Friday, September 26, 2008

Nostalgia recalls...never mind!

A little breeze, orange street lamps, swaying shadows of trees on the road before me. It reminds me of the years in DPL. I thought orange nights were characteristic to Durgapur alone, but, no, here I was walking through my ‘para’ in Kolkata. You know what it reminds me of most? Last winter; City Centre. That’s when I started walking, abandoning my ‘symbolic’ Hercules AXN bicycle (remember, I used to call it my bike!). And who accompanied me during those routine evening strolls. And how this autumn breeze churns my stomach. Some ‘rene lacoste’ wrote in his blog about a person’s need to have a fellow person whom you can call up at any hour of the day, hug whenever you feel like, kiss every now and then. Finally, I don’t have such a someone, because, I don’t have the right to have such a someone. At last, I am ‘single’. Something I needed to be years ago. This is how I should be. The sight of a young couple (younger than me) making love openly in the bus seat beside me, shouldn’t twist and tighten my abdominal muscles, least of all, bring tears to my eyes. Mind you, I didn’t cry. A few tears just rolled down, and, then dried up. Like everything else. Since this isn’t the first time I am going through this, I know how to tackle this better. Or, was I better the previous time? Was it easier the previous time? Somehow, YES. 

Monday, September 15, 2008


"Smoking is the inhalation of the smoke of burning tobacco encased in cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Casual smoking is the act of smoking only occasionally, usually in a social situation or to relieve stress. A smoking habit is a physical addiction to tobacco products. Many health experts now regard habitual smoking as a psychological addiction, too, and one with serious health consequences."-Barbara Boughton

This in reply to all those out there, (and in here!) who have asked me why I'm smoking, and received a dumb look in reply. Firstly, I'd ask all of you who never smoked themselves, not to ask me, or anyone else this question ever. You don't know how it feels, so I'll never sound 'justified' to YOU. But you should read this, hence please do.

Click this.

Click this.

When my lips touched the filter of a cigarette for the first time, I was in class IX. It was the age of experiments. Everyone around me were experimenting with things. My partner at school, Trishita, and her group of friends bought a packet of FLAKE and managed to have one fag each in the school bathroom. I begged them to give me the rest of the packet. They did. And my bathrom at home was my laboratory. Mum thought I was burning love-letters in there. Her nose wasn't trained enough back then to detect the difference in various forms of smoke. Now, it is.Thanks to me.

That was the end of it. I had hardly managed to learn to pull the smoke, without coughing it out at every attempt to inhale. My then-better half freaked out, and coaxed me into donating away the new packet I had asked my partner to buy for me.

Come class XII, life changed, a seven-year relation ended, i.e., my better half's identity changed. Disha was my new partner at school. She shared my flare for going wild. She treated me to a cocktail, and gifted me a packet of Benson & Hedges on the ocassion of her birthday. They were stronger than the cheap FLAKE I had un-successfully experimented with two years ago. Even this time, my bathroom served the purpose. I smoked one whole and went off. It was the first time I was experiencing any form of intoxication. My head was reeling, I couldn't stand on my feet. Every nerve seemed to have gone numb, my vision blurred. Today, when I reflect back on that day, I think I was over-reacting. But Deshraj says, even he had a similar experience with his first cigarette. So, that's how my first successful fag turned out.

I had one more of those B&H, and returned the rest to Disha. The reason is very silly, at least in the present context. I felt guilty. Or, rather, someone succeded in making me feel guilty.

Come December 2007, life took the most unimaginable turn possible. I chose a 5-month long passion over a 7-year long relation. The toll it took on me during the last week, amidst all the pre-board-study load, resulted in me buying a packet of Gold Flake. Everyone far and near started their maiden lectures, but I had learnt to live life for myself by then; I had learnt to choose between what I want out of myself and what others want out of me. However, I didn't need to buy another after all the 10 were consumed.

The passion I talked about a while ago, died out by March 2008. My next purchase of cigarettes, a Wills Classic pack (@ Rs.80), thus happened in April 2008. They happened to be stronger stuff than GF, and I found out why cigarettes appeal to me. The feeling of numbness, the feeling of detachment from the world around; i.e. the cause of anguish it brings, is welcome at certain moments.

June 2008 marked the official end of a 6-month long 'fast-forwarded' story. Since July, I have been buying cigarettes everyday. Everyday. During the initial days, I thought it was just one of those bad habits one wants to cultivate when they leave home. But a month ago, I had 17 cigarettes a day; 6 of them being consumed literally back-to-back (lighting the next cigarette with the butt of the previous). Henceforth, I realised, its an addiction. An addiction to replace any of those unhealthy relations I indulged in all these years. As I already said, as long as I am smoking, I can keep myself detached from the rest of the world, I can numb my senses towards all form of pain, physical and emotional (I remember a particular day when a cigarette relieved me from a stomach-ache resulted from over-eating). One may question the need for this detachment; one may argue that smoking doesn't diminish the cause of pain, so what's the benefit? But, I have discovered that the detachment is a boon as well; if I don't feel any attachment to the cause, I don't feel the pain as well.

Why I chose this day for publishing this post, is that, after a couple of weeks of 'less than 5 cigarettes a day', I have recovered from viral meningitis (but not the incessant and intense coughing I carry almost all-the-year-round since class VII/VIII); I had eight today.

This post deserves a mention of Sohom Chakroborty, a 2nd year guy at my college, who tried dissuading me against smoking by telling me about his experiences with darbs. He says that, for him, having good food is the greatest pleasure on earth, smoking fails to match it. Hey Desh, what do you say?

(Desh refers to Deshraj, one of my best friends, who LOVES food, who LOVES cigarettes as well.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Four

Remember those Enid Blyton titles? The Secret Seven, The Super Six, The Famous Five, The Adventurous Four. My story isn't about teenage sleuths. Hence, no adjective to prefix my four.
They're friends. And they happen to be the only reason why I beleive in something called friendship, something I myself never experienced. Till they came.
One of you will surely ask me why did I dedicate a post on my blog to them. And one of the four will surely tag this as 'nekami'. But, there wasn't any other way I could have told them, any of them, how important they have been to me. And they still are.
Whom should I start with? ok, Tiyash. She deserves that. After all, she has been the one who's responsible for introducing me to their world. She's one person, who'll forgive Satan for killing too. Yeah, I have never met a bigger heart than hers. She forgave me for doing something I myself would never forgive anyone else for. She's one who'll ask you to collect your guts for something, and remain gutless herself, who'll talk about things she herself doesn't understand, but thinks she does, because her didi does. No, I'm not criticising. These happen to be the reasons why I love her after all. Next, Payal. I'm closest to her. As I told Ankita (her new friend) Payal, is an angel. She really is. She'll stand by someone she believes in even when the whole world is against him. She did that for me, you know! Unlike Tiyash, she's almost fearless. The funny part is that, she doesn't admit that she's fearless. I wouldn't be as strong as I am today, if not for Payal. The other two; Yealeena and Saheli; it wouldn't do justice to mention any of their names before the other. I know them just as much as Payal and Tiyash told me about them. I have interacted myself, but, more as an observer, than a participant. I guess the first time I ever talked to each of the four of them was my questioning them back in class XI "tui ki vogoban-er concept-e believe korish?" (Do you believe in the concept of God?). I don't know myself why it was important that I ask them that. But since 5th June 2006 (the first day I met them, by faces) everytime I watched them together, I had the feeling that they had a world of their own. A world which was oblivious of the ambience around, the people around. No force on universe could penetrate the bond they shared. I learnt that, during the last days of class XI, a time had come when they could feel the thoughts of each other merely by sitting together quietly. Someone would ask Payal "Chicken na Para?" Payal would grin. "Chicken!" (yeah, I forgot to mention that. In Deshraj's words, Payal is a perennial chicken lover)
The reason why I didn't change names for the sake of privacy, is that the purpose would have remained unfulfilled if I did so. If I had the means, I would have rather made a movie on you guys! (an Indian flick on four friends, it would definitely do well!)
I particularly remember a sight very well. The four of them used break free from the lines that we formed, leading to our classrooms after the recess. They ran to the classrooms, the first three to reach being the winners of a seat together. The slowest would have to sit alone, since each row had three benches in our class. This was a moment I would eagerly wait for everyday. There was a time, when this moment was the only time I laughed all day.
Even today, I just need to imagine the four of them holding each other with stretched arms, in an attempt to emulate Organic Compound structures, during one of their 'group studies', to make my lips smile on the gloomiest of days. I can even make my brother laugh by telling him their story of how an attempt to carry out a planchette seriously got messed up, all because, two of them were planning a mischief, and the other two didn't know that, till days later, when Yealeena's mother had told Saheli's mother how she's scared to go to the bathroom without her sister; and Saheli's mother revealed that they were fooling Yealeena! Someone else deserves mention here. I never met her, but I heard she had been Payal's childhood friend, and a companion to my four for a long time: Raisha Mukherjee.
Do me a favour, if any of you four happen to read this post. Post a comment writing about any pleasant memory (that includes you people exclusively) that will come back to the others easily as well. This was a poor effort to tell you people how much they mean to me. I thought I'd tell them how much it had meant to me when the four of them hated me, how much I am capable of crying even today, just trying to remember those days. But, this is not the right time, and even more, not the right place. When I write my book, I'll do justice to each emotion. Dumbo, Pilu, Sars, and Kalla, JUST HELP ME.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Rock On!

A sad story. With an inapt name to it. But, yeah, an attractive one, I must say. The movie was wonderful. But not 'rocking', as the title would suggest. To those, whom I've already said, that I didn't like Rock On!, hold on. I must have also said that the movie couldn't have been made better.
Four friends. And, they, like many others of their age (i.e. our age) had a passion for creating music. What's more, they literally lived on it. 'Magik', their band, performed on a small scale, entertained people on a small scale, and earned, on a small scale as well. So, when one of their girl-friends informs them about a competition that gives the winners an opportunity to launch an album-cum-music video, money poses the first problem. This is the touch or realism all throughout the movie, that I appreciate the most; the thing about Rock On! that makes it a superior movie to 'The Happy Life' (it's Korean clone). Life is all about compromises. You'll hear this a number of times in this movie. Their first compromise being the performance at the Dandiya event. They earn they bucks, buy the equipment, take part in the proposed 'life-changing' competition. And win.
It is Debbie (played by Shahana Goswami),  Joe's girl-friend (Arjun Rampal plays Joe) who's the axis of the story, I guess. She's the one who had brought the news of the competition. Who had fed memory pills to KD (Purab Kohli) to help him remember details. Who had given Aditya (Farhan Akhtar) medications for the restoration of his voice. Who didn't mind when the album producers refused to use her as the album stylist. Who had stood by the band so faithfully. She makes the story. When the band disrupts after a fight at the recording studio, and everyone leaves everyone, she sticks to Joe. She kicks away her dreams of 'fashion-designing' and comes to manage Joe's family fish business.
Ten years later, Saakshi, Aditya's wife (Praachi Desai) runs into KD. And a few photos and cassettes and papers from her husband's past. She tries and manages to re-unite the four friends, and help them sort out their differences. The first pivot of the story is how
Aditya, who thinks he has detached himself from his past, his friends, his music, begins to differ. The second of the pivotal points in the story come when Debbie reminds Joe how the band had hurt him in the past, and tries to prevent him from the others, not because she hates them, but because she needs to have Joe earn money to run the family. The third jolt comes when the news of Rob's brain tumor reaches the others. The character of KD was the only one who didn't have personal problems. But that wasn't unfair injustice done to Purab Kohli. He's the one, the 'killker drama' (watch the movie to know what I mean), the one who actually extricates the others from their own worlds. And brings them back to stage; for one last performance before Rob's (Luke Kenny) death. 
The conclusive flashes say that Debbie retires from the fish business and becomes a successful stylist. Joe, who had wrenched his hand free of Debbie's grasp to forego the cruise trip (the new job Debbie found him) and go to the concert instead, has money enough all of a sudden. This is why I was disappointed. I wish Debbie's struggle was given a better illustration. I had found the first half of the movie pretty slow. The director could have compromised with the moments of his inactive retrospection onscreen and highlighted the more important part in the end. It was more important for me to know how things work out well for someone who decides to turn a deaf ear to the voice of logic inside his head, for the sake of things such as emotions, friendship, music etc. It was, and is, important for everyone else too, I guess.

The sight of Arjun Rampal playing the guitar, with a halo of long hair flowing behind him, is a feast for the eyes. The fact that I saw him few feet away the previous day, endeared his celluloid image even more to me. The guest appearance by Anu Malik as Rob's employer is a welcome sight as well. Koel Puri's performance as Saakshi's friend and KD's love interest deserves a mention as well. Watch the movie. It'll move you, for sure.

P.S.: One thing I hated about the movie is that the posters showed the pictures of all the four men in equal proportion, yet the movie focused most on Farhan akhtar's character, and least on Purab Kohli's life. The director (Farhan Akhtar himself) shouldn't have allowed the camera capture every detail of his lifestyle including, bathing, eating, sleeping etc; and compromise with two others' characters (Arjun Rampal had justice to his bit). 

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Brush with Big B

My transfer of residence to a metropolitan city was marked by the strangest of experiences; no, not strange, but an experience most would crave for. But I was more surprised than excited when the moment came. When everyone around was shrieking aloud, I just stood and stared. And smiled.

Amitabh Bachchan, 'the living legend' as the LCD at South City Mall broadly proclaimed on the 12th of September, 2008, came here to attend the premiere of his film "The Last Lear". I got the news at around 1 in the afternoon. A man on the auto, carrying boxes of Parle-G, and limping on his left leg, asked me if I was going to wait till evening. I gave him a questioning look, while paying my fare. He asked me"Newspaper dekhen ni? Shauth shity dhukchhen, r janen na? Aj amader Amitabh-ji ashchhen ekhane!" (didn't you see the newspaper? you're entering South City and you dont know? Amitabh-ji is coming here today)

I smiled knowingly and walked inside. Little did I know then that I would leave the place through the same doors more than 8 hours later.

My purpose, that day, was to watch "Rock On!". It had released ages ago, but I have been waiting for my better half. There has never been a movie before that WE had planned to watch together, and hadn't. But a sudden tiff and a hasty decision brought me here. Anyway, this is off-track. I found that Rock On! had its next show at 3:40pm. Not prepared to wait so long, I entered Fame with tickets for "1920", an eerie movie, which I would have hated if I were myself that day. But I wasn't.

The movie started at 1:50pm. My past experiences with such movies told me that it would take less than a couple of hours, thus allowing me to watch Rock On! from 3:40pm. Wrong, was I. The movie, which managed to move me a lot, somehow, ended at 4:20pm. Rock On!'s next show was at 5pm. Thanks to 1920, I found myself against the idea of watching Rock On alone. I waited till 5:05pm, and watched the mall preparing itself to welcome the 'living legend'. And I realised that that I had found the perfect excuse for my friends (and better half) as well. I wouldn't watch a movie at the cost of an opportunity to see a celebrity with my own eyes. Thus, I had no option, but wait. For Mr. Amitabh Bachchan to come.

He was supposed to come at 7pm, or at least that's what the newspapers said. By 6:30pm, I couldn't find a place to stand, forget a seat. The crowds had variety, I must admit. Among the ones I interacted with, were groups of boys from Durgapur (the best company imaginable), old ladies from places around and far from Kolkata, young men who had come to shop (and regretted their choice of day), women who worked as petty labourers nearby and were waiting there since 4pm (pretty much like me) and kids as well. I particularly remember a boy of my brother's stature (age must have been close) whom I overheard saying into the phone "Dad, I'll be late. I have come to South City to see him!". What I reflect back on the most, and I will, even days after this, is the crowd reaction before and after the visit. The old ladies on canes, who stood on their toes on the brown couches with strange smiles pasted on their lips, and the rickshaw-wallahs who stood at a corner with blank looks in their eyes, and yellow teeth grinning through unkempt moustaches, the guards and the security people who stood dutifully emotionless since morning morning i guess. The man dressed as Mickey Mouse, whom I'd never seen before on any of my past vists, who stood on the lobby since morning, doing just one thing: waving at people. Thanks to the mask, I kept having the feeling that he was ever-smiling as well.The guys who openly spoke aloud how they envied the guards standing on either side of the red carpet."sala gulo puro view-ta 1st class paabe...guard-r chakri korlei valo hoto janish..." (they'll get the perfect view. wish we were employed as guards as well!)The couple of men, one of whom was scolding the other for waiting for something as unproductive as watching a filmstar.The NRI daughter who fished out an opportunity to scold her mother for ruining her 'puja' visit by spending a day behind aimless loitering.The small daughter who cried and cried even while the whole mall was cheering Amitabh Bachchan, because someone had stamped her sensitive feet.

Somehow, it's only these that come back in flashes. Only these.

When the clock ticked 8pm, I rang up my brother and told him that I'm leaving for home. The man's lack of sense of punctualtity is disappointing (with some morons shouting "ShahRukh holey atokkhn-e chole ashto, ato koshto dito na amader" (If it was ShahRukh, he'd have arrived by then. He wouldn't heve tortured us such) but, lo! the doors were blocked from access, thanks to the over-flowing multitudes. Having returned from Durgapur that very day, my back ached with the load of my bag, and the strain of constant standing. But, there was no turning back. I was actually happy. When I had already spent my time and energy with a target, it would be definitely against my Principle Of Waiting (you'll learn about it later)

There were people laughing at the way the event manager slipped on her heels while inspecting the escalators. There were photographers, who, tired from waiting, according to some, had started taking pictures of the crowds from various bird's eye views. There were security people busy keeping the crowd pressure from leaking into the escalators. There were plainclothesmen roaming around with clean and healthy pariah-dogs.

Finally a huge "OOOOOO....." from the crowds. No, not Big B. It was Usha Uththoop, our local husky-voiced singer. She was invited, as were many others from Tollywood, but unlike others, she hadn't chosen the discreet garrage entrance from the back.

Almost an hour later (which was punctuated by at least 4-5 "OOOOO..."s from the crowds, made at the entries of various security personnel) there was one "OOOOO..." that outlasted the others. I woke up from my stupor. I turned around to face the red carpet. There was him. Amitabh Bachchan. In front of my eyes. In a black suit and blue tie, and looking perfectly the same as on the screen, he stood on the escalator, waving at the people, doing a 'namaste' at the elderly women, throwing kisses at the younger ones. He was followed by Rituporno Ghosh, the director of the movie. Little can I explain why, one day, I chose to be his admirer. He was attired in a weird combination of a reddish brown dhoti and golden-yellow short kurti with a matching sherwani dupatta. At their heels came Arjun Rampal. I wish Tiyash was here. She would have fainted at the sight of Arjun. As soon as the people saw him, they forgot Mr. Bachchan. people shouted their lungs out "ROCK ON ROCK ON ROCK ON....".And, as the others proceeded, Mr. Rampal lagged behind, busy making eye-contact with as many people as possible and throwing kisses at them. Ha!

While the whole mall was bursting with the ultra-vibrations of a lakh vocal chords, I stood still. And stared. And smiled. It just occured to me that the hundreds and thousands of people around (and above)  me are here since evening, wasting (or otherwise) such a lot of time of their lives, just to get a glimpse of one person! I was awed by the way the crescendo of the noise changed with every wave of his hand. I was flabbergasted at his power (virtual or otherwise).

It was a strange experience overall. I never knew how I happened to be outside the mall few minutes later. As soon as the actors entered Fame for the premeire, the whole crowd moved outwards, and I sort of flowed out alongwith the tide. I took a rickshaw home. The puller shouted at a fellow man riding his rickshaw fast towards the mall "ar taratari chalash na, dhuke gechhe" (don't ride fast anymore, he has already entered". There was something to the way 'he' was said. Almost as if it was a He.

Coming back home, and typing this blog, that's what I'm wondering. What's the difference between Him n him? Why should a creature of the Universe, an actor or a politician matter so much to so many people that they take a break from their own lives and go and flock them?

Any answers?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


It's customary, though unnecessary.
This blog is supposed to serve a number of purposes, the most important one being the fulfilment of a promise made to my father when he bought me the PC. This is also going to help me interact with certain people I need to interact with, in order to preserve the amount of sanity that's still left by a hair's breadth. This will be an attempt to freeze time, an attempt to coagulate disrupt thoughts and muddled feelings. However, in spite of a blog being a public property, the blogger is not accountable for any information errors, incompleteness, or for any action taken in reliance of any information contained herein.

What can make the world a better place?