Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shreya Ghoshal- Live Concert

This will be my 89th post on my blog and 50th for the year 2014. Not bad. I wrote 50 posts this year. Now, I know I had promised myself and otherwise that I would write 30 poems for a period of one month in my "Keep Calm and Stay Positive" series; however, I have to break my own promise and end the series right here, right now. I conclude, it is not as easy as I thought it could be to write 30 poems in one go. You need more time and creative thinking to work in tandem with your imagination. I fell short of either of it once in a while. I did not want the poems to look more of forced writings, hence, decided to end it at Day 17.

So, what would be my 50th post for the year 2014? I first thought I would go down memory lane. Revisiting the year that is going to end in just Eight more days. However, I have decided to write about it in my next post, possibly. I still have eight days to go to write about 2014. Let me take you through one Saturday evening, to be precise, December 20th evening, which I spent with my family at a Live Concert.

The Live Concert was organised by The Times of India, Chennai to celebrate 3,50,000 copies in Chennai alone. The star performer of the concert was none other than Shreya Ghoshal. I came to know of it through my neighbour when one fine morning she asked me if I could arrange or help her get passes for the show. Since, my husband and I are big fans of Shreya Ghoshal too, I decided to get passes for us as well. However, a few days later, when I saw the advertisement in the newspaper, I realised that the show is being organised at an open ground and not in an auditorium. Assuming open ground to be a hurdle in our watching the show, I thought of dropping the idea of asking for the passes. (TOI sold complimentary passes for the show)

After conforming through with everyone that the show had seating arrangements, I decided to take a chance thinking that it would not be a difficult task to manage my kid along with the concert. I am glad I stuck to my decision; because what unfolded on Saturday evening was a breathtaking, mesmerising, heart-throbbing performance by Shreya Ghoshal. This was probably my first ever Live Concert, and that too, in an open ground, with VIP passes and a stone’s throw away from the stage. Though I was my sane self, and simply sitting and clapping and singing along with Shreya as she turned the mic towards the audience; I could have been my insane self, had I been there with my friends. As I saw a couple of students, who had tagged along with their friends for the concert, hooting and clapping; shaking a leg to her dancing numbers; I too was taken over by the urge to get up and dance. :-D But as they say, you have to hold back your emotions and not overflow with them every now and then. [Had I not been an ex-employee of the organisation, I would surely have danced ;)]

Talking about the show, listening to Shreya Ghoshal live turned out to be the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Who hasn’t heard of her songs? She is probably the only female singer, after Sunidhi Chauhan, who has made it THIS BIG coming from a reality show. I have been following her since her win at Sa Re Ga Ma, the reality show which was being hosted by Sonu Nigam then. Starting her career with Devdas, Shreya has come a long way and can be easily crowned as the ‘queen of melodies’.

As she got onto the stage with her chartbuster song from the film, Aashiqui (2013), Sun Raha Hai Na Tu; the crowd roared with thunderous applause. The weather had been in perfect sync with the concert too. In fact, her melodious voice had led the mosquitoes of Chennai hide somewhere too because they were nowhere to be seen as soon as the concert began. :-D The concert that was to begin at 7 pm, began ten minutes later and continued for the next two hours. And, buoy! Those two hours, Shreya sang her heart out. Not just Bollywood numbers, she also sang some of the most beautiful Tamil compositions I have heard, mostly composed by AR Rahman and Illaiyaraja. While the bollywood numbers drew lots of cheering, whistles and applause, when it came to Tamil songs, the crowd went berserk.

Among the songs that she sung that evening, there was not a single song which I could say did not hit the right note. From the romantic numbers such as Main Tenu Samjhawan Ki, Chalo Tumko Lekar Chale, Jaadu hai Nasha Hai, Teri Meri Kahani to the dancing numbers Jaagi Jaagi Soyi Na Mai Teri, Ye Ishq Haye, Dhol Baje etc; every song kept the audience on their toes. [Though, I wonder why didn't she sing a song from her debut movie, Devdas] Seeing me sitting sober and simply enjoying listening to the music, with my kid in arms, my husband decided to take the kid and let me “enjoy” the concert in its sense. And, I did not leave out on the opportunity. ;) I sang aloud, clapped, danced sitting on the chair and simply flowed with the emotions.

I had goose-bumps all through the show. Such was the power of Shreya’s singing. Every note that she sang, touched me to the core. I was enthralled, awestruck and completely went in trance. I have actually lost track of the number of songs she sang. Two hours coupled with some power-pack singing and music was enough to send anyone into a world of their own. The neighbour, whom I tagged along with us, was thankful to me for the evening that she enjoyed to the core. In return, I get the entire recording of the show from her :-D [I was too engrossed in the songs, clapping and hooting, to bring out my camera and shoot a video; I did take a couple of pictures, which you can see in this post].

I couldn’t have asked for a better evening than this. Music did lift my spirits whenever I was down and out but Shreya Ghoshal Live singing lifted not just my spirits but my very self into a world (of music), which I adore and miss but feel scared to live in it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Keep Calm and Stay Positive - Day 17

The following poem has been inspired from a book that am currently reading:

Success- a walk on a bed of thorns
Shed a drop of blood 
Thou shall be blessed with it, forever

Thorns, sometimes hurt, sometimes don't
It may tear your skin 
or simply just touch and go
But success will come to you either way.

Strive for what you have been aiming for
Look for your ambition
Embrace your passion
Walk along step by step
Success will come to you either way.

There will be a path, right or wrong;
One can take you to the pinnacle
The other can bring you down 
Choose wisely for
Success will come to you either way.

Keep Calm and Stay Positive- Day 16

The following poem has been inspired from just a mere phase of life:

Calm, composing breeze brushes past
Inhaled goodness, exhaled toxic thoughts
Breathe of fresh air turns on the key to motivation

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Keep calm and Stay Positive Day 15

The following poem has been inspired by love and relationships.

Gazing straight into her eyes
His tall figure overpowered her petite frame
Long and passionate,  it was, an eternal feeling

Keep Calm and Stay Positive - Day 14

The following poem has been inspired from the women, whom we come across almost everyday. When we travel in a bus or train or auto; While crossing a road, or having a coffee at a cafe; While strolling in the park or just observing the many women, whom we feel more beautiful/content/happier than us.

Stroking the strand of hair beside her eyes,
Her fingers searched for an answer
Confused, They settled beside her red voluminous lips

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Keep Calm and Stay Positive- Day 13

The following poem is inspired by a bride, who is all set to begin her new life. She looks adorable and will probably have an adorable life too.

Thou eyes, black large dots
spoketh silently, gazing around
swiftly making way for your new abode

As she walks down the aisle to marry the man of her dreams. Her face blossoms like the new blooming flower.

She blushed, like that rose in the garden
Her face like a moon on a full moon night
drowned in love, she tip toed to another world

Keep Calm and Stay Positive Day 12

Yet again another poem which cannot be seen as a positive and calm approach but still I write it under the same heading.

The following poem is inspired by the recent rape incident that occured in New Delhi (Rape of a 27-year-old by an Uber can driver).

Bruised lips, teeth dug in
Kohl smudged, flesh scooped out
She struggled but lost.

Keep Calm and Stay Positive- Day 11

The following Haiku is inspired from an image that I drew in my mind. I do not know who it was or whom be resembles but I felt instigated by the whole imagery and this is what followed-

Droopy eyes
Cursed Life

Keep Calm and Stay Positive - Day 10

This is not really a positive poem. Unfortunately,  when you see such incidents happening in a so called secular country, you can't really keep calm and positive.

The following poetry has been derived from the mass conversion of muslims that took place in Agra on December 10.

Gone Hayware
Fanatics Abound

Keep Calm and Stay Positive- Day 9

I had promised to myself that I shall remain calm and positive all through. In an effort to do that,  I had given myself the task of writing 30 poems over a period of one month. I assume I am already past the deadline or probably may not be able to keep my promise. Thus, I will do a bit of cheating.  That being, I shall write poems but they might not be long ones anymore rather short poems, called Haiku. I came across this style of poetry while reading an article. I searched on the net and felt that this is the best way in which you can express yourself in short and concise manner. Haiku can be anything from an experience to an emotion to even an inanimate object. Thus, my Keep Calm and Stay Positive series is all set to take a different turn as I may end up writing the remaining poems in Haiku style.

Here goes my first attempt at writing a short poem. The inspiration for this poem came from my own baby.

Curled Up,
He Lies,
Content, I feel.

I may not have written it in the best possible manner of how a proper Haiku style should be followed but in attempting to write one isn't bad afterall. What say?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Happy Birthday Kaku

#I wanted to post this tomorrow but somehow couldn't wait any longer since I had written this post two days back. So, it is basically an advance Birthday wish for Kaku.

Have you ever been fond of someone so dear yet who isn't related to you biologically? Whom you meet one fine day through your parents and who becomes an integral part of your life just like your parents, uncles, aunts, cousins etc. Someone, who is far away from you, whom you hardly remember often yet there are times when you remember them fondly and wish they were there. Someone, who is no longer physically present but has etched a never dying image in your mind. Someone, whom you have loved, not just unconditionally, but with as much love and affection as you would your parents.

I have. He is (was) my Soumen Kaku. An uncle, whom I met through my parents. He wasn't related to any of us. He was our family friend's relative's friend. You must be confused by now to what relation did he have with us. He was not biologically connected to us yet he was knowingly or unknowingly making a space for himself in our lives. He was admired, loved and he reciprocated the same to us. He called my father, dada and my maa, Boudi. He regarded my father as his own elder brother. So much so that every decision he made in his life post his meeting us, he would always seek my father's advice. Not just seek even follow what my father would say. He knew that whatever was being said to him by my father is for his own benefit and hence, despite all the confrontations he might have within, he would never think twice before taking the final call as per my father's advice.

I am not writing this post to tell you how he followed my parents. I am here to tell you about this man, whom I still remember every now and then when I celebrate an important day in my life. Not just my life but his life too. December 8, happens to be his Birthday. May 11, happens to be his anniversary. I remember the dates. I remember the man. If only, I could see him too, I wish.

I couldn't even see him one last time. He died in December 2004. Its been a decade now. Yet I remember his Birthday and Anniversary. Though they do not make any sense any more. His wife has remarried, and cut off all her relations with us (who had stood by her in her trying times). She does not even acknowledge us. She is settled in her new palatial house somewhere in Kolkata. There son, who is three months elder to my younger brother, lives with them. His name has been changed as per his "new" father's wishes. However, he has kept ties with us, thanks to Facebook. He remembers all of us. He calls when he can manage to take out time. You know what? He looks exactly like my Kaku. He is HIS replica. In looks, build, and height, he is HIS son. Sadly, neither his name nor his surname bear a resemblance to my Kaku.

My Kaku was smart, handsome and extremely hardworking. To rise from a tiny little hut to a two BHK house in a locality in Mehrauli (New Delhi); he went through all the hardships and worked hard to earn his share of fortune. He was at the peak of his career at Vodafone (then Essar and later Hutch) when one fateful afternoon in 2002 his bike was hit by a vehicle. He was in critical condition for almost 72 hours but came back to his normal self soon after. However, the problem with coming back to normalcy was that he lost his memory, partially. He recovered gradually over a year but faced issues with breathing as there was pipe which had been placed inside his throat to help him in breathing. That was one thing which kept irking him every now and then. Often he would have breathing problem due to excessive cough blocking the pipe. Doctor advised surgery as an option to recover.

My mother and Kaki (his wife) had gone to the doctor that cold evening in December to figure out the expenses for the surgery. On her way, Kaki had received a call saying Kaku was having trouble in breathing and that he was being taken to the nearby hospital. The oxygen cylinder being over at home, Kaku was taken by road to the nearby hospital. Unfortunately, he couldn't survive the walk by road. By the time, he reached the hospital, he was dead. Can you believe it? A man, who had recovered from his injuries, who even got back his memory, died two years after the accident. WHY? Because of the damn lack of oxygen. So precious is Oxygen in our lives, you see?

He died. I was at home. I received a call from someone asking whether the news was true. I refused citing that my mother is there with Kaki. However, by the time I kept the phone down, my mother entered the house howling and crying. My Kaku was no more. I barely got to see him in those last few days. I wanted to accompany my parents to Kaku's home but I was denied saying I wasn't advisable to go. Moreover, I had my exams.

Kaku's death left a weird void in me. Though I have moved on, I graduated, did my post graduation, got married, settled in career, and even had a child; yet his Birthday is something that is yet to erase off my mind. Initial years, I would take a piece of pastry and a candle, light it in front of his photograph and cut it wishing him Happy Birthday. Gradually, I stopped doing that too. However, I could not forget him or his birthday. I could not forget him while I got married. I could not forget him while I got together for some or the other function at home. I could not forget him whenever I saw the other two Kakus, who would frequent our house with him and we all would have a gala time chit chatting, eating, dancing, singing, leg pulling all night.

P.S. I miss you Kaku. Happy Birthday! 
Some of the pictures, which I could gather while I was at home. They all speak of different times. (clockwise from top left) Kaku with Baba and two other uncles; Kaku with me; Kaku serving dinner/lunch on my birthday; The picture at the centre is at a griha pravesh function after his accident, during this time, he had partially recovered his memory.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Keep Calm and Stay Positive- Day 8 - Walk into oblivion

You know it is definitely not an easy task to "write" however, it is surely an arduous task to think, imagine, create and then "write." Poetry, for me, somehow falls in the latter category though surprisingly, whatever poems I have written till date have always been impromptu. Hence, I guess I was correct in choosing a theme like this for my "Keep Calm and Stay Positive" series. It will not only give me the mind to think and write but also nurture my ability to be impromptu.

This poem is a mix of both kind of writing. While the starting few lines had been hovering on my mind since long, the rest just followed as I typed through.

Walk into oblivion

Her eyes said it all
The 'kohl' was smudged
Like she had cried the whole night
The lipstick was smeared all over  
Like someone had forced upon her.

Yet when she emerged out of the dark windows
She had never looked so serene and calm
Whether it was her way to hide 
the atrocities meted out on her
Or was it that she indeed was calm
after all that happened with her.

But what had actually happened with her?
Neither anyone knew, nor anyone tried
The calmness on her face said it all
She had never been so content
As if she was free of all the shackles.

Emerging out of the dark room
she walked and walked
to a land unknown
or may be known to her
Everyone looked at her
Trying to decipher if she was fine
But they were scared.

Scared? But why?
As she walked barefoot 
into an oblivion
Pool of blood flowed out
Everything froze around.

They looked once at the blood
then at her walking
She seemed to have turned
a blind eye to all
She walked as if never to return
The calmness on her face
a witness of the crime.

She had had enough
the torture, beatings
sexual assault, burns
She knew the time had come
So, she fixed it up
once and for all. 

She knew there wasn't a way out
Yet she took the step
She knew 'death' was the only way out 
Death by her own hands,
Society would never side by her,
She took the law into her own hands
The final result was worth her wait
She walked into an oblivion
To start afresh

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Keep Calm and Stay Positive - Day 7- He is the shadow that leaves never

I know I have not really followed the days pattern in my series to be positive. No excuses, just a plain simple reason, I wasn't keeping well, neither could I manage to think of poem nor did my little kiddo give me the time to sit down, relax and write something that I wanted to write. I do not know if am succeeding in keeping calm and staying positive however, I do know for a fact that writing these posts do give me that hint of staying positive even if it is for a matter of few seconds. I like it. And, probably because of this I may continue writing these posts till I complete 30 poems, doesn't matter whether I am able to keep the days in order or not.

There is nothing really that came into my mind while writing this poem. I merely remembered a scene outside my window, while I was having breakfast standing next to it and looking at the tree outside. There were four crows which tried to shoo away the Koel, which was trying to poke inside the nest of some other bird. They all surrounded the Koel and kept screaming "Kaaaaw Kaaaaw"; Finally the Koel had to fly away as it realised that it cannot do anything to the nest which was being probably "protected" by the crows. I do not know which bird has made that nest. All that I could derive from that scene was, if you have a support system like that, you can probably ward off any evil that comes or may come your way in the future. Isn't it?

HE is the shadow that leaves never

The sea was playing a rhythmic sound
as the waves washed ashore,
I stood there looking into the horizon
trying to see deep into the sea,
I tried to fathom how deep the sea was
but its vastness wouldn't let me do so.

Not knowing where to go
I sat on the wet sand,
It took me in, holding me tight in its grasp
I wanted to leave from its clutches
but I let myself soak in it.

My mind felt serene and calm
as I closed my eyes,
I was oblivious of the surroundings
transported to the vast world of the sea,
I imbibed as much as I could
for it made me content.

A sudden chill ran down my spine
I realized my heart was sinking,
Scared I was, or was it a dream?
I neither know nor do I want to know
All I could think of was 
the warm embrace I missed then.

I held myself up from the wet sand
I stood facing the sea with open arms
A heavy breeze hit my face
splashing a few droplets of water,
Did I miss him?

I felt his arms around my waist
I thought I was dreaming yet again,
Only this time, the feel was real
He was there, right there all along,
He was there, watching me soak in the sea,
He was there, observing me embracing the waves,
He walked up to me, to make me realize
that He was there, is there, and 
shall always be there, 
like that shadow that leaves never.

Book Review- Unaccustomed Earth- Jhumpa Lahiri

I had read this book even before I started with this but somehow couldn't generate the time to write the review for the book. I know I am too late in probably reading and reviewing this book however, I didn't want to let those who haven't read Jhumpa Lahiri earlier, miss out on reading this one. Now, Lahiri's debut work, Interpreter of Maladies, was a poignant effort and had some really great short stories that stayed with you, long after you have finished reading the book. Unaccustomed Earth, is not really her best work but certain stories definitely remain etched in your heart forever.

The book, Unaccustomed Earth, is divided into two parts. The very first story of Part I is the title of the book. In this story, Ruma, a  young mother is visited by her father, who slowly tends to her garden in the backyard of her house. While tending to this earth, the father strikes a special bond with his grandson. Meanwhile, he hides a love affair from his daughter, keeping it all to himself, thinking it might upset her. What we see in this story is the relationship that Ruma shares with her father after her mother's death; though they are not the quintessential father and daughter, she missing her mother most of the times thinking how they had been when she was alive, there comes a thin line that separates her from her father. She does not know what it is and thus lets her relationship with her father go as it is. In "A Choice of Accommodations" a husband's attempt to turn an old friend's wedding into a romantic getaway weekend with his wife takes a dark, revealing turn as the party lasts deep into the night. In "Only Goodness" a sister who is eager to give a perfect childhood to her younger brother is overcome by guilt and anguish when his alcoholism threatens her family.

In Part Two- "Hema and Kaushik"- is a trio of linked stories. In this part we follow the  lives of girl and boy who one winter share a house in Massachussetts. They travel from innocence to experience on separate,  sometimes painful paths, until destiny brings them together again years later in Rome. I liked this part the most. After finishing the book, it left with you an impression that remains with you for a long time until you get another fascinating book that may lift your spirits and take you to a stage where you can live on with the essence of the book and its character.

Its been a long while since I read this book. Hence, the review attempt has been half hearted actually. I feel I could have written a better review than this. However, this should not stop you from picking this off from one of the bookshelves and delving deep into its pages. Unaccustomed Earth is rich with Lahiri's usual exquisite prose, emotional wisdom, and subtle renderings of the most intricate relation between the heart and mind.

Happy Reading  :-) 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Book review- Longing, Belonging An Outsider at Home in Calcutta by Bishwanath Ghosh

Calcutta, the city of joy, is associated with each and every Bengali living on this planet even though he or she might not have the least possible connection with it. Despite being a Bengali, I am probably the only person (as far as I know) who doesn't like Calcutta as much as a quintessential Bengali would. Having born and brought up in Delhi, I detested going to Calcutta be it for anything. Often being rebuked by my mother for the same, I have heard countless stories of how she and her siblings would be excited about the summer holidays because they would get to visit Calcutta for almost the entire summer vacation. The very thought of spending two whole months in Calcutta gave me jitters. I don't know why I hated going there so much despite it being loved by everyone for its charm, life,  food, people, trains, tram etc etc.

My last visit to Calcutta was in 2010, when my friend PC from my Journalism college decided to head home while we the students were being taken for yet another study tour. PC just needed a reason to go home. She found this good enough. I, having visited the study tour place already once earlier decided to travel to Calcutta as a matter of factly. I simply suggested PC if I could accompany her, and she was ready with open arms. A very dear uncle of mine lives in Calcutta. I told him I would be coming for four days and would like to meet him once.  He was surprised beyond comparison. He couldn't believe that of all the places I had decided to come down to Calcutta. He literally wanted to thank PC for igniting in me the urge to visit the city after years. What were meant to be just four days, seemed like a long vacation I had taken to visit Calcutta.

I did not know that 2010 would probably be my last visit to Calcutta. I have not had a reason to visit the city again. As I said, it shall always remain in the end of my list of "to visit" places. Yet, I wanted to read this book, Longing Belonging, ever since I saw the author post about its book launch. Unfortunately I couldn't attend the launch at Chennai; I somehow managed a copy from a family friend. I do not know what really drove me to pick up the book. Was it Calcutta? or the fact that I had loved the author's first book, "Chai, Chai- Travels in Places You Stop But Never Get off" ? Or was it the Bong Connection? I guess it was the last two points that 'instigated' me.

"There is always a Bengali who knows better. "  These are concluding lines of the book. Quite apt too. As a Bengali, I am  sure many would know Calcutta way better than what I have seen and read from the book. I assume they would even be better off to criticise or praise the book. However, as a person reading it from the point of view of an "outsider" or "Probashi Bangali" (A Bengali living outside of Bengal) I think I connect with the author' thoughts in some ways.

The book is indeed an outsider's account of what he sees and feels about Calcutta. Connected to Calcutta at first in his childhood ( like my mother) through the routine vacation, the author is finally connected permanently to it as he marries a girl from the very city. However, he hasn't yet dared to move in to the city with his belongings. He is happy to have been living down south for the past ten years or so. Through the author's eyes, you SEE Calcutta. You visit the Happening and not so happening places of Calcutta. From Park Street to Kalighat, Kumartuli to Sutanuti, Durga Puja to Saraswati puja; Writer's building to the factory where was 'invented' KC Das brand of Roshogollas; From Sonnagachchi to Victoria Memorial; Howrah bridge,  Vishwabharati,  Vidyasagar Setu, Saltlake City, Mother Teresa' Home, Flurys, Coffee House, Floatel, Tollygunge Club, Etc etc; the book spans across four seasons- Spring, Summer,  Winter and Spring Again.

The author takes you through a Calcutta that you may have heard about, read about and may be even seen but not really gone into the depths of it. He probes the lives of its inhabitants- some famous and some not so famous- throwing light into the various facades of lives living in the same city in different circumstances. They have all have a thing in common, they have tasted success only after going through trial times. Personally, I loved the accounts of the famous writer- Sunil Gongopadhyay; a tram driver- Uma Shankar Pandey; Asim Dasgupta-CPM leader; Tapan Barik- a local dada; Sanatan Dinda- an artist and Indrani Roy- a local journalist. Each account is unique in itself and they all talk about a Calcutta that existed a 'long time ago.' 

The book is something that you would love to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a cup of tea in hand. You witness a Calcutta, where you would like to go in an instant and see how life still moves on in the same way as it did a long time ago. The only minor change being whatever little development that has taken place over the years. The thing that remains constant is- the people living there, their warmth and attitude towards life,  the city and its essence, the food, and of course, Durga Puja.

I did have the urge to go and visit the city. I guess it is the Bong Connection with the city which makes me want to go there. Just that I do not know whether that day will arrive anytime soon. Till then, you guys read on. Happy Reading!