Friday, 15 September 2017

Taabiir ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Interpretation)

There are days my words fail me.
They just sit there. Lazy, wasting their youth and curving at their sides and thighs with bloat from lack of exercise.
I wish they were more disciplined, my words. A small contingent of soldiers, falling in line, arriving on time and ready to lay their lives down for meaning.
My words are no soldiers.
They prefer to lie in the sun, read poetry and dream of everything they could've said.
And so I do that too. (Watch the video here).

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Lihaaz ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Respect)

Under the streetlight in the corner of the park sits a discarded, old bench; paint peeling and insides home to vermin, termites and dust.
This bench is older than you and me.
He's seen monsoons come and go.
He can tell you where and how every kid in this colony scraped their knee.

He waits every morning for Misters Sinha and Siddiqui. He knows all their jokes by heart. Only a few are actually funny.
He watches them cheat on their diets with stolen pedas every Wednesday and puris on Saturdays.

He holds them in his lap every morning. Trying to make them forget all the things the world turned them away from ever since they turned 80.

~hyperbolemuch.blogspot (Watch the video here).

Friday, 1 September 2017

Iltijaa ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Request) 

You've whispered names of old lovers to her, each time she's come to visit.
Started to tell her about stories of your childhood, from that time you sat on your nani's verandah, a little boy of six. "Wait here! I know the perfect song for you," you say each time she twirls her dress.
You've blamed all your delays on her.
Told her that while you do love her, you cannot see her every day four days in a row.

You will count the days to her return when she's gone.
You do this, every year.

So maybe tomorrow when the rain comes around for you.
Let her talk instead. (The word for rain in Urdu is Baarish (but where's the fun in writing that up front) 🙂. Rain is one of of the big loves of my life 💖. Watch the video here.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Bekhudii ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; intoxication)

There was a couple out for dinner, by the sea, last night.
Sitting beside each other, his hand resting against hers, staring out at the ocean, drinking too much wine, much too fast.

You could tell, they were on the beginning or end of something.

~ #StoriesFromUrdu

(This series is updated more regularly with videos on my Instagram account. Follow @hyperbolemuch here for more.)

Sunday, 23 July 2017

To You ~ Boy From Yesterday

(I hadn't written a #ToYou letter in so long because everything I was getting was a ticky-tack version of the same, until this one. Anyone who knows me or has spent an afternoon with me knows that I’m fascinated with love, most with its undulating shape which hold more questions than answers.

 I got this sad-funny email from a client who wants to be called N. “Is it still love, if it’s over? I met my ex-boyfriend, someone I had deeply loved and been engaged to, for dinner after three years. I want to write a love letter to that night, to him that night and to everything that hangs in space unanswered. I want you then to hand-write it and post this letter to my address, because it’s really a love letter from me to me”.

How could I say no?)

To You
Boy From Yesterday,

This is so strange.
This is so strange.
This is so strange.

I tell myself while walking up the stairs to the first floor of this restaurant we’re getting dinner at.

This feels like home.

I tell myself the first time we break into a laugh, five minutes in.

Time has a special muscle of relativity when mapped against someone we used to love, it feels like years are wrapped up and preserved in familiar smells. You smell the same. I don’t know this from confirmation today (we only awkwardly hugged) but I do. You smell the same.

You’re married now. Your face is different, small wrinkles have set up tenements beside each eye but you sip your drink the same way- the first sip always the largest. I don’t remember the particulars of what we talked about. 
Did I tell you enough how good it was to see you?

I knew you when you were 26 and I was 23. We find those kids in each other’s sentences twenty minutes in.
Have we ordered enough food?
Have we ordered any food?
We’re never going to run out of things to say.

You tell me about work and ask me about mine. I answer in rapid, heat-filled sentences rushing against one another eager to get out and meet you. You tell me you have to leave before midnight, I don’t ask why. You’re giving me advice about marriage, about my love life and you’re still smiling the same way you used to. Why are you so nervous?
I have thought about you when things were right. Did you think of me when things went wrong?

I realize if I reach over and hold you, I can time travel and be 23 again. 

I don’t. 
I want to tell you that I will always love you in a way I've stopped trying to explain or define now. I know you’re married and happy and I wish nothing but grand happiness for you. That I will love other people too, differently but as fiercely, and I’m neither sad nor lonely.

But between friendship and affairs is a broken down castle where our kind of love lives. It stays alive despite the years, the violence of storms and the ever changing of the two people who gave birth to it.

It holds in its towers the bad songs these two loved, the ways they fought and broke one another, how holding each other felt like a coming back to life, how they knew when they were together and now when they’re apart that despite its brokenness they’d held in their palms the kind of love everyone else is always searching for and how walking away was a scribble of a circle than a straight line leading out.

The night feels different tonight, there’s definite magic in the air. Everything I want to say to you is laced with a question- why/when. Old wounds and things we never understood hang in the shadows. Baiting us, willing us. I’m surprised to see them there, it’s been years. You’re looking surprised to see them here too, I think. So I stick to basics.

Yes, I’ve worked out.
Have you?
Do I look different?
I’m happy, I think I’m falling in love with someone new.
It’s so good to see you.

I don’t know how we said goodbye. I tell you we should have dinner once every year. 
“For closure”.
You laugh, “There’s no such thing as closure, kid.”
I don’t know when I will see you again.

Is it still love if it’s over? Is that dinner even allowed? Will that break the rules of adult positions of play we have assumed? Will that hurt the new people we love and hold close today?

Once a year, let’s meet to take a walk back to our castle, dust some old shelves, put some books and music in order and leave.
And there it will stand braving storms, watching over us and waiting for us to return.

All my love,

(This picture is mine, taken this May during a road trip across Scotland. This picture is on loan for this letter :) )

(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you. The love letter can go with real names, back stories, as many pictures as you like, aliases and even super powers.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion. Give me a shout at: or on my Instagram account @hyperbolemuch)

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Words, Strange & Otherwise. Part- V

I haven't written here in a long, long time. Somehow along the way #StoriesFromUrdu consumed every other writing. Today felt like a day for other people's words. Words I've collected, scribbled over, highlighted and held far too close for a while. 
These words will mean completely different things to you than they did to me. They may sting or caress, remind you of people you met in 2009 or those you're yet to meet.
Here's the game like last time: Take a life-question, think of a number between 1-20 and read the sentence against it. That's your answer which sometimes leads to questions you haven't asked yet.

I've added a link to each so you can buy the books if you like what you read. Many of these are from recent books I've read but there's also Ahmed Faraz, loved too long and understood too late, Margaret Mitchell and Rilke.

Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 are here. 


1. "The summer talked itself away."
~ Dylan Thomas

2.  “I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else, and that our dignity and our chances are one. The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family; and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list. The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves - we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other's destiny.” 
~Mary Oliver, Upstream: Selected Essays

3. "Why should i feel lonely? Is not our planet in the MilkyWay?"
~ Thoreau

4. " You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how."
~ Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the wind

5. “Memories are microscopic. Tiny particles that swarm together and apart. Little people, Edison called them. Entities. He had a theory about where they came from and that theory was outer space."

 ~ Jenny O'fill, Dept of Speculation

6. “Each time you happen to me all over again.” 
~ Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

(Preface from my favourite Junot Diaz's book, "This is how you lose her".)

7. “I missed her so much that I wanted to build a hundred-foot memorial to her with my bare hands. I wanted to see her sitting in a vast stone chair in Hyde Park, enjoying her view. Everybody passing could comprehend how much I miss her. How physical my missing is. I miss her so much it is a vast golden prince, a concert hall, a thousand trees, a lake, nine thousand buses, a million cars, twenty million birds and more. The whole city is my missing her.
~ Max Porter, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers

8. “Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.” 
- Rilke, Letters to a young poet

9.  Ranjish hi sahi, dil hi dukhaane ke leeye aa,
   Aa phir sey mujhe chhod ke jaane ke leeye aa.

~ Ahmed Faraz (Mehdi Hassan has sung this beautiful ghazal). A rough translation:
Even if it's grief, come back to cause my heart pain,
Come back, if only to leave once again

10. “For to wish to forget how much you loved someone- and then, to actually forget- can feel, at times, like the slaughter of a beautiful bird who chose, by nothing short of grace, to make a habitat of your heart. I have heard that this paint can be converted, as it were, by accepting “the fundamental impermanence of all things.” This acceptance bewilders me: sometimes it seems an act of will; at others, of surrender. Often I feel myself to be rocking between them (seasickness).”
~ Maggie Nelson, Bluets.

11. “I wish we could spend July by the sea, browning ourselves and feeling water-weighted hair flow behind us from a dive. I wish our gravest concerns were the summer gnats. I wish we were hungry for hot dogs and dopes, and it would be nice to smell the starch of summer linens and the faint odor of talc in blistering summer bath houses ... We could lie in long citoneuse beams of the five o'clock sun on the plage at Juan-les-Pins and hear the sound of the drum and piano being scooped out to sea by the waves.”
~ Zelda Fitzgerald, Dear Scott Dearest Zelda

12. “Just think how many thoughts a blanket smothers while one lies alone in bed, and how many unhappy dreams it keeps warm.”
~ Franz Kafka, The Complete Stories

13. She was 3/4 perfection and 1/4 broken glass.” 
 ~ Jonathan Carroll

14. "When she shall die,
Take her and cut her out in little stars,
And she will make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with the night
And pay no worship to the garish sun."

~ Shakespeare

15.  “Here’s a word. Bereavement. Or, Bereaved. Bereft. It’s from the Old English bereafian, meaning ‘to deprive of, take away, seize, rob’. Robbed. Seized. It happens to everyone. But you feel it alone. Shocking loss isn’t to be shared, no matter how hard you try.”
~ Helen Macdonald, H Is for Hawk

16. "Some people change. Kids you knew at school became investment bankers of bankruptcy specialists (failed). They fatten and they bald and somewhere you get the sense that they must have devoured the child they once were, eaten themselves bit by bit, mouthful by mouthful, until nothing is left of the smart, optimistic dreamer you knew when you were young."
~ Neil Gaiman, The View from the cheap seats

17. “If there is no love in the world, we will make a new world, and we will give it walls, and we will furnish it with soft, red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweller's felt so that we should never hear it. Love me, because love doesn't exist, and I have tried everything that does.”
~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

18. “She remembered reading somewhere that even after people died, their hair and nails kept growing. Like starlight, traveling through the universe long after the stars themselves had died. Like cities. Fizzy, effervescent, simulating the illusion of life while the planet they had plundered died around them.

She thought of the city at night, of cities at night. Discarded constellations of old stars, fallen from the sky, rearranged on earth in patterns and pathways and towers.”
~ Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

19. “Dolphins, I learned from J. Worden of the Harvard Child Bereavement Study at Massachusetts General Hospital, had been observed refusing to eat after the death of a mate. Geese had been observed reacting to such a death by flying and calling, searching until they themselves became disoriented and lost.”
~ Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

20. "This life is not the first time you and I have experienced each other. We have been here before, but we have not learned, from past experiences, that much of life defies explanation and control, that life always offers a second chance and that the world existed before us and will continue to exist after us."
~ Devdutt Patnaik, My Gita

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Raqs ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Dance)

The sky is laundry clean blue, all stains of yellow curry from the day now scrubbed out.
The air is an assault of scents; from the freshly wet earth, the mobs of spring flowers and favourite, local deep fried snacks.
Dogs violently shaking their bodies around every street corner, as the calls to prayer are almost set in beat to the smash of raindrops against car roofs.

The evening just turned into a party.
RSVP. ~hyperbolemuch.blogspot

(Full disclosure: I wrote this yesterday (or was it two nights ago?) when it was raining and beautiful outside. Maybe posting it now will make it rain again. A girl can hope. Saving my crazy rain dance for when things are rougher. #TropicalRainBaby) #Urdu#hyperbolemuch. Watch the video here.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Fursat ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; leisure/ at rest)

All of June spent at my grandmother's house where the sun stretched its legs straight across her veranda and I lay on my stomach eating too-ripe mangoes, reading Russian folktales of 14 year old Tzars who forgot to go to war because they were playing chess with their friends. (Thinking of my Nani 🏡 and days of rich nothingness. Watch the video here).

Friday, 12 May 2017

Rutba ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Distinction/ Rank)

He's awake before the milkman arrives.
Squatting low, with shoes between his knees and an old,tired cloth now squeaking in protest.
His mother's affectionate pat disturbs the hair part he's carefully aligned using a comb and the straight edge of a protractor. "Smile baby", she says as she waves at his bus with her floral nightie flapping in the wind and her hair sticking up and out.
He sighs softly.

She would never have become Class Monitor of 5-B with that casual attitude. (Watch the video here).

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Vaabasta ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; bound together, connected)

There's a sharp turn around the corner across the road from here, which will be the last place I will see you, four months from now.

I'll move to a new city soon after that.
You'll change your hair (many times). That corner will stand still, exactly where it is.
Holding its breath, watching people and cars come and go.

And always wondering what went wrong with us.

~hyperbolemuch.blogspot (Thinking of interconnectedness today, and how we scatter pieces of ourselves on favourite roads, cafes, homes and people). watch this video here.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Rukhsat ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Leave) 

Some days the wind rushes in howling through the front door, manhandling our newspaper stack while checking the date for how long it's been.

Most nights, the dog you used to feed comes around sniffing. For you or for milk, a difference he's now too bony to tell.

Every few weeks the tabloid run by the moon sends in a torchlight expedition through our tiny bedroom window.
They're gathering clues to reopen investigation.

Only you could've rearranged the universe by leaving. 

(Trying out a new written word video series but couldn't bear to write it all down, so the last slide needs you to pay attention. Watch the video here.).

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Taalluq ~Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Relation)

Between the heat heavy May afternoons and your bottomless naps.
Your first ideas of revolution,
And that job you eventually dedicated your youth to.
The girl you loved and lost,
And your constant search for a feeling from the past.

Between today,
The house sparrow,
The moods of the ocean
And every mountain, person and song you've visited,

There lies a shimmering, silver thread
Holding it all together.
Turning it into a poem

~hyperbolemuch.blogspot (watch the video on Instagram here).

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Justajoo ~Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; search/ a quest)

Your short term memory is a jumbled drawer of videos, hashtags, Outlook emails and angry Facebook rants about world leaders trying to kill us all for the greater good.

Remember that tiger striped butterfly shamelessly flirting with the plant you always over-watered? And that alpha aggressive pigeon, squatting over and edging away sparrows from the mud-coloured water bowl in your back garden?
The animals, I hear, have left our cities and all gone home now.

You can always look them up online. (Watch the video here and follow me on Instagram @hyperbolemuch for moreStories From Urdu)

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Murshid ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; spiritual teacher)

And when ballots of hate leave the world spinning on a knife shaped axis.
Clouds of hysterical group adrenalin, making us forget that blades only owe allegiance to steel and razor.
I find then, that each breath I take moves me to a place
of darker grace,
softer safety,
And the answer inside, that only flesh and blood can undo, the cruelty that flesh and blood performs. #StoriesFromUrdu 

(Aside: The politics of recent years has left me feeling more emotional than my rational brain would like to accept. I've participated in arguments about race, gender and choices of hate so sharp that any fall out of the choice is argued as an okay price to pay.
I've participated in arguments where I'm so heartbroken and horrified at what's being said and admittedly at who is saying it, that everything I've said after has been almost unintelligible and far too emotional.
So what I'm trying to say is, that the last few years and as recent as this election has taught me that politics is personal.
And thank god for that). Watch the video here.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Hasrat ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; longing, a melancholy)

Lovers all around the world are committing murder and it's not even making the news. Silently suffocating full, innocent roses between pages of books.
Turning entire shelves into graveyards.

Only so when they're 83, they can hold an old book up and remember:
a cold day in February, the salt and smell of the skin on her wrist, when she was 24, and no one other than them had yet discovered this planet. (Watch the video here)

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Uqdah ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Enigma/Puzzle) - 
(For new year budgets and an entire country sitting outside the 50L per annum bracket). 

No one's yet learnt how best to establish a relationship with money.
Not those who tried to make a lover of it.
Nor those who waved to it from across the street.
Though as non discriminatory as ageing; debts like wrinkles eventually made their home around every mouth.
Framing like parenthesis, blank spaces where smiles of childhood once stood.

And every time the skies darkened and fat droplets fell upon us,

"Look", my grandmother would gesture,
"even God's having a tough time with bills this month.

He's got cracks in his ceiling." (Watch the video here.)

Monday, 6 February 2017

Ibadat ~Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Prayer/worship)

Moon-shaped, spectacled, sun-spotted and hopeful. Countless rows of faces turned upward every day.
Towards the sky.
With prayers, five point agendas, questions, fevered whispers and searching screams.

All I want is to meet the artist who paints the dark of the night and the white of the stars each day.
Hang out and ask, does he look down hopefully towards us when he prays? (Watch the video here).

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Khizaan ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; Autumn) 🍁

For those of us who had been too busy courting worry, to look up,
The leaves on the ground are turning all the colors of golden sunsets you've missed this year.

(aka: A Cheat Sheet to Autumn.) Re-posting old forgotten poetry from Instagram, watch this video here.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Inteha ~ Stories From Urdu

(Urdu; the last limit)

Taking me by hand to the shard-sharp cliffs and edges
Of the world,
Of the last crumbs of affection,
Of every need learnt and named by
Of myself,

And then calling it love. #Urdu #HyperboleMuch #OfLove #OfKisses #PeopleAreStrangeWordsAreStranger
#StoriesFromUrdu (Urdu word requested by Ms Aditi Singh : munchkin from school ❤️. Video link here.)

Monday, 2 January 2017


(New Year wishes tradition. 2016, 2015, 2014 here.)

This year let’s make wildlife cool again.
Much like how every boy and his cousin has a beard, let’s make having a personal mission for an endangered animal or even a plant, trendy. Before we know it tigers, giraffes, dolphins, the monarch butterfly, house sparrows and the Venus fly trap will be safe and thriving. And somehow, so will we.

This year let’s travel inside conversations we should have had long ago. 
Find a way to shatter your own auto-responses, a way to only listen and respond when your friend, father or lover is breathlessly and absolutely out of words. Find a way to make tall turreted, gargoyle-flanked palaces out of conversations, I’ve found that some of mine have kept me warm through the harshest winters.

This year let’s read authors we’ve never heard of. 
Angsty 16 year old blogs and Tumblr accounts your grown up self wants to roll eyes at, translated works from countries you can’t even place on the map and authors who have never met the inside of a best-sellers list. You’ll find that ideas of love, hate, questions, rejection, seeking and always seeking aren’t tied to people like you. In reading this year, find your tribe, voices you like and those that can start revolutions if they just find a stage big enough.

This year, stage your own chaos. Take safe jobs and yawning routines and smash them to bits. Be terrified and at 34/18/46/24 come up with a new plan. There’s a shimmering unknown horizon outside your comfort zone. It may not have a goals timeline, your four closest friends or your familiar Sunday morning coffee place, but it will have blood-pumping fear, the skin grazing jolt of that elsuive seductress called New and that place which reminds you that your 6year old self had far more vision, time and imagination than you do behind spreadsheets.

This year don't turn away.
From news and people you don't like or understand. The world is an unwieldy, magnificent giant beast of people and things that alternately thrill you and make your blood curl. Place your attention on things that matter, look at the horrors people like or nothing like you are committing and then find a way to do something about it. Even if all you manage at first is a rant and a phone call to a friend. Indifference kills, and they need to teach this in schools.

This year, like every year, love with the confidence of a clown in a circus who had acts like majestic, flaming lion tamers and lithe, exclamation shaped acrobats embrace mid-air, perform before him.
Love with his confidence, humour, ability to laugh at and dismiss his own vulnerability, bravery to stand up each time he falls down and to smile a big goofy smile even though his act feels like an exaggerated attempt in making a fool of himself.

Love bravely, it’s the only way to do it right. (Putting a big red nose on is entirely optional though.)

                                               (One of my favourite days of 2016 was in August in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Palaces and soaring birds.)