RELEASE OF FILMMAKER DHARMANAND VERNEKAR’S KONKANI POETRY BOOK `DEGDIGANT’…present on the occasion on the dais are chief guest Jnanpith award winner Damodar Mauzo, guests of honor were IAS Secretary (Finance & Environment) Daulat Hawaldar and policy advisor in sectoral reforms Charudutta Panigrahi, Dr Nandkumar Kamat (chairperson), Rama Murkunde and others. The evening of poetry was attended by a large number of Konkani literature mogi.

—Dharmanand Vernekar’s`Degdigant’ release…

IF my Konkani was better I would have appreciated this Konkani poetry reading evening better! But I appreciated it anyway, all poetry reading evenings are welcome for maybe I think they help writers and readers bond better. It’s not often that I go for Konkani poetry reading but for this one I had someone next to me filling me in with Konkani vocabulary now and again so it was okay.
For I must confess I’m more or less angrezi brain-washed despite my Gujarati origins and a whole lot of influences through being born in one country, grown up in another, married out of community, etc…convent educated, that’s what fixed my angrezi label more or less. Twenty years plus in Goa I’ve taken to spoken Konkani because some Goans will only speak to me in Konkani, never mind if I respond in English.
Only when I go shopping at Panaji market I try to practice my atrocious Konkani-cum-Marathi mix! Well, such is life, full of regrets, some joys too of the poetic kind. This is to say I enjoyed an evening of poetry in Konkani at the multi- purpose Sanskriti Bhavan at Patto on Saturday, March 5, 2022 courtesy the Sanjana Publications release of filmmaker Dharmanand Vernekar’s collection of poetry titled “Degdigant.” It may be translated from the original Konkani to English as “From Seashore to Horizon.”
The evening was hosted by publishers Sanjana Publications and guests of honor was Daulat Hawaldar, Charudutta Panigrahi and others, the meeting was chaired by Dr Nandakumar Kamat. Rama Murkunda reviewed the poetry collection sensitively and generously and several persons spoke of the filmmaker-poet’s friendship with the late advocate Satish Sonak. Gulzar’s many witty comments was quoted back and forth but he was not present for the evening, clearly many are friends and fans of Gulzar who visits Goa whenever he can.

FRIENDS IN TOGETHERNESS FROM CHILDHOOD…poetry lovers, litterateurs and adventurers, they all grew up together and it was like an old boys meeting up too! (L to R) Dhananjay Khalliwadakar, Capt Nitin Dhond, Dharmanand Vernekar and Pravin Samant

POETRY in Konkani is beyond me although I love the late Vishnu Wagh’s translated poetry from the Konkani. Konkani is much more eloquent to listen to than Marathi and I follow it in bits and pieces which is not saying anything at all, forgive me. Dharmanand bab’s poetry is reportedly much like his films as he thinks like a filmmaker in terms of colors and landscapes and he says this poetry book was born because of all the idleness enforced on him and everyone of course during the covid lockdowns…(we have English translations of some of the poems elsewhere here courtesy Charudutta Panigrahi).
I always say translations rarely give one the original flavour of words, emotions, sentiments expressed in poetic thoughts; and transliterations are difficult for a person if he or she is not absolutely well versed with both languages, the original as well as the language it is being translated in. From the sound and sense of it I understand that the poems in “Degdigant” mostly speak of the how ephemeral life is, here today, gone tomorrow. Life is a journey from the seashore to the horizon and some speakers pointed out the poet uses his “third eye” like a filmmaker’s camera! You may read him as you like it…see what you can, see what is yet to be seen, with the general metaphor of how we move individually from our own personal seashore to a collective horizon.
On the occasion Jnanpith awardee Damodar Mauzo, whom most everyone has a lot of affection for, was felicitated, as also his wife Shaila. There was some friendly nasty exchange of words when after chairperson Dr Nandkumar Kamat finished praising the poetry, and decided to express his ire because the flower bouquets were all wrapped in vile plastic! At least poetry readings, he said, should not patronise plastics in any form, this was poetic confusion and contradiction. Dharmanand bab tried to soothe ruffled feathers by caustically commenting that Dr Nandkumar’s kurta buttons were of plastic, to which the good naturalist Nandkumar protested, excuse me, they were actually of good old-fashioned brass kurta buttons! He doesn’t patronize single use plastics in his life seeing how far-reaching they are in the damage they do to the environment.

(Left) Dr Nandkumar Kamat was all praise for `Degvidante’, saying poetry touches all lives in growing up years; (right) honouring and felicitataing Jnanpith awrd winner Damodar Mauzo (also wife Shaila, not in pic) on the occasion.

(Sigh) It was hilarious. I’m on the irreverent Nandkumar’s side though, and think we should get serious, across society we must at the very least single use plastics in any form of usage. I hate these flower bouquets which come tightly bound in plastic strings and ribbons and later have a hard time unravelling the needless trappings with knife or scissors to rescue the flowers, so that I may give them a longer lease of life in a flower vase at home. I’ve muttered expletives at these florists who don’t know how to wrap up flowers in simple, eco-friendly ways! Why can’t they wrap my flowers in a banana leaf or a bit of tracing or kite paper…hey, take it easy, no fancy floral bouquet for me please, just give me a single flower in hand, that’s fine.
THIS is to say if you’re a poetry lover and love reading in Konkani, you might want to get a copy of this new collection by Dharmanand Vernekar titled “Digdigant.” It’s really been a season of book releases all around lately.

AFTER “Digdigant” I got a copy of a book which is one of my heart’s favourite — Nandita Haksar’s second edition of her wonderful culinary book “The Flavors of Nationalism” (Speaking Tiger, softcover, Rs499). It’s a very engaging memoir of recipes for love, hate and friendship and apart from stories about her eclectic travelling and growing up there are fascinating recipes like Frogs’ Legs A La Parisienne – a recipe which Goans will dig, except that poaching of frogs during the monsoon months if now banned!
The second editor of the book sees some subtractions and new additions, or says Nandita Haksar. She is always readable and this one is a holiday break book for her – offering us a view of the country’s history in culinary terms of nationalism of the very best kind. These days I’m not buying books but giving them away, if anyone wants my novels come and take them from me!
THE other book I may mention here is “The Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy” by Kafeel Khan, it’s a doctor’s memoir of a deadly medical crisis which most of us may remember reading about. The good doctor was here in Goa to promote the book but I missed the Litterrati event out at Candolim. It’s a grim book offering details of how the country’s healthcare system is full of holes and failing our people big time courtesy medical negligence.
Needless to say Dr Khan was in the eye of the storm which erupted on the evening of August 10, 2017, when liquid oxygen ran out at the State-run Baba Raghav Das Medical College’s Nehru Hospital in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. In two days more than 80 patients died, 63 of them children and 18 adults. Dr Khan made heroic efforts to get oxygen for his patients but in vain, later he was suspended, an FIR filed against him for corruption and medical negligence…eight months of incarceration in jail and a relentless fight for justice later, he was freed. Apathy and persecution is something we are increasingly becoming familiar with in today’s times. If you care enough about India which is also Bharat you must read this book, I’m still reading it.
Reading books and seeing films of the very best kind are one way to stay sane! Read more books, see more films. On that note it’s avjo, poiteverem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yeta here for now.

—Mme Butterfly

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