Sunday, January 03, 2016

How to Rescue Bengali?


I try my hand on occasion to write in my mother tongue. It is becoming an increasingly tedious exercise. And the lack of a readily available tool for spell check is the least of my problems!

So what is it? Just the lack of practice? No, not at all. My blog will testify to my persistence over the years to keep writing in Bengali. I certainly speak the language at home. And will even admit to feeling a wee bit uncomfortable when forced to keep up in English for really long.

The truth is, we dont really use pure Bengali anymore! Most of our talking in the language is interspersed with English words. I struggle to find Bengali words for commonly used English ones.

My hunch is that, the western sensibilities to which we are all becoming more and more accustomed, require an evolution of our vocabulary to include words that we just did not need before! For example, I wanted to say, a person is very predictable, or he is very image conscious, or, I'd like some privacy. Check out the google translator. The corresponding Bengali words were archaic, outdated, and often missing the point! We dont have words for these concepts in Bengali, but these are very much a reality of our 21st century lives.

So I worry. How is a people defined, if not by their language? Language is the true soul of a culture. How else do you capture the diversity and expanses of a people's thoughts and emotions!

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Sukumar Ray as a writer of dark comedy

সুকুমার রায়ের লেখা পড়েনি এমন বাঙালী বিরল! বিশেষ করে পুজোর সময়ে, প্রতিটি পাড়ার সংস্কৃতিক অনুষ্ঠানে, কোনো না কোনো ছোটো বাচ্ছা "বাবুরাম শাপু" আবৃত্তি করেই থাকে! এটা বোধায়ে আজকাল একটা ট্রাডিশনের পর্যায়ে পড়ে। হঠাত আমার মনে হল কান্ডটি কিন্তু নেহাত বেমানান!  

ভেবে দেখুন: "সেই শাপ" কে "তেড়ে মেরে" ঠান্ডা করাটা কি ভালো কাজ? ওরকম কূট বুদ্ধি কটা ছোটো ছেলে ভেবে বার করবে? বেশ একটা ব্যঙ্গের আভাস পাওয়া যায়েনা কি এই কবিতার মধ্যে? পরিষ্কার এটা সেই সব অকর্মন্য বড়দের কবিতা, যারা কিনা দুর্বলের দুর্বলতার সুযোগ হামেশাই নিয়ে থাকে! 

আরো আছে.. "গোঁফ চুরি" র কথা ভাবুন। ডিলবার্টের কমিক্স যারা পড়ে থাকেন, তারা সেই গল্পে হেড অফিসের বড়বাবুকে কখনো দেখতে পান কি? গোঁফ জোড়া অক্ষত থাকা সত্তেও গোঁফের অভাব ভদ্রলোককে পাগল করে ফেলেছে! এ দুঃক্ষ তো বালসুলভ নয়! আমাদের মধ্যে আমরা যা দেখতে পাই, অনেক সময়ই অন্যে তা দেখতে পায় না! আবার অন্যে যা দেখতে পায়ে, আমরা তা নাও দেখতে পেতে পারি! এই দুই ভাবমূর্তিকে মিলিত করার চেষ্টা নেহাতই পরিনত মস্তিস্কের যুদ্ধ! ছোটো বয়েসে এরকম চিন্তা আমার কাছে অবিশ্বাস্য।

হ জ ব র ল র কথা ভাবা যাক। "পণ্ডিত কাক, বি-এ পাশ ছাগল, উকিল কুমির, আর হাকিম হুতোম প্যাঁচা"। এই সংযোগ আন্তাব্রি হতে পারে কখনো? গোবেচারা বি-এ পাশ সরল, শান্ত ছাগলের মতন| ধূর্ত উকিল কুটিলচিন্তাশীল কুমিরের মতন। আমার কাছে মনে হয়েছে লেখক তার একরকম মানসিক বিতৃষ্ণা এখানে প্রকাশ করে ফেলেছেন। তার কাছে বোধায়ে মানুষের মধ্যে বৈচিত্রের একটু অভাব চোখে পড়েছে| এই যে স্বপ্নে কঠিন দুর্বোধ্য অঙ্ক কষে যাচ্ছে সকলে। আর তার থেকে বেরোচ্ছে অদ্ভত নির্দেশ! মানুষের অন্ধভাবে কিছু একটা মেনে চলাকে অবজ্ঞা করছেন কি সুকুমার?

অবাক লাগছে! এই মর্মে সুকুমার রায়ের সৃষ্টির আলোচনা কোথাও দেখতে পেলাম না ইন্টারনেট ঘেঁটে! অথচ একটু মনোযোগ খরচ করলেই, মানুষের মনের অন্ধকার দিকের কথা, তার নীরব সংগ্রামের কথা, তার  দুর্বলতার কথা, অনেক লেখাতেই স্পষ্ট পাওয়া যাচ্ছে! 

Friday, January 01, 2016

বাঙালি হিয়ার অমিয় মথিয়া


যত্ন করে বেছে দিতে ইলিশ মাছের কাঁটা
মুড়ি ঘণ্টে পড়ে যেন পাকা রুই-এর মাথা
চিংড়ি মাছের মালাই যখন পড়ত আমার পাতে,
এক দুটো মাছ রসিয়ে খাব, কাটত বেলা তাতে!
শুক্ত, চাটনি, চচ্চড়ির স্বাদে মাখা জীবন
পোস্তে, সর্ষে, পায়েস পুলিতে তৃপ্ত বাঙালি মন!
অনেক দুরে অনেক কাল সরে গেছি বলে তাই
বাঙালি হিয়ার অমিয় মথিয়া তোমায়ে দেখতে পাই।

চায়ের গন্ধে সকাল হত, তেল গামছায়ে চান
কাজ বলতে রোদ মেখে চারাগাছে জলদান।
গোলাপের আদফোঁটা কুঁড়ি আদর চোখে দেখা
ছুটি কেটে যেত গল্পে লেখায়ে, আরামের বসে থাকা।
প্রিয় চাদর গায়ে জড়িয়ে চায়ের কাপ-এ চুমুখ
তর্কে, গল্পে, গানের আসরে অকৃত্তিম সুখ!
অনেক দুরে অনেক কাল সরে গেছি বলে তাই
বাঙালি হিয়ার অমিয় মথিয়া তোমায়ে দেখতে পাই।

বৃষ্টির রাতে ঝুম ঝুম আর ব্যাঙের ঘত্ঘতানি
কালবোশেখীর তান্ডব শেষে খিচুড়ির বাটি টানি।
ভিড় বাস-এ ট্রাম-এ সিট পেয়ে খুসি, স্ট্যান্ড-এর শেষ রিকশা
নাইট শো তে দেখা হিন্দি ছবির নিদারুন সব কিসসা!
তেরো পার্বনে পুজোর বাদ্যি, মিষ্টি লৌকিকতা,
বাঙালিত্বের পরিভাষা যেন এসব অভিজ্ঞতা!
অনেক দুরে অনেক কাল সরে গেছি বলে তাই
বাঙালি হিয়ার অমিয় মথিয়া তোমায়ে দেখতে পাই।

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Holidays

A mad sparkle in your eyes for some unknown reason,
Lights up the cockles of my heart, with the spirit of the season.
You are a stranger; And yet, this moment is like a reunion..
When friends that parted ways long ago, suddenly meet,
And realize that something precious has remained!
I savor my mouthful of wine, relishing the taste of it
And draw a deep breath to catch the scent of spice in the air
The buzz in my ears grows sweeter
Children laugh, bells jingle away
I can smell a rum fruitcake from a long lost winter holiday
You make me me mad and mushy, glad and gushy!
Outside, the cold rains and furious winds continue to howl
And a roaring fire begins to crackle in my soul
One fueled by the love in my life, and my capacity for imagination
I am overcome with emotion
With gratitude, for this place to stand.
This holiday season, I wish you a moment of introspection
A quiet moment, away from the noise and distraction
To find in your heart, that, which makes it worth continuing.

Monday, October 19, 2015

My Durga Pujo memoirs


Azure blue skies. White fluffy clouds afloat. A handful of fragrant white Siuli blossoms on the nightstand. These are things sure to stir the Bengali heart. For they are linked to something every Bengali holds very dear: Durga pujo! We had a Siuli tree in our backyard where I grew up. It was a nuisance the entire year with its infestation of centipedes. But during this time of fall, the tree floor would be strewn with fresh batches of blooms, every morning. They were gorgeous!

Durga pujo is to honor Durga, a gold bedecked, heavily armed female goddess, with no less than ten hands. Clearly we were into heavy duty multitasking! Durga is always depicted as shown here, victorious, in the moment of her conquest of the evil Asura. But I am not quite sure why she is accompanied by her four children at the same time. A second storyline has that Durga is visiting her people (us), away from her husband's house (and hence accompanied by her four kids). For some weird reason, a popular activity of our elders was to quiz us on who the bahon (animal ride) was for a given god or goddess. I was very up to date with those info back then. A banana tree with its long lanky leaf was supposed to be the wife of Ganesh, the elephant god, I remember that one.

The build up to the pujo was dramatic. Ever since Mohaloya (the first of the ten day festivity), I couldn't concentrate on anything much. We had to go to school till the 5th day as it were, and it was a torture! I'd keep a close watch on the progress of the pandal construction in our community.

Thousands of these pandals mushroom all over my home state this time of the year. Shown to the right is one such construction in progress, built with excruciating care, just to house the deities during the few days of the festival. A world of local art, craftsmanship, and story-telling is showcased in these temporary monuments. Groups compete for recognition for being the grandest or the most thought-provoking in their conception of the pandal and the deities, all of it providing opportunity for artistic expression and interpretation.

Doing the rounds of the pandals is a must do as people pick their own favorites. A bunch of us used to rent a bus and do this activity into the wee hours of the night on Shasti without a wink of sleep for distraction. Shasti is the 6th day, but really the 1st day the festivities start in full swing and of course we wanted to be all caught up already. Stalls of delicious street food did booming business all night as the crowds flowed in and out of the pandals endlessly! We would always stop at Deshopriyo Park for a midnight snack and I would invariably pick Chole Bhature, fish fry and hot fuluri (shown in picture).


My mother would put red color on her feet (alta) and wear red bordered white garod sarees during the actual puja. I wanted to as well and was grudgingly allowed only some of the times. Later I learnt this is reserved for married women which made no sense to me, even then. She would make a plate of naibidya with softened rice and lentils, fruits and sweets to be offered to the goddess (see to the right). I was encouraged to help prepare this plate. But I would typically have only half a heart on the task. I would hear mantras being chanted into the microphone as the puja progressed and it made me want to run out and actually be there, instead of missing out on the action, in our puja room, cooped up with my mum. It was always anticlimactic to finally arrive at the mandap (same as pandal), suddenly self-conscious! Then, we had anjali, which is an offering of flowers you make to the god after repeating yet another set of mantras. We were supposed to not eat prior to doing this. I cant remember a single time I have been able to engage in this guilt free. It was always some slip up or the other, which I would simply ignore with a fast beating heart, because I did not want to admit to it and did not want to miss anjali!

Another memorable part of the pujas used to be the aarti which is a special ritual dance for the gods made with fire-lit diyas, dhunochi and incense, to the jingle of loud bells and the beats of gorgeous drums from the local dhakis. The air would thicken with smoke and the fragrance of burning incense and menthol. My eyes would burn but I could not tear myself away from the pure spectacle of those moments. Kalidada, an old man that had been in the service of our family forever, was a pretty good drummer himself. I would watch him bedazzled as he made magic with the drums.

Our community organized a feast of khichuri bhog for everyone for one of the afternoons. I remember the long tables lined with rickety chairs. The tables would have green banana leaves cut up and laid out to be used as plates paired with earthen containers to hold water. I participated in the serving of the food, typically the eggplant fry or lemon pieces. The adults would serve the real food, out of steel buckets purchased freshly for the occasion. It was nice to be part of that gathering set to the backdrop of everyone looking happy and relaxed in their new clothes with their families and spending their time off in this friendly setting.

Bodhon and sindur khala (play with vermillion) marked the last day of the puja (Dashami). The play with the vermillion is strictly for the married females. Even at that age, I never liked it that a widowed aunt, some unmarried aunts and kids would be asked to sort of stay away. Interestingly, I haven't attended a sindur khala ever since I became eligible some 13 years ago. Anyways, that minor irritation was soon gone in the pleasant activity of gorging oneself on LOTS of home-made and store brought sweet stuff as we celebrated Bijoya (when everyone exchanged good wishes and sweets). I can still taste the hot pantua and jeebe gaja sticky from the syrup in which it had just been dipped! My aunt would be making them and I would be her devoted helper consuming as much of the kheer and malformed units as I could, along the way! :)

1999 was my last Durga Puja in Kolkata. It was an amazing one, having just recently fallen in love with my current husband. Remember snuggling to the gorgeous (if inappropriate) tunes of George Michael's Last Christmas in a darkened room with multi-colored light bulbs streaming outside our verandah (this is credit to the puja lighting efforts by our community puja team that would steal electricity from home owners shamelessly). Everyone pitches in for the pujas, willing or not!! I have faltered into some community pujas abroad since, but it has never been the same. Certainly my religious engagement has severely dwindled. Here I am then, thinking back, to re-live some of the excitement from those many years ago.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

I cry, often, very much, helplessly, but I wont let it define who I am

A few days ago, I read about depression on a friend's blog and wondered at the courage it took her to write about it. I did not think that my personal struggle with depression can interest anyone. But reading about her changed my mind. If you wish to know more, read on.

A lump in your throat is not just a figure of speech. Emotional pain is real. Hopefully it does not happen to you too often. And hopefully, when it happens, the causes are well understood.

Depression is different. For me, it is a sad side of me that manifests from time to time. I do not understand the reasons for the onset of my depression. Ever so often, there are days when I feel uncontrollably, unreasonably down, weepy, dejected. It comes and goes. The only certainty is that it will come again. At one point I thought if problems A, B and C were solved in my life, I'd be cured. But that did not happen. I now have accepted that no turn of circumstance can really change it. It is not externally instigated. I have lived with it for over 20 years of my life, without medical help or intervention. Perhaps because, I never lost control. I was somehow able to maintain my tenuous grip on sanity even at these times when I was feeling really insane. Perhaps also because where I am from, there is a huge lack of awareness of emotional excesses as being of clinical consequence.

So exactly how does it feel? When its here, it eclipses all good feelings and leaves me wondering listlessly about where I am headed. I have no will to fight. I have impotent suicidal thoughts. There's no where in particular that I want to go and no action I can get myself up to take. I just want to cease to exist. Dark and vile thoughts about myself flood my mind. The pain it evokes is soothing in the same way we feel comforted by pushing against a tooth that is already loose and aching. After a while I go numb, watching myself from some distant corner. The love that surrounds me recedes to a distance I cannot bridge. I watch it helplessly from a desolate corner of my mind. It is like light at the end of a deep well I've fallen into, with no clear path or will to return.

I have struggled hard to make my loved ones understand, they are not to blame in any way. I am beyond their help when I am suspended into this state of mind. The good thing is, of late, I am increasingly secure in the realization that this is just a phase of being, like being hungry, that happens to me. It will pass. It always passes.

And did I try meditation? Practitioners say if you can make yourself consistently watch your thoughts as they arise in your consciousness, then ugly thoughts can be chased away. I have indeed tried it and I think there is something to this idea. It could work better for me if I was more disciplined. But I am not. Often I wont have the patience and I will allow myself to be seduced into tears. And then, I just have to wait my monster out.

As I write this, the one thing I also know about my depression is that I will not let it define who I am. I will not let it kill my hope, my love of beauty, my energy and appreciation for life. Because despite this aspect of me, I also have an irrepressible enthusiasm for life. And I am aways resurrected from the ashes of my despair with renewed hope, like the freshened earth after the rains. I hope to spend the most real, intense lifetime possible, thoroughly engaged and passionately loving!

If you can relate to these feelings because of personal experience or your relationship with someone that has depression, I hope it makes a little more sense now with one more testimonial to the very real existence of depression, even in people that seem otherwise perfectly normal, successful, healthy, loving, and happy.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Translating possibly my favorite rabindra sangeet তুমি সন্ধ্যার মেঘ মালা

      You are the many hued clouds from my sunset skies
      Borne of my precious yearnings and sighs
      You are the constant companion to my emptiness
      You were conceived with loving tenderness
      Spiced with the sweetest of my imagination
      You are mine, yes mine
      You pervade all corners of my mind

      As I adorn you, o beloved darling
      With infinite warmth and inconsolable longing
      You who are part of every dream
      The bitter sweet taste of your lips seem
      My very agony and ecstasy of being
      You are mine, yes mine
      My only lifelong friend divine

      I've bewitched you with magic kohl
      You are hitched irrevocably to my soul
      You hold me captive with your gaze
      You are the poetry of my days
      You're weaved of the music of my heart
      You are mine, yes mine
      In all realms for all time


" তুমি সন্ধ্যার মেঘ মালা,
তুমি আমার সাধের সাধনা
মম শুন্য গগন বিহারী
আমি আপন মনের মাধুরী মিশায়ে
তোমারে করেছি রচনা
তুমি আমারি, তুমি আমারি,
মম অসীম গগন বিহারী

মম হৃদয় রক্ত রাগে
তব চরণ দিয়েছি রাঙিয়া
ওই সন্ধ্যা স্বপন বিহারী
তব অধর এঁকেছি সুধা বিশে মিশে
মম সুখ দুখ ভাঙ্গিয়া
তুমি আমারি, তুমি আমারি
মম বিজন জীবন বিহারী

মম মোহের স্বপন অঞ্জন
তব নয়ানে দিয়েছি পরায়ে
ওই মুগ্ধ নয়ন বিহারী
মম সঙ্গীত তব অঙ্গে অঙ্গে
দিয়েছি জড়ায়ে জড়ায়ে
তুমি আমারি, তুমি আমারি
মম জীবন মরণ বিহারী

- Rabindranath Tagore

Saturday, August 15, 2015

My 15th August musings...

On this Independence Day, I want to think about those examples that I have seen in my own life that have taught me to celebrate independent behaviors and independent thinking. Remember those people I have known that went out of their ways to act on something they believed in. I think, all too often, we celebrate 15th August by what is taught by an obviously biased discourse of history and forget to look closer to home.

My first example is of my history teacher who would take us out to the garden and give us history lessons under a tree (a totally uncharacteristic practice in our school). She would bring reference material and read them to us to add color to the one or two lines of details that was included in our actual history text. You may say this is insignificant, but then, it is not. I have cherished that memory and that spirit of owning a task and doing things in a manner that feels right to me, infinitely! Mrs Neogi, if this reaches you, please accept my greetings of this happy occasion. I am thinking of you!

My next example is from my family. Despite open disapproval from some, my father insisted I go to a bank, pick up my money and pay the fees at my school by myself from since when I was in the 5th grade. To ready my school bag, clothes and do my homework was my exclusive responsibility as far back as I can remember. My aunt did not let me take our car to a summer job I had taken up (which I was very mad about at the time), insisting that I use public transport by myself. This is when I was no more than fourteen or fifteen and was going everyday to places I hadn’t been to before (it was a sales job). Figure it out, she said. Taking my own responsibility was never an option. It was the only way to live. I am grateful thats who they taught me to be.

Recently, I saw a short film doing the rounds on fb, about how the British mistreated us and that we should be celebrating the freedom fighters for having rescued us from such fates. I saw Shashi Tharur’s British bashing lapped up with great enthusiasm. I am not denying there’s some truth in that. But why can’t we move on? Perhaps this 15th we should instead focus on what has been India’s accomplishments in the last 70 years of freedom compared to how far we came in the 200 years of British rule. Have we collectively achieved the promise of the 15th of August, personally and as a nation?

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Insidious

Her golden, sleepy head on my arms makes me sore
But I bear it happily and I would for ever more
Lush furls of willow-o-wisps dance over our head
I watch it contentedly from our grass bed
Thankful for the quiet moments
After seemingly relentless run of games
The dog curled in the shade has dozed off too
Neither are mine
I'm sitting my friend's charges for a while
Just the afternoon
Their mother will be back soon.
I sit up to spread a light blanket over us..
Lest she catch a chill from the breeze
Then answer an anxious text
No, no bother, don't worry
We had some rice with chicken curry
(From the same plate)
I wish this last bit would be our secret
But it wont be
Quite the chatterbox, is she
An emptiness brews idly in my heart
Clouding the uncomplicated mojo
That had me high just a bit ago
Her father's lips pucker familiarly on her dear face
Reminders of what I must not chase


Saturday, July 04, 2015

Translating কতবার ভেবেছিনু

     Often I've wanted to drown my doubts, my foolish pride and fear
     And pour out my heart at your feet in sweet surrender dear
     And when with you, worthy friend, I'd tell you plain and clear
     I've loved you so, secretly, year after year!
     And then, I get cold feet, feeling hopelessly out of depth
     How could I profess my love! Am woefully inept.
     So I'd stay away; just be with you in my heart.
     And continue to worship you in my lonely life apart.
     No one need ever know, how deeply I adore you dear.
     No one need ever see, my lovelorn tears.
     And when today, you ask me for my heart to reveal!
     How hard it is to find my love, the words for what I feel!

"কতবার ভেবেছিনু আপনা ভুলিয়া
তোমারি চরণে দেব হৃদয় খুলিয়া
চরণ ধরিয়া তব কহিব প্রকাশি
গোপনে তোমারে সখা কত ভালবাসি
ভেবেছিনু কোথা তুমি স্বর্গের দেবতা
কেমনে তোমারে কব প্রণয়ের কথা
ভেবেছিনু মনে মনে দুরে দুরে থাকি
চির জন্ম সংগোপনে পুজিব একাকী
কেহ জানিবে না, মোর গভীর প্রণয়
কেহ দেখিবে না, মোর অশ্রু বারিচয়
আপনি আজিকে যবে শুধাইছ আসি
কেমনে তোমারে কব কত ভালবাসি"
- Rabindranath Tagore

Sunday, May 10, 2015

If it wasn't for you

If it wasn't for you, I'd be impervious to joy or sorrow
Impervious to colors, to music, to beauty, to cheer, to the hopes for tomorrow
If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't care if the sun shone or if it rained,
There'd be no warm or cold or wet or pure or stained.
If it wasn't for you, there would be no need for poetry or art
No company, or conversation could ever touch my heart
If it wasn't for you, everything would taste all the same
Wine, coffee, chocolates, flowers, kisses, all terribly lame
If it wasn't for you, my heart wouldn't ever quicken or break
Everyday would be the same, all of it, fake!
And so, I am grateful for the sweet torture of your being
Because of you, I am, and continuing...

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Stay-at-home parenting

I am not a parent, so should I bother to write about this issue? Well, I'd like to, at least in defense of my parents who worked all the while I was doing my growing up.

Dear mothers who choose to stay home with your kids, when I ask if you have started working again, I am neither acting smug, nor belittling the value of your labor. When I say you must be enjoying yourself, I am not saying I don't think this requires any effort at all. Motherhood is one aspect of womanhood, but I fully expect an educated woman to make strides in multiple facets of their lives, so that they may explore the full intellectual and emotional spectrum of their humanity. So this question comes naturally to me. Also, I fully expect people to enjoy what they choose to apply their efforts to. So, please don't jump to those ridiculous conclusions.

And if you cant help yourself, can I ask you to please introspect around why are you so sensitive to this question? If you are truly convinced you have made the right choice for yourself, why bristle, rather than calmly helping me understand your choice? I ask because I am interested in you and you are typically happy to indulge me with your perspective on other things. So, why is this one hard? Unless, you are loathe to admit that you are using your children as an excuse to not take responsibility for yourself or to not push your limits. Unless you are loathe to admit that you are using your children as an excuse to clip the wings of your partner.

In my experience, a lot in life is shaped by circumstances instead of being a conscious choice. And we try to convince ourselves to come to terms with it. If someone prods you occasionally, reminds you to evaluate whether you are doing what you really wanted to do, reminds you to think about whether or not it is time in your life to make a constructive change, why is that unreasonable, insensitive or disrespectful?

My biggest objection is that a mother's labor, however sincere, back-breaking, nerve-wracking it may be, is unpaid. There is something to be said for being paid for your services. Why? Because it buys you independence. It liberates you from the shackles of expectation. I've been told not to denigrate the lofty nature of a mother's work with the banality of a day job. Yes, you are just a paid employee in the case of the later and you may be fired. But you can find another job and continue to live a life of relative freedom. You may not mean the world to your employer as you probably do mean (at least for a while) to your child. But why does that matter? The dependence of your offspring on you is temporary and to wish to either cling to it, or to prolong it, is unhealthy for both the mother and the child, and selfish too, wouldn't you agree? If you care so much about your child, should you be squandering away your means to pursue your convictions regarding your child's future?

Now your high-minded partner supports you and I am told I have no right to question that dynamic. To that, I say, I hope you have the guts to question that dynamic yourself. I hope folks at least recognize that by removing themselves from the work that fully exploits their potential, they do waste the funding that was invested in educating them. It is the parents' job to give society good citizens. But by constraining a mother's exposure to only certain types of experiences in life, we diminish their abilities to provide quality mentor-ship to the next generation.

I also get told, we are a culture where moms stay home. Think about A) the sexism and B) the presumption buried in that statement. Do dads love their kids less? Is it right to assume their parental needs or capabilities are lesser than yours? A self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-supported mother creates a strong example for the child. I pray you find the emotional and intellectual strength to embrace it.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Being a girl

Today is designated as the international women’s day. Just wanted to take a moment to feel in my heart what it has meant to be a woman in this life. Yes, there were downsides. Even though I grew up in a household where I had the same opportunities as my male sibling to prosper. But I’ll focus on the positive. On why it has also been a priviledge. No, it wasn’t motherhood, wifedom or daughtership that made it special for me. Those relationships allow others in your life to relate to you as a woman, and for you to relate to them. They are not about who you are in your own head.

I loved being a woman because of the depth of emotion I was allowed to feel freely and express vociferously. I could cry, laugh, sing as I wanted and no one expected a stiff upper lip out of me. She’s just being a girl, they would say! I loved being a woman because I could celebrate being spontaneous without self-consciousness! Change hairstyles, clothes, make-up, my mind - its called being flighty as a feather, being irresponsible. Its called, not being a man. I’m none the worse for it. I did not have to act tough, unless I wanted to show off. The men in my life were unfailingly chivalrous, opening my doors, carrying my luggages and happy to defend my honor with all the necessary flourish. Now, isn’t that lovely!?

It wasn’t until a bit late in life that I begun to realize, feeling loved and cherished as something delicate wasn’t all I wanted. I am educated, I can support myself, my shoulders are strong enough to support another physically, socio-economically, emotionally. Over the last few years, I have finally realized what a privilege it has been in this life to have earned this independence, particularly as a girl. I hold it quintessential to experience any other emotion with any degree of genuinity. That I can afford to be kind, that I can afford to follow the principles that inspire me, that I can love unconditionally without expectations is something dearer to me than life, because I am a woman and it could just as well have not been.

If you're a girl like me, reading this, I'd like to leave you with this thought: Next time they give up the seat for you, don’t accept it. Think about what you have within your grasp, not as the fairer sex who demand to be treated with honor, but as a towering strength that commands it.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Pithe

Coconut cooked in condensed milk
Wrapped in rice-y crepes divine
Pati-shapta awakens my bong soul
Sweetened more and more with time
Just warm yumminess on your tongue
As you work your way through creamy kheer
Remembering those gnarled hands, kind eyes,
That served these up with unfailing cheer

Monday, December 08, 2014

Muddle

Yes of course, I know best. No one feels it in their veins quite like me.
How can you not know, when you look deep into me like that?
Ok, ok maybe you're right. I did not do so well. And time is running out.
Question is, what should I do now? Just muddle along?
Or strive harder to somehow balance the checklist you gave me long ago?
There is so much to fix all around me. Its overwhelming.
Then there's the stars and the frothing seas and my coffee and my cupcake.
Simple, sweet, intimate, rewarding, meaningful.
I'll think about it tomorrow, I'll sort it out.

You're really screwed up, you know that, dont you?
I mean, for goodnesses sake. The writing's been on the wall.
Its been staring you down impatiently to be read and recognized.
I am giving up. I am giving in. I am giving away.
Here is my strategy for my nemesis. Ignore. Shrug off.
Sucker, go away! No more. Thats it. I wont play your games.
New rules, new hair cut, new dress. Its Christmas!
Mmm I can smell the rich, soft, liquored, delicious fruit cake
And the glowing warmth from grandma's ancient fireplace
And our shadows meshing against the silent walls!

Ordering in time is insane, stupid, boring.
The contextual order, thats important.
How my brain stacked you up next to the paisley throw!
How I pick these earrings and know you'd have loved them
If you were alive to see me wear it today!
And my new red shoes hurt my heels, who's it all for, anyway!
I am going on a vacation. no I'm too busy with the busy work.
Miles to go before I sleep, but I'll sneak in a day dream for now.
Gosh, I'll think about it tomorrow, I'll sort it out.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

You never caught up with her secrets, did you?

Kisses you never shared, occupied her mind
And she cried over breaking up with you
You never caught up with her secrets, did you?
Your unborn children filled her house with laughter
And mischief and romping and sweet-smelling sighs
She saw bits of you in them and cried
You never caught up with her secrets, did you?
Years went by, and the highs and lows of life
You walked side by side, old friends
Lonely, out of step, with private needs
That steeled, scarred and charred your souls
Both guarded their wounds with admirable conviction
You never caught up with her secrets, did you?

And at the end, when you saw what it was
You hadn't cared to see before
It was all too late, it was too far left behind
Past conversations resurrected uselessly in your mind
Thoughts and gestures ricocheted around
A kiss, a tear, lost and found
And you try tighten your grip, willing this to stay
But wisp by wisp, it flies away
Away, away, beyond recall.
Wish you'd caught up with her secrets, don't you?

"...what of the song you wrote in love?
Once upon the moon above?
What of that sweetness that still endures
Linking her soul namelessly to yours!
Intertwined you'll remain
The pain will go, went the refrain
If only you could find yourselves again
In those forbidden gardens midst the monsoon rains..."


Monday, September 01, 2014

Why I like Ayn Rand?

In this recent frenzy of listing books that have influenced you deeply, I found several mentions of Ayn Rand. It was certainly on my list. It is a bit unusual though because most of us would generally side with the liberal school of political thought. To me, Ayn Rand will always be special because she made me realize that our notions of good versus bad is not so black and white, early in my life. That is a bit of a strange statement, Rand being such a relentless Puritan. However, truly, processing her re-categorization of every notion of virtue was actually a pretty confusing exercise. One that was thrilling nevertheless, because of the unique perspectives it offered to my mind.

For example, I already knew how the immediate circumstances or the local context could color an act. I have stolen a cookie when my partner wasn't watching and told myself I could live with that deception because I was hungry and that made it alright. But, what I never quite grasped before, was how the distant circumstances or the global context such as the far reaching consequences of an act or the deep rooted philosophies of the doer, could also color an act. Feeding the hungry is always good, isn't it?

Ayn Rand made me realize why not to feel driven to feed the hungry. How pity, is a disgraceful emotion, most disrespectful of the human spirit. I realized how important it is to leave the fed with a sense of renewed purpose in their lives and not just a full stomach. When I see the United States struggle with its image despite the many acts of altruism it constantly engages in, I feel like there is a reason they suffer this fate. They just feed the hungry and they are done with it. Most no-one is better off from it other than the corrupt middle-men perhaps. They expend minimal effort in spreading the philosophy of self-reliance, in teaching people who the US really are, other than big bully with the fat purse - and so that image endures. I have seen so many who live in this country unaware and uncaring of the philosophical principles this country was founded upon. You cant breed loyalty out of thin air.

Rand taught me how the why was as important as the what in whenever you choose to act and just not for you, but for all parties in the equation. I learned it is as important to teach someone integrity as it is to teach them math. No lasting good can be done without initiation into the right philosophy. I think this is the essence of what I took home from Rand's writings.

So tell me, what did you take home from Ayn Rand?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The beautiful Yosemite

This is my fourth time at Yosemite. A place I come back to again and again. I love to watch its many deers; either grazing inches from me, or, among the tall grasses in the meadows; a place where I had an antelope skirt me by in supreme nonchalance; where I saw my first wild bear family - a mom and its cub rushing across a distant creek for a fleeting, unbelievable second.

Every time I go back, I learn a little bit more about what it is to be in Yosemite. To close your eyes to complete quietness and listen to the leaves rustling in the wind. To smell a faint oak in the air. To soak your eyes with the green. To stare up the tall pines and sequoia trees. To gaze in wonder at the sheer facade of the stark granite ranges. To hear the rustle of its many waterfalls. To trek up to one and be overwhelmed at its sheer force, to catch the frothing amongst the boulders at its feet. C'est Magnifique! I play deep woods sounds sometimes at bed-time. And then there's falling asleep to the sounds of Yosemite. With the crickets' songs or the occasional pattering of the rains on your tent roof. To listen in the darkness and learn to relax.

Night skies at Yosemite are a feast no photograph can ever capture. A wide open sky of starry brilliance bequeathed to life on earth. What a pleasure to lie down and star gaze and wonder. To wonder at the milky way. To wonder at the light from the stars that started light years ago for you to catch them tonight. To sit on the board walks and transcend into another world where you forget to be full of yourself.

Yosemite is many things for many people. There's the happy campers with their camp fire songs and merry making. The seduction of liquor and fire, an ultimate release. For me, beyond of that, it is an opportunity to enjoy silence, to enjoy solitude. The chance to truly slip off of the grid. No cell phone, no email, no internet. There's the changing color of the sky, there's the company of my husband with whom I dont need to talk to communicate. This time there was also some of Grappelli to spice the air. The little time I had felt like eons. A meagre two days offered a soothing balm to the invisible signs of struggle of my brutal city life. Viva Yosemite!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Could I wear those pearls?

It was cloudy outside. I was in that undecided anti-climactic frame of mind that this weather often will induce. Sort of lost and wanting to get away; where, I couldn't say. Unable to concentrate I tried to clear out my desk. And then an email came. It was short with a simple request, politely worded as always. I looked at it wistfully; undeniably happy because it was a missive from you, and also somewhat dampened by the onus of the task. Feeling more and more numb really, as more of the reality of the task sank in. I had known it was coming. I don't understand this strange inertia I sometimes get stuck with, about tasks I know will wind up with me. What a silly instinct it is to cover your face and pretend what you don't like does not exist. Anyways. I tried to refocus my tired spirits. Shortly after, I realized I had better leave. It was no use. I wasn't going to be able to work anymore today.

As I drove home, it started to drizzle. The traffic thickened and slowed. My mind drifted to a conversation from this morning. You spoke very well; but then you always do. I like the way you use your words. And although I speak the language well enough, I could never use them with your elegance. Sigh! I love how you leave people feeling calm and yet empowered to reach for things they hadn't wanted to reach for themselves before. And you do it with such an understated style that it does not feel like the world now rests on their shoulders either. I wish I could put you on someday, over this drab of a self that is me. No, no, strike that last bit. I am special too. Even if I miss your jokes often, am awkward every other minute, seem to freeze up like a deer in your company at times.. just because.. just because I take the time to appreciate what you are all about.. beyond the calls of politeness or self-interest.

You do disappoint me, you know? More often than not. With your reticence. Or is that wisdom?! Typically, you leave me with the feeling that while I do the job, there's no way I have distinguished myself so far as you are concerned. I haven't the talent. For the better or worse, how you work me up to the throes of happiness or despair is my secret, my burden, my damnation. Pity, that! Not just for my sake either. You have made others fall short for me. And my burning ambition is to make others fall short for you. Can you even understand that?

I got honked at. What the..! A colleague who was on the next lane was trying to let me know that he has spotted me. I smiled back. And then tried to stare ahead. Unfortunately I couldn't pretend I didn't see he was bringing down his windows. You moron, I am not interested. Go home. We made some small talk straining our voices; for goodness's sake, we were on the highway! And then I was able to thankfully maneuver an escape. I shouldn't be rude with him, I admonished myself. He was, at least, always trying to be my friend.

Had you left for the day, my thoughts wandered back to you. Have I imbibed any of what I like so much about you? Is it even possible? Sometimes, it makes me sad, because I feel I am boxed in because of the box I am in. There is no escape. Circumstances often give us a mantle that few can look beyond. But then there are those moments between us. Of complete camaraderie, instinctive understanding. Real or imagined, I couldn't say. It does give me a place to stand. It allows me to hang on to the belief that what we share is real. And as I move on I take an exclusive bit of you for keeps.


Monday, June 09, 2014

A Little Something

Keith stood alone on the waterfront. The lagoon stretched out before him, lovely and shimmering in the evening breeze. The sun had gone down a bit earlier. The sky was a dull orange rapidly turning purple. A flock of sea gulls were resting some ways from him. Keith searched the rocky bank of the lagoon, looking for something.

He had been working late hours pretty much all of last month. Tomorrow he would present his findings. He felt weary. What he had for tomorrow didn't seem like good enough. How was his new boss going to take this, he wondered for the umpteenth time. God knows, he was trying! An involuntary sigh escaped him. It is what it is. He purposefully started running. He would run up to the Mariner Point, a good three miles, and then back. That was his routine. A sea gull started to glide on the skies next to him.

Keith loved his jogging. This unstructured bit of solitude gave him the opportunity to brood aimlessly. The exercise helped him unwind. He never felt lonely in this desolate windy patch he ran every evening. He felt comfortable in his skin as he jogged, enjoying the rhythm of his own gait. It was a special feeling. But today he was a bit uneasy from the start.

From a distance, he saw some boys fishing in the lagoon. As he passed them, he thought he recognized some trout lined up near the water. Keith never liked the artificial blue they added to the lagoon to keep the algae growth down. He mused dubitably about the catch. He did like trout. His wife would love a fresh catch if he were to take these home. Those boys would be too happy to sell, he knew. But he went past the boys and kept jogging. Maybe on his way back if they were still there.

Suddenly he thought of Luce. Luce Dickson would know how to position his case for tomorrow. She always had the right words. Maybe he should invite her to the meeting to back him up if need be. Should he call her now or perhaps after he gets back? Will that be too late in the evening? As he continued to muse on these lines, something pounced at him from the dark. Keith did not know what hit him.

A medium sized black dog, also on its evening exercise, had jumped up at him. He hadn’t seen it coming in the dark. Keith stumbled and fell to the ground. As he had been jogging pretty vigorously, the momentum from the fall hurt him quite a bit. But he was numb to that pain. Keith was acutely afraid of dogs since an ugly incident when he was four. It had gotten better with age, but never went away. Thrust upon him thus, he was back in his childhood in that moment. He began to sweat profusely and froze up with terror. He lost his voice and could not cry out for help. As he stared at the sparkling eyes of his attacker with bared saliva clad gums and teeth, nausea filled his mouth. And then, the dog was off him as suddenly as it was on. A sea gull had poked the dog and it was off shooing at the new target. Keith watched the gull brave the dog and draw it away helplessly from the ground. Few feathers and drops of blood hit him as the dog snapped at parts of the bird he could reach.

The owner had spotted the commotion and came running toward his charge. The gull was able to fly away safely. The man apologized to a trembling Keith. His dog was apparently trying to play with Keith, seeing him jogging away. It’s the dog thing to do. Keith felt too drained to be angry and just wished the master and his monster departed soon. Slowly he rose and retched. He drank from his little bottle of water that he always carried. He rested a few moments. He pulled out his phone and dialed Luce. He tried to distract himself from the hideous few moments of the past by thinking of business. Why hadn't he thought of Luce before? Luce and Keith spoke for some time. He felt better afterward. He finished the remainder of his jogging mostly in a slow trot, but in relative peace, resigned to whatever was in store for him. The trout was of course wholly forgotten. .

He stood a moment gazing at the now dark rippling waters, back at the spot from where he'd begun. A half smile broke on his face. A sea gull was homing in on its favorite rock. Keith watched it with gratefulness and satisfaction. Keith wouldn’t discuss the encounter with the dog with anyone. He was rather embarrassed of his affliction. A bird, perhaps this very one, had saved him tonight. It had become a habit for Keith to watch this particular one perched on that very rock, every evening. It had bothered him to find it missing earlier today. Keith stood looking at it, trying to spot the broken feathers or other signs of struggle. He couldn’t really tell. He took a moment to look into its eyes in the dark. The bird seemed to stare back in silent greeting. Keith felt his heaviness lift. It was going to be alright tomorrow.

Route 51

They traveled the same route for almost a year now. Marie cannot remember when it started. Somewhere along, she had begun to take notice. Somewhere along, he had begun to belong to her. And then, he wasn't there on the bus one day. Marie kept looking hoping to spot him. Each passing day, she waited for him to show up. He never did. Marie struggled to come to terms with the change.

The reality of this infatuation was sadly brief. A mad grab at hope, jostled close on the crowded bus. There was the one day she had felt him graze his body over hers and unable to move away. “My stop’s coming”, she’d whispered to him, wanting him to somehow prolong their moment. “A lot of folks get off there. You’ll make it”, he’d whispered back, willfully misunderstanding her. Undeterred, she’d drunk in his cologne, stealing eyefuls of the crease of his lips. And that was all. It felt kind of empty and strange, missing him. Marie sat on her bus, playing with the little bits of this man stuck in her heart.

Duke had begun to sense Marie’s obsession with him some time back. He felt a vague sort of narcissism grip him every time they crossed paths. He would smile at Marie a little extra sweetly, almost unconsciously. Marie picked up the appreciation in Duke’s eyes when she took a little extra care to dress. Duke remembered her now and then with a bit of regret. He had left town for good on a sudden new assignment from work. A spectacled woman passenger on his new commute reminded him of Marie. The girl in a short green dress with highlighted tresses shining in the sun. Marie sat remembering Duke’s deep hazel eyes and the riot of freckles on his face. A sigh of regret escaped both lost in each other’s thoughts.

Several years now into different lives each, Marie and Duke have come for dinner at Rick’s rib shack this evening. They see each other and feel a bit restless as each tries to place the other with a name and a context. It’s that man from route 51, realizes Marie just as her husband returns to their table. Duke turns toward Marie again and notices the man approaching her. “Hey!” He’s off the bar stool in an instant coming toward Marie’s table. “Man, what are you doing here? Whoa!” gushes Marie’s husband clearly excited to see Duke. Apparently these two had been classmates for years, having grown up from across the street from each other. Duke accepts Rob’s invitation to join them for the rest of the evening.

Being in consulting, Rob travels a lot and will have to catch a flight later tonight. The couple had decided to eat out to celebrate Marie’s birthday in the little time they had. The evening progressed warmly. The old friends reminisced easily and regaled Marie with hilarious escapades from their days. Time flew and then Rob was shrugging into his jacket as he kissed Marie on the cheek, ready to leave. “Honey, just relax. I know you love desert. Do that here and Duke will keep you company. I will be fine taking the cab.” He’s glad to leave a bit early as the possibility of traffic had been worrying him a wee bit at the back of his mind. He was glad he was not leaving Marie alone. Duke was family.

Marie eyes Duke’s double banded wedding ring askance, as she sips into her cappuccino. It’s a later addition, not from her time, she’s pretty sure. Has Duke recognized her? She can’t tell. The four past years have not been unkind to him. She finds it difficult to focus as she struggles to block her memories of an imaginary relationship with this man. “You’re very quiet”, observes Duke. This young woman had increasingly impressed him over the course of the evening. First, he was curious because of a resemblance he’d noticed with someone he felt he knew. Now, it was just Marie whose company he was enjoying. She was clearly intelligent and had a great sense of humor. Rob was a lucky fellow.

Duke drunk deeply as he emptied the last of the wine and then slipped in the next question, “Is it hard, having Rob travel so much?” Marie says it is not. Her life is pretty irregular too. Her hours are brutal when she’s on a commission as days merge into nights until her work is done. So Rob’s schedule suits her fine. Duke remembers his recent quarrels with Lara about his lack of engagement in their three-year-old marriage. “Where’d you meet?” he asks on an impulse, as he looks up at Marie. “Route 51”, rings silently in his mind, as their eyes meet and the years fall away.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Free, to be

Celebrate and rejoice, they told me,
Feel it, live it, you are born free!
Fireworks, voting rights, history books,
To show and tell how freedom looks.
But..
That freedom seems, almost untrue,
Unrelated to what I can do.
Not hungry nor oppressed, but I do despair!
Things I cant change, even if I care.
Am not beyond prejudices,
That color all my thought processes.
So what if barbed fences aren't around,
Forces beyond do my thoughts surround.
An inexorable influence on what I would..
To what I should and what I could.
Some folks try this to feel free..
Set their imagination off on a spree.
Wear a personality, someone else they be,
A poignant cry to be truly free..

The spirit of that imagination!
Its a worthy break from what's convention..
Or else, freedom's just a foolish notion;
Open to interpretation.
No, freedom perhaps isn't absolute.
But its not just an ideal that's cute.
In conscious defiance of all coercion..
Do we truly achieve emancipation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Bavarian vacation, Mar 21-26, 2013

Traveling was always about self-discovery to me. It was never about taking photographs featuring me at exotic locations (I have nothing against that and happily oblige myself a lot of the times.) This time though, alone, midst the castles, the churches and the cobblestone streets, midst strangers in a foreign country, I was looking for the real deal, the real thrill of traveling. To feel at home anywhere and everywhere, to absorb, reflect and assimilate. It started out as a business trip and then I hung back a few extra days (21 - 26), just on my own. It makes me glad to have found the courage and the opportunity to have done this finally... it was a start. My first bite into an intense taste of freedom in beautiful Bavaria.

The effort was conscious and a struggle sometimes. I was scared, lonely, and I'll admit it, weepy even, missing close ones and the comfort born of familiarity with the surroundings. And yet, with no agendas, no plans, chasing no-one else's to-dos, I felt light... unbearably light.. striking up conversation with people over the world... at the train stations, at the beer gardens, on sightseeing tours. A strangers face warm with unexpected empathy ever so often... inviting conversation. And nothing like it to then wind up with long discussions over several glasses of Weisse beer... Sometimes pouring together over maps, getting used to a new scent from the proximity with that unknown individual.. Trying to madly extract complicated information from what was being pointed out to me..by sheer force of staring sometimes.. because the foreign names would just paralyze my thinking! I stuck to only one crazy rule, asked for no names of these wonderful people I met. I loved the irresponsible nature of these frivolous friendships...it did not make it one bit less personal.

To tell you a few, I will never think of Munich without thinking of this 30 something man I met at the Freising station early one morning, while I waited for my train to Munchen(The German way of calling Munich). I felt numb from walking to the train station from my hotel in the cold; and wondering where to buy a pair of tights to wear under my pants... I was worked up because I thought I might have frost bite. And also, I was uneasy with the train ticket I held. It was written in German and I had no idea if I had bought the correct one. So... I decided to ask this friendly looking man who'd been glancing at me with frank curiosity several times now (yes, he was quiet handsome). He seemed glad for the chance to practice his English with me. In an engaging style with electric warmth, he somehow made me forget how perturbed I'd been a moment ago. Turned out we were both engineers, him in aerospace. We drifted through politics, religion, my American life, the German people, wars... and Munich. It was wonderful!

And then there was this 50 something couple; regulars at the HaufbrauHaus. They told me that not only is the HB a tourist mecca, it is an immensely popular city haunt that goes back to the original HB brewery established around 1589... beloved by Munichers. The gentleman proclaimed this was the only brewery in the city with a live band (which kept playing delightful music in the background the whole time I was there)! The food was both yummy and inexpensive. I learnt an interesting fact about HaufbrauHaus from my new found friends. Apparently some of the tables at the restaurant have been rented over periods of Years! He pointed me to a few well marked ones, also known as "Stamtiches".. The facilities actually had lockers where patrons stored their personal beer mugs! The story and the atmosphere of that place spoke volumes of the camaraderie shared by its patrons and felt like a testament to lives celebrated by the very act of living! It really touched me.

Another interesting encounter was with this German school teacher. She was correcting a thick set of English papers on the train and sat next to me (her own English wasn't very good, which reminded me of English teachers in our Bengali medium schools). She said she teaches the lower division (part of the 9 years of state mandated schooling in Germany). We started chatting and I was surprised to learn how much threatened the Germans feel these days by the growing Turkish population in Germany. She told me of her challenges dealing with her foreign pupils who's languages she did not understand. We started comparing notes on social infrastructure in the US versus Germany and what is the correct sensitive way to bring a people of foreign origin into your fold without jeopardizing your own existence. These themes are extremely personal issues for me, having lived the past 12 years outside of my homeland. Our conversation was riveting. Indeed I would have loved to continue but my station arrived all too soon!

Stopping for food when I felt like it, tasting stuff I'd never known (and feeling plenty intimidated doing it)... surprising myself with the discovery of a taste that I liked.. like the WeissWurst (white sausages) eaten with sweet mustard sauce and pretzels for breakfast! Uncaring about how I dressed or looked so long as I wasn't freezing to death.. it was just perfect! Now thanks to my stay here, and of course courtesy of the well known brewery at Weihenstephan (within minutes from Freising), I can count three new beer favorites... the radler, most weisse beers, and the bock.

This write-up wouldn't be complete of course without an account of my castle tours. King Ludwig the II, the fairy tale king, seemed an extraordinarily lonely and complicated man. I saw his living abodes in the Nymphenburg palace, the Linderhof castle and the Neuschwanstein castle. The three were very different from each other. I was told that he was personally involved in building the last two and I was trying to find some common themes that could tie them to the visions of one man. I couldn't find any. Which led me to ponder what pressures drove these men in lending their patronage to one particular art versus another.. Did not seem to be all just his thinking. Linderfhof appealed more to me personally because I am attracted to the neo-French Rococo style. It was intricate, ornate, busy but beautiful. And a sense of melancholy seemed to pervade every room. The strangest thing about these old buildings was you had to walk through each of the rooms in a sequence to get to the nth room. There were no other ways to get to them! The man was so obsessed about his privacy that he did not even want to see his servants! Food was pushed up by a mechanised table from a level below (quiet ala 007)! The Neuschwanstein on the other hand had a much more modern appeal.. it is built in the Moorish style. I think I can safely say it is the most modern castle I have seen... some particular rooms being ones I could easily un-self-consciously live in, even today! Some say that the Disney castles were inspired by the Neuschwanstein castle. I could almost agree, given its many level turrets and roundish towers. There was an artificial cave in that castle that blew my breath away as it unexpectedly opened into a verandah with a beautiful view of the valley below. Of course the Bavarian Alps and the beautiful beautiful Bavarian countryside all added to the magic of these castles. The small villages surrounding these castles with the mural paintings, the wood carvings, the cobblestone streets everywhere... these brought home to me the essence of quaint and quintessential Europe. The third of this homes, the Nymphenburg Palace, surprisingly, is right in Munich itself... grandiose, stately, very different in spirit from the castles. Its grounds are gorgeous, but I found all of it a bit too impersonal. Guess, hence its called a palace!

Switching gears here, let me tell you of my trip to the Dachau concentration camp. I worked that in to give myself an all rounded perspective of my experience of Bavarian Germany. So I found myself at that very spot on earth where all pretense of humanity had been once lost. It was bitterly cold and I could not fathom a reality where men and women stood cold worse than this without warm clothes. I could not really make sense of the other atrocities. Just standing that cold seemed brutal to ask of anyone. My guide with his sharp good looks touted away his practiced speech. And it felt empty of emotion. He kept saying the Nazis did this and that. I wished I hadn't come. This was too impersonal, too unapologetic for the scale of death this place had witnessed. But I don't blame him.. he's probably saying this same story to a group of inattentive tourists 365 days of the year.

Other than this, there was the Marienplatz with the Glockenspiel( I missed catching it actually doing the chimes, which I am told is very sweet)... but I loved the atmosphere on that street. Loved peeking into the nearby church of the Frauenkirche, with its two signature onion shaped domes, quiet the Munich landmark I am told. Right next is the Victualien market that goes back almost 200 years in the going, with its series of sausage shops and cheese shops and fresh produce... what not. Apparently the beer here is supplied by 6 different city breweries, a different vintage every day. Beer is served without label so that you cannot tell which is which except at the pouring. I ate "Livecheese" here twice and both time delicious - this is just meat flattened out like cheese and eaten between bread. It was awesome.

I wrapped up with a quick trip to the Deutsche museum on the last day. It is huge with gallores full of engineering history. I wished I had some of my passionate engineer and physicist friends, colleagues, particularly my husband with me... because they would have gone bananas over the place. I took in some things. But mostly I was too travel weary already. I told myself, better leave it for next time! Guess thats that then for now... Auf Wiedersehen !


Monday, March 18, 2013

Shards

Enuf said, you said, and I agree.
I am tired of dissecting every
Wanton look and casual word
That stick on my mind and strike odd
With what I thought mattered
My thoughts challenged and shattered!

Unreal and imminent, a world exists
Mutely within my clenched fists
Bubbling with beautiful emotions
Playful with contradictions!
Alas! the face and body you see
Is so disconnected from whats me to me!

And so from my spot distant and remote
I watch my reality pieces afloat
Some with edges that scratch deep,
Straddling my wakefulness and sleep.
Spilling blood and a solitary tear,
And sometimes drawing an uncertain cheer!

When all else makes no sense at all,
And I listlessly wait my curtain call.
This intimate corner is my refuge
I'll keep amused with this subterfuge
Surreal poetry to safe keep,
My soul; 'tis a price cheap!

Monday, December 31, 2012

Warhol's Self Portrait at the SF MOMA

Recently I visited the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The decision to do so was taken on a whim, primarily out of curiosity. I have no experience or knowledge in this domain. I felt attracted by the way this sort of art seems to speak differently to different people; how the art becomes your own story, open for adaptation to the nuances of your personality.

You can hang abstract art in multiple orientations and derive a fresh meaning for that configuration unique to yourself. That concept felt both new and exciting. Often at the MOMA, I would look at a picture for long, make up my mind on what I think of it and then approach the little notes describing the picture, with its history, intent of the artist and other details. I was almost always different (if not wrong) from what these notes said. To me, that was fine. They were irrelevant to what I appreciated about the picture.

Anyways, this particular piece by Warhol, is not really abstract. And yet, the composition invites you to speculate what he is trying to say. I found the half darkened side to this face very very interesting. To me, it said that the artist is very aware that he is not fully aware of a part of himself. Or a part of himself is not available for public consumption. And yet he tries to create a self portrait. I read that he often invited other people to draw him. Hmmm. I wonder how far our self-image is influenced by how other people think of us. Or, indeed, how we imagine they think of us? And what of the patchiness on the left?

Of course, soon, I was just too muddled up and the art work too abstract for my untrained palate. Me and my partner in "artventure", giggled embarrassingly at how completely absurd some of the material appeared to us!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

কে নারী?

লালসা ভরা যে হাথ বুক ছুয়ে গেল,
ওকে ভুলতে লাগেনি সময় |
এর পর জামা যেন আরও ঢিলে পরা হয়,
সেদিকে মন দেওয়া হয়!
এই শেখে ছোটবেলা মেয়েরা সবাই,
রাতে একা হাঁটা চলবেনা লেক-এ,
সুনসান গলি বাদ দিয়ে যেও,
ওতে শয়তান সব বোম্বেটে |
ছেলে যারা বন্ধু, যতই বন্ধু হোক,
এমনিতে নেই কিছু ভয়;
দঙ্গলে মদ খেলে, সরে থাকা ভালো,
কি জানি কখন কি হয় |
কলেজে পড়তে এসে প্রাপ্তি গালাগাল,
আড়াল আবডাল থেকে!
কান পাতা যাচ্ছে না এমনি ভাষার মধু,
দিচ্ছেন শিক্ষিত ভদ্রলোকে!
বাস-এ সিট ছেড়ে দিয়ে উঠে দাঁড়ালো,
লাল চোখ মাস্তান ষন্ডা;
সামনে বসেই বুক দুরুদুরু শুরু,
তার সুনজর যেন আনাকন্ডা !
স্বামী কে প্রনাম করো, ভাই কে ফোঁটা দাও, রাখি দাও
ওরা তোমার রক্ষা করেঙ্গা!
অবলা হওয়াতে লজ্জা কেন মা?
এ তোমার সু-কৃষ্টি দত্ত সংজ্ঞা!

নারীত্ব কে ঢেকে, লুকিয়ে, মেপে,
চলতে শেখায়ে যে সমাজ,
আমানাত নষ্টে, কত তার বিক্ষোভ!
কত তার কান্নার আওয়াজ!
জেনেশুনে কানা, কালা, বোবা হয়ে সটকেছ
অন্য নানা চিন্তায়ে হন্যে!
আজ যেটা হয়ে গেছে, দেয়ালে লেখাই ছিল,
সব্বাই দায়ী এর জন্যে |
শেখাওনি রুখে দাঁড়াতে মেয়েদের,
শিখিয়েছ লজ্জা সেরা তার;
অপূর্ণ রেখেছ তার নারী সত্তাকে,
দুর্ভাগ্য, নারী-পুরুষ দুজনার!
যে মেলামেশা সুন্দর, স্বাভাবিক, প্রাঞ্জল,
তাকে থুতু দিয়ে বানিয়েছ ধিক;
চাপা আগুন এখন ফেটে তো বেরুবেই |
এত সহজে হবেনা সে ঠিক!
পাশাপাশি পুরুষ কে হাঁটতে দিলে,
তবে তো সে চিনবে কে নারী!
কাঁচের পুতুল মান্যি পায় কি?
কি নিয়মের ছিড়ি বলিহারি!

Friday, December 28, 2012

দিশা

জঙ্গলে হয় নানান রকম, ছোট-বড়, সোজা-ব্যাঁকা,
এত কিছুর ভীরে মশাই, যায় কি সঠিক হিসেব রাখা!?
কোনটা কখন ফুটে ওঠে; কোনটার দিন ঘনিয়ে এল..
অলখ্যে কোন পাতার 'পরে, কিসের ছোঁয়া চমক দিল!
যায়না বলা, যুক্তি বৃথাই খোঁজা..
কঠিন ভারী, ঝকমারি, জংলি নিয়ম বোঝা !

মনের ভেতর জঙ্গল-ই তো! পাশাপাশি ভাবনা নানান,
কোনোটা কালো, কোনোটা ভালো, কোনোটা ট্রয়-এর ঘোরার সমান!
সে ঠিক আছে, বেঠিক কেন, সব হিসেব কি মেলানো যায়?
এ অঙ্ক যে বিশেষ জটিল, দু আর দু-এ পাঁচ-ও হয়!

অনেক নজির; যেমন ধর এক সেতারে নানান সুর-ই,
বাজছে দিব্যি! আমার বেলায় চাইছ কেন এক লহরী?
সেতার যেমন, যেমন বাজাও তেমনি বাজে;
আমার গানও, তোমার সুরে সুরেই সাজে|
তবু সাবধান! যদি জড়াও আমার হৃদয় কোমল রসে,
ভেবনা তেমনি পাবে; পেতেও পারো ফেরত ঝাঁঝাল বুকনি রোষে!
কারণ মনের ফলগু নদী; ভিতর দিকে অন্য স্রোতে..
বইছে জীবন; আজকের আপন, কাল পারেই বদলে যেতে!

ভালো লাগার নিয়ম কিছু থাকে কিনা ঠিক জানিনা..
যখন তখন মনের 'পরে খেয়াল চড়ে নানান কিনা!
আমার মনের অদ্ভুতুরে ভালো লাগাযে অবাক হলাম!
দুই উল্টো রকম মানুষ দেখি লাগছে ভালো সমান সমান |
উল্টো রকম দর্শন দুদিক দিয়ে আমায়ে টানে,
কোনটা কখন আঁকড়ে ধরি, নিজেই কি ছাই বুঝি মানে!

কালের হাওয়া ভাঙছে গড়ছে মনটা আমার ইচ্ছে মতন,
একই কথায় পাচ্ছে কখনো হাঁসি কখনো চাপছি রোদন|

এই রং বদলান পৃথিবীতে এক সত্যিই মানব বরং,
তুমি আমার সত্যি হয়ো, তোমাকে মেনে কাটুক জীবন|
কথা ফুরয়ে যেখানটাতে, সেইখানেতে তুমি থেকো |
আহত বুকে চলার পথে আমায়ে তুমি সামলে রেখো |
বিষন্ন সন্ধ্যে গুলয়ে তোমার চোখের আলো দিও..
রাতের শীতে কাঁপন বেলা আমায় তুমি সঙ্গে নিও |
চুঁয়ে পরা বৃষ্টি ধারার সেই মাটির বুকে যেমন গতি..
আমার পাগলছন্ন মনকে দিও তোমার পরশ মধুর খুঁটি|

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Untimely

His tiny feet wont cross
Her forlorn threshold anymore.
Those innocent eyes wont ask
The endless questions she adored.
That tender voice wont be heard
In her hallways or her bedroom.
Those clothes with the smell of him
Will be stowed away someplace else soon.
His grubby hands wont mess
Her walls and carpets with crayons.
Numbed with unspeakable horror,
She fights for strength to go on.

Midst this heart rending sorrow,
Gun shots hammer away in her ears,
And she struggles with her faith,
With candles and prayers.
But these methods for healing,
Seem pointless, seem absurd;
A moot conversation;
Ignored and unheard.
The punctured body of her baby
Is an image seared on her brain
She still cant believe it
This is a bad dream, she feigns.

I sit and can only wonder
At the mother who has to!
My heart goes out to her...
And what she must do.
What a price has life extracted!
For what conceivable reasons?
Will anything ever be same again?
Whether we change laws or seasons.
How does one start after insanity like this?
What in the world could bring her catharsis?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Infactuation

If he’d only whisper to her
A sweet secret now and then
She’d play it over forever
And live her fairy tale

If he’d only leave her a note or two
Nothings, scribbled on the fly
She’d make legends out of those words
And sail upon her mind's skies

If he’d only touch her softly
A careless brush or twirl
She’d soak in that awareness
Heart a-flutter, toes a-curl!

If he’d only glance her way
And smile when their eyes lock
She’d be his for the asking now
While Cupid’s shining lasts.

Secrets

No one, you said to me, need know.
That was seductive, that was irresistible.
The parasol of comforting anonymity...
Guarding the fire simmering between us
Guarding the sweet nonsense kissed upon my heart
Or spoken silently with a glance
Unmistaken between us,
Incomprehensible to everyone else
You tired, didn’t you?
I looked around for you…
You weren’t there.
Somehow I thought you’d always be…
Seething now, exhausted now, sleeping now.
Time boxed
Regretting life whiled away in trifles and laziness.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lover, you

You shape the lines of poetry
I write in vain to catch
The ephemeral sweetness
Of life.. that vies to match
the lungful of pipe dreams
my imaginations hatch

Cant fathom this passion you inspire!
And the places in me you touch
I respond with poetry
And hope you'll see as much
Hold my wistful promise fulfilled.
sweet surrender and such

The mystery of you so beautiful
Despite the space that stretch
Between us; For you I reach
Realms beyond to fetch
Fragrant kisses. A timeless note
Upon my heart you etch

%%%%%%%%%%%%
You shape the lines of poetry
I write in vain to catch
The ephemeral sweetness
Of life, that tries to latch
Onto a pocketful of pipe dreams.
And fanciful romances!

Cant fathom this passion you inspire!
And the places in me you touch
I surrender in poetry
And hope you'll see as much
Hold my wistful promise fulfilled.
Thwarting warnings age pronounces.

The mystery of you so beautiful
Despite the space that stretch
Between us; For you I reach
Realms beyond to fetch
A lungful of fragrant kisses.
A mouthful of fresh chances.

As you breathe life into me
Upon my heart you etch
A note of timeless beauty
You fan my eternal lech
For a fistful of synced thoughts
Weaving soulful converses.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looking back from the middle...

After the thirty some years of life on earth, and without an expectation (or even desire) to live beyond seventyish, I think, I am about at the mid-point. Felt like pausing for a moment to reflect upon how far along I've traveled from when this journey started. Even though I've never been explicitly coerced into taking any particular decision, everything so far seems only partly choice, and more an inevitable progression of circumstances. I don't know if I really like that thought. Intellectually, I always champion free will. Or, maybe, only lately in life, I've really begun to appreciate that there is a choice to make. And our actions commit us to some choices whether or not they were conscious. And we live with the consequences.

For example, I studied engineering. It seemed to be the thing to do at the time. Not because I was tremendously inspired by the thought of being an engineer, but more because everybody tried it and I got that specific opportunity, and therefore, culturally, I was programmed to feel like it behooved me to embrace it and make it work.

Make it work, I did. It has not made me unhappy. But there were many things I could have pursued. And they could have made me equally or perhaps more happy. My potential for those other things was not even given a chance. And today, most in my shoes would either not allow themselves to admit that a significant choice such as that decision disappointed them. Because that would question their current sense of happiness. Or, they would just not dare change course, or try anything new, seeing it as too late already. I've seen this theme in many aspects of our lives; the notable other being in relationships.

For me though, the grey in my hair, the hopeless inequality and unfairness of most things in life, makes me want to re-evaluate my stances about a variety of things that I've blindly embraced and bravely battled for so long. I haven't too much longer. And in another couple decades, it will matter to no one whether I quit or I stuck around and for what petty personal cause! Only in my life, I would have another chance to ask myself, was I true to my convictions and answer that I really gave my free will a chance to stretch its legs. Its an important discussion to have with oneself, this time of life, I reckoned.

It occurs to me that we strive for constancy, absolutes, for some odd reason, in everything we do. Society is obsessed with stability. Perhaps in that stance, we betray our very nature. I think this basic imposition is the root cause of a lot of human unhappiness. Nothing lasts forever. We change and our perspectives change. I think playfulness is very central to the human spirit. A lot of different things make up the full spectrum of our personalities and they can sure as heck be contradictory sometimes. I think its important to embrace this dichotomy in oneself, perhaps even cherish it, nurture it and try to leverage it somehow in our lives.

You know, its OK, even this late in life, to get up on a bike and fall. I did. And when I ride today, it is almost as if a pair of wings were granted to me. And its OK to be attracted to other human beings, ones that don't look like you or talk like you and probably treat you like an outsider. Its not some stupid inverted form of racism. Its OK because the diversity of that interaction enriches me as a human. It arouses emotions and curiosities we stopped feeling sometime in our childhoods because we have most folks from our own cultures so figured out in our heads (or so we think). Its OK to let go of God if you cant believe in him any longer. Its OK to laugh at rituals that you once practiced that now feel foolish. Its OK to get your hands burned with whatever foolishness strikes your heart. Its OK to be ridiculed and rejected. Its OK to be wrong and move on. Its OK to feel you're worth way way more than some other odd Tom, Dick or Harry. Self-awareness is key. And sensitivity, the ability to appreciate fine things is not everyone's cup of tea. This set of rules I seem to have made myself aren't easy to live by, you know. Its hard because its a personal set of rules that nobody else can validate for you.. so you're opening yourself up to feeling isolated, estranged, and sometimes insecure.

To wrap up, I feel like my story is in parts inspiring and in parts a depressing account. Its a disillusionment and an enlightenment at the same time. I often wonder why I feel the need to write these things down! Why I need capture what is essentially private? When often words wont do them justice at all. At least not my words. And yet, I desperately want to pour out my heart for you. Without an audience, do we exist? Without a witness, is life worth living? Sometimes I don't care at all.. and sometimes the loneliness of it becomes stifling, unbearable. As the world gets more connected, more accessible, I am getting lonelier, more in tune with the inner me and absolutely at odds with most conventional wisdom. Is this madness setting in? Who knows!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Musica

The sound of violin speaks
In a language ancient
To those who've known pain
And I heard it again.
This night...
As the salt of my tears,
Flavored the sweat on my cheeks,
My secret helpless pleasure
Tasted the best ever!
This night..
And the kiss of the wind
Soft now, brutal now,
Tortured my mind,
With a melody undefined.
This night...
You grant me absolution,
beautiful and divine!
And spark this emotion,
Fanning a longing beyond reason..
This night.
My inconsolable sorrow..
Is overwhelmed with incandescent happiness..
As the music caresses me,
And I revel in being alive..
This night...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

বে পথে

জলের পরে খেলা করে হাওয়ার সুর তান,
আকাশ আলোর রুপোলি তে নানান পাখির স্নান !
ওদের পাশেই রাস্তা ধরে সাইকেল এ তে আমি,
কখনো মন ডিঙে চরে ওদের পিছু গামী..
রোজের যাতায়াতে আমার একাকিত্ব কোথায়ে!
সময় কাটে চারদিকের রঙ্গীন সঙ্গতায়ে |
বে পথে পাখির পরেই বেড়াল সংগঠন |
মৌরি ঝারে, পাথর পারে, যখন তখন !
আরো দেখেছি হঠাত হঠাত সাঁপ, খরগোশ,
অনাচ কানাচ প্রানের জোয়ার, নেই কোনো গোরমোষ |
এছাড়া আছেই সাস্থান্বেশী বাবু মেমের দল...
আইপড,হেলমেট,কুকুর,বোতল,বিবিধ সম্বল!
রোজ এটুকু ছুটির স্বাদে ফুরফুরে মোর মন,
চালিয়ে যাচ্ছি দুজনে বাঁচার কথোপকথন |

দুঃস্বপ্ন

খুব ভোরে ঘুম ভেঙে গেছে.
পুরোটা ঘুম মুছে যায়েনি তখনও চোখ থেকে
চাদরটা সরে গেছে, শীত শীত করছে..
কাল রাতে জানলা খুলে শুয়েছিলাম?
তোমার গরম শরীরটা ছুঁতে চাইলাম
হাথরে দেখি বিছানায়ে কেউ নেই!

ওকি! বাদুরের মতন ঝুলছে ঘরের কোনে?
ওটার দাঁত গুলোতে রক্ত মাখা!
কি বিভত্স! কাঠ হয়ে পরে রইলাম.
হাথ পা কিছুতেই নাড়াতে পারছি না.
বুক ধরফর করছে খুব জোরে.
আমাকে কি বেঁধে ফেলা হয়েছে নাকি?

চ্যাট চ্যাট করেছে কিসে? রক্ত? আমার রক্ত?
আমি কি মরে যাচ্ছি?
আমি কি ফুরিয়ে যাচ্ছি?
আমাকে তুমি বাঁচাবে না?
তুমি কি নেই? তুমি কোথায়ে?
ওই বাদুর টাকে তাড়াও!

যাঃ! দুঃস্বপ্ন টা ভেঙে গেল!
কালো কোট লাল টাই ঝুলছে দরজার ওপর!
উফ! কল্পনাশক্তিটা কাজের কাজে লাগলনা কোনদিন!
একটা অদ্ভুত কথা মনে হল...
ত্রিশঙ্কু ঝুলছি তোমাতে আমাতে,
আর ফুরিয়ে যাচ্ছি রোজ!


তুঘলক

বকছি আমি আবলতাবল বলার খেই হারাই,
বকছ তুমি অন্য সুরে সত্যি মিথ্যা নাই |
মাঝে মাঝে মনটা মেলে কোনো এক খানে,
কিন্তু জেনো ওইটুকু ভাই সমাপতনে..
আমার মতন আর কেও নাই, এইটে সত্যি বাক;
আমি আমার নিজের মতন স্বাধের তুঘলক |
কিন্তু ভায়া একটা ব্যাপার বড্ড কষ্ট দেয়,
এক পা এক পা করে আমার সময় বয়ে যায়ে ..
শরীর থেকে যৌবন আর মনের থেকে যোশ ,
পালাবেই আমায়ে ফেলে, এই নিয়ে আপসোস ..
শুন্য মন কেমন ফেলে দীর্ঘ নিশ্বাস ..
কি যে মানে জীবনটার! হারাই বিশ্বাস ..
বিষন্ন এই মনের কোনে আর সবাই বেমানান,
এখানে থাক, আমি, আর আমার আবলতাবল গান !
লেখা চেপে দেব, না ছেপে দেব, বেজায়ে সমশ্যায়ে..
কানে কারো পৌছল কি, কিই বা আসে যায়ে!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Why should all hell not break loose?

Look around. Nature is cruel. Nature is self-centred. At best, you will conclude you dont know what purpose, whoes purpose, nature is designed to serve. It is certainly not designed for known human standards of goodness. Everytime I read about or hear about some new confounding act of cruelty, this hits home with fresh force. Evil is a fact of life and not a biproduct of circumstances as people seem to want to believe!

I keep getting the argument that no child is born evil. Really? Then what about genetic propensities? Recently I heard about a shootout perpetrator who documented "changes happening inside him" for the month before he committed the crimes. It was later diagnosed that the region in his brain that control fear and anger had been feeling pressure from the growth of a tumor in a nearby region over that period of time. I am told that such a diagnosis can help the accused garner an easier sentence in a court of law because he couldn't help himself. The law seems to take the stand that it is a force to influence your free will. As if, we are cautious of our own basic instinct and its potential for evil.

We really have little clue on the so called noise factors that make people turn rogue. As little clue, as to what makes people turn great altruists. And yet, somehow, we are tuned to feel good about acts of true altruism versus what is considered evil. And if an act of kindness comes with personal sacrifice, the more noble the act. Well.. Mother Nature teaches us little of these behaviors anywhere in the history of her evolution. In trying to be this way, we are trying to rise above our nature - an act, one might argue, of questionable wisdom.

Some argue that the greater good is an evolutionary instinct because the greater good is not divorced from your own well-being. However, the greater good has gotten to be a pretty complex concept in today's world. And yet we largely prove ourselves "good". But that is not necessarily rational. Because, we cant see whats good about being good too far in any direction.

I wonder, if this is just a different way of embracing "religion". You do something from a feel good gut that is a function of rituals (laws) and an outdated evolutionary mind set (the greater good). And that seems the path forward to a happy life! It is a scary thought that we need some sort of an attitude to keep ourselves out of mischief.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stargazing

You have probably felt lost looking up at an inky black, starlit sky sometime in your life; probably thought about how comically meaningless your chance of a lifetime on this earth is. For me, it is both a humbling and an inspiring feeling. The human race throughout its history and across cultures has obsessed with the sky; catalogued, mapped and segmented it with known shapes forming the various constellations. And that has not diminished its magic any. Despite the seeming endlessness, one can hardly ever get bored looking at the night sky! Something in us responds to its grandeur with speechless awe. Some believe that forces from the heavens shape our very life and fate on this earth. Regardless of belief, I obsess with all types of legends of the skies.

My earliest memory of the night sky has a hero. It is the constellation Orion, also known as the Hunter, or the Kalpurush in my part of the world. Its most recognizable feature is the three stars in a row at the Hunter’s hip that form a perfect belt. It is visible on the night sky throughout the world. Interestingly because of its positioning, this constellation is expected to be recognizable long after every other constellation has been distorted into new formations due to the continual shifting of the earth relative to the stars. Countless times I have tried to capture the glint of the stars and their ethereal twinkle on my camera. But alas! But I am glad in a sense. Glad that this experiential wonder that is the night sky remains entirely experiential for me.

Recently I saw the Saturn with the aid of a sophisticated telescope with an apochromatic lens and refractive design, I was told; more beautiful than the image I had of it in my mind from countless books and glossy magazines. Magnificent with its veil of rings! And right there before me in the sky. I have taken to lying on my back in the dark with a pair of binoculars these days. Someday I'll own a powerful telescope and scope out this vast wonder bequeathed to me. For now I live with the allure of the twinkle.. specially potent in remote corners, far from the light poluted city skies!


Wednesday, August 01, 2012

উড় খেয়াল খুশি

এক ক্ষনিকের পাগলা চোরা ঢেউ
এ সময়ের হিসেব চেয়েও না কেউ..
বিলাসিতার দাম আজ ভাবছিনা
পরে খুজবো জোড়াতালি সান্তনা!

জীবনকে বয়ে বেড়ানোর বোঝা !
গন্ডি মেনে পা ফ্যালা কি সোজা?
মুড়ি মুরকির এক দর হাঁকে যারা,
বুঝবে না এ পাগলামিকে তারা |

ভয় করছে, আবার লাগছে ভালো;
ভরসা দিচ্ছে তোমার চোখের আলো |
ভুল যদি বুঝেই থাকি তাকে,
কাল ভাবব, যা কপালে থাকে!

বন্ধু

স্মৃতির পাতায় ঝাপসা মানুষ হঠাত বড্ড স্পষ্ট,
মিল আছে তবু মিল নেই কোনো, মনের মধ্যে কষ্ট |
মনের কোমল ছবি গুলো চাইছে না এই ধাক্কা,
কই গেল রে চেনা স্বাদের নুডুল চিকেন হাক্কা?
পুরনো ভালো লাগার জের টানাপরেনে নষ্ট,
সেই তুমি, নেই তুমি, বুকের মধ্যে কষ্ট!
সেই আমি, আমিও কি দাঁড়িয়ে এক জায়েগায়ে?
অলিগলি সদর ফেলে আজ অদ্ভুতুরে রাস্তায়ে!
সবকিছু জোরা শুধু অবিশ্বাস কেন?
হাথ বাড়ালেই বন্ধু মেলে না আর যেন |
তাই কি পুরান মুখটা দেখে মনটা করে আনচান?
খিল্লি খেউর গালিগালাজ এক গেলাসের পিছটান?
বুকের মধ্যে একলা সবাই জমজমাটির সন্ধ্যে,
হাথ এগোলেও, পোর খাওয়া মন ডরায়ে অসাছন্দে|

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