October 31, 2007


It’s been almost a week since I have been in Mumbai and like a movie in a fast forward motion, my life has changed dramatically. Mumbai has been this city which at one point of time meant just Marine Drive to me. It was always a pleasure to walk down the road, alone or with someone, with the sea murmuring beside you. Mumbai was the city with the most cooperative cab drivers. It was also the city of the greatest paradoxes where the rich and the poor play hide and seek on the same turf. But more than anything else Mumbai was Amitabh Bachhan in Deewar. The angry young man standing beside a window and remembering a lady walking down the streets with her two sons – Mumbai was always the city of dreams for me where the gutsiest of Indians "aaj bhi pheka hua paisa nahin uthate hain.

The last weekend saw me watching two movies and a play spending almost 25 times the amount I spent for a movie in Muzaffarpur (on each of them). From non descript hotel rooms I am in my own studio apartment trying to cook Noodle Italiano; (a recipe created by Amit’s and my miserable attempts at cooking), from mindlessly swapping channels in the evening to catching a really good play at Juhu with great company, from having Samosas for breakfast, lunch and dinner to having a proper breakfast with my eggs made ‘sunny side up’; life has turned different. However, the greatest kick till now has been visiting Sid’s place at Bandstand. He lives beside Mannat, a bungalow that incidentally has a certain Shahrukh Khan as its inhabitant. So my evening was spent in a beautiful room, where the winds swept you off your feet, seeing the dusk descend upon the sea while kids with their eyes full of dreams stood in front of Mannat with the desire of seeing their man of dreams in flesh and blood.

My love story with Mumbai will not be a short lived one. But I do wish it was still Bombay.

October 25, 2007

The Saddest Girl Ever Holding a Martini

She stood alone at a corner of the Alumni meet, the martini in her hand. Even after all these years, his eyes knew where to find her. She stood at a corner, against a tree, never looking up; the saddest girl ever holding a martini. Perhaps she was waiting for someone. He looked at the glass of juice he had held in his hand since he had come in. In the small swirls of his drink he could see the years as if everything happened yesterday. He never knew what had happened between them and he guessed neither did she. He knew she had attained what she thought she wanted; he also knew she had not achieved that one thing that could have made her truly happy. She had told him about it long back and he knew when exactly she had decided to destroy it. But then, they had pushed away each other.

He made up his mind. Slowly he walked behind the tree and humming to himself called up his imaginary wife. He hoped that the voice was loud enough. After a few minutes he looked around the trunk and saw no one.

He walked out and smiled to himself. Hate, disgust, anger; they were all better than sorrow. He could never let her be the saddest girl ever holding a martini. She hated him now. Perhaps she’ll be able to forget after all these years.

She looked at him from a distance. “Fool”, she thought. "Even after all these years he thought he should protect her." But somewhere deep down a young girl long dead within her wanted to receive that call.
She looked down at her martini. The liquid reflected back the saddest girl ever holding a martini.
PS: Title Courtesy, Vanilla Sky.

The Quintessential Bengali and the Durga Puja

Someone told me that we Bengalis have the habit of making life seem more dramatic than it actually is. I believe that it depends on how you look at it. While at home during Durga Puja, I wondered how this festival had turned out to be for us Bengalis. This is a festival where no one bothers about how mythology combines with local traditions. The Goddess is seen as the daughter of every Bengali family; she herself has a family of her own.
This is where your perception about Bengalis comes into play. You could either consider it a huge family melodrama competing with the K-serials for the prime time spots or you could consider it the ultimate simplification of the complexities of religion to a form for the masses. Take your pick.

For me even the incessant noises of Calcutta during the Pujas hold a special meaning. You had introduced me to Neil Diamond. And here’s something from him,

What a beautiful noise
Coming out from the street
Got a beautiful sound
It’s got a beautiful beat
It’s a beautiful noise

October 24, 2007

The Hiatus

Things have been strange for the last month or so and the blog was at rest. But the writing wasn’t. And then like an unseen catastrophe, the laptop’s hard drive decided to take a break too and with it was gone all that I had written about my last few visits to the cities of Bihar. The paradox that is Gaya and Bodhgaya, the once proud Darbhanga, the practices of Gauna, suddenly they were gone.
And like most of life, I realized that perhaps it was done to stop me from being emotionally caught up with yet another place. This blog was never meant to be a personal diary. So it doesn’t matter what happened in these few weeks. What matters is that Life, at the last count is always beautiful.
But one thing did happen. After 6 long years, I was back in Calcutta for the Pujas.