October 24, 2010

Sandeep sat alone in the corner table at the Coffee House. This was his table for ages, since the time he had come to study at Presidency. Every day he used to sit here. The people around him kept on changing but he was there. At times, he remembered the first economics class in Building 3. Prof. Sen had picked him up at the end of the class as the “brightest mind of the year”. While he felt shy and looked down, he could sense a pair of eyes on him. He picked his head up and that’s when he first saw Tara.

Years passed. They graduated out of Presidency. Sandeep searched everywhere for a job. Nothing could be found. Tara moved on. And suddenly there was nothing left in Sandeep’s life anymore.

He still sat at the corner table at the Coffee House. Shades of grey appeared in his hair, the glasses kept increasing their thickness and the world around him continued to change.

Tara sat alone in her house that morning. Her son had gone off to college, his rooms were emptied out. Her daughter no longer considered her as her best friend. Her husband was out on one of his usual business meetings. For some reason today, she remembered a bespectacled face, more than anything else.

Her best friend had told her on the night of her marriage, “Every girl has her own 'What if’, It’s best never to think about them” and she had followed it to the letter.

But today she knew she had to know the answer. In a trance, she took her car out and drove from her South City Residence, crossing the mess of Moulali and Sealdah to reach coffee house. She stood at the corner, looking at him. In her heart, she felt ashamed of herself expecting him to still be there. She looked at him and a forgotten poem came into her mind. She imagined him saying,

Amar Bilupta Hridoy,

Amar mrito chokh

Amar Bilin sopno akankha

Aar tumi Nari

Ei sob chilo sei jogote ekdin

Suddenly a familiar voice called out. It was the same voice she had heard years ago, calm, composed but with a hint of laughter. It had not changed. Sandeep was ecstatic as he called out to her. He knew all about her life and wanted to know more. As always, it was her talking and him listening. It seemed life had not moved on.

After three long years they moved out. And realized she did not want to lose a friend once again who knew her so well. And while she knew, it was unkind, she also knew this time she was ready to be his friend as well. She was a wife and a mother but she could also be a friend now.

And that would be a new beginning… from what could have been a long long time ago.

October 22, 2010

Not the Last Goodbye

The Joker hated goodbyes. He had lasted a lifetime at the Great Indian Circus. And every time someone left he felt miserable. Few years back therefore he had promised himself that he would never again allow himself to be so close to someone that he could get hurt by them. The circus toured the world and he continued to make people laugh. He was good at it. And he made friends; he was good at that too.

One day as they were touring Russia, they came across a small town a few hours from St. Petersburg. He did not like it there much; cold, barren and seemingly desolate. He sat down with his bread and water and wondered if it would be a good idea to have a swig of vodka so early in the day. Suddenly there was a commotion a few yards to his left. Old and cynical, he studiedly ignored it. After all, what exciting could happen that he had not seen earlier? Suddenly one of the kids came running. “Joker, come fast”, he cried, “There’s a fairy amongst us.”

“Fairy? Now that’s interesting. What have these fools been up to?” He walked towards the commotion and saw the most astounding gymnast he had ever seen in his life. He scrutinised her thoroughly with his seasoned eyes. And gave up. She was perfect. Even he cold not find a fault. And then she looked at him and gave him the most dazzling smile.

Maroushka soon became a part of the family. Everyone called her “The Russian Princess”. She flew in the air while the joker stood below and made the world laugh and while she was flying she would always look at him and smile. They became acquaintances and before he knew, they were friends. It was completely her doing; she had this infectious quality in her which could make everyone feel special. She made them do bonfires sitting out in the freezing cold of Moscow, made them sing and they all laughed.

One day, just like she had come into their lives, she was gone. And no one knew where she was. The joker felt like a fool. He had again let someone come close to him. And he felt cheated. She had no reason to befriend him.

And then one day, he received an envelope. Inside it was a carefully pressed orchid, preserved from the cold winters of Russia. It was signed “Russian Princess” and the Joker felt like smiling. She had remembered.

And in that one letter she had taught him that there need not be any last goodbyes. That night, the joker’s laughs were not cynical. He actually was smiling.

October 20, 2010

Once Upon a Time in India

I suddenly realized it has been a long time I have given my five rupees on the movies I have seen. So here goes, one more of my quick fire reviews.

Aamir Khan is one of the best marketers I know. He knows his product and his consumers well. He knows how to promote and he knows the power of symbolism. And that’s why he can make a cricket match be nominated for The Oscars. Peepli Live is not a Aamir Khan movie but it takes Aamir Khan to the leagues of Clint Eastwood in making or producing movies that matter. Releasing it just before Independence Day, Aamir made a smart move and also a statement of change. And we watched and laughed and then came out with a painful feeling at our hearts. Every time you look at construction workers now in your cities, imagine the story of a farm lost to greed and ignorance.

Once Upon a Time in Mumbai and Aisha spoke of two different worlds. And somehow I do not see either of them as My India. The underbelly of Mumbai was brought out in all its glory and glamour in the former, when the underworld still valued values. If you remember Shantaram, you would probably remember the transition of the Underworld. Sach or Himmat, slowly gave way. Perhaps that’s what life is all about. Aisha was a funnier story though. All the people I know who represents the world of Aisha chose to distance themselves from her and while the movie clearly was one not to die for, it just tried to speak about a world so shielded from the realities that one often wonders, if it exists at all.

The majority of the Indians I know however went crazy over two completely different movies. The North idolized Chulbul Pandey and while Salman bettered Rajni is terms of action and Govinda in terms of Dance moves, the audience went and saw the movie a second and a third time. But what UP lacked was technology. And there came in the only God of Indian Cinema.

Whatta Movie. I mean Whatta movie. Let’s not get into the details. Rajni creates a Robot who is like Super Rajni, a Rajni 100 times over. Anyway Rajni loves Aishwarya (who doesn’t) and then gives his robot feelings the Robot falls in love with Aishwarya. And then it was the best special effects ever seen in Indian cinema.

Moral of the story – Even robots fall in love with Ms. Worlds

October 18, 2010

Probash e Pujo

Since I have started working for SNDU, my Pujo has been highly erratic. Sometimes, I manage to go back home, sometimes the images and the colours of Pujo come knocking at my door. Sometimes I miss all that makes Calcutta the city I have left behind, sometimes I find a small Calcutta in the heart of whatever place I am in. This was my fourth Pujo at SNDU and I missed going back home again.

When I first left Calcutta for the 2001 Pujo, I had felt miserable but within the deserts of Rajasthan I found something that will remain the definition of the Pujos for me. Working weeks to ensure that the Pujo happens without any glitch, acting the senior as well as the obedient junior, running back from classes to give the Anjali and never going back, dancing with the hot dhunuchis, Pilani defined Pujo as it should be. Bangalore was difficult but with the bongs around things was always nice. Whether it was the shamefully expensive buffet dinners we had to the time we made up for it by gorging on sweets at K C Das, it was nice to be around friends watching a new city celebrate the festival so close to our hearts.

My first year in Mumbai Pujo was a crazy trip around the Maximum City trying to soak in as much as I can; the essence of all things Bengali and that had made me yearn to go back to Calcutta. It’s not that I could not find a place to go during these five days. I believe that it’s easier to find a Durga Pujo in this world than finding any semblance of sense in my posts.

So finally last year, I was back in Calcutta. The city, at least the part I have grown up in, had decayed even more. Wherever my travels have taken me I have found that some parts of the city always remains forgotten; a ghost of the glorious past. And no where is it starker than in Calcutta. The glory of the North is lying today amidst forgotten debris. And that’s how life is. We Northies are a dying breed, still stuck in our memories as the realities of life have pushed us out.

Have you seen the new Hero Splendour ads? That’s where I grew up in. The decaying walls, the political graffiti, all that my childhood was made up of.

This year SNDU sent me to a course and thus I was staying back in Mumbai again. And I had time to think about what Pujo means to me. Sitting during the lunch break on Worli Sea Face, looking into the bright sunlit ocean, I wondered. From the times when seeing the maximum number of idols defined Pujo, to the time when we “grew up” at Trincas and wondered about Maddox Square, life has indeed changed a lot. But what has not changed is my endeavour to explain to people, especially non Bongs, why we celebrate the Puja as we do. Why it’s about the daughter coming home and not necessarily of good triumphing over evil. When the family is together, there can be no evil, can it? I remember the generations of Bengali mothers who have sung for their daughters. It’s painful, how a mother and daughter accept their separation when the daughter is married. I have seen the pain in my parents’ eyes when my sis got married and I have seen their eyes light up when she comes back. Who cares about Raavan dying?

But when I stood at Shivaji Park, swamped by people all around me, I could hear the sound of the dhak reverberating through every vein of my body. The most primitive of all sounds, the drums raise the call of the forgotten nomad in our bloods. Its earthiness reminds us who we were, who we still can be. I missed my family and realized that sometimes the strongest bonds are of blood, not necessarily of love. And it’s not a bad thing.

Some called, from Delhi, from New York, from other parts of the world. Others I did. Many I forgot to call and I am sorry for it, but to whoever is reading this post, Shubho Bijoya. Asche bochor abar hobe :)

October 06, 2010

Spear Sister

Spear Sister. Good bye. Who are we but mere pawns in the Great Game? Rand Al Thor, The Dragon Reborn is the One who knows all. We merely followed him. We believed he will be fair. But Spear Sister who would have known The Master might fail us.

I still remembered the first time I danced with you. Surrounded by wolves, wounded, spent, I lay on the ground. Proud, unbent but almost broken. Then out of nowhere you came, spears flying, moving through the pack of the beasts and stood by me. I didn’t know who you were. I didn’t know where you had come from. But I was glad you came.

Spear Sister, do you remember the time we faced the yellow beast and were the first humans who wounded it? You moved all across, jabbing at it with your weapons, I just had to ensure I guard your back, stop you from rushing into danger and our bond just grew stronger everyday. But then you opposed The Dragon Reborn and no one survives his wrath.

Farewell, sister. We danced well while it lasted. The blood of the adversary is still warm on our blades. I still follow Rand-Al-Thor but my heart shall always sing for you.

May you find shade.

October 03, 2010


So G left a while ago. The room’s completely empty after almost 2 years. I thought it would be ok. But in reality it’s pretty horrible and painful. As I watched his packed bags in the morning, I somehow felt like a person who is going through a divorce or a mutual separation and I knew I would be writing tonight. But there are two ways you can look at things – you can really feel bad about someone leaving or you can just imagine all the great times you have had and be happy that they happened.

And I know it’s not like a divorce, and I might be trivializing it with this comparison but then it can always be called a Bro-vorce, Bros moving to different cities, diverting their tracks.

The worst part is that I have never felt it before. Till this day, every time I have parted with a friend, it has been a firm handshake as life took us on different tracks. We had parted like men do –

Dude have no tears,

Here’s a red bull and a beer.

Sometime back Russian Princess told me, actually taught me, that it’s ok to accept goodbyes with a smile. And that’s what I intend to do. So here’s to what we did over the last couple of years.

We took coffee breaks at every coffee machine in the office. We ensured that there was not a single coffee machine that we had not drunk from. And then we made the chaiwala at the crossing rich.

We skipped lunch for work and then rushed to the sandwich joint outside KC College to stuff ourselves with grilled sandwiches, less butter no cheese. We made Oxford Bookstore turn profitable as we indulged in the food and the ‘Sau mil ki chai’ there and then engaged in the sweetest sin of all - impulse purchase of books which we would read after six odd months.

We went to Geoffreys together and he would order a Bloody Mary just so that we get the free nachos. And then we would get a taxi and sleep off.

We walked all across Bandra, late into the nights as the world slept around us. We would return home from work, eat at Subway, drink coffee and then walk till we were done with our cribbing on life and all that mattered. In other words, Hum Bandra ke Badnaam Galiyon ke Betaaj Baadshah the.

We bought all our electronics together, mostly from Alfa :) after spending a complete Saturday morning searching for the lowest rate.

We went to Bachulal Cycle Shop together to buy our cycles and discussed with Mr. Bachulal how we had only Rs. 30 with us apart from our debit cards.

If anyone has ever sold anything edible in Bandra, we have eaten there, whether we could afford it or not.

We have entertained complete strangers just because they were the other person’s friend and have become friends with them.

We have searched extensively in the matrimony sites for one of our closest friends, 600 less than devil, and have returned heartbroken with only 11 possible matches.

And the list goes on.

G’s been a good friend to A, V and me. He has been the guy who you could depend on anytime. In fact, even the otherwise not visibly emotional tall gentleman says, “It feels like the end of an era.” Tomorrow as I leave Mumbai for another whirlwind trip across the country, I feel nice writing this post. It has been fun and it shall always be there. But it’s not like it’s the end. We knew it would happen. It just happened, too fast, too soon. I guess that’s ok.

You know what’s the best part? I was always the lone wolf in the prairies howling at the moon as I danced through the mountains. Having a friend taking care of you when you are sick, when you are mentally drained following certain meetings sometimes makes you pretty domesticated. I am back to being the lone wolf in the prairies. Growl :)

There’s suddenly too much space in my room.

October 01, 2010


Yesterday night I was angry, really really angry. Given the fact that few things ever perturb me to the point of anger, even I was surprised. But I had every right to be. My country was afraid yesterday night, afraid of fanaticism, afraid of the enemy within, afraid of a verdict that was necessary.

The city that taught me my trade refused me entry because the Government was unsure if it can protect its citizens. My own government spent its time and energy to ensure that the nation remained at peace with itself and did not tear itself apart. I was stuck in Mumbai keeping my work aside as the country had decided to stay in.

I felt impotent. I felt helpless. I felt naked. Everyone was afraid around me.

Way Way back in the second year of the decade when India slowly started on its journey towards economic decentralization, a young boy in Calcutta was deeply upset as his school decided to shut down for a week in the last month of that year. He could not understand why he was not being allowed to go to school. His politically literate family was also at a loss. Nobody knew why the country was in a state of confusion and shock. And he did the only thing he has known to do whenever he has faced a question. He read.

Sometimes questions have no one answer. He realized answers evolve as time passes by. And the same answer presents itself in different forms.

Hope the greatest intoxicant known to Man - As two young students in a lonely room in Vishwakarma Hostel believed with Samwise the Brave, “There’s something good in this world and it is worth fighting for.”