Monkeys as P(o)ets

We are at Coffee House. CP outer circle. After Rivoli. Before Hanuman Mandir. On top of Mohan Singh Place. You may have to go under the road. And criss-cross through islands of hand-me-downs, to get here. Old discarded American Polo shirts, tees, jeans and trousers—meant for free distribution—are sold here. Sold amid the competitive cacophony of a sellers' market. Lay-low, lay-low, p’chaas-kado, p’chaas-kado. Fixed Price. No Bargain.

Perhaps it is sold to cover transport and handling costs. Or maybe we’re just weird people who like to buy charity. Lay-low, p’chaas kado.

It’s 9/11, four years older. We are in a game of musical chairs. First out on the terrace, then inside, then out again. The rain is our referee. Start, stop. Start, stop. And then FULL STOP. We’ve left important Sunday things to be here. To do poetry, like some people do shopping. Like it’s said: Same difference! We are an online poetry group, meeting offline. First we are three, then I come in and we become four, then the guitarist comes in and we are five. The famous five (poets). Certified by ourselves. With apologies to Ms Blyton.

It’s a flop show, says Shivam, because some mental quorum of an offline meet has not been met in his mind. It’s okay, says Brian, the guitar guy, I would have read poetry even if was alone. That’s the spirit, yaar, we cheer him. We begin with Lorca’s poems. I pick one called The Moon is Dead (twice over, it seems). La Luna esta Muerta, Muerta. Brian suggests we all try our hand at Spanish. Just curl your lips around the words, he says, and it becomes Spanish. We try, and succeed miserably. Bikram says he can’t curl his lips while chewing gum. So he tries without it. And succeeds.

The rain stops. And we move outside. We chose a place earlier taken by a group of monkeys. They are actually poets, in monkey disguise. One of them tries to borrow Brian’s white plastic bag. He would be the monkey with the best voice. But Brian has other plans, he makes a dash for the monkey and gets back his bag of poetry.

The evening rolls. We are at an important place in time. The sun is going down, to the other side. In another part of the sky, a half-moon shape is struggling through the clouds. The Moon is Only Half Dead. Lorca missed that. There’s more poetry. Nitoo’s amazing ‘funny lines’. A something about ‘Fakkade’, a tourist guide’s attempt at saying ‘fa├žade’. Brian makes fun of Bangalore Central, a mall in the Garden City. Coffee, cutlets, sandwiches and a dosa arrive. Poetry is food and food, poetry. We eat our words as poets often have to. While eating we briefly visit Goa, transported on Brian’s guitar; with the half moon and the full breeze as muse and fuel.

Two offline friends come and join us. They’re also encouraged to read Spanish in the light of a Nokia 1100. One begins Lorca’s longish ode to Whitman, but it’s too long, so she gives up. We move on to Hughes’ Crow poems. Habba Khatoon is done in early by a careless translator. But in Kashmiri she sounds good.

The ‘flop show’ ends on a high note. With another ride on Brian’s guitar. This time we wave our moonlight phones at him. Like rock fans at a concert. The monkeys would have liked the light and sound. On the way out we exchange notes on blogging. And promise to meet again, online and off it. On a Sunday when the world’s out shopping, we’ll meet and do some poetry.


  1. hey dhiraj..that was an absolutely delicious description of what we did..sounds better than shoppin anyday..well..almost..
    am still tryin to curl my lips everytime i see some spanish..the feelin of power one gets with that is quite intoxicating!!

  2. Yup, delicious description. I tried writing one too, but couldn't. Blame the keyboard that refuses to type. Maybe in a day or two...

    Btw, thanks for visiting my blog!

    PS: If we were the Famous Five, who was Timothy?

  3. Thanks guys!! It WAS a gr8 evening, esp on hindsight. Look forward to another ZEST meet, with some more Spanish and some more monkeys!


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