Cities: Two Perspectives by Gopal Lahiri and Dr. Sunil Sharma

Cities: Two Perspectives

Category: Poetry, Fiction and Short Stories

Poets: Gopal Lahiri and Dr.  Sunil Sharma

PP 100
Price ₹ 250.00 INR
ISBN-13: 9789387651227
Publisher: AUTHORSPRESS, Delhi, 2018

Dr Santosh Bakaya
This sleek, pretty book of hundred pages, beautifully published by Authors Press, Delhi, [2018] is a collaborative poetic venture of a bi- lingual poet cum earth- scientist, Gopal Lahiri and Dr. Sunil Sharma, a senior academic- critic and literary editor.  Between the two of them, they have managed to produce a book, which is definitely going to enthrall poetry lovers for all times -a book which slowly creeps into one’s heart, and resonates with every compassionate soul.

 Egalitarian in outlook, both write about the invisibles, the underdog, and the dark, dismal secrets hidden deep inside the innards of the underbelly of a city where the good, bad and the ugly all coexist in a bustling chaos.  In this metro city, Mumbai, there is magic, there is mystery, there is history; it vibrates, it is dull, there is filth, there is squalor, and there is glitz and glamour.

In fact , Cities : Two Perspectives , is about the two sides of the schizophrenic Mumbai , its  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character of beauty and ugliness , benevolence and malevolence , high rise buildings and skyscrapers crinkling their concrete noses at the stinking shanties and hideous hovels , and the expensively suited and booted humanity apathetic to half – clad  frail figures lying prostrate on malodorous pavements.

In thirty poems each, the poets have painted the tenacity of the underdog, the homeless, the naked, the hungry; the desperation, the frenzy and the panic of those running the rat race, juxtaposing it against the beauty of the moon and even the ‘tweets of those tiny blue whistlers’ [Blue Whistlers, Gopal Lahiri, p 18], the ‘piercing blue eyes’ of the Juhu Beach,   where ‘an old lady smiles at the rising sun’ – a wrinkled smile.  [Juhu Beach, Gopal Lahiri, p 20] ‘the gentle breeze’,  ‘palm trees’, ‘ grey hornbills’ , all lost to the landscape of ‘glass and concrete’. [Flora Fountain, Gopal Lahiri p 27]
In the ‘Sea Lounge’, [p 29], Lahiri very evocatively writes,

‘Disabled sun barely lights up the afternoon
Scattered clouds like chopped salads
on the southern sky.’

‘The crowded lounge filled with tootles and screeches
 cackles of laughter,
post- truth, plain speak and trolls- roll into one’.
 Such beautiful heart – warming imagery!

This busy city  is  teeming with addicts, drunks, beggars, lumpen elements,  bearded men, sitting on ramshackle benches , babbling incoherently, shunned, forgotten and excommunicated, reminding the poet ‘of a painter who died unsung’ [Dusk in Suburbs  Sunil Sharma , p 64]
‘A figure, there, yet - not there'. [Night, Sunil Sharma, p 66]   These handful of words in ‘Night’ speak volumes about this silhouette, languishing on the fringes of society, invisible to the frenzied people, running the rat- race helter – skelter, living in ‘exorbitantly priced’ ‘concrete cages’ .
Then there are emaciated folks, ‘eyes blank and hollow faced’, skeletal hands searching for sea- shells on the beach, their very survival depending on the generosity of the beach. [Mudflats, Sunil Sharma, p 93]

The images that pierced my heart totally were, that of a woman in a tiny balcony of a high rise building , reading a newspaper , trapped  in a concrete cage, while
 ‘A bird flutters in a cage
Searching for a full sky’ [cages [p 94]

In The Moon [p 65, Sunil Sharma ] , as the October dusk descends across the ‘few  open spaces and stunted meadows’, the poet glimpses the celestial visitor travelling with him,  and you gape with him at the rare sight-  ‘ageless;  kind ;  tender ,  full of milky light !’
Ah, for the small mercies of a big, bustling, bloated city!
And the tyranny of nostalgia!
The staccato sound of the drilling machine drowning the cadences of  the birdsong once heard in leafy Mumbai, [Drilling , Sunil Sharma , p 69] , the quickly vanishing book vendors [ The City Life , p 71] , and  the open spaces and greenery of a once verdant  Mumbai .

The two poets have very deftly captured the cacophony and euphony, the glitz, the glamour and grime of the metro city,
A bit reclaimed by everybody.’ [Exit, Sunil Sharma, p 62]

Mumbai is exciting, tantalizing, euphoria- inducing, and also hair- splittingly perplexing and frustrating, but there is definitely no escape, no exit from the snug warmth of this love –hate relationship.

This book is a must read for all lovers of good poetry, which is going to strike a chord with every discerning reader;   it is definitely a book to adorn the book shelves of all college libraries and universities.

Dr Santosh Bakaya , academic- poet - novelist - essayist- Ted Speaker was the winner of the Reuel International Award for Literature for her long poem Oh HARK[2014] and the Universal Inspirational Poet Award[ 2016 ]  jointly instituted by Pentasi B Friendship Group  and Ghana Government.

Her poetic biography of  Mahatma Gandhi , Ballad of Bapu, [Vitasta , 2014, Delhi ]
has been internationally acclaimed  and awarded. Her other books are Where are the lilacs ?[Poetry, Authorspress Delhi, 2016], Under the Apple Boughs [poetry, AuthorsPress Delhi, 2017],
 Flights from my Terrace [essays, AuthorsPress, 2017], which have also been critically acclaimed.
A Skyful of Balloons [A Novella, AuthorsPress, Delhi, 2018] is also receiving critical acclaim.

Besides, she has co-edited a few books, Umbilical Chords [Global Fraternity of india, 2015 Gurugram, Haryana, 2015], Darkness there but something more [The Blue Pencil, 2017, Delhi],
Cloudburst: the Womanly Deluge [Global Fraternity of India, 2017, Gurugram, Haryana]

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