Autodidacts have been
a source of inspiration and
awe for many. Their
ability to learn and apply
themselves to complex
subjects to a point of
perfection is indeed
One such person was Wilson Alwyn
Bentley - a farmer from Vermont. He
gave gems of knowledge to the world of
photography and science and yet
remained in relative anonymity
throughout his life. I have enclosed an
essay about this amazing man and his
extraordinary achievements in the
It gives me great pleasure to enclose
the works of internationally known
painter Artur Bordalo (aka Bordalo II)
in the Artist’s Corner. His works go
beyond art; they create expressions to
underline the fact that it is possible to
create impeccable works of art and visual
beauty with the help of discarded and
reusable material. Creativity, in every
form, has a wide appeal across age, sex
and social structures and I think that
each ‘creative’ should try and use their
art forms to heighten social awareness
about things that might make the world
a better place in the future.
The role of the music conductor in an
orchestra has always mystified viewers.
When the conductor waves the baton and
controls the dynamics and the nuances
of a musical score, one cannot but
shake one’s head in wonder. What
most of us are unaware of are the
technical and aesthetic norms that
form the foundation for the music
conductor. The article in the
Musician’s Corner might be quite
enlightening for curious music lovers.
Lopa Banerjee and Santosh Bakaya
- both wonderful writers - have been
contributing to this e-zine for a long
time. It gives me great pleasure to
publish a review of their recent works
in the Reviewer’s Corner.
Cartooning is arguably the best
‘weapon’ for those fighting against
recognised establishments including
governments and the church. If you
are one with a similar bent of mind or
even remotely curious about such
works that often have destabilised
establishments, then head over to the
The cover story is about an art that
has somehow been often overlooked
but one that requires a closer look of
appreciation. I have dedicated the
cover story to this veritable art -
And, by the way, this issue is a
combined bumper issue for November
In This Issue
7 The Art and the Craft of
23 The Cartoonist’s
46 The Fiction Writer’s
The Fragrance of
By Rhiti Chatterjee Bose
67 The Musician’s
82 The Poet’s Corner
Poems by Santosh
95 The Humorist’s
With Robert Benchley
110 The Reviewer’s
14 The Artist’s Corner
Paintings by Bordalo II
32 The Essayist’s Corner
The Wretched Lives of
by Razi Azmi
Bat and the Baton
By Kersi Meher-Homji
57 The Playwright’s Corner
By Floyd Dell
75 The Photographer’s
The Snowflake Man of
87 The Scientist’s
102 The Traveller’s
Reena Prasad and
Rhiti Chatterjee Bose
Kersi Meher-Homji is a journalist, author and
biographer. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket, the
Sydney Morning Herald and other publications. He is
the author of many books and his most notable
biography is The Waugh Twins, about cricketing
legends Steve and Mark Waugh.
Reena Prasad is a poet from India, currently
living in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates). Her poems
have been published in several anthologies and
journals. She is also the Destiny Poets UK’s, Poet of
the year for 2014 and one of the editors of The
Significant Anthology released in July 2015. More
recently, her poem was adjudged second in the World
Union Of Poet’s poetry competition, 2016.
Rhiti Chatterjee Bose is based in Bhubaneswar
and is a mother to two adorable trouble makers. She
is a writer and editor, with several online and print
publications. She is also the founder of Incredible
Women of India, an e-zine, documenting real life
inspirational stories of Indian women. When not
writing, she morphs into an obsessive cake and
cookies baker, a self-proclaimed Madhubani artist
and a compulsive reader.
Artur Bordalo is the grandson of famous lisbon
painter, REAL BORDALO, aka BORDALO II has been
decorating the streets of Lisbon with his own
colourful artwork for years. He is most notoriously
known for his blending of trash and other objects into
his paintings by turning burnt aluminium cans, old
tires, scrap wood and neglected appliances into
colourful animals. This is his way of recycling and
critiquing the world on its need for nice things that
are based on junk.
SANTOSH BAKAYA says that she has ‘almost
an insane passion for writing on any topic under the
sun, having penned eight books - three of them
mystery novels for young adults, a couple of quiz
books, and my Ph. D thesis on Robert Nozick.’ She
has also published a collection of essays - Flights
from my Terrace about the extraordinary
ordinariness of everyday existence. Her poetic
biography of Mahatma Gandhi, Ballad of Bapu, was
published by a couple of months back, and is being
critically acclaimed. Her poems have figured many
times in the highly commended category of the U.
K based poetry website, Destiny Poets. She has
won the International Reuel award for writing and
literature 2014 for my long poem Oh Hark!
Recently, she also won the Incredible Woman of
India 2014-15 award.
Floyd James Dell (June 28, 1887 – July 23,
1969) was an American newspaper and magazine
editor, literary critic, novelist, playwright,
and poet. Dell has been called "one of the most
flamboyant, versatile and influential American Men
of Letters of the first third of the 20th Century." A
lifelong poet, he was also a best-selling author, as
well as a playwright whose hit Broadway comedy,
Little Accident (1928), was made into a Hollywood
Razi Azmi is a former academic with a Ph.D in
history and a passion for travelling. He has been
a regular columnist in the Daily Times (published
from Lahore) and has his own BLOG at
www.raziazmi.com where he publishes his
travelogues and articles about contemporary
political and social issues. He can be reached at
Robert Charles Benchley (1889 – 1945) was
an American humorist best known for his work as
a newspaper columnist and film actor. From his
beginnings at the Harvard Lampoon while
attending Harvard University, through his many
years writing essays and articles for Vanity
Fair and The New Yorker and his acclaimed short
films, Benchley's style of humour brought him
respect and success during his life, from New York
City and his peers at the Algonquin Round Table to
contemporaries in the burgeoning film industry.
Ventriloquism (according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary)
is “the production of the voice in such a way that the sound
seems to come from a source other than the vocal organs of
the speaker”. This art is more often a ‘stagecraft’ wherein the
ventriloquist uses a puppet so that the ventriloquist’s voice
seems to come from the puppet.
The word’s origin can be traced back to the Latin phrase “to
speak from the stomach”. Strangely enough, ventriloquism was a
religious practice wherein the
noises produced by the
stomach were thought to be
the voices of the dead, who
took up residence in the
stomach of the ventriloquist.
The ventriloquist would then
interpret the sounds, as they
were thought to be able to
speak to the dead, as well as
foretell the future! The
Greeks referred to this artform
as Gastromancy and
one of the most successful
early gastromancers was
Eurykles, a prophet at
In the ‘Middle Ages’,
ventriloquism was akin to
witchcraft. As spiritualism
developed into stage
magic and escapology,
ventriloquism became more of a performance art (starting around
the 18th century) and then slowly dropped its mystical trappings.
Ventriloquism as an ‘art’ form
The earliest example of a ventriloquist dates back to 1753 in
England, where Sir John Parnell is depicted in an engraving
of William Hogarth as speaking via his hand. In 1757, the
Austrian Baron de Mengen is known to have implemented a small
doll into his performance. During the late 18th century,
ventriloquists were very well established as entertainers in
England. However during those early years, ventriloquists used
this art to project voices so that they seem to come from far away
(unlike modern ventriloquists). A well-known ventriloquist during
this period - Joseph Askins - who performed at the Sadler's Wells
Theatre in London in the 1790's, used this art as a dialogue
between himself and his invisible friend “Little Tommy". During
these years, other performers started using dolls or puppets into
The Sadler’s Wells Theater
This art form established itself firmly in the world of
entertainment during the era of the ‘music hall’ in the UK and the
‘vaudeville’ in the US. Fred Russell (often acknowledged as the
father of modern ventriloquism) accepted a permanent act at the
Palace Theatre in London, where he used he used a dummy called
“Coster Joe” in his act – a cheeky boy who would sit on his lap
and then engage in an entertaining ‘conversation’ with the
ventriloquist. This form has since been the most common one
used by ventriloquists down the decades.
Ventriloquism in India
In India, the art of ventriloquism was made popular by Y. K.
Padhye and M. M. Roy, who are believed to be the pioneers of this
field in India. Padhye's son Ramdas Padhye followed in his father’s
footsteps and made the art popular amongst the masses through
his performance on television. Ramdas Padhye's son Satyajit
Padhye is now a 3 rd generation ventriloquist in India. Also, in
recent times, Indusree a gifted female ventriloquist from
Bangalore has performed with with 3 dummies simultaneously.
The popularity of ventriloquism
Ventriloquism's popularity waned
for a while, probably because of
modern media's electronic ability to
convey the illusion of voice. In the U.K.
in the 2000s there were only 15 fulltime
professional ventriloquists, down
from around 400 in the 50s and
60s. However, in recent times, a
number of modern ventriloquists have
developed a following, following a
growth in the live comedy shows. In
2001, Angelique Monét performed
on Theatre Row her one-woman off-
Broadway show Multiple Me (written by
Edgar Chisholm) where she portrayed
several personalities using multiple
dummies to display the shifts. In
2007, Zillah & Totte won the first
Zillah and Totte
One of the difficulties that ventriloquists have to tackle, is to
produce all the sounds that they make with lips slightly separated
and in fact, nearly closed. This gets harder for certain
‘labial’ sounds like f, v, b, p, and m and sometimes the only choice
is to replace them with others. A widely parodied example of this
difficulty is the use of the phrase "gottle o' gear" used by less
skilled ventriloquists instead of "bottle of beer". Some
ventriloquists also take advantage of the fact that the sounds
th, d, t, and n when spoken quickly allow them to use words that
can be difficult for listeners to differentiate.
The ventriloquist's dummy
Modern ventriloquists utilise a
variety of different types of
puppets in their presentations,
ranging from soft cloth or foam
puppets, flexible latex puppets
and the traditional and familiar
hard-headed knee figure. The
classic dummies used by
ventriloquists vary in size
anywhere from twelve inches tall
to human-size and larger, with
the height usually falling between
thirty-four and forty-two inches.
Traditionally, this type of puppet
has been made from papiermâché
or wood. In modern times,
other materials are often
employed, including fibreglassreinforced
Artur Bordalo aka Bordalo II, was born in
Lisbon and grew up watching his grandfather Real
Bordalo painting in the city of Lisbon. In fact, he has
derived his name Bordalo II after his grandfather
whom he considers to be Bordalo I! A true ‘creative’
often finds form and inspiration in things that others
might discard and even overlook in life. The works of
Bordalo II are shining examples and he has been
creating extraordinary works of art from ‘trash’ and
garbage. The vivacity in his art is proof of an
amazingly imaginative mind. His works also
underline the fact that in this consumer’s world, we
often forget the value of things and often even forget
that beautiful can be created from things that we
have learnt to ‘throw away’.
On his web-page http://www.bordaloii.com/, the
artist has this to say about himself:
I belong to a generation that is extremely
consumerist, materialist and greedy. With the
production of things at its highest, the production of
"waste" and unused objects is also at its highest.
"Waste" is quoted because of its abstract definition:
"one man's trash is another man's treasure". I
create, recreate, assemble and develop ideas with
end-of-life material and try to relate it to
sustainability, ecological and social awareness.
The works in this section is a testament to Bordalo
II’s imagination, dexterity and creative skills.
These works are from “Big Trash Animals”.
In the artist’s own words - “this is a series of
artworks that aims to draw attention to a current
problem that is likely to be forgotten, become
trivial or a necessary evil. The problem involves
waste production, materials that are not reused,
pollution and its effect on the planet. The idea is
to depict nature itself, in this case animals, out
of materials that are responsible for its
destruction. These works are built with end-oflife
materials: the majority found in wastelands,
abandoned factories or randomly and some are
obtained from companies that are going through
a recycling process.
Damaged bumpers, burnt garbage cans, tires
and appliances are just some of the objects that
can be identified when you go into detail. They
are camouflaging the result of our habits with
little ecological and social awareness.
By Andrey Atuchin
Over the centuries, artists and,
specifically, cartoonists have been
fighting and creating anti-establishment
cartoons and caricartures against the
catholic church.The church, in recent
times, has been severely criticised for
its beliefs, cover-ups and undue power.
However, according to the cartoons in
the ensuing pages, there has been a
grudge against the church since
centuries. These ‘old-time’ American
cartoons depict varying degrees of
detestment and suspicions towards the
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Harper’s Weekly, 1875 / Public Domain, Wikipedia
Pillar of Fire Church, 1928 / Public Domain, Wikipedia
1925 / Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Pillar of Fire Church, 1925 / Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Klansmen: Guardians of Liberty, 1926 / Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Punch, 1850 / via corjesusacratissimum.org
The Wretched Lives
Of Domestic Servants
By Razi Azmi
In one episode of the incessant Israeli-Arab conflict, about a
decade ago newspapers published pictures of Israeli children
cheerfully writing messages on bombs and artillery shells ready
to be fired on villages in south Lebanon. Political parties and
movements often put children at the forefront of rallies and
demonstrations to push their own demands, to which the
children can barely relate, if at all.
States brainwash children to be “loyal” citizens, whatever
that means. We definitely know what it means in North Korea,
where malnourished children sing in praise of the “dear leader”.
Mao Zedong organized teenagers into his dreaded “Red Guards”
who ripped the fabric of Chinese society.
But these are the mental forms of the exploitation of
children. There is also the crude physical and sexual abuse of
poor children, rampant in the Third World.
In the mid-1990s the sexual abuse of domestic servants in
the Gulf countries made headlines when Sarah Balabagan, a
15-year Philippine girl, was jailed in the UAE for stabbing to
death her Arab master who had raped her. The international,
cultural and judicial aspects of the affair generated huge
publicity, but the ill treatment of domestic servants from poorer
countries in relatively rich countries and within their own
countries is widespread and quite well-known.
In the late 1990s, there was the case of Shokina, a runaway
Bangladeshi maid in Kuwait, one of the few that get reported.
When interviewed by a journalist in the Bangladeshi embassy in
Kuwait, her face was covered in bruises, her arms had long
claw-like scars down to her wrists and burns from cigarette butts
dotted the back of her hands. She had been kicked in the back,
punched in the head, scratched on the face, pinched, pulled and
spat on by her mistress.
In a welcome move, the Indian government has just
announced a ban on children under 14 working as domestic
servants. The new law also bans children from teashops,
restaurants, hotels, motels, resorts, spas or other recreational
To what extent will the ban be enforced in practice is highly
questionable. Many parents of the children the law is aimed to
help will be concerned with the consequences of the loss of
employment, however harsh the conditions. For many children it
may mean sliding into full starvation from a state of deprivation,
oppression and semi-starvation.
forces parents to send
their children, sometimes
as young as five or six, to
work in other people’s
homes or in factories,
roadside eateries and
Children who should be going to school and enjoying sports
and other recreational activities are instead condemned to a life
of servitude where their labour is exploited for up to 18 hours a
day, seven days a week, for a pittance. In addition, they are the
victims of beatings and insults almost on a daily basis and, not
infrequently, also of sexual abuse.
According to research in the nineties, child labour is most
concentrated in Asia and Africa, which together account for more
than 90 percent of total child employment. Though there are
more child workers in Asia than anywhere else, a higher percentage
of African children participate in the labour force.
Asia is led by India which has 44 million child labourers, giving
it the largest child workforce in the world. In Pakistan, 10 percent
of all workers are between the ages of 10 and 14 years. Nigeria
has 12 million child workers. Child labour is also common in South
America. For example, there are 7 million children working in
Last year, researchers in Indonesia interviewed 44 girls in
seven cities, more than half of whom complained of physical or
sexual abuse. They received wages ranging from nothing to $50
a month. Many complained of not getting enough to eat, sleeping
in store rooms, working 14 to 18 hours a day and never having a
day off except during the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr.
Despite the evidence of mistreatment, the report said few of
the 19 government officials interviewed were prepared to admit
there was a problem or a need to have regulation in the area. It
quoted an official from the National Ministry of Manpower as
saying that if maids were given a day off “they would not know
what to do and would not know where to go”.
The Indonesian Minister for People’s Welfare, Alwi Shihab, said
the practice of wealthier families taking care of children from poor
families had long been the basis for the system of maids in
Indonesia and did not need regulating. “You Westerners don’t
understand – it’s a cultural issue,” he said, adding that maids “can
run away if something is wrong”. An official from the Ministry of
Women’s Empowerment went further, saying that girls should not
be viewed as domestic workers as “they are regarded by
employers as their own children”.
Nevertheless, Jakarta complains about the treatment of
Indonesian domestic servants in neighbouring Malaysia and
Singapore. A couple of
years ago, the then
Soekarnoputri, met the
mother of Nirmala
Bonat after Malaysian
pictures of the
Indonesian maid whose
burnt her with an iron.
tortured her for over five months, before she was spotted by
someone wearing bloodstained clothes, rescued from her
tormentor and taken to the authorities.
According to a newspaper report in Bangladesh, a woman
had attacked her female servant with a red-hot iron and nearly
blinded her out of jealousy, as the little girl was attracting the
sexual attention of her husband.
I personally knew of a senior, divorced Bangladeshi diplomat
in Morocco whose maid-servant, whom he had imported from
back home, was a virtual slave, confined to the four walls of his
flat, not allowed to see or talk to anybody. After many years of
faithful service, with not a day off, she was flown back to
Bangladesh on a one-day notice, and paid just about $500 as
wages for years of toil and deprivation after her arrival.
While those like her live lives of virtual slavery, in some
Saharan countries, such as Mali, Niger and Mauritania, real
slavery is still practiced. According to Romana Cacchioli, Africa
program officer for the campaign group Anti-Slavery International,
“the slave women attend to all the domestic duties, making
sure the masters don’t even lift a cup. Water is brought for the
masters, food is brought for them. Their clothing is washed and
their children looked after”.
Anyone familiar with the duties of domestic servants in
countless homes in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Singapore,
Malaysia, Indonesia and the Middle East, would think that Romana
Cacchioli is describing their plight, rather than those of slaves
in north Africa.
The Indian government’s initiative in this matter is a welcome
move. It is a shame that governments have done precious
little to enact legislation to prevent the exploitation and abuse of
domestic servants and virtually nothing to enforce the laws and
regulations that exist. The miserable condition of domestic
servants in the Third World is one of the saddest untold stories
of our times, for many are those who are complicit in this crime
and, therefore, have a vested interest in keeping silent about it.
Bat and the Baton
By Kersi Meher-Homji
Music and cricket make an odd couple. Add movies dealing
with both and you have an eternal triangle of bliss and harmony.
How many musicians play cricket and how many cricketers
Australia’s former Test fast bowler Brett Lee has mastered
Indian film music and sings duets with Asha Bhonsle in Hindi. Also
he plays the piano. With brothers Shane and Grant he formed a
popular band Six and Out in 1990s. Along with other former
cricketers Richard Chee Quee, Gavin Robertson and Brad McNamara,
Brett and Shane Lee released a song Can’t Bowl, Can’t
Throw which was about the infamous Scott Muller-incident of
1999. This song made the Top 100 in the ARIA chart.
Did you know that India's mystery
spinner BS Chandrasekhar hummed
songs of legendary Indian singers
K.L. Saigal and Mukesh when bowling
in 1970s and 80s?
Shane Warne the Musical was
staged in front of packed audiences in
Australia in 2008. To my knowledge
there is no Sachin Tendulkar the
However, this September was released
a movie (biopic) MS Dhoni, the
Untold Story on India’s former Test
captain and wicket-keeper. It grossed
Rs 66 crores (£7.79m) in first three
days. The Dhoni movie is on worldwide release so will likely wind
up as one of the highest grossing sports flicks in history. It has
the hit song Har galli mein Dhoni hai.
Another Indian movie on cricket theme, Azhar, was released
recently. The story is inspired by the life of former Indian captain
Mohammad Azharuddin who was incriminated as a match-fixer in
late 1990s. A box-office flop, Azhar, includes songs Bol do na
zara, Itni si baat hai and Oye, oye.
The famous Indian Test off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has
brought out a musical album as a tribute to his mother titled Meri
Maa. My friend Anindya Dutta, a cricket writer, has sent me this
Also the West Indies all-rounder
Dwayne Bravo launched a Hindi musical
album recently called Chalo
Chalo. Here is the
How many of us know that the legendary Australian batsman
Sir Donald Bradman played piano with panache? The snappy Fox
Trot Our Don Bradman was a best selling 78 rpm record in 1930.
Even today it is sung with nostalgia.
During the visit of the West Indies team to Australia in
1930-31 Bradman was present at the Grand Opera House to hear
his song ‘Every Day is a Rainbow Day for Me’. It was composed
by Bradman himself to words by Jack Lumsdaine and sung by
Bradman did not believe in visiting pubs after play. Once after
making a big score in a match in England in 1930, he was found
missing. Everyone rushed round the hotel, page boys darted here
and there calling his name. Someone suggested that he had been
Just then the soft sound of piano permeated from the music
room. And there was Don quietly playing on piano a tune he had
heard at a show two nights previously! After all, what’s the
difference between cricket and music? Both need scores.
Music was in Bradman’s family. As he grew up in Bowral in
New South Wales, he had heard his father George play the violin
and his mother Emily the piano and the accordion by ear. Don’s
sister, Lilian, who later became a professional music teacher,
taught him to play the piano and discovered that he had a natural
ear. Don’s uncle Dick and cousin Hector were violinists.
Don’s granddaughter Greta Bradman, now 37, is a famous
opera singer. She has sung at the finest concert halls in the world.
The internationally acclaimed soprano has also performed at the
home of cricket, Lord’s in London.
In 2014 the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra performed a concert
“Our Don” at the Adelaide Town Hall, music by Natalie
Williams, a monologue by actor Gary Sweet with archival footage
of the cricket icon and Greta Bradman humming in the background.
The former New Zealand cricketer Jeremy Coney could play
guitar, double bass and the piano. He said that music was pivotal
to his family; “Mum sang, Dad played the piano and we kids
The great Australian cricket all-rounder Keith Miller was a lover
of Western classical music. When I had interviewed him in 1996
for my cricket book Six Appeal, he had replied, “Don’t ask me
about cricket. Ask me about horse racing or classical music.”
England’s Sir Neville Cardus (1889-1975) is still considered as
the greatest cricket writer and music critic. He wrote as eloquently
on Ranji and Bradman as he did on musicians Sir Edward Elgar,
Frederick Delius, Sir Thomas Beecham and Henry Purcell.
How’s this for a tongue-in-cheek muso-cricket name coincidence?
Cardus would have loved to commentate on the Birmingham
cricket Test of July 2004. In that match, England’s opening
batsman Andrew Strauss played off-Key [Robert] as the West
Indies bowler Dwayne Bravo applauded by taking a couple of
wickets. New Zealand fast-medium bowler Neil Wagner came on
the scene a decade later.
The celebrated tenor Luciano
Pavaroti was both a football and a
cricket fan and actually played cricket
in 1960s. A story circulates that
when bowling in a social match, the
umpire gave a batsman not out.
Pavaroti was so outraged that he
style “Howzattttttt” so loud and for
so long that the umpire had to
change his decision!
Australian rock band Sherbet's album Howzatt topped the
charts for many years in 1970s and 1980s.
Zubin Mehta, the famous music director and conductor of
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, is a cricket fanatic. A proud Indian,
he was “in mourning” when the Indian cricket team lost to Sri
Lanka during his concert tour of Australia in July 2008. When we
meet we discuss only Indian cricket!
Another Zubin is on his way up in music, Sydney-born Dr
Zubin Kanga. In his 30s, he has won many international awards
as a contemporary pianist. Recipient of the prestigious 2012 Art
Music Award, he was the winner of the Best Newcomer Award at
the 2010 ABC Limelight Scholarship.
The Kanga family is renowned for its exploits in cricket. Zubin
Kanga’s great grand uncles PD, MD, DD and HD Kanga were
well-known cricketers in India from 1888 to 1903. Zubin’s grand
uncle Homi Kanga was the first Indian to score a double century
in first-class cricket.
There are hit songs involving cricket: The Baggy Green by
John Williamson, Shane Warne by Paul Kelly, Here come the
Aussies by the 1972 Australian cricket team, among many others.
And of course that Come on Aussies come on, come on jingle
during the Kerry Packer Cricket World Series days in 1970s and
80s is still chanted with energy during Test matches around
Not to forget the Caribbean calypso We don’t like cricket;
we love cricket. Tall and fiery West Indian bowler Curtly Ambrose
formed a band along with his captain Richie Richardson called The
Big Bad Dread and the Bald Head. While Ambrose plays the
bass guitar, Richardson takes on the rhythm guitar.
According to H. Natarajan and Nishad Pai Vaidya in Cricket
Country, famous Indian Test cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar released
an album called Rest Day. He also sang in a Bengali movie. “I
used to worship Kishore Kumar”, he once said.
Sunil Gavaskar, considered an all-time great opening batsman,
released a Marathi song Ye jeevan mhanje cricket [My life
means cricket]. Another Test cricketer S. Sreesanth brought out
an album Jaago India. One-day cricket specialist Suresh Raina
sang Tu mili, Sab mila for a Hindi movie Meeruthiya
Gangsters last year.
When English cricketer Ben Hollioake passed away aged 24
after a car accident in 2002, his Surrey teammate Mark Butcher
sang You’re Never Gone at his funeral. Cricket writer Anindya
Dutta informs me that this song was written by Butcher himself,
who plays the guitar to back his singing skills. Mark now has
a Mark Butcher Band, with four others. They released an
album Songs of the Sun
The 2009 multi Academy
Award winning Indian
Millionaire features cricket as
one of its major themes. The
magic moment comes when
Jamal Malik from the Mumbai
slums wins big money on Who wants to be a millionaire? by
correctly naming the batsman scoring the most number of centuries
in first-class cricket. There are references to cricket legends
Jack Hobbs, Sachin Tendulkar (of course!), Ricky Ponting and the
quirky umpire Billy Bowden, among others in this movie. The
song Jai ho is the highlight of the movie!
Australian music guru ‘Molly’ Meldrum once famously said, “If
I have my time again, I won't be coming back as a rock’n’roller,
video buff or a TV presenter... I'll be a cricketer and loving it.”
Just as music can be classical, popular or rock, cricket is
diversified as Test, first-class, one-dayer and Twenty20 tamasha.
Have your pick. Give me “Test stars” Saigal, Pankaj, Hemant,
Talat, Manna Dey, Suraiya, Lata, Asha, Geeta, Guru Dutt, Mukesh,
Rafi, Kishore … anytime against the current Bollywood moremiss-than-hit
My suggestion to Swami Army, the group which follows Indian
cricketers around the world: Give up the stereotype jingles
like India jitega, jitega and start crooning Saaré jahhan sé achha,
Hindustan hamaara during the next cricket World Cup.
Encore, do-baara, Jai ho!
The Fragrance of
It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He
was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern
corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red
hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together,
all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling
It has been the same since the last month; every morning
came with this heavy feeling of nothingness that engulfed her
thoughts; a strange kind of absence within, for being present in
the real world.
Her world, which she knew, was about to be taken away. Well
it has been slipping away for a while now anyway.
Rimu was only four when they had moved into this house; this
is where she grew up. This is where she became who she was
today. Defiant tears welled up in her eyes and she pushed them
back. She lay in bed, staring at the ceiling. Was that damp patch
always there? She had not noticed it before. She had not noticed
a lot of things before. How could she be such a fool? She closed
her eyes for a while, maybe all of it was a mistake, maybe it was
a nightmare or a hallucination, and maybe she was imagining it
Her father had always told her she had an over-imaginative
brain, maybe it was one of the stories she had written, which had
slipped out of the pages of the book and taken the shape of a
nightmare… was it? Could stories come alive from the pages and
spread themselves over the writer’s life?
Rimu laughed out loudly; twenty-three years’ worth of memories
in this place and now she would have to leave it all behind.
Life does throw some really bad jokes down the neck. With her
laughter, a fresh bunch of tears rolled over. She cried and she
laughed, at the same time.
Snippets of her childhood flashed through her eyes
Rimu is seven; she is on the terrace, it’s pouring down. She
is dancing in the rain and out of nowhere her mother comes and
wraps her up in a towel and drags her in, laughing at her
And then a few other incidents….
Rimu is fifteen; she had just lit her first cigarette as her
parents return home unexpectedly from a party, where they
should have stayed much longer. Their faces, horror-stricken, still
made Rimu laugh.
She is nineteen; that was the first time she told her parent’s
she wanted to quit medical school and become a writer. The hurt
in their eyes, the disbelief, as if Rimu was taking away a dream
from them, this particular memory still haunted her.
Her parents were both doctors
and this news had devastated their
hopes. Rimu had snatched their
most precious dream right from their
Her mother had understood her
better and had accepted the news,
although her heart was shattered.
But her father had looked at her
mother and exclaimed, ‘Has she
Rimu always knew that he was
dissimilar from her. He wouldn’t understand.
He never did.
How Rimu wished that she could tell her father that all writers
were kind of mad and that without insanity they would be
nothing. She wished she could tell him so much more; there were
so many words unspoken, unshared. Ah! The irony of bring a
writer. She could share all her thoughts with her readers but not
Not just these, so many more, uncountable, unfathomable,
unforgettable memories. Good ones, funny ones, some sad ones,
memories nonetheless clouded her mind.
Her phone started beeping; she looked at the caller’s name
and ignored the call. A call from the editor could wait. She was
not in the mood.
She got up from her bed, and walked towards her window.
The tiny garden was in her view. She looked around her room,
and wondered if memories have their own aroma. If they did
then it would be the fragrance of frangipani for her. The frangipani
tree was always there, even before the times they had moved in.
It was one of the reasons why her father wanted this house. He
was a quiet man, and he preferred living in this secluded suburbs
away from the suffocating concrete jungle of Kolkata. And over
the years this place had become a part of Rimu, her creations,
her stories. This tiny garden was her father’s pride and joy and
on Sundays he would spend hours tending to the plants and
trees. It twitched her heart knowing that she would never see
that darling man bent over a rose shrub in the cold January
mornings… she would never ever see that again, ever.
Rimu wished, she had spent more time with her father, trying
to know what went on inside his quiet mind. She had always been
closer to her mother, taking her side, sharing her life with her.
Although she was poles apart from her father, she still loved him
dearly. A nameless pain twitched in her heart, a dull numb agony;
it felt as if someone had put twenty kilos worth of hurt on her
The tree was in full bloom this year after the showers, as if
mocking the dry, parched pain within her.
She looked at her desk, filled with papers, notebooks and
discarded pieces of writing and a space in the middle where her
laptop sat. She had not written a single line in the last month. As
if the incident had sucked out the power from her to create.
She felt as if she was a character
within a story now; that she
was not the story teller anymore.
Rimu looked around her room,
once more. She had thought of
moving out of this house, so many
times and getting a place for herself.
She was, after all, a best-selling
author now; she could afford to
do so. But the comfort of home,
the secluded solace of the place
had always pulled her back.
But probably she needed this void, this loss in her life, to
make her move, to take the next step out in the real world.
Rimashree Sen Verma… she read her name written in bold
letters on the books that she had written, copies of which were
stacked on the table by the window. Rimu had converted the walls
of her room into a mini library; it was stacked in shelves from
floor to ceiling with books. This was probably her most favourite
place in the entire world. She had created magic right in this room
with her work.
All these meant so much to her, yet right now it was rendered
A new story, a new beginning was due.
The old grandfather clock downstairs struck eight. Rimu jolted
up from her reverie, eight already! The packers and movers
would be here by nine. They were to vacate the house today.
In ten minutes she was downstairs, showered and ready for
the task ahead. She saw her mother sitting in the dining room
chair, her back towards her, nursing a cup of tea in her hand.
The image of her mother like that, pierced a hole through her
heart, she would not see her sitting like this ever, this was the last
time, in this home.
This vision of her mother, a woman who has lost her man, her
companion, would stay with Rimu forever. In every crease of her
mother’s body was a sign that she had given up, she didn’t care,
not any more. Dr. Mitali Sen, her mother, the best gynaecologist
in town, was now a broken soul.
She inhaled deeply and went and hugged her mother from
behind. Mitali gently patted her daughter’s head. ‘Tea?’ she
‘You sit; I’ll make my own tea.’ Rimu replied, squeezing her
‘Make some more for me too.’
‘Sure’ Rimu replied, ‘So when are you joining back work Ma?
Rimu stopped in her tracks, ‘Never’ she repeated, ‘but why?’
‘I can’t, I simply can’t continue Rimu, not without him.
Without your dad, I… I… just can’t.’
Rimu came back to the table, ‘Ma, it has been over a month
now; I know you are hurting, I am hurting too. But you must get
back to work. It will help you to ease the pain.’
‘Ease the pain…’ Mitali whispered the words… ‘Ease the pain…’
‘Ma, please, you have to move on from this loss.’
‘Loss…’ Mitali looked blankly at her; her eyes were losing focus.
Rimu suddenly felt that this person was someone else, not her
mother. First she lost her dad and now her mother is slipping
‘Ma, Ma…’ she shook her, ‘the packers and movers will be here.
Do you understand? We have to leave this place today.’
‘Today,’ she repeated.
‘Yes, ma, today, we have to move, today. There is no other
choice. Tomorrow’s the last date mentioned in the papers.’
Mitali was slowly gaining back composure. ‘Okay,’ she
breathed, ‘Okay, today, yes today.’
Rimu poured the tea into two mugs, ‘Your tea Ma…’ She
stopped midway; Mitali had gone back upstairs while she was
making tea. Rimu put one of the steaming mugs on the counter
and took her tea out into the garden.
The fragrance from the maddening bloom of frangipani was
overwhelming, but in a good way. The heady scent comforted her
inner being. It was obviously harder for her mother to accept
after being married for over thirty two years.
Rimu felt that it had to be a hallucination,
this couldn’t be real. The numbing
pain, the ever rebelling tears, the unwillingness
to accept, she has created them
over papers over and over. She has typed
out this feelings, edited them, marked
them, proofread them, these feelings were
too strong to be real, it had to be a story.
Was she losing it too? Like her mother?
Were the stories getting to her?
She placed her empty mug on the
grass and sat down cross-legged. The
garden was small but there was a sign of love through all the
branches, leaves and blooms. Her mother had never been too
fond of the garden; it was only her father’s sanctuary. Rimu used
to join him occasionally in the garden, share awkward fatherdaughter
moments while planting trees or weeding.
She wished she had told him, once, even with all the empty
space dividing the two of them, she still loved him. He was still
her dear Baba.
She lay down on the bed of fallen flowers and leaves and
scooped up some dried frangipani from the ground and smelled
them deep. She lay there hugging the ground, as if afraid to let go.
Someone honked from outside the gate. Rimu got up slowly
and brushed off the frangipani flowers from her hair. The movers
As the last piece of item was taken out of the house, Rimu felt
light. This burden of memories was too heavy to carry on forward
Rimu looked at her mother; she seemed to have gained some
composure since morning. She was silently closing the open windows.
Mitali walked out in the garden, as the truck went away
towards their new flat. The women looked at their beloved house
one more time. Rimu had her hands wrapped around her mother’s
This was a deeper loss than death for her.
‘Sometimes I feel I was alone all these years anyway,’ Mitali
suddenly said, stroking her daughter’s hair, ‘He was there with me
professionally, but deep down, somewhere, within, he was alone
too! I never noticed he needed more from me, from us, than what
I gave him.’
‘I never noticed it too Ma, I wished we both had given him
some more time. But it still doesn’t justify what he did. He broke
Rimu fought back tears. It was hard for her to live without her
father, but it must be a million times harder for her mother whose
husband had cheated on her after thirty two years of companionship.
Dr. Nilesh Verma had fallen in love.
An affair, which had been on for almost over a year, had torn
the world Rimu knew for so long. He had left them, for a woman
only six years older than Rimu. That was three months ago.
Two months ago a notice arrived from court to vacate the
house together with the divorce papers.
That was the final nail.
And then that night came, when Nilesh came by to see his
daughter. He knew for sure his wife was out of town. Rimu was
hardly able to conceal her anger. Nilesh had tried to reason, show
her the signs of an already broken relationship. He had tried to
justify why he had done, what he had done. But Rimu had been
like a child, demanding her peace back.
Defeated Nilesh had risen from the sofa to leave.
Rimu had said, ‘I won’t
let you go Baba, I won’t.
You can’t do this to us, not
after so many years. You
can’t take away my home.’
‘I can’t be your keeper
of sanity forever Rimu, you
are old enough and you need to get out from your stories and face
the real world. You must. There’s too much of imagination inside
that head, way too much insanity.’ Nilesh had turned his back on
That was his final mistake.
One strong hard blow on his head from behind with a metal
vase had knocked him unconscious. All Rimu knew at that
moment was that she couldn’t let him go. Later, on that moonless
night, in the infinite dark hour of madness, she had dug a deep
grave just next to the Frangipani tree. She had buried her own
father. She didn’t let him go.
The last one month had devoured Rimu from inside; her life had
turned into a horror story, a saga of disgust and decay.
She couldn’t tell her mother either.
Dr. Nilesh Verma was reported as ‘missing’ a month ago; at
least that’s what the newspapers said. People claimed that he was
probably murdered and disposed by his mistress. He had already
given the house to his mistress and that made the case even
stronger. A scandal that had been brewing
for months in their small town had turned
into a potboiler.
It had, of course, thrown Mitali down
into further depths of depression. Rimu had
watched in despair. There was no way she
could go back on her life, and edit or
correct or rewrite what she had already done.
Her story would remain unedited for an eternity.
‘Chalo, time for a new home.’ Rimu squeezed her mother’s
hand. ‘Just you and me.’
‘Yes, it is.’ Mitali smiled through her eyes.
As mother and daughter left hand in hand through the gate,
Rimu looked back; the frangipani was still spreading fragrance.
Memories, the good ones, they hardly ever fade, do they? You
kind of carry them along where ever you go. And for the bad ones,
they remain buried next to the frangipani tree.
Maybe some stories of loss are better left untold.
By Floyd Dell
The following one-act play is reprinted from King Arthur's Socks and Other
Village Plays. Floyd Dell. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922. It is now in
the public domain and may therefore be performed without royalties.
Characters: He and She
[A man and woman are sitting at a table, talking in bitter tones.]
SHE: So that is what you think.
HE: Yes. For us to live together any longer would be an obscene
joke. Let's end it while we still have some sanity and decency left.
SHE: Is that the best you can do in the way of sanity and
decency--to talk like that?
HE: You'd like to cover it up with pretty words, wouldn't you?
Well, we've had enough of that. I feel as though my face were
covered with spider webs. I want to brush them off and get clean
SHE: It's not my fault you've got weak nerves. Why don't you try
to behave like a gentleman, instead of a hysterical minor poet?
HE: A gentleman, Helen, would have strangled you years ago. It
takes a man with crazy notions of freedom and generosity to be
the fool that I've been.
SHE: I suppose you blame me for your ideas!
HE: I'm past blaming anybody, even myself. Helen, don't you
realize that this has got to stop? We are cutting each other to
pieces with knives.
SHE: You want me to go. . . .
HE: Or I'll go--it makes no difference. Only we've got to
separate, definitely and for ever.
SHE: You really think there is no possibility--of our finding
some way?... We might be able--to find some way.
HE: We found some way, Helen--twice before. And this is what it
comes to. . . . There are limits to my capacity for self-delusion.
This is the end.
SHE: Yes. Only--
HE: Only what?
SHE: It--it seems . . . such a pity. . . .
HE: Pity! The pity is this--that we should sit here and haggle
about our hatred. That's all there's left between us.
SHE: (standing up) I won't haggle, Paul. If you think we
should part, we shall this very night. But I don't want to part this
way, Paul. I know I've hurt you. I want to be forgiven before I go.
HE: (standing up to face her) Can't we finish without
another sentimental lie? I'm in no mood to act out a pretty scene
SHE: That was unjust, Paul. You know I don't mean that. What I
want is to make you understand, so you won't hate me.
HE: More explanations. I thought we had both got tired of them.
I used to think it possible to heal a wound by words. But we ought
to know better. They're like acid in it.
SHE: Please don't, Paul--This is the last time we shall ever hurt
each other. Won't you listen to me?
HE: Go on.
[He sits down wearily.]
SHE: I know you hate me. You have a right to. Not just because
I was faithless--but because I was cruel. I don't want to excuse
myself--but I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't realize I was
HE: We've gone over that a thousand times.
SHE: Yes. I've said that before. And you've answered me that
that excuse might hold for the first time, but not for the second
and the third. You've convicted me of deliberate cruelty on
that. And I've never had anything to say. I couldn't say anything,
because the truth was ... too preposterous. It wasn't any use
telling it before. But now I want you to know the real reason.
HE: A new reason, eh?
SHE: Something I've never confessed to you. Yes. It is true that
I was cruel to you--deliberately. I did want to hurt you. And do
you know why? I wanted to shatter that Olympian serenity of
yours. You were too strong, too self-confident. You had the air of
a being that nothing could hurt. You were like a god.
HE: That was a long time ago. Was I ever Olympian? I had
forgotten it. You succeeded very well--you shattered it in me.
SHE: You are still Olympian. And I still hate you for it. I wish
I could make you suffer now. But I have lost my power to do that.
HE: Aren't you contented with what you have done? It seems to
me that I have suffered enough recently to satisfy even your
SHE: No--or you couldn't talk like that. You sit there--making
phrases. Oh, I have hurt you a little; but you will recover. You
always recovered quickly. You are not human. If you were human,
you would remember that we once were happy, and be a little
sorry that all that is over. But you can't be sorry. You have made
up your mind, and can think of nothing but that.
HE: That's an interesting--and novel--explanation.
SHE: I wonder if I can't make you understand. Paul--do you
remember when we fell in love?
HE: Something of that sort must have happened to us.
SHE: No--it happened to me. It didn't happen to you. You made
up your mind and walked in, with the air of a god on a holiday. It
was I who fell--headlong, dizzy, blind. I didn't want to love you.
It was a force too strong for me. It swept me into your arms. I
prayed against it. I had to give myself to you, even though I knew
you hardly cared. I had to--for my heart was no longer in my own
breast. It was in your hands, to do what you liked with. You could
have thrown it in the dust.
HE: This is all very romantic and exciting, but tell me--did I throw
it in the dust?
SHE: It pleased you not to. You put it in your pocket. But don't
you realize what it is to feel that another person has absolute
power over you? No, for you have never felt that way. You have
never been utterly dependent on another person for happiness. I
was utterly dependent on you. It humiliated me, angered me. I
ebelled against it, but it was no use. You see, my dear, I was in
love with you. And you were free, and your heart was your own,
and nobody could hurt you.
HE: Very fine--only it wasn't true, as you soon found out.
SHE: When I found it out, I could hardly believe it. It
wasn't possible. Why, you had said a thousand times that you
would not be jealous if I were in love with some one else, too. It
was you who put the idea in my head. It seemed a part of your
HE: I did talk that way. But I wasn't a superman. I was only a
SHE: And Paul, when I first realized that it might be hurting
you--that you were human after all--I stopped. You know I
HE: Yes--that time.
SHE: Can't you understand?
I stopped because I
thought you were a person
like myself, suffering like
myself. It wasn't easy to
stop. It tore me to pieces.
But I suffered rather than
let you suffer. But when I
saw you recover your serenity
in a day while the love that I had struck down in my heart
for your sake cried out in a death agony for months, I felt again
that you were superior, inhuman--and I hated you for it.
HE: Did I deceive you so well as that?
SHE: And when the next time came, I wanted to see if it was real,
this godlike serenity of yours. I wanted to tear off the mask. I
wanted to see you suffer as I had suffered. And that is why I was
cruel to you the second time.
HE: And the third time--what about that?
[She bursts into tears, and sinks to the floor, with her head on the
chair, sheltered by her arms. Then she looks up.]
SHE: Oh, I can't talk about that--I can't. It's too near.
HE: I beg your pardon. I don't wish to show an unseemly
curiosity about your private affairs.
SHE: If you were human, you would know that there is a
difference between one's last love and all that have gone before.
I can talk about the others--but this one still hurts.
HE: I see. Should we chance to meet next year, you will tell me
about it then. The joys of new love will have healed the pains of
SHE: There will be no more joy or pain of love for me. You do
not believe that. But that part of me which loves is dead. Do you
think I have come through all this unhurt? No. I cannot hope any
more, I cannot believe. There is nothing left for me. All I have left
is regret for the happiness that you and I have spoiled between
us. . . . Oh, Paul, why did you ever teach me your Olympian
philosophy? Why did you make me think that we were gods and
could do whatever we chose? If we had realized that we were only
weak human beings, we might have saved our happiness!
HE: (shaken) We tried to reckon with facts--I cannot blame
myself for that. The facts of human nature: people do have love
affairs within love affairs. I was not faithful to you. . . .
SHE: (rising to her feet) But you had the decency to be
dishonest about it. You did not tell me the truth, in spite of all
your theories. I might never have found out. You knew better
than to shake my belief in our love. But I trusted your philosophy,
and flaunted my lovers before you. I never realized–
HE: Be careful, my dear. You are contradicting yourself!
SHE: I know I am. I don't care. I no longer know what the truth
is. I only know that I am filled with remorse for what has
happened. Why did it happen? Why did we let it happen? Why
didn't you stop me? . . . I want it back!
HE: But, Helen!
SHE: Yes--our old happiness.... Don't you remember, Paul, how
eautiful everything was--? (She covers her face with her hands,
and then looks up again.) Give it back to me, Paul!
HE: (torn with conflicting wishes) Do you really believe, Helen...?
SHE: I know we can be happy again. It was all ours, and we
must have it once more, just as it was. (She holds out her
hands.) Paul! Paul!
HE: (desperately) Let me think!
SHE: (scornfully) Oh, your thinking! I know! Think, then--think
of all the times I've been cruel to you. Think of my wantonness-
-my wickedness--not of my poor, tormented attempts at
happiness. My lovers, yes! Think hard, and save yourself from
any more discomfort. . . . But no--you're in no danger. . . .
HE: What do you mean?
SHE: (laughing hysterically) You haven't believed what I've
been saying all this while, have you?
SHE: Then don't. I've been lying.
SHE: Again, yes.
HE: I suspected it.
SHE: (mockingly) Wise man!
HE: You don't love me, then?
SHE: Why should I? Do you want me to?
HE: I make no demands upon you. You know that.
SHE: You can get along without me?
HE: (coldly) Why not?
SHE: Good. Then I'll tell you the truth!
HE: That would be interesting!
SHE: I was afraid you did want me! And--I was sorry for
you, Paul--I thought if you did, I would try to make things up to
you, by starting over again--if you wanted to.
HE: So that was it. . . .
SHE: Yes, that was it. And so–
HE: (harshly) You needn't say any more. Will you go, or shall I?
SHE: (lightly) I'm going, Paul. But I think--since we may
not meet this time next year--that I'd better tell you the secret of
that third time. When you asked me a while ago, I cried, and said
I couldn't talk about it. But I can now.
HE: You mean--
SHE: Yes. My last cruelty. I had a special reason for being cruel
to you. Shan't I tell you?
HE: Just as you please.
SHE: My reason was this: I had learned what it is to love--and I
knew that I had never loved you--never. I wanted to hurt you so
much that you would leave me. I wanted to hurt you in such a
way as to keep you from ever coming near me again. I was afraid
that if you did forgive me and take me in your arms, you would
feel me shudder, and see the terror and loathing in my eyes. I
wanted--for even then I cared for you a little--to spare you that.
HE: (speaking with difficulty) Are you going?
SHE: (lifting from the table a desk calendar, and tearing a leaf
from it, which she holds in front of him. Her voice is tender with
an inexplicable regret.) Did you notice the date? It is the eighth
of June. Do you remember what day that is? We used to celebrate
it once ayear. It is the day--(the leaf flutters to the table in front
of him)--the day of our first kiss. . . .
[He sits looking at her. For a moment it seems clear to him that
they still love each other, and that a single word from him, a mere
gesture, the holding out of his arms to her, will reunite them. And
then he doubts. . . . She is watching him; she turns at last toward
the door, hesitates, and then walks slowly out. When she has
gone he takes up the torn leaf from the calendar, and holds it in
his hands, looking at it with the air of a man confronted by an
Conducting is the act of directing a musical performance by
way of visible gestures. Orchestras, choirs, concert bands, and
other musical ensembles often have conductors. Beyond the
gestural aspect of the art form, other significant aspects of
conducting include scholarship, score reading ability, and having
a trained musical ear. A strong foundation in composing, music
theory, and orchestration is particularly important. The
conductor's task is, simply put, to bring a sense of unity to a
given piece of music.
Through the use of gestures (baton technique) the conductor
provides the tempo (tactus) and a beat (ictus) that allow the
members of the ensemble to establish the proper timing to
present a given composition. The conductor is also the final
arbiter of issues such as phrasing, dynamics (loud or soft), and
articulation—components that contribute to creating a unified
realization of the music being performed.
The principal conductor of an orchestra or opera company is
sometimes referred to as a music director or chief conductor, or
by the German word, Kapellmeister. Conductors of choirs are
sometimes referred to as choral director, chorus
master, or choirmaster, particularly for choirs associated with an
orchestra. Conductors of military bands and other bands may
hold the title of bandmaster. Respected senior conductors are
sometimes referred to by the Italian word, maestro ("master").
History of conducting
An early form of conducting is
cheironomy that uses hand
gestures to indicate melodic
shape. This has been practiced at
least as far back as the Middle
Ages. In the Christian church, the
person giving these symbols held
a staff to signify his role, and it
seems that as music became
more rhythmically involved, the staff was moved up and down to
indicate the beat, acting as an early form of baton.
In instrumental music of the Baroque era, a member of the
ensemble usually acted as the conductor by providing a
discernible beat. This was sometimes the principal violinist, who
could use his bow as a baton, or a lutenist who would move the
neck of his instrument in time with the beat. In opera
performances, there were sometimes two conductors: the
keyboard player was in charge of the singers, and the principal
violinist was in charge of the orchestra.
By the early
nineteenth century, it
became the norm to
have a dedicated
conductor, who did
not also play an
instrument during the
performance. The size
of the usual orchestra
expanded during this
period, and the use of
a baton became more
common, as it was
easier to see than bare hands or rolled-up paper. This practice
provided a silent way to indicate tempo and beat.
The first conductors to utilize a baton can be traced back as
early as 1794. However there were many prominent conductors
who did not or do not use a baton. Richard Wagner was largely
responsible for reshaping the conductor's role as one who
imposes his own view of a piece onto the performance rather than
one who is simply responsible for ensuring entries are made at
the right time and that there is a unified beat.
Wagner wrote extensively about the art of conducting and
established the conductor as a supreme figure whose wisdom and
musical prowess were unquestioned. For Wagner, the
modification of tempo (speed) as it relates to phrasing was of
supreme importance. Prior to Wagner, the conductor's task was
primarily to beat and adhere strictly to the metronomic
designations in a given score. This produced a conducting style
that lacked flexibility or a more nuanced expressiveness. Wagner
emphasized the idea of melos (or song), in which tempos could
be adjusted, faster or slower, to give a different contour to a
particular phrase for expressive effect.
In the late twentieth century, a New York composer Walter
Thompson created a live composing sign language known as
“sound-painting” to be used in the medium of structured
improvisation. At present the language includes over 750
gestures used as communication tools by the
composer/conductor to indicate the type of improvisation desired
of the performers.
Conducting is a means of communicating artistic directions to
performers during a performance. There are no absolute rules on
how to conduct correctly, and a wide variety of different
conducting styles exist. The primary responsibilities of the
conductor are to set the tempo, execute clear preparations and
beats, and to listen critically and shape the sound of the ensemble.
An understanding of the basic elements of musical expression
(tempo, dynamics, articulation) and the ability to communicate
them effectively to an ensemble is necessary in order to conduct.
In fact, conducting gestures are often choreographed beforehand
by the conductor while studying the score, or may be spontaneous.
The grip of the baton varies from conductor to conductor. Despite
a wide variety of styles, a number of standard conventions have
Beat and tempo
The beat of the music is typically indicated with the conductor's
right hand, with or without a baton. The hand traces a shape in the
air in every bar (measure) depending on the time signature (type
of rhythm), indicating each beat with a change from downward to
upward motion. The images below show some of the most
common beat patterns, as seen from the conductor's point of view.
2/4, 2/2, or fast 6/8 time 3/4 or 3/8 time
4/4 time slow 6/8 time
Dynamics are indicated in various ways. The dynamic may be
communicated by the size of the conducting movements, larger
shapes representing louder sounds. Changes in dynamics may be
signaled with the hand that is not being used to indicate the beat:
an upward motion (usually palm-up) indicates a crescendo (going
from soft to loud); a downward motion
indicates a diminuendo (going from
loud to soft). In order to adjust the
overall balance of the various
instruments or voices, these signals can
be combined or directed towards a
particular section or performer.
The indication of entries, when a performer or section should
begin playing (perhaps after a long period of silence), is called
"cueing." A cue must forecast with
certainty the exact moment of entry so
that all the players or singers affected by
the cue can begin playing
simultaneously. Mere eye contact or a
look in the general direction of the
players may be sufficient in many
instances, as when more than one
section of the ensemble enters at the same time. Larger musical
events may warrant the use of a larger or more emphatic cue
designed to encourage emotion and energy. An inhalation, which
may or may not be a semi-audible "sniff" from the conductor, is
a common element in the cueing technique of many conductors.
Other musical elements
Articulation may be indicated by the character of the ictus,
ranging from short and sharp for staccato, to long and fluid for
legato. Many conductors change the tension of the hands:
strained muscles and rigid movements may correspond
to marcato, while relaxed hands and soft movements may
correspond to legato or espressivo.
Phrasing may be indicated by wide overhead arcs or by a
smooth hand motion either forwards or side-to-side.
A held note is often indicated by a hand held flat with palm up.
The end of a note, called a "cutoff" or "release," may be indicated
by a circular motion, the closing of the palm, or the pinching of
finger and thumb. A release is usually preceded by a preparation
and concluded with a complete stillness.
Conductors aim to maintain eye contact with the ensemble as
much as possible, encouraging eye contact in return and thus
increasing the dialog between players/singers and conductor. Facial
expressions may also be important to demonstrate the character of
the music or to encourage the players.
SOURCE and IMAGES
Extracts from the essay in The Public Domain review
In 1885, at the age of 20, Wilson Alwyn Bentley, a farmer
who would live all his life in the small town of Jericho in Vermont,
gave the world its first ever photograph of a snowflake. Throughout
the following winters, until his death in 1931, Bentley would go on
to capture over 5000 snowflakes, or more correctly, snow crystals,
on film. Despite the fact that he rarely left Jericho, thousands of
Americans knew him as The Snowflake Man or simply Snowflake
Bentley. Our belief that “no two snowflakes are alike” stems from a
line in a 1925 report in which he remarked: “Every crystal was a
masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated. When
a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost.”
It started with a microscope his mother gave him at age of 15,
which opened the world of the small to young Wilson. A lover of
winter, he made plans to use his microscope to view snowflakes.
His initial investigations proved both fascinating and frustrating as
he tried to observe the short-lived flakes. So that he could share
his discoveries, he began by sketching what he saw, accumulating
several hundred sketches by his seventeenth birthday. When his
father purchased a camera for his son, Wilson combined it with his
microscope, and went on to make his first successful
photomicrograph of a snow crystal on 15 January 1885.
In addition to the development of the hardware, Bentley also
had to devise a protocol to capture a snow crystal and transport it
with minimal damage to the camera’s field of vision. What he found
worked best was to capture the crystals on a cool velvet-covered
tray. Taking care not to melt the crystal with his breathing, he
identified a suitable subject and lifted it onto a pre-cooled slide with
a thin wood splint from his mother’s broom and nudged it into place
with a turkey feather. The slide was then carried into his
photographic shed and placed under the microscope. The back-lit
image was focused using a system of strings and pulleys he devised
to accommodate his mittened hands. Once focused, the sensitised
glass plate — the “film” — was exposed and stored for further
processing, development and printing.
Bentley also devised his own processing methods. In addition to
developing the original image, he also created a post-development
process to enhance it. Since each photograph was taken of a white
snow crystal against a white background, Bentley was dissatisfied
with the initial photograph.
He felt he could improve the
contrast and enhance the
detail if he presented the
crystal against a dark
background. To do this, he
painstakingly scraped away
the dark emulsion
surrounding the snow crystal
image from a duplicate of the
original negative using a
sharp penknife and steady
hand. The altered image was
then carefully placed upon a
clear glass plate and then printed, giving it a dark background.
Even after years of practice, this post-production process often
took as long as four hours for a complex snow crystal.
With 70-75 photographs per storm and notes on the
conditions under which they were collected, Bentley accrued a
considerable understanding of snow. In 1897, he became
acquainted with Professor George Perkins, a professor of geology
at the University of Vermont, and they prepared the first paper
on snow crystals published in the May 1898 issue of Appleton’s
Popular Scientific entitled “A Study of Snow Crystals.”
While photographing snowflakes was his passion, Bentley also
turned his interest to examining and sizing raindrops for seven
summers from 1898 to 1904. From that work, he gave us early
insights into raindrops and their size distribution in storms. After
some experimentation, he developed a simple yet effective
apparatus for gathering raindrops: a shallow pan of wheat flour.
At first, he simply photographed the imprints made by the falling
rain in the flour. Then in 1998, he made a serendipitous finding.
In his journal, he wrote: “In the bottom of each raindrop
impression in the flour there could always be found a roundish
granule of dough nearly exact size of raindrop. After
experimenting with artificial raindrops I could measure [its]
diameter before falling into the flour, and thus tell if the dough
granule corresponded in size with the measured raindrop.”
Over the tenure of his
raindrop studies, he
collected 344 sets of
raindrop pellets from over
70 distinct storms, including
25 thunderstorms, to which
he added meticulous
weather data about the
storm: date, time of day,
temperature, wind, cloud
type and estimated cloud
height. He concluded that
different storms produce
different size raindrops and
different size distributions.
He concluded that the size of drops and snowflakes could tell a
lot about the vertical structure of the storm.
Unfortunately, Bentley was so far ahead of his time that he
wasn’t fully appreciated by contemporary scientists. They didn’t
take this self-educated farmer seriously. It was 40 years later —
the study of cloud physics and precipitation processes would not
blossom until the 1940s — before his raindrop work was
rediscovered and and corroborated.
Although he dropped his study of raindrops after a few years,
he continued to photograph snow crystal and speculate on the
nature of snow. From his large data archive, Bentley’s analysis
convinced him that the form the ice crystal took (hexagonal plate,
six-sided star, hexagonal column, needle, etc) was dependent on
the air temperature in which the crystal formed and fell. Nearly
three decades would pass before Ukichiro Nakaya in Japan would
confirm this hypothesis.
He also wanted to promote
his work for its beauty, and thus
submitted articles and delivered
lectures that focused on his snow
photography over the years. His
lectures were popular, and from
them he was dubbed The
Snowflake Man and Snowflake
Bentley by the newspapers. Over
one hundred articles were
published in well-known
newspapers and magazines. His
best photographs were in
demand from jewellers,
engravers and textile makers
who saw the beauty in his work.
He continued to farm the
acreage with his older brother for all his life. Though not an
outgoing man, he loved to entertain by playing the piano or violin
and singing popular songs. He also played the clarinet in a small
brass band and could imitate the sounds of many animals.
Bentley never married.
In early-December 1931, Wilson Bentley walked six miles, illdressed,
through a slushy snowstorm to reach his home. Not long
thereafter, he contracted a cold, which grew into pneumonia.
“Snowflake” Bentley died on 23 December at the age of 66. In
March of that year, he had taken the last of his photomicrographs
of snow, still using the same camera that took the first one.
The Burlington Free Press wrote in a Christmas Eve obituary for
“Longfellow said that genius is infinite painstaking. John Ruskin
declared that genius is only a superior power of seeing. Wilson
Bentley was a living example of this type of genius. He saw
something in the snowflakes which other men failed to see, not
because they could not see, but because they had not the patience
and the understanding to look.”
On the morning he was laid to rest in the Jericho Center
cemetery, it began to snow, leaving a dusting over the burial
The moon sobs, I head towards the window
Bedimmed and grim, alas, it has lost its glow.
The silence is at an ear-callousing crescendo
Why is the moon sad, I am desperate to know.
The blustering wind outside makes the trees dance.
Ears pricked, senses alert, I watch, as if in a trance.
This dancing finesse draws a roaring applause
From the clouds, as in my ruminations, I pause.
With malevolence, the clouds rumble and grumble
With my chaotic feelings, in the solitude I fumble.
In the cacophony, trying to hear my heart beats
And remembering long forgotten words of Keats.
Alas, the 'sweet converse of an innocent mind'
Has fallen to the inexorable sweep of time unkind.
The moon sighs at the shenanigans of mortals
When lost innocence suddenly lisps and chortles.
And with baby steps, into the present tumbles
Looking for mother's lap, it stumbles and fumbles
And one ominous cloud after another, grumbles
In the distance, a lullaby a fond mother mumbles.
Lo and behold, in the corrosive darkness all around
Something flutters and, magically ,fireflies abound
Bright with hope and promise and shimmering light
Trying to cock a snook at the dark, intimidating night.
They flicker, pregnant with fire, bloated and steady
Wrapped in the fragrance of the jasmines heady
Tick, tick goes the ancient and grotesque wall clock
As, with my heart, I have a heart to heart talk.
Solitude no longer daunting, is like mother's hug
Warm, welcoming and snug, like a bug in a rug.
In this winsome bondage, memories riotously rage
Fluttering merrily in the compassionate cage.
Replete with mother's caresses, so loving and soft
Thus fortified by the touch, I hold myself aloft
Lit by the spark of the fireflies in the dark.
My heart now, begins to sing happily like a lark.
My confused path now lit by the feisty fireflies
No longer in ambush lie the dormant sighs
On a new journey of companionship I embark
My solitude no more sullen, but a joyous spark.
The lovely, dark and deep woods talk in a weird whisper
As the nocturnal breeze becomes crisper.
The leaves gurgle and lisp
Fervently embracing like rhymes interlocked.
Strange sounds assail the ears, trying to shock.
A frog croaks, perched on a hard-hearted rock.
Knock, knock, knock!
Is a woodpecker knocking at a tree trunk?
Someone sobbing, or close to tears?
Ah soft, a lover’s gentle touch, dulcet tones assailing
Paling Into oblivion
Is some hoary horseman giving his harness bell a shake?
Galloping away at a canter, desperate to arrest a heart-break?
The trees stand erect, taut and indignant at the world’s wrongs.
The cicadas go mad, cajoling one to hearken to their unsung songs.
Under an ancient tree woebegone
Stands a lost spirit mouthing a monologue Incoherent and Ill –
Glazed eyes riveted on a figure silhouetted
On a termite – infested log.
The Native American Klamath tribe has a tale in its folklore
that the Crater Lake in Oregon was once a very tall mountain
called Mazama that was inhabited by their pagan underworld god
llao. When llao engaged in a fierce battle with the sky god Skell,
the sky was awash with fire and brimstone. When Llao was
defeated and escaped to his underworld, Skell made the entire
mountain collapse on Llao. In the process llao was then trapped
forever. Skell then created a beautiful lake over the collapsed
has shown that this
mythical story is
probably based on a
7,700 year old
which was probably
40 times the size of
the famous May 1980
cataclysm at Mount
St. Helens. During this
ancient event, a huge
reservoir of magma
ruptured the crust, blew a hole in the landscape, and left a
massive crater to be filled in with rainwater.
Sri Lanka and The Ape Men Army
The great Indian Sanskrit epic “Ramayana”, features an
incident wherein Sita, the wife of the god Rama, is stolen by the
demon king Ravana and taken to his demon kingdom on the
island of Lanka. Following this, an army of ape-like men, along
with Rama’s brother Lakshman, built a floating bridge (known as
Rama’s Bridge) between India and Lanka, from which they
crossed over and successfully vanquished Ravana, the demon
Strangely enough, the bridge itself actually exists. Aerial
surveys clearly show a 48-kilometre-long submerged stretch of
limestone shoals and sand
stretching between the
two landmasses - India
and Sri Lanka. This bridge
– which is only a few
meters below the water’s
surface in some parts – is
likely the inspiration for
the ancient Hindu legend.
It was reportedly
above the water until a
brought a huge storm
surge into the channel
and sunk it beneath the
The Guest Star
The Persian scholar and
astronomer Sina wrote a detailed
description (in 1006) about a special
star spotted by many astronomers
across the world. This particular star
was named as the “guest star”. In
his book Kitaf Al-Shifa, Sina
described that this star, which was
present in the sky for a few months,
kept changing colours and then
finally faded away, leaving behind a stream of sparks.
We now know that this star that Sina described was not a
comet, but a supernova. This event took place over 7000 years
ago and its light only reached Earth at the turn of the first
millennium. Its visible wavelengths have since dissipated from
view but the high-energy remnants of SN 1006 can still be seen
thanks to NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. The colour change
can be scientifically attributed to the merger of two white dwarfs,
which would create a particularly energetic supernova, bursting
The Lost City of Atlantis
The fable of Atlantis, described by the Greek philosopher
Plato, is probably one of the most well-known legends. He wrote
a tale of a highly developed civilisation sinking under the waves
of the ocean and lost forever. There have been many arguments
about this story and many modern-day archaeologists believe
that this is based on the collapse of the Minoan empire. A massive
volcanic eruption rocked the region of Santorini (referred to as
Thera in ancient texts). This caused an immense earthquake that
made the center of the island collapse. The resulting tsunami tore
across to Crete bring in tidal water from the Aegean Sea. As part
of this destructive nature’s force, the Minoan civilisation sunk
beneath the waves and was never heard from again.
This is an interesting one.
One Native American folklore
describes a beneficent
superhero by the name of
Thunderbird who swooped
down into the dark depths of
the ocean to seize and drag out
an evil whale that was depriving
tribes of resources. The tale
also describes the powerful
waves that were created as a
result of this epic fight and of
the deaths of countless people in the chaos. The war apparently
ended with Thunderbird pulling the whale out of the water and
dropping it dead on land.
Interestingly, in the 1980's, geologists came across evidence
suggesting that a powerful earthquake hit the pacific Northwest
in the 1700’s. This enormous quake created a tsunami that not
only hit the American coast where this tribe lived but also reached
the shores of Japan!
Scientists also think that a massive carnivorous bird (called
Aiornis) might have existed during that period in North America
and the settlers who might have seen this huge bird (of wingspan
up to 16 feet) could have been inspired to create Thunderbird.
The Great Flood
Most readers would be very familiar with the great Biblical
flood and the story of Noah and his Ark. There is a belief among
researchers that the story used in the Bible might have been
influenced by another ancient text that predates the Bible.
This ancient text, from the Mesopotamian era dating back to
7 th century BCE, talks about gods conspiring to create a massive
flood to destroy the world. One of the gods, Ea, however asked a
man named Utu-Napishtim to make a boat and escape with his
family and a large collection of animals. This, obviously, sounds
quite similar to the story of Noah’s Ark described in the Bible.
The question is whether there was actually a huge flood. Well,
geological records show that at the end of the last glacial
maximum (around 11,500 years ago), the Black Sea - north of
Turkey - ran dry of its glacier meltwater (since the glacier melted
into the North Sea instead. Around this time, the Mediterranean
Basin was getting filled up with the saltwater from the Atlantic
Ocean. Ultimately, the Mediterranean Sea overflowed into the
Black Sea in a very dramatic manner. Scientists think that it
would have swallowed up any land in between and would possibly
have created a waterfall that would be at least 200 times the size
of Niagara Falls! This might have been the inspiration for the
However, there is more mystical recent discovery. This
particular study has now confirmed that the worst flood of the last
10 millennia took place along the Yellow River at the exact date
referenced in ancient texts! The archaeological evidence
uncovered at the source also hints that the mythical first line of
monarchs in China – the Xia dynasty – may have actually existed!
Anyone will be glad to admit that he knows nothing about
beagling, or the Chinese stock market, or ballistics, but there is
not a man or woman alive who does not claim to know how to
cure hiccoughs. The funny thing is that the hiccoughs are never
cured until they get darned good and ready.
The most modest and unassuming man in the world becomes
an arrogant know-it-all in the presence of hiccoughs—in
"Don't be silly," he says, patronizingly. "Just put your head
under your arm, hold a glass of water against the back of your
neck, and count to five hundred by fives without taking a breath.
It never fails."
* * * * *
Then, when it has failed, he blames you. "It's absolutely surefire
if you only follow my directions," he says. He also implies
darkly that what is ailing you is not just merely hiccoughs. "My
method can't be expected to cure drunkenness, you know," he
To date, I have been advised to perform the following feats to
Bend the body backward until the head touches the floor, and
whistle in reverse.
Place the head in a pail of water and inhale twelve times deeply.
Drink a glass of milk from the right hand with the right arm
twisted around the neck until the milk enters the mouth from the
Hop, with the feet together, up and down a flight of steps ten
times, screaming loudly at each hop.
Roll down a long, inclined lawn, snatching a mouthful of grass
up each time the face is downward.
I have tried them all, with resultant torn ligaments, incipient
drowning, lockjaw and arsenic poisoning, but, each time, at the
finish of the act, and a few seconds of waiting while my mentor
says, triumphantly: "See! What did I tell you?" that one, big
hiccough always breaks the tension, indicating that the whole
performance has been a ghastly flop.
* * * * *
My latest fiasco came as the result of reading the prescription
of a Boston doctor, and almost resulted in my being put away as
an irresponsible person. "All that the sufferer has to do," wrote
the doctor, "is to blow up an ordinary paper bag, as if to explode
it and then hold it over the mouth and nose tightly, breathing in
and out of the bag instead of in and out of the open air."
This, according to the doctor, creates an excess of carbon
monoxide gas in the bag, which is breathed over and over again,
acting on a nervous center of the brain and curing the hiccoughs.
Being alone in the room at the time, I blew the bag up and held
in tightly over my face, including not only my mouth and nose,
but my eyes as well, like a gas-mask. I subjected myself to this
treatment for possibly three minutes, walking around the room at
the same time to keep from getting bored.
* * * * *
When I removed the bag I
found myself the object of the
silent but terrified scrutiny of
my wife, who had entered the
room without my knowing it,
and who had already motioned
for corroborating witnesses
from the next room,
two of whom were standing in
the doorway, transfixed.
My explanation that I was
curing hiccoughs did not go very big, as what I had obviously
been doing was walking around the room alone with a paper bag
over my head. This is not a good sign.
Incidentally, I still have my hiccoughs.
Does the average man get enough sleep? What is enough
sleep? What is the average man? What is "does"?
It is said that Napoleon was able to go for days without sleep
and then make up for it with a sleep of twenty-four hours'
duration. The temptation is to say "And look at Napoleon now!"
but that would be not only an old fashioned crack
but an irrelevant one. Napoleon happens to be
doing all right now, in a bigger tomb than any of
us sleepy-heads will ever get.
Some people claim that they can do with four
hours' sleep, without explaining what they mean
by "do with." Do what with? I can do all kinds of
things with fifteen minutes' sleep, including
gagging, snorting and getting my head caught
between the couch and the wall, but don't boast
Napoleon is said to have ... Sorry*
* * * *
A man who goes to bed, let us say, at seven in the evening, or
even seven-fifteen, can get his eight hours' sleep and still have
from three a. m. (or 3:15 a. m.) on to do what he wants in. He
can milk cows, cut ice, or, if he happens to live in New York, go
up to Harlem for the early show. Then there are always long walks
in the country.
But even eight hours' sleep do not do any good if they are spent
wondering what it is that is lying across the foot of the bed just
over your ankles. Unfortunately I am without a dog at present, so
there is no way for me to explain to myself what it is that lies
across my ankles just after I get to sleep. All that I can do is hope
that it is someone that I know.
* * * * *
There are several different schools in the question of what
position is the most restful during sleep. Some claim that one arm
should be wrapped around the head (to keep curiosity-seekers
from discovering who is in the bed) and the other extended
backward so that the hand clutches the electric-light switch, in
case screamers or chain-rattlers get into the room. This leaves
the feet to be arranged at the pleasure of the sleeper.
Others are convinced that a really recuperative night can be
spent only by sitting bolt upright in bed, with the eyes open and
a large blunderbuss across the knees. In this proposition it is best
to keep the lights on, as clicking them on and off constantly
makes quite a racket which is likely to disturb the sleeper.
I, personally, like to sleep with my
head out the window and my feet in a
tepid foot-bath (72 degrees). Thus I am
able to watch up and down the street
and, at the same time, draw the circulation
away from my head, where it is so
* * * * *
Infants need the most sleep, and, what is more, get it. Stunning
them with a soft, padded hammer is the best way to insure their
getting it at the right times.
As a person gets older he needs less and less sleep, until by the
time he is ninety-five or a hundred it doesn't make any difference
whether he gets any sleep at all. This scientific fact accounts for
the number of nonagenarians one sees on the street at three and
four in the morning. Or maybe it is just that they look like
The best way to induce sleep is to take off all the clothes, get
into some comfortable sleeping garment and lie down in bed. You
can then always get up, put on some comfortable hunting togs
and go out and run down a fox.
The photographs in the ensuing pages will take the
reader to a different world - to the beauty of Naples, a
hundred years in the past. These are actually ‘inked’
photographs taken by travellers to Naples in the early
1900’s. These type of photographs (created using a
) were widely used
in those days and the inked photographs were given
or sold as souvenirs.
The photographs show the bustling life and the
growth of the city during that era. Modern day
travellers to Naples are, of course, witness a very
different kind of city. The grandeur of the past is still
visible through the veils of contemporary
development and changes to the environment, as is
always the case with most ancient cities.
By Dr. Santosh Bakaya
Where Are The Lilacs?
By Santosh Bakaya. New Delhi
Published by: Authorspress (2016) 200 pp.
Rs.395/$ 20 (paperback)
ISBN : 978-93-5207-332-0
Having read Santosh Bakaya’s Where are the Lilacs in one go
at first, I found it disconcertingly unforgettable but oddly enough,
therapeutic too. It is a book that demands to be read and re-read
not only for its theme, the elegant, eloquent appeal the poems
make or the clear voice of humanity that emanates from the
verses but also because there is no one who believes in the
almost lost cause of compassion and love as agents of change as
much as its author, Dr. Bakaya. She has a doctorate in political
theory and a life membership vested in unearthing the underlying
goodness of humankind.
There are 111 poems and each one takes you to places fraught
with strife and lays bare the futility of a life spent on picking on
the differences we find in our colour, countries, race, tongues and
beliefs forgetting that the charm and longevity of a species lies in
the harmonious coexistence of its differences. The first half of the
book, refers aptly to The Peace of Wild Things and begins with a
poem titled And the rain pours
Ah, soft, the delectable petrichor
Wafts from the rain-drenched earth
In this birth is lost the stench of gore
The poems that follow are wafts of that petrichor seeking to
drown out the noise of battle and the stench of loss. Sparrows
hop cheerfully on dead trees till they turn the limpid air into life
breaths with their energy. This poetess loves birds with every
fibre of her being. There are ring necks, parrots, doves in hordes,
finches, lovekeets, canaries and a host of other freedom-loving
feathered beings singing and cooing wherever one thinks that all
the good things have come to an end. They seem to symbolize
the hope that springs eternal in human hearts. In another poem,
The Air With a Bipolar Disorder, a rogue gust turns gentle
Moving towards a tiny orphan sleeping under a tree
Softly it caresses his tangled tresses
It seems nature is tender towards the frail, the downtrodden
and the homeless. Perhaps the callousness we humans have
developed is a direct consequence of us having turned away from
Dr. Santosh’s poems take us to places we have forgotten, the
banks of the Lidder, the shepherd’s shacks, a hoopoe promenading
under a walnut tree, a peacock dancing under the neem while
somewhere a girl in a boat catches raindrops on her face transporting
us to an era when life was simple and joyful. We go drawn
by the grace and melody in the verses, hoping to retain some of
this pearly happiness to tide over the cares of a battle-worn world
and realize that it is exactly what the poet is gearing us up for in
the second part of her book where ‘Over the whole earth/Still it
is Thor’s day’ (H.W.Longfellow)
Here too she is direct and honest, nothing in her poetry is
contrived and its sheer strength is based upon the fact that her
poems have a timeless immediacy being drawn from a wide
range of issues faced by common people caught in the quagmires
of political and socio-economic threats to their fragile peace. One
group of poems is particularly wrenching. Dr. Bakaya makes sure
that the young victims of strife -Aylan, Gowhar, Burhan, Shaista,
Danish Farooq and a lot more are not forgotten and dismissed as
mere statistics. Even a scarecrow is not spared by shrapnel
His sole marble eye
Also bids goodbye
To a world that has lost its marbles
( The Scarecrow Sad)
Some other poems that strike us with their intensity of
anguish and yet never falter from their rhyme are Howls where
one can hear the wails of a family shattered by bombers. In
Where Were You?, the poet seems compelled to ask :
Where were you when the world was burning?…/Don’t you
see, a little compassion will be awesome
And in yet another poem she questions Why Should Our
Battle-Cry Be Hate?
Her poems are capable of turning the unwary into sobbing
jelly-mass but the realization soon sets in that nothing in Dr
Bakaya’s poems are begun without them reaching a shore by
having a note of harmony at least by the end of a poem or in the
It enables the reader floundering in the anguish of loss and
fear to get a grip on himself or herself and look just a bit too
searchingly at the musical verses, and you can even spot the poet
wiping her own tears while holding out a tissue to her reader.
These poems can become a road map to a journey to build in
ourselves an invincible fortress of peace. We, the peace mongers
as she calls us, the wounded readers, the despondent viewers
and the cynical humans feel the need to understand that every
war, though different, though fought with different intentions and
words or weapons, leaves behind orphans whose lives can never
be re-arranged back in harmony whatever treaties might come
later. A war cannot be rectified but it can and must be prevented.
Defence attorney and Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz
in his 2005 book: The Case For peace, a book about resolving the
Arab-Israeli conflict comes to the conclusion that “peace is both
a radical and traditional solution.” Santosh Bakaya’s Where are
the Lilacs? is a radical as well as courageous attempt to sow some
much-needed seeds of peace in the killing fields where, as
Pushcart poetry Prize nominee Dr. Koshy A.V. says in his blurb,”
we hear the most wretched sound, that of doves crying, that of
people tearing each other apart.” Therapy for every human.
Rhiti Chatterjee Bose’s
By Lopamudra Banerjee
Published originally in Rhiti’s blog, ‘My Scattered Thoughts’.
The Broken Home: English Translation of Rabindranath
Tagore’s Bengali novella ‘Nastanirh’
Translator: Lopamudra Banerjee
Published by: Finaldraft Editing and Publishing Services
Number of pages: 92 pages
Price: Rs. 200/- (Amazon India), $2.99 (Amazon.com)
Publication year: May 2016
Nashtanirh is a Bengali novella by Rabindranath Tagore set in
19 th Century Bengal which was published in 1901. There is a lot
of speculation that the story is loosely based upon Tagore’s own
relationship with Kadambari Devi, his sister –in-law (brother
Jyotirindranath’s wife) who committed suicide four months after
Tagore’s wedding to Mrinalini Devi.
It is also the basis for the brilliant film ‘Charulata’ by Satyajit
Ray which was released in 1964.
The original version is beautifully written by Gurudev, it is a
classic in Bengali literature. So when I discovered that Lopamudra
Banerjee is translating this Magnum Opus I was elated beyond
words can describe.
The plot is about how the liberal thinking ‘Bhadrolok
Bangali’ Bhupati is completely blind to his wife Charu’s loneliness
and discontent. He fails to acknowledge her feelings and
frustration. So when Amal, his cousin arrives, he incites
passionate feelings in Charu, creating turmoil in the web of
relationships between the three.
Banerjee explores the emotions tenderly, her language is
eloquent, and choice of vocabulary is fitting to the era. With any
translation there remains a risk that the translator might not be
able to evoke the sentiments which are portrayed in the original,
ut Banerjee very efficiently has managed to keep the unique
soul of Nashtanirh alive in her version of The Broken Home.
When you pick this version of Tagore’s Nashtanirh you will be
taken on a journey through a time which is sepia toned. Banerjee’s
translation of Gurudev’s masterpiece is something that will
keep your thoughts lingering for a long time. Her use of lucid
language, her perfect depiction of the characters, the ideal
portrayal of the settings makes it an unputdownable read. Since
I have read the original version in Bengali, I can say that it is a
near perfect homage to the creation of Tagore.
This will be a treasure for a lot of readers who are unable to
read Bengali, Banerjee has just brought Tagore closer to such
readers. I would love to read further works of translation from
this amazing writer.
You can buy the kindle version here:
Lopamudra Banerjee’s author page on Facebook:
The Mind Creative
Cover Photograph: https://unsplash.com/
All original works used in this magazine are for educational purposes
and for viewing by readers. These works are not, in any way, to be
used for commercial reasons or for profit.