Thursday, August 29, 2013

San Francisco So Far

I know it’s been forever since my last blog post and after several nagging complaints, I feel compelled to apologize to all my avid readers:

Sorry, mom.

Cool, now that we got that covered…

I moved to San Francisco a month back and dove right into it, as if time was limited. And who knows, perhaps time is limited – I’ve traveled and lived, lived and not stayed, stayed and not resided in many, many places. Will San Francisco be the exception? Perhaps. But it’s likely I’ll find myself wayfaring to another frontier soon, so I plan to experience all that the Bay Area has to offer while my wanderlust still remains dormant. 

Ever since I moved to SF, I’ve become a veritable alcoholic. Out of six weekends, there was only one weekend I didn’t drink. And that was because I had hiked for more than eighteen miles, unintentionally, and ended up being in so much pain that I had to be carried back into my apartment. I couldn’t move for days thereafter. Here’s to being in shape!

Here’s the thing about San Francisco. It’s the place to be if you want to find yourself. When I first decided to move here, everybody who knew me was surprised by my decision. Was it a new job? No. Was it for grad school? No. Was it for a guy? No. I was doing this for the same reasons I do many things in my life: just because.

Now, San Francisco isn’t paradise on earth. It really isn’t. Not many people realize how sketchy SF can be. Every time I walk out of my apartment, there is always a faint smell of homelessness and pee in the air. You will see people dressed up, waiting in line, trying to get into a club on one side of the street. You will see crack addicts, prostitutes and your neighbor peeing in a corner on the other side of the street. You are skeptical about all of this. You look at the squashed rat on the road and wonder why you left a spacious two-bedroom apartment in the east coast and moved to a tiny room in the west. You can’t tell the expression of the rat—what with the tire tracks running across its flattened frame—but you know it’s mocking you. Roadkill feels sorry for you.

But, somehow, you come to love SF: it offers up people, food, drinks, music and laughter in a combination that is solely unique to the city. My favorite story is of my friend who I met when I first moved into the city. She had moved for her boyfriend all the way from the east coast only to end up going through a painful breakup. It was the end of a three year relationship and the beginning of a life in an unknown city. Surely, it was both exciting and nerve-wracking? She sat in a public bus muddling through conflicting emotions when a homeless person got up from the seat across from her, walked up to her, and spat on her face. As spit trickled down her face, she questioned her move, too. She questioned what compelled her to give up what she has known all her life and, instead, navigate through the unknown. Her mom in the east coast begged her to come back. But for whatever reason, she stayed.

She did, and so did I. Because when you’re far away from your closest friends and family, the only place that you can embrace and make your own is San Francisco. You will walk into cafes and people will smile, say hi and start up a conversation. You will walk into a bar and the person sitting next to you will want to high-five you for no reason at all and then proceed to show you their tattoos. You will walk through the streets and a homeless guy will say “Hey Beautiful, give me a fist pump!” You will smile back and then run like hell in the opposite direction. You will find people who have given up the rat race and nurtured their dreams into start-up reality. You will be comforted, welcomed, inspired and humbled by absolute strangers. And you will begin to learn who you really are.
View from Coit Tower.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How to (Not) Decorate like a Guy

The other day, mom and I went shopping. She spent hours in a store that contained various kitchenware and I spent hours in Forever 21 buying ten dollar tops. Later, she met up with me and showed me a graduation gift that she had bought for someone. Now, I’m pretty bad with buying gifts, but mom is infinitely worse. I looked at the graduation gift and said “Mom, are you seriously buying a silver photo frame for a dude graduating from high school?”

Mom looked confused and replied, “But it’s so pretty!”

I looked at her and said, “He’s going to use that frame to roll his joints on.”
In the end, I made her return that and buy something a little more relevant for a teenage boy.

When it comes to things like shopping, fashion, makeup, hair and various other girly crap, I tend to rely on my girlfriends (actually, I literally have 3 girlfriends who are good at these things…the others are almost as useless as I am). While there are times I wish I had the ability to style my hair or apply concealer to my face such that it hides my glasses, the one thing that I wish I was really good at is interior decorating.

A few months back, I visited my friend's "bachelor pad", and some of the things he did took my breath a bad way. So while I cannot tell you the right way to decorate the inside of your house, I can, with the help of my guy friend, tell you the wrong way to decorate your home.

Here are five simple techniques you should never, ever do while setting up your apartment:
1) Do Not Hang Pictures At An Angle
This is a simple one. When hanging a picture up, make sure it is straight. It's such a simple thing to do. Really, I was amazed at how he managed to fuck this one up.

2) Do Not Tape Paper Towels on the Wall 
Depending on the layout of your apartment, the wall where you mount or place your TV might be very far away from the actual cable plug. I think architects do that on purpose just to screw with our heads. In any case, if you do end up with an ugly, black cable wire going across the floor or ceiling, know that taping paper towels over the wire will not do a great job of hiding the wires. However, placing a lamp so it illuminates the disgraceful job you've done? That's actually a great idea.

3) Do Not Buy Craigslist Furniture 
If you're mad cheap, you will feel the impulse to buy furniture from Cragislist in order to decorate your apartment (I'll admit I did this once). Having no furniture is better than having Craigslist furniture. My friend was so pumped about this twenty dollar chair that he insisted I be the first one to try it out. The minute I sat on it, the back of the chair collapsed and I rolled out of it like an aggravated armadillo. He then proceeded to react like that was completely my fault.  
 4) Do Not Prop Up Pictures With Random Things 
If you're too lazy to even hang a picture up, using several other random things to prop it up might seem like a good idea. However, if you do that, you could end up with a ten dollar mirror from Target propping up a five dollar picture you bought off the streets of New York. But, as always, you can never go wrong with placing a lamp right next to whatever shoddy job you've done decorating.
5) Do Not Be Creepy
This is the pièce de résistance. My friend was super proud of the neon lights that he bought and placed behind his TV. The lights would illuminate a different color as you watched TV in utter darkness (because he spent money on buying neon lights instead of paying his electricity bills). It was the kind of sketchy, cheesy decorating you'd expect from a pimp. I refused to even step into his living room until he turned off those creepy neon lights.  
So, dear readers, I hope you found these decorating tips helpful. I know I did.

And as much as I bashed my friend's decorating skills, if any girl is reading this and is considering him as a potential mate, know that he is actually an amazing guy. Just make sure you decorate the apartment when you move in with him. Oh, and also, you're going to have to do the grocery shopping. His cabinets were so empty, I actually saw tumbleweed roll across the shelves, sorta like in those wild west movies.

To protect my friend's privacy, I've blurred his face

Eh fuck it, here is his face, with everything else blurred. His name is Amol. He sucks at interior decorating.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

An Excerpt from "Doggy Paddle"

Getting this ebook published has been an exciting process. Later, I will share with you some really crappy mock-ups I created for my ebook cover using Paint. All I'll say is, I have deep respect for digital designers and illustrators.

For now, I've included a small excerpt from my book. I hope you like it. Sharing a book with the public is a nerve-wracking process because now that it's out there, you've made yourself vulnerable to everybody's opinions. It almost makes me want to go back to the safe world of blogging where punctuation errors and mediocre content are easily forgiven.

This excerpt is a section from a Chapter about Job Interviews. In the chapter, I cover various types of interviews like phone screens, technical interviews and in-person interviews. This specific excerpt talks about the crazy interviews, usually given by companies like Google or Apple, that ask mind-bending questions like "How many windows are there in the city of Seattle?"

Here we go:

The Weird Annoying Interview

These are the Microsoft or Google type interviews where some smartass walks in wearing jeans, mocks the stiff suit you have on, and starts asking real asshole-type questions like “Why are manhole covers round?” or “How many poppy seeds are in a poppy seed muffin?”

There is an actual purpose to these seemingly random questions. They test your creativity. The good news is that college is where you are usually at the peak of your creative skills. The bad news is that you will still need to prepare to demonstrate your creativity. I had gotten an interview with Microsoft during campus recruiting. I walked in and, sure enough, there was an Indian-version of a Bill Gates sitting behind the desk, looking at me through his rimless glasses, wearing worn jeans. As I spoke about my technical skills and development experience, he looked more and more unimpressed. Finally, exasperated, he said let’s take a different approach. He looked around, found a plastic cup and then asked me how I would go about designing a cup such as this. I stared at the cup, realizing this small piece of plastic was going to be the demise of my potential career at Microsoft. I paused for a very long time and then replied, “I would design it such that the cups are easy to stack on top of each other.”

He looked at me and then said, “Which plastic cups have you encountered in the past that you’ve had difficulty stacking on top of one another?”

“I’m not familiar with cups, actually. I usually drink straight from the bottle,” I quipped.

He looked even more displeased, if that was possible.

“What else?”

“It should be made from a recyclable material.”

“That’s excellent! What else?”

“I don’t know. Leave me alone.”

Alright, I didn’t say the last part, but that was how I felt. I was panicking at this point and counting the sweat droplets running down my back. I swore to myself I’d never drink from a plastic cup again. I wanted to run out of the room and rip apart all the plastic cups in the world. I wanted to pile them up, set them on fire, and perform a tribal dance around it. I wanted to—



“Well, thank you for coming. We’ll be in touch.”

No you won’t, you asshole. “Okay, thank you.”

To a large extent, you can actually prepare for these interviews. The first thing to do is ensure that your foundation is very strong. A question that often comes up during Google interviews is: “Explain a database in three sentences to your 8-year old nephew.”

If you take more than five sentences to explain this, you will risk rambling and exposing your lack of understanding for a very core concept. This question can be applied to various other topics, too:

Explain Manufacturing to an 8-year old.


Explain the Stock Market to an 8-year old.
Ensure you understand fundamental concepts and learn to explain each concept succinctly and clearly. And above all, stay calm and collected. If a question stumps you, take the time to think it through.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Honeymooning in Mexico

Well, readers, we all know who Aashni is. If you don’t, read my Spain blog. This time, we decided to tour Mexico together. Aash was going to Mexico for a friend’s wedding, and I was going to Mexico just because I could. Aash asked the groom whether it was okay to bring me as her plus one to the wedding so I wouldn’t be twiddling my thumbs while she attended the events, and both the bride and groom generously welcomed me to attend their wedding festivities.

So off we went to Mexico, Aash and I, with our super-sized suitcases full of strips of clothes. Funny, how summer can make skanks out of the best of us. As we packed our clothes, Aash would say, “Oh that’s a nice bandana.”

I’d reply, “Actually, that’s a shirt. I like your scarf though!”

“Oh no,” she’d say, “This is actually a skirt. What’s that shoe string you’re holding up?”

“Oh, that’s my swimsuit.”

We rented a car and drove directly to Tulum, a less crowded beach about an hour away from Playa del Carmen. We walked into the hotel property and instantly realized two things:

1)      This was a total honeymoon place. Literally, everybody walking around was a couple.

2)      This was a total ‘nature-esque’ place. The rooms did not have AC, the ceiling fan made more noise than a freight train, and there was one lamp that we could turn on, which would cast a ghastly neon green light around the room and attract every kind of bug imaginable.   

We had forgotten to pack any mosquito repellent, but we did have sunblock, which smelled of bananas and honey. Surely that would prevent us from attracting any insects, right?

We walked into the dark room and saw two queen beds on opposite corners. We also noticed there was only one table fan, which could only point in one of the two directions the beds were placed at.

“Dude,” I said, “I think we’re going to have to share the bed so we can both get the fan.”

“Ugh,” Aash replied, “Fine, but don’t tell anyone. We won’t find any eligible bachelors if we’re sleeping together on the same bed for the entire trip.”

I climbed onto the bed, tucked in the mosquito net and spread the blanket over me and Aash. Then Aash turned around, taking the entire blanket with her and wrapping herself into it until she looked like a burrito.

The next morning, I was awoken by a high-pitched scream. I heard Aash yell again, and then bolt out of the bathroom like her hair was on fire.

“What the hell, Aash?”

“Dude, I was peeing and I ripped some toilet paper off the roll and I found this HUGE black bug on it!”

“So what’s the big deal man?” I replied, quivering inside the mosquito net, refusing to come out.

“The big deal?” she yelled. “It was on the toilet paper! I almost put that thing up my—“

“Okay, okay, I get the picture.”

In the end, neither of us had the guts to go back into the bathroom. So we went to the hotel restaurant and brushed our teeth in the public restrooms. I’m sure the waiters were like “Man, just when you think Indians couldn’t get any stranger…”

That morning, we went to the Coba Mayan ruins. A local tour guide came up to us and offered to give us a short tour. We weren’t sure if we were being scammed until he said, “Look ladies, if you don’t take the tour, you’re just gonna be looking at a pile of rocks everywhere.”

So we agreed to go on the tour, and the tour guide showed us how the Mayans played sports, prayed to the Gods, and strung pieces of ropes either through the tongues or penises of prisoners.

“Which one would you prefer to have the rope through?”  I asked the tour guide.

“Definitely the tongue,” he replied, without missing a beat.

Later that day, we came back to Tulum and relaxed on the beach. After a swim in the ocean, we saw two dogs humping each other.

“Are you serious?” Aash said, “Are we now the only species not getting laid in this town?”

“Get a room, you licentious labradors!” I yelled.

The next day, we went to Chichen Itza. There, we learnt more about the Mayan civilization and the awesome acoustics within the walls of the temples and ball courts. However, the highlight of the trip was definitely when we were walking out and Aash, lost in her own world, stepped on an iguana’s tail by mistake. Now, I have to describe this incident in great detail because I literally laughed for days thereafter every time I thought about it.

Aash was a few steps ahead of me and I could see her approaching the iguana, which was sun bathing on the middle of the path. “Wow,” I thought, “I guess Aash has become one with nature and is now fairly comfortable with all kinds of creatures.”

Very soon, however, I realized she had no idea there was a lizard the size of her arm lying right underneath her. I tried to warn her but when I panic, I cannot make a sound. So there I was, my face contorted in terror as I opened and closed my mouth in vain, trying to warn her to not step on that thing. Time stopped and I watched her leg descend ever so slowly onto the iguana’s tail, at which point, all hell broke loose.

The air was pierced with the screams of women and reptile, alike, and everything became black. I realized this would be how I’d die and I decided to just run in the opposite direction of Aash. Fuck it, I thought, it’s every man for himself and I’ve got to make sure I’m as far away as possible from the aggravated iguana. Five seconds into the frenzied running, I noticed the iguana running alongside me with the same amount of terror and panic written across its face. It seems we were both trying to get the hell away from Aash.

I stopped my running and looked back to see Aash curled in a ball on the floor of the gift shop. The locals there had the same look the waiters had when they caught us brushing in the restaurant: man, these Indians…

Later, as we were driving back, I randomly burst into uncontrollable laughter.

“Are you laughing about the iguana?” Aash asked in a mock-hurt tone.

“Aash,” I replied, “For the rest of the week, if I randomly laugh to myself, you can just assume I’m laughing about you and the iguana.”

We ended that night with pizza, since we were getting sick of eating guacamole for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The next day, we drove back to Playa del Carmen, where the wedding festivities were about to begin.

The first event was a cocktail hour and after an entire day in the sun, I had a throbbing headache.

“Just ask the waiter for some Advil,” Aash suggested.

“They’re not allowed to give pills to the hotel guests,” I replied.

“You just don’t know how to get things done, Shilpi,” Aash said, and walked up to the waiter.

A few minutes later, she sat back down with a satisfied smile and said, “They’re getting someone.”

That someone turned out to be a lifeguard wearing what I can only describe as red, booty shorts. He came in with a smile that made all the women at the table uncomfortable and asked if I needed anything.

“Is that the medic or a stripper?” someone asked from across the table.

The half-naked medic assessed me and seemed disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to use the defibrillator he was holding.

“So no heart attack?” he questioned in a thick, Mexican accent.

“Er, no…just a headache,” I replied.

He nodded again in disappointment and left. One of the guys at the table said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up in your room later tonight.”

The next day was the wedding, where we witnessed the bride and groom, Anya and Manav, get married in front of the endless gaze of the ocean. They made simple, heartfelt promises to each other and I saw what love, at its very finest, could be like: exciting, poignant, effortless.  

Meanwhile, Aash and I were trying our very best not to look like a couple, which was difficult what with us sleeping on the same bed, holding hands and carving our names onto the sand. At one point during dinner, I spotted a morsel of food near Aash’s mouth and brushed it off with my fingers. She gave me an exasperated look and said, “You might as well have licked it off.”

We ended the vacation sitting in front of the beach and sipping cold beer. With the sun embracing us in its glorious warmth, we talked about all the things girlfriends like to talk about: family, friends, love, boys, and alcohol.

“Hey, no point in regretting our past choices,” I said.

“Yep,” she replied, “As long as we’ve had fun, it’s all good.”

I nodded in agreement and said, “As long as we’ve had fun and nobody got hurt…” and then added with a smile, “except for ourselves.”

She smiled back. “Amen to that.”

We clinked our beer bottles and chugged the rest of it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I like looking out the airplane window at night. It’s always disconcerting to see the stars above you, and the clouds below you; it’s like looking up at the sky and, instead, finding an ocean undulating above you. There was a handsome Brazilian man who sat beside me. He and his wife were visiting America: California, Vegas, New York – the stuff that America is made of. I asked him what was his favorite destination so far and he replied Yosemite. I agreed – I had spent a good part of my childhood watching those waterfalls rush down the dizzying mountains. I then asked him if he had to choose between San Francisco and New York, which would he choose. He laughed and said “It’s a tough choice.”

“I know,” I replied, and waited for an answer.

He looked like he was in pain and went on to explain that the two places were very different. How San Francisco was beautiful in its own right, but New York was like his home, Sao Paolo: crazy, disorganized, addictive. He looked back at me and said he couldn’t decide. I smiled and said, “I understand.”

I then coughed up a ball of mucus and that ended all conversation for the rest of the flight. Flights are petri dishes for germs and bacteria. So, as it’s bound to happen, I had fallen sick. Now when I fall sick, it’s not the dignified kind of sick. I remember when my friend and I were traveling through India, we were boarding the plane and were both nauseous and unwell. My friend got dizzy and fainted like a delicate flower. Meanwhile, I (having some sort of crazy stomach virus) ended up bolting into the bathroom, where this stunning combination of projectile vomiting and violent diarrhea took place. I would go into more details, but I’m feeling a little nauseous myself. So let’s change the subject to how fucking cold it gets inside flights!

I used to think the window seat was better than the aisle because you could lean against the window and fall asleep. However, the window seat invariably gets cold due to the drop in the outside temperature after takeoff. I never remember this until I’m on the flight and freezing my ass off. While flying to Brazil this time, I debated walking around the airplane looking for extra blankets. But the handsome Brazilian sitting next to me was fast asleep and I didn’t feel like waking him because I had already shook him awake five times thanks to my overactive bladder. I swear; one glass of apple juice and my bladder is like a fucking water park for the next seven hours.

In any case, I turned the flight attendant light on, hoping somebody would come by and I could ask them for extra blankets. But I was having no luck getting any attention from the air hostesses. Twenty minutes passed while I tried to twist in every direction and attract the attention of anyone walking up and down the aisle. I slowly started transitioning from mildly annoyed to outright crazy when I noticed a passenger staring at me from the other side. There were literally 5 seats in-between us but she could sense my agitation, as if I was about to leave an unattended bag by her side and jump out the window. That heightened my frustration for some reason. Fine, I thought: stare at me all you want. I’ll stare back. I was cold, I couldn’t sleep, the flight attendants didn’t give a damn and that fucking attendant light, shining with all the futility in the world, was driving me crazy. So the last thing I wanted to do was lose this shit staring contest I had going on with the passenger five seats away from me. Fuck you, lady, I’m going to stare right back at you. And so I did, for two straight minutes. I stared at her like my life depended on it, and she stared back at me, both of us assessing how crazy the other person looked. An eternity passed and we both reached a point where we got uncomfortable. I debated whether I should burst into a random, creepy smile and then decided to try and sleep again, instead.

I never learn from the past. I always forget how cold I get during flights. When I fly to Houston, I invariably forget to take warm clothes for the flight. Houston is hot as hell, but the flight that takes me there is a levitating morgue: after takeoff, it’s freezing until you land.

Once, I made the promethean mistake of wearing sandals during the flight. Domestic, economy flights don’t give you blankets, so I was freezing in ten minutes. Desperate to catch some shut eye, I decided to get creative. I opened my backpack, turned my laptop on and waited for it to warm up. Then I put the laptop back into my backpack and then….wait for it…I stuffed my legs into the backpack.

Are you serious, you think to yourself? Fuck yes, I’m serious. Do you know how cold my feet were? The warmth of the laptop and my own body heat kicked in and kept my legs nice and toasty for the rest of the flight. Did the passenger next to me wake up and wonder why half my body was inserted in my backpack? Sure. But I didn’t give a damn: I just wriggled my toes in the makeshift convection oven I had created for myself and slept like a baby the rest of the way.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This is going to be a short blog post, covering the terms and phrases my dad uses during the course of conversation. For those of you who know my dad, you know that he has a unique way of getting his point across. So listed below are a few words or phrases that my dad uses in a way that no normal or sane person would use during a dialogue.

1)      PTS - Peak Teenager Syndrome

This is usually used to describe someone who is being cranky or grumpy.

Example: " are suffering from PTS"


2)      SMA - Stranger Mixing Abilities

This is usually used to specify whether you are an extrovert or introvert when it comes to meeting new people or making new friends.

Example: “You need to work on your SMA.”


3)      "Don't be in a frenzy"

This is usually used when your daughter starts dating a guy and you are nervous about the whole situation. You then use this phrase to warn her to not get in over her head.


4)      Negative Frenzy

This is usually used when someone is being very negative about the future or their current circumstances.

Ex. “Don’t be in a negative frenzy.”


5)      Madagascar Situation

This is used to describe an unacceptable, disastrous situation, with the term ‘disastrous’ used a bit loosely. For example, if you were to get a $400 traffic ticket for going 80 mph on a 55 mph zone, it could be described as a “Madagascar situation”.


6)      Pandemonium

If you go back to college and take your mom’s laptop by mistake, which forces your dad to drive 600 miles from New York to Pittsburgh to exchange laptops for his wife and daughter; this is a great example of “Pandemonium”.


7)      "Failures are the pillars of success"

This is usually used when you have unsuccessfully attempted to fix something, like the toilet flush and you repeatedly make it worse with each try. You can then use this phrase to convince yourself that it’s not worth hiring an expensive plumber and go back to “fixing” the toilet again.


8)      "Work is worship"

This is usually used to annoy the hell out of people. When you are sick of working and you just want to complain about the slave labor that is your job, you call your dad. If he replies “Work is worship” after every sentence you say, you hang up on him and question what your mom saw in him.


9)      "You are not going to be happy"

This is usually an understatement used to describe a situation that will make you really unhappy. For example, when my dad burnt several saucepans while trying to boil water, he called my mom and began with “You are not going to be happy”.


10)   De-bonding or under bonding

This is usually used to describe a situation when you have spent longer than a day with your family and it starts to become annoying. At this point, both father and child complain that too much family time has been spent together and a few months of “de-bonding” or “under bonding” are necessary.


11)   Black Spirit

This is used to describe the mood of a person whose anger is simmering right below the surface and may explode any minute. For your own safety, it is best to avoid any person while they are in a ‘black spirit’.


12)   Deep Breathing

When a person is nervous or anxious about something, this phrase is then used to annoy the fuck out of them. For instance, if you are nervous about your first job interview, your dad can acknowledge it and annoy you by saying, “You are doing a lot of deep breathing.”


13)   Musical Minded

This is a synonym for “distracted” or “absent-minded”. If you walk out of your apartment without your keys and get locked out because you were distracted while listening to music on your ipod, you are “musical minded”.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Creative Relief

My Engineering classes often drained me, and sometimes, the only courses that motivated and re-energized me were ones that had nothing to do with Engineering. I would take Shakespeare, Italian Cinema, Foreign Aid, International Affairs, and even The Study of Kosher and Halal Meat (yes, that was an actual course which primarily consisted of students eating meals cooked by the professor's wife).

Of all these, the one course that I absolutely loved was my Poetry class. I had a huge crush on my professor. He was an African American musician who would start narrating a poem in iambic pentameter, turn on some beats and start rapping the poem along with his own lyrics that he would make up on the spot, intertwining poetry and rap like the intricate weaves of a quilt. We were in awe of him and he was totally unaware of it.

I've included three poems that I had written in the course. I hope you won't find them too tedious to read.

The first poem was an assignment on writing an Elegy. I decided to write about one of my grandfathers who suffered from depression. He was not part of my immediate family but, as with any joint family with innumerable grandparents, cousins, et al, I was told he was family and that I should call him grandad. This was simply my perspective of him when I was a kid, so don't ( necessarily ) consider it an accurate representation of him.

My Other Grandfather

If you were to come back to that home;
Yellow smoke would stain the walls—
All because of him.

Those were the stairs he walked up
And walked down everyday at sunrise.
The ignorant would question the state of
His mind.

Uncle would title
Him the laziest man in town.
Uncle would make fun and ask
Him: “What was the hardest
Work you did today?”
He would smile and reply to Uncle,
“A lazy man does no hard work.”

You’d see
Him with his brown
Tobacco powder, shooting it up
His nose—coughing violently.
A lithe body lying limp,
Decaying on the bed.

His dark eyes would seek
Out your questioning gaze,
His mind observe your
Creased brow:
He would say, “Don’t frown near
Me. I was never heavenly.”

And then you’d leave him,
Your mind burning unhappily.

~~~~~~~ *~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~

I used to love writing Haikus. This one is about all the seasons of the (East Coast) year. You'll notice there are five stanzas even though there are only four seasons. I added an extra stanza for a season that I made up: that time of the year between winter and spring where you just can't take the harsh cold anymore and you're madly hoping for Spring to arrive. For me, that is my fifth season!

A Season of Haiku
Through sheltered windows
You see sultry morning sun
Beating down ill will.

Last splash of color
Before shedding of green leaves.
Leaves rustle to peace.

The heater is down
Midnight blue ice forms slowly
From last night’s iced tea.

Please pass winter blues;
Waiting for naked bare trees
To swell tender fruit. 

Sun slits through, letting
A flower bloom and a fruit
Retain spring juice again.

~~~~~~~ *~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~

Lastly, we had to write a Blues poem. I loved the overdramatic, melancholy nature of Blues. It forced even the most jaded people to become hopeless, lovelorn romantics. I remember going through several revisions of this poem and my professor would invariably come back disappointed in me because he felt I wasn't opening up enough. You can assume this was the last revision where he chose to give up on me.

Memory Lane
I keep strollin' down memory lane
And it drives me insane.
I stare 'cross lonely streets and remember
Burnin' desire on a blues winter night.
Now time’s gone and, baby, so have you.
I see the sun’s up and flowers've bloomed.
Ol' lady Winter’s left but my blues remain.
So I keep strollin' down memory lane
And it drives me insane.

Now, because my Blues poem isn't very good, I felt like I should leave you guys with one that is downright amazing.  By Langston Hughes, the below is an excerpt from his poem "The Weary Blues":

Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
     I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
     He did a lazy sway . . .
     He did a lazy sway . . .
To the tune o' those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
     O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
     Sweet Blues!