Meteor Tamed   Leave a comment

ball of flame,
rolling in the open sky
watching everyone
with spaces so wide
flaming and burning
she wants to explode
breathing heavily
she wants to let go

rebel child wakes up
next to a man
who could lead her
into a glory path
but oneness is all
on her tiny mind
a peephole into
a universe so wild
she spits in anger
rattles the saviour
wants to tear her hair
go bald feeling the wind
on her naked head
and yet she wants
to stay masked
thinking she loses
her only weapon
if she let’s someone in
undoing the mystery
for when he leaves
she will be empty

meteor tamed
is the story broken
he must drag her
to the pain of truth’s snare
let it snap,
let her fall,
and when she gets up
let her be
the strongest of ’em all.

Posted April 22, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in nouvelles poèmes

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The delusion of love   3 comments

“Why do I have to be guilty for my feelings?”, she thought as she rode furiously through the brittle wind on the pavement. It was almost morning. The darkness and the frequent cobblestones made it even harder to focus on the road. “I want a break…from this man…from all men…from this line of thought that they are perpetually deaf”. She was even more angry now. Her jaw was tight and her eyes shone with tears, more from emotion than the frigid wind. Mercifully she had reached the lake in the city center that was flanked by hills on the other side. She slung her backpack off her sore shoulder and brought out the bread for the birds. The swans and seagulls fought as she threw crumbs at them. She threw them even more violently aiming at the spaces between them. One would think she was mad. “Oh but I am! Mad at the stupid men who cannot listen”, she thought in reaction. She wondered what delusion she was suffering from. She unzipped her jacket and leaned on a ledge, as the cold air gushed to fill in the warm spaces created in her body from the activity. She contemplated about how belligerent she was when she confessed her feelings to someone. Like cards caught in a gust they fell…one by one…every man she had confessed her true feelings to. “What do I really want with them?”, she gazed out at the ducks searching for the leftover crumblings since the swans and the gulls had moved out. “Why do I keep attracting men not wanting to be with me for good – men who were commited elsewhere – to their career, to their other life, to their spiritual path, to everything but companionship? Where am I like this? Am I wanting something other than what I am?”. She stowed her cycle in one of the stands, locked it, and headed towards the gardens. Above her suddenly a seagull swooped low, and took a sharp dive right in front of her. She stopped, startled, and saw it pick up one of the crumbs that she had accidentally dropped. “What am I missing here? I wish I could sit on this seagull’s back and watch my life from above”, she sighed.

The gardens were just turning green and tender yellow daffodils were shyly waking up from their shoots. They seem to have “returned” rather than be new ones. Here was reincarnation happening at a rapid pace. No wonder they had no sorrow at being lost. They knew it would be year after year they would be born from the same shoot. “Why am I so delusional?”, she thought angrily. All her life she had waited to “grow up” not knowing what that had meant exactly. Now that she was “old” enough, she was still clinging on to what was right and what was wrong. She still wanted to battle her loneliness inspite of having lived and survived it for so long. She wanted not time, but affection. But she also wanted a regularity to her feelings. She missed that constancy, a promise that someone will be there for her when she needed him. And yet, in so many ways, she had not found anyone holding this truth. She also wanted space that this someone could stay out of her hair and stop putting demands on her choices and straddle her for an opinion on everything and everyone. Is there someone who can listen and hold the space for her?

She walked through the beautiful labyrinth made of pearly white stones and poppies. The sun had come up and was washing the land like a gentle father waking up his little snuggling children. Her hands and feet had turned cold. She reached the center – a spiral of water, like a conch, that emptied itself into a cavity. She closed her eyes. The mist emptied itself onto the leaves. A light fragrance filled her olfactory. It almost reached her ears. Thoughts – like ether can only be felt. Not seen or touched. It was an unusually quiet morning. Slowly the tears started to flow. She let the fragrance do the comforting. It weaved its wand over her entangled heart. A pigeon perched nearby cooed and started turning around. The head is only at rest when it finds the shoulders it grew up on. Why so much mystery then? She ached. She had to decide and walk away from these mythical men. She had to be her man for now. And she had to forgive herself for choosing this story. She breathed deeply and opened her eyes. In front of her the mountains stood still and alone, inspite of each other. They were perfect and more beautiful because of their asymmetry. Each had its own character though the snow was melting evenly from each of them. She brushed another tear out of her eyes and headed back. She found herself carefully stepping onto the slippery cobblestones. Spring had just begun.

Posted April 15, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in short stories (fiction)

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Musings in a foreign city – Bergen   1 comment

I am enjoying the provocations of loneliness and solitude. The spaces in the city give my heart the space for sorrow to be emptied. I wish to be in your arms…but I know it is not you I want. I want my lovefulness back. I want you to touch my hair and kiss them. I want you to kiss my ears and make my every sound yours. I want you to break my heart a final time so that it can be free of this fear of heartbreak forever. I want you to give me your arms and be my saving grace.

It is indescribable the amount of love I feel for Europe. This continent has its strings weaved into my heart in mysterious ways. I worked 4 years in various jobs I didn’t enjoy just to receive these 12 days of Europe in Bergen, Norway. Since adolescence I was fascinated by France as much as girls my age were fascinated by boys. As I walked the cobblestoned streets in my tick-tocking boots, I thanked this part of earth with my every step for bringing me here. There is an insanity about love, and that is exactly what Europe is for me. I work in this field called IT which I feel like quitting every now and then owing to office politics, disheartening managers, and its attitude of applauding selfishness above communal growth. And yet I stuck to it just to be rewarded these 12 days. In these 12 days I have lived 12 lifetimes. The pleasure of sharing my Indianness with a family from here, the joy of walking with an unknown woman guiding me to my apartment without us ever knowing each other’s names is an experience that builds itself in a zone of exhilaration. Everyday my gratitude deepens… As I chat with fellow colleagues about the demerits of Indian men, the near impossibility of having a love child in an Indian society, I find a deeper connect with these women to whom I look and sound foreign but who in turn seem known. I want to freeze-frame the empty streets near the railway station into my camera…no wonder this city has so many artists – every alternate shop near my hotel is an art studio. Sometimes the art is bizarre, sometimes chalky images of the landscapes around. Maybe they too cannot get over the pleasant spaciousness of this city like me. I discover the statue of Ole Bull, the violinist who encouraged Edvard Grieg, another musical prodigy late in the 1800s. His secret marriage with a woman 40 years younger to him intrigues me as much as the appreciation for his clear violin renditions. I wish they have a record of this man who could fall in love and have the courage to have a daughter at that age. The insanity of love.

Amid the ebb and tide of loneliness and solitude brought about by this loony place, I discover that my heart is broken. So much time has passed that I have lost track of who broke it. Maybe it was an ex-lover from Europe, or maybe the initial stirrings were that of my dad for having broken my heart when he didn’t want or need my opinion on something. I listen to Norah Jones incessantly on a loop. I discover her latest release from an album called Little Broken Hearts. Dots connect themselves when left to move on their own.

The nightingale sings the grief in my heart. I am enjoying these provocations. I cry and write a letter to a man who feels like a lover but is miles away from being so. One that I will never send to him. I write to him every week. Like carving a statue that was never meant to see the light of the day. I am fooling the words that they will bear sunshine. One sided love is unbearable whatever the odds. Especially when you are falling in it. I see no birds here in Bergen. I hear no birds. Maybe they are all travelling like me to distant lands to gather back pieces of their hearts. I hope they come back whole and rejuvenated. Perhaps with a new love even. J’espère.

The endless maze of streets that my mind finds hard to comprehend. My feet ache so badly that now they have stopped talking to me.

It is past midnight. I cajole my feet with a balm made from some hauntingly sweet spice from Africa. They cry. I hold them near and cradle them. I sing them Norah’s traveller song. Another day has gone. Soon this solitude will end. There is no attachment this time. I am playing it safe. I know this man called Europe is going to betray me. I grieve it before it happens. It is like a child being aborted that you spent so many months nurturing. It feels like a life is going to a dark place where there is only uncertainty. I pray silently that there is a man reading this who feels my ache, this umbilical pull towards Europe and becomes that space shuttle that will promise me eternity here. Maybe other planets can wait. With cities like Bergen, there is no chance another planet can seem so enticing. Maybe someone out there recognizes this yearning for our own home even as we stay in it and have hence stayed away. Let them be so. There are still so many layers of beauty this virgin earth has.

I am on Day 6 and half of my stay is done. I have tried to live each day like a new book being written hastily. By next week this time I’ll be in what feels like foster home after this. I intend to find oneness with this place that I so yearn for. My very need, I wish, turn into my savior and release me from it. That is what I wish from my soul. No love can come close to what i feel for Europe, what I feel for this land. I am still sucked into the womb of this love and am reluctant to move out. May the northern lights lift this spell. I look up at the magnetic sky. Goodbye.

Posted March 29, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in articles, wanderlust

Show me your face   2 comments

As the big puzzle becomes clear
Pieces of me join back together
Where through time did I lose you?
The sky shudders as you come near

Moving from my heart to my lips
Moving from loneliness to bliss
Moving through this pain into suffering
Moving into the life that is unravelling

As I experience this pull
It robs me of all silence I held dear
The shattering of tenderness that this takes on
The screams explode to bring oneness on

This fight in me wrecks me further
Whether it is safe to be with you
Or in my cage of desperate ignorance
This time I choose to give in to trust
Hoping to be undone from this insane division

Keep my secret safe in your heart
I am scared to be betrayed should you share
If only I could find a ear that can contain
All the grief this child has locked up in vain

Each day I turn more deaf
Growing numb from the false stories
That just point to the Beloved
“Show me your face”, I hear myself say
Please open your arms and let me experience grace.

Posted March 23, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in nouvelles poèmes

Advaita – The Silent Sea and more   Leave a comment

When you hear a band like Advaita, you feel inspired; especially if you have grown up listening to or learning Hindustani classical. Advaita is that essential dip in that ocean.


It was raining and I was stuck in a traffic jam that took an hour to clear. I was in a bus and it was hot, sweaty. “Mere yaar” started playing on my IPod. I drifted away. The harmonies spun layers of memory and I suddenly missed someone. A man in a temple. Steady, unmoving, all-gazing. As I searched his face he said nothing, but spoke everything. I wanted to go near him, be affectionate. But I couldn’t. He was stone. A decked up Krishna standing amid a sea of devotees. Mere yaar, was all I wanted to sing.


My first tryst with Advaita was in a compilation album that had artists from world over. “Mere Yaar” is a song from their first album.

When I saw the band for the first time in Coke Studio, I was intrigued by their humility. It echoed the old-Delhi hospitality which is so rare these days, especially among a young bunch of rockers. The name of their first album is actually the hallmark of their character – grounded in space. They seemed both of the ground and the wind. They had their sails up alright! They were also the first act shot on the sets of Coke Studio. And it was a one-take all okay sound-wise. Of course there were improvisations and customizations to be made. But they stood, listened and experimented and refined. All done with an air of regal patience. Ujwal effortlessly belted out note after note of the harkats with the sophisticated nonchalance of a businessman coolly negotiating deals at the counter. But it was Suhail who entered the song conquering the sound with the sharp evocativeness of the sarangi, an instrument symbolic of Mughal splendour. I felt like I was thrown into a haveli with Persian jaali windows looking out to the Yamuna meandering quietly across the landscape. Such is the elegance that is so definitive of Advaita. Everytime Suhail wields his wand over the sarangi, passed down to him over generations of legendary artists, one feels like there is love being made behind the purdahs. Going the extra mile in sustaining a note after the initial gusto adds a different signature to the entire composition and there is an exchange of wordless dancing between him and the rest of the sound.

Through their new album, The Silent Sea, I feel like he takes the sound to an ecstatic breathlessness and just as it is about to collapse, gently sets it down, starting it back from a scratch. There is more restraint and passion held strongly. Together in this sea Chayan swims like a fish, carving out intricacies with his English vocals. The beauty in his singing is that he sings without trying to be a Led Zeppelin (though he sounds like him) or the idols most Indian male singers have grown up emulating. In a setting that seems to be driving full speed into the roots of Hindustani he sets the gears spinning into a zone that is refreshingly meditative cutting across the classical intensity.

Some of my favorite tracks in their new album are Gorakh, Mandirva, Spinning and Mo Funk.

Words has a dark, brooding side to it, like the clash of the ocean against itself, stirring up a storm,

Ga Ma Pa Ni Pa, so titled because of these opening notes played in dhrut gat on the sarangi, is a rendition by Suhail,

Spinning, by far my favorite, feels like it was written on an empty beach with tears falling on the sand towards the end,

Mo Funk is a techno rap of bols that gets twisted into a mantra sung in the Carnatic style…a good bit of experimentation from Ujwal!

Mandirva lingers and is a spinoff of the original sung by Pt.Jasraj in Raga Bheempalasi with coaxing vocals by Ujwal. The guitar riffs and bols in the background seem to color it more strongly with anger though.

The Silent Sea, the title track, placed last, ends with a note of disturbed incompleteness, and a yearning.

Their album is truly international style with artwork for every song in the inlay booklet, and notes of gratitude to the people who shaped their journey.  Overall there is integrity to the band that sets it apart for me.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, playing these tracks over and over again.

Posted March 6, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in music

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La Dolce Vita   Leave a comment

The clock reads “01:01”. I lie in my bed where all sorts of things lie scattered. I finally bought an electronic tanpura – rather my dad bought it for me. Today it reached me and I feel I have just earned my right to become a singer once more. The connection between me and my dad feels restored. I am musing wordlessly looking at the ceiling decorated in a cluster of fluorescent stars that shine for me exclusively every night above my bed. Stars stuck by me. They are here because I am here. I finally found lingerie that fit me – a satisfaction long overdue after my month-long exhaustive sickness where I lost weight and life urge. But it seems to be coming back to me. Like a bitten child now shy in its return. He is coming around. Life is a he. Ah! the sweet pleasure of wearing underwear that fits snugly on all the curves without mystery or hedonism. Like the sourness of the grapes in my mouth engendering summer that is rushing in through our east-facing kitchen window every morning. It seems to shoo us away from our own escapist nature. A month back I had put down my favorite author’s book, “Bella Tuscany” with tears. Tears of joy at having reached that part of my  mother which had dragged my dad down to the remotest and shabbiest of streets to find that man who could spray-polish our wrought-iron furniture, and turn the rusty whites into matte-kissed sober black. That gusty woman who drew plans incessantly for half a year which none of us had the vocabulary to understand, and got just enough furnishing done to soothe her appetite for rest half of the year speaking to men who didn’t speak her mother-tongue, communicating to them through my dad in his tongue. A cross of figures, a confusion of materials, a tornado left over when they had finished, them cleaning it up like wizards, except that they were not. A side of hers that dumbfounded me through childhood until I started reading “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes. With her second book, my mother was restored again to me – infinitely. If I could love something like her, surely I must have loved her through the madness that made me feel much too estranged. Today I received the third book of Frances Mayes. The promise of restoration buries its roots deep in my sacre coeur. “Prima le radici, poi le ali“…she says here (First the roots, then the wings). “Si signora Mayes…si…“, you *know* me. Mille grazie. A day before I stumble upon an Anoushka Shankar-Norah Jones collaboration, titled “Easy“. I feel how strange it would have felt if my dad had birthed another “me” with as much pleasure, as much love and as much desire and I had never known that other me. Like an ice wall behind which you see people but cannot hear them. And then I saw the photo of the 2 of them together with similar tattoos of the sun on their back. Another connection restored. The wind-chime finds its place in the wind, not in an air-conditioned corridor. Discovering another Norah Jones song made me feel back at home. She was mine again. New and yet the same. Bluesy and yet so verdant. Like steady, green alpines by the lake. A steady stream of peace meandering and yet being always at home. Summer is back. Soon mangoes will be too. And between now and then will be a wait of the gentle mother radiant with expectation. The playlist ends with “fields of gold” – an eternal joie de vivre of “now”-ness. There is no deeper joy, whispers my heart. The man at the counter charges me Rs.50/- per hair clip when I expected him to charge that much for three. I hear the laughter of a child thoroughly enjoying the idiocy. I see me drop the colorful clips on his counter, too ludicrous to negotiate. I buy the same set down a line of shops with a total price of Rs.60/- My faith is restored. There is something for everyone. Nay. There is everything for everyone. Even if it is just a little bit. I buy me a perfume. I had gone to a high profile meeting where someone was wearing a perfume that smelt like it had sandalwood bursting into effusions of a top note. Marks and Spencer gives me a fragrance which has sandalwood and vanilla – the “salt” of fragrances – as the base notes – at a discount price. Olfactory restored. They have a last pair of soft acrylic black gloves hanging at the same price. “Caro mio…“, I call out to this sweet life. I come home and have a delicious aloo-mutter made by mom which is simple and has a mysterious taste to it, which I later find out is due to the saunf and ketchup combination she added to it to compensate for the lack of chillies. The simple, fetching dish reveals to me layers prancing around my tongue. I feel like I am kissing with my tongue and experiencing a life that wants to reveal its mystery to me with the promise of something more after every discovery. A promise of succulence. I book tickets for my parents for a black and white silent film nominated for the Oscars this year. My love for films is restored, silence is back in action, a canvas so pure and intense, pouring down my throat like raw honey, claiming the void with its alacrity. I open my cupboard and find that I have all that I need. I look at my bedside table and it has stacks of books worth all their weight in gold. I find my musical companion again – dad sits down with me and explains to me how to tune the tanpura. He plays the recording of his latest fascination – the jaltarang. He plays an old Hindi film song with pristine tuning. He shares my horror at the discovery of Auto-Tune. We agree with fierce gusto that art deserves to be made for the sake of art, not as just another means to make money. I lose further respect for Bollywood and my menial IT job gains greater credibility.I inwardly vow to make art for art and do the best I can to improve myself as a channel for so many art-forms life has handed me, with the grim conviction of an esteemed treasurer. I touch my electronic tanpura with both my hands and then touch them together to my forehead and ask it for its blessings. Music is restored at home. I find a song by Adele which I really like. Non-pop. I pray secretly she didn’t use Auto Tune, thank God for sending me yet another artist who sends the blood gushing through my arteries, and makes me want to sing. I feel like I am part of a huge wave once more. I am one with the flow. It has taken me with it. And as Frances says, that which takes you away from you restores you to yourself. Merci. I am falling asleep, feeling drenched in a white light. Maybe I am just dreaming in this semi-conscious state at an hour when birth seems near. The force of life pulling me closer to itself. Me being the life and the movement. A single word rests placated on wrought iron gates which are being opened as I lose consciousness – “Agape

Posted February 27, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in articles, music

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The Beaver – trying to be more than a puppet   Leave a comment

“Sunrise” was the word that came to my mind when I saw Porter embrace his dad at the end of the movie. Walter, Mel Gibson’s character, has been shown with rushed transitions – first into the desperate excitement of having found a puppet in himself and secondly into the man who slips into depression again on discovering himself being “puppeteered” by life anyway. It is almost as if Walter wants to breathe, but realizes that he has to stay within the confines of an oxygen mask because life is too gusty for him. All along though there was a sense of something missing in the film. But as I neared the end of it, I realized that a lot of the connections between the characters had been left in the backdrop which had fallen off somewhere. Like a garden snipped so much that all that is left is a neatly trimmed bush of crocuses huddled in an asymmetrically barren patch.

The depth of the moments between Walter and his older son, Walter and his wife, Walter and his VP were sorely missing. In fact I so longed to see the transition that his VP felt when Walter stepped back in with a puppet, but all I was “shown” was a switch of attitude. A bit too jumpy like a puppet. Meredith too was disjoint as a character. She seems like a kite dipping between the helplessness in her husband’s situation, then into the hopelessness of her child’s inability to open up, into the apathetic dedication in designing roller-coasters and lastly, and surprisingly, into a passionate sex life that lacks any emotion. It is almost as if the headlines for these characters were chalked, their characteristics bulleted, and then someone just forgot the time element to breathe life into each of these characters in a slow fluid motion. Hence, there is a sense of being dazed into the movie, rather than experiencing it.
What was cohesive though, was the parallel story of Norah and Porter. Unfortunately however this thread of story was too disconnected with the main one.
Overall, I found the film unnecessarily serious, too flimsy for the strong personalities in it, too fragile for the kind of a heavyweight Jodie is in terms of acting and too much of “subtitled acting” extracted from Mel Gibson.

Posted February 10, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in articles, movies

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“The Artist” struck a chord   2 comments

Very rarely does a film come in that makes you feel in and out of time simultaneously. When I watched the trailors of the films being screened at the Cannes Film Festival 2011 on its website, this was the one I instantly connected with. Jean Dujardin, the actor, reminded me of someone I seemed to have gazed longingly at in an era I was never apparently born in. There is a chemistry whirring in the silent magnetic air when the film opens…a mystical l’air du temps only Jean as George Valentin seems to control while connecting all of us as we participate, gaping in our naked surprise. Berenice, the actress in the films in the film reminds of a bygone era of Audrey Hepburn, when beauty was deeper than skin and came around to reveal true characters & friendships as solid as gold forged in a fickle industry that was artist-dependent, rather than studio-dominated. To add to the elegance of filmmaking, the whole film is done in pristine black and white, and the only discerning factor to remind us that this film IS shot in today’s times, is the chic clarity of the frames which seem accidental because the mind expects the dotted lines washing onto the bottom screen line.

Though the plot is almost typical of the era when films were focused wholly on one character and everyone else being his shadow, like a narrow-gauge train for which the tracks would be aligned, it has a dog that adds to the film’s character with as a pivotal sidekick. Moreover, recognizing stars like James Cromwell keeps the subconscious awake to the fact that this film is shot now. But a deeper layer of sensitivity is kindled due to the entire cast speaking, but the sound never reaching us. I felt the audience has a more sound chance to participate in a silent film than being “told” what was happening – it was almost as if I was making the film as it was playing on its own, keeping me focused on feeling Jean’s face and eyes which he masterfully sculpts his way about and engaging me as I spoke the words in my head as he was mouthing them. Add to this the accurately delayed timing of the frames carrying only those dialogues which brought about anticipation, just like the good ol’ Charlie Chaplin days!

Towards the end I had a feeling of agape – thank god for the silent era; it was a flowering fullness of celebration of our human beingness through a greater dimension of silence. This film is not just a tribute, it is a treasure reawakening the voluptuousness of human artistry that can be conveyed in just a dazzling smile.

The Girl Who Loved Saffron   Leave a comment

Of late I have been researching on Kashmir…stories told to me by my Kashmiri friends have been so inspiring.

Today a dear friend shared this with me –

The Girl Who Loved Saffron.

The elements of truth speak loudly here. I generally don’t indulge in political issues, but this one does touch my heart.

I wonder now… I wish we humans could stand up for justice. On either side there is death. Why are we being complacent?

Posted January 19, 2012 by Deepti G Gujar in articles

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The Man Who Built Me   1 comment

He would wake so early
tune up the violin and play melody
I would be listening to his song
even before I could learn to hum
His music flowed like love in my blood
long before my face was even formed

He would come back halfway
after having left for his workplace
a red red balloon floating behind him
as I watched him eagerly from the balcony
on my giddy feet wobbling in the winter
long before I knew he was my father

He gave me an arpeggio
and taught me to surrender
my hero, he is so gentle
showed me beauty lies in the tender
He is an eternal child
giggling at this silly life
even as I struggle to analyze
He holds this sparkle in his eyes
more infectious than any wine
the man who pieced us back
with a few tears shed in agony
Who made us feel like one family
is the one who could give
everything up for peace
He’s that man who built me

He would watch his movies
crying everytime at the same scenes
He’d cover my books and polish my shoes
Cut my nails and give me algebra clues
He made sure I sang every note perfectly
Long before I saw the artist in me

He gave me a Casio
and taught me to wonder
my hero, he is so humble
Showed me love lies in the simple
He is an eternal child
innocent to its passing by
Even as I struggle to understand
what makes him feel so delighted
My world going madder everyday
the man who found us back
From the few years lost in tragedy
Who made us feel like one family
is the one who could give
his dreams up for his lady
He’s that man who built me

Posted December 9, 2011 by Deepti G Gujar in lyrics, nouvelles poèmes