Growing Up


You’re born, with a barometer
On every tip, sahara to the taiga
And yet, you hope to god
You never have to grow up
And learn the art of survival.

With survival comes
Thickening armadillo skin
A steady heart that is a contra-ataxic constant
A soul that ransacks and evicts
Every possible life, or her vestige.

And you’re dressed in a poker face,
That could hold centuries of survival stories
Together, in the frigid temperatures of shelved ice
Layered to become “cool”; perhaps “cold”,
Hoping to god you still bear
A bevy of lifeforms

Reindeer and mosses, foxes and lichens,
Koala bears and walruses

Inside your Arctic Tundra.


An Installment of the novel I will never finish writing (A Sensitive Guy)


What makes a Woman Tick?

So what makes a woman tick?. I have my theories, some are as valid as the Archimedes’s principle – although it does not want me to be an exhibitionist shouting “eureka” from the top of his lungs – and some are pure philosopher’s stone, the alchemy in my head. Women – and this from a female friend of mine – want you to take over, make decisions, lead you as if life is a dance floor and you’re leading her in the many diverse moves of life. The only difference is life, the dance floor, has many beats to it and many moves, and being a sensitive guy makes you outthink the many angles in your head. I remember at a beach side party once, I wanted to dance with a buxom beauty, and I did and some 5 minutes into the dance floor, I knew I held her wrong, I treaded on all the wrong conversation, and perhaps she wanted me to glide her hands to where her tail bone was or beyond, but I was never one for the overtly sensual.  It wasn’t a case of not wanting to – the dewy sweat on my fore arms and the lubrication on my palms were crying like a toddler searching for a pacifier – but common sense and the place I have for that gender, on a pedestal between my irises, made me not glide my palms on forbidden earth. They say the forbidden fruit, like the underside of an avocado, feels divine; still, I could see clearly beyond the haze, the forbidden land was a No-Go zone, with a “STAY AWAY” sign pointing upwards, to between her luscious hips. My palms stayed on her hips, and I knew that big spherical heart of hers inside the pulp, would have appreciated at some paltry level, that I chose to be a gentleman and not let lust on my fingers, transform satin into spandex.

Women are a dominion. The come in many forms, faces, personalities even arcs, curves and geometries. We as a gender fall for all that. We make Kim Kardashians bedroom queens, Aishwarya Rais kissing machines, Keira Knightlys conversationists, the arcs finger food, the curves cupping devices and geometries, sexual positions. We do that unrepentant, looking at the queen on your throne, and the goddess everywhere else. Women, are god’s gift to men, and the magic of the rib is beautifully crafted to hide a device that trembles when near and pines when far. It makes its own music, its own song, its own dance and finally at the end, its own bomb. What makes it unique is what it hides, the glow that becomes brighter than the sun, and we humans call that a four letter word “Love”. What is supremely giving and unrepentently receiving and hides all the right things close and near.

“Why do women not find sensitive guys attractive”, is an age-old question in my mind. It ferments to a broth and I do have chemicals that makes me unattractive, allelopathic. First, I always come across as spontaneous, wanting to call and talk as long as possible with that girl I am interested in, when girls want more action these days than mere distant lip chemistry. Seeds need gibberellin to break the hold of abscisic acid, to shatter dormancy, or platonic love. I didn’t have sufficient gibberellin, or actions to make a woman happen. I wasn’t forward enough to make her dance to my tune, laboring in time, hiding behind the shyness rampart, wanting to have security, perhaps being too scared of rejection and procrastinating until the time was nigh, to pop the question that concealed the lava flow of expectation beneath the trembling lip craters – Warm, burning desire to be seated in front of her at Bayleaf (Harpo’s restaurant), making eye contact, paddling the conversation to your advantage, selling your attributes, searching for those little anecdotes from her and seeking little gesticulations that she succumbs to– the extension of the palm, perhaps fiddling the plastic straw with her lips or messing with the hair, curling the fringe or the pulled back hair on top of her earlobe, or holding her gaze and suddenly snapping out with a wisp of embarrassment that she likes you too quickly or too much, or you feel her knees shake a weaving spindle and when she crosses and uncrosses her legs, all you want to see is what vibrant color her underwear is, and preferably it is pink.  Why do guys, even someone as sensitive as me, like pink – and Legally Blonde, Flamingos, Cherry Blossoms and Pink Lingerie and what she hides beneath her Pink G-string, are enough reasons why a guy likes pink.


The First Love and The First Rejection

I was 17, tall as a budding basketball player, searching the bipedals for a giraffesse on two foot and I found her, the lass who was biblical Abraham’s wife. A woman with a tall torso who looks spectacular in height and uprightness, with a slight fringe, hair pulled back and cut just above the shoulder. She was the ruler of her dynasty, the queen of her empire, Sheba in all her glory. I met her at a Prefect’s day at a leading school in Colombo (SBC). At 17, you just go with the woman that catches your eye, the striking apple in the orchard and you fall with all your naivety to that woman that makes you skip a beat, spurt your gait and murmur something exquisite. She was just tall, with a sweet face and that was enough for me. I had never thought of a kiss or kissing at that age. Just a year back in the Philippines, I was leaking in bed at night, the type that is trademarked puberty and I had no clue why I was waking up to a wet sarong at dawn. At 17, I was naïve, I didn’t want a kiss, I just wanted conversation, the adrenalin rush that ushers in a serotonin burst, to a giraffesse, I didn’t have to neck for, for a claim.

Necking is why Giraffes have long necks. Evolution selected the strongest giraffes from the built of their necks and males battle with other male giraffes to get access to reproductive rights with a selected female. I didn’t want competition and the most popular girls at that girl’s school, I had little interest on. Just the giraffesse, who was mystical, graceful in her gait and had a spring in her step, and who signed my prefects book “Love, Abraham’s Wife”. I didn’t know what that word meant at that time, I was just a nimble hearted dreamer, who fell for a woman without knowing anything about her. It was “something” at first sight, love was overvaluing it, lust was giving it a different brand name, and something in between stood as the only claimant – Love was the golden mean.

I was no nomad though. She had staying power and was like an unflinching nail in my heart and no hammer head could pull her out for the next few years. She was not a tempest, she was not a shawl, she was just the cinnamon of my heart, worth a good fortune, a spice, only a fool like Nero would burn. Cinnamon has numerous uses and I was too naïve, just a tadpole in water who could not disentangle the female form, from the convoluted picture I had in mind. I had never watched pornography at this stage of my life and the female body was just like an oasis to me. The imagination was no dripping tube well, it was just a little stream that was calling the boy to jump in and still it could only wet my ankles. I was yet to discover lust at this stage. Lust was as foreign as the blown-up condom-balloons I had seen at Joe-Pete big matches floating from guy to guy, at which I laughed with all the boys in my class, and yet, I had never set my eyes on a condom and had absolutely no clue how to inflate one. (Even now, at 40 years, I had never worn a condom my whole life).

Sarah would later become the first wonder in my life and still I had no clue, what was to come. She and I had things we loved – tallness and quizzes. I loved tall girls, and she signed my prefect’s book, with her signature and with an inscription of her height. She being Muslim didn’t give me any doubts or anxieties, or perhaps once again, I was naïve thinking that I could win her over like Aladdin won Jasmine, by showing her the whole of Colombo on a double decker bus (These were the days when double deckers were on the city streets). Perhaps if we were meant to be together, I would have been like Sinbad, having 1001 Arabian nights with her, she sailing my body in all the possible geometries that a sail could carve. I would be the Arabian Sea, deceptively tranquil and yet a formidable force of nature. Of course, I wasn’t thinking of chemistry or physics or biological phenomena then, I was just like a 5 year old wanting a frocked kite to fly on my arms – and perhaps talk to for hours. I was always a sucker for talking and one thing that was crystal clear was that Sarah and I could make a little pidgin with our vocal chords and make time fly at the speed of light. Even now, what I cherish most of the “us time” with my wife, is when we are just lying on our 7 by 8 feet empire-sized bed, just talking to each other as frankly as possible.

The second prefect’s day at St Bridget’s, I finally mustered enough courage and popped the question (NO I didn’t ask her out). I simply tried to get her telephone number. This was the moment I faced my first rejection. She said no, her aunt or mother – it’s a little vague now – would not allow any boy to call her. Her face said it all. It was as dim as a 40 watt bulb on a corner of a room. She was not flickering as well. Her face wasn’t remotely as colorful as a Biryani Sawan; it was plain numb with a strain of stubbornness, emitting to all corners of my open eyes. I knew that this was the end of the cul-de-sac that I had dug out with my own imagination. The giraffesse was no longer going to be my ungulate-princess. I felt something tear inside that day.  It was no tendon or muscle, it was just the fabric of my naiveté, dehymenating. Still, the first cut wasn’t the deepest.


Growing Up


Your spring.
When you can’t choose the flowers
From the color, name, height of the stalk
Or how broad the petals are. You choose in the sodden dark,
The road taken, with no forewarning, no meteorology forecasts
No compasses, only the chemicals that dance
Stringing you to a Punch and Judy show.

And we were not taught sex education in school
Till we were 16. There were no puppets or socked hands
There were no books written by experts on the subject.
We had to wade in to the ocean
Just like a hatched turtle did, and yet we were ready
Just as fate was for the billowing waves,
The undulating currents. We were the drift wood.

We were only taught catholic doctrine.
The testaments and how the Pentecost was coming of age
How the holy ghost gave the apostles tongues
And flames. And we too found our tongues
And flames and mastered their fusion.
Of how the holy ghost is summoned through
The eye, to the heart, and how the chamber called the heart
Makes the lips lunge and grope,
Of how we practiced in front of the mirrors
Incarnated on a 17 year old lass’s lips.

And it was love, it was an expanse so big
There were no places to describe it, no ocean
Or no galaxy, just infinity carrying you
Until you fall off the ledge, and still you are half strung
To the dipping hormones and the curvature
That keeps getting bigger.

And then we learned that the holy ghost
Made us free and go to the world.
Knowing that there were no bibles to life.
Just an invisible power that holds you with an iron’s grip
And takes you to every rock terrace, every shipwreck
And every lighthouse. And you’re the conquistador
Powered by the spirit, learning that the new world
Is beautiful.

And it only took three ships to find the new world,
Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. The holy trinity
Of heart, mind and flesh making decisions for you.
Not always in the same order. And there were avocados
And bananas in the new world
Yet you know you could only taste one.

Life we learnt is about choice. And the most expensive one
Rules the others. When it’s not about just a kiss.
But how the windpipes and plumbing
Coming to tune to the heart’s reign.
When you realize that love is a beatitude
Of the cryptic nature of chemistry, making the body
Cry out in ecstasy.

[Love that beautiful beatitude]

Blessed are those who mourn, for they are being comforted.



When your vocal codes
Turn from a piccolo to a tuba

And all you can do is to feel the weight
Of the descending testicles

And a little fertile spurt of hairs
In all the right places – even wrong

And you’re stuck making sense
Of this anarchy of little emotions

Making a cacophony, a racket inside
And you’re caught in heart currents

That stump you heavy, a jerk here and there
And a little device that wakes up in dreams

And wets your pajamas, and you start to
Wonder why excreta had turned cheesy

And this period passes with impunity
A little inebriated in hormones

And a lot less in control of all tangibility
Like the tall girl in a shawl

That makes your heart race. And you realize
At the end, you have come out of your cocoon

And beautiful wings will carry you now
To a gendered world, where nothing makes sense

And through fogs of infatuation, you find security
Of when rods and cones ensnare beauty to beholder

And trappings of fiber, inculcate a little desire
When head and heels lose their bearings

And make handstands. And one feeling
Approximates to the brink of a palpitating chamber

That only knows how to expand
To accommodate volume.

Growing Up/Firsts

A Toastmaster’s speech I did last year.


Growing Up

There are many words to describe firsts. Baptism, inauguration, primary, conception, rite of passage etc. Like the last word describes, rites of passage come at many points in life and they are earmarked as events of metamorphosis or transformation. It is an evident truth that once someone has ‘one’ under his belt, he will not look back and move forward in his/her journey of life or should I say grow up. So ladies and gentlemen my topic for today is ‘Growing Up’ something quite unavoidable in anyone’s life.

I’m a prime example of a late bloomer. Someone who matured like a jewel and not like a fruit. I describe myself as a scientist cum poet and my first poem in English I wrote at the prime age of 32. Far from a spring chicken. And now I have written more than 2000 poems that are available in diverse blogs, poetry websites and books. So my primary hobby only planted itself in me in my lyrical 30s.

Now to the opposite gender. I had my first date after I graduated from college at the ripe age of 26. It was with a Tamil girl I met in Australia who I dated for a couple of months before everything fell apart. I was naïve in my 20s and didn’t know how to handle a relationship nor have any clue how to keep a woman interested. So a woman first came into my life past my silver anniversary of life.

A kiss is something that happens in the teens for most people and something taken for granted in most cases. It just happens people say. Not like my first kiss. It took a lot of planning and we had to book a place (A restaurant called Che) we would get plenty of privacy and somewhere that not well lighted but had a good ambiance. I had my first kiss on my 38th birthday, yes not 18th but 20 years afterwards the onset of adulthood, and it was my wife (who was my then girlfriend) and believe me it was memorable in every way possible. And I know I’m bound to see my grave before I kiss another woman. So a kiss finally found me in rock and roll 30s.

If you think good things happened late in my life…….it was the same for my vices. Yes, I’m no saint – I don’t possess a halo. I finally had my first sip of rum and coke nearing my mid 30s and believe me it wasn’t a practice I enjoyed that much and although living 10 years in Australia I’m yet to gamble at a casino or go inside a strip bar – I guess I will never invest some dollar notes on a blackjack table or a stripper’s waistline.

My message is that we, when we are young are eager to grow up fast. However, there is something beautiful in not growing up and wearing a diaper around your heart, after all you only get to indulge in a childhood only once. Making that childhood as long as possible is a rare event and somehow, maybe due to fate or coincidence, I had a long childhood or should I say the boy in me became a man very late in my life. I was dreaming even in my 30s, about the taste of arrack or a woman’s lips.

Sometimes a dream afloat makes you linger, perpetuate longer, lends more gas in the tank to make that dream a reality. A dream realized just transforms you from that sphere of normality, of just another regular Joe or a star in the sky to a full moon maddened with dreams. Like Martin Luther King said ‘I have a dream’……….that was my motto for a very long period of time and now, most of my dreams are no longer in my bucket list and believe me, sometimes I do miss that naïve person who I knew a long time back dreaming away far in to the milky way, for those rites of passage, which are beautiful and memorable. Unfortunately a first can never happen twice. That my friends is the beauty of a debut.

Now I look forward to – in about a year – getting my past my youth, my summer of age. Yes at the end of the next year, I will be in my naughty forties. Now I dream not alone, but with a beautiful creature called Michelle. We look forward to the adventure of being parents, our first child, our first creation, when I will be not just drilling the life out but drilling a life in, a heartbeat that will resonate with me and a genepool that is half mine. My only hope is that our son and daughter will have a long childhood, will be foolish and naïve, and will be infected by the dreamer’s disease. I sincerely wish that he or she will remember the many ‘firsts’ that come his/her way. The first bird might get the worm but only full-fledged wings will see you flyaway. After all you don’t need red bull to give you wings, a dream will do just that.