Monday, 14 April 2014

Shuvo Naba Borsho

My parents, like all middle class Bengali parents, believed that an extra training in fine arts was an additional shot in the arm along with the traditional education imparted in the school.

As a result, I was inducted in the drawing class conducted on Sundays in the local club. It took me 3 weeks (that’s 3 classes actually) to understand that I hated sitting in a room staring at an object and that I could never ever have a co-ordination between my mind, my eyes and the pencil in hand. I bunked the next class to join the cricket coaching class being held outside. It was obvious when my father came to collect me from the class that no amount of effort in drawing would create a bruise in the knee and the knuckles simultaneously. In short, I was caught red handed and we came to attend a ‘gol table boithak’ (round table conference) with my parents.

They reasoned with me that everyone my age had some ‘EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITY’! Playing in the sun and rolling in the mud or climbing trees was not qualified to be taken as such. So, I had to learn something!! Playing the tabla or guitar was suggested and harmonica was the compromise solution. Not even my otherwise doting parents dared to suggest singing as they knew that I would probably create disharmony in the neighbourhood through my ‘hende gola’ and lack of understanding of ‘sur’! I was gifted a harmonica and there I was trying to blow my lungs out. My friend/brother next door played this instrument like a dream and when I heard him play better with every passing day, the harmonica took the shortest route to my drawer.

Well, that was the end of my tryst with fine and performing arts!

It brought a relief to me and my energy was shifted to my love of cricket and football. My parents knew when to retreat and they never tried to convince me again.

However, there was a time every year when I really regretted my inability to play the instruments or sing or get involved in such ‘cultural activities’. Come the month of Baishak with the ushering of the Bengali New Year and every corner of the then Bengal would have thousands of cultural programmes commemorating the new year and the birthdays of Rabindranath , Nazrul and Sukanto. These would be ‘para’ based and all local ‘para’ artistes would get to showcase their skills in the stage created in the local grounds. The rehearsals would continue for about a month before the D-day.

This was the period of romance.

All ‘eligible’ boys and girls would get to meet and showcase their talents to impress the chosen one. The hot and often humid air of April would hold an additional burden of such budding romances and the heat wouldn’t seem so oppressive! But this was limited to those who could perform and people like us would watch from a distance and go green with envy. As one of those who indulged in outdoor games and lacked the fine arts, we had the duty of volunteers. It was to keep the outside crowd at bay on the day of the programme, or function, as we called it then. Other jobs would be to carry heavy articles, collect chanda and other such odd jobs!  I would stop near the rehearsal area, listen to the songs or discussions or the strains of music emanating from behind the doors, cringe at the bonhomie between the boys and girls and curse my inability to be a part of it. This feeling would last till the start of the next cricket season when all such things would be drowned under the sound of the willow hitting leather.

I would reason that after all someone has said that cricket was the poetry of the willow!

Today, I wonder whether such tender moments still spring in the summer under the guidance of the three bards of Bengal! Or whether, poetry- fuelled romance has vanished like the romance having vanished from cricket!!!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Aajkaal brishti porley boro bhoy korey
Jhann chokchokey flat er rongin dewaler
Phaank diye purono quarter er dewal tah beriyae porae
Proshno korae kotota paeley aei jeebon thekey
Amar ferari bheeru mon paliyae beray
Nijer kachhey jobabdihir bhoy
Janalar paash diyae unki mere daekhi
Notun swapner notun suryadoyer asha
Bheshey otha notun asha ra proshno rekhey jay
Purono shopno gulor ki holo sheshey!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Her small hand held mine, the head rested on my shoulder and from a moment of tears she went off to sleep. Seeing the trust in her closed eyes and feeling the tug of her other hand on my collar, I gave my heart to her.  She slept the entire way and when we entered our home and tried to let her slide onto the bed, she opened her eyes wide and smiled. Everyone in the room smiled back and my daughter had reached her home.

It took 14 years for our family to be complete. It was a fight of 14 long years through an emotional rollercoaster. But when she came home, it was worth the wait. Our world has changed since then and these days we spend our every waking (and sleeping) hours trying to adjust to her whims and fancies.

These days the small toothless grin and the artful raising of her eyebrows make our day worthwhile and every hint of tear is met with anxious glances. She is all of 9 months now and yet, my daughter knows how to rule already! She has won over the most prosaic men and she has more well wishers than what I could have ever envisioned.

These days as I play with her or just let her cosy upto my amply cushioned stomach, I feel a sense of pleasing warmth creep up my spine. I pray to the almighty to let me have the strength to help her realise her potential and to help her lead a fulfilling life.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Kolkata and KKR

Phew!! The hectic month of IPL is over , finally!!

For the last one month the country had been divided on regional lines depending upon the allegiance to the region based cricket teams. Yesterday night all of Kolkata( at least the most of it) erupted in unadulterated glee after Kolkata Night Riders managed to stage a wonderful win to lay their hands on a lovely cup and about 10 crores INR among all other things. The glee of its famous owner at having won the cup for the first time hogged the television screens and the daily newspapers of today. After all, the much beleaguered backbencher city had some achievement to show!!!

The present local government was overjoyed and promptly the airwaves were ruled by the right comments. Suddenly, local sweets like rossogolla and mishti doi was the toast of everyone and every heart started beating for the city.

But , it was a tough day for me!! Having  been identified as someone whose sympathies were not with the 'local team' but with an individual who did not play for the team, all hell broke loose the moment the winning runs were hit by Manoj Tiwari. In a span of about 5 minutes I was called some beautiful names like parochial, loser, worthless, and some other ones which I would not repeat here as I guess that would lower the dignity of this blog.

However, I was happy that KKR won-- for two reasons. Reason one was that CSK was trying to armtwist the tournament as a personal backyard tournament and reason two was that my Kolkata had some thing to cheer about.

But, the cynic in me has a few more questions to which I seek answers:-

a) How is KKR representing Kolkata? After all, this a profit seeking commercial venture which operates out of Mumbai and do not , I repeat, do not, till date have an office or representation in Kolkata.

b) What happens if tomorrow, the name is changed to just knight riders and it operates out of Bhubaneswar or Dhaka? After all, the owner is free to do it!!

c) Heard that the state government would have a grand reception for the winners! Great idea this! but what about the Bengal cricket team which had won the Vijay Hazare trophy for the first time this year. I know that most of us do not know about this. Just for the information, this tournament is the premier tournament for one dayers in India. This year the champions team list had the following names:- Manoj Tiwary, Laxmi ratan Shukla, Debabrata Das, Anustup Mazumdar, Wriddhiman Saha, Sreevats Goswami, Ashok Dinda, Iresh Saxena, Shami Ahmed, Sourav Ganguly among others. Any plans for felicitating these pioneers? Or will it be the only those guys belonging to the Mumbai based franchise?

I know these questions are uncomfortable but these are to be asked. After all, it is the name of my beloved city that is at stake.

P.S.:- Mr. SRK, if you really mean what you said after the match, one would expect you to invest a sizeable amount of your huge earnings at the expense of the loyal Kolkatans in making the game grow and in nurturing talent from this state. But I guess, that is expecting too much. After all, you are here for business and you would like to encash on ready talent. Nurturing young talent is someone else's forte and I guess you know his name rather well!!! 
And a friendly caution at the end :- this city is infamous for being ruthless against its own icons at the first hint of failure or mis-step . You can ask Sunil Gavaskar, Bhaichung Bhutia, Jose Ramirez Baretto, Sourav Ganguly , old players of East bengal and Mohun Bagan for reference.
God Bless You for the moments!!!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

2012- what a start!!

I have aged in the first two months of this year.

It has been a terrifying two months—the extra day of the leap year included.

It started with an early morning phone call in late January; it was a wail informing me that my younger brother had expired in his sleep. How do you react when your brother, the one you grew up with,  is suddenly no more? I could feel the rib - breaking pain as a kaleidoscope of images of our life together unrolled in my mind. I cried, yet I could not cry as I was supposed to act as the strong person who would give the shoulder to the others to cry. I prayed that it was a bad dream and one day I would wake up to find that all is well. I still pray the same. But Life is not an Aamir Khan movie. So the recurring pain continues, throbbing at the back of my mind. I have thought often to put my anguish on paper but I guess it was too painful

Just six days after this, one fine morning while stretching to pick up something I felt some sharp twinge at my back and there I was down with a terrible pain. ‘Back spasm’ said the doctors and advised me complete rest for the rest of the week. The cause has to do with carrying laptops and my excess body weight. Well, here I am much better thank you but hobbling across and watching my diet like a sick old man. Hmmn, for an ex sportsman and a gourmet, it will take some getting used to. When you add to it the inputs that I receive from all and sundry about healthy living, it just adds to the fun.

Well, two months have gone and I have been shaken, stirred and fried. And as I have said before, aged and I am not talking about my chronological age. 

I must have been a Mayan in one of my previous births.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Onto 2012

This year has been a year of hope ---- mostly not – fulfilled and some fulfilled.

We completed the first year of staying in our new house and got acquainted with the neighbours. We now know people by their names and can occasionally exchange a point or two without getting too much into the depths of the contents.

The work front has taken off in our new venture, but at the moment we are experiencing the famed mid-life challenges of any such venture. We are doing barely enough to tide over the present troughs such that the crest next year is meaningful. But this also was the year where new horizons opened up and enriched me with first hand knowledge. I have never travelled so much for work after 1997.

On a personal front I had started going to the gym for the first time after 1993. In fact, I like the experience and lost a couple of kilos of the flab till the festive season hit. The fun, the food and the furious pace put paid to the experiment (at least for the time being) ands I have returned to much rotund self, thank you very much.

Well, this year also showed that age has caught up with my ever-active parents. My father (a young 80 year old) has started having niggles which unfortunately are not really niggles but a reflection of the wear and tear of 80 years of active life, from the later half of the year. My mom, much younger, has started early on the same path. I guess, these ailments are signals for me to take up more responsibilities/chores at home. But it’s still fun when mom dutifully dyes her hair and baba goes in for a haircut in spite of having a near bald head.

Wifey and I completed two cycles of the 7 year itch. The itches were there but none which were non-curable after a couple of bouts of shouting, sulking and shopping. Thankfully, the basic friendship remains the same.

My friends , as usual remained by my side at the times of crisis and we had a great time meeting up and celebrating 25 years of school leaving this year.

There were heartburns, heartbreaks at times, pains both physical and figurative and periods of frustration laced with anger that things did not go to plan.

I normally do not do this sort of an annual review as I prefer a seamless transition of time where all activities are a continuum. However, at the end of this year, I somehow feel that 2012 would be a watershed year of my life. My gut feel tells me that new major responsibilities would be thrust upon me by my choice. New horizons and unknown territories are to be traversed. My abilities and strengths would be put to test and weaknesses attacked. Hence, as I embark on my own voyage in 2012, I wanted the immediate past to be documented.

And all of you who may be reading this, may the New Year be the best year that you have ever had till now. May all your dreams see the light in 2012.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Sign of Times ?

Come September and I would wait eagerly for the special editions of the magazines slated to be published during the festive season. These magazines, puja shonkhya, as they are known as, would take up majority of the time of my pre-pujo days.

It started with the special editions of the children like Anandamela, Sandesh, and Sukhtara with an occasional dose of Kishore Bharati. These were mostly adventure stories and comics aimed at the psyche of the growing child and they had wonderful authors who wove magic through their word imagery.

With age, I have graduated to the more commonly known Puja Shankya for the grown ups like Desh, Anandabazar , Patrika, Bartaman, and Anandalok ,too. Each year the newspaper vendor would deliver these by mid September and then on every free time between meetings or in the back seat of my car or Sundays would be spent in the joys of reading through myriad stories printed there.

I have always found the authors depicting present reality through these stories and events were woven round the ‘in things’ at that time, save a few ‘period pieces’. I have seen class struggle being the base of the majority of such stories in the early eighties. Cricket heroes replaced football heroes as a protagonist of the stories after one Sourav Ganguly proved that even the ‘mach bhat khaoa Bangali’ can play cricket at the very highest levels. A couple of years back many stories had  ‘land acquisition’ as the backdrop.

The moot point is that I have found that these stories are a veiled attempt at contemporary social commentary.

Of late, specially this year , I have found graphic descriptions of sex, lesbianism and seduction in a majority of the stories.

Are we becoming adults or is the social fabric, as we knew it, going for a makeover? Or have the authors realised that sex sells?  What say?