In search of my Husband’s Bengali Roots

In search of Bishwanath Ghosh’s roots – ancestral home, my marital home: 200 year old house in Murshidabad.
Let me start my telling you that this hunt was conducted only by knowing the village’s name – Panchtupi, and the name of the current living member – his cousin who is 75 years and in the photos here with his wife in a mauve sari, whom we luckily discovered. We had no address or phone number, or any description of what to expect.

Bishwanath has always claimed to be a Kanpur born and raised probashi Bangali, and all his narratives make that abundantly clear. But to my utter surprise this house in Bengal is 200 years old and was built by his great grandfather, or perhaps his father. All his uncles(jethas) and aunt(pishi) built their own much larger and lavish houses in New Alipore(2 uncles), Lake Gardens(pishi) in Calcutta and even Chandannagar – and they or their children never looked back to see where they came from.
“No one visits here or even calls to find out if it still stands – for decades”, the elderly cousin lamented.
My father in law who built his own home in Kanpur did visit this house with his wife once – when his mother passed away decades ago.
So anyway, that we were coming to Murshidabad – Bishwanath decided to go hunt for the place – as now it’s a ‘Story’🤓
And who knows he might shortly make the place famous in a fresh narrative. As once upon a time it was a place inhabited by Rajas, as locals told me. And the many large sprawling houses I saw in the vicinity of this house with several ponds and plenty of land owned by the family that is now rented out to collaborators for orchards and fishing.
BG is still trying to come to terms with his very authentic Bengali roots, even as he tries to learn Bangla – but skips every class since we returned, as if in sheer rebellion.
🤓His folks are – as we discovered, more Bengali in their dressing and ways including being impeccable hosts and serving us a plate of 6 large mishti each – than most Bengalis I know! 😄

So how did we find the house: Our penchant for photography led us to it.
We arrived in two cars at this Netaji statue with 5 army guys. I was impressed with the patriotism of this small town. And while we were busy doing this photo shoot here, as BG recognised the signboard belonging to the place his father had just mentioned over the telephone, the mishti shop owner in red t shirt and another gentleman watched us in much curiosity. The gentleman was curious as he’s the local photographer and might have been shaken out of his complacency – as to who might have come to usurp his position here!
Anyway, he was narrated the purpose of our photo shoot. He then led us to this exact house in the pictures with lovely flowering trees in front, which is actually quite imposing in real as compared to the photos.
The cousin on the behest of two army men came out groggy eyed and merely nodded at hearing his name but did not admit it was him. With five army personnel and two officially decorated cars and one assertive journalist (BG) questioning him, at 3.30pm, waking him up from sleep – what was he going to assume, but that they might handcuff him soon.
But I recognised his remote resemblance to people in BGs paternal family even though everyone else including my father in law has heads full of hair.
So I blurted, “aren’t you …”
He promptly nodded and allowed destiny take its course on what would happen to him thereon. So then, while his very warm, friendly and lovable but shy wife peeked out of the inner door – BG introduced us. His wife was thrilled to see us and kept calling us inside without herself stepping out.
Shortly a huge number of people collected to watch the show it was, to a quite village. The several portions of land and three pond’s collaborators who all turned out to be muslim, came and verbally embraced us for making the effort to visit this place that no one ever does. In fact they waited long for us to come out just to meet us. Murshibadad has an over 80pct muslim population but are so in tune with the minority – as it’s Bangla that matters here, not religion.
Though the cousin’s wife offered our band of soldiers plates of sweets too, I turned it down, as I didn’t want to burden the elderly couple whose son and his wife and son were out of town. And as a true blue Bengali myself – made it a point to stop again at the initial mishti shop, chat up the family that owned it in their home premises and pack a box full of mishti each for the 5 men in uniform and a larger one for our commander friend, who had sent them all on this expedition with us so that we would be safe.
The previous post was on the return drive.
This write up is an impromptu rough draft after I uploaded these photos – but with the perfect nuances will have to make it to my sequel to “Across Borders” 🤓😁

Bishwanath Ghosh’s Bio:


The rest of the photos of this visit are here:

On the drive back to the military station in Nabagram where we were staying:

murshidabad #nabagram #militarystation #indianarmybase #indianarmy #insearchofroots #culture #heritage #bengali #bengaliculture #bengalitraditions #westbengal #authorlife #travelwriter #literaryfiction #novelist #indianwriters #bangla #bengali

Terrace to Desk

LITTLE songs and little things come to my mind this morning. 

I seem to be floating on a stream in a boat, passing by the world on both banks.

Every little scene gives a sigh and says,
"I go."

World's pleasure and pain, like brother and sister, lift their pathetic eyes upon my face from afar.

Homely love peeps from her cottage corner to give me her passing glance.

With eager eyes I gaze from my heart's window on to the heart of the world.

And feel that with all its good and bad it is lovable.

— Rabindranath Tagore.


‘Terrace to Desk’

I bring them to my desk every morning
to enhance their day’s worth of a life -
as on my terrace by evening they wither
and spend a night falling out and dying.

The beauty they emanate just for a day
is more than I may radiate in my lifetime -
even with honourable inspirations if I try
to infuse empathy and sunshine in words.

The yellow, pink and scarlet hibiscus smile -
yet have a distinctly vivid though crisp life:
As do memories and experiences I weave
into wreaths, with my green ideas on white.

— Shuvashree Chowdhury

PS: I scribbled this and then came across the above poem by Tagore, that sums up my mood so succinctly. 😍🥰

#tagore #rabindranathtagore #tagorepoetry #poetry #poetrylovers #poetrycommunity #poetrysociety #inspiration #flowers #hibiscus #lifecoaching #naturelovers

A Gondola Ride back to Reality: Calcutta Rains

The lake in front of my Calcutta balcony
is a visual treat of nature’s bounty this morning:
a fury, if you make the nightlong deluge to be -
when rains are late in Purulia for harvesting.

My optimism on the rain and this flooding
took an embarrassed beating - in empathising
that my cook Nibaran’s family back home
was as yet in-waiting for the season's blessings.

Yet I set forth to enjoy these precious moments -
sitting out looking at being transported to Venice,
sipping my tea to the music of the wind chime
that’s my company across changes in times.

The birds chirping, crows leading the chorus,
drew my attention to Sun’s rays now warming -
to mentally fetch me back on a Gondola to reality:
As breakfast is served on,“in Purulia it’s raining!”
— Shuvashree Chowdhury

#rainy #rainsongs #poetrtislife #poetry #poetryinspiration #kolkataphotography #purulia #rainsjournal #optimism #positivity #reality #venicedream #gondolaride #venice #beautyofnature #furyofnature #kolkata #kolkataphotography
This afternoon on my terrace …bloomed later in the day
This afternoon on my terrace…late bloomers
Mom and I with the boatman behind, in Kodaikanal Lake …March 2005
The Hoogly in Calcutta…

Sounds of the Rain

The rain splattered on my front porch,
dripping noisily on the mosaic drive -
as leaves shimmered in light through clouds
of steam from my teacup - catching my sight.

Dollops of rain fell from the balcony shed
as the FM radio played into my senses -
trying to arouse in me words that still fail,
after the deluge of soul crushing events.

A medley of sounds, green sights - of rain,
trying to wrench out of my soul a jubilation
to all that once spontaneously broke into song,
but now is numb, shunning human connection.

The cats - Milky & Pizza, look at me squarely;
green eyes demanding their portions of milk -
as slowly in my mind I hear the chirping of birds,
assuring me, after rain words can’t be far behind.

By the time I write this, rain bursts from the sky
that’s leaden and heavy as a drenched sandbag -
with accumulated clouds weighing on my mind:
As rain, words will have to ease my sullen heart.

— Shuvashree Chowdhury

PS — Just scribbled this on my phone sitting on my balcony over tea…with two collections of poems by Kamala Das and Tagore. It’s still raining as I post this…a wet crow is watching me! 🤓

“In the thrill of little leaves I see the air’s invisible dance, and in their glimmering the secret heart-beats of the sky”
— Rabindranath Tagore, FireFlies.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
— Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds

#aspiration #assurance #beauty #clouds #colour #conviction #inspirational #maturity #sunrise
#kolkatarains #kolkatadiaries #poetrycommunity #clouds #rabindranathtagore #rainyday #rain #inspiration #poetry #poetslife #literaryauthors #literaryauthorsunderstand #indianwriters #poetsofindia

Also sharing below – a fresh review of my book of short stories ‘Existences’ …

It’s so heartening to see that someone, really got the crux of all that you’ve tried to convey – of two decades of working in the corporate world…As a woman, in a patriarchal society, and hold your own!

You may click this post on Instagram below to read the views or I’m copy/pasting it as under …

thebooksocial_ The reputation of an industry is built on the integrity, grit and hard work of its employees. The ones who don’t feature on a magazine cover. They go unnoticed, unapplauded. The female workforce, even more so.

As if dealing with the daily demands of professional life is not enough, as a woman, you have to also put up with prejudices, sexism, pre-conceived notions and unfair expectations. Navigating through it all, keeping intact your own sense of values, judgments, femininity and opinions, is not always easy. It takes strength of mind and character. And this really comes through in this book.

‘Existences’ is a collection of 26 short stories and observations, by @shuvashree_chowdhury , on relationships, perceptions, ethics and such other aspects of human experience that add so much richness and colour to life. Love, friendship, belongingness, ageing, sexual identity, loneliness, grooming, gender equations, she speaks of them as seen and felt as a woman, in a world full of imbalances.

What I liked about the book was the diversity of stories. It was well- written, some of the stories were real page turners. But mostly, it was that strain of optimism that kind of bound all these accounts together, which I really liked. Shuvashree really deserves to be read more. A meaningful book, this one.

The instagram link:


#workingwomen #indianliterature #womensupportingwomen #womensempowermentcoach #women #corporateindianwomen #corporateculture #corporateindian

#youthbooks #bookstagram #books #booksubscriptionindia #booksbooksbooks #punebookstagram #bookstack #youthbookscollection


Leaving Imprints on the Sands of Time

You don’t have to wait to die to be forgotten -
in life it happens a ceaseless number of times;
as you navigate between locations, assignments, institutions or relationships - that fall out of line.

Yet we strive towards leaving noteworthy tracks, whether on mountainous, fluid or grassy paths -
so that a purpose makes the transit worthwhile,
for we know not - whether there’s an afterlife!

In over twelve years since I left my hometown,
after giving my best to three top public services
in the nascent spaces - as yet they’d operated in:
yet on returning, my city asks me for validation.

Twelve years, is long time to be out of circulation,
to those who’ve taken custody of knowing it all
there is to know about a city from textbooks:
yet persistent hobnobbing is their qualification!

The years of services I’ve put in do not count
I’m adjudged - for they didn’t apparently test me
on literary clout, so pseudo-philosophy I’d cast:
As if reading, and practicing writing are enough!

And yet, every step I tread, I still put my utmost,
so the passion with which I execute each task
to conduct my duties and public responsibilities -
catapult me if not to success, to my highest self!

When on a path chosen - you’re sure footed,
which is what leaves deep imprints on the sand:
though you don’t look back seeking your anchor -
yet with it, a traveller who is lost may find his ship.

imprints #sand #inspiration #motivation #purposeinlife #workingwoman #perseverance #poetrycommunity #poetry #indianpoets #selflove #selfassurance #literaryfiction #womensupportingwomen #womensempowermentcoach #selfmotivation

PS: these thoughts arose from sharing the post from my Jet Airways stint on Facebook and in recalling my stints with ITC Sheraton as reservations incharge for the city’s property pre launch and having the SWOT analysis of every other premium hotel on the back of my hand!
Also Tanishq at a crucial stage of its change from 2003-2006 …this is after corporate sales stints with SITA travels in 1993 and Bank of America in 1995…
and yet I have to validate knowing and being known in my own city! 🤓Chennai never asked me for any such validations to accept me whole heartedly as a poet and literary author!

On Sportsmanship: Milkha Singh.

This evening, after his demise – on TV I was watching these series of old talk shows with ‘Flying Sikh’ Milkha Singh starting with the one with Karan Thapar.

So many practical and theoretical lifelong teachings on true sportsmanship and values sports instils – by both my parents – came back to mind vividly. It’s two months since my mother’s passing and 15 years since my father left us and after much effort I’m slowly able to move beyond Ma’s passing and feel her eternal presence in varied walks of life.

I can relate easily to these attitudes that sportsmanship inculcates, of which both Milkha and his son Jeev spoke so spontaneously.
As both my parents were serious sports people – even if not in the top leagues like the Singhs. And all our lives, my sister and I were brought up with these values of true sportsmanship. How much we inculcated depended on so many other factors and experiences.
My mother among other things, along with the games/sports she excelled at and coached, followed by her MPhil and Phd; was the hony. secy of the Delhi University sports federation, also jury for swimming and gymnastics at the 1980 Asian Games in Delhi and after several other feathers to her cap, retired as Principal of a teachers training college also specialising in physical education.

My father, a businessman who ran his own printing press, once represented undivided Pakistan for Javelin and Discuss throws: We learned this from his close friend Satya Kaku – when he suddenly started to coach my sister at home after becoming enthused when she’d won the 1sf prize from Hoogly District among other athletics she excelled at. I distinctly remember how we laughted when he asked my sister to get her Discuss and Javelin – that he would show her the best techniques.

We sisters, participated in all school and college sports – especially basketball and won several prizes, though my sister was more champion material than I was, and was one of the rare school sports captains who was truly any good in sports. Most were made sports captains for their academic excellence and it made me quite exasperated back in school that some could barely run to save their lives. Yet looking back, this is what has developed patience, resilience and self confidence to allow people who are not in your league to take centre stage. My sister was school sports day champion too, even though I’d put in all my effort as well and come away with three prizes at least yearly. ☺️

My parents effortlessly carried away the first prize for the parents event at our school sports, after they were literally insisted upon by the teachers and Sisters to participate, much against their wishes – as they knew their real strengths.
Father even played Table Tennis and Volleyball effortlessly till his last years, atleast till about 68-69 years of age – versus the youth (below 30) in our Salt Lake – Calcutta residential block. And had won first prizes at 100 m races along with the youth, as he refused to degrade himself by participating in walking races with his age group of 65 plus.
So yeah, it was lovely to listen to these conversations with and about Milkha and summarise all that my parents taught us lifelong.
I feel blessed and overwhelmed at the opportunity I’ve had to strengthen myself. And I have to admit, that whether in my varied corporate stints or as novelist (800 m – marathon race) or as short stories (akin to 100/200m sprints) writer, also my poetry(Hurdle race) 🤓😛…I have mostly applied my learnings and values from my sports coachings!
My mother sometimes cited examples of Milkha Singh and few others in her attempt to make her points to convince us.
Most things I do today, lead me back to memories of my parents!

Sharing this story link below…was looking for a good writeup I could relate to – as just any depiction doesn’t work for me as the values the man stood for had to be established.
The one I relate best with is – not looking over your shoulder at opponents – has always worked with me since school races.
Incidentally I covered the ‘evergreen’ value factor in a poem I posted yesterday!

milkhasingh #milkhasingh🇮🇳 #sportsmanship #sportsmanshipmatters #valuesmatter #values #integrity #evergreen #poetry #prose #prosepoetry #selfassurance #selfawareness #selflove #indianthletics

Evergreen: a Drive through the Rains

‘A Drive through the Rains’

Rain on my window brushes my parched soul
in strokes of incandescent colours of hope -
that I’ll come out of these tribulations - whole,
even after being ravaged by lengthy storms.

The droplets on my windshield blur my vision -
or are they tears from my soul’s melting pot,
in simmering for what seems as if a lifetime:
saving my culmination of rot from disease,loss.

A steady pour it takes to clear this staid air
of toxic woes, debris - poison in the ecosystem
that washes us clean so we may spot little birds
of positivity - taking shelter on window ledges.

They await a right time to fly back to their lives
on trees or sky - after they’ve shed their water loads
and are ready to provide the canopy of security
that will give us much needed reprieve - of hope.

Birds I hear chirping now - impatient with rain -
in uplifting my soul from a living-death before late,
to save myself sinking into a numb unworthiness:
rejuvenating my senses to hear distinct droplets.

My drive with music and slush, cleared garbage
of thoughts I’ve allowed to accumulate as weeds:
so I’ll absorb light in my DNA’s natural chlorophyll
to generate positivity for human photosynthesis!

#rain #rejuvenation #drive #clouds #downpour #kolkata #kolkataphotography #photosynthesis #positivity #inspirational #motivational #selfassurance #poetrylovers #womensempowerment #poetry #saturdayvibes #poetsofindia #selflove #selfcare #selfassurance #evergreen

A drive through my hometown Kolkata, India,

Tribute to my School’s Headmistress

Sr. Andrea was Headmistress –
St. Joseph’s Convent, in the French colony of Chandannagar in West Bengal, India – run by the Sisters Of Cluny…
Founded by Anne Marie Javouhey

My belated tribute today to Sr. Andrea, my school’s Headmistress, also my English teacher(shared a story below) for several years – who passed away on the 26th of April.
This was exactly five days after my mother had left us on 21st April so suddenly, that this news of Sister following her – came at a time when I was completely numb from shock and grief already, to be able to write anything yet.

Today, the 10th of June is Sr. Andrea’s birthday and I take this opportunity to acknowledge my deepest respect and gratitude for her inspiration and strength since I was at boarding school.
Not even heaven is far enough to make me forget your birthday, Sister. Although you aren’t here to celebrate it with us. I know that you’re getting a birthday serenade from the angels. As all of my life I compared your singing to how the angels might sing in heaven. Sending my best to you and your family today.
Many birthday greetings from all those you left behind on earth. We love and miss you dearly, Sister.

When grief and a kind of insecurity from
loss of your moral support are your inspiration, over and above every other emotion – it is extremely difficult to write what you truly want to say and yet I have been trying hard since the first word of this post.
My mother, being with a teachers training college and getting on so well with Sr Andrea – much to my fear and consternation all through school – both have been the guiding, driving, nurturing and saving factors of my life in so many ways that I cannot even begin to elaborate here.
I have been pushed beyond my endurance many a times as I often thought – by both these women and a few other people in life including teachers and bosses – but today I have to admit I am truly blessed with the values and strength they have thereby inculcated in me. My school character certificate that’s enclosed here – vis a vis the numerous job assignments I’ve handled, also the grit to persevere and never give up are what these two women have gifted me with.
I have been severely penalised and punished in extreme ways by both – also kneeling at Sister’s office all day in view of anyone who passed – when I was in class 9.
All my working life discipline is something I coached, trained and inculcated in others – would they believe I had passed through fire so many times to be able to do that. I’ve elaborated several of these instances in my books Across Borders
and Existences.
Sharing two short stories below:

My sister and I, in classes 4 & 5 after taking the mandatory yearly passport photographs
My mom

#tribute #school #headmistress #mother #principal #teacher’s training #discipline #grief #loss #empowerment #lifecoach

Sharing the photos of my schools 125th year celebrations in 2011, in this link:

Nature as God’s Mediator

On World Environment Day …

“My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.”— Claude Monet

…also to be able to scribble words impromptu like I’m doing now, to pay reverence to Nature – the only way God communicates with me:

Thick dark clouds descended in waves
over Sunset’s tangerine hues – I was drinking,
and resuscitated me with streaks of lighting
and incessant claps of powerful thunder
that blew a conch shell in my mind’s temple –
awestruck by the blessings of nature!
— Shuvashree Chowdhury

PS: I’ve posted many more Nature photos and videos from the last year, in the link below, in an album ‘Lockdown Diaries’ – on my Facebook author page Across Borders

“The Twilight Sky”
White clouds float over me in the dusk sky –
patches of cotton embalming my tired mind;
a solo bird reaching majestically for the sky,
as a band of coconut and mango trees rustle
in the heady June breeze – to cheer its climb:
urging me to converse with the half moon,
just like the lone star romancing it tenderly
under the blanket of the cozy grey sky.
— Shuvashree Chowdhury

William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

#poetrylovers #poetrysociety #poems #leisure #twilight #duskphotography #solitude #weekendvibes

#worldenvironmentday #worldenvironmentday2021 #naturephotography #naturelovers #naturepoetry #naturepoems #naturephotographer #poetsofindia #poetryprompts #poetryporn #poetrybooks

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Letting Go: Rishikesh

On ‘Letting Go’: sitting on my balcony now, typing this on my phone, viewing the heavily clouded sky with spurts of rain amidst roars of thunder – with the incessant ringing of the wind chime, reminds me of this morning in the photos – by the Ganges a few years ago. Cyclone Yaas apparently bypassed Calcutta…

I vividly recall – the best time I’ve spent with myself yet – is with the backdrop of the sun rising or setting over the Ganges; also listening to the thunder and then the lightening wash over the sky that bursts into rain – slowly soaking into every crevice of my solitary soul – whose rhythm and waves become one with the Ganges.

My thoughts on sitting by the Ganges in Rishikesh, which is the last and ending poem of my first book of poems “Fragments” – the blurb is in the frames here – is in the link below.
My 2nd collection of poems “Trouvailles…” has an entire section of 20 poems on the Ganges in Varanasi/Banaras.
Yet, all the spiritual thoughts, writings and experiences – seeing death so closely even from the ghats of Banaras like Manikarnika, as I’ve defined in all my books, did not prepare me, let alone insulate me from the sudden loss of my mother on 21st April. It took away the wind beneath my strong sails and made me drown – this desolation is also due to all that I’d been through in the last few months in seeing the desperation death brings – everyday at a hospital in Chennai.
All these varied human experiences will now go into my next novel that’s stalled after over 7-8 chapters due to life’s circumstances.
But I allow myself to feel everything I’m going through with the loss and pain and isolation, and today I have an awakened sense of gratitude that I can still feel so acutely inspite of all the circumstances I’ve witnessed.
What use is a non-feeling poet or novelist – if I had turned to stone and merely recorded human experiences with facts and figures like newspaper articles or non fiction, without the ability to empathise, analyse and bring out and depict the actual human experiences, be it joy or pain.
So I’m thankful to the ending of my poem below, or the thoughts that occurred to me then – that I understand attachment much better today, more than I did when I wrote this poem sitting by the Ganges.

Reminded of these pertinent lines now…
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
— Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. – was an American novelist, satirist, and graphic artist. He was recognized as New York State Author for 2001-2003.

“Letting Go” –

Before me now, the river Ganges peacefully flows,
its green ripples frothing over white cobbled stone;
grazing boulders it glides with no perceptible force –
yet it flushes my heart of all its obstinate toxic woes
…to read the rest please click the post link:

#poetry #poetrybooks #gangesriver #ganges #rishikesh #rishikeshdiaries #spirituality #lettinggo #sunset #death #life #poetryislife #poetrysociety #poetrycommunity #understandinglife #inspirationalwords #literaryfictionauthor #lifecoach

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” —Rabindranath Tagore

This was last evening – awaiting cyclone ‘Yaas’ –
Information about Tropical Cyclone Yaas #GoogleCrisisResponse