All posts by Jasbir Chatterjee

Poet, writer, blogger, corporate professional

All Great People Think Alike…

 

Tagore 2 pic
Rabindranath Tagore (India’s only Nobel Laureate Poet)

 

About 4 years ago, I caught the Rabindra Sangeet bug and ‘Tobu Mone Rekho’ was one of the songs that I learned to sing. I was enthralled and captivated by the great depth and intensity of this song and it remains my favorite till this day. It is widely believed that Tagore wrote this song in 1888 in the memory of his sister-in-law Kadambari who committed suicide in 1884 after his marriage to Mrinalini…

I even made a recording on my mobile phone as I sang this song, just to see where I stood vis-a-vis Sraboni Sen.  I was rather amused with the results!

I stumbled upon a very exciting discovery today: an uncanny similarity of meaning between Tagore’s song ‘Tobu Mone Rekho’ which means ‘Still remember me” and Christina Georgina Rosetti’s poem “Remember.”
Rosetti pic
Christina Georgina Rosetti

Rosetti was also in a very melancholic mood when she wrote this poem. She was seriously ill and in this poem, which was written in 1862, she has expressed her desire to be remembered even after death.

The links to the works in question are given below. Take a look and see for yourself. Perhaps Tagore was influenced by Rosetti, but this does prove that all great people think alike.

Tobu Mone Rekho: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5aMrZoOV04

Rosetti’s ‘Remember’: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/remember/

 

Advertisements

Abritti Competition – Durga Puja – 22 October 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This year, for the first time in my life, I participated in the Abriti (Bangla poetry recitation) competition at Timarpur Durga Puja. I won the 2nd prize! My poem was ‘Swapne’ from Tagore’s Sanchaita, a collection of original poems compiled by Tagore himself…The opening lines are,”Sundoro, tumi eschechile aaj prate/Orunboron Parijaat loye haate…” meaning, “O Beautiful One, you came today morning/blessing me with sunlight, sunflower in your hand…I understood this poem much better when I saw this tree in Timarpur standing so beautifully with a halo of sunlight. I just couldn’t resist taking its pic! Just click on the pic below. Really, without Sukhangshu’s help and encouragement this wouldn’t have been possible…

Exif_JPEG_420

Timarpur Greens

Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420

This year also, we celebrated Durga Puja (19-23 October 2015) in Timarpur. While walking to the pandal and back to the guest house, I took some random shots of the surrounding greenery with my mobile phone. I got amazing results and it gives me great pleasure to share the pics here on my blog. Look at the photo on the top and see how the branches intertwine to form a canopy over people walking below them…

Timarpur is the oldest government residential colony in Delhi. It was established in the pre-independence era. Unlike other government colonies, most of the area remains untouched and undeveloped since it was first established. That’s why it seems to have an old world charm. Most people who live here are either tenants or the original allotees of the government flats.

With lots of wide, open streets, rich greenery, tall trees as old as the colony itself, the place gives you the feel of a fairy tale with all the elements of good and evil. There are, of course, a few patches of slum areas and the usual traffic. But the noise and pollution level seem to be comparatively less and there seems to be a general sense of all-pervasive peace and calmness.

We lived as tenants in Timarpur for 2 years till 1994, but we keep returning to Timarpur every year during Puja. My family members were government servants and were one of the earliest residents of Timarpur who played a prominent role in helping the Puja continue year after year. Our family tradition is still continuing till date and by the grace of Ma Durga, we always manage to find accommodation somehow near the pandal during those 5 days of Puja.  My 19-year-old daughter says that she cannot imagine herself enjoying Durga Puja at any other pandal.  So I guess the tradition will go on in future as well.

Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420

Exif_JPEG_420

Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420

Common Flowers of Delhi

IMG-20150622-01971

Delhi is world’s 10th most polluted city. This is what a recent report on World Environment Day said. But for people like me, Delhi is where home is. It is where we live, breathe, eat, pray, love, dance, sing, and do all those things that make us human. So it’s a special city and one special thing, among lots of other things, is its poetic rhythm of 4 distinct seasons, spring, summer, rainy season, and winter. Each season has a distinct color, aroma, and flavor and brings along with it its own kind of flowers. Some flowers bloom all through the year in all seasons and some stay in only certain seasons.

Recently, around March 2015, I took upon myself the task of clicking and recording photos of flowers that are commonly found all over the city. I thought it would be a good way of removing negativity from my life, of taking my mind off all those terrible things about Delhi that one finds in newspapers daily, crime, corruption, water shortage, inflation, new taxes, AAP versus BJP squabbles, etc, etc. Here are some close-up shots of flowers that I came across while going about from home to office and back. Just take a look. They look so mesmerizing beautiful!

I am still unaware of names of most of these flowers. That’s why I have mentioned only some of them. Do let me know if you do.

March 2015 (Spring)

  1. Hibiscus (in my balcony)

IMG-20150326-00117

2.

IMG-20150314-00012

3.

IMG-20150315-00017

4.

IMG-20150315-00021

5. Rose Flower…

IMG-20150315-00024

6.

IMG-20150316-00027

7.

IMG-20150323-00110

8.

IMG-20150316-00029

9.

IMG-20150316-00031

10.

IMG-20150316-00032

11.

IMG-20150316-00033

12.

IMG-20150316-00036

13. a.

IMG-20150319-00041

13. b.The ubiquitous Bougainvillea…

IMG-20150319-00056

13. c.

IMG-20150531-01844

13. d.

IMG-20150402-00182

13e.

IMG-20150501-01030

13. f.

Bougainvillea

13. g.

IMG-20150526-01776

13. h.

IMG-20150512-01466

14. a.

IMG-20150319-00043

14. b.

IMG-20150319-00062

14. c.

IMG-20150319-00063

14. d.

IMG-20150319-00066

15.

IMG-20150323-00108

16. a. See Aloe Vera below (very sturdy plant, see how it continues to flower even when uprooted from the pot)

aloe 1

16. b.

aloe 4

16. c.

aloe 6

17.

IMG-20150328-00124

18. Palash flowers – Lajwanti Garden – Janakpuri – Delhi

IMG-20150328-00132

April 15: Summer is here and weather is getting warmer.

19.

IMG-20150401-00170

20. Phlox – my terrace at home – Delhi

IMG-20150407-00262

21. a. Sunflower

IMG-20150414-00447

21. b.

IMG-20150418-00680

22. The pink flowers below are very commonly found at roadsides in Delhi.

IMG-20150421-00744

23. a.

IMG-20150422-00753

23. b.

IMG-20150422-00759

23. c.

IMG-20150422-00757

46.

48. b.

Exif_JPEG_420

49.

50. Orange blossoms…(Below)

52.

53

Two Different Worlds, Two Different Women

While travelling in the ladies compartment of the Delhi Metro on 12 September 2015, I came across 2 women. They sat opposite to each other and had a clinging toddler in their laps with constantly changing moods. When I observed them individually, they did not look very extraordinary. But when I compared them in my mind, the differences between them seemed to be so striking that I just couldn’t resist taking their pictures on the sly. The 2 women seemed to have originated from 2 different planets. I am sharing these pics with you here.

While one woman had only one child to worry about, the other woman had two more little, naughty children sitting beside her, constantly fidgeting, trying to grab her attention. The 3 kids were most probably born in quick succession, one after the other. No sooner was one baby out, another one must have taken its place! Did she get any time to recover from the previous pregnancy? I doubt it and I guess the 4th one was already growing inside her. It was obvious that she was from a world where they thought the best way to keep a woman is bare-footed in winter and pregnant in summer! The middle child’s nose was running, but she took no notice of it. The youngest one kept her preoccupied. Somewhere during the journey, she had to breastfeed the youngest one. Phew! What an epitome of patience!

As the metro glided on the rails, I tried to imagine the kind of lives these women must be leading. The first woman and her child were obviously leading better lives. They were loved and respected as human beings and their lives had value to their loved ones. The other woman, the less fortunate one, was obviously leading a very tough life; her family was probably very poor; but worse than poverty, their lives did not have much value and she had no say in matters concerning her body; her husband perhaps looked at her as just another pot to plant his seeds in; there was also no awareness about hygiene and family planning.

When I looked around, I found that there were several other families in a similar state. I guess they were all part of a big group heading to some congregation at some place. One can well imagine what kind of people these unfortunate children would turn into; they will be uneducated and uncouth and will not be of any value for this huge nation of ours.

When we look at the bigger picture, I think population explosion is the mother of all of our problems. Our politicians must put into place a system of incentives and disincentives for controlling population. This is more important than all the ‘yojnas’ put together till date. Once this is done, there would be no need for reservations. When people are fewer, each person gets a bigger share of the benefits of the progress made by a country, as you can see from this example. Most important of all, men who have no respect for women and treat their bodies like door mats must be dealt with harshly.

In a country like India, which is already so heavily populated, no family ought to have more than one kid; if they need more, they should adopt.

Exif_JPEG_420

Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420

Exif_JPEG_420

Exif_JPEG_420

Exif_JPEG_420

Exif_JPEG_420

Exif_JPEG_420

DTC Bus Singer

This young street artist sang a bhajan today, 2 September 2015, in the DTC (Delhi Transport Corportation) bus (route no. 753) I was in on my way to office. One of the lines were, “Us baap ko kabhi mat dukh do jisne tumhe pala he…”(never make that father suffer who has brought you up…”) I was impressed with the sincerity with which he sang… I wish I had made a video as well. This is one of the charms of travelling in DTC buses.

Exif_JPEG_420

Roadside Flowers

Here are some pics of flowers I came across on 22 August 2015 while walking towards the AIIMS Hospital metro station, New Delhi. They looked so pretty as they bobbed and danced with the soft, soothing monsoon breeze…

Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420
Exif_JPEG_420

My New Page “Speeches.”

I have just added a new page “Speeches” on my photoblog.

Here is the link: https://jasbirchatterjeephotoblog.wordpress.com/speeches/.

I feel really proud of this new page because it indicates how much I have evolved. I had never imagined that one day I would be so confident with the mike and perform on stage without any fear.

We, The Writers…

I met blogger/writer Mayank Austen Soofi for the first time in my life in my office on 24 December 2014. It was for a story he was writing about people engaged in writing stories and poems related to the Delhi Metro. While we chatted, he made notes. Somewhere during the conversation, he interrupted and said, “Ms. Chatterjee, please slow down a bit. I need to write everything that you are saying.”

I could not believe my good luck that day. It seemed to be too good to be true. I hadn’t won a Nobel or a Booker or a Pulitzer. I hadn’t won a national beauty contest. I had not topped in an IAS exam. I was not a politician. I had not won any election. I had not done anything that is normally considered extraordinary. Apart from toiling hard for survival, all I had done was write a handful of poems and stories; but that was for my own happiness and joy. And now right in front of me sat a well-known writer taking my interview for a story for his blog.

Mayank kept asking me questions about my poetry and my life as a writer in Delhi and I answered as tactfully as I could. During a brief pause, when I had to attend to an official phone call and refer to some report in my laptop, Mayank got up and clicked some photographs of me at work. I felt rather awkward. I still could not understand how my life could be of any interest to anyone.

I tried to keep myself grounded. I told myself that this was for a blog, not a big deal really, and soon this interview would be over. Not too many people in India read blogs anyway.  Soon Mayank would be gone and I would be back to my usual routine, what it was like before he came in.

But when the interview was over, Mayank said, “Ms. Chatterjee, I will come once more some other time with another photographer for more photos. We will select the ones we find most suitable. “

In spite of myself, I was impressed with the conscientiousness and zeal he seemed to display in his work.

On our way out, I took him through our showroom. This time, Mayank stopped and clicked some more pics of me near the cars. I felt as though I was modelling. I was quite flattered, but I was also very amused with myself, modelling at age 48!

Later on, while I was walking back to my cabin in the basement, a few colleagues sitting in the front office asked me, “Who was that guy clicking photographs?” I tried to understate things. “Well, he is a writer. He is writing an article on the Delhi Metro. He saw my poem “The Delhi Metro” on the internet, so he came here to discuss it with me. I wrote that poem long ago, about 8 years back.”

On 29 December 2014, Mayank called me for the second time to fix up an appointment the following day for more pics. I agreed. But now I had to deal with a new problem. A photographer was going to come and take photos inside the showroom; I thought it would look very odd if I didn’t give prior information to my management about this visit. More importantly, this also meant revealing to them the fact that I am also a writer.

Based on past experience, I always feel apprehensive about discussing my habit of writing in office. Bosses in general feel uncomfortable while dealing with subordinates who double up as writers; I guess it is because writers think; they have minds of their own and they tend to be highly individualistic. Leading them ahead is like pulling a bullock cart laden with bricks.

I was lucky this time. Everything worked out perfectly without any hassles. During the photo-shoot, Mayank suggested that I look thoughtful and serene and wear a very serious expression on my face. When he gave me a demo, he looked like a theatre artist and I burst out laughing. He said sternly, “Why are you laughing?” I quickly controlled myself and the photo-shooting ended finally when both Mayank and Manoj (the other photographer) were satisfied that they had got the best possible shots.  I felt really relieved when I returned to my seat that evening. For a shy and reserved person like me, being the centre of attraction can be very tiresome.

On 10 January 2015, I got a call from Mayank. He said that his article featuring me along with other writers is now in Mint Lounge as well, apart from his blog theDelhiwalla.com! (Mint Lounge is a business newspaper of the national daily Hindustan Times). Oh my God, I thought, my photo is in a national newspaper today! For an ordinary, middle class person like me, that’s a huge achievement and I was absolutely thrilled!

I was even more impressed when I read the article that day in the newspaper. It was beautifully written and it had given maximum coverage to me as a writer. The wealth of love and blessings I got from my friends, well-wishers, and office colleagues because of this article completely swept me off my feet!

The very next day, I showed the Mint Lounge article to my parents. My Mom kissed my photograph and hugged me. That was the proudest moment of my life. As far as I am concerned, I got my first Pulitzer Prize on 11 January 2015!

Given below are the links of the article and of course, the pics from my own Nokia camera.

http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/n6Y8We3k84iNpaGnpE0zqI/Delhis-Belly–The-Metroliterary-set.html

http://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2015/01/12/delhi-metro-poet-commuters-around-town/

This is the pic that Manoj clicked of the 2 of us with my Nokia mobile phone.

With Mayank Austen Soofi, 30 December 2014, Outside my office…
20141230-0003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links:

http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/n6Y8We3k84iNpaGnpE0zqI/Delhis-Belly–The-Metroliterary-set.html

 

My Mom, Beant Kaur…

 IMG-20150510-01440

My Dad, Amar Singh…

IMG-20150508-01377

Gradually, reality sank in and we all came back to the normal routine. But it did feel good for some time, about being able to open up to the whole world about something that I have always held very close to my heart. As the days went by, I kept reading more and more of Mayank’s works, in Mint Lounge, in his blog theDelhiwallah.com, and his book “Nobody Can Love You More.” From this book, I discovered that his real name is Mayank Singh. I found each one of his stories a beauty, a thing of joy. Each one of them seemed to have a piece of someone’s soul, a heart that throbbed and beat with the rhythm of life. Even the photos had a special touch of an artist.

Every writer is, I guess, entitled to a few idiosyncrasies. In Mayank’s case, I observed that he is absolutely crazy about the French writer Marcel Proust. He identifies himself so much with his character Charles Swann that even his email id has this as his display name and his email signature has these lines: “A doomed character in Proust’s novel, Charles Swann, is of Jewish extraction. He parties with princes and enjoys access to aristocratic salons. He has a discerning taste in buildings, poems, recipes, sonatas and paintings. He is engaged in a scholarly study of Vermeer. He is fond of reading railway timetables. He loves an unsuitable woman.”

At the time of writing this story, Mayank was in Venice to gather more knowledge about Proust and connect with more fellow Proustians. Going by what he wrote recently in “Letter from Venice” in his blog, it appears that he is toying with the idea of doing a crash course in French to be able to read Proust in original.

One day an idea came to me; of using my own pics to illustrate my poems in my blog https://jasbirchatterjee.wordpress.com/ in a style similar to Mayank’s.  That’s how I caught the photography bug! As I watched my photos collection getting bigger and bigger, I found myself looking at the world around me with a completely different perspective. The world outside hadn’t changed much, but I had. It was like re-discovering the world all over again. Was I blind all this while, for the last 49 years of my life? Perhaps. I was now like Tennyson’s The Lady of Shallot and i mean this in a happier sense…

This thought led me to write new poems accompanied with photos clicked from my cellphone camera: Spring in Delhi, 2015, The Third Eye, Flight of Fancy, and Flowery Cycle. Here is the link: http://www.poemhunter.com/jasbir-chatterjee/poems/?a=a&search=&l=2&y=1 It was really exciting to be able to match the pics with the poems.

I tried doing that with an older poem “The Withered Petals.” Link is http://www.poemhunter.com/jasbir-chatterjee/poems/?search=the+withered+petals&B1=SEARCH

On 19 February 2015, theDelhiwallah.com had a new story: City Life – Delhi Lovers, Lodhi Gardens. Link: http://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2015/02/19/city-life-delhi-lovers-lodhi-gardens/ It was about the love birds in Lodhi Gardens. After I completed reading it, something very strange happened to me. I could feel something inside me dissolve and come to life. A stampede of words, frozen and locked earlier, followed and flowed out of me like a waterfall. I turned them into a short story with the title “Adam & Eve.” This story is now available in an e-book of Fictionmagazines.com published in USA. URLs: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00WX1GAVC

FictionMagazines.com: http://www.fictionmagazines.com/…/ef…/efiction-vol-06-no-02/

My 2 other stories ‘Lost & Found’ and ‘The Rebellious Cat’ were similarly inspired from some of the posts in theDelhiwalla.com.

I am working on my next story these days, but my hands shake every time I return to it. It’s hard to relive memories that you’ve worked so hard to forget. Like ‘Adam & Eve’ this too is waiting for a spark to bring it to life.

Keep the torch burning, Delhi Walla! A lot of little flames depend on it.

Well, here is a latest update as on 14 October 2017.  On Tuesday, 3 October 2017, my weekly off from work, I got a second chance to host MAS and this time, it was in my own house! Long after he was gone,  I still could not believe that Mayank Austen Soofi had actually visited me.

Here are some pics clicked by my daughter Suroshri.