The “away” half

Siblings. The unavoidable competition. The unwilling part of your soul. The spotlight sharer. The often privileged elder one. The talks, no matter how small or big, ending with a fight, hand and legs included. The worst critique. The reason for the question, “why the hell could i have not been the only one?”. The sudden soft corner, the friend for all needs, the advice for every situation, the first pat on the back. The body protecting me from a beating. The first relationship advice. The first tear wiper. The first “letke chetke”. The reason behind the prayer “thank god i am not an only one!”

AND THEN AN AIRPORT TERMINAL. THE WAVING HAND. THE TEARY EYE. THE SAD HEART BENEATH THE PROUD MIND.

The sudden loneliness that follows is nothing like one could ever imagine. Its like a carnival coming to a sudden close because of a tidal wave that swept its shore. Suddenly conversations become an ISD call and emotions “skyped”. Bhaiphotas become a long distance affair and the luchi is now eaten full. Never thought how much a half luchi could prove to be such an apt diet therapy. Fights still prevail but the charm seems lost because they end very soon based on the thought “lets not fight she is so far away”. Songs start reminding you of her and make you all mushy mushy (something you would have never even had nightmares of). You start writing poems and proses that remind you of her and her, you. I mean its my sister (brother for the rest, please change the she & her in the appropriate places with he and him. Sorry for the inconvenience caused!), i should be blaming her for all that is bad in this world and moving all my efforts to get on her nerves, not MISSING her. This certainly does not feel normal. You are filled with a sudden storm of weak feelings and she becomes an inspiration rather than the more believable “issue”.  I mean, she was the sole reason behind my miserable existence and the shield to all that i did, that were ill intended and in a sudden jerk of events (am not complaining that they were bad) your wish of being the lone child comes true and oh my god, do you hate it like anything! The fantasy becomes a nightmare and you spend nights looking at the empty bed that once had her studying on it.

But you do get used to it like anything else in life and also because you understand the situation as a result of  the curse of growing up. You start believing that your brother-in-law can actually take care of her (not better than you obviously, that is never possible) and in no time didia gives you many more reasons to look forward to, only this time the loathing decreases in degree and life through her thoughts seem more influential a setting. You start looking forward to the huge suitcases that she brings home every alternate year and sit with one luchi on one of those dreamt about sunday mornings to hear about her life, the best part, she always misses me. You take a note of her career advices and go about them as bedbakyo.  Yes, believe it or not elder siblings have the best predicition about your life and thus always give the best advice. The outings seem a bit awkward at first but become more normal with her stay getting prolonged. Her visa creating problems and making her stay longer turn out to be the most unusual of good news. Nothing feels better. Evil i know but eh! what the heck! And there is something more you develope. Everytime you see her the first time you are bound to feel a bit nervous. I am still not sure why that happens. Time flies within plans through her stay and she waves again and sets sail in the clouds and every time you hear the same thing,”grow up”. Time stops for your sister the moment you are born and though you may get old as much as you want to, they always look at you as you would pee your pants any moment now. It doesn’t feel that inappropriate though, i must accept. And while she is away you start making plans about her next visit , though you may not be sure when that would actually be happening. Time, once again, proves to be the judge as well as the sentence.

Siblings. The most beautiful thing that can ever happen to you. The only thing better than you yourself. The sole inspiration in your life, The only person you love to brag about. The person whom your near and dear ones hear the first thing ,right after your own introduction. The reason behind the paved path under your feet. The only person who can actually make your parents believe that time has changed and not everything is “amader shomoi to erom chilo”. The pampering hand, the leading finger, the best example of “far yet near”. The worst beating of your life with the best outcomes. The mend it all smile and the first one to accept your thoughts without judging them (but only till the matter subsides, the judgement starts then and ends at the order) . The best gift that your parents have ever gifted you. When they go far, it hurts, when they stay far, it hurts more, when they speak of dragging you near, you dream and when finally when the ends meet, you feel complete.

So here is to the most unpleasant blessing of my life and of all those who might be reading it.

May you never be far even if you end up being away!

Cheers!

(Sorry if it sounds a bit personal, but couldn’t really help it! )

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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 !

The Pitter Patter trail

“Ei meghla dine ekla kano thakena ko mon

kache jabo kobe pabo ogo tomar nimontron”

(in this overcast day why does my heart not be calm?

i want to be near you, and thus i seek your invitation)

The start of the rains. As you well may figure, the rains come as a prophet of romance, invoking thoughts and feelings and puts a pinch in the most colorful  corners of thy heart. You spend hours sitting in front of the window thinking of the one you love and imagining on how she may be doing the exact same thing, or you may sit and think of home, which, as situation dictates is in a far off place. One starts missing and reminiscing. It brings within its little droplets consolation for the sighs of a hectic summer. Farmers look up in prayer to the Gods thanking them for their bounty that he so showers to bring peace and cool on the land. Poems are written, songs are sung, umbrellas are held up with a smile, hands are held and dances are staged on gutters with ankle deep of soil water. Everything changes through a swift shower that comes about at times, Some places experience with anticipation others with surprise. Nevertheless, rain is something that is well look forwarded to as a sign of relief, A spray that washes off all that is hot and sweaty, and dry and dusty. Something that cleans away the past,with a clear stream of the present, bringing on its shoulders the promises of a calm future ahead. In  a split shower all the frowns turn into a smile. Rain is the savior that saves us all.

But only for a while.

“Bajra manik gnatha tomar boron dala
Bame rakho bhoyonkori bonya maron-dala”

(your garland is made of thunder

but thou keep aside the garland of floods)

The rains that start as a sign of pleasure, as a symbol of positivity soon turn into storms. Strong winds rage through the land making it devoid of all the flora that it may have nourished. The water chases people out of there homes and this is perhaps the only time that homeless people can’t even take to the streets for shelter. As the rain gives way to floods, the hopes give way to despair. The crops that one grew under its promise now perish to its flow. The songs change in mood and people pray to see the sun once again, the same sun that scorches their lives. It proves again that all that is good is temporary, everlasting happiness yet again turns into a myth. The kids who went out to play in the rain just last week, sit on the bed all day as the floors of his home are flooded. Trees clog roads and cars make way to boats. The khichdi that they once made to celebrate the showers has now turned into a daily square meal. It does not taste the same anymore, All the ingredients are the same its just that the ladle now turns in a different mindset. The newspapers get busy recording the number of deaths, the priests get tired chanting slokas to shoo the rain away, the amount of recorded rainfall now raises eyebrows instead of spreading the lips. Calm turns to catastrophe.

But not for long.

“Clouds come floating into my life 

no longer to carry rain or usher storm 

but to add color to my sunset sky”

Well no matter how many dark clouds may cover up one’s horizon, that does not make its silver lining a lie. After weeks of painting the town “wet” when the clouds finally give up on their strength and feel its best to make way for the sky , the world unravels in a state of joyous excite. It rejoices the sun once again, looks up at the sky with eyes of hope , only this time the color is blue and not grey. The sun brings about a new morning, promising that “everything is gonna be all right”. The ray of faith shines on the worlds face and it smiles again. Distance perhaps does make the heart grow fonder, even the sun plays the part of a parting lover to make the world feel its place in their cycle and as the sun does that the rain takes over its former part. Life is just as round as the earth with a bit of being flat at the edges (well i don’t know why i used this metaphor, it had a nice ring in my head, look for your own explanations !! ) . The rain however does not leave, leaving only, damage, destruction , clogs and floods, it leaves behind several remains of its bounty.Be it the little drops on the edge of leaves, the deposition of silt to nourish the lands, the rainy day holidays, the beautiful smell of the water on the ground while it makes its way back to the sky or be it in the gushing flow of a river that had been dry for years till it came. Rain comes with a smile, fills with a frown and leaves with a smirk.

“Dahane shayane tapto dharani parechilo pipasharta

Pathale tahare indraloker amrito bani barta”

(Heated earth was lying in a scorching bed, thirsty

You send them a celestial message from your land o lord)

Rain, be it a boon or a bane has the power to do one thing that perhaps makes it the most influential of all elements of nature. To cleanse. It cleanses from the road to our doorstep, to the road to our heart, it washes away all that dry bits of our lives and gives them a medium to float on, to live on and most importantly to  feel the importance of light , something that the “modern” nights too fail to do sometimes.

To be or not to be… A friend !

Original Post Date : 10/11/2015

“Depth of friendship does not depend on the length of acquaintance” – Rabindranath Tagore

I am not really sure why i began with this quote.

Well, lets face it i am not really a writer and what does a wanna be in all fields do to gain an entrance?

Its simple….they google !! And so did i “Quotes on friendship”, the 56th link gave me this answer and i thought “Robi” Thakur was a good way of instigating some bengali sentiments ,who might be reading this post. (to those like me, this may just turn out to be a healthy piece of writing advice!).

So without editing or deleting my rather disappointing prologue i begin my ranting about friendship.

Well to have a friend is like sailing a ship (the poorest metaphor possibly! ). There are times when the tides are hard and your ship might almost topple but its then that you bring out the sindbad in you and hold the wheel even tighter with the hope that it is going to pass really soon. While in times opposite it may be calm, very calm, very very calm, and everything will seem perfect, its then that you bring out the cruise tourist in you ,lay back, enjoy the mocktail and the sun but at the same time look for the shore. Friendship only comes, it never leaves. It comes in the form of people at different phases of your life , in school, in college, in tuition, in “para”(please forbid yourself from rhyming) at home or may be just for a moment on the streets from someone whose name you may forget to ask even though you might have spend almost the entire day talking to him at an age old coffee shop and he/she just happened to join in. Friendships can be “just”, “best”, “chaddy”, “oldest”, “storng” etc etc, accompanied by all the positive superlative adjectives possible. It may be hidden in not talking for days over the lamest of issues or talking for days on the lamest of issues. Its there in a cup of tea, in a burning fag, in an old story book, in a week long trip, in the same last bench of the class room, in the same gaze upon new juniors coming in for admission, from the ghats of Varanasi to the trinkets of Kolkata to the kebabs of Delhi friendship can take you anywhere ,from anywhere, through anything in a jiffy. Friends are perhaps the only people who judge you when you are being polite and feel contented to hear the slangs,they are those people who will hold you closest when you are going through a rough patch but also waiting eagerly for it too pass so that they can make a fool out of you recollecting on how you “cried like a baby dude! “. Friends are confusing but merrily so.

Friendship starts its journey when you open your eyes for the first time to see this world and clutch your mother’s finger and wink at your elder sister (though i believe its less of a wink a more of a babies inability to open both eyes at the same time…but hey no logic when we are talking emo!). From then on it moves to school where you sing with people as tiny as you ,play criss cross in the pee pee and look at girls together for the first time, as not being your enemies. Then comes college and friendship takes a sharp bend. It comes from those people with whom you share a guitar, a note, a bunk, a proxy , a laugh, a cry, a crush and an inevitable heart break. Then friendship slightly moves on to a narrower lane and you fall in love, its just friendship with an “exclusive” name . And if cupid finds it apt friendship moves round seven times the sacred fire and its not very long that you turn into that friend whose finger u once held at the beginning of time, only now that finger is yours. And there would be time and there would be time , and you will start moving towards your time out—–its perhaps at this very moment that you realize that even though your senses have grown weak your friendship has grown stronger. Only now it has moved from the last bench to the park bench where you sit with your sticks on the side, from the talks of who is seeing whom to whose daughter is seeing whose son and from the hip rock songs to the “songs of our time”, from lets do it ,to lets remember it and from the sly smile at the college gate to the contented smile on the bedside.

In the entire process we see its us, the human beings who go through a transition, whether it be in age or in mind, what remains evergreen is the abstract concept which stays till we do and continues to live its legacy even later. “The smile of friendship” never fades, we move on from one set of friends to a new one with time but it does not reduce the importance of those we “had” infact it increases it. A wise man would say, friendship is like wine, the older it gets the tastier it is. But neither am i wise nor much of a wine connoisseur. So i would say , friendship is friendship. Its incomparable, unsubstituted, and ever growing, self nourishing and very difficult to be judged metaphorically. Its blind, its partial, its madness, its calm, its strong and gives the best hangover in the world, its to little fingers joining and turning into palms. Friendship is what comes in life, grows through life, holds you through life, and even though one might fail to realize it in this market of losing jobs, its perhaps the only thing that never ever lets you go no matter how big the world may get.

And what is the only thing that never lets you go in your life time ?

Its LIFE itself.

For all my friends.

Cheers !

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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