You ask me where I’m from.
What can I say?
My heart belongs to Bombay, my mind to Melbourne
Madras keeps me sane,
And Bangalore always, always feels like home.
In Bahrain, I lived many lives,
My school had all of India,
And I watched American cartoons
In a Tamil-Telugu home.
My neighbour was a Bhopal Tambrahm
Who taught me British poetry.
In Madras, I learnt to think and dream
Bangalore straightened me out.
Bombay grew me up and showed me love.
In Melbourne, I learnt to open my eyes.
My deep, deep yearning for the forest
Comes from three Guwahati months, where
Our nights were set aflame by fireflies,
Our days, by the song of the Sarika bird.
In between, there was Hong Kong.
And Hyderabad and Chandigarh.
Even Tuticorn when I was very young.
My mother said the house overlooked the sea.
The winds would blow in from everywhere
In the evenings, she said.
I can close my eyes and taste it now
–And then I smell Sassoon-docks fish
With Lata Mangeshkar on the radio.
I dream a Bahrain ocean, I remember a Hong Kong bay
My heart is a Melbourne bridge where, at night
The birds weave around the light like moths.
I am from all those seas and all those cities.
I am from lovely forests I never lived in.
I am from farms that smell foreign.
I am from silly, banal concrete.
I am from here.