Category Archives: …On Just About Everything!

A Muse By My iPod

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Source: eideard.com

Source: eideard.com

The dark clouds stealthily started to gather bit by bit, inching their way across the vast backdrop of the evening sky that contained only a tinge of the fading crimson from the setting sun. It seemed like the drop of watercolor that accidentally slips off the painter’s brush and dissolves into the blurry water. The drop had already lost most of its intensity by now. The chilly breeze ran about in child-like delight announcing the arrival of the rains to the thirsty earth that had endured the intensity of the sun all day long. I sat in my luxurious balcony perched on the twenty-fifth floor across the beach, with my pen and paper, pretending to play the quintessential writer, and searching the sky, the setting sun, the clouds, the earth and the chilly breeze for my muse to reveal itself from behind these. But my presence seemed inconsequential to the rest of the cosmic plot that unveiled itself with mesmerizing precision, almost as though someone had been softly announcing the cues from behind an invisible drape. I continued to relentlessly elbow my way through the wide yonder looking for my place in the serene landscape.

It occurred to me just then how much the concept of love resembles the skies above me. I have heard people often declare what love means to them. It dawned on me that just like the vast limitless sky love is infinite and immeasurable, and what meets our eyes is simply an evidence of our restricted vision and our perennial need to define everything. There still exist depths of unstirred silence behind and beyond what our limited vision discerns. Just like love, the sky too dons different shades on different days each as much real or surreal as the other. While the warmth of the sun radiates in crystal blue on certain days, the pensive clouds give the sky a chimerical dreamlike appearance on other days. On some days, the colour of my tinted shades adds vibrant hues to my perception just as much as the presence or the absence of a person affects it. Then there are days when the city’s high-rises obscure the glorious firmament and distract my attention away from an unobstructed view. I know now that the sky is ‘love’ and ‘love’ is just like the sky – devoid of any single definition. It is simply a matter of belief and perception.

My gaze now returned to the earth which, like my heart, held in its bosom the warmth to nurture and create life after the skies had kissed it with rain and sun. But as my mind carelessly wandered about, my muse yet refused to appear before me this evening. By now, the sky had turned into a giant black hole within which sparkled a zillion fireflies! The clouds had melted into rains that tapped softly upon the earth bringing me a fresh scent of wet mud that lingered on in the darkness of the night. In some stretches of space within the compound walls, closer to the ground, the scent of wet mud blended with the fragrance of some wild flowers and leaves creating an untraceable soothing scent that appeared and disappeared as passers-by went past. Disappointed yet rejuvenated, I retired within the four walls of my room where my iPod lay. The soft yielding wires of my headphones had managed to entangle themselves for the hundredth time during the day.

My old discoloured iPod, on several inspiring evenings and sleepless nights, has gently walked me through or even rescued me from slipping into the black hole that exists within me; this black hole has no fireflies in it. The music that plays is the resonance of my own choices and inputs into it, so much like the mechanics of my own mind. From time to time the iPod needs to be recharged too. And when its wires get tangled and messed up as my own life often does, I am required to patiently untangle those knots one by one each time. I plug in the earphones now and pick up the pen as soon as this uncanny similarity strikes my eyes. It seems as though my muse has not stood me up this evening after all. It paid me a visit, just when I had stopped looking for it, just where I had least expected it to be. The soft tapping of the raindrops continued outside my window as the forces continued with their business. As for me, it was time to pick up my pen once again and put it to good use.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014

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Layers

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The scales I bore
to wade through
the deep dark waters
with time
started to peel,
the feathers I wore
to vanish
into the vast night sky
one day seemed
ruffled and torn,
my limbs too
that I had carried
to reach out to another
someday
now seemed worn and weak,
my skin
once as bright as moonlight
turned wan and wrinkled.
Yet as I lay
in unstirred silence
still and restful
under the star-filled sky
my mind wandered light
far and beyond
in complete wonder and glee
as never before!

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2014

Press Release: Goddess & Whore, Now Available Worldwide

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Goddess & Whore: Now available on BOOKadda, Flipkart, Amazon, Kindle, and in selected bookstores across India!

Goddess & Whore: Now available on BOOKadda, Flipkart, Amazon, Kindle and in selected bookstores across India!

October 2013, Singapore.

Goddess & Whore – a collection of modern poems – reaches bookstores worldwide this festive season.

Goddess & Whore – a collection of modern poems – weaves into a vivid narrative of a woman’s journey as she steps out of her various social identities and abuses to discover the true meaning to her existence. What begins as a nagging sense of disquiet and discontent evolves into a quest for inner peace. She draws inspiration from nature and begins to disentangle herself from all those relationships and resentments that she once carried, and only then does she discover her real indestructible self and makes the crossover that signifies the transformation of a being.

The poems celebrate the joys of womanhood and the beauty of nature even as they address certain social issues like the position of women, the rejection of the girl child, the violence against women, the traditions of fasting, and dated customs and rituals; and all these concerns culminate into a single question – ultimately what matters?

“The book aspires to convey the simple desire of a woman to be accepted for who she is, along with her dreams and aspirations, follies and foibles. She doesn’t wish to be glorified as a goddess nor be despised as a whore. At a broader level, this sentiment holds true for all human beings, whether man or woman,” explains Madhurima. “The book is available on Flipkart, BOOKadda, Amazon, Kindle and also in selected bookstores across India.”

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

Mental Blog: Short Vs. Long Sentences

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Google Images: Virginia Woolf

Google Images: Virginia Woolf

Even as I continue to defend myself as an utterly straightforward person, barring the simplest complexities necessary for any reasonably reflective woman brought up in today’s quasi-modern atmosphere, I do acknowledge my unfaltered admiration for the seemingly unending sentences in literature and in one’s own writing. It is but just another style, equally honest and unadulterated as any other piece of art, that requires a skill completely linked to one’s love for vivid descriptions and a spirit of wonderment while toying with words and testing their potency each time by defying the rules that govern the parts and figures of speech, not to forget the insane amount of caution, craft and control one needs to exercise over the language.

Sometime earlier this week I received a message from a childhood friend who had just read one of my writings, and who happens to be a wonderful writer himself. The message read –

“I really liked the long sentences, like pulling on a pizza slice and watching the mozzarella strands stretch out, wondering how far you can get from the box while being impatient about biting into your very own piece of the pie.”

Hmm…was that a compliment? I sure hope so. But I must confess that I was so instantly in love with the choice of words he had used, perhaps the best I had received so far with regard to my long sentences, that I immediately decided to dedicate my next post to that lovely comment and a much wider mental block. Another interesting feedback I received from a teacher once was “I can’t really spot a grammatical error here, but something doesn’t quite sound normal”. I thought it was entertaining, though I didn’t tell her so.

I, allegedly among the very few in my generation, am proudly guilty of this somewhat sadistic trait of indulging in complex long sentences as a writer, and I am (wishfully) tempted to use the very well-known Charles Dickens’ style of writing as a reference point to rest my case on, where the first paragraph that consisted of around 150 words was invariably made of a single sentence! And mind you, there were several reasons in that solo Dickens’ paragraph that could send you looking for a dictionary… ah, another book that is highly ignored these days. Even as a young girl, it gave me immense pleasure to unravel the humour or pathos that those adjectives and adverbs so effortlessly conveyed along with the meaning and mood as they loyally guarded and adorned every noun and verb and lent more life into every character and scene.

In fact, I have, on several occasions, tried to track the right reason that might have drawn me towards such multiple complex sentences or even concepts and ideologies like Virginia Woolf’s style of placing her characters across varying time zones. Was it the writers I followed? But this logic would barely throw any light on my research since I was equally drawn towards the works of writers like Satyajit Ray, Anita Desai, Roald Dahl, Ruskin Bond, Enid Blyton, Earnest Hemingway, among an endless list of prolific writers whose works rested upon the element of soothing simplicity.

George Orwell, another word-wizard, could skilfully and almost magically craft an essay on a seemingly mundane topic like ‘how to make a perfect cup of tea’ with the simplest sentences and yet it remains so profoundly memorable and deeply engrained in my heart. In those essays he made his writing style the sole protagonist, which the plot followed like a dutiful obedient student. Style of writing is a dark horse that on several occasions has the power to rise much above the realms of a storyline. An endless list of names of writers comes to my mind even as I struggle to conclude my limited yet independent understanding of this subject of simple vs. complex sentences where the latter is quietly headed towards extinction (or execution?).

I am a lover of lengthy complex sentences and I do believe they have a unique unconventional elegance and zest of their own. I remember being pulled up on this account several times by teachers, friends and colleagues who have protested, complained and even threatened me of a sinking career while they have accused me of being insensitive to the ‘requirements’ of ‘today’s readers’, as these literary gatekeepers choose to amicably define this apparently rising clan instead of tagging them outright as ‘selectively incompetent’.

I am also told that today’s readers suffer from a declining retention span and a plummeting patience level when it comes to reading though scientific researches proudly announce the rising IQ of every successive generation – so where is the degeneration happening? Or as the locals in Singapore put it ‘so how’? I, for one, remain uncertain however if all this is completely true and if so, would catering to those readers be the primary objective of any writer? Who are our readers? When did literature become so time-bound? And if that were true, then why hasn’t Dickens’ or Woolf’s works become obsolete yet? Or perhaps the right question here would be: should literature be governed by such relatively trivial requirements always?

My vote, even if it shouldn’t or wouldn’t count, would still be for the supposition that literature or any art form should not be burdened with the need to either cater to or reform its readers or audience. And in case that should happen, it should be based on the writers’ discretion (a whole new point of discussion, I am afraid, though not completely unrelated to my ramblings). For me, writing is expressing and discovering one’s own signature style just like painting and dancing. Literature thrives for Literature’s sake. Period.

Even as I marvel at the rising number or contemporary writers with an overwhelming flare for and interest in reality-driven plots, somewhere deep down I crave for fiction writing that promises me a Wonderland or a Neverland – simple yet so fantastic! I crave for the likes of Pickwick Papers and a Mr Bennet, stories and characters that can equally effectively address the prevailing mindsets and social issues in a developing society without fully letting go of the literary magic, the wit ‘n satire element, that still retains the smile on their readers’ faces.

I crave for refreshing essays as those by George Orwell or Bernard Shaw and literary criticism by Virginia Woolf, radical and original, that might or might not be able to transform into a multi-starrer movie! But their writing made an impact, and still do, on the readers’ sensibilities. And, I crave mostly for those signature-style, well-crafted long sentences and elaborate writing styles that distinguished one writer from another! It is astonishing yet heartening to discover that Virginia Woolf was self-published just like many other great writers.

The only time I was taught to let the words flow out of me unapologetically, even as the trend-obsessed editor in me swung back to the typical short sentences, was when I had the opportunity to work with one of India’s best editors Mr Dilip Thakore during my stint as a journalist in Bangalore. His writing would carry a distinct style that I so ardently cherished and even tried to emulate secretly. Thankfully life has wantonly led me to these literary stalwarts and guardians of the world of uninhibited sentences and intricate writing styles, and so I have been sentenced for life to be an ardent admirer and a loyal crusader of complex sentences. There fortunately happens to be no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way of writing. Perhaps, both simple and complex sentence structures would equally represent the beauty and joy of the ever-expanding dimensions of expressing and experimenting!

Finally, I am well aware of my limited though not in any way stunted understanding of the world of literature. Hence, my sincerest apologies in advance to the offence-taking addicts and also a humble word of well-intended caution: there’s more to come. <wink>

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013

White Noise: Why I Blog

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Source: Google Images

It is kind of ironical how two temperaments, though not completely yet somewhat conflicting, can survive so neatly within a person, defining every bit of her. One such entertaining couple that loyally resides within me is my love for writing and a corresponding yet contrasting fear of the routine. While I could write during the oddest hours with utmost pleasure, day after day, in the very next instant I would perhaps be hyperventilating with utter nervousness if I had to attach that joy with an element of uncompromising regularity and an assured certainty. My blog therefore, as I would imagine, would be an entertaining effort to battle that inertia of impulse within me and bind the two conflicting qualities in holy matrimony like any married couple who survives a fruitful companionship through acceptance, need, and of course adjustment. This fragment of space, in a strange sort of way, stands as the single testimony of my primary intent of accomplishing the above. Though the simple reason still remains to be my absolute love for writing.

Here I must confess though, in all honesty, that there used to be a much dumber me who would snap-judge the nature of writings that most blogs carried by their apparent lack of credibility, the element of anonymity of its writer, the frivolity with which words were used and abused, the several unaccounted opinions and facts that were poured out in the name of spontaneity, and the sheer lack of editing, not to mention the risk of plagiarism. But over the years my obsession with facts and grammatical coherence has eased out considerably, hopefully for the better of me. These days, opinions and experiences seem to draw more of my attention than facts and grammatical accuracy in a single language that invariably gets more than its fair share of attention across the globe, though neither of them – opinions or facts and grammar – belittles the other’s presence. The element of obscurity and rawness in people’s perspectives (even of those who wish to remain incognito) reveals so much more of what lies around me. Nothing inspires me more than an independent opinion and a questing mindset; It could be a poet who searches for a meaning behind her existence, or a man who questions the social norms and judiciary system, or it could be a bartender who discovers how a twist of lemon could add the right zing to the spirit!

I remember how, as a child, I was often teased and reprimanded too by teachers and relatives for asking too many questions; some of those questions still continue to haunt me and leave me boggled. Since not all those questions can translate into a meaningful book, poem or a short story, I figured that a blog might just be the most powerful platform for me to communicate them through. If not for anything else, it is always a more romantic proposition to have one’s self-attested significant opinions (like mine perhaps) tossed into eternity within the cyber black hole than having them spiked into a trashcan by an ordinary mortal in the most unimaginative way. Cyberspace that best lends me a sense of eternity seems like the most apt platform for me to voice my opinions and ideas that come to me from another space unknown and equally limitless within me. Since most of what I infer and experience are fuelled by travelling to unknown lands and terrains, interacting with their local people and getting to know the myriad cultures, noticing nature… and of course by books, my writings reflect these elements that have so liberally contributed towards making me. The journey though continues…

Finally, regarding the more organised scheme of affairs in my life, I’d like to make a brief mention of the publication of my book Goddess & Whore that is soon to reach the stores – online and otherwise – within and outside India. I promise to share some more information on what that title contains. There are subsequent titles too that I am working on that should see the light of day in due course of time. And that too would be showcased on The Write Click. As I sign off feeling slightly weighed down by a persistent sense of commitment to blog on a “regular” basis (as is the nature of this platform), my earnest prayer to the Cyber Gods faithfully remain – “may the steam last”… even as my fingers hover around the Ctrl Z keys.

© Madhurima Duttagupta 2013