How The Clouds Happen

how the clouds happen

how they take shape and change

how they drift from here

and disappear

as if to re-arrange

their lives

how the clouds happen

how they puff and swirl and spread

how they float so lightly

then come so tightly together

as if to make a bed

for angels

how the clouds happen

how sometimes they align themselves

and reach so high

to dress the sky in uniform

like school children


how the clouds happen

how tomorrow they surprise us

and storm upon us as angry cousins

bound by chains they deliver the rains

of sadness and longing

and hope

how the clouds happen

how they flirt with the wind

and look down upon us with compassion

as also in our fashion

we are chasing and waiting

for redemption

how the clouds happen

how wonderful and beautiful

and yet so fickle they are

and accurate

in so far as they reflect

our humanity

Mr. Mittal

My Mum is from London and she loves tea. I prefer coffee. But here in India I'm regularly offered tea, and sometimes when I'm drinking it, I think of my mother and imagine a smile of her face.

Recently I went to visit a fellow poet at his tea shop in Central Delhi. We had met previously at an evening reading at a coffee shop near by. Mr. Mittal is a very friendly man and a decent poet. Apparently, he's also a very successful businessman, and generous too, at least according to the kind of tea he serves to random guests like me. I asked Mr. Mittal about the business of tea and he asked about my life, my business and my impressions of India. The conversation was pleasant.

Before long, he offered to serve me some tea, and asked for my preference. Not really knowing much at all about fine teas, I deferred to his suggestion. He chose white tea and proceeded to explain its tedious procurement and its amazing health benefits. It sounded special and it tasted quite nice. (I still prefer a good shot of espresso, though I'm sure the tea is higher in antioxidants and lower in caffeine.) After sipping away and enjoying more good conversation and some poetry, I got a hold of the canister out of which the white tea had been taken. The price per kilogram was prominently displayed -- a whopping 10,000 Indian rupees. That's over $200 USD. (Down the road from his shop, I pay about $8 per kilogram for the finest Indian espresso beans, very good quality, freshly roasted.)

Thanks, Mr. Mittal, for sharing your tea, your time, your poetry, and your heart with me. After almost five years in Delhi, I continue to be inspired by Indian hospitality.

Ghost Story

Not all people believe in ghosts, but most people would be afraid if they met one. And if meeting a ghost sounds a bit scary, what about riding one? That's right, have you ever heard about those people who ride ghosts? Even for the most spiritual and daring among us, that sounds pretty bizarre.

The other day my wife was talking to a friend of hers here in Delhi. My wife is Canadian and her friend is Indian. They were speaking to each other in English but, as is common in cross-cultural exchanges, speaking the same language doesn't ensure understanding.

This friend knows about my role with the export business in India but my wife began to share with her a bit about my experience with writing. When my wife used a certain writing term to explain that a friend of mine had once hired me to write his book, the look on this lady's face turned strange. She looked confused and concerned. She tried to put the pieces together in her mind, but she couldn't figure it out. After a while, she got up the courage to ask my wife the question, "So, where exactly does Mark do this ghost-riding?"

My wife hesitated, but then couldn't hold back her laughter. "No, no, no," she said. "Writing. Ghostwriting."

"Oh, I see," the lady replied in relief. Though in her mind, I'm sure she had already been thinking, What kind of weird stuff is Mark really into?

Ghostwriting is very common in the business of writing, probably more common than many people realize. Some writers do it full-time and make a decent living from it. As far as I know, ghost-riding is much less common and there's absolutely no money in it.