Mountain Bus Driver


Nature’s challenge,

He wins,

Takes away life and destination,

He loses,

Scales down to his end,

Till out of sight into the deep ravine,

On his performance,

Clings a bus full of lives,

On every steer of his,

On every inch that he rolls,

Squeaking diesel, up and down the hill,

When the road spirals stiffer,

Narrows, turns steeper,

No matter the visibility or the hour,

Snow in the day, pitch dark at night,

Or, hazy noons and nights with chilly showers,

With that wide-eyed insomniac stare,

He carries a sleeping, stretching, chatting, yawning herd,

On his shoulders, wheeling risky uphill,

Protruding sharp edged rocks,

Apple trees, Milestone blocks,

They all respect and know this alert tiger,

Unsung remains his skill,

Pale, unadorned remains his craft,

No medals, No stars does he deserve,

Not a token of our gratefulness,

Not a hug of gratitude,

Unvexed, Unstirred, Graying Unhailed,

Rambles on the Mountain Bus Driver…





Images from :,

‘Jugni Ji’


To soar, that tune needed no wings,

Swayed four head-robbed souls,

Sang their hearts out to the poles,

Mindless, they sat on high rocks,

Over thousand feet, their toes towered down,

Their eyes shone, as the Sun got ready without a frown,

To take off His golden robe, put away His crown,

In wraps, they tapped to that Sufi beat,

Celebrated their freedom, sweet,

No more prisoners of the world’s shine,

No more confined within its suffocating cells of heat,

Brains stepped out of their woolens,

Then crept out of their frames,

Rendered four groovy figures vacuum,

Carefree of the night’s length,

Of the approaching hungry Doom,

They were already miles away from time-bound sequences,

From reasons, logic and consequences,

Undirected, fingers exhibited blood-ties to that rhythm,

Echoed the mountains,

Sparkled, gargled, those shy fountains,

In farewell to the spent Star,

Plucked the strings,

Hailed the chilly infinity,

Hummed the Himachali air, ‘Jugni Ji * ‘…


From across the border, swayed in flavors,

Rubbed away map-margins from their faculties,

Drenched in waters of the Sind,

On its banks, on the greener side, grew up this melody,

Ascended to the clouds, exhaled fumes of fatigue, frustration,

Departed their minds, a thick smog of hard-earned depression,

Left four jamming cerebrums,

Past that glacier soaking those setting rays,

Peaks gleaming to seduce in orange lipstick,

To the skies, painted with their eye-candies in smiles,

They looked on with pride,

As the four performed handsome on that stage of liberty,

Hummed the entire valley,

Hummed Parvati,

Hummed the Himachali air, ‘Jugni Ji * ’…


Shattering myths of its dumb silence,

Broke open in rhythmic applaud,

Miraculously, that serene clime,

To that blue canvas, infinite,

On the flight of music,

Soared all the four,

Hands in their hands, those ladies twirled,

With their artists, mesmerized, they balled,

Jingled the tambourine,

Tapped wood on the guitar’s spine,

Love ran out of bounds, rocketed blind,

Unchained, it leaped into fancy eternity,

Sang rose-red hearts,

Hummed the entire valley,

Hummed Parvati,

Hummed the Himachali air, ‘Jugni Ji * ’…




Inspired from a jamming session in the Mountains at dusk, and from the talented Pakistani folk singer, Arif Lohar’s acclaimed track,  ‘Jugni Ji’ from its Coke Studio version with Meesha Shafi.

*Jugni Ji’ – The word ‘Jugni’ refers to a ‘female firefly’ in Punjabi Folk Music. In spiritual poetry, ‘Jugni’ means the spirit of life/essence of life.

In Pakistan, Jugni was popularized by the late folk music singer Alam Lohar. He received a gold disc LP for his Jugni in 1965. After that Saleem Javed and Arif Lohar, Alam Lohar’s son, among others, have kept the tradition alive.

Arif has brought in a more contemporary touch by incorporating modern vibes and rock influence in his versions of Jugni with Mukhtar Sahota (notably in his album “21st century Jugni”).

Arif Lohar has currently sang it for Coke Studio in Pakistan along with Meesha Shafi, a popular Pakistani youth, a version that will help this iconic song to further live on and on.





Images from :,,

Mars! Here, I come…


I’m flying loose, rocketing free,

Whoosh! Past Burj Khalifa,

Jetting beyond the Warsaw Radio Mast,

CN Tower, Petronius Platform,

The tallest, left behind,

Breathing full-throttle liberty,

Mind’s gaining precision,

Accuracy to have calipers bow, bend low,

Gliding steps on red alien soil,

Tumbling down uncontrollable,

From peaks of thought-volcanoes,

Tearing into a windless lull,

Toes swindling wireless, out-of-command,

Hurling below igneous lava rocks,

A creature-free infinite summons me,

Mars! Here, I come…




(From an old-school psy-party at New Delhi, India)


(Image from : )

Welcome to Chalaal’s Freedom Café


Proclaiming thuds on the wood,

Creepily romantic squeaks at every step,

We could knock the ceiling,

Challenge the mountains,

As we perch up our legs,

On the corridor railing,

To the floating clouds,

Could we open our door,

Or, maybe squat on the floor,

Spread up on the grass,

No rules, without a fuss,

You could pass out anywhere,

On the floor, in the garden or the corridor…


Flowers competed with one another,

Blooming up bright and large,

They did well,

But, bowed down to a stronger smell,

The resin burnt, it was easy to tell,

Smell of the mountains saturated the air,

You simply couldn’t escape it,

It was here, there and everywhere,

A broad smile, a high-pitched tone greeted us,

A scream reached us, ensured,

We clearly heard him say,

“Park your woes, tensions and troubles,

Your hectic schedules outside the gate,

To have your souls liberated,

Walk this way,

Come up straight,

Unbind your spirits,

Let them graze, find some solace,

In this psychedelic maze,

Unchain them free for a while,

Let them go astray,

Happiness is our permanent customer,

Forever, has it lost its way,

Forever, is it here to stay,

Friends, Welcome to Chalaal’s Freedom Café…”





A Shot for Heaven’s Sake…


Let’s get baked in a meditative posture,

Let’s do it the Indian way,

Let’s listen to the signal, I should say,

The final whistle at the theatre of Nature,

A single wood-decked Oriental row,

The balcony seat to this scenic show,

Curtains down, vision swollen,

Action in the skies,

Lit up golden,

Takes and Re-Takes,

Done with the lulls, the stills and the brakes,

Now, lenses rolled,

Ceased the shrieks and the chatter,

Could only hear clicks of the shutter,

Could hear the wind flow,

It was time for expressions, for all to glow,

The heroes and the villains,

Monstrous Mists and the sharp Rays,

One turning black ‘n blue,

The other beaming red with rage,

One patiently staring with glaring eyes,

The other, roars, summons aerial quakes,

Trees, bushes, rocks, stones and pebbles,

Each had a character, a vital side-role to play,

They rehearsed their scripts for the final take,

Echoed back the skirmish,

Heightening the audio effect,

Timely thunder strikes in the backdrop,

A Shot of a lifetime was ready,

A Shot for Heaven’s Sake…





( Self-clicked images from the “Freedom Cafe”, Chalaal, Himachal Pradesh.

Stay tuned for the last post from my 2012 trip to the Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India.)

That’s how they served, you see…


Do you see?

How willing are they to serve?

The rays are finding it difficult to part,

They’re aware they aren’t short of hours,

Cleaning up, purifying every bit of the Mountain Lord,

A task that they simply couldn’t resist,

Once warmed-up, dried, rinsed yellow,

He had his cloud-maids,

Already losing out on patience,

Tapping away their feet to restlessness,

All set to wash him spotless,

Freeze life on his membrane,

Grant him comfort, some chilly peace…




(Stay tuned for more from my 2012 trip to the Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India)

Rising up to You…


I hope I’m still under observation,

You must be laughing at your little ones,

Tired, left with no other option,

But, to soak some feet,

Grab some shivers,

Yet, elated at the entire proposition,

You couldn’t find the river in a better mood,

I guess, it was her love for the rocks,

And, her banks,

Now, almost red with autumn leaves…


Boulders, stones and pebbles,

Meditated in a collective session,

That stretched till as far as I could see,

Together they attended,

A mass, all day long,

Each and every one of them,

In the same uniform,

Looked up at their guests,

Signaled towards the constant chant of the river,

Their only vintage trance,

Towards gaps in-between them,

For us to step on,

The way up the mountain,

For us to head on…


A steep trek,

Right up your skin,

Brushing aside your lush curls,

Branches and twigs,

Your hair-pins in them,

Against the will of that strong chill,

Your collective suitors,

Kissing you cold all the time,

Slapping us on our faces,

As we dare to rise up to your bosom…





(Stay tuned for more from my 2012 trip to the Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India)

Surrender to My Care…


Crawl up my tentacles,

Breathe through my hairy pores,

Sneeze away your hot temper,

The dirt and dust u carry along,

From those flat plains,

Barren shores,

Bathe in my rivers,

They lose character by the time,

They grow up to your land,

Under my eyes,

They are pure, crystal like,

They do not dare,

Let me take care of you for a while,

Nurture your soul,

Scrub away fake grins,

Strengthen your smile,

Rest by my rocks,

Play with the grazing sheep on my slopes,

Talk to the stars under the dark blanket,

Smell the chill,

Sing with the toad,

I welcome you to live it your way for a while,

In the Holiest of all my valleys,

To cherish peace in my tranquil abode…






(Stay tuned for more from my 2012 trip to the Parvati Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India)

Guarded by the raging river, Parvati…


We heard the river crying out loud,

Ceaselessly roaring, scaring away clouds,

As if bound by an ancient oath,

To scare away the devil, to victoriously loathe,

To continue exhibiting its power and might forever,

To mark the mountains surrounding it with its non-stop uproar,

To gift the valley with incomparable blessings of nature,

To allow its inhabitants to take pride in its holy waters,

Equipping them with unique spiritual oars,

Enabling them imagine the river as their mother, the key behind their existence,

As only another face of Lord Shiva’s bride, the fiery Goddess, Parvati…


Let loose, as a Himalayan recluse…


Awakened by the squeaking and tweaking,

Feathered claps and beaky clutters,

Rat-Tat-Tat Rat-Tat-Tat,

Wings flapping my bamboo shack,

I caught the Sunshine streaming on to my face,

Right through the bamboo leaks,

Torching my spirit with freshness,

As if persistently nudged by a mother,

Stubborn at her decision,

To see her son up and away from slumber,

To get him ready for a fresh new day…

The bugs and the bees are my only neighbors,

My shack is the only human dot in miles of steep Himalayan wilderness,

Beetroot, carrot, tomatoes are only some of my children,

Growing strong and healthy behind my bamboo-cave,

Mary Jane covers the rest of the mountain,

Like the eyes of a parrot,

My hut stands like a brown peck on a green canvas…

Minty, sweet fruity smoke refines my senses,

Defines the very purpose of my existence,

Drowns me in the mystic tranquility around,

Shoves me deep down into poetry,

Each and every morning, each and every day…

Far away from the hegemony and chaos of urban life,

Away from vicious traps of forced responsibilities,

I’m riding wings of poesy,

Diving deep into wonders of the subconscious mind,

Experiencing human happiness, pain, and emotions,

Unperturbed, alone, only with my beaky mates,

Chirping away tunes into my ears,

Cheering me up,

Encouraging my aesthetic aspirations,

Acknowledging my efforts to submit my entire existence,

Solely to nurture gifts from the Lord,

With nothing to prove,

None to outshine,

Only to shield my smile,

To make it strong enough to last, unaffected,

To fortify my life against unworthy impacts from the unworthy and the unknown,

From complete strangers to my mind,

To carve out my own circumstances, my own one-man society,

To live on terms, absolutely mine…