By Indranil Halder
Woolwich suburb with a picturesque Sydney skyline and Harbour Bridge in a distance, was the perfect location for an out of the world ‘lunch session’. The day got even better, when bookaholic like myself, received a copy of his poem book Ananubhuto: A collection of Bengali Poems, as gift from author Soumik Ghosh.
Born in Howrah and attended St Thomas’ College of Engineering and Technology in Kolkata, India. Graduated with electrical and telecommunication engineering. Did his MBA and MTech from University of Wollongong and University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales as an international student. Started writing poem from age of fifteen. Wrote songs for Bengal music bands. In his spare time, his creative mind, keeps him busy writing poems. He has composed a book full of poems titled , Ananubhuto: A collection of Bengali Poems. Targeted to 250 million Bengali speakers across the globe.
Soumik loves Book Culture:
Like many of us, Soumik is born with the love for books. Books are an integral part of Bengali culture. In Kolkata, he attended the National Library, Kolkata (India’s biggest library with a collection of over 2.2 million books), purchased second hand books from College Street(Asia’s largest second book market) and visited International Kolkata Book Fair (one of the largest in the world). And also received books as gifts.
In Australia, he is happy with how the national libraries, private collections and especially the book clubs are keeping the book culture growing. In Sydney, myself recently attended the Lifeline’s GIANT Book Fair, Rosewood Centre, Barker College and my aunty in- law Dr Barbara Newtown is a regular at the popular book club at the Royal Sydney Golf Club.
According to a Sydney Morning Herald newspaper article titled : The Australian books that are hot property overseas, updated, “international sales of Australian-authored books, Success Story, from the Australia Council, the Copyright Agency and Macquarie University shows that in the 10 years from 2008, there were 9315 individual rights sales involving 1792 authors and 3842 titles to 92 territories in 70 languages.” Soumik loves the book culture both in India and Australia, hence he had composed a book full of his own poems.
Sitting in the leather chair with a modern vintage feel, Soumik slowly but surely enjoyed his pan grilled Con Bay Barramundi fish with bouillabaisse veloute, prawn mousseline and summer vegetable melange and glass of beer in the heritage British bistro of Woolwich Pier Hotel( our social epicentre). I started looking through his book Ananubhuto: A collection of Bengali Poems. It became obvious that Soumik has put together a collection of his original poems with personal feelings in various points of his life. He cultivated the nostalgic feelings for the place of his birth, a feeling of belonging with family, friends and lovers and feeling of closeness to his environment. They are all connected with one common thread. They are all part of his life in the Indian subcontinent and more specifically in Howrah.
After flicking through the pages, the poem that caught my eye was ‘My house In Howrah’. It is not often Kolkata’s sister city on the other side of the Hoogly river is celebrated in literature. The poem takes a teenage boy’s love for his own home in Howrah, the monsoon rain and the joy of teenage years. The Howrah , that Soumik explored in his poem is not in Tasmania. It is the second-largest city after Kolkata in the Indian state of West Bengal with the famous Howrah Bridge (one of world’s busiest cantilever bridge) and Howrah Junction Railway Station(one of the busiest railway stations in the world).
Next poem that captured my attention was ‘Sutanuti’. The title suggest the name of one of the village that formed the foundation of the metropolis of Kolkata. It was heavily influenced by British East India Company culture. Sutanuti explores the popular ‘Babu Culture’( sophisticated gentleman) of India with its western flairs and Bengali traditions. As a critic, Soumik successfully penned the tug of war between Babu’s western flairs and Bengali traditions in Hindustani society.
The third poem, reflects nostalgia. In his poem Golden Bengal, Soumik threaded a strong connection that he has with his birth place like many non resident Bengalis living across the globe. Living and working in Sydney, he achieves a perfect transnational harmony to celebrate his connection to his root. So is the attractive cover of his book. Designed by his wife Shreyasi Das( engineer, trained dancer and runs Natraj Dance Academy, Sydney) the cover definitely grabs viewers’ attention and increase their desire to read. The book celebrates the creative mindset of both Soumik and Shreyasi. It also focus on the painstaking selection of Soumik’s poems by Manas Ghosh.
Opening the book was like entering a secret garden where memories are evergreen, nurtured with love and arranged harmoniously. Every poem in Ananubhuto: A collection of Bengali Poems, has the power to connects to the innermost feelings of any reader anywhere in the world.