Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The trump card called "quits"

There are angry moments and then there are moments of relief. Frankly speaking when I read about the news of Kabir Suman quitting as a Member of Parliament and Trinamool Congress I was happy and relieved. Thank you, Suman. You needed that break and WE deserved that break from you.
Don't get me wrong. I am a fan of the kind of music he makes, though I consider that I have actually heard very little of that. But any kid growing up in Calcutta in the 90's and early 2000's who over romanticised everything and had all the wee bit makings of the typical Bong aantel (Tagore, Derrida, Theatre, Revolution and book fair trips included) listened to Suman. No big deal! He was the archetypical "Gaanwala" of his songs. And the sheer magic of poetry in his works, "....Tomaar tulona ami khujina kokhono, bohu bybohar kora kono upomaay..." made us go wild. And then there was the iconic song/verse where he claimed, "....nagorik klantitey tomaake chayi, bohudur hentey eshey tomaake chayi..."
But this was then. When he was a wordsmith. When he could turn the urban milieu upside down with his touch of his own style of communism. When he wasn't labelled as a wife beater. When he wasn't portrayed as a debauch and a man of double standards by the media. When he didn't bad mouth the audience speaking against his line of thought in a concert (that was very much unlike the spirit of the songs which we used to hear).  And to our surprise we could all see through these truths. These were mostly truths. I do not know if he took up the excuse of religion to marry again or was it his own wish to convert (that was a personal decision) but what hurt was when this man whom we considered to be a great couldn't stand up to take responsibility of his personal life. (There is a long story there from a personal experience, but that's a different story altogether.)
For many like me, we continued to loved his songs, but he had fallen from grace. For an ardent fan like my father who though did not belong to the jeebonmukhi listening generation but still collected his cassettes, he was a lost case. Suman Chattopadhyay's resurrection was not possible for us who were disillusioned by his hipocrisy and lack of character and will.
But then again Bengal politics have much to offer for your entertainment than even Horatio could have imagined. Singur turned out to be a political turnaround moment for Mamata Banerjee and her brand of socialism found many a takers in the Nandan going elite aantels (Buddhijibi as she prefers to call them). I have immense regard for many of them and the way they supported Banerjee in her movement for what they considered was wrong yet maintaining a safe distance from the nasty rigmaroleof electoral politics. But Suman being that "naive" that he claims to be contested the polls from Jadavpur constituency. And many like me, his erstwhile fans and his neighbours of his earlier Lake Gardens house, were voters from the area.
It was a time for us to choose. For many like my father who had been life long Congressis and were fervent in their support of the Congress-TC pact in West Bengal which eventually threatened the basis of 32 years of Left Front rule in Bengal, it was not a pleasant choice. Many, and this I can say from my personal interaction with the people of the area, voted just for Mamata Banerjee. And if Kabir Suman ever thought that it was him who was being voted to power, he should get his facts right. My pishimoni and mom did not vote in many years. They did not want to elect a person like Suman as their representative. My father reasoned out that he was voting for change and Mamata Banerjee, not Suman. It was not merely a prediction that the margin of TC could have doubled in Jadavpur in case another candidate was put up there.
And then after he gets elected what he did as a people's representative (one who needs to be at the beck and call of the people) was to ask for appointments! yes! and this same person later claimed in a media conference that he was not being able to work for the people? Excuse me! Mr. Suman. I don't know when will you be able to behave like a mature individual who doesn't run away from his responsibilities just because another woman allured him, but you were speaking in the capacity of a Member of Parliament in the largest and thriving democracy in the world. And what kind of work exactly did you refer to Mr. Suman? Throwing away the elected Government of the Country/state?? Quite apparent, because you empathise with them. I do make that us and them distinction so famous in Bengal politics in this case. Yes it is them who have been fooling around for long. In stead you should have paid attention to the use of the welfare measures that were undertaken by the Government in your Constituency. But you are so naive that yours is always a case of sour grapes.You claimed you did not want to contest elections, you did never wish to be party member and took membership only after your candidature was announced and the BEST joke was that you have realised all political parties irrespective of CPM/Trinamool are corrupt. Blah! you took that long to realise that????? I mean do you think we are fools to believe that you were coecred into this democratic process.
And then you went ahead foul mouthing your leadership and party in public appearances. The only question, we, the electorate had for you was why don't you quit then? And you did, but how was it possible without the drama? You resigned over an SMS (?!) I mean hats off to you to come up with such innovative ideas to buy time and butter your ego. You every well expect the TC leadership to coax you back to their fold. I sincerely hope they don't. You are a good riddance.
It's often painful to see a childhood hero go down the drains. In your case Suman, it is different. You are just a mere shadow of your earlier self. You are selling that self of yours as a commodity. Do us and yourself a favour, please continue with singing, you might just regain some respect you lost. And Don't even dare to revoke that SMS resignation. For our sake Gaanwala!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Being Together

This was my entry for the creative writing competition in Carpe Diem, 2010. Carpe Diem is the intra university fest that we have every year. This was written in two hours flat with a 1200 words limit. So couldn't explore it much. Nevertheless thought of publishing it. Oh! it won the 3rd prize :D

                                                               Being Together

“So should I wait for you or go alone?” Titir clearly sounded disinterested over the phone.
“I think I will be late.” Rajat was curt enough to match Titir.

A conversation like this was nowadays ordinary for Rajat-Titir. Over the years their relationship had seen phases of being pale and then turns a shade paler. Fourteen years ago they were campus sweethearts in one of the country’s best engineering colleges. Needless to say it was very difficult to convince Rajat’s proud Punjabi parents and Titir’s equally conceited Bengali family to go for a cross cultural marriage like theirs. But eventually they had to give in to the demands of this upbeat couple for a ‘love marriage’.
Titir often wondered about what went wrong between then and now. It all seemed picture perfect even the day when she told him about her pregnancy. Was it the miscarriage that made Rajat averse? Or was it because of the better career profile that Titir managed over the years while Rajat struggled for no particular reasons. Every single incident, be it Titir’s absence when Rajat’s mom expired or his refusal to father a child again, added to a greater darkness within the shadows that already clouded their relationship.

It was a particularly humid day. The traffic added to the woes. Titir was seriously contemplating asking Ira mashi why she had a fetish for scheduling all her children’s wedding during summer. She also could never sense the joy that her extended family gathered by asking her about Rajat. They all knew about the state of things. In fact Titir was happy that Rajat made up an excuse today. She clearly remembered what an embarrassment he was when he once came for a family wedding completely drunk.
 “Titir, Why are you so late?” Her mother was standing in front of the stair case.
“Ma, you know I often get late while coming back from office. Besides that, the traffic was really bad.”
“Ok. Is Rajat coming?”
“I don’t know.”
“At least today you guys could have made an effort ton show up together.”
The last remark by her mother made her lose her cool. Didn’t her mother know everything about their relationship and what Titir had been going through?
“Why? What is so special about today? Or for that matter any day? Ma, I still have some prestige and dignity left. I am thankful that he declined to come today. Don’t you remember what he did for Chotomama’s son’s wedding?”
“Titir I understand. But you should always give people a second chance.”
“How may more “Second” chances Ma?”
“Titir for God’s sake, don’t you guys remember it is 22nd of April today, your wedding anniversary.”
For a moment Titir was stuck as to what to say in reply. She actually could not come up with a befitting one. She mumbled something before moving on to meet her cousin Rinku, the one who was getting married today. The very same day she had an elaborate wedding with Rajat, fifteen summers ago. How could she forget about it completely? And how could Rajat? They had planned so much about the wedding, the rituals, the shopping to be done and how the wedding album should be done up. All that seems yesterday and today they completely forgot about it.

The confusion regarding the last minute details of the wedding reached its peak. The groom’s family was already there and Ira mashi hyperventilated. Titir could not find a much more opportune moment to slip out of the venue silently. Her mind pondered only over Rajat’s ignorance to remember this day. She understood it was her fault too but couldn’t he surprise him by remembering this day once in their entire married life. Till last year she made some efforts to buy gifts and go out for dinner. And this year she also forgot. Is it an indication as to where is their relationship heading to?
All these thoughts cluttered her mind while she drove back home. Perhaps that place which she nowadays calls her own could provide some solace. Perhaps because it was a roof shared by two strangers who nowadays did not even bother to remember a common thread the legally still bound their lives.
She banged then door after opening it with her own set of keys. And there was a bigger surprise waiting for her inside.
Rajat was sitting in hall. The Asha Bhonsle song being played was of her choice, but she did not care to notice.
“You told you will be late, didn’t you?” Titir was seething with anger.
“Come on, why did you have to make up an excuse? Why couldn’t you come with me for my relative’s wedding?”
“I did not feel like.” Rajat was cold.
“Did not feel like it? Ok! Tell me once Rajat when you ever did something with conviction? You can only frown about things in life and never do anything about it. Do you have any idea that my relatives ask when you do not turn up for such a social do?”
“But Titir I think you once mentioned that I do not accompany you for such functions. Besides it does not seem that your family is particularly fond of me.”
“It is because you turned up drunk for such a function. What more do you expect?”
“That is fine then. Even you were not present when my family needed you the most.”
“Don’t bring that up or even compare. It was out of my hands, I was on an official tour when mummyji expired.”
“Oh! Please, do not give me that shit. You and your official duties always take preference.”
“Stop sulking Rajat and accept the fact that I am more successful. I could never understand why you are having an inferiority complex? Come on! I am equally qualified and did not drown myself in alcohol. I never lacked focus in my life, unlike you.”
“Yes. Focus in life that killed our child.”

For a moment Titir wished she was deaf, but it was not to be. Rajat had left the room.

The next morning was not any different from the usual routine. Titir was getting ready by her usual eight-thirty standard when she found a note besides the jewellery case Rajat had gifted her on their first wedding anniversary. Rajat had scribbled a sorry on it, the first one he had in all these years. Titir was impatient to throw it away when the concluding part of the note caught her attention.
I thought you had remembered our anniversary and returned early. I was waiting for you. I don’t know if I told you about this ‘Baba’ I met at the jogger’s park a month back. I know you will laugh at me but he inspired me to start everything afresh. But it was not meant to be the way I planned. I remember you never quite believed in ideal dates. Yesterday was one which went awry. Let’s make an unplanned start today, a day past the fifteenth year of our being together.”
Emotions overcome the better of one’s self and Titir was no exception. Only that this time Rajat was standing at the door to comfort her.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Death of the Ideologue- The deceased romance of a generation

Kanu Sanyal, the Naxal ideologue died this week. He committed suicide. He died on a day when news channels across India where hyperventilating to give equal coverage to his death and the fire that raged the century and a half old Stephen Court building in Park Street, Calcutta, the one which houses the iconic Flury's confectionery store. It might just be a coincidence that in his death also he had to fight for equal footage on national airwaves with the symbolism of something he aspired to bring down with the dreams of a revolution.
Frankly speaking, none of us (and I mean the 'Bongs' of our generation) will be able to appreciate the nuances of the Naxalbari movement and the romance that an entire generation of our Babas, Jethus and Kakus attached to it. We are a far cry from that.
I remember a time when my Amma used to tell me stories about those horrific times. The times of the romance of the Naxalbari. I come from a Bengali family who have been supporting the INC (Indian National Congress) through thick and thin. My great grandfather have been a first generation Congressman. Needless to say we have been successful in maintaining that stand even in the times when an alternative to the CPM in West Bengal did seem impossible. But then again we were not unaffected. My father's days of youth were of those when Bengal was rising to a new dawn and a dream which later turned in to a nightmare. It may be his inclination towards reading up on everything that he being a staunch Chatro Parishad supporter in college days still read up on the  nuances of the Naxalbari Movement. He never supported it, (in fact he once told me that these were the people who have distanced an entire generation of Indian youth from the democratic process) but he was the run of the mill Bengali guy whom the now deceased Kanu Sanyal would have loved to meet.
Yes, I say this because somewhere I feel that there was a dream and it was ruined. And it is a sham of Communism in all the Communist ruled states that we are living in today. Kanu Sanyal, for once, accepted the fact. He preferred staying with the people he had fought for. His Comrades. Not like the ones we see everyday, brokering a deal with the local real estate dealer or may be with a big Industrial house to overnight convert a silent and previously unheard of village in to the Singapore of Bengal without much groundwork and detailing going in to it.
These are myopic dreams that the so called Communists and Maoists have been seeing for long now. albeit from the two different ends of the spectrum. Maoists continue with their penchant for violent struggle where the ultimate losers end up being the onces they claim to fight for. It is high time for them to understand that to fight a machinery as big and organised as "State power" you need to stop fighting first. Since the notions of a welfare state are deep entrenched in our system, in spite of the JNU returned Communists (who are scared of facing the democratic face of the country) plaguing the system- there is hope.Hope in our Political process which churns out the much controversy ridden yet appreciated efforts like the NREGA.
 Violence is never the solution. And hats off to Kanu Sanyal who had realised this and took a stand. It will take time before our Netas and the other self proclaimed ones take note of that. But for one who had started this movement with the precincts of violence, to accept this fact and not being dogmatic could have been a huge step towards blending Communist movement within the mainstream of Indian Politics. Sadly, that never happened and with the state of things at present, it might just be so that the next generation of Bongs would understand the Communist movement in India just as another 'Historic Blunder'.
Frankly speaking, I know very little of who Kanu Sanyal was and his work or the times he lived in. It is just another third eye perspective. A perspective of the sort whose fathers and uncles believed that Kanu Sanyal was practical and why Charu Mazumdar's strict hardcore line of violence is bound to meet with utter destruction.
In his death, our generation (the very few who actually bothered to take note) has relived the romance of Naxalbari and its original intent rather than despairing over the fact that the person who started it and later condemned the Maoist movement, died a lonely death. Popular media might be right on the fact that his death sent out the signals of despair over violence but it was also about going back and understanding the bent of mind of a person more Communist than the ones we elect and the alternative model that he accepted and could have propounded in case his dream would have not gone awry or his friends in power not grown richer by the millions.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Our two and a half year long project on Nanotechnology and the Law is finally gearing towards its last leg. And it was indeed a learning experience. Learning, in many a ways. Learning because I could buy that coveted and pricey dress for my sister which my internship or creative writing contest win remuneration could not provide for. Learning also because I learnt to tackle the harder ways of life and how not to take your CGPA for a ride while you don't see eye to eye with the authorities. Well! thank you life for that may be.
But back to where I began. We had been busy through the semester planning out and detailing out every nitty gritty of organising a seminar for this project whereby the report we have prepared and the drafted bill stands the final scrutiny before it gets submitted. And I loved doing every bit of it. Chalking out and sharing work, drafting letters, inviting people, calling up much Senior Advocates and sharing a joke with them while you haven't even seen them ever and being comfortable with it, calling up your own alumni for more contacts, inquiring about the food, dealing with over enthusiastic juniors asking you random doubts, conducting sessions and scanning papers- sending them for final approval (that was for the in house conclave) - Boy! the only thing that came to my mind after all this was "Aami ebar ekta meyer biye ditey pari" (I can actually make the arrangements for a girl's marriage) considering the fact that it is supposed to be the most difficult thing to organise on earth. I was quite nervous when we began. Probably because till today all the seminar/ conferences that I have participated in/ volunteered for on campus or outside where organised by somebody and my duty was to only read my paper enjoy the food and have a good holiday (Taj! Lucknow, ah!) or I was assigned work by some senior which I did diligently. But this time we as a team were jointly responsible for everything. And that included assigning work for our juniors too. They had similar expressions on their faces, similar rapporteur-ing queries that we had sometime back. And suddenly I could see the baton pass on.   And we might just disagree on the amount we are going to miss NALSAR after a year but we all know its only a matter of time before we leave. May be 3 years from now I would also turn up for such a seminar and express glee on seeing that classmate I might be meeting for the first time after convocation.
The scheduled seminar finally happened today on campus. And fireworks it was.  My god! I had heard that the academia, the industry and the policy makers do not see eye to eye. I saw that in front of my eyes today. People doing Ph.Ds and  other assorted stuff, hats off to you (that too in Science.though for a moment I loved physics today because of that wonderful professor)....How much do you study and reason. It's a completely different question though that the brilliant lawyers cut across through all your points with SOME reasoning. :P. No offence meant whatsoever.
It was also kind of great to know that a few of the advocates/legal experts were looking for me (since I was the one contacting them while others handled the work regarding contacting the nano experts' part), appreciated our work and indulged us to join in when a poor participant's trip was being taken badly. It was like dawning on us that the dreams of meeting such luminaries while being that gawky eyed teenager were finally turning into a dream. It will get only bigger from here. I await that moment.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's the merrier side.

So what did Law school do to you apart from taking off 10 years from your life expectancy? (There is an actual Facebook group supporting my point.)

Well, let me encapsulate some of them. Though, I think some of them may be very very much NALSAR specific, still-
1) You are perennially hungry. Good food is a better turn on for you than good looking men (and vice versa).
2) You live on just with the hope of going back home. and once back there you miss the independence and the random bullshit you carry on day in and day out.
3) You stop watching television just because there are numerous people in the common room asking for one or the other channel to be put on during the break. Also the remote is not in your hand. Sigh! you miss the remote.
4) Your laptop is your best friend. In case you want to ask your friend next door if she is game for dinner around 7.30, you will rather ping her than calling out for her.
5) You indulge in activities you would have never imagined yourself doing before law school happened. Like you might have cringed at the thought of passing chits in class and making weird noises, because you were this prim and proper teacher's pet in school. But in between one of those sophisticated top law school things happened to you. :P
6) You also would have never thought about indulging in stupid water fights,singing Govinda songs loudly in class, drowning a grumpy moody type person's room, getting all excited about dressing up in a pajama in class or scurrying through the entire Girl Hostel blocks 1,2,3,4 (in that order) looking for a saree to wear on ethnic day.
7) The various rhythmic concoctions that the nerd boy in class did during the fest or dj night provides fodder for your entertainment 3'o clock in the night on the hostel balcony for the next one year.
8) You are invariably late for the 9'o clock class. How much you try, you end up running after the teacher begging for attendance.
9) Also, in case attendance is over you look for an opportunity to sneak out and have breakfast in the mess. That's like some heroic deed.
10) Before you came to law school, you were this very well mannered girl who always listened to mom. In fact before you came here your mom warned you against guys sneaking in to your hostel and advised you to stay away from it. 1st year- you are damn against it, 2nd year- you grow indifferent, 3rd year- you don't mind, you enjoy the buzz about somebody's boyfriend making an effort. 4th year- Darn! you actually help people plan out the sneaking in and sneaking out. Also by this time you  know none of the romantic possibilities are going to work out and almost the entire other half of the batch barges in to do some more bakwaas as an extension of the class hours. 

And there is more to come. Only that I have to write a mid semester paper tomorrow and none of us can make out anything of the 400 odd slides.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Was he omniscient by any chance?

"Tumi ki keboli chobi, shudhu pot ey lekha......
noyoney somukhey tumi nai, noyonero majhkhane niyehco je thaayi........"

This is a very random query that I have. I am overburdened with the pressure of impending mid semester exams and those dreadful project submission deadlines. My only resort during these times is invariably "Dadu". No alternatives per se. But this one really intrigued me. I was relistening to the quoted song after quite a long time. In fact I cannot recollect when did I listen to this before, but obviously was familiar with "noyon somukhey" line. But now that I took a liking for the song and replayed it quite sometime it reaffirmed my belief that Tagore was a visionary. Come on! he died in 1941 and the CERN people also could not think of coming up with the internet that fast. I mean this song suits those dime a dozen virtual relationships we strike up so aptly. Not the dozen but those few ones where you wished the transatlantic ridges appeared lesser and lesser. Also, if the oscillating time zones did not exist. Come on! all of us did fall for that virtual stranger who knew about you more than he/she should. It's a kind of syndrome. Many of those calculative souls fall for it. Nothing wrong in it actually. When the reality appears to be so vague, you seek refuse in everything virtual. and you do it knowingly. You know it won't work out. Your aspirations- personal and professional doesn't match. Still you want it to work out. If the other nips the possibilities of anything further happening (read kills the possibility of getting hurt bigtime in the future) you tend to get hurt. and then you take refuge to Tagore.

So did he know about virtual reality? Or to be precise could he imagine such a scenario? or did he fall for anyone like that? We all know about Victoria Ocampo and also the fact that they could not meet for the second time. Was it written for her? or for somebody else. I don't know about the time it was written. But the longing of a long distance love story seems evident. Anybody knowing please do enlighten on that and my primary query, "did he actually know about the future?- the virtual reality?".

Thursday, March 4, 2010

আমার প্রত্যেকটা কবিতার মুক্তি তোমার  ভাললাগায়
আমার নৈঃশব্দ্যের ধ্বনি সুর খুঁজে পায় তোমার আশ্লেষে

আমার অস্তিত্ব ঠুনকো নয়। আমার নিজস্বতা হারিয়ে খুঁজে নেয় না অন্য একটা আশ্রয়।

আমার ভাললাগার পুতুল খেলার নষ্ট আড়ম্বর খালি আঁকিবুকি কাটে।
জলছাপ গুলো মিশে যায় অন্ধকারে।

ভাললাগা আমার ভালবাসার সুলুকসন্ধানে তাই শুধু তোমাকেই খোঁজে হয়তো বা।
তোমার খেলার মাঝে সময় আর মান অভিমান দাবি করে আমার প্রত্যেকটা না দেখা স্বপ্ন।

তোমাকে আমার ভালবাসায় দেওয়ার আর তাই কিচ্ছু নেই। বিশ্বাস করো।
আমার ভালবাসা নিঃস্ব নয়, কিন্তু স্বারথপর বটে।

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A little bit of the blue and oh! yeah a bit of red too

My childhood memories of Holi remain entangled with the onslaught of annual exams. My school had this uncanny preference for preparing the exam schedule so as to support my Ma's fervent plea of- "don't play holi, otherwise you will catch a cold" gesture. I had no other option, other than to oblige. Also, our plans of visiting Shantiniketan during "Boshontoutsav" never materialised.
Once in college (technically University), the 1st time I entered that Gate No. 4 of Jadavpur Univeristy, the first thing I was told about was the snob value that is attached to you once you say you are doing Comparative Literature from "Jadobpur"(trust me, half of the times people doing English Hons. form nondescript colleges hadn't even heard of it, but still looked at me with awe since I was kind of friendly with Tagore and Austen, both actually). I found the second one even more interesting though. The "across the jheel" romance angle. And before you started viewing the world with those rose tinted glasses on, you need to thank the entire "boshontoutsav" on campus...and "jodubongsher lokjon" (people of the jodu clan- a name attached to people from JU) were more than eager to make it even more colourful every year. 
But I was stuck! The one year I spent there was anything but drab. But during Holi I was just a silent spectator from the 1st floor Comparative "ledge". My law school entrance exams were nearby and I could not afford to miss them. Greener Pastures beckoned me you know! though I am yet to decipher the comparative degree of blue I lost out on.
Once in NALSAR, Holi meant everything of breaking out. 1st year holi brings back memories of boys sneaking into the girls hostel and the resultant drama when the warden, the Registrar and the Vice Chancellor arrived. It was fun. Fun because it wa sthe first time I was playing Holi in a pan Indian set up. But my resilience was short lived. One egg on my head and fatak!- I was gone. After that the last two years had been drab. Working or not, I somehow was not interested in taking part in the festivities.
But this time in my 4th year, I suddenly realised we(atleast me) were too short on time. One year more and college gets over. and so does our coveted days of everything random. Not that we aren't professional enough now. Seriously, that gets on my nerves sometimes, but I agree we have to be that ways some time, everytime. And even though this time not many were around, the bunch of us present here made sure that it was special. 
And special it was for us. For me, it was the proper Holi I played in my entire 22 years of existance....Colours, Sprinklers on the field, egg and last but not the least the "Keechar". The "Keecharowali holi" just made up for everything. I was stinking with the 4 eggs on my head and the mud on my body. But so were my friends. But I was happy that I retaliated. Also, that the amount of running around on that manicured campus lawn made up for the amount I hogged during the holi break. There was no Bhaang or Thandai. But the vibes were infectious and the smiles, for once, were real. Here's to the brightest and "junglee-est" holi I have ever played in my life. Here's to my friends, classmates and juniors- Richa, Anku, Paridhi, Swetali, Nidhi, Nannu, Sadhika, Rana, Baba T, Nayak and Chau for making it this special. Thank you guys. And needless to say I missed Shreya, Samiksha, Runjhun, Jyotika and others being around. 
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