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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  1. "..someone spits a Benarasi Kaththaa ,and the fragrance sticks to me."... wow.. this says it all. Thanks for a fab review, Sharmila. Will definitely check this book! :)



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