Monday, February 25, 2013

Life of a Poet~Panchali


Hold onto your hats, kids, as today you are in for a very special treat. We are making a whirlwind tour of Kolkata, India. Panchali, the wonderful poet who writes at  PanchaliBolchi, is allowing us to visit her amazing family, and she is going to point out some of her favorite sights in the City of Joy. I have always loved India, and Africa, (where Panchali also lived for some years), as they feel, to me, like the ancient heartbeat of humankind. Come sit by me. Panchali’s “man Friday” is bringing in hot chai tea, there is the smell of incense in the air, and the women, arrayed in the most beautiful of saris, are beaming with happiness.



Poets United: Panchali, I am so excited to be visiting with you! I have always adored India.







Panchali: You have touched a very sensitive chord in me with your juxtaposition of India and Africa as the "ancient heartbeat of humankind". I  lived in Africa for 5 years - late eighties / early nineties ; accompanied my husband who took up a World Bank assignment with National Railways of Zimbabwe (erstwhile Southern Rhodesia). It was a very satisfying experience to have lived in the cradle of human civilization, especially for a re-connect with our origin. ( 65,000 years ago there was a migration of human population from Africa to India). I returned enriched. 

I was very excited to read a recent scientific report on genetic research which  establishes - arguably - that 4500 years ago there was yet another migration of homo sapiens ( or were they neanderthals ?) , this time from India to Australasia (Australia + South Pacific) . In one go, genes of Africans, Indians and Australians (aborigines) got superimposed like on a palimpsest; the Dingoes of Aussie aborigines and the street dogs of India became blood relations.


Typical Kolkata

P.U.: This is utterly fascinating. A similar migration is said to have occurred between Russia and the North American Arctic, resulting in our northern indigenous communities. Past and present journeys – all so fantastically interesting.

Panchali:  It has been truly a long journey. (Reality, more than a metaphor). I was born in New Delhi and for twenty-three years I lived in that city, traversing the usual trajectory of School, College and University. After a master’s degree in Philosophy, I enrolled for a research course. Seeing my abhorrence for analyticity (too much clarity darkens—Pascal), I was gently nudged to concentrate on Heidegger’s existentialism; till marriage uprooted me from Delhi. That was the end of my formal academics…


Me, proud homemaker, in my lounge

My husband of the arranged marriage was employed with Indian Railways. So, my locomotion started: Assam (North-Eastern part of India), Kolkata, Mumbai, Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) and twice to New Delhi in the interims. After my hubby finished with Indian Railways in 2010, we finally settled down in Kolkata. Our daughter, married for seven years now, also lives in Kolkata with her husband. She works as a professional in IT Company. We meet over the weekends…


Me and my dotty

For the working days, my company is my dearest boy Mawgli ( a mixed-breed, spotlessly white; so we introduce him as a spotless-Dalmatian) !


For the last 25 years, Mawgli is the fifth canine member in a row; the preceding four, acquired within a period of three years, are no more: Bibi ( a Rhodesian ridgeback, we got her from Zimbabwe), Misha( a German shepherd, it was a lovely gift from my Dutch friend Paula De Jong from Zimbabwe), Bozo ( A white spitz), Mick ( A snowy Samoyed),…..RIP.




P.U.: I know the heartbreak of losing beloved dogs. I’m glad you have Mawgli. I love him!  That is the sweetest photo I have ever seen! What does your ordinary day look like, Panchali?

Panchali: I am busy home-making, which has no share of the economic pie (wisdom gathered from text-books). However, I am occupied for every waking minute of the day. Attending to domestic chores, driving out to pick up provisions, groceries and spending time on pet care ( am also a proud owner of few sharks and Gold-fish. Tweeky, my cockatiel, sadly passed away a month ago) take some time and then I am left with ample time for read & write, music and net surfing.


I am also attached to a voluntary organisation that works for the welfare of deprived women and children.

PU: Kiddo, working at home, making a home, is round the clock, work that never ends. Hardest job there is. But it allows time for poetry, one of the perks! I so admire that you do volunteer work. And Tweeky was adorable.

Panchali: The term 'home-maker’ — flashes images of dreariness:  it connotes an unproductive life…but, for me, it has been a boon. --- I believe a housewife contributes the ‘most’ in a household. Every second of life is a balancing act for her, it's not easy!! Everyone’s circumstances/needs are different and there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to this.....As you say …it is a 24x7 job! And I have no regrets today. I'm happy that I have spare time to sit and lament :) 



[A grinding stone is still the star attraction of a Bengali kitchen. 
We do have electrical appliances in every home, but we need this pair to grind 
mustard seeds and poppy seeds for making traditional eastern cuisine....]

Sometimes, I wonder, what I would do with the flow of visitors I keep having at home, if I'd been working. Thankfully, we get experienced domestic helpers in India, so things are never too hard. Our man Friday, Vijay, has been with us for the past twelve years...he's a hard worker and puts in a lot of effort. May God bless his soul!


Vijay

Once in a while, I travel fifteen kms, in a city with treacherous roads, to meet friends, relatives or visit British Council Library. Weekend evenings are meant for get-togethers (family or friends), theaters, plays, music soiree or films. Being trained in Indian classical Music, my performance is known and appreciated by hubby et al. Culturally, Kolkata is the most happening place in India. We can always pick up something during spare time.



Academy of the Arts - the cultural hub of Kolkata
This is yet another place we frequent quite often 
to watch theater, drama, ballets etc.



Kumartuli - the Street of Idolmakers
Clay idols made for ceremonies year round
Right now is the Goddess of Knowledge

 P.U.: That is wonderful – that you have such gifts, and that they are appreciated. Would you like to share some memories of childhood??

Panchali: In a very true sense, I ought to call myself a Delhite, having lived for the first twenty three years of my life in Delhi. However, when I look back, one place that jostles ahead and takes the center stage is Calcutta, the city of joy--- now Kolkata. In 1947, hard on the heels of India gaining Independence, the state of Bengal was divided; western part remaining with India and the eastern part became East Pakistan and then Bangladesh. 

My parents and my husband's parents belonged to East Bengal; they migrated to India following Independence, which caused the fateful 'partition of India'. Three of them came from East Pakistan to Calcutta; while my father trekked from Rangoon, now Myanmar (Burma, where my grandfather worked as a civil engineer) to Chittagong (in Bangladesh) during the Second World War via the dangerous hilly tracks of Arakans, and then went straight to New Delhi. 



The bank of the Ganges

But, all the other relatives settled--or rather carelessly settled---as 'refugees' in Calcutta. Childhood memories of visiting Calcutta during my school vacations are significant in my life. Exploring the place was exciting, but, the family re-unions when the preceding generation recalled good times and lamented the loss-- the sheer pain of being separated from one's homeland leaked noisily, sadly.


My parents' wedding portrait in 1952

The displacement stories were heartrending. Partition was a cataclysmic event in Indian history which irrevocably altered the everyday lives of many Bengali citizens; however, the migration did not dismantle the ‘family-bond’; responsibilities took precedence over the petty issues of nationality. The mental balance, peace, harmony was never destroyed. This was reflected by the exciting stories my parents, uncles and aunts used to narrate of the mango orchards in their compounds, the dusty paths and meandering rivers of the village, it was like unrolling an ancient scroll at our feet to survey. We, as kids, relished the stories, and listening to them became an enthralling pastime for our generation! 



Street flower vendor, selling marigold ropes

P.U.: Wow, Panchali, you could write a book full of all those stories.

Panchali: Standing up as a full blown adult now, with hearts built on association and repetition, filled with recurring phrases and 'images of partition'--  today I understand what guts it takes to migrate, rehabilitate and settle down in an alien environment. It’s incredible, how they coped with the trauma, rebuilt their lives--they, perhaps, saw one of the most enduring miseries of Indian times. There are so many stories to tell.

I can't resist from presenting few lines of a poem by Michael Ondaatje--'The Story':

"With all the swerves of history
I cannot imagine your future...
I no longer guess a future.
And do not know how we end
nor where
Though I know a story about maps,
for you."

And these 'maps' bring to me the scent of my ancestors' devastation of homeland, moving from the realm of the personal loss, maintaining integrity of feeling in the midst of political violence and tragedy was definitely not easy!!

Enough! Enough of this reminiscing! :)


Navadvip-ghat - boats to carry passengers 
across the Ganga River

So, how could I live anywhere else? Much maligned Calcutta (remember the famous Broadway play 'Oh! Calcutta'--that's a restaurant in Kolkata now---the fish specialist)
My last words on this question...

"....did you lift stone above stone
on a groundwork of rags?
Coal upon coal, at the bottom, just tears!"

I have a drop in your years, Kolkata!

P.U.: What a fascinating history. Yours is such a rich culture. Sigh. I am set to dreaming........ Is there one person in your life you feel has had a significant impact on your life and/or your writing?


Family Portrait

Panchali:  My husband and my daughter, who are my pillars of strength and my biggest critics… then, my son-in-law, who is no less than a son. 


My dotty and son-in-law

Last, but not least, my wonderful parents and my parents-in-law (we lost all four of them in the 90’s). What really shines through is their love. Now, looking through the scrapbook of my life, my heart goes out to everyone who put effort into this pure treasure trove ! So many wonderful people have touched my life. My heart is overflowing with love….Touch wood !

P.U.: That is true happiness: a heart overflowing with love!  You recently celebrated your 33rd wedding anniversary. You mentioned an arranged marriage. Do you find, in India, marriages avoid the terrible divorce stats we have in North America, because tradition supports the family unit?  


Our 33rd Anniversary

Panchali: Mine was an arranged marriage, and our ‘bond’ grew with much patience and time. When we got married 33 years back, the whole concept of ‘love’ seemed pretty alien for both of us… we had to literally nourish the relationship with mutual respect and understanding… time tests both types of marriage. So far, the journey has been fascinating, despite all ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.....Today, as I look back, I feel, our generation was probably far more practical and mature in dealing with marriages. We didn't see stars, nor hear the little bells…. But, love grew naturally, which is far better than today’s marriages of passion or convenience.

When problems arise in arranged marriages, the families of the bride and groom come together to solve the issues. Due to this, arranged marriages offer more protection to the girl.  But then, there are many drawbacks as well…sometimes, too much parental interference brings in more devastation.


[Gaye holood - Bengal ceremony of applying 
turmeric paste to the body. 
My niece, in the yellow sari, is ready for the ceremony, 
at our recent family wedding]


[Fish is a Bengali delicacy. Considered auspicious, 
the wedding ritual cannot start until 
the fish is adequately decorated and placed in the forefront]



[Decorated trays of saris, jeweleries, cosmetics, shoes, bags, toiletries, 
sweets, betel-leaf, betel-nut, masala, fish, sandalwood paste and haldi 
(turmeric) are brought by the groom's family 
to the girl's house, and vice versa]

The divorce rates in India were even lower some years ago. If they have increased, it is not because of love marriages (which are common now), but because women are getting educated and earning well. So, they are walking out of marriages where they are getting abused. 

So, according to me, tradition and family helps a couple to stay together to some extent. But, eventually it is the responsibility of a couple to keep each other happy; both must learn to make little compromises and adjustments. A happy marriage demands love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity.

Poets United: Wise advice for any culture, in any country. Thank you so much for helping us to learn more about this topic, Panchali. When did you begin writing poetry, and what caused you to choose poetry as your means of creative expression?

The Victoria Memorial

Panchali: Loneliness is, perhaps, one of the strongest emotions for a writer. You exhale, when you do not wish to taint your insides, likewise, I wandered, seeking some occupation, some activity, some oxygen after my daughter got married and left home. Every sinew of thought had only one purpose:  escape solitude and ennui.  It was such a frustratingly idle existence, after my doting husband left for work. After all, autumn is the season for yellowing…I thought!




During my school and college days, I used to write regularly for their journals. One afternoon, I picked up a pen and a paper and in twenty minutes I wrote a poem…I named it ‘scribbling of my lonely afternoon’…Thereafter, the days followed a pattern, a programme of order in which, my mind started playing with words & soon rhythm was born. So, in the congress of body and mind, rhythm and word---I knew myself. I learnt that beneath the guise, I was a poet too… - or could be one - and for me that was the only way to be… So, the ‘empty nest syndrome’ created a significant transition and period of growth in my life… minding the mind, writing came naturally to me..... Thankfully, this intense breakthrough got me out of my mid-life crisis!

I sincerely believe that poetry reveals a poet’s personality. I am emotional and oversensitive by nature. Thankfully my writings bring me happy tidings and peace. 

Poetry intrigues me, because it touches the psychological depths of a human mind. What makes poetry enchanting is also the rhythm of the language, muse and of course, of the land, the wind, the sky, and other lives. 

P.U.: You speak so beautifully, Panchali. 


Little Me

Panchali: One of the most important developments of humankind has been writing. I cannot remember the exact reason why my parents gave me a notebook, when I was a kid. I was pretty introverted by nature, so perhaps they hoped that through writing I would open up more. But I was quite a dreamer even at that time.  

My dotty and I at the anniversary

Life, for me has been, with all kinds of involvements, quite effectual. But, as I said earlier, after my dotty left home, I was going through a bad time emotionally. The only way of getting through it, was to put my feelings down in verse. I dusted the old notebooks containing my old poems. The pages of the diary, yellowed like autumn leaves stirred up a whole gamut of feelings … and slowly I began to write, sporadically.  It wasn't great,  but it helped me keep my feet on the ground!   In a dramatic way, life started changing; my lonely afternoons became  more meaningful and less melancholic.

So, writing became an intimate process once again. After many many years, it was wonderful painting canvases with words and giving sound effects to the dramatic scenes through rhythms with words again..... 


St. Paul's Cathedral, a replica of the Bell Harry Tower
of Canterbury Cathedral

P.U.: How has blogging impacted your writing?

Panchali: I’d heard about blogging, but had no clue how to start, since I was not computer-savvy. I was only good at retrieving e-mails. So, hubby gave me a crash course on the basic processes of creating folders, moving and copying files, creating shortcuts to files and using the Windows Explorer interface.  Computers have come a long way since then. … On a personal level, it provided me means with a basis to showcase my creativity and it was during this time, I desired the courage to pick an identity, a handle for myself in the blogosphere. I hoped to get a few readers to read my poetry & continued to write…Trust, receptivity, living consciously amid the bloggers gave me a peculiar quality of 'freshness'. 


Vegetable market

For more than six years, I have been blogging now on a regular basis, and this experience has offered me one of the greatest tools: confidence in writing. It also gave me a feeling of accomplishment that is necessary for every writer.


Fruit Market

 Another major benefit of blogging has been networking, as I mentioned above. Thanks to the miracle of social media, I came in contact with a global audience. And then, one day… I was drawn to Poet’s United. What an amazing community you have here!! Your prompts, encouragements and finally this interview make me feel so rich and blessed.

It feels wonderful to be part of a community that reads and writes poetry with discernment and enthusiasm--the interaction, encouragement, appreciation that I receive from my fellow-poets mean so much. I feel so humbled by their goodwill.

Thank you for “seeing” me and “hearing” me. That means so much to me.

The support I feel from you, Mary, and other members of Poets United, is an unending source of encouragement for me to keep at it. It is a huge gift to me to find international readers willing to spend their valuable time reading and commenting on my blabbering. I write, just because I enjoy scribbling.

Writing affords me a chance every day to just sit with my thoughts and be still. You guys have touched me.Thanks a lot! I would love to stay in touch with you all. And if ever you people are in India...feel free to contact me. I live in Kolkata--Land of Tagore, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen ( all Noble Laureates)...so, there's a lot to see and admire!

All my love to the members of Poet’s United !

P.U.: That love comes right back at you! Thank you, Panchali, for allowing us such a generous look into your life. We look forward to reading many more of your poems.

Wow, kids. I know this interview ran long, and thank you for sticking with us, but with a poet this interesting and wonderful, and being granted such a fascinating and generous look into her life, it was very difficult to cut anything. I truly feel I have visited India, don’t you? Come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you.

64 comments:

  1. Sherry, what a wonderful interview once again!

    And Panchali, I am so happy to learn more about you. Sometimes in the blogosphere one comes upon someone that one knows one would enjoy sharing coffee and conversation with. You have been that way from the first time I read your poetry. I would love, I think, to just sit and listen to you tell stories of all of your experiences. Also, because you have a master's degree in philosophy, I would love to sit and listen to you philosophize! I would like to know how your ideas, as an intelligent woman in India, are like or unlike my own. I would like to hear more about your ideas on being a home maker, as an intelligent woman, and how that can also be fulfilling.

    I am also so interested in the custom of arranged marriages, so foreign to us here in the U.S. Obviously it has worked well for you. I am wondering if within the next generation this will die out in India or if it will continue.

    If we were to have coffee, I would talk to you about dogs. It is obvious you are as much of a dog lover as I am; except I have 3 at one time....ha ha....and much smaller dogs than yours. You said you have sharks. I would pass on sharks, I think. (Smiles)

    You mentioned being trained in Indian Classical Music. Does that mean you sing? Or play an instrument? Wonderful that you perform.

    I agree with you that loneliness is a strong emotion for a writer. I think the blogosphere connects those of us who are in some way lonely, making us less lonely. And, I so much agree that poetry writing reveals the poet's personality.....at least if the poet allows it to. I think you do, and that is why I would like to have coffee with you. (Smiles) I appreciate your authenticity, your realness.

    Thank you for this interview, Sherry and Panchali! It touched me deeply.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Mary !! I would also love to sit with you one day and have a long chat..there's so much to talk, so much to know...so much to share :) God is listening-- It is going to happen...soon! Amen...
      What a warm and a wonderful comment! You've been a tremendous support for me from the very first day, Mary. It is very satisfying to run in a group where supportive feed backs are offered to even amateur poets like me. You and Sherry have been so honestlty encouraging from the very first day. May God bless you..
      Transforming seeds of visions into poetry is a hard work, and this fascinating slog loses its spirit, when you do not receive enough inspiration. I must tell you that your comments go straight to my heart where these seeds are getting nurtured every day.
      And the overwhelming response of all the poets here restore my faith in Poet’s United. I’m grateful for all the things PU has brought to my life,---- from readings to good conversations to the greatest friends a person could hope for…
      Thanks you so much. I appreciative your comments as well as your visits.
      Panchali

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  2. Thanks, Mary. This is one of the interviews I especially enjoyed putting together, for so many reasons (aside from the fact that it BLOWS MY MIND to be interviewing a poet in India!!)Panchali, thank you so much for wonderful and culturally rich visit to your home, and your country.

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    1. Thank you Sherry, for bringing this interview to the table and for rekindling the interview flame– I think it was an interview that stimulated a fantastic conversation, which further made this fun and a memorable experience for me.
      Poet’s United is a forum of talented poets with warm hearts. Their works continually inspire me. Friends, you keep proving it over and over again! Reading the comments, I am in awe ---it is a truly historical morning for me! I am rushed at the moment, but as soon as I have a minute, I will be hunting down everything you all have written and reply to each one of you personally.
      Thank you PU for the healing gift of your poetry.
      I am touched, Sherry. Do visit India and be my guest.Thanks again.
      Panchali

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  3. What a wonderful interview. What a beautiful interview. Thank you, Sherry, for your guiding questions and Panchali, for your beautifully shared answers. You shared how you got started writing poetry, the loneliness, resonates with me. In my younger years, friends and I shared long letters that took a long time to get written and delivered...I felt they were a form of journaling. Now we have the poetry blogosphere as our creative outlet, with immediate response times possible, and so many poets to read and enjoy and learn from. I loved this little window into your life Panchali and into India. I have read many Indian authors, and authors writing about India, movies about India, Bollywood, the Ganges. India is a most fascinating country that I would love to one day visit. Your interview has only made it more so.

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    1. Awwww, Willow. So sweet. Thank you so much. Sherry made this so much interesting! As they say, if you’re lonely and melancholic, and capable of writing, focus on the language, and you'll surely write a poetry..:) Honestly, a poultice of words can create magic. I didn't know that plucking-out solitude would be so easy!! Indeed...I think my life wouldn't be the same without blogging as well,(that instant response, as you say, is incredible).. I simply love this PU, since I love poems.
      Good to know that you read Indian authors. Have you read Amitav Ghosh? If not, give it a shot. You'll find his writing truly enticing...
      Thank you so much for your kind words... it's nice to meet you too.:)

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    2. Awwww, Willow. Thank you so much. I just posted a comment, wonder how it vanished!!
      Well, Sherry made this whole process so interesting!! I think that a piece of writing is from the heart,and poetry is spirit taking flesh and blood in word...:)
      Good to know that you're interested in reading Indian authors. Have you read Amitav Ghosh..? If not, do read him.
      Thank you so much for reading, and for the kind comments.

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  4. I've always been your fan Panchali ma'am :)

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    1. Oh Sayantani...Can I say I love you!!?? Because I DO!! You're a truly wonderful poet and an encouraging friend. Thanks a lot!!:)))

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  5. Wow, such a good interview Sherry and Panchali. I really enjoyed the visit. Even though I did visit India--mostly New Delhi and Agra--when I was a child with my parents--it seems an exotic place to me now. I have learned more about India reading books and seeing films but "talking" to you in this interview made it all seem very real to me. And of course I would love to talk to you in person as well.

    One of the things I have especially liked about the blogosphere is that I have exchanged poetry with people from so many parts of the world. I just think it is a wonderful thing.

    I would not say that real loneliness inspired me to write poetry as I started when I was still working for the local newspaper as a feature story writer. But I do think that writing in one form or another has always been my easiest way of expressing myself (I was a rather shy person when it came to speaking and interacting with people). So even as a child I wrote long letters to friends and continued to do so in my younger adult years. So I guess there was always an inner part of me that wanted to be expressed -- and maybe that part was lonely. Poetry came along as a kind of challenge from some friends -- and well the rest is history as they say.

    So thank you again for the interview. And isn't Sherry a good interviewer? I was the subject of one of her interviews once and she is amazing. I definitely want to start hanging around PU again!

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    1. Peggy !! Thank you so much for reading, and for the warm comments.
      If interaction wasn't a variable attribute of the process, nobody I know could write poetry. I think the poetic process is like levitating emotional feelings. One has to to lift up the sentiments (especially the dark submerged part) to get to that little tip on the page, and readers have to just take the whole weight to get to the roots!:D:D
      Oh yes, Sherry's show casing is really amazing...!Please do come back to PU, Peggy!:))))
      Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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    2. Thank you for your thoughtful reply Panchali. I am impressed that you responded to each person who posted a comment here. Again, great to meet you.

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    3. Awww Peggy...Ultimately people just want to be heard, and thank God it came down to having a great conversation...!!!
      Thank you.

      :))

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  6. I am glad to know more about you, Panchali, though I think you also put a lot of your spirit into your poetry. Sherry, thank you for talking the journey to meet with Panchali and bring her back to us!

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    1. Thank you, Susan. I appreciate your comments as well as your visits. You have been so encouraging. Thank you!!

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  7. This was a lovely interview! I feel entranced by your wisdom and all that you shared~ You have a lovely voice Panchali, I am so happy to learn more about you! :D

    Sherry you did a great job-taking us on such an enlightened journey!
    Wonderful ladies!!

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    1. Thank you, Ella. I have loved reconnecting with you here, and am enjoying your poems. Thank you so much for reading this interview and for writing such a lovely comment!:)

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  8. Dear Panchali,

    I wanted you to know that your interview read like The Glass Palace for me, the novel by Amitav Ghosh. What richness, I want to fly to Kolkata now! That stone slab in your kitchen brought nostalgia to mind, this used to be everywhere in Malaysia and Singapore, but now like some of our heritage, slowly sliding into oblivion - but not without resistance!

    I love your poetry, or poetic prose which is so powerful. Your piece on phedophiles was so full of subtle horror that creeps onto your skin, and make your toes curl.

    I am one for history, how people are 'related' and connected to one another worldwide and also our heritage, shared and those that are unique. That is why I loved getting to know you - perhaps oneday we will have tea together - in Kolkata or Kuala Lumpur or cyberspace, it does not matter!

    Great inetrview Sherry, as always, and lovely to know you Panchali!

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    1. Oh, thank you, dear ninoaziz, Loved seeing you here again!! I am sure, we'll meet one day and have tea together. Amen! I think, you live in Malaysia/Singapore...(not far from India, I say!) Since, you love history-- why don't you come over to India. Meeting in person would be more exciting than a mere virtual meet! :))))
      Goodness, your memory is honestly incredible!! You still remember that poem on pedophilia..? Great...! Thank you my dear... your words touched me deeply.
      Indeed, Sherry is wonderful..amazing!!:)))

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  9. It was fascinating to read your story lovely Panchali! I agree with Sherry, you speak beautifully. I love how you said 'So, in the congress of body and mind, rhythm and word---I knew myself.' That's it! I really admire your work and look forward to reading much, much more. Thanks for this wonderful interview Sherry!

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    1. Poet Laundry!! You've also been a wonderful source of encouragement for me from the very beginning... everything about you is poetic (even that purple top with the lush green background behind you). Even I admire your work. Keep going, my friend!Look forward to reading you more...and more :)) xoxo

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  10. Panchali Ma'am is one of my favourite poets in the blogosphere. Every composition of hers reveals fresh perspectives, deep observations, intricate designs, a beautifully woven tapestry of words and emotions. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview and getting to know so much more about a writer that I admire so much.

    Sherry, you led the interview so well, and in so many directions organically, that you presented a complete picture of Panchali the Poet and Panchali the Person. Thank you so much for sharing this lovely conversation. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to India!

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    1. Awww..Mixi!!!!what a blessing it is to have readers like you!!I am humbled... and I mean that honestly.Thank you for your kind comment, and your visits to my blog. I'm blessed to be getting to know so many amazing writers.. you made my week, my dear... :)))))
      xoxo

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  11. A fascinating interview - a life of excitement and contrast. The cook in me wants to explore her kitchen more!

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    1. Thank you, Cosmo. If you are interested in cooking, check the following link.
      http://reflector5panchali.blogspot.in/

      There aren't too many recipes at the moment...but, I intend to top it up soon with more authentic (Bengali)eastern recipes.
      Thanks!

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  13. Its the best I have ever read of anyone's personal history. My dearest, Panchali, frankly, just a comment here, is insufficient. I want the world to know of you, my lovely, and loving friend. Khub bhalo legeche, porey :))

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    1. Thank you, Julia.. Your words are most gracious. A comment like this from a published author of your stature warms my heart!! Am so thankful for your support, my beautiful friend. Tomake ekhane pabo bhabi-ni!:) Thank you....so much!xoxo

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  14. You have sharks?! :O Pictures please!! :D You know, after the separation of India and Pakistan, not only did Bengalis get separated from their home town, but also Sindhis - from the Sindh which was previously a separate country, now in Pakistan - and I am a Sindhi. My grandparents had a similar tale to tell me when I was a kid. They had to flee to India to avoid the wrath of Hindu v/s Muslims. Many punjabis also had a similar story.

    About the success of marriages you talked about, I totally agree with you. It doesn't matter if it's love or arranged. All that matters is that you are able to hold hands forever no matter what. And yes, the divorce rate has gone up in India now not because of love marriages but because of women-abuse, which now educated women will never tolerate (in past, women didn't have the education n independence to oppose wrong-doings their pati-parmeshwar) ;)

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    2. Chavvi, So nice of you to comment here!! Indeed, the Partition of British India gave rise to two new zones and caused one of the greatest human convulsions of history. Here I talked about the eastern part because my family came from that part and their stories had affected me deeply!
      Glad you agree with me about the success of marriages! Thanks for coming by... It is lovely to see you here always... :))))

      ** Don't miss the sharks behind me and my dotty's back in the pic. There are two in the tank!

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    3. I can't see them properly. Would be awesome if they could be up close! I love thrills! :D

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  15. Lovely to meet Panchali in this way! What a warm and vibrant person! I have a great interest in India as my Mum grew up there. (She was of Anglo-Indian descent, but unfortunately it got diluted in me so I missed out on the long black hair and flashing dark eyes I always craved!) I loved hearing the stories as a child. And it was very exciting when 'my cousins from Burma' as I always called them came to live in Australia. They were an Anglo-Indian family and 'Uncle Leo', really a cousin, was employed in Burma as a civil engineer - just like Panchali's grandfather. I visited India in 1998, and Kolkata was first port of call, an exciting city.

    Interesting to read of the philosophy studies too, Panchali (another thing we have in common) as your poetry always seems to me quite philosophical.

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    1. Rosemary! Such conversations make me pause. Especially when its involving our ancestral roots!World is so small!! Maybe, our ancestors knew each other. Who knows!! And now, we have met. Wonderful! Next time, when you are here, do inform me..
      Recently, 2,000 Anglo-Indians from various parts of the world, including families from Britain, met in Kolkata for a week-long reunion.The Anglo Indian today is desperately trying to retain his identity as a mark of respect to those long past away and a culture that was live, vibrant and through the solidarity of community helped shaped commerce, literature, sport and critical industry in India and abroad.

      Lovely meeting you here too!! So, philosophy was your subject too!! We have so many things in common!!Thanks Rosemary. I must go over to your blog tonight and click the "email subscription" thingy.

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  16. Whooaaaaaaa!!!!
    Meeting Panchali Maa at such a platform has brought me bliss. It was a truly splendid read to know more about you, your family,our culture,your experiences. I had never been interested in the traditional ceremonies our society carries out but the way you portrayed the marriage and family, I'm in love with my India, Kolkata, Delhi :D

    You had rightly said, loneliness brings out a poet in one. It is perhaps the worst phase to deal with but when pen is in your hand then you have a partner to listen to all your emotions, to share all your feelings. And I would like to thank your dotty that she got married and we got such a marvellous poet in our world.

    I'm again running out of words to thank P.U. for a commendable job. Thank you P.U. Thanks a ton!!!!

    Panchali Maa, you have always been a source of inspiration for me and many others too. This interview seemed as if I'm sitting right beside you and listening to all the wonderful talks. I'm so delighted to get to know more about you. You are truly a Living Legend for me, a woman so rich in thoughts, a woman imbued in so many colours of culture and tradition,a woman crossing the edges,a woman sharing her ideas right from her home, a woman always so jubilant and cheerful, a woman who is my Maa now. Loads of love and hugs.

    Your online dotty :)
    Silly Smiles... Take you Miles :)

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    1. Dear Surbhi,
      To win that kind of compliment from you has made my day or should I say week...? I wait too eagerly for you to comment... thank you, dotty for being here with such a warm comment..Loved each line..:)))What a magnificent person you are, sweetheart !!Such an online dotty indeed is a blessing...enough to keep me love my writing!!
      Lots of love and hugz back at you. God bless. Maa.

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  17. What a wonderful interview. I so enjoyed hearing about Panchali's life. She is one of my favorite poets whose voice is so unique and inspiring.

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    1. awww..Lisa, Thank you my dear... your words touch me deeply, they go straight to my heart...see this is what I mean about the poets on this site! I love your work too!!
      Thanks a bunch, for coming by... its a pleasure to see you here. !! :)))

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  18. Brilliant! Panchali You are simply Brilliant!! I read each and every word spoken by you in the interview. The more I read ,the more I was fascinated by your achievements.!! I got a peek into your life as a child, as a doting daughter, as a devoted wife, and mother full of love for her dotty and son-in-law. Your love for your pets reveals the humanitarian aspect of your multifaceted
    personality..Your soulful poetry with which I am already aware of, has also assumed a new dimension! The Philosopher in you has given a new, but pleasant twist to all your writings. I am proud to have a friend like you at this stage of my life. The interviewer has also mentioned that you have a sweet voice. I am looking forward to the day, when I can hear you speak!! I pray that you achieve more distictions and accolades.God Bless you and your wonderful family.

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    1. Usha, my dear friend. So good to see you here!!Your words of praise humble me.. yet fill me with pleasure.. :)))
      Thanks a zillion, for your sweet comments.You benevolence and sensitivity makes you a very valuable friend.. I'm thankful for your good wishes, friendship, and support.
      Love and regards,

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  19. What a great interview! And it is so good to know more about you Panchali! What an old soul you are!

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    1. Oh, thank you, Audrey!! What a lovely compliment. I appreciate it very much. I cannot wait to dive in to more of your poetry. Will be there soon again:) Thanks so much!

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  20. Panchali,

    I have really enjoyed this wonderful interview about you. Sherry really has a most magical carpet, which wings its way seemingly effortlessly, between continents and across oceans:)..

    I have enjoyed 'getting to know you,' Panchali, and also learning so much about the varied cultural aspects which you have experienced thus far in your life.
    I was interested in your philosophical studies and how it may have influenced some of your writing. I particularly liked your words about poets, 'poetry reveals a poets personality,' which I think is very true, after having an association with Poets United for many years, I can see how true your words are.

    You have much in common with Sherry and your love of critters!!!

    I hope that I can now visit your poetic words and learn even more, about you Panchali:)

    Thank you Sherry and Panchali, for such an interesting interview.,
    Best Wishes,
    Eileen:)

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    1. Eileen! Pleasure meeting you here!! Indeed, Sherry is a wonderful soul!!Her work speaks to my soul, and shines through .. A truly stunning poet she is and an encouraging friend. Because of her we are all here --getting to know each other so well!! Someday we shall all share coffee in an international conference!:D AMEN!

      Philosophy in poem has been a topic of debate from the days of Plato. But, to me it is a simple issue.We all have our own philosophy about life, suffering, mysticism, and transcendent reality.Many times there are wonders, meanings hidden in a piece of poetry. This is where philosophy comes in... . This is getting interesting now. Let me write a blog on this. Thanks for the little 'push' Eileen :)) You've been so encouraging to me. Please do visit my space. Thanks a ton!!:))

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  21. as a fellow Kolkatan, Kudos! wonderful interview.

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    1. ahh, good to see a neighbor at last, Abin!!:)
      I didn't know you live here! See, this is the beauty of this site! Thanks for the kudos...am gratified :))) Thanks a ton!!

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  22. Wonder of wonders, this interview! I have read dozens of novels set in India and her neighbors; but now I have a first person, personal accounting of life and culture there. I feel better informed and educated as well as entertained. Thank you!!!

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    1. Kim, Oh how connected we lovely creatures are! I am glad you enjoyed reading this. Credit goes to Sherry...Sherry is really, really good at this. :)Thank you for your kind comment, and your visits to my blog. I'm blessed to be getting so know so many new amazing writers!!
      Thanks a lot, Kim!

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  23. Wow, this comment forum is like an international conference of souls. I! So! Love! That! All of you have made my day, that's for sure! Namaste, kids! ("I see the light within you!") Did I get that right, Panchali?

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    1. Sherry, Namasté: 'I see the light within you' and I honor it. You have that spiritual light within you to motivate others to carry on here in this forum!You are incredible♥

      Yesterday was a day full of overwhelming emotion! I feel so blessed!Thanks once again, Sherry for taking me through this interview.
      Love n regards,
      Panchali

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  24. What a wonderful interview. I have often read of India and have met many online friends from there, but never got a grasp of their life there until reading this. Thank you so much for sharing your life with us Panchali. I feel blessed to know more about you.

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    1. Susie, Thank you. I'm enjoying getting to know people through this interviews. Such an amazing little world we're all able to share, isn't it?. I am glad that you enjoyed reading all about India and me. I look forward to reading your poems & get to know you better~ :D
      Thank you so much for your lovely comments!!

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  25. what an interview! loved reading it, and getting to know the other side of you beyond those lovely poems and stories of yours!! god bless..!

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    1. Lovely seeing you here, li'l princess!!Thank you so much... your appreciation is like a tonic for me.. :)))God bless. xoxo

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  26. What strikes me is how similar we all are, really. I also noticed how colorful clothes and items are, and how beautiful the water scenes are with the soft mist in the back ground. Thank you both for a lovely interview!

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    1. Such a generous and kind comment, Margaret!! Thank you So much!!! :))))

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  27. I am sitting quietly still taking in this interview of the most interesting poet, Pancholi, and her life. It leaves me with a deeper appreciation of P.U. And the international flavor of it's writers. I have learned some history, some cuture, been saddened deeply in the reading and then totally uplifted by the feeling of connectedness. I am thankful for this opportunity. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, Pancholi, and thank you
    , Sherry for this opportunity. Beautiful!

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    1. I'm humbled by the words you grace me with here today,Judy!! Thank you so much, for being such a wonderful person and a good friend!!:))

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  28. Know some more of you
    I knew your mind and few other tit bits and now I know your past- present...I see the fire lit several years ago, roar, bloom, flare and reach far. All the best.
    Hugs

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    1. Dr Madhvi, I think you and I, have been writing for a very long time and I value our connection and friendship on many levels ...As they say, a friend is someone who knows all about you and still cares for you...It's an honor to call you a friend, Doc:)))
      Thanks a bunch.I am over-whelmed by your response to this interview!

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  29. I will repeat myself when I say that you have been my inspiration behind putting pen on paper (though my poems are just a speck in front of your huge talent). It is so heartening to hear, see you through your words and eyes.

    I am homemaker too and that came after putting 7 years in corporate world. I have never regretted my decision of leaving behind that life even for a single minute. In fact leaving professional trail gave me the time to get in touch with myself. Look into what I really wanted, real connection with self. All that plus the bonus of spending my time with my precious daughter.

    I really wish to listen all those migration tales. They say humans are like grass, uproot and throw them anywhere but they soon find roots that grow and make any place there own. Isn't it.

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  30. Soul talk..and it has to be that when Panchali talks.My dear girl, I truly love to listen when you talk -- somehow then the language becomes music.
    Rooted to rituals ,ceremonies,connected to relations,issues concerning humanity and in the process asserting effortlessly your own identity------ that's what I admire the most about you.
    So proud of you.
    love
    namita

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  31. Very Informative........ U have given so much about our country....... lovely................

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