Vignettes of a South African Township called Mdantsane

Friday, October 26, 2012



and when it rains
in tantrumsgold in such cities living
i think of you often
when traffic lights
clothe a road
of swarming blues
and your eyes
in a flicker
ferns of old memories

Amitabh Mitra

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Slow Train to Gwalior, A Poem by Badal Saroj


सुस्त चाल नहीं इसे अलमस्त चाल कहते हैं हमारे ग्वालियर में/
बढ़ते हैं खरामा खरामा/
न जाने की हड़बड़ी होती है-न पहुँचने की जल्दी/
इसीलिए पेड़ पीछे नहीं छूटते - साथ रह जाती है उनकी छाँव/
खेत ठहरे से रहते हैं और पार होने को ही नहीं आती चम्बल/ चम
्बल-जो नदी भर नहीं है -
वह क्रिया-सर्वनाम-संस्कृति-परिवेश-भाषा यहाँ तक कि व्याकरण भी है / उस चम्बल के ऊपर से आज तक नहीं गुजरा कोई/
चम्बल ही गुजरी है सबके ऊपर से सर्वदा/
अबकी बार ग्वालियर की किसी स्लो ट्रेन से गुजरें तो मिलिएगा-
कंक्रीट के जंगलों में बची दूब की मानिंद
किसी अविस्मृत याद की तरह इन्तेजार में खड़ा पायेंगे ग्वालियर को /

Badal Saroj

Friday, October 12, 2012

at the 169, long street

and the next evening
just the realization
of being on long street
and 169
music draped shuffling steps outside
mist of voices settled
in a yellow domain
a forest of streets
suddenly entered
the obese man lifted his hat
a colored girl in ultra shorts smiled
she is tapping the world
on her mobile
entering exiting
each other
169 in hushed vivaldi
and sparkling turquoise
in a moist sense
in surrender
in slender proportions
a sudden gusto
trumpets beholding reason
eyes and bodies took to each other
in violence suggested
and living
the black dwarf from the murals called out
don’t just look
sniff me, my lord
my existence
my enslaved sky
sniff me, your exalted highness
sniff my cape dutch chains
sniff my walls
and i did
169 exploded
in tiny stars
of shadows
on colored lips and colored eyes
of spinal movements
of cerebrum
borrowing synapses
breaking again
unlike each other
long street crawled
the obese man
just smiled

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

169 on Long Street, Cape Town






Moosa, the taxi driver is worried
Do you really want to go to Long Street, Doc, at this time of the night
I have some better places to take you where gentlemen can relax and have a drink
I couldn’t believe my ears, me, a gentleman !
No, Moosa, unfortunately, it has to be Long Street
The drive from my hotel on High Level Road, Sea Point to Long Street takes about fifteen minutes
But Moosa has a worried look
He speaks in an Afrikaans accent, But bass there are bad people there, all very young people...
We are in Long Street
There is this vibration
Laughter and irrelevant noise
Finally a place, away from reason
I love it, Moosa, I love it
He shakes his head
Moosa has been with me since last one week
He drives me to Tygerberg Hospital, up and down
But this is really out
He doesn’t understand, why I have suddenly developed this longing for Long Street
There is music and music
And high heels
Moosa says, Doc I wait for you, if you don’t come back after forty five minutes, I go in search for you
Ok, Moosa, Ok.....
But why am I writing all this....
I promised myself, I would write on 169
So here we go
I promised the same to the Nigerian Waiter who told me,
Excuse me Sir, You are not allowed inside
I mean to say, you are definitely allowed inside, Welcome, Sir, to the 169
His perfect white, glistening teeth and twinkling eyes beckons me
And the beautiful Amanda with her beautiful smile would just look and shake her head as always
169 on the Long Street in Cape Town is a pub and a club. It has history because it was situated down the road and is a part of the Long Street Culture from an era long back. It moved to its present place not long ago. I have a strong suspicion that the club changed hands.
I was attracted to its interior. The murals with an African theme have an innovating feel. They look different from an average African township art. The clothes worn by the black musicians and dancers have either a Portuguese or Cape Malay suggestion. There are huge leaves in yellow painted in the background, sometimes making me feel as if they are winged creatures. Some of them may even be dwarfs.
These murals are worth viewing and add to the ambiance of the pub.
There is another framed art, in the upstairs dance floor
This one again takes us back in time. Its beautiful, tastefully framed giving the appropriate vintage feel
There is this elderly man dancing, it reminded me of the dervishes at Nizamuddin, Delhi
I have my drink, thank my hosts and promise to come back the next evening.
The obese man sitting in the corner, smiles
Moosa is standing outside his taxi with a worried look
He wants to take me out of Long Street by shortest possible route
Well there is always tomorrow
And obviously, the 169