In the summer of 2014
—not long ago in a fast-changing high-tech universe that
I saw a bearded tramp, on one of the boulevards
Of Paris: A homeless man, that glittering evening, sitting
the imposing façade of a multinational American bank with
revolving doors and a uniformed guard; the structure smelt of
a raw power and the strange scent of capital; made
formidable by design
—a brownstone with glass-n-chrome but let us not bother the
reader about such physical details in a scene dimly recalled in
a suburban Mumbai apartment by a mind, dulled by the
dreary prose of the post-industrial realities of a globalised
world that integrates, only to fragment subjectivities and
points-of-view, under a monolithic narrative—
Along with a dog—a constant companion and guard against
the muggers; just imagine the depravity of these crazy guys,
trying to rob such homeless ones? —that
barked only against the suits, all in a hurry to catch the fastest
modes of reaching gated destinations in some upscale sections
beyond the Seine, and never once glancing at that Caucasian
trespasser, a poor remnant of humanity in a city that once
saw the events of 1789 that changed the histories of practically
I wondered about you, dear Charles, at that moment,
that critical intersection of contemporary and old France,
once revolutionary, now talking of chic fashion and threat
posed by immigrants.
I asked few French friends in the know: Have you seen
They shrugged off and asked: Which Baudelaire, my Indian
Should not we visit some salon for pleasure and later the Big
I was stunned!
The Underground. The other side once revealed with flourish by
a cursed poet.
The man who toured the dark labyrinth of a city as a flaneur
and came up with evil flowers from its depths, now archived
in a dim corner of a museum, as bits of dusted collection from
the receding past.
Where are you, dear Charles?
Come down to document.
…and then this graffiti etched on one of the marble pillars of
an arched bridge, maybe as a response sent by a hovering
And, drunk with my own madness, I shouted at him furiously,
“Make life beautiful! Make life beautiful!”
(Courtesy: http://alfredasis.cl/ASIS_BAUDELAIRE.pdf, pp-702-3)