Friday, December 30, 2011

Death: 'From not being yourself'

Perfect Poet Award, Week 57

In the far corners of different streets lay two closed houses
One fine day you knocked on mine..and I on yours
We both opened them with creaking hesitancy
Just to let in some fresh air perhaps…

But then, with the suddenness of realization
Of happiness unfamiliar..the doors closed on us
Society had of course ordered-
Be Z
But never be you

The closed doors remained closed forever
In the pungent smell of decay..
And goodness coated with maturity
The smell then turned to poison

One day when each of us had died
Of good manners, maturity and society
And wrapped ourselves in the incense of the heavens ..

We wished
We had died of being ourselves..

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Image courtesy

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Traffic jams & day dreaming

I am sitting in a car, in one of Bangalore's many traffic infested roads. The traffic has been stand still for the past 40 minutes. I see the lights from a distance, turning Green..looking pretty and cheerful and then turning somber Red again..all the while when the car is at a standstill. There's a bridge overhead, I tilt my head and look up..I can almost see myself sitting on the top of the bridge, my legs dangling, looking down at the traffic standstill, looking at me own patience and my ultimate resignation to what I think is everyday fate. As I peer down at myself..I am angered at this tremendous resilience, the loss of impatience, the resistance to protest against the stupidities of life taking them as if they were a part of our destiny when it is not so. And yet it was not as if the person in me had not tried. There have been numerous occasions when the wish to fly over a traffic situation like this has resulted in me getting down from the car and try to control traffic in small ways along with the policeman in charge. This works incredibly well in small town and in city corners where the mayhem has been created by zealous drivers who want to break rules at the drop of a hat, thinking it would give them that inch of a headway.

But somewhere today even that zeal to get down from the car and see if things could be rectified has gone..I see myself dreamlike, as if in a trance rather wanting to glide my wheels over all other cars and make a smart exit, a la 007, when a few years back the thought of jumping on top of car bonnets would have filled me with glee. I am broken from my reverie by the honking on all sides. The traffic jam has finally been cleared..everyone seems to be excited. The smart looking IT professional on the left of my car has just finished a long and winding argument with his wife, the teenage couple on the right have let go of each other and their long kiss, letting out a 'damm those traffic lights..why can't they make it longer'..I take a peek at the girl on the top of the bridge with dangling legs..she's her place a tree has grown suddenly out of seems to say..I am the hope...Life is beautiful still!

( Image courtesy Google)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 the everything

Yesterday was a day
Where innocence was an everyday, and lies an occasional weekend
Come night or year end, sleeps were more rested
Today in the so much of the everything
I find yet the nothing….

- Maitreyee B chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Clarion call

I saw her one night
Wrapped in cold and hunger
Sleeping peacefully at my doorstep

I step aside, give her a good look and ask her
What she wants-

She’s angry at being disturbed
At the lack of decency in humans-
Walking over sleeping beauties
On a cold wintry night

She shuts her half opened eye
In smug terrific-ness
And then wags her tail-a limp
As if in afterthought of kindness
Go away will you, her silence screams..

I’m deaf my woes and rants that I want her to hear
I sit by her, in delighted warmth of company some
And tell her tales of woe

She fakes no decency
And wags no tail
She s sick and tired of remorse, pity and stalemates

Somewhere, another bitch howls
Another cry of loneliness?
She cocks an ear, in half asleep stupor
Displaces some fur on me
Stretches a lazy limb
In dissatisfied curl
And mocks a howl at me

Get a life, she seems to say
Men..they are a plenty!

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I make my mind empty of fragrances..
Of love and hope both new and old..
I free myself of intentions both happy and sad
In scattered bits they lie..the mind & the soul
Some on the bedsheets of desire
Some on my soul..crumpled, wrinkled & very very old
I make myself of even my mould

- Maitreyee B Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Monday, December 19, 2011

The fight of the 'Verses'

(This is a poem I wrote in the last 1 minute, bored of all my serious professional work..just some fun playing around with words..So if U 'r going to take it seriously, you are going to lose out on all the fun!..Enjoy)

Little Ms hoity toity,
Fell on some free verse..
Little Ms Hoity Toity,
Didn’t like it at all..
She screamed & she ranted
And she tore my hair off
But little Ms Hoity Toity,
Forgot about a word-
‘Life’ it was called..
That Free verse enjoyed in plenty..

Little Ms Hoity Toity.. saved Ms free verse
From an ill pronounced Saxpere’s and ‘savage encounters’

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Monday, December 12, 2011

The color of 'Brown'

Something about the shade of brown has always excited me..In a way perhaps it starts from the days of the British..where brown stood for anything Indian..we attained freedom and more..every time I see brown I try to find the secret smell of earth that I think is lingering within its me it is the color of age old secrets..well preserved in warmth of something undeniably me Brown is the color of 'What could be'..Today on my morning walk when I saw a heap lying scattered in careless elegance I was reminded once more of an essence of beauty beyond the life of what has been..

( Image courtesy Google)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Sound track: My Master's voice

Most daughters would tell you that their father’s have had a profound influence on them. I would reiterate the same; my father has indeed had a deep influence on me. But here I’m talking more about the influence that my father’s voice has had on me. Throughout my growing years whenever I would see large cut outs of the Fox terrier, Nipper listening attentively to the gramophone and listening to ‘His Masters Voice’ it always struck a chord in me somewhere and the little girl in me wondered if I would have someone to listen to as I grew up.

I’ve always had a great affinity with chants and the sounds of things musical. My grandfather was a Sanskrit scholar and I was told later in life that I was given my name by my grandfather who had observed that I would listen with rapt attention to the Sansckrit Shlokas he recited, even as a baby. My home, all through my years of growing was like an exciting orchestra. Set amidst the beautiful Patkai ranges, our home resounded with the chirp of birds along with the chimes of Hindustani Classical music. My father was a tremendous table player, but also played many other instruments which he had mostly learnt to play by himself. Though his interest was mostly in instrumental music, he would occasionally hum a song or two in his beautiful and deep baritone. During those years I was training in Indian classical dance and it was my father who taught me to lisen..listen to the discordant note in any music and never to miss a beat.

My father’s love for music was passed on to me very silently and unknowingly, in the musical concerts he managed to organize almost single handedly and bring a small township in the North Eastern India into the focus of classical music. It was no mean achievement and during this course I had the privilege of listening to some of the best in the profession. It taught me that love of music is not restricted to singing or playing or even listening. That, is also music which is propagated and loved for beyond one’s own recognition or individual interest, for the love of the art itself.

There is one particular event that comes to my mind whenever I remember my father’s music. True to the oil town culture, there were plenty of occasions for musical soirees where some sat with a guitar, some with a piano, other’s showcased their vocals, etc. On one such particular night, when the winds were beautiful and receptive to music and it’s likes..after a few Western Classical numbers were sung on stage, my father was invited to grace the stage. I wondered what he would do, since he wasn’t really a singer. I closed my eyes in trepidation of what would happen. Amidst the pregnant silence rose, a beautiful poignant and grave voice..deep in its resonance and eerie in its purity. In an extremely anglicized culture, where men wouldn’t be seen without their tailcoats, my father sang a shloka. For about 2-3 minutes, there was not a single sound among the spectators! And then there was a thunderous applause for the sheer beauty and simplicity of what had been sung. It is my belief that hardly a handful of people would have understood what it meant, but that was the ‘Sound of music’..nothing else really mattered. That day I learnt my first and most lasting lesson in music, when sung from the soul, music becomes a prayer and that music is more than mere is the sound of passion.

Over the years, whenever my father performed the Durga puja rituals, where hymns are sung out in Sanskrit to the Goddess I would creep up and listen. Whenever he has sung on stage or performed on the Tabla, I have not missed a single note. In all the instruments that he played, some of which he made, tuned and gave different dimensions to, I saw, felt and heard with the soul. Because, music as he taught me was devotion, purity of soul and a fine blend of aesthetics that needs cultivation and developing an ear for.

Over a period of time and all through life, my father taught me music of every kind. When the birds came, he taught me to listen to their chirp and understand that theirs is always the first right, when it rained he taught me to find music in its pitter patter, when life was dull, he taught me to find music in that. With this ‘Master’s voice’ beside me and my own inclination I believe today that music is the only passion that touches man with a belief of reality and mysticism born of dreams.

( Image courtesy Google)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Baul speak: A night of abandon

Whenever I have traveled, it has been not only to see places, it has been more for an essence of the place, and that comes inevitably from the people as well as the place. The time, I speak of here is the early 2000 s. Like most of those who have read Rabindranath, I wished to go back in time too and have a peep into the mind (if you please) of Bengal's poet laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. There was of course another reason for my venturing out to Shantiniketan and this reason was interacting with Bauls. These wandering mystical minstrels singing their hearts out in their throaty voices had always enchanted me. And I hoped to find in Shantiniketan a Baul culture that one cannot see in their 'cultivated' performances in different concerts in Kolkata.

Shantiniketatan which is well connected by bus and train from Calcutta is a small town, where Rabindranath spend much of his days, experimenting with all the art forms close to his heart. The story goes that once when Maharshi Debendranath Tagore ( Rabindranath’s father) was traveling to a friend's estate to a place about 100 miles west of erstwhile Calcutta, he got down at Bolpur( the nearest railway station) and proceeded in a palanquin. It was almost time for the sun to set when, he reached an open space, bereft of any vegetation, stretching long and wide into the western horizon, without anything to break the view of the setting sun. (Bengal usually does not boast of such open stretches of nothingness, where most of the countryside is covered in lush vegetation) Enchanted the Maharshi, sat down in the place for his evening meditation and by the time he was finished, he had made up his mind to buy the place. This was what later came to be Shantiniketan.

Incidentally, Shantiniketan still boasts of large open spaces, where cycling around is one of the best ways of seeing the place. While covering ground one is often met with sheep or goat on the narrow country roads. My journey to Shantiniketan covered the usual rounds of seeing Tagore's spread out university, his home, relics and many other Tagore memorabilia, which not only smells of nostalgia of an era of Bengal Renaissance, but also shows you the sheer callousness with which such a memory has been treated.

While visiting Shantiniketan it is best not to have any time or destination in mind, one should just wander around and discover what comes in the way. On such a stroll in the late evening, I was drawn to strange voices and faint melodies. As I quickened my pace and followed the sound, I came upon a clump of trees where a couple of Bauls were singing. Unlike other musicians, Bauls are minstrels who love singing for themselves. the sun had just set and the sky resplendent with an orange-ish red light. One of the bauls hummed, while another strung his Ektara. I slowly slipped in their midst and sat in a quiet corner. Suddenly, one of them got up, he had a gungroo tied to one of his feet and tapped his feet on the ground as if to test waters. I was strangely reminded of my Ghunguroo..lying unused in distant drawers of my home in Assam. I wish I had it with me. By now the colors had I looked around me, I found a lot of nothingness envelope us all. Someone had lighted what looked like a desi pipe. I presumed it would be a bout of Ganja, that was doing the smelled heavenly. My nose picked up the smell of something else something sweeter perhaps?. was the Jui phool (Bengali name for a variety of Jasmine), that I smelt in the air..Clapton suddenly flashed in my mind..singing somewhere aimlessly 'wonderful tonight...

The bauls then their half broken, sometimes off beat voices..If you expect great Tal and music akin to classical, you would probably be disapointed in the Bauls..because the Bauls don't follow any rules..they follow only their heart..As in the case of anything great that needs an acqusition of taste Baul music too perhaps needs acquiring a taste...Many would think that the Baul's are all about tantriks and tribals, exorcisms and esoteric 'sexo-yogic' perhaps is all this and more..It’s beauty lies in its simple rusticity.

I was reminded of excerpts from Mimlu Sen's book 'Baulsphere'

Wild and free, they raised their clamor in the mansions of the rich, and roared their gaiety in the courtyards of the poor...''To the poor, they offered the wealth of the human spirit, to the blind, the divine light of inner vision, to the sick and ageing, they gave the comfort of faith and cured them with songs, natural medicine and yogic practice. The rich and the arrogant, the selfish and the mercenary, were all subject to their provocative mockery. To women, they offered parity in sexual relations, the possibility of exploring their own bodies, and of leading men to a greater knowledge of theirs. They decried the phallocentric society around them, caught in the shackles of the caste system, and exposed the fanatic parochialism of the mullah and the pundit..."

And in that night when the bauls sang, without memorandum, purpose or anything at all I couldn't help but compare the not far away beats of Tagore and his beautiful language of elaborate poetry. But then I remembered Tagore with his RabindranSaneet had also tried to bridge the gap that lay within Classical music and folk music and in his very own enthusiasm also promoted the Bauls. Perhaps the bearded one also sang with us that night, amidst the charm of the little moon doing a peek-a-boo amidst the clouds.

( Image courtesy Google)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Shadow Speak

Yesterday while on my evening walk, I chanced upon a tiny road, away from the main path that I usually walked on. My curiosity led me to look upon it, even try and gauge it from afar. What I saw was a little road, seemingly not often tread upon. The grass grew in patches here, from time to time nature seemed to have remembered to strew some flowers rather casually. Strangely the flowers weren't beautiful, they were dull in color, most of them at least. Some of then bobbed up a head or two in excitement of the on-coming of the winds. I couldn't resist myself, the little road seemed to be straight out of some magical land. As I tread, still skeptical, I noticed a long shadow like creature walk along, strangely enough the shadow wasn't mine. The form was masculine I noticed. I walked here and there but try as I might I could not make the shadow leave. Unknown to myself, I shivered a bit, but then I decided I had to be brave and talk to the shadow, get rid of unknown cobwebs. I said, "who are you?" The shadow turned, as if from a distance, seemed  to smile a bit and say, " Don't you know me, try to see if you can recognize me" I peered, closely and tried to identify who it was, I said, " I'm really sorry, I can't recognize you" Grave now the shadow said, " I am the first real sorrow, you felt". Strangely unlike shadows, this one didn't seem to flitter but stood steadfastly in the same stance, in the same place. I tried to look through what seemed a very heavy burden, bowed my head and looked at my toes and then I asked, " have you dried up your share of tears?" The shadow was silent, It seemed that sorrow and smiles seemed to have found a strange co-existence together in it.

Suddenly the shadow, turned it's face towards mine and said , "once you had said that you would cherish you grief for an eternity" I bowed my head down, was I embarrassed, was I shy? I reached out for it's hand and took the rather long and outstretched darkness into mine and said, "it has been rather long, time has asked me to forget what once was a piercing pain. You have changed too" The hand shifted slightly and came away from mine. I smiled a bit, looked up and said with the wisdom that hurt brings, "sorrow has turned to peace, and you a distant memory of what was."

The shadow vanished, perhaps for forever, the grass seemed a tad greener and the flowers somehow more bright..Somehow just then I wanted to see every colour and become every one of them. Life like magic is strange, you have to be the magic sometimes perhaps, to be able to live it.

(Inspired by Rabindranath Tagore )

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Monday, November 21, 2011

The ‘flower song’

Am I not beautiful?

Proclaims the ‘She’..

In drowsy eyes of her vanity sleep, she chirps a song unknown,

Of bits of love and lovers some-

The sun, the leaves and the yet unborn..

Of chlorophyll nights and Osmosis filled days

She shrugs from modesty to desire

“Be kind will you, and serve me my needs of butterflies”

A game of pollination thus begun,

As lovers unabashed watered her desires,

In sprinkles of sun and rain,

And thus in her priceless-ness she ruled

From love, to slavery-

She turned from tending schools of mankind

That Gobbled the likes of her..

From horror draughts to ‘forget me nots’

She played the game to perfection

Until the gardener of Eden decided..

‘Women and poppies..thou art complex creatures’..

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

People watching- 4 topsy turvy characters

Wherever and whenever possible I watch people. You might say nothing fascinates me more. But my people watching is restricted to the oddities..those 'Not run of the mill' you could say. I recently read somewhere someone saying, on my epitaph write, "He lived till he was alive". Wonderful words I thought. People who don't live, bore me to death. There is sadness, melancholy, bitterness and irritation and yet there is hope..the hope to LIVE life..just because of yourself..not dependent on someone for living. Because life in spite of everything is stunningly beautiful & should be lived with complete zest.

My hero s have always been self made people, people who have strive d and done different things in life, learners basically, who have been bored by the word 'permanent' & 'contentment'..because nothing eventually is...In the course of time I have met people, who have cycled round the world, pirated video cassettes, slept on the roads and done numerous odd jobs to become successful. Curiously enough, though each of these people might be successful now, they never stop at that & mostly they move on from that which made them successful & go on to try something they haven't tried before.

Some character s-

A- Mr let's say 'A' works in the creative field, an ad man, he has risen from the roads & pedaled his way up. Today recognized as one of the best in his field, he left it all to start a venture where he teaches kids in villages and teaches them to be independent..He'll probably be bored of that too someday he says, but by then he would have made sure that enough children have learnt the way to pass it on to others. He listens to Bob Dylan, takes pictures of goats, reads Kolatkar's poetry, has made the chappal a fashion statement and likes laughing at himself..He also roams the roads in search of adventure and seeing life like it is every night. A rock star and a bohemian, he fights injustice and the corrupt on the road, bashes up people when he wants to & yet is the softest soul you'll find. He also has a stream of the best looking women hanging on his arm ( which also he finds funny) Fascinating is the word.

B- A neighbor, a disciplinarian, a scholar and a perfectionist. Our Mr. 'B' is a guy, who is completely different from the bohemian me. And yet he fascinates me. He is a control freak and does everything on time. Talks in British English, reads nothing but Shakespeare, as if his life depended on it! Grumbles at everything, is full of idiosyncrasies, checks on his lock at least ten times after he has locked it, has tea on time, reads paper on time, walks on time & sleeps on time. I call him the 'Time machine' and yet a man of immense character, is never rude, always polite, fights injustice and stupidity in the same breadth, is very modern in his outlook and never minces his words. He hates most things Indian, does not believe secretly that he was destined to be born in India and yet cannot do without his Madrasi 'Kapi', because any other coffee is rubbish! He happens to be one of the best cartoonist's in India.

C- An online friend, I've never met Mr. 'C'. is a high profile photographer, he ran away from home at 16..why? because he was bored! He s made peace with his parents since then and emerged the softer kid who looks after his parents, while his more studious Cambridge educated brother doesn't really have the time! He 's full of fun and laughs at everything. To him an art show and a stand up comedy show are more or less the same thing, both are comic & different ways of looking at life. We share the love of Varanasi and according to him people who call Varanasi dirty, really don't have the eyes..I agree. A total mad cap, he has a son, to whom he is mother as well as father & in spite of being around the world all the time, earns the certificate of being 'the world's best daddy'. he just happens to have won some of the best photography awards one might ever think of & yet he says, he s going to leave it all, very soon.

D- A 65 year old Tamilian lady, is our let's say Lady 'D'. She lived most of her life shuttling between Spain & London, has a grown up son and a daughter. She loves her vodka, speaks 6 languages and runs for an hour everyday thinking of her evening drink. She married by the Ganges to a Tamilian Brahmin, learnt to wear a saree, dances the Salsa on weekends, rides a horse and goes for an African Safari every year. She stays in Chennai, can't speak a word of Tamil & loves her mother in law, whom she lovingly calls 'The Khadoos'. She also happens to be a teacher in one of the best schools in Chennai!

Life would have been so terribly boring without such people!

( Image courtesy Google)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bed of Jasmine

I slept on a bed of Jasmine last night..
The flowers crushed and perfumed the bed
I remained untouched and smelling of you..

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury
(I accept the award)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Knowing nothing

From time to time I like meeting and listening to people who we think 'Know nothing'....Quite in contrast to the big-wigs who know 'everything' or profess to know everything..I find their ability to be surprised absolutely delightful..compared to them the knowledgeable seem dead..Their unique ability to be surprised at the seemingly mundane things of life, make me envious at times. I remember the first radio, the first cassette I had bought, what immense joy it was..there are plenty of things I buy today..but somewhere the ability to be surprised, to revel in things common place has perhaps been lost..forever. It's like mountaineering, the journey and it's little surprises are the ones to look out for...for each path is the summit everyone has more or less the same reaction.

( Image courtesy Google)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A boat ride with a Pakistani

On a trip outside the country, you meet different kinds of people from different countries..but most of all you meet Indians, from back home. On one such trip, we were in a boat. Several other tourists had also come along, amongst them three couples were from Delhi, a Russian couple, a rather large family from China, a small family of three that I couldn't identify apart from our own. Through the trip of of about an hour, the Delhiites screamed, broke every rule in the book, the Chinese talked nineteen to dozen, the Russians appeared offended about everything in general, while I watched everyone. Its strange how you can place people, their backgrounds, their likes, dislikes, their moods, a bit about their ethnicity, some bit about their nature if you observe them for a while. It was the small family which caught my attention the most, because I couldn't really slot them. Very Aryan looking, the wife in a demure Salwar Kameez, constantly smiling, shy yet seemingly fun, a very well behaved child & a seemingly caring husband. They broke no rules, had their fun and kept to themselves. They spoke in what sounded like a strange mix of Urdu..I wondered idly if they were Kashmiris. About 45 mins into the journey, the wife suddenly turned to me and asked, "Where are you from?" I identified myself as an Indian. She made a silent 'Oh' and pointed at the Delhi-ites and said, we knew they were Indian but got confused about you'll. I asked her in return, "From where are you?" She smiled and said, "From Pakistan". I said to myself, 'no wonder they look so familiar, like a long forgotten fragrance'..For a woman who had hardly spoken through the hour, her parting words made me smile. As she left the boat she said, "kabhi ayiyega, itne bhi alag nahin hain hum"( come visit us sometime, we aren't all that different)

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I lost my life..

With your smell on it

Strewn somewhere carelessly

Kicked aside perhaps with years of misuse

It would smell of centuries of wait

Amidst the pain

Of the pain in the well hidden

Of the sudden tears..

For one knows, not what

The sudden stop on a road..thinking of someone

A shadow of you perhaps…

If you find that silly soul

Tucked away perhaps ..

In some corner..somewhere in life

Tell her will you..that

The words you said …were true

If for a moment at least

She shall die in peace

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A letter on the bus

Dear no one,

Like any other day, in any other city, in any other bus..I am sitting on the last seat of A particular bus..going perhaps in a particular direction where I am supposed to go everyday and do whatever I am supposed to do every day. I look outside, there are millions of people, walking, running, staggering as if in their mad rush to reach their destinations. And yet I wonder if they know where they really are headed? I look inside the bus, so many people, I wonder what they are thinking of...there's not a single face where curiosity of the road is mixed with the happiness of living..I blink my eyes, close them for a while shielding myself from the pollution, the harshness of everyday drudgery and wonder at no one in general...'Where am I going?'.. Of course, its an idle question, not that it needs answering. I'm even aware of the fact that I particularly don't want it answered..since in not knowing it, perhaps lies the beauty. I am reminded of a scene from the film 'American Beauty'..There's a scrap of paper dancing in the if with a life of its own.

To be fair to life and everyone in general, I rewind in portions and smile a little mystically, life has perhaps been fairly good. I have seen love, warmth, happiness, comfort, all in more or less good measures. . and yet there is this huge emptiness, as I question myself again and again..where does the road lead to..There are contradictions to almost the chaos of the everyday, I want alone-ness, in the alone-ness of everyday I want comfort, to someone perhaps warm..someone who does not cling..and yet someone who leaves me to my own, and yet someone to whom I can reach out..without having to call....

There's a handle near the seat, where I am seated. It looks polished and gleaming from millions of touches perhaps and yet it is bare of the paint that once made it beautiful. It is today, like how it will be tomorrow and many many years later too...Human minds are perhaps similar in that the more things change, nothing changes at all...and yet all of us change so much in those little bits and parts of the everyday that slowly we fail to realize what is it that we are looking for, what is it that we want to look like.

People change, and yet they don't, ideas change and yet they don't..perhaps change itself changes and perhaps not. I shall get down from the bus at a destined point and do what I am supposed to do. I shall perhaps be happy in what I do too, and feel good at the end of the day at having achieved something that I set about to do. And yet that dull ache of emptiness, in the eyes and in the soul shall remain. I shall come back to this bus or perhaps another and see similar handles, that shine..the journey shall is only change that shall change perhaps?

I blink my eyes, something very green appears as if from some far away dream land. It is a green tree...some flowers, red, blue, pink suddenly pop up as if from if springing from hope....& magic..There's a small smile that I realize, it is only HOPE that never changes..everything else does.


The confused Soul

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dung beneath my feet

I smelt of dung beneath my feet,

Fresh and full of Bacteria..

I wondered if they would ask me to come back,

Having found me after centuries of waiting..

But then the Bulbul that sat on the fat rock,

Staring at dumb fishes..

Crooned a sudden song..

It said 'we shall be lovers..

In our stillness, in our wait...

And when you come again..we shall embrace...

Like there was no distance ...ever!'

Come back..come back...

The turtle in the fish pond nodded in brevity

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sleeping still

" I have slept long not knowing....what might have been"....when I heard this I wondered....why would sleeping be akin to not knowing? Why can't one assume that we know more of that which we couldn't otherwise when we are asleep....That sleep takes us to those corners both safe and unsafe that seem in real life too stupid a place to be or to uneasy a circumstance for practicality.....And yes there are times when waking up from dreams is unpleasant because there is sometimes so much of comfort in not knowing..the could have beens..the might have been s the drudgery of everyday familiarity, the drudgery of crushing your dreams into the uncomfortable world of practicality, where everything is black OR white and nothing has the muted shades of grey. I would have slept on and on... knowing that waking would take me away from the comfort of your arms. Dreams are where one is safely ensconced into the arms of love without the fear of being taken away by that which needs to be that which needs to be said, to be polite, to be stupid enough to see life changing so much that you don't know if you exist anymore ..I shall perhaps thus sleep on and never want to wake up...As for what might have been? who cares, who knows..who wants to know..when the present of dreams is so exotic..So sleep on I shall in the knowledge that the you in my dreams is a far cry from that which I could perchance in the realms of everyday..... unstable

( Image courtesy Google)

When 'Dignity' walked along

I walked the streets in quiet

‘Dignity’, walked along-

People one the road stopped me

‘Who is this alien creature, they asked’

I gave them a mirror..find her I said

For she is there..somewhere

And if you can’t find her there

Cut open the veins, search the vessels

Tucked deep inside and in hibernation

Shall you find this lovely

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Friday, October 14, 2011

A tale of a Safety Pin

I was meeting a friend. We had talked several times over the phone but never seen each other. Naturally the excitement of meeting was that much more..would the person be like what I had thought him to be..etc etc crossed the mind. We were supposed to meet at 3:30 in the evening I was there before 3:15..after a few minutes I looked at my watch and nodded my head like a penguin tsk tsk still time to go, before I could officially call him late( as if my life depended on it!) I stared at the glitzy mall, upturned nose, pitying everyone in general who seemed to have suddenly discovered retail therapy. It was Durga Puja time & the place was Kolkata, South city mall to be precise. Every one seemed to be having a great lot of fun by screaming at each other and posing in front of the doll like Durga that had been created inside the mall.

Bored of criticizing everything that came between me and my elegance..I sauntered off. I had decided not to be overtly traditional & wear a weird( only I knew that) something that could fit into both Eastern OR Western OR neither..after all I was meeting a photographer! Ohh yes my friend in question was a photographer and a rather good one at that. And of course I HAD to put on all my airs & behave the fashionista ( you know how it is with the woman who dives at her last chance..kind of). I had white cotton trousers on and smiled at myself ( from what I thought) rather elegantly. I had decided to walk and taking a bend I reached a saree shop and saw some giggling girls. I decided to put on my mature best & introspected the saree hanging on the showcase for any flaws.

All of a sudden I realized something was wrong. I looked down at myself..what could it be? To my horror and elegantly raised eyebrow-ish disgust I realized that my cotton trousers were loose and threatened to come down. Which moron had said cotton trousers were fashionable?

I delicately placed a leg in front and one at back to test it out..the trouser slipped a bit..I looked right and then left. Had anyone noticed my faux pas..God! I decided I needed the mother of all inventions the 'Safety pin'. A long time ago I had heard my mother say that she wished to give a Nobel prize to the one who had discovered the Safety pin..for it's sheer versatility. I had secretly laughed at my mom that day. ..Today I knew what she meant. Incidentally, I always carry an over sized bag so that I can find anything I want when I'm out. The problem is that the bag which resembles a well, never comes up with anything on time...To be fair to it's history, the bag did not deliver today too. I pressed the panic button, what could I do. I couldn't hold my trouser's while I met my friend..had coffee..shook my hand with him..etc etc..insane questions rose in my mind..could I pass it off as the latest pose? Hand in the waist etc?

I decided to buy a safety pin, after all it was a shopping mall. Just that no one had taught me that a shopping mall sells everything but stuff that you need..stylishly placing well manicured hands on my trousers, in a manner that no one would notice, I managed to walk an entire floor. But there was no trace of any Safety pin! What were these people, idiots? Didn't they know the importance of a Safety pin in a human being's life? Cursing at a beaming doorman and howling babies..I made my way in and out of shops...It was 3:40, never had I been so glad that anyone was late! I decided to give him a warm bear hug for being late.. delirium was not too far off..I could understand.

Suddenly I had a brain wave. Most Bengali women have a habit of tagging a safety pin to their bangles ( the red and white ones) I curiously looked at every bangle that every woman had the bad fortune to wear that day. Alas! Not a single one had any safety pin attached to it..what was wrong with Bengali women..they had forgotten their culture..their traditions..I was furious..worthless creatures all. By now I was desperate and ready to howl..all my attempts at fashion flew out of the door..I felt like screaming..doesn't anyone have a small safety pin in this huge mall! I had another brain wave..The loo!

For the uninitiated, a woman's loo is not only a fact it is just 'also a loo'...women frequent a loo more to sweep their locks from one side to another..dab more lipstick..touch up their make up..etc. I was delighted with my brainwave. Some functional woman ( unlike myself) was sure to have a safety pin after all. I entered the loo with an eye-full of expectation...My woman's brain scanned and slotted every woman into categories like most women's do...young girls were less likely to carry safety pins..I was searching for someone..middle aged..( of course I was never middle aged!..goodness gracious me NO)

To my horror no one fitted the description. Sick and desperate, I announced in the most charming way possible to everyone in general.." does anyone have a safety pin?" There was pin drop silence..a girl brushing her hair giggled ( I saw her funny bone of course & stared back in appreciation) No one seemed to have answers..they slowly nodded in the negative or mumbled a "No". Suddenly a guard entered, as I watched her, she was the only one who had come in to pee, I found. The girl who had giggled put down her hair brush and said, "ask her, she might have it".

No sooner did the guard open the loo door I blurted, " Do you have a safety pin?"..on a second thought I added 'didi'..after all everyone was a didi in W. Bengal. I also added immediately, I'll pay you for it. To my astonishment, the GREAT woman slowly nodded her head and said " yes I think I have one in my bag, but you have to come with me to the staff room" She also added, " Madame I may be poor but I can surely give you a safety pin, you need not pay me for it" Extremely embarrassed I assured her that I was in dire straits and had only meant to be polite. In that moment of insanity I thought of poetry and compared my situation to the bright sun peeping out of dark clouds..maybe I could write a poem on a safety pin too! Wow..Lunacy wasn't far off..

As the guard marched me to her quarters, she soon scanned her bag and unlike mine found a bunch of safety pins smartly. She gave me two, saying in case you need one again, smiled and went out.

The phone rang, my friend was here, I looked at my watch..He was late..I raised an eyebrow..tsk tsk.

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Thank you Thursday Poet's rally for the Perfect poet award
I nominate Cello Strings for the next

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.

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Image courtesy:

'Shewli'..The fragrance of Durga Puja

The year was 1988, we had shifted to a rather huge house in a small district of Assam called Tinsukia. The Britishers of course made sure that wherever you stayed if you are working with has to be massive.. As a little girl, settling into that house was rather cumbersome. Everything seemed to be so huge for the tiny me. Walking down lawn tennis courts and garden full of Hollyhocks I found myself keeping a distance from them. In those days, your house was yours only as long as your dad's next transfer..and under the circumstances, I always founded a nook in the garden that I could make mine. Strangely even three months after the shifting I had not found my nook.

But one fine day, something happened that changed everything. I woke up in the morning, it was early October, a lovely chill in the air surrounded by early morning mist. I shivered a bit in the chill, and went up to the window. Suddenly I saw a vision in white. In the driveway of our home, a rather ordinary green leafed small tree had been standing for long. It had neither the beauty nor the flowers to attract one. But suddenly that day I saw it anew. On the ground near the tree was a carpet of white! Every bough in the tree was covered with tiny little white flowers with a trimming of orange as if defying their colorless existence and laughing in mirth at the foolishness of man for not having noticed it for so long. As I stared at this wonder in stupefied silence..I suddenly ran down to see the tree, to touch it in loving reassurance that this was reality.

As I stood beneath the white tree, I was in for more surprise. from the tree came the sweetest of smells that wafted into me a dance. I closed my eyes and in reverence of the white bed took of my shoes and sat on the bed of flowers soft.

Ma told me later that day that these little flowers called 'Shewli' in Bangla were the first heralder s of the Durga puja..perhaps the quintessential welcome of nature to the Godess with ten hands. Over time plenty of things have changed for me..the house, the childhood, the dreams..what didn't was the memory of the Shewli tree that had welcomed me to the Pujos and the essence of their beauty..till today every Durga puja has me searching for Shewlis..the little white flowers that welcome the Goddess.

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The father I lost..

All wrapped up, he lay…

My Papa in sheaths of unbleached cotton

And plugs in the ear

Not wanting to hear

The harshness of crying any more

Where would he go I wondered-?

All packed and done…

In grains of rice and burning wicks

In coconut halves and burning twigs

This was no pitter patter of a journey..

Only an endless calm it seemed

How would he make it I thought

With a face so pale & eyes so shut-

Perhaps that’s how this journey is done,

The child within me thought

“You are a fool”- A voice within me said,

Soon they shall burn him

And the stench of the HE shall be,

Mixed then forever into eternity,

Of twigs from mango trees in the backyard

And coconut shells lying amiss

He shall perhaps smell

And then perhaps he shall waft

Into the North –Eastern breeze

And to his land blend….

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)