Monday, October 22, 2007

Of Dragon Flies and Glow Worms

Smriti, an unusual name and eyes that reminded you of dreams yet to be dreamt. The day she crossed my threshold with wonder and amazement written in her eyes I envisaged my childhood, come back to me. Her mother Lalitabai was my house- maid, turned ‘neighbor’s envy owners pride’. Housed in the suburbs of the city a house- maid was a priceless item and I hung on to her like one. She hummed, she swept, she moaned, she brushed all with perennial sing- song of a yearly raise.
Always the first to abide by our odd requests, Smriti, the one with quiet lifestyle, quiet walk and almost every other thing quiet…walked into our lives need I say quietly, but surely. She became a part of our furniture and the walls, almost matching & mingling in a shade of her own with that of the pastels. One could witness in her the urge to ask, to know of the very mundane that encompassed her wonder. With deft fingers she oiled my hair, carried about glasses of water or in her shrilly singsong voice rendered me a song. All for the simple pleasure of learning ‘Angrezi’, English as we, the lesser of the dreamers call it. She was quick to learn and it was a joy to see her eyes light up on seeing some crayons. Red, blue, green she had used up all of them to color the alphabets as much as she colored up our household. Her curiosity and amazement in the mundane things of life - a refrigerator, the merry ring of the phone all reminded me of an age gone by………..that of my own childhood when life was a beautiful wonder, when running after dragon flies was the aim of life and where the presence of a glow worm was enough to transform one into the world of fairies. As Smriti and time rolled into one another, she began to unfurl slowly but steadfastly to the world that I had thought I would introduce her to indeed I took it to be my right that she would learn the ropes from me. She was me after all, being with her, feeling for her, teaching her and perhaps living up my childhood dreams through her had made me possessive- she was rightfully mine…..well that’s what I thought or guessed maybe. Into my 25th year of marriage with not a child to boast of, I was beginning to dream of rosy evenings spending teaching her to sing or for that matter just being a part of my fantasies that no one but her would understand.
It was Durga Puja, the Goddess with the ten hands had come forth to bless us; it was going to be a night of revelry from the likes of it, loudspeakers blasted songs meant to incite the reveler within one; when all at once I glanced at my little one….the one of dreams, I called her my little one (she was my childhood incarnate, you see). Dressed in a pink Salwar Kameez, she was smiling and talking to someone down below in the street, that smile caught my eyes it was innocent all right but there was something else too, a pain shot through me, I couldn't’t understand what was happening to her. As if nothing had happened I walked up to the balcony with her, there was a boy, a young boy smiling at her and calling her downstairs. Smriti was her shiest best, I could see she wanted to go but was simply waiting for me to say so, ‘Go’ I said releasing her from my bondage, because I could see she was aware now of a world that beckoned of other things to her, of love, of satisfaction, I could see it all written in those eyes blended in vain with the remnants of the innocence that were. I couldn't fathom why I felt so let down, so fragile as if the child within me had stopped playing. My eyes were misty, as I wished the Goddess back at her home, as if that would alter things. Things run the way they ought to, it was wrong to expect the woman within the child to behave as one…..child I mean.
It was maybe the tiny hope that some women grow up enough to let the child within them still play, which had visions of some women who still do dream dreams that whisper of dragon flies and glow worms by the night to bring them back the land of the fairies.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Some interesting content from the old world of music!

An introduduction to ukuleles

The ukulele has been classified as a plucked lute; it belongs to the guitar family of instruments, and has generally been seen with four strings. Most people know the ukulele as an instrument used by musicians from Hawai. The most amusing as well as fascinating story about the origin of the ukuleles is about the now founder of the instrument, Joao Fernandes, who was so happy to land on the shores of Hawai that he started playing his native folk songs on this instrument. The impressed Hawains promptly named the instrument as ‘ukulele’, which when translated into English is,’ the jumping flea’. The name was given as a result of the fast movements of the fingers. Several tongues and pronunciations later the instrument has finally found home as a sweet sounding musical instrument, relatively easy to play and handy in size.
Ukuleles, are made from a fine local wood in Hawai, known for its fine tone and attractive color, it is called the ‘Koa’. A well made ukulele may be pretty highly priced running into thousands of dollars. The instrument has also been variously modified in th ehands of different musicains not only in the style of playing but also structurally. The original size called as Soprano and is about 21” in length. Another type is the Concert ukulele, which has a 15" scale length. The Tenor which has come into bieng since the 1920’s, has a 17" scale length and is about 26" in total length. The Baritone is a type which was created much later, around the 1940’s, it happens to be the biggest of all the sizes.
A most loved instrument in the Hawai islands, it is synonymous with its happy go lucky culture. There are many who have been fascinated by its lilting music and taken to playing it. Light in weight and easy to carry around, the ukulele has traveled far and wide. Interestingly this is an instrument played more for the love of music rather than bieng an impressive fashion quotient. Masteros like, Bill Tapia, Lyle Ritz and Jim Beloff have spread the knowledge and sweetness of this instrument around the world, helping in its growth and popularization.

The popularity of this instrument is due to its versatility. There have been musicians who have played all kinds of music on it, including, jazz, rock, country, folk, classical actually almost the entire range you can think of can be played on the Ukulele. Moreover it is an instrument that is accessible to most people. It is easy to play and almost anyone can learn to play it. There are players who are doing great things on the ukulele and expanding the horizon of this small instrument.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


When you and I are young no more
Will you be by my side?
To share some pensive hours hereby?
Will you be there to hold me tight?
To tell me that you and I
And have grown together side by side.
Will you there to watch me sleep
To nestle me in your arms
While the world moves
At its own pace -----
Human minds do drift apart
But tell me you’ll be there
When the children need us no more
When the world is but a passing fantasy
To watch as it glides by
Tell you’ll be by my side
As the burning embers glow
To remember things sweet and good
That have become cherished memories of yesteryears

Tell me love you’ll be there, by me
To watch the sunset in the western sky
To see the dying glow fade
And merge us into things ---
‘Past and Present’

Just tell me you’ll be there
To reassure my searching glances
That you are real and by my side,
For today and Forever.

© 2007 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury


There have been times and moments when,
The urge to put every thing aside comes aloft my mind.
To be as free as the bird that sings,
It’s, swan- song from the skies above.

To move with total abandon, not to think,
No more secrets not even from one self.
To be as light as the wind,
To be like the soaring imaginations--------

Just to smile as I walk by
And count God’s blessings that,
I am free and free and alive.

To dance a jig on the crowded streets
That I am one of this huge congregation of humanity.
Big dreams do people dream,
But I have the urge,
For some such mundane pleasures,
That would fill my life, with joy unbound.

But things lie just as they are,
Still to be done, still to be felt,
Still to be experienced --------------------

© 2007 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury