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COLDNOON: TRAVEL POETICS (INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TRAVEL WRITING) (ONLINE ISSN 2278-9650 | PRINT ISSN 2278-9642)

NO. 3 | MAR ‘12 | 1.3

ED. ARUP K CHATTERJEE


COLDNOON: TRAVEL POETICS (INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TRAVEL WRITING)


COLDNOON: TRAVEL POETICS (INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TRAVEL WRITING) | POETRY – RESEARCH PAPERS – NONFICTION |

ISSUE III | MAR ‘12 | 1.3

ED. ARUP K CHATTERJEE


COLDNOON: TRAVEL POETICS (INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TRAVEL WRITING) | POETRY – RESEARCH PAPERS – NONFICTION |

Coldnoon envisions travel not as flux but instead as gaps in travelling itself. Coldnoon means a shadowed instant in time when the inertia of motion of images, thoughts and spectacles, comes to rest upon a still and cold moment. Our travels are not of trade and imagining communities; they are towards the reporting of purposeless and unselfconscious narratives the human mind experiences when left in a vacuum between terminals of travel.


First published in New Delhi India in 2012 Online ISSN 2278-9650 | Print ISSN 2278-9650 Cover Photograph, Arup K Chatterjee Cover Design, Arup K Chatterjee Typeset in Arno Pro & Trajan Pro Editor, Arup K Chatterjee Assistant Editor, Amrita Ajay Contributing Editors: Sebastien Doubinsky, Lisa Thatcher, G.J.V. Prasad, Sudeep Sen, K. Satchidanandan Copyright © Coldnoon 2012. Individual Works © Authors 2012. No part of the publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or copied for commercial use, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent acquirer. All rights belong to the individual authors, and photographer. Licensed Under:

Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Mar ‘12, 1.3) by Coldnoon: Travel Poetics is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.coldnoon.com.

Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi 110067 India www.coldnoon.com


Contents

Editorial

1

Poetry

6

Madhumita Ghosh

7

Mohan Rana

15

Sreemanti Sengupta

22

Chris Mooney-Singh

29

Sébastien Doubinsky

38

Malay Roychoudhury

44

Nonfiction

48

Lotourism: Low Impact, Low Cost, Localized, & Lonely – The Ecotourist on a Budget and Redefined – Katrin Siff Einarsdottir Vignette – Sanchari Sur

49 54

Review – Makarand Paranjape’s Acts of Faith: Journeys into Sacred India – Arup K Chatterjee

Editorial Board

59

66


INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TRAVEL WRITING Mar ’12, No. 1.3 | www.coldnoon.com

Editorial

Chatterjee, Arup K. “Editorial.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 1-5. Web.

Licensed Under:

"Editorial" (by Arup K Chatterjee) by Coldnoon: Travel Poetics is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.coldnoon.com.

Editorial | p. 1 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF TRAVEL WRITING Mar ’12, No. 1.3 | www.coldnoon.com

Editorial

Dear Reader, A Coldnoon poet tells me one of these days of how he reached England. I asked him if he was rich today or ever. He refers to his appearance. It does not seem to me as that of a rich man. Or, so I would like to believe, just to add more credence, or a romantic incredulity, to his story. The story is unfinished. It begins one afternoon on a park bench. Today the park bench could be both his and mine, you cannot trust the ownership, as I am trying to finish it with my own strokes. Right now, the bench has already become yours. So, here, on this bench, the poet, or I, or you, or someone was eating peanuts. As the peanuts got over the paper bag was dropped to the ground. Here, in India, paper bags are also made of newspapers. These travel from one city to another. Despite never being very fond of newspapers these scraps that often hide themselves in our Indian households often distract me. Neatly a few times have I been delayed on family visits owing to such distractions. These bags exchange numerous hands. They are tainted and probably that is why they provide us with a sense of forbidden pleasure. So, these scraps that travel so much invariably hold me back. Anyhow, so, the peanut-eater too picked up the paper bag he had just dropped. And, in this poet’s words a new “Coldnoon was born”. Yes, it did strike me as very unwitting in the start. I tried to amuse myself immediately, partly because of my respect for his writings, but the flavour of the infinitude of travel seeped in only gradually. Slowly it appears as though there is a huge nexus between inanimate objects that move through human agency. I do not know what is the a priori attraction of the paper bag articles, whether it is the shared journey with so many other human agents, or the very agency of words to have travelled some immeasurable distance. Eventually I never came to know how he reached England. Maybe, I deliberately forgot if he did after all tell me how. He does not look like a

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wanderer, instead he looks like someone just slowly wrinkling at one place. The reader is not obliged to believe my description of him. Probably I am describing the Coldnoon traveller instead, I am describing all the poets to have written here, the ones I have known. The Coldnoon is a surrogate noon, it is lived by another for another’s sake, following a journey by another, for another’s sake, followed by the perspiration of another for another’s sake. Even in the most real experiences of travel the element of surrogacy is foregone. Here by “real” I refer to foreseen journeys. Journeys could be planned. However, even in that there is the unmistakable dialogic interaction between the plan and the planner, in other words, between one planner and those to have come before. The imagination of a journey lives behind and shapes another travelogic imagination. So, travelling is a quest to share itself, with its past, present and future. Sometimes objects of travelogic desire give in so readily to carried into forthcoming desires. And, with the traveller’s agency distant objects are interwoven organically into an autonomous world web of their own. As long as this structure is untarnished it remains invisible. The nexus comes into sight only when the travelogic imagination begin to conflict. As different ideologies of travel (travelogies) creep into a homogenous travelogy, let us say from a given family or era, the fundamental signs of these travelogical conflicts (travelogemes) tend to approximate Coldnoon Travel Poetry. A ludicrous instance is that I do not observe the road or the potholes or the stones or the tyres any longer. These have been embedded too deeply into my psyche, not solely by myself, but by imaginations outside of me as well. I have been travelled by my generation and my history, in surrogacy. Others have travelled for my sake, or taken me places, either borne in a rickshaw, or bearing my luggage; either writing for flight magazines that I read or making paper bags out of newspapers I would never have read. So, there is a grand nexus to share me in travel and keep my travels, and the objects I have travelled, shared. I do not know where and when this nexus starts, and where or when it ends. I do not ascribe it entirely to technology; technology is a very small portion of it or just one mechanism to retain its structure. However, the very structure has its own technology, in the broader sense of the word outside of technology understood as gadgets and wires. It is this structure that I have fondly started calling the surrogate-infinitude. I am not here to criticize it, or not even

Editorial | p. 3 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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criticize it under the guise of celebrating it. I look at it with pure awe because I cannot see more than a zillionth fragment of it at a time. A newspaper article on a paper bag, or the worldwideweb more familiar to us as “www,” are symptoms of this structure. The structure is dynamic; it keeps adding on itself; it keeps me passive. I am given the illusion of movement in the movement of this structure. But when I truly move, even let us say, from my doorstep to the bus stop, and start observing, re-interpreting and permutating objects on the way, with an intention of seeking difference from the surrogate-infinitude I start building up a travelogeme, a new site of my travelogic difference. This is when I start writing the Coldnoon and living the Coldnoon. Travelling means changing co-ordinates. When in graph a curve moves, two axes move as well. The curve has its identity by virtue of the axes. Is it possible to have an identity without travel, and a travelling companion? Travelling is the formation of identity; it also keeps identities in flux. But when one is located and still identity is at its ideal best. So, in a case when there is no companion and yet one is moving, one is in fact moving farther from identity. Now, to this add the lacks of purpose and volition. It will precipitate the other extreme of identity, that of the identity of the object of perception of the traveller. It is this identity that Coldnoon brings to you once again in this issue. This complex unveiling of the surrogate-infinitude and representing our daily unrecorded oppositions of it is not a simple task in writing poetry. Besides, such poetry also needs a conscious reading strategy of locating travelogemes. Therefore, this issue onwards, Coldnoon will bring to you writings from genres other than poetry. Although we call it non-fiction we understand that there are things more imaginative than even fiction that can be regarded as scholarly or philosophical. Non-fiction does not expressly mean that no element of fiction will be approved of. Instead we have so named this section to incorporate a broad area of writings that will help supplement Coldnoon’s Poetry section, in order to enable us in the development of a comprehensive “Travel Poetics”. So here we ask for assistance from you, the reader, to release inhibitions and start accepting what we accept here in this section – widely ranging from monologues to dialogues, from essays to academic papers, from monographs to cartographs, from travelogues to travel memoirs, and so on. Come, the new issue awaits your readership, and your acceptance.

Editorial | p. 4 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Happy Coldnoon, Editor

Editorial | p. 5 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Poetry

p. 6 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Madhumita Ghosh

Ghosh, Madhumita. “Poems by Madhumita Ghosh.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 7-14. Web.

Licensed Under:

"Poems by Madhumita Ghosh" by Coldnoon: Travel Poetics is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.coldnoon.com.

Madhumita Ghosh | p. 7 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Madhumita Ghosh

The End You gave me a few words. I held on to them, to walk, guiding my tottering feet through rushing frenzied life... a blanket, I hoped, to shut out the chill of blazing cold petrifying gazes, configurations to navigate a silly paper boat I had left behind, in a sepia photo album. I held on to the words, the key to the front door safe, deep in the recesses of my crimson handbag, used and cared for everyday. New words piled up, a mountain of acrobats, adding, subtracting, multiplying, factors played truant, till the words, misplaced,

Madhumita Ghosh | p. 8 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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settled under the pile... The key rusted, fits into the keyhole no more, threadbare blanket thrown away, along with the silly paper boat.

Madhumita Ghosh | p. 9 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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A Web and a Camera A rainbow coloured spider Weaves a gossamer web of tales Within my dream's reach I spare him As I dust murky trivialities away A pentagon of five decades Shimmering in the morning sun Secrets treasured Promises unkept Vaulted with satin-wrapped care In my heart's ruby-encrusted chest A freckled face smiles A tooth missing and doe-eyed World's mischief carefully guarded... Lo she walks in a siren's gait soon after Sashaying down Park Street Pairs of eyes following As one eye focusses Through a lens on a tripod No star she is A friend's amateur subject Lovely Rita meter maid She was to him Just for the way she wore her bag Beatles were their friends As were Truffaut and Solzhenitsyn... A cooker whistles Duster in hand I run Only to see when I'm back The web hanging dirty and the spider gone A gecko in its place moving its tail I throw back my head

Madhumita Ghosh | p. 10 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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And laugh As from the corner of my eye I catch a lens on a tripod Winking at me from the mirror.

Madhumita Ghosh | p. 11 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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For all you Lovely People I walk the paths of eternity Travelling to the edge of time Tearing binding cobwebs away That wrap themselves around my feet Dropping breadcrumbs on the way To keep busy the birds of prey There blossoms a rainbow Out there somewhere... I promise to bring it For all you lovely people. For all you gentle people I walk through shadows numberless Crushing withered brown leaves under my feet Counting the sapless helpless sentinels of the woods That wait to burst out in flames I spread my wings to hide the sun Wring my heart to squeeze out drops of dew To see the moist woods weep tears of joy For all you beautiful people. I climb up the hill in the clouds To find space for you Which I shall never occupy But dust and scour Polish and gleam For you to come and go as you like... The see-saw will not be a balance The two sides are now in a plane Joy is in the up and down As you know all you sprightly people. I am god It is I who created

Madhumita Ghosh | p. 12 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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And the same I who destroyed Creator and destroyer Shall I preserve it now In a dancing gleeful brook of tomorrow For all you lovely people.

Madhumita Ghosh | p. 13 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Christmas The holy night sings Peals of laughter and cheer Dazzle the starry sky Fairy lights smile Through a night very bright Not so calm At the street corner In dingy rooms Mother and child Huddle into a shapeless form A mass of darkness Melting into a holy night Blinding car lights zoom past Mobile midnight mass In polyphonic pristine perfection Ring through a holy night As Infants tender And mothers gentle Sleep though Afraid to dream of a heavenly sleep Dreaming of a miracle A magical mystery morn Drinks overflow Food smashed Polished shoes on polished floors A holy child peers through a frosted pane For a gleam Of a redeeming grace.

Madhumita Ghosh | p. 14 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Mohan Rana

Rana, Mohan. “Poems by Mohan Rana.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 15-21. Web.

Licensed Under:

"Poems by Mohan Rana" by Coldnoon: Travel Poetics is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.coldnoon.com.

Mohan Rana | p. 15 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Mohan Rana

A Patch The forest first dried inside me The river turned into stone The sky became barren The earth fallow Desert spread soaking up every drop like blotting paper Every shape tumbled onto its roots, I had crossed a sand bridge there before putting it into words A green shoot dried under my feet A memory – just touched – became sand My footprints disappeared Crazed hot air whirled about unravelling breath from my lungs Past days are saved in spider webs in the outer mirrors of the inner world, Hopes lie around with broken spades Sew a patch on the torn fringes of the day so that a door may open This century has lost its way in the dark lane of time With eyes open I see this world, all around

Mohan Rana | p. 16 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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words turn into dust First inside me the sand storm has struck Translation from the poem in Hindi: “Ek paiband kahin jodna” by Lucy Rosenstein

Mohan Rana | p. 17 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Cormorant In a few days will begin a season If Spring crosses this latitude I will change my clothes Searching maps of neighbourhoods to stroll Branches will leaf up And the remaining sparrows return from far and near; I hope the news will not announce Some new war; I will clear my throat to say the unfinished, and fall silent again Let the spring be so long this time Those memories of autumn do not haunt so soon In solitudes of the alphabet Spring has been growing shorter every year Each year grows shorter in spring, Sometimes I wish there were only two seasons Two, just like good and bad joy and grief love and fear you and I Divided just in spring and autumn, and a wilting rain year long By and by I longed to transcribe the flavours drifting from the kitchen Caught in the fabric of my sleeve Pondering over some mystery in the backyard Or the quest for an inch of corner in a tiny space A time may come in some days To divide our world A time for whose memory all else must be forgotten Saving receipts of daily essentials, Life, not chance of breath alone But the flames of love in the mind’s shadows –

Mohan Rana | p. 18 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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A hand that grasps before the fall Auditing the minor debts of everyday toils Small rearrangements in the abacus Shuddering in the crumbling present, groping for chapped cheeks I am yet to witness what is past From behind the mirror glass As I dive into its mercurial unknown To find some, I lose some more Translation from the poem in Hindi: “Pankauwa” by Arup K. Chatterjee

Mohan Rana | p. 19 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Two Feet of Land Where have you disappeared or maybe I am lost in what corner of the city, where on two feet of land even that is not mine No distances, nor a mind in wrath no reason to remember you the pretext of forgetting you is the bad weather which like a headache eats time up, keeps eating but is still hungry like today Or I am asking myself eating time raw why am I hungry like a headache Thinking, I am cracking a hard nut Now I've even forgotten what did I ask you Replying to my own question on two feet of land which is not even mine. Translation from the poem in Hindi: “Do Pairon Barabar Zameen Par” by Lucy Rosenstein

Mohan Rana | p. 20 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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After Midnight I saw the stars far off as far as I from them: in this moment I saw them in moments of the twinkling past. In the boundless depths of darkness, these hours hunt the morning through the night. And I can't make up my mind: am I living this life for the first time? Or repeating it, forgetting as I live the first moment of breath every time? Does the fish too drink water? Does the sun feel the heat? Does the light see the dark? Does the rain too get wet? Do dreams ask questions about sleep as I do? I walked a long, long way and when I saw, I saw the stars close by. Today it rained all day long and the words were washed away from your face. Translation from the poem in Hindi: “Teesra Pahar” by Lucy Rosenstein and Bernard O'Donoghue

Mohan Rana | p. 21 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Sreemanti Sengupta

Sengupta, Sreemanti. “Poems by Sreemanti Sengupta.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 22-8. Web.

Licensed Under:

"Poems by Sreemanti Sengupta" by Coldnoon: Travel Poetics is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.coldnoon.com.

Sreemanti Sengupta | p. 22 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Sreemanti Sengupta

City Blues and the Crab Killers It beaded down Drop, drop, drop College far away, The tensile hair on my pain Scratching in culinary emotion Not rough enough the rock The movie snores In the beer-smelling bus Twirling up Running down Crab hunters Soup drinkers Back from school My cheap little comb Three and a half And a half Roti The impish pillow For a cooked up story

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Hassled and skimpy Back home

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From, The Wordmaiden Day Two God does not play dice - Albert Einstein

Eisequaltoemseesquare. Even he couldn’t put it down to words. Not like James Joyce. And you thought I wouldn’t catch you imitating. You anger and startle me at the same time. Now, how did you know that? Ulysses. That ship. It changed everything. Joyce. That man must’ve suffered. Coffee? Yes. With… Lemon and without sugar. You’re getting repetitive. Is it morning already? Yes. It’s the second day. Damn it. Time’s never been my friend. What’s with all the research? Time travel. I didn’t like the sound of it when you mentioned it in the first place. Ah! Don’t let my cynicism influence you. Einstein. He won it. He kept his promise. Did you know Time’s the fourth dimension? Have you any idea that time actually slows down with speed? How much speed? Too much. Nothing we laymen can do with it? No. Nothing. How was I last night? Okayish. But you steer clear of the spot. Yes. Like the cat who couldn’t decide whether to die or live. You got to face it. It’s skin after all. Einstein couldn’t face it. He lost it to Uncertainty. The universe, the changeability. God, he said, was smarter than that. Smarter, organized. Had it all sorted out. ________

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Is being half of something very difficult? For me, it is. And for the others? It’s sheer fact to them. Imagination loses hands down to facts. It’s nauseating. Don’t you wish you never came across that ship with no treasure? No. I should be. Any sane person would curse that ship for disturbing her peace. But, it gave me the world I desired. A snatch at hope. Three days with reality. The promise. I don’t know what to do. A poem you say. A poem. That’s too big a demand. I can’t get past pretence. I haven’t got the ship. Maybe it’s too early for you. Maybe the challenge came too fast. But something tells me you’ll get there one day. You’ll find your ship with no treasure. Do you know what happened to the cursed sailors of the ship? Yes. They grew lazy and drowsy on the drug from the island’s exotic flower. The captain, he couldn’t persuade them back to the wild life of the wild seas. Most of them died in hallucination of a better life. ________ You live your life As if it’s real - Leonard Cohen

What’s your purpose? You loll about the bed. As if you’re waiting for the ticking to stop. Would coffee help? Coffee with… Lemon and without Sugar. I’ll put the water to boil. The promise. You’re never going to fulfil it. Are you? Please! I beg you! Am not honest. That cleft on your waist. It turns me to butter. I’m so helpless. Exotic. Ain’t I? That’s what you thought when you dealt that blow with Mama Lise. What’s a two liner for a lifetime of immortal beauty? Yes. I deserve all that. You’re behaving human now. I don’t like the Goddess voice of yours. I’m not human. I’m standing on bargained legs. And Sanders loves me.

Sreemanti Sengupta | p. 26 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Sanders? Who’s that? The man who loved me with no more than truth. I let him down when I came for you. Greed done the death of me. It’s night already. I’ll come up with something. I’m a Poet. Don’t you worry. Let’s have some fun now! It’s called making love.

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Cheshire Trains I come back home with neon animals And gasoline burning my insides The gentleman tilts his head To the rushing track It carries away his brain He leans back, and smokes a little less By then the sands have settled down And books are up for burning The train rumbles in And leaves me in rapid light years

Sreemanti Sengupta | p. 28 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Chris Mooney-Singh

Mooney-Singh, Chris. “Poems by Chris Mooney-Singh.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 29-37. Web.

Licensed Under:

"Poems by Chris Mooney-Singh" by Coldnoon: Travel Poetics is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.coldnoon.com.

Chris Mooney-Singh | p. 29 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Chris Mooney-Singh

Pantun of the Chinar Grove (Srinagar, Kashmir) Written above the gate of the Shalimar Gardens, Sri Nagar, Kashmir by the order of Emperor Jahangir (1542-1605) ‘If there is a paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this.’ - Jami

Someone has set a bomb off in a car where tourist buses come from foreign cities. Disturbed, the birds alight from a chinar and now there’s shadows running in the trees. As well as flowing blood from foreign cities, seeping where the leaves turn smoky purple, the sound of running in those giant trees brings crack troops and walkie-talkie babble. It is the dusk when leaves turn smoky purple with a game of hide and seek, just like a movie – some crack troops, the walkie-talkie babble and insurgency behind each massive tree. The blown up bottle-bodies are a movie that Bollywood will buy and script and make because revolt behind Kashmir’s State Tree insults the tranquil ripples of Dal Lake.

Chris Mooney-Singh | p. 30 First Published in Coldnoon: Travel Poetics (Print ISSN 2278-9650| Online ISSN 2278-9650)


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Bollywood will buy and script and make this upturned tale upon some pristine hillside with song and dance, a house-boat on Dal Lake, yet those dead tourists do not stop to ride. What was a heaven dancing on a hillside is now some shadow running in the trees. The flag of peace has slipped away to hide as Kalashnikovs bring shadows to their knees. The final shadows fall behind the trees here in the dying season of the chinar, and now the mourners fall down on their knees because a bomb was set off in a car.

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Coconut (Malabar Coast, Kerala) A person needs a tree of heaven, a place to rest, a place to forget, a seat of ease, with falling nuts with shells for cups, of meat and milk and healing oils, thickened curries, flowers for weddings and ceremonies smashing the shell inside the temple like cracking the ego and passing back sweet blessed Prasad; or on special occasions – anointing a guru like a maharajah. Such a tree might rise up slender as a coconut tree, a fine full woman breasted, tall, in her prime and always ready with slim, lean trunk so boys can climb to shake her down, to shake her down then greedily drink her breast milk.

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A nation needs a tree of heaven in a watered place, a respected space where love can plop its fruit in the lap. It must guard against creating the kingdom as a barren place where belief begins to drive its nail into the trunk on a moonless night, or spit at her while passing by in cursing heat. A philosophy needs a tree of heaven a final place a paradise tree, a rising myth a kalpavriksha to let it see what life could be ahead and how to make this starting point – a place to rest a place to forget a life of work– success and loss of milk and pain along a beach at morning, dusk,

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and shade midday, the shoreline saying over and over this is the place, this is the place.

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Ber Tree (Amritsar, Punjab) You bear such a famous name straight from old poems, and yet in India you’re still the plain ber tree, laden with poor man’s fruits, not too sweet to spoil us and cheap in the bazaar. Yes, plainness is holy, a dukh banjani tree of cures. At the Golden Temple, one leans over the marble tank of water, built around a once-upon-a-time miracle pool. A heron once dived in and flew out a white swan. Seeing the remarkable, a cripple’s faith rose and he jumped in next. Soon he could run a race to show and tell. Guru Ram Das built a temple next and soon a city rose from the fruit of that faith and blessing.

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And I’ve seen a ber in the village of one saint who sat beneath with focus and a hand telling beads. It’s said he had visions, then got his orders to cure the sick with the shape of the story within these branches. The voice in the tree, once a princess snubbed a maharishi. As a cure for pride he rooted her here for penance as this ber. She still serves here with yellow-green berries, the most simple of treats for a race of farmers who have few rupees for mangos or papaya. Dropped berries are taken with faith as medicine and little tongues of leaves talk to the pure-hearted, giving them guidance, telling them how to pray

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and how to get through life. A thousand years of penance are set, until the tree falls and she will be free, but the trunk is strong and the fruits – not too sweet; each has the hint of sourness at the pip. Who knows, one day even when teeth spill the juice, that last tart flavour will be gone, will be gone.

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Sébastien Doubinsky

Doubinsky, Sébastien. “Poems by Sébastien Doubinsky.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 38-43. Web.

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Sébastien Doubinsky

Misleading Columbus Flying over the clouds' strange landscapes I think of you and the limited geography of your heart and I remember the Columbus I thought I'd be to your soul but you gave me false maps and a rotten ship and the new continent I thought I had discovered turned out to be but my hometown again with its gray skies, narrow streets and cold hearts

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Bus Ride She sits next to me with her beautiful dark hair and blue tourist eyes and I can say nothing do nothing think nothing because I am not in love with her

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Butterfly Panic The day the butterflies invaded the city they warned us through the radio like in some old science-fiction movie "Do not touch these insects, they are poisonous. I repeat, do not..." That night I went for a walk in the mild worried evening and all the people who sat outside the cafés were watching intrigued scared amused the poisonous snow-flakes flicker around the bright neon globes and they were wondering how long they were going to live these goddamned beautiful butterflies

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Foghorns the first load of spring has finally arrived the city slowly warms up under the hazy sunlight by the harbour you can hear the foghorns wailing like deer in heat

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Essaouira To Philippe Sendek white walls twisting into narrow dark streets and behind them the blue whispers of the sea the sun crashed through the rooftops like a madman's orchestra we talked about literature and a thousand other useless things compared to the wind... the wind...

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Malay Roychowdhury

Roychowdhury, Malay. “Poems by Malay Roychowdhury.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 44-7. Web.

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Malay Roychowdhury

Local & Global Who has smeared On your groin The ink of love Abantika Who has scratched On your cheeks With thorns of rose Abantika Who has drawn On your waist Whipped up clots Abantika All your lovers Gnaw at you In every spot Abantika What I love Is complete you Top to bottom Both your sides Abantika

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Translation from the poem in Bangla: “Local aar Global” by Arup K Chatterjee

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Six Haikus

Gravitational force Wave, particle, calculus – Womanless Newton

Someone turns around Inquiring about the time Earth stops for a while/ Earth stops in orbit

Call it the cell-phone Colourful, with video games Foreign lady’s voice

Footprints on sandbank Lone river fears to wash it Lives in Autumn’s drought

First dawn of monsoon Dad’s sandals in balcony A peon rings the bell

Wife leaves the clothes drying Kite stuck in the terrace wires Song of afternoon

Translations from the haikus in Bangla by Arup K Chatterjee

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Nonfiction

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Lotourism: Low Impact, Low Cost, Localized, & Lonely – The Ecotourist on a Budget and Redefined by Katrin Siff Einarsdottir

Einarsdottir, Katrin Siff. “Lotourism: Low Impact, Low Cost, Localized, & Lonely – The Ecotourist on a Budget and Redefined.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 4953. Web.

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Lotourism: Low Impact, Low Cost, Localized, & Lonely – The Ecotourist on a Budget and Redefined by Katrin Siff Einarsdottir

I studied ecotourism and wrote my masters dissertation on the discrepancies between defined and actualized ecotourism since I have always battled with the ‘ecotourist’ identity. I liked to think I was an ecotourist, also called an alternative tourist, sustainable tourist, or an environmentally friendly tourist. But then these terms lead us to more definitional inconsistencies, since "eco" and "environmental" and "sustainable" are all buzzwords overused and often misunderstood. After completing my thesis, I realized the term ecotourism is a vague, green-washed term, whose definition is undecided among academics, and sometimes unidentifiable in practice. I like to travel, and I love the natural world we live in, but often-times carbon emissions and ecological impact contradict my obsessive compulsive desire to go all over the place, taking boats, planes, cars and buses at an unsustainable rate. It’s easy to feel guilt about my carbon footprint in spite of being unclear where I can accept accountability for planes and buses that will take their routes with or without me. However, it is possible to have an ethical travel consciousness without identifying as an ecotourist. Ecotourists pay more for greener experiences and off-set their flights by planting trees. But for sustainable tourism to become a thing of elitists is unfair. Ecotourism has also been set aside from culture tourism, offering strictly nature and adventure getaways in wild areas, but humans are an intrinsic part of nature and the true ecotourist should still be touring the cities and villages people call home. Mass tourists take their flights and book their all-inclusive hotels or cruises but travel intensively for only one or two weeks. My travel style has fused and forgiven aspects of both styles of

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tourism, into something I have coined “lotourism”. It is a philosophy of travel for the weary backpacker who wants to see the world and everything in it. They do not pay more, but pay less, and see more, over longer periods of time, with fewer modes of transport taken by traveling locally and avoiding longhaul flights. I had the idea to invent a new word to describe the way I travel since it doesn’t suffice to say I’m a backpacker, just a traveller, a tourist, or an ecotourist. I want a word that describes my travel mentality and approach to seeing the world in a more sustainable way. I have a dialect of English my friends call Katrin-speak, but this isn't a word I'm pulling from that English vocabulary - it’s more like a philosophy of travel that I've adopted and want more people to share. "Lotourism” is a theory of tourism that isn't captured by any other one word. I like to think I travel sustainably, but not just sustainably naturalresource-wise. I am financially resourceful, traveling with minimal luggage, staying with locals, and traveling slowly but steadily over short-haul distances. I can live off $10 a day or less in some places. I never stay in hostels or hotels, but couchsurf and make new friends everywhere I go. I have one small backpack and all my possessions and necessities for 3 months in it, a 35L-20kg bag. I’m not really a backpacker, since I avoid backpacker hostels and hate being defined by the stuff in a bag on my back. I’m not always a tourist, since I try my best to camouflage into my surroundings and see things from a local perspective. I adopt the local way of living, eat where locals eat, dance the way they dance, dress as indiscriminately as possible, and don’t say much unless I’ve learned the local language since I never want to be that white girl screaming English in slow motion to someone who has no idea of what I’m saying. I'm definitely a traveller, but so is the American guy sitting in business class flying to Dubai for a 2 hour business meeting before returning to London via Dakar for dinner in England's most authentic Turkish restaurant. So I've realized there are different types of travellers, performing different types of travel, and when asked how I travel, my new answer is "I'm a lotourist." Lotourism, in a nutshell, is like ecotourism, but redefined and on a budget. It is travel that is low-impact, low-cost, localized, and lonely.

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1) Low-impact: your footprint on the natural environment is minimal, which means your carbon footprint is low, your use of exhaustible or nonrenewable resources is low, you create minimal or no waste, you do not contribute to the degradation of natural environments, your touristic activities and choice of transport/accommodation/or anything else travel-related is based on an educated, informed decision to be of as low-impact as possible. Your footprint on the local or host culture is minimal, which means you learn and engage in cultural exchange so far as you do not negatively impact any local traditions or customs, you are a low-profile and low-maintenance guest, imparting little change or judgment excepting what is beneficial or desired for cultural exchange. 2) Low-cost: you travel on a tight budget, which requires you to avoid tourist traps like all-inclusive vacations, hotels, and organized tours. You avoid shopping and buy almost nothing but necessities, spend your money on simple travel (preferably terrestrial, like trains or buses, going short distances rather than long-haul flights), and stay with locals that you know through friends, family, or travel communities like couch-surfing. You don’t buy souvenirs or foods made of unsustainable resources (i.e. rare wood products, turtle shell jewellery, eating rare or endangered animals) but contribute to local arts and crafts or culture in other ways. You avoid renting cars or hiring taxis and take the local transportation, or better yet, walk more. Cycling or hitch-hiking are also lotourism friendly. 3) Localized: you stick around in an area long enough to know it, see every corner (especially outside the city centre or touristic attractions) and the surrounding suburbs or country side. You stay where you want to be, living a day approximating the usual life there. You spend your money in such a way that financial resources go directly into the pockets of locals (locally-owned businesses, local guides, surrounding farms instead of imported/mass produced foods) and you support the local economy (avoiding international tour operators or foreign-owned companies in all your purchasing decisions). 4) Lonely: last but not least, you travel alone, travel by yourself to be better immersed in your surroundings, alone with your thoughts and feelings to fully absorb, process, and understand your new environment. Be vulnerable, meet local people, avoid speaking your own language, catering to the needs of a travel companion, or doing anything that you don't feel like doing or going

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anywhere you don't feel like going. Leave your Lonely Planet/Frommers/Fosters/etc. at home and just ask people for help as you go, talking to as many strangers as you can. Don't stay in hostels where you'll get swallowed up into a group of other tourists, don't travel with a tour group or on a big bus with "rich tourists, coming your way" printed on the license plate. Travel more spontaneously, irresponsibly even, at the mercy of a local tip, with the adrenaline-rush of taking the wrong bus or the long bus, ending up on the wrong train, showing up in a place you have no clue about, learning from scratch and not a guide book. You can go for as long or short as you want, book one-way tickets, have undefined destinations, a flexible schedule, and a trip planned only one day ahead at a time So, for any other lotourists out there, get the word out on the new word. And, if you understand the idea, agree with the philosophy, and like the way it works in travel, spread the word so more lotourism can exist in this globalizing, traveling world of ours.

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Vignette: by Sanchari Sur

Sur, Sanchari. “Vignette.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 54-8. Web.

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Vignette by Sanchari Sur

It was still not morning yet. Calcutta was slowly waking up to a day that would be as busy as any other day in the life of the city. Close to the tram depot, the newspaper boys busily sorted their shares from a vendor. In a while they would all be on their way, aiming rolled papers perfectly to land in verandas of any floor possible. The chaywalla boiled milk in a large pan. This would suffice for his day’s sell-off tea. The roads smelled of the night gone by of sleep; of peace. And yet she had woken up very early and walked all the way to the Tram Depot. She had to take the first tram down Chitpore Road, not on compulsion. It was her desperate bid to get back to what she believed were her roots – her city, her old, laid back, backdated Calcutta. Sitting at this old, run down tram depot waiting for her tram to start, she looked around. Even the driver and conductor gave her strange looks when she asked when the train would start. With her appearance and gait, she was perhaps the least expected passenger, particularly at this time of the day. She The wooden seats, the bell, the rope hanging from it passing from one compartment to another, the dented steel bodies, the numerous half torn advertisements inside the compartment! All misfits in the fast pace of the metro city! She was in a system that no longer held heritage as one of the important things. Business was like any other system, that made money and had no connection whatever with heritage, unlike what they claimed. Perhaps, it was her in selfish interest that she had proposed a joy tram ride for a group of donors who were coming for a visit to the city. “A joy tram-ride?” everybody had looked at her as if she had gone mad. “And what would we sell them this way? Broken vehicles, drooping wires, 18th century fans that hardly work, snail’s pace? For heavens’ sake, Lady!” It was a heritage that no other city in India had. It was a heritage that this mystic city had continued to nurture over centuries. True, it might have lost its old glory,

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but Calcutta Tramways still remains a heritage that makes any Bengali proud. But it did not appeal to the bosses. They genuinely felt that it was not necessary to make them go through the torture of a heritage ride. A well prepared presentation in an air conditioned banquet hall should be enough, they had said. But she was not convinced. And when she went on arguing, they had said, to her surprise, that it was time to leave heritage behind and go ahead with time. She did not have to give them any more answers, but she had to find answers for herself. Slowness, as is the greatest complaint against the heritage vehicle, is what stood at a stark contrast with the life around the city which outgrew it. And yet, like an old yet steady man, the tram both runs and walks considering the speed of modern vehicles around it. Riding a tram, she had always felt was like going back in time! As the tram left the depot, the loud rumbling of the metal wheels on the metal tracks drifted her mind to a time when she could or could not have been there. Back in the time when this semidilapidated piece of vehicle was not considered useless and a burden! And it stands as a silent witness to all the changes the city has gone through over a century and more. It connected her to history. The glory of those days filled her with a strange optimism that she had not felt in ages. It was a time when the adjoining areas had no resemblance to their modern day appearance. As her tram ambled past Lal Bazar, she could almost smell the blood, tears, and breathings of the many who died in the gibbet that had once stood right on the place her tram was crossing – some innocent, some guilty. This part of the city always left her a little unnerved, be it the uniformed policemen or the rows of black police vehicles standing around the gate. She had not known a policeman, not even talked to one in all her life and she wondered how they were. Would they be like any of us? Or would their uniforms add to their personality a certain weight that becomes difficult to understand for the rest of us mere mortals? As she pulled her mind away from the uncomfortable feeling, she heard the faint and melancholy strains of the Azaan at the Nakhoda mosque just down the road. She realized it was a Friday, hence her luck at this hour. It grew louder and more touching. Even though she did not understand a word of it, almost instinctively she pulled the dupatta over her head. The green columns that could only partly be seen from her seat shimmered in the morning sun.

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The architecture of this grand building always filled her with a certain reverence that she could never explain. Being out of reach, perhaps, made it even more enigmatic and inviting. She wanted to feel the peaceful silence of the prayers that reverberated across each pillar and wall of the age old mosque. The hymns continued as she passed the red ornate gates of the illustrious Jorasanko Thakurbari. She curbed her instincts of entering the gates and take a stroll in the lawns that she worshipped. She remembered how she had aimlessly roamed around the various rooms and terraces of one of the many houses wrapped in history. Again, she thought, a silent testimonial to the years gone by and the times that the city and the country has seen. She was not a student of history and her sense of dates and events in the past would probably not have been immaculate, but she had a strange connection to the years gone by. She could somehow always connect to those times. She smiled to herself. The sounds of the Azaan, these old city streets, the history – it was all seeping inside her. And then her smile broadened as one by one she saw the strangest names on huge posters on both sides of the road as her tram passed the Jatra Para. It had always remained the same, except for the newer trends of names and faces. Long Live Chitpore Road and Long live Calcutta Tramways, she prayed silently! Smiling and overdone faces of actors, less and more known, adorned both sides of the roads while other hoardings announced forthcoming live performances. The concept of Jatra had always been a mystery to her – the sheer grandeur and overdoing in terms of make-up, acting, voice modulation and all other aspects – and how it had kept generations of spectators in awe in all of rural Bengal! She wondered what brought actors even from Mumbai all the way to Bengal to be a part of this tradition. “Tradition,” the one word that wove all the feelings from the moment she started her journey, was what kept her going and rooted in this century old city, with an equally old transport system, heritage architecture from an age long gone, a tradition of acting that has remained in its own glory even after so many ages have passed – it all culminated into her being, a true Calcuttan! As she approached Kumortuli she realized that it had not struck her that Durga Pujo was round the corner. The entrance to the potters’ colony and all around it had been strewn with half made images of unadorned Durga idols slaying their respective Demon King. She loved the smell of wet earth as

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slowly, layer after layer it created the goddess and her carrier, and it had always remained the same. Just like the huge ‘Bahon’ that was now carrying her through her trip down history and heritage! From one of the by lanes she could see the river that had been the life blood of the city for centuries, and her mind leapt in joy. She would complete her journey in a while and she knew where it would be. A cup of tea at the Kumortuli Ghat and she could start life again; older and wiser like the many existences she lived through her ride today.

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Review – Makarand Paranjape’s Acts of Faith: Journeys into Sacred India by Arup K Chatterjee

Chatterjee, Arup K. “Review – Makarand R. Paranjape’s Acts of Faith: Journeys into Secret India.” Coldnoon: Travel Poetics 1.3 (2012): 59-65. Web.

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Review – Makarand R. Paranjape’s Acts of Faith: Journeys into Sacred India by Arup K Chatterjee

I am circling around God, around the ancient tower, and I have been circling for a thousand years, and I still don't know if I am a falcon, or a storm, or a great song. (Rilke, 76) “I realize unexpectedly that I have become a pilgrim without a God, a wanderer from city to city and from village to village seeking a place where the mind may find rest, but finding none”…Travel, at this point, takes on a totally different dimension, resembling the age-old metaphor of the round of lives that we go through, travelling from birth to death. This is no longer the travel of a European adventurer visiting distant shores in search of conquest or wonder, but the travel of a soul from life to life, in search of everlasting peace or freedom from process. (Paranjape, 91)

And here comes the turning point in Paranjape’s travels. The subject in the excerpt is Paul Brunton’s book A Search in Secret India, published in 1934. Brunton’s travels in India follow a travelogy of lavishness. In the beginning of the book, according to Paranjape, Brunton attributes “higher powers of observation and logic” to the Western traveller. This prepares the ground for the dialectic between the Orientalist, who is Brunton, and the Oriental(s), especially Ramana Maharshi, which is soon to follow in Paranjape’s analysis. However, another crucial matter is how Brunton’s estimation of the Western traveller qualifies the latter as the rightful colonizer of the land. Colonialism, to begin with is not an oppressive force. It begins with the independence in economic and political subjectivities to travel and trade. This is also the birth of the technical. It is this technique that Brunton prides his nation with, that to reinforce and reinscribe he visits India.

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Yet, quite the opposite is to be faced with. Braced with the complacency of Raj Brunton is forced to a realisation of his loss of svaraj. In his encounters with Ramana Maharshi that follow he undergoes bhanganyaya, “the deconstruction of the body itself”; he is drawn to the brink of a nervous breakdown. His pursuit of the picturesque or the spectacular weakens considerably as he begins to travel inwards. The sacred and the secular or the colonizer and the colonisable are no longer entities that lie outside of his body. They are no longer objects of his speculation. They are the constituents of his very spirit, as they always were. “Brunton is no longer a traveller; paradoxically he is no longer a pilgrim”. The traveller has been transformed into the spirit that impregnates objects as they are seen in the eyes of a traveller. This spirit is consciousness itself. One cannot be conscious of it. As soon as Brunton claims consciousness over it, and in turn his own sagehood, he loses the spirit. He becomes “boring” and “incomprehensible” in Paranjape’s terms; in effect he loses the very journey on the road to svaraj. Paranjape’s next subject of inquiry is Roger Housden’s Travels Through Sacred India. It is sharply at odds with Brunton’s text. Housden’s travels do not trail the classic bildungsroman that the average European traveller in search of the picturesque populates. His India is the most secret insofar as it is the most open. It is susceptible to globalization and liberalization, both that bring in illusions of its progress and purdahs on its naked demographic, economic and as such spiritual disparities. Housden does not discover, establish, or revive spirituality. Neither is Indian spirituality presumed as an a priori space. Instead it is treated as a manifestation of the individual spirit. “‘The sacrality of the place is interior to the pilgrim, as well as being externally located at some physical place’”. With regard to this Housden’s Travels problematize the metamorphosis of the concept of pilgrimage into one of tourism, in the Hinduism of this modernity. The spirit of such pilgrimages having now become a secularizing force merely adds to the utility of the site or the monument. Housden therefore celebrates not the promise of the unknown but the unknown in the ordinary. While the standard practice in any travel discourse is to specialize or glamourize the travel site Housden functions through a deglamourization of it, or by delineating the deglamourizing effects of modern touristic consciousness. However, he does not discriminate either

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the pilgrim or himself from the tourist. No travel itinerary can be without mercenary suffixes. Situated today in globalization, or an order of fragmenting nationalities, travel writing is on an untenable course. Such is the popular doubt, and consequently there has been a huge decline in theoretical and philosophical writings on travel and travel literature in the last ten years. The reason behind this is that the travelled is seen as calculable, and therefore exhaustible. That globalization is detrimental to travel literature is a surprising notion. Topology is finite while experience is not. While representations of racism, colonialism, imperialism or linguistic and cultural jingoism that emanate out of travel writings are symptoms of a temporal disturbance of identities, the moment of the travel experience is timeless. So, racism for the other, for instance is nothing but a trope to identify with what the ego recognizes as the privileged self. This however, follows in the deferral of the transcendental ego and the phenomenological intersubjectivity that is at the heart of a travelling consciousness. Tourism thus becomes not only “predatory” as Housden and Paranjape call it, but also cannibalistic because it feeds on the human essence that has been de-subjectivised and de-linked from the essence that the travelling self is a part of. In other words, the spirit of a non-dual human consciousness undergoes an endless series of dualistic differentiations and categorizations as othered from the self. So, the self rather occupied in differentiating itself from the other starts substituting the other with whatever it travels. Even the individual other becomes a constant signification of a persona or an identity of a class. Subsequently, from the traveller’s eyes cultures, communities and traditions get essentialized. And this is something that still happens, something that is as true of the foreign as the native traveller. “‘What matters – what will set apart a pilgrim from the ordinary traveller – is whether you are willing to make the tirtha, from this world of mundane reality to one in which the journey, the goal, and the pilgrim himself, are all expressions of the One Divine Whole’”, where the finite and differentiating self is just a part of the infinite other, the spiritus mundi. “‘(T)he divine, rather than being somewhere above and beyond life, is…even in the squalor that seems to be its very antithesis.’” Paranjape’s comparative analysis of Brunton and Housden is just preceded by a chapter that describes the general politics of travel writing. In

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Rushdie’s words “‘Adventuring is…by and large a movement that originates in the rich parts of the planet and heads for the poor’”. Looking retrospectively at this chapter neutralizes the perils of such a thesis. To say that largely the only travellers have been people with wealth or patronage is historically true. However, it is an aggressive thesis that delegitimizes the phenomenological development of the anonymous pedestrian. So, the thesis is true only insofar as it has crushed those travels that did not undertake passages across oceans, rivers, continents or constituencies. In the modern imagination travel is undoubtedly a matter of prosthetic movement over distances traceable on a small scale map. It does not account for daily travels to and from the school or the workplace. Paranjape metes out justice to those pedestrians by hierarchizing the humilities contained in travel. He privileges the pilgrims and “other humble travellers”. And it is clear to us, now in hindsight, that not merely the destination of a sacred place makes the traveller a pilgrim – it is the spirit whose toils and spiritual development do so. The pilgrim is never prequalified as one. Yet, far from privileging religious processions to holy shrines, Paranjape deconstructs the very idea of the presumed certainty of this holy site. There cannot be any certainty principle behind spiritual fulfilment; sacrality is not an object of discovery to be found on a treasure hunt or at a given location. Its attainment lies purely in its elusiveness. The point where svaraj seems to be complete is the point when the toil for it comes to an end. So the spiritual is in travelling and every travel is spiritual. Paranjape centres his book by these three chapters which are, exceptionally, not based on his personal spiritual or physical journeys. In the rest we find the writer himself travelling. The centre acts as a zone of his consciousness of history and literature. It is a fulcrum that governs his own circlings around a God, that is at once sacred and profane. And at the core of it comes the turning point that was also the beginning: the horrific anxiety of “Who am I?” Brunton is shown temporarily resigned or reconciled or content with the charisma of the Maharshi. He is saved from self-destruction, and is revived. But Paranjape does not resolve, redeem, or explain Brunton completely, even when he counterpoises him against Housden. The reason could be Paranjape’s own psychological identification with Brunton that he uncannily reveals towards the end in his Epilogue, in the form of a partial disclosure that his student makes to him about his own book of poems which

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is itself titled Partial Disclosure. This book, we are told, comprises three sections. The student reports that in the third section although there is a shift from the “physical to the metaphysical” and the “carnal to the spiritual” this dynamic spirituality does not “erase the unresolved tensions of the more ordinary kind (of love)”. So while Brunton has been a traveller Paranjape has been the lover. While Acts of Faith definitely makes a “forward movement” post-Brunton it inevitably makes a “backward” one too by eventually uniting the higher and the lower quests of the spirit, in the traveller and the lover. As Paranjape himself says, “‘the republic of the spirit’ is a democracy, not a dictatorship”. There is no hierarchy here among the low and the high. So, just as it is noble for Paranjape to live and die as though love mattered, it is noble for the traveller to live and die as though the travel mattered more than the arrival. Like ideal love is the renunciation of control over the object of love, so is travel at its spiritual best when control over its object of travel is renounced. Both clinging on to life and the site of travel with gaze, superstition and a temporal eros, are instead moments of thanatos. They secularise life and travel. They hasten death of the body and the shrine. Travel literature on India has both seen a boom and a philosophical decline recently. In that context Paranjape’s Journeys to Sacred India is a refreshing oddity. The community of spirits is not entirely welcoming, if not a catalyst of xenophobia, for those interested in secular forms of travel. To them the book does not glorify the sacred at the cost of the secular. It does not even differentiate between the two. In this regard it is a modern Indian pioneer to trace the spiritual cartography of the nation within dynamic system of love and faith. Objects, spaces and faces reappear in our journeys, not as the same anymore, but as new personae, for, we ourselves have grown in the process of our circling journeys. Round and round we go; what determines whether it is a sacred journey or not is the quality of our intention (Paranjape, 98).

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Acts of Faith: Journeys into Sacred India: Makarand R. Paranjape; Pub. by Hay House Publishers (India) Pvt. Ltd., Muskaan Complex, Plot No. 3, B-2 Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, 110070. No. of pages 232; Rs. 299.

Other Work Cited: Rilke, Rainer Maria. “I Live my Life” in News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness, ed. Robert Bly. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1995.

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Editorial Board

EDITOR Arup K Chatterjee Poet, Critic and Researcher Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, India

ASSISTANT EDITOR Amrita Ajay Researcher, and Teacher of English University of Delhi, India

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS K Satchidanandan Poet, and Former Professor of English, University of Calicut Former Editor of Indian Literature, The journal of Sahitya Akademi New Delhi, India Lisa Thatcher Writer Sydney, Australia

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Sudeep Sen Poet, and Editor of Atlas Magazine Editorial Director of Aark Arts Publishers New Delhi, India, London UK GJV Prasad Poet, Novelist, and Critic Professor of English, Jawaharlal Nehru University Vice Chair, Indian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies Editor of Journal of the School of Languages New Delhi, India Sebastien Doubinsky Poet, Novelist, and Critic Researcher, and Lecturer, Aesthetics and Communication Aarhus University, Denmark

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