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Soft-spoken Orissa-born diplomat Arun Kumar Sahu is a poet at heart. His collection of poems “Iguana and Other Poems” was recently published. Sahu is currently posted as the High Commissioner of India to Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Dominica and Montserrat. A trained linguist and a JNU alumnus, Sahu joined the Indian Foreign Services (IFS) in 1996.
Avatans Kumar, a US-based columnist and Sahu’s long-time friend from their JNU days speaks to the Ambassador on his poetry and more.
Given the history of the Indian diaspora in the Caribbean, how similar and how independently evolved is it from India in language, culture, faith, etc?
There are some similarities and some differences. One can see the Indianness in their culture, faith and social existence, but many aspects are also Trinidadian. Over the last 175 years, Trinidadians of Indian origin have continued with some socio-cultural practices from India, but many others have also undergone substantial change. Many Indo-Trinis, especially the younger generation do not understand or speak Hindi or Bhojpuri, though most of them love Bollywood films and listen to Hindi songs.
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Some Hindu households still use pennants, locally called ‘jhandi’ in their yard (I have written about this in The Hindu, dated 30 August 2020 available at https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/the-caribbean-pennants/article32472565.ece ), worship many gods and goddesses and listen to Tulsidas’ Sri Ramcharit Manas and other Hindu texts. There are over 300 temples of different sizes all over Trinidad and Tobago. However, they are also intimately connected to life and society in North America and the UK. They speak English and creole, enjoy the soca, doubles, and cricket. Intercultural interaction is a fact of Trinidadian diversity. I have started writing a book about the India connection of Trinidad and Tobago. I am fascinated by the way the indentured laborers and their descendants have carried on their cultural uniqueness.
What is people’s attitude there in terms of Yoga, Ayurveda, Veganism (India’s perceived soft power), etc?
Yoga, Ayurveda, vegetarianism, and astrology are not new to the Trinidadians. Many of them practice them and also promote them. Their rituals of rites of passage are very elaborate. Some of them also believe in Panchang and practice fasting on certain days of a week. At the same time, many of them are also very western in their lifestyle and outlook.
Famous Hindi poet Mahadevi Verma once wrote – ‘viyogi hoga pahala kavi’ (bereaved/detatched will be the first poet). Are you a ‘viyogi’. What inspires you to write poetry?
Detachment is essential for creative output. A writer has to be a mute observer, a silent sufferer to create something that will touch the hearts of many. He is there in the process, but he is also not there. A writer does not write well when he is in a state of suffering or ecstasy. He writes well only when he has gone through the emotion and lived with it for a while.
To me, expressing emotion is not literature. Literature is a craft that expresses the essence of a writer’s feelings and links it to the existence of the wider world. It’s a mirror with multiple cracks. No image is perfect in this mirror.
I have defined it in my poem “MY POETRY” in the collection IGUANA and Other Poems. I have said,
It is a mirror of crushed sentiments
A reflection of the living and suffering
The invisible imprint of stillness of moments.
Read it once,
Read it again and again,
Smile, dance and cry with her
Take a deep breath and feel,
Surreptitiously and unwittingly
She will touch your heart.
I am not sure many folks know that you are a trained linguist and I have known you since our JNU days. You were always a graceful and helpful senior. I had a fantastic time working with you at the National Seminar on the 8th Schedule. That being said, has being a trained linguist helped you as poet? How?
Yes, it has. It has helped me to understand the power of language, words, and how to stitch words in a composition. Words, phonemes and morphemes are like pebbles in the seashore. Once you enjoy playing with them, you want to talk to the sea with their help. It has also helped me understand the nuances of a second or third language or a foreign language. Language is both a product and a reflection of history and society. Understanding a language is vital for a writer.
Interesting you talk about multilingualism. What language do you dream in?
Don’t know. As you know, an Indian child is born bilingual or trilingual – the mother tongue, which could be a local variety of the standard first language, a dominant second language, in my case English and Hindi because we all watch Bollywood films. Subsequently, one can learn some foreign languages too. I learned Mandarin Chinese. Sometimes, words of two or three languages come in a sentence. I suppose the dreams are all messed up.
Talking about dreams is making me drowsy already. Jokes apart, do you really get enough sleep? Being a diplomat, you must keep a busy schedule. When do you find time to write poetry?
I am a loner, mostly detached from many things that I do on a day to day basis. I do my job with the utmost care and dedication, acutely conscious of time. I do not waste my time in fruitless arguments and meaningless socialization. Once I finish my job, I return to my world of solitude and self-introspection.
Specific experiences leave a deep impression on me. I try to live with them for days, months, or maybe even for years. Then one day, they just come out and take a literary form. I wouldn’t say I like to write about raw emotions. I allow them to be ripe within me. I have no specific time to write. I write while traveling, in a hotel room, on a flight, after a diplomatic engagement, late at night. There is no specific routine. Sometimes, I do not write for days if I don’t feel like it.
What kinds of books do you read? Who are your favorite authors/poets?
I read all kinds, but books dealing with human characters appeal to me the most. I also like books on philosophy and history. I am not a voracious reader but a discerning one. If a book does not appeal to me, I don’t proceed with reading it even if its a best seller. I love listening to people.
There is not one favorite author, but many, in various languages such as Odia, Bangla, Hindi, English and of different geography, Russian, African, and Latin American. But two books in my young age attracted me to the world of literature: Paraja of Gopinath Mohanty in Odiya and The Old Man and the Sea of Earnest Hemmingway. In a sense, I didn’t read these books, they read me.
What is your idea of relaxation?
Don’t do anything—lounge around with a big cup of strong coffee with milk and extra sugar. Don’t talk to anybody—no mobile phone. Watch a movie. Listen to Indian classical music, thumri or ghazal, Salman Ali; country music, Frank Sinatra or John Lennon, watch a good movie or a stand-up comedy.
You also write short stories. Between poetry and prose, which one is your favorite, and why?
There is no favorite. I write all kinds of literature. For me, the art of writing is only a tool to express what I want to convey. The inherent urge to express a feeling, theme, or character decides the form of literature, whether a poem, a short story or a prose piece. What I have observed in me is that a feeling usually takes resort in a poem, a character in a short story, and a narrative in prose. The satisfaction is actually in playing with the words, phrases, and finally able to say what I wanted to say. I am comfortable in creating literature in all forms. Someday in future, I intend to write a novel too.
I will certainly look forward to that. Has poetry affected the way you approach diplomacy?
It’s a complementary relationship. Not only poetry but literature, in general, is the dissection of the society, the good, the bad, and the ugly. If a diplomat understands literature, he or she understands the mind of a community he lives in, which in return sharpens his insight in providing critical inputs for policymaking and statecraft. Diplomacy as a profession, on the other hand, exposes one to an unbelievable range of diversity and people.
(This interview has been published in reference to https://www.softpowermag.com/indian-temples-and-jhandis-in-the-caribbean-interview-with-hc-of-india-to-trinidad-and-tobago/)
By- Muhammad Usman
Moving in a straight direction to curly could be a nightmare, and when it's done to your hair that's natural, it's nearly impossible to reverse this process quickly. Additionally, the process of changing your hair's colour between light and dark may be stunning or a complete mess. The ability to alter the texture of a lace wig or paint can be an excellent solution for many people looking for new looks for their appearance. If you're thinking about dying your product, it is best to learn the kind of hair that can be dyed easily.
Remy's hair is considered to be processed, and therefore. However, they can use dyes ranging from light to dark or dark to light; it will need to be by using professional-grade products or otherwise called permanent dye. However, the hair that is naturally coloured can be dyed using light or strong chemicals as they often are natural in the shade and pose minimal or no problem in changing the hue to a lighter shade, such as blonde or red.
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However, one of the factors you need to consider when buying an entire lace wig created using Remy's hair concerns the type of dye used in the production process. It isn't easy to alter if a garment dye was employed in place of hair dye. However, with the help of hair colour removers, you will achieve the desired shade. To get the best results, apply mild shampoo closure lace frontal and deep conditioner after dips the hair in the formula for removing colour. Also, make sure not to stay in there for too long because it can cause bleaching to your hair. Lace is one of the gorgeous imitations that have ever been made of nature's fantasies, and lace has always brought to me those fantastic patterns that the leaves and branches of trees embroidered across the sky.
I can't imagine that any invention from human imagination could be more elegant or precise a source." -- Coco Chanel, 29 April 1939. Garment accessories are an essential part for dressmakers, and this is the reason for their significance. It's virtually impossible to design a prepared garment without the aid of accessories for clothing. They typically include buttons, zippers, fabric as well as labels. However, off late ribbons and laces have gained a special place in the realm of fashion design. According to the definition, lace is an openwork fabric that is patterned with holes in the work. It is generally made using machines and occasionally using hands.
Lace wigs are one of the gorgeous imitations that have ever been made of nature's fantasiesPixabay
Lace-making, which is considered an old art, is made by looping threads and twisted or braided or tied to another line without regard to the backing fabric. However, the term ribbon refers to a fragile piece of elastic material utilized primarily to connect and bond. Silk ribbons, mostly made of cloth, are typically employed to add style to clothing, but they can be used for other uses, such as florists, gift packaging, etc. There are a variety of laces, but the ones most frequently sought-after are needle, outwork tape, bobbin, and knitted.
Today, most fashion weeks (especially renowned ones) have a specific segment dedicated to garments made of ribbon and lace. Sometimes, the entire week is dedicated to these items. With more and more designers are using ribbons and laces to create new and unique designs, the ribbon and laces suppliers and makers are returning to the market with an erupting roar! Insiders in the industry say that lace and ribbon are the most popular and beautiful border decoration materials. The use of these materials adds a hint of softness and class because of the flowing nature of the materials.
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Slowly but steadily increasing demand for Indian laces and ribbons is growing, and the suppliers of ribbons and lace are expecting a better year to come. The majority of full-lace wigs are generally considered an option to replace hair for people suffering from a condition that causes hair loss or Alopecia. They appear quite natural, including a hairline that is not discernible to anyone's naked eyes. Furthermore, naturally growing hair can also be styled, parted, and put into a low, medium or high ponytail. The saying goes that hair is your reflection, and plenty of men and women will agree among the top essential aspects of a properly groomed individual is the way they dress their hair.
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London (CNN)- At five o'clock in the morning, the esteemed 86-year-old astrophysicist Jim Peebles was woken suddenly by the telephone ringing."In previous experience, the only phone calls at that time of night are bad news," he said. This one was great news. "The opening sentence from the caller was: 'The Nobel committee has voted to award you the Nobel Prize in Physics. Do you accept?'" Peebles recalled. The wording threw him. Who wouldn't accept a Nobel Prize? "You know the Bob Dylan fiasco?" he said during a phone interview with CNN. "That might have put the wind up them."The "fiasco" Peebles mentions refers to the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, which was controversially given to an utterly unimpressed Dylan.Aside from being ever-presents on college campuses in the 1960s, little connects Peebles, an expert in theoretical cosmology, with Dylan. But one of the starkest contrasts might lie in their reactions to winning a Nobel -- and the songwriter is far from the only laureate whose crowning turned out to be an awkward affair.
The five committees are notoriously secretive, fiercely shielding their choices from the outside world -- including the laureates themselves, who are told of their victories just minutes before they are announced to the public.
Jim Peebles speaking at the Nobel Prize banquet in 2019 Image credit: CNN
That tight-lipped mantra can lead to some heartening surprises, as it did for Benjamin List -- the co-winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry -- who was having coffee with his wife when he received the news.
"Sweden appears on my phone, and I look at her, she looks at me and I run out of the coffee shop to the street ... you know, that was amazing. It was very special. I will never forget," he told reporters on Wednesday after his victory was announced.It can also be far less celebratory. "I was lying in bed, and my wife woke up and heard my phone buzzing. And she yelled at me because my phone was waking her up," David MacMillan, who shared the prize with List, told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday."100% [I] missed the call. Classic Scottish person. I [didn't] believe this is happening, so I went back to bed," he added -- likely the most relatable sentence ever uttered by an expert in chiral imidazolidinone catalysts.
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And for some, the sudden ascension to Nobel laureate is an unwanted intrusion altogether. "Oh Christ," British-Zimbabwean author Doris Lessing said when reporters arrived outside her house to inform her she had won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. "I'm sure you'd like some uplifting remarks of some kind. "It's a wonderful thing," Reinhard Genzel, an astrophysicist who won last year's Nobel Prize in Physics, told CNN of his win and the months since. "But it's a chore as well."
What it's like to win a Nobel PrizeFew Nobel winners can honestly say their lives weren't changed when they received the phone call.As long as they believe it, that is. "These days you get these cold calls, and I thought this is another one of them," Abdulrazak Gurnah, the winner of this year's literature prize, told the BBC on Thursday."This guy said, 'Hello, you have won the Nobel Prize for Literature,' And I said, 'come on, get out of here. Leave me alone,'" Gurnah said. "He talked me out of that, and gradually persuaded me."Winners often can't be contacted at all, leaving them to find out about their wins from the news, their family, or even their next-door neighbors.
Nobel Peace Prize winners Ressa and Muratov Image source: CNNEconomist Paul Milgrom was woken in the middle of the night in California by his colleague Robert Wilson banging on his front door. "Paul, it's Bob Wilson. You've won the Nobel Prize," he shouted into the intercom. "Yeah, I have? Wow," an utterly confused Milgrom responded, in an exchange captured by a doorbell camera.
Genzel's phone call came while he was in a Zoom meeting with colleagues last October. "I had absolutely no inkling," he said. "I thought, my God ... obviously this is a fantasy."
The committee's secretary told him he "couldn't say anything for 15 or 20 minutes," so Genzel tried his best to keep the news to himself. "I walked over to our meeting room ... (my colleagues) told me afterwards I was stumbling in there, slightly gazed, telling them to switch on the TV," he said.Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel winner at 17, was midway through a chemistry lesson at a school in Birmingham, England, when a teacher interrupted to tell her she had won, she told Reuters.She later told Vogue that she modestly left the achievement off her university applications, because she "felt a bit embarrassed." But there are occasions, too, where the winner isn't quite as thrilled as the Nobel committee might imagine.
Dylan and Ernest Hemingway both skipped the Nobels' annual banquet; the latter made a point of telling the Swedish Academy that he had "no facility for speech making and no command of oratory." But arguably it was Lessing who had the most memorable reaction. She learned of her win as she stepped out of a taxi on the way back from the grocery store. "Have you heard the news? You've won the Nobel Prize for Literature!" an enthusiastic reporter told her. Her eyes rolled back in her head before the journalist had even finished his sentence. Lessing -- accompanied by a male acquaintance who stood next to her, bemused, his arm in a sling and a single artichoke in his hand -- was clearly more interested in collecting her shopping than talking to the world's media.
Also read: Abdulrazak Gurnah- The New Nobel Laureate
Asked how she felt, she expressed little enthusiasm: "Look, I've won all the prizes in Europe, every bloody one."
"Am I supposed to get excited, or elated, or what?" she remarked. "One can't get more excited than one gets, you know?"
'I was treated like a rock star'
As soon as Genzel's win was announced last year, his face was on televisions around the world. The announcement of a Nobel Prize winner makes the front pages of newspapers and websites almost everywhere, throwing a sudden spotlight on little-known scientists and their complex research. "Once the announcement is made, you lose your identity within half an hour," Genzel said. "The telephone rings all the time. "Peebles had a similar experience just minutes after his early morning phone call. "When I returned to bed my wife said, 'What was that about?' I said 'Nobel Prize,' and she said: Oh God." Within minutes, the couple had a photographer outside their door. Genzel suddenly found himself answering questions about politics on late-night German TV, angering some of his friends with his responses. Peebles, meanwhile, spent much of the day looking through emails from every corner of the world: "Please come visit us, please read my manuscript..."
Reinhard Genzel posing with his medal Image source: CNN
"It's one thing to say that the Nobel Prizes attract attention. It's another to experience it," he said. Sometimes, personal relationships change. "There is of course a lot of envy, from some colleagues -- many people who are close to me in the same field might very well say, 'Why did he get it?'" said Genzel. But before the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered plans for two years in a row, winners were also treated to a gala in Stockholm. "I was treated like a rock star ... I experienced what I expect rock stars to experience," Peebles said of his banquet in 2019. "It's a wonderful honor." "My attache had an almost endless list of things to do," he added. "'Now you must meet these influential people. Now you must go to a news conference. Now we will have dinner with some important people. And on and on.' "Genzel missed out on the festivities last year, but he enjoyed a low-key affair in Germany. "The governor of Bavaria offered us his residence, (and) we had a fairly nice event with the Swedish ambassador," he said. Two years on, CNN asked Peebles whether his email inbox has finally receded to pre-Nobel volumes. "I'd have to look at the data on that," he responded, ever the empiricist. But for both men and many other laureates, the most exciting part of the Nobel experience is simply that it gets people talking about science and culture.
"I find it almost a necessity to tell the public at large that there is truth, there is absolute truth," Genzel said. "What I hope is understood is the importance of the Nobel Prize in making people aware of the importance of curiosity-driven science or arts," he said. "I think it must be unique."
(This article is originally written by Bob Picheta)
Keywords: Nobel Prize, Reactions, Laureates
Married Hindu women are recognised by a red streak of vermillion in the middle of their foreheads. This is traditionally called 'sindoor', which is derived from the Sanskrit word sindura, meaning 'red lead.'. Sindoor is traditionally powdered turmeric and lime, sometimes red saffron, or red sandalwood. It is also called vermilion, or Kumkum.
Sindoor is traditionally powdered turmeric and lime, sometimes red saffron, or red sandalwood. It is also called vermilion, or Kumkum. Image source: Photo by Gayathri Malhotra on Unsplash
The origin of the practise of wearing sindoor is ambiguous, but historical records from the Harappan civilisation show that women wore sindoor as a sign of being married. Today's generation considers the wearing of sindoor an outdated and patriarchal ritual. However, there is still a large population of women who uphold the ritual of adorning their foreheads with vermilion every day.
Sindoor implies the longevity of a woman's marriage to her husband in the Hindu tradition. The longer the streak, the longer her husband's life is believed to be. Women wear it for the first time on their wedding day, when the husband applies it during the ceremony. As long as he remains alive, the red streak that fills the woman's maang, or hair partition, symbolises her fruitful married life.
When the finger used to apply the sindoor touches the pituitary gland every time, it arouses affection in a woman for her husband. Image credit: Photo by Amish Thakkar on Unsplash
The components of the red powder are believed to improve the sexual energy of the woman. When the finger used to apply the sindoor touches the pituitary gland every time, it arouses affection in a woman for her husband. The mixture that she wears on her head controls her blood pressure and activates her sexual drive.
These days, feminists do not take very lightly to the practice of wearing sindoor, as they view it as a sign of patriarchal dominance. They do not like being branded as 'belonging to a man'. They prefer to wear it as a style statement because it enhances beauty. Fashion designers have recently commissioned models to sport sindoor on the runway. New age feminists are making bids to allow widows and single women to adorn their foreheads with the vermilion streak.
Keywords: Sindoor, Marriage, Symbol, Women, Patriarchy