The Imagi Nation

Lets write about a place,
We can neither love nor hate,
Located in the corners of our mind,
The connections ‘tween we find.
There is no race nor class,
No flag nor anthem too,
No boundaries hold its country,
Yet ’tis deep inside of you.
Tis endless and infinite,
Holding our memories tight,
We let go and start to dream,
And get a light, a beam.
Things seem so much clearer,
Not shrouded by any terror,
Nor imposed by ‘nothers will,
It belongs to you still.
When you feel this connection,
The spark ignites you within,
You reach others in this light,
And together you will win.

Together we can freely flow,
Like an endless river towards the bow,
Connected yet no relation,
We are Imagi Nation.

Prompted by the Word: Imaginary

 

 

 

Kali ma la land

“Invoke the Goddess in you!” shouted a billboard lit by the strong halogen , next to the crowded flyover. Of all the places that I’ve stayed in , Calcutta has the most powerful design message in its traditional jewellery. Women all over India do love to play dress up and ironically its the age group above 30 that is more experimental and loud.

Come Poila Baisakh ( Bengali new year) and you would see “Goddesses” everywhere. Kolkata gets its name from the famous “Kali” temple at Kalighat, the fierce looking form of Durga, the feminine personification of “Shakti”.

The color blood red therefore is found almost everywhere. Whether the powdery sindoor, the reddened lips, that pallu of a shaada palla shari, the hibiscus offerings or simply the round red bindi on the forehead to signify the third eye.

Contrast it with pure white of jasmine flowers, coconut & pure crisp cotton.

Kohl eyes complete the look, eyes outlined aka the goddess removing any leftover vestige of mortality and transcending into the next dimension.

Welcome to Kali Ma land.

sincerely,

A North Indian Spectator.

What a year its been! My top ten moments

 

Dog Marine drive

Moment 01 This time last year. Last walk on marine drive. No longer would I meet this friendly dog. No longer I would get irritated by the group of walkers talking loudly. No longer would I enjoy the soft morning sea breeze.

Traditional stained glass

Moment 02 Excitement in a new city. Explored calcutta with help of mobile apps.  The GPS guiding me. Taking me to the hidden parts of the city, its crumbling facades and colonial vintage experience. Google maps recommended, Ola got me there and Swiggy got me food.

Traditional jewellery

Moment 03 Exploring the jewellery of the Eastern part of India for a jewellery event.

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Moment 04 First exercise given at NIFT Calcutta.

Tool Lab NIFT calcutta

Moment 05 Setting up tools in a new lab with help of students.

teachers day

Moment 06 Students show their gratitude. The rain played a spoilsport, so couldn’t attend the Teachers day event, but the plant stays.

Bhawna on cover of T2

Moment 07 Got caught unaware while appreciating art and picture featured on front page of the local Sunday supplement.

You can sketch calcutta

Moment 08 Experimented with a drawing workshop launched called  ” You Can Sketch”

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Moment 09 Certified course has takers. Social media presence. Getting warmed up.

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Moment 10 Shopping for Poila Boisakh (Bengali new year) theme event.

Two cats

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Left:Caramel, our cat rescued from Mumbai rains and now living with us in Calcutta.

Right: Unnamed stray tom cat who has made the shaded area in nani’s backyard a visiting home.

Caramel : ” Oh, its time for my nap before my whiskas. Let me rest myself in middle of this unmade bed. Let me hold on to another kitten.”

She sprawls lengthwise.

Tomcat : ” Whew! This summer heat is intolerable, such soft grass and cool damp mud!”

He hold his ears erect just so as to bolt at the slightest indication of human feet.

Two cats. Two personalities. A typical day.

Walking through a Bazaar

When the Spring Equinox ends, the day is celebrated in many places in India by various names. In Bengal its called “Pohela Boishakh”. A north Indian might call it “pahela Baisakh” with a lot of tongue curling.

The little pavement shops were dressed for the occasion. A lot of Red, glitter, pottery painted with designs and a Haal Khaata, or an accounts book ready for the morning ritual.

I sometimes wonder the need of an accounts book. Majority of the Bengali Hindus are not really known for their business acumen. That is left to the Marwari community and this prosperity is evident by their really large houses in the poshest localities of the city. Even then, they would get down from their Audi, or the least a mercedes, as the entire family, and extended family, would plan a sunday trip to the Jhalmuri wala. The matronly mother would then order a dozen or so jhalmuris (a kind of a mixed salad with puffed rice), keenly noting the amount of sufficient almonds to go into it. The eldest male member would then make the payment after sufficient negotiation with the roadside vendor.

The rest of the Bengali community has two major occupations, one is slaving for the above community and the second is the intellectual class; who’s children leave Calcutta for better prospects as fast as they grow up. And they do extremely well, …. but outside Calcutta.

Then the mind wanders to intellectual Bengalis and the name “Amartya Sen” comes to the mind. I haven’t googled him yet, but I believe he is known for his studies relating to poverty which got him a noble prize.

The gaze then shifts back to the roadside dweller, a sickly thin lady, wearing nothing but a blouseless sari and eating the scraping from a used curd bowl.

Wonder if she has heard about him too. I suspect not.

Locked Out!

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I forgot the password. It actually took a year to recover. Do I have a simple explanation to it? If I were to give an excuse, there would be many. Ever since we have this trend of alpha numeric codes with multiple special characters interspersed, password creation has become a chore. Increasingly most of our dealings are going online. Password creation increasing directly proportional. Need to remember and age both take their toll as the mind stresses itself to juggle with many new characters, meant to be different each time.

Over the last one year from the previous post, I’ve changed residence four times. A physical “home” to be took precedence over a web “homepage”. Real locks and keys took precedence over the digital ones.

The experiences, though were gained. Traveling through Calcutta. Discovering new places, to eat. Thanks to mobile apps , travel and food is both available at click of a button but the joy of discovering the hidden markets beneath temporary plastic sheets, on either sides of the road is unexplainable. I feel a certain sense of joy at discovering a 100 year old sweet shop, sampling roadside food, picking a kalamkari skirt at a bargain deal from these streets. Then, the frustration while communicating with a sleepy shopkeeper at 2:00 in the afternoon as Calcutta shuts shop for their siesta.

Watching the palash tree bloom, then the copper tones and then the gulmohars. I must say that I have a nice view. Sometimes, its good to be locked out. Now I’m back.

Six Local flavors of India

mango

If you were to travel or stay in India, you can be certain about one thing. The flavors would change when you move from one state to another. That wouldn’t mean less or more spicy, but the entire culture would have a traditional favourite one or two fruit ingredients appealing to local palette. While most of the country may have its own version of a mango species and the raw mango or Ambi would find its way into most preparations, there are some flavours which are predominant in some regions than others. In north be prepared to encounter the purple Jamun fruit, its colour staining the lips. The Imli, ( tamarind) would travel in most of the plains with you; but come west coast and you would find a red fruit called Kokum. I encountered this fruit for the first time in Goa in a vegetable dish. It’s natural red colour was a pale pink after cooking. At the steps to the east, across the country, a date and jaggery mix, called Nolen Gur is found. Move south and even the hotels could offer you a beverage “cold TC water” or Tender Coconut.

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Birding Morning in Kolkata

It was 5.30 am. The sky had just started clearing up the slumber of the night. A Coppersmith Barbet held a twig of grass in the beak and prepared for the dawn ahead.

Next, a grey headed Mynah announced that it was 7.00 am and that the sun was unbearably hot.

A Black headed Oriole “hid” behind a tree, but her colours and call gave her away.

Kolkata Colours

Driving down the main and busy streets of Kolkata , you sometimes miss the beautiful architecture hidden behind the many wires of our civilized world and the din of our technological motors. Look closely, you see the pattern, colors and story behind it.

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Traditional Indian Jewellery

It must have take some of these ladies at least a few hours, if not a week, to dig out their precious ornaments and coordinate it with their garment. And these ornaments are all from different states of India. They have been able to demonstrate pretty well “how its to be worn”.