Thursday, July 26, 2007

I miss the you I once knew...


I carry you about
Within me
Maybe without :
A void
That gives meaning
To my presence,
The spectral past
That haunts
My formless future.

When we met,
Uncertain partners
In the locus
Of a labyrinthine doubt,
Our shadows struggled,
Strived, distraught,
To see
The distance,
To ribbon
The romance
Of the present,
Our present.

My tomorrow,
For the moment,
Is fraught,
Just a stray, scary thought…
Wafting through
The wilderness
Of what may never
Have happened…

If so…
What am I…
Who are you…
Why is it we fought…
What is it we sought…
What have our memories
All been about?

We have, perhaps,
All been at fault…



Let me be a guest
In your inn
For these few hours.
But do not beg me,
I beg you,
To spend the night…

Do not put me to test.
It is not yet
The time to stop,
The season to stay,
To carry over these dreams
Into another stale day…

I still need
To sense my way,
To salvage
All that I have left
In dense disarray…

Maybe I will return
Some distant day,
No more the prodigal,
Never again to stray…

Maybe you will remain,
A wistful figure,
Waiting at the window,
So much to say…
And even more eager
To listen
My silence

When I finally come back
To you,
To home,
To rest.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Italian Night Out

K finally got to meet Shobi. Ooops, sorry. We finally got to meet her. At our usual hangout at Haldiram’s, Exide. Well, we waited a good 30 mins for her. All the more noteworthy an occasion since I actually reached 10 mins before the appointed time (thank you for the applause, I hereby take a virtual bow). But Ma’am had the misfortune to fall asleep while reading and turned up uncharacteristically late. Anyway, we as usual ended up wistfully recollecting our good old days at school (in the dual capacities of teacher and student) and boring the hell out of poor K. Who had the decency to let us catch up while he went and got something in the nature of beverage to revitalize us. And chivalrously chose to overlook the fact that none of us was courteous enough to go help him fetch the tray containing the three glasses of thandai. The good part was that they seemed to like each other. Which is natural, considering that every one likes both K and Shobi. (Can’t say the same for myself, though.) Shobi looks great. She has a glow on her face. She dismisses my admiring glances by attributing it to her beauty sleep. I don’t care what it is. I just love the fact that my friend looks so beautiful and cheerful.

Well then, we went to meet AG. K is growing increasingly lethargic. He actually took a taxi from Exide to AG’s place, a mere 5 mins by bus ! I’m ashamed of his lack of activity, which is seemingly turning into a habit. (Although I secretly adore every move that he makes.) I was extremely indignant at his anticipating with sadistic relish the spectacle of a T-shirt & jeans clad me touching the feet of AG’s old-fashioned (?) parents. I was secretly hoping they’d be taking a prolonged nap in the midst of the delightful afternoon drizzle. Well, his mother wasn’t. AG was tickled by my confusion at the spectacle of a parent who looked more like a married elder sister than the clichéd mother figure.

Sush was as usual late. First, it appears that he had been buying slippers for Namita (whose were en route to Kol via the Packers' and Movers’ stuff).And then, he was taking a bath. Namita was ready and raring to go. While K, AG and I watched the new set of ads on TV (including the arresting Radio City ones), Aunty treated us to tea and samosas. A few practical suggestions that they be packed and carried to the flat for the sake of the presently un-hungry few were not taken seriously and the food was promptly disposed of.

Everyone seemed to take to our flat. Particularly, Bapi’s new device that aims to electrocute offending mosquitoes. It started raining soon after and we were soon on our way to CC. Nam declared that she was not going to settle for anything less than continental cuisine on the occasion of this great get-together and we meekly gave in.

At CC, considerable time was invested in locating a secure niche for AG’s beloved. The Red Swift, I mean. Then, we sent the boys on ‘Mission Italian Cuisine’ while we ladies sought Nam’s immediate and specific object of desire, an asymmetrical kurta. As usual, we wasted a lot of time at Shoppers’ Stop and were not done when the boys abbreviated our sortie by giving us extremely obscure directions to the Italian restaurant they had managed to unearth.

Much of the humour that night centred in the guys having ordered drinks for us, which I was unaware, contained a strong dash of white rum. My suspicions were aroused by the fact that Nam seemed to be growing increasingly ‘high’ while my natural sense of orientation seemed to be slightly in disarray. The tiramisu was an anticlimax although the main courses had not been very disappointing, on the whole. My penne, however, was simply dripping with cheese, which seemed to repel everyone except a very stolid me. K was slightly bewildered as to why I insisted on eating all the fried potatoes off his plate, despite my having sufficient undisposed of food left on my own. Then there were numerous unresolved questions. Why the waiters were garbed in a funereal black garb from head-to-toe. Why K was guzzling down all that extremely bitter beer despite being fetishistically attached to sweet dishes. Why AG thought that every time Namita and I started laughing merrily after a bout of desperate whispering, we might be badmouthing him. Why K refused to let me kiss him in the unpopulated washroom corridor although he had formerly stood up solidly to the challenge of allowing me to kiss him in public view (ok, ok, I do concede it was just a cursory peck on the cheek). Why he finally decided to do away with social decorum and hold my hand tightly in full view of all of his friends, overlooking their cheers or chuckles. And so much more.

But then, did I really want the answers? In retrospect, I think, I had been in too euphoric a state of mind to care.

Close Encounters of the AG Kind....

I finally got to meet AG. After several ISD/STD conversations, one glaring missed opportunity and a few resigned sms-s later, we met and boy, did the sparks fly! Yes, there were no anticlimactic moments at the first audiovisual encounter. In fact, I must confess that on my part, it was a pleasant surprise as he had lost considerable weight and looked much more fit and fine than his un-photogenic features (he said it, not me) had made him out to be. And the best part is that he did like me. Now if only I could improve on ‘liked’ without sounding copiously conceited. Of course, I like all K’s friends. But AG was a ‘great expectation’. Actually I didn’t have too many expectations since, to put it mildly and euphemistically, I had received mixed reviews (for lack of a more apt term). So I had been keen on getting to meet him in person and putting my own perception to test.

So what did I gather from the first encounter? Well, let me sort out my opinions by putting them down pointwise….

1) He’s diffident ….always wants to know what the others are whispering about and particularly, if it concerns him.
2) He’s gallant….calls me M’Lady, stretches out a hand to help me to my feet, opens the car doors for yours truly.
3) Loves his car like hell…I found it very endearing that he should be so concerned that she should be parked in a no-problem zone, away from even the most remote contact with predator-like rash parkers.
4) Has an aesthetic aspect….his alter ego happens to be a wannabe pastry chef. And the desire is much more intense than I make it sound.
5) He’s a boy at heart…not in the clichéd sense of petty, peevish and pampered, rather with the hope of being popular, universally preferred and sought after. Which most of us would secretly identify with.
6) He loves to garner knowledge…not just to show off, but with the serious intention of putting it all to practical use some day.
7) He would love to get hitched… but only to that special someone who wouldn’t want him to give up all that he has cultivated so carefully over the years.

For all those judgemental of my inferences, I have one observation. I am not interested in feedback on my personal opinions. I would like to believe I have a copyright on them. You are welcome to a discensus, but kindly do not expect to bring me around to your own limited points of view. Unlike Bridget Jones, I do have a mind of my own.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


It is raining again. And no, this time, we are not going to complain. It’s been terribly hot for the past two days. To put it very mildly, the heat has been sweltering and we are going to maintain 2 minutes of reverential silence for the inventor of the AC, who’s done us the biggest favour ever.

Bong Connection was worth the money. Not that Rashi and I know much about the latter, considering that it was K’s treat. But we did spend the 2 hours in the hall quite happily. Which is quite natural actually, since Priya usually manages to instinctively identify all the potential hits and monopolise the enthusiastic elite much before the other stand-alones have even started to draw them in. Which is fine with us. We, for one, are not going anywhere in any case. Priya’s our addiction.

To come to the point. Bong Connection left us with the following impressions:

Sayan Munshi was a revelation. (Yes, he DID make me cry.)
Raima looked gorgeous. (But slightly artificial, especially when she was gingerly balancing her face on her hands at Someplace Else.)
Paramabrata has amazing comic timing. (Please refer to the drunken scene.)
Peeya is born to act. (Yes, as in “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline’).
Mir deserved a meatier role. (Don’t ask me what role. I’m not a scriptwriter.)
June Maliah actually acted in a film which did not have a bedroom scene. (And she got beaten up, for a change.)
Neel Dutt has an amazing sense of music. (We actually enjoyed and even worse, tapped our feet to the remixed Rabindrasangeet versions.)
Saswata Chattopadhyay could have safely been left out. (We would have preferred his late father, instead.)
Soumitra is really being underutilized nowadays. (He gets to play a potential corpse. I’m afraid to even contemplate what will happen if he is promoted after this.)
Hasan’s character lost its purpose somewhere down the line( or film, if you prefer.)
Kolkata looks great on screen. We don’t mind staying on in the city after the Bong Connection experience.

N.B. Do not wear low-rise jeans to a film show. The lower half of your back will be anaesthesized by the cold if you repeat my fatal mistake. At least the darkness helped obscure the extremely unexciting revelation that I do not have Shilpa Shetty’s great figure. And don’t ask me to elaborate on that. I won’t.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Yesterday afternoon, the waist level water in front of our house subsided in the late afternoon and I decided to attend office in the 2nd half for mercenary reasons.I actually rushed through the Bengali rainy day culinary speciality (yup, khichudi, what else?!!!). The moment I stepped began to pour...I was simply disgusted.Came back and changed once again and went to sleep.Yup.I was that disgusted.

And don't talk about today ! There was no auto available to Sector V for a good 15 mins, it was raining non-stop all the way to office, my umbrella got caught in a strong wind just outside my office and a total stranger volunteered to help me to straighten it out (before that, I was standing paralysed for 2 whole minutes at a point just a few yards from my office staring dumbfounded at the umbrella !) and just in front of my office there was a huge and dirty pool of water that I had to wade through before I could enter the building. Gross.

The only good part of the day - high tea with K at Fingertips in the evening. After that I felt really high.

And hurrah for my jeans.They saved my day.Yes, I know, I had no business wearing casuals on a Thursday to office but who the hell cares in this weather what the HR etc think? They were probably too busy signing leave slips to notice anyway.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Democracy of Devastation...

Kolkata is going through an intensely bad time. And that too, not due to any natural calamity, but an artificial one. The monsoons are in full force and heavy rains lashed the city on the night of 2nd July, 2007 and in fits and starts throughout 3rd July. The result - a waterlogged city, exposing all the municipal torpor that has caused routine life to come to a dead halt since yesterday morning. I, for one, could not go to office yesterday. But that was initially cause for celebration and I did take it in the spirit of an unexpected holiday. Or, as we used to term them in school life, it was just another ‘rainy day’ I found occasion to catch up on my reading ,watched one and a half films, listened to Big FM and enjoyed an afternoon nap. In fact, I even went out in the evening yesterday to buy a cashcard, which was actually just an excuse for a leisurely walk through the freshly bathed streets.

But. Yes, but. The enormity of the situation that had engulfed the rest of the city dawned on me when I woke up this morning, peered outside with sleepy eyes and suffered a mini-hallucination. Which was actually reality. Yes, a murky river had sprung up overnight just in front of my house, which disappointed any latent hopes of turning up at office today. And the worst part is that no one believes that my locality could actually be flooded because it is studded with residences of state ministers and MLAs. But I realized that my plight was nothing when compared with the miseries of other Kolkatans. From 9.30-11.30 am, I have been squatting in front of the TV, watching Star Ananda live coverages of the current misery of citizens both of the city proper and the suburbs. Celebrities like Suchitra Bhattacharya and Bani Basu the authors, Tridib Chattopadhyay the publisher and Bibhas Chakraborty the theatre artist spoke animatedly of the fear and suffering they have witnessed or been a part of since yesterday. Numerous people called up to report first-hand their terrible predicament due to lack of drainage facilities, loadshedding, lack of drinking water supplies and even food. At the Sukhia locality of APC Road, people cannot even come to collect the drinking water being provided on an emergency basis due to the waterlogging in their area. The photos being broadcast, still and video, of the spectacle in suffering that is Kolkata at the moment, seems unbelievable.

Amaresh Chatterjee, a senior citizen hailing from Baranagar, deserves special mention. The entire ground floor of his home was under 1 and a half feet of water yesterday. He and his aged wife removed almost 600 bucketfuls of water to make it somewhat more habitable. He even did some thing that should put us young and inert citizens to shame. With his own tired hands, he cleaned out the open drain that spans the area surrounding his place. The local councillor was unabashed by his efforts and his surprised queries regarding the absence of municipal workers on this day of need generated the curious interpretation that he was speaking in a ‘motivated’ tone. So much for democracy and freedom of speech or for that matter, right to information.

The Mayor has been presented with numerous bouquets on this (un) eventful occasion. Don’t be surprised. The opposition councilors have been enterprising enough to capitalize on the success and popularity engendered by the message of Gandhigiri upheld in ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’. They are not really doing anything very original.

The Asian Development Bank is helping Kolkata Municipal Corporation out with a loan of 1800 crore rupees to better its civic necessities. But don’t feel elated about it. The money is to be channelised into pumping stations that will filter the sewerage water from the city and ensure that the river Ganges does not suffer more pollution than it is already facing. Which means that we will remain as worse off as we were formerly with this antedated drainage system or the lack of it.

And yes, it seems that in a city which will soon house more shopping malls than hospitals or blood banks, the ravages wrought by the intermittent rains has driven home a picture of the ‘democracy of devastation’ ( in Bani Basu’s words). The general picture that came across from the phone calls, video stills and live reports on the channel was that - the more we progress, the more things remain the same. An NGO in northern Kolkata has helped the local slum residents to move into a vacant school building in the area and has been providing them with ‘chnire and gud’. Kolkata it seems, is receding into prehistoric primitivity.

And oh, one last thing, for the moment at least. The honourable Mayor has taken the liberty of comparing our beloved city to London. But you will feel more stunned than ecstatic when I inform you that he was talking about the crisis that that celebrated city also has to undergo throughout the year. ‘We should be happy that the monsoons don’t last forever’ is what he seems to be trying to say, albeit in a rather tangential way. Well, then, let us raise some funds and undertake the liberty of exporting him to London. Pronto. I’m sure the Londoners will be less happy to see him there than we are to get rid of him. And his lesson in lethargy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Meet the Coward, ME...

I actually feel like a zombie nowadays..every morning, I have to motivate myself to get up and go to office...don't know for sure but I have a weird feeling that this job isn't teaching me anything very radical...and the only reason why I'm still here is because I don't want my CV to give my future employers the impression that I'm either mercenary (read 'money-minded') or rebellious (read 'fickle-minded') or a genius ( read 'easily bored'). But I wish they had kept me on at the original work I was doing, that is, copy writing for e-cards. At least, I looked forward to going to office everyday because my work would nurture the creative streak in me.

And here I was thinking that I had really achieved a helluva something by turning down a job offer from PWC even after clearing their test and interviews for the post of a business editor because I didn't find the job profile sufficiently stimulating. Just proves that I'm another run-of-the-mill coward. Conventional enough to settle for nothing more than mediocrity.


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