Thursday, 27 November 2008

Whither next?

I am sad. I am shaken.

I thought terrorist encounters happened in Israel or in Beirut. Grenades were thrown in Afghanisthan.

I thought we were safe. I thought we had strong borders. I thought -----

AND then, there were TV channels showing gunmen and police running about on the streets with drawn weapons, bodies being flung onto ambulances, blasts happening on the elite monuments of Mumbai, the figures of the casualties were rising like mercury in heat.

I felt numb. I felt helpless.

Then the tears came. Tears of anger and rage at the incompetence -- the incompetence of the intelligence agencies, the incompetence of the authorities but above all the incompetence of myself.

I want to give it back in kind to these scums but I don't know how!!!!!

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Adios, Maharaj

It probably was in the year 1990. We were playing an inter college cricket tournament and on a day off for us we trooped in to watch St. Xavier’s ,Kolkata take on Hooghly Mohsin College. We had walked in to gauge the strength of probable opponents but we ended up seeing a young guy scorch the turf with impeccable timing and balance and make the game a rather one-sided farce.

At that time, he was unknown to the world.

In 1991, he was in the India team and he returned in disgrace unable to cope with the cut throat competition of the game at the highest levels. In 1996, under allegations of being a Quota selection, he returned with a test debut hundred on the hallowed turf of Lords. The Indian cricket scenario changed forever!

Sourav Ganguly – Sourav Chandidas Ganguly to the media, Maharaj to friends and fans, Dada to team mates had had a second coming. This time it was for real, though what followed is stuff that mere mortals just dream off.

The back to back test centuries on debut, the 5 match ODI series against Pakistan in Toronto, the fighting 144 against Australia under terrible assault with the ball and words, the chasing of 300 plus against Pakistan in Bangladesh, the first series win at Pakistan and the tremendous showing in the 2003 World Cup. One could also mention his 22 ODI and 16 Test Centuries , 19000 international runs and the world record holding , now legendary, opening partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar. But these are mere statistics.

But what really sets him apart is his character. His grit, his mental strength, his ability to lead from scratch, identify and back potential match winners to the hilt, his ability to rise over petty regionalism, and give it back to the opposition in the same coin without batting an eyelid. Steve Waugh and a whole generation of Aussie cricketers know it, Greg Chappel knows it , Andrew Flintoff knows it and even a lot of retired/ forced to retire Indian cricketers know it. Yuvraj, Kaif, Harbhajan , Nehra, Zaheer, Sehwag know it too.

Unfortunately, that is what brought his early exit from the world cricket scenario. No one likes to be proven wrong or exposed in public. The ‘know-it-all’ Shastris, Roebucks, Srikanths, Vengsarkars, Mores and Chappels were under pressure. Each time they picked up and highlighted the fallacies and shortcomings of him, Sourav shut them up with his bat or at times even the ball.

And what audacity? He never subscribed to any lobby and the traditional region controlled politics was under severe strain. People got worried. How would they hide their in- competencies if there was no ‘divide and rule’ policy. So drastic measures were required. A captain was dropped from the team after having scored a test century. Rumour mongering and character assassination was started in right earnest. The powers to be heaved a sigh of relief that their fiefdom was safe.

But again, this guy (what audacity ? ) worked his way back into the team and created a third fairytale comeback. It was a dream two years which showed that he still was miles ahead of his detractors. But insecure incompetents would always be the same. He was dropped from the ODI team on the pretext of creating a team for the future, even after him being the highest run getter in the previous year. One debacle in a test series and knives were out again.

Maharaj had had enough. He decided to call it a day in style. And what style!! A century and an average of well over 60 in the last series against the world champs. (No doubt the Aussies hate him).

Fare you well DADA. We will miss those flowing ethereal drives through the covers, the lofted sixers over long-on , the lofted drives over the point boundary, the innocuous outswinger befuddling the batsmen into edging to the wicketkeeper , the jaw set in fierce determination, the tensed chewing of the nails, the swagger to the middle of the pitch and above all, the clenched fist raised to the sky in victory.

And before I end, Indian cricket needs you even today – may be in a different avatar. We shall keep our hopes alive for a new innings on a different pitch which may take Indian cricket to new heights – the ‘know-it-all’s be damned.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Strange Month

It has been a rather strange month.

It was the biggest festival month of the year with the two biggest festivals falling in this month. It was deemed to be a month of fun, frolic and gaiety.

It was a ruthlessly depressing month which brought apprehension and despondency to the minds of a lot of people.

It started with the Nano factory being withdrawn and Sourav announcing retirement. For the individual worshipping and hoping for a resurgence Bengali, it was a double whammy. Then the international community joined in the fun!

Big names like Lehman Brothers fell like nine pins and the stock market fell as if it were out to reprove the theories of gravity. Across states and continents came the groans of bankruptcy and for the man on the street the future was an eerie unknown threat.

The Gods and Goddesses came on schedule and there was lights, pandals , works of art strewn on the roads, dhakis and cultural programmes. However, the prayers on the lips were slightly more fervent, the frolic slightly forced.

Diwali, the festival of lights, came with its normal cache of lights, diyas , firecrackers and also an abnormal package of bombs. With the government trying to concentrate on the ban on loud sounding firecrackers, there were actual bombs being blasted across the country and entire Bihar was in flames.

India sent its first vehicle to the moon and simultaneously local leaders worked up such regional passion that the country is seeing localised civil war. Anand re-established his world champion status and the Aussies were drubbed at the Mohali test. On the same day a labourer from the North of India got lynched in the West because he came from the North and Assam got hit by 18 bombs at one shot.

It was a month which was special, but who wanted a special month anyway!!!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Gardens make Homes

The first house which I learnt to call my home was in Durgapur in a place called Joydev Avenue. It was a small two roomed single storied house belonging to the Durgapur Steel Plant.

No, I was not born there. But I spent the best part of my life there.

My father, an employee of Durgapur Steel Plant, moved into that house with my mother and myself (all of two and a half years) in the early seventies and we vacated it when my father retired from the same organisation in the early nineties. By that time I was already in college and that house had become my first HOME.

The house had a patch of land both in the front and at the back like all such quarters in Durgapur. My father being an avid gardener did magic there. The patch at the back was transformed into a brilliant fruit and vegetable bearing space, wherein we grew almost everything needed in the kitchen. We had plots growing potatoes, tomatoes, green chillies, cabbage, cauliflowers, onions, spring onions and God knows what else. We probably stopped short of cultivating our own paddy. The fruit section had Jackfruit, Mango, Banana, Lemon, Black Grape and my favourite ‘Peara Gach’ (my own Guava Tree). I had spent many a summer holiday acting the Mowgli on the branches of these trees. In fact, I remember lazing on one of the branches of the Guava tree on a winter afternoon and falling asleep subsequently. I woke up in a shock when I fell on the thorny Lemon shrub and learnt an important lesson of life---Never fall asleep on a thin branch of a tree.

The front patch was a treat for the eyes and nose. Neatly arranged in rows were the permanent beds of Bougainvillea, Marigold, Roses, Spanish bouquet and a host of seasonal flowers like Sylvia, Cosmos, Gerbera, Rajnigandha, Pansies and Bleeding Hearts. Bengal also had its presence through Togor, Kolkey, Phurush and Bel. These beds fringed a small, yet lush lawn. The Geometry of the layout of such beds and the lawn was brilliant, creating a sense of a neat and wholesome choreographed movement of colour. There were also a series of Chrysanthemums and Dahlias in pots during winter. If summer was a treat of exotic smells, then winter was a party of colours. The entire front patch was surrounded by a hedge which acted as a natural boundary for the plot. I had the honour of seeing Dahlias of a diameter of 14 inches bloom in front of my eyes and also had the thrill of knowing about 30 varieties of Roses by their names. There was also a delectable collection of about 40 different types of Cacti along with Foliage and Succulents.

The garden survived and grew into a veritable landmark of the street in spite of the challenge created by my cricketing pursuits in the lawn or in the passageways. It inspired many neighbours to create their own patch of Green.

My father knew each plant by its twigs and leaves and I seriously believed that he cared more for them than me, at times. He proved his expertise in land composition, cross breeding and identification of plant types. He never entered into any Flower Show Competitions but was revered as a master in the field by the locals.

It was fun to grow up inside an Oasis located within the stern heart of a Steel City and it was painful to leave that house when my father retired.

It was probably more painful for my father as he refused to recreate that magic in any of the houses that we subsequently lived in.

P.S.:- My blog completes the first year of existence today. Thanks are due to all my readers and friends who cajolled me and gave me the necessary push to shove my laziness aside and keep posting. So thank you all and Happy Birthday to my Blog.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Bombs and Gods

Today is Vishwakarma Puja.

The God of industries and machines is worshipped today. All factories, mechanics, engineers, technical hands pray today such that their endeavours in their working fields see positive results with the blessings of the God. This day has always been rather special to me as I come from a Steel City and my present vocation is in Real Estate—both industries worship the Lord with great fervour.

And if Bengal and its people needed the blessings of Lord Vishwakarma, it is now. With a short-sighted Jihad against setting up of an industry being fanned by politicians and the international new age industries reeling in the aftermath of the economic massacre in USA, the future of industrial growth in the state looks to be heading nowhere.

Of course, today in India one needs to have the blessings of God to able to even live. With bombs set by terrorists going off across the nation like crackers on a Diwali night and the Government and its agencies reduced to plastic faced powerless individuals mouthing meaningless statements , one really has to be alive on the strength of ones luck.

With the onset of that period of the year when the Gods make their annual journey to the Earth one by one, I can not but wonder whether this would herald a new dawn of peace and hope. I know I sound strange, impractical and old-fashioned in the new world order. But when you are living in bleak times as these, logic takes leave and one tends to survive on hope, faith and belief – that tomorrow would be a better day.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Political Bankruptcy

I was born and brought up in the steel township of Durgapur.

The city was a brainchild of the most dynamic chief minister of West Bengal, Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. At that time it was the most modern steel factory in the entire country embodying the hopes and aspirations of a surging newly independent nation state.I grew up in an industrial environment where the household clocks were set to time depending on the siren heard from the factory. All of us knew a little bit of the steel making process by the time we were in high school.

For a long time I believed that working for a livelihood meant working in a steel plant. All other professions were either dependent subsidiaries/ancillaries or did not exist at all. Above all, I was a first hand witness to the growth and prosperity that the factory and its ancillaries brought on to the peripheral regions of Durgapur. It had the best educational institutions, medical services and entertainment areas of the entire district.

I had also been a first hand witness to the fall of the steel plant from a place of pride at the hands of militant trade unionism. The other premier steel plants grew from strength to strength whereas, Durgapur Steel Plant moved from one strike to another. The union leaders grew so powerful that they held the factory at ransom and the degeneration was definite to the point of being complete.

Dr. Roy’s dream became a problem child. My entire generation was forced to look outside for livelihood and till date we all regret to have left our place of dreams at the behest of some short sighted individuals.

Now, seeing the daily happenings at Singur, I feel frightened. It’s ironical that the political parties have changed sides and the erstwhile tormentors are mouthing platitudes. But what is really spine chilling is the ease with which a handful few are holding the future of the entire next working generation in balance.

I feel so tired to think that the idiosyncrasies of a few would decide whether the average ethnic educated male would be in a position to be able to earn his livelihood whilst staying in his place of birth. My present profession forces me to get in touch with land selling agents and believe me; they come from all corners of the political spectrum irrespective of the public stances taken by their leaders.

Where are we going? Whose gain are we talking about? Who cares for us?

These questions at the moment have no answers as my home state braces itself towards another plunge into darkness—and no, I am not talking of the present power cuts only

Monday, 18 August 2008

Independence Day

One more Independence Day anniversary has come and gone.

There were the usual annual parades and the speeches to the nation, flag hoisting ceremonies in various organisations and institutions, oaths and pledges taken in chorus, fluttering paper flags being sold with gusto at the street corners and the electronic media showing innumerable videos related to ‘Deshbhakti’.

There were also the usual threats from militant groups, bomb blasts in expected places like the North East, routine attempts to cross the LOC by the neighbouring nation and the Valley of Gods erupted in ethnic quasi religious violence which nurtured back a secessionist movement.

In sports, the cricketing glamour boys got whipped again in Sri Lanka, the glamorous tennis stars got whipped in Olympics and India with a population of 100 million once again personified the Olympic motto of Participation being more important than winning. (Kudos to Abhinav Bindra, but he is an aberration and we all know that in our heart of hearts.)

In politics, the usual crooks and corrupt rule the roost. Bundles of currency are shown up in the Parliament and that too on National Television. Strange partnerships have been created and we may have a choice between two most uncouth people as the next leader of the nation.

So, if one sits back to look at the 61 years gone by , what does he/she see? Hopelessness? Or is there something round the corner? What would make this land of 100 million carry on?

The answer is a cliché. The answer lies in the hands of the common man. The battered and taken for granted man on the street. The ability of the mass to survive this outrageous onslaught and continue regardless will be the determining factor of the future.

I know that the above point is open to challenge. But at he end I will leave you with is image:-

It was around 11:30 at night on the 14th of August and I was standing on the footpath outside a marriage house waiting for my car to pick me up. The roads were deserted with only a few vehicles plying. Suddenly, from a side lane emerged a young man (must have been in late teens or early twenties) furiously pedalling on a bicycle with the tricolour hoisted high above his head and mounted on the handle bar. I watched the young man moving away with the national flag fluttering above his head – a head held high with obvious pride of carrying the flag.

My day was made. I felt the same pride swell in me. Jai Hind.

Monday, 14 July 2008


The biggest challenge as a blogger that I have faced till now is that people keep asking you about your next post.

In such cases I either keep a know-all sombre face and shake my head and hope that the person interpretes my answer to my and his liking or say that I am thinking of/cooking up something to be posted very soon.

In either case, it is an euphemism. For at that moment, I have not the simplest of inclination to write-- either due to the dearth of ideas at that time or due to my age old lethargic nature.

So, all those who wanted to know, the cat is now out of the bag and , you all have to make do with this pathetic attempt masquerading as a post.

And no Sniggers please:)))))))

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

It is raining

As soon as the first monsoon clouds team up to darken the horizon, all sorts of strange memories invade my mind.

Here I am sitting at the verandah of the small quarter in Durgapur looking out at the horizon and marvelling at the downpour washing away the grime of the trees , flowers, roads and even the pebbles of our garden with the sound of rainfall on the various surfaces and tree leaves creating a marvellous symphony of its own.

Then there I am straining away on my small blue bicycle away from the cricket field as I continue my struggle to reach the safety of my home before the fast approaching rain drops catch up with me.

Of course, there is a fun filled moment of a few of us , all teenagers, having a time of our lives playing football in a slushy mud spattered field in a rain soaked day, while the neighbourhood damsels watched us from the convenient safety of their verandahs. Maan, how we showcased our talents that day in the 'Inter para' football championship.

There is a complete collage of picking mangoes, playing ' Jumping in the puddle' , wrestling matches on the wet school ground and intentional rain drenching sessions to be able to get French leave from school.

Add to that, the memories of being huddled inside the room as the first 'Kalboishaki' lashed the city armed with generous doses of thunder and lightning and aided by storms reaching 90 km per hour. The fear and apprehension gave way to the pleasure created by the sudden fall in temperature as one sat back in the evening munching away at 'telebhaja' and 'muri' or huddled under the mango or guava tree to pick up the fruits dislodged by the storm. An occasional 'shilabristi' added to the charm and it was fun to reach out in the rain to get hold of the icicles falling from the sky.

There is also one memorable holiday in Darjeeling where I spent one full hour alone in the Mall sitting in the pouring rain, enjoying two cones of ice cream as I tried to get a feel of the mist covered mountains in the blurred horizon.

Then there were the romantic escapades of the mind pushing me to offer umbrella space to a good looking college mate (met with rejections almost always), offered lifts on a dilapidated scooter such that the dainty selves do not soil their lovely feet in the puddles (generally accepted) and of course, participation in typical college groups walking cheerfully in the pouring rain with the hope of getting close to the most recent infatuation.

Aah, those were the days when youth was me. Those were the days of monsoon magic and romance.

These days , when I see the same clouds, I am more worried about the waterlogging, work disruptions, the maid not turning up, car stalling in the water and water borne stomach ailments.

Is that a sign that I am aging?

Who knows? Maybe.

But this year, at least one day, I am going to deliberately wade in the monsoon puddle and enjoy it. That is a promise!!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Chalo Let's Go

I was never a film buff.

I mean I do not enjoy sitting inside a dark hall sharing some tear jerking melodrama with a group of unknown individuals; or for that matter neither do I appreciate laughing at some antics on the screen. I would rather read a quiet book at home and let my imagination run wild or go to the Eden Gardens and shout my guts out in favour of the Indian Cricket team (and not for a certain Mr. Khan) .

My experiences of a cinema hall were for Feluda films, Goopy Gyne series and of course, some love stories which I had seen with my wife ( which was when we were dating pre-marriage).

I have also sat through a lot of good movies in my living room, reclining on my sofa and with occasional flipping of sports channels in between thrown in for good measure. And I for a good measure diligently read the film reviews and gossip published in the Tabloid section of The Telegraph, Ananda Bazar Patrika and the Times of India -- such that I do not feel left out of the office lunch corner.

With that sort of background I contrive to do this blog on a film - a recent one by Anjan Dutta.

The seeds were sown with us (my wife and I) attending the Music Release of the film ' Chalo Let's Go'. This had to do with my love for the songs of Anjan Dutta and the presence of my 'Orkut Friend' Rudranil as one of the actors in the film. I loved the music and my wife seizing my moment of vulnerability (wives do have a sixth sense in reading the vulnerable moments of their husbands) extracted a promise out of me to see the film.

And so there I was at the movie hall with mixed feelings -- waiting for the movie to set rolling.

Two hours later I emerged out of the hall slightly uncomfortable-- dazed by the simplicity of the story, uplifted by the complexity dealt out in this span. A simple non linear story line dealing with the myriad nature of what we call the human mind embellished by the lush backdrop of North Bengal , nurtured by mind blowing music and held together by superb acting by non-stars made my evening.

I am tempted to discuss the nuances in detail . But I desist as neither do I have the capacity to express such depth, nor do I intend to give out the hidden joys that the film holds for the viewer. I would rather wish that individuals walk in to see the film and appreciate it in their own way. I know that it is not a 'classic'. But If you are a Bengali in the strange world of today, then the film would have held a small bit of recognition of yourself in any or many of the characters portrayed.

So I would recommend to all and sundry to 'Chalo let's go'.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Celebrating an epitaph

This is courtesy someone whose profile I bumped into in Orkut.

Thanks 'Sanjhbatir** Roopkothara***'.

I guess I would be proud if I could write something of a depth and quality remotely close to this:-

Do not stand at my grave and weep;

I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning hush
I am the swift uplifting rush.
Of quiet birds in circled flight,
I am the soft stars that shine at the night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there , I did not die.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Darjeeling- A Love Story

I do not know from when I had fallen in love with Darjeeling.

I cannot place a precise time frame from when I had yearned for that place. It was also not the first hill station to be visited by me. In fact, I had already traveled through Jammu and Kashmir and had seen Mussorie. They were splendid hill stations but my mind somehow wandered towards Darjeeling. Blame it on the Feluda stories, which started from Darjeeling or on the wonderful songs of Anjan Dutta weaving dreamy tales about it – both are my favourites—Darjeeling always stood out. Always!!!!!

I visited Darjeeling for the first time in 1992, when I had just completed college and Darjeeling had just recovered from a rather bloody phase of unrest. The feeling of waiting to see my beloved was so overwhelming that I scarcely noticed any thing on the three and half hour journey from Siliguri.

Then after Ghoom, when the car turned one more S-curve on the road, there loomed she – the queen of the hills.

Four days of intoxication followed – intoxication of colours, smell, peace and -----, I don’t know what else. I came back happy to have whetted my thirst for the place. There was satiety in having known my beloved so closely and there was hunger for more – much more. And not even the fact that I could not get a single glimpse of Kanchenzonga during that period of stay could take away my happiness!!

I have visited Darjeeling about 8 to 10 times after that and my thirst refuses to get quenched. These days I know the curves of the Hill Cart road so well that I can even drive in the night. I have a crush on the hot chocolate and sausage breakfast of Keventers. I love the liquor chocolates of Glennarys. I have another affair with the Joeys Pub. I love to wake up early and take a walk around the Observatory hill as the Majestic Kanchenzonga looms in the front and takes a bath in the light of the rising sun. I love taking lonely walks around the tea gardens. I love watching the Blue Toy Train making its meandering progress. I love sitting upon the observatory hill, watching the sun set in the distance. But best of all, I love to sit lazily on one of the green benches in the Mall, doing absolutely nothing as hordes of people move around.

I know that crass consumerism is eating away at my beloved. I know the various struggles of recognition by various sects have eroded the Buddha like calm of the place. I know that the visiting throngs have denuded away the water reserve of the place. I know that the knowing population speaks highly of other places like Kurseong, Pelling, Ravangla and Sikkim.

But can you do away with your beloved and look for new love just because your love of your life has fallen ill? Does a love affair look into physical deformity?

No way, sir. I love my beloved Darjeeling.

Saturday, 8 March 2008


The first and the most lingering memory of the house is of a big iron gate with creepers over it blooming with flowers of myriad colours and a tall dark handsome gentleman with a baritone voice standing behind enquiring from us --- me and my parents--- whether the Tata Patna express was behind schedule as usual. If my memory of about 35 years back serves me right, the month must have been May.

Why that particularly non- exciting routine inquiry from my grandfather remains etched in my memory defies normal logic. For I have visited that house three times every year for the next 32 years without fail!! Whenever, I have had school vacations, we rushed of to that house in Jamshedpur. Is it possibly because that was the last time I had seen my grand father fit and walking? Maybe. Or is it possibly that I had reached that age when one tends to recognize the yearnings and love in the voice of ones grand parents? Maybe.

My grandfather, or Dabhai as I called him, died of cancer within 2 years of the above incident leaving behind his large family, a lot of difficult to emulate legacy and a lovely house, aptly named ‘Mitralaya.’

The house became part of my growing up. My father worked in another steel city and we would look forward to going to this house in during each vacation. Built around a facade supported by huge Gothic pillars, the house housed all sorts of interesting things for my growing childhood.

First of all my cousins lived here.

Then there were the circular rooms with 12 windows, a huge kitchen garden filled with fruit and vegetable trees, a flower garden with a manicured lawn and a stately Magnolia Grandiflora tree presiding over all of it. Add to the above umpteen bookcases filled to the brim, a dining table fit to serve 12 covers, a bathroom with red floors, winding marble staircases to the roof and the roof itself—from where one could see the rolling Dalma hills in the horizon.

The wonders were many and so was the flow of love and affection.

12 years back, a burgeoning family and sheer economic considerations forced the unwilling family to do away with the dream. Now, there stands a mid rise multi-storied apartment block -- very modern, updated and without any history and character.

I have an apartment there and so do each of my cousins who like me are settled all across the globe.
Each of us are successful in our little way but we all pine for that house which took away our childhood with it.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

A Fiasco Named Kolkata Book Fair

The Kolkata Book Fair has been called off!!

I could not believe it the first time though perhaps everyone would say that it was always on the cards. Caught between the crossfire of an unbending arrogant Guild (people who organize the fair) and the environment protecting experts who had taken on the Book Fair as a soft target, the future of the fair was suspect. The last moment verdict by the court of law was the proverbial last straw.

Given the situation, a few questions do arise.

Who gave the guild the right to play with the emotions of the common mass of Kolkata who look forward to this annual event?

Since it is a repetition of the last year near fiasco, why did the guild not have a Plan B?

Why did the authorities allow even the initial work to start when now they are trying to avoid the blame?

Since this has got a history from the last few years, why has an alternative site not been offered? After all, last year the fair at the Salt Lake stadium had lost much of its vaunted flair!

Why has the environment experts taken on only about the Book Fair? Is it because this is a soft target, which does not have the backing of big corporate houses or political honchos? After all, when every month 10,000 new cars hit the cramped up roads of Kolkata, thousands of new polluting restaurants open up, trees are hacked mercilessly to create new skyscrapers, the Tolly Nullah or the Krishnapur Canal remain pollution personified, Kolkata gets annual floods twice as the exit route of the storm water has been damaged or blocked in the name of development, a cigarette company does not want to move out of Kolkata as the number of smokers is maximum in the state, government vehicles belch smoke with impunity , 15 year old vehicles refuse to leave the roads, why only the book fair of all things?????

We in Kolkata have lost a lot of our heritage and culture in the name of Development and Progress. When other towns do protect their heritage and yet grow at a double speed than us, then why can’t we?

The Kolkata Book Fair is a part of our heritage—a heritage for which we should be damned proud of!!!

So please Messrs. Dutta, De, Bhattacharya, et all. Stop this stupid bickering and make sure that the Book Fair is back in all its grandeur irrespective of the location --- theories be damned!!!

Friday, 11 January 2008


If you are a resident of Kolkata, you would spend the entire year looking forward to it. Waiting with bated breath as you sweat your way to work and home, with frustration and apprehension as the monsoon drags on, with appreciative eagerness as the festive season sets it up and then it is finally on you.


The first signs are in the evening breeze cooling off and immediately like a waiting guerrilla army the woollens make their presence felt. Every resident worth his salt immediately brings out whatever warm clothing he/ she has and sets upon letting the world know that winter has arrived in Kolkata.

The new shopping malls display new winterware on their display cases, the local presence is in the form of Bhutias from the hills of Darjeeling and the craftsmen in the handicraft expos in the maidan.The maidan is filled up with teeming populace , the zoo is overcrowded enough to make the animals feel cranky, the cake shops glow in the hum of good business and suddenly the blazers, ties, pullovers are on you. Names like Nahoums and Flurys are bandied about.

Ironically, it is the period to flaunt. To flaunt your faux mink coat , your odd sized leather jacket, your ankle high leather boots, your branded cuff links, you pashmina, your knowledge of the hills, your capacity to sip wine , your knowledge about the authenticity of the 'Gur' , 'Mowa' and Nolen Gurer Sandesh, of handicrafts and even your love for books, theatre , films or fairs.

And people in the know do it fast, very fast. Because people know that the good times do not last. Like all good love affairs the expectancy period is much much more than the actual time of experience.

Then suddenly, when the Northern Hemisphere is still reeling under cold and new blasts of snowfall, sleeves start shortening , fans start moving and sweat reappearing in Kolkata.

Warm Memories of the cold remain to sustain the yearning for another 10 months.