Thursday, February 24, 2011

Young Thoughts on Growing Old

When we are young,
wild and carefree,
Little do we think of what will be. . .
Maybe when we are each eighty or eighty-three!
In the beautiful and sing song journey
Of cocoon to butterfly
No one thinks of the times that fly

Once while on one such walk,
the walk of introspection I call it -
My eyes chanced upon a moment of frailty...
His was a gait of cautious steps, oh so careful,
Of a life bound together.

The little eyes, in a crinkled smile,
spoke of the dream and all the fun. . .
Of wishes unfulfilled and goals yet to achieve,
of the forlorn saga of being branded old.

Why do we imagine the old always as old?
Haven’t they danced or run or been bold?
Why are Grannies always just so…
Let’s look into their eyes and let their story unfold.
For all those old, yet young at heart,
we meet and then forget,
Lets remember the eternal song of young hearts and old minds..
And then let’s dance to the joy of such tunes,
offbeat yet bold
Listen to their stories,
without any goal,

Just the feeling of experiencing an age,
Of grey hairs and steps that seem hard to control
Lets just once all of us be a bit old,
And feel their journey together and as a whole

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)


On the verge of my third transfer from one place to another I am excited, a new house, a new environment, new friends but in the midst of it all I collapse on the recliner and take a breath. Shall I be on the transit all my life, waiting with bated breath at school admission tests, doing the rounds of estate agents offices, et al. Fun it is ay I’ve never denied that as I sit back to ponder what about the what if’s that life could have been. The year was 1947, the small district of Sylhet, in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was a war zone, as far as the minds of its inhabitants was concerned. The chaos on the roads was less compared to that in the minds of its people. Amidst the cries, the confusion, the stricken faces, a small boy talked to his cow. As he stoked fondly the ‘Chand’ atop ‘Chand Kopali’, and looked at her beautiful eyes, he reassured her and himself too that they would not be separated. As if in unison of mutual understanding ‘Chand Kopali’ (the one with a moon on her forehead) nodded and it was happy times again in the riot-less, unconfused and more or less secure world of the young ones. Bliss indeed it is not to know the pain of separation from one’s motherland, as that which could be seen writ large on most faces. Amidst the streams of humanity trickling into the ‘Mahatma’s free India’, a little boy trailed his footsteps minus his heart of dreams and games and ‘Chand Kopali’ into the realms of ‘free meals refugee camps’. Growing up amidst the constant chaos, where puffed rice was the hoodwinked game in fashion, days passed and years rolled into the consciousness of reality, where games where forever a thing of the past. Years later, when fish was affordable and ‘breakfast’ ( from Break- your-fast) not as literal a meaning, the eyes now grown, sometimes softened in absentmindedness of a memory long lost, of fishes from your own pond and vegetables that grew in the backyard. Life, they say waits for none, nor did it for the little boy who found his home and family a run between Shillong and Digboi, a tale of two places shall we call it… As a daughter of this father I was born and brought up in an industrial town ship where your house is yours as long as your dad’s next promotion. Being young of course has many advantages, you don’t question certain certainties of life and amidst the uncertainty, life assumes a tandem of its own. But not everyone remains a child forever nor do certainties remain certain forever. Somewhere down the lane, hostel and friends later, home coming came to be allied with borrowed proportions of being surrounded by your relatives, spending holidays among cousins galore, an ecstasy most kids miss. In the years that I called Assam a home & built my castes on its air, I learned of the love of the land, the love of the roots. Come adulthood and marriage and I was transported to another land, the land of the Bengalis, Kolkata. The same tongue that I called mother tongue they spoke, the same delicacies, the same idiosyncrasies, and yet it was not home. The minds were alien and so were the hearts. The people on the roads, saw differently thought differently and even spoke differently. Whenever I introduced myself to someone I never forgot to add, “I’m basically from Assam, that’s where I was born.” The more I tried to fit in, the more I found myself a misfit, be it in the language that I spoke that was not literary enough or the ideology I believed that was not Bengali enough… It was written in the silent glances, the smirk of ‘I know you don’t belong’ that need not be said. It was there in the unwritten circles that I was never allowed to enter, in books that we read, the songs that we sung, that we did not belong was obvious… perhaps we did not WANT to belong I mused.Many years and a daughter later, I decided to go back to show her the land I called home. As we travelled down familiar lanes, hide outs and houses so well remembered, all of us wondered at the beauty of the place, its greenery its natural essence, but where was home I wondered. The people it was made up of had all vanished into their own versions of home and mine no longer was ‘theirs’ or ‘ours’. Was this the land I had talked so much about, where were the shrieks of joy, the little me with wind in the air, the walks up and down. I sat down in shrieking silence and let flow in the floods, the home that I had lost. As life assumed proportions that were normal, amidst transfers, houses and cities galore, I longed for the call of the roots, once more. A familiar bend of growing up laughter, the knowing smile of the shop keeper at the corner, comfortable visages of neighbours growing old, the all encompassing gaze of a life well spent among the friends of childhood now grown in their primes, of dogs and kittens giving birth again. Home and homing was supposed to be this and so much more. Today when I’m asked where do you belong, I am not sure whether I belong or not and that’s not really a feeling you relish. As we grow older we all want attachments, we all grow roots and we want to spread them to the US and the OURS. My daughter complains from time to time about the friends she looses every time we move and I really have not much to say. I know the pangs of being displaced; I know it oh so well, the feeling of not belonging to nowhere. The search for my roots shall perhaps continue, but a little prayer lisps from the heart…let every child find his/her root & belong.

( Image courtesy Google)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I shall not or ever..Man ka bhadas

Of all the blog posts I have written on this blog..this one is perhaps mostly for myself and I feel unlike most other blog posts in almost every one's blog it is not aimed at any reader in particular it is all about speaking to myself rants...letting out the man ka bhadas as the say. There might be many friends I would loose post this post..and many who would differ with me but like I said this is but my opinion and I don't really expect anyone to share it or even agree with it if they don't feel it's right so well here goes..

My job as a web content writer has led me to various Social networking sites as well as blog O sphere's where I see people commenting on each other's's all a very lovely atmosphere, something we really couldn't have imagined even till a few years back. A bit of a social networking freak I am a self proclaimed Face Book addict & I seriously think that if there is ever any award pronounced for faithfulness towards FB I shall perhaps be one of the strongest contenders for that. But jokes aside, even the die hard FB ite in me couldn't help but notice the policy of most web interactive spaces where the funda seems to be 'you scratch my back & i shall scratch yours'.
Being a poet and a creative person, I have the highest regard for any kind of art and as such I am always on the look out for different forms of creative work. There have been plenty of times when I have not known a person or the person is not too well known in the creative circuit but if I felt that his/her work deserves to be seen I have shared it on my wall posts on such a way that the creator often doesn't even know where he has got the publicity from. When I say this it is not because I'm aiming at the next mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi award, trust me I have my quirks, but because I sincerely believe that any artist is a true artist only if he/she can appreciate a creative piece without the bias of who has done it or without the need to be associated with a BIG name. No creative person is truly creative if he does not GIVE freely & appreciate creativeness freely.

Many of you reading this post might be thinking, what does this woman actually WANT to say or where is she getting to..well to cut things short...In the recent past I joined a contest on Indiblogger for Cleartrip on a write up that was to be about a travelogue. Like many others I wrote an article ( Say hello to Shillong, Scotland of the North East) and posted it in the appropriate forum. Over the past few days I've been notified that voting has begun and a strange phenomenon too.. my inbox shows mails where people have requested me to vote for them, knowing fully well that I have participated in the same contest. Its rather funny but I did that too. Going over the indivine posts of other members who have participated in the same contest I have put in my vote here and there for other posts in the same contest, because of only one reason 'I liked the post'....and I'm truly of the belief that that is the only reason one should vote. Perhaps it is silly of me to have entered a contest and not canvass.."please vote for me..please make me win"...why should I? In this regard I remember something My mother used to say to me every time I said I finished studies....she would say do you think you can face the exams, I would say yes. She would say fine " just remember that if you lie to me today about having finished your studies, it is yourself whom you are cheating the most because tomorrow if you fail in your exams, people would automatically know how well you studied"

These contest are of course far from exams but I was reminded of the analogy because if someone votes for me just because I have voted for him/her it really serves no purpose. I am ultimately not being appreciated for MY does that serve me as an author in the long run? besides I would be too embarrassed to ask someone to vote for me in a contest where money is involved. why should a person be forced to vote for me ( even if he/she doesn't like my post) so that I can win some BIG prize..that's disgusting! In direct contrast to this, one of my posts ( titled My Homeland) made it to Blogadda's Tangy tuesday pics, and I'm hardly there on Blogadda so I don't even know what it takes..but boy did it feel good I was elated cause I knew I was chosen for myself & THAT is precious!

I have never believed in the you scratch my back I scratch your back policy & I shall not canvass. Perhaps some of you will say that it is then stupid to join such a contest, so be it. I would still like to think that the votes I did get, those few ones are immensely precious..because they were given by a person who has genuinely liked my post & THAT I think is what creativity or any art form is all about. I am who I am because people appreciate what I do, let that be the only reason I am recognised if that means not winning a contest so be it..I would sleep well tonight & every night :)

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Homeland

In pensiveness and in subjectivity,

My mind hovers over the times that were…

When touch down is but an aerial feel,

My soul touches base in matters more than one

Of a childhood spent in games,

Of flowers and seasons in the rain

When running after dragon flies was a pastime too serious

To think of a career was all but tedious..

When running in the fields was akin to life..

Oh such were the joys of childhood alike

Today I have perfumes that smell and allure

But what is it about the smell of the land that overpoweringly endures-

In times of sadness it gives me hope

That little tinge of HOME as I know, is still within my scope

No matter where or how far I go, the touch of my land shall linger within me..

In joys so sweet & memories so fresh

I shall think of a HOME I never left.

In coming back to it, as lovers who never parted be..

Home is the smell of my lover I never left for thee

In corners and nooks I shall discover home again,

In a scratch here or a song sung there, I shall recollect it all with pain

Of friends and lovers, in loving memory they come all..

As my eyes delight in places that were mine,

I touch and feel and go back in time

When love and life stood still as time

As if for me waiting for a lifetime-

My eyes moist with the song of joy as I touch the land I never forgot,

Of friends and loved ones, just a whisper away…

Never shall I smell the same again

As I drench myself in my HOMELAND again

As the wheel of my dreams do a touch down on the soil of joy

Years of childhood come back at once

When the mind all at once rings in joy

My land My land I come…..all over and over again.

© 2011 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Saying Hello to Shillong, Scotland of the North East

Recollections of my first visit to Shillong being very hazy, since I was barely three at that time I decided to visit the place once again during my college days in Guwahati. India is blessed with many hillsations, but if you have been to Shillong you’ll know what I mean when I say that every other hill station in India fails to compete if not in terms of beauty, for the sheer variety that en-capsules Shillong and its pristine beauty.

The declaration of the independent state of Meghalaya by the late Mrs Indira Gandhi brought into focus a small, yet extremely charming destination by the name of Shillong. The capital of Meghalaya, where the clouds reside, or the abode of heavens, is what aptly describes this small town - now almost a city. It is a two and half to three hour journey by road from Guwahati.

There are of course plenty of buses that you can take to Shillong, the roads are unfortunately, now wide enough, thanks to many cuts in the hills. We however took a cab with a khasi driver in tow to give us a better feel of things. As we inched towards the outskirts of Guwahati, our man Friday narrated the funny fact that one side of the road was Meghalaya and the other fell within the boundaries of Assam, which to him meant picking up cheap liquor from the other side called Meghalaya.

The drive fro Guwahati, with its breath taking beauty prepares you for the lovely destination beyond. As you near Shillong, the sudden change in ait temparatures bring home the feeling that our destination is close by.

Almost as a gateway to Shillong and enhancing its beauty is the huge Barapani Lake which also happens to be a major source of water to these hilly areas. Like every one else we took a break at Nongpoh. The uphill drive thereon mingled with tall pine trees and the unmistakable chill in the air announced the arrival of Shillong.

Like most other hill stations, Shillong is marked by its rambling houses and small flower pots which carry more flowers than they can hold. The air of Shillong almost hits you with its freshness and sudden chill. Unlike most hill stations in India, Shillong is quite big, not only in size, but also in its wide roads and ample shopping destinations. The beauty here is not only restricted to its locales but also intricately connected with its people.

We had been booked at Hotel Pinewood Ashok, which is centrally located place in Shillong. I am of the firm belief that, if you want to enjoy the true essence of a place, book yourself in a good hotel. The ambiance of Hotel Pinewood Ashok with its old Scottish flavour warmed us up to the ‘Scotland of the East’. Like all tourists, we wanted to see everything at once. But being major foodies and like every other starved hostelite we decided to check out the much recommended momos at Broadway. Tulcked into the heart of Police Bazar, the momos were served in plantain leaves about 30 in a plate. It will suffice to say that till date it is perhaps the best steamed chicken momo I have even had. Melting in the mouth and hot, it is paradise for momo lovers around the world.

Having filled our tummies we walked around the brightly lit Police Bazar and witnessed the pretty fashionable tribal girls in their wrap around skirts distinctly different from each other distinguishing the different tribes that inhabit this state capital. Inhabited mostly with the Khasi, Garo and Jaintia tribes, Shillong is almost the face of the north east. The predominant Khasi tribe, which is incidentally matriarchal, shows off its ladies with great panache. Walking down its enchanting roads, rather than driving around, is the way to experience the true essence of Shillong, like exchanging pleasant "Khubleis" with the betel nut stained, pretty Khasi's carrying babies on their backs.

Like most tourist places, Shillong has more than its fair share of attractions, as we discovered in the following two days of our holiday. Built by the British as a summer capital and education centre for their children, Shillong boasts of some of the biggest and best convent schools.

There were other places of interest that we visited like the Wards Lake, Shillong Peak and the three magnificent waterfalls of Bidon, Bishop and Elephanta, which made for a full itinerary for us. We were told that most tourists visit upper Shillong and it’s the beautiful golf course and graceful churches.

We had already completed two days, almost time to go and yet the heart said that there was so much to see. The uniqueness of Shillong unlike most other hill stations in India comes from the fact that one never gets bored here. Even a month long stay is perhaps not enough to appreciate its true beauty. The more one sees, the more fascinating it becomes. The blooming orange trees, the little topsy turvy roads, the wooden houses blazing with forget-me-knots, Shillong was like a soul music that we didn’t want to end.

On our last night as I sat out in the garden I watched with silent appreciation at the place I had fallen in love with. As in most hill stations, night comes on suddenly and with great stealth in Shillong. Gazing down the hills, I witnessed the mesmerizing sight of millions of fireflies lighting up the mountains. Perhaps like all other visitors, I shall take back the image of a charmingly, refreshing place where the orange blossoms vie with the forget-me-nots and tiny children in their blazers walk up the lovely streets. Shillong is an essence I shall carry.

( Image courtesy Google)