Solitude and Harmony are best friends, white and pink going hand in hand — it’s rare to find one without the other yet they give each other scope and space: Without the other they’re quite incomplete yet outshine each other in their soliloquies.
If you want progress along with harmony you’ve to seek a pink-white duo ‘Tranquility’ to get to know yourself from deep inside without letting others affect your self pride: to build a formidable castle of resilience — on it a customized nameplate, ‘Credence’.
PS: this is in continuation of the thoughts in the previous post…and no filters have been used on the photos of the sunset, of the last three days since last Sunday.
Stark white is the colour of Solitude, from her confidence emanates — she has a well defined radiant face with luminous eyes that skyward gaze, at the sunset through clouds like elephants – that raise their trunks to shower Sunset that has Solitude swathed in amber, tangerine, fuchsia, vermillion — hues that have spiritual representations of creativity, vitality, harmony, resilience: draped in integrity, in sky’s azure sari’s haze that not all the grey of life can undress — she stands her own, reflects hues well!
Walt Whitman // “The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood, of the moment…to put things down without deliberation…without worrying about their style…without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote, wrote, wrote… By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught.” … and the above quote applies accurately for me too! 😀 Sharing the sales link of all 5 books on Amazon.in – https://www.amazon.in/s?me=ASKCO5IK051YA&ref=sf_seller_app_share_new
Please read about each book, including two books of poetry, in the link above. The books are also available – both on kindle and in print globally, so please click on your respective country’s Amazon or other books selling site and locate by author and book title.
I woke up early this morning, to a soft light on my face - it wrapped me smugly in a warmth - my blanket didn’t have. I turned to my right, and looked up outside - the light was coming from the forests of pine across the road from my window, on the highway to the village of Dharamkot over a steep climb from McLeodganj.
I pushed back the cashmere blanket, then on my bed I sat up, upright - to trace the source of light outside. It was the big soft sun struggling to rise from the valley of red and green roofs - shining past freshly painted walls that told you this was a thriving town, of hardworking meticulous souls.
The sun emerged past hills, deodar woods that were teasing it with their perfume - diffusing its light in their crevices and swathing its warmth on their leaves - still shivering, dripping with the nights rain that makes mountains cold and stiff even in the peak of summer - mid June, but pleasantly warm and cosy the day round.
I sat for a while, opened up the net screen - so, I may reach out to light unrestrained, and feel the cool fragrant hill air touch my skin, carrying with it the warmth of the sun no longer timid – swathing me in bed.
The round teakwood coffee table, both chairs, in my view by the windows, were moist - from which a shimmering sunlight bounced off as I got up, turned the electric kettle on. A teabag, creamer, sugar, went into a cup on the mantelpiece with a brass Buddha atop - in front of a red brick-shaped, cemented wall.
I sat with my teacup, viewing the landscape - in it, stylish local men, women strolled uphill carrying jackets, stoles, satchels on upright hips; as furry dogs strutted up behind or downhill after maroon-robed, shaven-headed monks stopping to climb only to cajole their moody child - so what if like them he’s also a monk already who of innocent curiosity hasn’t yet had his fill, as he wilfully peers at the steep valley below, discerning if life is worth denouncing already.
‘What time you’d like breakfast?’ I get a call - the young man runs the bed and breakfast along with his parents - he wants to know of the pancakes and honey, I’ve ordered, as potato or egg parathas they serve I’ll forgo.
I rush out for a brief stroll up the hill road to get the local essence of man and the winds, as I’m not a tourist who relies on trails or Guides who take you from point to point that you can tick off on your to-do-list - with photos of all the famed spots you’re in.
Climbing higher and higher, short of breath - on roads overlooking valleys past tall pines, I reach the intersection with a few local cafés, also, a signboard that reads, Dharamkot. I gaze around, stroll up each narrow road but not to the end of Hyatt resort’s door even if I’ve roomed at few, got married at one - my sister and I had Kolkata’s Hyatt as venue for our weddings - as it’s so near our home.
I’m not curious of luxurious spaces anymore, even if old friends swear by their comfort - as on the creative, spiritual path I’ve chosen, I seek intimacy to God in nature that’s raw — searching for it behind the visible front.
On my way downhill I almost break into a run, as it’s faster and easier to balance, than catwalk - so, in an hour, by ten I’m at our stay’s garden cafe amidst a nursery of local plants, varied flowers, all of it presided by a blue Shiva in Lotus pose - who directs his blessings with a palm, held up - that projects his destiny lines etched on it out to passers-by, tourists or Buddhist monks, who abound this stretch solo or in groups from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts.
Old, pleasant Hindi songs on Akashvani radio float into my joyfully heightened hearing now - as I recall the tour yesterday of Dharamshala, including Chinmayananda ji’s Tapovan; also Dalai Lama’s temple, Norbulinka monastery; with Shiva temples at Baijnath and Bhagsunath; after series of visits to the St. John’s church.
I think of last night’s dinner - momos, thukpa, in tiny Kalimpong Restaurant at Central Square, after cappuccinos, croissants at chic Juniper Café - missing a planned visit to Jimmy’s Café in front.
Over my bites of pancake dribbled with honey - the swigs of a cup of strong homemade coffee: uplifts my exercised heart – as mind is refreshed from a week’s drenching in cross-cultural gales - I’ll take home today - a marmalade, named ‘Harmony’.
“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.” — Claude Monet
Adding to my previous posts on Dharamshala/Mc Leodganj… The thoughts that inspired this painting from my visit to the Baijnath Shiva temple…the older I get, the smaller I feel in the presence of the power that defines my identity, but makes me more curious of its source. I no longer find the need to establish my presence at his door or ring bells to awaken him to take notice of me. I seek god in everything I do, and in my creativity I feel closest to seeking his purpose for my life. Yet, religious disrespect, or anything that hurts others sentiments is not creativity, but rather the complete lack of it.
“A film’s Dream Sequence: McLeodganj”
This church sprang up on me
charming and still, on a quaint slope downhill,
nestled in a crevice at Forsyth Gunj,
shrouded in the waves of a heavy smog
that floated up atop the steep hill road -
heralding the town of McLeodganj,
clouded now with threats of a downpour:
the current Dalai Lama’s Indian home.
It’s stone slopewalk, runs beside a cemetery -
whose iron gate closes where tall grass ends,
growing around it's cold marble graves,
with crucifixes embalmed in the fragrance
of pines and a variety of the church's foliage.
The church-graveyard’s compelling charm,
blanketed in the cool, light summer breeze -
veils me in joyous spiritual upliftment,
as we await the traffic to clear, to climb uphill:
ensuring I return to this haven of peace.
We pass the Main Square - at six crossroads,
where well-dressed tourists aimlessly stroll,
peering in and out of shops of Tibetan stocks -
of it brass Buddhas in every form uppermost.
As if ripe plums in an orchard of handicrafts,
that makes this township a self-sustaining hub
of local produce, excelling in varied art forms:
domestic or international brands not at all.
Two days after we return to ‘St John’s’ church,
aptly suffixed with, ‘in the Wilderness’,
that withstood the Kangra floods of 1905 -
it’s churchyard being the final resting place,
of Lord Elgin the Governor-General & Viceroy
of India in 1861, during the British Raj:
He died here, on 20th November, 1863.
I stroll down the steep stone pathway
inhaling the sights - perhaps smells of Thyme,
past the large stone carved holy-water stoup
to first pay reverence at the altar of Christ
and mumble a quick prayer sitting on a pew -
making a sign of the cross, as back in school.
I then notice the caretaker, looking around
from the side vestry as he tidied himself,
in ending work at 4pm - with two hours left.
Suddenly thunder roared, as lightning struck,
rain thrashed Belgian stained-glass panes -
donated by Lady Elgin(Mary Louisa Lambton):
It’s sounds made the quaint chapel ethereal,
as lightning refracted off coloured windows -
bouncing on the hillside’s pregnant clouds,
giving me a sense of harmonious tranquility,
as I’d come straight to the altar of Christ -
the beauty and charm around, was his shrine.
A group of tourists barged into the vestibule,
from around the darkened raining compound -
they sought shelter from the deluge,
like seeking god - only in need as we tend to:
As he shelters us from life’s thundershowers,
but not before teaching us a lesson or a few.
The caretaker sprung into his true element,
“Please leave - I’m closing now”, he declared:
As marching to the gate he bolted it inside,
gesticulating we leave he shut the inner door -
then in the foyer, ‘leave, leave’ he chanted.
Twenty of us caught inside a stone church -
atop a quaint hill by a cemetery, in heavy rain,
two windows providing panoramic views
of a smoggy downpour on the Deodar forests:
An experience I felt uniquely blessed with,
as I was fortunate to be granted a benediction
whereas others still begged for a peek inside.
A little man, but literally the keeper of Christ,
swathed mentally as if a priest in a vestment:
for a moment’s view of the church’s insides -
he granted all a cursory glance at the shrine.
Promptly locking the door again, he grumbled,
“Please, you all leave, please leave, I insist.”
Though the clouds were even thicker now
and the rain was much more threatening.
The bunch of us tourists, all in a joyous mood
from the intoxication to most of our senses -
none minded the caretaker's grouchy attitude,
as jokingly avoiding his repeated threats,
making it clear we weren't going anywhere.
The man’s selfish stance, peeved me out
as he still had two hours of duty left till 6pm -
then this rain was clearly an exigency at hand
but all he could think about - was himself.
My Catholic, then Protestant boarding schools
called to me in protest - from their learnings,
also my mother’s on the sense of Duty -
that always leads me to stand for what’s fair.
I looked at him squarely - challenged crisply,
“You’ll throw us out of the Church's shelter?
Isn’t sheltering humanity morally, emotionally,
also physically - what they’re meant for!”
He looked at me meekly, also defensively,
“I have to walk twenty miles home” he blurted,
“You all have a car to go back in - but I don’t,
I have to walk uphill in the rain, all the way”:
I looked at him squarely, unconvinced -
“that's no reason to neglect one’s duty” I said:
“A church refusing shelter to people” I added,
“shutting them out in the rain - how’s that fair!”
The rain came to an abrupt halt soon,
clouded sky lighting up with a golden glow;
I unfolded my umbrella to the drizzle -
as we rushed to our respective paths of life:
to the next scene of a dream sequence
I carry faith with confidence, in God’s shelter -
along with this story I’m compelled to retell.
‘International Day of Yoga’ today: The theme of this year’s Yoga Day celebrations is ‘Yoga for Humanity’.
On this note, I take this opportunity to share an experience. A few years back, in the first week of March of 2017, I had participated in the International Yoga Festival held in Rishikesh annually, with over 1000 participants from 100 countries. I had arrived from Chennai the day before the festival commenced and checked into the three-bed accommodation provided to all participants. The first day of the festival, my roommates and I arrived at the Ganga Arati just as the first chants reverberated through the mountainous riverside air. We were enthusiastically about to join in when a salwar clad, well-turned-out chic Indian lady, I distinctly recall her also wearing a number of expensive rings, looked at us, and me specifically – rudely asking us to step away, at this was the teachers enclave.
We looked at her quizzically as there didn’t seem a marked area for teachers, but more so at her hateful face like she was spitting venom at me. I was totally rattled to my soul at such anger hurled by a complete stranger, at such a peaceful setting. My roommates promptly nudged me by my arms to move away from there. But I pulled back and told them – let’s just stay as moving around now during the hymns was disrespectful, but more so to see what this lady would do next. She didn’t react – bullies intimidate those they think they can, and I had taken a lot of this nonsense lifelong at my varied jobs to be pushed around any more now! This bullying lady looked at me contemptuously a few times, but I pretended not to notice. When the lit brass lamps were passed around, I deliberately touched her arm lightly and handed her the heavy one, with a mind to not judge but accept her outrage. She looked at me quizzically but accepted the lamp meekly.
The next morning I attended a yoga session, and to my amazement I found the lady’s enlarged photo on a canvas along with all the other yoga teachers on the stage – she seemed to be staring back at me specifically. But I wasn’t intimidated at the least, rather was shocked that this was the true inner self – lacking a basic level of spirituality of such yogic teachers. Then I went on to have some very interesting experiences throughout the festival, along with the hourly learnings every afternoon from renowned world spiritual leaders – I would skip the physical yoga lessons for.
At the end of the festival, we were handed a very detailed feedback form with a number of questions. There was also a space for comments – in which I narrated the entire incident with this yoga teacher at the Ganga Arati – I leaned her name by then and also that she was from Delhi. I ended my comments by asking the organisers a pertinent question. I hope they at least thought about it – even if they didn’t take action – “If a yoga teacher has such a negative disposition – what’s the use of her physical practice of yoga, leave alone teach it to people?” My confidence, on the true meaning of yoga comes from growing up with Yoga at a time when it wasn’t a fashion statement worldwide as it has become today. When I was in high school, in 1989 my mother had earned a doctoral degree on the subject of yoga and it’s benefits on mind and body. She worked on the project at my school with batches of students as case studies. I knew well what Yoga truly means!
“To know God you should know yourself first” — a Buddhist saying I found at Nadi viewpoint at McLeodganj, Dharamshala”
Sharing in the link below, a series of incidents I had written about just after this festival I attended. It is not so much about the inspiring people I talk about here in the link below, but the wannabe yogis who do not have flexible and open minds. Even as we tone and balance our bodies through yoga, why do we not prioritise the mind and our capacity to balance and restrain from judgements to thereby embrace humanity! http://shuvashreechowdhury.com/2018/03/01/what-spirituality-means-to-me/
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” -- Pablo Picasso
A painting on my desk is unfinished for long, the sketch is ready, inspired by a lean form of the Buddha on the Bodh Gaya Temple wall – as on Buddha Jayanti I completed his image.
The delay on this is from my diverse drives in working on simultaneous creative styles – painting is not the only expression I choose to illustrate what’s on my discerning mind.
A poem, novel, also a short story is forming in different word folders of my iPad or laptop; also, Bangla I’m learning to read, hand write and stimulate my mind to productively thrive.
My written works in progress till completed - I don’t show anyone so as to protect their souls: but a painting is spread on my desk’s clipboard, where it attracts unsolicited sights and opinions.
Advise, distracts me from my core inspirations - I haven’t been tutored is their easy relaying point, for people to judge and critic my creative incline: As my brushstrokes have no identifiable method.
The colors I splash to my heart’s satisfaction, brandishing the brushes with liberal fulfilment; the backdrop I don’t finish first as is convention: all this I’m told makes my works lack perfection.
I think of all this feedback as I change handwork for by now I’ve learned the art of erasing, rework, till sometimes the art paper’s surface has eroded: to save her face I make my model put on a mask.
I soon regret having taken any of this feedback as I miss the first glimpse of the face I’d created inspired by truth, pouring in it my individuality of decades of education - corporate and literary. — Shuvashree Chowdhury
To be accepted you have to take sides - sometimes this side, sometimes that side, often both sides of the authoritarian divide; even if it means you’ll fall into a whirlpool of conflicting views - with rivalry and disuse, to leave your work of any valuable repute.
Life seems unpredictable after lockdown, hobnobbing with death has taken a toll, as I don’t know if loved ones ripped away in moments, is now better than if forewarned - Cancer death sentences being pronounced: so much death has left me spiritually bound.
Yet being accepted is astute, even if mute, so that you can be on either side of any truth - without walking the tightrope that defines it and compels you to take sides to restrain you, even if both sides may be your world views: you have to be on your side or be doomed!
Independent thinking leaves you out cold, outside the realm of protection of core groups that can give you awards and recognitions - invitations to showcase yourself to the world through affiliations and aspirational honours: The day I’m Accepted will then be my demise. — Shuvashree Chowdhury
PS: sharing these random thoughts that have been in my mind… “To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” — Joseph Chilton Pearce
I’m sitting on your Rattan chair in our balcony, viewing over a dozen earthen potted plants – ceramic ones have now lost their colourful charm yet regaled by intermittent chirps of varied birds.
A wind chime on which sits a metal bumble bee – has gone silent now in the still, early May air, but the crows, pigeons and varied feathers chirp aggressively – questioning why you’re not there!
I listen to distinct voices now – of mynas, pigeons and god knows who else among your friends – as one by one they come in view then fly away, marking attendance – as in essence you’re there.
Always the teacher and principal till the end of life, students loved you – plants, birds, and househelp who you tended to with a gardener’s vigilant air – in it an airplane passes low as if bearing your smile.
A black pedestal fan, I’d ordered for this balcony as April brought in gusts of warm Calcutta air, also to give you company as you sat here daylong: he stoically awaits you – it’s a year since you left.
There’s a light, cool and soothing breeze now, but not enough to tingle a mourning wind chime – who’s watching me with the clock reading 8am, knowing I can sit here in your presence till night.
“My Guiding Star”
Mom, you’re the Best, because…
Whenever I needed you, you were there, Whether or not I asked for your hand; You have always been the Guiding Star- Shining on me from wherever you are.
You always urged me to go that extra mile To ensure my future is wrapped in a smile; Who I’m today, is because you were there – Nudging me, when my mind wasn’t made up.
After often prodding me - right over the top, You ensured you were there to cushion my fall: If it was not for your firm, propelling hand – As an Oyster, I might have remained in my shell.
“One’s work is what will count,” you always said, “Beauty regimes, fashion, can be done without.” You’d say to me, “Never ever neglect your duties – Good things will then come to you automatically.”
Whenever in life’s race I felt I couldn’t carry on- Holding my hand, alongside you ran along: When the baton in exasperation I’ve dropped, Picking it up, you’ve ensured I just did not stop.
Integrity, strength, and values you inculcated in me; A sense of duty, confidence and self-discipline: Whenever in life’s journey I may begin to slip, It’s your teachings every time I will mentally flip.
All your efforts Mother, may they not go in vain – My success in life, is what then will be your gain. Truly fortunate I have always been throughout life, An excellent coach, and role model in you to find.
for my Mother, Dr. Mahamaya Chowdhury.
PS: several short stories in my book ‘Existences’ depict my mother as coach and role model. The 2nd poem here is from my first poetry collection ‘Fragments’.
Ma (Mahamaya Chowdhury) retired at the age of 60, at the end of Sept 2000, as Principal of a teachers training college in Kolkata – after a long career as lecturer in Gwalior – Jiwaji University, and then Delhi University for about 8 years each.
Incidentally, just after she passed a year ago, on Ma’s desk, I found the handwritten rough draft of a very pertinent speech now — Ma had made on the passing away of someone, as a college student in Gwalior — at the same institution that she went on to be a lecturer in the next year.
These profound thoughts reflect her spiritual perspectives even as a young woman. And ironically, what she would have wanted to say to me just now from the other world.
“Good evening, my honourable teachers, affectionate brothers and sisters. I take the privilege on behalf of my class M.P.E (final) to speak a few words to you.
Every one of you seems to be thinking that it’s a sad occasion, but let us not mind. If one does not create the place, the others cannot fill in. If every one of us is to exist forever, this world would have been a horrible place to live in. Nothing is lost as the scientists believe, so do I. I am an optimist, why should we sit and cry.
As Shakespeare said, “This world is a stage and we all are actors and actresses.” So we must act our role well.
I do not know whether we have acted our part well or not, that judgement is not in our hands – it’s unto your audience to decide. And as to what standard of finished product we are going to be – the outer world will judge by seeing our work.
One piece of advice to you, it’s not a bookish idea – it’s what I have learnt in my life. This world is a two way process, we cannot demand from our fellow human beings when we do not give anything to them.
This world is what we make and it is upto us to live to the standard.
…it’s continued in more pages
by Mahamaya Chowdhury – 1965/66 LNCPE, Jiwaji University, Gwalior
Life and death must go hand in hand, like two parallel beams of rail tracks – they take you in and out of dark tunnels through clouds and rain, then sunshine.
You may plunge into a river of sorrow in rushing out of the tunnel of loss and death – so you must be alert, conscious and vigilant while you sleep on this train – to heal yourself.
It’s never known how long the ride might take, on this journey to recovery and painlessness – to where you’ll see a rainbow of optimism peeking at you through the deluge of sorrow.
You have to trust that this journey will end and you will go on in life healed from the loss, keeping memories alive of those you loved – participating in Life outside your window pane. ————
PS: I typed the above straight here on my phone just now even as I was thinking of the irony of life – yesterday was my 16th wedding anniversary – today is my mother’s 1st death anniversary. Though my heart feels numb, I made an attempt to look bright yesterday, and went out to Quest mall for a Bangla film(late actor Soumitra’s biopic). And then dinner at Mocambo(off Park St) that was around and popular right through my parent’s times. I just didn’t want to go to one of those new eateries. The last year I have made the effort to lead my life the way I know best, by living every moment – even celebrating my mother’s birthday in September – for only then will my Ma’s soul rest in peace. Incidentally, reputed Bengali poet Shankha Ghosh passed away on this day a year ago. Over lunch I had shared with her this news I received from a poet friend and Ma became very quiet. Would I have even imagined she would be gone suddenly a few hours later! Ma and he would have undertaken their journey to the other world together – over their respective poetry! 😊🥰 This morning, I garlanded my parents photos …then wrote the top lines in tribute to my teacher mother from whom I not only inherited poetry – but the profundity of life.
Why I tell the kind of stories I do: It’s life’s journey I bring into my poetry and prose writing, just as any literary author tends to. I cannot tell you with utter conviction how it feels to be born to Indian migrants in the US, but I can tell you what life is for Indian migrants to divided India who struggled to make their mark. Fiction is powerful only when it is laced with the truth. On that note… Sharing the immediate fall out of the previous post’s video. And what I meant by the struggles that make me the writer I am today – who can speak her mind without any hesitation. Confidence comes from continuously raising the bar, in repeatedly coming out of your comfort zone and into challenging spaces. Another political drama, I inadvertently found myself in the thick of, happened in the year 2005, in Kolkata. This was after the several I’ve already narrated, among the experiences from my working life in my book ‘Existences’ This incident I’m going to relate, happened after Durga Puja, when I was working for the top, pan Indian jewellery brand.
We had several ongoing marketing schemes at the time, reflected through billboards all over the city, also on every print and tv/film media channel. I had personally been on a number of different Tv channels, both Bangla and Hindi, speaking and promoting our USP of the highest level of purity of gold in our jewellery, even demonstrating the same through random Karat metre readings, also exhibitions and fashion shows all over the city including the top rated clubs; promoting the brand in general, barely a couple of months of taking on my new assignment.
I had landed at the Kolkata airport from an official trip to Bangalore, where the company has its headquarters. On the taxi ride home, intending to drop off my baggage and freshen up before going to office, as home was on the way, I received a call on my mobile from my office. A senior staff, sounding quite agitated, abruptly told me, “ Ma’ am, the Park Street Police Station OC would like to talk to you.” “What are you doing in the police station now?” I blurted, quite rattled, but there was only silence at the other end of the line. “Madam, I’m from the Park Street Police Station,” the baritone stated, “I’m here at your office to inform you that a procession of 200-300 members of the “Swarna Shilpo Bachao CommItte” (Gold Handicrafts Saviour Committee – I loosely translated the Bangla name) are currently marching with banners and shouting out aggressive slogans against you. They are all coming over here to meet you.” “What? Meet me…but why…what for?” I said, then forcefully added, “Is this supposed to be a joke or what?” “This is no joke ma’am. They claim that you have directly ‘kicked their stomachs’, by stifling their livelihood.” “Sir, what are you talking about…” I retorted irritably. “What is this drama…what have I done to them…must be some mistake! But well, if they want to talk, I’m willing to listen to them.” “We have obstructed the procession, marching all the way from Dharmatala at the Free School Street crossing…should we send the full force to you?”
I was pretty irritated by what I perceived as a provocative, mocking and condescending attitude, but in a calm voice I stated, “I’m on my way from the airport, and will be there in office in 20 minutes. Please bring only 3-4 of their representatives to my office and we can discuss.”
After the instruction, disconnecting my mobile in a rattled frame of mind, I immediately dialled my regional office, then the head of operations at the head office in Bangalore, and briskly narrated the weird position I was in. I was still having difficulty believing it myself, yet from both sides of the hierarchy, very calmly and with much faith I was told to go right ahead and meet the rebellious procession’s representatives to first figure out what they wanted from us. But though my seniors had immense faith in me, just as they had shown me since I joined the company and for which this has been my most gratifying work stint, even more than the airline, I was of course extremely nervous. The very idea of 200-300 people marching up to meet me in my office in Camac Street, even in the presence of my quite large team before Diwali and the police forces…it was a daunting thought to meet those whose livelihood I had apparently slashed!
But the meeting with the leaders, which was centred around our brands transparency of processes and candid assertions that was to soon change the culture of gold and jewellery buying in India, went off rather well and politely so, with 3-4 senior cops as intermediaries to every point, on my request. This political committee a wing of the ruling CPIM party then, wanted us to pull off all our TV, Print and Radio advertisements on our education on the need for transparency in the purity of gold purchased that happened to highlight the lack of transparency in the local production process, which was used to mixing a lot of alloys vis-à-vis our 22k or 18k pure jewellery. Also that our Diamonds came with certificates on the clarity, colour and size, which was exchangeable at appreciated prices like no other company did at that time.
It was after the police and the group left, after I had served them tea/coffee and our always used Chocolate Bourbon biscuits; that several TV channel crew dropped in without warning. Out of which two channels were supposedly specialists in sting operations, that I wasn’t aware of. They harassed me, throwing abrupt, ridiculous and provocative questions, leading me on with words and sentences to suit their planned narratives, while I tried to answer nonchalantly into one camera mouth piece shoved at my face after another. I began to feel like I was a suspect who was about to be media tried and put behind bars, as a cruel witch who had slashed people’s stomach/bread and grabbed their sustenance. I tried to be as calm as possible thinking that if I was honest and forthright these Tv journalists would treat my words with respect. But suddenly I began to feel I was being framed as the questions began to get personal, like they needed to throw my flesh to the waiting audiences on that evening’s prime time, who would bare me and then pounce on every inch of my unsuspecting plight for their quota of entertainment. But I realised this, only after a senior staff, who had been trying to signal to me for a while actually sternly blurted out to me, “Ma’am please DO NOT say anything more…these are sting operation channels and are just trying to provoke and heckle you. You are Live!” I just froze, shut up, turning my back involuntarily, frightened and humiliated by the immensely disrespectful attitude – like I was a thief, a bank robber, a suspect who would soon be arrested! The first thought that came to my mind as I was shutting myself out from these crocodiles trying to get more of my flesh, was the gaping and shocked face of my father…he was always so proud when I came on television! But this, in case he chanced upon it, would destroy him, before he knew what was going on… What was I paying for…escalation in TRP of the channels our company never advertised in…a woman thief, as projected in several yesteryear Hindi Masala films – is great entertainment! 😄 PS: The first photo is current – the rest are from over the last two decades. The saris we’re wearing – I’d got sanctioned, just for the Durga Puja and Diwali that year.