It is hard to decide whether Dr. Bharat Thakkar is an engineer with a poet’s soul or a poet with an engineer’s sense of structure. Perhaps it is best to accept that he travels between the two as he pleases.
For someone whose vocation has been complex engineering and quality control, it might seem a bit odd that Dr. Thakkar’s evocations have been poetic. However, having known him for the better part of the last two decades, I am not surprised that what excites him is poetry, literature, drama and generally anything that involves telling a good story.
His latest collection of poems ‘Magodi Mystic’ is Bharatbhai’s quintessential response to a literary churning that never seems to slow down.
“My river is in a big hurry, chanting the name of the ocean, the ultimate destination,” he says of the river as much of his imagination as it is real. But Bharatbhai himself has never betrayed that sense of hurry. He takes his own time, very deliberate time, to say what he wants without being inhibited by anything extraneous.
Bharatbhai’s collection has now been published as a 190-page book with a lovely jacket bearing a painting by his lifelong friend Sam Pitroda.
“Poetry, unlike engineering, is not deliberate. One has to let it grow, let it go where it wants to. That is not a luxury I can afford as an engineer who particularly specializes in quality control,” Dr. Thakkar says.
Bharatbhai gives the sense that everything he has done over the decades in one or another stemmed from his passion for poetry and literature. “I have a weakness for story-telling in any form. Life gives you a wide choice of stories and I pick a few,’ he says.
He says thinking in poetic rhythm and meter comes naturally to him. “Oftentimes, I have to keep my instinct to be poetic in check, particularly when I am teaching complex engineering concepts in my various classes,” he says.
Bharatbhai and I are collaborating on a feature film based on his real life experiences. Tentatively titled ‘Unfinished Love’ it is about a young Indian American woman in search of her natural parents. I am executive producing it and tightening up dialogue.
The starting point of ‘Magodi Mystic’ is, of course, Bharatbhai’s childhood native of Magodi, an obscure village in Gujarat in the 1940s. The latest collection keeps his native as a reference point to anchor his emotions without making it a predominant presence.
In keeping with my late practice of not reviewing creative works, I have avoided reviewing ‘Magodi Mystic’. All that I would say is it encapsulates Bharatbhai’s universe with charming simplicity.
Dr. Thakkar has tapped into the vast collection of his friend Sam Pitroda’s doodles to illustrate the book.
One of thousands of doodles by Sam Pitroda