April 30, 2010

Sibling Inequation

The other night, I had nothing to do. My sister was working on her term-paper, and I was trying to enjoy the drizzle, listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd, and munching on lemon-biscuits. The very fact that she and I were in the same room was a rare occurrence, not because we are estranged or are not fond of each other, but because despite lodging under the same roof, we lead such stark contrasting lives, that our paths hardly cross, which is weird in a city like Calcutta, where everyone knows everyone and she and I are separated by just three academic years, and have been in colleges whose students’ lives entwine quite often- J.U. and Presidency. We do chat once in a while. But on an average day, our interaction stays limited to three sentences in the morning, four at night.She and I have always been remarkably different people. Despite fundamentally advocating to similar views, having been brought up in the same atmosphere, we are as dissimilar as siblings can get. For most of our childhoods, she and I attended the same school. Throughout school, she was the quieter kid. She had fewer friends and she stuck to books and cartoons longer than I did. She was always a class-topper and retained that position with unflinching grit, never for once letting it out of her kitty. I, on the other hand, got along famously well with all of my classmates, I was definitely more outgoing, and more popular among my peers. I had my books and cartoons as well, but I shifted to Prime Time Television sooner than her. Though neither of us was particularly fond of the teachers in our school, she definitely avoided trouble with greater adroitness than I ever did. I was always at loggerheads with my teachers, most of whom found my presence in their classes severely distressing. Academically, I managed to retain my position within the Top-Three of the class and topped my class several times as well. However, Priyadarshini Goswami always remained a steadier example of a scholar for younger students of the school. We did certain things alike though. We hated returning from Calcutta after vacations. We collected Pokemon 3-D figures and tazos, shared a distaste for Mathematics, and I replaced her as the school’s safe-bet for Extempore/ Debates/Creative Writing Competitions.
She passed out of school with an all time record-high percentage of marks in the science stream (Sample: A ‘99’ in Physics) and went on to take up English for her graduate course when the norm was Medical/ Engineering for Science Students. This was another one of the few similarities between the individuals that the two of us are, that when I too passed out of school with a decent enough percentage, I wanted to follow her example and take up English too. But my destiny sent me into the Vortex of Economics and well, since then, we have grown further apart.
She and I have hardly ever had mutual interests. She hated Bollywood movies, while I went gaga over them. She was the first woman (and the only one, for a long time) I knew who hated Shah Rukh Khan. Neither did she ever realize my passion for World Cinema. Yes, we read the same kind of literature – Marquez, Ray and the Victorian Era, but she reads a lot more than I shall probably ever be able to fathom. I thrive on Country music, Queen and The Beatles, on Vintage Rock, and lot of obscure stuff, on 1960’s Bollywood music- Geeta Dutt and Lata Mangeshkar while she has been, for a long time, been unyieldingly devoted to Death Metal, Thrash Metal and all the other brutal musical genres. Back in our childhood, she and I would vote diametrically opposite sounding songs of a particular soundtrack our favorites from the soundtrack. Also,throughout our childhood, we were surrounded by non-Bengali people who she always disliked. She hated the language Hindi and never cared to learn to speak it.On the other hand, many of my best friends were Punjabi/Gujarati/Marwari and I got along with them effortlessly. Infact, my knowledge of Punjabi was far greater than hers though she was the one born there. And I've always adored Hidni. On an aggregate level, she was always the more 'phoren maal' and my inclinations have always been chiefly 'desi'.Also over time, we have changed remarkably as people. Ever since she joined college in 2006, she opened up progressively. And after I relocated to Calcutta in 2007, I started mellowing down. Now I find it quite difficult to make conversation with a stranger. In other words, my social awkwardness is slowly reaching its pinnacle while she has almost completely erased off any such un coordination.So, the other night, we spoke for a long time. I got to know a lot about her life, her boyfriend, her music, her clique, her addictions. And we both had another epiphany regarding how different our lives are and how little we know about each other despite seeing each other speak on the phone, move around, work on the Internet and have dinner everyday. I still can’t relate with her life at all and I’m sure neither can she with mine. Yet, despite the love-hate relationship we’ve shared, the obvious rivalry that follows, and the mutually-acknowledged nonchalance about each other’s day-to-day affairs, I definitely am very fond of her and I know she feels the same about me.

Trivia: She and I often joke about how she should have been born a boy and I a girl.

April 27, 2010

I am now a writer of international repute. I don't know whether the word international would be 'internacional' in Spanish, but I think it is safe to assume so, since those Spaniards often barter a 't' for a 'c'. Yes, well, the proof of my international fan-base is the 'Visitors' widget on the blog. There have been visitors from Almaty City and Lima, from Vancouver and Gwalior. Woah! I feel important.

There was a fight today as well. Everything was hunky-dory yesterday, but today a hair-straightener, a cell-phone and the television(almost) were smashed. This is the first public acknowledgment of the series of such incidents, but it's true. Not everything stays in the closet forever. Yes, I do see that smirk on your face after you read the 'closet' word, and on my blog at that...

I have also been trying to make sense of the Simple Keynesian Model, but without much luck so far. I seem to be going around in circles. I start out and return to the same spot after a lot of toil. These vicious cycles have enchained me within their toxic grasps. And yes, it's funny how I'm going back to being abstract.

April 14, 2010

Certainly Moist

From this distance,
It seems painted. The eternity and beyond.
The same paint, the perspectives.
Gray it is doomed to be.
Blessed it neither is with the colors
Nor with the magical opposites.
Blacks or Whites.

Only when the texture dissolves
The frames capture and encase more
Unspoken resplendence
Of this vapor, unearthly.
Dark, with peripheral wisdom.

Certainly moist.
Certainly hazy, and dug into trenches of no-escape.
Yes, the texture dissolves.
Not necessarily sync-ed with my escape,
Or yours.

Like in this one, the nets come down.
Inexplicable, it has been always.
Too long. Still pursued.

I know I shall never
Move away from this illusion.
Cling on, forevermore
And move on, move on, move on
The quest ends.
Sometimes, it does.

Petty psychedelia.

This, an end.

Not yours probably.

April 10, 2010


Sehme huey aashiyaane,
Bujhe huye yeh dhun
Madmast they jo deewaane,
Tham chuke woh dhadkan, sun.

Andher bani hai siyahi
Un kahaniyon ki yeh anjaam
Gumraah caravan, ek tanha raahi
Bikhre neendon ke khoye paigaam.

April 5, 2010

An Ordinary Love Story

I distinctly remember them.
Gurdass Singh was a cable operator by profession and claimed credit for being the person who got the optical cable-lines in our colony digitalized. Mum was never very fond of him for he would ‘elope’ with the money she would pay him for our half-yearly cable-wire updating and would return only when he would be promised some more. He played football in the evenings and swore his throats out to his friends. He was just another regular 25 year old Sikh guy in our colony, fourteen kilometers from Amritsar. His dazzling smile stood out effectively when he would reason with my mum why she should pay him a bit more than she considered logical.

And there was Sanobar Shifa. I never saw much of her within the colony but every morning when I would wait for my school bus with a dozen other kids near the entry-point into the colony, I would see her walking past us with a poignant nonchalance a part of her face, into the mosque- the only one in the locality. Always accompanied by her brother, she would be usually dressed in a salwar-kameez, and her petite structure moved as if in rhythm. There was something rebellious about her, though I never figured what it was.

I did visit the Gurdwara because I loved the soothing charm of Shabad-Gurbani and the fact that it was the coolest hang-out spot for me and all of my friends. The guys could also fool around with the Army-equipments, the mud-trenches and the netted-ladders while the girls would mostly giggle, engage in bicycle-races on the field outside. It was one such Saturday morning at the Gurdwara when I heard they had eloped. Gurdass Singh and Sanobar Shifa had run away together.

It was not a sacrilege. Love never was. So we were told by Head Granthi Sartaj Singh, the grand-old-man that presided over the Ik-Onkara chants, the ‘sajda-sessions’ and the langar-management in the afternoon. Anwar Qadri, the one man-manager of the tiny mosque echoed his views. Everything was in harmony. The Shifas and the Singhs though, were visibly enraged. Each family hurled profanities against the other in shameless public spectacle. Things were getting out of hand with every below-average-income family of the colony starting to take sides and the above-average-income ones sticking their noses up at the situation, and the communal harmony getting ruined effectively.

A fortnight later we had a deployment consisting of members of both religious communities come over to our bungalow. As one of the most beloved men and a trusted doctor at that, my father was to help solve the dispute. Dad didn’t have much solving to do. As it turned out, both communities had reconciled themselves with the blasphemy committed by a member each, of their own, and promised to leave the couple at their own peace if only they returned from their own obscure existence from some unknown village in Haryana Gurdass Singh had last made a call from . “Daktorsaab, if you so order them, they shall pay heed”, they reasoned.

It took Dad nearly a week to get in touch with Gurdass and Sanober, for those were the days prior to mobile-phones. Gurdass was exuberant, Dad said, to know that his family and Sanobar’s had agreed to settle all of it without as much of a blood-bath. He told my father “Daktorsaab, I shall never be able to thank you enough for the sense you drove into my folks’ minds”, despite Dad truthfully dis-acknowledging anything to do with the decision.

Gurdass Singh and Sanobar Shifa came home together. Sanobar’s parents took her home promising to Gurdass a grand wedding reception within a month. Over the next three days, I did wait for my school-bus where I usually did, but I did not see Sanobar Shifa making her way to the mosque. In fact no one saw her. Gurdass Singh did keep playing football for a couple of days. Then one evening he too didn’t come to play football.

That night, at around 9 pm, there was a vehement knock on our main-door. My mum opened the door only to find an inebriated Gurdass Singh tumbling inside, with gauntly red and swollen eyes. Clearly, he had been weeping for so long that even his tears had dried up. He looked at my Mum and weakly said, “Medam, Daktorsaab ruined my life too bad. I had my trust in him”. He said ever since their return the Shifas had not let Sanobar meet him even once and had kept her under constant house-arrest. He did not know what their motives were, but he suspected sinister foul-lay. In that one evening, while my Mum consoled the colony-cable operator, I saw her weep too. In Gurdass’s drunken banter was the resonance of every heart that ever got shattered despite love having stayed very alive.

Later that night, Dad revealed the news to us over dinner. The Shifa’s had hatched a conspiracy jointly with the Singhs to get Dad ask their respective scions to come back to the colony before marrying Sanobar off to a fifty-year old businessman and family friend of the Shifa’s, in Karnal

That was it.
No one ever saw Sanobar again. Her sisters did keep up with their bicycle-races though none visited the mosque, which was apparently where their elder sister had first met her love. Gurdass was saved from a suicide attempt in the Beas, by his friends. His life they could save, but his smile was lost. He hardly played football ever again, neither did he quarrel over money, though one time he did come over and apologize to Dad for blaming him for the end of his love-story. Five months later, we moved to Dehradun, and we’ve not heard of Sanobar-Gurdass ever since.

This was one love-story that remained unsung. Neither did it reach a “Happily ever after” culmination, nor was it characterized by bloodbaths, over-the-top long-lingering after-effects, and no one even got to know how the two people suffered. It was born out of nowhere, in a quaint small-town mosque, and it died in obscurity, amidst two families warring for their own honor in their religious perimeters, despite it having been vetoed positive by both the religious heads. These aren’t the stuff stereotypical love-tragedies are made of. This one consisted of an over-confident doctor in a settlement of semi-literate people, a heroine that didn’t battle her plight and shake the shackles of marriage-to-a-man-thirty-years-older-to-her off, and run off once again with the man she loved, and a hero whose greatest displays of breakdown were one jittery-drunken cribbing hour to a lady who refused to pay him more than he would ask for his services, and a half-hearted plunge into a semi-tributary of the Beas. It was just a love that I’ve seen perish in full-bloom, a love story that no one has bothered to remember.

April 1, 2010

You see, you all are cool people. You listen to Pink Floyd while smoking marijuana and the ‘grass’ really makes you feel like you are dwelling within Elysian Lawns. So by virtue of such things that you do, you are more than perfectly licensed to laugh at me if I tell you that Ila Arun and her mustard-and-nicotine tonsils get me high.And I'm that uncool. Deal with it.

Also, I hear Mr. Ragupathi is retiring in a month. Surely that's a good thing in a way. But the question is how good is it? I mean Adolf Hitler too was a characteristic of 1940's Europe, right? With his (self-inflicted)departure, a lot changed in Europe. So with this man's departure(as well of his wife's, scheduled for two years later) a lot of things are going to change in De Nobili School, Maithon. Not that things have stayed the same ever since I left(2007) though. All the political/financial debacle that the school underwent, I am merely happy all of that is now over, and the school is back in experienced, able and dependable hands.