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Poetry Circle Meets Again – October Session

It was that time of the month. Poetry reading time!  So, we gathered to read, to understand, to appreciate, to improvise.

What makes the Poetry Circle readings at the British Council different from other poetry reading events is that here, the poets lay bare their wares and then,  the poems are scrutinized, with fellow poets gracious in their praise and criticism. There is no place for any kind of ego hassle or pride to disrupt the poetry readings. No wonder, only the bravest among them all dare to come for the poetry readings!

Of course, we have poets who like to read poems from books they have come across and share it with the rest. This helps in expanding poetic horizons. And we did that too!

The theme for the poetry reading today was ‘Festivity’ (since October this year has been filled with festivals and celebration).

Poet Sivakami Velliangiri wrote two poems on the theme.


I shall the quote the smaller poem titled, CELEBRATION.


to my brother’s house.

Memories search for childhood.

Silver and gold tinsels find nesting

places. The tree is a pot stand.

What does it matter?

Supplications constitute festivity.

In this small town of so many churches

which church do I belong to?

It has to be brick.

And the steeples have to proclaim

the baptism of a baby

pronounced Monica.

Christmas has come.


Mr. Chandramohan Naidu, a multifaceted personality read some poems of Kamala Das and Maya Angelou. A real pleasure it was to hear the poetry as the emotions of the poets overwhelmed us all.




Shri Paniker spoke about how certain aspects of poetry could be entirely subjective, but be a poem of emotion in its own right. The poetry reading gave rise to several other topics that poets and writers write about now-a-days affected by society.









Finally, I read out my poem titled, CELEBRATION.

Bland it was


until you came.

Crawling into my womb

you made my bored interiors


as if I was enjoying,

praying in a festival.


Until we walked

hand in hand

around the sacred fire

I only celebrated myself,

my void, my solitude.

Today, I happily indulge

in marital festivity.



with my mound of words,

my prism of perspiring perspectives

I was indifferent to life,

arrogant to opinion.

Now, evolving, changing,

humbled, I celebrate.


What can be more inspiring and joyous when creative people get together to talk unabashedly about poetry, art, life itself in the confines of a place that lets you be You! Our Poetry Reading today only confirmed the fact why poets need to get together to celebrate!

See you next season. Happy Diwali.




Oh! Lord Ganesha,
your long elephantine trunk
blesses me limitlessly;
those big flappy ears of yours –
“Listen” they say, “talk less; forget the ‘I’, the ‘Me’.
That precious ivory tusk which you broke
to pen an enormous mythological tale still stands true
teaching me to make good with what I have.
That broken tooth makes me understand
 God resides even in that special child. 
Lord Vinayaka, Ganesh Bhagwaan, Humble pranaams 
from a chastened devotee on your special day!


News in Verse at Shailimar Times!

It just fit. Shailimar Times! Out of the blue!

Never thought of writing news in verse. But, here I am doing it. And, a regular weekly column at that.

I need to thank my dear friend Sonia Rao for being so adventurous and trusting of me. Just imagine! You are the Editor of a famous website Mumbai Mom. Com

when suddenly, you are suggested a weird idea of writing The News This Week in verse format and you are giving it a shot without a clue as to how the readers will respond!

Well, the readers seemed happy looking at the comments posted on my FB timeline.

So, without mentioning anything more, just go ahead and look out for this weekly column every Sunday at Mumbai Mom.Com for the news headlines that passed you by during the week.

The first post of Shailimar Times (yeah, Shail-i-maar Times) can be read here in the link below.

Shailimar Times.

shailimar times



Rendezvous with Priya Sarukkai Chabria

priya123When I saw a foreigner with a hat placed perfectly on her head and a long stylish chain dangling from her neck, lipstick and eye liner in place, I least expected the person to be the one I was to be meeting along with Sivakami on 9th August, 2016 at Amdavadi, T.Nagar.

I had met innumerable writers and poets before so, it wasn’t that I was over-awed or something. It was just that she seemed to pop out from the pages of history, an old timer writer, poet, novelist and translator from every angle!

What stood out (for me at least) as a stereotype perception of well known writers transformed into a tale of thoughts and emotions which I shared along with Sivakami with Priya Sarukkai Chabria.

For the uninformed (like I was earlier), Priya Sarukkai Chabria’s books include translation The Autobiography of a Goddess Andal (2015, Zubaan university of Chicago Press, with Ravi Shankar)  Bombay/Mumbai: Immersions (2013, Niyogi Books, non -fiction with photographer Christopher Taylor),  Generation 14 (2009, Zubaan-Penguin, speculative fiction) Nor Springtime Yet: Poems (HarperCollins (India), 2009), Dialogue & Other Poems (2006, Indian Academy of Literature)  and The Other Garden (1995, Rupa&Co., novel).  Awarded by the Indian Government for her Outstanding Contribution to Literature her works’ translated into six languages. She edits Poetry at Sangam ( .

Exhausted after attending the Bangalore Poetry festival, she was still exhuming the poetry fumes carried over from there, a kind of hangover that seeped into her persona and into our conversation. It was no wonder then that we began discussing poetry and poems impromptu; what kind of poems appealed, which didn’t, why not and the like.

It was a pleasure interacting with her. Of course, quite unlike us, she seemed to belong to a different class altogether, constantly caught in the world of words, passion and the literary life, travelling from place to place, putting words on fire wherever she went.


I got to share my Sahitya Akademi poem, Wings Of Flight with her while Sivakami shared some of her poems like The Great Compound Wall and On A Strike Day. We had a good time reading poetry, reading thoughts, reading life itself. It was then, that we discovered that all of us, irrespective of our standing in society have this vulnerable self that is waiting to get healed; and writing poetry was a great way of doing it.

After a light lunch we had a long drive and Priya promised to remember and keep in touch. It was a day that went well. There is nothing like sharing creative thoughts and emotions with personalities in the same field who have seen it all, done it all. One really benefits talking to them.

Thank You Priya. We hit it off well. Hoping to meet you soon again. And this time when we meet, your reading of Andal is due!priya2

Quoting from her book of poems, Not Springtime Yet, from the poem Ushas.

“My sister Nritti and I, Ushas, we

weave darkness and light. She’s The

Night who comforts through

darkness, lifting it, letting it run

through her fingers and I’m The

Dawn, smoothing brightness

across the bed of the sky, arching to

tuck it into the horizon, awakening

life to life. She’s said to turn reality

into dreams and nightmares. I

reverse her flow, I demand the other

terror: action. Between the two of us

goddesses there’s not much to choose…”

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Does it matter after all? An Open Mic for feminism!

poetry reading speakersposter

Saturday 6th August, 2016, an exciting theme event beckoned me. It called for poetry presentation on the topic of beauty and the pressures of looking good in society. And yeah, you got it right – it was about women!

Apart from the theme that interested me, the fact that certain speakers were also going to voice their views on the above mentioned topic confirmed my place in the crowd.


Sharada Vijay and Nandhitha Hariharan were the hosts for the event. Quite unlike other formal hosts, they put you at ease immediately irrespective of the fact whether you were performer or part of the audience.

The speakers belonging to different professions spoke about their views on beauty standards and how it affected them in life. Sruthakeerthi, an entrepreneur spoke eloquently about her attitude towards beauty, towards her body and society in general.


Swetha Sudhakar, a transgender spoke about the travails she has had to face for asserting her place in society. Her Tamil poetry was nice.poetryreading3

Charulatha Rangarajan’s claim to fame was her donation of her long hair to help cancer patients make wigs. She spoke quite dramatically. Her Tamil poetry was indeed a pleasant surprise.

Rutika Saraf, a fashion blogger spoke about how she encountered the needs and desires of women wanting to keep up beauty standards irrespective of age or generation.

Sharada Vijay, spoke about her long battle with physical abuse and how she came out of it scarred but willing to survive. The event was proof of her will to survive despite all odds. Her poetry was not the stereotype kind. It hit you in the face, made you feel uncomfortable and churned you inside out.

Nandhitha Hariharan, just out of her battle with depression read out her poem that made you squirm in your seat, reprimanding you internally to think twice before you used the word, ‘Slut’ again ever in your life.

Many other poets came forward to read out their poems related to the theme of beauty.

poetry speaking crowd.jpg

I was one among them. Incidentally, the poem that I read was composed almost a decade back and was mysteriously titled, Mirror Mirror on the Wall!

POETRY COUTURE was in whole an interesting concoction of creativity, poetry and feminism.

shailpoetry reading1

shailpoetry reading

Poetry Reading at British Council -August session

poetry reading images

A pleasant evening, the first Wednesday of the month, time for the regular schedule nay tradition of Poetry Reading at the British Council Library. It is something we poets in Chennai who are part of this religious poetry readers group look forward to every month, especially for the ones who come from afar only to read and savour poetry for what it is.

The theme for the month was Euphoria, already set by Vasanth Dev during last month’s Poetry Reading session.  It is not a compulsion that one should write or read a poem on that particular theme but it makes the session more interesting when one gets to read and hear different perspectives on the same topic.

Geetha Paniker was already there when Sivakami Velliangiri and I arrived.  As we got comfortable Paniker Sir also arrived. This time it seemed that many of the regulars were caught up with work but were kind enough to let us know about their forthcoming absence with regret simultaneously promising to definitely make it the next time.

I was asked to read so I started off with my poem titled, Euphoria.


The moment

between my father removing his hands

from my cycle, letting me free

and the high that I  experience as I fly

like I have biked all my life!


That one insane glance

at the white shining statue

of the Lord in the temple;

Unexplained tears

from famine like eyes

flooding completely.


The sensitive sensation

of holding a part of me

in my arms.

The emotion of ecstasy

as my child fills his stomach,

milky protein pouring

into his tiny mouth.


The literary orgasm

that I experience

as I relish a poem

from deep within.


Geetha Paniker then read her poem, Untitled which ravished the soul completely so much so that each one of us saw different meanings in it.

On the wings of a mystic retreat,

my soul flutters in an enigma,

heart erupts into a million sparks.

I am held captive in the twilight,

to the charm of the enchanting moon,

intoxicating me to a trance.


The whisper of the waves

mesmerize me

in mystical  silence of the night,

bleeding core finds its vicinity

soul seeks comfort

in sanctum of the ocean,

as a magical feeling opens within me,

releasing warmth and energy.


Being in the moonlit beach,

I breathe life for a moment,

the flawlessly shimmering waters,

reflect euphoric poetry,

from the depth of the ocean.


Sivakami Velliangiri read her sweet poem titled, Para-Gliding Over The Pattaya Sea. Only she can write such kind of poems!

I’m eager for a take-off, my husband frowns
I think, well now he is afraid of losing me.
What about my sari, what if it lifts up?” he asks,
Men, they have queer thoughts and worries.
I am not bothered, but he is conservative
so I borrow a churidar from one of the girls
wear it under my skirt. First of the women
in the team to take off; a matron hoists me up,
supple hands, then I am in midair high up
without my spectacles to see the sea. My fingers
might get the cramps, I think of my children
I hold on to dear life.

when my son sees my photo
on the coffee mug.
Back home, he said it was a photo trick.


Finally, Paniker Sir read out a poem in Malayalam written by Achutam Namboodri which he had successfully translated into English giving it the title, Within The Family.

I shall quote just a few lines since the poem is long.

“Release me from this cage

let me fly about freely in the sky.”


Is my daughter singing

what she learned in her text books

in the voice choked with sighs?


The electric flow generated

when those sweet sacred moments

touch the inner core of my heart,

lights up the whole world.


When the magnetic forces

in the milky-ways of the present

shower compassionate care on the small, small flames

rising like bud-shaped folded hands

in the ocean of tears

the infinite shades of imagination

swoon in the aroma consequently generated.


Two hours of poetry reading had passed us by leaving us with just enough time to read a few poems by other poets and fixing the theme for the next month.

What I particularly enjoy about these poetry reading sessions are that they are totally bereft of any ego hassles. We read. Other poets re-read. Improvisations are suggested. And poets are open to healthy literary criticism. What else is needed for creativity but to stretch its arms and embrace the warmth of others!

That’s all for now for this month from the Poetry Reading Circle at BC.

Will share more poetry moments with you next month.


Setting Creative Buds on Fire at Zaitoon!


“The goal of my presence in the world is to make it possible for everyone to write poems. And not just that.

The happiness. The answer.”

Robert Kelly, Going To The Poem

We had already had our monthly poetry reading at British Council but Sivakami and I, over a detailed discussion felt that we needed to read other writers, poets (for now). How long were we going to write our poems, read them, look at them from our Poetry Circle’s critical angle, make creative modifications and then, idly wait for the next poetry reading session the next month?!

That is how this idea of reading other poets started. Yes, you might ask. We do read other poets at home. Why take the trouble solely for something we can do within the comfortable confines of our homes?

True, you might be reading. But, do you ever wonder as to why a poet may have written a poem in a particular manner? Would you have read a poem, loved it completely and wanted to share the joy with a fellow poet or poet lover? Well, this poetry reading was entirely for that desire, for that need to connect with friends who may think entirely differently from you about poets and poetry but, you stay connected because of that love for poetry, yours or somebody else’s.

After a successful poetry reading on the beach a week ago, we thought that slightly greener surroundings would help us in our endeavour to touch poetry a wee bit more and satiate our poetic cravings. That is how Zaitoon Cafe in the IIT campus, Chennai was decided upon. And what a splendid choice it was!

Zaitoon Cafe, IIT Campus, Chennai

Zaitoon Cafe, IIT Campus, Chennai

Pankajam Kottarath, published poet was already there when Sivakami and I reached the IIT premises. There was no shortage of poetry books to be read (courtesy: Sivakami Velliangiri, poet and poetry activist). We started off with the book we had left incomplete on the beach, 40 Under 40 by Nabina Das and Semeen Ali. Pankajam read Abinav Datta’s poem, Epitaph since she had written a poem on the same topic some time back. A witty poem, it in fact made a mockery of an epitaph and was a delight to read.

“While they sang

 I bet on a crow

 on the cross,

for it to interrupt .

It tried.

No one stopped singing.

All I could think of was:

 No epitaph?

And so I made one for you;”


This was followed by Plus Sized Poem written by Chandramohan S who writes about how his poem refuses to yield to stereotype norms of poetry writing. There are pretty references to cosmetic surgery and the like and how his poem creates itself without making use of the fancy alterations that some people resort to.

“This poem has cellulite

at its rear end

this poem does not opt for

offshore liposuction

To make oneself

eligible for international prizes.”


By the time, Vasanth Dev, former Cinematographer and Director of Photography arrived with a poetry book in hand. He read out lines from Robert Kelly’s Going To The Poem from the book Cinema Lingua Conjunctions 42 and all of us were floored! And, I am not exaggerating. Just read these lines:

“A poem is to prose fiction as video to film: direct, present, dyslexic as life, noisy, sudden, easy, almost impossible to exist. What could be easier than a poem!”13872418_10206726534266455_102190504_n

“Nowadays everyone can afford a poem.”

“ A line of poetry is the shortest distance between two silences.”



In the meanwhile, Sivakami read a poem from the book, The Wife of Winter by Michael Dennis Browne.

“A measure of freedom, 13844216_10206726533786443_2028824526_o

messy as weed,

the delight it is

to be horizontal

on water,

strapped there

 by nothing but sunlight.


Mike’s delight

opens like a flower

as he floats.

He doesn’t know

he is floating

 in this poem.”


Pankajam read one of Akhil Kayal’s poem, When She And I Go Together

“what is it 13672491_10206726533746442_1223838856_n

that makes

 the sales guy

only speak to her

when we buy

 the curtain for my house?

My guess is

it’s the same thing

that makes the silly broker


 he can only look at me

and vent

as we try

not to see a house

 for her to rent.”

And I read, Nivedita and George Everette Jr.’s poem, A Mother’s Moksha from the book Family Matters.

“My Kanna had a life force just like mine,

13866707_10206726533906446_1248080696_nWe treated everybody with compassion;

We never caused harm to anybody;

We believe truth is multi-faceted;

There are many ways to reach it.”

Time passed us so fast and we did not even realize that it was past our lunch time. Though our minds and hearts were full with poetic content our tummies groaned. Unwilling to permit food hunger to destroy the joy of our interactive poetry session we quickly had some food and ended the poetry reading session for the day.

Of course, we are coming back again. With more people, with more poetry and more poetry lovers. Many persons expressed interest online and will be joining us the next time. Do join us then and share the passion of words!


The Ponytailed Anti Hero- A Book Review


‘Oh! Not another book on the revenge saga’ I muttered to myself as I began reading the book, Ponytail The Love For Revenge. Pradip Chauhan proved me wrong by writing not just another tale of revenge. In fact, the protagonist in the novel, Prabuddh becomes an anti hero, you discover as you read on.

Basically, the book deals with the aggressive and negative emotion of revenge. The style of writing is simple, easy to understand. The novel has been divided into three sections describing the life of the protagonist, Prabuddh. He is ambitious, successful in his profession and smart too. So, what is it more that he aspires for in his life?

A painful past, a traumatic flashback between the pages of the novel reveal to us why the protagonist is unable to love the people around him completely. Every time he comes close to falling in love, he remembers his goal for revenge and all emotions of love end up in a mere physical act of lust. What is dominant in the book is the use and manipulation of women characters to enable the author to bring out the plot of revenge.

I would have preferred it if the emotions expressed by the ‘Chanakya like hair let loose’ anti hero were more convincing. It is here that the author needs to work upon as he swiftly moves from one scene to another and the reader tends to feel a wee bit cheated for being deprived of a more detailed narration or enacting of a scene!

For a person who started writing first in his native tongue (Gujarati), the book is a good read.


 Dr. Pradip Chauhan from Gujarat is a  (M.B.B.S, M.S., C.R.M.) from Saurashtra University. He currently delivers lectures on Anatomy in the P.D.U. Govt. Medical College, Rajkot, Gujarat. He has many Gujarati articles to his credit.

‘On the Earth: In Light of The Sun’ was one of his first books in English followed by a collection of short stories titled ‘Love stories.’ Science fiction, romance, suspense, paranormal and thriller are his fields of interest. He has more than 15 international medical research articles to his credit too.

The book can be purchased at:

You can contact him at:




Poem 5 for #MayForMotherTongue


Kyon yeh log har varsh tere na hone ki yaad dilaatey hain?
Kya yeh kam hai ki tum humaare beech nahin ho?

Teri chaah, teri raah.
Tera pyar, tera dulaar –
Sab yaad aatha hai mujhe
Saal bhur, har saal.

Phir kyon ‘Ma Divas’ manaakar
Mujhe yeh duniya dukhi karthi hai?

Meri bhi ichha hothi hai Ki Ma ka aanchal thaamu.
Mujhe bhi Ma ke aseem pyar ko
Unkee gothe me sirr rakhkar
Mehsoos karne ki tummanaa hothi hai.

Ai duniya, tu Ma Divas ka jashan mana, har varsh –
Mein Ma ki bhooli bisri yaadon ko jeethi jaaongi, har pal.


Why does this world make me aware of your absence every year?
Is it not hurtful enough that you are no longer alive?
Your affection, your ways.
Your love, your caresses.
I remember them all
Every moment.
Every year.

Then, why oh why does this world celebrate Mother’s Day
and torture me so?
I too desire to hold the cozy warmth of my mother’s saree.
I too wish to feel the undying love of my mother in her lap
Wherein I can lay down my head and forget all worries.

World, you indulge in the celebration of Mother’s Day once a year.
I shall breathe her memories, live her thoughts every day of the year.

Poem 4 for #MayForMotherTongue


Bunjaarin bunkey ghoomti rahi,
Sooraj ki kirane udhar lekar.
Maana ki mujhme voh kashish nahin,
Par, dil-e-guzar, ab bhi dil ke aangun mein bahaar hai.

Mei patung, tu door meri.
Jahaan udaao vahaan ud jaaon mein.
Nazar na giraana door se mere yaar,
Kahin door kati tho haath na aaoongi.

Mei diya, tu baathi.
Tujhme mei, mujhme tu.
Apni baathi ko zinda rakhna-
Uski lou mey mujhe hamesha paaoge.


I roam around like a nomad
Borrowing divinity from the sun.
Agreed that I am not attraction personified
But the garden of my life is still fragrant with life.

I am the kite, you the string.
Wherever you pull me I fly.
One glance away from the string
Could make you lose me forever.

I am the lamp, you the wick.
I am in you, you in me.
Keep the wick burning alive.
In its bright flame you shall ever find me.