August 30, 2009

Rongeen Jonaki

Obhimaani megh jokhon tukre chhoriye jaay,
Bohnishikhar bindu-kona bhishon rege gaay,
Bagaaner ghasher shishir jobe aalto goriye jaay,
Amaar moner gomra-mukhe notun hashi chhay.

Shobdo makha shohor raastay jokhon boddo bheer,
Akaash bhenge naamchhe dekho mosto dharaay neer,
Chupti kore raastar baanke aami, chokhe shopno gobheer,
Klanto amaar mone dheu othe ullasher, shantir.

Nomro bikel rode dekhi bashay phere kaag,
Mosto diner byasto jibon, muchhe jachchhe raag,
Office babu, Baarir meyeti, shobaike boli “Jaag”
Rattirer nibir momota dhuyechhe din’er daag.

Bheshe cholechhe jibon amader tumul srote ei,
Muchhe jete hobe mishti modhur onek smriti kei,
Tobuo jodi hanshte jaano, haraabe na ko tumi khei
Gola chhere purono gaan dushtu chhele gaibe anondei.

Notun drishti, notun kobita, notun khataay lekha,
Rongeen jonaakir notun aaloy dekhbe notun dekha,
Amaay tokhon eshe ekbaar ekta shuniyo gaan,
Noishobdyer mayaabi aaloy diye debo tomay praan.

August 19, 2009

The Month(And A Half) That Was...

There is a certain way in which I lust after things- Randomness, Shampoo, Nike shorts, Simon and Garfunkel and Economics, among others. Well, a month and a half into an undergraduate course in Economics in the best Economics department in the country (barring a certain St. Stephen’s College, New Delhi), as a student of the most prestigious college in India- Presidency College, Calcutta, I’m clueless. I am doing what I wanted to do for my under-grad course, but I’m yet to figure out the course content, and which professor is entrusted the responsibility to explain which discipline of economics to us. New York Times had described Steven D. Levitt(author of the overwhelmingly flabbergastingly delicious book ‘Freakonomics’) as a representative of “something that everyone thinks they will be when they go to grad school with Economics, but eventually they have the creative spark bored out of them by endless math”. That is exactly what is being inflicted upon me. Endless Math. Something I never was too fond of. Something I never recognized as part of Economics.

Yet there is something else that is keeping the myselfness alive in me. I’m meeting a lot of people- People from an eclectic range of societies- people from the suburbs, from the city proper, people from other states, friends of friends, people separated by varying degrees of separation- usually between three and five. The company or the momentary presence of some such people have also led to some of the most bizarre experiences of my life in these one and a half months- I was introduced to an adventurous shuttle cock, leered at a couple who were making out in the row behind me during ‘Harry Potter-6’, displayed my Bhashan-dance skills to the world while watching ‘Love Aaj Kal’ with eighteen friends, met seniors that slap their juniors when their girl friends get offended for having been captured in a photograph by the junior’s friend, befriended a girl that thinks every guy is a bisexual, got told off by a professor for having attended only sixty lectures out of a hundred, and received my school farewell diary back from a friend, eight months after school ended, and fell in love with the roof of a friend’s home. Oh yes, I’ve also been introduced to two absolutely lovely girls from a different college, who are exactly on the same mental plane as I. One recommended Wong Kar-wai to me, the other is a proficient user of the term ‘Gandu’.

I’ve been bidding goodbyes to lots of friends that are leaving the city and the country, one by one, to pursue higher education. Well, however Stoic I might be now, however much I might proclaim that I’ve learned not to hold on anymore, to let go easily, there is always a lump in the throat, always a bitter pang somewhere every time someone goes off. Well, yes, I accept the inevitable with much greater ease than before. It’s equally amazing how like a packet of cards being reshuffled ,my old friends from several sources are coming together as each others’ friends in different parts of the country.
New friends- College hasn’t been particularly disappointing in that regard. Though I’d consider only some four of five people from college to be really close to me, there are several others with whom I’ve come to share a good rapport.

A few days back, on the sixty second anniversary of India’s Independence, while surfing channels on the television, I happened to come across a show about how badly the weak monsoon this year has affected the poor farmers in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, and how they have to go without food for long. The next channel was interviewing a child of fourteen about what his favorite gadgets are, and why he would prefer a PS-3 over an iPhone. The very same day, within the difference of an hour, I came across another show where a man in his thirties, with a proud ‘Hindu’ tilak on his head, was explaining why the Delhi High Court’s reading down of Article -377 is against the Indian Culture, how homosexuality is a choice people make, how the Western society is responsible for the society going gradually gay. He also spoke about how Maharashtra is the singular example of nationalist-sentiments in today’s Ungrateful New India, and why Biharis aren’t welcome in Mumbai. He also spoke vehemently against Bengalis, who he said are hypocrites and the proficiency they depict in being Bilinguals, in juggling Bengali and English with equal panache is mostly fake. Well no one could persuade this man to speak in Hindi, though his English made Rakhi Sawant sound eloquent.

Speaking of Rakhi Sawant, this last month saw her choose Elesh Parujanwala as her life partner. Here’s wishing the lady all the happiness that there is.My photography skills have also been receiving immense praise. I have also fallen in love with an odd assortment of things –like Feist’s ‘We’re All In The Dance’, my Black Reebok shirt, Wong Kar-wai and the Kaminey-characters. I’ve developed a crush on a girl who, I think, knows of my existence but isn’t too greatly enthusiastic about knowing me. I love the way she dresses. Yes, and I hate girls with chubby babies or Katrina Kaif or teddie bears, and guys with Cristiano Ronaldo or nameless muscular dumb studs or some Hindi 'teenage' soap guy with an irritating smile as their dps. I also feel Lola Kutty and Semi Girebaal have a lot in common, though this realization has been there in me for the last four years. I have also fallen in love with unknown people’s hairstyles and hope to be successful in aping them soon. I discovered Mayukh Bose is a brilliant Usain Boltism inventor, helped in the development of a relationship between sparrows and pizzas. A short synopsis of a very eventful month and a half is what this thing was.

August 11, 2009


‘Jabberwocky’ from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland’ continues to remain my favorite nonsense verse of all times. It has been translated in many a language, and the Bengali translation, ‘Jaborkhaaki’ was done by Mr. Satyajit Ray, and was published in his children’s magazine ‘Sandesh’ quite many years back… The voracious reader I was as a child, I had come across both versions around the same time. It was my first brush with the Existence Of The Inexplicable, probably my first realization that Life can get quite scary at times, quite tumultuous, but one must retain the courage to charge forwards with the ‘vorpal blade’, the ability to swish it ‘snicker-snack’ and the determination to finish off all the Jabberwockies plaguing one’s life.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! and through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

[Well the Bangla version is not ubiquitous in its availability, and neither has it been included in any compilation of Ray’s work (another work of his that’s been similarly ignored is ‘Papaangul-the tale of a group of weirdly cute looking creatures that wanted to sail the Seven Seas on a sieve), so I’m quite glad that I remember it wholly, and have thus, been able to put it here…]

Billigir oi shithle joto tobe
Galumgiri korchhe bheu’er dhaare
Aar jotoshob mimshe borogobe
Momtarader gebgebiye mare

“Jashni bachha joborkhaaki’r kachhe,
Raamkhichuni, Raabonkaamor taar,
Jashni jetha jubju boshe gachhe,
Bandorchenchha mukhti kore bhaar”

Tao shey niye bhurpi talowar,
Khunjte gelo manxume dushmone
Onek khunje shondhe jokhon paar
Thaamlo giye Tumta gachher bone

Emon shomoy dekhte pelo cheye,
Ghupchi bone chulli chokher bhaata,
Joborkhaaki aaschhe bujhi dheye,
Hilphiliye mosto kore hanta

Shon-shon-shon chollo torobaari,
Shanik,shinik joborkhaki shesh
Skondhe niye mundokhaana taari
Galumphiye jaaye shey aapon desh.

“Tor haate tei Joborkhaaki gelo?”
Shudhaye baape chamuk hashi heshe
“Aaye bachhadhon aaye re amaar kelo,
Bimbi amaar, boshna koley eshe..”

Billigir oi shithle joto tobe
Galumgiri korchhe bheu’er dhaare
Aar jotoshob mimshe borogobe
Momtarader gebgebiye mare..

August 9, 2009

Paris Je t'aime

Four months after I watched ‘Paris je t’aime’ first, it still continues to be one of my most watched movies ever, and also one of my biggest all time favorites. The view-count is ever increasing, because I watch at least one of the eighteen segments whenever I get the time. In a crowded bus, or before I let sleep settle down on my eyes at the end of a day, or while getting bored in the company of several uninteresting people, I just switch on my iPod, scroll to whichever segment I feel like watching just then, and get transported to probably the only city in the world which is home to both ‘Laidback-Romantics’ and ‘Everbusy-Workaholics’…

The directors of the eighteen segments, each based on one arrondissement(Paris is however, divided into twenty such divisions) include Gurinder Chadha Sylvain Chomet, Joel and Ethan Coen, Gerard Depardieu, Wes Craven, Alfonso Cuarón, Nobuhiro Suwa, Alexander Payne, Tom Tykwer, Walter Salles and Gus Van Sant, among others. The movie also boasts of quite a few iconic actors among its cast members – Juliette Binoche(The English Patient, Chocolat) as Suzanne, the heart-broken mother who cannot cope with her son’s death, Willem Dafoe(Green Goblin-Spider Man 3, The Aviator) as the imaginary cowboy, who gives Suzanne the strength to move on, Steve Buscemi(Armageddon, Spy Kids2, Big Fish) as the tourist who pays the price of ‘making eye-contacts’ with some local Parisians at a subway station, Miranda Richardson( Rita Skeeter in Goblet Of Fire, Provoked) as the woman in a red-trench coat who wins back the love of her philandering husband only after it is revealed ‘in coldly clinical terms’ that she has terminal leukemia , Sergio Castellito(King Miraz in Narnia-Prince Caspian)as the husband, Nick Nolte(Hotel Rwanda), Catalina Sandino Moreno(Mike Newell’s Love In The Time Of Cholera) as the mother who leaves her child in a crèche, and travels many a kilometer to look after someone else’s child, Olga Kurylenko(Quantum Of Solace) and Elijah Wood(Lord Of The Rings) as Vampire lovers, Natalie Portman(V For Vendetta, Cold Mountain, Star Wars 2 and 3, Closer, The Other Boleyn Girl) as an aspiring actress who falls for a blind man, Maggie Gyllenhaal(The Dark Knight, Brokeback Mountain) as a drug-addict American actress, Gena Rowlands(Gloria, Persepolis) as an old lady going through a divorce, and Margo Martindale(Million Dollar Baby, 28 Days) as the American lady who visits Paris for six days expending all that she’d saved in her many years’ life as a postman in Denver, and falls in love with Paris, sitting in a park)..

Well, presenting like this the entire concept looks quite mundane, but that is where the movie surprises, and in the process, gets its audience engrossed at a whole new level. Different narrative techniques, brilliant cinematography, diversity in set-ups and themes, and some awesomely befitting music… With all of these, ‘Paris Je t’aime’ strikes gold. As much as ‘Bastille’ or ‘Place des Victoires’ makes me cry every time, ‘Parc Monceau’ ‘Quartier de la Madeleine’ and ‘Faubourg Saint Denis’ never fails to put a smile on my face. The movie rounds up beautifully with Feist’s wonderfully moving song ‘We’re All In The Dance’ playing… I leave you with the lyrics of the song, and also with the recommendation to watch this particular movie, which I can guarantee, you’ll definitely love…

Life's a dance, we all have to do
What does the music require?
People are moving together
Close as the flames in a fire

Feel the beat; music and rhyme
While there is time.

We all go 'round and 'round
Partners of lost and found
Looking for one more chance
All I know is,
We're all in the dance

Night and Day, the music plays on
We are all part of the show
While we can hold on to someone
Even though life won't let us go

Feel the beat; music and rhyme
While there is time.

We all go round and round
Partners of lost and found
Looking for one more chance
All I know is,
We're all in the dance

We're all in the dance

We all go round and round
Partners of lost and found
Looking for one more chance
All we know is,
We're all in the dance….

August 2, 2009

Public Buses And How They Affect Me

I love my independence. My family loves it even more. They never panic if I return home after midnight. They do not subject me to extensive sessions of rebuking if I go clubbing five days a week. And they let me travel alone. So, despite hailing from a family with four four-wheelers (Oh yes, I AM showing off!)-all in extensive use, I am not allowed to use even one, for my daily use. My family wants me to grow up. And be self-sufficient. So, public vehicles(mainly buses) are what I depend on, for daily commuting.

Thus, I risk my life and dignity every morning and evening and night. For getting onto any speeding bus(most buses refuse to stop at the proper stops, but prefer to pick people up from every inch between two stops)is a challenge in itself. Some UsainBoltisms later, I am on the bus, but only for name’s sake. More often, I am hanging outside while ducking and saving my head from several other vehicles zooming past me-as if in a video game. Yet, sometimes I feel hanging outside is better than being inside. Once inside the jampacked mousehole, I notice that even the worst and the least worthless of the personalities in the world(or the city) have assumed strangely overwhelming senses of dignity. So there are the men with bigger boobs than normal women and women with more impressive moustaches than regular men clicking their tongues with irritation if any part of my body comes in touch with any of theirs. They frown at me, they glare at my low-waist jeans, they scowl at my huge bag, and then they all give me a shove with their elbows. I go places...well, within the bus, much like a shuttle-cock. And then MY elbow accidentally hits the fattest Masheema on the bulging flabs near her belly. And then there’s a huge chaos. All the women nodding in sympathy with the fat-moustached-pinksaree-greenblouse lady, and the conductor asking me to stand upright. I suddenly feel… “The world hates me”.

Even if rarely I get a place to sit, more often than not, within a minute of getting the seat to myself, an exhausted lady gets onto the bus. My sense of chivalry inhibits me from keeping the seat to myself, and I offer the seat to the lady, who takes it without a “thank you” or even half a smile. And I am back to standing, with people sweating all around me, and the humidity inside steadily on the rise(These days the rains are quite frequent, and EVERYONE knows how horrible it is to travel in a public vehicle, full of ‘normal’ people that refuse to let the windows remain open, when it is raining outside). Even I am sweating. My hair gel gets washed away with my sweat. And I start smelling like a Zoo-tiger cage. And then it happens to me… The desire to blow all the people around me up, kill them, shoot them somehow and just make space for myself… Somehow…

I have only started to travel in public hours in peak office-hours quite recently, only after I started college. In any case, I never was much of a North/Central Calcutta person. My northernmost limit of parts-of-Calcutta-I-regularly-visit used to be St. James’ School near Moulali… Now though I travel along the same route, the northernmost limit has been stretched to Sealdah-College Street. And at 10 am, you have to be at Sealdah to believe how crowded Calcutta CAN BE… There’s still more good news. With the ban on public-vehicles-older-than-fifteen-years effective, and the reduced no. of public vehicles plying, the situation will definitely become sweatier, smellier, and the clicking of tongues will surely increase manifolds…