Wine and poetry often mix but now a teetotaller bard paints verses on the inside of empty liquor bottles to get his high.
In 2012, the India Book of Records acknowledged the creative achievement of Sukhwinder Singh Lottey of Dhuri; and on February 27 this year, during Record Breakers’ Festival at Indira Gandhi Kala Kendra, Noida, it took Lottey less than 5 minutes to claim another record: for fastest poem written inside bottle.
When ideas ferment inside him, Lottey goes wine-bottle shopping at scrap dealers’. In his verses though, he condemns drinking. “Main sharaab haan, main bari kharaab haan; mainu naa pee, sukhi jeevan jee (I am liquor, I am very bad; do not drink me and live happy),” is one of the poems he wrote on an empty glass bottle first. Since then, he has written 45 poems in various languages inside liquor bottles with the help of special brushes and colours.
He has written up to four poems inside some bottles, in Punjabi, Hindi and English. Besides, he has written in Urdu, Russian, Italian, Dutch, Hungarian, Indonesian, Malay, and an African language. Lottey, 48, is yet to finish college.
The poet makes his living as automobile electrician in Dhuri. “When I started writing poetry inside bottles about 10 months ago, I knew only three languages: Punjabi, Hindi and English,” he said. “I would translate all my poems into English and feed them into translator windows on websites, and then copy the text on to the inside of bottle glass.”
Lottey has designed special brushes for the tedious and delicate art of writing inside bottles. “You have to write in reverse so that the letters can be read from outside the glass. I also use special paints.” he said.
On the award won in December 2012, he said he had applied to the Guinness Book of World Records as well. His poems written inside bottles were on display during Punjabi Kavita Mela on Friday at Punjabi Bhawan here, where hundreds of bards had gathered from Punjab and Delhi. Each of his poems has a social message. It takes him an hour usually to make one of his unique creations.
The Punjabi Sahit Akademi, organiser of the fair, honoured the poet on Friday. The exhibition will continue on Saturday.