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Uncut Poetry

Sunil Bhandari

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Sunil Bhandari is a poet by compulsion. He says he survives in this world because he can get to write poetry. This podcast is of his poetry.
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So much of our life is a reaction. As if it is determined by someone else’s priorities and emotions and needs, and we become byproducts of their ambitions and needs. It could be anybody - a father for whom we become the fulfillment of failed dreams, a lover whose hauntings of failed relationships find shelter in our quiet nooks, a brother who leans…
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We are often given chances in life to go beyond ourselves. These could be random happenstances, things which only we notice, and which we may choose to ignore - or not. If we pay attention and choose to clutch at those moments and do something tiny, unwittingly we invite, if not the appreciation at least a nod, from the universe. Maybe nothing chan…
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There is nothing worse than politics dividing family. I have seen people develop distaste for their dearest and closest because of being on opposite sides of the political divide. Something which is (mere) belief, takes on an expanded definition to include a commentary on character, and acts as an unsubstantiated and unsavoury revelation. And with …
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We live multiple lives. Each one of us have variations, but everyday our paths fork out. And we move from the secure to the stormy; from standing naked to being armoured; from garnering the blessings of the universe to ploughing through the detritus of the denizery. Often we are able to navigate this transition in the simplest way possible - we rem…
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They say, in actuality, there are only two kinds of people in the world - fighters and survivors. I have often thought about this grim prognosis of life, and without attributing anything dire to it, I really think it is close to truth. In seeking acceptances, we often have to struggle with the true us and the version the world wants to see. Because…
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I went to Varanasi a few weeks back, and spent time wandering the lanes, in temples, on the ghats, sitting beside the river. I was a non-sequitur: a non-believer in a holy city, amidst people who had the name of god continuously on their lips. And I saw holiness and ordinariness mesh in seamless ways. Almost like a message that a spiritual search d…
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Whenever I see couples getting hitched, I say a silent prayer of thankfulness. Because every day the couple has a ringside view of each other, of things which they say and do. They crack a small joke, they fulfil small wishes, they stop someone from stumbling, they secretly make someone’s favourite dish,they listen with their bodies, they stand bes…
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We are such carriers of burdens. We have nothing to lose, but we carry the weight of such unnecessities. In the end, irrespective of what the Pharaohs believed, we have to leave everything behind. Which then probably is the only time we truly travel light. But here we are - seducing, desiring, acquiring - and if not for things, we are busy burdenin…
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So much of the good we have, things we are proud of, our looks, our most innate traits, are in truth merely gifts. They are an inheritance in our blood, nature’s largesse for us to build on. But what we become is a factor of what we do with what we are given. We can hold these gifts as talisman, to seek the good beyond them, to figure out our dharm…
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So much of what we are is because of abandonment. Often as reality, often as feeling. We talk but we don’t get through. Our silences are many, none find a resolution. Our words come out with warm intent, but when conjoined sound harsh. We love to death the very person we find the most fault with. But in this morass of disintegrating hope, we are fi…
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This is a repeat of one of my more popular poems, replayed with the hope of getting a new audience, who might have missed it. "We walk under boughs heavy with fragrance,petals touching our cheeks with infinitesimal tenderness,and think back to how meaningless was what we’d said. In a universe of a million possibilities, we could be a certainty,but …
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It’s one of the ironies of life that relationships which have persisted for years, often have hesitation built into their fibre. You know everything of each other, but are still not sure of your place in their lives. The important thing which keeps haunting you is - what do both of you mean to each other. You say the things which you have been sayi…
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As I gear up for the Ed Sheeran show, I’ve been trying to fathom the excitement in me! I’ve seen some terrific shows - Kylie Minogue, Kate Perry, Michael Jackson (omg - goosebumps!), Norah Jones, Michael Learns to Rock, and the innumerable gigs of favourite Indian singers and jazz bands - and somehow when I see tour rosters of my favourite artistes…
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Ranjit Hoskote, the famous art critic, poet ,writer wrote an amazing piece on Gaza and the humanitarian tragedy unfolding there. It was a piece which broke my heart, truly, as it brought out in sharp relief the incredible carnage taking place with impunity and for days on end. But then he interlinked Gaza with Kashmir. And that was something which …
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I have often been cruel. Knowingly, unconsciously. With people closest to me, and invariably because I take them for granted. So it is a mini tragedy, when I sit down and have a conversation - and I’m short, I’m angry, I’m sarcastic. Take my mum - she is frail now, though her voice still has passion, but is veering towards gentle tones now. And I c…
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This is a repeat of one of my more popular poems, replayed with the hope of getting a new audience, who might have missed it. "We would talk of the day to makethe outside world our own,and lay joint claimto our individual memories." A home is of so many definitions. The place we grow in, the place we get our first intimations of the living world, t…
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This awareness, this stopping to see something insignificant, the overwhelming desire not to look at my mobile for long moments - I sometimes think it’s aging which is doing this to me. The fact that I have seen a bit of life, of tragedy and joy, of the big events of life and some, and no longer wish for the large and the loud. Now what stops me ar…
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I doubt if there’s anybody who tends to words with such infinite tenderness. For her, they are rounded pebbles on a seashore, sea waves washing over naked feet, the gentle curve of the sea at the horizon. She holds words the way I hold her. But strangely when I think of her, it is always with a silent smile, like a truth which leaves us speechless,…
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We as persons are so much of the people who inhabit our lives. Not only by way of how they are connected to us and change the trajectory of our lives, but what they mean to us by way of how our souls evolve. But beyond it all is their influence on our minds and hearts to define to us what we are. Sometimes we are unsure of our own abilities to achi…
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We are never as strong as we feel we are. What’s ostensible, what’s shown, matters little. As we walk, with our eyes wide open, sometimes in wonder, often in fear, we need someone beside us to interpret the world. A conversation is the blood flow of a love story. To be generous enough to listen without interpretation, to hear without interruption, …
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Deep inside, we all seek grounding. In the complex hullabaloo of desires, facades and one-upmanship, within sudden dollops of searing clarity, we search for the timbre of our being and realise the glitzy syncretic synthetic fabric it is made of. And the disquiet emerges. If the rot in our beings is not all-pervasive, the disquiet is a beginning to …
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As 2023 turns its back with a sigh, we walk into a brand new year. Hope - with all its bewitching deceptions - will make us wish for our best selves, to slough off the undesirable and ugly, and emerge fresh and wet, with unfazed optimism to conquer the world. But soon enough, we will know that, as always, all we need to do is to conquer ourselves. …
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One of the incredible things which are little talked about, but one which I notice ever so often around me, is how the loss of love often frees a person in magical ways. I tell myself - it can’t be love if it’s absence gives the feeling of liberation. But I also know how life’s bounty comes in contrarian ways. There is life within love, but there c…
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This is a repeat of one of my more popular poems, replayed with the hope of getting a new audience, who might have missed it. An ordinary life is so complex. In its unending inevitabilities and Gordian knots it is both an unravelling puzzle and an enduring mystery. To mesh our life’s experiences with those who we love, is itself a quotidian Everest…
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My son got married a few days back to his sweetheart. Both of them make an adorable couple. As always I’m in awe of people in love who decide to marry each other. I know the atavistic urges and the reasons why we seek to gravitate towards a permanence in our deepest relationships, but I also know how the shelters of each other’s arms is ever so oft…
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So much of old age - like life itself - is of acceptance. I saw a young girl, without fear or preconception, pet a dog which had just snapped at me. She simply found the love inside her and in some mysterious manner it transmitted to the dog. And I wondered if this wasn’t exactly what life was - like that instinctive dog, which subconsciously knew …
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This is a repeat of one of my more popular poems, replayed with the hope of getting a new audience, who might have missed it. "I have gone, love,now let me go." We are all changeable creatures. 50 billion of our cells die every day, physically we are not the same today as we were yesterday. And that irrefutable truth seeps into the very core of our…
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I’ve been thinking these past few days of sanctuaries - of how we take some for granted, how we crave for some. Sometimes both at the same time. I also think of how homes are most often our sanctuaries - but so are memories, so are our desires, as also our regrets. We regret chances we got and didn’t hold onto - we console ourselves that the chance…
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Like almost every human being in this world, I am perforce political. The fact that I rarely let that side of me seep into my art, hasn’t stopped me from seeing, reading, feeling, reacting. And the singular skew of the narrative and the increasing sharpness of tone of response, and the frightening cohesion of ideologues is disturbing. It’s a traged…
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Mornings are such fabulous entry points. This time of dark departures and silent welcomes. Something which is sheltered tenderly through the night is brought out, a chance to wipe every falling tear, the time to see if blossoms can blossom to wipe the night’s sorrow, when the pleasure of the view far surpasses the depth of a nightmare. I often wake…
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As the years have gone by, I must confess life has confused more than clarified. Possibly life is a tease, urging me to study the deeper truths of our being, meditate on possibilities, and find what sustains, what doesn’t. And till that happens, I stay in the splendid anagrams of my confusions. And first up on that is - love. Having a life full of …
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I keep returning to the themes of missing out on the small things which make us feel human, nay, which reward us because we are human. And how their absence is often the biggest tragedy of our lives. Often the absence is because of unawareness; but when we yearn for them, search for them, the tangibility of tragedy is like physical pain. Our home t…
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The more I live the more I understand - and appreciate - the import of interconnectedness and transience of all things. The rains come, and so does a gnawing feeling seeking something undefinable; love comes with its fullness, and we wait for the infinitesimal more; the lane we stay is alive with sandwich cafés and chairs on pavements and we sit al…
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Of course, relationships have rules. The fact that we are animals plus, a more evolved species, only recognizes the fact that humans are feeling, trusting, hurting beings. And in the depth of that reality lies the fact of what makes us much more than merely sentient. Alas, there are also transient feelings which gatecrash this party of lifelong-com…
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Unrevealed to us, the universe is working for us. Like master chefs will have you bite into something bitter before bringing in a sweet savoury, life will spin out the worst - only to balance it out in mysterious ways. It’s my firm belief that if we are open with all our senses to our inner beings and the world outside, we will capture the subtle g…
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I see young people together, in love, in lust, lost, planning an event, a day or a life, and I see impatience, I see the desire for appropriation. I see conclusions rather than drifting coffee aroma, I see hard closed city alleys rather than coastlines lazily disappearing into beautiful haze. I see uncomfortable hiatuses, wounded silences, I see co…
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I remember the story of a bunch of strangers taking shelter under a tree on a stormy night. They could see bolts of lightning falling all around and charring trees. They looked around and saw that they were all high caste Brahmins except for one poor simpering low caste Sudra, who could suddenly see all eyes on him. One particularly arrogant Brahmi…
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There was an incredible experiment done years back where children were put into two batches - one where they were out in the care of nurses who cuddled and hugged and caressed them regularly. And in the other batch none of the nurses cuddled the infants. They were efficient but cold, caretakers not care givers. And they tracked the children as they…
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Finally life is only about choices. The quality of our life depends on it. And that applies first to what our reactions are, and then to what our actions are. Because much of what we do is in anticipation of or in response to what we think people will think. The subset to this is the overriding power of our ego - what it makes us feel, what it make…
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I try hard not to be cynical. But I think that’s my terrible gift to myself. Life had a hand to play (of course!), bringing me people and platitudes in equal measure, to leave me nicely acidic for a lifetime. Not that I don’t fight against my worst instincts, read tomes to learn how to return to a crystal-clear state of trust and welcome, a kind of…
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This is a thought which has haunted me time and again. I have done, thought, engendered, perpetrated things which I know are not me, at least what I’ve thought of as the actual me, the essence of me. Things have happened unthinkingly, impulsively, reflexively, without the intervention of what I call my better senses. Then I reason - all my instinct…
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One of the tragedies of growing older is how we see more and more people pass on, even as we wait for our own mortality to kick in. Surviving loved ones is not a blessing, as we find lesser number of breaths intertwined with ours, and our hours spent in longer days. There are several people I remember with great tenderness. Along the years the part…
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Karma is destiny’s calling. The smiles and bruises we give, troop back to us in (as the famous Gladiator once said) this birth or the next. (Likely to be this, as I’ve seen God getting to be progressively more impatient). The things we twist, the generosities we quietly lay out like sunlight, the hypocrisies we ooze in our sanctimonious smiles - we…
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Growing up, and the art of doing nothing. How I wish I was again sure of the former and a master of the latter. Because I’ve lived years, often without experiencing anything new, and fill my time - and myself - so much that there is no place left to give wings to my choices or desires. I still remember the days when I naturally knew what was import…
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Our relationship to our mothers is a supple thing. Day to day, year to year, age to age, it changes. Beyond the evolutionary grounding, beyond the nurturing necessities, we are an amalgam of the obvious and the extraordinary. To be gifted the kind of unprecedented unflinching support we do get from mothers is a benediction of nature. Our steady rej…
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Rain, amongst all seasons, is as much feeling as occurrence. In spite of all its deleterious effects - on roads, homes, countries - log-jammed lanes, traffic jams, leaky roofs, economic devastations! - it can never be bereft of its poetry, it’s memory of growing pangs, it’s matte occurrences of comfort, tea and satisfying dissatisfactions. Everyone…
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Who are we, if not people who live on hope, thought to thought, day to day, year to year. Often knowing about possibilities, often just whistling in the wind. It could be a change of fortune, a lucky break, a chance encounter, a person we’d always loved. Everything, even what seems to be the minutest of an incident, has the potential to change live…
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The bane of my life has been my memory. I forget. I forget prodigiously. Names, faces, conversations. Don’t even get me to started on dates and numbers, groan. In office, at home, I struggle with narrating incidents, at remembering places, things we saw and ate at specific places. I had a girl who worked for me who, after a decade, still remembered…
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This is a repeat of one of my more popular poems, replayed here with a hope of getting a new audience, who might have missed it! We are what we are. But we are also all the people who have arrived, moved on, stayed in our lives. People whose very touch may feel like a hug or an abandonment , a benediction or a scare. People we’ve loved and fought w…
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I have always wondered about those who are in love and stay cities away from each other, and colleagues who are ready to stay apart for their careers. And I’m gobsmacked at how they make it happen. I’ve asked several of them about it, and the answer is always accompanied by a sigh and the answer “Life.” As if what determined their choices was somet…
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