April 22, 2010

Pets, Food, Movies

Bearded Goon took me to learn “How to Train Your Dragon” and memories just rushed in. I never had a pet as a kid. Probably because no one thought I was capable enough to handle one but I would like to believe that it was because of my eclectic choice of pets. I was clear that I needed a pet. And like most things in my life I had also short listed my choice of pets. I either wanted a baby dragon or a baby elephant. Given that my sister is evil, she kept in hope saying that the lizards in the house might just turn into dragons one day. You see, for a really small kid, genetical engineering is a tough thing to comprehend. And well, elephants, sigh… That’s a story for another night.

Anyway, that’s the only reason why I loved the movie. Great animation, simple story, a long forgotten love for machines, caramel popcorn, all made it extremely magical. It ended with a beautiful thought – “We may have nothing and a very had life, but we have dragons as pets.”

Coming back to other things I loved as a child, if there was ever anything I loved more than books, it must have been food. And thus, I have decided I will make “Julie and Julia” a compulsory viewing for people who loved Food. A simple story but the way love for Food is celebrated in the movie is just out of this world. Amongst recent movies, the only other place I found such exotic display of culinary delights was in It’s Complicated. Meryl Streep beautifully created the joy of cooking. And yeah, I cooked last Sunday inspired by it.

Well Done Abba is a movie which could never have been a blockbuster but if you love a good story, if you love the way great directors have an eye for details, go and get a DVD for yourself. It tells you life is still simple, systems are corrupt but can be challenged, not all men in this world have learnt to accept bribes and that still in the heartlands of India a strong police force can evoke fear amongst the minds of the wrong doers.

Green Zone and Hurt Locker both disappoint. Guess any more movies on Iraq and War and WMDs and audiences will just retire hurt. After all, we can take night after night of IPL, but night after night of War movies. There has to be a limit.

Fortunately, one could watch Jane Kahan se Aayi Hain to just forget that such things exist and could just leave the brains behind and believe in a movie about love across planets. Not a bad movie I must admit.

Or one could watch Shutter Island and marvel at the unlimited horrors that the mind can create. Absolute Classic. Old Dogs however disappoint. You can’t take Robin Williams and John Travolta and dish out a half baked cake. That’s just unfair.

But coming back to pets and food, tonight I shall dream about Dragons and Desserts. It should be a good night.

April 19, 2010

The Birth of Edward

Henry bid goodbye to his friends. Good men all of them. They have been worried about him for sometime now. He knew they were concerned but he himself could not put his finger onto what was wrong with him. There have been strange dreams. He had been alive in those dreams, alive in a different way. Sometimes his hand inadvertently moved to harder liquor than his standard ginger ale. He couldn’t for the love of God figure out why. Speaking of God, he was once a regular to the Church and yet recently the sermons irritated him.

Power, passion, glory once held no meaning for him. He was enamoured with the seeking of knowledge but now his gait was changing. He desired attention, he desired prominence. Somewhere things were no longer the same. He tossed and turned in his bed wondering where life was leading him. He no longer knew. Yet it felt exhilarating. There was something intoxicating in dabbling with the immoral. The succour received from the dark of the night filled him with an unknown pleasure. And even then everything felt like a dream, one from which there was no turning back.

The question was did he want to turn back?

He knew what was going on in the minds of his friends. They missed the innocent, almost child like Henry. Yes, he did too. But then, every child has to grow up one day? Don’t they? Oh, God, he was so confused. He loved the moments when he could retaliate, give it back. He felt miserable later as he had always believed that it was such a waste of energy but something pushed him to do it. He was also being lately unable to leave behind emotions while dealing with people. He was no longer detached from the people around him. Earlier he felt at peace with himself, these days he left alive in an animal sort of way.

He waved goodbye to his friends. As he brushed his teeth, he saw Edward for the first time. It was a fleeting glance but he could never forget that face staring back at him from the mirror.

That night, they say Edward was born.

(But stories can change. New ages require new endings and we shall wait for ours)

April 14, 2010

Man vs. Nature

We looked up. It was achievable. The plan had gone awry. But we had done it millions of time. A small detour could not make us turn back. In any expedition, it’s the team that matters and I knew I was pulling down my partner.

It all started with the Fort. Standing up tall in the morning sunlight, it looked inviting. It reminded me of Rajputana. The Khetri Fort was once a second home. It was my SummerPalacewhere I used to take refuge in the cold but sunny winter afternoons.

The body had rusted with almost a year of misuse. It creaked with every step but then jungle trails were always easy. The unfortunate part was that the sense of tracking had died down in the concrete jungle. There was a point of time when I was one with Nature. I could sniff my way out like a wolf in the wilderness, a well nourished wolf hunting for prey.

This time, the route turned tricky. Somewhere, we lost the plot and missed the turn. Time was running out. The ascent was not even attempted.

And then it started - The climb to the top. The entire body started aching, safe till now in its sedentary lifestyle. But they always said, the mind is the centre of pain. You control the mind, you control pain. What they didn’t tell was that controlling the mind was a bloody tough thing to do.

We stopped, panting for breath. The summit was still far away. It was shameful. My first failed attempt to complete a trail. There were two options – to rest and go on or to turn back. But to rest would be to accept defeat anyway. The idea was to reach without a break.

We turned back. Defeated, dejected men bowed before Nature.

She was laughing.

April 12, 2010

The Dada in Every Bengali

Before you worry, this post is not about Ganguly, neither is it about the “dadas” of Mumbai. This is about the dada who resides in the heart of every Bengali.

Dada is a nice person. He typically works in one of the offices around Esplanade. But before that there are important things he must attend to. In the morning, he goes to Manicktala market to buy the fish and on his way back he discusses the preparations for the upcoming Durga Puja, whatever time of the year it might be with the youth of the locality, who have just got admission to Presidency. He is back home by 7 and after a nice bath he walks out of his house to take stock of what’s happening in his ‘para’ (locality). Everyone knows him and likes him because if there is ever an issue, you just need to call Dada. He is apolitical, yet both Reds and Greens speak highly of Dada as he can get the locals to organize a cultural program in less than a week.

Dada lives mostly in North Calcutta, yet unsullied by the South and still having his childhood dreams of socialism intact. He shudders about leaving Calcutta and is often upset by all his younger cousins taking up jobs in Bangalore.

Dada today is sad. His ‘para’ is now a conglomeration of housing societies. The houses have all but vanished. As North Calcutta slowly undergoes its inevitable change, Dada is also fading out. Today’s younger kids still go to Presidency but would rather be seen with their bikes in the narrow bylanes of North Calcutta. Dada is no longer respected by them. They think he is an old good for nothing buffoon.

The other day I was in Calcutta for a few hours and post the Consumer Visits, as I was going around the Hatibagan Market, I noticed a crazy traffic congestion. A car was stuck in one of those narrow bylanes of Hatibagan. Dada was no longer there to help. The kids had parked their bikes on both sides of the road and given their attitude and behaviour few dared to speak to them.

The driver was an old man, looking helpless, there were a couple of kids in the backseat, desperate to reach home, tired after a long day at school.

I am not used to seeing apathy in Calcutta. I tightened my bag around my shoulders, went ahead and started pushing the bikes out of the way. No one seemed to be bothered much. Suddenly, the owners of these bikes appeared from nowhere and demanded an explanation why their bikes were being removed. It did feel a little scary.

But suddenly, Dada arrived. Not one, or two but a whole lot of them. Suddenly Dada remembered that years ago, he dictated the decorum in his para, not some hooligans. The bikers removed the bikes, the kids went home and I went on my way chuckling.

Dada still lives, maybe not for very long but then who knows.