Say Hyderabad and a sweet boy comes to mind
Women in burkhas come to mind
The strong work of Lambada women-smiths
My dreams scuttling between Bombay and Hyderabad
Tearing through the dusty Deccan Night
The hurtling Deccan Queen comes to mind

Say Hyderabad and Nampally Station comes to mind
Boys so beautiful that they tumble into your street
One, all-man, looked at me with the look Yemeni
All-boy and all-man at once
In one look he could desire you
Or wither you with a sneer
In bed, crush you with a bear-hug

Say Hyderabad and the Chavush comes to mind
So black night couldn't reveal him
He wrestles you to the ground in the dark
Strews your bed with jasmine
He is the faithful lover of this whore, Hyderabad
No candle lit up for him
So in the dark he plays the woman
And in the morning he's man as before

Say Hyderabad and the Bazaar comes to mind
The street of banglesellers where I become woman
And haggle the price of bangles or perfume
Khus for winter    Henna for spring    Chameli for summer
And the boys humor an old man with a little girl's heart
They are sons of armymen and footballers
And they can see into a little girl's heart
Soldiers in crisp khakhis
Their officers in mirror-polished Ambassadors
And their combats too must be filmi
Like Aamir or Salman Khan's
They have hate on their trousers
but never dirt after the matinee fight

Say Hyderabad and Eid comes to min
Rivers of blood as at Karbala
And Hussein and Hasan mild as lambs
bound hand and foot to die
And not a bleat out of them

Say Hyderabad and an arena comes to mind
Theatre of war and crime and sport
Cricket and football
Azza with his wristy strokes
The Goans with their kicks, backflips, tight buttocks
Millions of hearts flutter in the air
Their hearts are hung in balance
-- Azzabhai: dekh lengé
And then -- the let down
Pardesi vanishes with 200 crores out of town

Say Hyderabad and Mushtari Bai Begum comes to mind:
'What a state these times have brought me to
My heart beats slow and my wrist trembles of it too'
These days it's Jameela Nishat
Her flair and flamboyance    Her long hair and dark face
Her heart flutters too like a bird
And comes to rest on this poem
Where? Look for it
And find it there
This city drives people out of their minds
And Laxma Goud has left his drink behind

Say Hyderabad and Laxma comes to mind
Teller of tall tales    Lover of fair women
Come to the city with his musclepower and pen
Out of pen and paper he made his fortune
But the Hamburg whores wouldn't have him

At Charminar and Golconda they set hearts on fire
Incendiary as gunpowder
Troll all night in search of a gal
In the morning pose with a Deccan Chronicle
What d'ya know    I speak English
While you read your papers upside down

Say Hyderabad and paya comes to mind
What do you like? Head or tail
Early morning steamsong of the cauldron
And Irani bread baked as at Kashan
The water and tea of this town turn blood
They say if you drink it once
You've got to live here forever and die here
Never mind that the Musi makes you go grey

No one gives a damn about your old age
Not your old lovers and not your new friends
They too are hustling the rupee
Their green venom settles over the city
The breadboy    the paper vendor
The butcher, his heart hung on a hook like meat
And the green venom spreads to your lips
As long as this language lives    Their Dakhni
Love-talk and hate-talk lives

Say Hyderabad and the poets of the last Nizam come to mind
Sirajuddin who went to Italy
And learnt Dante
He has Sufi blood
And at 70 still dies for love
Translating Eliot: Drip drip drop drop

The Banjaran inspires the sons of Maqdoom
Who praised the jasmine sprouting in the moonlit night
Under the shadow of a minaret
Under Deccan's red earth
From this earth comes this Banjara woman
all mother
a child in her arms
one on her hips
a third in the belly
It's the belly that always goes hungry
There are the children to feed

And in the tobacco factory
The girls roll the beedis
And the boys roll the cigars
Until they grow old

Vazir Sultan Tobacco
You smell the cigars a mile away
As the boys smell out the girls
No Loitering Here says the sign
As the boys sign the come-hither sign:
Tounguetip lightly passed over upper lip
Another sign says: No urinations here
With walls painted with gods
So none dare / piss there

Where miles of avenues with banyans the girth of three men
Lead you to cybercity
Where the purple Nablus stone
Tells of a woman wailing for her lover
Where the green bus takes you to the redlight district

Say Hyderabad and Mehboob ki Mehndi comes to mind
Prince killed prince for a eunuch here
Dancers bargained away the fair youth of a city here
Now their houses are dark
They ply their trade in the park
Behind the old Court of Law. Justice is done.

Hyderabad! Where a poet dies for a poem
And an old man dies for a boy
Cruelhearted mistress    Cruellest of courtesans
Where gossip and grapes ripen
And Pardhi women of ample rump
Sell amba and avvakai

Say Hyderabad and Said bin Mohammed's circles come to mind
Circles of breast face ass
Always dark and never fair
Where paintings were formed by oil on water on paper
Presses face down Abri
Cloud on cloud like his own fate

Say Hyderabad and fire-engines come to mind
Engines running through air, over waters
Bearing old names like The Fairy Queen

Say Hyderabad and boxcars come to mind
Boxcars carrying away sugar and cotton, tobacco and metal
And bringing back cheap shoes and textiles

Say Hyderabad and Quli Qutub comes to mind
Who raised his four fingers for the Char Minar
And his one lone appendage for the Ek Minar
Where the great dome of Jhatpat Bibi's dargah
Offers the pygmies of today
Its giant breast.

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