Vellore Days…..

Original Post date on Blogspot :20/02/2016

 

It happened within a few months. I was a typical “calcatian” enjoying my time out on the lanes and the ghats in the city that has never failed to give me anything a hint less than joy. Coffee house, Baghbazar, college canteen, a metro station south of the city and the vendor cabin of the last train from sealdah on thursdays were my rotating addresses. Home was just a refuge. Addas were my forte, the people my stage and Kolkata was my oyester. I am still not sure about it, but i thought like the city was it for me, it was the place that would have all the chapters of my life written on it , and i was nothing less than glad to be a character in its ever so marvellous novel, be it of a broken heart, joined hands or the bits and pieces of the lips that joined together to make the smile of my life. And thus all of a sudden came the unprecedented “but” in my life and like the whirl of a hot wind in a summer afternoon , brought me to the very next page of my story via the kharagpur villupuram express one fine june morning. And vellore said “Vanakkam.”

Lets be honest, i loathed it since day one. A strict institute in a sub urban part of the southernmost tip of our country was never the place i thought i would end up in. Yes, to the society i had achieved, won a medal round my neck , but to me, i was lost. I was sad, i was homesick and i quickly adjusted to the depressed side of my being , of which i learned after i landed at katpadi junction, Home was a dream and to wake up every morning and walk down to the department in the picturesque campus a nightmare. I had changed my residence from coffee house to the coffee in a steel cup at the college canteen. Though it tasted better but it did not taste like it. The air was cooler in the evenings but it did not smell the same, it smelled of sambar and not of the ghoti gorom at the baghbazar ghat. Department to hostel and back to the department the next morning, life had become a routine with the last train, tea in a clay pot and shyambazar five point crossing all off to sleep clad by the blanket of my memories. The only known faces were the two of my best friends who had apparently had the same ill luck as to get selected here, but all they could help me with were a couple of words from the tongue gifted by my loving mother. I became calm. And trust me, that is not an attribute i look up to.

They say time heals all, but what they don’t is that time also builds all. And just like the sapling on a pot my life started growing around the so far so loathed place. I started to know the people, taste the food, make friends out of corners and yes received with smiles. The smiles, chats, occasional hellos and the wave of hands made me realize that even though I knew how much i hated it here but at the same time CMC and vellore knew exactly how to make me feel loved. And riding on the saddle of the hour glass I had changed and once again started to live by the meaning of it. I started enjoying the hectic department hours sitting in front of the huge list of numbers that meant so much, my mates at the department started owning my secrets and won over the right to make me laugh. Most of them even though do not know the language i speak in but speak much more to me than i ever could wish for. A stroll down the dusty tree clad campus lanes meant meeting hordes of wonderful people just waiting for the opportunity to wave, smile and say “hi” in the most adorable of manners. Smiles came in packets of banana chips and courtyard dances of diwali celebrations,moves of vijay & Jr NTR and the smiles of the people in Adukambarae Kattupadi who fed us till our stomachs burst open even though they had known me for just a day or two.And it was just when i started feeling homely in the bounds of the bagayam campus that home came to me in the form of elder brothers and friends from my land, who did not spare a second before laying their arms on my shoulders. Vellore was slow but it emerged strong. Changes came through “it seems”, “river only”,”thek ache”, rumba chicken, visit to VIT and trips to the fish market , chennai and bangalore,tensions of journal review sessions , birthday celebrations and chicken tikka masala.

As i was returning today through the empty late night vellore roads to my campus, my head laid softly in the seat of the car,with a WB number plate with smiles old and new, a bengali song making its way through my ears, and the sky passed over my eye lashes, i would be a fool if not to accept the fact that i failed to realize that all the time i was nowhere but home. Home is an emotion, a feeling of belongingness and that ever so dark road from thorapadi to the college campus is where i belong now and never did it hesitate to make me a part , it was me who was stupid enough to deny it time and time again. I know vellore is just a chapter and its not forever but it is forever now and i am glad i landed here, to learn a lot so as to teach a bit in the coming few pages.I still miss home, still miss the bed, still miss the lanes but the only difference now is that it does not stop me from enjoying the rusty hostel cot, the beautiful college campus and my wonderful life here in the district of vellore in the southern most state of Tamil Nadu.

Life is Rumba Nalla Irrekke.

Cheers !!

to all the people who make my life in vellore so filled with life. and to all those who are home away.

Letter to my city

Dear Kolkata,

“Kemon acho shohor? ” (how are you my city?) How are your lanes doing?  And what about those gutters and open manholes ? Do they still stink the same ? Or has any change been forced upon them to get them clean ? He he! Sorry bhai i always thought that joke to be funny. You know i met Chennai a few days ago and it was complaining on how it always wanted to be a city with a rich history instead it ended up being a city all right, but, history as far as it was concerned did not really shed a sight on it. It went on saying but you know how i am. Pretty biased as a guy.So my ear lost interest. So how is everything?

How is Princep ghat ? How is the river ? Does it still say ,it misses me looking out blankly towards it in search of something to write? I must say Ganga is one sly woman, if not, then why would the tides always be low when i went to it in search of words, when it knows that high tides always create a better rush for rhyme !! However, it did sometimes throw in an occasional lone boat with a sunset background around Bagbazar. A sight that has etched its way into my dreams these days. The line of smoke formed in the orange backdrop from the sailor’s bidi always made me think. It seemed like in that faint bit of tar vapor the sailor let out its thoughts, maybe it was his blogs, it touched its heart (through his lungs! lets not forget science through sentiment) and as he opened his mouth, poof!it was out there. How are the green covered tram lines on red road ? Do lovers still take their walk of happy beginnings and broken hearts, the walk of sad endings down those lanes ? And do the kids playing bangalir shera khela still look on them with amazement ? Or have both the sects learned to move on ? I miss  those walks (lets keep guessing about which one ! ) They say that a kid named rajarhat is going to dominate your skyline very soon, well i will disagree with the fact even if we get a freaking WTC up in that area, to me kolkata’s skyline would be the one that borders the walls of Birla auditorium. The straight lane from Mother Teresa Sarani (Park Street), till the end of Ho Chi Minh Sarani, The Tata Centre, Everest Building, Chatterjee International, American Consulate ending at the grand St. Pauls Cathedral dominating the skies but at the same time letting go of enough space to see the blue blanket. How well can you describe a skyline if the buildings block your view of the sky itself ? And lets not forget about Victoria Memorial and a bit on the farside Vidyasagar setu, which act as the cherry on the icing of clear autumn kolkata clouds. Oh how well you yourself have spoken of your grandeur through our eyes.

What is hatibagan upto ? Has the bargaining and  “o didi” calls grown louder or have the people become more “civilized” and find it “odd” to save “du char poisha” ? So many quotes in a single stement eh ? Well what can i say, you have always been so original ! So authentic ! How often do the people visit Coffee house these days ? Are the addas still that long ? Do the coffees still turn bland amidst the discussions and the burning charminars? How is gonokontho doing ? Is it still allowing people to write their heart on it or has it too got a color these days ? I cant smell the fragrance of the burning matchstick mixed with those of old books and keo karpin hair oil, that i was so familiar with a few months ago, something i miss terrribly. I heard that a certain party has won the elections in bengal this year but who won in coffee house cos the last time i visited the fight was still on, and i heard that it had been on through generations as Robi Thakur stood and heard them all.  Tell the corner bench on college square i miss it too. (again keep guessing).

How good is saltlake proclaiming its exclusiveness? The next time it makes a fuss be straight and tell him, he does not even belong to the city (geographically ). That should keep him quite for a while.

I wont be home in a while so i need you to deliver a few messages for me.

1. 38C Shyampukur Bye lane royak.  See to that no one sits on him and plays 29 other than our group, ask him to get those red ants out if anyone does and tell it that i have left the queen of my hearts under one of its slabs the last time i played there. Ask him to keep it safe.

2. Gunodhor Jethu. You will find him in a corner off chitpur road, Ma Tara Tea Stall, ask him about his grand daughter , the last time he complained about her being in love with some guy from her college, console him that its fine and if its true it might just last and if its not she herself would know her way out of it . For now ask him not to stop her from having a reason to wear a yellow saree on saraswati puja. And ask him to not lessen the amount of potatoes in the shingara or they will decline in quality.

3. Mritshilpi Tarun Paul. 63/4 Kumotuli lane .Just thank him for bringing the Gods to our homes through his hands.

4. Kolkata Metro. Ask them to be the best Ghataks in town as they have always been. And tell them never to fix the ACs , not every metro can give you the feeling of a winter rain.

Tell them i miss them all and i will be back very soon. I count my days to cross the Howrah Bridge and enter your majestic veins which lead to my home. Ask the last Dankuni local to wait as it has the habit of completing all my journeys, its also the train of my thoughts. And for all their well being i entrust u my tillttoma as i believe no matter how much the world around you changes, you will prevail, on board your trams, through your lanes and into our hearts. The farther we go the stronger the knot gets and promises of never letting go. Your beauty has mesmerized many and promises to mesmerize for the times to come. The smell of the dew on the dry maidan grass, or the arrival of new hilsa at lake market are what define you. I am proud of you. You have stayed old while making ways for the new. As the malls came up, stronger grew your thakur dalan. I was with you this puja and i must say you looked absolutely beautiful. I thank you for giving me a place in your heart.

I have lost out on words now as my throat gets all lumpy and my brain goes dry as the neurons do not know how to interpret the signals it receives now into words of literature.

I hope to hear from you really soon.

Until then

Bhalo theko shohor (stay well my city)

Rishav

P.S. tell dhormotola i said hi !

Me and Tamizh. A start.

Original Post Date on Blogspot : 04/11/2015

Writing has always been something that has rather intrigued me. Something that has amazed me. But at the same time i felt that writing had a certain element of handicap to it. What was that? Well i always felt that one suffers from a shortage of words to write of as relative to speaking of. But nevertheless it seems like it has never really been an issue with writers, infact i have seen and known of people who write beautifully but stammer (and not physiologically) when they try to speak on a subject. Well, now that is a rather happy contradiction. And thus i too dare to venture on these literary grounds with the contradiction as my shield. To all those grammar ethic concerned people who may try and waste there time reading my blog. I issue this as statutory warning to them. The  “cigarette swasth k liye hanikanarak hain” type.  So now that i have bragged about my extraordinary writing skills the next subject on the way to ruining your time as well as mine is to select a suitable subject to write on. These are some of my choices.

1. The ballads of Shakespeare

2. The Aam Admi Party

3. The Digital India Project

4. AAH!! Lets not forget the IPL

5. And of course!! The Indian Reservation System.

But. I will not flatter myself and thus would gleefully evade all these rather interesting and unique topics,obvious pun intended, and write something about “me being”. Me being here. Here as in that part of the country which very little among us know actually exist. I am talking about the glorious south of our huge subcontinent.

It has been sometime now that i have settled in the southern most state of our country Tamil (tamizh) Nadu. I will not woo you by what am i doing here. Because for now i am just intending to write about it. So without any final delay or boring prologue i begin,

Tamilians are an egoistic race. They believe on their superiority of language skills, education, mannerisms, ethics, reservations and all that can be of an army school nature. Well that is how i realize it to be. They believe that what they do is right and they have got a hell lot of people supporting this notion of theirs. They take pride in being the opposites. ( For heavens even nak and mukh means the opposite to them, and they call 2 as renda!!). They believe sons are born to be engineers and daughters are born to give birth to more engineers. Almost the majority of the tamil girls dream of leaving their neighborhood only holding their husbands hand. They try and save their hands not to build machines but to cook for their kids, and yes this is the youth thinking. They look oddly at you if you light a cigarette on the streets but go about happily with the half empty bottle of rum peeking outside their pockets at 1 in the afternoon. The bus conductors behave as if they are doing you a favor by letting you hop into the vehicle and push you down when your stoppage comes as if its him who is paying you for your service of “alightment”. To them except for tamil nadu, kerala and bits and pieces of karnataka and andhra pradesh everything else is north indian and trust me they are not very fond of that. PORA, which actually “burns” when they say it proves my previous statement. They are rude, shrewd and intelligent. But thats just the cover.

Inside the book you find a very different story. Yes, the people here are rude, insolent, egoistic, unmeasurably proud of their existence but they are very much as human as any of the rest in the world. They can smile one of the most beautiful and honest smiles in the world. They take some time to get the hang of things that may appear DIFFERENT to them but once they do they are nothing but a support to those notions. They may be proud but they are every bit as honest to be so. They will talk behind your back but at the same time never let it really affect you. Its for their own entertainment only. Or should i say , they “chumma” do it. They will always smirk at you on the streets but once you put a step near their door they will never let you go back empty handed or stomached.(The picture below is of a family i had the pleasure to know during a community orientation in the village of Adukambarae Kattupadi, Vellore district and boy do i miss their unceasing laughter on seeing a guy from kolkata and their ever so tasty sundals!!) They are different and find no problem with that because they are self sufficient something that not every culture in this country can demand of being, be it economically or culturally, they love their loud movies and most of them have rowdy fight scenes and songs that can make the entire world move their feet. The girls are shy but thats because they have too much to lose once set free. They believe they are the most educated people in the country. Why?  Because they are. Period. They are like their dosas, crunchy o the outside but the soft on the inside (though i could always do with a bit less of curry leaves in everything!! ) The sons become engineers yes!! But they treat their mothers as Gods and wives as princesses. The women have a major share of all chores be it in or out. They are late but they are not slow. They are like the super subs. The come on only when the goal is desperately needed. The bus conductor may pull you down when u have reached your stop but they also have the ethic to pull up a guy from his seat in order to get a old woman to sit. They are organized, disciplined and hot tempered perfectionists, they believe in the way they are, how they are and what they can be.

Concludingly, i would say the south with all its hills and seas are every bit as different as you can imagine and more, but i guess that is what makes them so perfect in their own eyes, PERFECTLY UNIQUE.

 

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