Book review: Soothing Serenades: Straight from the Heart by Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar

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review bhaskar jha

About the author:

Bhaskaranand Jha Bhaskar is a trilingual poet (Maithili, Hindi and English), short story writer, critic and reviewer, based in Kolkata. He is regularly published in various national and international magazines, both printed and online.

His poetry springs straight from heart and mind as unification of sensibility. He uses catchy lines, expressions and images. In his poetry, social issues, romance and love are tackled with equal passion.

Resonant with profound spirituality and intricate mysticism his poems are stunning and enlightening, buoyant sometimes and intense at other times and always have a deep meaning beautiful enough to touch hearts of avid readers.

One of his poems on Nelson Mandela is included in the academic syllabus prescribed for the school students of Philippines.

Soothing Serenades: Straight From the Heart is his first volume of poems and another one is in the pipeline.

He is also a contributor to journals like The Criterion: An International Journal in English, IJML (International Journal On Multicultural Literature), The Anvil (Forum of Literature & Academic Research in English) and Harvests of New Millennium, The Interiors, Taj Mahal Review, IJES (The Indian Journal of English Studies).

He is also a part of several anthologies like ‘Epitaphs’, ‘Purple Hues”, “Whispering Winds”, “Just For You, My Love”, “Heavenly Hymns”, ‘I Am a Woman”, “The Significant Anthology”, “Umbilical Cords”, “A- Divine-Madness” (Five Volumes), “She the Shakti”, “Whispering Heart”etc.

He is the Review Editor of Asian Signature, a literary e-journal, managed from Kolkata.

The Book Review:

Love is a divine emotion and has a spiritual connect. It gets us closer to the meaning of our existence. While some have made it the reason of their existence. These feelings gradually start touching us in myriad forms through Bhaskar Jha’s poems all written for love and with love. All poems have the same theme running through the book i.e. love. Its true that a life that hasn’t been touched by love is like a desert; barren.

Lines from the first poem, ‘To Goddess of Love’ reflect these above thoughts.
Jha so firmly and deeply believes in the power of love, that he calls upon love to heal people from violence with its touch of divinity.

In the second poem, ‘Oh, Eternal Love!’, he says that love can keep him away from the dreary times of life. This might sound like escapism but, its not, it just the power and energy that love possess, which can lift you up from a low point to ecstasy.

Bhaskar Jha believes that love heals and presents this feeling in the poem, ‘Healing Power of Love’ where he says,

“Love consoles the unheard sobs
Healing the deep wounds of life.”

All the poems are written in simple but, lyrical form thus, grabbing the attention of the reader and sustaining interest.

Jha’s poems are particularly appealing due to its simplicity, yet endearing quality. To write 62 poems on the same theme isn’t simple but, what’s even tougher is to hold the attention of the reader who while reading these poems unknowingly starts connecting with the author himself.

I agree when in his poem ‘Definition of Love’ Jha says,

“Love is life, philosophy,
art and religion
A discipline with transformative power”.

In this poem he attacks the people who equate love with lust and ends with this encompassing profound thought that love possess transformative power and is a spiritual experience. The spiritual aspect of love again reflects at the end of the poem,

“That ennobles us and elevates our souls;
Love is poetry: the abstract of bliss
Underlying between and beyond the lines,
A facilitating means to an end for soul
That ultimately melts into the eternal ocean
Of peace, bliss and the union divine.”

In this endearing book the most picturesque and narrative poem is ‘A romantic eve’. It’s the union of lovers amidst the abundance of nature. The first 5 lines speak about the soothing nature and rain that calms the earth. And the next 5 lines speak about how lovers meet in the beauty of the rain droplets smothered with love.

As you read further, poems get more conversational, picturesque, lyrical and romantic like a song. Aptly titled, ‘Splashes of love in the summer of life’ the poem expresses how love can fill a meaningless life with a trance.

“Oh, my Sweetheart!
Lead me there on the wings
of pleasant breezes
even beyond
the ethereal luscious trance!
Following this pattern comes the poem ‘Serenade of solitude’ which ends in a rather peculiar manner:
Sullen, I brood within soul
In contemplative solitude;”

I say peculiar because, it reminds me of William Wordsworth’s poem, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, where he says,

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;”

As we move ahead this love treat transforms to love tests in the poem ‘True love tests’ where Jha talks about practicalities of life that can challenge love.

“After they’re united together
Through and through
The body, mind and soul,
It sneaks out
From their usual hobnobs.”

I particularly loved the poem where the end is impactful with the mention of death. The poem is ‘Rose for you’ and the ending lines are:

“Some cuddle me
on the hard earthy crust
while you cajole me
to climb up, up there
from my heart
to your soul to rest
and repose in the cosy embrace of Love
to relish the bliss of life
before Death silently plants
the ultimate Kiss
on my puckered lips!”

Rarely do love poems end by mentioning death but, here it is so beautifully woven in the crux of the poem i.e. ‘love’.

We cannot live without love, we rather perish than live without this ecstatic emotion and this feeling is so beautifully expressed in the last lines of the poem, ‘Bonhomie’.

“As in absence of oxygen,
everything living
in smother of utter isolation
finally withers”

‘My Valentine’ is truly an ode to the poet’s lover in the most sensuous way yet, so endearing and filled with tenderness. While we set into this mood of romance and love galore, Jha takes us on a different level with ‘Love birds on the branch of poetree’, which signifies what being a poet means to him. Infact, while you navigate slowly from one poem to another and relish each poem, you suddenly realize even though all poems are based on the theme, ‘love’, each poem brings new feeling and is distinct. Each poem brings a new facet of love; a new angle of love.

While you ponder over this thought and move ahead a brilliant poem ‘Voice is heard more in silence’, comes your way. I could easily claim that this is my favourite poem in the book as it dwells over the aspect of the power of silence to convey your emotions.
Lastly, I would want to mention the poem, ‘Trust if you want to be trusted’, which presents the crux of every relation i.e. trust. Both the feeling of trusting others and being trusted is expressed aptly in this poem.

All poems are full of hope and positivity thus, elating your mood and wanting you to fall in love. I have enjoyed this book to the core. I particularly loved the fact that inspite of being short, these poems touch you in its myriad forms.

Poems in the book, ‘Soothing Serenades’ are wonderful because, they express deeper feelings in simple words. Each line connects with the reader. It creates a lasting impact and even as you finish reading each poem, you would want to read it again.

Short poems have so much to say in fewer words. They end just at the right moment and then you want to go back and read them again and again.
© Copyright 2018 Rashmi S. Malapur All rights reserved

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Philip Roth (1933 – 22 May 2018)

words and music and stories

P RothStop worrying about growing old. And think about growing up.

(“The Dying Animal”)

Smettila di preoccuparti di invecchiare. E pensa a crescere.

(“L’animale morente”)

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The Broken Pirate

Our guest blogger /poet Sandesh Gawai aka Super Sandesh shares one of his writings with us.
He is a Computer Engineer currently studying for Banking Exams. Sandesh has taken out time from his  mundane routine of studying to write this poem, ‘The Broken Pirate’ for us.
He says, “Im a Phd in failing and Bachelors in rising up every time I fall.”
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The Broken Pirate ⛵
For years, the broken pirate sailed alone in the blue winds of fear,
looking for a betrayer to change his battles into cure.
He swayed across oceans,
facing the raging tides.
Waiting for the sky to tear down to help him un-die.
To reveal the findings he hadn’t found yet.
Carrying his piercing sword of fate,
sailing across the globe,
little did he know, he was looking for YOU.
You came in like a hurricane,
washing away all the pain
Now he doesn’t feel the same,
fighting with his fate-driven chains.
The hush of your voice has quenched the music war of the battles,
For his heart can now see
the heavenly falls of the painful waters.
He travels a thousand miles across the sea,
to get a glimpse of those shining eyes,
Finding his long lost treasures,
The broken pirate now sails forth with all his might ,
to conquer the thunderous night.
Swaying across the ocean,
facing the raging tides,
facing the raging tides.
© Copyright 2018 Sandesh Gawai All rights reserved.

Random thoughts

DAYANAND BORHUDE 1Click by my most lovely friend Dayanand Borhude. Thanks dear!!

Do the very thing that you don’t FEEL like doing. Beyond this ‘NO’ lies your creativity and the will to change the status-quo.

Spend time with family and friends. Unwind and rejuvenate. There is a lot of positive energy within you that gets triggered when you spend time with your loved ones. Love is a special feeling that everyone needs in their life.

Vincent Van Gogh was never appreciated while he was alive. Suffered a painful life. You can read ‘Lust for Life’ till a point of time but, beyond that it becomes unbearable to even read about his life. I often wonder how did he bear so much of pain?

No one pulls you down. Its your thoughts that pull you down. Be mindful about what you say to yourself. Think positive, seek positive, talk positive and be positive.

When someone is posing a challenge to you; mental, physical or emotional, be thankful to that person. He/she is only making you patient. Thank-you!!

Presently I feel I might lose my sanity!! On the borderline, if I cross it I would lose myself.

What is sanity? Being rational,
Being cut-throat, shrewd, rude, insulting, pulling someone down, being smart in the society, not caring for the other person. Then I want to leave this world as an insane person!!

Why does my mind oscillate so much?

photo essay #76: Moscow I, Russia

Fundamental right

The fundamental right of an individual is being yourself and if someone is trying to change that don’t accept it.

Also, you have the right to express yourself. No one can stop you from doing that. If you don’t have that freedom, fight for it – in your own way- with your own weapons.

Change isn’t easy, resistance is immense. Change is either slow or like a hurricane.

Choose your path, be firm and keep walking.

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Inspiring Stories- Kushal Dasgupta

Way back in 1802, William Wordsworth said, “Child is the father of man”. Even today this phrase is true.  The present generation is surely smarter and creative. Kushal Dasgupta is one such young lad whose grit and determination will inspire us.

Interview with Kushal Dasgupta:

Rashmi: Before we getting into your achievements, we would want to know about your dream?

Kushal: Hi, I’m Kushal, Kushal Dasgupta. I am pursuing my Intermediate Second year and a Freelancer Photographer by passion. I’m a Musician and tech Savvy too. Thank-you so much for these beautiful questions.

My dream is to collaborate with my brother (Sai Kaustav whom we interviewed around a year back) and father to start a new firm through which limitless creativity can be produced.

There will be unlimited creations in the form of graphic designing, film making, music composing, directing, hosting and many more stuff, which can benefit people the way they need. With the help of our creative minds, I would like to upgrade the mindsets of present time and bring about smiles on the faces of people as getting permanent happiness is everyone’s dream and ultimate goal.

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TROPHY 1

Rashmi: How do you aim to achieve your dream?

Kushal: After completing my intermediate, I am planning to do smart education, so that I can start working on my dream projects simultaneously with my main career. Now a days, if you can multi-task, you will be identified easily. And to pursue my dream I need to complete many things productively and efficiently so that my way towards my goal becomes smoother. Everyone has their own ways to aim their dreams. And my aim is to show those people how creatively you can reach your purpose and meet your goal. That’s a long term process still with all of your blessings, I will surely achieve success.

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Rashmi: I have heard from your brother that you hold two World Records and one National record. Can you share something more about these achievements.

Kushal: Since I was studying from hostel, during Sundays when I got a chance to meet my parents, I asked them to bring my laptop, so that I can be updated with all news and regular stuff. My parents asked me whether I am able to operate multi devices together. Since I was tech savvy from my childhood, I replied them positively by thinking to give it a try. So this summer vacation 2018, when I came home for two months, I attempted a new record. As a result I made the new record of completing 10 different tasks on 10 different electronic devices in 3 minutes 29 Seconds only.

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I could not believe myself first but, I was successful in making a new record and entered into 2 World Records, 2 National Records and 1 Asian Record recently.

My future ambition is to upgrade the rural areas of India technologically with the awareness of newly updated devices and skills.

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Rashmi: What keeps you going and who inspires you the most?

Kushal: I was inspired by my elder brother’s journey who is a 90% differently abled, wheelchair warrior and a global icon in leadership traits. He always motivates me to go ahead and try things out of the box. Its my parents support too, which always encouraged me to be on top of my chosen fields. I feel its very important to get their blessings as their guidance and experiences make my path more easier to reach my goal soon. Being inspired by them, I thought about trying something unique, which can inspire other young people around. So I achieved a new record on electronic devices.

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Rashmi: What should be the most important thing for our youth today and how they can shape India’s future?

Kushal: I feel the most important thing for the youth is to utilise their time productively. I would like to motivate other young students to pursue their passion, besides their main stream career as we all have limited time. They must never leave their passions aside. Along with their passions and their interests, they can continue growing in their chosen field. We need not confuse our dream, degree or hobby with our career prospects. Play to your passion also, not only your strengths. If you are lucky enough to have the two overlap then great.

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But, we must bear in mind that with the right career there will always be time for the things you enjoy, regardless of how much you have studied.

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Nor war, nor peace

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Image: @ the Kala Ghoda Fest, 2016, Mumbai, India

Nor war, nor peace

A barrage of thoughts distract and heckle my mind,
Thoughts pulling me and fighting for my attention,
Pulling me in different directions.

These racing thoughts are maddening,
When you step in front of me, suddenly,
And hold me tight.
I stand still without a fight.
Not an iota of restlessness now.

Then again as I settle into this divinity.
Thoughts again knock me down and I shirk you away
To depart from you.

The whole day passes with this hide and seek.
When the day ends with the realization that nothing is permanent;
Nor war, nor peace!!!
© Copyright 2018 Rashmi S. Malapur All rights reserved.

Not Lost In Translation: A Curious Language Anecdote

Interesting things happen when we write. Language coincidence.

Learn Fun Facts

Vladimir_Nabokov_1973b

Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov, in his 1962 novel Pale Fire, related a remarkable, albeit probably apocryphal, Russian language anecdote. The story went that a newspaper which covered the coronation ceremony of a Tsar “accidentally” misprinted “корона” (korona) (crown) as “ворона” (vorona) (crow). The following day, the newspaper apologized for the error and promptly “corrected” it. However, the word was misprinted once again as “корова” (korova) (cow).

According to Nabokov, “The artistic correlation between the crown-crow-cow series and the Russian koronavoronakorova series is something that would have, I am sure, enraptured my poet.” He also believed that the probability of having a language coincidence like this is so minuscule that it may as well elude computation.

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WordPress Camp 2018 – Mumbai

WordPress Camp 2018: The place to be

I had a delightful time on 17th March, 2018. No, I am not talking about watching a movie or partying. I am referring to the Word Camp 2018 organized by WordPress/ Automattic.

The venue was Infinite Corridor, Academic Section, IIT Powai, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

I attended two session; both on writing.

The first session was on ‘To do list to follow when you get into freelance writing’ by Fairy Dharawat

The second session was a workshop on Story Telling by Dhara Kothari

 

SESSION ONE:

To begin with Fairy discussed about

  • How to start as a freelance writer?
  • You need to have clients:

Before you launch yourself as a freelance writer ensure that you have enough clients. Otherwise it would turn out that you’ve begun as a freelance writer and you don’t have much work to do nor do you earn much.

  • Ask, sometimes even beg:

You have to get in touch with everyone who you know can hire you for writing assignments. Get into the habit of calling people and informing them that you are a freelance writer now and you need work. I know it feels as if you are begging but, that is how you will get work. Just network extensively.

  • Network:
  • How will you network and get in touch with people?

Call up your previous bosses and get connected to them through social media, especially through LinkedIn. It’s a professional networking site and you are bound to get some assignments through LinkedIn, which provides a premium offer for a month which is totally free and you should certainly avail to it.

Attend conferences and meets like Word Camp. Be in touch with people no matter how much you dislike socializing.

  • Learn to write great messages:

When you write messages show interest in the work of the person you are connecting with. Hit a connect by appreciating people and try to know more about them. Gradually, you can share that you are a freelance writer and you are searching for assignments.

Writing great messages in an art and if you wish your business to grow, learn it.

  • Building relationships and maintaining them:

You are writer, so sometimes treating this as a business is difficult. But, you have to, if you want to survive and grow as a freelance writer, build relationships and maintain them.

  • Meet people:

Keep meeting a lot of people and know what they are doing presently. You never know, work might come your way through them. Also, meet online friends and stay connected with people always.

  • Two vital questions to ask yourself:

Before you choose freelance assignment ask these two questions to yourself:

  • Can I write what clients are asking for?

Know your strengths; can you write technical or creative stuff? There might be times when you are expected to write on technical topics but, do you have the skills to write technically?

  • How much time you are dedicating for the assignment?

Calculate how much time you are going to dedicate to the assignment.

  • Learn to say ‘no’:

When work comes your way, its tempting to take it up. But, its wiser to consider if you have the skills to justify the kind of writing you are expected to do. So learn to say ‘no’.

  • Things to know about your client:
  • Is the client going to be flexible about the timeline and going to adjust to you?
  • Will the client be available to answer your doubts?
  • Be assertive:

Often clients think that since you work from home, the work will be delivered soon or according to their timeline. But, you have to clarify that you are working on multiple projects and you have to fit things into a certain time frame. So be assertive to demonstrate to them that content will not be available on urgent basis.

  • MONEY, MONEY, MONEY:

Be sure to ask for an advance before starting to work. Ideally ask for 50% advance. If that is not acceptable ask for atleast 25%. Be firm about this and safeguard your interest. There are chances that you won’t get paid, but don’t be demotivated in this case.

Its good to work with people you know or if you are working with someone you don’t know its best to develop a great relationship with them or probably have a contract signed.

  • HOW TO CHARGE?

Two things you need to keep in mind:

  • The time and efforts you will require to complete the assignment.
  • Does the content expected to deliver match your skill and talent?
  • The brand – which brand you are working for? If it’s a prestigious brand you should charge more.
  • Ask how much people in your industry charge for the kind of work you are doing?

Prepare a to do list every month:

  • To do list per month:
  • Workshops you attended?
  • How many people you met at the workshop?
  • Emails and messages sent to people to collaborate and request for assignments.
  • People and friends, you met

Remember guys, map your energy and replenish it by spending time with your friends and family. Because, often freelancers work a lot.

SESSION TWO:

Story telling workshop by Dhara Kothari

After the to do lists on freelance writing, Dhara Kothari an extremely experienced writer held a workshop on story telling.

She emphasized on the purpose and uses of story telling through two games that she played with the audience. It was an extremely interactive session and the audience kept asking for more.

She said that storytelling is with humans since ancient times and it is used to convey a message or a moral.

She had cards that had pictures on it and someone from the audience came forth to pick three of them and connect them to tell a story. Interestingly, a wonderful story got woven in the process.

Also, she initiated a story by mentioning two lines and the audiences bit by bit carried it forward to give it a fabulous end. Story telling is fun, entertaining and you also get to unearth your creativity through it.

Through a story you can convey thoughts and sometimes convince others of your thoughts and ideas. You can get your point through convincingly and it also grabs the attention of audiences.

Writing is my passion and both the sessions were focused on it. One was more on the practical aspect of it and the another on creativity. Both the session beautifully balanced passion and practicality of being a writer.

© Copyright 2018 Rashmi S. Malapur All rights reserved.