एक शहर ये भी – कविता 2 – हुमायूँ का मक़बरा


 

सब्ज़ बुर्ज से कई बार हुमायूँ के मक़बरे तक

खामोश रास्तों पर हम कभी कभी युहीं

पैदल ही निकल जाते थे

निजामुद्दीन की हवा में एक खुमार सा है

जिसे लफ़्ज़ों में बयां करना मुश्किल है

एक अजीब सी कशिश, एक खुशबू

शायद उस नीली नदी की जो कभी

पास से गुज़रा करती थी

अमलतास के पेड़ के नीचे बैठ

हम घंटों दूब के क़ालीनों पर उभरते

शाम के सायों को मूक आखों से ताका करते

और परिंदों के कोलाहल के बीच

तन्हाई में लिपटा हुआ संगेमरमर

और बुलिअा पत्थरों से बना हश्त – बहिश्त

बेबस सा ये मक़बरा अपनी रगों में

मुग़ल सल्तनत की महक समेटे

बगीचे की नहरों के पानी में

कुछ ढूढ़ता रहता

और इस बीच आहिस्ता से समय

युहीं कहीं किसी

मेहराब या गुम्बद पे आके थम जाता

जड़ पकड़ लेता दरख्तों की तरह

हम अपने ख्वाबों की परवान को थामे 

किसी दर -ओ -दीवार की परछाईं

नापते और अतीत के झरोखों से

छन के आती सूरज की आख़री किरणों

में ज़िन्दगी के मायने खोजते

और फिर हाथों में हाथ दिए

बस्ती की तंग गलियों में निकल जाते

तुम कबाब और बिरयानी की खुशबु में खो जाते

और मैं महबूब ए इलाही के रंगों में रंग जाती

आज बारापुला फ्लाईओवर से

निजामुद्दीन बस्ती की छतों पे सूखते कपड़ो

 के पीछे उन्ही रंगों की महक उजले

नीले आसमान में उड़ती नज़र आयी

और मन फिर जा कर अमलतास की उस डाल

से लिपट गया

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 1

Advertisements

Nolen Gurer Sondesh – My Sweet Story


 

IMG_20180210_144742_01

I have some fond memories of going to the Annapurna Bhandar opposite Sheesh Ganj Gurudwara in Chandni Chowk as a little girl. Only a promise of chumchum and nolen gurer sondesh or jalbhara sondesh would make me take the trip with mom. Later as I grew up I would often visit the lanes of old city and feast on the sounds and colors the place offered. Food of course was one of the attractions but whatever I may eat there was always some place for these two favorites.

My next project Nolen gurer jalbhara kara pak sondesh from Annapurna Sweets. Center filled with fresh date palm jaggery. One of the things I can’t stay without. Just the right sweetness, delicate taste, melt in the mouth goodness in every bite. A must have for all the sweet connoisseurs.

 

I would watch my dad in fascination as he made the softest melt in the mouth sondesh once in a while as a treat to me. There aren’t many good memories I associate with my growing up years but this is one of the few that ever were.

I learned to make the plain sondesh but never got the same texture or taste as dad’s or those bought from Annapurna. I seemed to be doing everything right but something was still missing.

Few days ago I decided to make the pressure cooker rosogullas and that is another sweet which has been a bit of a challenge for me. So, I decided to do some research. As usual my first stop for all food related issues is Sangeeta Khanna’s blogs. I found an old post on How to make Rasullas step by step and while I read I realized what exactly was wrong in my approach.

It was the technique of making Chenna /chana/ that was causing the issue. I always feel that cooking is a science and once you master that you can be as creative as you want.

I made chena/ Indian cottage cheese as per Sangeeta’s instructions and nailed it this time. The chenna was perfect, the rasgullas soft and spongy as they should be ( will post recipe soon) and then I couldn’t stop myself to make the fabled Nolen gurer sondesh.

A friend had given me some date palm jaggery and I had a little left of it.  Though sondesh is best made with cow’s milk I opted for full cream toned Mother Dairy milk.

Here is the link to Sangeeta’s recipe but I will post the steps anyway.

I prefer fresh Nolen gur, ‘Notun Gur’ or ‘Khejur Gur’  or date palm jaggery over the sugarcane one for its unique flavor, fragrance and texture. It is available only in winter and has many health benefits. It helped in raising my HB during the treatment of anemia. It is rich in magnesium as well. Google more. 😀

 

How to Nolen Gurer Sondesh 

Here is how I made the perfect cottage cheese / chenna/ chana at home. The important thing to keep in mind while making Bengali mithai is – Fresh homemade cottage cheese or chenna otherwise the sweets won’t come out well.

 

To make perfect chenna :

Ingredients : 

Full fat milk / Cow’s milk – 4 Cups

Juice of lemon – 1 lemon  or 1/4 cup curd (home cultured preferably or 1/4 cup white vinegar

Steps – 

  1. Heat a pan of water and keep aside. Keep a sieve over a large pan ready.
  2. Slightly wet a thick bottom pot, add milk and heat till the first boil comes. (slight variation from Sangeeta). Turn off the heat.
  3.  Start adding the lemon juice mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of water. Do it slowly and keep stirring. The milk needs to curdle slowly after each addition. I added in four steps till the greenish, transparent whey separated from the cheese.  If it doesn’t then reheat the milk and it will in a few minutes. Don’t stir too much or the chnna will become hard.
  4. Once the whey is separated nicely strain the whey through the steel sieve. Here I learned that the good cheese or chenna will stick to the spoon which is indicative that it will be a cohesive mass ideal for the sweet making.
  5. Toss the chenna/cottage cheese into the center.
  6. immediately dunk it in the hot water ( this is where I went wrong earlier. I was using the cold water method.)
  7. Rinse the cheese properly by pressing it to the side of the bowl a few times. The water may turn milky which is good.
  8. Now, put it back in the sieve and remove the excess water by lightly pressing. No need to press hard. A little moisture will give you a better sondesh or it will turn dry and crumbly.
  9. Once all the water is drained, take in out in a large plate and rub and knead with the heals of your palm till you get a smooth, lump free dough. When you feel the fat from the cheese on your hand its done. Do not overdo it. Make a smooth ball of it and cover with a damp cloth.
  10. Now your chenna is ready for making sondesh or rasgullas. Use as you desire.

 

To make Nolen Gurer Sondesh 

Ingredients :

Chenna we just prepared

Date palm jaggery – 1 cup grated and softened ( I did it in microwave)

Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp ( optional)

A few raisins – Optional

Warm ghee ( I used homemade) – 1 tsp

Steps :  

  1. Once you have the smooth chenna dough add softened jaggery to it. Rub again with the heals of your palm till you get a homogenous mixture and the jaggery is well absorbed.
  2. Heat a non stick pan on low flame and  add the mixture to it. Cook it for 4-5 minutes not more.
  3. Take it out in a large plate and let it cool completely. You can cover it with damp cloth and keep in fridge for half and hour or so.
  4. Once cooled break it with fingers, add atsp of warm ghee and knead it again with heals of your palm to bring it all together nicely. Add cardamom powder if using and mix.
  5. Now make small balls of the chenna and decorate with a raisin. If you have molds then use them to shape the sondesh.
  6. You can make them when the chenna is slightly warm too. It will take some time for them to hold the shape.
  7. I love the slightly grainy texture of the sondesh but you can make them smooth too. It depends on your taste and the quality of your cottage cheese.
  8. Serve them at room temperature.

 

Note –

Mine were norom pak sondesh which are melt in the mouth. The other ones are kora pak sondesh which are a bit harder.

You can use sugarcane jaggery too instead of the date palm jaggery.

If you do not heat the mixture and make the sondesh directly they will be known as Kancha Golla. They too taste delicious but I prefer the cooked version.

 

Do try and let me know the results. Making any dish is a labor of love so do not rush through the steps. Getting the perfect chenna is the tough step then it is a cakewalk.

 

Delhi Monuments – Chor Minar ( The Thieves Tower )


I often wonder how I never paid any attention to this solitary tower in K block Hauz Khas Enclave. I have seen almost all the big and small structures around this area but never stopped here. Yesterday I was wandering around the city and was in the neighborhood so decided to walk down and take a closer look at the tower of punishment, a landmark with a gory history, that is usually ignored by many.

The minar is located in the midst of posh bungalows of Hauz Khas. This supposedly haunted structure is encircled by a garden and serves as a traffic roundabout. The monument is made of rubble masonry where large irregular chunks of stone are held together by thick mortar.  The tower, with 225 regularly spaced holes on the upper half,  is kind of macabre to look at. It also seems incomplete and gives a stump like look. If you view it from a distance it appears to have its head chopped off. Sends a shiver up your spine to think what it hides in its dark depths.

Delhi has had its own share of horror filled past and this Chor Minar is a fine example of that. Built in early 14th century, under the reign of Allauddin Khilji (1290–1320) , this tower was used to display the severed heads of thieves and criminals. The heads would be impaled on spears stuck into the holes, to act as a deterrent to others. Though there is no proof if that was the sole purpose of this tower it is very much possible as those times were very turbulent.

I stood there imagining 225 blood dripping heads staring at me from the stone walls of the Minar and turned away only to face the tree in the compound with hundreds of dried seed pods hanging on its branches. It is perhaps one of the Khejri (Prosopis cineraria) trees but I need someone to identify it correctly.

I can’t tell you if I was amused or repulsed. The eerie silence holds you captive as you marvel at the structure, the bloody times in which it was constructed and the Sultan’s preferred way of  delivering justice.

Perhaps with the growing threats from the Mongols, it was necessary to maintain law and order for Khilji. Only with a streamlined administration he could have faced the challenges imposed by the mongols and other invaders. It is believed that when the crime rate increased then heads of only the important noted criminals were displayed and the rest were piled like a pyramid next to it. A blood curdling scene that is hard to imagine as one stands there looking at the manicured square patches of grass that surround the tower.

There is also a belief among the historians that a large number of Mongols who attacked Delhi during Khilji’s regime were defeated and captured and their severed heads were hung from the holes in the Minar for striking terror among the masses.

I wondered if the man who peacefully slept under the warm winter sun, the girls who took selfies next to the Minar or the creme de la creme living in those upper crust houses knew of the headless ghosts that may be grinning or peering at them.

Unfortunately not many people are aware of its history and the morbid tales associated with it and the tower stands there seeped in its blood soaked secrets.

I sat there on the bench taking in a piece of history one would wish to forget. The tower is headless and that seems like too much of a coincidence. It stands on a platform with three arched recesses on all four sides. The central recess on the east is the entrance to the tower with a spiral staircase leading to the top. The gate is locked now and is inaccessible. Only the birds, the squirrels and the bats can see what’s in there.

A woman walking the dogs gave me a strange look as I stood at the gate peering at the minar and hoping against hope to get a signal from some presence in there. It was a hot winter day and the afternoon sun was blazing in its full glory. I had a few more monuments to visit so said goodbye to the ancient inhabitants of the Chor Minar promising to be back soon as my elder son lives a stone’s throw away.

Do visit this haunting beauty whenever you are in this part of the city. The place isn’t very far from the Metro station and the guards near the colony gates or the autowallas will guide you there.

 

 

 

 

Mini-Reviews And Some Other News


Le Zap

I never took writing fiction seriously. Someday I would just open a word doc and type furiously as if possessed by the very words I was writing and slowly a story would come to life.  El Pino Ruins is one such story that I am very proud of. It recently got published in the final edition of Le Zaporogue XVIII by various authors.  You can read it by downloading the ebook format free of cost from HERE  

This is what a fantastic writer friend Jerry Wilson had to say about my story

 

Jerry is one of the finest short story writers today and you must pick up his books. Just click on the link above.

Another writer/ columnist Kiran Chaturvedi also shared her thoughts with me.  You can read some of her articles by clicking the link.

 

Here’s the complete note.

“Dear Tikuli,

I read your wonderful El Pino Ruins short story today and enjoyed it very much. Loved the classic style and haunting mood. It has such a vividly evoked setting, and a rich narration that makes for a captivating read. You have paced the action fluidly and built the puzzle beautifully. You should write more prose and I suspect you are specially good at such other worldly story twists. “

Thanks so much Kiran.

Have you downloaded the free ebook? Please do by clicking the link above. 

 

Meanwhile, my second poetry book Wayfaring reached Sabine Pollack Merle in France. She sent me a very heartwarming note after reading the poems.

“I read your poetry book, Tikuli, and once again you have moved me with your words written here, and that you whisper in my ear…
Some of these poems have made me cry because they are so meaningful. 
It is such a precious one. 
I really can say but one thing, many people should read Wayfarer.
Tikuli, you are a beautiful woman. 
Brava !”

You can read her review on amazon.fr 

I posted these on Instagram earlier. You can follow me there.

Some copies of the book are up for review and I am eagerly waiting for more feedback. Do write to me if you are reading Wayfaring. The book is available with all online booksellers across the globe. Do get your copy soon.

Bhavana Nissima  is a fabulous writer, artist, educator and NLP practitioner. She is based in Hyderabad, India. I have always loved her writing. She is also a very compassionate human being and a friend I cherish. In last few months she unconditionally healed me from distance in one of the toughest phases of my life.  I am grateful to her for helping me connect with myself.

In August last year she did a wonderful write-up with one of my poems along with one another poet I admire. You can read it here –

#FridayLights — Issue2 

Thank you Bhavana for this generous gesture.

 

#superblurbloodmoon #shotwithOnePlus3T

 

The whole world watched the phenomenal #SuperBlueBloodMoon on 31st on Jan. I took these pix from my #OnePlus3T Sometimes I regret not having a good camera. The sight was enthralling to say the least, the rare convergence of a ‘supermoon’, a ‘blue moon’ and a ‘blood moon’. Thankfully Delhi weather didn’t play up that night and I was able to watch the total lunar eclipse.

I am writing some more of Hindi poems on Delhi and will soon start sharing. Last two months have been very hectic and I have been unwell too. Apart from a verse here and there I haven’t written much.

i

my soul
is impatient with itself, 
my inner – disquiet, 
my intellect – not satisfied, 
my heart – not still,
my mind – ruffled,
I’m restless as a
willow in windstorm.
If you are afraid to step into quicksand

stay away.

ii

mystery 
madness
chaos 
carnage 
passion
intrigue
phantasm –
landmines in poet’s mind 
tread softly

 

I am trying to get back into the rhythm and start reading more blogs from friends. Do keep giving the support and leave your comments if you visit the blog so I know you’ve been reading my stuff.

A small note to end the post –

We take people for granted. We feel ‘entitled” and this feeling of entitlement blocks us from giving or receiving and when we aren’t receptive to gratitude whether in receiving or giving then we may be lacking many other positive emotions.
Relationship becomes stronger and deeper when a little grace and humility is shown.
Great Relationships are precious gifts. Be grateful. 
Thank you for being part of my journey.

Love and Light.

Bhajani Thalipeeth With Fenugreek Leaves And Green chilli Thecha


Bhajane in Marathi means ‘to dry roast’ . This flatbread is made with roasted multi-grain flours.  Every Maharashtriyan household will have their own recipe and proportions of Bhajani but basic recipe has whole grains, legumes and spices in some cases.  This nutritious flour can be used to whip up many delicious recipes like thalipeeth, variety of vadi, crackers etc.

 

The thalipeeth flour or bhajani as it is known in Maharashtra is made with

1/2 Cup – Jowar (Sorghum) flour
1/2 Cup – Bajra (Pearl Millet) flour
1/4 Cup- Ragi (finger millet) flour
1/4 Cup – Wheat flour
1 Cup – Chana Dal (Split chickpeas)
1/2 Cup – Urad Dal (split and skinned Indian black lentil)
2 Tablespoon – Coriander Seeds

1 Teaspoon – Cumin seeds

To make the Bhanjani, dry roast all the ingredients one by one till their color changes slightly and a nice roasted aroma starts coming. Be careful not to burn them. Grind them together in a food processor or grinder. Put it in air tight box and it will stay for a long time.

Fresh Fenugreek leaves are in season these days and I have used them for this variation of basic thalipeeth . You can use a variety of vegetables like cabbage, spinach, cauliflower, cucumber, carrot etc.

You can easily grow methi in pots and use the micro-greens in various recipes including this one.

 

Methichi Talipeeth 

Ingredients :

Bhajani – 1 Cup

Fresh fenugreek leaves – 1/2 cup (finely chopped)

Onion (small) – 1 (chopped fine)

Green Chilli – 1-2 ( chopped fine )

Coriander greens – 2 tablespoon ( chopped fine)

Salt – to taste

Red chilli powder – to taste ( 1/4 tsp)

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

Ginger- garlic – 1 tsp ( chopped fine/optional)

Water to kneed the dough

Oil for cooking

Steps – 

In a large plate mix the bhanjani flour ,salt, red chilli powder, ajwain, chopped onion, fenugreek leaves, coriander leaves, ginger-garlic, chopped green chilies and rub with fingers. The moisture will be released from the veggies. Slowly add water to make a soft dough. It will be very sticky so use a few drops of oil to bring everything together in a smooth dough. You do not need to kneed the dough to much. It will not make the thalipeeth crisp if you do.

Make 2-3 balls from the prepared dough. The size wil depend on the quantity and number of thalipeeth you need.

Traditionally thalipeeth is made by patting the dough ball with wet fingers till it takes a the shape of a flatbread or roti. You can use two small plastic sheets or cling wrap squares to make the process easy. Just grease the sheets a little and place the dough ball on one sheet. Cover with the other and roll like a roti with a rolling pin or pat with fingers to shape it.

Make a few small holes in the thalipeeth for even cooking.

Heat a non stick tawa and grease it a little with oil. Place the thalipeeth on it carefully.

Put a few drops of oil in the holes and around the thalipeeth and let it cook covered on medium heat.  You can smear some water on the top side of thalipeeth so that it doesn’t dry out.

Once one side is nicely roasted flip the thalipeeth. add a few more drops of oil around the edges and let it roast properly. You’ll hear the sizzling sound when its done.

Once crisp from both the sides take it out in a plate and serve with mirchi kathecha, dry garlic chutney, curd, coriander chutney etc. Use fresh homemade white butter/ghee or yellow butter to enhance its taste.

I made some fresh thecha to go with this crisp flavorful thalipeeth

Here’s how I did it.

Hirvya Mirchi cha Thecha ( Green chilli thecha) 

This is one of my favorite chutneys made just with green chilies and raw garlic pods. Thecha means ‘to pound’ in Marathi. The ingredients are coarsely pounded in mortar-pestle to get this excellent dry chutney.

I sometimes add roasted peanuts to it. Techa is a very popular side side in Maharashtra and every household makes their version. It tastes awesome with bhakri or thalipeeth. Eat it sparingly as it is extremely fiery. If your spice threshold is less you can add some freshly chopped coriander leaves and/or roasted peanuts. You can squeeze some lemon on it too to reduce the hotness.

Ingredients :

Fresh thin green chilies – 8-10

Garlic cloves – 5-6

Roasted peanuts – 2 tbsp (optional)

Salt- to taste

Oil – 1 tsp

Coriander greens (chopped) – 3-4 tbsp (optional)

Steps – 

Chop the green chilies and garlic cloves. Chop coriander if using.

Heat a small saucepan and add a tsp of oil.

Add the chopped green chilies and till it is slightly seared from sides. Add garlic and stir properly to saute for a minute or two.

Add the coriander leaves if using and stir.

Turn off the heat and let it cool completely.

Once cooled add the mixture to the mortar along with salt and roasted peanuts.

Pound till you get a coarse mixture.

You can coarsely grind it in mixer too.

Take it out in a bowl and serve.

I made some fresh amla coriander chutney too in the morning and had another set of thalipeeth for breakfast.

Thalipeeth tastes best with these condiments, fresh butter or sujuk toop (warmed fresh ghee). Buttermilk or tempered thin curd to which chopped onion, coriander leaves are added goes well as an accompaniment.

You can have this nutritious meals any time of the day.

 

 

Celebrations With A Difference – A Wedding, An Award And Other News


I have been away from serious blogging since many months and I apologize for that. The thing is I have been preoccupied with health issues, my book release and two big events that brought absolute joy to me.

First was the wedding of my elder son Aditya   to his girl friend Snigdha. Beautiful, talented and compassionate this daughter of mine is like sunshine on a rainy day. I had loved her from the day we first met some years back. Something had told me that this was going to be a bond for life for these two. It is a beautiful feeling to see the strong threads of friendship in a marriage. Rest everything is superfluous.

I never liked the statement, “they complete each other”. I think both of them are complete and fractured in their own way and respect that. For me this is the basis of any good relationship.

It is a perfect match and I am very happy for these two young adults starting a new chapter in their life. I am sure with Snigdha on his side my son will continue to grow into a better version of himself each day. He is a sensitive, caring boy fiercely independent yet very giving and exceptionally talented. Just needed someone to rein his wild temperament a little and all is well 😉 . These kids deserve all the awesomeness in the world.

Did I tell you she’s an awesome poet apart from being a very fine journalist? Well, now you know. I have been nagging her to publish her poems. She is way better than me and needs to be read.

The wedding was nothing too ostentatious. I do not believe in pomp and show with people dressed up like Christmas trees exchanging pleasantries for the sake of it. The simple sobriety and intimacy of the occasion was what made it memorable. With the melodious sounds  of shabad floating in the air the whole atmosphere was beautiful beyond words. The reason I love Sikh weddings are many. It is a short ceremony, happens in daytime and there are no long dragging rituals.  The Anand Karaj ceremony is one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies I have ever witnessed and I am glad we opted for that.

The interesting fact is that this union was in line with the tradition of ‘love marriages’ my side of family has, beginning with my maternal grandparents. You choose your partner for life and are responsible for the consequences. 😀

We are also slowly becoming a very fine example of  cross culture family in the true sense, leaving behind the shackles of caste, creed, religion etc.  You get to know different cultures, eat different food, learn different languages and it is such a good cocktail of happiness even with the problems it brings at times.

In this case the ‘meeting the parents’ happened much later than ‘meeting the girl’. Like always the moment my son began dating her I was one of the first to meet. Not for so called’ approval’ but to break the ice and for us to know each other better. A fellow Mirandian, a poetess, a girl who loves to travel, read, is fun to be with and is highly balanced and focused in life, she can talk with just rolling her large eyes.. finally I have someone with whom I can gang up against the brats..oh the joy of having her as part of the family are many.

Meeting her parents extended my faith in ‘friends are the family you choose’ . By the time the couple were engaged to be married we were already partying hard. I was happy because my son was.  He had been through some of the hardest times a child has to go through for no fault of his and to see him beaming with happiness was the only thing that mattered. This coming together of two families gave me strength too but that is another story for another time.

Overall, it was a fun wedding where the close family and best friends spent the time of their life along with the gorgeous couple.

The newly wed had a great time and so did we. It was a celebration with a difference though like a true blue Punjabi wedding we had the dhol, bhangra and over loading of food and booze. 😀 And of course the DJ (a friend of my son in this case, the fact that he is a celebrity is a different matter all together) churning out the apt songs for the occasion.  We made the best memories together with so much love and craziness. The task force behind the entire celebration were the fantastic friends of the Snigdha, Adi and Shubhang, the kid brother. Without them rang pheeka reh jata. They made the fuctions come alive. Such energy and joy… irreplaceable.

Indian weddings are huge projects with a deadline one can not surpass and if there is no masala in an Indian wedding it didn’t happen. So, we debated, argued, threw tantrums and had bouts of emotionally charged episodes with tempers flaring and tears flowing.

I do not have much of an experience of wedding planning as my own marriage was a quick simple affair but this one was an overwhelming experience. Stepping away from the traditional, ritualistic customs and doing away with a lot of stuff that made no sense whatsoever except for an overload of expense and waste of time wasn’t easy.

At many points in this adventure I was convinced we’re going to screw up in a big way. Even the groom was certain there would be a disaster. We ranted, glowered, decided to part ways and all that. We were worried, tired, clueless about many things and behaved like jerks, myself included. There were long telephonic discussions, arguments over guest lists, outfits and unlimited shopping expeditions. The fact that we were based in three different places in the city wasn’t helping much and to top it I fell sick. But,  I am a sucker for emotions and to see my first born getting married was too much to joy to handle. On one hand I was jubilant and on the other his entire life flashed before my eyes like a movie, turning me into a sentimental wreak.

It was insane. The bride’s side had meticulously planned even the minutest detail and we were in disarray to the point of being hilarious but we survived.

For years I would be very scared and spent sleepless nights wondering if our broken home will bring the unfortunate stuff people said it would, would I fail in the end as a mother, as a friend, as a pillar of support I always tried to be but as it turned out there is a power in being true to oneself and doing what is right. In believing in oneself and one’s children, in listening to them and understanding them as individuals.

Even in the times of raging wars we are one and love each other unconditionally. The boys have outgrown my lap but not my love and that keeps us afloat even in the strongest of storms.

Kid 2 has started a new job and is living his life on his own terms. I wish him well for that he aspires for. Now, with his best friend, an elder brother who practically raised him up in the most crucial years of life when I was away, settled in his new phase of life, I know he will feel the void but that is what growing up is all about. Physically we may be away but there for each other always.

Unforgettable, irreplaceable magic of holding my first born and the crazy journey called Life that we share. Unmatched bond of friendship. 

 

#Adikishaadi #Snigdog

Don’t they look gorgeous? 🙂 #kalatikka These precious moments will stay with me forever.

The newly weds are back from their travels and already back to work. I wish them a life full of love and adventure.

Now,  let us get back to poetry, blogging and a very special award that I won.

2017 marked the tenth year of Indiblogger and my association with them entered its ninth year and what a fabulous journey it has been. Indiblogger is a credible platform for bloggers who wish to showcase their work and a recognition from them is highly cherished.

When they announced the nomination for Indian Blogger Awards #IBA2017 I was slightly hesitant to nominate my blog as I hadn’t been posting much of poetry lately but ten years of blogging nudged me to at least nominate, perhaps to get more readers if not anything else.

There were 3500 nominations across 117 categories. Not in my dreams I had thought that I will win the special #VOW award for poetry.

The awards were announced at a very interactive blogging conference #BNLF2017 at Dehradun in November and were judged and given in association with Valley Of Words Literature Festival.  

This award is very special to me not just because it validates my hard work but also because it came just two days before the release of my second book of poetry ‘Wayfaring‘.  I couldn’t be there at the ceremony so the team requested for a short acceptance video which I finally managed after hundreds of retakes, that’s how challenged I am technologically. 😀

Here’s the lovely poster indiblogger team made for the winners.  I would like to thank them for the commendable work they are doing by bringing the Indian bloggers at one platform from across the globe. Thank you to my readers, those who voted and the esteemed jury. We Blog. Therefore We Are. 

Winner of The Indian Blogger Awards 2017 - VOW Awards

I also received Google Chromecast as a gift from the Inditeam on winning the award. Now waiting for the certificate and trophy if that happens. 🙂

 

In another news, the praise for my poetry books is pouring in.

My debut book Collection Of Chaos reached a reader in France and she posted this beautiful message on FB. She is reading the second one too and I am eagerly waiting for her feedback. Thank you Anne for your kind words.

Common Wealth Prize-Winning Author, film maker Siddhartha Gigoo. chose his most interesting reads of 2017 for a HT feature  and I was pleasantly surprised to find my new collection Wayfaring in the list. What a joy to find a media mention within a few weeks of the release.

He also reviewed it on amazon bringing the much needed cheer in my life.

Praise for Wayfaring

Thanks for appreciating Siddhartha.

 

Keep me updated if you buy any of my books. Reader’s feedback is very essential for the growth of a writer.

Here’s to poetry and other adventures of life. I will try to keep the blog afloat with regular posts. Keep visiting and do leave your comments.

एक शहर ये भी – कविता 1 – मॉर्निंग वॉक


कुछ समय पहले दिल्ली शहर से जुड़ी यादों को अंग्रेजी की कविताओं में पिरोया था पर हमेशा कुछ कमी सी महसूस होती रही| शायद हिंदी में लिखने की जो चाह थी वो अपनी ओर खींच रही थी ! कुछ पाठकों ने कहा रोमन में लिखिये देवनागरी समझ नहीं आती पर हिंदी भाषा का लुत्फ़ तो देवनागरी में ही आता है इसलिए सोचा एक सेट दिल्ली से  जुड़ी कविताओं का देवनारी में भी किया जाए|

मैंने इन कविताओं में अंग्रेजी के कई शब्द इस्तेमाल किये हैं तो ये पूरी तरह से हिंदी में भी नहीं हैं| एक एक्सपेरिमेंट हैं कुछ नया करने का|

मैंने दिल्ली का कायांतरण करीब से देखा है| देखा है इसके बदलते हुए व्यक्तित्व को| रोज़ ज़िंदा रहने की जद्दोजहद, भूख, बेरोज़गारी, बेकारी और रोज़ी रोटी की कभी का ख़तम होने वाली दौड़ के बीच में शहरी सौंदर्यीकरण के उस स्वांग को भी देखा है| धीमे धीमे अपने असली अस्तित्व को खोता ये शहर अब कहीं दिखावे की तमक झमक में खो सा गया है|

अक्सर मुझे एक गाना याद आता है ” सीने में जलन आंखों में तूफ़ान सा क्यों है, इस शहर में हर शक्स परेशान सा क्यों है।”
दिल्ली का ये आधुनिक अवतार अक्सर मुझे बेचैन कर देता है. ज़िन्दगी की ठेलम ठेली, जानलेवा स्मोग, मटमैले दिन और बेगानी रातों के बीच बहती एक नदी जाने किस उम्मीद पर ज़िंदा है| शायद इसे भी उस सुबह की तलाश है जिसके इंतज़ार में हम निगाहें बिछाये बैठे हैं|हर साल मॉनसून में ये नदी अपने होने का एहसास दिलाती है फिर धीरे धीरे वापस अपने वर्तमान रूप में सिमट जाती है|

पर इस सबसे परे कई दिल्ली और भी हैं, अमलतास, गुलमोहर, टेसू, कनक चंपा और कचनार के फूलों से सजी दिल्ली, सप्तपर्णी, शिरीष सी महकती दिल्ली, महबूब ए इलाही के रंग में रंगी दिल्ली, आम के रास के डूबी दिल्ली, कड़क चाय की प्याली सी दिल्ली अमरक सी खट्टी दिल्ली और वहीँ प्राणी दिल्ली की चाट सी चटपटी दिल्ली, और कई ऐसी दिल्ली हैं इस शहर में|

और इन सबके बीच एक दिल्ली जो अब केवल इतिहास के पन्नो, पुरानी हवेलियों, किलों और मक़बरों में सिमट के रह गयी है| दिल्ली की दौड़ती भागती सड़कों से घिरी ये पुरानी इमारतें कई सदियों की धरोहर सहेजे स्मार्ट सिटी में अपनी पहचान खोने के डर से सहमी सी खड़ी आलीशान शॉपिंग मॉल, होटल, बहुमंज़िली इमारतो वाले दफ्तर और रईसों के बंगलों को ताकती रहती हैं|

कई बार युहीं दिल्ली की गलिओं की खाख छानते वो दिन याद आते हैं जब ज़िन्दगी इतनी उलझी हुई नहीं थी| इन कविताओं में कोशिश रहेगी इन्ही नयी पुरानी यादों को संजोने की कोशिश की गयी है | अपनी राय कमैंट्स में ज़रूर दें|

सभी कविताएं ‘एक शहर ये भी’ शीर्षक के साथ पोस्ट की जाएँगी ताकि पढ़ने में आसानी हो| आपके सुझावों का इंतज़ार रहेगा |

     मॉर्निंग वॉक 

धुएं और धुंध के दरमियाँ 
फुटपाथ पर बुझते अलावों से 
तपिश बटोरती खामोश निगाहें
ठिठुरते दरख़्तों के तले बैठी
ताक रहीं हैं स्याही में लिपटी
सूनी राहों को
सड़क के उस मोड़ पर समय
शायद थम सा गया है

वहीँ कुछ दूर चाय के स्टाल के करीब 
एक शहर करवट बदल रहा है
कुछ जाने पहचाने धुंधले से चेहरे 
फैन, बिस्कुट और चाय की प्यालों 
के बीच देश पे चर्चा, बीड़ी सिगरट 
के नोक पे सुलगते सवाल 
एक के लिए रोटी मुद्दा है
और दूसरे के लिए रोज़गार

चौराहे पे नीम के पेड़ पर टंगा 
अधमरा सा सूरज, नींद में चलती बसें 
और मुँह अँधेरे, कन्धों पर 
ज़िम्मेदारियों का बोझ उठाये, 
रोज़ी रोटी की तलाश में 
सड़क पर चप्पल घिसते पैर 
शहर की सिलवटों में बसी
धूल खायी ज़िंदगियाँ,बर्बाद बचपन 
गुमनाम, गुमसुम, खामोश, 
ताश के पत्तों सा बिखरता जीवन 
– क्राइम एंड पनिशमेंट