Photograph: An ode to Romance

Ritesh Batra’s Photograph is one of those movies that has managed to ask that one pertinent question, that the poets and playwrights have been asking for ages; The enigma, that romantic love is, has been put to question for the pragmatic eyes of the twenty first century’s audience. The yarn revolves around two characters who have been initiated into each other by sheer chance. Rafi alias Rafiullah (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is a street photographer at India Gate and Miloni (Sanya Malhotra) is an aspiring chartered accountant. As the movie begins we see Rafi trying to charm his customers by saying “saalon baad jab aap yeh photo dekhenge, toh aapko aapke chehre peh ye dhoop dikhayi degi, Aap ke baalon mein yeh hawa aur aapke kaano mein hazaaron logonke awaazein. Sab chala jaayega ,hamesha ke liye sab chala jaayega”(years later when you look at this picture, you will be able to feel the same sun as you do now, the same wind that passes through your hair, the same humdrum of the city life will echo in your ears. This  moment will  most definitely perish but will forever be imprisoned in this photograph). Miloni on the other hand is seen as an industrious student who spends late nights burying her face amidst books. Her father is seen to be boastful of his younger daughter’s academic prowess. Miloni’s mother and elder sister seem to be making choices on her behalf as to which colour would suit her the most. Miloni complies with them in a manner which seems practiced. It is manifest that despite  having a mind of her own she has been denied to use it for a long time. On her way back from shopping Miloni comes across Rafi who tries to ensnare  another prospective customer by his poetic words . Miloni concedes and agrees to have a photograph taken. Rafi who is struggling to repay his father’s debt has been brought up by his grandmother (Farrukh Jaffar). This vivacious grandmother who appears later on the screen is determined to have her grandson married and settled. Rafi tries to put off the marriage by writing a letter to her, concocting a story of him being in love with a girl named Noorie and to make it believable, he sends the letter with a photograph of his last customer, that is Miloni. The eccentric grandmother decides to pay her grandson a visit hoping to meet the prospective bride. Now Rafi  sets out to find Miloni hoping that he could convince her to pose as his betrothed. Miloni quite surprisingly agrees. And they start meeting on a regular interval. They start sharing intimate details about  each other. Miloni, who doesn’t drink cola because of her sentimental attachment with Campa  Cola and her deceased grandfather , finds an unlikely friend in Rafi. Miloni who has long been out of practice of professing her thoughts gradually warms up to their domestic help . She  says she would love to visit her village. Rafi is constantly reminded of the societal dichotomy between him and Miloni. Meanwhile Miloni’s parents engage themselves in their daughter’s matchmaking. A business student with lucrative opportunities in America comes to meet Miloni. Miloni confesses she wishes to live in a village and work in a farm. Later she turns him down.

Rafi sets out on a fairytale-like adventure  to find Campa Cola for Miloni. He tracks down a Mr.Sodabottlewalah who had purchased the recipe from Campa when they went out of business. Rafi finally having found out what to give Miloni as a gift is left with a vacant face on the screen. Miloni too on a bus ride finds something. She finds her lost voice, she embraces herself as not wanting to be a Chartered Accountant. Photograph is also a story of the unbecoming of Miloni and becoming of Miloni. From being denied of a childhood dream of becoming an actor, to warding off the advancement of a possible predator posing as a harmless teacher(Jim Sarbh), Miloni starts to construct an identity of her own. Being the shrewd Dadi that she is, Rafi’s grandmother somehow deduces that Miloni is not of their religious belief and Noorie  not being her real name. Interestingly enough Dadi doesn’t come up with any religious protestations . Instead she encourages Rafi to find a home. Rafi , haunted by the ghost of a Tiwari(Vijay Raaz) who ostensibly hanged himself due to loneliness, makes up his mind on setting up a factory of Campa Cola. The very prospect of a Noorie gives rise to a struggle in Rafi to battle with man’s oldest enemy, loneliness. The obvious question that one ought to ask is of a philosophical sort. Can anybody dare to think that they can spend their life on Campa Cola? Campa  Cola being an obvious symbol for love. Will Miloni ever be able to leave behind her current life and pursue her juvenile dream of living in a village and possibly fall for Rafi? Or is it going to be another Telenapota Abiskar by Premendra Mitra? If someone is into art which is least didactic in nature and makes its audience ask questions, then Batra’s Photograph can definitely be given a chance.

Photograph can also be read as an ode to the romance of the earlier Bollywood. Rafi borrows the name Norrie from an old and typically romantic Yash Chopra movie by the same name. The song “tumne mujhe dekha”  from Teesri Manzil comes at the theatre scene, which also concludes the movie and fits in quite naturally. Two different Mumbai is vividly portrayed through the lens.

The background music successfully compliments the doleful longing of the central characters. The ending is deliberately left open for the audience to complete the story. Nawazuddin and Sanya have done justice to their roles. The cinematography by Tim Gillis and Ben kutchins helps the case the director is trying to make.

rohan dutta

Rohan Dutta is a Post Graduation student at Maulana Azad College. He takes food very seriously. He lives for the sake of eating and not the other way around. The rest about him is privy to very few people.

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Poems by Elvis Alves

For Victims of Natural Catastrophes

We cross the river to the other side where a mother

and child wait for the sun before going forward. The

 

new day a promise fulfilled to them. And us. So we

celebrate life every day because a catastrophe can

 

happen without a moment’s notice. Uprooting. To

transport the will where it does not want to go.

 

A stubbornness unfamiliar only in its familiarity,

like a counterpart that is part of the whole.

 

Life happens with intrusions. It is true that every-

thing breaks and needs fixing. An answer that precedes

 

the question that births it. There is a fate

that becomes you and that you need to make

 

a home of, with walls of hope that let love in.

 

Saint Coltrane

 

Lost in the stars, any sound means life.

Humanity pulls, as it grows, from the unknown.

What title you give it wares away into oblivion.

 

Shine as wisdom’s incisive cut—know this above

all else.

 

Music is a spaceship. It travels beyond the ears,

and into the heart. Into the soul.

 

Dig there with might. Find what you may, there.

Dance with the rhythm of life.

 

Out of life’s chaos, create rhythm and not order.

This will help you move along—a path, a journey—

 

or something of the kind.

 

Pray to Saint Coltrane on the way. He who knows

joy and pain—they are in his music.

 

Choice

 

There is no heart here. If there is one, it beats irregularly.

What wakes to the call of the day meets the same fate as he

 

who refuses to rouse from sleep, a dream or body holding in

place that whose fate lies somewhere else but draws close with

 

the passing of time. The heart that beats on its own, or because

it is tugged, lends a paradigm that obstructs the truth its subject

 

begs to know. Yes, the heart can be a shallow pond. Or a river or

ocean that knows the depth of love.

Elvis pic.jpg

 

Elvis Alves  is the author of Bitter Melon (2013), Ota Benga (2017), and I Am No Battlefield But A Forest Of Trees Growing (2018), winner of the Jacopone da Todi poetry book prize. Elvis lives in New York City with his family.

Review of Parimal Bhattacharya’s Bells of Shangri-La by Barnamala Roy

See the source image

I had recently returned from the misty hill station of Takdah, 28 kilometers from Darjeeling when I came across this book. ‘Takdah’ is a Lepcha word which means ‘fog’ or ‘mist’ and true to its name, sunlight there is scarce even in the summer months of May and June. The wetness of the weather and the mingled strains of the Sunday mass and the Buddhist chants break the silence and peace prevailing there all day. But the question haunts you: how long can one enjoy this peace in the damp and joyless weather?

The same question also comes up in Parimal Bhattacharya’s accounts of his own travels in Bells of Shangri-La: Scholars, Spies and Invaders in Tibet published by Speaking Tiger. He weaves autobiography with historical accounts of other travelers and explorers. In his autobiographical accounts, he talks of the weather in Darjeeling that brings a spell of depression to someone born and brought up in the plains. Bhattacharya mentions a string of suicides by invalid British soldiers in a sanatorium in Senchal (Darjeeling) in the mid-19th century. It is the monotony of uneventful day to day living while posted as a professor in Darjeeling (“My days in Darjeeling followed each other like flocks of sheep over the cliff of amnesia”) that pushes the author into depression too. He buries himself in his scholarly pursuits and tries to fill the gaps in historical data. In the process, he is visited by feelings of eeriness or the uncanny, thanks to natural phenomenon like the Broken Spectre, which makes the book more like a detective novel.

The author’s curiosity is driven as much by the aim of solving geographical mysteries as also by the excitement of exploring the personal lives of travelers and explorers who have been lost to the annals of time. He discovers a rare document, priced at eighteen thousand rupees- ‘Report of Pundit Kinthup’s Exploration of Yarlung Tsangpo’  in an old book shop in Mall Road, Shimla and immediately remembers an earlier discovery of a copy of the same report at a kabari shop in Darjeeling. A connection is established between the two hill stations of the Himalayas, miles apart on the map.

Bhattacharya is interested in Kinthup because he was sent to Tibet to explore the course of the Tsangpo Brahmaputra River by the Survey of India.  Kinthup was a tailor by occupation; he could neither read nor write but knew the basics of topographic survey and was gifted with an amazing memory. What surpassed all this was however his dedication to complete his mission even under the most trying conditions. By putting the tailor’s records against the records of Joseph Dalton Hooker (19th century British botanist and explorer), George Bogle (Scottish adventurer and diplomat) and Sarat Chandra Das (school master and later-day noted Tibetologist), the author erases the line dividing scholarly interest and natural curiosity. He dismisses the elitism of scholarly pursuits and gives back the power of intellectual labour to the common man and woman. The title of the book is also suggestive of the same: ‘…..Scholars, Spies and Invaders in Tibet’.

The book unfolds before us the past lives of Kinthup, Hooker, Bogle, Alexandra, Sarat Chandra Das and Eric Bailey all travelling through difficult terrains to solve geographical mysteries. The author follows in their tradition. Bailey follows in Kinthup’s footsteps, Sarat Chandra Das in the footsteps of George Bogle and the author incorporates the records of all these travels in his own journeys. It is about looking at landscapes anew, with fresh eyes, while always being aware of other ways of seeing in different circumstances, as different people. Bhattacharya looks at these landscapes with the eyes of a poet; his descriptions are vivid and aesthetic- pink and scarlet flowers float in soupy grey fog, mountains lose their crowns in the clouds, trees hold up the sky like columns. Particularly striking is the description of how dusk falls during the winter months at the small frozen village in the Yangma Valley:

 “Before the fleeting daylight would fade, women with wooden tubs would crawl out of the cottages and call the animals in. For a while, the slopes would come alive with shrill human voices and deep bovine grunts answering them. And then, as the temperature would plummet further, milk would freeze in the yaks’ udders, the mountain springs would freeze like candle drippings, the rumble of avalanches would echo in the deathly silence. On clear nights countless stars, pulsating and large, would transform the sky into the coat of a snow leopard in flight.”

Bhattacharya’s book is a passage through time – he notes how the ways of exploration have changed through the ages. The spies, scholars and invaders travelled to Tibet on the sly in Kinthup and Sarat Chandra Das’s time; the author now explores the terrains through organized tours or study tours on Public Private Partnership (PPP). He also comments on the advent of home stays in the hill towns of the Himalayas and how they have changed the economy. The author astutely observes how local life and culture is exhibited and sold to guests and customers – he finds this custom disconcerting. This disconcertion echoes in the utter bewilderment Kinthup experiences on his first encounter with modernization (colonization). The town of Darjeeling had transformed beyond recognition during Kinthup’s absence – his years of adventures and misadventures had cost him his family and he was on the verge of losing his sanity at the sight of the unfamiliar steel tracks in his hometown. Kinthup was ignorant about railway tracks and mistook it for a snake, making himself the butt of ridicule.

The author observes the pathos of Kinthup and Sarat Chandra Das’s life. They passed their twilight years in obscurity and in Kinthup’s case, poverty, cradling extraordinary experiences of their adventures in their minds while living the drudgery of everyday existence. Their colossal effort and dedication were erased from public memory and no longer recognized by the government.

‘Bells of Shangri-la’ also talks about the breaking of stereotypes: Alexandra David Neel, the French mystique is a woman traveler who survives blizzards and braves disguises during her expeditions and lives up to the age of hundred and one. Liekwise, Sarat Chandra Das breaks the stereotype of effeminate Bengali man through his mountainous adventures.

The author has lent a keen and generous ear to past records and brought forgotten lives to light, all the while weaving a poetic experience for his readers. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in history, culture, mystery and adventure.

See the source imageBarnamala Roy has a M.A. in English from Presidency University, Kolkata. She reads an assortment of things, thinks about the films she no longer has time to watch, philosophizes, watches birds and feels more at home in the animal and plant kingdom. A freelance writer, editor and translator, she is currently developing video-content for an Educational App-Notebook, living life and lying low. She takes time off each month and travels to remote areas in West Bengal for fieldwork and sanity.

Poems by Fabrice Poussin

No memories of hers

Resting by the glare of a broken pane

she has aged in the grace of past happenings

her breast heaving gently through the press of time

beating on her hopes as it would the anvil of Zeus.

 

Her hand rests upon her throat testing

the remnants of a life she stills counts on

she feels the pulse within the canals of purple paste

but ponders a moment ago what may come tomorrow.

 

Her flesh trembles in forgotten fibers afire

sending vibrations like lightnings to her thoughts

a new present arises among the shambles of a sham

she stretches in search of a last ecstasy.

 

She will not move paralyzed in her last intimacy

fantasizing about a past perhaps watching her go

imagining a future upon the cracks in the glass

she dares not take a step into another moment.

 

Images come to the passionate embrace of her warmth

they may be her children once or those of another

Christmas trees fallen upon the road to more holidays

celebrations to millions of her kin she recalls all.

 

Now panic settles and the machine beats like a hurricane

perhaps she had a chance at living once

now she fears only delusions implanted in her soul

she dies unaware of a biography other than strangers’.

 

Seeking a Language

How does one speak without words

to reach through the fibers of the realm

cross over to the one yet so close

when the air is thick as the walls of a citadel.

 

Where may the secret of this eternal language

be found in the human mire of false destinies?

 

How does one speak to the one he seeks

when the words are danger to those who love?

 

Seeking the cord to connect with other passions

how does one scream across the universe

unheard but to the recipient of the living message?

 

Boiling within he is only a presence now

unseen of all others blind as they desire

though the waves shock their weak frames

his language is silence in search of a soul.

 

Without Time

I sit on the rocker by a dying fire

I look upon a flaming shadow upon your eye

and I wonder whether a child

I still am.

 

Poised in the grey dress of unending mornings

you stand silent in majesty

your chest still as if eternal

ready to pounce on this chilly dawn.

 

Aromas made of comforting memories arise

as the mist retreats around the aura

she leaves, innocent girl

she crosses her arms in defiance.

 

I lower my gaze to the dying fire

bowing to her ageless years

while a deep touch passes with the air

and she is but a shivering apparition.

 

Fabrice Poussin teaches French and English at Shorter University. Author of novels and poetry, his work has appeared in Kestrel, Symposium, The Chimes, and many other magazines. His photography has been published in The Front Porch Review, the San Pedro River Review as well as other publications.

Poems by Joe Maclean

This Poem

This poem will not be the last one

I write because that one will flow

like the medium between galaxies,

not light, not dark. It will celebrate

life and death by imitating both as

a single point inverting upon itself

that reflects the limit of in and out.

It will contain future words sewing

4D images behind your eyes where

optic nerves weave stray memories.

This poem is not that one that will

last forever, asleep, not knowing it

 

Order and Chaos Out Of Chaos and Order

 

Gulls wheel, crowning the wind.

Ocean traces a curve of earth

beneath the rackety arcs.

A few fishing craft head out

on Sunday rides. Straight

white wakes crisscross.

Captains have mates elbow close

save one glum as autumn squall

at the helm of the boat Gisele.

 

The Path of Life

 

The world discovered molding life

from mud does indicate that clay

is modelled from information.

If knowing permits prophesy,

remembering aids survival.

My life will ride on rails at night,

asleep while swaying over earth

with ice age dreams of glaciers.

The Panthalassa poet splashed

the earliest near rhyme of life.

We carve a Mobius from time

and softly pace upon the rim

escaping back to forever.

 

J.S. MacLean Photo

 

Joe Maclean has two collections, “Molasses Smothered Lemon Slices” and “Infinite Oarsmen for one”. He has published over 170 poems in Canada, USA, Ireland, UK, France, Israel, India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Australia. He won THIS Magazine’s Great Canadian Literary Hunt in Poetry. He strives for lyrical and hopes for accidental.

Poems by Judy DeCroce

And

I have shaved all my words down to truth,

a wide circle in early light.

Guilt comes away easily,

leaving a smooth silence.

This time of day sifts.

Cool or dark…

I feel the movement,

a laugh.

a rise

 

With persistence,

I dip in and begin this poem.

 

 

Missing

See me?

I turn, watching the place where you were.

I, the old one, the other end of the day turned.

 

There may be nothing or perhaps it is an elusive sum

that together we were…a bell without echo.

 

There is a sound in your dream,

though my footsteps are quiet.

 

Life in dreams is hard to hold.

Will you report me missing?

And,…to whom?

 

 

The Tarnished After

The proverb:

   the reverse side also has a reverse side.

   And both have a middle.

 

It is always the day before

splitting “was and after,”

the last day of peace;

that childhood belief in safety.

 

It’s hard to remember yesterday,

stepping over the middle.

 

That image blurs to nothing,

until later someone says,

“Remember?”

 

And, with all your strength you try,

try to catch the real before, only to find

the tarnished after.

 

 

Tranquility

for what morning brings,

I am grateful.

 

through minutes of harmony…

as rare beads slide

 

this patch carved out of a day.

rich, slow, in words or silence

 

waves of peace adjusting my focus

mutable—changeable

 

Judy DeCroce portrait small size
Picture by Antoni Ooto

Judy DeCroce, a former teacher, is a poet and flash fiction writer.
She has been published in Pilcrow & Dagger, Amethyst Review, The Sunlight Press, Cherry House Press- Dreamscape:An Anthology, and many others.

She is a professional storyteller and teacher of that genre. Judy lives and works in upstate New York with her husband writer/artist Antoni Ooto

 

 

Three Poems by William Doreski

Lindens on the Avenue

Chateau_d'Opme_Linden_trees
Source: Siefkin DR, Wikimedia Commons

 

The lindens on the avenue

turn over their leaves for rain.

They will outlive you by one

or more centuries, their breath

fragile and necessary, their smiles

too subtle for cops and dogwalkers

to make time to appreciate.

 

You’ve overlooked this city

for so long it has absorbed you,

your powerful blonde persistence

inciting unnatural forces

to open a secret grave somewhere

among the broken warehouses

south of the financial district.

 

When after a night of mating

with that rich old man downstairs

you stumble into that cavity

you’ll remember the swagger

of the lindens in tropical storm

when a fallen limb stopped traffic

and seagulls blown from the harbor

cackled and sneered at the mess.

 

The rich old man won’t miss you

because money has blinded him

to the glare of your Renoir pose.

With both his eye and his glass eye

he also observes the lindens,

but from a lower floor, unable

to see the tops sway in the wind.

 

The days slip past with little cries

you mistake for your grandchildren

calling from a terrible height.

Those are actually the creaking

of linden boughs, a form of thought

philosophers more adept than you

have struggled to interpret,

snagging their beards in the twigs.

 

Akasaka

 

Inside the inn a man

returns from the bath, a towel

draped over his meaty shoulder.

Akasaka_sacas2.jpg
Source ITA-ATU, Wikimedia Commons

 

Another man smoking a pipe

reclines while a blind masseur

kneels in the open doorway.

 

To the right, in their own room,

three women touch up their makeup

as they prepare to entertain.

 

Is this a place of sex work

or merely of roadside rest?

The rooms stand so widely open

 

to the plank connecting walkway

that nothing remains secret

for more than a moment or two.

 

Weed People

 

Already before May ends

some roadside weeds have rusted

the color of certain old men

who had taken too much pride

in heritage, race, and hauteur.Chicory_roadside_weed_(8689131548)

 

The stems look brittle and crude.

Reproductive parts have withered,

having already done their best.

You want to trim our frontage

to let certain ferns flourish

 

in all their asexual glory.

You don’t care that cutting

these scrawny uprights would hurt

where I’ve never been hurt before,

spilling the sickliest fluids.

 

It’s that kind of season, the cries

of tiny animals audible

for the first time, toads fisting

in the garden, the daydreams

of songbirds ghosting in the blue.

 

Today I should enclose myself

in a thicket of books and drowse

until I reach the threshold,

then pull myself back to the world

with a shameful little blush.

 

But I feel restless, afraid

that if I stay too still I’ll root

against my will, striking bedrock

only an inch below the surface,

confirming the slope of my pose.

 

william-doreski175

 

William Doreski‘s work  has appeared in various online and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall and Train to Providence, a collaboration with photographer Rodger Kingston

 

 

 

Amreeta’s Musings on Mess-Bari

My maternal grandfather’s brother Moni dadu spent his entire life in a mess-bari near College Street and drew a lot of ire for wasting his life in a dingy shack. My parents tell me that he vehemently resisted all attempts of his friends and family to persuade him into moving out. He died in neglect and somehow his indifference to conventional domestic life in an owned or rented property peculiarly isolated him. He stayed back in the mess-bari even after he should have outgrown it. Typically mess-baris were spaces of transition, characterized simultaneously by rootedness and flux. I have grown up with anecdotes and tangible traces of the mess-bari where my grandfather spent a better part of his student life. The Mess-bari project, organized by Heritage Walk Kolkata, headed by Dr. Tathagata Neogi and Chelsea McGill  seeks to document anecdotes existing mess-baris and create an archive around their histories. An excellent survey of the project is available on the official website of Heritage Walk Kolkata. Most of the mess-baris surveyed by the team (Dipanwita Paul, Barshana Basu and Anmol Grover) are in dangerous dilapidation, albeit, many of them being still fully occupied. With the rise of paying-guest facilities, and affordable rentals the practical demand for mess-baris are shrinking resulting in the disappearance of a rich and vibrant culture of alternative residence. Barshana Basu in the introduction to the survey writes that they were able to identify 26 currently functional messbaris, 24 obsolete mess baris and 4 that have been demolished. The survey contains detailed accounts of the location, present condition, lodging charges and cultural legacy of all the functional messbaris. Most of these boarding houses grew up in the 19th century as affordable accommodation options for young men and women flocking into the city from the rural areas in the wake of land regulation policies such as the Permanent Settlement Act of 1793. The larger impact of this act was decreased income from land based and agricultural earnings. This was coupled with new employment opportunities created by the colonial government. The demography of the mess-bari was as varied as the cosmopolitan capital city of British India. There were boarding houses of Indian Christian and Muslim communities. Basu writes, “The 1915 and 1935 street directories mention boarding houses meant for specific communities like Odias , Goanese, Madrasis (umbrella term in uses signifying people hailing from the Southern part of India), Portuguese, Scottish, Europeans and so on. Certain messes al so served religious communities and thus we find mention of messes for Indian Christians and Muslims .” There were all-women messes as well. So what overwhelmingly appears in popular culture as a Hindu Bachelor’s den turns out to be more complex and culturally diverse in reality. One such mess-bari was Shabari and its former owner Mrs. Beauty Bose. The Mess bari has been long demolished. She ran the hostel, after taking the business over from her husband and would do so for 38 years until it became financially impossible to sustain 48 boarders. Needless to say, running an all-women’s hostel in decades when attitudes towards unmarried working women were hostile to say the least and ensuring the safety of these women, must have been a trying task.

What many of these mess-baris possibly provided to young persons, often travelling from patriarchal family environments, was a space of autonomy. It opened up for them an opportunity to fashion their own community standards, while keeping class affiliations intact. This community outside familial ties could have been extremely liberating, albeit taxing in terms of the domestic duties that young men had to now perform which traditionally their mothers or wives would perform at home. Mess-Baris feature in the popular imagination of Bengali literature in numerous ways. Not only did many of these mess-baris had illustrious figures from the field of culture and politics spend their days here, these boarding houses are famous settings of many works of Bengali Literature. Bomkesh Bakshi, a famous fictional detective started his career from one such mess-bari. Noted humourist and short story writer  Shibram Chakraborty’s erstwhile mess-bari still has walls which are scribbled with numbers purportedly by the author’s own hand. Located at 134 Muktaram Babu Street, this mess-bari purportedly housed many illustrious personalities, Bogra Congress Leader Satish Chandra Sarkar, dhrupad singer Bhootnath Bandopadhyay, essayist Upendranath Bhattacharya and freedom fighter Taranath Roy.

Mess-baris have a strange anecdotal resonance for me. My own study table, used by three generations, was bought from a mess-bari that my grandfather lived in. He was a History student in the city sometime in the 1950s, flirting with Marxism and some partywork and spending copious hours studying and reading. The table is made of excellent wood even though we don’t know how he managed to carry it home from his boarding. This table, painted and repainted with several decades of use, is a palimpsest of sorts, containing traces of the histories of so many people, their personal quirks and odd scribbling habits. It is important to remember that mess-baris are not dead institutions of the past. That they are still in use, demonstrates the utility and resilience of this cheap accommodation option. With burgeoning population and urban space crisis, it would do no mean benefit if existing residential structures can be renovated and reused, with revised tenancy rates. Converting parts of some of these mess-baris into museums, could be an interesting way of generating revenue for the maintenance and upkeep of these structures.

 

References

1.     Project report available https://www.heritagewalkcalcutta.com/projects

2.     https://messbariproject.wordpress.com/

3.     Article on Shibram Chakraborty’s mess bari https://www.telegraphindia.com/culture/inside-the-messbaris-that-inspired-byomkesh-bakshi-s-quarters/cid/1671771

AmreetaAmreeta is a first year MA student, interested in the history and literature of Early Modern England, takes a keen interest in Latin and Greek literature and mostly swoons over anything written by JM Coetzee. She manages an informal library for students in college for which she has spent three years cataloguing books. She is definitely bad at writing bio-notes.

Poems by DS Maolalai

Beauty

scratching my face

in the morning. I am

a broken plate – certain edges

you can’t smooth

and then

they’re useless

to eat off. some

look good with stubble – I don’t even

manage

to look good

shaved. I think

it’s the sharp chin,

swimming in life

like a shark through water. I try my best

but what of it? my electric razor

hums in the morning

and breaks against the challenge

of making me

more beautiful. all its value

lies in making the silence

less.

 

Hosting

at 5pm

I shift the table

from the corner

into the middle of the kitchen. it is waiting

for a plate of salad eggs, a brown bowl

of chorizo stew

and everyone to sit around

and yell. I am used to this – parties,

not hosting – but chrys knows

where things should go. I let her

do it, but still, I am embarrassed

when the guests arrive

and see the new place – uncomfortably aware

that suddenly the garden

smells of dogshit

my bedroom

is full of laundry.

 

Ingoldsby

I sent a message through facebook:

do you know how to reach

pat ingoldsby?

I had book of poems coming out in the spring

and I was hoping he would maybe

say something

I could put on the back cover.

 

I got a message back:

we don’t know

how to reach him

but he sells his books on college green

under the central bank

you can just talk to him there

if you want to talk to him

 

I sent a message back:

I’m in canada right now;

the book is coming out in america

I can’t meet him in person

do you think you can get a copy to him

I have attached a pdf

that the editors have sent me

hoping I can get endorsements

from well known poets

 

no response.

 

I suppose perhaps

he didn’t like what I had written

or they had decided not to show him

or he had cycled once

down along college green

and up

george’s street

and down

through an unbalanced

manhole cover.

 

I’ve gotten back to Ireland since

and I haven’t seen him

selling his books anywhere.

I hope something good

has happened to him.

 

 

Diarmid

DS Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Web and twice for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)

 

Poems by Sayan Aich Bhowmik with Sketches by Shreemoyee Banerjee

1. 1.

“”The house remains
It’s tenant is dead
He died in love
With words unsaid.

His room remains
With a mourning bed
For he died in love
With words unsaid.”
2.
2.

“I’ve just reached home
My day is at an end
Whose love can I borrow
What sorrow can I lend?

I pick up the telephone
And I call her again
Her love I could borrow
If it still remained.”

 
3.  3.

“I am leaving
And leaving a part with you
In departures,
A little apart from you.

Some birds and cages
Remain bound and free
Some stay with you
Some leave with me.”