Yuri



Yuri’s space trip

There was a famous spaceman called Yuri
who preferred his chickens à la tandoori
he went into the rocket
with some drumsticks in his pocket
and said, “these’ll do till Moon, even Mercury.”

His bosses said, “We don’t care a whit
how far you carry or how indeed you take it,
the protein’s okay high,
for beyond our deep blue sky
the problem, quite frankly, is how you shit.”

Have you ever wondered, given it some thought
how zero g affects pooing astronauts?
A different level of aim
is the name of the space poo game,
on no account must shit escape and float.


Please note that the above is wholly a product of the imagination and any resemblance to people or events are purely coincidental etc etc. 

The real Yuri’s flight lasted less than two hours and therefore shit and pee weren’t a burning issue.  However, the story goes that as he went to the launch, he apparently asked for a pee-stop and relieved himself on the back right-hand tyre of the bus that was taking him to the launchpad, which subsequently evolved into a ritual of epic proportions.  Astronauts follow it even today.  

Is it just me or does it strike you as well? how Yuri sounds like a truncated version of pee, and if this whole pee-stop thingy is somehow connected?  No? Okay, it's just me then.  Never mind.




Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 



Thursday, 28 April 2016

X is for Xerxes



is for Xerxes



Xerxes and arses

The one and only for this letter
is Xerxes, and no-one else better!
Because he was a great king
though that could mean anything
from sex-crazed jerk to kick-ass go-getter.

But he was portrayed in books after
as cruel, inept, with scorn and laughter;
but then history depicts
based on whose arse was kicked
and whose boot was involved, nothing’s dafter.







What can I say about X? That it is the most Xtreme letter is obvious. The only other name I know that begins with X is Xavier.  And the only Xavier I know of is the Jesuit saint who went to India and founded schools and stuff all over the place.  Not Xactly a life to induce wild laughter or anything, not a limericky type of life at all.  At least Buddha had the sense to sport a distinctive hairstyle!

Maybe there are other names and characters- Xiu, and Xin, and Xu.  But my knowledge of China is shaky and knock-kneed. Limited to the cuisine passed off as Chinese by the residents of China Town in my hometown Kolkata. Which has been there for nearly two hundred years of the three hundred odd years Kolkata has been in Xistence.  They are more Bengali than Chinese, if you ask me. At least their food is nothing like what’s available in Chinese restaurants in Singapore. East is East, and West is West, and in this case, don’t have the least intention of meeting.  The Chinese in Kolkata speak fluent Bengali and probably write Mandarin in the Bengali script, since their own alphabet is so Xcruciatingly compleX.


Tell me, who’s your X












Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 






Wednesday, 27 April 2016

W is for William







is for William(s)




Can't have it all, mate!


William S. was a golden lad, all told.
His fancy and its flights were purest gold -
he wrote up some blizzards,
each of them zillion words,
but the head that housed his brain was quite bald.


No-one gets the whole world on a plate
whether he's Will S, or Will of Kate.
A prince or a pauper,
or a nonpareil author -
can't cadge one damn hair to grow on his pate.






Who else but Will S Will you post about this month of this year? His birth and death anniversary are both in April, and this year is the 400th anniversary of his death, and we are still reading his sonnets and watching his plays.  That's some serious best-selling numbers! 



As for Will of Kate, though  he emulates the bard in hair-dos and anniversaries, and seems to be an all round good egg generally, I have my doubts whether his legacy to the English-speaking Wider World will be of the same magnitude after 400 years. No Way!


And I Wonder if William S had ever anticipated the changes his language Would go through in 400 years? I'm sure anyone doing the A-Z in 2416 would be using different Words. And I bet vowels will have disappeared entirely, I mean this para would probably be Written like this - 


n wndr f wllm s hd vr ntcptd d chngs hs lngg wd g thru n 400 y? m sr ny1 dng d B-Z 2416 wd b usng dff wrds. n bt vwls wl hv dspprd ntrly, mn ds pr wd prbly b wrttn lk ds -


and of course, capitals would be part of an ancient ritual, and using a comma would put you at par with the Wonderfully esoteric.

And We the last Weekers of this challenge are almost done, Whew! and Wow!





Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 





Tuesday, 26 April 2016

V is for Virgil


is for Virgil




Virgil and the fragility of things


One letter is all it takes to make a Virgil
change to a virgin from a poet of great skill;
it takes the same for Veer
to morph to Veep or Leer
but Vilhelm is way more invinciBill.


One small letter and shit hits the fan,
the slightest changes can alter a man.
From lap to slap the gap
is tiny, just a snap -
so be Vigilant, Vaughn, Vaughan, and Van.



Just before the A-Z started, I wrote a post in which I tackled a few things you could expect from me as a fellow participant.  Some found it too Vehement, but I did it with the idea of not being Vague and wishy-washy.  Vague is not in Vogue around here.  Vehemence is okay sometimes, so long as it doesn't turn Violent, so long all courtesies are observed.  Some things can't be stressed enough, don't you agree?


Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 





Monday, 25 April 2016

U is for Urban



is for Urban




Urban's crossness


Pope Urban said crossly to Galileo,
"In this awful business of your helio –
you see centricism is fine
if you know to draw the line,
as for where it’s centred – that would be geo."

Pope Urban was mostly suave n urbane
except he lost it at Galileo’s vein,
“The sun the centre? Just absurd!
besides it contradicts the Word
and I’m not allowing that during my reign.”



I don't know much about Pope Urban (or for that matter any Pope, very little to do with Popes and Kings and lofty beings). But Urban is not my favourite word, and why anyone Pope or otherwise, should choose to have it as a name beats me hollow.  



Urbanisation is a serious issue where I come from, the socio-economic impacts are mind boggling.  Personally, I have grown up in spaces that are beyond back-of-beyond, and therefore tall, dense buildings, concreted roads bristling with the ubiquitous sodium vapour lamps,  and too many people milling around, all make me want to take off at 100 miles an hour. The only advantage to city living that I can think of are bookshops and libraries.  I'd rather be a forest than a street any day, or to be more specific, an African grassland than a street.  Grasslands imho are Uber cool, have you ever seen any street that was of the same awesomeness as a stretch of savannah? Nope, me neither.




Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 




Saturday, 23 April 2016

T is for Totaled


is for Totaled





You’d think T would be simple, but oh boy!
I dithered between Titan and Troy,
Telemachus and Trope,
Till I lost all hope.
T Turned out the hardest to deploy!

I wavered between Topaz and Turquoise.
Between Tourmaline, Trinkets, and Toys,
Tricorne,  Trireme, and Theme,
the Terrible Ivan’s Team,
and I pondered long and hard on Tolstoy’s.

I Thought of Triptych and Tetraptych,
but They neither clicked nor did They stick;
Tsar, Tmena and Tassel
proved too much of a hassle
to push and shove into a limerick.

Till now I have Trounced every letter
but T has pulled a fast one and better.
I’m Totaled, quite stumped
T has Triumphed and Trumped,
fingers crossed it’s not a Trendsetter!


I never Thought That T would be This difficult.  No dearth of words for T, it is among The Top Ten frequent-use letters in English. Has it happened To you too?  What you assumed would be a piece of cake Turned out like chewy gristle and you had to fumble for your napkin? 

T is also for Truth, True : a word we hear early in life. 

"Who's Taken Those Tarts I kept for Tante Tabitha and eaten Them all? Tell me the Truth!" 

"Mark The answers True or False."

"The dog ate your homework? Not a word of That rigmarole is True!"

Well, That at any rate, is True.  Not one word of This rigmarole, here on This blog, is True either.  I don't claim To Tell any Truths Through my poetry, or short stories (there's a reason why They are called fiction, folks!) or anything else. They are not life-changing, self-empowering, affirmative, ultimate end-of-quests, questions or answers.  

(My Truths are all face-To-face, The verbal kind, I can't look anyone in The eye and lie convincingly, I am a Terrible liar.  Which is why I had to hand in all my homework in every Time, on-Time. But I digress)  

Give me a pen and paper and I could Tell you a series of pretty respectable lies, quite enticingly I Think. Only Thing is no-one believes me when I say I am lying. But I am. And They are. One hundred percent pure unadulterated lies.  Trust me on This.  All poems here are a Tissue of lies, a figment of The Imagination. Truly!

Except This one.  I couldn't wrestle a single historical/mythological/fictional T-figure into a limerick. That's True alright. And you have The evidence above.
  






Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 


Friday, 22 April 2016

S is for Socrates





is for Socrates






A wise man was Socrates, the greatest
philosopher of his age, his test
of three - useful, good, and true
made idle gossip taboo,
but that isn’t always for the best.


Socrates was clearly no Othello -
an entirely different kettle, that fellow,
and his take on gossip and wives;
and the sudden taking of lives
minus due diligence using a pillow.


Neither good nor bad can be absolute
perceptions change, so the point is moot
it doth one gobsmack
how Socrates could lack
the pea-size glob of sense to work this oot.





S iS  for Samantha RedStreake Geary,  Sci-fi, and SumptuouSwhich iS what her work and her blog iS. A feaSt for the eyeS, earS, brain and mind.  Also for Super-thrilled, which is what I am today.  Click on her name and See why for yourSelveS.







Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 






Thursday, 21 April 2016

R is for Romulus


is for Romulus


Small Mercies


Remus and Romulus were the twins
said to have founded Rome, the linchpins 
of legends and intrigue -
Romulus ahead by a league.
A wild creature  by them through thick and thin.

Both the brothers when infants were orphaned
helpless babes in river and woods abandoned
a she-wolf came a-slinking
and I know what you’re thinking
but preparest thou to be now thoroughly stunned.

She didn’t make mincemeat out of the babies,
she didn’t chew them up or give them rabies;
she gave milk and mother-love
and brought them straight up
to know their numbers and their Latin AB’s.

But then the story gets murky, coz sibling
rivalry spares no-one, they got quibbling
Remus liked a different hill
and Romulus fought to kill,
didn’t believe in some casual nibbling.

And so Rome was founded by one twin
the survivor brother who did the other in.
In plain words - fratricide
though legend doesn’t deride,
or call this dubious act a terrible sin.

Quite clear that it took a long time to build
From orphaned twins to getting a sibling killed
That is why they say
Rome wasn’t built in a day
years to the finish from when first pencilled.

I’ll bet you’ve never thought  – cause no one does -
It’s so long ago so why make a pointless fuss?
But think - if it so happened
the clash had a different end
then Rome wouldn’t be Rome, but named for Remus.



The Rose may Remain a Rose, that which we call Rome (okay, the Limericking's over now, there's no need to Rhyme endlessly!) would probably smell quite different.  What do you think? Do names shape the people/places? Or do the individuals/cities beat their names into shape?  How important is a name? Would the rose petal smell as sweet if it were called popocatepetl instead?








Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 



Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Q is for Quake....which is what this post always makes me do


makes me Quake



Q never Quite Queues up


Most people do not have a single clue
how hard it is to find a name with ‘Q’
Tom, Dick and also Harry
yeah, Radheshyam and Parry
but Q doesn’t queue up, no can do.

Did Q ever give you a Greek god?
name a famous Roman Caesar? a cephalopod?
We can moan and grumble
but Q is not an example
of a letter that is abundant and broad.

Where exactly does Q come from?
Search from Greek Omega to Sanskrit Om
You won’t see it anywhere -
magicked from Latin n thin air
and the upstart’s made itself quite at home!

Let me give you some facts, plain and cold:
Q’s the second least common letter, all told.
Less than one percent of words
where Q is seen and heard
it clearly believes that silence is gold.



And no guesses for what's the least common letter - that makes me shake in my shoes too! 


Does anyone else here shiver and shake, Quiver and Quake when the time comes for the terrible-two baddy shoes (Qu) letters? Why does Q come in always coupled with U? What are your top Q-tips for getting over this speed bump in the A-Z? 



Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 




Tuesday, 19 April 2016

P is for Pliny



is for Pliny








There was once a Roman called Pliny.
We’re talking of the Elder, not the Mini.
He wrote on birds, bees, and blooms
Now that’s a work that cannot be called skinny!

Oh, he was a man most astute and Prolific
but his death was quite pointless and horrific -
in a bath he chose to stop
when Vesuvius blew its top
and the toxic fumes turned out too soporific.




P is for Post : Now that's a word which has had its Paradigm shifted in the last few decades! Post was something I did to a letter when I was a child. I had several Pen Pals, and also regular friends who became Pen Pals because we moved around so much. I used to look forward to those letters, and also Parcels of goodies, mostly books, from grandParents and other relatives.

And thanks to technology and a different kind of Post I am still in touch with some of those friends, though we are separated by thousands of miles.


















Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 






Monday, 18 April 2016

O is for Ocypete



is for Ocypete






Ocypete and hOw the patriarchy determines stereOtypes



Ocypete the swift was a mythic Harpy
A bird woman, though not quite as chirpy
Whatever may be the jam
It’s always cherchez la famme
From mythology to crime to malarkey.

Why do women have to always take the rap
from epic Opprobrium to daily crap?
In literary stereotypes
and in mundane real lives
for every accident and Odd mishap.

Why must Harpies and Sirens be all females
the nastier sex in most of the tales?
If Ocypete were sometimes Pete
I for One would find that neat;
if those cherchez-ed were sometimes males.







O is for Odd : As I scheduled this pOst, there was news Of the Oddest possible hijack, an EgyptAir plane was hijacked this mOrning by a man in a suicide vest, demanding a meeting with whO? the POTUS? nO, his very Own ex-wife! NOt tO pOOh-pOOh the Ordeal of the passengers Or anything, but we were all geared up in frOnt of the TV, the media of cOurse zOOming in with their chOps all licked and dripping, agOg for the terrifying drama, people all Over social media frantically trying to get messages acrOss to their lOved Ones and all, when Oops! the suicide vest turned Out a fake. Egg On everyOne's face, TV crews dispersing with tail between legs, security experts who had pOntificated earlier, going ballistic with Outrage.  All round hilarity ensued, with the Egyptians laughing the lOudest.  LOve their sense of humOur!

The plane was supposed tO land at CairO but was diverted tO Larnaca instead. And what has the CypriOt President said about the incident? - "..there is always a wOman invOlved."  (Sigh...) Of all the cliches did he have to trOt this particular One Out just now??








Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016 



Saturday, 16 April 2016

N is for Nero


is for Nero




Nero was no fiddler

A most unpopular man was Nero
he may've been a Caesar but no hero
no fiddler on the roof
cause there is ample proof
that his fiddling quotient was close to zero.

He may have been one peculiar geezer
but no way  could he be a fiddling Caesar
The fiddle didn’t exist
untill 1556
however eager may have been the beaver.

Of course the violin isn’t the only thing
that can be fiddled or twiddled by a king
the selection’s quite wide
thumbs, body parts aside
there’s other stuff to scrape apart from strings.

All I’m saying here is that I’ve learnt
he wasn’t playing music while Rome burnt.
He could well have gotten
up to things far more rotten,
but not a violin – that much I’ve discerned.





N is also for Name and my name, Nilanjana : which is difficult to pronounce. Tough on a child who spent her childhood outside the comfort zone of her Native tongue.  I had a hard time explaining the pronunciation (Nee-laahn-juh-naah) when I went to Delhi, and it was mispronounced by everybody. I got asked endlessly about what it meant. The various interpretations took yonks.   Then there were the misspellings. Uribbaas!! as we would say in Bengali.  

I went to Nigeria, from the frying pan to the fire; globalisation, child-raising by villages, multiculturalism, were far into the future. The Delhi practice in explanations came in pretty handy. My classmates had as much trouble wrapping their tongues around my name, as I had wrapping mine around theirs.  But in time, both sides learnt to do it, and we were both the richer for it. Some classmates shortened it to Nila, which was my Nickname anyways, and some even further to Nil.

I went back to India after high school, graduated from Delhi, got a job in Kolkata, got married and settled down among Bengalis where my name was commonplace, I did not have to explain the pronunciation anymore.  Then suddenly one fine day we upped and moved to Arablands, and I had to learn the Arabic names, and the Arabs who I came in contact with, had to learn mine.  Story of my life, boss!  

So. Would I change it for a lighter, Neater, more portable, travel-friendly one? Nope, No, Nah, Niet, Never!! And that was the same way when I had to spell it out for the Ninety-ninth time in class as a Nine year old. Nilanjana (girl with blue-kohl lined eyes; the colour turquoise; lightning), Nila (sapphire), Nil or Neel (blue), all of them so me! Even though I've never lined my eyes with blue kohl till date, but who knows? one of these days I might just! :)




Nuts! that was quite a Non-post slushfest Now, wasn't it? Nonplussed - going the memoirs way, Not a good indication of possible age. :D Tomorrow is a No post day.  I'm going to use it to catch up on my reading and rest, it's been a big week offline and on.





Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2016