Saturday, May 28, 2011

Angel In Blue

Angel In Blue

Angel in blue
Aflicker amid a thousand
Heads and faces, nuns and priests
You did not see me then, I saw you
And our worlds drew us apart
Thieves were at work
Angel in blue.

Now the drive is deserted night
The music has died the people are gone
I saw you swallowed into the belly
Of a scarlet converted van
You never knew but it was I
Who kissed you goodbye

Angel in blue
I know where you sleep
Who you keep in your weariness
The restless dream in your gentle steps
I know your skin, your smell, your tears,
Angel in blue.

Angel when you rise a sudden
Sensing someone in the room
Or in a crowded tram hear
Somebody call your name
When skies of music wrap your soul
Know it's me and no one else
Angel in blue.

(c) Subhorup Dasgupta

Read More at Trillium Gallery Word Art

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

As Dark as the Buddha's Will...

The birth of Shakyamuni Buddha or Gautama Buddha is observed in the summer months in India as Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti. You can read a letter I wrote three years back on the occasion.

You would have figured out by now that when I do refer to Buddha, I don't really care how you or I perceive Buddha in terms of how we visualize the concept of the person Buddha. I have been fortunate to have my eyes opened to the timelessness of the being of Buddha, the timelessness of his enlightenment and the simultaneity of the being of Buddha and all of existence. Sounds weird. It does to me, though not weird weird, but obvious weird once you get it. Was the Buddha black? Was he bald? Was he weird? Did he have a nervous tic or some funny mannerism? Burton Watson's translation of The Kumarajiva Lotus Sutra references "features that are featureless." To me, Buddha is me when I am in harmony with all of existence across all of time. You may want to read more about this here.

The month of Buddha's birth is also the month when I lost both my Thammi's, both dad's mom, and mom's mom (at different times though). Your Thammi’s mom was called Parul. It was from her that I heard the story of the seven Champa brother and their sister, Parul.

Madidi, as I called her, was the most beautiful person I have ever met. She went to join her brothers in the sky this month 29 years ago.  I had to struggle a bit to reconstruct the story, since I was very small when I heard it, and at some places, I have made it up as honestly as one can make things up.  Anyway, on with the story...

A long time ago, even before your Madidi’s Madidi was a little girl, there lived a king in the beautiful kingdom of Sundarpur, who had seven wives. Though he was a king, and kings (like you, me, and let’s say the IMF chief) get to do whatever they want, he was very sad, because he did not have any children who would inherit the throne. He would walk about in the forest all alone, so that others would not see his sorrow. Everyone secretly felt sad for him though they would not show it on their faces. Or so I am told.

Monday, May 16, 2011

...evam Indrajit

I did not get to read or watch Badal Sarkar (15 July 1925–13 May 2011) till way into high school, in spite of having the good fortune of being schooled into falling in love with reason, maths and physics by the wickedly brilliant Abhijeet Sarkar to whom I remain indebted to this day.  What I did get to know was the romance of his theater as witnessed by others.  My mother would tell of the annual genetic glitch that makes all Bengali's go a little weird around Durga Puja, and how the aristocrats of Beleghata would have luminaries come and do their thing at the family puja pandal.  There would be magicians and comedians, singers and dancers, playwrights and mimics, poets and film stars, positively a last night but three of an inverted Pablo Fanques.

I would sit and listen with awe when she would tell me of her first watch of Evam Indrajit, penned two years before I was born, about how the play began by demolishing the third wall and had the protagonist start out from among the audience, and as a true blue bong, in my mind, evam was spelled ebong, and till I read the play myself, I persisted in my delusion of thinking it was a tale of a bong, Indrajit.

As a pain in the neck of the Department of Comparative Literature at Jadavpur University in the early 90s, it was with surprise that I witnessed this white haired man walk in and sit in the classrooms to do his masters in complit with kids young enough to be his grandchildren.  Hell, his son taught us in high school.  Chappie gets a Padma Shri in 1972, and is offered a Padma Bhushan last year (2010) which he turns down claiming that he is already a recipient of the highest recognition to a writer, that of being a fellow of the Sahitya Akademi, and he can do without a Padma Bhushan.  Well that was Badal Sarkar for you. 

When I read about his death, the first thing I felt was, this must be another joke of his.  I switched news channels to return to graver things, the fall of the Left front in West Bengal after 34 years, a fall brought about by a frail, crazy, and lovable woman who refused to give up. The next morning, I read the obits, and I knew it was for real.  My tribute to this genius is in the links on this page, most of which are ads for stuff to buy, like pots, pans and books.

I am in no way qualified to comment on his body of work or his importance in the scheme of things. However, I have been reading a lot of commentary on his life and work, and feel that I should share some of it for posterity.  There are so many people who are unaware of what he did for our world and why his efforts are important.  I am going to copy and paste Ananda Lal's very nice and precise article from The Telegraph here, since all attempts to make a link happen has failed till now.  You can find the article online at the Telegraph website by clicking the links above or you can read much of it here. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Bhanusingher Padaboli

Over the years, I have tried to grow flowering plants many times, but they would never make it past the first couple of weeks.  People told me that, in spite of knowing my irises from lilies and buttercups from, well, butter cups, I was perhaps not meant to grow flowers.  With time, I accepted it, and settled down contented with our many kinds of foliage green, variegating wherever I found place to root (US root, not AUS root).  So it was with the usual early morning blurriness that I looked at the hardly-tended mint patch today with aphid-infested barren crocus leaves from a few summers back. 
I blinked at the splotch of yellow that peeped through the greens and dusty-dry browns of summer in Panjagutta.  I blinked again and looked closer.


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