This week, my friends, we are zooming across to India to visit with Panchali, who blogs at Panchalibolchi. We last spoke with this fine poet in 2015, and I thought it was time to ask for an update. Pour yourself a nice cup of chai tea, and get ready to fall in love with the cutest little granddaughter ever. (There is also a big white dog, who has stolen my heart!) Panchali is also sharing with us some wonderful photos of her recent travels to Thailand. Hop aboard!
Sherry: Panchali, bring us up to date on your life these days. I know from Facebook that you have a delightful new addition to your family. We are eager to hear all about her.
The beautiful Rooh
Panchali: It sounds like a cliché to say that one day something happened that changed my life forever, but it did!! Each new life is such a thrill and such an important event! The miracle of birth never ceases to amaze me. I remember someone saying there must be a grandmotherly hormone, and it is true that at a certain point in life you do develop an intense yearning for grandchildren, and the pride you feel, when achieved, is intense.
Rooh’s (literally, a spirit, a soul) arrival gave a new meaning, purpose, dimension to my otherwise slow-paced, monotonous life. The thrills of grand motherhood is keeping me occupied all the time now. Every day is a new day, to make memories, hugging my most precious and beautiful Princess.
Sherry: We are so happy for you, Panchali. She is so beautiful, and the scenery behind her is breathtaking! How has the little one changed you?
Panchali: The status of being a grandmother is not entirely based on fairy-tale stereotypes. It has roots in everyday reality. I had forgotten that there is so much beauty in the little things of life until I had my grandchild. Through her eyes, I am able to see a whole new world now. I enjoy carefree and silly activities that I never did as a busy parent, but now I have the time and the devil-may-care attitude to enjoy them with her. 😊
Sherry: I so know that feeling! I am feeling it now with my great-granddaughter, Lunabella. I imagine your beloved “dotti” is deep into the joys of motherhood. How is she doing?
Panchali: My daughter transitioned from womanhood to motherhood beautifully. And I am fortunate that I could witness the blooming in all its splendor and glory. And today, I am proud of the ‘woman’ my daughter has become…. Being a mother isn’t just a biological process – but it expands to a larger scope bound by social, cultural and religious roles and so much more.
Let me add, by allowing me to stay close to my grandchild, my daughter has made my golden years pure gold 😊
Panchali: Grandpa and Rooh are connected incredibly well and whatever ‘Nanan’ is doing, Rooh is right there with him. It’s like there’s a magnet keeping them together. 😊 There just isn’t a better way to have your ego boosted than having a session with a baby who adores you. I call it The Nanan Connection, and it is so so powerful.
To my pleasant surprise, the other day I found him in Rooh’s company, humming a song after ages:
‘Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to strive
All your dreams are on their way’…
The embarrassed grandpa confessed that he was rediscovering Simon and Garfunkel after almost fifty years!!
Ah, honestly, we can’t imagine a better station in life than being Grandpa and Grandma 😊.
Sherry: Sigh. It sounds blissful all around! That is a very blessed little girl, to be surrounded by so much love. And how is the beautiful Mawgli?
Panchali: He’s fourteen years old now … older than I am, if you formulate that to human years. No wonder he is occasionally grouchy and seems to hide more from the little one. He still follows me from room to room, choosing a place where he can curl up and sleep while I do my thing. I love my Mawgli Boy and hope he has some good years more ahead of him.
Sherry: I do, too, my friend. Mawgli is a beautiful boy. You were away from poetry for a while, likely enraptured by your granddaughter. What brought you back?
Panchali: I feel fortunate that I have always enjoyed reading poetry. And so, I never actually strayed too far from poetry. It’s something I do and not just something else I do besides writing. Moreover, writing is a recreation for me rather than a job, (though, I insist, writing poetry can never be a ‘job’ as such) so, there was no pressure at all.
Life had nothing nicer to offer than the care of a grandchild, so I was more than happy to abandon days and days of writing for the privilege. Only after several months, I realized that the ‘pressures’ were slowly sliding away my words/my thoughts. (Every poet will sympathize.) It was a nervous experience. If you haven't written anything for 6 months, it's difficult not to think: what if I never write again?
It was that voice that I wanted to get. It was for that voice that I re-opened my blog-space, and started writing again….and was rescued from a terrible brink of anxiety.
Sherry: I love that the words wait for us, and are there when we come back to find them. What do you love about poetry?
Panchali: Freedom! And the word journey….!
Poets have a particular receptivity to language and words. In poetry, words can mean many things all at once. It’s language at its most heightened, its most alive form– it’s a buoyant mix of sound, sense and subject. Yes! Maybe this is it what I love!
To me, poetry is a wellspring of ideas, thoughts and words that slowly metamorphose into a poem and I find real satisfaction in reading poems that navigate and explore these elements.
Sherry: Well said. Would you like to choose a couple of your poems, and tell us a bit about each one?
Panchali: I write way more than I submit. And whatever is currently ‘on the easel’ feels like a ‘favorite’ to me. That said, looking back, there are certain half-finished, un-edited pieces that do stick out to me. Viewing these works I can recall a particular moment in time and that make them special to me….
A Path for Peace
Blessings are everywhere,
and I seek them;
I believe in shooting stars
I believe in miracles
I believe in God
I believe in listening
I believe in human goodness
I believe in mysteries of the world
But most of all I believe
….in all I hope for,
Believing is reverence.
It is existential.
Let the within ‘mirror’ the with-out.
Watch our thoughts
Watch our words
Watch our actions
Watch our habits
Watch our character
Will you hold my hand…?
I ask again,
‘you will…won’t you?’
My desire is for peace on the inside and all around me. When we recognize that life is our mirror, we begin to understand that the outer chaos merely represents our mental state. If we can quiet our inner chaos, our outer chaos will simmer.
To My Temple Of Dreams…
On the grand roofs of ‘Wat Pho’
Guard the sacred temple even today.
Leaning over the premises
They remind us of the mystic king
The royal flag flaps in the blue air
‘Every time I am here’, said our guide
‘I feel the greatness of my ancestral history’.
The mystic Emerald Buddha lives on here,
with a soul as white as the lotus petal.
Dawn had spread over in the city.
-my last day, it was, to explore the temple.
Dazed. I set forth.
My eyes magnified
as I reached that door of ‘nirvana’!
I pushed on eagerly into the hall,
Lined with glittery panels on all sides.
And…my gaze came to rest upon
The enormous 46m long & 15 m high
Buddha in reclining pose,
With beautiful hooded downcast eyelids,
mysterious amiable smile, well wrapped,
in several folds of golden robes, wishfully neat.
I was captivated, exhilarated, enchanted.
With folded palms
I bowed to the presence.
Ah! It was a spot-so sacred to breathe!
A sublime silence enveloped within…
I sat on the ground, interlocked my legs
-in meditation posture
The peal of temple bell borne on a wind
Floated around me…but, I was immersed
in the mystical presence hovering above me.
That was, mindfulness, zeal; I realized.
Where we rest the mind
— the way to Nirvana.
‘ Nirvana’ literally means “quenching” or “blowing out,” in the way that the flame of a candle is blown out.
It is clear that nirvana-in-this-life is a psychological and ethical reality. It’s a transformed state of personality characterized by peace, deep spiritual joy, compassion, and a refined and subtle awareness. Negative mental states and emotions such as doubt, worry, anxiety, and fear are absent from the enlightened mind. Only an enlightened person, however, such as a Buddha possesses them all completely.
Sherry: Oh Panchali, thank you for these beautiful poems. As I read, I was transported into that temple with you.
What are we most likely to find you doing when you are not writing?
Panchali: I write....read....write some more!
Play with grandy…
Go for walks... go for shopping…go out for movies
Listen to music...
Go far off places in my mind...
The list is endless… 😊
Sherry: A wonderful life, fully and joyously lived! Yay! You promised me some photos of your recent travels to Thailand, Phi Phi Island, Mayo Island and Bangkok. Let's share them with our friends, shall we?
Sherry: These photo collages are amazing, my friend. What a wonderful journey you have made!
I know you also create beautiful art. Do you have any new pieces to share with us?
Cruising along Maya Bay, Phi Phi Leh Island,
the Viking cave, Monkey beach, Coral bay
…oh, these pristine blue islands are just
so amazingly romantic
The ornamental rooftops of Thailand's
most revered temple building
with massive, brightly coloured spiked tiles
adorning its roofs @ Wat Phra Kaew
We kicked off our time in Bangkok
with touring some gorgeous temples,
Wat Pho being the last stop
to see the giant reclining Buddha.
The gorgeous temple houses a reclining Buddha,
which measures more than 40 meters long
and 15 meters high. This statue just hits you
with its size as you enter the premises.
Very impressive and everything made out of gold!
I met Thim, our private travel guide in Bangkok.
Honestly, without Ms. Thim Thim,
we wouldn’t have any real understanding
of what we saw in the beautiful Grand Palace
or other Temples.
We spent some quiet moments here,
before braving the rains once again.
In the afternoon, we took a one-hour boat ride
through the largest floating market
in Thailand, Damnoen Saduak.
I know you also create beautiful art. Do you have any new pieces to share with us?
This is a collage of my creations,
done on fabric
Panchali: I am no expert and I am basically into fabric-painting. Self-experimentation has shaped my skills as an artist. My ‘world’ has continued to evolve ever since…. I guess, my work evokes emotions in the viewer and allows them to engage in the story in their own unique way… and when it happens, all the colors are just… more beautiful.
Sherry: Beautifully said. And your art is breathtaking. Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?
Panchali: There are reasons to be thankful for these plastic keys and my link to the PU world. I have formed bonds with many of the poets who network in this creative, fertile environment. I have a great deal of respect for their work. Because of these affiliations, some readings and participations, I have come my way over the years.
A big thanks to you, everyone here, and all the team members of PU.
Sherry: A big thank you to you, Panchali, for keeping on coming back to Poets United. We appreciate you!
Wasn't this a lovely visit, my friends? Between the beautiful Rooh and the stately Mawgli, I am rather enchanted. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!