Interview with Aakar Patel

 

Plato’s Caves is proud to present an interview with noted columnist and author Aakar Patel where he talks about the state of the nation with illuminating insights, startling data and stimulating reflections for all those who are interested to know more about the crises that have gripped the nation.

Watch it here on our Youtube channel: https://youtu.be/YkODTucZcLk

 

 

Aakar Patel is a writer and columnist. He is a former newspaper editor, having worked with the Bhaskar Group and Mid Day Multimedia Ltd. He is the author of Our Hindurashtra. What it is. How we Got Here. His articles have regularly appeared in The Times of India, The Indian Express, Outlook, Scroll.in, Firstpost, Deccan Herald, Business Standard, National Herald and countless other prestigious publications over the years. He was also the former Chair of Amnesty International India.

Poems by John Grey

 

VACATION POEM

 

Today, we fly south,

a week in Florida,

a respite from the chill,

the job, the stress,

seven whole days

of basking on a beach,

sipping margaritas

and, with my doctor well out

of earshot,

whatever suits my hunger.

 

Off come the shackles,

the regimen, the rigors,

replaced by ill-fitting swim trunks,

flowery shirts

and chest-glistening oil.

 

If I was Gaugin,

there’d be no conditions

on my freedom

like the fact that my ticket’s

a return.

I’d be on this lifetime vacation

in Tahiti

but I lack the nerve…

and the oil paints.

 

So a week it is

and then

back to all I thought

I was escaping from.

The dictionary defines vacation

as a respite, an exemption,

a suspension.

To me it’s life’s codicil.

Temporarily modifying.

Permanently overruled.

 

OLD LOVES IN THEIR NEW PACKAGING

 

It can’t be her but it is.

The hair’s cut just below the ears.

The eyes are green

but without sparkle.

Rose cheeks have withered.

Throat and chins have doubled.

The body’s left its old curves way behind.

 

She looks at me,

gaze equally bewildered.

Yes, I’m in here somewhere.

 

And yet, the more we talk,

the more familiar everything becomes.

The faces, the shapes,

aren’t so different anyhow.

When we speak of the old days,

we grow younger by the minute.

 

“Remember when…”

“What about…”

“And then we…”

 

We hear voices

loud and clear

and convincing.

We know these people.

 

SYNTACTIC ANALYSIS

 

A noun is something real.

A lion is a lion

whether in a cage in the zoo

or stalking antelope on the savannah.

And a cop is a cop.

One pulled me over for speeding

and his uniform, his badge,

left no doubt as to exactly what he was.

Not a priest. Not a kangaroo.

But a c-o-p cop.

 

A verb though is something else entirely.

Yes, I can stare directly at a verb in action

but there’s still no guarantee

I won’t mistake loving for hating,

or giving for taking.

 

Adjectives are easier to deal with.

I may get them wrong

but it’s no matter.

The woman I call lovely

may actually be shrewish.

The kind face could be cruel.

They’re personal opinions

so who can disagree?

 

Adverbs I could care less about.

They’re leeches, nothing on their own.

Not an elephant or a building

among the lot of them,

Prepositions are too insignificant

to worry about.

And pronouns are just the opposite –

too huge, too everywhere at once,

to get a bead on.

 

For example, you used to be a noun – woman.

But now you’re you – a pronoun –

though you think you’re really I.

When I try to make sense of this

I end up in confusion – which is a noun –

 

A Conversation with Dr. Nabanipa Bhattacharjee on Bengali Identity in North East India

This is the first online Interview showcased by Plato’s Caves. Abin Chakraborty and Sayan Aich Bhowmik talk to Dr. Nabanipa Bhattacharjee on the complex history and cultural condition of Bengalis in North East India.

Watch it here on our youtube channel: https://youtu.be/Dbd5poWBJZ4 

 

 

Dr. Nabanipa Bhattacharjee teaches at the Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi, New Delhi.

Poems by Tracy Powers

 

 

Senses

 

I’ve always loved the aesthetic

Of neon reflections, on wet streets below

Liquid stained glass in the black of night

Black of pavement

Flowing downward in vibrant hues

Paint kissed by turpentine

Warm rain, I adore

When it trickles down in rhythm

To leave a thousand butterfly kisses

Inside your pores

While the sun shines through

Lustrous and bright

Two worlds that don’t belong together

But opposites attract, I guess

 

The cuddle of silken kitten fur

In a windowsill filled of hazy morning light;

Soft pillows, plush velvet blankets

Fresh & new on store shelves

 

Soundwaves of pleasure

moaned in secret electric whispers

Into a lover’s ears;

Scent of butter, salt, and oil

While viewing the latest blockbuster;

Taste of roasted coffee,

And tangy sweetness of a perfect mimosa

On a summer Sunday afternoon

 

All around

All simple

All Loved

 

 

A Mountain Pictorial

 

Open the pages

A pictorial

Life of the mountain folk

Left side, there’s Anna

Time worn in soul and shirt

Standing by her prized canning station

Jars of pickled wares to her right and left

A mountain of glassed goods

 

To the right

Here’s Robert

Stocky, sturdy, callused

All red flannel & Mack Truck, scrambled egg snapback

Showing off his antique coal stove

That once warmed the hearts and hands of old-timers

At the woodbare, wood floor country store

 

And I always wonder why, in these photos

Unlike the so-called city dwellers

They never, ever smile –

Interviews talk of pride and joy

Family and rural fortunes

But cameras display steel face and stone

 

They have a different view of love

I suppose to myself

A kind that thrives on self-reliance

Instead of fake, toothy champagne grins

A variety where survival becomes a goal

And not a bare minimum

Togetherness, community unlocks

A hope chest of the past

And unveils a mystery hidden

From urban worlds

Now in my hands, printed & bound

 

 

The Killing Floor

 

Within the walls of a factory farm

Or commercial slaughterhouse

One truth is clear

The animals don’t have names

No Bessie or Arnold

Just pierced ears & industrially numbered tags

How many calves did that one cow have? Where was that chicken hatched alive?

How much was put into raising that plump pig?

No one knows

And no one cares to know

To be frank

Nothing comes to light

 

Why would this be?

It’s simple

When choosing to see the creatures of the field before them

As pure meat

A symbol of want

And reduced to members of a nameless, faceless legion

The means to an end

Killing is easier

 

Inside those buildings

Built on blood and bone

You come to fathom the dangers of hate

“Just words”? Well, yes

But words of spite, ignorance, hate

Are woven by design 

To view their victims into unknown beasts

barely human

 

And for those with the sharpened axe on their tongue

Pneumatic gun in their hands at the ready

Thought will all too often lead to action

By their hand, their own

Or have a hand in inciting

The bloodlust in others

 

And then, to them

It’s time for the slaughter

But hey, they’ll tell you – it doesn’t matter They were just meat, anyway

 

It could be argued, of course

That often the need to disconnect

To process, to pack, to classify

Is an ugly necessity to those

Who crave meaty wares,

But we are not animals. 

 

Outside the 4 walls of that place

When considering human mammals

We have the ability to see beyond

A name, who they are

Far more than what group they may fall into.

But when we give in to spite

 A curious yet dangerous phenomenon- Some will do nothing less than reduce those they hate,

 for whatever reason, to nothing more than unseasoned meat

Trapped in stalls and ripe for the killing floor

To justify harming “the other”

With words or actions

Void of normal guilt

 

Or even to feel righteous

Exude dominance over those they see

As simple livestock and property

Cookie-cutter beasts

 

Let that settle in

And send a chill down your spine –

The lock of the gate clicks and rattles

Time for the slaughter

 

 

Tracy Powers is based in Oak Ridge, TN, and her writing is often inspired by the ‘traces and places’ she has experienced in life – and even some she has just dared to dream about. Her publication history includes ‘Vision’ – LiteraryYard.com, “Firestarter” –  Ariel Chart, & “The Field” – Kingdoms in the Wild. In addition, my first poetry collection chapbook ‘The Dragon’s Den’ is available on Amazon.com.