Tuesday, December 14, 2010



Is anything wrong with the media, the Fourth Estate and the people’s watchdog on the misdeeds of the state? Has the media wandered far away from its basic objective and become more a political tool, a profit driven big business, an expression of the megalomania of the pretentiously self-righteous journalists? Has news become a commodity? Lots of questions need to be answered. Why is the media not interested in discussing openly the role it is expected to play and its present deviations? Are the journalists always above board and deserve the moral high ground they have appropriated for themselves? Has the media entrenched itself as the mouthpiece of particular class interests? Is the media so sacrosanct that it can tear into any reputation but in itself  it is above public scrutiny, ridicule and censure? How to deal with journalists who are dishonest and corrupt? How to expose  the media misdeeds? Who will expose them? Aren't the journalists alway fighting shy of criticizing their  fellow journalists?  

Well, people have there own views about the media, but here are four poems of mine that  present an image of the media shared by many. You may or may not like this image. But, here are the poems for you to read and comment on.


Just as a dog returns to its vomit
I turn again and again
To listen to the woodwind orchestra
Every Sunday morning

It’s a seven member ensemble
The pick of players
Engaged by the capital’s select newspaper bands
To reach out to their Sunday listeners
With their tunes on ‘the state of the nation’

The orchestra can play across seven octaves
From the sinking bass
To the screeching treble
From a funeral adagio
To the machinegun staccato
The symphony the ensemble plays
Is one of pure discord
A concert of squirty notes
Always tuned to assault
The ears like washroom music 

I wonder 
What’s wrong with the players!
A bowel disorder
Stomach flu
Sexual dysfunction
That brings out
An uninterrupted flow of gases
That fills the air with sewage stench

But perhaps
Their stomachs are stirred up
By their sense of duty
As members of the Fourth Estate,
And they can’t help
Opening their Pandora’s box
To cleanse the air
Of all the stink
The rulers constantly let off

It is wisely said:
‘Diamond cuts diamond.’
And consequently,
‘Stink drives out stink,’
Is the motto of this seven member ensemble.

That’s why I turn
Again and again
To this woodwind orchestra
Every Sunday
Like the dog that returns to its vomit


Hey, what’s this?
What’s the problem?
Why are you kicking up
This cloud of dust?

Raising another smoke screen?

Another exposure
Another scandal
Murky deals
Money laundering
Match fixing
Tax evasions
Late night orgies
Money! Money! Money! Money!
And all that money can get!

Hold on
You news mongers
You dealers in branded truths
Waving the flags
 Of transparency
Of probity
Of uprightness
Of accountability
Of public service
Of national honour

Hold on
Who’re you?
The voice of the people?
High minded whistle blowers?
Washers of dirty linen?
Drain inspectors?
Sniffer dogs?
Compulsive voyeurs?

But the people are 'loving it’
From top to bottom
From end to end
Here’s everything they enjoy

Cricketing gladiators
Hired from four corners
Complete in their battle gear
Engaged in deadly combats
Hurling their missiles
Flourishing their truncheons
The cannon balls
Tearing along the ground
Sailing through the air
Crashing through the legs

Bollywood Shahan Shahs
And Malikas
Blowing kisses
Waving their arms
Revealing their smooth armpits
Scattering their smiles all around
Breaking millions of hearts

The cheer girls
Rocking their bodies
Their chest swells
Flinging their bare arms and legs
Extending the limits of frenzy

And the stadium crowds
Cheering, dancing, screaming
Haa-ing and hoo-ing
Partying to the accompaniment
Of pipes, bugles, drums…
Waving flags, placards, messaging
Now ecstatic, now dejected

The corpo-opulent giants
Surrounded by the glitterati
Backing up their boys

And, add to this the jokers
The string pullers, the game changers
The betters, baiters, abettors
The backseat drivers

There’s everything in it
And everyone neck deep
In this carnival of desires

You self-righteous bums
Rooting for carcasses
Like vultures
Tearing apart bodies
Splattering limbs
Baring entrails
Hollowing up eye sockets
Spreading the stink…

Stop this charade
Take off your squeaky clean mask
Of purity and sainthood
Of chastity and coyness
Leave it to the saffron-clad babas
We know
You too are in it
Behind the smoke screen

Let the show go on
Without full stops
Leave it to the gods above
To judge
( This poem was written soon after the IPL scandal broke out.)


We all agreed
We needed a washing machine
To wash our dirty linen
And lo we are now blessed not with one
But a whole array that’s always on
Sixty into sixty
Twenty-four into seven
All the three sixty-five days of the year
Busy ceaselessly
In the act of cleansing

After all we have so much of dirt to wash
After all we have no sense of cleanliness
And keep on piling heap upon heap
Of dirty, stinking, blotchy linen and undergarments
The heavenly Ganga working for millennia
Having failed to clean up the muck
And in turn having sullied itself beyond redemption
Its task is now taken over by these machines
That promise to clean up every black spot
Like the magical skin lotions, dish-washers and toilet cleaners
And restore the pristine shine and the day-of-creation purity
They are a great blessing, these machines,
Without them we won’t ever know
We have so much washing to do
Without them we won’t ever know 
The cupboards that should be ripped open
Without them we won’t ever see
The bed linen that has been sullied
Without them we won’t ever inhale
The stink rising from the soiled unders
Without them we won’t ever know
How squeaky clean we need to be
Without them we won’t ever know
That cleanliness is next to godliness

Their passion for laundering
Is so intense so overpowering
They never miss any blot or yellow spot
Not even a speck of dust
And they never stop
Being ablutomaniacs, these wondrous machines
Will, rest assured, never stop
Until the end of the world
So they go on and on and on
Sixty into sixty
Twenty-four into seven
All the three sixty-five days of the year


Floating space rovers
On a 24-hour prowl
Wings spread out
Scanning the earth below
Eyes zoomed in and focused on
A scene of disaster

A swift sleek descent
A perfect landing
Then a shuffling scramble
For the victim,
Snapping and snipping
With hooked beaks…
The carcass denuded
Of all substance
Its wholeness defiled
In quick bites
A messy nakedness –
A head with empty eye-sockets,
A torso ripped open,
All apart
A rapacious obscenity
Committed in full view
On TV screens,
Lapped up by millions of hungry eyes:
A tribute
To the scavenging virtuosity
Of the Fourth Estate.

(In western Rajasthan, which is so frequently drought-stricken, the people, when they see journalists descending upon them to paint their misery, cry out: The vultures have come.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010



I sometimes wonder what kind of a poem
Would this nine year old black-faced scavenger write,
Were the Muse to infect him with divine madness,
Were the goddess Saraswati to come and sit on his tongue?
How would he respond as he discovers a sprawling pile
As big as the treasure Ali Baba had found
In the cave of the forty thieves?
Heaps of kitchen garbage, peelings of vegetables and fruits, bones,
Plastic bags, bottles, empty cardboard cartons, plastic pouches, bags
Of tea, medicines, spices, sweets, toothpastes, juices,
Wrappers of soaps, biscuits, soiled sanitary pads, infected swabs of cotton
Broken or empty ballpoint pens, scraps of newspapers, notebooks,
Egg shells, used condoms, mouldy bread, used shaving blades,  
Tooth brushes, metal scrap, fused bulbs, broken glass pieces,
China cups without handles, wires, strings, rags…
His eyeballs bursting at the sight of such a bounty
His nose assaulted with a cornucopia of odours
His legs entrenched knee-deep into the heap
His hands sifting the treasures and stuffing them into his huge plastic sack
Dogs, flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes contending with him for the leftovers…

Back in his den after disposing off his wealth
For the day’s earnings, lying flat on his back
How would he sum up his thoughts at the grand discovery
How would he thank the donors of these treasures
What kind of an invocation would he make to the Muse
And what kind of a poem would he compose?
                                                                                                       -T C Ghai