Monday, December 7, 2009

Strong winds of Timelessness

All the commandments, engraved in my soul
Lost to an eternity that is time
Strong winds of timelessness I call them,
Circumstances and life I name them
Books and poems, like a mother cat, licked the kitten of my thoughts to shape
And left me at the altar called life,
A sacrosant creatureDevoid of a presence, God & shame
Barbed wires at times, criss crossed across a strech in life
French windows at others in carriage with the winds
No traditions, nor the name of the lord looming large
A smile here, a tear there and life assumes sanctity devine...
I've streched my emotions spread across people become milestones,
Over thoughts that meander loud as a typewriter's click
My private voice stashed away for an eternity now seeks to roam out loud-
My worries doze, in the pensive froze
When the bubbles in the glass of life arose
Forgive this briefness of mine, in attention as in love
For my glass of life brimeth over in the juices of discovery called LIFE!
Maitreyee Chowdhury (24-11-2009)

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Living on while moving on

living on while moving on

Its strange how a city quietly but surely envelops you. When I descended in Kolkata from the hills of Assam, in December of 1998, I was all set to hate the city even without knowing it! For all i knew it was alien land, that took me away from the cat like languor of Assam. As smoke curled around me & dreams crushed into a swirl called RUSH hour, I learned my first lesson..MULTITASK. From the contours of the lahe lahe desh & everything mushy mush, Kolkata taught me to be confident, to speak to give back a word or two when it was necessary. China town & Biryani from ‘Zeeshan’ not withstanding I still did not find an anchor in the city. It seemed to just whirl by, no one to stop, show me the way or take a hand & brief along.. and then happened a few friends. Very eye opening incidents there; I understood why I wasn't really accepting the city or it me. I did not find its roots, did not see it from the perspective the grand dame wanted me to see it. My friends from Kolkata introduced me to the love of Rabindranath all over again to a girl who had wandered way beyond..and more. To see what Rabindranath is, one has to see the songs in the people's lives, to see it in their smiles, their absolute rapture in him & there he stands in all his glory much like the lady wrapped around Victoria Memorial. Draped in white as I met my friends at one such do, one asked me, do you know that the Lady within & atop Victoria resembles a lady in white on a misty morning or a rain drenched afternoon.... I wondered wow! poetic.. the tale of Phuchkas , of trams rambling by, of Jug Surya and his 'Calcutta remembered' on a lazy afternoon, of Park street nose in the airs.. of being seen in Flury's, of Nahom's lemon tarts & so much more.. i was introduced to a 'Calcutta' truly forgotten & one I had never seen.

Today I resent the word BONG, I think it does no justice to what the proud Bengali is all about. In a matter of time I left the city, I was beginning to know & probably like. I landed in Chennai & all over again prepared myself to hate with equal passion, equal zeal. Nothing had prepared me for the problems of simple communication staying within the same country. Talking to the maids was playing dumb sheraz, my English was limited to 'Going’, 'Coming', 'you saying' and many more such ABCD's. Gosh how was I to stay here, I wondered and then my ever catty curiousness surfaced again. I started making friends. In a swish apartment with the crème de la cream of Chennai I found to my surprise a set of people culturally bestowed, very intelligent & friendly to the boot! Oh boy I said this is fun.. An ex Spaniard Tamilian (figure that out!) lady of 60 is my inspiration.. she teaches, does yoga, walks faster than most men, dances salsa, makes sand castles & jogs keeping her Vodka in mind.. I was floored. She urged me go take a walk & a walk I did take. Being a mall hater, I avoided them like plague; I took to the little trodden routes of a place steeped in tradition & austerity called Mylapore. Full of Brahmins worshipping & curious glances at a 'ME' playing tourist with a cuppa chai in hand, I managed to make friends of toothless grins & tilaked Brahmins. I knew not what they said when they talked in Tamil I though it was polite of me to reply in 'Bangla'..English flowed faster that way & so did Hindi to my surprise :) Dotted with little temples & little flower sellers, Mylapore is a traditional delight. From Coffee being poured out to you & slurping it loudly ( not sipping mind u) its Indian ness at its lovable best! Marina beach & its myriad sights has become second home, grannies playing with youngsters, lovers coochie-cooing, joggers like me & the surf at my nimble toes, the sea & its mightiness is but awesome. Pretty & pouting in the afternoons, flirty & sexy in the evenings, dangerous & siren like wanting to drown you at nights.. one can just stare & stare at the sea. A few cultural evenings here and there, a delightful potpourri of enthusiasts & discussions galore Chennai seems to have come alive to me & I to it.

Man is a delightful social animal after all, the more he/she mixes the more they like, the more they resent the less they figure. A lesson well learnt that place or man, looked & known the good way both can be endearing.

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lost in Hatred

Hate what I have become,
Pompous & over confident, scrupulous to many ..kind but to some
In tears but some, memories flow in floodwaters
In Hurt some, in love some & then in hearts some as in pain I but remain
Hapiness of too many never brings joy to one, I guess
In pleasing an eternity of a confluence i lost on some that mattered
Streaks in the hurt, jammed, stuffed & silenced
Words but them all & feelings some
When hurt pours it holds barriers seldom
Like Lava from within makes ashes of the feelings most
While I in pondourous amaze watch the embers lighting, fuelling and burning the home that was!
Hurt is all I can be...
Yet the faith remains, that the lord within will sustain
And hope from the breast ring in
That all after all is not lost
And life in splendidness shall indeed again begin.

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In thy Madness My lord

Let me be mad in the things that I am,
Let me be MAD!
Let me be mad in the music that is the Lord
And things that strike a chord-
When madness is but sanity
And things too simple, yet deep
Let me be MAD O Lord
For then I am bold....
To live a life of cowards, let me not be told
Save me from the serinity
And let the madness unfold.
If kindness and hapiness of MINE be mad,
Then let me be mad once more-
For a life without depth and passion are assylum bound
And in such madness Lord
Let me not be bound!
To touch the hearts, to visit a soul, of things mundane and free
Let me be MAD in all my songs
That speak of thy eternity...
If keeping quiet, were sanity as PEOPLE sayest
Let me not be sane,
I'll just be MAD and love loud instead!

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Saturday, August 29, 2009

In madness I belong

In times of creativity, bounding on relativity,
My mind hovers over the infinite-
In the inferno that boils within,
sometimes placating, sometimes bizarre,

What is it about the search?

Is craziness this, is love this,
and then I think again...
In serenity I want madness, In tranquility I find no peace
A face that eludes the soul,
A smile not brazen enough-
What is this madness that I seek
Of demons and angels that co- exist?

When Passion makes its flights of fancy,
And encompasses the zeal to see the naked-
The 'MOULD' then turns a mere fancy for things that lie within,
The spoken word of love and peace juggle in vain-

A pair of eyes with their questions, try my heart strings again.
A gesture, a word at times don't suffice
For love that burns within-

A madness in the soul I seek,
Not tepid words herein-
'I love u' s and 'Muaah's are just so passe...
Where's the feeling I say
If love were to life
As life were to love
Then let the madness begin.

In the dance of the Lord, that mourned his wife and tore to bits herself,
Of falling parts and embers deep-
Places of worship they become
Aye that's the madness that love begets, and a passion that is FELT!
For madness and worship are words that bring
Sense to sanity and insanity within....

Thus in the madness thou shalt find,
An inferno raging 'PEACE'
And then shall they the 'eyes' tell of the story within.

Of a love and life that of madness only sing
And a peace therein that flows, now tepid, silent and unassuming......

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The 'Bai' syndrome, a compulsive disorder?

The 'bai' syndrome a compulsive disorder?

There's something common amongst all of us so called hi flier women. Amidst the balance sheets, nail biting, tooth clenching, catty meaos & droolls galore, we all face what I call the 'Bai' syndrome! An elusive breed an exclusive lot they are our Kam wali bais as we know them to be. But no 'ghar ki mulis here'.. lemme point that out, nor 'dal barabar'..oh they are a swish set. Come to think of it they are so integral to our lives, that I wonder what we would do without them. Just about yesterday..the kitchen was a mess, the house a friendly scatter, work beckoned me, yet the mind was ellusive after all it was 2 minutes past 10! The official come time gone which had passed away... what was i to do amidst this nail biting loss of concentration. Tried some songs & then decided to plunge headlong into a bit here and a bit there salvaging my home so that i might find some semblance of sanity. Amidst the turmoil & Rashid Khan's baritone, suddenly a merry chime.. my feet rushed to the door, a happy smile, wide eyes....the Bai was here at last! My welcoming smile fell on a moustace, a lappy & tired eyes as I heard myself exclaim You! The pensive oh! was welcome enough for a hubby returned home post his 3 day tour & was i happy...nah, he wasn't the Bai you see. Composure regained, smile intact, i welcomed him back of course, but the lovers eyes saught the bai..had she really taken a gallop? A trifle late but full of importance she marched in while I was nail biting yet again, should I be composed & strict & show her , HER place you know.. but then i relented it's ok yaar she's just 30 mins late( 30 mins late! its half an hour but shhhh.... in Bai dom thats quite chalable I guess)
For all us exclusive breed of women, of finishing schools and univs that rock, nothing prepared us for one of life's exclusive anxieties 'The Bai syndrome'. A recent trip to my sisters home once again I witnessed the same. Polished, careerist, feminist little birdie she couldn't find freedom from the bai syndrome too. Mornings pre teas were.." has the Bai come?" and after she left it was inspection and ladies club time.."last time i had one she was punctual but too smart", mom pitched in her chime..."I am so tired of their one minute guest appearances!" And then again ladies it Bai time, come evening the same exclusive lot, we wear our smiles & welcome her home, all woes forgotten, just so happy to see her intact, whole & commable!
To such exclusive GIRL power.. Here's to Baidom!

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Have often asked myself about why I've never written anything about Digboi, the one little word that has had such a sustained effect on me. Perhaps because it's just too much to encapsulate, or perhaps because it's difficult to pen down thoughts that are an essence away... whatever.... some intentions however lazy, justified or just well... ought not to be met and I have been trying to do just that!

When I think of Digboi, there's one recurring scene that always flashes by.. childhood memories that refuse to burn out.. they'll stay till my grave.. LOL cause they r connected so with the graves. Twas this place up a small hill, for the lesser informed :) Dubbs para, small homes( note they are not houses) almost on the edge, just about a push away you'd say! Some times meandering sometimes zig zagging it leads to a small but serene grave yard. We were about 9 of us and we would regularly haunt those guys and at times play games with their souls too.. how? Hide & seek of course. Weird but nice we called it, grotesque and stupid they found it.. who? the elders of course.. we were admonished threatened and everything else in tow.. but somehow we found it peaceful there. I talked to a 6 yr old once, lying there for ages.. wondered if he was ever bored and wanted to kind of pop out and join us.. now that would be something.
My fondest memories are of a spring day, about 4 in the evening. It was still light, there was a strange calm along with the wind that bl owed on. Am talking of days pre'Titanic'.. :) ( lest u think i copied!) I stretched my arms & took in that absolutely fresh air.. oh! it was almost orgasmic in perfection. No wonder I never get over it, not till today probably never..
Most Digboities will tell you stories of snakes in the toilets, leopards in the backyard & Elephants in the foreground.. but hey nothing prepares u for the one big mother of all picnics that Digboi turns out to be. With Swimming galas & flower shows, silks & chiffon's & parties & then some parties & more! In Digboi there are no end to the parties & they don't make them as boring as anywhere.. swear!
The animals of course are a different category altogether & u have such variety of flora & fauna. While there were the loveliest of birds from the smallest & teenie winnie blotch in red to a sparkling sunshine yellow..never got their names & don't see the necessity now either.. twas & always will be a pleasant whiff & a blurr come to sniff my Bougainvilleas in full crimson bloom. And then there were dragon flies, oh! how those little creatures drove us crazy..
My den in times like these and whenever wherever, were the beautiful lustrous branches of two Thusa pines that graced out in the front garden and made for a welcoming twosome. They 've shared with many so many an orange, flights of fancy of EnidBlyton & Tin Tin and then M& B's galore. Their gentle swaying while lulling me to sleep gave me dreams worth a life time, oh what a swish set they were...:)
With the slight snip in the air and chilly October winters, the smell of the shewli on my mind and pujo came rushing in. Pujo was to me as much about the Mother with the ten hands coming home, as Baba was with the Dhak, I with the Kartal Ma at her Mandap, me staring at the carpet of white shewli and the khichuri of the pandal. In the dance and the drama that was Digboi, of the silent hush of the elephant steps in the dead of the night.. of a fairytale childhood, of a paradise.. lost but probably gained in more ways than one, Digboi was never the oil field to us it was the only HOME we knew :)

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The eyes are hollow dark and deep

The eyes are hollow dark and deep
And ages to go before they gather sleep..
In serinity and in happiness, what is it about loneliness
pensive thoughts, but some of them..
as they gather and cluster and then drown in rain
Lets beat them.. I think, lets forget it i wink
Whats with you and mortality ever on the brink?
Pensive thoughts again I think...
And then there are times, when the imaginations soar
Like spring clouds above the sun they soar
When steps are a clittery clat and smiles broaden within
When Happiness is in an understanding smile or MommmieMaggieing..
Little dreams do I dream
of mundane thoughts and smiles therin
And then in hopeless clatter they fall
here there and life begins..
All over and all over again
Bu with miles to sleep yet ever again

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ravana and Lucifer- The Indian connection

What is it about world literature that seems to evoke the same feelings of sublimate, history and a sense of timeless appeal? In their intricacy, plot movements and connection with the ancient scriptures, all world literature, transcends to great literature not only in their time but for time immemorial. Interestingly, it is the characters in such masterpieces which remain etched in the minds of the readers especially because they are usually a beautiful confluence of the simple, complex and even intricate. Every culture, religion and civilization has its own nuances which are often reflected in the literature of the times. Some of course reflect thoughts and emotions that stand true for generations to come and are often identified under the precarious proclamation of classics that remain a part of our history gloriously embedded into our present. All this and so much more, to say that literature around the world is often found comparable and indeed similar too in ways more than one.

Any one who is familiar with Hindu mythology and related literature will maintain that the ‘Ramayana’, the tale of Rama is unlike the Mahabharata ( another Hindu literary piece) probably less a tale of intricacies and more a piece on Hindu mythology and its various facets. Ramayana in fact documents the beliefs and traditions propagated by the Hindu sages of yore and present them in an allegorical form woven into the delicacy of the narrative. The interpretation of the philosophical and the devotional characters of Rama, Lakshman, Bharat, Sita, Hanuman not withstanding it is the character of and Ravana , who is incidentally the villain of the piece which is often a contradiction in itself. Delicately handled and oh so well executed the character of Ravana with his ten heads and roaring laugh mesmerizes as it fascinates and somewhere down the line he resonates another great character from literature too!

As in Indian Hindu literature, English literature ( as different from Indian English writings) have a bevy of such beauties steeped in Christian Mythology. Starting at the beginning with ‘Beowulf’, Milton and his ‘Paradise Lost’ are works that immediately come to the mind. The above mentioned names are of course as is easily identified mentioned in the special context again of a certain special character so very identifiable with Ravana from Hindu mythology. Yes you guessed it right we are talking about Lucifer and Ravana! I have always wondered how similar the two are.. though the twain never meet and all that.. In their presentation of course both characters largely differ. Yet one cannot but notice the inherent beauty that both possess.

While Ravana is the angry, rebellious, out to out do everyone (himself included demon with ten hands, he is the ardent Shiv Bhakt too. A man of tremendous virtues, part Brahmin- part Kshatriya, Ravana is huge simply with his potential as a character. The name Ravana (He of the Terrifying Roar) was given to him by Lord Shiva. Similarly, Lucifer who is considered (as per Christian literature and legends) as having been an archangel with powers in heaven is thrown out of heaven when he rebels against God. Milton presented Lucifer as a rebel, though a very interesting one. When Lucifer mouths, "All is not lost; the' unconquerable Will, / and study of revenge, immortal hate, / and courage never to submit or yield... " he is terrific in his indomitable courage as he is supreme in confidence. It is perhaps this beauty of the characters that lend a splendid visage to what has emerged as two massive and intriguing characters in world literature.

Legend has it that Ravana along with his brother, Kumbakarna were actually reincarnations of Jaya and Vijaya, who had served as gatekeepers at the abode of Vishnu. But being cursed they were born in Earth, as enemies to the lord. (which would in turn shorten their chakra of 7 rebirths)

Though Ravana is mostly the face of evil and a representation of the triumph of good over evil, he is not left with that. As is the hall mark of all great literature, the character is developed and reaches its zenith to present an intriguing tale of a person who though eveil is blessed with the best qualities a man can have! A philosopher and a pundit, Ravana was guided by of his father, to acquire the vast knowledge of the scriptures. Interestingly, Ravana has also been accredited with creating the first grammar of Sanskrit language as well as compiling and editing the Krishnayajurved! His scholarly virtues, expert as a Veena player, and stories of how he presided as the chief purohit of the Puja for Ram to start a battle which eventually killed him are the stuff of legends today.

Strangely and in a similar vein, Milton presents Lucifer with utmost sympathy, perhaps unknowingly, as stated in ‘The Marriage of Heaven and Hell’ by Blake who says that Milton was ‘of the Devil's party without knowing it." However Milton’s Lucifer though ruler of hell is not only intelligent and ruthless but utterly charming too! Almost as evidence of this when Lucifer at a later stage enters the Garden of Eden, he is successful in tempting Eve, to eat fruit from the forbidden tree. And of course like Ravana, he is enfant terrible, the master of all he surveys (in this case hell) and the King of the Earth with 90 legions under his command.

Much in the traces of the Shakespearian hero who lands from his mighty position with that oh one flaw! may be Lucifer and Ravana did too yet in their own magnificent ways they soar and how. It is perhaps in this uncharacteristic humaneness of the demons and the love for all things grey, as opposed to black and white that makes literature so fascinating a medium, traces of which can be found in many such parallels drawn across the world and yet to be done!

© 2009 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury