in the half light of dawn the breeze-
laden with the scent of mango blossom-
drifts in from the courtyard,
calling her thoughts to the waiting river;
quietly she leaves her bed,
gathers her unkempt hair in a loose bun
then pauses for a moment,
listens to her husband’s measured breathing,
then silently tiptoes out,
tucking in the corner of her sari at the waist
she hastily collects the fallen Parijatak in her pallu
placing a few in her hair at the same time,
the red from their stalks rising to her cheeks;
beside the well the empty pitchers wait,
nearby the battered clay stove
recalls her own scars,
for a split second she wavers, then crosses
the threshold, her heart frantic with haste,
leaving behind the walls
that had risen around her brick by brick;
the river hears her hurried footsteps
with rapt attention, at its bend
under the shade of the mangroves,
a boat and a promise patiently wait
ready to carry her away.
I have been fortunate to connect and make friends with writers and artists from across the globe. Social media channels have been a big boon to me as far as my writing journey goes.
I have had some wonderful reviews in mainstream newspapers / online journals and websites for my books but the small notes of appreciation that come via Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads etc mean a lot and are equally special and cherished.
Matthew Bialer is one of the brilliant writers I met on FB. We have not met in person.. not yet. He is an exceptional photographer and painter too. Sometime ago he posted a mini review of WAYFARING on GoodReads but it appeared under author Siddharth Gigoo’s review as a comment. I missed it then but found it later. Here’s what Matt had to say,
Some more writer friends I admire are reading the book. Chandini Santosh sent me a reader’s Pic and Dominic announced the arrival with a small note. I will write more about Chandini and her books etc in the next post. I am excited and nervous about her feedback. She is one of my favorite writers and needs to be read by all. More later. 🙂
Dominic Albanese is a poet and a war veteran from Florida. You can checkout his work HERE. Most of the books can be downloaded for free. He’s been writing poetry since 1966. This is what he wrote on FB:
Twitter has got me many followers on the blog. I have come to know a lot of bloggers/writers/artists/ filmmakers there. Here’s an insightful review of ‘Wayfaring’ from a Twitter reader friend. A poet and translator himself though he prefers to be in the shadows. Thank you Ayushman . Do click on the link to read the full ‘tweet review’.
The biggest news came yesterday when ‘Wayfaring’ found a place in the National Daily Hindustan Times’s City Supplement, HT City of 28th March.
This is my third media mention in HT. Two of them for Wayfaring and the earlier one for my blog. It is a very special feeling. Encouraging too. Thank you Nabanita for your short yet insightful review.
This what she said about the book:
“…emotions so vividly expressed that it’s difficult to move from one verse to the other.”
All this good news means celebration. I have an appointment with the dentist tomorrow. I’m scared and fretting as usual but I know he’s one of the best. Keep me in your thoughts. Hopefully it won’t be a major procedure and I’ll be able to celebrate my mom’s 88th birthday the next day. It would be such a joy to have all the children / grandchildren together under one roof.
Here’s to Poetry
she stands among the ancient trees,
hair fluttering protestingly over her full breasts,
strings of beads resting around her neck,
draped in red cotton her dark skin glistening in sweat,
her kohl eyes like fiery embers,
a sliver of sun on her forehead,
behind her, smeared in symbolic vermilion,
the Goddess sits cross-legged,
leaning against the matted roots of a tree,
defiant, wise, independent,
the power stemming from her womb,
from a quiet corner I watch them,
fierce, unapologetic; both born of the soil,
somewhere beyond the hills a river turns red,
an embodiment of the eternal truth –
the Aashad clouds gather
beating their ancient drums
as the earth receives its first rain
I often visit the
off the beaten track
no longer tended
In the forgotten places
Littered with broken shards,
Rotting leaves, gnarled branches,
Entwined vines and
Dried unruly weeds
I follow the scent
Of unseen blossoms
I trace my fingers
On the ancient walls
Moist with night dew and
Memory has turned mossy green
I look through the dusty windows
That reflect nothing
The sadness of which
Speaks to me
Then, as the seasons change,
In the midst of decay
The tree of sorrow blooms
Night after night
Romancing the August moon
First published in ‘Collection Of Chaos‘. You can buy the book from any online book vendor.
Spring came quietly in my city and suddenly it was ablaze with fiery Semal flowers. The stark branches tipped with its large crimson, orange and pale yellow flowers towering above the city structures look like giant brushes painting the city skyline. Semal is the first tree to bloom and pave the way for Coral tree, Jacaranda, Gulmohar, Leburnum etc. I spotted a few tesu trees along with the Lilac Kachnar.
The carefully landscaped roundbaouts are a riot of colors and so are the gardens in Delhi. The newly opened Central Park (Sunder Nursery) is in my list of Must Visit places. The two Gorgeous pink bougainvillea trees in Lodhi Garden are a sight to behold. I will try and do a separate post on these. Spring is Delhi is short lived with harsh winter in its backyard and summer on threshold but it brings the fragrance of mango blossoms. Tabebuia Aurea is another beautiful spring blooming tree that one should watch out for. I am trying to locate a Palash tree or Flame of the forest, as it is known in English, in Delhi. Perhaps some more spring pictures soon. 🙂
Meanwhile, a brilliant review of my book ‘Wayfaring’ appeared in the fabulous Singapore-based journal Kitaab. This is what a writer longs for. Good readers who explore what we usually don’t see in our own writing, reviewers whose critique is incisive and sensitive, and editors who take this dialog forward. Many thanks to all those who made this possible. Zafar Anjum, Sucharita Dutta-Asane at Kitaab, thank you for the way you always support poets and writers. This is a dream come true. Very honored and humbled.
Bhaswati Ghosh is a writer friend I admire. She has a very fine taste in music too. She writes and translates fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also the Editor -at – large at Cafe Dissensus Magazine where I have some of my work published. One of the magazines I absolutely love for its content.
Bhaswati really gets it when she says, “If solitude is nature’s essential condition, loneliness, its second cousin, is a function of being human. As Wayfaring shows, we don’t always choose loneliness; sometimes it chooses us. When it does, it’s seldom romantic and more like one’s own shadow, impossible to disown.”
Please do read the complete review by clicking on the link above and do buy the book. It is available worldwide with all online book vendors.
In another new, Vishal Bheeroo featured me on his blog. We talked about ‘Wayfaring’ journey as a book and other things. Do read the full feature HERE
Here’s an excerpt :
“Wayfaring is the result of a much more positive attitude towards myself and to life in general. One must never lose the sense of possibilities. That’s the healing that comes from within. I have tried to work that around in the poems in ‘Wayfaring’. Most of the poems in the book are intensely personal and at times I have used nature or another element as a mask to enable me to write about private feelings but mostly the poems are all about ‘laying bare’, befriending oneself and realizing that this difficult phase in life is intrinsic to being alive. This shift in thinking changed my perspective completely and when you read the poems you will see what I mean.”
Thanks Vishal for giving me this platform.
If you have bought my books please do write a few lines about them and let me know via twitter/FB/Instagram or just leave a comment here.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The city around me is a fucking cemetery darkened with age where buildings stand cramped together like old, forgotten headstones representing a rift between living and dead. Pigeons, like monks at prayer, line up on balconies and window ledges. Nothing romantic or mysterious. Nothing historic or glorious. Nothing eerie. What lies beneath is dead. What lies above is stagnating. Slowly it will all crumble and die to give place to a yet another set of graves. Funeral is the word filling my mind right now. Somewhere a bird sings a mournful song. Must be a nightingale.
I muse about this as I walk around the city of Delhi. I feel that the culture has died in the eyes of almost everyone you see. If this is a fact, then I guess we must be independent of it, and seek out those who are also independent of it, in order to live at all among the ruins. I look at a different perspective. Vitality lies in the past, whose traces remain in those very ruins, but we cannot go there: our relationship to that, like our relationships to those we love, must advance, change – which is the very thing the ruins refuse us – but in its balance of decay, a change disrupts it, so any thought is a victory. Nightingales can learn plenty new songs. Delhi has layers and layers of surprises. It is a city full of emotions.
Emotions make me think of a blue Yamuna, a river we have collectively brought to a slow death with our neglect and apathy. No one cares to visit her banks or give a little thought to her. The monsoon rains give us a glimpse of the glorious river momentarily but then again she reseeds to be dismissed as a dirty sewer. No one thinks who turned her to be what she is now. I think of the women in my country as I look at her from a distance longing to reach out and touch its waters. There is something so deeply comforting and soothing about sitting at the bank of a river. I am dreaming of a blue Yamuna.
November has been benevolent in more than one ways. Someone special has brought good tidings in my life. A daughter I always yearned for. Bless her. She’s an exceptional poetess too. There is still a hint of autumn in the breeze but slowly we’re heading to the real Delhi Winter with all its glorious flowers, snug, colorful woolens, fests, music and art festivals, visits to the monuments and parks. Winter is also the ideal time to experience the incredible Delhi Street food, the pipping hot aalu tikkis, kachoris, gajar halwa, hot jalebis, spicy sweet potato and fried potato chaats and also cold rabri falooda. yes, I’m one of those who love to eat ice creams and kulfis in winter. 🙂 exploring the city for authentic food is a journey of discovery in more than one ways.
Speaking of journey reminds me to tell you about Djelloul Marbrook. He is the editor-in-chief of The Arabesques Review Magazine. Originally from Algeria, he lives in the US now. An exceptional poet, writer, he’s someone I look up to as a student learning the craft of writing. You must check out his website and YouTube channel. It is a gold mine for poetry lovers. When my publisher and friend James Goddard told me that he’s reviewing my book I was slightly nervous but at the same time extremely happy too. This is the first review for ‘Wayfaring’ before it releases on the 20th of Nov. I don’t have words to tell you how proud I feel right now of my evolution as a poet and as a writer. He has written a glorious review of the book and touched the soul of my poetry.
Here’s an excerpt :
Tikuli is a skilled plein air painter; her palette of words is spare, meticulously chosen and applied in a variety of metrical patterns that, while not avant-garde, are modernist and reliable. The reader is never required to study her metrics; her focus is on the act of recollection and its requisite imperative. She has stories to tell, portraits to paint, ghosts to address, and issues to redress.
The complete review can be read here – A Journey Beyond the Baggage of Pronouns in the tradition of Hafez Rumi and Al Arabi
The review moved me deeply and to place my poetry in the league of some of the greatest poets of all times that I love and admire is very humbling. Thank you Djelloul for this precious gift. I will cherish your words forever.
On another note, I have not been very regular with my blog post except the recipes but will soon resume updating the other blog categories too. I plan to visit some old, historic places this winter.
I’ll meet you at another place, another time, another field. The prettiest and most resilient flowers grow in broken spaces like the cracks in the sidewalks. Look out for those places.
A lot is happening at the same time. Delhi is shrouded in toxic smog but our shopping has started in full swing for the upcoming wedding of my son. I hate shopping. ;( It drains me out physically and mentally but this time I am excited so enjoying the researching and hanging out with my boys for some time even though it is walking miles and miles in the midst of shopaholics.
This is the sight that brings relief to tired burning eyes.
Did I share the photograph of the couple? They make a lovely pair. Perhaps you can say a little prayers for them and send your blessings as they embark on a new journey. Can’t wait for these two to get married.
To add to the good tidings my new poetry book Wayfaring is here. Not very many copies. I have earmarked a few for friends and guides. Rest of you can buy it from amazon or any online book seller worldwide. Do let me know if you pick up a copy. Write a short review, post a reader’s selfie. Show your love any way you wish. I am looking forward eagerly.
Here is what joy looks like
I shared a teaser video earlier and here is another fantastic video of my poetic journey with Leaky Boot Press. The video is created by my Publisher friend James Goddard.
It can get hard sometime but when you are approached for an interview by Kulpreet Yadav, India’s best selling thriller writer, friend and editor of a fabulous lit mag Open Road Review, life gets a new high Check out his Andy Karan series and new Vicks Menon thriller Murder In Paharganj on all major book sites. ORR earlier gave space for my poetry. It is a magazine I am proud to be associated with as a contributor.
Except from the interview:
“Kulpreet – As a poet do you have a long-term goal? Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Me – “For a writer, it is very important to develop their sense of their literary journey. To evolve and grow as a human being and as a writer is the only goal I have. I don’t think about future. Let’s see what the universe unfolds as we go along. As a writer, I just want to enjoy the process.” “
Here’s the link to the full interview
When there is so much goodness around one needs to celebrate with some sinful chocolate mud cake from my favorite Cafe Delhi Heights. Give it a try if you’re in Delhi.
Keep watching this space for more updates on the book or check out the book page at the top menu of the blog.