I had heard a lot about Lavaash by Saby from my son and was craving to go there since some time. Though I have had authentic West Bengali cuisine I did not know about the Armenian influences on the cuisine in certain parts of Bengal especially Asansol, a small coal miners’ town near Kolkata, where the Armenians came some 200 years ago. It is the place where Chef-Owner Sabyasachi Gorai grew up. Lavaash is a slice of his childhood.
Somehow, unlike all other times I did not do any online research about the restaurant. I went there with an open mind last Saturday for a informal dinner with family and friends. I think that worked in my favor. The Mehrauli area is one of my favorites because of its pristine greenery, heritage buildings, monuments and some fine eating joints but Lavaash took me to another world. I was simply awestruck by the sheer beauty of the place.
Located in a heritage building shaded by an ancient Neem tree the place takes your breath away at first glance even at night. Ambavatta 1 also has another restaurant En and the coveted Manish Malhotra Store at ground floor.
Even without tasting the food I made a mental note to come back here during daytime just for the view. Apart from the location the other plus points are ample parking and quiet. Far from the madding crowd one can just sit and relax for hours here. I thought of hundreds of chirping birds and colorful flowers lay asleep as we marveled at the magnificent Qutub Minar from the terrace.
As we took a tour of the place and gorged on the delicious food we were told about the culinary history of the Armenians in Bengal and how Chef Saby thought of preserving the dying legacy of that specific cuisine. Never have I been so impressed by the passion and research done to revive a cuisine and bring it out to those who appreciate good food. A look at the creatively designed menu will tell you how deep the roots go. It is interesting to see how Chef Sabyasachi has pieced together the history of a particular community through their food. A perfect bond of two cuisines so different and yet so similar. It makes you nostalgic about a place never visited.
The decor of Lavaash is subtle and aesthetically very pleasing to the eyes. Eight peacocks intricately laser carved on wood form the name Lavaash. The main doors are painted with pomegranate trees. If you know a little history you’ll know why.
The use of blue and white is perfectly balanced and nothing is jarring to the eyes. One can see the Armenian motifs that adorn the restaurant making it a piece of history. That instantly sets the mood for what is in store. The hand painted glass windows, huge arched windows, the hanging blue metallic partition with peacock carved into it, the Armenian and Iranian tiles on the wall, the rustic mud texture of the walls and the gorgeous floral Kantha work on the upholstery, the hand painted lampshades and the retro music in the background will make you fall in love with the place. The colorful little parrots hanging from the big chandelier in the main dining area and the lovely owls sitting outside the glass windows looking at the balcony dinning space looked so pretty that you have to see them to believe. It is the prettiest restaurant I have visited so far.
Our table was reserved in the picturesque outdoor seating area (the balcony delicately shaded by the Neem tree) where the almost full moon added to the charm of the evening .
I met Megha Kohli, the youngest female head chef in India and the face behind Lavaash. I was told that Megha did a lot of research about the Bengali cuisine and is one of the people behind making Chef Saby’s dream come true.
The young Chef is so full of life and her face lights up the moment you recognize a local ingredient and appreciate its delicate use in the dishes. She explained about the food and its history to us and how local produce that is intrinsic to Bengali cuisine is paired delicately to make the dishes at the restaurant. Incidentally she is the one who designed the menu for Lavaash and put the recipes together. A true labor of love and commitment.
The menu is divided in two parts – authentic Armenian dishes and Bengali dishes with Armenian influence. Each dish is beautifully described.
It was a delight to find the aromatic short grained Gobindobhog rice, kasundi and the fragrant Gondhoraj Lemon as part of the ingredients used. The use of local and indigenous ingredients is the winning point of this place.
We were spoiled for choices but settled for Crisp Lavaash chips with dips, Iranian Lamb Koobideh, melt-in-the-mouth lamb kebabs cooked on charcoal and served on soft traditional lavaash made in the traditional Tonir, and Jewish hot and sour Panir skewer as starters with the excellent pomegranate white Wine Sangria with cherries and green apple, Rum, whiskey, virgin apple mohito, whiskey sour and a few other beverages.
As it was the Holi weekend we got the Thandai Vodka Shots on the house. They were unbeatable.
The dips were out of the world especially the whole white bean humus spiked with garlic and the chili dip. The Armenian mezze Platter with crisp Lavaash chips and four traditional dips was a great start to an unforgettable meal.
The koobideh, unlike the traditional kebabs, were mildly spiced and served with green coriander chutney ( In Armenian cuisine coriander is used rather than mint for chutneys), the indispensable kasundi (Bengali mustard sauce) and a dash of Gondhoraj lemon. The dish was bursting with flavors. The Lavaash bread which is like a roomali roti but definitely better in texture and taste is the oldest bread known to mankind. It is from this the restaurant gets its name.
The Jewish hot and sour panir skewer was a revelation. The tangy tamarind glaze with chili and pomegranate made the soft, char grilled panir a treat. I am not a ‘paneer’ lover but this was something else.
I had the Roast Garlic and Jalapeno Chicken for the first time and found it mouth-watering. Simple and flavorful.
In the mains we ordered Mushroom Manti, an Armenian style ravioli stuffed with mushrooms and served with spiced tomato chutney and Kalinmpong cheese (Indian version of gauda cheese). The chutney was a perfect alternative to the more popular salsa. I loved its texture and taste.
It was so refreshing to see the use of especially crafted earthenware for the dishes. An excellent attempt at traditional, ethnic dining experience. Clay-pot cooking is part of the traditional everyday Bangla and Armenian cooking.
We also ordered Lavaash fish, wrapped and baked in a soft lavaash bread. The betki was melt in the mouth and the flavors reminded me of a typically Bengali household kitchen.
Two portions of Gobindobhog rice with dollops of butter and a slice of Gondhoraj lemons were a treat. It had been ages since I had eaten this aromatic rice cooked to perfection.
Another star of the meal was the fabulous Matnaksh Claypot Bread. Soft and flavorful this was truly addictive. Baked and served hot in a clay pot on dry Sal leaves this Armenian farmer’s leavened bread was sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and chironji (onion seeds). A accompaniment to lap up the awesome gravy of the Spicy Chicken in Georgian walnut sauce. Nothing compares to this freshly baked bread. Nothing at all.
This chicken dish was amazing. The succulent boneless chicken in the nutty tomato gravy tossed with roasted walnuts was something I hadn’t eaten before.
After gorging on this decadent food I eagerly awaited the desserts. My son had raved about their Dark Chocolate and Old Monk Mousse and I was dying to have it. It came in a clay pot and I fell in love with the first bite. It was a match made in heaven. You need to try this to experience the bliss it is.
The Orange pound cake served with palm jaggery syrup and Nolen Gur Ice cream was another dessert I loved. Being a huge fan of palm jaggery this combination was out of the world. The moist, dense cake was so well balanced in sweetness. The tart caramelized orange slice cutting through the nolen gur ice cream made it finger licking good.
We were through with the meal but I was still craving for more. I told Chef Megha that we will be back soon. There was still so much to relish from the exquisitely well executed menu especially the Armenian cheese platter which you won’t get anywhere else. Another positive point about the place is the extensive vegetarian dishes in the menu. I have not seen so much variety elsewhere in Delhi. Sumptuous too.
I loved the warmth with which the staff served us. The service was quick and Chef Megha was the perfect hostess. It was such a joy to be there experiencing a world beyond the mundane.
The experience of eating at Lavaash was a beautiful historical, cultural journey through food. A Brilliant effort in preserving a culinary culture lost in time.
I am already planning my next visit and this time during the day.
When are you heading to Lavaash?
When you are busy licking your fingers you forget about taking photographs and then source them from the Chef and post them with permission. You should also focus on the food and the ambiance. 🙂
This is not a paid review.
Overall rating – 4.5/5
Location – H-5/1, Ambawatta One, Kalkadass Marg,
Mehrauli, New Delhi.
These poems were first published in The Thumb Print – A Magazine From The East
Acrostic is a composition in which the initial or final letter of each line taken in order form the title of the verse or tells about the subject.
This is my first attempt in writing Acrostics. Enjoy! and please leave your views.
This what the poetry editor Ananya Guha had to say about these poems, “Tikuli Dogra’s poems are etched with line, colour and music. Somewhere they are nostalgic, and small memories are lit up in a quiet but clear voice. Not overtly emotional, they rake up pathos and, sensibility of the times. They are evocative of landscape, rural places, the river and ghats. They have history and landscape running through the veins. They are beautiful poems, placed here, for the reader to saturate in their quiet melody, poise and appealing imagery, capturing moments, in transition and at cross roads of time.”
January night, grim and desolate
on a lonely moonlit highway
unfurling quietly, frostilly still,
rugged mountains scratching the dark,
nocturnal creatures calling the moon,
even the leafless trees whisper,
yesterday is gone, tomorrow is asleep
solitary against the evening sky
in a land no longer hers she stands
leaning against an ancient tree
haunting–like a shadow of herself
overhead the branches braid the sky
uncanny limbs laid bare and stark
empty of all offerings
time stands still–like her heart
the sun has died a crimson death
easing her transition into night
RIVER – SONG
Reverberating with echoes of the past
iridescent against the silver of the sky
veering west along the fringes of the forests
embracing the contours of stony outcrops
roll the haunted waters in a deepening gloom
singing a requiem for things that are lost
of the people who are no more
nestled at its bank sorrow grieves
growing green with the slightest rain
poised between the known and unknown
hidden in the depth of night’s shadows
an ancient dream lingers barely alive
nebulous, an ethereal remnant of desire
tangled in the endless skeins of time
a spectre of so many memories
sorrow fills my heart as I see it fade
merging effortlessly into the morning light
That mole in the hollow of your back is a secret place
obscure till my tongue traces your spine’s trajectory
painting an intimate landscape, vast and varied
often the feral scent of sex clings to my skin
growing as you move to uncharted places
reclaiming territories old and new
and spaces filled with the weight of love
pressed together our bodies are a terra incognita where
heat lines radiate like the contours of the earth
your mole a primeval star leading me homewards
fire licked corpses are the first thing you witness,
upstream the hot air carries the stench of death,
near the foul water mixing with the black ash
each body, covered in brightly spangled shrouds,
rests on a bier before being taken to a pyre
alongside the ghats that lead down to the river,
looking peaceful, but tainted with misery and sin,
pyres blaze, smoke rises, flames flash sunwards
you hear the cracking of bones, the crackle of logs
recently you were consumed in that searing heat
eyes closed dreaming, melting, floating, yielding
*Ghats – stone steps that lead to the holy river Ganges in Banaras.
This is a cross-generational and cross-cultural story of two immensely talented women born in late 1800s and early 1900s in two different states, communities, castes. I emphasize on these terms because in those times they hugely impacted the lives of people especially the women. What makes these two women , my paternal and maternal grandmothers, special is their ‘non-conformist’ stance. They were ahead of their times and charted their paths irrespective of the brickbats from the highly patriarchal setup in which they were born and brought up. They inspired three generations of women in my family and many others whose lives they touched.
I wanted to write about my grandmothers for two reasons. As you read you will see the stark contrast between their lives and the choices they made. The one who got higher education and exposure settled into a homebound life and the other who was uneducated or less educated perhaps ( only home schooling if any) stepped out of her patriarchal home and lived an independent life on her terms. Somewhere while listening about their lives the thought that emerged was that financial independence or education was secondary when it came to them taking a stand about their lives. It was an inner fire, a deep commitment to self and a strong will that led them to break the ‘codes of conduct and living’ that the society had imposed on them.
For one the family support played a major role and for the other rebelling against the family worked. As I look at their lives I see a somewhat similar pattern in the next two generations of women. Here I mainly speak of my mother and me.
My maternal grandmother ( Aaji) Vardha Moghe
Aaji was born in early 1900s in a a middle class, educated chitrapur saraswat brahmin family. This community was known for its liberal vies in those times too. Her elder brother (20 yrs senior) was the principal of Pune Agricultural College. He was the first Indian to hold that position after his British predecessor. Well known in the education system for being an excellent teacher he wrote a book – Aamchi sheti (Our Farming) – in Marathi for the indigenous students. Her younger brother was an excellent photographer and spent some years in the armed forces during world war 2.
Aaji lost her mother at a very tender age of nine and as sent to the only girls’ hostel, ‘Hazoor Paga’, in Pune at the age of eleven. At that time her father was posted at Belgaon in the admin office of C.I.D and people used to come and consult him about English language as he had a very good command over English spelling , grammar and syntax.
After schooling my granny attended the prestigious Fergusson College, Pune. She did her M. Sc.( Botany) from there at a time when very few girls opted for science as a subject (1926-27). As a student she was often reprimanded or punished for being too outspoken in her nationalist leanings. She was grounded once for sneaking away from the hostel to listen to Mahatma Gandhi’s public lecture. She wore hand spun Khadi like many owmen of that time.
Her father was ostracised as he had employed a Muslim gentleman to teach Sitar to his only daughter Vardha, i.e. my granny. He did not care much about the unjust social dictats and continued to let the maestro teach the daughter. In no time she mastered the art and began to play Sitar to perfection.
Following the footsteps of her father Vardha joined the Young Theosophists and met her future husband there.
Her marriage to R.V. Moghe brought much heartburn amongst her community as she had marrying a Maharashtriyan Brahmin. Now, those who are aware of caste and community system in India especially during those times will know how it enrages the petty mindsets of orthodox society. I do not wish to digress in explaining that. The CS community looked down upon them as the CS Brahmins were educated, forward looking and supposedly ‘liberal’. You can see the hollowness of their ‘progressiveness and liberal attitude’ through this example. It was a love marriage arranged by the family. The first in our many generations perhaps.
My grandfather did his masters in both English and Marathi and was a good friend to Gajanand Jagirdar (actor/film maker), Achyut Patwardhan, socialist leader N.G. Gore and others involved in the Freedom Movement.
When Grandpa came to Varanasi in 1929 and joined Dr. Annie Besant’s organisation as a teacher in the then Theosophical National Girl’s School and college ( later known as Vasanta College for Women, Krishnamurthy Foundation, Rajghat, Varanasi) my grandmother came with him and that marked the beginning of yet another life changing phase for her.
She had a creative mind and was very keen to bring Science to the level of younger children’s understanding. When she came to Banaras she hardly knew Hindi but learned it in a very short time due to her determination and willingness. She then created worksheets for children of age 4-10 introducing the basic principles of science through everyday experiences. Unfortunately due t othe burocratic ramifications these workbooks remained in MS form.
She taught in the children’s school for sometime but her failing health (early rheumatism ) and frequent pregnancies practically tied her to home and then to bed. Despite of her ill health and restrains she had this wonderful sunny disposition and joy de vivire that she instilled in all her children and grandchildren. I have some very fond memories of our time together and in times of hardships in my life she was the one who came to inspire me through her spirit.
Banaras, in those days was an epitome of Indian art and culture. My grandmother ‘s home in Rajghat was a hub for many cultural gatherings and meetings. Many stalwarts from performing arts, writers, political leaders, thinkers visited the home of my grandmother . Some very fine artists like Nandalal Bose, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, writers, musicians like Vinayakvrao Patwardhan, theosophists like George Arundel , his wife Rukmini Devi who established Kala Khshetra and gave a status to Baratnatyam, Leslie Holden, Mulk Raj Anand etc. visited TS and often came to my grandfather’s home there.
She tried to encourage and instil in her six children all that she could not do due to her poor health.
There were musical gatherings in the house and she made sure, along with her husband, that her children find a wider horizon.
In mid sixties she and grandpa left Banaras for Pune and it is there my Aaji passed away leaving behind fond memories and a legacy that was carried forward by her children and their children.
The brightest thing about Aaji was her attitude towards life. She had a strong personality and never complained or regretted about the events of her life. It was always an onward looking, positive attitude.
She always found something good in everything and focused on that.
I remember my time with her in Pune and how I cherished every moment of those few weeks of summer vacation that I spent there. She still sometimes cooked and made fresh white butter for me even tough it was really painful for her due to her medical condition. There was an inherent quality in her that brought people of age groups and from all walks of lives closer to her. I also remember the story telling and music sessions that happened in her Pune home where everyone sang and created such a magnificent harmony among each other.
She lived life on her terms from an early age and that is what she imbibed in all of us. I guess, being the eldest daughter, my mother got most of her positive qualities and now when I look at my boys I feel that a latent energy that has run through the three generations on both my maternal and paternal side has shaped us to a large extent.
My Paternal Grandmother ( Amma/Dadi) Ram Dulari
Exactly opposite to my Aaji’s life, here is a story of a woman born and brought up in strict ritualistic, orthodox land owning community of Uttar Pradesh in late 1800s and how she chose not to ‘confirm’ to the existing patriarchal norms and codes of conduct for women.
Born in a wealthy landowning Kayasth Srivastava family she was the daughter of a zamindaar who owned 12 villages, extensive farmland and mango orchards etc. My father always told me stories from that side of his family where there was no dearth of servants, coachmen, attendants, workers etc. Women were mostly home bound and stayed behind the pardah. They practically ruled from there but had no say in the ‘matters outside their periphery’. The Boys were taught Urdu and Persian and the girls enough Nagri characters ( Hindi alphabets) to enable them to read Ramcharitmanas, write letters on postcards and read them if the occasion arose. Cooking, stitching, embroidery of intricate designs, work with zari, salma sitara etc were learnt from elder women in the family.
All the girls were supposed to know how to present food artistically, for example, drawing floral/geometrical patterns on a plate of dahi vada or a bowl of kheer with the requisite spices , nuts etc.
Excellence in cooking and housework was looked upon as a great asset in the kayastha families and was a matter of pride and honour.
Girls who were really keen to learn from the books would hide behind the doors of the verandah where boys were being taught and try to learn.
My grandmother, Ram Dulari, was married off in her late teen which was supposed to be late for marrying a girl. Usually they were married off much earlier than that.
My grandfather belonged to the same community of Allahabad Kayastha Srivastavas who were considered somewhat superior to the other kayasthas. The kayastha community are supposed to be the descendants of Chitragupta and are placed between Brahmins and Kshatriyas in the caste based hierarchy of Brahminical order. Because of their fluency in English and Persian this community was well places in higher positions during British times and was highly influenced by the Islamic culture too. It reflected in their cuisine and tehzeeb (way of life)..
My Grandfather was a graduate and a qualified Ustad of Persian and Urdu language. He had a good job in a British run Insurance company but he ran into an argument with his British Superior and slapped him hence lost his job. Those were the times of Freedom Movement and the atmosphere was always charged.
After losing his job grandpa earned sporadically from teaching the two languages as a tutor and held a few temporary jobs to feed the family . She was an excellent cook and women often gathered to learn from her. She was always consulted by women from the extended family and community during any social occasion like weddings or festivals.
Slowly in the later stages of his marriage he got addicted to drinking. My grandmother had several miscarriages and infant deaths before my father was born. He was the only child who survived. She somehow managed to run her home with utmost dignity but when the financial condition deteriorated the mother and son shifted to her elder brother in law’s newly built house. By then alcoholism had totally destroyed her husband, he could not support the family and stayed on his own.
Even though she was dependent on the brother in law she was never treated as poor relation. Grandma was respected by all and treated with dignity but she did not wish to remain a dependent and that is when she turned to religion and took to fasts and rituals almost as a penance. Most women of her times in feudal set up had a strong bent towards religious activities like satsang etc. It was nothing unusual.
Even in her fragile social condition she lived with a head held high. She refused to be led by the orthodox codes for women that her community and social position demanded and this would cause a daily rift in the house. The male members did not take this rebellious attitude nicely and always created a furore over these matters.
Every morning she would walk down to the Ganges along with other ‘ordinary’ women to bathe in the river and do her rounds of temples. The elders in the family highly objected to this but she remained firm on her decision and continued to follow her heart. No women from upper middle class families were allowed to go about the town like this. Going to bathe in the river was not considered ‘proper’ for a woman of her stature. Even though the men raised objections none had the courage to go against her. It was her personality and approach to life that made her stand out among other women.
My father was in college during this time and everyday arguments made him quit advance studies and take up a teaching job so he could take his mother to live with him. She had never asked him nor spoken to him about this but she took a stand and decided to leave the family house and shift with him to the other end of Allahabad in Naini. The brother- in –law’s family tried to persuade her to stay back but her decision was final and she stood by it against all odds. For some years she continued to stay with my father, her son. My dad was in his 30s and still a bachelor so the ire was not just for the mother but for the son too. He had past the marriageable age and that was not right.
In her new abode my granny lived her life as per her wishes. She had already cut the shackles which had caged her but something was still bothering her heart. She wasn’t truly independent. She mentioned to my father that she no longer had interest in running a household and wishes to renounce everything. She went for a yatra ( a pilgrimage) and from there wrote to my father that she won’t be returning home. It was unthinkable for a woman in those times to leave her husband, her home and her only son to live on her own somewhere and pursue what she wanted but she found the true liberation she had always sought.
On her return she stopped at the outskirts of Ayodhya in an ashram though she neither followed any sect nor became a part of any religious group or followed any saint or Guru. Her pursuit was not a religious one but a spiritual one.
She built herself a small Kutir ( a small hut ) and lived there as a sanyasin (ascetic). It was a choice she had made.
Although she lived in the Ashram compound she never took advantage of the facilities there and did all her chores including fetching water for which she walked quite a distance and went up and down the steep stairs. The Ashram staff was always eager to help but she refused unless something was totally beyond her.
She had two sarees and a few utensils which she had bought from her earnings. (she did not take a single thing from the house she left).Before leaving for the yatra she had handed over a locked truck to her sister with the instructions that it was to be given to her son’s bride or if he never married she should open and do what she pleases with the contents.
Mom tells me that the sister never even opened the trunk to look what was inside and it was only brought out when ma visited her after marriage. The key was handed over to her and ma opened the trunk. We still have some of the beautiful embroidery work and a few other things including a few ornaments of hers. A treasure we cherish. For a long time that black truck remained with us until rust ate it up.
My father often visited and supported his mother to some extent but mostly she fended for herself. On many occasions she stitched and embroidered the clothes of the idols in the temples and was paid either in cash or in the form of food which she accepted but never demanded.
She never went back to her husband or family and devoted herself to the prayers and simple living. Members from the extended family pleaded to her many times to come back but she refused. She had chosen her path.
Considering the kind of background she came from it is hard to imagine how she adapted herself to this lifestyle. For someone who was brought up in the lap of luxury and then married into yet another comfort zone it surely must have been an act of immense courage and strong will to live the way she did.
During her last days she fell sick but continued to look after herself. The Ashram management informed my father of her grave health and he promptly visited only to be turned back after a week’s stay. Her time to leave the body had arrived and she wanted to be on her own. Within a few days of my father’s leaving she passed away peacefully and was cremated by the Ashram people as per her wishes It was then my father was informed to come and collect her meagre belongings and wind up the place.
I never met my paternal grandmother nor did my mother but my father and all the other relatives from his family speak very highly of her and with great affection.
She was a woman of substance. Many people who knew her thought that she was extremely headstrong and got what she wanted to be done at all costs but most of the times these things were positive in nature. Some even thought she was unlike her two other sisters and this very headstrong, obstinate nature of hers led to the drift between her and my grandfather but then women were always condemned for speaking out their mind. Whatever the case, she never took anything from anyone and lived the way she wanted to.
While she stepped out to pursue her way of life my maternal grandmother chose to stay within the family structure and bring the change from there. It was mainly because of the different cultural and socio-economic environments I believe. There were no similarities between the two except that they chose not to adhere to what was imposed on them. Perhaps if I go to my ancestral home and find out more about my paternal grandmother some more facets of her life will open up.
Both women refused to confirm to the usual set of norms dished out to them, both found a way to nip them and keep the future generations free from the tangles of that skewed system. Both women had a ‘sun inside them’ as people who knew them remarked. It was mainly a flame lit from the inside out that radiated in their remarkable persona.
When I look at the lives led by mom and me I see a pattern, I see where we are coming from, our struggles, our abilty to deal with the hardships or the failure to face them, our non-conformist outlook and the rebellous nature. I see that in my children too. There is a flow of latent energy that has helped us shape our lives in a certain way. This strong energy has come all the way from these women I believe. I also feel that this generation of women had much more inner resolve and strength than the next two generations. I wonder what the reason is.
I had been wanting to write about them since a long time but there is so much more to their lives that I can describe.
Often when I am faced with some life changing decision I try to seek some solution by thinking about them. Today we give so much importance to education and financial independence but here are these women for whom these things were secondary.
Can a woman in today’s time truly liberate herself of the age old bondages or was it easier in those times? How much has our society changed in this span of time? Has it become any better for women? Is the so called ‘modern woman’ truly liberated? There are many questions that come to mind as I write. I also think what step my paternal grandma would have taken if she had not chosen the spiritual path. Were there any other choices for her? Are there any for us unless we are economically sound? Does social stature affect the perspective and the choices made? How far have we come today?
As the world celebrate women’s day today I think of women who are marginalized, who are struggling everyday for a life of dignity, fighting for daily bread and butter, fighting misogyny, fighting for equal rights, safety and security, fighting the psychological fear, struggling just to exist peacefully, respectfully in a world which still treats them as commodities if not anything worse.
It is an uphill task for us. It is an everyday struggle. To live, to breathe, to be.
I am weary of houses
I want to be home
Some poems are born in the margins. They emerge from the feelings of rootlessness, despair and loss. I wonder if someone can actually know the agony of being exiled from their homeland without experiencing it. Perhaps not.
I wrote six poems from the point of view of someone in exile and I don’t know if I could bring out what I actually felt while writing. The pain seeped deep inside my fragmented self making its way into the hollow of the bones and I wondered if the feeling of exile is just limited to the physical banishment of people from their own land or does it go deeper than that and if there is an emotional exile too? Is a life in margin also an exile?
Two of my poems, from the six I wrote, were recently published in Cafe Dissensus Everyday a blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine under an umbrella title ‘Homeland Memories‘. All these poems are dedicated to a friend who is away from his homeland and to everyone who is longing to go back home.
Do read and leave your views.
Here is an excerpt from one of the poems:
“the place of my birth is a forgotten fragrance
a half-remembered dream whose ending is lost
but sometimes my sleepless nights are sheened
by the light of the winter moon I watched
leaning from the window of the bus I took…..”
Do click on the link above to read the rest.
Good news has a way to find its path in the middle of all the chaos life throws at you. A few weeks ago two of my poems were published in the fabulous Peacock Journal. Little did I know that one of them will find home in their inaugural print anthology. When I received Kate’s email informing about the selection I was over the moon. This is big leap for me as a poet/writer.
The Peacock Journal Anthology :Beauty First has both poetry and fiction by some very talented writers and it is an honour for me to be a part of such prestigious collection. I thank Bill and Kate Lantry for the opportunity.
This online journal of beauty and art is just an year old and their first anthology published by Little Red Tree Publishing (Michael Linnard) is already flying off the shelves. It was at amazon #1 in Hot New Releases a few days ago.
Another very exiting news came from The Thumb Print – A magazine from the East. Poetry editor Ananya. S.Guha informed that my six acrostics got accepted for the February issue of the magazine and were live now. This is my first attempt at acrostics and I am stoked to see the positive response to them.
Thank you editors for including my work in this wonderful magazine.
Sketch credit and copyright Aditya Dogra
Here is an excerpt from one of the poems:
That mole in the hollow of your back is a secret place
obscure till my tongue traces your spine’s trajectory
painting an intimate landscape, vast and varied
often the feral scent of sex clings to my skin
growing as you move to uncharted places
reclaiming territories old and new
and spaces filled with the weight of love……Conti. reading“
There is a typo in the title of poem 2 and I hope the editors correct it soon.
Some more news is awaited and a few poetry lovers are reading my book. I am nervously waiting for their reviews.
I thank all of you for being so patient with me. I am at a threshold once again and trying to find direction. Do forgive me for not being so regular in posting here. I will try to do so more often. Till then, go with the flow.