Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Quintessential Bengali / The Khaati Bangali:

Often stereotyped by the entire nation as the ‘Intellectual geek’, a typical Bong is multi dimensional and much more than just the owner of the superior grey matter. :P

*P.S: Following points are found only in the ‘TYPICAL’ Bengali *

- You can’t ask the Bong to ‘BE A REBEL’:
A true Bong is always a Rebel from within. For us, the war of independence is still on.
A very common scenario: When the Government raises the bus fare (Maybe a slight difference of a rupee or two at max.), the Government also must be ready to pay for 5 to 6 buses the very next day as the rebellious bong will burn down the buses. The dormant revolutionary within us wakes up at the minutest spark. 

-The Concept of Single Child is missing in Bengal:
It’s been a couple of decades now that no Bengali house is entitled to a single child. By birth, each Bengali gets two bonus siblings- like it or not! You have no option but to accept them.
We have our ‘DIDI’ - Bengal’s ‘world famous’ icon of ‘Change’ and ‘the promoter of noise pollution’ while Dada is the only man who has managed to make every Bengali proud with his bare-chested act at Lords’ pavilion. (Even Aamir’s Ghajini avatar and SRK’s six pack OSO look failed to have that impact!)

-Supernatural Voice Recognition Software:
Married Bongs have a special way of addressing their better half – ‘Eije’, ‘Ogo’& ‘Shuncho’.
During their marriage, the Universe gifts them a unique voice recognition system which makes them discern their spouse’s call even in a sea of people where too many ‘OGO’s are heard at the same time. But, Bongs miraculously respond only to their ‘Ogo’ and only to their ‘shuncho’. :P Now, this is what I call SOUND hearing.

-Name says it all; not the Pet Name:
The longer the toddler takes to memorize the spelling of his name; the better is the quality of the name.
Length definitely matters.  For instance: Lopamudra. Why can’t she be called just Lopa or just Mudra? No. That’s not how a Bong thinks. They need to punch two names into one. Here are some more - Shom-Shubhro, Arka-Prabha, Deb-Aditya, Moni-Deepa! :D
Anyway, when it comes to nick names, Bongs don’t really put their thinking caps on. Our Nick names are weird- Potol, Pocha, Tia, Ria, (PAARLE KAKATUA O REKHE DEBE!) Babaan and almost every second house on the lane will feature one of these names.

-Saree : the Guilty Pleasure:
Every Bengali house is a mini ‘Trader’s Assembly’ (Humming – Gariahat er Moder Shobha..Trader’s Assembly. – Amader kono shakha neyi! :D), ‘Adi Dhakeswari Bastralaya’,‘Priyo Gopal Bishoyi Grandson’, and Kenakata’r Anondo Niketan – SriNiketan! :D
And every Durga Puja adds a brand new ‘Ikkat’, ‘Dhakai Jamdani’, ‘Toshor’, ‘Kanjivaram’, ‘Muga Silk’ and every year, mysteriously some new variety of Silk emerges out of nowhere. (Last year’s Debut Silk was Tissue Silk which is Heavier than Me!!) Yet, Bengali Ladies cannot get enough of them. :D

-PNPC: Poro Neende, Poro Chorcha!
(For the Non-Bengalis, it means Gossiping. Remember: Whoever gossips to you, will gossip about you! Ha ha. I know that’s scary !)
Like it or not, PNPC is every Bengali’s favorite past time. Degree may differ from person to person but it definitely rejuvenates the Bengali soul after a long day’s work.

-Second Homes:
‘Puri’, ‘Digha’, ‘Sunderban’, ‘Darjeeling’ and in recent years, ’Dooars’ have comforted every Bengali during their weekend outings. A typical Bengali has visited these places so many times that they even know the name of the tea stall where Pocha Kaka sings ‘Lok Geeti’ every morning.

-A simple Bengali meal attempts to alter the definition of ‘simple’:
In case you are full and your Bengali friend invites you for a quick lunch and you say, ‘keep it simple!’. I warn you to watch your words. The Bongs define ‘Simple lunch’ in a not so simple manner.
Simplest Menu:
You will be served with a plate full of rice – ‘a mini Mt.Abu carved out of rice’ surrounded by ‘bhaja’ on one side (ranges from Brinjal Fry to Bittergourd Fry!) – Dal on the other side (Sour mango Dal, if it’s summer) – Tarkari – and a separate bowl for the delicious Fish Curry! Ah! That’s not where it ends. You have curd coming your way too. (Bongs generally prefer Mishti Doi which has a very peculiar colour! :D)

-We are EXTREMISTS and have a patent EMOTION too:
Bong love is one of a kind. It is immense, blind and celestial.
Out of this immeasurable love has emerged the emotion that has no English equivalent (Perhaps Samuel Johnson, the first English lexicographer and his successors never felt this way!)- ‘Abhimaan’. It’s not about Ego neither is it being Pricey and it transcends the power of translation. 

-Bhai vs Bhai:
Mumbai defines ‘Bhai’ as the local wannabe Don or the major underworld mafia tycoons.
While for a Bengali, ‘Bhai’ is the most affectionate way of addressing almost everybody – Sweeper, Taxi Driver, Milkman , Cobbler…and the list goes on and on.

A true Bong has an emphatic sense of self respect and does not generally accept any non-sense. Most importantly, a Bengali will be the last person to ask for any favor of any sort. What attracts a Bong the most is the sense of satisfaction that you feel after achieving success at your own right.

-BUSINESS is not a Bong’s cup of Tea:
Perhaps, we lack the simple tact and diplomacy needed to run a business empire successfully and hence, we have no ‘Banerjees’ or ‘Senguptas’ like the ‘Tatas’ or  ‘Birlas’.

-Adda:  The Ultimate Breather:
Addia is defined as the local ‘round table conference’ run by the youth which exists round the year. Mind you! ‘Adda’ is not a breeding place for Eve Teasers but gives birth to Artists, Poets, Leaders and Great Debaters. It’s the mini ‘Coffee House’ where the likes of Ray, Tagore, Sunil Ganguly, Buddhodeb Bhattacharjee ,‘Didi’and ‘Dada’ make regular appearances. :D

-It’s 6 by the clock:
A Bengali is a toddler as long as he doesn’t officially turn 18. :D
The child is expected to be home and at least pretend to study before the Man of the house, i.e., the Father returns from office and the sun sets. Late night parties and Night outs are a STRICT NO! (Night Out? What is that now? NIGHT is the time when EVIL of all sorts come OUT in the open and apparently attack ONLY BENGALI KIDS! :P)

It’s not just about the language. We are undoubtedly the sweetest people you will come across in the entire world (French may give us a stiff competition, but in vain!). Even the reprimands and angry outbursts are sweet to hear as an outsider, as long as you fail to comprehend the words because in disguise of those syrupy words reside pain and temper which is not all that pleasant when you comprehend the passage. :P


-We are PROUD and we have ENOUGH REASONS TO BE SO:
The cultural lineage that we have behind us involuntarily sets us apart from the milling crowd and every Bengali is well aware of that. (Agreed, some are extra aware of that fact. :D)
With heavy weight cultural icons like Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Ritwik Ghatak, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, Satyajit Ray, Jamini Roy, Mrinal Sen, Aparna Sen, Gautam Ghosh and too many more, I wonder why won’t a Bong be proud?!?!?!

In case, you don’t know who they are, please google and enlighten yourself and continue to Brand us as the Intellectually Superior Specimen of Humanity! :D That certainly doesn’t hurt! 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I Abstain, Refrain, Restrain !

The grape vine talks, 
I never believed them.
You say, I hear, I trust.
But, a fearful change had to come.
Off late, it's different.
You talk, I learn more than you speak.
Ah! you don't know.
You don't know the way you thought you knew.
It's the demand of the months gone by - the space.
It's this space; day in and day out; 
It exists.
The words, they travel empty miles to reach.
They arrive.
I'm broken.
My patience, you test; I abstain.
My temper, you examine; I refrain.
My silence, you question; I restrain.
Do not wonder, "How?'
It's simple.
Wear a smile; convincing enough.
Design a world; familiar enough.
Walk on. Isn't it simple? 
I wish !

Monday, February 7, 2011


The task was beyond the bounds of possibility for her. And, they tirelessly reiterated ‘MOVE ON!’
But, it is unattainable when you get used to somebody. Don’t you agree? *Do not deny facts*
Gradually, you get accustomed to them. They become a habit for you and you begin associating certain places with them, several songs never fail to remind you of the moments shared together. There’s a hell lot of associative nostalgia that keeps on accumulating at the back of your mind which every now and then escapes from your cranial cabin and successfully blurs your bright and sunny day. 
At times you feel you are the happiest soul on this Earth and out of nowhere, a poor Radio Jockey plays a random track and you feel like screaming…

Please, Mr., please, don’t play B-17
It was our song, it was his song, but it’s over
Please, Mr., please, if you know what I mean
I don’t ever wanna hear that song again

Nevertheless, she was asked to ‘Move On!’ Ah! It was baffling. It was worse than the excruciating pain she felt due to his uninvited absence. Days, weeks and months went by. She made hundreds of attempts to forget him but guess what? She failed. She spent days waiting for that one call from his end, which never came. For months she waited for a single glimpse of his, which she still awaits for.

But, then, dawned a new day and she resolved, finally.

After all of these, maybe she was just tired of too many dead ends, phone calls never returned, promises that were never kept, tripping over the same stone again and again.

This time around, she had the strong conviction in her decision. She told herself, ‘This is it!’
She made up her mind to turn a blind eye to his ignorance which was never called for. She was determined to avoid every tiny thing that reminded her of him. But, what would she do to those myriad memories that simply couldn’t be washed away?

Nevertheless a complete year flew by. She indeed tried her best to keep all of his talks, ways and memories away. She knew He Was Forgotten. Yes! He Was. As life got busy, there seemed to be no time to spare over the ever present past.

After over an extremely happening year, there came a day when she found herself as idle as she had never been for months. She decided to watch Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts starrer ‘The Mexican’. Half way into the movie, she came across the dialogues,
 “When You Love Somebody and Do Not Seem to Get along Together, When Do You Realize that Enough is Enough? Never! ”
It all of a sudden, crowded her mind with an assorted host of memories, which were at least five years old and had been buried for long and rendered her vision, all filmy. Yes! She agreed to it. Never can you recollect a moment when you feel ‘Enough is Enough’! A part of you, to be precise, your heart doesn't grant you the agreement even though your mind says ‘Enough is Enough!’

He had lived in her memories for all these months, silently. Though his absence hurt, irked, pained, yet he was never a stranger. And, this stays as a universal fact. 

No matter what, feelings and memories never erode. 
They just linger on. 
Sometimes, IN FOCUS and sometimes, OUT OF FOCUS!
Doesn't it click?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Catharsis, At Last !

This is perhaps one of the very few posts I have written relying completely on my personal experiences.

'Estrangement', 'Alienation', 'Distance', 'Separation'

These do not form the basis of what follows but, plays an essentially important role in what lies ahead.

So, feel free to get connected to it, you may argue against it and one has all the rights to rubbish it off but, at the end of the day, it stays as true and genuine for me as we see the sun rise and set every dawn and dusk.

How often have we confined our deepest thoughts and feelings in our hearts waiting for that one beck that instantaneously prompts us to unveil it all at once? How often do we keep on enduring pains for the ones close to us? That’s something which can never earn a universal conviction hence, let that be aside.

After going through pains for long, one cannot deny the formal feeling that sets in and there’s always a lot to say even when we proclaim, ‘I have nothing more to say to you!’ and it all stays bottled up until that one moment when the memories from your past come gushing into your present and flood your vision as moments keep flashing by your eyes and render them all misty.

And, that is the hour when one cannot hold back the tears anymore; the words seem to flow like the pious river stream with nothing but the truth.

For me, it took just two lines and everything came back to me and suddenly the perpetual estrangement seemed to vanish into thin air, wetting my eyes out of nowhere.

For months, what stayed unspoken and untold, all the thoughts that were always a part of me and remained only with me found all the right words at the right time. Perhaps, it was the cathartic moment for me that proved ‘love’ and ‘pain’ goes hand in hand and one can never bear the insurmountable amount of pain unless the love is equally intense.

Ever since that evening, memories of all sorts have often hit me at strange hours and they have catapulted me over and over again between various time periods. After being captured by a strong feeling of nostalgia, as I write this out, there is only one thing which I am sure of.

I know...even after weeks, months, years, decades, the pains will reside in harmony with love, inseparable, next to each other, enclosed within the boundaries of the ever-suffering heart.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

40 minutes of SOLITUDE

It took me mere few weeks to get connected to them in an extremely bizarre manner. Perhaps, the bond established because I never saw the ugly side of them and when I finally interacted with the ugly side, I was already so very much in love with them that I couldn’t feel their wrath.

Well! I am talking about Mumbai’s lifeline- the local trains. I had a year long relationship with them and I simply enjoyed every bit of it. Indeed, they did test my patience from time to time by making me wait for even half an hour at times but they were never torturous even for a day. In fact, every single journey has been memorable to the zenith. Till date, I guess I have been alone most of the times while travelling via trains without any company, but only strangers around me. Yet, the time spent travelling will forever be special to me as they have been the only moments I spent with my thoughts, without any interruptions.

Every morning on boarding the train, I would find empty seats inviting me. But, they never tempted me as enticingly as the breeze near the gate did; hence, I preferred standing near the gate but never hanged outside the gate. And, the next forty minutes, I would endlessly predict the day’s proceedings and blind myself with blissful anticipations. The icing on the cake was contributed by the earphones which always treated my eardrums with my favorite tracks. I even experienced the phenomena of associative nostalgia during these journeys. ‘Associative Nostalgia’ is generally related to a certain smell that triggers memories while in my case, the songs would always transfer me to some place in my past and I would return to the present only when my final destination would arrive.

And, the voyage back would always be unforgettable as it would involve reliving the entire day and the breeze in the evening never failed to heighten the comfort quotient of the entire odyssey. Nevertheless, these train journeys have not always been as delightful as it may seem for there were days when the forty minutes seemed like hours and at times, these trains moved as sluggishly as possible and specially when I would be in a hurry, they would discourteously halt amidst of nowhere for way too many minutes. Often, the thought of jumping off the train and walking on the tracks seemed a faster mode of transport. Honestly, at the same time I would find that thought of mine awfully impractical.
There would be times when after borivali, the compartment would have nobody except for me. Thus, I could have the entire compartment to myself and I can vividly recall quite a few occasions, when a tear or two rolled down gently as I stood near the gate, with a heavy heart, staring out into the space and desperately wanting to increase the length of the journey. These were the days when I would whole heartedly welcome the abrupt halts and never mind them even for once. These trains have seen me through the best as well as the worst of days and never even tried to break into my thoughts and have let me be myself. Ah! Even today, when I travel via trains, I am suddenly surrounded by a startling host of memories and train travel would be a wonderful substitute for time-travelling. :P

There have been days when I had to travel in the quintessentially crowded Mumbai Trains and frankly, I am scared of them to the core. I might emerge out of the train after an hour in the form of a bundle of broken bones. But, definitely I have spent some of the most beautiful moments with myself in sheer solitude confined in those compartments and would love to travel in the same fashion forever.
 ‘Santacruz to Mira Road…’ : A journey to be cherished forever, no matter what !

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Conforming to the Non-Conformity!

Regrets? I've had a few, 
But then again, too few to mention. 
I did what I had to do 
And saw it through without exemption. 
I've lived a life that's full - 
I've travelled each and every highway. 
And more, much more than this, 
I did it my way. 

Frank Sinatra is a Sagittarian. Oops! Before I get carried away by the Archer, let me come back to what I wish to write.

I totally agree to Aristotle’s words, “MAN IS A SOCIAL ANIMAL!” How can a person socially detach himself completely? At least I cannot imagine surviving in social isolation and confining myself to the four walls of any room, without anybody around, devoid of Cell phone and the Internet. It is in fact in my opinion, the height of austerity. Nevertheless, I would wish to modify the statement to “MAN IS A SOCIAL ROBOT!” and that is because you are on the verge of being socially excommunicated if you do not conform to the hypocritical standards that have been set by our patriarchal society.
One can go for as many plays as they wish to, but churning out a career on stage is something one should not dare to desire. And, the most ludicrous part is that the youngsters generally give in to these social expectations, ideals and norms in order to live happily in this society. Oh! But, are they happy after sacrificing their goals and being crushed lethally by expectations of people around them?
What made me write this is one of my most ambitious conversations till date with my best friend a few days back.
 The conversation was as follows:
Me: I would love to be a Pirate, if not a Hippie!
Sanchayan: What would you not love to be?
Me: A Conformist!
Sanchayan: Oh I See! All the best.

The words, “All the Best!” indeed sums up how difficult a task it is to rebel against the system and pursue the ultimate goal and passion. There dwells a fear of being tagged as a ‘Counter Cultural Element!’; a feeling of dread resides deep down the heart and it can be a threat to one’s existence itself. What if you are socially denounced?

Nevertheless, I guess being a non-conformist is certainly an honest way of living and indeed leading a more adventurous and challenging life than being a socially driven coward and following the milling crowd. Alright, now people might simply call me an eccentric or a free spirit. I would seriously revel in being called a free spirit. And, it seems highly ludicrous when being a non-conformist implies to taking drugs, experiencing psychedelic and hallucinogen enhanced trips, running away from house and comfortably staying aloof and secluding from every social ties. Now, I just cannot conform to this belief.
As far as my understanding goes, being a non-conformist simply means taking a firm stand regardless of what people around you feel or think. For instance, if my classmates find smoking ‘cool’ and drinking ‘hip’; that doesn’t mean I am supposed to feel the same way and embrace their ways. I do not have to follow the trend all the time, neither do I have to be any trendsetter. It’s just about having an opinion and sticking to it. Now, if everybody rushed to the cinema halls to watch Harry potter on the 19th of this month, it does not in any way make it a compulsion for me to do the same act. I have no fascination about the much loved Potter fantasy and I am not scared to declare it openly either. That is my idea of being a non-conformist.

On a much personal level, almost everybody around me still cannot whole heartedly accept my decision of taking up photography professionally. But, will that stop me from following my dream? Ah!! Even if it takes hundreds of arguments, rather hearted arguments, I am up for them. Bring it on! Oh! Actually it is not too distant a dream anymore. Just another couple of years and I shall march towards my one and only serious passion fearlessly, against all odds.

I can vividly hallucinate everybody retorting, ‘Photography is not a profession for girls. Taking up Photography as a profession means staying away from home most of the time.’ Now, I have got used to hearing these statements every time I talk about following my passion. Nevertheless, when the time will come to take the final call, I shall march towards my dream without a speck of fear and be a non-conformist if that’s what everybody would love to call me then.

In a way, being termed as a non-conformist will even make me feel like a ‘hippie’ and indirectly, make my dream of becoming a hippie true too. Haha! Jokes apart, I just hope I do not succumb to the dogmatic doctrines of Society and live as I wish to. Cheers to the Non-conformists! (guess who is topping the list of the non-conformists? Who else except for My John Lennon…)

Alright, now Frank Sinatra has again invaded my thoughts and I would love to wrap this up with his words…

Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew, 
When I bit off more than I could chew…
I've loved, I've laughed and cried, 
I've had my fill - my share of losing.
I faced it all and I stood tall 
And did it my way.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Redefining Jane Austen!

This write up stems from a three hour long discussion with my cousins which took place some months back. The talks started with the reasons for literature syllabus at the university level being confined mostly to the Victorian age consisting of Charles Dickens, Bronte sisters, Joseph Conrad; period of Romanticism covering Coleridge, Shelley, William Blake and Wordsworth and a small section on Modern Literature mainly dedicated to James Joyce, Auden and Earnest Hemmingway. As time passed and the discussion grew deeper, we figured out various other works of fiction which seriously demand recognition and are worth studying on a much serious level. Keeping everything aside, the section of literature which caught our attention was the one whose fate, quality and standard is highly debatable; the one which is simply not considered genuine literature by the critics. Yes! This very contemporary genre of fiction is popularly known as the Chick-Lit section. I strongly feel one finds its roots back during the Romanticism.

The question which remained unanswered even after debating and discussing for hours that night was what exactly is a chick-lit? In my not so intellectual understanding, chick-lit basically is any piece of fiction which humorously revolves around a dominating female protagonist and addresses her innumerable high-spirited romantic adventures and misadventures as well as deals with the myriad issues and problems she faces right from her teenage years till adulthood.

Now, when you club the above terms of ‘DOMINATING FEMALE PROTAGONIST’, ‘HUMOUR’, ‘ROMANTIC ADVENTURES AND MISADVENTURES’ together, don’t you immediately remember English Literature’s one of the most prolific female writers, who was indeed much ahead of her time and whose nib drew some of the best Historical Romances of all times? Yes! I am talking about none other than the creator of Elizabeth Bennet, Emma Woodhouse, Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot. Jane Austen, undoubtedly has defined classic romance through her works and perhaps is one of the most famous woman writers not only of her times but till date. Austen’s ‘Special Six’ which include ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Emma’, ‘Persuasion’, ‘Mansfield Park’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ at large, follow a similar pattern and peculiarly focus on certain issues. When one reads these novels, what stands out is the daring young woman’s journey into womanhood and the need for a wise marriage, with a unique exception found only in ‘Sense and Sensibility’. The portrayal of class distinction is prevalent throughout the six classics and the element of sensitivity ornamented with humor is felt in each of her works.

Over the past couple of decades, there have been numerous silver screen adaptations of Austen’s novels and contemporary writers have forever been inspired by her works and have pen pictured Emma and Mr.Darcy in their own literary ways. Starting from the much loved ‘Bridget Jone’s Diary’, ‘Amanda’ and not so popular ‘Lover’s vow’, ‘The Absentee’ and many more contemporary works have striking similarities with Jane Austen’s novels. Infact, every chick lit novel today has all the aspects which were reflected through Austen’s novel. Maybe the depth of brilliance in language has suffered and the use of profanity have increased by leaps and bounds, but ultimately the story remains very much the same.

So, why on Earth does the genre of chick lit not get the much deserved recognition as a part of literature? I strongly believe that discarding them from the realm of literature is way too harsh a treatment to be given to any piece of writing for that matter. In my honest opinion, Jane Austen is indeed the pioneer figure in establishing this genre and in fact has successfully as well as immaculately popularized it through her novels. She had written the novels in the eighteenth century thus, she theoretically qualifies as a Victorian age or a Romantic novelist but does she conform to the standards of either of them? Ah! No…  Victorians as well as Romantics believed in expressing strong emotions via the usage of color and sound in the writing. She was indeed one of the most subversive as well as rebellious writers of all times, in her own poignant ways. Hence, firstly, the critics should instead of glorifying the shallowness of the chick-lit novels and condemning the genre, must consider their roots and before commenting on or criticizing the modern day novels, must first notice the distinct parallels that can be easily drawn with the Jane Austen novels which are sheer classics, period.

Simply Words !

Random Thoughts and nothing else !


Happy Reading !