First Review Of ‘Wayfaring’ And City Musing


 I’ve watched this city moult. The change in its personality. The struggle to live and work through the masquerade of urban beautification. The slow and painful makeover. The contradictions. The altered demographies. The inequities. The restlessness and the river that quietly flows through it all.  I’m composing a new set of Delhi Poems. Somewhat ungrand this time.

The city around me is a fucking cemetery darkened with age where buildings stand cramped together like old, forgotten headstones representing a rift between living and dead. Pigeons, like monks at prayer, line up on balconies and window ledges. Nothing romantic or mysterious. Nothing historic or glorious. Nothing eerie. What lies beneath is dead. What lies above is stagnating. Slowly it will all crumble and die to give place to a yet another set of graves. Funereal is the word filling my mind right now. Somewhere a bird sings a mournful song. Must be a nightingale.

I muse about this as I walk around the city of Delhi. I feel that the culture has died in the eyes of almost everyone you see. If this is a fact, then I guess we must be independent of it, and seek out those who are also independent of it, in order to live at all among the ruins. I look at a different perspective. Vitality lies in the past, whose traces remain in those very ruins, but we cannot go there: our relationship to that, like our relationships to those we love, must advance, change – which is the very thing the ruins refuse us – but in its balance of decay, a change disrupts it, so any thought is a victory. Nightingales can learn plenty new songs. Delhi has layers and layers of surprises. It is a city full of emotions.

Emotions make me think of a blue Yamuna, a river we have collectively brought to a slow death with our neglect and apathy. No one cares to visit her banks or give a little thought to her. The monsoon rains give us a glimpse of the glorious river momentarily but then again she reseeds to be dismissed as a dirty sewer. No one thinks who turned her to be what she is now. I think of the women in my country as I look at her from a distance longing to reach out and touch its waters. There is something so deeply comforting and soothing about sitting at the bank of a river. I am dreaming of a blue Yamuna.

The River Yamuna from Nizamuddin Bridge, Delhi.

I’m sailing on silent waters
between dreams and 
half rememberings
In a floating world 
where nothing is as it seems

 

November has been benevolent in more than one ways. Someone special has brought good tidings in my life. A daughter I always yearned for. Bless her. She’s an exceptional poetess too.  There is still a hint of autumn in the breeze but slowly we’re heading to the real Delhi Winter with all its glorious flowers, snug, colorful woolens, fests, music and art festivals, visits to the monuments and parks. Winter is also the ideal time to experience the incredible Delhi Street food, the pipping hot aalu tikkis, kachoris, gajar halwa, hot jalebis, spicy sweet potato and fried potato chaats and also cold rabri falooda. yes, I’m one of those who love to eat ice creams and kulfis in winter. 🙂 exploring the city for authentic food is a journey of discovery in more than one ways.

Speaking of journey reminds me to tell you about Djelloul Marbrook. He is the editor-in-chief of The Arabesques Review Magazine. Originally from Algeria, he lives in the US now. An exceptional poet, writer, he’s someone I look up to as a student learning the craft of writing. You must check out his website and YouTube channel. It is a gold mine for poetry lovers. When my publisher and friend James Goddard told me that he’s reviewing my book I was slightly nervous but at the same time extremely happy too. This is the first review for ‘Wayfaring’ before it releases on the 20th of Nov. I don’t have words to tell you how proud I feel right now of my evolution as a poet and as a writer. He has written a glorious review of the book and touched the soul of my poetry.

Here’s an excerpt : 

Tikuli is a skilled plein air painter; her palette of words is spare, meticulously chosen and applied in a variety of metrical patterns that, while not avant-garde, are modernist and reliable. The reader is never required to study her metrics; her focus is on the act of recollection and its requisite imperative. She has stories to tell, portraits to paint, ghosts to address, and issues to redress.

The complete review can be read here – A Journey Beyond the Baggage of Pronouns in the tradition of Hafez Rumi and Al Arabi 

The review moved me deeply and to place my poetry in the league of some of the greatest poets of all times that I love and admire is very humbling.  Thank you Djelloul for this precious gift. I will cherish your words forever.

On another note, I have not been very regular with my blog post except the recipes but will soon resume updating the other blog categories too. I plan to visit some old, historic places this winter.

I’ll meet you at another place, another time, another field. The prettiest and most resilient flowers grow in broken spaces like the cracks in the sidewalks. Look out for those places.

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Dargah – Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia – A Poem


 

(Photograph courtesy Jayshree Shukla. Posted with due permission)

Love and faith light up the dense tangle of streets

that lead to the dargah of mehboob –e – ilahi,

and the tomb of his beloved disciple Khusro,

garbed in rose petals, attars, offerings

and a heady whiff of spiced kebabs,

lost words float across the treetops,

arches, patios and tombs, sometimes,

quietly they nestle in an empty nest

or whirl down onto the marbled floor

in an aerial dance—like dervishes,

caught in a mystical ecstasy, their souls

electrified by the rising crescendo of qawaals.

Possessed in a feverish frenzy of longing

and sensuousness, bodies dissolve

into each other and in turn into

the saint and the poet, love rises

as smoke at the end of the lit incense

and floats through the prayers

tied to the marble lattice

I sit in a corner, eyes closed – entranced,

the poet in me loses herself to the scents,

the sounds, the sights, the dust, the birds,

the trees, the sky, the marble, the songs,

and then dips herself in holy water

as green as the greenest emerald.

The sun seeks its path among

the silhouettes frozen in time.

I lean against the afternoon draped pillars

and feel my inner darkness melt

with their lengthening shadows,

the senescent walls soak up the pain

as I trace my fingers over them.

Across the courtyard, time, like a poem,

burns in the dua-e–roshni as the day

meets the loban perfumed night.

Two lovers completing each other

like two halves of a sphere.

It is in this cosmos

that the inexpressible exists,

visible to those eyes which can see.

(Based on one of my visits to the Dargah this is one of the poems in the Delhi Series.  First published in Asian Signature Magazine.)