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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

31 December, 2007


Take a moment, please, to remember the voices we lost this year.

Revathy Gopal

Shakti Bhatt

Kersy Katrak

Tarapada Ray

J B D'Souza

Qurratulain Hyder

Poornachandra Tejaswi

Leela Majumdar

Bunny Reuben

[Thanks to Arka Mukhophadhyay, Uma Mahadevan Dasgupta, Anjan Ray, Falstaff, Kankana Basu, Arundhathi Subramaniam.]


12 December, 2007

Arambol (Goa)

The smell of hashish in the air is a dancing
thing. The girl’s small, curved hands are

like two shells in sleep. The bartender
raises his foot and brings it down on a

crab, spilling its meat onto the sand, leaving
a pattern in entrails. I eat my tuna salad.

The boys on the beach turn over in their sleep
and the one-eyed man in the café cups

his own face with two hands thoughtfully.
Such violence on gentle shores is common,

he thinks. In the distance, a blue boat
is a little blemish I could rub away, a

transgression. The beach continues to
burn in its silent, unstoppable way.

© Anindita Sengupta.

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05 December, 2007

This festive party (for Janet Fine)

Too soon for trips! don't leave   this festive party
the moon's eclipse would grieve   this festive party

we met along a road   toward a rare concert
the tablas' taps retrieve   this festive party

you twirled in natyam   as   a whippersnapper
must Rudra's steps re-weave   this festive party?

you caught the screenings   festivals received you
lost stardust tints the eaves   this festive party

Mumbai Cairo New York   pearls for your piercing
low-budget trips don't peeve   this festive party

in five-and-dimes you’d shop   in several countries!
and fashion’s glitz achieve   this festive party

you found a manuscript   on pleasing women
God's microfische conceived   this festive party

the dusk of palaces   caught your affection
you threw   Raj Pipla's eve   this festive party

does Bollywood recall   one who first named her?
the skinnydips are brief   this festive party

you sliced my heart   critiquing   my first movie
don't seal your lips!   nor leave   this festive party

I still have tales to tell!   who'll understand me?
don't doubt my quips   believe   this festive party

I won't be brief!   I'll flourish   my bandana
I've got tricks up my sleeve   this festive party

the kiss of death   they claim   is liberating
reluctant lips receive   this festive party

the smile of Tukaram   lives in the painting
newspaper clips   frame Jiv   this festive party

Ellen sends love from yon   out at East Hampton
and look!   a glimpse of Steve   this festive party

here’s Lucian!   Betty’s also   soon arriving
the commune   let’s not cleave   this festive party

too swiftly time's page flits!   we were still reading!
the boat tips   and upheaves this festive party

the ghazal's wit   steeps love   in lamentation
a dye that suits the sleeve   this festive party

a million notes   the soul jots   on its journey
we've still chits   to retrieve   this festive party

days vanish   and the nights   fitfully finish
tell me if it’s   a thief?   this festive party

the world drifts   in its dream   yet   Parabrahma
motionless sits   who sees   this festive party?

in Haridwar   there's aarati   morn and evening
trays wave   as Shiv bereaves this festive party

from Raphael accept   gratitude's bandish
his note   slips through the sieve   this festive party

For Janet Fine, a friend. She expired in Mumbai, 24 November 2007.

verse 3: natyam (Skt.): dance – more specifically, Bharata Natyam, a discipline that engaged her from a young age.

verse 7: “a manuscript” – viz., Lazzat un Nissa (The Pleasure of a Woman, circa 1850), a translation of which she published (under her own imprint) in 2003.

verse 8: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil, from the former princely state of Raj Pipla, was a friend of hers.

verse 9: She wrote journalistically about the film industry; and she is credited as the original coiner of the expression “Bollywood.”

verse 14: Jiv (Hindi): life

verse 22: aarati (Skt.): a Hindu ceremony of worship

verse 23: bandish (Hindustani): a classical song

© David Raphael Israel.

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Janet Fine

We were saddened to learn, through her friend, David Raphael Israel, of the passing of Janet Fine, on the 24th November, 2007.

Here is part of David's note:
Janet showed rare independence in her life. She made her living mainly as a working journalist, covering (among other things) the film industry. She also launched a small publishing venture, focusing on old-world Indian erotic literature. She had played a role in helping organize a "Festival of India" series of concerts in the U.S. in 1986, at venues such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, DC), involving performers such as Ravi Shankar and the Dagar Brothers. I'm just mentioning a few strands of activities that come to mind. I have not seen any proper obituary for Janet, but would like to know if one has been published.
For those who knew Ms Fine, a New York Times obituary also has a guest book which you can sign.