All posts by Jasbir Chatterjee

Poet, writer, blogger, corporate professional

Courage

Brave, old Bougainvillea plant…

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Jarul Flowers In West Delhi, India

Purple Jarul Flowers near Hari Nagar Depot Red light

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Pink Jarul flowers at AG-1, Vikaspuri

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Around mid-April, a huge purple patch of purple Jarul flowers suddenly appeared near the Hari Depot red light. I noticed them while travelling in a bus on my way to work. They looked gorgeous and seemed to add a special touch to their drab surroundings. I tried to click their pictures that day, but I couldn’t; the bus was moving too fast. I tried again during the next few days, but all in vain. Sometimes the bus didn’t stop and when it did, it was too far from the spot. I promised myself that one of these days, I would come here specially to take their pics. But unfortunately, due to work pressure, I just couldn’t find the time.

And then one morning, I observed that the flowers were much fewer in number. Day by day, they kept decreasing and I wondered sadly if I would ever get the chance to take their pics before they disappeared. Compared to Gulmohur and Amaltas, Jarul trees are much fewer in Delhi.  You don’t  find them everywhere.

On 5 May 2016, I read Mayank Austen Soofi’s post on these flowers in his blog theDelhiwalla.com (http://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2016/05/04/city-season-the-jarul-flowers-of-summer-jor-bagh/).  That was sufficient to make me decide that it was now or never! I pushed my work aside as though it was a big emergency and I dashed out from my office that day to grab those shots before the flowers got trampled under the ruthless feet of Death.  While I was on my way to that place, I had the same heady, tingling feeling of excitement that I had when I went out on my first date!

After reaching the spot, I clicked lots of pics of the Jarul flowers to my heart’s content and I plucked a few to keep in my poems diary. While returning, I took some pics of the plucked flowers too. I noticed that these flowers appeared to be of different color in different intensities of light.

And next evening, while walking from the bus stop to my home, I was pleasantly surprised to find another Jarul tree. Its flowers were of magenta color; some of them had fallen off and were lying on the ground just below the tree.

Here are all the pics. They give me a deep sense of fulfilment every time I look at them. Photos are, after all, one way of immortalizing special experiences.

Jarul flowers @ Hari Nagar

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The images below are all of one particular Jarul flower. Amazing, isn’t it?

 

Jarul flowers @ Vikaspuri (AG-1)

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And finally, here they are, those lovely Jarul flowers, resting in peace forever in my poems diary…

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Slavery And Freedom

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One Sunday morning, Prithvi (name changed), wearing lungi, shirt, and running shoes, rode into our colony on a bicycle. He had 2 simian companions, Krishna (a male) and Radha (a female). They were here to earn their bread and butter for that day…

The day held out great promise, since their audience consists of mostly small children and on Sundays, they don’t go to school; they remain at home. As soon as he saw a group of children playing outside a house, he decided that that was where he would begin their day’s work.

 

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He parked his bicycle near that spot and sat down. He took out his damru and began playing it with his one free hand, the other holding on to the chained couple.  Krishna and Radha couple took their cue from him and, with a dazed look in their eyes, obediently performed all the acrobatic and mimicry acts as per his instructions. Radha’s performance was limited to only those acts where a female character was also required, like when Krishna gets married and his bride refuses to leave her parents’ home. All the performances were very smooth without any hiccup whatsoever.

It was pretty obvious that Prithvi was a very good trainer of monkeys. Not once did he raise his voice or hit them.

 

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A little group of people soon gathered around the performers. They were not aware that a wild monkey had also joined them and become part of the audience. He was watching from an adjoining balcony! Ten minutes later, the show ended. Some gave money and a few others gave bananas. A few children requested for a repeat performance. The man obliged and Krishna repeated some of his tricks while Radha peeped from behind Prithvi’s back.

Finally, when it was all over, Prithvi got up and slowly walked away with his bicycle. Radha jumped and perched herself on the rear seat while Krishna continued to walk.

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At that very while moment, the wild monkey came down from the balcony and began following them. Suddenly, he stopped  and watched wistfully, lost in thought, as their figures receded away…

 

It was a very painful moment…

Freedom is such a relative thing, isn’t it? It depends on what you want freedom from. If there were no hunger, everyone would be free and no one wold be a slave…

A Stage Of One’s Own

Text by Jasbir Chatterjee; photography by Sukhangshu Chatterjee & Amitabha Bose

 

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Pic above: Rehearsal of Tagore’s dance drama Kach-o-Debjani,  2010

Deep within a sea of apartments in West Delhi’s Dwarka, there is a home with something unique, a stage. Yes, a full-fledged stage with curtains, spotlights, mike, and musical instruments. It has a body and a soul with a life of its own. This stage has a name too, Partho – Gouri Manch, and is an oasis in a culture-starved city like Delhi, where people seem to be more preoccupied with earning their rozi-roti (daily bread).

Here is the story of how this Manch came into existence.

In 2006, Shampa Das, a Theatre and Abritti (Bengali Poetry Recitation) artist, shifted from her rented flat in Patparganj to this house along with her husband Somnath, an NTPC employee, and her 14-year-old daughter Shamayita, a disciple of the famous Odissi artist Madhavi Mudgal. It was a dream come true. They now had a space of their own, through which they could let their unfulfilled dreams escape into the wide open sky; unlike Judith, a famous Virginia Woolf character. The stage was born later…

Then in 2009, Shampa along with a few like-minded artist friends, art connoisseurs, teachers, social activists, and retired government officials established an NGO, Dwarka Society of Performing Arts (DSPA), with the purpose of nurturing and promoting the cause of performing arts. It was their way of giving back to society what they got from it. It is unnatural, after all, to live only for yourself.

One of the challenges they faced initially was a lack of proper space for rehearsals and staging of shows and huge funds required for organizing shows in existing auditoriums in Delhi. That’s how the idea of a having a stage of her own came to her mind. With the help of Sukhangshu Chatterjee, a theater and voice-over artist, the stage finally became a reality.

Once the stage was ready, Shampa named it ‘Partho-Gouri Manch’ in honor of the famous husband-wife duo Partho and Gouri Ghosh, her mentors, well-known both nationally and internationally,  as Abritti artists.

In this pic, Shampa is in the center, with her Gurus Partho and Gouri Ghosh.

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Ever since its inception, this stage has given rein to hopes, dreams, and aspirations of many upcoming artists and has served as a launching pad for many emerging performers. It has also unravelled hidden talents of many who were not even aware of their existence inside their souls. Like mine, for example.

One of DSPA’s notable programs was Tagore’s dance drama Kach-o-Debjani  held at CCRT Auditorium, Dwarka, on 31 March 2010, with a houseful audience. It was a workshop-oriented dance drama with recitation by Partha and Gouri Ghosh. It had a huge cast of about 100 dancers including several children, like my daughter Suroshri and niece Supratika,  who had no prior training whatsoever in Rabindrik Nritya! The program was played to live music by Uttarayan, a Delhi-based top-notch Rabindra Sangeet group. The rehearsals were done in Shampa’s home on the Partho-Gouri Manch for about one month. The audience was pleasantly surprised to see such a wonderful performance from a completely unknown group of dancers and the most amazing thing was that a huge production of this nature came into existence with such a low budget. A write-up on this program appeared in Times of India on 25 April 2010. See this below, along with a few pics from the program.

Times of India article, 25 April 2010

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(CCRT Auditorium Photos courtesy: Amitabha Bose)

 

 

And here are some more pics clicked by Sukhangshu Chatterjee during rehearsals of this workshop.

Here we are, watching our kids rehearsing…(Shampa in cream and pink sari, me wearing glasses)…

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Shamayita (Shampa’s daughter, wearing green kameez, practising with the other children)

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Shamayita helping out in rehearsals…

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Somnath (Shampa’s husband) with Choreographer Aditya Mitra (right, holding a water bottle)…

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Shamayita practising with Aditya Mitra (Choreographer)…

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Children at the workshop…..learning & enjoying …

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Partho and Gouri Ghosh (sitting in center) having a close look

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The singers and musicians of reputed Delhi Rabindra sangeet group Uttarayan practising…Sanjay Sarkar is playing the Harmonium

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Oh my, what a leap!

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Choreographer Aditya Mitra explaining the nuances…

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Partho Da, explaining a philosophy, gingerly, with a ginger!

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Here I am, with Partho Da, Gouri Di and Jayita, another very gifted Abritti artist.

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My daughter Suroshri (front facing, looking sideways) with other kids

 

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Suroshri  (in maroon T-shirt), Supratika (in purple T-shirt) and other kids striking a pose…

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Gouri Ghosh speaking to audience, with Sukhangshu Chatterjee listening…

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A couple of years ago, Shampa invited me to recite some of my poems on this stage. It was my very first performance before a live audience!  Being shy and introvert by nature, I was very nervous initially, since I had never read my poems aloud before, not even to myself.  But as soon as I finished reading the first line of my poem, ‘My Sweet, Lonely, Little World,’ I found myself overcome by a strange kind of a spell. My inhibitions fell beside me like a scab. I felt thrilled and completely relaxed. I was pleasantly surprised to hear myself reciting with so much joy and happiness in my voice. I received a huge ovation in the end.

Here are some pics from one of my performances here.

What I mean to say is that Partho-Gouri Manch is not an ordinary stage. It is extraordinarily special and  its positive energy comes from selfless, unassuming, and truly altruistic artists like Partho and Gouri Ghosh associated with it and tireless efforts put in by so many like Shampa, Somnath, Shamayita, etc, to make it what it is today. It has a magical quality that brings out the best in every artist who performs on it and transforms the  person into a divine entity.

Thank you, Shampa, for giving our world this wonderful gift and wish you all the very best in your career as an artist, a teacher, and a motivator!

Nature’s Trinkets

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I clicked this pic today. It seems to match very well with today’s Classic Poem of the Day on Poemhunter.com, A Moth the hue of this, by Emily Dickinson.

A Moth The Hue Of This

A Moth the hue of this
Haunts Candles in Brazil.
Nature’s Experience would make
Our Reddest Second pale.

Nature is fond, I sometimes think,
Of Trinkets, as a Girl.

Emily Dickinson

On second thoughts, this pic I clicked yesterday looks more appropriate, because of the phrase ‘Reddest Second.’

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My Humble Beginning…In Harpreet Ford…

A few days ago, while cleaning out my almirah, I came across this old pic. It’s about 15 years old, I think, clicked around the beginning of the 21st century. It made me feel very nostalgic.

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If you look closely, you will find me right in the center, just next to Mr. Soundar Rajan (Service Manager), the only one wearing a tie. Almost the entire team of Harpreet Ford, Vasant Kunj branch, is here. This includes Customer Relations (Asha Shrivastav, Shobha Pathak, Sumit Kapoor, me as Manager – Customer Relations), Parts Department (Mr. Dubey & Subhash), Front Office Manager (Mr. Ashok Verma), Accounts (Mehtab and Sati Mam), IT (Manoj), Floor In-charge (Akhtar), Bodyshop Advisor, Service Advisors (Arvind, Sadiq), Pantry Person (Santosh), EDP Assistant (Pradeep), and Technicians.

It was through Harpreet Ford that I  got the chance to join the fast growing Automobile Industry. I attribute  whatever I am today to this organization.

My special thanks go to Rajan Sir (Mr. Soundar Rajan). I think the whole team will always remain indebted to him for all the knowledge and inspiration he gave us even after we had all moved on. He strongly believed that the best way to lead is through personal example. That’s why we all remember him for what he always stood up for, honesty, perseverance, hard work, courtesy, and most important, proper grooming because customer interaction is all about making the best first impressions.

I still recall some of his favorite lines that he often repeated during meetings.

  1. “Be punctual. Come on time, work hard as per processes and systems, and go on time.” Being a family man himself, he disliked making people work beyond normal working hours. This was what made him so popular.
  2. “A dealership can succeed only if its 3 ps are proper: people, process, and place (infrastructure). No dealer is perfect in reality and some of these Ps are always deficient. That is what our struggle is all about.”
  3. “An organization will be successful only if right people are placed at right places at the right time.”

In around 2008, this workshop caught massive fire. Thank God, no one was hurt. It was subsequently shifted to Okhla, where it stands now.

It was through Rajan Sir’s recommendation that I got a second chance to work in his team. This time, it was with the BMW cars Dealer Bird Automotive in Gurgaon; he was General Manager – After Sales and I was Senior Manager – Customer Relations. My stint in Bird turned out to be a great learning experience and it also helped me get a strong foothold in the Premium Segment of the Automobile Industry.

Although we work in different organizations at present, I still think of Rajan Sir when I face tough challenges at work related to team management and achievement of organizational goals and objectives. I ask myself how he would have handled them if he had to face them. I still  recall how he used to get the whole team together for frequent meetings and motivate us to achieve great results. We were always a winning team. His overall bearing always exuded a tremendous amount of self-confidence and he always spoke with a strong conviction in his beliefs. These are the qualities that I tried to imbibe during my interaction with him and I attribute my achievements till date to this.

A close family member once told me that a good manager can’t always be a good human being. But from whatever I know of his personal life as a family man, Rajan Sir is, I think, an exception to this rule. Not only is he an excellent manager, he is also a great human being. In retrospect, I feel now that being a good human being is the most important thing because everything else, success, joy, fame, money, follows from this premise.

Wherever you all are, dear Friends and ex-colleagues, Sumit, Asha, Shobha, and Rajan Sir, I wish you all the very best in life!

 

A Feather In My Cap

Life appears now to be so much like one of those mathematical theorems I learnt during college; everything happens because of something else and everything leads to something else. There seems to be a definite purpose, some kind of logic, running through all the random, unrelated incidents.

Take this certificate as an example.

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I received it after online submission of a poem ‘Celebration Of Love’ on Facebook on 28 April 2016. This poem  was inspired from a photo I clicked much earlier.

URL of poem and photo: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/bird-logic/

But when I clicked that pic in the first place, it was just any other pic. I had no idea what I was going to do with it and where it would take me to.