Emily Carr (the Canadian artist and writer) once wrote I think that one's art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows. For a while now, I have been planning to start an e-zine that would bring the reader closer to the essentials of creativity and to topics that can be encompassed within the broad boundaries of all things creative. For most of us, the definition of the word creativity usually leans towards music, dance, painting and literature. However, creativity in its entirety engulfs subjects, skills and topics well beyond the general description of the term that we have grown up with. In my opinion, a surgeon who has established a new procedure or a chef with an innovative recipe should share the creative stage with the artists of the world. For they have all nurtured that silent
the world. For they have all nurtured that silent growth of creativity within themselves. In this magazine, I hope to bring to the reader, information and news pertaining to a wide variety of subjects that broadly fall under the ubiquitous umbrella called Creativity and that would include essays, critical reviews, interviews and information of all kinds (from technical to the curious) pertaining to various subjects. The newsletter will also keep you updated with upcoming concerts, exhibitions and the other events that you may be interested in. If you think that you can contribute to this e-zine, then please feel free to write to me and send your submissions to: email@example.com
In This Issue 05
Encounter With a Legend
Origami: The Ancient Art
Eye Spy: TMC Cartoon
Author: Kersey MeherHomji
11 The Ghazal and Its Lingual Migration Author: Avijit Sarkar
ONCE MORE: An English Ghazal
Tête-à-Tête: With Bhupen Thakker
Poet: Bharan Narula
AN ENCOUNTER WITH A
In 1950s and 60s, my joys were watching cricket at the Brabourne Stadium and listen to every concert that the maestro Pankaj Mullick gave in Bombay. The last of his concerts that I attended was at the Metro Cinema in Mumbai. I even remember humming his evergreen melodies during my trip to the theatre Ye raaten, ye mausam, Chale pawan ki chaal, Guzar gaya ye zamaana, Tere mandir kaa Hun deepak. It was during the concert intermission that the opportunity arose. An occasion that I had been dreaming about
I remember the hesitation on my side, the concealed trepidation. What if he were to get annoyed being approached by a stranger? This was during the end of 1969 and my plans of migrating to Australia in 1970 were afoot. I may never get another opportunity to tell him as to how much I enjoyed his concerts and how much I admired his voice. I picked up the necessary courage to walk up to him and laid open my adulations. To my delight he greeted me very warmly. What are you doing, young man? I told him that I was a research virologist and that I would be migrating to Australia the very next year. He wished me good luck and promised that he will sing a song especially for me. And he did, to my ecstasy. He started his post-interval session with Kaun desh hai jana, babu, kaun desh hai jaan and added sambhal ke paav uthana. On 26 January 1970, Pankaj Mullick was awarded the Padma Shree award by the Indian government. I was perhaps more elated than him and wrote a long letter congratulating him on his achievements. To my utter astonishment, just before I left
Mumbai (Bombay) for Sydney, I received a two-page hand-written and beautifully worded letter from my hero, wishing me the very best for my success in Australia. I felt ten feet tall when he ended the letter with
Â“Admiringly yours, Pankaj MullickÂ” The letter, reproduced here, has been preserved with love for over forty years. (1905 to 1978), adorned Indian cinema from 1931 to 1969 as a singer, music director and actor with hits like the movie DoctorÂ 1941. He composed over 5000 songs in 50 years and led the way for stalwarts like K.L. SDailgal, S.D. Burman, Hemant Kumar and others.
ORIGAMI: THE ANCIENT ART It might be hard to believe that a simple piece of paper can be folded into a structure like the one shown in the photograph below. The fact that is entirely possible, without cutting or gluing paper, is astounding, to say the least. The model below, in fact, is the creation of Satoshi Kamiya and the art dedicated to creating such amazing forms and structures is called Origami. However, theres more to origami than just its name. Where did it come from? Were the Japanese really the first people to fold paper? Why do we think of paper cranes when we think of origami? Who folds paper and why do we still do it? The word origami has its origin in two Japanese terms: ori (to fold) and kami (paper). The history of origami is tied to the history of paper itself and there are certain uncertainties in this subject. While history books might indicate paper was invented in China 105 A.D, archeological evidence suggests that paper might have been created earlier than this. One would assume that folding of paper would have been a natural consequence of this invention. Paper came into Japan during the 6th century and it was in this land that paper folding became an art form and evolved into what we know today as origami. Initially, paper was expensive and therefore not available to the general public. In fact, paper folding was not a hobby and was used more during formal functions.
For example: "Origami Tsuki" was a folded piece of paper that accompanied a valuable gift and it served as a certificate of authenticity. "Noshi" was folded-paper that accompanied gifts and functioned as a token of good fortune. "Tsutsumi" was folded paper used as formal gift wrappers. These ceremonial folds were quite simple to make and symbolized sincerity and purity. Paper folding also developed in Spain sometime between the 8th and 12th century. Historians believe that paper and paper-making was introduced into Europe from Asia via the Silk Route. It is not clear whether paper-folding was invented in Europe independently or if it was introduced from Asia. Paper folding was documented for the first time in 1797 in the book called Folding of 1000 Cranes (by Senbazuru Orikata). This was followed by a series of books called Window on Midwinter by Kan No Mado. These books were more about Japanese customs and contained two sections on paper folding. Many terms were used to describe this art form ("orikata", "orisue", "orimono", or "tatamigami"). However, the modern day term origami was established the 1890's. In 1950, Akira Yoshizana and Sam Randlett developed a standard set of origami symbols to describe how to fold paper into models. Currently, there are thousands of published origami books. The art form continues to evolve and it has gone well beyond the traditional definitions of origami. Origami styles and techniques now include entities like technical origami,mathematical origami, contemporary origami, modular origami, wet folding origami, dollar bill origami and business card origami.
In fact, it may be a good idea to try one of the simple designs yourself Â– an Origami Parrot!!
With Avijit Sarkar
The Ghazal and Its Lingual Migration The ghazal is a form of poetry that is often seen as an expression of emotions like love and, at times, the expression of the pain of loss and separation in love. However, the literal meaning of the word ghazal (derived from the Persian language) is a dialogue with a loved one The form is an ancient one, with its origins in the 6th century preIslamic Arabic verse called the qasidaa. The structural requirements of the ghazal are similar in stringency to those of the Petrarchan sonnet. In its style and content, it is a genre which has shown its capability to express an extraordinary variety of expression around its central themes of love and separation. It is one of the principal poetic forms that the Indo-PersianArabic civilization has offered to the world. At the outset, we need to look at the essential structure of the ghazal. The ghazal consists of rhyming couplets and a refrain. The salient features of the ghazal can be best summarised as follows: ●A ghazal is composed of five or more couplets and each couplet is referred to as a sher
●Both lines of the first couplet end with a repetitive refrain. This repetitive refrain, consisting of one or more words, is known as the radeef of the ghazal. This first couplet is referred to as the matlaa of the ghazal ●The second line in each of the rest of the repetitive radeef ●The radeef in each line is preceded by a rhyme known as the qaafiyaa. In Arabic, Persian and Turkic each couplet is called a bayt and each line within the bayt is known as a misraa ●The rhyming scheme of the ghazal is therefore of the type AA, BA, CA etc. To understand this structure, here is an example of two couplets from a ghazal:
Apni Aankho Ke Samandar Mein Utar Jaane De Tera Mujrim Hoon Mujhe Doob Ke Mar Jaane De (Let me step into the ocean of your eyes I am your guilty one - let me sink and die in that ocean) Ae Naye Dost Main Samjhoonga Tujhe Bhee Apnaa, Pehle Maazi Ka Koi Zakhm To Bhar Jaane De (O my newfound friend, I will consider you to be mine But only after my past wounds have healed) In the above couplets, the phrase Jaane De is the radeef, the phrase before Jaane De establishes the structure of the Qafiyaa. Note that in the first couplet (the matlaa of the ghazal) the radeeef appears in both the lines and in the second couplet it appears only at the end of the second line. ●There can be no enjambment across the couplets in a strict ghazal; each couplet must depict a complete thought process within itself. Sometimes one comes across a ghazal that has one central theme running through all its couplets. Such a ghazal is called a musallal ghazal or a continuous ghazal. The ever popular ghazal Chupke Chupke Raat Din is a good example of a musallal ghazal ●All the couplets, and each line of each couplet, must share the same meter ●In some ghazals the poet's name is featured somewhere in the last couplet. This final couplet of the ghazal is called the maktaa
The ghazal spread through south-east Asia during the 12th century under Islamic sultanates and through Sufi saints. Although the original languages used were Persian and Urdu, the ghazal is today found in many languages including Arabic, Turkish, Pashto, Kashmiri, Hindi and Gujarati. Under the influence of Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 1832), this poetic form gained popularity in Germany. It was used extensively by Friedrich Ruckert and August von Platen in their works. In Spain, the poet Federico Garcia Lorca experimented with this form and structure. The ghazal migrated to the English language in the last three decades and many poets have since then, experimented with this form and rhyming structure. However it was the IndianAmerican poet Agha Shahid Ali who introduced the English ghazal, in its classic form, to the world. His book Ravishing Disunities - Real Ghazals in English contains works from many Heather McHugh American poets who have experimented with the ghazal in English. I would like to incorporate a few couplets from an English Ghazal Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun by Heather McHugh, specifically because this piece is faithful to the rhyme-refrain structure of the ghazal together with its bound on the meter of the couplets and the length of the couplet lines. Too volatile, am I? too voluble? too much a word-person? I blame the soup: I'm a primordially stirred person. Two pronouns and a vehicle was Icarus with wings. The apparatus of his selves made an absurd person. I need a hundred more of you to make a likelihood. The mirror's not convincing-- that at-best inferred person.
As time's revealing gets revolting, I start looking out. Look in and what you see is one unholy blurred person. McHugh, you'll be the death of me -- each self and second studied! Finally, heres another ghazal in English written by the Srinagar based poet Waseem Malla, that I found quite interesting: Asked for my name, my heart blundered your name, With my soul, into my body, has entered your name; Every agitated thought led me along your way, Every pacified emotion bewildered your name; They force me to take gods other than You, O Divine! Did I sin when I uttered Your name? My memory- buried under brown sands of time, Your images stand blurred, and blurred your name; Your touch relieved me of all the suffering, Every intoxication faded when I heard your name; Moon, above the heaven, showed me your face, Into my soul, the wind whispered your name; A sight of envy for every eye to behold, Waseem To my name, when stands anchored your name.
Once More An English Ghazal from Bharan
Pondering the great questions of life once more, Wondering where we are, why we are, once more Reaching out to clench the rose of greater purpose, Only to grasp the stem and spikes, pain, once more Blood streams and seems so pure , so raw like truth Flows without face, without motive, once more. Love must be the solution, the potion to true happiness, What of those cursed that see through its veil, once more. Exploring the great jungles and deserts of mind, Yet finding no peace, no harmony, no reply, once more. Eyes close and in trance, asking Rahi the poor faqeer, He says discover the answers in life, so live. And ask no more
Bhupen Thakker TMC: You are an accountant by profession. What inspired you to write? When did you start writing? BHUPEN: Before I answer your question I would like to express my thanks to whatever makes me write. Also at the end of the day it is about publishing and getting an audience. As you will appreciate I am going through my trials on the latter. Getting back to your question. One night about ten years ago I was very restless. The only thing I could think of doing was do some writing. I wrote a short story. I did feel a rest in my voice. Accounting is about numbers. Writing is about emotional values where 1+1 can become anything one wants it to be. As you may know Bhupen Khakhar the artist was also an accountant Red rest. Let me explain these last two words.. At the end of each of my answers I will add a few colour words. Your readers may enjoy putting these together which makes a minute poem. TMC: Do you prefer a particular type of writing? For example, would you rather indulge in poetry than prose? BHUPEN: I suppose when I seriously started or at least when I felt a deeper connection, poems came out. I performed at the NSW Poetry sprint where like a slam one has to perform and not read two one minute poems. I enjoyed that experience and
what really spurred me on was winning the sprint. Then a lot of poetry followed. Lately though I have been doing prose. I think the story I want to tell is better suited to this. So in essence the characters or the storyline dictate the medium I think. Orange touches. TMC: Many of your poems have descriptions and properties of colours embedded in their central themes. I was wondering if there a more profound or esoteric reason for this? BHUPEN: I suppose colours are a certain kind of communication. Also the chakra system intrigued me so I studied this a bit. By using colour perhaps I am touching my own chakras or helping the reader touch their own. When I do this I feel my writing gets a depth. As you know, generally speaking, there are just 7 standard plots used to tell stories.( Rags to riches, achieving a goal etc). I feel my use of colour perhaps touches that other world beyond the plots. This interests me. Many havelis around the world use colour as part of worship. You may have come across this. It is a form of therapy for the worshipper. I guess that conversation is what I am trying to reach. Yellow improves.
For a Pink Pearl
Pink is one of the gateways to true understanding and you thought it was light red merges with white to create pink orange love is essential for this and only yellow true connections make this happen
TMC: I am aware that your readership is not restricted to people from the sub-continent. You have exposed your works to the broader Australian readers. Do you have any perceptions about Australian readers that might be different from readers, say, from Indian backgrounds? BHUPEN: As you may know I am not fluent in any of the Indian languages. I express myself best in English. I however find that the inclusion of colour in my literary conversation gives it an Indian voice somehow. The Anglo Saxon audiences find this appealing as many are so interested in India. As to Indian audiences I feel that my voice reaches them too as many are not truly
in touch with the essence of our culture. My use of colour perhaps evokes this touch. In some sense I try to reach a certain beauty. And beauty as you know is a universal language. Green love , Green Courage. TMC: Are you involved with any local literary organizations? In what way are these organizations helpful to a writer or poet? BHUPEN: When I first started I regularly performed at the Tuesday Open Mike Poetry night held at the Friend in Hand in Glebe. There are many such opportunities in Sydney every week. It gave me confidence in my work and voice and I entered many competitions. I was highly commended in the CJ Dennis awards. I also am a member of NSW writersÂ’ centre and Pen International which allowed me to meet writers. I was also able to meet new ideas and voices. And also having my work judged. Ultimately though the writer is an observer and as time passes being part of a group is a lesser need I think. The journey is to find your voice and the groups and organisations need to validate that the voice has some merit. I would also like to thank ILASA run by the wonderful Rekha Rajvanshi. They have many poetry nights and at one I was invited to recite to one of the best audiences I have come across. In my early stages I also did a writing courseÂ… an open university programme. Light Blue words, Indigo Blue sounds. TMC: What have been, in your opinion, your major works and milestones in your path as a writer and poet?
BHUPEN: I suppose the emotional rest comes from actually writing and reaching an audience. The material comes from everywhere. I also find that once a work is behind me then after a while it may feel substandard. I enjoy the performances. I wrote a poem about a 10 year old girl who has never spoken. The first words she utters I found moving. The other work I enjoyed doing is called I discover the world in India. I have no idea where all this comes from. To use an old saying I suppose I am just a vessel or a typist. Something else spurs things on. Something else takes hold. And that in some way is satisfying. I always feel that whatever I do I must do with imagining the face expressions of the audience in my head. In other words do they actually get my story. Navy Blue Pink Gold TMC: You have recently published a book. Can you tell us something about this book? BHUPEN: Its not actually published but in the process of being sent to agents etc. The story is set in the future with the supposition that there will be new Gandhis, new Nehrus, New Leonard Da Vincis, New Artists, New Music. Its an exploration of the cycle of the world and life. Each character gives us a gift and they live in unpredictable and exotic locations. Sometimes a child is the conduit for the exchange of thoughts.I am also looking at what childhood factors made these people who they are. Purple Watches.
TMC: What are your future plans as a writer? Is there anything in the offing? BHUPEN: Writing is like training for a sport. One must do a little every day. A bit like Riyaaz practiced by classical singers. Somerset Maugham aimed for a 1000 words a day. So one needs to be continuous. Thats why blogs, twitter etc are helpful. It helps to keep the craft going. I now have a second book already in my head. My list of writing ideas gets longer and longer. Often many of the ideas come together in unexpected ways. Poems are a good medium in that one can cover a lot of ground in a few words. And something else must want you to do it. Then the story and output continues with colours peeping in and out. I urge all people who wish to write to start right away. Only then your own unique voice will emerge. Beyond everything though I must express gratitude for the time and space I get to do something creative. Even through many many rejections, this space somehow remains and urges me on Gold and White wink!