Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Red lips and some Betel leaves

Some inane coffee happened somewhere
On some fancy street
Where a poodle came for a walk,
Amidst someone's peroxide hair

Stop your chit chat..his smoke said
let's touch..lazy eyes Morse coded

In the slow lap of water
Into the holy land
A dingy boat..and loads of stars
Holy schmuck!!
they touched and touched and touched
Some Betel leaves and red lips after

They jumped..their boats
Into some kind of togetherness
Conversation..you r so horribly sexy!

© 2012 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

The flirt

Last evening I was walking down the road with a male friend. The friend in question has a roving eye and is not shy about it. He says I love women. So I ask him about HIS kind of women. Rather unabashedly he says, " Oh I look at all kinds of women. Scantily clad women, well dressed women, all of them." He adds, "There's only one type of women I don't look at." Curious I look at him and ask, "who and why?" he tells me, "Have you seen those women who take bath under public taps?". India being a poor country our people are often devoid of a private toilet, a private tap to bath in and there are many such scenes both in the urban and rural sectors, where you will see women collecting under a public tap to take a bath. Often these women are scantily dressed and barely able to cover the shame of having to expose their bodies to public glare. In course of time of course they get used to it or maybe not. Who knows.My friend added, " these are women who are scantily dressed because they have no choice, their shame is private and yet so public, I have never ever looked at such women, It is my way of giving them privacy.

I looked at my friend with new eyes, in him womankind had no fear. Wish more men would understand that the dignity of a woman lies in not only what you say to her..but also what you don't say.

( Image courtesy Google)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Being Middle Class..being a Safari suit

I am walking down the road, like always I seem to gather a lot of stray dogs around me..they and me..we are usually always in a very happy space..we belong to nowhere and probably to know one..or who knows? My eyes fell on a particular dog, it wanted to cross the road. Like any other busy Indian road, full of chaos, men, women, animals, pollution, we have it all. I saw in relaxed ease with a smile on my lips as the dog squeezed in between some cars, found its ways between some bikes, and finally emerged on the other side of the road with a victorious smile and immediately started off to fight yet another battle of squeezing in somewhere, somehow..strangely it reminded me of the middle class. Forever trying to squeeze into that which is always just a bit beyond us..when I was young and wanted a radio of my own, I couldn't buy it with my own pocket money..just that little bit out of reach..as I grew older, nothing much changed..things are always that little bit out of reach..perhaps in some ways it's for the better..that's why the middle class is like the color brown..we fit in everywhere...and into everything..the only pitfall..everything is so damm precious for us because it all comes at a very high cost..status, jobs, money, etc etc..and that is also why we can never experiment..never give it up..just for a lark...In that I envy the pooor..especially the poor & not the rich..the rich have it all..there's no scope left there to imagine..the poor have their imagination..& they are free birds to take it where they will.

There's a strange power to the poor man who can wear his scarf with much more panache than that of someone on the red carpet..because it's not regimented and he doesn't care a hoot..that's style that's attitude..something every fashionista kills for. The middle class on the other hand is very reminiscent of the 'Safari suit' & the 'Indian nightie' that you'll see ladies make into everything but a night dress. The safari suit and the 'nightie'are probably two dresses that have been totally re-defined by Indians...in a Safari suit, you are like a yo yo ball..be whatever you want whenever, however..your basic aim is to fit in, much like the tie of a Medical rep..there's no morning -evening to it.

In my mind's eye, we are all wearing that Safari suit and trying very hard to make it look like a tuxedo.

( Image courtesy Google)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The girl who always smiled..

There was once a little girl, in a remote village. People from far off lands came to visit her, show her to their children, their families. The girl was all of ten and she was special because she would always smile. No one had ever seen this little girl ever cry or even make a sour face. Gradually her name spread and people came to see her and they said wistfully to each other, " If only we could always smile like that", " She is so lucky she has no pain in her heart". They showed their children, the little girl and asked them, "Cant you be a little like her?" The little girls parents were very happy. The people who came to see her brought her many gifts and the parents were conscious of doing no such thing that might take away the smile of their daughter. The parents were paranoid, even though the little girl tried to explain to them that she couldn't stop smiling even if she wished to.

But one day suddenly, the little girl grew up. And just as magically as she had smiled all day, she lost her smile. The parents were petrified. They were afraid all their name would be gone, they would get no more gifts, no one would come to see their daughter.They tried to show her to doctors, make jokes, bought her presents, they tried everything. But try as they might, they could not get back the lost smile of their daughter. One day the parents sat gloomily in their little cottage. The little girl walked up to them and told them, " Do not be afraid, just like you told everyone before that I was never sad, tell them now that, I have nothing to be happy about" Before long the astonished parents saw, young men from far off lands come to ask for the hand of their daughter. They were curious and being unable to sustain their curiosity asked one of the suitors one day, " why would you want to marry her?" The young man said, " Look at her eyes, there are realms of infinite sadness in them and yet nothing I can pinpoint at, that is what makes her so unattainable." "I know there will be one part of her that I will never own, that will never be mine in totality and that is why I shall always try..and in that trying I shall be happier than most. "

© 2012 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image courtesy Google)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Shake your bon bon

I was browsing in a book shop one afternoon, it was dark indoors and the shop smelled stale and a thousand years old..I looked around me at those sleeping giants bounded in exotic molds..From somewhere next door the delicious tinkle of laughter and coffee, well brewed wafted in..my nostrils swelled..this was orgasmic..my eyelids drooped..

A page from Shakespeare fell open on my lap. The bard said, “Thou art a poet?”..”Ay Ay” chimed in a notorious Donne..”Like everyone else”..Somewhere a sweet perfume, smelt of sadness and Keats said, “Our sweetest songs are those that..” “Oh come off it” said Shelly ..”haven’t we been hearing that since ages now?”..”lets talk of clouds, of thunder, of revolution”…Somewhere someone sniggered was it the Pope? Oh well..
As I walked along the bookshelves, picking a book here, replacing a book there, lingering my hands on a cover here..I suddenly see a book with a skull, my curiosity piqued. What kind of book would it be I wondered..probably something on boring science, or the occult. Either way, neither subject interested me much.

I was about to put the book down..suddenly the skull winks at me..I cannot believe my eyes..” How about some fun says he”..I nod my head in absentminded grace, but of course. In a jiffy he’s out of the book and walking across to a dignified looking stable of high brow literature. Of course no one there was allowed to laugh, even the damsels were all born to distress, no one had taught them to smile..The skull seemed to be confused. Suddenly a red head steps out of a somber looking book, takes a hair brush and gives her hair a fashionable twist..She twists her finger at the skull, beckons him and arches an eyebrow, “ I have fifteen minutes, wanna have some fun” I heard a large thud, as I peeped and looked back at the shelves I had just crossed. The book of Shakespeare had fallen down in horrified horror..the bard looked distinctly pale, while a Donne did a chuckle, “ poor old fella” he nodded at the fallen one.

By this time the skull and the red head have managed to come at a kissable distance, as if on clue starts, ‘ Shake your bon bon, shake your bon bon and they both groove, hips shaking, gyrating against each other in the most passionate manner and just when the skull is about to kiss the red head, he breaks into a thousand pieces..A shriek, a cry, a screech breaks the dance apart, Tennyson had been awakened, ‘In Memoriam’, everyone was somber again..From the far edges of the library a booming voice echoed Blake's 'sick rose'..the skull had suddenly grown hands, very long hands..he reached for the 'Sick rose' and tore it into a thousand pieces and laughed loud.. the red head screamed and shook her hair and swooned..” The skull walked back to his book…he looked the part of a skull at last, pale and deathly

I woke up, what a trance!!..The Coffee place next door beamed..’ Shake your bon bon’

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The cry of the Inanimate

Yesterday while pottering around the kitchen,I absentmindedly banged the refrigerator door. A cry went off, I was startled and looked in the direction of the refrigerator , had it spoken up? I noticed a small bowl, that had been accidentally kept near the door of the refrigerator. It had been hit by my callous banging of the door. But what was the sound about? Like that of a cry, of someone in agony..It made me think. It took us humans a long time to imagine and understand that animals and living beings other than themselves have language and are capable of understanding and depth( Some still haven't understood that)..if so, are we mistaken in assuming that non living things don't feel?

I took up the bowl in my hand and stroked it a while, nothing happened, but I felt good. If I wasn't rambling here, and had spoken of this to someone else, people would have stared at me. But hey didn't we stare at those who said the earth was round? We've all heard of course of plants responding to music, even having preferences in music( Soft music apparently soothes them). Well then why can't a different dimension be given to an inanimate object, by attuning it to music..a force of life, perhaps in the hopes that one day they shall show some kind of response, or better still, we shall respond to how they feel?

I am reminded of Susan Philipsz, who works with sound installations. Philips was awarded the Turner prize for her sound installation in Glasgow. Recordings of Philipsz singing three slightly different versions of a Scottish lament over the river Clyde in her hometown, Glasgow, was installed beneath each of the three bridges within the city – the George V Bridge, the mighty Caledonian Railway Bridge and Glasgow Bridge. Philipsz is perhaps the first person in the history of the award to have worked on bestowing feeling to something you cannot see or touch. But more than that, her idea, of bestowing the emotion of her song, onto the bridge and the river flowing below, is stupendous.

In a strange way I am reminded of music being played in funerals. Why do we do it? Especially when there is no authentic proof that can substantiate any sense of feeling associated with the dead being able to hear the music, or even find peace on it. Strangely enough, different religions bestow different music to their dead, some even bestow laughter, in the hope and belief that that soul will be in peace.If such is the case, maybe we can sometime bestow emotions and language to inanimate objects too.

( Video courtesy Youtube)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dancing with the elements

'Tis the season for caps, some gloves and the sensuousness of being tucked into someone cozy. But caps have never been my thing ..am more of a hat person. Yesterday as I walked with my boots making some mighty clickity clack..my hat flew out of my hair..some softness of the hair tumbled over..I could see some of me pour forth along with the leaves gathered on the sidewalk and as I bend to collect the hat..It flew just out of my reach again, teasing, tantalizing, playing as if a game. I looked at it in wonder & felt within me brewing an amazing sense of Joy..Joy is somewhat different from happiness..its existence does not depend on some occurrence..you feel it as a part of your being ..You look around you and finally you find that there is actually immense joy around you, that emanates from beauty as terrific as the mundane ..in the little rustle of the leaves, my cap flying around me like a dream, as if it were trying to gather me in its arms saying, come dance with us..and I did. While I was dancing such on the streets I wasn't really aware of myself and what I was doing, it was just some sheer bliss of being one with the elements.

I have danced for long and many a times for making others happy, to hear their sighs and expression of satiation. But it was when I saw my little hat fluttering in the air, happy for itself and without a care in the world, I realized how fantastic it can be to dance for yourself. Release yourself of bonds that tie you, in the ME, the HE, the US..Dance is the only form where I feel liberated and away from all that binds me down..it is my way of being God..being attached and yet not.

( Video courtesy Youtube)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

'Anda Chor' ( Egg Thieves)

I was sitting on the settee in my home in Salt Lake in Kolkata. The living room was a pitch dark, nothing moved not even the flimsy lace curtains, I held so much in contempt, bought after much haggling in some non descript shop in New Market. I looked at the yellow pale light on the street; it seemed to find especial delight in the fact that it was aged and haggard. There was a slight breeze outside and the little leaves of the drum stick plant that grew wild in our garden like so many other gardens in Salt Lake, shook in the wind. I wondered if he would make an appearance tonight. My gut feeling told me he would. I looked across the passage that connected the oval shaped large living room to the dining area and the adjoining kitchen. I had an advantageous position, without moving an inch I could see whoever would enter the kitchen by just turning my eyeballs.

To the uninitiated, Salt Lake in Kolkata, still has many sections that are vacant and without shopping malls and luckily my house had one such empty plot behind it and another beside it. While this was good for my mental peace, it also brought along with it many unwanted guests in the name of people prying over private property. In this foregone conclusion I was convinced, that my house was the favorite hunting ground for a rather hungry vagabond, and I was determined to catch him tonight. In the strangest of strange cases, the vagabond stole 1 egg from my kitchen every day. Apart from being curious about why he stole only an egg every day, I also wanted to see, what he did with the egg. I mean did he make an omelet, scramble or poach of it? These details are very important to any investigation, I had convinced myself. Under the circumstances, tonight I had set myself comfortably on the settee, meaning to catch the thief red handed OR Egg-handed if you please!

I had armed myself with a rather large stick that I had broken off from Mr. Sharma's garden (I was told that Eucalyptus branches are very strong) three plots away. The cuckoo on the clock made its appearance punctually at 12(the bewitching hour), much to my irritation. Why on earth did my folks have to procure this irritate thing all the way from Swiss hands? An Indian grandfather would have happily slept along the game. My nerves were twitching now, and my pupils dilated. "Everything in a mystery plot was a coincidence" I had read in an old book I bought off the footpath in College Street, and even though its author was suspect, all my detective instincts told me, this was the time! It would happen, NOW.

As if in tandem, suddenly I could hear a scuffle from the kitchen window. The sounds led me to believe that there were two tiny people struggling to do something. My eyebrows and pulse shot up in unison, but I had expected one person, how could there be two! I still sat in my position, only tilting a bit towards the kitchen. Suddenly, I saw two black shadows near the egg tray, my blood chilled, so there were two of them. Would my stick suffice to hit two people? I decided it was time to make my move, before they fled with the booty. Very stealthily I lowered myself from the settee and crawled on all fours, stick in the teeth, punctuated with the saliva of bravado. As I moved close to the kitchen, the shuffling continued unabated. This surprised me a bit, what kind of thieves were these, no one had obviously taught them anything about subtlety.

Unperturbed, I reached the kitchen door, to my horror the shadows that had loomed large had now contracted. I wondered if it was some law of physics that made shadows larger than they were in some vague angle of lighting. Whatever it was, I cursed myself for not paying enough attention to my physics classes and moved forward. Now the light from the outside street post was quite clear and I could see clear shapes.

What I saw made my jaw drop. On the mantel piece, along the kitchen wall lay a mouse, on its back. Quite big for its size, the mouse had placed( God knows how) an egg on its stomach and the other shadow( now confirmed as other mouse, pulled its tail in a slow and steady pace, so as not to disturb the egg, so precautious held in the middle!

I have always loved ingenuity but this took the cake! All short of clapping I closed and opened my mouth in sheer amazed stupidity and even wondered if I should give them another agg just to see the act repeated, right from the very beginning. Soon enough the spectacle was over and the smart mouse duo had vanished into the adjacent empty plot to probably savor their spoil from the night. It dawned on me much later that I had lain awake in hopes of catching the thieves and they had walked off right beneath my nose, without me doing a thing about it!

My story of the clever mouse wasn't met with as much excitement as I had expected the next day and this left me rather disappointed, especially since I had planned another excursion, involving all the family members and the lure of yet another tray of eggs.

Much have I waited looking beyond those holes, near the kitchen expecting yet another mouse pair to delight my nights, but since then I believe a house has cropped up and the mice holes fixed. But once in a while I still wonder about the delightful 'Anda chors’ (Egg thieves) and mull over an act so stupendous!

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The summer of 1978

It was..the summer of 1978

He took a broom
And wiped the floor
Looked at the kitchen
And swiped it once more

The telephone had rung-
Some Thursday night
Voices from offshore beamed
“I’m coming Pa”

Some leaves had fallen
On the pathway pristine
He picked up the broom and swept it clean

The bed was made up for the 100 th time
White and serene.
Two pillows lay side by side
Smug and clean

He paced the runway
Knowing not whom to expect
The son had grown
In photographs suspect

Suddenly emerged a young man anew
Just like a cocoon
With freshly, speckled dew
They shook hand like elders
And sat in a taxi,
“Do I know you?”
The silences screamed-

The bag in the centre..somehow seemed insurmountable
To fingers that itched to crawl over in welcoming
A son, apparently lost

Bathed and clean,
He swung into action
“Pa I shall be late, with friends I’m having luncheon”

Take a torch, a wrinkled hand offered
The lights are dim, and the roads are bad
The lad and his shoes
Stopped in their tracks
“Im 28, not 58, dad”

© 2012 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

Monday, January 2, 2012


I closed my eyes…I dived into a world unknown..it was green, shimmery..everything seemed to be floating around me..there were thousands of neurons and nerve like structures..delicate feline, just about to break if you had the audacity to touch them..they seemed to be floating..gently..I raised a finger to touch them, but they swayed back, as if in the fear that their dreams would be broken..and then suddenly I had wings..my body seemed to sway without knowing that it was gravitating towards any particular creature or substance..suddenly I had this urge to visit one crevice that seemed to be isolated..it had little nerve like ends..they were red in color..through the haze of bluish green color..I watched the nerves tingling..as if they had been touched..felt shy and retreated back into their own worlds of dreams..I floated past some of the red tendril like creatures arms flung in longing they seemed and yet I knew if I touched them they would retreat into their lost world….I looked up, there seemed to be thousands of little children there playing ping pong throwing up their dreams, their conversations and their fears in some bizarre mad juggle and amazingly so not a single dream nor a single wish, nor conversation fell out of rhythm..I saw then an six year old, shaking her little brother it seemed she wanted to know something, the little brother only had a mysterious smile about him..I felt like slipping into the six year olds mind..just for a bit I thought, I was sure she wouldn’t mind….I slided in pretty smoothly..her neurons were different, they waved into the air with dream like majesty too..but they were happy neurons or so I thought..they didn’t feel threatened, instead they seemed to be happy to see me and welcome me without judgment of who I was and why I had come . I put my ears against one of those soft red tendrils to hear what she was thinking..At first I couldn’t hear much..hear with happiness, hear without malice, hear without thoughts of taking from another..someone seemed to whisper..I smiled..I closed my eyes and leaned again..this time I heard a soft music like voice say to her brother..” I want to feel God once more..will you help me..will you tell me how he looked like..I seem to be forgetting fast”

I felt blotches of water on my face..I opened my eyes, it was raining all around me, while I lay on the grass in my garden, My book of ‘How to explore the brain’ lay open at page 85, wet, real and a mesh of papyrus..Little fireflies laughed.

( Image courtesy Google)