Thursday, 31 December 2009


It's that time of the year again!

Today evening, people would party and enjoy, as if there was no tomorrow. There would be attempts to drown old sorrows of the previous year and an effort to look up to the future year. Shining (drunk?) faces would cheer as the clock strikes twelve tonight, ushering in a new year.

But what would change when that happens? Will there really be a new tomorrow?A tomorrow of justice, honour, truth and hope?

Others I know not, but HOPE surely. That's what we live on knowing fully well that tomorrow would be just one more date in our jaded lives. But as the poet said 'Hope springs eternal....'

Personally 2009 was a great year with lots of milestones reached and the necessary putdowns. I too look forward to 2010 with HOPE that the new year would be special. A year of love, laughter, fun  and joy ;and the tears when they come would be few and far between.

And on this note I raise a toast to 2010 and  also thank all those who made my 2009 special.

Wishing all my best wishes for a great 2010.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Buying a "Home"

I have been working for an organisation which claims ‘Where homes come true’, for the last dozen years.

In the process, I must have had sold a few thousand apartments, bungalows, villas and condominiums. Every day someone would be sitting in front of me with slightly expectant, wary looks and listening to me extolling the virtues of the property I wanted then to buy. There was sooooooo much to talk about. The air funnel, the shadow line, the swimming pools, the garden for the children to play, the Vaastu compliance, the common amenities, the fittings and fixtures, ----------------.

Some were convinced and bought. Others just smiled and moved on to some other property. I shook my head whenever that happened. After all, why should they not buy after I have extolled the virtues of the property? At any point of time, I knew more about Real Estate than what they could ever dream off. Silly people! Didn’t even understand good and professional advice!
In this period I stayed in a rented apartment. All through the boom and bust of real estate I did not buy any property.

This year my family pushed me to buy an apartment for us. After all ‘it’s better to pay EMI with its tax benefits than to pay rent. After all, you build an asset in the process,’ they said. I had heard me saying that to a lot of people and it felt strange hearing it from others.

So it was decided that a house has to be bought! Pronto! And with my knowledge and experience, it was going to be a child’s play.

Four months and about 500 apartments later, I accepted defeat. I could not finalise a single apartment for buying. Some were above budget, some had defects, some were not having enough legal papers, some did not have ample choice to choose from and some were just not good enough. Many people, most of them my friends and colleagues from the industry tried to help and failed.

As I was accepting defeat and was resigning to my fate of a life in a rented accommodation, my family (parents and wife) took charge. One day they went out, saw a couple of projects and finalised on one. I was told to arrange for the finance as they liked the place. Defeated, I did as ordered.

After a couple of days, I visited the project with a lot of inhibition bracing for the worst. Yes! There was the not too good approach road, the buildings were located too close to each other, the basic workmanship was okay but the finishing could have been better, it was on the top floor and a host of other things. But since, I have paid for it , I wanted to go ahead.

Another six months and some interior developmental work later, we were ready for the Grihapravesh. As is the norm of the family, a couple of hundreds of my kindred souls and friends joined us for the puja and the lunch. All of them said kind words about the project—some out of genuine liking, some out of courtesy.

The ritual requires one to stay three nights at least in the apartment immediately after the puja. So I stayed back after all left and late at night as I reclined on the makeshift bed, I looked up and saw the moonlight filter in, creating a show in light and shade. I quietly rose from the bed, made my way to the balcony and reclined on the easy chair enjoying the soothing breeze of the early winter.

I woke up with a start when the first rays of light hit my face. I looked around and found my home.

The faults are still there, there is a lot of work to be done before I move in, and the area is still slightly undeveloped— yet from that very moment I have found my home.

These days I just mention the important virtues of the projects I am selling to prospective buyers and let them choose. After all , it’s their home they are choosing – not buying a house that I am offering to them.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

A tryst with nature

The road stretched out in front, inviting and relaxing – holding a promise of an unknown oasis of relaxation.

The three cars made good ground along the Durgapur Expressway as soon as they left the city limits. The parathas and dahi at Palsit charged the batteries and we were off again. Four hours after we had left the smog filled cloudy horizon of Kolkata we turned off the asphalt road into a lovely Kaccha pathway lined by greenery in all sorts of hue.

Travelling through this road we reached a new place off the river Ajoy, where one got to rest in a cosy little cottage lined with flower beds and with peacocks as company. The city bound tired souls looked around with their jaded eyes and suddenly, the adrenaline was back flowing through them.

The result – a trek through the gardens to the banks of Ajoy which lay there in a languid curl – almost too lazy to move with a lonely boat floating by itself.

After the stroll by the riverside and a quick bath, steaming rice, delicious ‘aloo patal’ and fish curry, there
was a long lazy adda under the watchful eyes of two local dogs and a few unknown birds flying by.

The evening unfolded early with gathering clouds muscling out the sun.

The rains started with a drizzle and then this happened.

Fifteen city bred rat race toughened individuals gaped at the peacock and turned into children all over again. We walked up further and sat in the pouring rain by a place drenched in tranquillity and dreamed of what we just saw. The lovely pond with its green cover in front of us made us yearn for more.

It rained the entire night and sleep was a cosy affair dotted with the dreams of the show that nature had put up for us the entire day.

The next morning the same jaded individuals returned to the din of the city aglow with newfound jest for life.

Friday, 3 July 2009

2, Moore Avenue

It was a lovely Bungalow; nay a kothi.

The creaking gate made of ornate wrought iron engravings held together by wood was imposing. The hinges sighed reluctantly as I pushed it open and walked in. The gravel crunched under my feet and as I looked around , I could only see a jungle of weeds and non-descript trees greeting me. 

I walked further in and the gravel path took a sharp left turn and I looked at what was a momento from a hundred years back -A kothi stood out blocking my path. The entire building had elements of English Architecture married into the what looked like  Western Indian frills. The dirty looking exterior had vines and roots coming out of the walls but could not hide the alabaster marble it was made of. A few steps further down and I had reached the broken door to the building. I moved in.

A wide semi-circular verandah, fringed by dirty marble staircases which led to the upper floor, lay in front. The verandah opened upon a hall which had lovely inlay work on the walls and broken glass strewn on the floor. I took the stairs and reached another balcony at the first floor level. There were four rooms opening out from this balcony on one side and the other side looked down on the open space below.

The atmosphere was pregnant with history.

There was a half broken chair on  the verandah and I sat down on it for a moment. As I looked out , I could make out the old tennis court now covered by unkempt grass and weed, the abandoned pond on the left alongwith its semi broken ghat, the collection of shrubs at the right corner --wild and abandoned-- looking eerily like a Rose Garden and some magnificent Mango trees lined up by the pond.

I drifted into the thoughts of a possible golden past of the building when this house was possibly the pride of the owner. Then there were the days of Burra khana, nautch parties, horsedriven carriages , barbeque by the side of the pond, strolls by the Rose Garden, badminton by long gowned and gloved ladies and fun & foxtrot under arguably the biggest chandeliers of South Kolkata- or Calcutta, as I should correctly say.

My reverie was broken by the people who had taken me there for my opinion about the market feasibility of an apartment block in that plot of land.

Today , instead of the famous Kothi of Mr. Moore of Moore Avenue , South Calcutta, stands a new apartment block which, for the want of a better word , is ugly and sans character.

Sorry Mr. Moore.

Even my romantically coloured biased report did not help to protect your lovely historical Kothi and Calcutta lost a little more of its graceful history.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Reality (shows) bite

I had been to a musical concert arranged on the occasion of World Music Day.

It was a good experience with music and songs by Bickram Ghosh, Usha Uthup, Lopamudra Mitra, Hassan Raza and the brilliant Shankar Mahadevan. The little ones from the finals of 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Little Champs' were also there and they stole the show with their innocent charm and brilliant singing talent. 

As I sat enthralled at their skills, I noticed a small kid sitting in the row in front of me behaving strangely. He was twisting, turning , looking away to all corners of the hall, making strange hand signals to no one in  particular-- and doing everything to draw attention to him. I looked back again and realised that this little boy had been part of the same singing competition and had been eliminated a few episodes back.

Realisation dawned upon me! This little guy had seen the glamour and had felt the attention. Now, he just couldn't digest the fact that he was not getting the old attention like his friends and was behaving strangely such that people noticed him. And he was probably only 8 years old!!

What a tragedy! Innocence was killed and I stopped enjoying the show even though Mr. Mahadevan was being kept in able company by the five little finalists.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Aekdin Hothat

Aekdin hothat

Dubonto Surjota abar bhush korey bheshe uthar chesta korechilo

Onek ta ashahoto manusher mon er shesh khorkutor moto

Bukae asha bendhey lolup chokey ghure danriyae chilo shey

Takeae aekbar chokher daekhar jonyae

Thik tokhoni aelo aek shorbo grashi proloy

Probol dhuli jhor ae dhekey gaelo char dik

Hariyae gaelo dristi hotae shesh khorkutor roktim joulush

Royae gaelo tar diganto bistrito hahakar

Aar kichu manusher stothbakyo –

‘Bhoy ki, Chand to roilo’

Shey hanshey -- Aekantey.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Mukul Revisited

I do not like going to movies. But because of my love for the Feluda stories I accompanied my parents to see ‘Sonar Kella’—the first film that Satyajit Ray made with the story of Feluda (the middle class, intelligent, super sleuth created by Ray himself). That was somewhere in the early eighties, if my memory serves me right.

I fell in love with the film. The immortal characterisation of Lalmohan babu, the photographic tour of majestic Rajasthan, the legendary background score and the handling of the film-making by the master himself, made it a film worth remembering. To my teenaged eyes and mind, it was an experience worth remembering for life.

The film spawned a lot of new stories about Feluda and continues to be the benchmark for the new films being made now in Bengal. But what remained in mind the most is a rather strange thing happening at the end of the story.

The story is based on the quest of a previous life of a child named Mukul who remembers bits of it in his present birth and culminates in him finding his old place of residence in a Golden Fortress in Rajasthan. The film shows the child crossing the ruins mentioning each house with the name of an occupant who used to stay there during his previous birth. Then he approaches his own residence of his previous birth and breaks down into tears in front of it.

As a child and later on too, I have often thought about the reason behind his sudden tears and have never found a plausible reason behind it. After all a child having got what he was looking for, should have laughed out in sheer joy!!!

I have been travelling to Durgapur (the place where I was born and lived up to the first 22 years of my life) quite sporadically of late to meet my professional demands. Durgapur is place of nostalgia to me since the time we left it for good in 1995. Since, the restart of my journeys I had been feeling the ‘call’ to visit the house where I had spent my entire growing up period; the place where my entire childhood and a major part of my youth were spent.

Last week, I had decided to answer the ‘call’ during my visit to Durgapur. The moment I entered the area, memories came flooding into my head. I remembered each of the residential quarters and the names of the occupants who had been my neighbours during the two decades of my stay. I felt like Mukul and just stopped short of mentioning the names of my erstwhile neighbours audibly as I crossed the respective quarters.

Then I stood in front of my beloved house----- the quarter which housed memories of twenty years for me. I looked hard and saw what a lot had changed. The manicured garden is gone, the peripheral hedge has been replaced by concrete fencing, the veranda has been converted into a room and the fruit trees have disappeared. The only remembrance is a single mango tree, planted by my mother, standing tall.

I felt a strange sense of loss, as if, someone has wiped clean a slate containing my childhood.

I suddenly knew why Mukul had cried.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Awareness Drive

They do it differently in the U.S. of A.

Till date I knew that they drove on the other side of the road, they spelled English differently, they hated Russians and they even had children before marriage!!

We, the perfect copycat Indians, learnt fast. We changed our English spellings and pronunciations, our dress codes and have even had children out of wedlock. We learnt to hate the Russians. We learnt to enjoy reality shows. The only thing that was ignored was about which side of the road to drive along and that was because no real Indian is bothered about traffic rules.

But as Obamania sweeps the world off its feet and India with the rest of the world jumps in to join the race to become more American than the ones in USA, I found something in the reports about his swearing – in, (oops, oath – taking) which has left me disturbed and shaken up.

I saw the present President and the First Lady of the USA take part in a ‘Ball’ just after the oath-taking ceremony! All media covered the occasion with aplomb.

Now just think. What would happen, if the winner in the next Lok Sabha elections of India, the next Prime Minister, gets inspired by this and decides to follow suit!!

Just to remind you all, the possible candidates in the fray would be Mr. Manmohan Singh, Mr. L.K. Advani, Mr. Lalu Yadav, Ms. Mayavati,-----------.With the above choices that we have for our future Prime Minster, I am feeling rather frightened about what would be the result of such a decision.

I need to start an awareness campaign about the same or I would be too afraid even to vote the next time!!!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Painful Pink Slips

These days it may seem to be routine.

However, the most difficult job in the corporate life is to be entrusted by the management to tell someone to leave. It’s a different matter when someone leaves on ones own, whether out of frustration or in search of greener pastures. Then the decision is of the person who decides to leave. But when one is told to leave, that is painful.

And, when you are person handing over the pink slip to a colleague, it hurts. Good business sense may be behind such decisions but it leaves the one doing the job, emotionally drained.

And I will spend the rest of today in numbed silence.