Thursday, February 14, 2013

Time Out- Loo Brow

This piece was published in Time Out Mumbai's After Words (Vol 9, Issue 13; February 15-28 2013) in a slightly edited version.

Loo brow
No loo is too loo-brow for me to give it custom.

Being blessed with far too much weight and far too weak a bladder, I follow the only injunction I hold to be the one truth- when you have to go you have to go. I therefore have no qualms about the smell, the wetness, the ability of the flush to work, or the sight of previous detritus. Can’t afford them. All this and more can be bypassed if I am able to pass some myself.

I have, more or less mastered the art of standing tippy-toe on dryer patches of a public toilet, managing with a bag in one or both hands, and not being excessively prissy if the loo does not have a door latch. Bodily privacy does not amount to much when it comes to bodily priority and evacuation is imminent.

When it comes to going for the ‘big one’, I go down on my knees (bad choice of words here) and thank providence for a decade of apprenticeship that I had, of living in a chawl with common toilets. Over the years, I mastered the art of doing my thing with a single, approx. three-fourths of a litre, ‘tim-pat’ (tin-pot) of water. This included washing to satisfaction and saving some for flushing after (in deference to the next-in-line). This rigour has stood me in good stead when I needed, no, when I had to go behind a rock outcrop near the Khardungla Pass (17,582 ft.) with a bottle of Bisleri, or to similarly not embarrass myself, and others, numerous times when on the road.

I am not complaining, but I have also had access on occasion to upmarket loos too. I remember being utterly impressed by the newly minted ones in the Inox at Nariman Point when that multiplex opened its doors. It was all glitter and glam, just like going to the movies, but only for valid ticket holders. I have visited the ultra swank bogs at the Royal Opera House in Muscat, complete with gilt signage of a man in Omani national dress and its squatting-type WC’s that shone like burnish’d gold. Damn it all, we all grew up to treat the ground floor loo (to the left) at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel near the Gateway as the public toilet of choice in our growing up years, didn’t we?. That one of course is no longer of use when the urge is too strong; the time you spend getting frisked and patted down could lead to a disaster having national consequences.

How a body is able to manage in Mumbai’s streets is another thing altogether. Loo-lore of the location and proximity of public conveniences is vitally important to my well being when I go about my daily work. This is of no help at all in places I do not normally frequent, where such knowledge is unavailable. Mumbai has no signage in her grand outdoors that indicates where a toilet is located. Even if you wished to throw all civic sense and propriety to the wind, in our densely occupied streets there are few alleys or shielding walls offering the possibility of unseen micturation. The undersides of flyovers, those puke-inducing pools of putridity have also been appropriated now for pay and park purposes.

Thank you for reading thus far. You must know that I am of the male persuasion, and that these are profound urban inconveniences that I find myself subject to. Now imagine being a woman with similar needs on Mumbai’s unhelpful streets.

Mumbai needs many more accessible toilets for both men and women than it needs urban transport, redevelopment or any other form of aspirational pipe-dreams. It needs them as first priority, placed visibly, and with it the signage and directions for immediate and easy access. It needs them at frequent enough intervals so that long lines do not form outside them. It needs them with doors that latch and with hooks for bags.

I would like to see the day that the Chief Minister proudly proclaims (on TV, on Twitter and in print) that Mumbai has more loos than Shanghai. It is no excuse that loos are not built because maintaining them is difficult. You might not like to hear this, but Mumbai needs public toilets first, their hygiene and cleanliness can follow.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

No country for young women (and men in love)

My piece in the Times of India Crest Edition, 6th February 2013

No country for young women (and men in love)

Every overt public display of affection I see on Mumbai's streets adds a minute to my life. Every instance of the holding of hands, the intertwining of fingers, a big, warm hug, a weary head resting on a shoulder, a quick peck on the cheek or an unexpected caress warms the cockles of my heart. These displays are quick and momentary but bring delight like the chance spotting of a bright red flower blossoming in a grey, dystopian landscape. Love comes, as the Rolling Stones sing, at the speed of light. These brief flashes energize and comfort me that all is well with the world.

Now consider our universal reaction to a canine couple doing that which they are prone to, willfully disregarding the sensitive space that is our public realm. Crowds gather with the singular aim of interrupting coitus. We can't abide sex in any situation even if it is an animal doing it. Slippers are slung, brickbats fly, even chilli powder is procured, all with an aim to separate those parts conjoint in communion. Vast cheers go up at the successful delinking as each hapless animal scurries away. No individual participates in such behaviour. It is always a mob.

There seems to be an almost atavistic need to separate the sexes in our city. Recently a friend told me of a visit to a temple with his wife. After the ritual darshan they emerged from the sanctum into the sunlight and sat for a moment on the parapet outside. They were immediately accosted by the temple administrators and asked to leave. My friend argued but to no avail, they left with a bad taste in the mouth. We seem to have a problem even with a public display of sitting-down.

When the spark of affection is ignited in a public space, it is almost certain that this is because the female has asserted or at least consented to show or receive love. Agency has been exercised. Patriarchical mores have been resisted. The public space has been made more equitable. And that, of course, cannot be tolerated.

There is little to separate the looney-fringe nutters who violently break up couples quietly sitting in restaurants and pubs and the recent 'Ched-chad Virodhi Pathak', a posse of 15 plainclothesmen of the Thane police who were mandated to round up couples and even single women in the outdoors in order to, presumably, prevent them from being accosted by 'Romeos and molesters'. They were authorised to fine couples, or to book them under section 110 of the Bombay Police Act for 'causing public nuisance' just for being present, and worst of all, to give these 'suspicious elements' long moralising lectures about their loose and wayward behaviour not in keeping with Indian culture. 

With blithe nonchalance, the senior inspectors aim to bring down crime by ensuring that 'no one should be found in corners and isolated places unnecessarily even in the day time'.

Both the lumpen louts and the up-keepers of the law approach their targets like those rabidly intent on separating copulating dogs. Both assert a moral righteousness that allows them to violently accost men and women seen together in the city, for the preservation of Indian culture and Indian values. 

Even the Commissioner of Police in Mumbai remarked at a meeting on women's safety that he favoured moral education to sex education. He believed (really!) that women in countries where sex education is taught are more prone to instances of sexual assault.

No doubt, the Police Commissioner is well versed in a subject called 'Moral Science' that we were all taught at school. This oxymoronic subject was a weekly series of sleep-inducing homilies about how we should behave. Here we learnt how we should all conform for our own good, that each one of us had our roles to play, that we were defined by our upbringing, and our rectitude consisted in adhering to these very circumstances. Boys should be good boys. Girls should be good girls. Typically, the science of this morality is particularly focused on keeping women in their place, which is off the streets.

In our indoctrinated and patriarchic milieu, there is little space for a woman to exercise agency. Even the ordinance recently signed by the President making tougher the penalties against sexual assault do not explicitly give complete autonomy to an Indian woman over her own body. There are always occasions, and exceptions where a woman is dependent on others. Little surprise then, that a police force, from the very top down to the beat cop immersed in such values can only keep the peace by clearing the streets. 

Of women.

We don't need no moral education. Instead, there is an urgent need for creating a contemporary cultural awareness in all those in executive power, and at every level of governance, imparting in them a reformed world view not rooted in labels and stereotypes. They need to learn how to champion diversity, protect the autonomy of the individual and loudly deride those who would keep us in our place. 

So here is my humble proposal: Each morning, before being let loose on the citizens at large, the following lines should be repeated in place of the morning prayer, along with a cup of chai (and with increasing levels of sincerity): 

'A woman may be seen in the open without reason. 

It is alright if she is alone, or with someone of either sex. 
It is my job to ensure that she continues to do whatever it is she wants to do. 
Anyone sitting (or existing) in the open is not a public nuisance. 
If I see anyone displaying affection I must remember that I too am the product of such acts. ' 

And in every police station, I propose there should be a large poster with the very recent image of the Leader of the Opposition warmly embracing the President of our largest Opposition Party, with the bold caption:


Mumbai Two Decades After: Landscapes of Exclusion, Mindscapes of Denial

Mumbra, as seen from Google Earth

My essay in Vol - XLVIII No. 07, February 16, 2013 of the Economic and Political Weekly on the demographic and attitudinal changes Twenty Years after the Bombay Riots.

Mumbai Two Decades After:
Landscapes of Exclusion, Mindscapes of Denial
(in: Economic and Political Weekly, Vol - XLVIII No. 07, February 16, 2013) 

Twenty years after the communal riots of 1992 and the serial bomb blasts of 1993, Mumbai finds itself demographically changed. Muslim families are being forced to move to distant suburbs. The "outside" becomes peripheral to the lives of the men and women inside the new enclaves, especially the young males brought up in the restrictive practices of the ghetto, who use it for unrestrained risk-taking.

In December 2012, several families staying in a relatively poor neighbourhood of Nalasopara, one of Mumbai’s western suburbs, got a rude shock when they saw that the electricity bills listed their address as “Chhota Pakistan”. While a section of the media expressed outrage, the usage of this term is not unusual (except for its appearance on an official document generated by an agency of the state). Despite the fact that this neighbourhood did not have any significant communal history, the appellation, odious as it was, generalised the presence of a significant group of Muslims living close to each other. The name then can be comprehended as a common, rather than a proper noun.

When it comes to Muslims the city works with labels. Exclusionary descriptions like “Chhota Pakistan”, “Chhota Bangladesh” or “Laden Nagar” have sunk deep into the consciousness of Mumbai’s citizens to the point that these can be used to direct autorickshaw drivers when you want to go there. It is likely therefore that the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) used this term unselfconsciously and therein lies the insidiousness. After the blood-shedding of 1992, which turned gorier in 1993, Mumbai has seen shifts in its demography. However more than the physical ghettoisation of Muslims into certain areas of the city, it is in the mental maps created as a result of this that the city has been reorganised. There are areas where “they” live. There are places where “we” do not go.

It is 20 years since the riots that rocked Bombay in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition in Ayodhya. Mumbai has hardly experienced reconciliation since. The punishment for its perpetrators has been handed out only fitfully along a perpetually winding road. Children born in 1992-93 have now reached adulthood. For many of them, there has been very little interaction with people outside their own community. Both Hindus and Muslims have been brought up on separate memories (and mythologies) of the riots in some cases known by the places affected like the “Radhabai Chawl”, “Suleiman Usman Bakery”, “Hari Masjid”, and on separate senses of the self and of the other.

It is also 20 years since the old regimes of state control gave way to the laissez-faire of liberalisation. While it allowed for mobility towards relative affluence and unbridled consumerism, it also legitimised the exclusion of those it left behind. The enterprise afforded by the new paradigm combined with the increased mobility of transactions made possible by the information technology explosion has taken up much of the mind-space, especially in the last 10 years, occluding the fact that the events of 1992-93 left behind unfinished business. The city moved on, taking those who moved on with it, and those who did not simply sank to the bottom. Now after 20 years it is the flotsam of superficial normality that gives us the space to look back.

Separate Spaces and Practices

A majority of the riot victims were Muslim (900) but many more Muslims were hurt, traumatised, dis-housed and eventually stigmatised. Any effort to appreciate the changed city has to be made from their perspective. The riots were followed at first by a long silence, stretching into many months. This was briefly punctuated by the serial blasts of March 1993, which left 250 dead. Before the city could get back to normalcy, shifts in the location of Muslims had begun to substantially alter its demography. Places like Mumbra (near Thane), Jogeshwari east, Powai and Kurla began to see the influx of Muslims relocating from central Mumbai (from areas like Tulsiwadi, Asalpha and Ghatkopar) and seeking refuge in areas with co-religionists. The refuges turned into enclaves as more and more Muslims settled there permanently and then turned into ghettoes. Many areas became Muslim-dominated only because the Hindus moved out of there. Examples of this are areas like Naupada and Behrampada.

These newer, substantially Muslim, neighbourhoods contrasted with those that were earlier seen as Muslim areas in Mumbai. The city has traditionally been a “mosaic of subcultures”, to use a term by the urbanist Chistopher Alexander (C Alexander, S Ishikawa and M Silverstein (1979), A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, New York: Oxford University Press) to describe a place where people “choose to live in, and still experience many ways of life different from their own”. Places in the city could always be described in religious or linguistic terms (Bohra, Marathi, Jain, Roman Catholic), but the edges to these areas were always amorphous. In a neighbourhood like Masjid Bunder for example, cross streets differentiated communities. Most Muslim localities were like this, several of which are located at the eastern port end of Mumbai.

After 1993, these older localities continued as before without significant shifts, and slowly these commercially dominant areas returned to some semblance of business as usual, but things had substantially changed in the attitudes of the rest of the city towards them. The old collegiality and willingness to do business with whoever was as willing had vanished, and bitterness for the other was pervasive. Neighbourhoods now developed hardened edges, with overt displays of community and religious identity in the public realm that over time became entirely separate in their spaces and their practices.

This bitterness is the direct outcome of a sense of victimhood among Muslims. It is fuelled by a discourse amongst them that only Muslims died during the riots and that the perpetrators were not only free but flourishing with many of them rising to political office. This alienation plays out in two ways. First, in the form of fatalism that reconciles them to a belief that justice will never be done, so one should move on with one’s life in whatever manner possible, that religion is the only solace and that “Allah will take care of all things”. Meena Menon, in her survey of the lives of those affected by the riots (Riots and After in Mumbai: Chronicles of Truth and Reconciliation, Sage Publications, 2011) writes that the alienation from the majority community has led to many Muslims “huddling together in the ghettos (with a) reluctance to talk or meet on this issue and a feeling of lethargy and hopelessness”. The second form of alienation borne out in many subsequent interactions with the state (mainly the police) leads to the view that the world outside their ghettos (whether physical or of the mind) is somehow no longer theirs. There is a tremendous loss of confidence in society (according to Menon), in the judiciary, the police and even in the media.

The vacuum created by the exclusion of communities has, according to urban researcher Sarover Zaidi, been filled over the years by a modern form of Islamisation wrought by several ultra conservative Sunni and Shia academies and phirqas with strong forms of organisation and mobilisation and who have steadily gained support on the ground. They have played on the sense of despondency in the Muslim communities, especially in the newer settlements on the periphery of the city by bringing in a sense of purpose and activity, but one ensconced squarely within the rubric of their specific communities. The erstwhile spirit of cosmopolitanism has been further challenged by their infiltration into Sufi cultures that had always existed in Mumbai, resulting in Hindus retreating from these places and making space for Wahhabist tendencies, fixing identities and sapping its syncretic strength. The Muslim enclaves have thus been reinvented economically and socially (bound by a kind of conservative homogeneity), where order and transaction are common law. Quotodian operations are internalised, creating a kind of self-sufficiency thus increasing isolation from the world outside. The very exclusion that these communities are subject to has been made into the subject itself. The world outside is a different place.

The Badlands

In this restrictive world view, the spaces outside the ghettos are the badlands. Not only places where individuals will be shunned for who they are, but where legal recourse, when needed, may be denied. The flipside of this is that the badlands transform into a myth-world where the common-law discipline of the ghetto no longer exists, and one may freely roam its streets ignoring (or flouting) both the laws and the civilities of quotidian metropolitan life. This is seen especially among younger Muslims, who having been brought up conditioned to this mindset, and straining under the restrictive practices of the ghettos, use the city outside for unrestrained risk-taking. It is a common sight to see young children (all male) travelling on the roofs of commuter trains or performing peer encouraged stunts outside its doors, riding two-wheelers recklessly, breaking traffic laws, ruling the night, as it were, with drag-racing along the Marine Drive. This behaviour is indexical of a larger world view, and as these youth grow into adults and take their place as producing members, the city that they inhabit becomes more and more peripheral to their existence.

For Muslim women, the restrictions are manifested in two ways both inside the ghettos and outside in the wider world. Within the community, women are conditioned and coerced to conform to whatever prevalent tehzeeb is accepted as common law, and this is seen mostly in sartorial prescriptions and limited or mediated mobility. The necessity to partake in the membership of the community and its rituals become mandatory. Outside too, Muslim women are instantly foregrounded because of their distinctive hijab, the burkha or rida (as in the case of the Bohras) and thus singled out. Stereotypes kick in instantly and make these women subject, at the same time, to exclusion and to self-consciousness.

No Place for the Other

Four significant events in Mumbai have left their mark (and scars) on its denizens, each contributing to an evolving language of “otherness”. Mumbai has never been free from communal rioting. Even within living memory, the riots of 1969, 1981 and 1984 stoked the flames between Muslims and Hindus, never allowing them to see each other with empathy. The 1992-93 riots alienated the two communities more than before and consolidated separate positions within Mumbai. The riots were followed by the serial blasts of March 1993, and as it became clear that they were the handiwork of the Mumbai mafia led by Dawood Ibrahim, the generalisation of Muslims not only as “the underworld” but as “terrorists” came into common usage. The impression of the “terrorist living next door to us” became further entrenched with the seven bombs that went off in suburban trains in Mumbai in July 2006, killing 200 citizens. The “26/11” attacks of 2008 that led to the death of 164 Indians and foreigners conflated the image of terrorists and Pakistanis into a common cautionary rhetoric that coloured all dealings with Muslims in the city.

The city outside has reinvented itself too. While not ghettoised to the extent of the Muslim localities, identities are redefined and represented in overt and covert assertions of religiosity or cultural convention. In 2008, a family in a housing society in Andheri was denied water and electricity by the other (predominantly Jain) members because they were Muslim. This situation continued for two years before it became public knowledge. Housing societies in Mumbai routinely prevent inclusion into their membership on the basis of religion, language and dietary habits. Such discrimination was legitimised in 2005 by the Supreme Court allowing housing societies to sell or lease apartments to those of a single religion, citing the freedom of association under Article 19(1)(c). Today this is manifest in an across-the-board rejection of Muslim families seeking homes in mixed neighbourhoods. Whether for ownership or for lease, housing to Muslims is routinely denied by mutual consent. House agents are instructed to accept offers from anyone except “Mahommedans”. Muslims have to fall back on homes within the enclaves, further hardening the demographic edges between communities in the city.

Despite the large-scale building activity that is currently underway throughout Mumbai, the only projects advertised by real estate developers “friendly” to Muslims are on the fringes of the city in places like Badlapur, Nalasopara and Mumbra. The one exception to this in the heart of Mumbai is the Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment project, currently underway, that is propelled by the affluent community leaders of the Bohras. More than 200 buildings in the dense inner city are being developed to rehouse around 20,000 residents over a period of time. This project too hardly represents the city, and is conceived mainly as a haven for the Bohra community. It is a given that Muslims seeking housing in Mumbai will only find it within Muslim areas.

Consolidated and Carved

The earlier ethos of secular coexistence is no longer sacrosanct even though no riots have occurred in Mumbai on the scale of those in 1992-93. This is despite the provocation of repeated serial bomb blasts in the city some targeting specific non-Muslim communities. Even the 60 hours of violence perpetrated during the Mumbai attacks of “26/11” have not resulted in retaliation against Muslims in Mumbai. Ever since 1993, several engagements between Muslims and Hindus have been mooted and practised (by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and even the Mumbai police), but these have at best contained violence, not effected reconciliation.

The ruptures are too deep for darning and have not been helped by the perceived absence of justice and an ongoing sense of repression and surveillance. Journalist Naresh Fernandes who covered the riots of Mumbai said in a recent meet to remember those events that “by not dealing with these injustices, we have begun to deal with other injustices”. There has been a normalisation of attitudes, a legitimisation of differences and spaces in the city have been carved, created and consolidated for “us” and “them” to operate in well-defined separation. Meanwhile outside the stereotypes predominate unhindered.

While returning from this meeting which recalled those bloody months I caught a taxi from Churchgate to Bori Bunder. Another taxi cut into our path and my driver remarked sharply “Bhendi Bazaar ki paidaaish lagti hai!” (Has to be the spawn of Bhendi Bazaar!). I looked up startled, meeting his eyes in the rear view mirror. And noticed the vermillion daub between his eyebrows.

The essay is also posted on the link here.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

brouhahas of cocks by Mustansir Dalvi

Paperback: 106 pages
Publisher: Poetrywala
 1st edition (2013)
ISBN-10: 9382749012
ISBN-13: 978-9382749011

Now available on Amazon and Flipkart 
Also at Kitab Khana, Flora Fountain, Mumbai and Yodakin, Delhi.

merry morning locals
yellowbrown slugs grind
steel teeth. clucketycluck sparks.
brouhahas of cocks.

'fresh, wise, luminous.'
— Ranjit Hoskote

'These poems are compact, carefully crafted, affectionate inter-continental sagas, far superior to the saggy-baggy international sagas written by some of our novelists, and acclaimed by our clueless media. They confirm my belief that our poets are by and large far superior to our novelists, though it is the novelists who get all the attention, and, of course, the hefty advances.'
— Eunice De Souza

‘When reading Mustansir Dalvi’s poetry you must do several things: You must pay attention, for in his poems one word follows another in a slow accretion of meaning, while soundscapes and timezones change swiftly. must be prepared to duel, as he does, with all manner of concepts,emotions, situations, complexities, absurdities, personages, mythologies, geographies and fantasies. You must laugh out loud at the wit, the humour, sometimes even the bawdiness that takes you off-guard, unsettles and delights. And you must not flinch, as the poet doesn’t, from encountering the everyday violences of roadkills and sexual assaults, the terrors of madness, brutality, carnage and conflagration.’
—Sampurna Chattarji

‘In a series of precise images, a montage of people and historic moments, roadkill and mangoes, Mustansir Dalvi brings us his version of the city. But this is no jerrybuilt dystopia of despair; instead it is the vision of someone who will not look away, who will look at and then look beneath at the architectonics of the human endeavour to be human. This is poetry of commitment and compassion and one comes away all the richer for having read it.’
—Jerry Pinto


'Meet Navi Mumbai's Bard', an interview with Reza Noorani in the Times of India.


A review of 'Brouhahas of cocks' by Eunice De Souza in Mumbai Mirror.

A review of 'brouhahas of cocks' by Lindsay Pereira in Mid-day.

'Free Verse', a short review by Vilasini Roy in Time Out Delhi.

Click on links for selected poems.

the last dinosaur roams Matheran
Goodbye, Gondwanaland
Rama’s bridge: 26.12.2004, dawn

Urbs Secunda 
6.15, Takka
the horse is a centaur
pushing fruit
Friday mosque in New Bombay
effigy maker
never came down after all
bird, upside down
hardback awakening
Happy Diwali
Terna Circle

brouhahas of cocks 
merry morning locals
choosing trains
the Ladies Only
lines for an infant who fell off a train

forest fires over Khopoli
South Africa’s first Kokani wicket-keeper
Elijah’s feast
Elvis Presley Blvd
sunset at Bardem

V Vembanad 
Backwater Bongo
faith on the Vembanad
Leech 101
kingfisher at Nileshwaram

Mar Thom 
Mar Thom crosses the oceans
anywhere but Hind
King Gudnaphar’s tirade
Sweet Bird of Mylapore

da boys of Yankee Stadium
hunchback of the World Trade Centre
Khan Murjan
a real, live Parsee
the perfumer’s woman
a saint prays for rain

Mustansir Dalvi was born in Bombay.
He teaches architecture in Mumbai.

His poem 'Peabody' was awarded 1st Place in the December 2002 Inter Board Poetry Competition (IBPC). 'Choosing Trains' was awarded First Prize in the Indian national daily Asian Age's Poetry Contest in 2001.

He has been Associate Editor at the online poetry workshop Desert Moon Review and the editor of their bi-annual e-zine The Crescent Moon Journal.

Mustansir Dalvi's poems are published in the e-zines Bakery of the Poets, Can We Have Our Ball Back, The Crescent Moon Journal, MiPo Best of Head Quarters 2003, MiPo Digital magazine, Octavo: Poetry Quarterly of the Alsop Review, Pierian Springs, PK Poetry List- Anthology, Poetic Inspirations, Poets Against the War, Slow Trains, Snakeskin, Worm, and the Writer's Hood.

His poems have appeared in print in The Brown Critique, Poetry India: voices of silence, Poiesis: A Journal of the Poetry Circle Bombay, Poetry India: emerging voices, Time Out Mumbai and International Gallerie.

His poems are included in the anthologies:
These My Words: The Penguin Book of Indian Poetry (Eunice de Souza and Melanie Silgardo, editors),
Mind Mutations (Sirrus Poe, editor),
The Bigbridge Online Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry (Menka Shivdasani, editor),
The Dance of the Peacock: An Anthology of English Poetry from India (Vivekanand Jha, editor)
To Catch a Poem: An Anthology of Poetry for Young People (Jane Bhandari and Anju Makhija, editors), Sahitya Akademi, Delhi.

His translations of poetry from Urdu and Marathi have been published in Poetry at Sangam, The Caravan magazine and The Dhauli Review.

Mustansir Dalvi's 2012 English translation of Muhammad Iqbal’s influential Shikwa and Jawaab-e-Shikwa from the Urdu as ‘Taking Issue and Allah’s Answer’ (Penguin Classics) has been described as ‘insolent and heretical’ and makes Iqbal’s verse accessible to the modern reader.

''Brouhahas of Cocks' is his first book of poems in English published by Poetrywala in 2013.

His most recent book is 'struggles with imagined gods'- selected translations of the poems of Hemant Divate from the Marathi, published by Poetrywala in 2014.

Cover painting:
Detail from 'The Incredulity of Saint Thomas'
by Caravaggio (c. 1601–1602),
Sans souci, Potsdam, Germany