Sunday, December 2, 2012

Performance Anxiety and After

She's been through a lot these past few months
But she puts her bright face on again for tonight.
The show must go on, she says to herself
The charades will run long.
So she paints on her mask
And draws brows which are military precise
And earrings which glitter bright
And the hairspray sets her forward but
She pauses before she bravely puts on her red lips...

She's conquered the night yet again...
But now...bone weary and hurting deep
She knows the cracks are visible here and there...
And all she wants is some sleep.
She tries to hide her broken frame
And move away before their curious eyes could creep
Into her deepest thoughts
Some catch a glimpse of the shattered face
And murmur "that's cannot be her"
And refuse to acknowledge...
Some sleep, she yearns, as soon as I close my eyes...
Some sleep.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ridiculous Things in Life

Why was it easier to communicate with and even congratulate "her", rather than think of "him" and how much it still hurts...
Life is funny like that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Maria Taylor *Song Beneath The Song*

Cryptic words meander
Now there is a song beneath the song
One day you'll learn 
You'll soon discern its true meaning

An interesting detachment
A listless poem of love sincere
Desire, despair
Overlapping melodies

And it's not a love, it's not a love
It's not a love, it's not a love song
It's not a love, it's not a love, it's not a love song
It's not a love, it's not a love, it's not a love song

Oh now the roots are reminiscing
Recurring dreams of minor chords
Metred time
Muted chimes find the beat

And in the pulse there lies conviction
A steady push and pull routine
The cymbals swell
High notes flail into reach

And it's not a love, it's not a love
It's not a love, it's not a love song
It's not a love, it's not a love, it's not a love song
It's not a love, it's not a love, it's not a love song


 -*Song Beneath The Song* by Maria Taylor

people rant

so, sometimes people are not what you think they are...

they lie, they cheat.
they steal.
they sit on high moral horses even when they have no business doing that...
they hurt and they are mean.
they will do stuff to get ahead - ruthlessly.
they are without any scruples.

big deal! they are people - that's what they (mostly) do!

deal with it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Now (or never!)

Tired of putting away things for "later" - when is later anyway?
Why do we believe in putting pain before pleasure? Why do we think that having fun is wrong?
Why not NOW? What's wrong with NOW?
Now is a great time to be.
For instance, I want a break NOW! I just want to go somewhere really pretty, park myself on a bench and just drink in all the beauty... NOW! 

Oh wait... now I have work... 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

broken

How can I even try

I can never win

Hearing them, seeing them

In the state I'm in


"The revelation disenfranchises you, numbs you, you're defeated. Everything you hoped and dreamed for is dashed, but worse, all the laughs... and him looking into your eyes was just a fat lie, a big joke, and you can't help but feel an enveloping sense of hopelessness. You want to believe that everything happens for a reason, but you get to thinking that everything happens because you're useless."

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Memories

"The more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes."

Vladimir Nabokov

Monday, May 7, 2012

days go by

… and I hear nothing from you

are you okay?

I am missing you…

GWS and God Bless

Monday, April 23, 2012

Explore. Dream. Discover.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.
- Mark Twain

Monday, April 16, 2012

Thanks for the mail

I am so glad you took the time to reply.

Means a lot to me on a dreary Monday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My present to you this year

“Thank God I found the GOOD in goodbye…” ― Beyonce Knowles

Saturday, March 10, 2012

life goes on

i guess it's unfair to expect that everyone else's life should be put on hold just because i fail to have a "life" of my own... 
to all those who move on, have the courage to move on, my sincere admiration and my best wishes.
in the mean time, this is just another "thing" i need to get past - another hurt i need to absorb - and i should do this gladly - because i love them - all - and they don't know how much.
peace.
and wishes for a great reawakening...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Last Saturday

I was so happy to meet you around that corner.

(Wish it happened oftener.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Today...

For the first time in years, I don’t feel like crying today…  

That’s good right? Or is it because I don’t feel much of anything nowadays?

If it’s a defense mechanism, then I have to say it’s working. I didn’t like that dull ache inside that refused to stop and reminded me of you.

 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Of Fish, Makabari, Shordi, Allopathy and other forms of Bangaliana...

The Dying Traits of  Bangali

 

On a lazy Sunday,  Misses (or as the traditional Bengali bhodrolok would say “songsar” or the more bourgeois would say “phemily”) and I were discussing the dying traits of the traditional Bangali and his culture (pronounced kaalture), traits that would be lost in a generation or two as he becomes globalized into that mythical beast known as the “Bong”, assailed by the integrating and homogenizing influences of cosmopolitanism.

Here are few that we identified.

 

Shopping For Fish:  Note I do not say the love for fish—which I believe will persist for some time. What I however believe we are losing is the sense of sheer joy that people of our parents’ generation and those above partook in the experience of procuring fish for the family.

Bengalis were never an overtly religious community. The closest they came to a regular communion with God was their weekly expedition to the fish market. Make no mistake. This was a ritual. First there was the proud walk to the market holding a bag (”tholi’). This would be followed by a slow survey of the cornucopia of aquatic edibles, as the expert spotted the will-be-rotten-soon from the fresh specimens by expertly pressing the belly of the fish, glancing at the color of the gills and the eyes all the while smiling to oneself at the mistakes of the novice shopper Barin-babu who does not know the significance of a fish that has its belly full of eggs and Banerjee who is unable to distinguish genuine Padma-r Hilsa from the local variety.

Then there would be a lengthy comparative shopping/ bargaining process where the bhodrolok/mohila would wag his/her finger and through a mixture of threats (I will stop buying from you) and entreaties ( come on I am your old customer, make your profit from Barin-babu not from me) that would impress a hostage negotiator, fix the price. Finally there was the observation of the fish cutting process where the Bengali Zen Master had to make sure that the fish was being diced into appropriate sized pieces (too big makes it difficult to cook and too little means it breaks in the pan) while at the same time keeping an eye out on the rapscallion fish vendors, who were known for their legerdemain by which they would tamper with the weights or make prime-cuts that had been paid for vanish somewhere near the folds of their lungi.

Bengalis arent proud of their wealth because they have none. Bengalis aren’t proud of their physiques either again because they have none. But they were always proud of their fishy skills and Bengalis of past generations would discuss their fish market conquests with the same enthusiasm (”Where do you get good shrimp nowadays–all the good shrimp gets exported to the US”)  and one-up-manship (You paid Rs. 50 for a kilo of hilsa —well I paid Rs. 48) with which today’s generation discuss their cellphone models.

That pride is gone today as a new generation slowly and surely migrates to supermarkets and packaged fish with even those who are still forced to go to the fish market treating it as a horrible chore that needs to be dispensed with as quickly as possible. Consequently, the savoring, the languidness and the pride that used to be associated with this almost mystical activity is now slowly dying away.

Tea: Accepted that drinking tea (cha) doesnt face imminent obsolescence like the expedition to the fish market. But its pre-eminent position as the discussion-fuel of the Bangali has been challenged by the ever-rising popularity of the coffee which once upon a time used to be the exclusive prerogative of”South Indians” as an uncle would say. When people now drop in, the host asks “Tea or coffee”? A generation ago it would be “two teaspoons of sugar or three” with tea being assumed to be the beverage of choice. Not convinced about the demise of tea? Ask 10 under-30 Bongo-sontans and Bongo-tanayas whether the word “Makaibari” rings a bell or “Barista”? I am sure most of you will come to the same conclusion that I have.

An Obsession With Catching The Cold:  The Bengali is always catching a cold or the flu, at least much more frequently than any other lingual group in the world. Critics say that is all nonsense and just an excuse to avoid work but to be honest the Bengali does not need an excuse to do that since shirking work is his birthright.

So yes. It is true. Bengalis do have a genetic susceptibility for viruses and bacteria which explains why we have CPM and the Trinamool Congress and why we are forever sneezing and sniveling and running up a temperature, blaming it on what we call “season change”.

The Bengali has historically been well aware of this limitation of his constitution.  That is why he used to fortify himself against the cold, even if it as mild as the Kolkata one, in such a heavy-handed manner that non-Bengalis could barely suppress their mirth. First there was the ubiquitous monkey-cap, black or brown in color, with which the Bengali would cover his head making him look he was on an expedition to the Antarctic than on a quiet stroll in the park on a November morning in Calcutta. Then there was the muffler and the turtle-neck sweater protecting the neck and torso from the depredations of Mother Nature. If one was going out for a picnic to Calcutta Zoo (which is where 80% of family expeditions finished up), the Bangali almost always carried a thermos flask with hot tea and oranges for the Vitamin C.

The women, unfortunately, did not have the luxury of the monkey-caps but had voluminous shawls and sweaters that kept them warm together with heavy woolen socks that protected their feet (since cold evidently attacks from the feet). During the winter, windows were usually stuck tight with the first breeze of spring (bosonter haowa) considered specially treacherous, known not only to bring out romantic poetry but also snot from the Bangali nose (Rabindranath Tagore reportedly tried to rebel against this trait of the Bengali to isolate himself from the environment by keeping his windows open during the extremes of summer and winter but then again there are certain changes even he failed to bring.)

Today’s generation of Bengalis have become more “fashionable” and scoff  at wearing the monkey-cap and the woolen socks publicly. But they are still as afraid of the common cold as their predecessors were and don’t be surprised to find them surreptitiously wearing three heavy cotton vests beneath their shirts and thermal underwear beneath their trousers as they look over their shoulders from time to time to check if their biggest enemies are creeping up behind them.

Namely capitalists and rhinoviruses.

A Healthy Disregard For Allopathic Treatment: The Bengali spends much of his lifespan in pain—either doubled up from stomach convulsions or sitting on the potty passing stool or having ice-cold napkins pressed to his forehead. But there was one thing old-timers avoided like the plague even in the midst of all this pain—allopathic medicine. As a matter of fact, the ultimate macho Bangali line used to be ” I do not believe in allopathy” with those who took Crocin or Enteroquinol being considered wimps of the first order.

For the Bangali Sunny Deol, any disease, from cough to cancer, could be cured by neem/basak leaves, karola (karele) and “chirotar jol” with the potency of the “medicines” being directly proportional to their vile taste. Every Bengali mashima (aunty) was an MBBS in plants and herbs while Bengali meshomashai (uncle) knew everything there was to know about homeopathy. This meant people went to Dr. De’s allopathic clinic round the corner for two reasons–1) death was imminent or 2) a fake health certificate was needed to explain why someone fell ill on the very day of the Mohun Bagan-East Bengal match.

Today’s kids are however different. Having lost their faith in the remedies of old and slavishly following the West, they rush to the allopathic doctor at the first sign of trouble, whether it be a slight rumble in the stomach or a temperature of 99F.

Adda: Again it is not that Bengalis do not get together and talk today or will cease to in the future but the defining characteristics of what was the Bangali adda (community chat sessions) is gradually dying out under the ceaseless attack of modern life and bi-yearly performance evaluations at work. Much as we Bengalis want to cling onto our glorious pasts and our four-hour workdays, the breakneck culture of today makes it impossible for the Bangali to come home from work at 3 pm, take a relaxing siesta, have a cleansing bath with Margo soap, wear a “photuya” and “pyjama” , slip on a hawai chappal and walk over to the community tea shop or to the “rock” of a house (an elevated unroofed portico) and have a relaxing discussion with fellow Bengalis over tea and alur (potato) chop.

There is much romanticization of the adda of old as if the topics of discussion were almost always Socrates and Camus and Trotsky and Tennyson. It was not. Much of adda was idle gossip about whether Uttam Kumar was really going out with Supriya and whether neigbhourhood  Minu who had run away with the taxi driver will ever be able to get a decent husband. [Satyajit Ray’s “Agantuk” has a discussion on this with Rabi Ghosh asking “Rabindranath ki adda diten?”(did Rabindranath engage in adda?)]

Just to make things clear once again.  The concept of adda and gossip is as alive as ever and will always be with technology like the internet allowing it to expand its scope beyond the boundaries of geography. However what is steadily dying out is the languid late-afternoon community gatherings and the face-to-face meetings as  Twitter, email and SMS take their place.

Maidan Football: Ask any Bangali old-timer about cricket and the chances are he will tell you that it is a pansy game played by imperialists. Not that the Bangali did not love cricket. After all in 1976, more than 40,000 came to the Eden Gardens on the fifth day morning to watch Bishen Singh Bedi bat as India crashed to a loss to Tony Greig’s England. But the passion generated by cricket was nothing compared to that generated by the baap of all games—football. More specifically local club football played at the Kolkata maidans.

The bitter rancor between Shias and Sunnis pales in comparison to that between old-time  East Bengal and Mohun Bagan fans with migrants from Bangladesh (Bangals) constituting the support base of the former and the traditional denizens of West Bengal (Ghotis) comprising the latter. Offices would empty during East Bengal-Mohun Bagan games and those unable to leave work would huddle over radios and transistors at their tables as all life would come to a standstill. There would be heated debates during and after the game with hands reaching for collars and with even bricks being thrown after particularly acrimonious referee decisions. The first game of the season used to be a social occasion. Goshto Pal and Chuni Goswami had their place in the pantheon of Bangali Gods along with Subhash Bose, Rabindranath Tagore and Ishwarchandra Vidyasagar. And grandfathers would get all teary-eyed and emotional as they would recall how in 1911 Mohun Bagan taught a colonially suppressed nation “to believe” when they defeated the “sahebs” to lift the IFA shield, an act the British never forgave the city for leading to the shifting of the capital to Delhi (All historians would disagree with this being the reason why the capital was shifted but try telling that to an emotional Mohun Bagan dadu).

For today’s generation of Bangalis however, cricket has knocked football off its pedestal. Blame it if you will on the steady decline in the standards of Maidan football or on the jazzy marketing strategies of cricket or the arrival of a certain man from Behala. Even those who still love football follow Manchester United rather than Mohun Bagan and obsess over which club Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing for as opposed to Baichung Bhutia. As a result of this lack of interest, Maidan football is slowly dying out and with it a hallowed Bangali tradition.

Elocution (abritti) and Rabindra Sangeet In College Fests: Tough for the young uns to believe today but the abritti competitions and the rabindra sangeet concert were some of the most well-attended events in Kolkata college socials during our parents’ generation with artists like Chinmay Chattopadhyay enjoying the kind of adulation reserved today for a Lucky Ali or a Shan.

But then the “social” became the “fest”. The old flowery elocution style with the trembling voice went out of fashion. Rabindra Sangeet is now considered too boring for the “masti public” since it doesnt get the crowd head-banging and grooving in the same way that Bangladeshi rock bands with their profound songs like “Frustration. Ami hote chai Sensation. Jiboner Expectation gulo sudhu baaki roye jaaye” [Rough translation: Frustration. I want to be a sensation. My life’s expectations remain unfulfilled] do. Which is why they are no longer financially viable in the corporate jamboree that college fests have become.

One can still take a look at how things used to be if one goes to college reunions, whose organization is typically dominated by generations past. Here elocution and rabindra sangeet is still the accepted mode of entertainment as the oldies sit awash in their memories.

And bachelor Debu-da wonders how his life would have been if he just had the courage to put the rose in Debolina’s Geetobitaan in 1966 as he wistfully looks at the 250 lb giantess that is the Debolina of today. However in his mind’s eye he sees only the Suchitra-Sen lookalike of 1965 which is how he remembers her.

Yes. The Bengali is changing. Fast. Not always for the good. But somehow I do not think that the romanticism that is wired into our DNAs, that Debu-da part of us, can ever be wiped away.

And for that strangely I am thankful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Walk with You

This poem is inspired by Frank O’Hara’s Having a Coke with You

“A walk with you this rainy evening

 is so much more fun than being at the cinema, catching the late show for a favourite movie

or riding a meandering tram past the Maidan greens on a foggy wintry morning

or even feeling the breeze lift my limp tresses as we pass under the Howrah Bridge

as our boatman sings in a mournful tone

partly because with your red umbrella and shiny eyes

and your mobile mouth, you are a lot more fun than a darkened film hall

and because your stories make me laugh more than watching

the silly puppies play in the sun at the ghats

partly because I like holding your hand as we walk

sidestepping the puddles of water

partly because everything around us seems so alive

and glittering and filled with colours and constantly moving water

partly because I like how you blow into your cup of tea

and ask me whether I would like some lemon with mine

as we sit under a tarpaulin roof pregnant with the monsoon

with only a wet cat and a stoic chaiwallah with his ancient stove

we finally walk into the academy and park our umbrellas by the door

inside it’s strangely dry and I miss not leaning on your arm as we see

this painting of a group of crows with beady eyes

or that of a wary fishmonger bargaining with a customer holding a hilsa

with scales as shiny as the water which is falling outside

and then again I come upon this painting of a woman by a window

I look

at you and I would rather look at you than all the art in the world

We walk again outside and debate heatedly what that painting of a few blotches of blue

could mean and we stop and laugh and laugh and I am happy I am here in this moment

with you and no one else.”