Reading Pessoa

This is no critical take on Pessoa. I have not even read him exhaustively but I am increasingly falling in love with his writing so much that I want to expedite my Portuguese learning and read him in Portuguese. While I was in Lisbon (mandatory bragging for Europe travel), I would read his poems on the internet while sitting in a café or at a bar. Since the Lisbon trip materialised rather at the last moment, I couldn’t pick up his Lisbon: What the tourist should see beforehand, nor I was inclined to read it while I was there. But I managed to read some of his poems. After coming back, I have been occasionally reading his The Book of Disquiet (TBOD), as and when I find spare time. I think TBOD is a book I want/ed to write. It is deeply internal, incisive and arresting. Just thoughts, with no compulsions of narrative, linearity or structure and is inviting. And the format too, of short musings is something I myself have been writing. And in my mind, I thought I was making a breakthrough in the literature scene by experimenting with this form, until I came across Ravish Kumar’s LaPreK and finally Pessoa’s TBOQ. Nevertheless, now that I’ve learnt Pessoa has already written what I have been deferring to write, I am planning to gift copies of TBOQ to friends.

I usually read it on my way to the university or before sleeping. In it, Pessoa writes about mundane reflections that are simultaneously existential. Apart from its beautifully flowing prose, I also relate to the subjective position that Pessoa has assumed as a first person narrator in the book, that of a quiet observer of himself and everything else in the chaos of everyday. Every now and then, Pessoa throws in some of the most brilliant one liners and metaphors. Consider

To express something is to conserve its virtue and take away its terror.


Everything was sleeping as if the universe were a mistake.

And what is interesting is the book is as much about Lisbon as it is about Pessoa. He doesn’t fetishize the city yet brings out Lisbon in his writing in most evocative ways. Growing up in Ponda- a small town of Goa, and having lived in Pune and Delhi, I have always wondered if I could locate myself in a cityscape (in a broader sense). I can perhaps write about Goa that nobody wants to read. I am repulsed by Delhi these days and I spend my time here as if I am doing a favour on the city. Pune is the only place I have desired to go back to but I am not sure if I will like it either. In that sense, TBOQ is a great example about how to write about a city without giving it any extra emphasis. I started reading TBOQ to regain my momentum in reading fiction but it is becoming a primer for me on how to write.

For the love of Pune – Must visit eating places in the city

Must visit eating places in Pune.

  • Café Goodluck (Fergusson College Road) – Bun Maska, Irani Chai, Keema Pav, Butter Chicken, Fruit Funny
  • George (Camp) – Chicken Tikka Biryani and variety of Kebabs
  • Burger King (Camp and KP) – For the most amazing and cheap burgers.
  • Marzorin (Camp) – Sandwiches, Burgers and Shakes
  • Badshahi (Sadashiv Peth) – Unlimited Veg Thali
  • Kayani Bakery – Shrewsbury biscuits amongst other things
  • Café Paradise (Karve Road) – Bun Maska and Chai (and Sutta if that’s your thing)
  • Katakirr (Karve Road) – Misal Pav and Matthaa
  • Doolally (Undri or Corinthians Club) – The best brewery in town for beers. Apple Cider is my all-time favourite.
  • Toons (Camp) – Underground bar with loud music
  • Chitale Sweets (Deccan) – Bakarwadi and Mango Burfi
  • Sujata Mastani (Sadashiv Peth) – Fruit flavoured mastanis

Will keep updating this list as I recollect and discover more places.

Notes from Delhi trip

I recently made a short trip to Delhi just for the sake of it. Idea was to meet some friends who’ve been calling me for a while to visit them and visit JNU, NSD and Ambedkar.

  • Never take a train from Goa to Delhi. Work harder, earn that extra fucking money and buy a flight ticket. Because it’s 24+ hours in a train and shit can get boring if you are travelling alone.
  • Delhi Metro is the thing! Restores my faith that this country can have better infrastructure. It was surprising to see those disciplined queues at the platform to get in, people giving up seats to elder people and ladies etc. Bombay local, watch and learn!
  • Had the fortune to attend a talk by Dr. Salman Akhtar on his father Jahanissar Akhtar at this lovely venue called “The Attic” in CP. (I also learnt that CP is Connought Place and NOT Chanakya Puri).
  • Went to JNU.  Also, saw the Neelgai. *fingers crossed*
  • Went to Ambedkar Univeristy. Was shocked to see that their canteen serves only veg food. So un-leftist!
  • Went to NSD but it rained and kept raining. Couldn’t find the books I wanted nor could I catch any plays.
  • Thanks to Namrata Joshi, finally met Rajshekhar who had penned lyrics for Tannu weds Mannu! Such a sweet person he is. I thanked him almost dozen times for writing “Yun hi”.
  • Dilli haat is boring and it’s so difficult to hunt for Jholas for men in delhi. Talk about gender discrimination!
  • Bongs talk much more when they’re drunk!
  • Air India is not as bad as people portray it. Had a decent flight experience on way back to Pune from Delhi.
  • And I’m in love with Delhi! Especially if you are into food, arts and fabindia, Delhi is a place to be!

The feast and the nostalgia

It’s been two decades but going for a feast still triggers a childlike innocence in me and a sense of nostalgia too. Every year, we visit the temple and follow the routine ie eating the authentic Goan Bhaji Pao and Mirchi Bhujiyas and then going for a stroll to buy sweets and some crazy stuff like a car that works with a remote. And not to forget playing games at stalls trying to win some goodies. It’s ritual yet spiritual.

Here are some photos that I captured during the feast this year.

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