Monday, 31 August 2015

Major Kolkata Quiz Revived

Aritra SinghaKolkata: Big-time quizzing retuned to Saturday Club yesterday after over a decade and a half, when senior quizmasters Jayashree Mohanka and Dhruv Mookerji, held a general quiz for the knowledge enthusiasts of the city. A total of 54 three-member teams, cutting across schools, colleges, and corporate firms, participated in the event. 


Saturday Club was a major quiz venue in the nineties

Saturday Club is one of the oldest and premier clubs of the city, where business and leisure can still mingle under an ambience of old English culture mixed with Indian heritage. The club’s expertise in organising all-round quiz competitions had earned credit. The last quiz of the club was held in 1997.

Library subcommittee member Jagpal Singh, who along with his convenor, Renu Kapoor, revived the quiz, said: “We are completely overwhelmed to see the response we received from all spheres.”  
    
Quiz competitions at Saturday Club used to attract participation from Kolkata and beyond. Nine other premier clubs of the city had participated in quizzes held earlier. Leading quizmasters of the country, including Alban Scolt, Siddhartha Basu, Derek O ’Brien, and others began their career from this club.

Singh said that he would strive hard to organise quizzes every alternate month. Kapoor echoed him and said: “We would make it more audience friendly so that everyone feels more comfortable to participate.”

Dilip Burman, president, told WPC that the callousness of previous conveners of the library subcommittee led the quiz to an unnatural death. Mohanka, on her part, said: “I am extremely elated to see that a quiz competition is again being held here.” 

Veteran quizmaster and Saturday Club member, Jayant Kripalani, said: “I am extremely fortunate to see the quizzing crowd back here and would love to be a part of such future events."

Bengal BJP Youth Wing Demands TET Inquiry

Our CorrespondentKolkata: The West Bengal unit of BJP Yuva Morcha, has demanded inquiry into the leaking of the Teacher Eligibility Test (TET) question papers. “We demand an inquiry by a High Court judge. If the investigation is proper, then the culprits will be known,” BJP state Yuva Morcha vice-president, Raju Banerjee, told reporters on the sidelines of a protest rally and road blockade on College Street today. The rally was lead by president Amitava Roy. Raju Banerjee alleged that the culprits were close to Trinamool Congress (TMC) MPs Kalyan Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee. TMC is involved with the question paper leak, he added.

The blockade created traffic snarls up to Sealdah
The state BJP youth vice-president further alleged that the culprits have pocketed crores by promising jobs. “Who can say there will be no further leaks,” he asked. 

The West Bengal government had decided to defer the TET exam from 30 August to 4 October, supposed to be taken by 22 lakh candidates, after two sacks of question papers went missing. “The incident once again proves the shallowness of the ‘great change’ of 2011. We can recollect similar instances of several missing question papers and answer scripts of Madhyamik, Higher Secondary, and other exams during the Left rule. This once again proves our point that there has been no change in the governance here.” Roy said. He said that in order to turn around the shoddy work culture, proper administration and effective governance is required in the state and not permutations and combinations.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Home Away from Home

Aaro Aakash, a ‘natural’ living place on the outskirts of Bolpur. Aitrayee Sarkar shares the rules made by the nature, not by tourists at all.

Regular visitors to Shantiniketan often complain about growing traffic, huge hotels and resorts lapping the city around and thousands of over-enthusiasts behaving more ‘cultural’ than the land itself. Now-a-days you would hardly get to smell the ‘red-soil’ of Birbhum at least in Shantiketan. The land has been engulfed by a massive wave of urbanization. All one can do is to look beyond the town. Explore rural belts around the main urban hub. 
 
If you have the thirst for experiencing glimpses of real traditional ethnic Birbhum then visiting Aaro Aakash is a must. Let me make it very clear that Aaro Aakash is not a well-equipped modern resort. In fact, it’s a non-resort. It’s located at the Kamarpara village, on the By-pass road from Bolpur to Ilambazar, only 20 km from Bolpur Station. It takes only 30 minutes by road to reach there. Besides, hired cars one can avail bus service too. 

The mud-gate 
Living at Aaro Aakash means indulging yourself in village life of Birbhum. They offer couple of single and multi-storied mud houses, called Ekka and Dokka respectively, for tourists. Remember there is no air condition or television sets around. There are rope-made beds or Khatias and earthen water-pots to welcome you.
 
The living space is decorated with mud-work and roofs are straw-made. They do not administer any kind of pesticide or chemicals, so if you are sacred of insects then Aaro Aakash is a big No No for you. You must be wondering whether I am trying to discourage the weekend trip that you have already stated to plan. No, not at all. The best gift that Aaro Aakash offers to its visitors is the bounty of natural beauty—a clear sky that has almost obliterated from our vision, a number of unknown trees, humble and caring behavior of the villagers serving as staffs there. I bet, after visiting Aaro Aakash, you would surely come up with new ideas of how to use recycle materials in your own house. 

Dokka
The makers of Aaro Aakash hate the concept of makeover, they, instead believe in transformation keeping the roots alive.  Take the pond located within the premises for example. They maintain it properly and use the water of it. But there is no effort to construct any concrete structure over it. It’s encircled by simple bamboo sticks only. They use low-power bulbs to save electricity which is a must in Aaro Aakash.

The best time to visit the place is winter I guess. But a full-monsoon would not disappoint you at all. With frogs moving here and there and unseen reptiles making wired sounds, it’s a real treat to your heart.
 
A part of the earnings of Aaro Aakash is used for development of the village itself. The idea is to make the villagers self-reliant so that no developer can fool them and grab their lands. Hence, discussing prospective land-dealings with the staffs is not permitted there.
 
Aaro Aakash discourages over-enthusiasts. So it’s not a place for people who go overboard. You have to follow the rules of nature; otherwise nature would not open its arms for you. 

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The writer is an editor of WebPressClub 

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Fashion Wannabes Showcase Talent

Our Correspondent ● Kolkata: Techno Foundation, a unit of Srimati Techno Institute (STI), presented a glamorous and spectacular fashion show Prismatic 2k15 at Uttam Mancha on today evening. Over 20 final year students of fashion designing showcased their thematic creation on professional models with smart choreography.

STI director, BN Patil, said: “The fashion industry has been booming for the last two decades and to meet the growing demand, a sound and an all-round grooming is needed.” STI is striving hard since 1989, in this regard, he added.

The students came up with some interesting designs that earned applause from the audience. Patil said that their student have excelled professionally and are working with leading fashion houses. Others, he said, have made their mark as independent designers.

Target Palmyra

Soham Mitra analyses the intent and objective behind destruction of Palmyra. Intriguing insight into the ruination.

Most probably, IS has already managed a place in your drawing room and on your Facebook wall. Isn’t it? The destruction of Palmyra, the historic city, is a major viral international event of the recent past. It took place only a few days after the beheading of Khaled al-Asaad, a Syrian archaeologist. Why Palmyra was the target? Like school children IS, too, dislike history?  Jokes apart, there is a lot behind the curtains. Palmyra was not desolated for crazy pastimes. More than madness, I would rather call it a master stroke. A serious attempt to change the equations of the battle. 
 
Obviously the primary reason was Palmyra's historic importance. Palmyra contains of monumental ruins of a great city that was considered as one of the most important cultural centers of the neo-classical age. The historic site of Palmyra is a blend of Graeco-Roman techniques mixed with local tradition and Persian influence. It grew steadily in importance as a city located on the hub of the silk route linking Persia, India and China with the great Roman Empire, an Empire that was situated at the crossroads of several ancient civilizations. Palmyra also indicates the depth of the pre-Islamic history of Syria. For its universal value, Palmyra came under the UNESCO World Heritage Site, and was one of the most popular tourist attractions of the Middle East. 

Palmyra untouched
It may be recalled that due to recent heavy military invasions, IS had to back off and desperately needed an immediate global attention to keep its confidence level high, to keep its supremacy unperturbed. The Baalshamin temple was their game changer for that.
 
The religious aspect was another key factor. The architecture of Palmyra was created by non-Islamic people, and IS at present is at the helm of orthodox religious vandalism. The destruction was an attempt to erase all the signs of other cultures and religions and establish the new Islamic “caliphate” in place. The global media also referred to a footage showcasing the destruction where a screen text said- "Those statues and idols weren't there at the time of the Prophet nor his companions. They have been excavated by Satanists."  What good do you expect from such elements?
 
But it was not the end, there were something more clever, more ripened. IS needs huge fund to run their ‘jihad’. The precious artifacts and the treasures of the site of Palmyra could meet their need. In fact, they have already smuggled many precious artifacts with self-imposed revenue. They have been making huge money out of it. However, smuggling of artifacts is nothing new to them. IS had done that “trade” in an intelligent way in the past also. Many people opined that that IS does not know what the hell they are doing. But it seems that they are totally aware of what they are actually up to—they cleverly using the heritage as a resource.  UNESCO, in a recent observation, revealed that the looting in ISIL areas being carried out on an industrial scale. 

Destruction of the ancient city
The IS needs regular supply of trained manpower to form an unbuttoned state. They need doctors, engineers, cooks and continuous supply of militants. The destruction of the Baalshamin temple was recorded in high definition video format which confirmed that it was intended to be aired to a larger audience for better reach out. Actually, they have been trying to allure the young talents across the world by showcasing their power. The capture of Palmyra destruction worked well to advertise them and to threaten the globe. And significantly, their campaign to catch a greater audience has not gone in vain. The growing statistics of migration to the IS dominated countries is itself an indicator of that. 
 
The IS is dreaming of building a new world of Islam. They are working hard to delete the history, the identity of the Syrians and the people of Iraq to put their yoke. Palmyra is not the first victim, but surely the most precious one. “The systematic destruction of cultural symbols embodying Syrian cultural diversity reveals the true intent of such attacks, which is to deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history. One week after the killing of Professor Khaled al-Asaad, the archaeologist who had looked after Palmyra's ruins for four decades, this destruction is a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity,” condemned Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO.
 
So, why was Palmyra the prey? Because Palmyra was an oasis in a desert. 

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The writer is a student of literature. Comments personal





Friday, 28 August 2015

Creatures of the Concrete Jungle

Sushmita Pandit throws light at an initiative that brings smile to the faces of the underprivileged children of Kolkata. The larger goal is to create opportunity and thus make a difference. 
 
Bichitra Pathsala’s initiative of teaching the underprivileged children some of the basics of photography has received an overwhelming response. A series of workshops titled, “Creatures of the Concrete Jungle”, kick started in December, 2014 with Deshbandhu Sishu Sikhalaya and ended with Jyotirmai Vidyamandir in August, 2015. The enthusiasm of the all the students who attended the workshops fascinated the members and volunteers of Bichitra Pathsala. Mr. Sandeep Sarkar, wildlife photographer, who conducted a number of three-day workshops held at institutions like Sakhawat Memorial, Modern High School, Shri Shikshayatan, Mahadevi Birla Girls High School, Loreto Day School (Bowbazar), Deshbandhu Sishu Sikhalaya, Dhulagori Adarsha Vidyalaya and Jyotirmai Vidyamandir, was pleased to teach a bunch of jovial and enthusiastic children the basics of photography.  

Workshop at Jyotirmai Vidyamandir 
The first day of the workshop always began with an ice-breaker game where the students had to pick up chits and pair them with a partner on the basis of the related information mentioned in the chit. The students smartly paired themselves and discussed the items mentioned in their respective chits in each of the workshops.  The ice-breaker game was mostly followed by a power-point presentation, where Mr. Sarkar gave the children some basic ideas about the different types of animals, birds and insects which they quite commonly come across on the streets.  

The basics of camera were taught extensively by Mr. Sarkar on the second day of the workshop followed by some hands-on clicking session with the students. The students enjoyed every bit of it. On the third day, the students along with the volunteers assembled at an outdoor location to click pictures of birds and animals that fascinated them. Locations like Dhakuria Lake, Elliot Park, Nature Park and Maidan were chosen to test students’ creativity. The children also learned the importance of being patient while clicking pictures of animals and birds. Some of the students proved their mettle by clicking some excellent photographs. 

Students enjoying the outdoor session 
Not only the students but the volunteers too enjoyed every moment of interaction with the students. “This is one experience I will cherish all my life”-said Harsh Doshi, a volunteer for the workshop.  He further stated, “To see them look at the world a little differently through photography has made me look at it differently too”. Nitish Kumar Singh, a student of iLEAD and a volunteer for the event, was also very glad to be a part of the workshop and wished to be a part of more such programmes in the future. 

Bichitra Pathsala received the support of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for all the eight workshops. The colorful faces of the students who participated in those have not only left the host with some indelible memories, but also with enthusiasm to make more such faces glow with the light of knowledge. Bichitra Pathsala is now looking forward to an exhibition of photographs shot by the children during the workshops. The exhibition would take place at the Emami Chisel Art Gallery from 27th to 29th November. 
 
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The writer is an educator. Comments personal
 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Beyond the Unclaimed

Aitrayee Sarkar shares her opinion on a film made on homosexuality by Debalina. Questions often remain unheard and ignorance is there to do the rest.  

Filmmaker Debalina has made …ebang bewarish (…and the unclaimed) in 2013. The film is based on the suicide committed by a lesbian couple Swapna and Sucheta in Nandigram, a remote village in West Bengal, in 2011 and a series of events following it. Debalina’s sensitive cinematography has transformed the narration into reality and beyond. It seems that the civilized society has indulged into a modern witch hunt. There is no place to live or think freely. In connection with the main storyline a number of sub-plots also appear on the screen. The untold story of a guy caught up in the dilemma whether to select his ‘real’ sexual identity overshadowing the love for his family, a woman, who is also a mother, suspected and questioned for her perspective towards her own daughter or a girl sexually victimized by her own brothers in order to make her ‘straight’. Is it the society that we the humans had once struggled to build for? Jungle is a better place to live in if that is the real face of civilization. Isn’t it?
Poster of the movie
The modern India, the global India is ‘proudly’ ornamented with curses like high rate of female foeticide, honour killing, sex trade, human trafficking etc. But the power politics of the country has always looked to put these issues under the carpet rather than coming out open in acceptance and eradication. The rule of natural justice seems a myth here. A myth that has never been recognized or realized properly. Yes, India is changing with young minds like Debalina coming up with new ideas and sharing those with the Neo-Indians without fear or so called prejudice.
The five-page suicide note written by one of the girls—Swapna and Sucheta, is a major reference point of the film. The villagers and kins of the girls do not approve their relation. The hatred is so intense that they do not even claim the dead bodies of the duo. That’s where the story of ‘the other’ starts to take a different turn and makes the director and activists interested in taking it to the global platform. 
 
Debalina has questioned the draconian rules of the urban and rural India. She reveals the reality with a true sensitive heart. There are moments in the film that would cause you to question your own standing on issues which we have so far neglected or ignored out of fear.  
Debalina during the making of ...ebang bewarish
The amount of administrative hindrance the crew of the film faced while shooting for it was enormous. The power politics is always there to play its own tricks. Alarmingly, survival for free thinkers have been getting difficult day by day in the world. Debalina and her team deserve a round of applause for taking up such a project and deliver the goods with so much care and conviction.

A few days ago we were scared to hear that some so called religious elements brutally killed homosexual people in Syria. Now the question is whether we are better human beings than those obnoxious elements. I think the story of those homosexuals is no different than that of Swapna and Sucheta. The only difference is that we belong from a ‘civilized’ society and those people come from a ‘barbaric’ background.
 
Let me give you some food for thought—statistics say, only nine out of total 196 countries of the world have so far approved rights in a respectful proportion to the homosexuals and in 79 countries homosexuality is considered illegal. As Ritwik Ghatak once advised us, think and learn to think. Are we thinking at all?

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The writer is an editor of WebPressClub
Debalina's Picture by Jayita Roy


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Radha: In Search of Love

Special Correspondent ● Kolkata: Radha: A Love in Eternity—the name says it all. Photographer Swapan Nayak is here to stun all with his monochromatic works based on the philosophical journey of Radha’s love as described in the famous Vaishnava Padabali literature of India. The exhibition is taking place at the Harrington Street Arts Centre (Kolkata) and would continue till 31st August (from 12 pm- 7 pm daily). 
 
Nayak with his lens has created a sense of mystery and aura using various phases of love like Purbaraga, Avisara, Sambhog, Kalahantarok, Mathur etc. Each mood of eternal love has been represented by different frames. The minimalist approach of the work is impressive.  

Mathur: as envisaged by Nayak

Nayak, a former photojournalist, told us that it took him more than three years to curate the whole exhibition. He traveled to various corners of North and North-East India in search of perfect frames for this particular series only.
 
The most interesting part of Nayak’s work is perhaps the way he used natural elements, especially trees, to manifest the emotions. The purity of light and shadow is another noted feature of Nayak’s photographs. The grandeur is there but it never overshadows the clarity of vision. Overall the exhibition is indeed a story that has been narrated perfectly by the photographer.
 
The city would look forward to host and witness more such creative works by people like Swapan Nayak who has already thrown a tough challenge to many contemporary photographers with his unconventional style of portrayal.

Delight to Life

Photographer Debarshi Sarkar pens down his passion for lens. The beginning of his love for frame and transition into the profession     

To me lens means a perception rather than a mere instrument. Creating the frame in mind before the final click is more important than anything else. One needs to gather information and frame the image first on basis of the nature of the subject and its surroundings. It’s a continuous process that a photographer’s eyes go through even in times when he is not capturing anything. That’s the most interesting part of photography. 

Debarshi in search of light

I was initially attracted to photography from my habit of writing poems. It’s a satisfying transition for me. It’s a fact that all the mediums of expression are interconnected with each other in some way or the other. A continuous exchange takes place among them. For me it was a gradual transition. And one day I realized that the eternal allegories of poetry have been seeking life through my lens and that feeling absorbed me completely. On that particular moment I became conscious of the fact that a new genesis has started within by mind. That’s how my pursuit for photography has begun.    

Honestly, it all started with my affection for camera. But I never imagined that one day I would become a professional photographer. Later, I told myself that there is nothing wrong in taking up your passion as profession. That’s how the armature Debarshi became a professional photographer. I consider myself extremely lucky to get the opportunity of looking at the world from a third dimension. 
The suspicious death

I love street and fine art photography more but as a professional advertisement and fashion photography is my forte. However, I am always ready to contribute in meaningful projects. Yes I am a bit choosy; but choice is the word that actually brought me to this profession. So I guess the freedom to make a genuine choice is there in offer. I would suggest all to listen to your heart while choosing your profession. You’ll come across thousands of ways that would mislead you. But trust me there would be one that would be the chosen path for you. All one needs to do is to select that right path only.   

At the conclusion I would like to announce that figuring out the right frame is a divine feeling to all the photographers. I wish to reach such moments every day in my life. That's where I want to see myself in future. 





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The writer is a photographer. Comments personal

Sunday, 23 August 2015

City Jains to Join Nationwide Protest Tomorrow

Our Correspondent ● Kolkata: The Jain community of the city will join the rest of their brethren tomorrow, in a silent rally to protest the Rajasthan high court order to ban Santhara, a century old tradition.

Rajkumar Sethi, working president of Digambar Jain Mahasabha, clarified that Santhara, also known as Sallekhana, is a highly respected practice among Jains. 

The Rajasthan high court, in its 10 August order, had labelled the practice as ‘suicide’ while disposing of a public interest litigation filed earlier in the month by lawyers Madhav Mishra and Nikhil Soni.

Majority of the Jains stay in India
Narayan Jain, former member of West Bengal Minorities Commission, said: “Religious freedom of Jains enshrined in the constitution of India should not be tinkered with. Jains, moreover, are now a minority community at the national level. Their religious practices must be shielded.” He even criticised the high court order and said: “Santhara means voluntarily giving up food. It is a festival to attain death with the consent of the person’s entire family.” It is a very holistic practise, and not equivalent to committing suicide, he added. 

Manoj Jain, coordinator of the community’s programmes in Kolkata, informed that the rally will start from the Jain Temple at Bysack Lane around noon. It will cover Hariram Goenka Street, Kalakar Street, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Brabourne Road, and India Exchange Place, before concluding at Esplanade. The rally has been termed as ‘Dharam Bachao Aandolan’. The Jain community will also file a petition before the Supreme Court after two weeks from tomorrow. All Jain shops and businesses will remain closed tomorrow. Even the students won’t attend their respective institutions as a dissent against this ban. 

Santhara attracted the country’s attention in 2006 when 93-year old Keila Devi of Jaipur, who otherwise had no ailment except some typical old-age problems, decided to observe the ritual to attain moksh (self-emancipation). 

Raja: Soul and Survival

Aitrayee Sarkar revisits Raja recited by Shaoli Mitra. Time has changed but eternity can take you to a journey that makes one recognize his real self.     

Kolkata-based publishing house, Saptarshi Prakashan is known for presenting unconventional yet traditional albums. Raja, a Tagore drama, is one of the remarkable works delivered by the publishing house in recent years.  The album is a solo recitation and acting of the play by famous theatre personality of Bengal, Shaoli Mitra. It perfectly complements the saying “The human soul has its inner drama which is just the same as anything else that concerns man”. 

Shaoli Mitra with her magical smile
Raja as we all know is a journey towards inner-light through pain and eternal darkness. It portrays the never ending struggle between our outer and inner being. Shaoli Mitra’s intriguing voice perfectly creates the mood and ambiance for that. Her voice represents the allegorical conflict among Suranjana, Surangama and Raja in a majestic manner. She takes the listener’s breath away with dialogues like “Tomar kache ki andhakar bole kichu nei!" (does the darkness never exist for you!) or “Ei amar raja, amar andhakarer raja” (this is my king, the king of darkness) and many more. Secondary characters like Thakurda, Madhav and Kanchiraj have been made realistic yet dramatic through magical voice modulation by Mitra. 

A Tagore drama cannot be imagined without songs. In Raja music becomes the protagonist instead of playing a support-cast. It begins with “Momo chitte nite nritye” and goes on with a synchronized chorus be Tarit Bhattacharya, Ranjini Mukhopadhyay, Durba Singha Chowdhury, Arup Manna and Hirak Mukhopadhyay. Solo songs sung by Shaoli Mitra add the real magic to the whole album. Music director of the album Tarit Bhattacharya and his musicians have also given a soulful performance.

Those who have seen Shaoli Mitra performing Raja on the stage can certainly revisit those moments through this album. Nostalgia is the essence of time. Come and let’s experience that again with Raja.




Raja
Saptarshi Prakashan
₹200

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The writer is an editor of WebPressClub

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Journal of the Wild

Aitrayee Sarkar shares her views on reading a Bengali travelogue on Africa by Chayanika Chakraborty. Lets peep into a world lesser known to the rest of the world. 

It’s a story of a regular Bengali girl visiting his expatriate husband for the first time crossing thousands of miles. Finding nothing impressive about it! Then you are wrong. If the girl is traveling to the land of wild nature, Africa, then the story is expected to take a different turn all together.

Chayanika Chakraborty’s Dakshin Africar Journal (the journal of South Africa) is all about nervous and narrow escapes from the African beasts and falling in love with the second largest continent of the world simultaneously. Chakraborty’s travelogue covers mainly her experiences of spending years in South Africa and visiting adjacent countries like Zimbabwe and Zambia etc.

The book contains detail description of the people, animals and their natural habitats of Africa. The way Chakraborty has described every single detail of her visit to different places there, any lame man can aspire to go to those areas with the directions she actually shared with her readers. The best part of the book is that the writer has not tried to replicate formal style of travelogue writing. She rather chose a pure narrative style to communicate. Hence, the book does not burden the readers with extensive facts, figures and descriptions. It gives you a comprehensive idea about the life and living in Africa instead of a monotonous description.  

The famous Table Mountain
Besides, talking about the African wild life and adventures Chakraborty with a calculated sensitivity introduces the readers with the socio-economic problems of the ‘Independent’ aboriginals of the continent. Not only that the book also talks about the daily life of the Indians, especially Bengalis, living in Africa.

The book consists of numerous photographs that would surely intensify your interest about the most unknown sights and sounds of the continent. None of those photographs are amateurish. In fact, they can give tough competition to many professional photographers.  

Chakraborty has dedicated a number of chapters to describe the wrath of mother nature by sharing her experiences of encountering desert storms and floods in Africa. After reading the book survival seems to be the most miraculous word in the world! 

We hope that someday Chakraborty would again visit her world of dreams and return with similar jewels for her readers. 

Overall Dakshin Africar Journal is an excellent reading experience. Chakraborty in her first attempt has created a feel-good atmosphere for her readers. The book has all the possibilities of becoming a popular travelogue. But more attention should be given to editing.

Readers would be eager to listen to Chakraborty’s next encounter with the nature. The expectations are mounting high and the writer would have to deliver the goods as soon as possible.

At the end let’s raise a toast to the nature; to Africa.    



Dakshin Africar Journal 
Chayanika Chakraborty
Saptarshi Prakashan
₹ 150

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The writer is an editor of WebPressClub 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Colours of Freedom

Special Correspondent ● Kolkata: The city gets a taste of true craftsmanship with a rare exhibition, called Colours of Freedom, by veteran artist Rabin Mondal at Gorky Sadan. The nine-day exhibition began with screening of a documentary, Rabin: The Inner Soul, (Dir: Arun Kumar Chakraborty) made on the artist on 12th August evening. Renowned personalities like Ashok Mitra, Sankha Ghosh, Soumitra Chattopadhyay, Ganesh Haloi, Sunil Das, Pranab Ranjan Ray and Buddhadev Das Gupta were present at the inauguration ceremony. The objective of the exhibition was to celebrate the 68th anniversary of Indian Independence. 

A candid moment with Rabin
The intensity and depth of Mondal's works have always made him different than his other contemporaries. His works are known for exhibiting passion for life and nature. The artist is a true exponent of figurative sketching. He is inspired by the Western as well as the Eastern masters like Picasso and Matisse and Abanindranath Tagore, Nandolal Bose and Jamini Roy.

Kolkata is hoping to host more such exhibitions in the future. Despite its limitations, the city is here to offer its best infrastructure to artists so that it does not fall short of any other art hubs of India.  With more and more artists coming to the city with their works we must remain persistent to the task. 





 


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

“Prose is not my mother language”: Aveek

Poet Aveek Majumder in a candid conversation with Aitrayee Sarkar speaks about his passion for poetry

What it takes to live the life of a poet—a creator of the creators. They say that poetry is the purest form of art. A form that knows no boundary. It never binds a creative mind with any fixed rules. Poetry is the ultimate manifestation of free expression.
 
For Aveek it was love at the first sight. He recalled that during his childhood days he used to spent hours reading poems. Thus, his solitude as a child filled up with the sound of poetry. Initially, his favorite poet was Sunil Gangopadhyay. With time the choice has changed but the love remained the same.  

‘Subhash Mukhopadhyayer Kobita’ was Aveek’s first complete encounter with any collection of poems. Gradually, he came across the works of greats like Jibananada Das, Bishnu Dey, Shakti Chattopadhyay and Shankha Ghosh etc. Thus, a young fresh mind was immensely attracted to the magical world of poetry. Finally, Aveek decided to publish a little magazine, 'Bidroha'. And that marked the beginning of journey of a new-born poet. 

Poth haante shobdera
Aveek started writing poems regularly around 1979-80. His first collection of poems ‘Lyric Bahini’ (Anushtup) published in 2004. He strongly believes that a poet should wait for the right and respectful opportunity for publishing himself rather than going bizarre hoping to publish books. So far a number of collections of poems by Aveek Majumder have been published from various Kolkata-based publications. His books like ‘Nishipralap’, ‘Sindhulipi’ and ‘Vikshapatro’ have earned critical acclaim as well as loved by common readers. He translated poems of renowned Marathi poet Namdeo Dhasal in Bengali. Later, that work published as a collection in  2006.    

The poet often talks about how living legends like Shankha Ghosh and Joy Goswami have inspired him. Aveek says, “Prose is not my mother language”. If you ask him to define his poetry he would humbly say, “Trust me I am nothing. Go and read good poetry”. That’s his style of igniting minds and thus, he opens up the horizon of a new world before his readers.
 
Come let’s listen what Aveek Majumder shared with us.

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The interviewer is an editor of WebPressClub




Here, the Snow Kissed the Sky

Prabuddha Neogi treads the hiking trail to Sillery Gaon, a pristine Himalayan village, untouched by the hordes of hounding tourists and crass commercialisation 

Talk of New Jalpaiguri and the first things that come to your mind are the vacationing hotspots of Dooars and Darjeeling. These two are the most frequented by tourists not only from West Bengal but the rest of the country and beyond as well. But nestled in the Himalayas are several lesser known destinations that are as beautiful as their more famous peers. The vacationing fraternity often gives these places a miss, largely because of lack of proper knowledge about accommodation and transport.

Kanchenjungha from Sillery Gaon
Sillery Gaon, about 5km from Pedong, is one such place nestled in the Himalayas. It remained obscure from the eyes of hounding tourists even till a few years back. Lava, Loleygaon and Rishop were Sillery Gaon’s more famous peers. Then, the largely unexplored eastern Sikkim, started homestays along the old Sino-Indian silk route. Sillery Gaon, in West Bengal on the Sikkim-Bengal border, was included in the circuit. It’s the first stopover after the route begins at Reshi Khola near Kalimpong town.

Sillery is a remote village of less than 30 families. It’s bestowed with unfettered views of the mighty Kanchenjungha and is being enthusiastically labelled as ‘New Darjeeling’. It’s just like any other Himalayan village with people living like a community.

I visited Sillery Gaon for the first time in 2011 and instantly fell in love with it. The people were simple and always ready to smile. I hope they are still the same. The village had no electricity and the only source of power was a diesel generator which was switched on for only a couple of hours in the evening. It was the only time one had to charge mobile phones and cameras. Dilip Tamang, whose homestay I had rented, rued that none at the electricity department paid an ear despite writing several times. I sympathised in approval, saying in my mind that it was a blessing in disguise for people like me who want to stay miles away from the maladies of electricity. Dilip and his ilk, nonetheless, needed electricity to install tourist necessities like geysers and water pumps. I am not aware whether electricity has finally arrived at Sillery Gaon.

The meandering Teesta from Ramitey
Dilip Tamang’s extended family, including his in-laws, are all engaged in the homestay business. He is often considered the pioneer of eco-tourism in the region. He will  knock on your door every morning to inquire whether everything is okay. Everyone in the village knows the other and Sillery Gaon is a model in community tourism which has helped them beat poverty.

The food prepared by the village womenfolk, who often participate in cooking at each other’s place, is a treat for foodies like me. The chicken curry, cooked in fresh stream water, is awesome. They grow the vegetables in the village itself that are purely organic. The children in the village help the women in the cooking before and after school. Dilip Tamang’s nephew told me that school was a 4km walk from their village.

Part of the road leading to Sillery Gaon from Algarah is pebbled. It’s more of a hiking trail but four-wheel drives manage to ply on it, largely because of the pot-bellied Bengali travellers and their ubiquitous acidity. They even take the car to visit Ramitey, a 3km walk from the village centre to catch a glimpse of the panoramic Kanchenjungha and the meandering Teesta below. The river looks like a silver ribbon from the spot.

I have been planning to revisit Sillery Gaon, ever since I came back to my noisy and chaotic Kolkata. That hasn’t happened as yet. But with the Himalaya bug biting my son in equal measure, it’s likely to happen soon.

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The writer is the chief editor of WebPressClub