Monday, December 24, 2012

Brrrrrrrrrr...aving the collllllld

I seem to be the only one who is not at all happy to experience the Kolkata winter. Everyone else seems quite eager to bring out their winter plumage and bedding and savour every degree of the fall in mercury.

I feel wretched. I always seem to feel cold, especially in the afternoon...even under the quilt I seem to freeze ! I don't feel like getting up early, I don't feel like going anywhere (because I have to undress and then dress again and well, you get the drift ....), I don't feel like washing my hair for days on end, I'm petrified of catching a cold and coughing and sneezing all the time, I hate the marbled surfaces in the kitchen, bathrooms and living room, I hate the fact that the tip of my nose always seem terribly short, I hate the makes me miserable indeed. And grumble quite a lot, as you can see.

That reminds me of our trip to Bangalore last August. Everyone goes ga ga about the splendid weather in the Garden City. I wondered.

I soon found out that it needed quite some adjusting to. For a can't live without the sun person like me, the bracing early morning chill was anything but desirable. K took this highly embarrassing snap on his mobile which he and Ayan, our friend and host, still laugh over. I was still in bed, to be fair. But the photo is hilarious indeed. See for yourself !

Well, what can I say. Just that I like the sun a lot !!!! :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pathbreaker: Sanjay Puri

Although physics-phobic, there's a particular branch of engineering I wish I had had the resolve to pursue. Architecture.

Even more so when I read of radicals like Sanjay Puri. The man, trained by Hafeez Contractor, has not only revolutionised the discipline in India but also won numerous awards, national and international for his landmark creations:

This chapel at Murcia, Spain has been stalled for paucity of funds but one hopes it shall be completed soon, given the unprecedented location, potential and visualisation:

The following is a photo of The Palmyra in Mauritius:

This design of a school in Rajasthan definitely catches one's attention. It's eye-catching, futuristic and eco-friendly:

The next picture shows the Terasa 153 building for a site in Montenegro, a tiny country in Europe:

Of course, what I personally look forward to is the completion of the chapel in Murcia. With a view like this from the chapel, even an atheist would turn into a believer.

 I sincerely hope many other budding architects take a cue from him and breathe new life into a discipline that  now occupies centrestage in an increasingly urbanised least, we would have something to look forward to, even amidst a concrete jungle.

Here is a site where you'll find details and larger photos of the above projects:

For a list of awards, check out:

Friday, December 07, 2012


Nowadays I don't feel like blogging. So little seems to be happening in my life.

Well, that's not true, strictly speaking. For instance, we just celebrated Sports Day at school. But the entire process of getting my class to go down to the field in a disciplined manner seemed an effort. Add to that, pulling up a handful of intractable ones who simply would not understand that being outdoors is not equal to Tarzanesque behaviour, sapped all my energy. Besides, the whole process of making them queue up, counting heads, getting them to board the schoolbus headed for Rabindra Sarobar stadium, ensuring that they sat down properly in the bus, distributing food packets, making them wait patiently in the hot sun for their turn to all seemed to have drained me of creativity in other areas. Finally, I was obliged to try the concept of 'positive reinforcement' on your best in the drill and you'll all get a well-deserved treat at the end. No, I haven't kept my word yet although I do intend to.

I was looking through a schoolmate's birthday album on Facebook yesterday and that led me to view some more of her albums. Which led me to the realisation that she was leading the sort of life I once aspired to. Working, interior decorating, baking and cooking, reading a lot, celebrating with friends, travelling through almost half the countries of Europe and others that do matter to us travel-lovers. I didn't browse through all her albums after all. I felt wretched and unhappy, as if time was spilling fast from one cup of the hourglass into another. And that I was not really as' liberated' as I had thought.

Travelling, I realised, makes me feel alive. As do the processes of baking/cooking and decorating my home. A routine job does nothing for my mental health although sometimes one doesn't have any other option. The fact that my friend lives abroad doesn't affect me in any way. I have lived in the USA for fourteen months and hated the east coast winters enough to curl up in bed and cry, wishing I were dead and gone or less dramatically, back in my own tropical climate (despite the equally repulsive Kolkata summers). The fact that the Recession coincided with my efforts to find a job after I got my work permit (in record time) did nothing to better the nature of the frequent rides on my emotional rollercoaster. And yet, here I am with a good job in a reputed school, a wonderful work atmosphere and a clement climate....moping.

I guess it's time I found some other outlet for my creativity.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Injecting fear !

Overheard today :

"I think I'll come later for the medicine. I'm really scared of injections."

I was taking an anti-tetanus injection at the local medicine shop and whipped my head around.

Guess who ?

It was a big, and burly but terrible-fear-in-his-eyes traffic sergeant. He reappeared 5 mins later, eyeing my hand cautiously. By then, it was all over and I was paying the dispenser.

Good God, and these are the men who control the movements of all those huge trucks, buses, SUVs and fine people for rash driving ?!!!!

I do feel I should be getting a bravery award soon :-D 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Getting class-y

With all the histrionics that I have to put up with relating to my class at school, it's a wonder that my sanity is still intact. Sample some details and you'll know why :

1) The boys and girls (roughly 2:1) are always at each other's throats. Only exception : Miss S.G. who all the boys insist that they not only like but also 'respect' !

2) The girls and boys also lack unity among themselves. There are several camps within students of either sex.

3) The best friends sometimes have such bitter quarrels that they themselves wish me to separate them, or in other words, change their seats in class.

4) If I change a certain Mr P.P's place several times for the simple reason that he is always talking with his neighbour, he bursts into tears in class and accuses me of being 'unfair'.

5) One girl narrates her secret fantasies about a certain eligible bachelor (one Mr slim and silent S.S) and the other girls come and complain to me that they don't want to hear about her dirty dreams'.

6) There is a certain Mr R.S. who is extremely delusional about being persecuted. If I believed him, his tormentors would amount to three fifth of the class strength.

7) Their favourite amusement (as observed by me during floor duty) appears to be to try to examine how many of them can possibly fit onto one bench and then push the extra person off at one end.

8) A certain Miss S.D, is the stuff everyone's nightmares are made up of. The ultimate threat they like to issue to each other being : " if you misbehave, ma'am will make you sit beside S.D !"

9) There is a certain Mr A.D.B who will confidently second all my instructions in class. And then proceed to systematically disobey all of them.

10) Mr A.P and Miss P.P are both excellent swimmers and often participate in swimming competitions. Exposure to too much of water, however, appears to have drastically reduced their auditory efficiency. They are always asking me to repeat the simplest of words.

11) Mr R.S. appears to have no experience worth mentioning in his own country. He has apparently seen the fruit called an apple first in the U.K. Surprisingly he cannot string together one grammatically correct sentence in English.

12) There is no dearth of musical talent in my class. It doesn't matter if there is no percussion instrument visible. The head of the person sitting in front of these rockstars is surface enough to hone their imaginary musical skills. And of course, it is to encourage their great potential that the hard surfaces of their desks exist after all.

13) Mr P.P. and his neighbour (the latter having been till recently, a variable) are always swaying up and down in a seated position in perfect sync.

Shall soon be back with more...keep smiling till then :-)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

A poem I wrote...after a prolonged hiatus...


Did I think you were the answer to all my sorrows ?
I do.
Did I think you were the messiah of my tomorrows ?
I do. I do. I do.

I cradle you to the cross of my soul
A baby never to be.
My dreams beckon you into my sight
A river never to swim to sea.

And yet, despite you, I spite you
Because you were never my chosen.
I dare not wish for wisps of you
I myself have burnt and broken.

Will you ?

There are tears, there are fears
Bitter, battered years
As I mourn my own dead.

And yet I walk, how yet I talk
Scanning a senseless yoke
Legacy of a vampire undead.

Do you ?

Your touch is almost on my arm
A weapon of pain I cannot disarm
Your voice a tune I clutch in my palm
Your ghost the secret of my psalm.

And yet, before you ask me,
I must one day unmask me
And tell you the truth :
I do.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Absentia :-D

I asked this particular student why he hadn't brought a letter to excuse his absence yesterday.He wouldn't reply and looked curiously awkward when I demanded that he at least give some sort of a verbal explanation.

He kept on eyeing the floor, standing in the last row.

 Finally, I asked him to come up to my desk and tell me what the matter was.

After much prodding and poking, he finally submitted that his mother had forgotten to wake him up yesterday, in time for school.

Now, that was new. I stared, speechless, for a few seconds. Then, recovering my composure, I asked him whether he had heard of something called an 'alarm-clock' ? He stubbornly maintained that his mother woke him up everyday.

I stifled my laughter and asked him what the usual 'call-time' was.

6 am, he replied promptly.

"And at what time did you finally wake up yesterday ?"

"10 am", he replied reluctantly.

There was a collective gasp from all the students of my class.

I gave up the cause and had to concede that there was some originality in his story :-)))) 

Friday, June 22, 2012


It is quite a special day when one of your students, striving to make a favourable impression on two guests from a British school in Leeds, introduces Sycorax, the witch, (from an abridged prose version of Shakespeare's 'The Tempest') as the mother of the monster 'Cannibal'.

He said it with such confidence that I myself was confused for a moment. Not Caliban ?

And then, I found the rest of the class staring stony-faced at him.

He didn't seem unnerved, though.

I don't know if the visitors were impressed with the originality of his answer. They left almost immediately !  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

To host or not to host !

In 'Roads to Mussoorie', Ruskin Bond comments second-hand : "all men are my friends. I have only to meet them." I personally agree with my favourite writer and have indeed undergone some experiences that have only strengthened my belief in the previous. However, I wonder how much we could apply this trust practically to everyday life in the city.

Whenever we visited my mother's birthplace (Panagarh, in the district of Bardhhaman) on our summer/puja vacations, I observed with incredulity how every householder/shopowner managed to greet her as if she'd been living throughout the year amongst them. Some of them became practically tongue-tied with joy, hijacking her and thereby my younger sister and me, of course, into the direction of and miscellaneous interiors of their households. They would not rest until we had consumed some quantity of sweetmeats and water, often arriving by order while we waited patiently on the pnires/modas (low seating arrangements), often irritated and edgy after our long (2 and half hours) train journey. All we wanted was to get on a rickshaw, do the 5 minutes from the station to our mamar badi, have a bath, some good old aluposto, dal, bandhakopir dalna and deembhaja and catch up with our maternal cousins. Alas, things rarely went our way. Sometimes even the rickshaw-pullers had to wait patiently outside some house on the Station Road while the localites were briefing my mother about at least a year's worth of gossip and news.

This kind of hospitality cannot be imagined in Kolkata. I can't imagine myself knocking on an arbitrary door in the middle of a road anywhere at all and requesting some water to refresh myself. Even at the house of friends and relatives, we have to press the calling bell twice or thrice, before people even bother to venture out and eye us warily from their respective balconies. After that, one often has to vociferously declare one's name and business (especially if it is evening or the person doing the honours is a tactless maid-servant). I can't recall any actual instance of any acquaintance ever refusing us entry, but I live under the shadow of the fear that that doomed day too might dawn some day. Why blame others ? In Salt Lake, my parent's neighbourhood, it is an established fact that even if you are in the killing/killed stage, no neighbour will bat an eyelid or even go to the trouble of calling the police if anything should happen to you in this God-forsaken place. Either you have to be self-reliant (as all the robbery survivors in this satellite township will vouch for) or else exceptionally lucky (hoping that the police will after all, arrive in time, which of course will never transpire). So there you are, stuck with the privileges of living in the satellite township of the city !

Strange that we were once a nation of great hosts and that two of the greatest rulers of our country, Akbar and Ashoka, were both very particular that there be innumerable rest-houses and dharamshalas throughout their realms.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kolkata Weather : Unlike !

The weather in Kolkata is getting worse by the day. When you have to live in a place day in and day out, the weather is a factor you simply can't overlook. Nowadays,with temperatures ranging between 35 and 40 degrees Celsius most of the time, I feel tired throughout the day...drained, sapped, exhausted. We just returned from a 10 day Uttarakhand trip and although one knows that the humidity is supposed to be good for your skin, I did feel that I'd prefer the dry heat of Haridwar and Rishikesh to the sultry nightmare that this city is living. As for Mussoorie, I just wish Ruskin Bond would adopt me....then I could have stayed back there. My creative juices are drying up too...please, someone, find a means to remove me from this city before I kill myself !!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Annual exam results

Finally, after over three weeks of our hard work, the students received their report cards today. There was only one thing that was worth noting and that was the change in parents' attitudes towards the annual exam results.

Firstly, it seems there's more pressure than ever to perform. Not just do well in the class, but more importantly, to do better than the neighbour's child or a sibling or the first boy/girl in the class. It isn't enough to do well in all subjects, one must score a certain percentage to be acceptable to their parents' ego. What happened to the notion that a child, however he/she was treated elsewhere, would always be loved unconditionally at home ?

Secondly, parents appear to nag their wards/children too much. Why do you talk to friends so much over the phone? Why are you so easily distracted ? Why are you always reading a storybook ? Why do you spend so much time on the net ? Of course, parental supervision is crucial as children often get carried away and spend too much time at a particular activity. However, teenagers are fiercely protective of their freedom and too much of any attempts to curb their will results in a rebellious attitude, often extrapolated into the school. And that, as I've often noticed, never bodes well.

Finally, where are those silly people who think learning itself i.e. the process of gaining knowledge is itself to be enjoyed ? Marks, marks and marks - that's all that education seems to amount to. Then why did the higher authorities feel the need to ensure that passing/failing did not matter till class 8 ? If one goes by the attitude of certain well-meaning and concerned parents, the former were all blustering fools who should ideally poke their noses into things other than education !!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


This is a long overdue post, actually composed last September when I was in my previous job (by the way, the colleagues mentioned are not the ones so dear to me, hailing either from the first or second floor staffrooms. They are excepted with complete dignity from my emotional hangover :-)

DISCLAIMER : And no, I do not intend to give offence to that huge chunk of humanity which is incredulous of the phenomena that are vampires or the alien world of Meyer's 'Twilight'. Live and let live...that's all I have to say.

"Sometimes, I used to wonder whether love exists. Not the kind of love that goes through ups and downs, flux and floods, but the love that makes life seem like a long dream that should never end. Could I be Bella ?

For I have known Edward every night in my dreams. I know that he has a different name but it is Edward, all the same. That fear of   giving in to his darker side but caring about me too much to ever risk losing that which he loved, a life that has its trials, limitations and angst but which is gloriously humble in a way. Where time gives meaning to words and deeds and death is rest and relief from the scorching summer of life.

How is it that I almost feel like I was Bella myself ? That eerily similar longing for the sun ; that loathing of dancing and gym and all those things that make one stand out in a crowd ; that determination to stand by any decision once made ; the impatience with admiring stares and awe-inspired eulogising unless if it was from someone who seemed at least your match, if not superior; the almost comical physical fragility but steely mental incision and strength ...who was this ? My alter ego ?

And what about Edward ? There's so much to say but hardly anything that would actually matter. I only keep dreaming about my own Edward. Vampire or not.

I must have reached the mental twilight of my life when I began to read 'Twilight'. I had watched the film alone at home one evening and I cannot remember having ever longed for the sequel of any film to be broadcasted on TV so desperately. It was worse (or better) with the book. Reading Chapter 13, I had tears in my eyes in the the middle of a staffroom full of teachers mostly talking about utterly inconsequential things all the time. It was glorious - that feeling of being transported entirely to a world of my own, a secret that I hugged to my heart and wouldn't want to share - with any second person in this universe. Like my own version of Edward. Someone whom all could read about and possess in their own way. And yet, none need share him. He belonged to all of us  and yet to none.

And yes, I can be extremely arrogant in my own way. Just like Bella. Nothing seemingly special about her but behaving as if she was superior to everyone else around her. Or simply, oblivious to human society in general. And then swept off her feet and out of her mind by a century-old vampire with the mind of an angel and the temper of a devil.

Drifting in and out of classes full of screaming, sullen students, indifferent or overtly jubilant or incredibly trivial colleagues, I am the outsider who doesn't care about anything at all.

Except you.

I have never cared so much before, Edward."


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