Saturday, 30 July 2016

In Memoriam: The Children of Nice, A Poem by Juveria

War in itself is a phenomenon that can never inspire a cheerful thought. The most horrifying part of war is the impact it has had on  children.
To force a child to witness gory death and destruction is to murder their innocence. 
Over the last 4-5 years, the world has been paralysed by war, terrorism and armed conflict. 
The plight of children amidst these war-torn areas is the most disturbing thing.
When the Bastille Day attack happened in Nice this year, The Hindu newspaper carried a heartrending photograph of a dead girl lying on the road, covered by a thermal blanket, with her doll lying beside her. This poem is inspired by that photograph, because it somehow seemed to have captured the silent suffering of all those children facing and fighting death and despair everyday, in different corners of the world. The poem is a tribute to them, in the hope that the screeches of rifles and blasts of missiles, are soon replaced by the delights of childhood in their lives. The poem  also marks our pledge against terrorism of any kind.   

I Saw his Eyes

The wheels were heavy, Mommy.
My ribs couldn’t take the strain.
They cracked and they punctured
My lungs and my heart.

You felt the air and saw the blood
Escaping my beaten body.
How red was the blood, Mommy?
How hot the air?

Did they tell you I once lived?
Will you remember I once lived?
Or will my brief stay 
Make you forget your daughter’s days?

Oh the days I had here, Mommy!
Bright and Cheerful.
Screams of laughter,
Shouts of joy, warm as chocolate,
Sweet as honey, fearless, like the night sky!

Screams, shouts, warm blood, sweet, sad Mommy…
I saw fear in the man’s eyes.
The man behind the heavy wheels of the truck.
They’ll tell you he was a monster.
Do not believe them,
For I saw his eyes.
And  in his eyes, I saw fear.
And I think he never felt love.

It is lonely without love, Mommy.

And you remember, I got scared when I was lonely?
So he was scared, Mommy.

Give him love.
Give them all love.

Not gun fire, please.
Mommy let me hear your voice.
Talk to me.
Tell me, “Sweetheart, it’s time to go home.”

Juveria Tabassum

Monday, 25 July 2016

Can You tell the Artist from the Art?

                 O body swayed to music, O brightening glance, How can we  know the dancer from the dance?
                                                                                      W.B. Yeats,                                                              Among School Children  
  There was a long, white hallway and in the centre was a bright pink spot surrounded by images, colours and strokes. It was the fountainhead from where sprang a million faces, hands, feet and human forms. 
   Three beauties came together: Mind, Brush and Space. 
Ailamma Art Gallery: Harvest is on
  The Atelier Exhibition, “Serving, Waiting on Hand and Foot, a Conscious Choice for Creating Visual Art Within Gallery Space” by Koeli Mukherjee Ghose at Ailamma Art Gallery, Hyderabad, 6th-30th July 2016, was in many ways an avant-garde defiance of  theories that rule the contemporary art world. 

   Atelier, a French word, refers to a studio cum workshop. It celebrates the co-existence of the artist and the art.  The calm and relaxed atmosphere was Koeli's retreat and was set  up by renowned calligrapher, Mr Parameshwar Raju. Koeli's paintings, as one would normally expect were not mounted on a solemn frame but clipped to a string, like the unfinished negatives in a photographer's dark room. This was not only Koeli's way of freeing the artwork physically for a more  intimate interaction with observers but also to challenge those who consider art as a feudal act, confined to the upscale ivory towers of society. 

A dark room's twin

  Within a few weeks, Koeli produced more than hundred paintings. Her technique includes, calligraphy, wet on wet and wash painting. The human body forms the core of her work. It is a body in action and abstraction. The defamiliarisation is on as hands and feet waiting and serving merge with colours, figures, isolated strokes and entwined lines. Koeli’s vision defies the Cartesian mind-body duality and moulds itself into a shape of its own. As Koeli said, it acts as a conveyor of everyday socio-cultural sense. The women in her paintings are busy in their household work. Predictable images of women tending children and making peripatetic journeys from inside to outside keep recurring. 
Women in their everyday life
     Koeli’s paintings are also emotions recollected in tranquility. The days she spent in Visva-Bharati , Shantiniketan as a student, as a learner attain a living form in her work. The dense, arching foliage and the fluttering young hearts of the campus find a colourful place in her imagination. The same scenario is rendered differently when Koeli imagines it as a political borderline where people would rather turn away from each other.
Foliage and Fluttering hearts
When borders rise

   There are other paintings that have emerged out of conversations with her contemporaries. Certain works also display a free and spontaneous confluence of the public and the private space.
   Spirituality too forms an inevitable aspect of Koeli’s work. It never, however, floats on the canvas in a sectarian sense but in a subtle,  phantasmic evocation of the unknown through  a very agile colour palate.

   Koeli’s growth as an artist primarily began in Hyderabad. Her work is original and fresh. The lines, colours, prominent, fading, blotting create an organic unity that is rare and unfamiliar. Her brush glides uninhibitedly over the paper, travels a sea of emotions and then comes back to its core, its origin which is often the human form both concrete and abstract. 

“Atelier” was a new experience for me. Breaking dimensions of perceptions. It unveiled that art may not be lofty or a wave of tensed and artistic nerves; It may pour forth of a beautiful and calm woman sitting among friends, musing about the physical and metaphysical limits of life and beyond.  

Add caption
Koeli with Mr Parameshwar Raju and Mr Vijaya Rao

Friday, 15 July 2016

More from Bloomsday at Q.L.C.

James Joyce and his characters were discussed at length during the Bloomsday celebrations at Quills. His characters inspired us to look back into our lives and come up with potentially obscure moments that actually went on to define what we were.

Here are some more members with their attempt at The Dedalus Challenge!

Juveria Tabassum: Mole-umental Discoveries:

It was three days ago when I discovered that I had a tiny mole on the inside of my left index finger. I just stared at it for some seconds. I even tried to see if I could scratch it out. But, no. It stayed there, like it had all these nineteen years- a tiny, brown, sneaky little spot. I found this disturbing.
But, from that moment of bewilderment, came a solemn epiphany.
When I'm still unaware about the complete physical form of my own hands, there should be no way that I can claim to know everything about other people, or indeed, anything, in this world. I realized that all we can ever do is learn. Just learn and stay humble with the fact that we'll never learn all. We can only learn and keep learning and find peace comfort, and a zest for learning even more in our discoveries. 

Weird little things, moles. Hm. Must learn more about them. 

Keerthi Rathi:  Career Conundrums:
Finding one's passion is an important part of growing up. For the most part, I was extremely confused and undecided on my goals. I wasn't interested in any of the mainstream career choices that are often presented to us. I didn't particularly enjoy any subject in school, either. This troubled me for a long time. Math especially was a tough nut for me to crack. 
One day, I took out my Math textbook with contemptuous emotions since I had to complete my homework. Suddenly, my eyes fell on the girl on the cover of the textbook. The thing that struck me was the clothes she was wearing. I spent a good amount of time analyzing them. In that moment, I realized that I was seriously interested in fashion. I felt genuinely happy at this epiphany. It seemed like it was always there for me to see, but I had just been overlooking it. All thanks to that moment of awakening, I found my passion, and dare I say, developed an interest in Math!

Guna Priya: Why Should Boys Have All The Fun?!:
At our school, group leaders in classes were always boys. For
some reason this fact started peeving me. So when I was in
9th grade, I went up to the Headmistress and asked her why
this strange custom was being followed. She pondered over
this and decided that she would give us girls a chance to
prove ourselves. To test our leadership qualities, she set us a
skill test. To my absolute pleasure and surprise, I came on
top of that test and was given the opportunity to become
group leader.
Our Headmistress appreciated me for the frankness and
ability I showed. That day was an unforgettable moment and
it gave me a sense of responsibility, self confidence and the
skills to communicate with people. From that moment I
decided that if I wanted to do something, I'd just believe in
myself and never give up.

I.Soujanya: Realizing Reality:

After my tenth grade, I decided that I wanted to become an air hostess. I talked about my plans with my parents. My mom shared my views. But, when she talked about it to my aunt, she disapproved. She said that it was inappropriate for girls from our society to take up this profession. I could not get her let me pursue my dreams and she convinced me to pursue something I was not really interested in.
After this experience, I realized that whatever our aims maybe, they can only be achieved when our parents, families, and the society accepts them. We cannot to much my rebelling against the society we live in. That, I realized, was my reality.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Memory, Youth, Nostalgia: An Evening with Gulzar 8 July 2016 Hyderabad

In Bengal, Rabindranath Tagore is not just a poet but a way of life. Almost every household has a framed photograph of the bearded Tagore, clad in rich silken robes and gazing into an infinite distance. But has the Bengali entitlement over Tagore, deprived others from  being emotionally connected to the poet who otherwise was in love with the world and its people, regardless their colour, religion, region, caste  or nationality?

This is the question that launched a thousand thoughts among poetry lovers of Hyderabad, who gathered at Taj Krishna on 8 July 2016 at the Book launch of Gulzar Translates Tagore by Gulzar organised by Harper Collins, India.  Gulzar was in conversation with Prof. T. Vijay Kumar, Osmania University, and lightheartedly hinted at  the “possessiveness” of Bengalis over Tagore.

Waiting for Gulzar

At Eighty-two, Gulzar is no frail old man.  He  comes across as a handsome charmer  in a crisp white kurta, golden Nagrai shoes and a vintage watch. His understanding of Tagore is youthful, deep, entertaining yet radically avant-garde. Gulzar has translated two volumes of poetry by Tagore. They are Nindiya Chor  (The Crescent Moon) and Baaghbaan (The Gardner). 
The beautifully hardbound books with English, Bengali and Hindi translations of every poem  is meant to compare the craft of Gulzar and Tagore as poets, translators and creators. The jacket bears an image of the young Tagore.It reaffirms Gulzar’s desire to present Tagore not as a meditative, enlightened by Modernity kind of bard from Bengal but as a romantic, playful, stylish young man radiating the jazz of a cosmopolitan neo-masculinity and innocence of a child.

Translated Delights!

Baaghbaan/ The Gardner, Translated  by Gulzar

Busy Photogs!

Thus Gulzar translates poems that show the way Tagore could slip into the mind of an imaginative child or a young woman waiting for her lover with equal ease. Gulzar confidently asserts that Gitanjali(1912), was not Tagore’s best work. It was a well written collection that could be represented in the west but did not reflect the quintessential Tagorian Romance. Gulzar thus with the simultaneous translations in Hindi and English along with the original in Bangla  hopes to show to the readers that indeed the heart of Tagore’s writing lay in his description of the ordinary and not in the lofty ideas that made Gintanjali. This as Prof. T. Vijay Kumar pointed out was an attempt by Gulzar to rescue Tagore from his own translations. He further, quoted D.H. Lawrence, saying, “trust the tale and not the teller.”

Books being officially released

Ms Sohini and Gulzar: Narrating Magic

To understand the true spirit of the tale, one needs to hear it. Thus the conversation between the poet and the critic took a creative turn and Ms Sohini, a Hyderabad based Bengali theater and radio artiste was invited to join them and read out the poems in Bangla, followed by Gulzar in Hindi and then in English by the T. Vijay Kumar. Together, the talented trio  recited poems like The Traitor, Chotoboro and Beer-Purush. The concoction of languages, rhythms, lyrics, music and emotions began stirring and what followed was an intoxicating evening that left the audience mellow and nostalgic. The animated and soothing voice of Sohini exuded the typical sweetness of Bangla and Gulzar’s baritone  and theatrical  pauses enlivened Tagore in Hindi like never before. The spell bound audience  saluted Gulzar, the poet and performer with a standing ovation. Gulzar’s books began to vanish from the stands and within moments poetry lovers made a serpentine queue for a signed copy. 

Gulzar and his readers

To recreate the roots of Gulzar and Tagore, Taj Krishna came up with an eclectic mix of starters including flavours from Bengal and Punjab: from Phuchka to Kebabs to the classic Bengali Ghugni; all good things that become heavenly in the monsoon. 
Ms Salma Farooqui , Maulana Azad National University,  Hyderabad

Ms Parimala Kulkarni, (center) Osmania University, Hyderabad

Faculty members of R.B.V.R.R Women's College, Hyderabad

Shantanu Chaudhuri, Managing Editor, Harper Collins, India at the outset, very humbly confessed that being a part of a work that brought two legacies like Gulzar  and Tagore together was a “dream come true”. 

Shantanu  Ray Chaudhuri, Managing Editor, Harper Collins India
 It was so, even for the audience in Hyderabad. The evening proved that cultural powers of poetry  in the Arnoldian sense is still strong. This evening was probably the best Eid present that Hyderabadis could ask for. It brought love, peace, poetry and unveiled the secrets to relive reality on the wings of memory and imagination.

Remembering James Joyce : Celebrating Bloomsday

Around the world, lovers of James Joyce celebrate June 16 as Bloomsday. They recreate the events that happened on that day to Leopold Bloom, Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, the immortal characters in Joyce's Ulysses (1922). In the same spirit, QLC too remembered Joyce and the way in which he yoked the realities of everyday life with the rare and almost mystical moments of the human soul. On 29 June 2016 members of the Club gathered to pay their tribute to James Joyce.

While the meeting was on!

When we think of Joyce, we think of Epiphany and we think inevitably again of Stephen Dedalus: the literary icon of the aspirations, confusions, and rebellion that universally define human youth. 

 But is it so, really?

Have you ever wondered if Stephen was Stephanie, or Susan or Samantha? Would the experiences be the same?
We do not know. 
But what we know is that our members of QLC , took up the "Dedalus Challenge"; When asked to describe their moments of epiphany, they came up with inspiring, touching  and often ordinary accounts of the twist and turns of their regular lives and how that led to uncanny and enlightening discoveries.

The highlight of the meeting was a "Spoken Word Poetry" performance by Guna Priya and Juveria. The duo rendered a creative version of popular social activist Sudha Murthy's response to a a job advertisement that barred "lady candidates" from applying. It was followed by a session where the members shared their moments of awakening in life. 
A delightful visit by our Principal, Dr. M.Surekha Reddy

Juveria, Guna Priya and Srinidhi in action. Glad to have Dr M. Prameela and Dr. K.Sarada with us

There's Joy/ce behind the star performers

We bring you some of the most inspiring experiences:

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Beauty of the Ordinary: One Poem and a Story

Creativity need not arise from the extraordinary. Some times, the reality around us, just as it is, is all-inspiring.  This post brings us something like that. 

Juveria and Haripriya show us the beauty of the ordinary through their works.  

A Study in White

Juveria Tabassum

Death beds and delivery rooms
Disinfectants and doctors loom
A familiar, tall, white building,
Solid, sturdy, plaintively forbidding

The corridors teemed with people
The air swung, wild, with varied emotion-
Hopeless fear, boundless joy,
A morgue and a nursery- life’s original ploy.

Many a wheel rolled about,
Round and round, over and over,
The cycle never stops.
White coats, nurses’ caps, syringes.
Necks jeweled by just a stethoscope.
A sanitized environment; learned,
Faith only in the power of their knowledge.

The common clothes- those of the visitors,
Bloodied pants, a two day shirt,
Necks jeweled by just sweat and wait.
The white coats, their only hope
Held steady by their Faiths.

It is a communion of people,
A reunion of sorts,
The scales swing between hope and fear,
Here a life saved, and here a life lost.

The 18th Birthday
     It was the 25th of November, a very chilly night. The roads were already filled with snow and strong gusts of cold wind blew over the city. The city was cold and damp.
        Just like my heart, thought Lisa.
      Her  boots were clicking against the pavement as she walked all alone, on the empty street. She reached her home, surprised to find that the door was already unlocked. Her parents were home, was what she thought. She opened the door and the lights switched on, her huge group of friends wishing her a very happy birthday.
       It was Lisa’s birthday, and she usually looked forward to the day every year, but this time, she felt different. She looked around and saw a typical high school party scene. Her high school mates were everywhere, getting drunk, dancing to the loud auto-tuned music, making out and having fun.
       Lisa remembered how she used to host such parties and how she became the life of the party each and every single time. She remembered how she used to mingle with everyone and go out on drunken misadventures. She remembered how much she loved being the party animal.
       And then she realised. She wasn’t enjoying the party like the others. She wasn’t getting drunk like the others. She wasn’t dancing like the others. Hell, she wasn’t even smiling like the others. She saw the party in a completely different light. And from what she was seeing, she didn’t like the party very much.
As the party continued, she sat on the couch, a cup of beer in her hand, observing everyone. It was her birthday, and no one came up to personally wish her. Not even her so-called best friend.
      Lisa sighed. She felt uncomfortable. She felt congested. She knew she had to leave the place, and she did. She put her coat on, a beanie to cover her hair, gloves, boots, and off she went. She did not have a destination in her mind. She just wandered in the streets. She went to the park and sat on one of the swings, watching the sky.
      Lisa spent some time in the park, consumed by her thoughts. And then she started walking once again. She was so lost in her thoughts that she did not realise where she was, until she stood in front of a gate. She was at her house.
       She opened the gate and headed towards the door, and bent to collect the key under the potted plant. She unlocked the door and went inside the house. The house was empty, her footsteps echoing. She switched on the lights in the house and climbed the stairs, and opened the door to her room.
      Though the house was empty, this room wasn’t. It was filled with posters of different boy bands, a board full of pictures, the bed properly made, the pillows fluffed, the books properly set on the table, a pen stand full of pens, pencils, markers, and highlighters. A stack of comics were piled up beside the pen stand. 
      Everything in the room was coated with a layer of dust. It had just been a week and a half since the people of this house shifted to another place.
     Lisa carefully examined the pictures on the board. She was young and smiling; Lisa guessed they were of her sophomore year. She then found the pictures of her, in the junior and senior years. She wasn’t smiling at all. Instead, she had this gloom cast over her face. 

Lisa then checked the comics on the table. They were Marvel comics. She found a key hidden between the stack of comics. Lisa unlocked the top drawer and was shocked to find razor blades in the drawer.
    It is all my fault, Lisa thought.
    She then opened the letter she had previously read and read it once again.
  Dear Lisa,
      It is Maggie here. I’m hoping you are doing well and are happy. It is your birthday the next week, isn’t it? I wish you a very happy birthday in advance. I hope you don’t mind that I won’t be attending your birthday party. Not that it matters to you in anyway. I just wanted to tell you that you have always lived ‘the life’, Lisa. You were a popular girl, everyone adored you, and you ruled the school. But you weren’t satisfied with it, were you? You had to go around bullying everyone and hurting them a lot, especially me. You made me feel worthless about myself. You made me lose interest in everything, you made me lose hope. Good job, Lisa. But do you know what hurts the most? The fact that you were my best friend for 13 years, and yet decided to back-stab me, your best friend. People change, don’t they Liz? I was just too stupid to think that you will always be by my side.
      But were you? I’m afraid the answer is no. What happened to us, Liz? What happened to the promises we made? What happened to the plans we made? But most importantly, what happened to us? Why did we separate, Liz? What made you distance yourself away from me? Was it something I did? I’m sorry. I don’t really remember if I hurt you in anyway, but if I did, I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to. You were my best friend. I wouldn’t hurt you, not intentionally, at least.
      You hurt me. You have been hurting me. And I think I’ve had enough of it. I don’t want to get hurt anymore, I’m pretty sure I’ve had my fill of it. People say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but look at me Lisa, I got weaker. I am the weakest. I have something in my mind, and I’m following it. No one has got a say in this.
    Anyways, I hope you will remember me and all the memories we shared, because I sure as hell am going to remember them. I hope you enjoy your 18th birthday and many more birthdays to come.
         By the end of the letter, Lisa was teary-eyed. It was her best friend Maggie. She was the reason Maggie decided to end her life. She was the sole reason Maggie thought not to live anymore. She was a murderer, a killer, a coldblooded demon.
       Lisa felt the weight of the reality crashing down on her. She fumbled in her step as she made out of her house. She was crying as she walked back to her home. She wanted her mother, her father, her family, Maggie. She wanted to be in their presence, and she felt sadder every passing minute as she remembered those good times.
      Lisa was so lost in her thought that she couldn’t see the light or hear the sound of a car honking at her. The car must have been out of control of the driver, because it hit Lisa, and she crashed down. The driver got out of the car as soon as it came to a halt, and carried her to the hospital to get her treated. Lisa was injured very badly and was bleeding profusely.
       The impact of the car hit was very intense. Lisa was losing consciousness. Her breathing lowered drastically, and so did her heart beat. She realised the end was near.
      And in the last moments, she somehow thought of Maggie and she knew what she had to do.
       I’m sorry, Maggie. That was Lisa’s last breath.