Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Collection Of Chaos - Book Review.




(From the foreword by Kris Saknussemm) As with all the poets I most admire, words are living things for Tikuli. But as you will come to discover, they are never deployed for their own sake. She uses them to tell stories. The images, scenes, characters and fragments of visionary empathy that you will find in this book are all rooted in her native India-and yet they reach out far beyond national and cultural boundaries. They do so because they have an interior cohesion of spirit. Her subjects are often the dispossessed, the lost...the abused. There are undercurrents of sorrow and anger. And yet love shines through, even when it seems to be fading away. Above all, there's a powerful sense of hope at work-a conviction in the redemptive strength of poetry.

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Brought up in Delhi in a family of liberal educationists Tikuli is a mother of two sons. She is also a blogger and author. Some of her short stories and poems have appeared in print and in online journals and literary magazines including Le Zaparougue, MiCROW 8, Troubadour21, The Smoking Book (Poets Wear Prada Press, US), The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, Mnemosyne Literary Journal, Women's Web.
Some of her print publications include poems in Guntur National Poetry Festival Anthology and much acclaimed Chicken Soup For The Indian Romantic Soul(Westland). Her work has also been featured on websites related to gender issues and child sexual abuse. She blogs at 
                                                                    Stalk her @
When I picked up Tikuli's Collection of Chaos,the first thing that struck me was the ability of the poems to cast an emotional effect on the reader the way music would on a listener.Her poetry is not merely a sequence of words expressing emotions.The poems turn anecdotal at times and dramatic at other.

What her poetry really expresses is the mind’s apprehension of itself. All the ingredients of her poetry stand out individually but the real essence is their cohesiveness. Her chiseled phrases stroke the reader’s appetite and never fail to tickle his imagination. The descriptions are vivid, lifelike even as many of her poems deal with harsh realities of life .The feelings are myriad, expressions overwhelming and yet the words used very simple and effective.

 As I immersed myself in the lines and turned the pages, I felt that the poet was becoming more and more aware of herself and the world around her. She has used effects and descriptions to create linguistic images . The narration at times has powerful emotions and at other times there is tranquility in her presentation.

    ....Her elegant frame silhouetted in the moonlight
 Her intense eyes,
        Brimming with grief and pain
 Her gaze penetrating into the quiet abyss
        The maelstrom inside her resounding
in the stillness of the night
         Nothing is moving,not even the
 dewdrops hanging from the leaves....

 The complete absence of titles in this collection of poems confused me at first but as I began reading further, I went with the flow and the experience of not having a beginning and an end worked for me. There is an underlying pattern in each individual poem and the commemorative effect reflects the poet’s state of mind. She tells stories, short ones, in simple words. Her words flow effortlessly, her lines come across as merely spoken and then improvised on the spot to give it an aesthetic poetic form.

 There are moments, luckily not many, where description of the mundane causes the collection to lose ground but immediately the poet succeeds in re engaging the reader. Far from stagnant, Tikuli’s work is over all engaging and leaves me with a lingering impression that this collection is going to meet the expectation of a reader who is used to contemporary poetic literature.

 The fact that the beautifully crafted lines come across as raw and unpolished when it comes to emotions, may prove to be the collection’s strength.Collection of chaos by Tikuli makes a truly satisfying read.   
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Saturday, September 20, 2014


Anju is a certified sex educator from the Indian Institute of Human Technology.She regularly conducts puberty,safety and sex education workshops for children and teenagers in Mumbai.A double graduate in law and Mass Communication,she has also worked as a journalist and copywriter for twenty years.She has authored two books and is currently writing a series of books on sex education for children and adults.She is also working on a sex education video for children.
She writes a guest post today, on my blog, about breaking that wall of silence at home.

The shocking rape of a 6 year old at a reputed Bangalore school recently, sent shivers down parents back. This was way too close for comfort. Most of us believe that these things can’t happen to our kids…kids of upper middle class families, studying in top of the line schools. Welcome to reality!

According to a shocking report by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, over 50% of children in India are sexually abused at some point in their growing up years. This means that every second child is abused. Now that’s something to be really worried about!

Instead, we in India worry about our society and culture, which does not encourage these kinds of talks with children.Our culture supposedly stops us from talking to our kids, but why doesn’t the same culture stop people from raping their own daughters? We are the second most populated country in the world, yet we don’t talk about sex…we just indulge in it aplenty!!

Every second day, there is a newspaper headline screaming ‘Rape’ & ‘Child sexual abuse’ in some part of the country. But are we really listening? We momentarily feel bad, shake our heads in horror and resignation before turning the page, secure in our belief that it cannot happen to us!

Wake up! Child sexual abuse (CSA) happens across all segments of society and both boys and girls fall prey to it. And most of the time the perpetrator of the act is a person known to the child and family – a family friend, a neighbour, an uncle, a domestic helper…people who are a part of the child’s life- someone a child would normally trust.

Sexual abuse is not the only issue we need to speak about with kids. Growing up, changing bodies, changing feelings, sexual feelings, sex, sexuality and safety are important issues to be discussed with growing children. Sex education is as important as learning to read and write.

The word ‘Sex education’ is actually very misleading. It immediately conjures images of the sexual act. Well, talking about the sexual act is just a very small part of sex education – there is so much more to it than that. Infact, at times the sexual act is not even spoken about. So when you are talking to the children about the good touch- bad touch, there is no mention about the sexual act. When you are talking to kids about puberty, there is no mention about the sexual act. It is just in our minds that we have conjured up this big bad image of ‘Sex education’. Maybe, we just need to coin a new term to make it more acceptable.

Is it too early? Will it put thoughts in my child’s mind? My child is too innocent…I don’t want to corrupt him….these are just some of the excuses we come up with to avoid the talk.

All research on the subject conducted by various agencies all over the world repeatedly say that Sex Education does not lead to an increase in sexual activity…infact it leads to more responsible sexual behavior, delayed experimentation and more positive interactions with the opposite sex.

There is no right or wrong age to start talking to your child about growing up, changing bodies, unsafe touch, sex etc. It is the language you use that makes a difference. The way the information is presented to kids can be positive or negative and not the information by itself. Again, research studies say that the child will only retain what they understand and the rest of the information will be filtered off. It’s better to talk to them a year earlier than a minute later.

Having hesitations to broach the subject are fine and also natural because most of us were not spoken to as kids and we are clueless about the right way and time to broach the subject.

A growing set of parents want to talk to their kids, but don’t know what to say, how much to say and importantly when to say what! Fair enough, but don’t let these hesitations or limitations come in the way of speaking with your child. Find a way or devise a way because exposure levels of kids are high and the silence levels at home are shattering!

If you don’t talk to your child, google uncle will do the needful -giving them uncensored and age inappropriate information at the click of a button, causing a lot of harm. According to a survey by Times of India, the average age for viewing porn on the internet is 11! In this scenario,having that all important ‘chat’ with children and keeping the doors of communication open becomes very important.           

The key thing to remember is that your child is your responsibility, your most treasured possession (if they can be called that!) Then how can you fail to protect them or fail to give them the information and skills required to protect themselves?Don’t let our so called cultural taboo take predominance over the child?

                                 Break that wall of silence at home!

                                                      Anju  Kishinchandani                                                                                                               Sex Educationist
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Book Review - Where even Present Is Ancient.Benaras

The Blurb

Where Even the Present is Ancient: Benaras is a book that seeks to tell the little stories that make us who we are. The author believes that Benaras resides in all of us Indians, in some beautiful often-unknown way. The author is the Sutradhar, in that she attempts to connect an India that many do not realize exists, in that it is everybody’s story. Radha, Krishna, Ganga, Benaras and Me are all characters in this deluge of poems. This attempt at telling the story of the ancient, of love and of faith is to instil the confidence that poetry exists in all of us, everywhere, all that is needed is to smell its fragrance. To those outside India, the book does not seek to be a representation of what India is or was, but a whiff of what it also can be. It is an attempt to ask people to see the little stories that govern all of our lives, stories that we often don’t see, but those that are important. The audience for this book might be strewn across the globe, for faith is not religion-centric, it is people- centric and often without dimensions. In poetry there is no beginning, no middle, nor no end. Like faith it is everywhere, it is omnipresent. The book affords no answers, nor no questions, but if you listen and read carefully you will see new things, a new beauty perhaps, one that has been silent so long.


   My Review

This collection of poems paints Benaras vividly. The poet ,Maitreyee B Choudhury , an established author,sets the tone of the book by calling Benaras a long lost poem in itself.For a reader like me who has had a love hate relationship with the city in the past, this promised an interesting read.
She describes Ganga , the Vishwanath temple, the various ghats and almost everything about the city of Benaras very passionately much as an artist would paint his muse.If the reader has never known Benaras,he would be intrigued enough to make an attempt to see what this historical city is all about.For some who have breathed the air in this city of Gods, each poem is like revisiting the spiritual city all over again.
'Vishwanath 'I had come
your doors were closed however
with people,full of you
and yet themselves..
Here she talks about the famous Vishwanath temple and says a lot more in these two lines again,
"I decided not to leave that Rupees hundred Fluttering in the Benaras breeze ,
at your doorstep"
There are many Gods in this city which promises Nirvana with a dip in the holy Ganges. You touch a wall ,a God stares back. Rituals ,like Gods are  many and like a maze, one can enter and completely lose himself.
Through the eyes of the poet a reader makes a journey through the narrow lanes of Benaras .Many hate it the moment they step in the city but for some, it offers salvation. Love it or hate it, but Benaras stirs that something in you that lingers on..
Like the poet says "..someone spits a Benarasi Kaththaa ,and the fragrance sticks to me." this is what the book has done to me. It will stay with me for a long time to come.
I rate it  4/5
About the Author


Maitreyee B Chowdhury is a web columnist and creative writer. She is author of Reflections on My India, a book of Indian traditions and spirituality in parts. Maitreyee is also author of Uttam Kumar and Suchitra Sen- Bengali Cinema’s First Couple and Ichhe Holo Tai, a bilingual muti media presentation of poetry. Maitreyee is featured amongst other Indian writers such as Gulzar, Shashi Tharoor and Deepti Naval in an anthology of Indian writers Celebrating India.

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