Saturday, September 30, 2006

A small incident

During the Durgapuja many organisers arrange for bhog, a public lunch sometimes free, sometimes paid. Simple khichdi and a typical mixed curry with some fries and payes. Simple but delicious food. I went to a Puja in Pune as a guest of a friend of mine who is a member of the organising committee. As the lunchtime neared crowd started pouring in. And the big hall room seemed to congested. Somehow, we managed a place in the first batch as we were the guest of a member! We normally don't use spoons for eating this kind of dishes. But habit of civilized society hasbeen so deeply engraved in some people's mind. They have brought their spoons and bottles of mineral water with them. The organisers start distributing food. We were hungry, the food was delicious and steamy. The typical homely and decent atmosphere of Puja. Almost hundred people were sitting in this batch. Gradually the menu comes to an end. The sweet dish payes is being distributed, when I started spotting another row of people are taking their place behind each of ours chairs. They are booking their seat in the next batch. It feels awkward. Somebody is waiting at your back to finish your meal! But in a public lunch place this is usual.
But then the problem starts. Some volunteers say they have already booked the places and whosoever is booking by standing behind a chair is not permitted to sit there. The sits are to be alloted by the volunteers. The environment starts heating up. Nobody is ready to give up. Nobody has time to wait, its a competitive world - nobody can wait and see their peers are getting serviced before them. The quarrel starts. Young volunteers on the power of their youth starts misbehaving the the elders who were standing behind chairs. Organisers try to control the mob. Everyone becomes agitated; and as usual agitated Bengali never speaks in Bengali - exchange of English and Hindi hot words is started. The soothing homely atmosphere is completely vanished now. I manage to finish my meal and come out struggling to the open place.
So impatient we have become ...
"It makes me want to run out and tell them
They've got time.
Take a step back out and warn them
I've found out I've got time... "

Friday, September 29, 2006

missing adda

Today is the Saptami. The starting day of the Grand Festival of Durgapuja; and this is for the third time in a row I am away from home in Durgapuja. I am, well, honestly speaking, homesick.
For Bengalis Durgapuja is not a mere puja - its a yearly celebration of life, a time to get together, a time of endless adda at the pandal premises. Though I am not a very enthusiastic addabaj, I like to be there. But somehow the topic of discussions of the adda we used to have in puja gathering have shifted with time. At the end the schooldays the topics had been more on the edge of vulger legpulling and trying out the taboo things, like public smoking, boozing, teasing, smacking. This was a typical growth pattern of middleclass youth in a small town, where the effects of urbanization has started creeping in with the spread of media. We had no real icon in front of us, but we had heard/seen stories of freedom of west. This was an obvious bend the suppressed youth was supposed to take.
From this time on, I started losing contact with my classmates and addamtes for two reasons; firstly many of us parted for higher studies and secondly the larger domain of IIT culture opened a new horizon for me. The major thrust came from internet, which was easlily accessible at IIT. I have never been an active addabaj during Durgapujas after that. Then came career, the distance between us got wider and wider.
But now, today, after a three year distance from Puja adda, I feel nostalgic. I know the turbulence of our old adda has settled now, everybody has matured. The charm of old adda has might not been lost, but has taken a different point of view.
I, seating alone in fornt of my computer in the Saptami night, am longing for the usual addas in pandals...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Homesick in Pune

Early rising is always a pleasant feeling. Unfortunately, for me early rising is almost synonymous with night-out. Unless you don't sleep at night, you can't rise early in the morning!
But yesterday I had a terrible headache after returning from office and took to bed to rest for couple of hours at around six-o'clock. Afreshed, when I woke up, it was half past four in the morning! Night was still prevalent.
I made a cup of tea and came to my balcony. Only street lights are awake, along with a lonely light in a solitary room in the house just around the street. SOmeone might be a real early riser. But four-thirty, I presume, is too early for a regular early riser especially at a place like Pune where time runs almost half an hour behind the IST. It must be something else. May be the person has to catch a bus/train in the morning, so he is packing off. Or may be he/she has forgot to put the lights off!
The cool breeze and soothing night. It was feeling awsome. The first glow of light started to come in almost an hour later. And it revealed a spectacular dawn. Tow palash trees overloaded with bright red flowers greeted my vision from the two sides of the balcony. I didn't notice so much flowers have coem to them. Palash is a typical spring flower in Bengal, but here the life cycle is slightly offset. In Bengal Palash signifies the Saraswati Puja - festival of youth, one may say. These palash flowers brought back the memories of Saraswati Puja, which reminded me that Durga puja is just three days away and I am still stuck here in Pune. For last three years I have not been home in Durga Puja.
I miss those kashful, shiuli and dhaak. None of them I've found here. Though there are few places here in Pune where Bengalis celebrate Durga puja, I've never felt any attractions to them. They are more business-like than cordial!
The sky is now alighted. This reveals the cirrus clouds scattered over the sky. A typical autumn morning. I feel homesick.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

dhNeki shaak

The Puja special issues of Bengali magazines have appeared at the market. The quality has deteriorated substantially now-a-days. The obvious reason is that a writer produces ten to twelve, if not more, articles for a bunch of magazines within a couple of months. With this kind of attitude towards literature, I don't know where the Bengali Puja literature is heading!
I read a short story of Tarapado Roy in one such Puja issues. It was just like his usual style, a nostalgic story based on real charecters and incidents with an undercurrent of bleeding memories of our divided past - Deshbhaag, or the division of the country.
Author's uncle-of-village-relation, Abinash kaka is a permament resident of US for a couple of decades now with his daughter. Earlier he used to write long letters to the author, now with the advent of technology he sends occasional emails. Each of his mails bears a request to bring something exotic dug up from memories; like an old plate Abinash kaka got as a gift in his childhood, or a certain fruit that is only available in murshlands of Bengal. Tarapado Roy whenever possible carries those things overseas when he goes to visit his son settled in a town near to Abinash kaka's place.
This time Abinash kaka has requested to bring some DhNeki shaak. The author carries a bunch of it with him but the vegetable perishes on its way to Abinash kaka. But later during the trip when he meets Abinash kaka, he is surprised to have the same vegetable on his meal. Abinash kaka's daughter has found the dhNeki shaak in the market somewhere in US. This is a very insignificant issue. But considering the emotional connection of dhNeki shaak with someone who has left his motherland long ago and again the availablity of that exotic vegetabe in globalized-market produces a contrasting optimism with the underlying nostalgia.
Life is made up of small and insignificant things. Only the one who has an eye and appreciation for those insignificant things can enjoy the life to its fullest.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The oldest profession

I am coming to Bangalore almost once in a month for last one and half year. I've seen it changing; traffic getting heavier, overbridges and subways being born, crowd getting denser, city nights becoming hotter... so many changes, impercievable to a city dweller's eye.
This time I noticed another change. A dramatic rising in the number of girls standing alone in the crowded roads in the Majestic (Kempe Gowda Circle) area at around 9-o'clock in the night. Their attitude suggests clearly what profession they are in. Even sometime you'll find a man bergaining with one of them. Its very natural in a place like Majestic, which is a main entry point of the city and is the place of thousands of mid and low range hotels which are almost always full by daily visitors who come for business or official purpose. This is the oldest entertainment for the society and for these people who flock in for a day or two, it is a real cheap and pleasuring entertainment.
But the number of streetgirls have increased quite a lot in last couple of months, or their behaviorial pattern, their marketing pattern have become more aggressive. Whichever may be the case, this is certainly in indication of rise of influx of middleclass men from small organisations for business/official purpose for short visit. This is in other way is an indication of the booming of small industries and retaqil shops in Bangalore; because these are the places where these outsiders come for.

There is a lot more inferences one can draw from the observations of the traffic in a place like Majestic. I might jot down some days.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Familiar Face Across the Street

One of the most sweetest moment in a unknwon city is a familiar face across the street.
Well, Bangalore, in no sense , is an unknown city to me. But still the it is not my city. And when I meet an old friend in a sunday morning market, it feels wonderful. Exactly this is what happened today. Two times!
Almost after two years I met them and when I first saw Tarakda in the morning, I just shouted 'arrre tumi!?...' and then we started all ol'timely talks.
The second one was Bhaskar, I saw him coming a little far away and he too. When we approached near, it was no surprise, as if we knew we will meet here; and started talking just like old days.

I came into this lovely city about three weeks ago today,
and I've been trying to find someone that I can talk to, a friendly face to turn my way.
I walk these streets in silent sorrow, I walk my feet into the ground,
and all I see are cloudy, cold, suspicious faces, I swear to God it brings me down.
Is there no one with a smile for me, no one with a hello in their eyes?
Is there no one who will love me and help me through the dark and lonely night?

The park's so green and full of flowers and lovers lying on the lawn.
I wish I had a lady here that I could laugh with, sweet Jesus Christ, it hurts me so to be alone.
Is there no one with a smile for me, no one with a hello in their eyes?
Is there no one who will love me and help me through the dark and lonely night?
Singing la la la la la la, Singing la la la la la la.

This life is hard and full of trouble, it's painful just to live from day to day.
But if you're weary and afraid don't turn away now,
there's no reason why we have to feel this way.
Is there no one with a smile for me, no one with a hello in their eyes?
Is there no one who will love me and help me through the dark and lonely night?

Singing la la la la la la, Singing la la la la la la.

I just need someone to talk to. It hurts to be alone.
I just need someone to laugh with. It hurts to be alone.
I just want someone to love me. I need someone to talk to. And it hurts to be alone.

Singing la la la la la la, Singing la la la la la la.
Singing la la la la la la, Singing la la la la la la

(John Denver)

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Today morning I reached Bangalore on official duty. This is my frequent destination now. This time I am going to stay here at least for a week. And as usual the moment I get out of Pune and come to roaming zone, I remember so many phone calls to do... to friends, to relatives,etc. Is it being out from usual place reminds me these?
Is it the fact that I am too occupied in day-to-day affairs back in Pune to remember old friends?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tuesdays are forever

Is there a reason behind Tuesdays becoming popular with intellectuals?
Say, why did of all the days Mitch Albom chose to visit Prof Morrie Schwartz on Tuesdays ('Tuesdays with Morrie') only? Why just the Moody Blues think so much of a Tuesday ('Tuesday Afternoon')? The answer, my friend, is not blowin' in the wind!
May be after the weekend vacation we take the whole Monday to acclamatize again with the week's work and don't get any time for introspection kind of things. On Tuesday we again gather our pace of work, so at the end of the we have some time for ourselves and start musing on various issues get nostalgic for holidays, dream various things to do on spare time, blah, blah... On Wednesday onwards we get so habtuated with the work that no thought other than work comes to mind. Then again Weekend comes, we get lazy and forget the things we thought to do in weekend. After spending the weekend out of laziness and few pending housework on Monday again we try hard to cope up with work schedule. So on Tuesday again we start thinking what we should have done this weekend and what we should do in the next, start dreaming, start musing...
"Tuesday afternoon.
I'm just beginning to see,
Now I'm on my way.
It doesn't matter to me,
Chasing the clouds away.
And if the Tuesday is a holiday? A Holiday just in the middle of the week is always the most pleasant one; and today, Tuesday is a declared holiday in my office...
All the sounds of the earth are like music,
All the sounds of the earth are like music,
The breeze is so busy it don't miss a tree,
And a ol' weepin' willer is laughin' at me!

Oh, what a beautiful mornin',
Oh, what a beautiful day,
I got a beautiful feelin'
Ev'rything's goin' my way.
Oh, what a beautiful day."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Villain Battery

Holidays are lazy days! The day to sleep up to at least 10-o'clock in the morning. Today also I had a look at the bedroom watch before leaving the bed, it was quarter past eleven at the watch. Sleepily I did all the morning washings and grabbed a cup of tea and came to veranda. But the Sun is not at all bright like it should be at eleven, and it seems it just left the horizon. I came back to bedroom, had a close look at the watch and ... it was too late, as I am already awake. All my morning sleep has been spoilt by a stopped watch...

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Sitting in the veranda under the morning sun of Saturday I was reading a newspaper where I read an article on how human beings are becoming more and more self-centered. The article reminded me of recent movie, which I went to watch in Feb this year after almost four months' stravation of a good movie. And I am glad that I had chosen this one - CRASH by Paul Haggis. It has the weaved a storyline out of some seemingly unconnected persons and incidents. And that again reminded me of another movie seen almost one and half year back - LOVE ACTUALLY, which also had a similar style but on a different background and on a different motif. I might talk about that on some other day.
In very few words CRASH is a movie about racism and us. There are blacks, whites, Iranians, Chinese, Mexicans, Asians ... all of them making their way of life in LA. All of them are human. None of them are bad or good, just human. When one crashes with another, they find what they are, they learn what they are. The point is very simple; its a simplified view of Rashomon effect. We, the audience sympathesize with a victim of racism making the other a villain. But the next moment when perspective changes, the villain is no more a villain for his badness, its the situation that makes him so. Since everyone of us have a different perspective, our sense of good and bad are different, and we are either a victim or a villain. After all, believe it or not, we are racist not by choice.
I don't remember the exact detials of the story. Only thing is that this movie is full of situations that will crash on to each other unexpetedly. But the credit of the screenplay is that it never seems to be manipulative.
I remember the opening dialogue, 'Other places we get brushed past fellow men on the streets. But in LA nobody touches you ... you forget how it feels to touch a human. So you desperately crash on other to have that feeling of intense touch...' (or something like that!)
There is one more similarity between LOVE ACTUALLY and CRASH, despite showing our limitations, our narrowness, both of them have a positive attitude. It doesn't mean that it shows a positive optimistic ending, but it has a warmth of human touch lying beneath its neatly weaved matrix.
And I liked that.