(For the fifth post in this series, for which I have interviewed people I am close to, I emailed Sharmishtha a set of questions. Her responses have been reproduced here. I hope that you would like the idea and enjoy the conversation. The series is to be continued with other friends as and when possible. Sincere thanks to all readers who commented on and appreciated the earlier posts).
Three posts ago, I wrote a few things about the person Sharmishtha Basu is- an artist, a nice friend and above all an active blogger who is not just regular but also remarkably consistent with regard to the quality of her posts. I hope this interview serves as a little window and brings us face to face with some of the unnoticed aspects of the person behind the lovely colors that she employs to illustrate the rhymes of her delicate words.
Personal Concerns- To start with, I would like to ask you something about your blogs and your experiences with WordPress?
Sharmishtha Basu– As you already know, I am obsessed with writing. I started with Mydomainpvt, so I could use my blog in Intent.com properly, the posts of WordPress can be copied in intent without any editing. Then intent.com shifted to Facebook and I concentrated on WordPress. Two of my earlier blogging experiences- with MSN ( a mixed experience) and Blogspot (horrible) initially made me a bit skeptic about WordPress. Now I feel that WordPress is the place every writer who loves to write and wants genuine readership should be in. It’s an amazing site, the more I compliment WordPress the little it shall be. I have found the very best people of the world both at intent.com and here. I just love the readers and writers at WordPress. They are amazing.
PC- For you, how is Haiku special as a form of poetry?
SB– Haiku is the form that unleashes the dreamer in me fully. I love writing Haiku because its main concept is to capture nature, being a great lover of mother earth I really love to play with this form, trying my best to capture mother earth’s beauty in every way I can.
PC- You have lived both in Delhi and Kolkata. In what ways do you find the two experiences different?
SB-I love Kolkata because of its people. It’s the best place for a single woman to live in. Delhi is the scariest place in India I believe. Even when I left Delhi at the age of sixteen, I could feel the scariness of that place. The worst part is that one had to be cautious about family men, neighbours – something which fortunately is still absent in Kolkata. Most probably because Bengali men respect their wives…. Ha ha. They don’t want to get spanked by their wives for eve teasing. Kolkata is full of warm people who let others live in peace.
PC- How many languages do you know? and which of them are you the most comfortable with?
SB–Bengali, Hindi and English. I am equally comfortable in Hindi and Bengali. I love Bengali the most because it’s a very sweet language. It really sounds sweet to the ears. I have heard a lot of languages, some of them with a little bit of understanding and some without any understanding at all. Bengali really sounds sweet to my ears more than most of the languages, and a lot of my non bengali friends say the same. My English is not bad I believe.
PC- Sharmishtha is a nice sounding name. What does it mean ? Do you also have a nick name?
SB– Sharmishtha means extremely lucky- which I am. My self-given pet name is Trisha.
PC- Who is/are your favorite poets? Any particular poem that you would like to share with us?
SB-My favourite most poet is Rabindranath Tagore, then comes Kazi Nazrul Islam, Wordsworth, Frost, Shakespeare (I love his sonnets). Its tough for me to look for one poem, song, movie etc. but one that touches me very deeply is Tagore’s Jethay Thaake Sabar adham (where the poorest of poorest dwells)
Your feet dwells
Where the lowest of the low dwells
In the lowest place of all
With Those without anything at all
When I lower my head at your feet
It stops somewhere midway
It cant reach the place
That lowest of low place
Where your feet dwells
My arrogance cant reach you
Down there where you dwell
Like the poorest of poor
Amongst the poorest of poor
I seek your company
Sitting on my pile of wealth
Surrounded by loved ones
But my heart never reaches
Down there where you dwell
Amongst those without anyone
Amongst those without anything.
PC-Any memory from school/college that strikes you as special ?
SB- I was a student at Burdwan Raj College, two of my fondest memories of that college are that of our history teacher Alok Chakraborty- India really needs such teachers, and the five girl gang we had formed- me and Nilanjana, Rimita, Shampa and Swagata. We used to have so much fun. I graduated in 1995 and my combinations were Economics, Political Science and History. Well, Alok Chakrabarti confirmed my firm belief that even the rowdiest students respect the sincere teacher. Quite a handful of the students were older than him, yet the moment he walked inside the class it fell silent and his students almost never missed his class. He was not just an amazing teacher but he gave us suggestions that worked so well.
Well, we used to spend a lot of time together, I used to visit Swagata at her house regularly, and Rimita, Nilanjana and me went to the same tutor. It was girlish fun mostly, both Rimita and Nilanjana had boyfriends and we had to lie to their parents 🙂
One day Nilanjana did not come, we went to her house to ask how she was and to give her the notes of that day. Her mother opened the door and was shocked to know that Nilanjana had not been to the classes…because as she knew it, Nilanjana had gone for the tuitions. It took a lot for us to convince her that actually it was us who had bunked the classes and were looking for her notes. We used to go out together, and Nilanjana was the one with tight purse strings, always trying to convince us not to spend 🙂
PC- Censorship on the Internet has become an issue around which there are so many opinions. What do you think?
SB- I am absolutely against it. The websites may keep an eye on their content but not the governments. I believe they are scared for the way truth is spread through the internet and the manner in which it has resulted in the collapse of so many corrupt governments.
PC- What have you been reading these days?
SB- Recently I was reading Reader’s Digest, this magazine has been in our home since 1949, way before my birth. My father was its regular subscriber. Heaven only knows as to when did I start reading it. After 1985 I started reading them all, from the start till the end. It is amazing, but now it seems to be slowly disappearing, mostly because it’s not trying to glamorize itself, I hope it doesn’t and I also wish that it gets back its readership once again. My favourite section in the same was that of the real life drama, it was an amazing section, that was so spirit lifting- to know how brave human beings can be. Apart from that I love its various humour sections which have one thing in common- they are not vulgar and really funny.
PC- I wanted to know about one of your favorite films.
SB- I have favorite films and the films that move me the most. There are too many in the ‘favorite’ section starting from all Jurassic Park movies, The Lord of the Ring, some horror films, some thrillers and quite a number of Bengali movies.
The movies that moved me the most are fewer. I am afraid I will not watch most of these movies again. Schindler’s List, Shawshank Redemption, Dead Man Walking, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Edward Scissorhands, My Fair Lady, Twelve Angry Men, Hirok Rajar Deshe, Sound of Music- I can watch these any day anytime.
PC-Please share with us a song of your choice. I would like to know what makes it stand apart?
SB-The same song that I added as a poem above- its lyrics; it’s amazing in Bengali, it touches your soul in its deepest place and moves it, asks you whether you have such humility?
PC-Do you consider yourself a good cook? Which are your most favorite Bengali recipes?
SB- I am a horrible cook, I cook a lot and have been into full fledged cooking since the age of sixteen…a thing really uncommon for Bengali girls fortunately to juggle between cooking and studies, my expertise is some day to day Bengali cookings such as the poshto (poppy seed paste) and jhol (mixed vegetable curry)- just two out of many others.
(All comments and suggestions about the format and the presentation of the interview would be deeply appreciated. Friends who wish to be included in this series, please let me know. It would be lovely to have you here on my blog. Cheers!)