Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Writing like a Kolhapuri..

I find great similarity between traveling and writing..both are best done when someone is footloose and fancy free, without inhibitions and seeing things from one's own perspective while keeping in mind that of other's too, but never letting it intimidate your style. Let it mould you just that enough to make you into someone tangible and yet just out of reach. The only thing you need to know while traveling is ..How to lose yourself, similarly the best of writing can only be done when you can look at situations and even yourself objectively. I often find a 'Kolhapuri' to be like a bohemian traveler, unassuming, non fussy and yet naturally classy. Much like a writer out to discover I think..

Like Nissim Ezekiel says -

"Always, amongst the Sun's eye's,
Here among the beggars,
Hawkers pavement sleepers,
Hutment dwellers, Slums
...I ride my elephant of thought,
A C├ęzanne slung around my neck."

( Image courtesy Google Images)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The sofa philosophy

Since the time I can remember, a sofa ( as it is mostly called in India) is one showpiece of pride in every household..It is also mostly a class barrier..many are the times I have seen, house maids, not being offered even a chair to sit on while talking to them & dare they touch the sofa..it would be a matter of sacrilege..and this from educated people too...the imbibed sense of class divide between those who have & the Have-nots manifested in these little discriminations are an extremely undignified way of treating people, without who's help, we can't get much done.. Just like in many houses still the sweeper is a person one does not touch...

During my life time at least I would like to see this silent discrimination end..if you are so worried about your sofa, bed, house and self getting dirty, there s always the option of cleaning it yourself. Philosophy cannot be relegated to the books you read & charity shows you attend, we need to start practicing it.

( Picture courtesy Google Images)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Puri Rath Yatra..more than a holy experience

The Puri rath Yatra starts today. India as a country is a strange mixture where religion, traditions, folk lore and customs come together in a cohesive whole. On this day Lord Jaganath ( who is another form of the supreme Hindu God Vishnu) is carried along with his brother Lord Balarama, and their sister Subhadra to their aunt's temple, the Gundicha Temple which is situated at a distance of 2 km from their temple. This is usually a huge spectacle that sees tourists and pilgrims from within India and outside making it to Puri, in Orissa. It's also an opportunity for those who are not allowed inside the temple to see the Gods. Little children in Bengal, Orissa and other Eastern states will play with little toys in the form of the chariot of Lord Jaganath.

But not someone overtly religious, this day is always special to me for another reason. Tradition has it that one this day, everyone should plant a tree/ seed. If planted on this day it's supposed to grow best. Another fascinating example of how the elders used to inculcate scientific methods through simple traditions. (The day is close to the coming of Monsoons in Bengal and Orissa & plants grown at this time have the best chances of surviving.)

I remember how our gardener, would make us put a seed or plant a sapling today while our parents looked on. A simple tradition I follow with my daughter too. Many years ago, we might not have had 'World environment day' but these little traditions ensured that the ecological balance stayed true.

( Image courtesy Google)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Birds of abandon

I visit a forest full of birds..
And lovingly seek to garnish each with my attention
They croon and they pout
And then they fly..in unison abandon of freedom-

The bird in my cage smiles when I ask it too
Crackles at my voice
And loves me at my bidding

And yet the blue skies they beckon me
To far off lands of fantasy & birds of wanton abandon....

© 2012 Maitreyee Bhattacharjee Chowdhury

( Image Courtesy Google)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The dilemma that is child labor

This is a fruit stall, manned by the two children shown in the picture. It falls en route, my evening walk. Confident that the children are capable of keeping eye on the stall, the mother has opened yet another, at some distance. The father shuttles between the two stalls and keeps an eye on both in between his work, here and there. The first day I saw this stall, I curiously asked them the prices and they were very fluent at the information and collecting the money from me for some mangoes I bought. I asked them if they didn't go to school, they said, yes we go to school sometimes and then we study from the books we have right here.

I am angry at the fact that these girls do not have a decent chance at education, but to them the work is more important because it ensures that the family does not go without food. I was happy that they made the effort to study, in between it all.

Today is anti child labor day, but I realize that in a country such as ours, where the options are between starvation and starvation..education and non-employment of children is perhaps not even an option sometimes. As such a practical approach to this problem, is perhaps more sustainable.

Just as lunch is the cheapest and tenderest of fruits, left over from a not sold stock, between fun and games, studies can also be a breather between standing in the sun, selling fruits.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Mall hopping..Comedy show..same thing!

The most lucrative part of visiting a mall at least in India is to watch people I think. There is no other reason I could at least be dragged into one. One has the feeling that everyone is watching what others are wearing, they look around, smile at people benevolently ( as if meaning..Holla, I'm here so are you!)

On a recent visit I managed to find a quiet corner and watch. A lady came along with her husband( Husbands are identifiable from a mile- The bored look says it all) she preened at everything from the joker dustbin to a stall displaying bags. After looking through at least ten of them, while the shopkeeper waited with bated breath..she took one and asked her husband to click a photograph..ten minutes of hubby darling requesting her to 'look to the right, look to the left' after the photo was clicked and the shopkeeper sighed in relief.

A man and a woman in their late twenties walk around, the woman has an arm length of Chudas( bangles of a new bride) and gently pulls her husband to the 'Lifestyle' showroom, while he longingly looks on at the electronics counter...the freshness of the marriage obviously wins over and he grudgingly walks in...

Two guys and one girl, walk around. they stand near MC Donalds. the boy puts on his sun glass's and asks the girl to stand next to him. He puts an arm around her shoulder. The 3 rd guy clicks the picture. next it is the girls turn, she pouts, places one hand in the hip, the other hand with the bag on the shoulder & beams 'paneer'..their FB status's are predetermined..Girl's status- "Hey guys was at Mcdie..had a great time!" ..Boy's status.."Guy's check out mah new girl, cool hah! Us at Mcdie"

My tea was over..I had had enough..Ohh ya I love malls

( Image courtesy Google)