February 27, 2011

The Lost Song

All that Titir wanted was to sing. And the forest loved to hear her.

She flew from branch to branch, carefree and passionate. She made songs that she hoped that the forest would love to hear. Sometimes she sang for herself, sometimes she sang for the forest. And often she wondered who she actually wanted to sing for. It all seemed fuzzy at times but she was happy as long as she sang. And to her that’s what mattered.

The Pride heard about Titir and they called her to The Den. The lionesses sat on their high rocks, set according to the hierarchy, the hierarchy of their closeness to the lion. The Great Game was always on in The Den; the lionesses knew that they were the ones that controlled the forest in the Lion’s name. Having Titir in their control would just make them feel good about the power they held.

Titir kept singing in The Den as she thought it was no different. She never needed a stage to sing. But slowly she missed the forest, the trees and the sky. The Den slowly closed in on her and she began to miss those simple says which made her songs so natural, so close to everyone’s heart. She went to the Lionesses and requested to leave The Den. They laughed.

That’s the day she realized, it was always a one way ticket.

And then one day, Titir stopped singing. She mouthed the lyrics to the set tunes. They were beautiful as ever, but the song was gone.

All that Titir had wanted was to sing. And the forest wanted to hear her, again.

February 15, 2011

Feb 14th and a Broccoli

There was a rose in the house when I walked in and it brought back memories from Pilani and the roses on the morning of Feb 14th, few of which till date remains a mystery. The others have been traced back to more or less reliable sources. Todays remain unknown.

And I must eulogize love and eternal bliss but this is the most apt Val D post I can think of. You have a right to laugh if not love :)

For all the good men… and to the few who sighed today, “good guys finish last”

Roz: [to Frasier] Why can't more men be like you? I mean, you are exactly what women are looking for.
Frasier: Yeah. Women I date don't seem to know that.
Roz: Some women don't know what's good for them.
Frasier: [dejectedly] Terrific. I'm the broccoli of dating.

Remember, people always turn to broccoli, most a little late.

February 13, 2011

The Last Muse of Tagore

The way in which the Bengali woman today wears her saree is supposed to have originated in Thakurbari – the revered name for the Tagore Household in Jorasanko. And as the Bengali men grew up and went and studied economics at Presidency, he slowly saw the women move from the saree to the Salwar to Jeans – It was almost like the cultural domination of Bengal all over again. It reminded him of the times when the Sen and the Pal dynasties slowly died out and the invaders from the North came in and established the rule of the Nawab in Bengal only to be replaced by the British in Plassey.

But when he wrote poetry in his spare time, he often dreamt of his muse in a saree, just as he would see her perhaps on the day of Asthami, while giving Anjali. The times were changing however. The first to fall prey to the sweeping changes across the society were the schools in Calcutta. The Saree was no longer mandatory, then went the colleges and slowly as everyone realized the convenience of the salwar, the saree became a special occasion thing.

He missed the days when the only woman he had fallen in love with ever, who did not wear a Saree regularly, was Reena Brown. Please note that before Leander Paes, Bengalis had their tennis ace in Dr. Krishnendu Mukherjee who had won the tennis championship five times in a row after acting in Macbeth, before losing the 6th final to Reena Brown. The first time he saw her in a Saree, I have passionately maintained was the moment when he finally fell for her. And what a fall it was!!! For all non bongs, don’t even try to decipher old world bong virtues of romanticism; rather ask me for the DVD. And for Bongs, if you don’t get it, then I sigh and retreat to my laptop lamenting the loss of good old days.

Anyway, coming back to Sarees, mothers and aunts while shopping for the next marriage in the family would sigh and pick up twenty sarees and send back five of them as the daughter or the daughter in law would never wear them. But how could you not buy a baluchori? I have seen an aunt reduced to tears, “my daughter will never appreciate the intricacies of a zamdani.”

The debate I have always had with my friends is that as the dress of a muse, the saree beats anything else hands down. There is no other dress in the world which can at once bring the feeling of deep reverence and purity and unadulterated sensuality. But then we would sit on the steps of Temple Lawns in Pilani on Diwali and sigh when every single woman in the saree looked as if she was undergoing a surprise quiz in Mechsol. For the uninitiated a Surprise Quiz in Mechsol is like facing Brett Lee without a helmet. The point is, like everything else, unless carried off gracefully, the saree looks extremely cumbersome. And the only woman who looked natural in a Bong Saree was Madhuri Dixit in the multiple screenings of Devdas in computer screens in our second year. The men during those days cheated by wearing their dhotis with a belt. Anyway, who cares about the fashion sense of the men?

Now that I have written at length about the saree, let me come back to the point. If you look at the Bengali TV serials today, almost every family has got 2 murderers, 3 plotting aunts, 4 oppressed women and 1 who will bring justice to all while everyone else is having extramarital affairs – the sad part is that each of these serials start with good intentions and story lines. But then public demand hain boss – karna parta hain.

So one day suddenly, one serial started creating waves amongst the Bengali Intelligentsia – or as they are lovingly called, “The Aantels”. Some call it derogatory, I find it cute :) This was a serial which spoke of a family trying to keep Tagore’s music alive and authentic while a new wave of artists, aided by copyright removal from Tagore’s works, were eager to give Tagore a fresh lease of life. This was the ultimate aantel grouse. How can Rabindrasangeet be sung any other way than as originally intended by the Great Man? So they loved the serial. My entire family went “aha aha”, the Aantel crowd cried in their secret rooms.

Now the protagonist looks very Bong and all bong mothers started secretly wishing that the next generation will take a leaf out of the book. So even when the actress was very different in her real life, the mothers across Bengal said as expected, “she is not just someone, she is an idea”.

And then it happened, one day on the show, she desired to dress in something other than a saree and the last muse of Tagore left us forever.

They say the sighs were heard across the world :)

(PS: While I was doing the background research for this article, I realized that the concept of a Tagorian muse as I described is what Bengali middle class morality, and thus I, would like to believe. I know the poet is beyond such narrow limitations. One day I would write about Krishnokoli and the lady he saw in the beautiful morning of autumn)

February 11, 2011

Giving Up

I hate giving up. Somehow battles are never lost till the last breath. I believe that you should fight – for the final victory, not over your opponent but over you own self. I still remember Class 7. I guess one of those last years when physical education had some grades associated with it. It was one of the Sports Day Practices and I suddenly realized that you needed to lie down on your back and get your toes to touch behind your head.

Now I have solved many challenges in life. I have sat in a movie theatre and watched Main Aur Mrs. Khanna. I have coolly gone to a debating podium and asked a completely stranger, “So what are we discussing today?” I have believed my Con B groupies, the great IITians from Powai and Guwahati respectively, that there is no way in hell that Rambo will call us to present the case and have stood facing a class eagerly waiting to see us being ripped apart. And then at the end of the presentation I have heard the professor clear his throat and say, “Very spirited presentation Mr. Banerjee. The analysis could have been equally spirited.”

The point is I never give up.

And so I walked up to the games room and demanded a retrial. Mr. James was a sweetheart. He knew that even if it were Judgement Day, I would not be able to do that. But he asked me to go ahead. He might as well have told a bull to not charge at a matador.

And of course, miracles don’t happen. Till today the toes don’t touch the ground. But I am happy in the fact that till the last moment I fought.

But somewhere in the beginning of this year I gave up on us. I realized we were both bearing the burden of the past. And my life was turning into a black and white classic where the theme songs were either Dangling Conversations or Cecilia. You get the drift. I was living a life where there were constant heartbreaks, self inflicted pain and a desire that one day you will be mine. Not in the sense that I would own you, but just that I will be able to call you my own. It was as if I was valuing you in the silver coins I had in my wallet.

You never bothered to ask what I wanted. Our friendship meant, I was the one who was constantly giving and while I do not want to be seen as the one who measures friendship, you know very well that at times you could have reciprocated.

So in 2011, I wait for you to call me and I wait till that happens for no longer I have the energy to walk the extra mile.

So my dear Razorback of a cycle, you better start reminding me that you exist. And hopefully take away some of the adipose tissues. I am no longer going to honey-coddle you :)

February 08, 2011

G, Me, Red Bull – Yeh Saali Zindagi

While I was travelling as usual in a New Year rush to meet new consumers and understand and evaluate new ideas, I stopped over at G’s. Me and G sipping Red Bulls always brings out the worst in us and add to that the cosy winter end weather of Delhi and you have potential for life changing ideas. Interestingly, that night, we both were tired of what life was doing with us – in a sense; we were growing old, physically mostly but to some extent mentally as well.

So we did what we always do best – go and watch a movie. My fascination with Chitrangada Singh continues to this day. If not fit for legends, then definitely some of my last poems were inspired as I was about to embrace capitalism in IIMB while Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi spoke of dreams unfulfilled. In fact, I think I had fallen in love with Geeta, her character in the movie. Cutting a long story short, Yeh Saali Zindagi it was. I can’t deny a part of me wanted to watch Yamla Pagla Deewana as well – it had Sunny paaji and a bucketful of whiskey. Now how bad can that be?

And Sudhir Mishra blew us away. The storytelling, the direction, the jump cuts, the twists in every five minutes, the entire narrative style was one of the most refreshing I have come across in recent times. But Irfaan Khan – he stole the show. His character came straight out of a Keatsian tragedy and I was sure that was my story being played out. “Love and bullet are very similar. Both pierce your heart and go away.” It was two love stories, one man trying hard to become good for his family while the other in a strange sense of selfless love continues to get into trouble for the woman he knows has no love for him. Eeriely familiar, is it not? Now G and I could not agree whose story of life it resembled more, given that our theoretical relationships have always been one without an ending :)

In our story, of course there were mushroom kebabs post the movie, critical analysis of the differences between Delhi and Mumbai women, caramel popcorn during the interval and lachha parathas, not necessarily in the same order.

Does the guy get the girl in the end? Watch for yourself and you won’t be disappointed. Unless of course you loved Geeta. Priti is just not up to the mark. That’s the beauty of first loves. They create such an impact, everything else falls short in comparison.

After all, yeh saali zindagi badi haarami hain, par haamesha haseen khwab dikhake jaati hain.

That, by the way, was copyright Banjo. You can quote me if you like :)