The Alipore Post x Good Earth India

The Alipore Post was the first collaborator for Good Earth India's new The Spotlight Series – a collaboration that shines a light on handpicked cultural curators who share with us their unique view of India through portraits of history, design, nature, art.

​⠀

Good Earth x The Alipore Post presented six poems and artworks by artists who come from diverse professional spheres brought together by their common usage of art and poetry to share their creative impulses. ​Through these six portraits, we created a layered understanding of India that doesn't draw a line between historical references and modern points of view. ​


Here are the poems and artworks curated for the collaboration:⠀

Art by Richa Kashelkar

1. Heirloom by Arundhathi Subramaniam


My grandmother,

wise even at eight,

hid under her bed

when her first suitor came home.


Grave and serene

her features, defined

as majestically as a head

on an old coin, I realise

through photographs, clouded

by the silt of seasons, like the patina

of age on Kanjeevaram silks,

that in her day, girls of eight didn’t

have broken teeth or grazed elbows.


Now in her kitchen,

she quietly stirs ancestral

aromas of warm coconut lullabies,

her voice tracing the familiar

mosaic of family fables, chipped

by repetition.


And yet,

in the languorous swirl

of sari, she carries the secret

of a world where nayikas still walk

with the liquid tread of those

who know their bodies as well

as they know their minds, still glide

down deserted streets -- to meet

dark forbidden paramours whose eyes

smoulder like lanterns in winter --

and return before sunset, the flowers

in their hair radiating the perfume

of an unrecorded language of romance.

The secret of a world

that she refuses to bequeath

with her recipes

and her genes.

Art by Smriti Sundar

2. Picnic by Arjun Rajendran


It's been so long


since we've had a picnic,

since we lay on a sheet


hurting


from all the gluttony,

all the laughter,


when the aftertaste of pineapple

lulled us into dreamless sleep,


when the dog chased after fairies,

and returned


to nudge us out of our laziness,

my attention divided


between a novel

and the gurgling stream of fish


springing out the water,

butterflies yellow white green


fluttered around our heads,

the scent of cake, drawing


them into temptation,

it's been so long


since we've all been together,

since we forgave each other


our distance to occasion a picnic,

at first a jigsaw puzzle


of a near complete afternoon,

then as the seasons glide,


furiously coming apart,

every piece


joining a rainy spot in the brain

until all that is left is


a solitary bugle


floating in space, calling for memories

to return while they hitchhike


in the opposite direction.

Art by Namrata Kumar

3. The Green Silk Saree by Bhawna Jaimini


My sister and I drooled

over the aluminium box

which my grandmother finally

opened last summer.

The box knows all the secrets

of my family. It has become

a legend now. before we saw it,

we often questioned its existence.

But there it was, in metal and space.

My grandmother had decided that

the secrets were not important

enough anymore.

So she would distribute

them all equally. I was asked

to choose first. If allowed, I would

have taken the whole box

but I settled on her green silk saree.

It was the first silk he bought me

when we both went to a South India tour in 1976.

Bangalore or Madras.

I don’t remember anymore.

My grandmother said, in a dry,

matter of fact tone.

The green silk saree is

a symbol of love, that could not be.

Now I know why she didn’t want

to keep it anymore.

The pallu tells me the story of

the first time she wore it

anticipating a compliment.

Instead she was handed over,

‘you look so fat’ and ‘stop eating all the time’.

The fall tells the story of the time

when she accidentally tipped over

but no hand came to rescue.

The hand was busy stroking

someone else. The oil stain

on it tells the story of the night

when he didn’t come back home

on her birthday. She ate alone,

finding comfort and love

in deep fried pakoras.

As I examine the oil stain

She tells me I can get it dry-cleaned

I decide not to.

When I wore it that night, she told me

That I looked beautiful.

I told her she too would have.

She smiled and her face lit up.

I am dry-cleaning the stains,

one yard at a time.

Art by Reya Ahmed

4. Poems inspired by Urdu words by Suhasini Barman


Qurbat (Nearness)


Perhaps letting go was

never an option?

Perhaps the closest I've ever

been to you was when we

were the farthest in proximity.


Bekhudi (Intoxication)


You leave each time,

leaving behind traces of you

on overflowing galleries, songs,

places, unhurried corners of coffee

mugs, wrinkled bedsheets, aching

limbs and a reckless heart that

never quite feels the same again.


Qasiid (Messenger)


You and I meet again.

As strangers, or maybe

as long forgotten

friends.


Your hands

entwined in hers;

and mine,

clenched tight.


But funny,

how our eyes still

tell a story,

our lips deny.


Nazaakat (Delicateness/Finesse):


The way your kohl laden eyes,

unravels my soul, gliding through my heart, making a home out of nowhere.


The way they reinstill my faith in the make believe world of ours, time and again.



Art by Nayanaa Kanodia

5. Pickling Season by Anju Makhija


Every summer, we laze under the mango tree

discussing unpatented recipes. When raw mangoes

drop on our head, we pause

to appreciate nature's bounty.

Then on to peeling, chopping, salting,

boiling, spicing, bottling…


Will the sorcery work?


By year's end, we hope, when

the pungent brine matures to its prime.

The zing depends on turmeric balancing the tamarind,

the chili complementing the amchur,

and if the asafetida poured in candle light

late one night works for pickles

as if seldom does for couples, apart

since the first pickling season.


The alchemy has rarely bewitched,

Jaggery sours, vinegar sears the tongue.

To change the recipe we've tried

with old ladies' advice,

but nature moves inexorably,

and life proceeds predictably

beneath the mango tree.

Art by Ruddhi Vichare

6. To a flower-bloom in the garden by Sourabha Rao


a slow, soft independence, this blooming

grace that smiles in the face of a withering so certain, so prescribed

immense. unscheming. quiet. extraordinary

immortal in the memory of you

always flowering. always describing. always affecting

like a thought from naught journeying to its fullness of clarity

like musty old books, like poems, like songs

like all things that rouse you, that make you come alive

then you see. you see that there is so much you haven’t yet experienced.

and that is enough to want a life of gratitude and hope

to hold on

to be quietly adamant and full before that final fall