Friday, 31 December 2010

Moving on to 2011

Another year draws to an end leaving behind with me  more grey hairs, some bruises, some excitement, some milestones, some hope, some despair and a lot of experience.

Personally, the year 2010 -Twenty ten to some - leaves behind the aftertaste of a battlefield. It has been a year of struggle and fights with moments of exasperation, of grinding effort and relearning the art of warfare. Challenges flew in from all sides and it required all of my mental strength to ward them of. The effort left marks all over me but somehow the head did not dip.

Having said all that, 2010 also gave me the belief to take on new challenges and proceed towards untested waters. It did define new interpersonal relationships and raised the patience levels. Milestones did come in, like starting a new phase of business and shifting to my own house. A lot of people did extend their support in this fight and I remain ever indebted to them.

But above all, I feel that 2010 made me slog and create a platform for the future and 2011 would hopefully see the take off from there.

So here I raise a toast in anticipation and wish all of you a great and fulfilling 2011.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Daekhcho tumi shomoy takae
Bhabcho bujhi ketey jaabey

Korcho kaaj aponmonae
Bhacho shob korae jaabey

Takiyae acho bahir paaney
Bhabcho raat ketey jaabey

Bhulcho tumi ashol kotha
Shesh banshi ta shunyo hobae

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Aaj thekey abar notun path chola
notun ashay buk bendhey thaka
tanaporon  aar hanahanir majhey
jebon juddhae shudhu benche thaka.

Aaj thekey hridoy jurae shudhu
abar notun korae kono gaaner  koli
hartey hartey jeeta jaoar chesta
jotodin na shomoy bolae ‘choli’.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Shift of Home

Yesterday, I took the road to Durgapur once again.

As I hit the NH-2 and travelled outside the periphery of Kolkata, a whole mass of swaying ‘kash’ flowers carried me over to the past. For a period of 8 long years, every year around this time I used to take this road early morning to go home – home, where my parents stayed, where my friends waited for me and where I could be myself.

The rush of fond memories flooded me as I stepped off the bus and looked around to see the familiar signs.

But, thereon the things changed. I did not go to ‘my home’. I went to my office, instead. My parents had shifted to Kolkata. A majority of my friends have moved to other locations in quest of livelihood. I borrowed a bike and moved around all the places I used to hang out at, once upon a time. The pandals looked lovely, there was more pomp than I had ever seen but I felt like a tourist.

I took back the evening bus after I had finished my work. The same roads brought me back – to a place where my family is, where my friends waited for me, where the roads seemed so familiar, where the para pandal seemed to beckon.

I realised that ‘my home’ has shifted – or maybe I had multiple homes, now.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


‘Ashwiner Sharodo Probhatey--------.’ Intoned a nasal voice from the transistor at the crack of Dawn ( or probably before it, as the sky was still dark) and half awakened me  from my sleep, I knew that Pujo had started. For me, Pujo meant one thing – Durga Pujo.

From childhood, this unforgettable voice of Birendra Krishna Bhadra was part of my waking up process on the day of Mahalaya. Back in Durgapur, I remember listening to the chants and the unforgettable songs half asleep, getting in and out of sleep, while I snuggled close to my Mom or Dad to keep away the early morning chill. The smell of Shiuli would drift in from the garden outside and add to the surreal feeling of the moment. I would fall into deep slumber towards the end of the recital and would wake up much later with the childhood joy in my heart for an ensuing vacation.

Two decades later, I found that not much has changed. I woke up with the same chant throbbing in my ears, drifted in and out of sleep and finally fell asleep at the end. True, that the chill was absent (effect of Global warming?) and there was no Shiuli tree near my 3rd Floor apartment and it was raining. It was also true that my parents were in the next room sitting by the radio and listening to it. But the surreal feeling remained the same. The same dream like feel, the same warmth in the heart, the same unknown, unreasonable feeling of comfort.  I still woke up with an unknown joy in my heart as I looked forward to a particularly hard earned vacation.

Two Decades and the feeling had not changed. 

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Bhorer bristi

Aaj shokaley aakash bhorae megh
Aaj shoklaey ojhorae brishti jhora
Aaj shokaley bheja moner  mela
Aaj shokaley chokhae tey baridhara

Aaj shokhaley mon kharap er khushi
Aaj shokaley aeka aeka gaan
Aaj shokaley obhuj chhobi aanka
Aaj shokaley ontoretey snan

Aaj shokaley jeebansmriti pora
Aaj shokaley jeebon niyae khela
Aaj shokaley okaron cholafera
Aaj shokaley shudhui helafela

Aaj shokaley bhijey shaliker khela
Aaj shokaley ghas foringer nach
Aaj shokaley notun bheja math
Aaj shokaley abar banchar aanch.

Monday, 21 June 2010

My Monsoon

I am feeling jumpy these days.

The clouds are there. There are sudden gusts of water laden breeze. And even an occasional, short shower or two. But where are the rains? Where is the Monsoon?

I am missing the downpour, the nagging 'piter- pater' ,the horizon looking hazy behind the shower screen, the sky looking like a huge canvass drenched by the 'kajal' soaked tears of a child,  the feeling of exhilaration at watching everything looking washed and new, the strange croaking of frogs, the first touch of the wet grass on the bare feet, the careless soaking in the rain on the way home from office, the 'telebhaja muri' on a windy wet evening while cuddling up with a thriller on the sofa and of course, the 'illish mach bhaja' with steaming 'khichuri' on an afternoon when the clouds would decide to pour endlessly.

I know in a couple of months time the perennially grey sky, the waterlogged streets, the muddy puddles, the wet clothes , the stomach upsets would get my goat.

But till then, I want my fair share of the romantic monsoon, newspaper reports and predictions be damned.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Pre-Marital Discussions

My wife had gone off to the parlour. I was sitting alone at a café located in the next door shopping arcade nursing a long cool drink (of the non-alcoholic kind), thinking of the great tragedy of my life , namely why my wife (and girlfriend of years) should choose the beauty parlour over my company on a Friday evening. Add to it the potential attack on my already stretched finances and you get the general drift of my thoughts at that moment.

After about an hour of applying salves of self-pity on the unseen wounds to my ego and I had relaxed enough to look around at the general beauty offered by a modern shopping arcade, the lights went out. This being Kolkata, the back-up power system refused to start instantaneously. There was a lull and all activity ceased abruptly. In the shadows created by pale emergency lights, the entire shopping area looked strange as everyone stopped mid-step in whatever they were doing. It looked like a giant toy shop where all toys had stopped working together as the plug was pulled off the main switch.

AND there was silence—well, almost.

In that silence my ears picked up a snatch of murmurings—low and continuous. Having nothing else to do in the dark I strained to listen, uninvited.

The conversation was intense. A couple was talking. But ‘talking’ was hardly the word. The couple was measuring each other. Words were flowing from one to the other as each was sizing up the other. Words were being used like a rapier – thrust, probe, parry, feint --- all aspects of a skilful sword fight were in action; except that the sword had been replaced by words. It was a treat to listen to them. It was evident that they were educated, confident and fairly successful individual with varied interests and depths of thought. On and forth, the discussion continued till each one exposed a little bit him/her and each knew a bit more about the other.

Suddenly, the gensets were coaxed into life and the lights came on stunning all of us for a second time.

As I got my eyes used to this light, I turned my head to have a glance at the couple. I saw a young boy and a girl sitting facing each other. I guessed that they were probably out on a first/second date or maybe they were under the modern process of pre-marital arranged marriage interactions where the prospective bride and groom would meet in a neutral territory alone to get introduced to each other.

My glass was empty and the lights had broken the spell. I left my chair and thought that if my wife had subjected me to such brilliant scrutiny pre-marriage, I would have chickened out.

These people were more intelligent and pragmatic but I would always prefer my rather unconditional trusting wife, the unending , finance draining trips to the beauty parlour notwithstanding.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Oh Kolkata!

Initially, I brushed off the information as trivial as it was a regular affair in Kolkata. In fact, it’s a miracle that such things don’t happen everyday. After all , the old buildings of the city are actually  potential tinderboxes with low maintenance, web of illegal electrical wiring hanging about like a giant spider web, steep wooden staircases, ancient lifts and illegally tenanted over ten times the normal acceptable limit.

Then fire got its revenge. The small (?) flicker turned into an inferno. As I watched aghast and in awe, television screens showed people jumping off the fourth and fifth floors.  The fire-fighters at that time were grossly outnumbered and ill-equipped.

Then came the realisation and the tears. People were dying. The fire brigade finally arrived with its might after an hour or so. The hydraulic lifts went into service, some people rescued and the fire, presumably, brought under control.

More than 5 hours had passed. Politicians came and mouthed allegations against each other. The iconic Flurys and Peter Cat possibly escaped with minor damages. But, so many lives were lost. So many people are still in hospital.

This is the third big fire in the last two years. Each time there are blame games and claims of starting a Disaster Management Group. Nothing happens. In the last two occasions, thankfully no lives were lost. But this time people died.

What more do the authorities need to act? Why don’t the politicians drop their posing and work, for a change? Why can’t we all be goaded out of our somnolent nonchalance? How much price we need to pay to be pushed into doing constructive work?

When shall we all wake up?

Saturday, 30 January 2010


‘Cholae Aasun. Kono problem hobae na. Shobai besh milae mishey thakbo’, said the person with honest, friendly eyes from the doorstep. Roughly translated it means’ Come over and stay with us. There won’t be any problems and we would have a good time together’.

We were looking for a rented accommodation; my third rented house in Kolkata after being told by my previous landlord that I would have to vacate my present place of stay. After the usual running about with the brokers, we got a link to one apartment through the internet.

It was on Sunday afternoon that my father and I had gone to have a look at the same. We liked the housing complex but we were on two minds whether to freeze our choice then and there. As we were discussing about the car parking space (which the landlord did not have), the same friendly gentleman popped out of nowhere and offered me his space with this invitation.

There was something in his voice and demeanour which was warm and personal. We decided on the flat then and there.

It was my start of a great friendship with Ratanda; a man with a heart bigger than Howrah Bridge!

We shifted a couple of days before the Durga Puja and on the day of the puja, a strange thing happened. A familiar face from the memory emerged and after a lot of brainstorming and digging back into the hard disc of the mind, I found back my college mate Jayanta. And just imagine, he was married to Sarbari, another college mate of mine. Suddenly, the new apartment was something familiar and I started feeling a home. The rekindled friendship developed and blossomed everyday till we were all part of one big ‘soul group’.

Days passed and my new family grew. Gouri(wife of Ratanda) became buddies with my wife sharing titbits about shopping, cooking, dresses, handsome hunks and what not! Her cooking skills made her apartment our favourite party joint and together they really made my aged parents feel comfortable.

There was the elegant Sharmishta, educated and suave (without whose help my passport wouldn’t possibly have been done within 48 hours); there were her parents whose company made my parents fill up their friends list; there was Indrajit and Pinki, the young couple adding a zing to the forties team; there was Nirmalda and Boudi , planning innumerable short trips to picnic spots which remain etched in memory ; there was Sajal and Anindita , the multitalented couple ; there was Debasish and Debolina, the couple personifying bravery and above all there was a  bunch of lovely, energetic, warm and fabulously talented kids Raja, Kuchi, Titli, Mitul and Neha, who made the life at Regent Grace such beautiful and fulfilling. My parents doted on them.

Yes Regent Grace!!!!

Two and half years passed like a dream. There was fun , games, picnics, Durga and Saraswati pujas, Holi and Diwali, daily addas and parties (planned and impromptu) and there was a zest for the daily life. There were thorns too! Awkward moments and unpleasant incidences! But the thrill and laughter trod upon these hiccups like an elephant in a sugarcane field.

Today, I have shifted to my own flat – located at a new place and away from Regent Grace. It’s a bigger apartment, fitted mostly to our taste and above all it’s owned by us. It’s an apartment of our dreams. The complex is bigger and probably has more amenities.

But the first week hasn’t been comfortable at all!! We are missing you all dear friends. So I never said Goodbye to you!! It’s only ‘Phir Milengey aagley party mein’ or better still ‘When is the next adda, friends? Count us in. Just remember that your Block II, Flat 2B is located just a few kilometres away.’