Category Archives: stories

Choli Ke Peeche Kya Hai

This recent pic of mine reminded me of the opening lines of a Bollywood song mentioned above in the title. Its literal translation is “What’s Behind The Blouse?” That’s pretty straight and simple, isn’t it?

It is the metaphorical meaning, however, that arouses passions and raises controversies on what it represents, the female sexuality.

Way back in 1993, when the film Khalayak was released, its choli-ke-peeche song was banned both on All India radio and Doordarshan Television because it was considered vulgar and obscene, replete with double meanings.

But banning never helps, does it? It only whets the craze. In spite of huge criticism, the song became a rage and the film picked up lots of Filmfare awards.

Here is some free advice for still-not-bestseller writers. First get your books banned.

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First Commercial Jingle

First crush, first date, first affair, first kiss…Who doesn’t remember them? Anything that happens to you for the first time always remains unforgettable, doesn’t it?

On 14 April 2019, my husband Sukhangshu Chatterjee reached an important milestone in his theater career as a Voiceover Artist.

He recorded his first commercial jingle after first translating the matter into Bangla and singing it as per the original tune.

Click here and listen.

https://vocaroo.com/i/s0HvVJFdmCds

It made us all feel very proud and happy for him.

A Leprechaun

On the night of 14 February 2019, after reaching home from work, I felt something crawling on my neck. I quickly brushed it aside and it landed on the dressing table. I was startled to find that it was not an ordinary moth, but a gold-colored beetle, something I had never ever seen all my life! Where it had come from, I had no idea. I watched it with wide-eyed wonder as it crawled upwards slowly in a leisurely manner…I quickly grabbed my phone and clicked its photos.

People say when such things happen, you should make three wishes. They are always granted.

You might wonder why someone with a postgraduate degree in Mathematics believes in these kinds of superstitions. Well, as you grow older, you realize that a lot of things defy logic and only love, faith, willpower, and positive thinking can make things happen the way you want them to.

I was, of course, too shell-shocked at that time to think of anything else. Today as I look at this pic again, I make those three wishes.

1. I hope and pray that my daughter Suroshri grows up to be a successful, happy, and wonderful human being.

2. My husband Sukhangshu becomes what he deserves to be, a famous Actor.

3. On the same day that this beetle crawled into my life, 40 Indian soldiers lost their lives in Pulwama in a suicide terror attack. Many innocent lives continue to be lost in terror attacks and wars. I wish and pray that violence, wars, and terrorism end and don’t exist even in a dictionary.

Amen!

And now, my Dear Reader, here is something special for you and your loved ones. Watch this video and make those 3 wishes that you think will give joy to your loved ones and the world around you. Who knows, they might come true, like it did for me!

N.B: As per Google, the Golden Beetle is a native of the Americas. It is not known how this particular one reached India. Something to do with Donald Trump and reverse migration perhaps!☺️

Our 26th…



Photography done by attendees…

Our 26th wedding anniversary on 18 December 2018 turned out to be an extremely memorable occasion, thanks to the meticulous planning and execution of the event by my husband Sukhangshu. Even the invitation format, a specially created video sent through Whatsapp, was specially designed by him with great care and patience. It took him several days to complete it. It was, indeed, a labor of love…And all I had to do was dress up well and be happy and gay on the D-day; which is really the easiest thing to do when there’s love everywhere!

Here is the link. https://youtu.be/Ba_KAh9lK6A

We were completely overwhelmed with the huge amount of love, best wishes, and blessings we received from all our near and dear ones. We felt we were the world’s luckiest couple.

Our happiness would have been, however, more complete if my Mom and Sukhangshu’s parents had also been around to bless us.

Apart from the all powerful Lord Almighty without whom nothing is possible, our special thanks go to Suroshri, Dad, Dimpy, Sonal, Babuni, Prashant, Mani, her little daughter, Supratika, Shampa, Muni, Babu, Rakhi, Kamal, Anubha, Abhirbhav, Ananya, Ashok Da, Titu Di, and Piyush for being present and helping in making our special day more special…

This gorgeous sari that I am wearing in all the pics was a gift from Sukhangshu. He bought it about a year ago from Bangladesh during one of his theater tours.

Sukhangshu’s black kurta was gifted to him by our daughter Suroshri from her first salary.  It is something that makes us both feel very happy and proud of her.

I didn’t want to waste my previous time in a beauty parlour, so Shampa, an accomplished theater artist, tied my bun in a very stylish juda and put white and red flowers into it to match with my garland that I would wear later…

Here are some more pics.

Shampa…Helping me get ready…




My jooda…Amazingly artistic, isn’t it? And I thought my hair was too thin for a bun!




With Babuni…








Shampa and I, after getting ready…




Jaimala (garlands exchange) ceremony…






Going round the holy fire 7 times, a smaller version this time…Babuni played the Shankh…






Blessings from Dad…




With Dimpy, Dad…Missing you, Mom…







































Babuni and Supratika were the first to arrive and came in the morning itself. This pink shawl that I am wearing was gifted to me by Babuni. It remains my favorite till date.




In preparation for our 26th Special Night…



About 40 days later, I sprinkled the dried up petals from my gajra and our garlands over empty flower pots. Let’s see what comes out of them; something very nice, I am sure because spring is just round the corner…

This pic reminds me of my poem “The Withered Petals.” Link: https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-withered-petals/

This time, the petals, by God’s grace, are from a happy, fulfilled life…









Hurray, It’s Working!

When innovations work in a developing country like India, it feels like a great miracle indeed!

A few days ago, I read in the newspaper that the Delhi metro card can now be used to pay DTC bus fares too.

So, last week, with much trepidation, I gave my Metro card to the conductor for a Rs.5 ticket to go to Janakpuri West, which was just one stop away.

He said, “Let me try.”

As I had expected, his ticket vending didn’t work. He didn’t have any change either and I was just about to reach my stand. A frantic search in my purse, however, yielded a Rs.5 coin and I managed to drop off with a ticket in my hand.

A few days later, on 21 November 2018, however, I was luckier. Though the machine took some extra time and I had a Rs.5 coin ready, the bus conductor asked me to wait. He was determined to make the machine work. I was absolutely delighted when a ticket came out of it just in time. See the pic on top.

When I said, “Thank you, Bhaiya,” he responded with a triumphant smile and a thumbs up gesture!

The following day, however, I was in a different DTC bus on my way to the same stop. This time, the conductor said, “The machine is not updated yet for metro cards.”

Well, each day is different, isn’t it? Everything can’t be perfect.

Embrace Life, Not Death

On 16 June 2018, I came across a strange man while travelling in the Metro. He was talking to himself and seemed to be absolutely disgusted with life. “Even God would wish to commit suicide,” he said. I was shocked, of course, but I was unable to do anything about it. All I could do was move away to another seat far away from him.

The memory of this incident refused to leave my mind, so I wrote about this in my blog on 28 June 2018.

Click here to read this piece. https://wp.me/p67zXw-2h

I had not imagined then that just a few days later, on 2 July 2018, the city would wake up to the shocking news of a well-planned suicide through hanging on the night of 1 July 2018 by a big family of 11.

Photo source: Whatsapp

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/bihta-businessmen-meet-deputy-cm/articleshow/64833340.cms

Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, as per media reports, a severely delusional senior family member, whom the whole family believed and trusted blindly, led the whole family into committing the ghastly act in their common quest for the so-called Moksha. They believed that they would not die and something wonderful was going to happen once it was over!

Is there any connection between the two incidents? I mean, is the man behind the family’s tragic end same as the one I saw on 16 June 2018? I can’t say really and I hope not.

But it does seem that negativity, dark thoughts, and mental disease are spreading through the city like an epidemic at an alarming speed.

Another worrisome thing about suiciders is that they often put so much thought and planning into it that talking them out of it is next to impossible.

What they don’t realize is Death gives nothing. It is just a scavenger, a super-efficient garbage handling machine. When Life ends, everything ends. Simple.

Life, on the other hand, has so much to give. It is only while you are alive that you can hope to achieve anything you want, even Moksh for that matter.

Life is, in fact, a wonderful gift from God, something beautiful, something that probably no other planet has. So value it, dear Friends. Hold on to it like nothing else.

The Magenta Line

Delhi Metro is one of the many things that we Dilliwalahs are absolutely proud of. It has given us so much to be grateful for. Our hopes, dreams, and aspirations revolve around it and each time, a new track is added, it helps us breathe easier and adds to our confidence and trust in our nation as common citizens.

Way back in 1997, when I travelled around in the U.S. during a company-sponsored training program, I never imagined in my wildest of dreams that one day those air-conditioned trains and gleaming marble floors of a Metro station would exist in my own country too.

On 29 May 2018, at 6 AM, Delhi Metro’s much-talked-about Magenta Line from Janakpuri West to Haus Khas was thrown open to public. People like me from this part of Delhi who used to catch the Yellow line to their offices in Gurgaon from Rajiv Chowk earlier can now catch it from Hauz Khas, with travelling time reduced to half.

I took my debut ride in the Magenta Line on the following day on 30th as 29th was my day off. The station premises had swanky, cool interiors with marble floors all through, a far improved version of metro stations built earlier. Being new, the floor was still very slippery. I was glad that I chose flat black shoes over heeled ones. All the Magenta line indicators had magenta patches on them. The marigold flowers and mango leaves draped all over the place during inauguration on the previous day still looked happily fresh.

It took me three long, steep escalator rides deep into the earth’s belly to reach the platform. It has been said that they are India’s longest.

People stood in orderly queues and quietly moved into the train once it arrived. That was another pleasant change from what one normally encounters at Rajiv Chowk Metro station.

Here are some pics clicked during the excitement of my first ride in the Mageta Line.

Remembering Mom…

Sardarni Beant Kaur

18 November 1939 – 16 November 2017

This is how I would always like to remember my Mom; strong, gentle, awe-inspiring, and cheerful. This photo was clicked on 15 May 2016, Mom and Dad’s 51st anniversary.

Mom expired on 16 November 2017, just 2 days before her 78th birthday. We were all shell shocked when the doctor pronounced his verdict with the remark, “No use of taking her to hospital now.”

I was in office when I got the news. I rushed out immediately. It took me two hours to reach home from Gurgaon. Mom was on her bed, eyes shut, covered with a blanket right up to her neck. My Dad, in between fits of weeping, was trying to inform as many close relatives as he could. I tried my best to console him, but he was still very distraught.

I still could not believe that she wouldn’t open her eyes again and smile at me, like she always did. I touched her hands and feet. They felt ice cold and sent a sharp stab right through my heart…

For some strange reason, I always thought Mom was invincible. She had, after all, battled with cancer and emerged as a winner. She was always optimistic, never complaining or grieving about anything, always trying to be her best. Not once did she ever utter the word ‘death.’ Even though she was now retired from her nursing career, her professional bearing, her courage in the face of extreme pain and adversity, her neat and tidy way of doing things stayed with her right till the end.

On the morning of the day she died, she seemed to be better than ever before. With her feet firmly planted on the ground, she had moved herself closer to the pillow and said, “Thank you” after I was done with freshening her up as per my daily routine. I thought everything was becoming normal again as it was Mom’s old habit to always thank profusely for every kind gesture, no matter how small…

Since it was already quite late and my husband was in Kolkatta, Mom’s cremation was fixed for the next day. My younger sister Dimpy and my brother-in-law Lalit, with the help of our neighbors, arranged for a casket to be brought home from the Gurdwara for preservation of her body till then. I was really touched to see the way everyone came out to support in every way possible.

As the hours ticked by, Mom passed through all the different stages with a quiet rock-like endurance and resilience that is characteristic of the dead. I could not help comparing her now with what she was like when she was alive.  She had the same amazing inner strength that always inspired everyone she came into contact with.

With our family members around us, I clicked as many pics she as I could during the next few hours. It was my way of coping with the painful loss by doing something concrete and preserving something of her for forever. Some of these pics are given below.

It was for the first time that I was an active participant in Sikh rituals related to death. The prayers offered at every stage served as a soothing balm because of their constant reminder to not grieve excessively as death is inevitable. Nothing is lost and nothing is created. After death, the body returns to earth while the soul moves into another body…

Mom is now no longer with us physically, but something of her and the values she stood for continue to inspire us. Her advice to me in particular, “Remain active, never stop working” will keep me on my toes for as long as I am alive…

Wish you a great after-life, Mom!

16 November 2017

Around 3:30 PM

Around 11:30 PM

17 November 2017

Around 10 AM

Dad, grief-struck…

Ardas before cremation

Getting ready for cremation

A stark reminder: Irrespective of how much you struggle to achieve your goals in life, everything turns into ashes in the end.

20 November 2017 (Final day of Akhand Path)

End of Akhand Path…

Around 3 PM

Kirtan and final ardas in C Block Gurdwara, Vikaspuri, New Delhi…

l

Final get-together at tea and saying goodbye…

The Story Of A Poem

In 2006, my life turned completely upside down. Nothing seemed to work. It was during this tough phase that I wrote my poem ‘The Delhi Metro.’ I had no idea why I wrote what I wrote and what I was going to do about it. It was just a spontaneous expression of hope, strength, and courage to carry on and I felt light after writing it. The idea of getting it published some day never occurred to me and I wasn’t even sure whether it had any literary value at all.

When I showed the hand-written poem to my husband, he thought it was ‘nice’ and suggested some minor changes.

I subsequently uploaded the corrected poem on Poemhunter.com because every poem has a life and a destiny of its own. A day or two later, everything became as usual and I forgot all about the poem. Like me, the poem too wandered in the wilderness.

In 2012, however, six years later, Connie Robertson, an editor from OUP (Oxford University Press), UK, picked it up and chose it for inclusion in one of their upcoming textbooks! I still think I was a poetic Cinderella that a Fairy Godmother launched into the publishing world. Why else would a world-famous, prestigious publisher like OUP wish to engage with me, an obscure writer living in a poor country like India, doing a job that had nothing to do with writing, publishing, or poetry.

Connie’s first message to me was through Poemhunter as she didn’t have my email id. She requested me for “non-exclusive rights to OUP to publish my 60-line poem ‘The Delhi Metro.”

My first impulse was to count the number of lines. Yes, it was 60 alright, but I still had my apprehensions.

In my reply, I asked her to explain what she meant by “non-exclusive rights” because the idea of giving any kind of rights whatsoever, as far as I was concerned, felt like giving up a baby forever; a very painful thing, not something I could imagine myself doing.

Connie’s response was, “By non-exclusive rights, we mean that

a. You retain the copyright and you have full freedom to get the poem published elsewhere.

b. By allowing us to publish the poem, you will get the opportunity to show off your baby to the whole world.”

I was really touched after reading this. About 6 months later, OUP sent £200 into my bank account through RTGS and an author’s copy of the book at my residence through courier. I still have the courier packet as a momento…

I recently came across a very cute newly-married married couple in a Delhi Metro train. While they smiled, laughed, kissed and hugged each other in gay abandon right in front of my amused eyes, they reminded me of the newly-married couple in my poem ‘Delhi Metro,’ completly immersed in each other’s company. I could feel the dreamy, magical aura they created around themselves and I gave in to the strong temptation to freeze those ecstatic moments forever by clicking their photograph. They are now the hero and the heroine of this poem on Poemhunter. Here is the link:

https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-delhi-metro/?m=0

Only Time will tell how this poem will lead its life in future.

Copyright: Jasbir Chatterjee