Monday, December 16, 2013


Ours was an arranged marriage.

Or that is how the society prefers to call it. If you ask me, I am yet to understand the difference between a 'love marriage' and an 'arranged marriage'. Can a  marriage survive without love, is a much debated question. The naysayers opine that marriage is the end of all the romance. Well! I married early in life. I was 23. But that does not mean I did not have an informed opinion about everything under the sun. I was always very clear about the kind of life partner I would ideally want. And that somewhere made my friends, family and peers believe that I was the 'love marriage' kind of girl. Presumptions! I tell you. They kill many a love story.

In my mind, my ideal man was an obnoxious mix and match of Tagore's Amit Ray, Vikram Seth's Kabir Durrani, Will Darcy (this had to be there!), Sourav Ganguly, Shahrukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan and what not! Happens! And after all that I met my who was self confessed "Bihari bong" at heart. One who knew his gadgets, technology, world war history and trivia and financial equations better than the Tagore's "Amaro porano jaha chay/ Tumi tai, tumi tai go". That was one song that I had intended to sing for my dream man after I met him. And I fell in love with this man, head over heels!!!!

Love is a wonderful thing, actually. And one should always be open about my case, yes! it was the parents who talked first...but I would not have married him if I did not find an absolute crazy reflection of myself in him. And the opposites too! Needless to say this works out in a vice versa. We talked and talked....and talked..exchanged old fashioned love letters (emails!) across different time zones and what not. Did some crazy stuff during the short lived courtship period. And we still do.

There comes the second volley of questions. You guys are so mushy and stuff...are you sure it was an arranged marriage? And I have a serious objection to fact calling any marriage by names. Love can happen in your life at any time. In our case, it was the your case it might be the college sweetheart you later decide to marry. But one thing for sure, no marriage can survive without the 'love' factor. And the absolutely madness that two people need to share. After all it is all part of the madness called life!

Two years have gone by since the day I wore that laal benarsai sari, decked up, took the "paan" leaves and exchanged sweet nothings with him under an overtly decorated flowery mandap (stage). There were whistles and catcalls from the friends which we always laugh about...and there was the absolutely delicious food which we could not eat due to all the tiredness. And there were friends and well wishers. Some of who who had travelled all the way from different corners of the country to be with us for our big day. I had to deal with a big make up disaster during the reception in Jamshedpur, but apart from that, everything else was perfect...grand and absolutely the way he had planned for me. There were numerous gifts from both sides but the treasured ones are the family members and well wishers which we both added to our kitty.

The memories of that day and the Reception day are still afresh in our minds. And that makes our parents think "Oh! my god! 2 years have gone?" A similar thought which often strikes us too.

2 years...and all the craziness! And then we think about the cynicism- "Marriage is the end of all romance". Really? Well! if you ask me, I will recommend marriage to everyone. It is a wonderful thing. How you make it a beautiful one depends on you. This one fairy tale that Grimm brothers assigned you to write. And it is not necessary that you need to have grand wedding, a lavish 'destination' one, an expensive make up artist or photographer, a pre wedding shoot, diamond jewellery and all that jazz!

It is perfect when it turns out just the way you want or just the way it is better!

We celebrated this anniversary away from home and loved ones, but with a bunch of new friends. There was a small party afterwards but the day was mostly spent indoors- he cooked dinner for me and uncorked the champagne. We exchanged some gifts (I am very materialistic :P) and that was it. But at the end of the day, we were happy...and that is all that mattered to us and our families and well wishers.

That happiness was all about being with someone who is your guardian angel, best friend, crazy laughter and acts partner, partner in crime, fellow travel enthusiast, an amazing support system...and everything else rolled into one! *Touchwood*

Here's to many more to come! :)

Thank you!

P.S.-I was subjected to much caustic remarks over Facebook recently for something I wrote in my last post. While I am extremely tempted to make a even more caustic reply to all, especially in the wake of the ridiculous Supreme Court judgement in the Naz Foundation case, I decided against it. There are some absolutely brilliant pieces available over the internet and I do not think that apart from making a point, which will again be lost in the question of "what is right' and 'what is wrong' kind of black and white, I can contribute more. Moreover, the brilliant man in my life made me understand a few things. One of them being that criticism- bad and ugly ones are very important for your growth as a writer, more so if you are planning to take it up seriously. Interestingly, this brilliant man and I also celebrated our second wedding anniversary on the day marked by the outrage over the Naz judgement. Irony!
To tell you the truth- my absolutely beautiful
anniversary day was somewhat marred by the judgement.
But, anyways! this post is not about all that. It is more about the mush, the absolutely Yashraj types that I am so famously fond of. The "tujhe dekha to yeh jana sanam" types. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The women who drink, party and make merry!

My upbringing in a middle class South Calcutta household taught me certain things....among them was the fact that 'good girls do not smoke and party'. All my life I tried to be the proverbial good girl. However, I am also a fan of the Aparna Sen or Helen kind of beauties, the modern and 'dakshaitey'(sorry I cannot translate that!) beauty in every sense of the word. The one who had no qualms living her life on her own terms or smoking on screen when it was a big taboo. In short, one who loved breaking rules! The two do not often have similar connotations you see and it is often the bridge between the two that normal, middle class Indian girls of my generation try to carefully tread upon. I do not smoke as I consider it to be too much of a torture on my own lungs but, yes! I love to part, dress up and have an occasional drink.

Let's accept it. Nowadays we like our woman to be 'modern'. The one who can carry off beautiful knee length dresses or wear that occasional shorts for vacations, be articulate and speak English with elan, can accompany you for parties and share a drink or two. She works, has a career and earns a double income for the family. She is ideal in every sense of the word since she would not mind trading the dress for the heavily embellished sari for a cousin's wedding. She does not like to be dictated upon, but the men do not mind as this is the way they want to see their woman, modern yet traditional. Its her choice to live her life that way, by participating in weekend parties and sharing her wisdom over the best brand of liquor but the men do not mind as its the way they prefer their woman. Eventually it is the man's choice of how he wants to see the woman. Otherwise the man completely considers it to be his right to tell her that she cannot wear the backless blouse since it reveals a lot more than he expects.

People who have bothered to read till here must be thinking that what's wrong with the man agreeing to a girl partying or her choices of clothes? or for that matter 'giving her the liberty to work' (yes! that's what it her...the right to make career decisions is of course not her own)? Is it not that for an equal society we want the man to be progressive and just like the way it is described above?

The catch lies there. Supposedly the woman refuses to oblige and sticks by her backless blouse choice? then? The answer is quite clearly written all over our horizon and faces....apply the oldest trick in the book to malign her and in today's time, use the easiest way out- that she is immoral just because she wears modern dresses, drinks, smokes and party. It is extremely unfortunate but true that the virtues that modern Indian men look for in their partners often turn out to be the vices they are fighting in the Courtrooms. That being a 'modern' woman is not easy in India.

I often think about how do you define modernity. A favourite Bengali author of mine had once written that the shade of lipstick or the amount of make up cannot decide how modern you mindset, your thoughts do! Alas! as a society we have not yet been so futuristic to measure our modernity quotient on those terms. But then again, what's wrong with make up? I love wearing make up and so does many woman I know who are successful in their chosen fields- work or home making. But it is the contrast of thought that men and women in India have over the idea of make up that is horrifying. In India if a woman is wearing make up and looks attractive, it must be for a man. Most definitely it cannot be for herself. And that means you are inviting your own trouble. The trouble of being modern.

And you think people are different? No! they are not. When Tarun Tejpal wrote that horrendous e-mail, I thought it was stupid enough for a man of his stature to do something like that. But it was more of his colleague Ms. Choudhary's reactions that offended me more. It was as such as she was subscribing to everything that she had decided to speak up against till date...and that included not considering it to be her responsibility to inform the police when the charges involved were of Sexual harassment.

But more than that, I expected the rape trial of Mr Tejpal to be different. One fought on facts and evidence and definitely not on the presumptions of the woman's character. And I was so wrong! Mr Tejpal has been over the years a flagbearer of freedom of speech, or so we thought. One man whom we could trust to be modern in his thoughts, who allowed the woman in his lives to follow their dreams freely...and not judge her just by the colour of her lipstick.

And there was the surprise. Mr Tejpal's argument about the futility of the allegations pointed out to the woman's character, of her being modern and choosing to party even after the incident. Oh! yes that's such a defense you know. It does not matter that she was an employee of Tejpal's company and one who chose to fulfill her professional obligations even in the moment of personal crisis. It just mattered that her employer liked to see her that way always- smart and suave modern woman who attends parties, and when a sexual encounter does not work out the way he wants, he has the liberty to use that image against her.

After all it's always his world!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Durga Pujo to a Calcuttan- Connotations, religious and beyond!

The very first thing every year I do after I get hold of the calendar (the Roman and the Bengali one, both) is to check the Durga Pujo dates. You may call it a habit, a glimpse of joy or a routine...anything. But I am sure that I am not the only one. Bengalis are by birth emotional and the degree attached to my idiosyncrasies is wee bit more. I am the kind who would cry silently in the bathroom after watching a few pictures of my city getting all decked up for Durga pujo on Facebook and then walk out perfectly happy and sane after thinking about the 'to do's in a 'Probashi pujo'.

Frankly speaking, this is not the first time that I am away from home during Durga pujo, the significance of which in the life of an ordinary Calcuttan (and by that I mean all Calcuttans!) can be only understood by visiting the city during the time of the festival. I have heard many comparisons about Durga pujo being almost like Ganesh Chaturthi in Bombay, Hyderabad or Pune or for that matter internationally the Rio Carnival in Brazil. Amongt these I have experienced only the Hyderabadi celebrations and so I may not be qualified to comment but deep down inside, as girl growing up in a South Calcutta neighbourhood where pujo meant the excitement of discussing plans about decoration of the pandal and collecting funds way before the celebrations started, I know that Durga pujo in a Calcuttan's life cannnot be substituted.

I have no qualms in admitting that Durga pujo for me and for many like me who grew up in Calcutta had connotations beyond being just a religious festival. And there lies the spirit and warmth which makes pujo so unique. I have seen, in Hyderabad for instance, that only people who follow a particular faith as mine, Hinduism, participating in the celebrations for Ganesh Chaturthi and during the day of Visarjan a curfew is often imposed in the old city area just to avert any chances of communal tension. And to think that we Calcuttans mark the beginning of our Durga pujo itinerary by making a mandatory visit to Arsalan and by devouring the mutton biriyani! It's a pilgrimage, just like the chelo kabab or the prawn cocktail in Peter Cat or Mocambo. And of course the bhog that is served during the pujo days in the neighbourhood. Perhaps the only vegetarian fare which seems tasty to the tongue to the Calcuttan foodie :) Durga pujo is as important for gastronomical delights to be explored as hopping through the makeshift wonders which dot the cityscape for the 4 days. People visiting the city first time during the pujo often wonder that so much of creativity and thought has gone for the preparation...and that too just for 4 days. I think there are already reams of data available on the internent over how Durga pujo celebrations is almost a cottage industry in Bengal ( I am not making a point for Industrialisation in Bengal).

My friends often wonder how can we Bengalis, and also the Calcutta Marwaris, Gujaratis and Biharis, who have called Calcutta home for  a long time now and that includes many of my friends who subscribe to the tought "ghar mein veg bahar non veg" (eating vegetarian fare in the house and non vegetarian outside"), eat non vegetarian food during the time we are celebrating a religious festival. My answer to the often remains that it is the same fervour with which we devour the Biriyani in a neighbour's house during Eid or eat the plum cake during Christmas. And if I miss out on the Langar food during Guruparab (also Balwant Singh's dhaba food in Bhawanipore) it will be almost blasphemy and I will not be qualified enough to call myself a Calcuttan. Calcuttans are often called a 'hujugey' lot. One who go by the wave. What else will describe the city's euphoria in descending upon Park Street on the 24th December night every year? There are numerous flipsides in attaching so much importance in celebrating every festival, but somewhere I feel that it attaches a non communal flavour to the city's diaspora. And the Durga pujo is the biggest among them all. That explains the Councillor of my ward, who practises Islam, taking active interest in making the pujo a success and never missing out on the Ashatmi bhog. That also includes the Sardars who stay near Bhawanipore being an active support in all the pujo planning.

Yes, I pray every year...and piously give my Ashtami anjali, fasting for the first half for the day and planning where to eat in the night. That is in between popping to gelusil tablets (Bengalis and their acidity!) I make wishes before the Goddess and participate in the 'Sondhi pujo' where I see thousands gather to pay homage to the mother who saved mankind. The magical moment of celebration all women kind when the 108 lights bloom in full grandeur to express their gratitude to the power of a woman. That is religious for me, extremely religious. That moment often defines the understanding of me being a "Hindu". A practitioner of the "sanatan dharma". For me, it is not remotely related to anything including eating non vegetarian food, chowmein, carrying mobile phones, going to pubs and parties, wearing what I feel I look beautiful in, being confident about myself or being friends with people of other faiths or inviting them to share the Bhog.

Calcutta, I have heard and seen, is incrasingly becoming intolerant towards the fairer sex. A year ago also I could take pride in the fact that my city is one of the safest in India, not anymore. But Durga pujo every year gives me hope. A hope that the same people who put up posters about "praying in front of the Goddess" will learn a thing or two about how not to make snide remarks about a woman wearing something you find "sexy"  in the crowd. Let her enjoy the pandal hopping or the adda ta Maddox square just like you do. Or to jostle inside the Pujo pandal just to grope her. Interestingly, it is also the time of the year when a significant number of eve teasing cases are registered in Calcutta. I do not claim I have never faced any during Pujo.

This year, I will be celebrating pujo in a faraway land. I will attend Germany's biggest Durga pujo and oen of Europe's biggest pujo, in Cologne. I am looking forward to the excitement here...very much palpable among the 'probashis'. The cultural program, the arrangements, the self cooked bhog....but deep down inside I know I will miss the crowds, the lights, the chant from the balcony while welcoming the daughter when she comes home a day before "shoshti"- "Thakur eshe geche" ("Look the deity has arrived") and the spirit that is called Calcutta.

Pujo, for us Calcuttans, will always remain a celebration of life- food, friends, adda, nostalgia and planning for the next year :)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wagle ki Duniya- A throwback into the times

I have to agree that this year in Germany will remain special for me. Just for the fact that it has helped me reconnect with many things I loved once, moments long lost and forgotten, friends with whom I always thought of talking but kept on delaying about the chance encounter bit- everything!

Now coming back to the part of reconnecting, I think 'Youtube" has been my godsend gift. Imagine this...early 2000's Calcutta, a young pigtailed girl having a huge crush on her maths teacher waiting eagerly for "Shudhu Tomari jonnyo"- the weekly dose of star crossed love stories on Etv Bangla every Sunday. The gawky teenager watches and develops further crushes on Parambrata, the lanky young guy as he was then, not the very handsome man that he is today, and Jishu Sengupta. Ah! I think it is not only my story. But then her parents decide that Cable television is too much of a disturbance for studies and decides to disconnect from the network.

Sigh! what does the girl do if she has not yet been able to know the outcome of the remaining episodes of the season? She simply finds them on youtube many summers a distant foreign land :) And that is the reason I think youtube you were one of the best things to happen in this era of technology. In some context , it s a time machine also. Of course I did not decide to restrict my curiosities to only watching "Shudhu tomari jonnyo"... I of course went back to the good old Doordarshan days when "Superhit Muqabla" was the coolest thing to happen to me and "Phulwari Bacchon ki" (especially the episode in Fatehpur Sikri") was a dream come true. And then "Tehkikat", "Suraag" and what not! My god! a treasure trove of my childhood. I actually read up on the reams of nostalgia available on the internet surrounding DD. And there I discovered "Wagle ki Duniya". The original airing time of the show did not actually coincide with my childhood. I must be around 2 or 2 and a half years only when the original episodes were shown. I decided to watch the episodes to see what was all the jazz about. I watched only the ones available on Youtube and I am not sure if I am qualified enough to comment since not all the episodes are available online. However, I decided to go ahead as the "common man" today in my eyes have gone a sea changes from the values that Mr. Wagle bore during those pre liberalisation days.

(Image Courtesy:

To start with Mr Wagle did not have to bear with the computers. That made his sons' childhoods colorful as they are shown playing a lot of cricket, reading comic books, doing a lot of puzzles and stuff. But poor Mr Wagle also did not known the joys of the internet and Google. In one of the episodes he had to literally chase down a few acquaintances to gather information about planning a vacation somewhere nearby. Sounds a bit unrealistic in today's time when hotels are pre booked over the internet :). But as a 90's kid I remember all those family vacations every year where atleast once we had to tag around our fathers looking for a decent hotel. Must have been irritating then...but happy memories now! Reservation was good, but then again my dad had to go and stand in queue in front of the Railway booking office in Koilaghat Street for booking a railway ticket. There was no internet and more importantly no IRCTC website to make fun about also :)

I am not sure if the series ran further, how would  have been the portrayal of  Mr Wagle's sons' growing up. May be they would have been the faces of post liberalisation India- A haven of service industry, which on one way is boom and also a bane for our country. The best gift of the turn in tide- smart jacketed corporate honchos who made flying abroad- which till yesterday was a dream for many into a regular habit for many middle class Indians. And that was the beginning of a change. While we keep on hearing about a soda ash factory coming up or the sound of the Company siren in the background, the story knits together an India which was still walking towards a future of manufacturing industries and industries of core competency.

I will not be a bore about how "simple living and high thinking" dominated the times. Everything was not good about it. We may be nostalgic choose to remember only the happier time, but it was also a time when unemployment was at its peak, a time when the household decisions revolved around the question  about whether to employ a domestic help or not...whether that will push the envelope for the family budget or not. We will have to agree that the common man or the Indian middle class lives a much more comfortable life today in the terms of monetary value. I am not so sure about the emotional security part. The part which belongs to the times of job security, 9 to 5 jobs, hesitation about whether to pay the bribe or not! Yes red tapism was a part of the culture of the times but so was the belief of the parents that their children will grow to see a much better India...probably the reason why MR and Mrs Wagle did not like their son eavesdropping on their conversation about paying bribe to a government servant.

I think the new improved shining India has done enough take away that belief. And I say so because, nowadays I see parent, rich and famous, some of them have earned their positions and they deserve every bit of it. They might not like their children to go through the same struggles they have been through, but that does not mean that the value of 'humility' will also be forgone. The sense that 'you can buy everything', that I think is a problem that the young India face. Come on! I could not have contained myself in that lowly 2 BHK residential quarter shown in the series...many of us would not have. And I am justified in asking for more...the anthem of our growing up years have been "yeh dil maange more"...and is asking for more a bit too much? It never should be...We are hungry as a nation, we are hungry for everything...and probably that's the reason our parents..the same ones who taught us to be better human beings, nowadays go to each other's houses, the ones they live in as a part of their own self built old age homes, and compare the successes of their wards in the terms of the pay packets earned, the number of foreign trips made and blah blah! Imagine this in the time of Rk Laxman's common man...there were neighbours, the prying ones and the 'neighbour's envy' was palapable, but then again the same ones let you borrow their binoculars or may be their hot pot also. Can you imagine if I thought of borrowing my neighbour's binoculars today? I will die of shame and buy a new pair. Probably that is the reason the neighbours who were once considered even dearer than your relatives and knew every bit of your household story, turn a deaf ear even when somebody is probably dead in the next apartment.

And what do we do in turn? We run....we run everyday...behind the much alluring success story never knowing that our parents who are alone in a city or a town, which might have been my hometown once, spending days and nights alone in our thoughts. Because where we come from often makes us feel ashamed..too constrained for the growth story.

But who says asking for more is bad?


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


"It is not Rono".

Sheila's words momentarily comforted Rajita. But in her heart she knew that the unrest was yet to die down. It was almost 1:00 AM in the night and Rono, better known as Ronojoy Gupta among his colleagues, was missing for the last 72 hours.

This was he second day in a stretch that Rajita was hopping around from one hospital to another along with a bunch of friends in this unknown city. And in this unprecedented hour of terror, it appeared more and more unknown.She had been here for the past 5 years, but every time she crossed the CR PArk Kalibari, she longed to be home. In her mind home was always a city a few thousand kilometres away, a city which was already discarded as trash.

Rajita was not cynical, in fact, she had started liking Delhi over the past couple of years. She had no other option.This city meant business and had granted many of her wishes. She had wished to reach the zenith of success and she is already on her way to do so. She also met Rono here. And her life changed. Sometimes she thinks Rono was the best thing to happen to her and sometimes the gory allusion of her relationship with Rono becomes alive...the worst living crisis she could go through. Or she thought so until day before yesterday.

"Hello, Shruti....Shruti this is Ronojoy's girlfriend Rajita. Sorry for bugging, but is Ronojoy still in office?
"Hi Rajita! No, I think he left an hour back"
"Oh! actually it is almost 12:30 AM and he is never this I was just wondering"
"He might be still stuck in traffic you know...the infamous Gurgaon traffic"
"Yes might be. But traffic at this hour! Anyways, Thanks"

Rajita had disconnected the call and decided to wait for sometime before informing anyone. Shruti worked late along with Rono in his office. Or so she had heard. Earlier it was the chap called Vinay. But the unusually attractive Malayalee bombshell had slowly been mentioned more frequently by Rono. It was not that a hint of suspicion never engulfed Rajita's mind. But she did not confront Rono. His perceived distance  while answering questions related to Shruti was palpable.

She waited till 3:00 AM when she decided Sheila and her husband Rahul, her first friends in the city. Sheila was her classmate in JNU. And since then it was a battle against time. The time when she apprehended that she might hear that she had lost Rono forever.Surprisingly, even her parents were concerned. They did not like Rono at all. There were plenty of reasons of not liking him. Sometimes they were so real that even she thought of breaking up with him.

Unlike her classy convent educated, JNU polished educational credentials, Rono had nothing. He was merely a small town boy with a Bachelors degree trying to find a foothold in the city. He managed to do an MBA from one of the mushrooming institutes in the city and found a job. A job that was much less paying and prestigious than Rajita's glamorous corporate affair. But that did not stop him from being assertive to the point of being oppressive, egoistic, insecure and chauvinistic. He could never handle Rajita's success or academic ventures with ease. He could never fathom or understand the cultural circle that Rajita was a part of. He was not well read and there were often instances that Rajita was left red faced because of Rono's careless comments or deliberate attempts to demean her friends. She vividly remembers an incident even today when 4 years back, just after they had started dating, she had made a half cooked attempt of introducing him to her family. Her parents were visiting her. They met at Rajita's aunt's place in Greater Kailash I which was quite the home of the rich and some famous ones in Delhi. Rono had come all the way from Karolbagh where he was staying in a rented accommodation and travelling all the way to Connought Place. After the lunch was served, everyone started eating with the cutlery. Rono did not even pay heed to anybody around and started managing the chicken leg piece with his hands. If that was not enough, while her uncle played a soft Farida Khannum number when everyone had sat down to indulge in some Bengali adda, Rono audaciously told him to stop the song- "Arey! what sleepy bogus numbers are you playing on a Sunday? Play some nice Hindi song...arrrey what is the name of that new Kareena Kapoor movie? Have you heard?" He asked Rajita's cousin, someone he did not even know 2 hours back, while patting his back and humming the song.

Rajita's professor father was completely appalled. He could not fathom what mistake they had done while bringing up Rajita that she could make such an error of decision. Probably the most important decision in her life. They never like Rono again and the feeling was mutual. Rajita's parents try to dissuade her from pursing the relationship till date. Everytime she visits her home, her mother always try to persuade her to meet a very eligible suitor- the kind they would like for Rajita. Rajita understood their issue.

She often tried to make Rono understand that even if he did not like her parents or her family, he could at least try to be civil around them. But he was always stubborn. He called them foolish and started speaking in harsh language which hurt Rajita's understanding of being patient in a relationship. She gave up at last knowing taht Rono would not change. He was violent with Rajita often and even shouted at her nowadays. He often accused her of being too friendly with her male colleagues for grabbing the much desired promotion last year.

"You licked Malik's ass too well! Did you make a trip to his farmhouse also?" stated Rono laughing his guts out. His first reaction after hearing the news of her promotion. He knew very well how much she had worked for her success. Rajita was hurt. She was even more surprised at Rono's sense of competition when he returned home drunk next day evening and told her - "You earn more than me? I will work more and earn more than you".

Rajita often wondered why did he stick around with Rono? She was not helpless. She could do that long before but she chose to move in with him instead. A decision which hurt her parents the most. They did not talk to their only daughter for a long long time. It was Rajita's last ditch attempt to save the relationship. She thougt probably the increased proximity would make Rono understand her better. But the proximity killed even those hopes.

Sheila always asked her what was she waiting for. For Rono to abuse her physically? She did not know. Rajita's did not see any hope in the relationship. She did not want to hurt her parents but she did not want to hurt Rono also. She loved him and deep inside she hoped that the free spirited self of Rono, the one that she fell in love with, loved her too. Otherwise what would explain his anxiety and perfect nursing when Rajita was at home for a month when she had a fractured ankle. Sometimes she could not understand the twos ides of the Rono. She did not know both.

(Image courtesy:

"Rajita, Rajita.....I think you should go home....I don't think we can make any more headway today"

Sheila told her while lighting up a cigarette in front of the hospital they were visiting. There was an unidentified dead body whose description matched that of Rono. She had put all her resources in Delhi to use- informed the police, publicised the matte rin the social media, took help of Rono's colleagues and friends, but nobody was able to shed any light till now.

"Sheila please, we should just go and check the body kept at the Ram Manohar Lohia...Please!!!"
"But that is not even close Rajita.....Rono did not wear a blue shirt that told, remember? Besides, the guy had a tattoo. Rono did not have one"
"Sheila please, I know that how helpful you guys have been..but there should be a limit...I am so sorry..last one...I have a hunch!"
"Rajita, that guy was admitted to the hospital by an unknown sex worker. He was found in a brothel.....Even after knowing Rono, I would not buy that"
"Neither do I....but that guy had a heart attack no? may be he was found by the sex worker....anything...please, please, please....Sheila. He was alive for a day...may be he told something."

"Sheila, I think we should go." Sheila's husband Rahul who was their silent companion through these two days spoke out. Rajita thought she and Sheila would be fine but Rahul had insisted. He did not want his wife and her friend to roam around alone in the city notorious for its misogynist fervour. Rajita did not find the city unsafe...but it was not the right time to argue.

"Okay if you guys say so".  Sheila gave in and Rahul started driving towards their destination.

Rajita sat in the back of the car. It was almost 2:00 AM now. The city was fast asleep. Yet in someways, the underbelly of the city was awake-completely. Rajita had never seen this side of Delhi. They crossed a nightclub and it seemed that the youth nowadays preferred to submerge themselves in a world of their own..only with the help of alcohol and drugs. But deep inside, Rajita did not register any of these. One  part of her hoped that it was not Rono. Another part of her was sure that it was him..even though the description did not match. That part of her sought certainity. an answer that she has been searching for long. May be n answer for future? But how could he get the tattoo? Was it a new thing? She should have known atleast. She again hoped it was not him. She uttered a silent prayer. This time she felt more confident that it was not him.

The car halted to stop near the hospital. Sheila and Rahul got down and hurriedly went inside. May be it was the early November chill outside which did not make them realise that Rajita was still inside the car. She was thinking of the future. What if it was Rono? Did he actually visit the brothel? Where did it place their relationship? Was he actually dead?

Sometimes uncertainty in life is a much more comfortable place than a dead end.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Date a girl who loves her 'Phuchka'!

I am catching up on lots of things these days. And one of them was a fad about dating a girl who apparently read, travelled and what not...there was one on Biriyani also. Needless to say, the foodie in me said the most thumping 'aye' to that one! But I was surprised to find that nobody had written about dating a girl who knew her 'phuchka' well, very well. And so, I decided to write one. My ode to the girl who knows her 'phuchka' too well.

Ask any 'phuchka' lover and the person, if he or she is as crazily moonstruck like me, will answer by saying that the flour balls laced with tamarind water are sheer poetry making their way through your lustful hunger. Ok! jokes apart, there is no doubt that knowing one's 'phuchka' is an art. You either know it or you do not.

Date a girl who can tell you the difference between her 'phuchka' from the close counterparts called 'golguppas' or 'panipuris'. If she swears by her 'phuchka', know it for sure that she is loyal (at least to her city), headstrong and has a great taste to match.

Date a girl who can tell you the exact places where to find the best 'phuchka' in any geographical location she is. Be it Dakshinapon's Rajender's Phuchka or Vivekananda Park's Dahi Phuchka, the amazing phuchkawallah outside CR Park Market Numbe 1 in Delhi or the one in Sindhi Colony in Hyderabad- a girl who knows her phuchka well, is a connoisseur of the best tastes in the town. No less! :P

Date a girl who asks you to accompany her for random 'phuchka' eating sessions. It is not only romantic if it drizzles a bit but more importantly, it is extremely easy on your pockets. You can have a date by spending only around Rs 20 to 50 (depending on the place) on the food. Mind you! I am not a big fan of McBabbar. One thing that you can be assured of that if the place is of her choice and she enjoys the 'Phuchka" she is in one of her happy frames of mind and it is a cakewalk from their on.

P.S. Date a girl who fights for her right over 'phau phuchka' (free one). If she does, she is going to save you a whole lot of money while arm twisting her way through bargaining for Diwali or pujo shopping :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Amartya Sen debate-Why am I enraged as a woman?

I have been watching the election circus which will soon be telecast live in our drawing rooms, with as much interest as any other ordinary Indian of my age. To put the record straight, I have a habit of reading up stuff. I read up the newspapers and I am in the loop. But I am simply disinterested! Why? because it is all the same. The mumbo jumbo that goes on every 5 years. Every time there is this towering figure who is the centre of attraction. Our politicians prefer talking about the person more rather than concentrating on issues. Issue based politics and policy decisions are not part of our Parliamentary system and it is high time we accept that.

A few years back the entire Indian polity was utterly confused about what to do with Sonia Gandhi and her origins. The 'bahu' brigade justified her lineage with our age old 'culture' and what not and the people who proclaim themselves to be the true upholders of ancient Indian culture detested her. This time it is none other than the charismatic Gujarat chief Minister Narendra Modi who is in the limelight. I have heard from my peers that Mr. Modi is an excellent administrator and after hearing a few speeches on youtube about his vision of Bharat and her development, I am a tad convinced. May be because it will be  a decision between who is the lesser evil(?)- the kid who refuses to grow up, who does not show up to take any responsibility anywhere, anytime, whose party has been responsible for some of the biggest scams in the recent times and someone whose credibility for some (high funda?) inclusive growth is under scanner, always.

Yes, we all like development. Economic ones per se. I come from a state which is a living example of how economic decay has led to the complete destruction of the moral fibre of the society. I am from West Bengal, I am from Calcutta and I proudly say so. But the incidents and the facts and figures that I encounter everyday makes it a very difficult decision for me to stay back in the city I love. I had given up a well cushioned job in another city to be here. I took a pay cut. But I was happy. Not that everyone will be. I am talking about the very little opportunities that the place offers nowadays. It's a hard truth that I have no option other than accepting.

But this post is not about that. I see a point in Modinomics because my state is an example about how your basics in economic growth needs to be in place for you to survive. A world renowned Economist, a Nobel Laureate does not agree with me. Fair enough, Amartya Babu, you are entitled to have your opinion. And so are you Chandan Babu. Everyone can have their opinion. The fundamentals of our Constitutional practice, which is so eloquently depicted in one of the brilliantly written documents of recent history, records and recognises that. A little knowledge of our ancient Indian culture and scriptures will reveal that it has always been that way. 'Sahanshilata' is a part of our Indian way of life.

But what enrages me and engulfs with utter disgust is the way how the debate about whether Mr. Modi is an ideal Prime Ministerial Candidate or not is progressing. I for one will choose him over the 'other'. But the campaign on various social networking sites which personally attacks Mr. Sen by circulating morphed pictures of her daughter, actor Nandana DevSen, is malicious, hurtful and tragic to say the least. The pictures question the right of Mr. Sen about expressing his opinion on the grounds that he failed to impart moral lessons to her daughter.

My question is even if Nandana DevSen participated in those nude photoshoots, how is that even related to the debate? She is an actor. I do not find her to be a good one, but it is her chosen profession. Ms. DevSen is a well read lady and she is capable of making her decisions on her own. It is her right over her own body and how she prefers to use it (photographed or not!) is completely her domain of choice. Her father has no business being ashamed of it. The point about imparting moral lessons to the daughter about how she can pose and act in such films or for such photographs is a disgracefully patriarchal one. And that makes me even more concerned when we are going through the times when women in our country are raped over their choice of clothes, not on the heinous mental indifference of the man. This very attack again brings to fore that even after those promises of changing mentality, nothing actually has changed.

And I am surprised that nobody is questioning that. Reminds of Charles Dickens all over again :)

P.S. I am equally enraged about 65 elected representatives seeking a third party referral from a foreign government about grant of visa to one man. Obsession has new limits.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recipes that can save your life!

I have been off from the blog for sometime and there are not plausible explanations probably. The relocation and the settling down here bit took a little toll. But right now I am all set :) First thing first, I am in love with Europe! it's open air cafes, rich history, people, cultural canvas and food! The last one- umm! may be!

I am a Bong who swears by her rice and fish or chicken curry! A 'bheto bangali' to the core and for me to stay in a land where rice is eaten sparsely was a challenge that I faced from the very beginning. And I have a thing for everything spicy. So when I could not figure out green chillies on the racks of the neighbourhood supermarket, I was disappointed to say the least.

But then again, Indians are geniuses! A visit to the Asian store and all my fears about living a bland life here (foodwise only :P) were dispelled. The hilsa available here is no less than the Podma variety. And who does not know the orgasmic expression on the face of a Bong when he hears about "Podmar Ilish".

This does not mean although that I donned the hat of Masterchef within a day. I am lucky that my husband is absolutely non fussy about food. In fact he can survive on Continental fare, bread butter stuff, for days. But I am not naive not to know about the way to a man's heart ;). So my first visit to the the Asian store ensured that I buy "Chicken Masala' and mustard oil.

The Indian style chicken curry is really easy to make and great to eat if you want  a touch of home abroad. Marinate the chicken with Yoghurt (mild variety), salt, turmeric, chicken masala, onion paste and one green chilly if you want the spice count to be high, for 3-4 hours. While cooking add mustard oil in the pan and fry some diced onions, mix it with ginger garlic paste, chillies and add a bit of salt and turmeric again. You can make the chicken curry more bong by adding potatoes (who can forget our fascination with potatoes!) in the curry. But make sure the potateos are well cooked and edible. My suggestion- fry the potatoes a little bit in the beginning. Take them out of the pan and in the same oil fry the onions and the rest. After the onion in the pan turns softer, add the potatoes and mix it well with the mix. After stirring for 2-3 minutes, add the marinated chicken along with the yoghurt mix. Mix the ingredient properly for around 5 minute and then add sufficient water for cooking. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for some 10 to 15 minutes. You can add a little bit of that Kashmiri lal spice for the colour.

Half and hour and your tasty chicken curry is ready! Eat it with Rice or Roti as your prefer.

I am sorry I do not have a photograph as this not a dedicated food blog, but all I want to say is, this curry can actually taster super and make you feel good :)

(To be continued....)

Monday, June 10, 2013

Nirobotar oblivion!

There was time when the deepest expressions of my existence found oblivion through my words. there was a time when I used to write reams. Writing was my only purgasion!

I was young, fluid and dreamy eyed.

I am little older, worldly wise and lot less dreamy eyed these days.

And the words seem to have left me for an oblivion of their own!

I do not know what to say.

"Amar swopno shotti swechchachar, amr swopno dekhar odhikar
Amar opolok nishkriti, amar doridro oboshor
amar oporinoto nityosukh, amar noirbyaktik chitkar...

kotha nei, golpo nei, ashwash nei..
ey ek odbhut swojonharano!!

amake kore tolo bangmoy"

Sunday, June 2, 2013


This is not a post. However, I felt that this was probably the best way to pay a tribute to him.

I will not pretend and say that I had not criticised him. I had, in fact, conveyed often that he was overdoing things. He was losing the subtlety he was known for.

May be I am still not mature enough to understand the way he perceoived a last few of his works.

But this is not about that.

I never knew him personally, though we shared very similar backgrounds...attended the same school, (I attended a few decades later), lived in the same neighbourhood...and some how, his way of portrayal of women in cinema..or generally the art- moulded my a very very impressionable age.

He was many things more to me. I rediscovered 'Utsob', 'Titli', 'Unishe April' or 'Dosar' during lonely summer afternoons in my university hostel. Youtube brought me closer to the perception of womanhood. Suchitra Bhattacharya, Ashapurna Debi, Bani Basu and him. Probably Aparna Sen also. And I will not sound stupid to overlook Tagore here.

Do I sound arty? Do I sound 'making it up'? I might. I do not care. Because somehow, we had all learned to admire his way for standing up for things.

And to tell you the truth, while I started blogging or whatever you call it a few years back, my pseudonym (blogger id? pseudonym is for heavyweights!) was a gift from his pen. One of his creations which is poignant that more than one ways today. Thank you!

"Meghpeon er bag er bhitor monkharap er dista/ Mon kharap holey kuasha hoy, byakul holey Tista"

I was really looking forward to "Satyanweshi".

I knew that your portrayal would not be of a just another detective story...we all remember "Shubho Mohorot".

Bhalo Thakben!

(I have perceived that the blogosphere is cluttered with many tributes after somebody remarkable dies. I personally do not like it. However, I decided to write this one...probably Meghpeon's best way to say thank you!)

Monday, May 27, 2013

টুকরো ছবি

টুকরো ছবি

“তাহলে প্রিয়গোপাল বিষয়ী থেকেই কিনছিস তো বেনারসীটা?”
সেক্টর ফাইভ লাগোয়া সিসিডী তে বসে দুই বান্ধবির কথোপকথন তা অনেকক্ষন ধরে শুনছিল অনিন্দ্য। পথচলতি পিএনপিসি, আসছে অগ্রহায়ণে বিয়ের শপিং, সোনার বাজার দরের ওঠানামা, কোন বান্ধবী সবছেয়ে জম্পেশ বর পাকড়াও করেছে থেকে কোথায় হানিমুনে যাওয়া যায়- সবই সেই আলচোনার অংশ। কাছাকাছি কোন বহুজাতিক তথ্যপ্রযুক্তি সংস্থার কর্মী দুজনেই সেটা ট্যাশপনা দেখলেই বোঝা জায়। সদ্য চাকুরিতে ঢুকেছে বোধহয়, এখনও দাস্বত্বের রঙিন স্বপ্নের ঘোর লেগে আছে কথাবার্তায় বোঝা যায়।   
অনেক ক্ষন ধরেই অদের কথায় আড়ি পাতছিল অনিন্দ্য। মাঝে মাঝে করে সে এরকম। কিছুটা একঘেয়েমি কাটানোর জন্য শুরু করেছিল অভ্যেস টা।।এখন অনেক টাই নেশা হয়ে দাঁড়িয়েছে। প্রথম প্রথম যখন বর্ধমানের বাড়ি ছেড়া কলকাতায় পড়তে এল, যাদবপুরের কাছেই একটা মেসবাড়ি ভাড়া করে থাকতো তারা কয়েকজন বন্ধু মিলে। তখন এত একঘেয়েমি ছিল না জীবনটায়...এই শহরটাকে এতটা অপরিচিত কিউবিকল সর্বস্বও মনে হত না। এখন তার কাছে বড়সর মাপের একটা চাকরী আছে। পরিচিতের পরিধি টা অনেক বেরেছে কিন্তু বন্ধুর সংখ্যা ক্রম হ্রাস্যমান। তাদের কেউ কেউ চলে গেছে গুড়্গাওন, কেউ মুম্বাই...কেউ বা সুদূর বিদেশ। কেউ কেউ হয়তো আছে এখনও এই শহরে কিন্তু সবাই প্রচন্ড ব্যস্ত।
খবরে কাগজে কলকাতার সম্বন্ধে মাঝেই যারা ভিক্টোরিয়ার ছবি লাগিয়ে এক্তা আদ্যন্ত কর্ম বিমুখ শহরের ছবি তৈরি করেয় তাদের সাথে দেখা করা অনিন্দ্যর মাঝে মাঝে এই ডেডলাইন মুখর দ্বীপের একটা গাইডেড ট্যুর দিতে ইচ্ছে করে।
মেয়ে দুটো উঠবে উঠবে করছে। ঘড়ির দিকে তাকালো অনিন্দ্য। ঈশ! আজ অনেক দেরী হয়ে গেল। প্রত্যেকদিনের আধন্টার অবসর কখন যে দেড় ঘন্টা অতিক্রম করেছে খেয়াল ই নেই তার।
মেয়ে দুটো বেশ। রোজকার আশেপাশের টেবিলের প্রোমোশন, বসের গসিপ এর থেকে একটা অন্যরকম আলোচোনা উপহার দিল তাকে। অনিন্দ্য কুবি নয়।।নয়ত কিছু লিখতো হয়ত। একবার ভাব্ল আলাপ করবে ওদের সাথে।।কিন্তু পর মুহূর্তেই ভাবল কি বলবে তারপর? তাদের কথায় আড়িপাততে প্রায় মাঝবয়সি অনিন্দ্য রায়ের ভাল লেগেছে?

মেয়েগুলো হয়তো তার পদমর্যাদার কদর করে “ঠিক আছে” গোছের উত্তর দেবে হাসিমুখে। এরকম স্তাবকতায় সে অভ্যস্ত। হয়তো বা পরে সে সদ্য বিবাহবিচ্ছিন্ন  শুনে তার গায়েপড়ে আলাপ টাকে “আলুর দোষ” বলবে। এ এক আচ্ছা মুশকিল। আগে জনমত নির্বিশেষে অফিসের সবার সাথে আড্ডা মারত অনিন্দ্য। পরে দেখল নতুন জয়েন করা কিছু মেয়ে একটু বেশীই কদর করছে তার পথচলতি ছবি আঁকার। কয়েকজন আবার বলতে আরম্ভ করল সে নাকি বিশাল ফ্লারট।
মাঝখান থেকে তার অফিসের লাগোয়া কফিশপ টায় যাওয়াই বন্ধ করে দিল সে। বেশী মেলামেশাও। এখন এখানে আসে সে। বেশী দূরে না, আবার কাছেও না। হাটাপথে মিনিট দশেক।
প্রত্যেকদিনের আধঘন্টার অবসর।
বিলটা মিটিয়ে বেড়িয়ে গেল অনিন্দ্য। অতিলোভ করে সোম থেকে শুক্রর এই আধঘন্টা টা হারাতে পারবে না সে। এই একঘেয়েমি, কর্মব্যস্ততার শহরে তো একেবারেই না।

“দেখো এই বাড়ির মেনটেনেন্সের যা খরচ তা আমাদের পক্ষে চালানো অসম্ভব বৌদি। বেকার সেন্টিমেন্টাল না হয়ে আমার প্রস্তাব টা ভেবে দেখো। আমাদের বাড়ির দারুন লোকেশন টা দেখেই কিন্তু মিঃ মুরারকা বাজার চলতি দরের থেকে অনেকটায় বেশী অফার দিচ্ছেন।”
একনাগারে নিজের কৌশিকের কথাগুল শুনছিল কাজরী। দেশপ্রিয় পার্কের বাসিন্দা, এই একদা বিত্তবান সেনগুপ্ত পরিবারের বধূ হয়ে যখন কাজরীর এই বাড়িতে প্রবেশ তখন কৌশিক সদ্য কলেজে ঢকেছে। মনে আছে ওর বিয়েটা কায়স্থ বাড়ির মেয়ে পরমার সাথে ঠিক করার পেছনে কাজরীর ভূমিকা অনেকটাই।
আর আজ সেই কৌশিক ই কিনা একেবারে গারজিয়ানের ঢঙে তাকে আদেশ করছে এই বাড়িটা বিক্রি করে দিতে সম্মত হতে। আদেশ ঠিক নয়, তবে হ্যা, যবে থেকে তার বৈধব্য সত্ত্বা তাকে গ্রাস করেছে, সে লক্ষ্য করেছে এ বাড়ির সবাই তার সব সিদ্ধান্তে নিজেদের অগ্রাধিকার দেখাতে চেয়েছে। তা সে তার মেয়ে টুয়া কি নিয়ে পড়বেই হোক বা তার নিজের কতটা অর্থসাহায্য চাই তা নিয়েই হোক।
টুয়ার বাবা মারা যাওয়ার পর কাজরীর পাশে সবাই এসে দাড়াতে চেয়েছিল। একদিক দিয়ে তো ভালই। সবাই বলল “বাবা! আজকাল কার দিনেও এরকম দেখা যায় নাকি?”। কাজরীর তো খুশী হওারি কথা।
কিন্তু কোথাও যেন তার এই মহানুভবতার পেছনে একটা করুনার গন্ধ লেগেছিল। সারাজীবন যা প্রত্যাখান করে এসেছে কাজরী। সেইবার সবার সামনে একবার বলেছিল যে সে একটা চাকরীর চেষ্টা করবে ভাবছে...ওমনি সবাই রে রে করে উঠেছিল। ছোট ননদ বুকাই তো বলেই ফেলল- “ছি! বৌদি, এরকম বলতে পারলে তুমি? আমরা কি তোমার পর?”
“বৌদি ভেবে দেখ কিন্তু কথাটা”
কৌশিকের কথায় আবার সম্বিত ফিরল কাজরীর।
“হ্যা, ভাবছি।।কবের মধ্যে জানাতে হবে বললে?”
“যত তাড়াতাড়ি সম্ভব” চাটা শেষ করচে করচে বলল কৌশিক “আসলে ডিলটা এত ভাল পাচ্ছি, বুঝতেই পারছো তো। ভয় লাগছে যে দেরি হয়ে গেলে হাতছাড়া না হয়ে জায়”
“হ্যা সে তো ঠিকি। আসলে তোমায় সেদিন ও তো বললাম না...তোমার দাদার এত স্মৃতি এই বাড়িতে...তাই ঠিক...” আমতা আমতা করে বলল আবার কাজরী।
“আহ! দাদার স্মৃতি কি একার তোমার বৌদি? এ বাড়িতে আমার শৈশব কেটেছে। বাবা মার স্মৃতি আছে...এই পাড়া...এখানে ডাংগুলি খেলেয় বড় হলাম...।সেই বাড়ি ভেঙে একটা বাহারি শপিং মল হয়ে যাবে, আমাদের ঠাকুরদালান কৌলিন্য হারিয়ে সবার কাছে আরেকটা বিনোদনের জায়গা হয়ে যাবে, সেটা কি আমার ভাল লাগছে বৌদি? তবে একগুয়ে হয়ে তো লাভ নেই......এই বাড়ির খরচ বা মেনটেন করা আমাদের আর পোশাবে না। যা দিনকাল দাড়াচ্ছে, আমাদের কতটুকুনি বা পুঁজি বলোতো?”
“তাছাড়া, এমন কিছু বাজে হচ্ছে না... গড়িয়ার কাছে মিঃ মুরারকার যে নতুন আবাসন তৈরি হচ্ছে তাতে নতুন ফ্ল্যাট, আর বেশ অনেক টাই টাকা। তোমারো তো ভবিষ্যৎ আছে একটা বৌদি...টুয়ার বিয়ে আছে...আর আমরা তো কাছেই থাকব সবাই। একি কমপ্লেক্সে। একদম ঝা চক চকে সবকিছু। আজকাল যেরকম হয় সব। আমাই একদিন দেখে এসেছি...ইয়া বড় বড় ৬ টা টাওয়ার। দেখবে টুয়ার দারুন লাগবে।”
“হ্যা...তবে গড়িয়া এখান থেকে বেশি দূর হয়ে যাবে না?”
“আরে গড়িয়া তো এখন শহরের মধ্যেই বলে... আমরাই যা ভাবি এরকম। টুয়া র ও কলেজ কাছে হয়ে যাবে অনেক। বেশী ভেবো না আর...আমি পরশূ আসব আবার ফাইনাল শুনতে। টুয়ার সাথে কথা বলে রেখোখন।”
বেরোবে বলে তৈরি হল কৌশিক।
“আচ্ছা, আমরা ছাড়াও তো আর বাকি অংশিদার আছে তাদের কি মতামত?”
“আরে সবাই রাজি...এতোভাল অফার টা...নন্তুদারা তো ক্যালিফোর্নিয়া থেকে আমায় পাওয়ার অফ এটর্নি দিয়ে দিয়েছে। ওরা কমপ্লেক্সের ফ্ল্যাট টা নিয়ে খুবি খুশি। নন্তুদা না কি এরমি একটা প্রোপার্টি তে ইনভেস্ট করতে চাইছিল। আর বাকি বোনেরাও যা ক্যাশ পাচ্ছে তাতেয় খুশি।”
“ওঃ তাই...ভালো তো”
“হু! ডিল টা হয়ে জাক...তুমিও আমায় ধন্যবাদ দেবে দেখো...আসি তাহলে...পরশু ফাইনাল করে রেখ সবকিছু...তুমি হ্যা বলার পর রাজ্যের কাজ আছে।।জমি বাড়ির ব্যাপার তো”
কৌশিক চলে যাওয়ার পর তার অংশের সুদর দরজাটা বন্ধ করে দিল কাজরী। টুয়া কলাজ থেকে ফিরতে এখন অনেক দেরী। এখন তার অখন্ড অবসর। অনান্য দিন এই সময় টুকুর দিকে মুখিয়ে থাকে কাজরী। গান শোনে। শখের কবিতা লেখে, বই পড়ে। টুয়ার বাবার স্মৃতি চারনা করে মাঝে মাঝে হয়ত।।কিন্তু আজকাল খুবি কম হয় সেগুলও।।হয়ত অভ্যেস। টুয়ার যখন চার বছর বয়শ তখন হারিয়েছে মানুষ টাকে। আজ টুয়াও নয় নয় করে ২০ তে পা দিয়েছে প্রায় সাড়ে চার মাস।
কিন্তু কি আশ্ছরজ আজ তার আর কিছু ভাল লাগছে না...সমানে টানছে ওই সামনের গাড়ি বারান্দাটা। কি জানি কি পিছুটান থেকে সেখানে গিয়ে দাঁড়ালো কাজরী। আর মুহূর্তে তের বয়শ কমেয় গেল প্রায় ২২ টা বছর। জীবন সংগ্রামে ক্লান্ত বিধ্বস্ত এক প্রৌড়া কাজরী নয়...সে তখন সদ্য একুশের পরশ মাখে লাল শাড়ি আর শাখা পলার সাজে মায়াবি এক কাজরী। তখন এ বাড়িটায় এক্সাথেয় হাড়ি চরতো প্রায় ৪০ জন লোকের। সদ্যবিবাহিতরা আজ যে স্পেস পেয়ে অভ্যস্ত, তার কিছুই ছিল না তাদের জীবনে। রাত ১১ টা পর্যন্ত তাদের শোবার ঘরে তখন আসর জমাতো একপাল ননদ দেওর রা।
কিন্তু ভাগ্যিস ছিল না...নয়ত কি আর ২২ বছর পর এক দুপুরে তার মনে পড়তো যে এই গাড়ি বারান্দা তে বসেই একদিন মাঝরাতে তাকে তাদের দাম্পত্য জীবনের প্রথম আদরের আশ্লেষে জড়িয়ে ধরেছিল ধ্রিতিমান...স্মৃতির চিলেকোঠায় যার নাম কাজরীর জীবনে টুয়ার বাবা হিসেবেই থেকে গেছে।
বাড়িটা হয়ত ভেঙে জাবে...অন্যসবাইয়ের মতো কাজরীর ও হয়ত মেনে নেওয়া ছাড়া রাস্তা থাকবে না..কিন্ত এই স্মৃতির অবসর টুকু কি তার গড়িয়ায় তৈরি হওয়া দু কামড়ার ফ্ল্যাট দিতে পারবে?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Goynar Baksho-Why it is refreshingly new!

I watched Goynar Baksho today. Obviously! it's poila boishakh tomorrow and since the urban bengali's 'bangaliana' is tested by allegiance to two things nowadays- 'durga pujo' and 'poila boishakh'..I could not resist catching the 'noboborsho' release with my family. Of course the trappings of the corporate life has made the bhodrolok celebrate new year a day earlier on Sunday since Monday will again be a busy day with impending client calls and meetings :)

These days Bengali films are nicely publicised and packaged. Goynar Baksho was no different. That coupled with the assurance of an Aparna Sen's finesse was enough to guarantee the connoisseur Bengali a nice evening out. Needless to say, I was not completely disappointed.
'Not completely' since I went with my mom, dad, sister and my husband and the cumulative verdict was different. What I admire about every Sen movie till date is her adept portrayal of a subtle liberal/feminist approach which is sometimes unimaginable in the situations depicted. Goynar Baksho is no different. The story chronicles the journey of three generation of women of a family which traces its roots in erstwhile 'purbobongo'. Set in the time when India had just gained her independence, this erstwhile wealthy landlord family from Faridpur had to transfer base to West Bengal and are shown as still getting accustomed with their now non existent 'aristocratic' habits.


Moushumi Chatterjee portrays the role of a child widow who vehemently guards her box of jewels...even after her death. She is worried about the fate her '500 vori' jewel and entrusts the newly wed Konkona SenSharma with the responsibility of protecting her jewels. But she is not the benevolent image of the elderly 'Pishima' we get to see in the movies. Moushumi, as the abusive, venom spewing, strict taskmaster 'pishima' is a revelation. And that 'bangal' accent...this movie makes me realise that overtly beautiful women have often remain hugely underused in our cinema.

She threatens Konkona with dire consequences if she even thinks of touching her jewellery..including killing her husband. And what follows is mayhem. Hillarious picture sequences and characterisations make the first half an enjoyable watch.

The second half is the part where Sen leaves er mark again...albeit with the hilarity this movie is conceived with. Konkona, as a first generation entrepreneur..probably the first of the working women of our society sends a message and so does Pishima. 'Pishima's' words of wisdom  about all that thoughts we have about sin, lust, benevolence is just a sham- is the high point of the movie. 'First hand experience' as she puts it. And there comes the fiery expression of suppressed sexuality and celebration of womenhood. Sen has a knack of portraying feminist discourses in the relationships you least expect. Be it the timid housewife in 'Paroma' or the mother in law and daughter in law relationship in 'Paromitar Ekdin'...she finds the bond of being a women, a reason to celebrate.

The initial portrayal of Moushumi's character makes you least expectant of the bond that a ghost will share with her daughter in law...but even more surprising is her words of encouragement for Konkona to pursue a love affair and not be trapped in a marriage where her husband can have a mistress but she cannot afford to have a male companion. The subtlety with which she points out the intellectual difference that she has with her husband, or her openness of Srabanti's character smoking when the film shifts base in the 70's is well scripted and portrayed.

To think that a women who belonged somewhere in 1920's could have a mind which thinks and how, is definitely encouraging for a society which still tells it's women to dress up properly or not to wear that short dress when you go clubbing. My juniors have recently faced the wrath of moral policing in Hyderabad and that has been the shoddiest of the shows ever. But Goynar Baksho gives me faith.

There are a lot more layers to the story which needs to be discussed, but I thought of writing this post to jot down these points since while coming out of the theatre my father expressed his disappointment and so did my mother. They expected the apparently carefree mood of the first half to continue. I disagreed. Thank you Sen for making this one.....because we need more of pishimas in our lives and in the society where we currently live in.

Go and watch. My husband does not watch many Bengali movies. But he for one enjoyed the movie, may not to the fullest but glad that he appreciated the subtext of characterisations. There lies the success of the storyteller. Shirshendu Babu, I have not read the original story..but after the portrayal, I will surely do so :)

Shubho Noboborsho :)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Once upon a time!

There was a time in all our lives when we were naive. And young....and stupid!

My mother often told me about the rose tinted glasses that we often wore while seeing the world around us when we are young. Don't know about the mushy red rose or the humble white one, but I do wear hose tinted glasses..

I still 'do' :)

I am known as the pretty 'romantic' types...and that's where the significance of the opening line of this story finds significance. Once upon a time, I was naive and very, very stupid! I believed a lot of people. I believed one day I could really meet Zaheer Khan and get married to him (!:P).

I once had the hugest crush on one of my teachers who taught the most dreadful subject of my life- Maths!

My next object of fascination was a literary character called "Kabir" from Vikram Seth's "A Suitable Boy". there was a time when I dreamt of being born in 1960's Calcutta. And then changed my plan and thought of exchanging niceties in the unique style of 'Lucknowi tehzeeb'!

There was a time when I thought of studying Literature in college. I also thought of meeting Amit Roy on the celebrated English/CL ledge of JU.

Once upon a time I also that College Street, Coffee House, Madhabilata, Animesh and the ability to write Jhumpa Lahiri were the most desirable things in life (I still do!)

There was time when I thought of my dream man being a poetry writing, typical bong guy... who could seep me off my feet at one go.

I wanted that man to love Phuchka. I wanted that man to love Tagore.

I went to college and some of my aspirations changed. But I still stuck to Tagore. I met great friends. I met someone with whom I could say all the dirty jokes aloud 'Wakao'!

I met a girl who actually had terrible fights with me regarding my bong-fascination!

And they are friends for life.

But in between, I always believed Calcutta is the most romantic city on this earth!

I still do.

I got married. It was quite a crazy idea. My friends could not believe that I would take the leap of faith so soon.

Yes! quite a leap of faith it was....I had been disillusioned. I checked up a few real love stories in between. they don't make them like the 70's style anymore...the ones where the guy or the girl rebelled to be with the partner of his or her choice...sacrificing many things in the way my aunt's or my mother's generation did.

But, since I am a pocketful of contradictions, I still believed in Amit Roy, Kabir and Raj!!!

And Tagore......

To cut a long story short!!! after all this I met Biswadeep Roy.

He did not like Tagore. He read World War II stories, loved Mathematics, was fascinated with world history and economic, finance and all that jargon. He was not a bong if you went by my dictionary till date.

And then I fell love...head over heels type!!

Those rose tinted glasses are here to stay for me...forever....Love can make you do weird things. He listens to Robindroshongeet nowadays and I take a fascination towards his research on gadgets. It's a lot of belief, trust and a little bit of mush!

I am happy that he made me realise that the romantic little girl inside me has not died :) (*Touchwood*)

Have you felt love lately? that very stupid, naive thing to do in life :)

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