& occasionally about other things, too...

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Art & Poetry Show by Meena Chopra

In celebration of Ontario Culture Days Doors Open on September 27, 2014

Artist & Poet Meena Chopra 
Last Saturday, I visited the Sampradaya  Dance Creations in Mississauga to see Meena Chopra’s exhibition The Radiance of Culture Days – Art & Poetry Show by Meena Chopra.

Painting from the series
Meena exhibited her recent works – a series of nudes that are at once languid and taut, depicting female energy. 

For Meena, this series of figurative paintings is a return to roots. Along with the paintings, she had also displayed some of her recent poems.

“My objective is to show the energy that emanates from women. It’s raw, carnal, forceful, untameable, and even unfathomable. After doing abstract work for some time, I was keen to return to figurative work,” Meena says, explaining her motivation to do the series of nudes.

“Through my art I endeavour to search the co-existing universal duality. I try to find the totality in the influx of paradoxes in an effort to unlock the mysteries of life. I search the elusive reality of human consciousness through the lines, splashes of colours and the impressions of brush strokes on my canvasses and at times through pen and paper in the form verses,” she adds.

Meena thanked Culture Days-FĂȘte de la culture, Mississauga Arts Council, Sampradaya Dance Creations, and the culture division of City of Mississauga - Municipal Government for giving her the opportunity to showcase her work.

Here’s one of her poems:

"I penned down the sun shine,


An instance

Inscriptions settled down in a hub

Structuring words with

Seething radiance,

Spread and Smoothened with the finger tips,


A spectacular,

ever changing landscape,

Spelled a lifetime,

Blending a new language,

A simmering new journey

Co-travelling perpetuity."

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Mirror By The Road: A Transforming Journey Of Spirituality In Everyday Life: Dr. Peter Oppenheimer

Guest post by Gyanendra Shukla

More often than not, one thinks of spirituality in times of adversity, not during happier circumstances. Perhaps adversity is God’s way of teaching vital lessons without which life would not be complete. This is because in the story of life, events good or bad are only a comma and not a full stop.

Dr. Peter Openheimer, a Stanford University graduate, faced adversity in both his personal life and his career. Personally, he was devastated after his separation from his lady love, and professionally, he lost a consulting contract.
His battered self-esteem led him to believe that life was devoid of any meaning, and he began to drift apart. Following the hippie trail, he landed up India. This event changed his life forever.

Mirror by the Road is a journey of his personal transformation from a troubled mind to a trouble-shooter (he became a counselor and therapist in Northern California after his return to the USA).

His inner darkness or ignorance, the cause of bondage and suffering, was illuminated by the light of knowledge which he acquired with the help of a Guru (one who dispels darkness). This Guru acted as a ‘Mirror’ to bring about the liberating experience and ultimate happiness.

Though no literary masterpiece, this book, in simple language, captures the scenes of rural India, especially Kerala, the kindness of strangers and the friendships struck with the locals.

It emphasizes on the  life spent in the Ashram of his Guru who helped him understand the meaning of ‘’tat tvam asi’’ (That thou art) and self as a part of cosmic energy by recognizing one’s own self, mirrored in the faces of all human beings.

For him India was a state of mind than a place because it helped him travel the distance from ‘I am happy’ to ‘I am happiness’.

Published by Inner Wealth Press, California, 1988

Thursday, September 11, 2014

INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair Shines Spotlight on South Asian Literature

INSPIRE! Toronto InternationalBook Fair is a mass celebration of reading and writing poised to engage 50,000 fairgoers over three and a half days at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

Working with Meenakshi Alimchandani, head of Toronto-based South Asian service agency Desi Resources, and in partnership with the Jaipur Literature Festival, the Fair will feature a series of literary events with a South Asian focus.

At “The State of the Publishing Industry Around the World” fairgoers will hear from a panel of speakers from the international publishing community.

Neeta Gupta will speak on behalf of Indian publishing house Yatra Books, a multilingual press that aims to empower Indian readers and connect local and international voices.

This discussion will take place on Saturday, November 15 at 11 a.m. in From the Four Corners, INSPIRE!’s dedicated international programming room.

Navtej Sarna, author of We Weren’t Lovers Like That and The Exile, and India’s Ambassador to Israel, will be in the spotlight at “The Jaipur Literature Festival Presents: Navtej Sarna.”

Travelling from India for this event at INSPIRE!, Sarna will appear on Saturday,  November 15 at 12:3 p.m. in From the Four Corners.

Fairgoers can discover South Asian literature close to home at “The Jaipur Literature Festival Presents: Canadian Authors Published in India.” 

This showcase of South Asian-Canadian authors features Anirudh Bhattacharyya, Jasmine D’Costa, Anosh Irani and Manjushree Thapa and is moderated by poet, novelist and professor Priscila Uppal.

This presentation will take place on Sunday, November 16 at 10 a.m. on the Spark Stage, INSPIRE!’s go-to stage for the year’s most talked about books.

Mahtab Narsimhan, award-winning author of The Tiffin and an INSPIRE! Fair Ambassador, will host “Myth and Magic with Mahtab Narsimham” on Sunday November 16 at 3:30 p.m. o the TD Children’s Stage.

Children should come prepared for fun and prizes at this introduction to fantastic magic, Hindu mythology and more in children’s fiction.

About INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair

INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair is Canada’s book exposition for all things print and digital, launching November 13-16, 2014.

From literature to children’s books, from romance to mystery, from the science of business to the business of science, the book, in all its forms, will be the star of the Fair. In addition to the English-language market, INSPIRE! will provide for Toronto’s diverse language communities, hosting international, national, regional and local exhibitors.

INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair is a place for readers to connect in the most immediate ways with those who write and with those who produce the books they love, a place where people can reconnect with the passion and enchantment of the world of reading.
INSPIRE! is committed to supporting a healthy book business. 

Ticket Information INSPIRE! Toronto International Book Fair tickets are available now. Tickets are $15 per person, with re-entry on all three days included in the price of admission (visitors are required to pick up a re-admission pass). The Fair will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 14 and 15 and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on November 16. Tickets are available online at torontobookfair.ca/tickets.

Tickets for the INSPIRE! Lift-Off Opening Party (19+) on November 13 go on sale on September 12. Tickets are $25 and include general admission to the Fair.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

A Hermit in the Himalayas - Paul Brunton

Guest Post by Gyanendra Shukla 

Shukla introduces Paul Brunton, "a British philosopher, mystic, and traveler
who left a journalistic career to live among
yogis, mystics, and holy men, and who studied
Eastern and Western esoteric teachings"

A journey within to understand the real self and to lead a meaningful life has been the prescription by our sages. This journey can only be accomplished by avoiding superficiality and rigmarole of day to day life, using solitude as a vehicle to reach the destination. The abode of Gods – the Himalayas – with its pristine beauty has attracted real seekers since time immemorial.

One such seeker was Paul Brunton (1898-1981), one of the first Englishmen who chose Himalaya for his quest to understand the deeper meaning of existence.  A Hermit in the Himalayas published in 1937 is not only a travelogue but also covers his spiritual journey in a most profound manner where East meets West without any prejudice.

Paul, a journalist in London, had a keen interest in philosophy which led him to travel extensively in India where he met some real yogis as well as charlatans. He went on to write more than a dozen other books, sharing his experience and learnings of the eastern philosophy, and how it can help the world in turmoil. 

Paul Brunton
Paul's keen observation and love for nature is well captured through the lucidity of his prose. The changing colours of the snow-clad mountains, deodar trees, mornings, evenings, rains, wind and flowers couldn't have found a better pen to describe their beauty. He revered nature as his mother.

Solitude doesn't imply that Paul wasn't interacting with people during his sojourn in Himalayas. Whether simple folks or the rulers, he was at ease with everyone, but the purpose of his conversations was only to know more about life.

His encounters with the holy men were about ancient knowledge, some of which may go beyond scientific explanation. He used his own wisdom to get to the truth. In the ultimate analysis, this book is not about 'renunciation' but an effort to learn “Who am I.”

Images: Paul Brunton: Wikipedia. Book Cover: Snapdeal