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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Foot Pain, An English “Infection”

Foot PainPicture yourself in eighteenth century England. I would rather be in Liverpool, walking on cobbled streets late in the evening, drunk like a skunk, heaving out of a tavern called ‘The Turtle’s Tale’, slightly distracted by the cat calls and hoarse laughter of the hookers clamouring in the shadows, high heeled, their pelvis swaying and then suddenly the clippity-clop clippity-clop, is it that beautiful hooker stalking me or is it a carriage horse from a nearby lane? I remain blurred.

The ballrooms of Victorian England are full to the brim, the velvet, silk, artificial mannerisms and obviously the awful clippity-clop of the heels striking a rhythm louder than the piano music cannot keep pace with the swish of the clothes or hushed conversations in the corners.

The rooms of Mr. James Steiner, Osteopath and Podiatrist to her Royal Highness on the second floor of St. Georges Street, West End London are full of woman of all class, the rich and the famous, high class hookers and con women with their surnames ending in St. Claire, all having a common ailment, the burning feet syndrome or more specifically heel pain.

They have been treated albeit unsuccessfully by the streetside quacks with magical balms, dipping the foot in warm horse’s urine sometimes hitting the plantar aspect with wooden hammers and sometimes tickling the nerves with a peacock feather, but to no avail.

The osteopaths used massage, sometimes corkscrewing the foot in directions as the muse dictated and sometimes dipping them in hot and cold water simultaneously keeping the banter of irrelevant conversations at the same time.

The Harley Street physicians looked at them with disdain, ‘It’s the foot that is meant to cause pain and the mind that must tolerate this pain’ they said

Russian criminals posing as magic charlatans, having escaped from Tsarist Russia found refuge in London. They advertised their exotic titles, wares and equally exotic powers. Many beautiful well heeled women with heel pain fell to their charms. Their long beards and moustaches took the attention of these women from their foot sometimes even permanently.

Robert Wentworth an anatomist and a barber surgeon went to the extent of exhuming a dead body and dissecting the foot. He found nothing significant but went on to explain in his treatise the fascia, nerves and the calcaneal bone which individually or in combination may cause such a pain.

Eighteenth Century India, still under the various Maharajas, it’s beautiful women always indoors showed diseases common to a tropical climate but rarely a heel pain or a painful foot that refuses to be cured.

Beautiful nautch girls danced in havelis and even on the bare back of Maharajas while holding on to a tree trunk. The right amount of pressure with their heels on their spine would relieve off the back ache. Unani Medicine flourished and people were healed off their aches and pains.

Modern Orthopaedics talks about a bony projection called calcaneal spur which might irritate a nerve or create a bursa that would cause pain. It is also referred as Plantar Fascitis or inflammation of the fascia underneath the foot.

I have operated on these spurs but unfortunately pain was never relieved. In fact the patient was left with an ugly scar and a chronic pain from the healing tissues.

The various treatments that may be followed are -

Decreasing activity
Stretching in bed the calf muscles
Taping in standing position
Application of Ice
Injection with Hydrocortisone
Losing weight
Arch Support
Extracoporeal shock wave therapy
A Below Knee Plaster cast for six weeks
Non Stroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

So what might be the cause of foot pain, is it footwear that was prevalent in Western countries, can there be a genetic component or is it a symptom of a wider systemic disease like the rheumatoid disease? I won’t be able to tell. My friend Glory Sasikala, a well known poet from Chennai suffers from this ailment. The physicians suspected that she might be having a thyroid or a diabetic disorder trying to connect the foot pain to a metabolic disease. Her blood sugar and thyroxin levels are found to be normal.

Meanwhile I think of the clippity-clop, the beautiful high heeled damsels wishing if only I could have been there during that period.

This first appeared at

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The Ganga Muffins

The Best of Cape Town street music brought to you by Amitabh Mitra (see a snap of myself and the musicians at 2:12):

YouTube Preview Image

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Join the Inyathi Facebook Group


Inyathi is a print arts journal focussing on Southern African Arts. Artists from other countries are welcome to submit their articles as guests. The journal is published by Poets Printery, South Africa.

I’ve created a Facebook group for Inyathi, and take pleasure in inviting you to join it:

The next issue of Inyathi is under production. Visual Artists are requested to submit their articles at the earliest or discuss telephonically with the editor. Contact details may be found on the Facebook group’s home page.

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Calcutta days


those were calcutta days
red was the color of your big bindi
red was a sudden afterthought on your cheeks i had kissed
red was my unkempt beard, your crumpled saree, me holding you
red was evening of disputes, shadows unsure of tomorrow
red were dreams we sought every crypt every night
red were slogans, banners, processions, chipped tea cups
red trams, minibuses, eyes in pursuit of a closed rain
red we walked a countryside of promise and breath
red was a night, gunshots riddled a setting sun.

Poem and Drawing by Amitabh Mitra

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Naxalite Poet Lal Singh Dil: A Drawing and a Poem


when the labourer woman
roasts her heart on the tawa
the moon laughs from behind the tree
the father amuses the younger one
making music with bowl and plate
the older one tinkles the bells
tied to his waist
and he dances
these songs do not die
nor either the danceā€¦

Lal Singh Dil

Drawing Pastel and Ink on Hand Made Paper by Amitabh Mitra

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Gaddar, a Legend


Hundred Flowers was a literary organisation aligned to a Maoist group which sprang up in Delhi in the seventies. The socio-political changes along with literary and cultural aspirations of that time brought me close to a feeling that was even closest to my heart and mind. Protest poetry, Protest ballads and Protest street theatres was the order of the day.

I look back and wonder, yet each poem recited, each theatre performed, each irregular underground paper we brought out and distributed did make some dent in the routine flow of ideas of the common man. Was it really worth it?

Somewhere we lost the rage and urge in an urban jungle and melted into an everyday mediocrity. Gaddar instead carried on with the movement that we all once dreamed of.

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Loving you


just as we stood together
on a ledge of a rivernoon
i heard voices unforgiving
daring to revoke
daring to ripple
another moment
on a seasonless day
we knew
yet we stood
we knew of
sand memories
shifting the sky
we knew of grief
long shadows
even at night
we knew tomorrow
would never be another tomorrow
the sun sliced in half
had ebbed for long
yet we stood
your saree between your teeth
covering your face
and the river
flowing back
of a sworn silence.

Pastel drawing on a raised paper by Amitabh Mitra

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A Slow Train to Gwalior


After the grand launch of Shaleen Kumar Singh’s book of unusual poetry, ‘Proprietary Pains’, I am happy to present my latest venture, a coffee table hard cover poetry book of love, memories and images.
Attached is the cover


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Why ?


why did the night renegade at your whisper

it had grown wild since in a

a dusk of shuffling memories

at hauz khas , behind the old mosque

you suddenly grasped a sunshine sparrow

and the muezzins azan while

looking at me

why did the day renegade then ?

Watercolor on handmade paper by Amitabh Mitra

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An Evening


an evening of our sharing had
captured shadows uneven
of a commencing dark
the railway lines had been running long
crossing a beleaguered sky
you have been waiting for a surge
i have been waiting too
the mist came resplendent
in sudden fury
we were lost
voices left to be
in another

Watercolor and Poem by Amitabh Mitra

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