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Moonlight and poses

Once a businessman, Ronnie Patel is now concentrating all his energies on gentle pursuits such as writing love poetry

WE ARE not exactly surrounded by imagery we associate with love — blossoms, blue sky, breeze, and barsaat. Love today has to negotiate and survive all things quite contrary. For one thing, the mad shifts in the call centre where you work hardly gives you time for a decent sleep, let alone love. And when you manage an escape from the steel-and-glass workplace for a romantic stroll in Cubbon Park, you find that the once-upon-a-time lovers' paradise has been taken over by pot-bellied joggers!

Not that such "realities" have cured us of all our dewy-eyed notions of romance. Why else would we continue to moon over old Hindi film songs and ghazals? But what the heck, for what's life and love without a touch of fantasy and filminess? But serving old world romance fresh for today's readers is no joke. They have read all about it already in every conceivable permutation and combination — thanks to good old Kalidasa in the classroom and his local version with the jola in the college canteen.

Ronnie Patel, the author of a collection of poems called Lovelight, bravely tried his luck on a small Bangalore audience recently. It was a rainy evening. And two things can happen when you talk of love on such an evening: it can either be absolutely romantic or a total damp squib. But many risks are at bay when you are safely ensconced in Oxford Bookstore in Leela Galleria, where the sound of pouring rain (for that matter even of the artificial waterfall in their own corridors) doesn't seep through.

Patel, who was happy to see many youngsters (many from the media, though), read poems after poems in a torrent. He prefixed a couple of them with "This is a powerful one". Here's a sample from one such poem ("Total Love"): ... To sense every nuance of love's/ Wonderful totality is bliss,/ And I have supped of this,/ My friend, I have supped of bliss;/ Yet, you foolishly bray/ That I should for my deliverance pray,/ Deliverance from what?/ That I should renounce paradise/ And suckle on the hard dry teats/ Of society, whence trickles not a drop/ Of warmth save in appearance/ And hypocrisy...

A bonus with all this "power" were a couple of romantic stories about how he met his "current wife" on a lovely island 13 years ago — an island that taught him not only love of womankind, but of nature too. A couple of poems that he read out were written while she was in the process of "making up her mind". For good measure, he urged all youngsters to go ahead and fall in love and live the ecstasy.

Munira Sen, who heads an NGO in the city, took up from where he left off and read more — poems that "touched her like a gentle wave" — in an ever-so-gentle voice, with an unfading gentle voice. The all-pervasive rhyme scheme (... When love comes so strong,/ There is no right or wrong... The agonies of days long/ Turn to sweetest song... ) added to the sing-songness of it all. At the end of the reading, everyone was too lulled to even ask questions.

Ronnie Patel, we learn, worked as a company executive and a businessman for several years. A decade ago, he decided to turn his back to corporate ladder climbing and concentrate all his powers on tender pursuits such as writing love lyrics, playing golf, and painting. And he seems to have swung to the other extreme with a massive vengeance.


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