Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Because I cannot let my blog die. And because Nicholas was.

The end of this year has been filled with new books, friends arriving in town, and some exceptionally good mutton stew.
This turbulent year has been surprisingly good to me. I hope it hasn't been bad to you either.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Phirbo bolle phera jay naki?

Jodi sotyi kotha boli, I'm not particularly unhappy here. Even though the days merge into one other and I wait for weekends with breathless anticipation, the office is nice and I’ve mostly gotten used to the vegetarian food. Occasionally, I even take a second helping of methi-aloo.
Pearson is very glass and steel and white lights and swipe cards. Very corporate. But the people are (mostly) nice. My immediate supervisor sits at the next desk and gets me Canadian dark chocolate. And if the sales guy on the other side is being very loud, I can always switch on my mp3 player and edit incredibly complicated manuscripts to the rhythm of Rahman. But then suddenly the stupid machine decides to play 'ghore pherar gaan' and I feel like taking the next flight home.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


I wish I could have been a fly in the wall when this Sushi date happened. Because if I were a human being I would probably be too tongue-tied to do anything even close to eavesdropping.

Just imagining the conversation they might have had boggles my mind.

Ah well. One day, one day.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Because I am hungry

Here, for lunch, we have a fixed menu. Twice a week, one of us gets up a little early and makes sandwiches. We are allowed to keep our meager supply of condiments in the upstairs refrigerator, and sandwich is mainly pieces of bread with a combination of cheese spread, pasta sauce or jam between them. Sometimes we might even have little pieces of capsicum to go with it. On other days of the week, we settle for carrying big packets of Top Ramen to work and making noodles in the office microwave while nudging away incredibly rude office people who glare if you hog the machine for more than a minute. And two days a week, we get glorious roadside Chinese food, which tastes uncannily like Milon da’s and even has orange pieces of chicken in the fried rice.

However, in Delhi, dinner is always over by 9 pm and there’s usually some inane hindi serial playing on the TV to accompany it. It’s mainly a vegetarian fare but it’s tasty except for the days when they decide to give us aloo and beans thrice a week or serve Curry chawal as a treat for a Saturday lunch. And on good days, we might even get chicken, which, for some strange reason is always laden with tomatoes.

Even if we do not get anything good for a particular meal, we always have the dal to fall back upon. The dal is always good. Always hot. And one can have as much as one likes. Both of us make it a point to have more than one bowl. I break little pieces of onion from the salad, and put it in the hot yellowness that is my bowl. And then I spoon it in hungrily while elaborately made up, chiffon clad women faint on screen.

I’m missing bangali khabar with a vengeance. But all in all, I’m not doing too badly.

p.s. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t dream of Calcutta food at least thrice day. The next time I go home, these are the things I plan to have. (Even if I am in Cal for 1 day, I’ll make sure I have them all.)

Biriyani from Arsalan
Arsalani Kabab with cheese
Chicken chaanp from Bawarchi
Devilled crabs from Mocambo
Steak from Oly
Mutton curry by didimoni
Phuchka from 4 nombor gate
Sorbhaja from Banchharam
Mishti doi from Mithai
Shorshe ilish by Ma
Bhetki machh bhaja by Ma.
Shukto by Champa Mashi
Pan fried momo from Tibetan Delights
Pork roast from Tibetan Delights
Pork Thukpa from Tibetan Delights
Chocolate ganache pastry from Cakes
Luchi-chholar dal from Pnutiram
Kochuri-torkari-jilipi-cha from Moharani
Cocoa malai sharbat from Paramount
Mutton roll from Zeeshan
Kosha mangsho from Golbari
Yam min from Cheeni's
Biriyani-chnaap from Aasma
The buffet meal from Flame and Grill
Certain...erm...stuff at Saat tola

Okay. That’s it for now. But I might just add stuff later.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another place.

Delhi is a city out of books and movies. Connaught place and Sarojini Nagar. Chandni Chowk and Meena Bazar. Lajpath Nagar and Janpath. Familiar, known names which offer a strange sort of comfort in an unfamilar stranger of a city.

Delhi has been kind to me though. I’ve walked its winding streets of Chandni Chowk and stopped dead in my tracks when a sudden turn has brought me face to face with the Red Fort. I’ve gazed at the Jama Masjid and the fascinating mix of people pouring out of its majestic structure and have eventually ended up stuffing my face at Karim’s. I’ve taken long auto rides through the heart of the city and have had the sudden, almost cheesy urge to stand up in attention when the wide, lush green roads have led me to the Parliament House. I’ve been to C R Park, and felt strangely disoriented as I’ve fought with shop keepers in Bengali and tried to remember where I am. I’ve travelled alone through the city. I’ve travelled alone after dark. I’ve travelled alone in a shared auto in Noida, where three people have almost perched themselves on my lap. And yet I’ve survived, with almost no scratches to show for it.

Living alone provides one with a distinct adrenaline rush of its own, and as I’ve tried to adjust to a life which still feels like one long (albeit slightly surreal and very hard working) holiday, Delhi hasn’t yet tripped me up and made me fall.

And yet, at the end of the day, I find myself missing one sprawling, humid city hundreds of miles away, because Delhi, with its wide green roads and swanky cars isn’t home.

And the roads do not have bits and pieces of twenty two years worth of memory attached to every one of them.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

This is

just to say goodbye.

A rather dramatic ending to my life in Calcutta - but then I am a rather dramatic person.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Happy birthday.

Even though I have a badly sprained ankle, I will gladly dance bharatnatyam if that's what it takes for you to marry me, dear hypothetical husband.
Have a good birthday, have fun, but when it is over, come back to me. Ok?
Much love.
Your hypothetical wife.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


I have sat up half the night - listening to the incessant rain, watching the lonesome dog - and trying to sum up five years in a few pretty sentences. I don't know why TODAY, when I have two more days left. I don't know why AT ALL, because now there is facebook and gmail and a hundred different ways to fool myself into believing that I haven't really left. That this isn't really true. That I still belong.

I guess it's because when I was sitting on the comp.lit. stairs today, being the usual passive smoker and contemptuous git, I tried to remember one thing from each month that I spent in JUDE. And I couldn't. It was then that I realized that I fear the forgetting even more than I fear the leaving. And maybe that's when my subconscious (or as Arunava would point out, unconscious) decided to write everything down - so that when I am eighty, I can read these lines and dance a little arthritic jig, laughing at other lesser mortals - poor sods who hadn't ever experienced JUDE. Forgive the snootiness, but I DO think I had the best.

I remember the day I walked in for the entrance test. I remember what I wore that day. I remember meeting Arnab on the stairs , and I remember him giving me a superior smile and wishing me luck. He was a coordinator with me before, and I remembered him telling us how they had Beatles in their syllabus. i was awestruck. I was nervous. And as I walked into my allotted classroom (the current UG 2 room), I was taken aback by the intensity with which I wanted to be part of this - THIS place for the next five years. I remember amrita and zainab and NG being the invigilators. I remember someone asking if by 'black' she was meant to write a short note on the colour or the movie. I remember Amrita smirking and saying, 'well, you know. tall guy. deewar. amitabh? write on that.'

This post will have the word 'remember' at least a hundred times. Because, memory will be my best friend these coming days. And well, pretty sentences have never been my forte.

First year was spent trying to get my bearing.I remember speaking to Uttaran on the day of my admission and I remember Swapan da smiling nicely at me and trying to convince me to give up English and study Geography for some strange reason. On the first day of class the UG2's came charging in and demanded that we introduce ourselves. Then Surjo stood up on a bench and announced the ending of the latest Harry Potter book. It was worse than any ragging we could ever have faced. Then I went home with Doyeeta and we spent some time in a random cyber cafe in Gol Park, trying to set up a blog. Rafat Ali took our first class, I think. And said many big words. And recommended we read 'The Mirror and the Lamp'. And I wrote everything down in my copy and thought he was a nice guy. I think so still.

First semester was spent hanging out on the bridge. With some known and some strange engineering people. First year was the year of slippery journeys from the bridge to Moni da's. First year was the time Suchismita insisted on wearing sneakers to college everyday. Even in unbearable heat. First year was the time Arunava poked everyone with his umbrella and insisted that he didn't ever smile. First year was the time I went to watch 'Salaam Namaste' with a huge bunch of random people, most of whom don't even talk to each other nowadays. First year was when we became friends with Ragini. And Guppy. And sometimes we would all go to CCD and play weird games of 'truth and dare'. First year was also, admittedly, the time I hung out with the weirdest of people I don't have any contact with now. I guess I needed to try out several things before finding my niche. First year was when we wondered whether Tess was raped or seduced. First year was when we studied Sandman. First year was the time when PG2 seemed indecently far away.

I would go to Presidency often enough those days. Not as often as Doyeeta, but at least once a week. But JUDE has a way of claiming you. It needn't be a quick love at first sight. But once you've grown into it, you are gone. Fallen. Hook, line and sinker.

Second year was when I finally got into the groove of things, I think. Because during the admission madness, Tintin da assigned me to be in the same room as a certain prof., smiled and said "that should make her day". And that pretty much broke all the ice there was to be broken. I remember Pradipta's strange bonnet on the day of admission, and T'da's green hat. I remember borrowing a denim hat type thingy (was it a bandana?) from Srin on that day, running around like a mad man and stealing frooti from the departmental fridge. Second year was also the time I acted in the only JUDE production I have ever been a part of. At the cast party, I remember drinking the punch and grinning at people and making small talk with rohini. And then I remember tasting the garlic bread and dying and going to heaven.

Second year was the year we started on Renaissance. Second year was the year I got a 4 in an Old English internal. Second year was when I did 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' and fell in love with good ol' Will. Second year was the year when I finally grew up.

Things got into a steady routine after this. And the years that followed were pretty much the same. We just shifted from the English ledge to the back stairs, and finally to that place infront of Anita Banerjee hall. Third year was the time we played incessant 29 and made friends with Nandita and the lot. PB would try to force us to go to class and we would beg for one last game of cards. Third year was the time of the epic Tempest classes. It was also the year I graduated.

Masters was not the same as undergraduate years. There were many new faces.
It was a time of brilliant classes. It was a time of some serious bonding. It was the time I finally realized that I would have to go out into the world that day. JUDE would probably never be an end in itself again.

I was watching 'An Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' today, and I realized that if somehow all memories of JUDE were to be erased from my brain, and I could get to keep only one, it would probably be Amlan da teaching Milton in PG1. In this long, rambling barrage of words, I have consciously not spoken about the faculty, because, well...what would I say that has not been said a thousand times before? It just surprises me everyday that these incredible INCREDIBLE scholars chose to stay back and teach US, when they could really have gone and taught anywhere they wanted. Seventy years down the line, if I can remember the goosebumps when Supriya di talked about Rabindranath and Tempest, when PC blew us away with the Shakespeare and the Plath, when Swapan da smirked and proceeded to take a Renaissance drama class full of sexual innuendos, when Sukanta da told us about humanism in the renaissance - then I would really have nothing to complain about. Hell, I was taught Bakhtin on my first tutorial class with Amlan da. I didn't understand a thing, but grasped that I was probably in the presence of some serious greatness. Forgive the gushing, but on his day, that man can actually take my breath away the way no one can.

These people have given us a freedom unheard of anywhere else. Not only a freedom of action, but a freedom of imagination. And as I go out into the real world, I realize that is the greatest lesson I could ever have had.

As I write this, I realize one strange thing. That a couple of years later, if I want to walk in to attend a class in the department, there is no one who could legitimately tell me that I shouldn't be there. That I don't belong. Because I will never NOT belong.
Because once you have been a part of JUDE, you can never fully leave. These past five years have changed me the way nothing else ever has. And even if I am thousands of miles away, there will always be a part of me bumming around the corridors, gushing about ADG classes, having the spicy thai fried rice at Moni da's, having rooti-torka from Milon da's, drinking endless cups of coffee, singing the 'shibani' song, volunteering for the admissions, shouting 'whose Kubla it is?'... because THAT jheel, and THOSE stairs, and THESE classrooms and THAT corridor and THESE professors and THESE seniors and THIS batch and THOSE juniors and THAT bench and THIS place is MINE. And will be. Always.

Thank you Jadavpur University Department of English. It's been an honour.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Just saying.

Always forgive your enemies. Nothing annoys them so much.

- Oscar Wilde

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I could be the woman next door tonight. I could rave and rant and clean my house twenty times a day.
I could be a friend. Nice and pretty, with my life all in order.
I could be Boudi-dida. And stay alone for years on end in a tumbledown house, cooking rooti-aloobhaja when the owners visit the village twice a year.
I could be that man around the corner. The one who feeds all the stray cats with the money he gets from Guiness book of World Records by letting his nails grow all the way to the ground.
I could be the other man. The man just across the street. The random one you see walking down the road. Smoking a cigarette and vaguely muttering to himself.
I could be someone I know. A confused boy with Multiple Personality Disorder. I could be hard to figure out.
I could be my dance teacher. And always cloak my talent with a rich layer of innate hot temper.
I could be a professor. The nice one who looks frail. The mad one. The kind one. The arrogant one. The stupid one.
I could be you.

I could be anyone. If I could say the words.
Because, feeling and NOT saying is the hardest part, no? Sitting and letting time do it's work. Never taking the initiative because you would die of embarrassment in case you got rejected.

I have not felt like this in the longest time.
Tobe amar mone hoy, at the end of the day, sob-i bodh hoy hormone er khela. Tai eto bhebe kono laabh-i nei.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Aman ki asha.

The day India and Pakistan sort out their problems once and for all, pigs will start flying and I will turn into a 6 feet tall man.
That, however, does not change the fact that when Amitabh Bachchan sat on a railway platform and recited this poem by Gulzar, it still managed to blow me away. There is nothing quite as mellifluous as the sound that Urdu makes, when Gulzar coaxes it with his pen.

Dikhayi dete hain duur tak ab bhi saaye koi
Magar bulaane se waqt lautey na aaye koi,
Chalo na phir se bichhayein dariyaan bajayein dholak
Lagake mehendi sureeley tappe sunayein koi,
Patang udayein chhatton pe chadh ke muhalley waaley
Falak to saanjha hai us mein penche ladayein koi,
Utho kabaddi kabbadi khelenge sarhadon par
Jo aye abke to laut kar phir na jaye koi,
Nazar mein rehtey ho jab tum nazar nahin aatey
Yeh sur milaatey hain jab tum idhar nahin aatey,
Nazar mein rehtey ho jab tum nazar nahin aatey
Yeh sur bulaatey hain jab tum idhar nahin aatey.

This reduced my grandmother to tears. She said they reminded her of her old house and old school and how all her prizer boi got lost when they dashed for safety to a country on the other side of the barbed wire.

Nazar mein rehtey ho jab tum nazar nahin aatey...

Shit. This line manages to turn me inside-out every time I read it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

So what exactly makes me a freak, I wonder.