May 2011

new work

i.

Trisha Bora
two poems

Pornografia

everything is in the words

like twisting the night into spools of time. sometimes I am quiet like the made bed, waiting for the weight of arms and legs and backs, and at others I am the dinner tray, wine and clams and reluctant poinsettias, set for dining. but all the while the television set threatens to burst into life.

and headlights pull into the parking lot at the hotel, throwing up latitudes of light that catch the shifting curtains and pin our shadows against the peeling wallpaper. for that instant, the outside — dishwater and bank holidays — is let in, till the engine dies and we are lampblack once again.

to think that rain can be alive in a square, framed by the room’s window; this variation of a theme can become anything — a rip of thunder and stocking, better still, a Norse god in nylon pantyhose, or setting out of here in thin paper boats to the waterfront a hundred feet away

where the wind, thick with salt, presses into the mast, breathing it on across the rough breadth, and the waves lash against the hull — collapsing it inward — the agony of a reprieve. when morning steals upon the grainy night, the storm breaks. the windows fly open, and the rain is finally set free.

Derailment

it is seminal.
                    this coming of Tuesdays.
when it arrives I am still here.
                    it is still night.
spring still cautious at my door
                    like a cat waiting to slip in.
skeletons of the city still collect around me,
                    fracturing my breath
till I become a collective,
                    a flicker of pulleyed light on
the sixteenth floor
                    as seen from down below.
below, the arterial streets
                    bleed out and break horizons.
here, the home grows heavy,
                    pregnant and still,
like a fat Matryoshka doll
                    waiting to be spun.
but any order is arbitrary,
                    extra — certain types cannot be set
or destroyed and made anew,
                    like spring (if it comes).
where is our god
                    when we are trembling
and filthy and separate?
                    where is our god
when a bald dawn murders
                    the night, waking us all?

ii.

Ankur Betageri
two poems

Monsoon

I asked her to touch me
and by touching
stitch a silk-lining
inside my skin

and today when I rest my palms
on the wet window sill
and look on lazily at the rain-drenched streets
I feel her electricity spreading through my bones
charging the silk-lining around my heart

and suddenly I hear it flutter overhead
a red dupatta of passion against the cool blueness of the sky.

The Egg of Desire

As I stood at my 4th floor window
the sun
(shot like an orange bullet)
left my forehead drenched
with warm orange blood

As I emerged out of the lift
the sun followed me like a mad lover
and poured its pleading heart on my cheeks
as the lipstick danced over the lips
in the jumpy auto

The sun had singled me out
and its light wooed me from the eyes
of every passing man

To the five-year-olds in the classroom
whose eyes shone like pearls
from between the wet mouths of seashells
I was goddess incarnate –
and when their red mouths opened
their fever-breath fell on me: like roses

The sun had singled me out
my body was glowing with its warm orange blood;
and slowly, my girl-body turned into an egg
and waited for him who could break my shell.

iii.

Vinita Agarwal
four poems

Born

You didn’t exactly want him
but he came anyway
a jostle of life amidst the plaid nudges of time
glistening with the water of my womb
the way a pebble gleams after countless stokes
by a river of love
I would fast for him
you loved him like the changing seasons
yoyo like
blistering hot to awning cold at times
a parent’s love should be rock solid like a mountain
when he left for college
I was relieved
the way only a mother can be
when father and son have finally laid down their swords
the house would no longer cower
at last he became your friend
no one noticed that one of my veins
had fossilised and would never come alive
in the rains again
and that the bridge sprouting between
you both had used up all my soil.

That part of me

Like krishna’s flute
talked about but not heard
you are in that melody
Like the church on Shimla’s Mall road
visited but not entered
you are in that view
Like sandalwood powder
aromatic but not an intense paste yet
you are in that fragrance
like the hint of life in a seed
existing but not quite out
you are in that desire
Like a newly sown paddy field
promising grains but not yet yielding
you are in that future
I am on the threshold of love
In my next breath I shall be yours.

Krishna – A prominent Hindu God who was said to play mesmerising melodies on his flute.

Brown

i like brown skin
colour shouldn’t really matter
but there’s something about the colour of wheat
that makes me hunger for its touch
cane and jute
a footprint embedded in wet shimmering sand
the bark of a tree or the throbbing soil beneath
doors and windows
wood and sills
an old unpainted boat humming to itself
a torso, a shared cup of tea
sometimes coffee
nibbles of chocolate in between
the back of your hand
the colour of baking
earth and all its solidity
just plain mud
eons of settled dust
the colour of kernels
brown is in my ovaries
and in my passion.

A sufi night

It was a sufi night
and it wouldn’t pass
I lay sleepless for so long
like an agitated river
on the unmoving rock of darkness
being close to God
I saw the red marks in my life’s book
and knew that they would be
in my eyes the next morning.

iv.

Kabir Arora
article

Sadhana Forest: A Temple of Environmentalism in the South

Integrating the planet into daily life: Aviram Rozin

“I don`t see any conflict between human development and the health of the planet. By integrating the planet in our thoughts, in our daily life we will realize the importance of Madre Earth”, said Aviram Rozin, founder of Sadhana Forest, while telling me about a forest-in-making; Sadhana Forest.

Sadhana Forest is to be found in the extreme southeast of India, in a village called Morathandi near the former French Colony Pudducherry (Pondicherry). It is not a fully-fledged forest yet, but is on the way to becoming so. Under the supreme guidance of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, this project started on 19 December 2003, on the day of the Jewish Light festival in the Aiyanar Temple. It is a unique collaboration of eastern and western spirituality that could be called a Mecca of Environmentalism in India.

This reforestation project was initiated by Aviram Rozin with the support of his wife Yorit, together with two locals, Ballu and Swami. When they settled there, the area was totally barren and yellowish, he says. The only wish they had was to save the tropical evergreen dry forest. As a priority, they created earthen dams to stop the water flow of rainfall away from the site and then planted more than 18,000 trees of the indigenous variety.

Slowly, said Aviram, a green landscape started to emerge. A mud pool was created with other earthen dams, and this harvested the rainwater. Indeed, this veritable water vision that Aviram and his team had in their minds, was implemented with a resultant rise of the underground water level by up to six meters.

Life in Sadhana Forest

The only law which governs Sadhana Forest is to live in peace with nature. For this purpose huts were constructed, solar panels installed to supply electricity and the toilets made in such a way to ensure that nothing remained as waste. Manure is prepared from both the kitchen waste and human excreta. Only biodegradable toiletries are allowed. There are no fans and air-conditioners, with natural, pure air there to enjoy. For food, only vegan is on the menu.

A whole community has now emerged from Sadhana Forest, which includes 1,500 people, both Indian and foreign. The experiment reminds one of Mohan Das Karam Chand Gandhi’s Phoenix settlement.

Everyone staying in Sadhana Forest has to work for four hours a day. The day starts at 5:30 with the first wake up call. For the first two hours, from 6:00 to 8:00, everyone works in the forest except for the breakfast chefs. After that, again a couple of hours of work is carried out in the compound from 9:00 to 11:00. After this, everyone is busy with whatever they wish to do. This is how life goes on.

This forest has supported the growth of a huge family that stand by one another, even living across ‘borders’. Every Friday, for example, the Sadhana Forest Eco Club organizes a film show to which people from Auroville, a nearby sustainably-living community, are invited. After the show, a delicious vegan dinner is served to everyone. There is no television in Sadhana Forest aside from this, but many musical instruments are there. One can enjoy anything from Indian classical music to Portuguese melodies in the forest. A small library is also there with books on many different subjects.

There is no boundary made in the name of religion either, in recognition of the fact that in a nation everyone is for everyone.

Story of the Founders

Aviram and Yorit came from Tel Aviv, Israel. Aviram was a psychologist by profession. But the way of life in which they were living did not suit him and his family. They were in search of a true goal in life. This search brought them to India, and they decided to stay here for the rest of their lives.

A true friend, said Aviram, asked them to move to Auroville and there, they became followers of Aurobindo and the Mother. Later on, they acquired 70 acres of land in the outskirts of Auroville to form a community of their own, aimed to save the environment.

These two environmental gurus now live there with their two daughters, and guide people on how to live in peace with Madre Nature.

Planes Para el Futuro

This project has inspired people living in all of the far corners of world. As a result of Aviram and Yorit’s effort, a sister project to Sadhana Forest has been founded in Senegal, Western Africa. Aviram, with his team, is planning to take a round of the whole of India as part of an outreach program.

The true driver behind all this has been the raising of consciousness, as Sri Aurobindo taught. Let us all contribute to this haven of environmentalism.

v.

Mousumi Roy
three poems

PLEBISCITE…

A sinusoid
on the graph
swings of pendulum
bends out in
smooth curve…

The silent grope
of the moon
among the stars
and the heart beat…

Motionless ships
in their morning
drowse-filled
life at all the same
was stored all there…

The promise
seemed
far away…
time ticked
away…
As if an eon
was dawning….

24 January, 2011

Tanzanian Crater…

A winning combination of lakes
Swampy grass lands
Green lush attracted
Forests an assortment
Of air and land
Bound creatures…

Thousands of wild beasts
Roaming freely
Yellow sun baked
Grass, trees hugged
Deep crater walls
Curtains of heat waves
Emanated from the ground
As these grassy plains
Sweltered under a blazing
African sun….
Breaking the reverie of
Pool side panorama..
Young male lions, possibly brothers,
In their prime.
Developing golden manes
Clearly biding, time to adulthood
Eventually they would
Fight another male
To take over his pride
Would ensure the right
To mate with the prides
Lionesses and sire
The next generation
Of the lion cubs….

Moved from the bush
Into open grass land
Saw red!! scarlet
Swathed Maasai tribes
Stood casting long shadows
In the late afternoon sun
Permitted to graze
Their cattle in the crater
By maintaining
Long established ethnicity….
Dusk settle and insect
Call infused the air
As a turmeric sun
Set over the majestic mass
Of Tanzanian terrain
Like member of privileged
Audience……..

Note: Experience gathered during my visit and stay in African Countries has been shared through this poem…

Wrong Guessing

How helpless ! How helpless !
Their old memories
On the earth
She could paint…
Inprecations on
The heavens
She could hurl…
Of the high spirit…
She could beg…
Old women
This is the single
Anti-death
Of this morning
It was her mistake…
Never stop sweaty deals
Keep busy…
Keep occupied…
Keep going…
She had stopped,
Had permitted
Her mind
The liberty of
Mother’s mind and
Women’s mind
She vowed that
Never to forget
That again…
No matter
What were the calls
From her heart
And silence
No more children there,
There could be no more
Youth…
In the filtered
Sunlight
She stood at her
Desk
Felt enfeebled and
Lost…
Oh how!wrongly
She had guessed
About the
Later years…

vi.

Kurang Mehta
two poems

viewer

CITYSCAPE
(Random thoughts)

Laden heap of concrete and stones
Vanished farm fields
Blowing ashes of the dead farmers
A labor melting in boiled Asphalt
Masses swallowed by the supermarkets
The house sparrow soon to be extinct
A mall getting transformed into a termitary
Citizens are slowly becoming the termites.

April 2011

A White Mermaid

I was standing in front of the sea,
With the folded hands and closed eyes…
was praying for inner peace.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a white deity Mermaid…
playing with the pebbles by the sea.
Lord Sun was sinking down far at the horizon…
Darkness was coming from the east.
But I kept looking at her…
without any greed.
When I saw wings coming out slowly from her back,
I went down on my knees.
I realized, she was turning into a butterfly.
But suddenly, the lord sun turned into red…
and my dirty hands were inflamed… I screamed.
I fell down with pain, the darkness covered my eyes…
Though, I could see the flying butterfly…
was ripping apart the darkness, with its white flapping wings.

March, 2011

vii.

Shivani Mutneja
poem

Passé

I’m not the artist you are looking for
I make porn films,
I film them blow jobs.

I’m not the girl you are looking for
I make love to me,
I rub it clit till I scream

I’m not the lady you isolated a compartment for
I relish the rear
I letch. I stare. I feign interest.

I’m not the poem I write
I device a plan to outrage
instead I fall flat on shopper’s stop
I botch them glass doors
I rather escalators
I grow wings in a few lines,
They melt in marvellous conceit
of genders.

viii.

Sunil P. Narayan
two poems

A Swan Who Wallows In Lotus Laden Ponds

She walks into the banquet room of the Château de Versailles feeling out of place
Such a refined lady with skin as soft as a doe’s coat
Pearls that dangle above her swan-like neck
Eyes so tranquil, flutter like butterflies in a garden
A woman who floats from room to room unaware of everyone’s presence
They look into those lotus petal shaped eyes to see a secret world
Gardens stretching for miles fill the air with the scent of roses
Uṣás-Devī cannot help but inhale this sweet perfume

Radiant marigolds bask in the Sun’s warmth
Jasmine trees stand tall to give shade for all of Pṛthivī’s critters
They lay at the base sighing for amour had consumed them
A gazelle who once nestled at the feet of Pṛthivī-Devī is now an elegant lady
Yes! Suraiyā is the child of Pṛthivī-Devī
Her hands decorated in emerald rings have fingers that flow like the Gangā
So pure and gentle men have followed her around the world just to be caressed by those
fingers
They are savages who have succumbed to the feminine power of an untainted goddess

Yet, why does she not look at these men?
At the far end of the room gourmet Indian dishes line up a long glass table
An aroma of mixed spices travels through the air
Men who smell it divert their eyes to Suraiyā

She stands before the table delighted by such a sumptuous feast
Her hands move towards the glass spoon dipped in the dāl bowl
Ashamed by bad manners Suraiyā pulls her hand back
The host who has been seduced by Suraiyā’s beauty tells her
it is quite alright

A smile transforms Suraiyā’s face like Uṣás-Devī bathing the world in light
Those eyes of her enchants the host, bringing him to his knees
His heart grew ten times with each pulse sighing in joy
A goddess has locked eyes with a humble king

An elegant lady created in the nest of the Pṛthivī-Devī looks into the eyes of many
The pain, the happiness, the frustration, the excitement, the joy!
These emotions are the colors in her gardens
And all men, women and children have their own inner gardens

Suraiyā’s lotus-petal eyes see the world’s inner beauty permeating all things
Even the Sky, an ocean for the Devás, is a jewel created by Pṛthivī-Devī!
Suraiyā’s śāṭī is fashioned from the Devás’ water

A long train from her shoulders floats above the floor as she walks around the room

All guests spend hours watching Suraiyā create a stream with her śāṭī
The scent of lilacs flows from the fabric into their noses
Śakra-Devá’s heaven cannot compare to the moment they are lost in!
A rarity in this world is locked away for centuries but comes out when humanity
has submerged in harmonious bliss

A Guarded Secret

Īshwar and his lover saved Bhūmī-Devī from
persecution, thus the many arts of mankind blossomed
like the mallikā
Everywhere the delightful scent of Svargáloka encircled
the minds of unimaginative men and women
Thrusting them into a fantasy of a guarded jungle
with celestial flowers and rivers endlessly flowing
towards the sunset!
Blue butterflies follow the trails never taking a moment
to rest

While the selflesss Parinirvivapsā-Devī will offer a tender
touch to any one who asks, her abundant hair began to
fall to the grassy floor
No one knew about this humble maiden who kept
two isolated lovers alive for many years
She was stricken by a dreadful abandonment
It is the thorny fate all women run away from

One warm night, a small bhūruha containing the heart of
the divine muse dropped onto the bank
She grabbed it before the hovering balíbhuj could swoop
down
It was the fire that consumed Īshwar and Parīkṣit
during their lovemaking
Too hot and heavy to hold when fresh but glistening and
light when cool

As she lost herself in admiring the pearl, its surface changed
from white to deep red
Parinirvivapsā-Devī turned away from Rajanīpati-Devá,
hiding her treasure with kuṅkumam palms for no one
can take away what is rightfully hers!
She had no diamonds or turquoise jewelry yet
Rajanīpati-Devá is bedecked with nīlagandhika pādakilikās
and maṇícīras
Śatárūpa-Devī’s gift to her shall be hidden in the soil
so no one can find it!

The next morning Parinirvivapsā-Devī saw a woman
clothed in a light yellow śāṭī in the forest inhaling the
mixture of campakas, bakulas and mādhavīlatās
She carried a basket of yellow kundamālā though did
not speak

Her eyes were two blue pools reflecting the majestic
Candrá-Devá
Hidden by a yearning for love in the form of
deep pink satin

The ethereal seer’s skin as white as the yuthikā had
no scars
It was adorned with māṇikyamaya armlets and
necklaces of yellow, orange and white!
The hair woven tightly was covered by long strands of
mālatī
On each wrist a prāvṛṣya bracelet sparkled under
Sūrya-Devá
No parāgas were worn though the śāṭī covered her feet
She walked from one mākanda tree to another, her
dress fresh as if it were just bought at the market!
Her long neck lengthened to capture the scent of fragrant
orange flowers
She is a perfect jewel unknown to mankind yet loved
by the Divine!

A secret pearl offered to a miserable woman as a gift for
showing compassion towards the son of Sarasvatī-Devī
Parinirvivapsā-Devī’s daughter looked at her for a few
minutes
In her mind she heard the name “Ouimi”
Sounds can be rubies crushed by hammers but to her
they were the jingling of maṇíguṇanikara

When she awoke from a nightmare she heard the calming
name “Ouimi” from the rāgitarus
A lost spirit whispering her name
She seems so far away like the golden rājabhavanam of
Mahādevī
Unreachable by a small being such as an earthly creature

A tired devī touched her tummy, surprised by a life
forming inside
She was left wondering how such a miracle could
befall her
For many months her belly swelled while the mādhavīlatās
continued to multiply
It was the least a celestial plant could do for a generous
friend
When Ouimi saw her mother for the first time she gazed
at her with sincere gratitude
The varṣártu grew more violent yet no rain drop
touched the radiant face of a newborn child
Sāvitrī-Devī blessed the loving nourisher with an oracle
inside a red jewel
By instinct Parinirvivapsā-Devī buried it near her resting spot

It is where Sāvitrī-Devī dug it up and pushed inside
the motherless āryan’s mind while she slept
To mankind a gift is an oracle who can guide them to
righteousness, though to a woman a child is all she
wants
She can wear the most luxurious garments and still
feel empty if there is no one to share them with
A child is her pricelesss treasure for each moment
is more valuable than a parihārya or parihāṭaka set with
bhārgavakas
Collecting mālatī off of vines that cover marble
sculptures is the enchanting Ouimi’s favorite activity
The smile of each one belongs to Lakṣmī-Devī
She touches the hard lips to feel the expanding
warmth
It has an alluring scent that rubs against her cheeks to
give a permanent perfume!

Every day a blissful mother laughs with her daughter till
Sóma-Devá awakens from his needed rest
It is the sound of a dundubhí echoing through the
minds of all mortals, devás and devīs
When the rain hits the ground hard these creatures hide
under the branches
The giggling of Ouimi helps them to endure the
temper of Índra-Devá

Ouimi has no reason to be angry since she sits on the
vájratulya laden chair of Bhūdevī
A fortunate fate she received when her mother and Bhūdevī
became sisters
The comfortable lap of a selfless mother is what Ouimi
will ask for in every afterlife
Nothing to her but the unlimited grace of a mother matters

ix.

Tahera Mannan
poem

Chief Hawk Eye

The mighty Chief Hawk Eye
Rests under this ancient tree
All his weapons lost
Ignores the sounds of English guns
His heart heavy with his people’s sorrow
Plays his flute towards the setting sun
A man who loved too deeply
Lonely and defeated
His spirits remain free
As music rises around him
Shimmering colours in these enchanted woods
Fades and vanishes into his soul
His mind searches memories
Of those long lost years
Before the white man arrived….
The sad song of the thrush
The tears from the clouds
Pierce his body with pain
Shadows dance around him
His scared lands are stolen
Mountains blasted open
Gold ripped from the earth’s belly
An end to the old ways of life
He is ready to become a stone
And to be left alone…

x.

Insia Fatima
impressions

The desert and the river – part II: The Tree and the Ocean

She hangs at the precipice, almost falling in. For centuries she has stood there; and for centuries, she has been contemplating the depths of the waves that hit at the foot of the cliff. The depths. By now her roots have grown so deep that there’s no chance of what appears to be inevitable.

He returns to her again and again. The urge to touch her – know her – overpowers him, and he leaves the psychedelic depths of the ocean to crash at her feet, get absorbed into the soil, and reach deep to her warm roots. Sometimes he goes wild and ravishes her passionately; sometimes he storms at her; sometimes he soothes her with his gentle rythmic cooing.

She closes her eyes and listens to the familiar sound of the crashing waves: he crashes and he recedes, he crashes and he recedes.

The shore-line and the tide

By moon-rise, he is overcome by a nagging urge to retreat to the mysterious and spine-chilling depths of the ocean. With all the new barriers between them, efforts to reach her fatigue him and he is consumed by a desire to rest in the folds of the sea unfathomable. He morphs into a recluse, a saint meditating on spirituality, a hippie high on passionate wonder.

The abandoned boat rests on its side upon her exposed breast. Crustaceans crawl around searching for crevices to hide in. The shore-line still has the undulating ridges from where he had lazily drawn circles on her. And she had let go and swirled off with him in reckless abandon, and rested back light and happy.

Rhythmic impressions on her slowly get replaced by random scars left by crabs digging for a place to hide and fisher-men dragging their nets. Hopefully, tomorrow he will come and clear away the mess in her head again.

(“The desert and the river”, inspired partly by characterization of humans into the Earth and Water element in astrology, and partly by nature. In this particular piece, the banyan tree is the embodiment of the Earth element, the monsoon rain is the Water element, the tree is the female, rain the male; the story is about what happens when they meet.)

xi.

Mradul Sharma
three poems

Untitled

People undermine sadness.
it has brought me lyric,
reprieve
and patience.
for purposes of vanity
i don’t count you though.

Scripture

every evening.
while the sun is blushing
for not being as industrious
as the poets lay claim.
the sea
the birds
the sky
the wind
and even children
do their best
to distract
everyone’s attention.

Population

i yearn for sparsely populated days.
like a desert
you know.
with a thought here
a sentiment there
and miles of vacantness
in between.
that i could paint
if i wanted to.
tinted glasses
white rumble etc.
deserts,
as is common knowledge
are coveted destinations
of semi-professional
tourists.
and emptiness
in times to come
could very well
be selling
in niche markets
for respectable
and yet
maligned prices.

xii.

Paramjeet Singh Berwal
two poems

“Chords of a Lonesome Heart”

I met an artist
I lived in myself
I had fake and sparkling world around me,
I met an artist,
Artist said to me “I am nothing”
I was blind,
Saw what I wanted to see,
Thought I met everything,
Erased myself,
Then came reality,
I became child
Asked nothing to scare away the reality,
Nothing said “I am a thought, I am feeling”
I took help of wind and moonlight
Nothing said “I am an artist”
I cried tears,
I felt pain,
Not because I erased myself,
But for nothing,
It was too late,
Then one day,
I met Nothing,
Nothing was silent,
I erased myself,
Found myself,
Nothing became everything
Now I live for Nothing.

I never wrote poem

I never wrote poem,
Just dipped the brush
In the blood of my heart,
Painted my soul after
Stripping it of the feelings,
And then made it dance on my face

xiii.

Tapas Mohanty
three poems

A Summer’s Verse

Summer, it arrives today and splays itself
On our Verandah, listening to the raven’s calls,
Drying the seeds Baba* spat out last evening;
His skilled tongue, though slow have always
Held me in awe.
It will remain the summer, faithful and
Unquenched for months,
Or as long as you want it to be for I have known
Summers feeding on our expectations.
Maa**, why then you pat it on your skin like talcum,
Why then you hold it back as if it would never return?
Yesterday when you sat on the floor and picked pebbles
From rice I, standing behind you, explored the grey
Of your hair; the patches you dye return overnight to show
Time’s binding with itself. You haven’t had a secret
Since 84, it seems. Is there hidden in those silver weaves
A summer you haven’t sung?

*Baba-Father
**Maa- Mother

To a Poet

You arrived today wrapped in
Thick covers, your words still warm
In those pages. You have travelled
Through times, survived the ages, to
Be discovered by me and my afternoons.
Are you tired of the journey?
Your words, lost rivers of your times,
Fill heart to heaviness once again.
As I touch the skin of each of your lives
I wonder, can I ever be like you?
Probably no. You have seen life
From within life; you have dug deeper
Into your ancestor’s burial grounds.
That is how a poem must be written.
I try though on afternoons when
feasting on words seems to be the only,
act of gratification.
But I am unquenchable. My angry veins
pump hunger to my heart.
Is it why I take refuge in the recesses
Of your verses cracked open with silence?

House

Sometimes when I ask this
House about our history,
It speaks of strange reversals.
How walls have sprouted out intimacies,
How mouths have formed over words,
How songs have flowed from hinges.
At nights, when the sound of the sea
Drowns me away, this house follows me,
To the edge of my world
And there it waits for my body to arrive.

xiv.

Swati Singh
poem

So hard to find a way…

It’s so hard to find a way…
Waking up every morn to this sunny day.
The cold breeze hits like the thunderstorm,
just want to break free without following any norms;
The green meadows and the pastures that I pass on by-
Seeing the birds i wish to fly.

It’s so hard to find a way,
but even amidst darkness the hope stays…
Blooming flowers and the roses that have dried,
Counting times when I really have tried??
Chasing happiness to trace a piece of mind,
Sometimes even with eyes I was blind.

It’s so hard to find a way,
life ain’t that easy to be moulded like clay…
A garden of lilies- Beautiful and White,
Ain’t any wings but still I glide;
The tide of dreams so unstoppable it seems,
One is over and the other one screams..

It’s so hard to find a way,
but still there is this blissful ray.
The signs I read passing by as I walk…
there’s something deep inside that talks.
It’s the soul and I hear every word it says to me.
Destiny gives us what we want to be—
It’s a journey against all odds and against will…
Hard to find but you got to drill.

Like the colours of the rainbow, vivid but together…
That feeling of being the birds of the same feather,
It’s so hard to find a way,
but closing my eyes I see a faint trail.
I gather some pebbles on my way home…
As a mark of what I learned from the path I left behind!!

xv.

Kim Farleigh
fiction

“so fantastically innocent”

Kamal said: “Oh, Baby, you know you can’t do that,” and Chi tilted her head and dropped her shoulders and smiled. Often Kamal said: “Oh, Baby, you know you can’t do that,” and often Chi smiled.

“I’d like to start an animal rehabilitation centre here,” Chi said.

“Oh, baby,” Kamal said, “you know you can’t do that.”

Chi smiled.

“Imagine how an animal rehabilitation centre here could change people’s attitudes towards animals,” Chi said. “Oh, baby,” Kamal replied, “you know that won’t happen.”

Chi smiled.

A family, visible on the footpath through Kamal’s living-room window, was beside a tent next to the road, the family’s silhouettes visible inside the tent at night. Two chanting, blind men in rags past the family, holding hands, led by a sighted third.

The blind men’s eyes, facing the sun, possessed a surprising belief that showed up the deadness in Chi’s eyes.

Her back faced the family. Her hair, thin frame, and porcelain skin created a fragile-doll look of innocent sweetness. The contrast between her black hair and her white skin, with her ivory corneas, sharpened the impression of blackness in her irises.

She was coming with us to Agra the next day.

“The carpets I bought yesterday,” she said, “are so beautiful.”

The blind men’s chanting disappeared.

“How much did they cost?” I asked.

“Three thousand dollars,” she replied.

She smiled.

The footpath mother, stirring the contents of a pot, was wearing the same clothes she had had on yesterday when Tim and I had arrived from the airport. The same frazzled-edge shawl was on her shoulders. A half-naked child was standing next to her.

“How do you know,” I asked, “that the carpets are going to be sent to The States?”

Her slither-of-a-film smile fell off her face – replaced by shocked calculation. Her iris blackness hardened, with savage consideration, like solid islands of mica in the milky lakes of her corneas. She is, I thought, as innocent as she tries to look.

Detachment filled her eyes, even when she was content.

“Kamal’s family can follow it up,” she said.

Her voice aged. Before, that voice had only projected infantile sweetness. She seemed to be suddenly talking to herself.

“What if the carpet shop has disappeared?” I proposed.

“Kamal can go there tomorrow and pick them up.”

“Oh, Baby,” Kamal whined, from an adjoining room.

“Kamal!” she screamed.

Vehement disbelief ignited in her eyes.

“But—”

“Kamal!”

“Okay, Baby, I will.”

Kamal had come home from Switzerland to set up a software company; time was short.

Chi’s voice then re-entered the green pastures of dreamy youth.

“The Taj Mahal is going to be so beautiful,” she said, smiling.

The mother waved away an emaciated dog from her family’s tent.

*

Star-dotted black-sky-velvet covered the hotel’s courtyard in Agra, the misleading, distant past serene with reassuring promise. Velvety silence had fallen, like a veil of peace, upon a desperate world. The light on a wall above the table darkened the shadows. Chi faced away from the shadows. Artificial light illuminated her face.

During the conversation there had even been a period when she had been an adult.

“I like reading obituaries,” I said.

“You read about dead people?!” she gasped.

“Dead – physically,” I replied.

“That’s sad, reading about someone who’s just died.”

“It’d be sadder if we didn’t remember their achievements.”

“Still, how can you do it, knowing that their family and friends are suffering, it’s –”

“It’s important to understand the past.”

“The past has had no affect on my life.”

The certainty in her voice hammered home the vastness of her unconscious denial.

I asked: “Your mother worked in the US embassy in Saigon during the war, didn’t she? When you were a kid?”

“Yes; and?”

“Nothing.”

“Why did you ask?”

“Curiosity. The Vietnam War was my first ever media event.”

“I don’t remember much about it,” she said. “We emigrated to The States before it finished. I was only seven years old.”

She still doesn’t appreciate, I thought, that the war stopped her development.

“I thought that there might have been hope for her,” Tim said, later, “but the obituaries, as it were, killed things off.”

“Imagine the syrupy head-patting she must have got,” I said, “in the US embassy when she was a kid.”

“The past has had no effect on my life,” Tim said.

*

The day’s sky spears of radiation mocked the prettiness of night’s sky.

Brown-yellow earth, in wilderness luminosity, disappeared into a hazed horizon.

Cut-smooth sapphire touched the world’s hazy edges.

A two-headed creature appeared in the distance!? Weoott!?

Tim and I leant forward. Our heads came closer together. The bus we were on was heading towards a mystery.

“It’s a bear!” Tim gasped.

Obscenity slammed into the padding protecting our moral cores.

Chi’s eyes reflected nothing, as if the world was an imaginary construct without drama.

“Arghhh,” I groaned.

A chained bear was being controlled by a man carrying a stick. One hand held the chain.
The black-and-white beads in Chi’s face remained inscrutable with emptiness.

Greenish saliva was hanging from the bear’s mouth. Its head was tilted up. The chain was thick around its neck.

“Geeeawd,” Tim hissed.

Fracas hope sat on the bear-man’s face as he stared at the faces in the bus’s windows. He was hoping to get paid for a little act of bear entertainment. When the inexpressive slithers of Chi’s eyes met the hopeful beads glinting in the man’s face, she turned and looked down the road.

*

Pushing, shoving, screaming men were clashing outside the parked bus, desperation expanding the whites of their eyes. They were behaving as if they had been stranded on an uninhabited island and a boat had just appeared over the horizon.

Baby looked down at the battling men, her iris screens revealing neither feeling nor thought nor curiosity. Because the men were useless for the glamorising of her self-perception they were irrelevant.

We were parked before a crimson wall. Screaming heads met us outside the bus.

Local marketing caused us to look at the wall. The wall, with its door, looked like a face with rectangular eyes. We walked towards the wall. Trinkets, cheap jewellery, cooked corn and clothes sat on portable tables that the sellers were pushing beside us as we headed towards the wall. If pointless screaming doesn’t work, then try it again; so they tried it again; and we headed towards the wall.

Inside, the serenity of privacy was like an unexpected gift, the heat suddenly pleasant, the refreshing silence charming, like an attractive novelty.

Puppies were rolling around on the ground. Their round faces displayed round, brown eyes and round, black snouts. Their waving, round, finger tails flailed.

Crimson-coloured buildings, with towers and slanting roofs, bordered the courtyard where the puppies were rolling around.

Flashing saris made impressionistic brushstrokes against ochre.

The puppies sniffed and leapt about. Their mother, her eyes were without want’s fire on the other side of the courtyard, was resting her snout upon the pillow of her front legs, the laid-back contentment in her eyes contrasting with the hunger we had seen in the sellers’ craving corneas.

Chi looked at the puppies, and, tilting her head, she gasped: “Ahhh…”

“I’m going to stay here awhile,” she said, “with the puppies.”

The thin lines, protruding from the corners of her small mouth, resembled cat’s whiskers.

But maybe this was a reflection of my perception of her predatory sweetness?

Tim and I walked towards a walkway whose columns fanned out to hold up a roof that sat above a sleeping chamber where a clay slab covered the floor. A window, shaped like a candle’s flame, revealed a plain that met the horizon in a misty blending of earth and sky – a meeting so tranquil that it blurred my view of time, enhancing my perception of its immensity. This time-expanding obscuring of the horizon brought me closer to nature’s immeasurable, languid pulse. Something greater than myself was great with its unaffected, gorgeous imperturbability and the palace and its gardens fitted in naturally with this graceful languor.

“You can fit about fifty on it,” Tim said, observing the slab.

“All experts,” I replied, “in the Karma Sutra.”

Trees melted into distant haze. I felt envy and sadness for the loss of an openness that had once enlightened the world – and it must have seemed as if this sedate openness was going to go on forever.

The columns were inlaid with coloured marble. A woman’s blue and yellow sari was wrapped around the exposed smoothness of her brown stomach. Her silky attire possessed an iridescent felicity that complimented the palace’s silence – a quietude made even more relaxing by the human voice.

Chi was still with the puppies. Her slight, distant figure failed to illicit admiration in my imagination. She made me realise how much I admired people generally, and how little I acknowledged this. If the palace and the plain enhanced my perception of time, she contracted it, the past irrelevant to her self-esteem – so she believed.

“Puppies,” I said, “usurp history in the Chiian School of Personal Glory.”

She stayed with them all day. When we were about to leave on the bus, Tim joked: “We thought you were going to bring one with you.”

Her face was lacquered up with dreaminess. She lifted up her T-shirt. A puppy was curled up on her stomach. For Tim’s benefit, I said: “Oh, how sweet!”

She was sitting in front of us. Tim’s eyes shone with overjoyed cynicism. We adored madness – provided it didn’t affect us directly.

Chi struggled to control the restless puppy whose consistent attempts to escape were futile. It wasn’t able to see its master’s good intentions. It rolled around on Chi’s stomach – bewildered; occasionally it yelped. She grabbed its snout to stop it from yelping. Defenceless, dependent creatures can yelp too much, especially if the inspiration to control and guide is loveless.

In the hotel courtyard, under the impassive gaze of the sky’s blue cornea, we were having lunch, the restless puppy writhing on Chi’s lap.

“Its mother was too skinny to produce milk,” she said.

“Why was the mother in such good condition then?” I asked.

“Tourists have been feeding it,” she replied.

“Oh.”

The puppy’s mother, fed by palace workers, may have been a reincarnation of the original Maharaja, Chi oblivious of local philosophies.

She tried feeding the puppy hot milk, claiming it was “starving”.

Shoving of the puppy’s snout into boiling liquid caused it to yelp. The yelping was shrilling, high-pitched, a scream from nature’s candid heart.

Tim’s azure gems oozed with condescending amazement. There was a purity in his eyes’ delighted disdain that was attractive because of its amoral sincerity. Chi hadn’t been expecting the dog’s resistance. In her imagination, the puppy had been a pliable cog in her dream of self-ennoblement. She was only aware of one thing – herself – and purely naively so.

“What do you intend to do with it?” Tim asked.

Great question, I thought.

“Kamal’s family will look after it,” she replied. “They’ll adore it.”

Silence reigned under pitiless blue.

Tim and I decided to go to the Taj Mahal. She stayed behind to rearrange her ticket back to Delhi, and “to nurse the puppy”.

In the rickshaw, on the way to the Taj Mahal, Tim said: “It’ll represent nothing more to Kamal’s family than an extra mouth to feed; they’ll get rid of it the moment her back’s turned, and right about now,” he grinned, “it’s probably pissing on her.”

“It’s inevitable,” I said, “that something will.”

The cynical richness underpinning Tim’s laughter turned his chortling into a joyous thunderstorm of hilarity.

Men were carrying heavy loads on the roads around us, their grim resignation to the inevitability of their dire lots contrasting with our arrogant amusement. The brown in their serious eyes was hard – compacted by strain.

We charged down streets lined with rotting garbage. Animals were fighting over the scraps that the beggars ignored. The atmosphere’s humidity was redolent with frying fat.

A religious freak in a soiled rag was rolling down the road; at traffic lights a man without legs, on a thing like a skateboard, was holding his hands up to detached drivers who were looking straight ahead. Black fumes were rising over moving vehicles; suddenly an elephant was next to us and were passing corrugated-iron
hovels and then a woman in a red sari was emerging from a hole in a grey slag heap and the stench was sudden, putrid, foul; cows were sprawled out on a traffic island; then we were passing more straining men carrying heavy loads and in a park we saw men in white fabrics lying on brown grass and then we saw a cow wandering into a temple and then we were amid a chaos of scooters and bikes and pedalled ricksaws and suddenly we were passing a man who was carrying rolls of fabric on his right shoulder and then we were beside a two-seater rickshaw whose removable roof was folded down and then we were passing a man with a wreath of flowers around his neck who was sitting on a flat slab of concrete next to Hindu statues and then we were passing a crouching boy who was depositing faeces onto the roadside and then we were beside a cart being drawn by a camel and all the while men on scooters were streaming by and we were passing shop after shop and man after man on motorbikes kept passing by and then the ricksaw stopped and before us were high, clay walls.

An emaciated dog, with wary, submissive eyes, like a rib-cage on legs, tried beating a cow to rice that had fallen from a consumer’s bowl. Mini-van fumes were swirling in the steamy air. The cow beat the dog to the fallen rice. Horns were honking, bleating, snorting. Motorbikes kept flashing by. The bleating horns, like a language between the machines, produced an unfathomable cacophony of chatter, as if loquacious, mechanical animals were prattling in a vast, squalid pen.

Women in saris were queued up before a window in the wall to buy entry tickets into the Taj Mahal. A line of men stood beside the line of saris. A crowd was facing a stall where rice was being fried on hot plates. A woman with a baby perched on her hip confronted two tourists, following them with raised, open palms, her eyes fraught with yearning demand; a ragged, orange shawl covered her chest and shoulders, its edges frazzled, the baby’s plump face surrounded by orange, woollen headwear, bangles on its wrists.

The police pushed the baby-carrier back onto the road. The bangles clattered. The baby-carrier screamed with violent, sudden-white eyes. One of the tourists had taken her photograph. She was still demanding money even though the police were pushing her further and further away from the tourists who had already turned their backs on her.

The beggar screamed as if she was being separated from loved ones by an evil force.

We queued up to buy tickets. Frying-fat stench churned my stomach. Smoke rose from road-side kitchens. Traffic’s roaring got punctured by horns that sounded like honking geese. A man dropped a clay bowl. A beggar and a cow went for it. The beggar won.

The puppy had avoided this – by chance.

Inside, bamboo and ferns were rising up a wall. The grass beside the path was gorgeous green. Silence and shadow, like the therapeutic impact of good news, had replaced the smelly disorder unfolding, like a Stravinsky symphony, on the other side of the walls.

Through another door, the space widened.

Marble steps rose to where the Taj Mahal made a white silhouette against the sky’s effervescent light. Fabrics, flashing against the building’s creamy marble, resembled tropical butterflies. Colourful gardens complimented the saris that glided between breast-topped cylindrical towers that sat at the four corners of the marble floor upon which the building’s curves and lines rose in a balance so refined that preconception flew out of my head, surprise expanding and expanding, like an sensuous shock. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

Domes were reflected into ponds.

We went up the marble stairs. The gracious gravity of attraction that drew us forward was as strong as it was gentle, the building’s breasts rising above a rectangular facade.

A curved-top door gave entry into the mausoleum’s domed interior. The guide blew a whistle. A note echoed, smoothed out into euphonious perfection by lavish curves.

Our dome heads beautify attractive ideas.

In the darkness we could only perceive exquisite acoustics.

The guide shone a torch upon the precious-stone representations of India’s flowers that the builders had inserted into the walls: Red and green sparkled iridescently, like jewels. I felt like a child before something magical that I had had no idea had existed. I felt that I was experiencing something absolute and unquestionable, as if I was in the heart of pure aesthetics – in the core of an astonishing gift. Some
things are so arresting – because of their beauty – that they seem absolutely apart, completely unique. I felt the wings of gratitude elevating me, as if it had been the guide himself who had been responsible for these pinnacles of creativity.

Something in early childhood gives us all this uplifting triumph and whatever this thing might be, its intrinsic value – its capacity to fulfil – its social acceptability – is just a question of luck.

When the guide opened the doors, blade light, like a revelation, entered the chamber, revealing people wandering free outside.

A girl in red velvet was eating chocolate. She resembled a floating ruby – a precious-stone flower that had flown out of the building’s interior to wander free in this construct of perfect symmetry where problems and guilt were delineated. Her curious eyes stared at us as she heard Tim saying: “Imagine Kamal saying: ‘Oh, how sweet,’ then throwing it out the window and saying: ‘I’ve just wasted a day tracking down your ‘kin carpets. And guess what? Yes – my clients were more interested in finding out if I’d developed a program that could help them identify where they get their clients from. Isn’t that amazing?’”

Chi didn’t know why we were laughing when she appeared before us, and neither did the floating ruby; but Chi was pleased; her ticket to New Delhi had been sorted out. Her smile lacked amiability, as if her pretences to kindness were exposed by that syrupy-facade grin.

“Where’s the puppy?” Tim asked.

Another great question, I thought. Irrepressible curiosity emerges from all emotions.

“They wouldn’t let me bring it in,” she replied, “so I left it in the garden outside the inner walls. It’ll be better off here because there are more tourists; someone’ll look after it.”

We nodded our heads.

“Well,” she said, “I’m off to look around. See you back in Delhi. I’m going back tonight.”

She walked away. Tim’s azure opals were alight with delighted scorn.

“I suspect,” he said, “that she actually believes that stuff about tourists feeding it.”

“She believes anything,” I said, “that increases her celebrity; which means that she believes anything.”

Exotic sounds were resonating behind the holes in the whites of her eyes.

*

Marble became apricot incandescence under a circular slice of mango sun. Pronged Venus was blessing a marble testimony to love. The soundless tranquillity was bereft of restless wondering. The building’s perfection had become reality because its creator had been immersed solely in an enriching past.

A woman in gold and emerald floated before the marble, her cascading follicles reflecting mango light.

She floated away like a benign spectre of sensuous evanescence, the marble classicism reflecting her grace, as if an embodiment of the woman who had inspired the building’s creation had come alive before our eyes.

She disappeared, locked away in my memory, a creature who symbolised desirability, who had pleasantly agitated an idea that had gripped male consciousness aeons before.

In dim dusk, we re-entered the garden inside the inner walls. Vegetation covered the barrier that kept the beggars and the brash entrepreneurs out. A creature with a hanging pink tongue was wriggling in a security guard’s hands.

“It’s the puppy!” Tim said. “She must have walked straight past it when she left!”

I hadn’t even thought of this!

The man left it on the street. Horns and engines accompanied chaotic desperation.

Fat stench floated in bacteria clouds. The dog’s eyes were ablaze with terror, its tail down. The door was slammed shut behind it. It dashed out onto the street. A rickshaw’s racket smothered the fizzing of frying fat. The vehicle hit the puppy side on, the dog spinning, its head landing, the seconds stretching out, the puppy’s eyes ending up facing away from its splayed-out legs.

I looked away as if something horrible had been shoved into my face. Open dead eyes were facing away from pointing, puppy paws. Nothing stopped – the rushing continued. Tim hissed: “Jeeesuzzz Kerrreist! Tourists will look after it.”

“Self-absorbed America,” I replied, “leaving again, oblivious of damage reeked.”

The past is the present because we are unconscious.

*

It was dark in our hotel room and silent outside. We were lying on our beds.

Only the vague silhouettes of previously familiar objects were now visible, the concentrations of darkness infinite – without depth. All our heads had once been empty chambers just waiting to be filled with sight and sound.

“She’s going to lead,” I said, “animals into Kamal’s living room, saying: ‘Welcome, God’s creatures, to Kamal’s Ark.’ And Kamal is going to say: ‘Oh, Baby, you know you can’t do this. You know that.’ And then she’s going to drop her shoulders and tilt her head and smile. And everything is going to be so sweet.”

Tim’s laughter made me smile. His curiosity had given him the means to separate desire from evidence, hope from reality. Because that laughter cracked like Big-Bang titillation in the darkness, I asked: “What do you think the chances are that an omniscient creature could have planned her existence?”

“Maybe a God,” he replied, “who promotes eccentric randomness did it.”

“It makes sense to me: planned, eccentric randomness. How else can you explain her existence? Even given the psychological pressures to be perceived as innocent and sweet, you know that you don’t pick up dogs in Third World countries and expect the people whose house you’re staying in to accept them. No one is intrinsically that stupid. It’s too far beyond the limit. It has to have been planned!

Planned by a flippant wag. Randomness by itself just doesn’t have the creativity to come up with this. This must be the work of a witty wag. It has to be! It just has to be! Tell me, for God’s sake, that human beings can’t be this stupid. Please.

Perleeeseee! Before I go mad! Mad! Mad! Mad! Give me some faith, young man, for Christ’s sake!”

The delight in Tim’s laughter had the purity of mother-of-pearl, as if it had been purified to perfection by the dome that we had stood under earlier in the day. He had been very lucky with the sounds that had entered the dome that fate had given him. Luckier than most.

xvi.

Rajendra Nagdev
two poems

Night Falls

Night descends like demon
sweeps like ocean untamed, hungry
craving to swallow and destroy,
a live skeleton on cement footpath
wrapped in rag, trembles
and passes in to vastness of Arabian Sea unnoticed
thousand others wait in queue.

Night falls on megapolis
dancing in fluorescent jewellery
trickling on
hurriedly driven cars and tired souls in locals,
night, full of life
night,full of death
percolates through pores of skin
dissolves in the stream of life
devouring million body cells
sculpting immobile forms out of living bodies.

Night falls in narrow lanes
darkened with shadows.
A lone cat strolls on parapet
dozen dogs bark below
their eyes hungry and ferocious
glued to parapet, nothing happens.
wrinkled fingers dig through heaps of stale food
in a back alley of hotel
desperately searching bits of chapatis,
tummy burning, a silent violin lain by the side.

High above on sandstone pedestal
an old man trapped in marble body
his stone eyes wide open
listens to unplayed sorrowful notes of violin
his lofty dreams rolling in sand.

Stars twinkle somewhere in unseen sky
pale moon mourns in a corner
wolves shine bright in lairs
tigers roam majestically in
streets
like monarchs of the night
man is scared in the city of men.

Peddlers . . . pimps . . . prostitutes
long black corridors of Gothic pillars puff
smack, heroin, opium
in a trance oscillating between heaven and hell.

A dead man drifts leisurely on waves
to steps of Gateway (of India)
in his own pool of redness
his back up, limbs down
Gateway watches silently
a happening that occurs each night
a happening that merits immunity.
Trains halt, automobiles immobilize
midway between dusk and dawn – a two hour nap,
high tide of million brooms
cleanses megapolis’ arteries
lest it might collapse of coronary blockage
then recedes to unkempt, stinking sea of dingy ghettos
where, live brooms are compelled to retreat,
diktats of obsolete scriptures rule unrelenting,
night watches woefully unique human rights massacre
in repeated regularity
alas! in a great ancient culture.
Black curtain with blinking fireflies
drops on the city stage
in green room actors prepare for next day’s play.

Monsoon Seashore

Cloudy heavens cast gloom
over fisherfolk villages of thatched roofs
and forlorn look,
serpents slithering around, anxious wives shiver
amid thick vegetation
– their men in the unknown latitudes of ocean
fighting still for life.…perhaps!

Waves roll over sea waters
hurling canoes on mammoth boulders
crave for self destruction
finally commit suicide.

In a lightless corner
a lonely woman stares at basket brimful of fishes
netted on a tranquil day
scorn oozing from her eyes.
Away in the sea f ishes bounce , dance
gulp full hearted
the monsoon nector pouring in torents.
A mighty storm
soars over roofs
a million drums beat in the sky
to proclaim death, adore disaster.

Through crevice
eyes catch a sinking mast
away in the hazy ocean
and wish to disbelieve,
believe or disbelieve nature is immune
she dashes in fury
swallows the trees and crops
and huts and lives
and what so ever obstructs her way
till hunger finally drops dead.

xvii.

Susheel Kumar Sharma
three poems

Gifts

When
The ant —
A small one, black in colour,
A microgram in weight
Runs at a speed
Higher than that of a jet,
I am put to shame
By my lord.
When
The tree —
Huge in size, that
Shed its leaves
Sprouts again this spring
To provide shelter to the
Homeless birds,
I am put to shame
By my Lord.

When
The cow —
Indian in size, Red in colour,
Heavy in white udders
Is separated from its calf
To milk it
For the market
I am put to shame
By my Lord.

When
The grain —
Minor in size, unimportant in colour
Less than a gram or two in weight
Sprouts to make a field green
To feed the hungry,
I am full of hope
By my Lord.

For a Bride Who Thinks of Suicide

Young brides are not meant for burning
Like sandal wood in a yajña or like the
Gas emitted from Mathura refinery
The flames of which are leaping to touch the sky.

Lovely brides are not meant for leaping
From the steel bridge constructed with German technology
Like the dolphins leaping
In the air to display their giant size.
Decked brides should live– not lay
Their necks on railway tracks for the super fast trains
Like the desperate young men do
To show their alienation.
Glowing brides are not meant for overdosing
With sleeping pills
Like a crazy person does
In the newly erected hostel
Of the young working men
To show his helplessness.
Glittering brides are not meant for hanging
From a ceiling fan
Like a chandelier in the high walled church
To scatter light all around.
A bride belongs to a groom.
She is a flute to be played on
She is a harmonium to produce a rhythm.
She is a synthesizer to modulate a discordant note.
She is the tune of a young heart,
Full of music and meaning
Signifying harmony.
Brides are the carriers of tradition
Brides are the need of the civilization
Brides are the solace of bleeding hearts
Not to be trampled and kicked
But to be embalmed with care.

Gopalpur on Sea

This sleazy town has been my home
For a month.
Covered with groves of coconuts, mangoes, cashew nuts, bananas, kevras,
It is bound by the Bay of Bengal.
The battle to win the sea,
To eat from its entrails,
Begins at four and without fail.
The white moonlight attracts the dark water
But who can touch the moon?
It roars blood and attacks
The sea-shore–
The camera of a tourist is swept away
But returned soon by frothy waves a few meters away.
After all, it is ratnakar.
The absence of the beloved moon
Tortures the Gopalpur Sea
And, the beach reels
Before the white fangs of the roaring waves.
The fishermen don’t dare to move forward
And their canoes and their motorboats take rest.
The fisherwomen whine and fight
The crow, the cat, and their poverty.
It is difficult to cover the body
Before the uncovering eye-sight
That penetrates from all sides.
The stench of mud, fish, crabs,
Competes with the
Fragrance from sweet-meat shops, fruit-laden
Peddlers and the ignited incense-sticks in the
Temples, mosques and churches.
But, the black smoke from scooters, mobikes,
Cars, tempos, trucks, minibuses wins the race.
Gopalpur loses, the tourists win.
I went to the shore
To find my footprints
Engraved a month ago.
It was high tide and
It was drizzling.
The sea recognized me
And called from a distance
To give me a hug.
A voice from behind held me back.

xviii.

Rudra Chatterjee
three poems

Traveler

Distant music, a roll of thunder nearby
Proximal touch, but miles away from the heart
On nights like this, you hold my hand in the bus
and say “He does not love you he says”

Apocryphal times calls for mind-boggling measures
Distances diminish, alcohol arouses bourgeoisie fear
She too had a name, before she left
I too had a heart, that wept.

Not for touch, not for her perfect draped body
Not for rivery hairfall, slender legs in the sea
But for miracles, yes we have met
Traumatized thirteen minutes of togetherness.
Forgot, male egos and stereotypes may still rule
Life, queer, peculiar but yet so real.

Rain, let it fall today on dry earth, pierce.
Taxis, don’t ever stop for night passengers.
Music, play all over on affected nights.
Boats come and go, we are all travelers.

Romances foretold

Of how faces describe predicaments
far long ago
even before they are nurtured
leave alone nourished,
fed and sold to customers.

The inevitable sign of failure
we fail to see
as we deterministically allow events to unfold
exactly the way they would
open a wide space between legs
allow ourselves to beliefs and concepts
hardly true but only understood in
different times and probably at a different space.
It’s always too late, then.

If proximity always makes wrong choices
how are we supposed to choose?
he found love in proximity
why shouldn’t it work for me?
Just as every man is different
be it is insides, hypocrisy and desires
so are every woman and
I am just one.

Of how that one curve on your face
one expression would reveal a side of you
i have never seen
and will make me wonder about
my hopes and aspirations for you
ill fated and dark destinations,
they are headed at.

what poets don’t know

Poets don’t write poems, anymore.
They sing and dance,
cheer the local football team,
fall in love with the cheerleader,
drink beer,
kiss but forget the next step,
fall asleep.

When poems appear in dreams,
in the form of lyrical oceans,
half naked gorgeous pageants of love,
they mistakenly feel its pornography.

Golden castles filled with mythical reality
are historical fan fiction,
Provocative landscapes that appear and disappear
in myriad flashes,
are left alone ad’s
for unaccomplished foreign trips,
with unaccomplished women,
due to unaccomplished jobs,
unattained fertility,
because
words were not enough.

What poets don’t know
is
words were never enough
they were means to the end
not the end to the means.

xix.

Sunil Chandra Majumdar
play (excerpt)

Last Duel Near Broken Bridge
Act I

[The year 600 AD. The place – a forest clearing near a mud highway in a sub-Himalayan kingdom.
Time – late evening. A dull half-moon hung over pine trees beyond the brook which skirted the clearing. Some travellers were cooking and preparing their beds. Retreating monsoon clouds float by after a light rain.]

(A conversation ensues)

Chela: The Brahmin is restless, looking out for his bodyguards to return. Let me offer him fruits and wine, and try to make him talk about the spot. What do you say, guruji?

Guru: Try, chela. People sometimes talk over wine. But they always do when they don’t want to be pushed over the line. But you are not having doubts gain? Talk or no talk, there shall be no vestige, understand? The dice is thrown. No surviving trace. Understand, chela?

Chela: Yes, guruji, I understand.
[Chela goes to the Brahman with some fruits and wine]
Greetings, Brahmin! My guru sent this fruit and wine for you.
Please accept.

Brahmin: I am very pleased, boy. I have just washed. I will sit in Yoga first, and then I will eat. But I am worried about my bodyguards. They went to collect some honey and fruits for me and kill a wild fowl for themselves when we were coming.

Chela: What is the stage of your Yoga, sir?

Brahmin: [Laughs] What is the stage of your guru’s Yoga?

Chela: [Laughs] My guru says he reached Moksha. No material charms, sights, sounds, tastes, odour captivate him into attachments any more. He has renounced them all. Having practiced yoga and reading scriptures and bowing before Kali, Shiv, and Krishna has brought him here. Here where nothing abides, nothing sticks, nothing is desired or rejected. He watches his own life with detachment, all trasformations of matter and mind.

Brahmin: You surprise me, boy. You must be a worthy chela of a worthy guru. Your guru and I are so much alike. You must introduce me to him. circumstances, experience, thought decisions, matter and mind are constantly transforming but they do not touch me. Through yoga, study and thinking I have also experienced the Advaita which is Brahman. These impermanent and transforming phenomena of mind and matter are not intimately real and behind this impermanent facade is the eternal unchanging one, the Brahman, the real self.

Chela: This is interesting. Both my guru and you become Brahman in your meditation or samadhi.

Brahmin: You are right. There is no self in our body and mind, and behind this is the real self, Brahman.
 When I say ‘there is no self’, there is still someone who is saying it or is conscious of it. This someone is Brahman. He is the one. Who is this one? Who is this one constantly changing, yet always present? Who is this one, seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, thinking about all the objects of the world? This one does not have any abiding place, any small ‘self’. This one has no name or form. Yet who is aware of this ‘no-self’, no name and form? This is the Atman, which is none other than the universal Brahman.

Chela: Your discourse on Dharma is so illuminating. Please drink a little wine now and tell me more about the bliss of your Moksha. Please do your yoga a little later. I am so eager to hear more. What is the nature of Brahman?

Brahmin: [Drinks] Fundamentally we are only matter and mind. If we are only matter and mind, life is purposeless and meaningless. That leads to the philosophy of extinction, nothingness, no morality, no culture, a vacumn, a horrible fate indeed. I live in another dimension, I am not matter and mind only. How can I be if I am aware of matter? The mind is aware of matter but I am also aware of my mind. who is this I that is aware of all changes in mind and matter? I am that one. Whoever it is who is aware of all these matter and minds, I am that only. That one has no name, no form, eternal, released, enlightened, sacred, unborn, deathless. This is Brahman. You are not the body. You are not the mind. You are that. This Brahman is of the nature of something ever-shining, unborn, one alone, undying, stainless, all-pervading and non-dual, like the sky. That you are and you are forever released.

Chela: Sadhu! Sadhu!

Brahmin: You are free from old age, self-effulgent, always satisfied. You are neither cause or effect.

Chela: I am aware of matter. I am aware of mind. Who am i?

Brahmin: The bard sings “who is speaking, remaining invisible? He is close by, yet when I look I don’t see him.”

Chela: The bard is saying you cannot see him, because you are the one who is seeing.

Brahmin: Sadhu! My boy! What you have learned must surely be the marrow of what has been handed down to you by your father.

Chela: I have no father. Guruji raised me as his son. I was a sudra orphan.

Brahmin: What? Sudra? How dare you pollute me with your offering of fruit and wine? Why did you come to me?

Chela: I was sent by my guruji to find out where the spot is.

Brahmin: What spot?

Chela: Where you buried ten maunds of gold. The gold you made by burning low-varna villages and selling the land all your life.

Brahmin: You seem to accuse me. But acquiring property, power and fame is an essential stage in the spiritual development of a man settled in the way of the Brahman Dharma. and I was a great success.
I have huge land, many elephants, horses, servants, wives. Then came the stage of duty and sacrifice. And now the last stage of Moksha. For the low varnas to climb to a higher varna in the next birth and enter into the stages of spiritual development, they have to serve the higher varnas in all ways and means. It is strange that a brilliant boy like you does not know these fundamentals. But how does your guru know about the gold?

Chela: My guru is a veteran highway bandit and reckless killer. It is his business to collect information. I request you, sir, please tell me about the spot and run away. I will cover you from guru.

Brahmin: Nobody can force me to disclose the spot. I am not afraid of any bandit. I have always been highly skilled in dagger fight. Besides my bodyguards will be here any moment now.

Chela: I feel sorry for you, sir. Your bodyguards will never come. They have been gained over by my guru, and have left for your home where they will await guru. They will get a share of the gold. You are just like my guruji. Your Moksha is just a figment of your imagination. You cannot rid your body and mind of greed and lust and varna, and your Brahman is glued to your corrupt bodies and minds.

[Guru enters, drunk, with a dagger in each hand]

Guru: Has the brahmin revealed the spot, chela?

Chela: He will not reveal, guruji. He will fight.

Guru: You are a good brahmin, well-versed in the scriptures. I will not kill you when you are without a weapon. [He throws a dagger] Take it. I know you were a good fighter once. I will make you die slow, stab by stab, unless you reveal the spot.

Brahmin: [Takes out his own dagger from his bundle]
I don’t need your weapon and I will not disclose the spot and I am not afraid of any drunken bandit.

Guru: Chela! Drive out the travellers. Let them camp at the next village which is not far. Take out the bow and arrows. Shoot anyone who does not go. We have a private business here. [The brahmin lunges forward and thrusts the dagger to guru‘s left because guru was slightly bending to the left, but guru ducked to the right, transferring his dagger instantly to his left hand and swiftly cutting the brahmin‘s left shoulder.]

Chela: Yes, guruji; [to himself] what a unique scene? The same Brahman behind two drunken Brahmins in a dagger duel!

Brahmin: I have attained Moksha. God is in me. Nobody can kill me. [He again lunges forward, this time thrusting the dagger to guru‘s right thinking that guru will again duck to the right, but guru bends backward and slashes brahmin‘s left cheek with a swift upper cut. The place is suddenly swarmed by fireflies. The travellers are running for the road with their belongings.]

Guru: I have attained Moksha. God and I are one. Nobody can stop me from killing you.

Brahmin: [Cries] My Lord Shiv! My Lord Krishna! Do not forsake me now. I have worshipped you day and night all my life. [He once more plunges forward straight at guru but guru ducks and trips brahmin’s leg and at the same time inflicts a stab wound in his belly. Brahmin falls on the ground, his face and hand and stomach soaking in blood and he presses his belly wound with both hands.] Please sir, don’t kill me; take my gold, my land, my wives and horses. I will tell you where the gold is. Promise you will let me go alive?

Guru: Sure. Now state clearly where the gold is.

Brahmin: There is an ancient oak tree with three trunks on the southern bank of the pond just behind my house. In the middle trunk, there is a cavity. [He sees chela who has returned] Chela! Come close to me.

Guru: Thank you, brahmin. [He thrusts his dagger deeply in the chest of the brahmin. Chela kneels down near the brahmin]

Brahmin: [Slowly whispers to chela] The keys to the boxes are in the tree’s cavity.

Chela: Where are the boxes? [The brahmin dies] What was the hurry to kill, guruji? Why did you imagine you got the spot? You should have kept the brahmin alive until the gold was found.

Guru: Shut up. Let us drag the body and throw it into the river and get out of here. I will find the gold. Brahmin‘s house will be in my possession with the bodyguards’ help, and we will dig every inch of the land.

xx.

Subhorup Dasgupta
three poems

Genetics

ice flowers
memories
the wombed timeless
corn and maize and grapes
the knowing the coming
the hour
dreams that came true
disowning
enlightenment and the welcoming
dying
being born again
the inevitability
living
causing effect
ice flower
transcending
the ever beginning
ever ending
never ending
never begun

Keeper of the waters

An ant carries it’s dead fodder
The wind pushes at the green surface
Of the water, making way
For the unreal palmfronds to
Look down on themselves.

The keepers of the waters deep
Trims the hedges, hums to the shrubs
And picks a blossom for his
Spastic daughter, as
The sun climbs a little higher
The wind dies, rises and dies again
Playing with the veil,
The algae, time and the ant.

The turning around

Still and sticky draws noontime rain
Flash back it rained almost all of yesterday
Wild sparrows trilled between spells
Of cold sharp spume.

The sky, all gray
Had packed the sun quite completely away
We sang songs, drank gallons of tea
Remembering, rejoicing, seeing clearly
The hell behind us, the promises ahead.

previous issue

xxi.

Gayatri Majumdar
(interview)

Amal Chatterjee: Going Home?

Comapred with R.K. Narayan and Vikram Seth, Amal Chatterjee is the newest writer in the Indian history scene. Born in Sri Lanka and brought up in Calcutta, Chatterjee lives in Glasgow* where he teaches English at the university. Across the Lakes (ATL), a novel based entirely in Calcutta (and contemplated by the author end-1995), with a couple of out-of-the-town detours, is a tale of four very different people (and their families) who find their fates inextricably linked…. The book, published by Phoenix House, UK (all this without a literary agent at hand), was launched here in Calcutta by British Council and Penguin India (Across the Lakes’ Indian publisher). David Davidar introduced Chatterjee at the Council hall on the 27th of April (1998).

Gayatri Majumdar: Maybe you said this oftentimes before, but tell us when was it you first thought of becoming a ‘writer.’

Amal Chatterjee: Well, even as a child when I was eight or so, I wanted to write. Even then I wrote stories though I rarely showed them to anyone… and never published them, either. I never really stopped writing: I made my first attempt at a full-length novel in 1992 but neither I nor the publishers I showed it to were happy with it so I left it alone, and went back to writing short stories (still unpublished)… and then this novel happened….

Majumdar: Who, according to you, can be defined as an ‘Indian’ vis-a-vis ‘Hindu Sangh’ in ATL’s case? Who indeed constitues the majority? (Is it Choto – classwise – the neglected one?) Meena, the conscientious one, or one of those Haris, Soumens, Sailens, Dhirens…? I dare not mention Putul…

Chatterjee: The Hindu Sangh’s idea of Indian is an arbitrary construct or invention – I’d say that Hari is its kind of Indian, he has learned to look back at an imagined (or at least restricted) past to create a future where his kind will be in perpetual power. Soumen has potential, only he is in the wrong party and doesn’t view the past as Hari or the Sangh do. Choto? No, Choto can’t be an Indian, not really; he has no vision of the past, no burning desire to right ‘ancient wrongs’ and put gods like Hari into Lutyens’ palaces… he may be used to them but the Sangh actually despises him; he would just be a means to an end. Dhiren and co. would have to learn to change to Hari-ise. Meena? She doesn’t even count!

Majumdar: As an expatriate Indian writer (born of Sri Lankan and Indian parents); living in Glasglow/Amsterdam, do you feel a sense of rootlessness (and I don’t mean in a derogatorily ‘horrific’ term? Or, is your sense of belonging to a certain place/people even greater than before?

Chatterjee: I don’t really feel expatriate; my current basis may be in Europe but that doesn’t mean I’m settled there or anywhere. In that sense I guess I am rootless, but not without any sense of loss: I feel comfortable in several places — Calcutta and Glasgow being primary. My sense of belonging may not be greater than it was but it certainly hasn’t lessened. Perhaps it’s strengthened….

Is that different from ‘become greater’? If it isn’t then I suppose it has become greater.

Majumdar: Why this violent end to Choto and John (somewhat in the Hindi film genre)? Or, even the nauseating one fo Durga? Couldn’t it have been otherwise?

Chatterjee: Hindi film genre – are you surprised that I am influenced by that defining formative influence? Can any Indian escape? (Smile) But seriously, the violent end serve a purpose so, in that sense, it couldn’t have been otherwise. Their end is their end; I saw the silver lining, not unless I wrote a different story – I wanted to convey a sense of ‘this shouldn’t be but is’ rather than ‘everything will be all right’. The similariteis with the Hindi film genre (and that’s your definition not mine!) (smile) are coincidental which isn’t that unusual because all stories about human beings come from the same place in the end, human experiences and imagination… our purposes may be different but our sources are the same…

Majumdar: Also, talking about endings, is leaving (in this case ‘Calcutta’) the only route out? For instance, Putul returns to England; Durga, to her drought-faced village (something dies for both).

Are we escaping to another death, when we indeed leave (for Meena, Glasgow’s sheets of snow and, Durga’s pecked-at carcass).

Chatterjee: As you say, the leaving is escaping whether it is to another death or not I cannot say. But to emptiness it certainly is; the events have affected the charecters and Putul’s escape is a middle-class one to somewhere different, even to a ‘better’ (though not necessarily!) future while Durga escapes to the only place the dispossessed can escape to… I live it ot you the reader to decide whether Durga dies or manages to return – as Durga might to her father’s house…

Majumdar: More than all the definite finalities of the narrative, I preferred the Bengali-sounding conversations; detailed nuances of the various ways of life as when Choto lights a stove (page 34 – ‘He struck a match from the dwindling box…’), or remembered rituals from childhood days – some of which lost – and the sudiovisual dynamics of a joint family edifice…

Chatterjee: Audiovisual dynamics? Interesting phrase – I create visually; I see the scenes before me as I write them down. The conversations very definitely took place in my head in Bengali, even though I transcribed them in English. For me the novel needed both, the finalities and the everyday familiar detail.

Majumdar: Suspense rent the air and the entire story kept one at the edge – as they say, the book was unputdownable. Though, at times one wondered at the straightness (somewhat ‘Putuled’) of the characters. Why couldn’t Meena (Glasgow-returned, et al) swear sometimes, like Chadu?

Chatterjee: Each character exists as a person to me – no, I don’t really think they are real people (smile) but that’s how they came to be. Meena never swore to me. She expressed herself to me without swearing. Somehting I admire. I wish I could be like her! There, that’s what happened; the damn woman never swore at me! (Smile)

Majumdar: One or two more things.

One felt cheated of a perfectly quaint relationship developing between Meena and Ranjan. I’d hoped their relationship wouldn’t fall under this conspiracy: the exposure-making ‘nexus’ between the businessman, the politicians and the bureaucrats… the bourgeois myopia; that they could hold their own. What happened?

Chatterjee: Meena and Ranjan’s relationship isn’t necessarily fatally wounded but at the point the narrative ends they are as much victims of the ‘conspiracy’ as others. You see, the bourgeois myopia, as you call it, affects tham as much as other members of their class… yes, perhaps they could hold their own but to do so they would have to be more active participants in the world around them. Don’t forget Meena abdicated responsibility early on, she herself points out that she never really involved herself with Durga; she kept her distance…

Majumdar: How does it feel to be a debut novelist? What’s the experience like?

Chatterjee: At last, an easy question! (Grin). It’s wonderful, I can recommend it – life begins at when your first book is published! It’s a bit unnerving too – I now sometimes meet people who have an opinion of me and what I think and say even though they have never met me! But there’s nothing like seeing your name on the cover of a book!

Majumdar: You have written another book. Tell us something about it.

Chatterjee: It’s just out – it’s called Representations of India, 1970-1840 The creation of India in the Colonial Imagination and it’s published by Macmillan, UK, and St. Martins Press, USA. The title and subtitle are pretty explanatory: it is a study of how the British saw India and the people here, both Indians and Britons. In it I looked at a variety of things. British soldiers, Indian rulers, Indian customs, thugs and so on and argue (convincingly, I hope) that the British representations in novels and journals was not really a response to India but the result of politics and economics; it served them rather than infomed them. It’s historical but I think the findings are applicable today – economics and politics drive perceptions and representations than people like realise… or admit. For example, Japan and France have ‘culture’ and are ‘respected’ because they are wealthy, while Uganda and Sudan – with equally sophisticated cultures – need to prove it; they are often, at best, ‘ethnic’ curiosities… as is the case with many groups within India.

Majumdar: Finally Amal, when can we expect your next novel? Any clue what it is going to be about or where will it be based?

Chatterjee: I’m already working on one… but keep throwing the drafts out! (Smile).  It’ll be ready sometime next year, I hope – it’s going to be about people! (Grin). It may not be in Calcutta but Calcutta will certainly be in it, probabaly in the characters….
Apr-Jun 1998

books & others
xxii.

Ankur Betageri
book news

Bhog and Other Stories

“Ankur Betageri’s stories… take you on a zig-zag journey through a world that is sometimes surreal, sometimes insubstantial and entirely vulnerable – but compelling in its transparent pursuit of the chimera that truth is.”
– Paul Zacharia

“Mostly allegorical and symbolic Ankur Betageri writes about the struggle for survival without ever being pessimistic. It is good to see a young writer like him trying new forms. His long story ‘Bhog’ has all the ingredients for a novel. I like the way he uses language and find a poet behind this story writer.”
– Sunil Gangopadhyay

***
A man lives through the moment of his own death; a bicycle narrates its experience of a day in the garage; a man made of up of five different parts comes face-to-face with his situation on meeting a fatally attractive nurse; a nervous village boy who hates his chameleon-like father accepts him for what he is; a bear climbs a disintegrating mountain in spite of the knowledge of a certain death; a girl born out of the womb of a cow does the unthinkable to deny her origins; a young man tries to understand the desolation and gloom of his city of walls; a poor farmer battles against the elements, and his fate, with a strange sense of dignity; two city-bred boys look for the source of a stream away from the great materialistic junkyard of the city; and a stylish college-going girl encounters the meaninglessness of her “normal” life and prepares herself to embrace something bigger.

In Bhog and Other Stories debutant author Ankur Betageri takes us on an unforgettable journey through the real and unreal landscapes peopled with strange men, women, creatures and objects. Illuminating and disturbing by turns – but always compelling – these superb stories draw us, gradually, into very heart of the silence and anguish of our times.

xxiii.
Sudeep Sen
book release (news)

Aria

The Nehru Centre of The Indian High Commission cordially invites you to a multilingual evening of poetry, art & music ARIA. Sudeep Sen along with co-contributors Jenny Lewis & Frances Kiernan plus George Szirtes, Jane Draycott, William Radice, Sangeeta Datta, Mukulika Banerjee, Shirin Razavian, Natasha Dabeski & Leona Medlin at 6:30 pm on Wednesday 29 June 2011
THE NEHRU CENTRE 8 SOUTH AUDLEY STREET, LONDON W1K 1HF
Programme will be followed by a reception & cocktails
(RSVP: [email protected])

Widely recognised as a major new generation voice in world literature and “one of the finest younger English-language poets in the international literary scene” (BBC Radio), Sudeep Sen [www.sudeepsen.net] “is fascinated not just by language but the possibilities of language” (Scotland on Sunday). His prize-winning books include: Postmarked India: New & Selected Poems (HarperCollins), Distracted Geographies, Rain, Aria (A K Ramanujan Translation Award), Letters of Glass, Ladakh, and the forthcoming Blue Nude: Poems & Translations 1977-2012 (Jorge Zalamea International Poetry Award). He has edited several important anthologies, including The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry. His words have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Newsweek, Guardian, Observer, Independent, Financial Times, London Magazine, Literary Review, Harvard Review, Telegraph, Hindu, Outlook, India Today, and broadcast on BBC, PBS, CNN IBN, NDTV & AIR. Sen’s recent work appears in New Writing 15 (Granta) and Language for a New Century (Norton). He is the editorial director of AARK ARTS and editor of Atlas [www.atlasaarkarts.net].

xxiv.

Debdoot Das
film release (news)

THE QUICK & DIRTY GUIDE TO HIP HOP

Digifilm and Navarre release “THE QUICK & DIRTY GUIDE TO HIP HOP” Dance/Exercise DVD on 10 May, Celebrating National Fitness and Sports Month.

Scientists recently identified certain dance moves that make you look more attractive to potential mates. Instinctively, that is what Syndee and Phil teach in this DVD. This DVD contends that the body communicates more clearly than the brain. To put it simply, dancing is better than talking.

THE QUICK & DIRTY GUIDE TO HIP HOP

New York, NY (PRWEB) May 11, 2011

Digifilm celebrates National Fitness and Sports Month by releasing director Debdoot Das’ instructional epic “THE QUICK & DIRTY GUIDE TO HIP HOP” dance/exercise DVD.

Featuring popular and iconic Hip Hop dance moves taught by Syndee M. Winters and Phil Turay this funky hip hop dance and workout DVD promises an extraordinary and unprecedented learning experience.

The trailer is available on Youtube.com, Vimeo.com, and Digifilm.com.

The DVD is being distributed by Navarre Corporation.

THE QUICK & DIRTY GUIDE TO HIP HOP takes us to a spectacular virtual New York City of our imagination, where professional dance instructors Phil Turay and Syndee M. Winters embark on a step-by-step journey of dance training and instruction, as they lead the novice to ultimate Hip Hop dance mastery.

The idea was first conceived by Das four years ago, when the means to realize his vision did not yet exist. Now, after four years of actual production work, THE QUICK & DIRTY GUIDE TO HIP HOP delivers a fully immersive cinematic experience of a new kind, where the cutting-edge technology used to create the production, acts as a catalyst to Hip Hop dance to produce a magical learning experience.

Scientists recently identified certain dance moves that make you look more attractive to potential mates. Instinctively, that is what Syndee and Phil teach in this DVD. This DVD contends that the body communicates more clearly than the brain. To put it simply, dancing is better than talking.

“After the success of ‘The Quick & Dirty Guide to Salsa,’ we wanted to make something even better. So we found a way to make a feature length CGI project with little or no resource” said director Debdoot Das. “The gigantic virtual set of New York City was distributed on many old and borrowed computers and somehow the job got done.”

“Learning was never so much fun,” wrote Angelique Flores of Home Media Magazine describing the THE QUICK & DIRTY GUIDE TO HIP HOP. “And it’s a good workout.”

Underscoring Digifilm’s commitment to helping inform and educate THE QUICK & DIRTY GUIDE TO HIP HOP is designed to promote a healthier lifestyle.

About Debdoot Das

“I had a heavy dose of cinema growing up,” says India-born Debdoot Das. “I wrote my first script when I was 11. Living in central Calcutta, which has a really old film industry. To humor me the movie people gave me strips of negatives to play with.

So it wasn’t mere fancy for the movie-loving son of a photographer to imagine himself directing his own feature. It is slightly more improbable that what has brought Das within reach of his dream is the unexpected success of his dance instruction video, “The Quick and Dirty Guide to Salsa.”

“The Quick and Dirty Guide to Salsa” has been a best-selling dance video on Amazon.com, leading to distribution deals with Navarre and NetFlix.

About Digifilm

Digifilm (R) Inc. is an independent publisher and distributor of instructional and entertainment software for the home and mobile devices. Established in 2003 in New York City, DigiFilm both produces and acquires high-quality home video/DVD products, publishes them under proprietary and third-party brands, and distributes them via its own web and mobile interface and through partnerships with larger distribution organizations worldwide.

About Navarre

Navarre (R) Corporation is a publisher and distributor of computer software, home entertainment media and related products. Navarre Distribution Services provides complete distribution and third-party logistics (3PL) services to North American retailers and their suppliers. Navarre was founded in 1983 and is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Learn more at http://www.navarre.com.

About Syndee M. Winters

Born in Queens, New York, Syndee could sing before she could speak. Excelling quickly as a dancer, she developed the skill of choreographing for dancers and non-dancers alike. She danced back-up for the Daddy Yankee Tour, Reggaeton artist Lisa M and traveled the world as a working dancer. She spent a season as a NY Knicks City Dancer at Madison Square Garden, and has danced and sang with the likes of American Idol Winner Jordin Sparks and Pop Star Demi Lovato. She worked with the legendary DJ Grandmaster Flash on his heavily anticipated album, co-writing two songs and collaborating with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Red Café, and Big Daddy Kane. She is currently making her Broadway Tour debut in the role of Nala in Disney’s The Lion King U.S. National Tour.

About Phil Turay

Phil Turay was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York; Phil has been dancing since the tender age of three. He began taking tap lessons at the local PAL and fell in love with dance as an artform. In high school, Phil dabbled in musical theatre, playing Tyrone in the stage production of FAME. In college, Phil joined an international dance group specializing in multicultural styles. After college, Phil joined the ReMIXX Performers in New York City and began performing for various music industry artists and events. Phil currently resides in Los Angeles where he is pursuing a professional career in dance as well as a Graduate degree in Psychology from Pepperdine University.

(Members of the media may contact Digifilm for a full preview.)

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contributors

Trisha Bora is an editor and writer who has been away from her hometown – Assam – for many years now and currently lives in Delhi. Her works have been published at Asia Writes, Nether Magazine, Ultra Violet, Out of Print, Pyrta, Nth Position, Kavikala, Green Light Dhaba among others.
Ankur Betageri (b.1983) is a poet and fiction writer based in New Delhi. He holds a Masters in Clinical Psychology and is the Assistant Editor of Indian Literature, the literary journal published by Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters. His collection of short stories, Bhog and Other Stories was published in 2010.
Born in Bikaner on 18 August 1965, educated in Kolkata and Baroda, Vinita Agarwal has an M.A. in political science. She has been researching and writing freelance for over 20 years. A poet at heart she says there are times she has more ink in her veins than blood. She has been published in several magazines, journals, newspapers and websites. She participated at the SAARC Literature Festival 2010 and has also taken part in various other spoken word events. She lives in Delh, India.
Kabir Arora is based in Mumbai.
Mousumi Roy is born in Kolkata and lived there mostly. Presently living in Muscat, Middle East. An ardent lover of poetry and literature; profession: teaching.
Kurang Mehta  is an amateur artist located in Gujarat, Ahmedabad.  He has also been writing poems and short stories for a while now.
Shivani Mutneja straddles between Delhi and Ghaziabad in a normal week. She teaches English Literature at Delhi University. She holds a degree in Cinema Studies from School of Arts & Aesthetics in JNU and is thinking about pursuing a PhD.
US-based poet, Sunil P. Narayan‘s work has been a long, enriching journey that absorbed the world’s eccentricities to create a masterpiece of color, surrealism and human emotion. The past two years witnessed a climatic moment in which his writing churned out emotionally – inducing poems. It is his intent to help people access feelings they rarely get to experience.
Tahera Mannan is a Nagpur-based poet.
Insia Fatima is an amateur writer who has been living and working in Mumbai since 2007. She has tasted life in a variety of cultures – Lucknow, Saudi Arabia, IIT, IT corporates, and wildlife tourism start-ups – and likes to delve deep into what moves people. She dabbles into all forms of creativity, whether it comes to life in the form of a C++ code, or a poem.(serenityinmind.blogspot.com)
Mradul Sharma was born and brought up in Gwalior and currently lives in Noida. He is an engineer and has done B-Tech (Varanasi – BHU). He has been writing poetry for some years and has an interest in literature. He has also written a few articles and book reviews. He likes to travel and has travelled a lot across India.
Paramjeet Singh Berwal is a lawyer advocate based in New Delhi. Besides writing poetry, he is also interested in photography.
Tapas Ranjan Mohanty works as an engineer at a manufacturing firm in Hyderabad. Besides writing he also has an inclination towards photography.
Swati Singh is M.Tech (Energy and Environmental Engineering) final year student from VIT University, Vellore. Writing has always been her passion, or first love because whatever she does, penning down her thoughts has always given her profound solace. She has been actively involved in writing scripts, dramatics and other literary events during her B.tech in Delhi.
Having a taste for the exotic, Kim Farleigh has worked for aid agencies in three conflicts: Kosovo, Iraq and Palestine.  He takes risks to get the experience required for writing.  His stories have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Whiskey Island, Southerly, Island, Mudjob, Write From Wrong, Sleet, Negative Suck, The Red Fez, Red Ochre Lit, Haggard & Halloo, Down in the Dirt, The Camel Saloon, Feathertale, Descant, The Houston Literary Review, The Sand Journal, Full of Crow, The Mad Hatter’s Review, This Literary Magazine, Nap Magazine, The Single Hound and Unlikely Stories.   
Poet, painter, an architect, Rajendra Nagdev Born 1941 Ujjain (MP) Lived in Delhi 1967 till 2010. Retired from central government service in 2001 he settled in Bhopal recently. He has been writing for five decades in Hindi and English, mostly poetry. His poems and articles have been published in reputed Hindi and English journals as well as his sketches. His six collections of poetry and a travelogue have been published in Hindi.
Susheel Kumar Sharma is professor of English at the University of Allahabad
Rudra Naryan Chatterjee is a graduate student pursuing a PhD in Geosciences. He has been actively writing close to an year now and mostly writes poems. He has been published in two anthologies, both by the publishing house “The Fourth Dimension” based in India. Besides, he publishes most of his works in a writing website, http://www.writerscafe.org/, which fosters an active community of young and old poets from across the world.  He is currently based in Austin, Texas.
Subhorup Dasgupta is a Hyderabad-based writer, fine artist and musician. A student of Literatures from Jadavpur University, his pursuits have been diverse and include Eastern mysticism, interfaith studies, photography, linguistics, artificial intelligence, alternative medicine, healing sciences, and food. Having spent his early working years with the terminally ill and their families after training with global thought leaders in the healing arts, he moved on to become one of the country’s most respected domain experts in healthcare documentation. After spending “a third of my life” pursuing a corporate career, he recently chose to give up his job to return to his first love, the creative arts. He presently describes himself as a self-employed tea drinker. The slow trickle of poetry that he has published in the past, though critically well-received, is often dark and cynical, and all his work, including those self published by him, are tagged as unpublished, “a joke lost to all but myself.” It takes a while to realize that the more lighthearted writings of his are those that, at the end of the day, speak of his deepest anguish. A self-declared atheist, his prose (which is more forthcoming in the various blogs that he posts on) delves deep into the common well of spirituality and brings forth the universality of the human condition in the context of present day culture and civility, or as he puts it, “lack of it.”
Sunil Chandra Majumdar (1929-1999) was born in Dhaka. Later, his entire family moved to Kolkata during the 1947 Partition years. Majumdar was a 1957 IPS office (West Bengal cadre). In 1987, he retired as Inspector General (Police) Civil Service (again from West Bengal). During the time he travelled a great deal around India from the mountanious Leh to the jungles of Sunderbans. Majumdar has varied interests ranging films (especially that of Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurusawa to Oliver Stone); literature (the peotry of Alexander Pushkin to Emily Dickenson); music (Paul Robson to Rabindrasangeet); sports (soccer to lawn tennis) to culinary flavors (of Dhaka, Bangladesh – where he grew up and Chittagong – where his wife hailed from). He wrote Last Duel Near Broken Bridge in 1997, a couple of years before his death.
Gayatri Majumdar lives and works in New Delhi.

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