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Power of Saturn by Vishwanath Hiremath (Astro Vish)

Shani Jayanti ie. Saturns birthday was on 10th June 2021 and Solar Eclipse also happened on 10th of June this year. The two Astral Events coincided on the same day so the effects of eclipse could not be strong due to father and son relationship. And a supposedly Malefic event became Benign. To explain this feature I would like to relate an ancient Allegorical folk tale.

Planet sun is married to Sandhya and has two children Yamraj and Yamuna, Sandhya couldn’t take the heat being near to Sun  so she leaves her shadow (chaya) and goes away to her father vishwakarma  warning chaya not to let planet sun know that Sandhya is not here (Lord Saturn) Shani planet God is born to planet Sun & Chaya (shadow)  whilst Chaya was pregnant she was too confused handling the secret that she was the shadow of Sandhya and not the actual wife, Sandhya, of planet Sun. Sandhya ran away due to that burning heat of planet Sun and she being a shadow Lord Saturn was born very dark, So planet Sun doubted about Chaya that it can’t be his child due to dark complexion and didn’t accept him as his son, Saturn quickly gazed at his father and turned him to be dark skinned. Readers would wonder how a bright face like that of Sun can be described as dark. One must not forget that sun has dark spots called Solar spots and they or on Sun’s surface (skin) only. You see Saturn is blessed by Lord Shiva big time due to his mother’s devotion to Lord Shiva. Saturn goes to Lord Shiva for injustice done by his father by not accepting him as his son, Lord Shiva gives him a boon saying Lord Saturn you will be the Supreme Judge for all the three WORLD’S from now on. This is the reason we all face sadesati 7 and a half years of Saturn.
Saturn didn’t even spare Lord Shiva during his sadesati who went on to cut Ganesha’s head and replace to a elephant trunk, without Saturns help Lord Rama could not have killed Raavana.
Happy tears of Lord Shiva which fell on this planet and rudraksh sprang is also reason by Saturn.
Believe me wherever there is injustice Saturns role comes in.
Keep doing good Karmas and be grateful 
As narrated by Vishwanath Hiremath (Astro Vish) to
Radheka Shrinagesh Hiremath Writer  




Chronicle of my Curious Corona Case / Susmita Mukherjee

Susmita Mukherjee in her Farm in Orchha

It all started with what in Mumbai’s parlance is known as ‘ Pateli’. Let me elaborate, Pateli‘ and it’s stronger aspect ,also known as ‘ Vatt Pateli’, loosely translates itself as arrogance or false bravado. You see I have been living in my idyllic farmhouse in Orchha, Madhya Pradesh, with my family since March 2020 lockdown, along with our cows, dogs, cat and even peacocks so how did I get the dreaded Covid?   I did Pateli.  To be honest I have tried to be disciplined most of my adult life ( ever since I gave up being a 4 packs of cigarettes a day smoker back then in 1989) and had turned into a unrecognisable creature who gave up smoking, meditated, did yoga, pranayam, ate clean food and basked in the adoration of  friends and family who  made me feel pretty invincible. In fact I hadn’t taken a single pill for the last 3 decades, and combated the rare fever with coconut water and fruits.

So I swung around with full pateli,with the belief that Corona or whatever the world was talking about with such fear, could never reach me. It helped that we don’t have a TV as ours is a microclimatic  zone, and so I kept myself occupied with reading novels, and occasionally watching ” goody goody” stuff on my cellphone.  Then I made 2 fatal errors.On the 10th of April, I sauntered with my friend, (a woman who was contesting as an Independent candidate for the Zila Panchayat election from a backward seat, )as we wove in and out of Bundeli villages, drinking water from the homes we visited, not realising that some water came from wells, others from bawois and some from God knows where. So we had ” ghat ghat ka paani‘, because in these parts refusing water is equivalent to hurting the host.   

Error No. 2. On the 12th, I accompanied my husband and our manager who got their vaccines but I bluntly refused. Vaccine? Oh no , not for me. Vatt Pateli.   That very evening I was invited as chief guest  for a function in Jhansi, where my friend, Dr Neeti Shastri was celebrating National Street Theatre Day and as I had been part of the street theatre movement in Delhi, back in the early days, I was happy to attend.  The only problem, (which of-course I realised in hindsight,) was that the anchor, a veteran journalist, who stood and sat next to me had a very bad cold and sneezed a lot which reminded me to keep my mask on firmly but when the photographers wanted to see my face, vanity kicked in ( I’m an actress) and I let my mask down in more ways than one, with chilling consequences., (Error No. 3).   

13th, 14th and 15th of April were busy days as I prepared to welcome Mother Durga who  it was said was coming this year on horseback and did not portend well for mankind. And I , in my fervour,  was determined to fast and pray and so I ignored the horrid body pain I felt for 3 days not for a moment imagining it could be the dreaded Corona. Then on the 4th day the pain vanished mysteriously and I had no memory of it as I gaily completed the Naudurga, fasting on fruits, coconut water and one  small meal of permissible items. I was continuing with my yoga, meditation, walks. No cough, no fever, no body pain.   Suddenly it got curious.

Error No. 4. On 23rd April, I committed another Pateli. I walked out in the noon heat for a small pooja we were perfoming at the farm for the creative Academy my husband is building and returned dizzy from the heat. ‘ Vinaash kaale vipreet buddhi‘ 2 hours later I was on my way to Jhansi, 15 kilometres away, helping my team source iron and cement blocks for the construction..After that every thing got black. I declared to all that I would self quarantine. I may have had a slight fever but since in the past I had never paid attention to it, coupled with the fact that we did not own a thermometer and did not see the reason to have one ( Pateli), I dropped into a pitch black hole of sleep, utter fatigue and an unquenchable thirst. A small cough started. Not dry or racking but just an irritating moist cough with phlegm. I did not listen to my husband who sent me a strip of paracetamol but cunningly tore one pill away and hid it under my pillow, in case he inspected the strip ( Pateli)   From 23rd to 30th, I kept myself strictly self quarantined. Food was sent to me outside my door but I was not particularly hungry. But thirsty, yes, and fatigued, by my standards. My yoga, walks, meditation continued but with difficulty. 

So for 21 days after possible infection I was sustaining without any medicine, only on fruits and coconut water.  Suddenly on 30th morning, I woke up with a panic attack and called my doctor in Mumbai who immediately prescribed some pills and asked me to take the RTPCR test. Now this test had been the bone of contention for a while. My younger son who is studying to be a scientist in New Zealand, along with his school classmate, My doctor,, who is in the frontline of Covid treatment in India, had been pleading with me to get a test done.  I had dismissed it as medical haranguing.I had first heard the term from my very concerned older sister, and ofcourse I was determined not to go to any hospitals for testing ( Pateli) But my Mumbai doctor was not going to listen to this insane patient in Orchha. A conversation happened between him and my husband and I was bundled off to to our small but clean hospital in the village where they stuffed some cotton up my nostrils and the dreaded RTPCR test seemed like child’s play.

I was seeing the outside world after 3 weeks, the weather was nice and I felt really well.   My husband’s younger brother and his wife were visiting and knowing my propensity to cure myself with fruits and water were not unduly alarmed as I now started to hang out with them, albeit always at a safe distance.   Then on 2nd late evening, the verdict came. Covid positive. We had been sitting out in the cabana, chatting, having tea, and suddenly within minutes my family disappeared like in stop block and reappeared covered from head to toe in whatever plastic they could lay their hands on. It was such a comical sight in an absurd situation where  within minutes the whole scenario changed. Of-course in hindsight it was not so funny!  Next day, 3rd of May came the epiphany, the real reason to write this personal chronicle. My husband, Raja Bundela, is well known in these parts as an activist leader, and without my knowledge an ambulance, an oxygen cylinder and a hospital bed in the most premiere hospital had been lined up. Lucky me!

No more Pateli for me

Clearly my family was in panic. I was pretty well and when I reached the hospital in Jhansi, a doctor rushed to me and slipped something plastic in my index finger, where I met an oxymeter for the first time. Puzzled, he did his check again and murmured…” 98″Then he asked me” Can you walk or do you need a wheelchair”? I was astounded even a bit enraged ( me, the compulsive walker!!!) Much too sweetly I replied,” No, I can walk. Thank you so very much’. To make my point, I walked faster than usual as he led me inside a door which read ICCU. It closed behind us. The room was abuzz with doctors, nurses and wardboys. Next they moved me to a sheetless bed and said that it had been sanitized for me. To my left I had a glimpse of a brown wrinkled arm and several people were thumping him up and down. (He died minutes later) The air was rent with what seemed to me like demonic sounds of people moaning and groaning, all out of synch, ; the AC was not functioning at its best and it smelt of anasthesia . I was asked to lay down on “my ” bed as the doctor hurried out.

I had 2 options, I could look around or I could shut my eyes. I suddenly remembered a line I had read somewhere, that during World war 2, the only Jews who had escaped the concentration camps were people who kept their inner bodies clean. And then all of a sudden, the developmental biologist, Dr Bruce Lipton and his seminary work, ‘ Biology of Belief’ popped up in my mind. He claimed that our cells prosper in the Petri dish of our bodies only if they feel safe inside. So despite the shock of being unloaded in the ICCU without warning, I closed my eyes and within minutes, I was roaming inside my body which till date I can remember clearly. I was surrounded by million, trillion tiny sparkling lights, much tinier than the string of fairy lights we put out in Diwali and Christmas but they were golden  yellow and each point was disappearing into another point which went deeper into another point in an amazing non stop dance. It felt as if I was roaming inside a large warm golden honeycomb. I thought I lay there endlessly as the sounds around me dimmed.  I am told that about 15 minutes later, I was aroused by the doctor who arrived with a flurry of nurses. He handed me a sheaf of papers to sign mandatory before being admitted to the ICCU. Shocked, I almost charged out of the unit, desperately looking out for my family.  Some more conversations happened. I convinced them that I was well enough not to utilise the ICU and to give it to someone who was really critical.   So I was sent to the room where my CBC and urine were taken. The sight of the stoic south Indian nurses, in their pink frocks, made me weepy with gratitude. A chest x ray was taken and I was allowed to go home. 

Next day I was asked to return to the hospital in Jhansi where they took a CT scan. Latest medical knowledge says it has the power of 300 chest x rays but this one was from the University of Whatsapp so it is yet to be authenticated.    By evening the report came. All was well.  But with Covid there is always a risk of pneumonia and I had a slight chest infection. And with that the allopathic medicines were started on me.Technically  then, I got my first shot of medicines after 21 days of infection.     This was the worst cycle. My body completely unused to medicine lay drugged and fatigued. I used to get panic attacks at meal times because the very thought of food was nauseous. I was dizzy. I fell down twice and was in a very bad place. But I ploughed through because of the immense loving care from my extended family. For 10 whole days my insides were  bombed with antibiotics to deal with the dreaded Covid. My body shocked and confused, just collapsed into a heap .

During meditation,the part who I think is ” me” I would often pity that dead weight . That was the time I thought of writing my will when I realised the full idiocy of chasing career, fame, money when my body was deciding whether it wanted to be “killed”, by chemicals in order to “survive” the virus. The existential question came up: Can matter destroy matter?After my ICCU experience, I can say with utter serenity, that in my case, energy was the most potent tool to kill matter.   This is not to say that one should not take medicine if attacked by the virus, or not take the vaccine, because physicians and doctors too have a life purpose, which is to help cure us. But the best cure is not to identify with matter. In other words don’t get hooked into the disease, don’t give it the attention it is craving. In short, do what the doctor tells you to do, but at the psychical level, give Covid the BIG IGNORE! 

Instead,while distancing yourself from your body, treat it like a ” treacherous friend” who when the time comes, will walk off the earth in death, whether one is ready for it or not. So while  still on earth, keep giving it the antibodies it needs in the form of laughter, sunshine, positivity or whatever it is that makes you happy. Joy is energy. This will create the best immunity to recover. This has been my first hand experience.   In conclusion then, I had spent the first 3 weeks without any medicine and then 2 weeks with lots of them. A huge thank you to everyone who helped me crawl out of the black hole, back to sunlight, yoga  meditation, barefoot walks in my beloved farm, albeit with much more gratitude and. .ZERO PATELI!  

From a spiritual perspective, there may be good news. It appears that disease, is like the cream that collects, when milk is boiled. The more it is boiled, the more cream comes to the surface. This may be equated to our ‘ Prarabdh karma’, or alloted karma, which has to be worked out this lifetime. So the onset of a disease ( likened to the surfacing of cream), forces us to work out our karma when we are still conscious and able bodied. By this token, who knows, the Carona may have reduced our karmic load, both individually, as well as from the perspective of collective humanity.

Epilogue

Susmita Mukherjee finally got her first Jab yesterday the 7th August 2021. Cheers to that.




Faiz Forever / Kanika Aurora

Faiz


Gulon mein rang bhare

Baad-e-naubahaar chale

Chale bhi aao ki

Gulshan ka karobaar chale

Come bahaar or spring and we all end up quoting Faiz Ahmed Faiz conjuring up evocative and tantalizing images of a riot of flowers bursting with a million hues beseeching your beloved to come so the garden can get on with its business of blossoming.

Faiz Ahmed Faiz , the romantic, revolutionary poet extraordinaire was born in Sialkot a hundred and ten years ago on February 13th, 1911 . He shared his hometown with Pakistan’s national poet, Allama Muhammad Iqbal. 

Linguistically, and culturally he belonged to Urdu, but Faiz Saheb was also well-acquainted with Punjabi and English; he composed some poetry in Punjabi and earned a Master’s degree in English literature as well as served as a lecturer of English and British Literature for a time at the Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College in Amritsar (in present-day Punjab, India).An uncle of mine was recently speaking about the junoon he caused when he came to visit.

Interestingly, during his time in Amritsar, Faiz also met his future wife Alys in 1938 at the house of a colleague at the college.Faiz and Alys shared the ideals of freedom and love for humanity and justice, and even though in some ways they had the opposing temperaments, they eventually fell in love.They married in Srinagar in October 1941 and their nikah was performed by Sher-i-Kashmir, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, the leader of the National Conference.It is a little known fact that Alys had been christened Kulsoom, by Faiz’s mother and ‘Dast e Saba’ which was written during his imprisonment with the above mentioned ghazal was dedicated to her making everyone wonder about the identity of this mystery woman.  

Ishq dil mein rahe to rusva ho

Lab pe aye to raaz ho jaaye

Typical Faiz. Once an emotion or an idea is rendered into poetic expression, it perhaps acquires a multiplicity of meanings and gets shrouded in ambiguities,

During his lifetime, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature and even received the Lenin Peace Prize, awarded by the Soviet Union, in 1962.Posthumously, he was conferred his nation’s highest civil award, Nishan-e-Imtiaz, in 1990 although during his lifetime he remained in conflict with the Pakistani government.

Faiz’s early poems had been fairly conventional, romantic treatises on beauty and love, but while in Lahore he began to expand into politics and community concerns. In 1942, he left teaching to join the British Indian Army, for which he received a British Empire Medal for his service during World War II. After the partition of India in 1947, Faiz resigned from the army and became the editor of The Pakistan Times, a socialist English-language newspaper.

Poetry has the ability to rouse and soothe, lull and awaken our weary souls. Faiz’s poems especially, have a remarkable ability and the potential to transcend borders, religions, language and culture. They are an important thread that attempts to suture the hopes and beliefs of peace seeking souls of the sub-continent helping us imagine how to create new futures.

Yeh daagh daagh ujaalaa, yeh shab gazidaa seher
Woh intezaar tha jiska, yeh woh seher to nahin
Yeh woh seher to nahin, jis ki aarzoo lekar
Chale the yaar ki mil jaayegi kahin na kahin
Falak ke dasht mein taaron ki aakhri manzil
Kahin to hogaa shab-e-sust mauj ka saahil
Kahin to jaa ke rukegaa safinaa-e-gham-e-dil

These immortal lines expressed his anguish and dismay at the colossal cost the Indian subcontinent had to pay for freedom from the British Empire in 1947. The poem is entitled Subh-e-Azaadi.

This stained blemished light—this dawn
Surely this wasn’t what we we’ve all been longing for.
Not the morning we had set out to find
In the wilderness of the skies, the stars final resting place

Somewhere there was hope that weary waves will find their shore
Our sorrow laden ship would at last come home to anchor…
Faiz ended the poem with these lines:
Abhi giraani-e shab mein kami nahin aai
Nijaat -e-deeda o dil ki ghadi nahin aai
Chaley chalo ke wo manzil abhi nahin aai.

The Night’s heaviness has not yet lessened
The moment of salvation for our hearts and eyes has not yet arrived;
So let us go on, that destination is yet to come….

He was imprisoned twice (1951-1955, then for over 5 months in 1958-1959) for his support of leftist politics in Pakistan. He eventually fled to Moscow and spent some of his last years in Beirut.
Woh baat saaray fasanaay mein jis kaa zikr na tha…
Woh baat unko bahut na-gawar guzri hai…

In his poem Intesab, he writes:
Aaj ke naam
Aur Aaj ke gham ke naam
Aaj ka gham ki hai zindagi ke bhare gulistaan se khafaa
Zard patton ka ban
Zard patton ka ban jo mera desh hai
Dard ki anjuman jo mera desh hai

Let me write a poem for this day
This day and the anguish of this day
The sorrow that does not acknowledge life’s beauty
For the wilderness of dying. dry leaves which is my homeland
For the carnival of suffering which is my homeland….

Some of his finest work, however was written during his imprisonment.
“Aaj bazaar mein pa ba jaulan chalo” (“Let us walk with fetters in the street”) which has a rather fascinating incident associated with it.
It is said that when Faiz was being taken from the jail in Lahore, in chains, to a dentist’s office in a horse cart (tonga) through the familiar streets, people recognized him and began following his tonga.
Chashm e nam jaan e shorida kaafi nahin
Tohmat e ishq e poshida kaafi nahin..
Tearful eyes and a restless soul are sadly not enough. Being charged for concealing love is also not enough, he wrote.

Another glittering gem of a poem, Zindaan ki Ek Shaam has been exquisitely translated by Agha Shahid Ali.

Shaam ke pecho-kham sitaron se
Zeena-zeena utar rahi hai raat
Yun saba paas se guzarti hai
Jaise keh di kisi ne pyaar ki baat.
Sahne-zindan ke be-vatan ashjar

Sar-nigun mahw hain banane mein
Daman-e-aasman pe naqsh-o-nigaar.
Shaan-e-baam par damakta hai
Meherban chandni ka dast-e-jameel
Khaak mein dhul gayi hai aab-e-nujoom
Noor mein dhul gaya hai arsh ka neel
Sabz goshon mein nil-gun saaye
Lahlahate hain jis tarah dil mein
Mauj-e-dard-e-firaq-e-yaar aaye.

Dil se paiham khayal kahta hai
Itni shireen hai zindagi is pal
Zulm ka zahar gholne wale
Kamran ho sakenge aaj na kal
Jalva gaah e-visaal ki shamein
Vo bujha bhi chuke agar to kya
Chand ko gul karen to hum jaane.

A Prison Evening trancreated by Agha Shahid Ali proceeds as follows:

Stars spiral into the evening –
staircase the night descends –
and the wind comes near, then passes,
as though someone spoke of love.
In the courtyard, the trees are exiles
who keep themselves busy
embroidering the sky.
The roof shines; the moon
scatters light with generous hands;

the glory of the stars mingles with dust
and light polishes the blue sky silver.
In every corner shadows ebb and advance,
as though the heart were lifted

by a wave of separation.
This is the thought the heart returns to:
that life, in this moment, is sweet.
Let tyrants prepare their poisons,
they will never succeed.
They may snuff out the lamps
in the rooms of lovers,
but can they extinguish the moon?

“Going to Jail”, Faiz once famously said, “was like falling in love once again”.
And lest we forget, very few poets express love in its myriad mysterious, mystical and mesmerizing moods as Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Raat yun dil mein teri khoyi hui yaad aayi
Jaise veerane mein chupke se bahaar aa jaaye
Jaise saharaon mein haule se chale baad e naseem

Jaise beemar ko bewajah qaraar aa jaaye

Translated by Vikram Seth it reads:

Last night your faded memory came to me
As in the wilderness spring comes quietly,
As, slowly, in the desert, moves the breeze,
As, to a sick man, without cause, comes peace.
Other iconic poems such as Raqib se, Rang Dil Ka Hai Mere and Mujh se pehli si mohabbat Mere Mehboob na Maang have attained almost cult status in the hearts and minds of his followers.

Faiz shall continue to be celebrated for his poetry, his ideology and his unmatched talent to include political and social issues within the traditional frameworks of ghazals and nazms brimming with passion and rebellion.
Words that can galvanize us into action and wake us up from our complacent stupor. Words matter. Words that ought to be spoken in defence of the downtrodden. Words that heal, words that nurture, words that continue to inspire and encourage us to speak up.
Bol ke Lab Azaad Hain Tere, said Faiz.
Speak up – for your lips are free!

Viva la Love. Viva La Revolution. Viva La Faiz.




NULL & VOID| OJASWINI TRIVEDI

Null & Void

Quoting nothingness
In his eyes
I find myself craving
I look at him and I say
I beg you to love me
Maybe tomorrow doesn’t exist
Maybe we get lost in
our little world of sadness
I lay here
Next to you
Your back turned towards me
I count the moles
The freckles
The lines
I’m trying to remember
I’m trying to remember you
Your chest rises
with every breath
And with every breath
I sink
The night feels long
The blanket is cold
An inch apart.
We’re just an inch apart
Yet
Here you are
Yet
Here I am
I take your arm
Entwine my fingers
I whisper, “You are mine.”
And you,
You’re lost in a fantasy
A dream maybe
Where I cease to exist.
You seem peaceful,
I seem greedy.
Maybe I should go?
But this was home
You were my home.
…I’m stranded.
I try to remember your face
Like patterns?
Did I engrave myself onto you?
Indent, charr?
Anything?
You’ll wake up
Wash me off of you
And I’ll lay here
Thinking,
Was I that easy to forget?




SLING SHOT: Let’s say we loved each other! Ojaswini Trivedi

I don’t feel me
when I’m with you
For someone who
swayed to your
heart beat
Stumbled upon
the dancing shoes
of our lives
I don’t feel me
anymore
like the time
when we were
true.
Like the two
loyal birds
living in a cage
It was real?
Right?
Even if it
was forced
We learnt to
grow, didn’t we?
Even if you
were my oxygen
& I
your only life jacket
The last thread
the lost hope
The only chance
at survival
But let’s say
we loved
each other.
Let’s believe
the two birds
lived in a
seamless crave for freedom,
where the abyss
melted into the horizon.
Shouldn’t you bring
me closer to me,
me to me,
me to you,
you to me?
Then how are we here
Resentful.
Angry.
When the thought
of leaving you
is like breathing in
the first
gasp of air
Like every step
away from you,
Is one step
closer to
bliss.




A Battle of Life That I Will Win| Bansi Kaul

Celebrated Theatre Director Designer Padmashree Bansi Kaul’s letter of courage and determination on Social Media, as he fights cancer and exhorts everyone to build a better world

A scene from Saudagar Directed by Bansi Kaul

My very dearest friends!
My best wishes and love to all of you… to all those performers from across the country who have the cultural events I designed the most amazing spectacles… and to every person I have met on this journey called life. I have not been able to thank all of you for good wishes on my birthday.

I have been unwell and have been detected with cancer of the brain as well as the lungs. Yet I am sure I will pull through and that we will soon meet again. Your good wishes are my strength.

There is a little folk metaphor, which I think is important for all of us. Nature has given us the choice to call it God or faith to create your own heavens for yourself. Therefore, what you do… you do all kinds of bad deeds to reach that heaven. For this you kill each other… and therefore, when we reach heaven, we realize that our rules and conditions do not work thee. We come face to face with two gates. One leads to the heaven that you have created for yourself… and the other gate is one that gives you the entry to inner peace. There is none of the worldly joys that give us only momentary joy and satisfaction.

This second gate leads to an amazingly beautiful world. So, thus, here too you must decide whether you will enter the gate for which you have fought? The world here no longer works according your whims and fancy. Your rule works so long you are a part of this transient world. In this short-lived world one wants to reach heaven at any cost, be it murder, plunder, or cheating. One is foolish enough to believe that this is best path to heaven.

Every community has its own imagination of what heaven might be. But when one is confronted with those two gates, one must decide which gate to enter… the gate that leads to the heaven that you have imagined or the gate that leads to inner peace, love, kindness and faith, where being there for each other is most important.

There will be no space for making mistakes in this final choice. The decision to enter one of the gates will only, and only, be yours! We are in times where displacements are the rule… displacements from physical spaces, nature, and natural sounds, from cultures, from one’s own family and friends. Scenes of daughters and sons carrying their aged parents across the country to a safer place during the lockdown, and children falling asleep on suitcases being rolled along are etched in my mind. All these painful experiences must be stopped.

Children falling asleep on suitcases being rolled along are etched in my mind – Bansi Kaul

This can happen only when there is a sense of general well-being. Lal Ded says,

“In the midst of the sea, with unspun thread I am towing the boat; would that God grant my prayer and, ferry me too, across…” .

(Lal Vakh. No. 23)

We all need to hold a single rope to tow the boat of goodness, peace, mental and physical well-being, gratitude, kindness, and magnanimity across the sea of life.

So, dear friends… killing, hating, plundering, and cheating… all in the name of belief and faith will bring nothing. All of us must love each other, which can happen only if you get rid of hatred. The act of throwing a stone of hatred at someone has its repercussions. It will rebound. The hurt ultimately comes to oneself.

And so, we must make more and more friends to make the world a better place to live in. We need to pave a strong, durable long-lasting path for the coming generations. Let’s give them a better world. When we say we are 60% young India, let us not forget that after twenty years or so there will be a 100% old India! We must start thinking about this… and think fast. There must be a sense of collective strength. Strength can only be in togetherness, and in togetherness there are memories.

Padmashree Bansi Kaul

I smile reliving these memories. My smile turns into laughter. Laughter celebrates the miniscule cosmic interval between birth and death. In laughter I see celebration and protest at once. It becomes force to cut through every form of negativity. Therefore, laughter must be celebrated! – Bansi Kaul




Aradhana’s Pacific Adventures with Crustaceans

Early Learning

Like a lot of things these days, her interest in crustaceans coagulated into an actual project in the summer of 2020, right in the middle of Covid-19 Lockdown 2.0. She was holed up with her adventurous parents in one of the few tall buildings built right on a stretch of Pacific beaches, grandiosely called, Panama’s Gold Coast.

Her name is Aradhana and she is a prospective 7th grader at the International School of Panama. Her most prevalent learned behavior during these initial months of Covid-19 has been “Science Curiosity”, be it in Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Zoology. We were pleasantly surprised when she was recognized as ISP’s “Most Independent Thinking Student in Grade 6”.

After waking up with a smile each morning since the end of school, it dawned on her that perhaps she needed to test her newly discovered interests. And that made her look at everything with more focus and greater curiosity than before. We noticed that she could actually muster up sufficient courage to touch live creatures, whom she had only seen in books and dream of creating a shelter or even a habitat, where she could study their behaviors.

That brought her face to face with Hermit Crabs, her first Pacific crustaceans that she felt the need to befriend and understand, if at all possible. She wanted to observe, to study, to get familiar with them, till she could understand what their most pressing behavior traits really were.

So, she caught four (4) Hermit Crabs on the beaches of Playa Corona and named them: Herra (white, round shelled with 10 hairy legs), Hermes (brown-black, spiral-shelled with spots of white with 10 less hairy legs), Hermosa (tan & coffee colored spiral shell with 10 hairless legs, longer antenna and big red eyes) and finally Hercules, the smallest of the four, who looked like Hermes.

This quartet was introduced to their first home in a cardboard box with vertical cut-outs for windows, complete with lots of beach sand, separate bowls of fresh water and sea water and a potpourri of chopped lettuce and tomatoes. In addition, she created several human-made “hides” in the habitat, into which the Hermit crabs could disappear, if they wanted privacy.After an hour of investigation of all ‘ground floor’ facilities, all four Hermit crabs started showing-off their amazing vertical surface climbing proficiencies. Aradhana noticed that each had two (2) frontal “pinchers” which they used for eating, gripping when climbing, and protecting themselves from predators. These was followed by four (4) walking legs- two (2) on each side, and finally four (4) additional longer thinner legs that stayed mostly inside their shells and were only used when digging holes into the sand.

She got a first-hand demonstration of how effectively they could pinch to get away from predators, when Baby Hercules actually broke off a piece of her left hand thumbnail in less than a second!

Within an hour, this busy foursome, after feasting on the chopped tomato and lettuce repast, geared up for a visceral reaction to their captivity. They seemed to have decided they would break out and escape at any cost.

The next four hours saw five (5) increasingly intelligent and desperate attempts to get out of their makeshift prison. First, was a simultaneous attempt to climb up four different vertical walls, then edge onto the roofing (just cardboard flaps bent over) and slide down the other side of the outer walls. However, they were spotted by their pretty little jailor and returned to incarceration. The ill-designed roof was then “secured” by her with a remnant tile but she cut two (2) small windows on opposite walls to let the air in.

Several hours later, three (3) members of the group had burrowed sloping holes in the wet beach sand at different locations and were about to penetrate the soggy cardboard walls located there, when they were intercepted.

After these break-out attempts, I noticed Aradhana had become quite thoughtful about the whole matter of holding Hermit Crabs in captivity. Despite what Google had said about them being really friendly pets, she felt that her four (4) captives were really “born to be free” and to roam their own stretches of Pacific beaches, whenever they wanted. But she decided to “sleep on it” and leave her decision-making till the next morning.

Early next morning, I was awoken by her loud sobs. Broken-hearted, she informed me that “the whole lot” had climbed the walls and escaped through the smaller windows. Their habitat had been parked in a corner of the enclosed balcony, some distance from the tempered glass wall facing the ocean. Now, she couldn’t locate any of the Gang of Four on the balcony. So, over a mug of Darjeeling tea, I discussed options with her, before she wandered off. Suddenly, I noticed two (2) horizontal opening – each the size of a brick laying on its wide side, in the structure holding up the glass wall. They were drain openings to allow rain water to pour away from the balcony. 

I grabbed my flipflops and face mask and took one of the elevators to the downstairs Social Area overlooking the cascading swimming pools. As I looked for clues I noticed the same two rectangular drain holes under a similar structure holding up a similar glass wall. Gingerly, I made my way there and looked down to the first pool area with a row of long lounge chairs. My eyes soon picked up pieces of Hermit crab shells and some intact insides.

I realized that these Pacific crustaceans had a DNA with a built-in propensity to escape from bondage at any cost. They did not realize that when they launched themselves from their 14th floor Freedom Gate, they were still several meters away from the beach and the waves they were born into.

Author: Samar Choudhuri

Freelance writer based in the Republic of Panama

Date: June 29, 2020




The stranger across my mirror- Have we met? | Ojaswini Trivedi

Colour to colour.

Have you ever felt like you’re walking back into the same pattern. 

Falling back into your ex- lover’s arms, the magical appearance of the slender bodied cigarette tangled up perfectly between your fingers after you’d promised yourself the 23rd  ‘last time’ or driving without a destination in mind but gradually finding yourself at the corner of that house or person you left years ago.

Or just for a second, answer this-Have you ever broken up with someone thinking that it’s for your own good? And specifically in all unlikelihood, not just stepping away from a toxic, gruelling, narcissistic relationship but a truly genuine one. The comfortable one. Maybe the “too comfortable” one.

You find yourself in a coffee shop. 

Wearing your favourite yet only saved for special occasions shirt, the top button unbuttoned. A dash of pink across the cheeks and a tinge of nude on your lips, ordering his exclusive coffee.

Black, no cream, three cubes.

You want him to be happy. 

At the sight of you, he truly is, happy. His hands have blots and patches of acrylic, the side of his hands are painted maroon. The colour of my top. 

As you sit across him, delving deep into his fancy brown eyes. You keep wondering. 

Are you happy for him? Or are you happy with him? 

You tell him you can’t do this anymore. You want out .

He’s taken aback at the abruptness of it, but seemingly calm about the words spoken.

The words that poured like sullen wine from your lips.

 Distasteful and needy. 

The decision that took months of reflecting, internalizing. You can’t pin point a problem, if there was, he would solve it. But you decide to act on this decision. Maybe some things just don’t fit.

Only after the failed futile attempts you realise, there’s never really a good time to part ways. 

No perfect day, no perfect occasion. Well, no perfect temperament. 

Not for you, neither for him. 

Yet, you are sitting at an arm’s length. Probably breathing the eye-gouging regret already.

You tell him.

Blatant. Honest. Guilty. 

And then, as the course of time plays, you come to realise that that uncomfortable space, you inflicted on yourself needs to be filled with friends or alcohol or painting classes or gym or girlfriends night out or self help books or romantic movies or just plain loveless sex. 

Eventually you succumb to the superficiality of  it.

And so, you crave for that comfortable safe space. The eager familiarity. The known face in the crowd. The one who could protect you when you were lost.

Which brings us to the next part.

When the other person fulfils your need, is it safe to call it love?

What happens when the needs are met?

What happens when the needs are not met?

Is it still safe to call it love?

Wait. So are we just using each other? For happiness, money, safety, freedom, security, sex, comfort, loneliness, satisfaction, hunger, redemption?

What if we started loving keeping ourselves out of the equation. What if we just loved with complete detachment.

True love is when their closeness is liberating and not suffocating, when their leaving is tormenting and not relieving.

The patterns evoke, of how you treat them, what you feel and most importantly, how you treat yourself.

The continuous falling back into the comfort, the familiar sensation, the treaded path we walked for weeks together. We feel the urgency to crawl back into that. Our memory cells aching to sprint through those lanes, actions and people. Again.

The uncertainty is unsettling.

For people who repeatedly, nonchalantly say “Love yourself!”

Let me tell you, for those who are listening.

It’s the hardest thing to do.

Worse than the weekly-Sudoku and Mumbai’s traffic post rains. It beats the tragic hangover or even ramming your new car into a tree.

Loving yourself is the hardest thing to do.

Have you ever found yourself sitting in the car as the rain comes crashing on the glass shield. The sound of it, a melancholic tease, the rhythm in the familiarity of life falling apart.

We empathize with pain.

We empathize with our pain and are envious of our happiness. Almost as if it’s a time bound gig of your favourite artist.

But pain. So easy to hold on and so bloody hard to let go.

Trying to like yourself is like telling yourself it’s okay to screw up. It’s okay to feel lonely and sad.

It’s okay if you don’t fit into that dress.

It’s okay for you to walk away.

It’s okay to let go when they expect you to hold on.

It’s okay if you feel differently at the different time due to a different reason for a different person.

IT IS OKAY!

Trying to like yourself is like breaking that pattern.

You detach little by little. You get uncomfortable little by little. 

You break yourself apart..slowly.

Giving up cigarettes is like telling that psychosomatic slavery “ENOUGH!”

Revelling in the comfort of ‘too comfortable’, knowing it is stagnating your growth. Break apart.

Tell your toxic ex-lover that you wish him well. That you deserve better!

Buy that goddamn dress!

CPR yourself..

A friend once said, soulmates exist. There’s Yin And Yang in each one of us. The masculine and the feminine energy. And they, are each others soulmates. We are not incomplete. Our partners are not our ‘Better halves’. He/She cannot complete you.

Only you have that consent.

It’s you. Whole. Complete. Fulfilled.

So why the desperate search for completeness and fulfilment from the ones we meet.

Or falling back to the apparent safe haven that is need based, desperate. Animalistic.

The taste of freedom when love is glorious, away from your attached heart.

The demands, the expectations.

The role-play of right’s and wrong’s. Good and bad. Would’ves and Shoud’ves.

It wouldn’t matter.

The pattern will break. We can break it.

Deconstruct. Dissolve.

Only thing vicious in this scenario would be your sole, selfish bliss.

Aren’t we all just craving to be happy?  

Honey,

Be your own Superhero.




Erebus and I / Ojaswini Trivedi

Night Sky
Night Sky

Who saves us? What protects us? Or are we just living our lives with the illusion of being protected. Of being saved.

Hurt is the chalice of nothingness, writhing through the voiceless screams. The mind crawled up in a desperate embrace, bleeding, shivering, hangs itself from the ceiling.

With nothing to hold on, with everything to let go. What is the truth? What is right? Who decides what our conscience speaks? Who lives through, who survives the maelstrom of starlit sighs.

I remember that night, alone, terrifyingly-complete. The lights turned down and the darkness eager to consume me. For a first, it didn’t charge at my insecurities with vengeance but tip toed with a docile ambiguity that allowed me to accept it with arms wide open. Night was kind to me. Maybe the moon was watching.

The background rhythm played in sync with my closing ventricles, expanding lungs and perhaps possessed arms.  The sanctity of its beauty transcended into every cell, each tissue. Unbiased with the form or function.

Only one song played that night.

“Bottom of the Deep Blue sea” by MISSIO.  The song. Ironical? I know.

My feet ached, and I swayed endlessly. Almost as if the night was my guide, the security man outside my window. Convincing me that Pain and Anguish would have to cross the seven seas, climb the tallest peaks, jump across the chasms, speak the strangest of languages to reach me.

I was safe.

As if maybe for the first time, being numb was equivalent to being happy.  Maybe sometimes feeling everything is like feeling nothing at all. Like a snake swallowing its tongue. Or a snowball exploding against a Pine tree.

Au contraire, I never felt more alive. Like the first breath of air after plunging out of the water. Gasping, lungful of the escaped nuances- All gushing back into the realms of my truth.

The soothing audacity of hurt comes in unabashed like the lust for love. It’s heavy. It’s bored. It’s engraving.

Dancing barefoot on the wooden floor, with nothing but a mirror around me. It broke my heart in a different way. It crumpled my soul in an unfittingly. I felt distorted, perfectly.

All of a sudden in those frail moments everything I did and didn’t do made sense to me. Almost as if a gospel truth unravelled beneath the sheaths of my eye lids, trotting through my veins, into the earth.

With every move, my heart imploded, it succumbed to the bliss, the night had to offer.

Is that what love looks like? Oh the shear godliness of it.

Somewhere through my illicit affair with the night, as I laid on the floor, breathing the earth, staring into the sky across the translucent concrete above me.

My toes crinkled.

The desire and occurrence of complete degradation followed by the innocent upheaval of honesty, lastly toppled with the cool embrace of bliss.

I gasped.

Maybe, this felt like love, after all.




Celebrating 150 years of the Mahatma | Manohar Khushalani

A review of the festival at IIC _ Gandhi Ki Dilli

Published earlier in IIC DIARY
Sanatan Sangeet Sanskriti’s, Words in the Garden, curated by Ashok Vajpeyi, is an annual celebration of Literature, Arts and Ideas, of Delhi, this time as a tribute to Gandhi, it was also capsuled as Bapu ki Dilli.

The event thus opened with a film directed by Shyam Benegal, The Making of
the Mahatma,
featuring Rajit Kapoor as Gandhi and Pallavi Joshi as Kasturba.at IIC
The film is based upon the book, The Apprenticeship of a Mahatma, by Fatima
Meer it relates to his 21 years in South Africa where he evolved and fine tuned
his Satyagraha Philosophy. For those who have not seen the 1996 film, it
reveals a different Gandhi and his attempt to come to terms with his
headstrong idealism, which sometimes set him on a path of confrontation even
with his wife. Pallavi, affectionately called, Kastur, by Gandhi etches out a
strong personality for Kasturba unlike the common perception of her being a
pliable person

On the same day we saw an unusual theatre exercise. Stay Yet a While, was a
play reading directed by M.K. Raina, inspired from an unusual and rare
collection of letters exchanged by Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore,
along with some essays by them, curated by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya. The
production retained the flavour of the text by keeping it simple, the content
was powerful enough to sustain the performance handled deftly by seasoned
actors; Avijit Dutt as Tagore and Oroon Das as Gandhi. Preeti Agarwal, the
debutant, was the narrator. Raina’s style of Direction is very original, he
chooses performers for their ability to think and analyse and not for their
histrionics. Also without imitating the body language of the protagonists, they
were able to bring out their larger than life personalities. The result was a
didactic presentation exploring the ideas of two philosophical giants.

Ras Chakra’s Har Qatra Toofan, directed by Vinod Kumar, was yet another play
reading in the series about Gandhi which. The idea was to demystify the
legend, through the eyes of women of his time. Thus the reading was made by
women actors from letters and essays by Sarojini Naidu, Mahadevi Verma,
Ismat Chughtai, Taj Sahiba Lahauri, Anne Mary Peterson, Ellen Horup and Ima
Tarlo. The inspiration for the collection came from the historian Ram Chandra
Guha’s path breaking writings, considered by critics to be the last word on the
subject; Gandhi before India and Gandhi: Years that Changed the World,
1914-48

Besides, the festival was also replete with discussions on topics and ideas
ranging from Sustainable Living, Sparrows to Gandhi’s favourite Bhajans and
even his nutritional philosophy expressed through a lunch curated by Pushpesh
Pant, with unfamiliar cuisine, like Bajre ki Khichri, Methi ke Theple and many
such minimalistic gourmet items

DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.12562184