Geeta Chhabra

Awakening Dreams Through Melodious Words : Geeta Chhabra

Table of Contents

Author & Poet

Winner of several prestigious poetry awards, Geeta Chhabra seems like a perennial river, emanating a combination of verve and serenity in her demeanour and works.

In the balance and poise of her ideas, her voice is a firm follower of peaceful coexistence … whereby, she is essentially a person … a woman of logical action; her books do give the indication of this philosophy.

She is a poet, author, and blogger born in Amritsar, Punjab, India. Featured in Gray Matter’s SUPER 100 Indian Women Achievers in the Middle East & Africa.

Geeta is a leader of a different ilk. advocating the need for a balanced life, speaking on the importance of inter-cultural dialogues – all through her powerful poetry and prose.

Somewhere around 1995, Geeta was roused to write a poem while she witnessed the glorious Arabian sunset one evening in Dubai.

The rhyming thought came up rapidly and, as the words surfaced in her mind, with childlike eagerness she dug into her clutch bag for the tiny notebook and pencil to jot down those racing visual moments.

The inspiration of writing that began then is now a 20+ year journey of a poet, author, blogger and cultural icon.

To date, Geeta has published three books, and she is anticipating two more to be published in the coming year. Her first book.

An Indian Ode To The Emirates, a bilingual (English & Arabic) pictorial coffee table book, has been included for a PhD thesis by Tasnima Yasmin, who is an Indian poet and book critic.

An Indian Ode To The Emirates has been translated into Arabic by the eminent Emirati poet, Dr Shihab Ghanem.

Geeta’s translated poems are published in reputed Arabic newspapers and journals such as Al Thaqafiah, Al lttihad, Al Bayan, Al Khaleej Cultural Supplement, Al Ra fed magazine, and in Likai Tarsom SawratTayer-a book by Dr Shihab Ghanem.

Moreover, her poems have also been published in Soul Asylum Poetry and Publishing Inc, Brown Critic and in international anthologies.

Newly, her verse has been included in an international anthology of Women Poets of South Africa and India on the subject of Feminism and its Impact on Contemporary Politics.

Her poetic work has won her appreciation, including awards from the Japanese Soka Gakkai International in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Geeta counts herself as fortunate to have had Nissim Ezekiel -one of the greatest modern (English) poets of the Indian subcontinent-as her mentor. According to her, he opened newer doors for her passion for poetry writing.

He was keenly attentive to see her strengths, and pointed out ways for improvement. Behind all his mentorship, she found him frank and kind. He taught her how to look at the general picture frame of verse. Around the period of1999 and onwards, she was able to get time from the bard at the P.E.N. 

All India Centre, Bombay (now Mumbai), at The Theosophy Hall, New Marine Lines, visiting Ezekiel al most every day. These years proved to be of vital importance for her to show her work of years to a poet, editor, playwright, critic, professor-who had importantly established an influence on Indian literature in English.

She could not believe her luck! Now, she was composing more and more poems. Even when Alzheimer’s was identified and Ezekiel was shifted from his home to Shushrude Hospital, she reminisces with nostalgia that on some days he was so cheerful and alert that he would point out the minutest of mistakes in her work.

By the time he was moved to a mini nursing home in Bandra, his condition had deteriorated, and she realised that he was hardly recognisable.

And nor could he recognise her. It was very, very sad. As far as creative writing was concerned, with Ezekiel’s decline in health and his demise in 2004, eventually, a period of wilderness fell like a shadow on Geeta for the next couple of years.

There were also family duties and responsibilities to be discharged by her as a wife and mother. Poetry came to a halt while she travelled back and forth from India to other destinations.

During these developments, another important development was that Dubai became a second home for her.

At this j uncture, she met Dr Shihab Ghanem, and in no time both of them were working in collaboration to give shape to Geeta’s first book: An Indian Ode To The Emirates.

Since 2010 Geeta has been an avid blogger and in 2012, she received the Poets Printery International Best Poetry Website Award for Creativity and New Age Poetry for her website More things followed to inspire Geeta’s creative abilities.

Professor John Thieme (Senior Fellow at the University of East Anglia-UK) has played a major role in guiding her and creating his own valuable impact on the work she has been compiling.

Their association goes back to the year 2011, when Professor John Thieme provided the Introduction for Geeta’s two books and a Foreword for her third book.

When Geeta moved to Dubai, she observed relationships between her country and the UAE flourished more than ever; and people to people contact had increased. Naturally, her fondness for her adopted home grew.

Subsequently, poems in praise of the UAE were born making the visual and the verbal very clearly etched by her inner eye.

The whole experience of “seeing-feeling-experiencing” transported her to realms of various elements. Yes, she was convinced once more that poetry or literature can play a crucial role (directly and indirectly) in not only serving as the soft power of cultural exchange between the two countries w ho are symbiotically related – poetry and literature can also sow the seeds of peace and harmony throughout our Universe.

In March 2013, Geeta was an active participant at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature held in Dubai. She was chosen as a panelist for discussing the UAE-inspired theme of her book: An Indian Ode To The Emirates. Being a trained teacher, she also conducted poetry workshops during the LitFest.

On July 31, 2013, at the invitation of Mirza A l Sayegh – director of the office of Late Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, former Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, Geeta shared her life’s experiences with the female students of Shaikh Zayed University-Dubai.

In 2013, 2014 and 2015, Geeta was rewarded – both as an Indian as well as a poet – and invited to Zabeel Palace, Dubai to present her work to Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

In June 2018, at the 8th Asiad Literature Festival 2018, held in Dubai, Geeta received the Literary Excellence Honor for Prose & Poetry from the Bharat Nirman Foundation-India.

A Chronicle of Generations

Hailing from the Khanna clan through her father’s side; and from the Mehra clan through her mother’s side, Geeta feels blessed to be part of a large extended family spread across the globe.

Her soon-to-be published book captures the reminiscences of her family heritage through her own memoirs; the chapters contain interesting stories about Amritsar – the city of Geeta’s birth and childhood, and in some ways, the content is a stimulating account for people of all age groups.

From her childhood, her mother, Chand Ran i, played a pivotal role in grooming her culturally and spiritually.

As a kid, Geeta heard stories of ancient Indian sages, warriors and benevolent kings who through their wisdom and valour have left their noble examples for mankind.

Her father, Amin Chand Khanna, was an award winning mathematician and had completed MA LLB with flying colours. He was fond of Urdu and Persian poetry, and translated with delight and versatility verses of Zauq, Ghalib and other poets into English.

Her maternal grandfather, Rai Bahadur Lala Gujjar Mal Mehra, was knighted in 1941 in recognition of the philanthropic work performed by him in Amritsar, the place of his birth.

For the inauguration of the TB hospital, the Vicereine of India, Lady Linlithgow travelled by train from Delhi to Lahore, and the next day the Punjab Governor, Sir Herry Duffield Craik, escort ed her to Amritsar by car to perform the opening ceremony of the Rai Bahadur Gujjar Mal Kesra Devi Tuberculosis Sanitorium.

Geeta cherishes the memories of many of her elders, including those of her paternal grandfather, Lala Bishen Das Khanna (1879-1968)-a man of astute principles.

Feeling nostalgic, Geeta states with pride, “They were reservoirs of deep insight and there was so much to learn from them!”

On Her Artistic Process

Much as Geeta is drawn to rhyme and verse, she has made prose distinctive in her non-fictional and fictional creative works.

She says that while poetry resides in her heart, prose lives in her mind – both expressional forms are very dear to her.

The proof of it shows in her forthcoming book where she skillfully carves out each chapter as it s own story in the style of prose form.

Publications and Endorsements

An Indian Ode To The Emirates (2011)

Published by Motivate Publishing. Geeta Chhabra’s book contains 40 poems commemorating 40 years of UAE’s Union, and it is a tribute paid by her to her second home, which she hugely cherishes as a long-term resident.

Geeta’s poems reflect the diversity of her experiences; the communion between the poet in her. and the scenes / situations build up an admirable canvas for the readers.

Her verse is an inspirational record to the power that rests in intercultural dialogues. The dual language edition of this pictorial coffee table book – with the original English versions translated into Arabic by eminent poet and translator Dr Shihab Ghanem, is outstanding.

No Journey Ends (2012)

Published by Motivate Publishing. the book is a collection of 61 poems accompanied by prose pieces and pictorial images. Geeta’s collection of poems and prose pieces is spectacularly diverse: her mood emerges from a morass of confusion and reaches the plane of spiritual essence, and more.

Smash My Glass (2015)

Published by Smash My Glass deals with sagas of human emotions, as seen by Geeta who is prepared to go into the deepest crevices of her bleeding heart. She addresses issues of war and peace: she focuses on ills of conflict and injustice.

On the Sacredness of Writing

As Geeta considers the process of writing to be linked with her continuing evolution, the pen is most sacred to her; and her pen is not shy of speaking up against injustices while refraining from radicalism.

She is a believer in balancing the overall complexities of situations and circumstances through the value of dialogue and diplomacy – these elements prominently reflect in the nature of her poignant books; peace and harmony are music notes in silence and sound – expanding Geeta’s inner thoughts.

She explains: “Our universe needs healing, and healing cannot come out of turmoil. We need to understand the importance of unity and understanding each other’s point of view through the continuity of healthy dialogues and positive actions. There is One God … One and Only God with Many Names.’