Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bong Connection Blues...

Well, this was originaly written in Bengali during my recent vacation in Kolkata and was intended to be posted from the Bong Land but then procstination took over along with other tasks which gained priority and blogging per se took a back seat.. I mean complete back seat.

It was while sipping a cup of caffiene on a cloudy afternoon at Flurys on Park Street, I noticed the stark difference in the world I was sucked in and the one that was raced by to its tasks for the day. As the aroma of the coffee seeped in to cloud the mind I bit into the sandwich in front of me and glanced over at the obviously well-to-do group of people around me. The antecedents of everyone seemed to be very different. There was a group which was definitely on a business breakfast, a group of friends (I believe from St. Xaviers), a south-east Asian group happily tucking into a breakfast of toast and eggs. And then, stared out from the glass - the traffic was breezing by, people were walking in a hurry, a hawker stood there at the MusicWorld corner and was trying to make a living of selling his wares. I say, an excellent setting for the start of a good plot. Anywyz, before I digress I shall move ahead. What really struck me was nothing I saw surprised me, it was as if this is exactly how I expect Kolkata to be. Having spent a better part of my life outside Bengal and terming myself a nomad, despite the heat and humidity, the icky politics of the land and god knows what not, I keep returning to this city. I used to say, that's because my entire family is in Kolkata, now I beg to differ. As I prepare myself to embark on a journey to a far-off land, I slowly realised why I've been coming back to this city for better part of the last decade. I guess it was Dominique Lappierre (pardon me, if I'm mistaken) who said one may hate Kolkata or love Kolkata, but no matter what Kolkata grows on you... and soon has you a slave to her irresistible charms.

When I look back at the times I've spent here - bunking school, the metro rides, the long adda sessions at the Presidency college canteen, the Kobiraji at Dilkhusha (A non-veg preparation where a piece of fish, chicken or mutton if deep fried with a thick coating of egg adn bread crumbs, while Dilkhusha is popular amongst the college kids - just off College Street on MG Road, it is very close to the famous Coffee House.), roaming about at Esplanade and doing some impulsive shopping, gorging Kulfi at Ralli's, the fuchkas at just about every sundry spot that we could manage and then rating them, the road side stalls which would sell some of the most mouth watering snacks at ridiculously low prizes - I realise I shall never get these anywhere else. One might find bits and pieces of Kolkata in other cities as Bengalis in other parts of the world try and set up their own corner, but never Kolkata.

The stream of thoughts that started at Flurys probably won't end here and I doubt if I would ever be able to capture them perfectly with words, but somehow now I understand the underlying theme of Jhumpa Lahiri's stories, I understand what movies like Anuranan and Bong Connection talk in a subtle or overt manner.

I guess it's the Bong Connection Blues!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nomadic Experience!!

Again one of my meanderings so, you may hit that small red cross at the top right hand corner of the window or navigate to another page from here (The links are on the right hand side!!).

A recent chat with a friend left me wondering about long lasting roots. Most of the times in due course of travel, I have come across people who know each other for more than a decade, grown up together and shared a whole lot of memories. When I looked back at my life over the past 2 decades and more, I realised, somehow I never had privilege(?). For me it was always about shifting from one city to another, never really forming a long-lasting friendship and yet having some really wonderful friends. In fact, have had some very loyal ones. Lucky me?? I dunno. Have had the opposite sorts to - the back stabbers, but then that's a part of life. The point I'm trying to drive home is that after having a Nomadic experience all through your life would it really be possible to settle down at one place for a person? As life unfolds itself, we come to realise that we have far greater responsibilities on us than we had imagined or wanted (maybe!!). And that's when you realise you need to have a base, a place to return to everyday but then for how long would the person stick to that same routine. When I subject myself to observation, it turns out the moment a situation becomes a routine for me I no longer enjoy it and sooner or later I start getting restless for a change. Extremely restless!!!

The nomads of Sahara, roam about in the desert in search of food and water. Now, even if they have the option of settling down in the cities, most choose to roam the desert. The heart of a Nomad they say cannot settle down in a place. It needs to roam.. always. Does that apply to the modern day nomads like us?? If it does then in what sphere does it do so?? Is it limited to our physical surroundings?? Or does it extend to the people we know too?? Alright, may be the last one is not true. But then, maybe that's my take!! Who knows!!!

At times, I wonder on what I had missed out in this form of existence. May be a lot!! And what have I gained?? I guess, A lot!!! At least, I've learned to trust people despite all odds and yet manage to look out for myself, to gel in to the crows as if I was one of them, to easily distance myself despite the attachment and most importantly, to appreciate people and culture for their differences and believing even the darkest of clouds have a silver lining!!!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Almost Single

After another mundane day at work, I really wanted to chill out and while my time away. So, I hopped across to the nearest Crossword and after ambling across its aisles for like hours, I decided on a few books (Yes, I'm a compulsive book-shopper and books are my therapy). One of these was "Almost Single" by Advaita Kala. I went through the back cover and it seemed promising. I flipped open to sneak into the plot and it was more to form an opinion about the author's ability and making sure it just wasn't any other book. I must say I wasn't dissappointed.

This is what the back cover read:

“Wickedly irreverent and laugh aloud funny, Almost Single is a delightful romp through the five star world of champagne brunches, gay soirees, and the dilemmas of hip, young girls on the look out for love and matrimony”

That and a realistic, in your face kind of introduction of the female protagonist, Aisha Bhatia, hooks me to the book.

The book takes you through the trials and tribulations a single, unmarried woman in her late twenties might go through. In between there is a sneak peek into the lives that others lead around Aisha: from her gay friend to her divorced friend, a love crazy but vengeful friend to the irritating boss. And then there were a more characters. Read to find out more as Aisha embarks on her journey to find a groom with her friends and comes across all sorts of people.

The best part about the novel is the ease with which the characters unfold and present themselves, neither would it make you feel alienated from them. On the contrary you might just know exactly what they are talking about. The laughter riot in the book can leave you chuckling for days on. Full marks to Advaita for portraying such real life characters with a distinct style and elan which would leave many readers pining for more. The way the novel ends is unpredictable, a touch unconventional, rebellious to the more tradition oriented and yet funny. Tingles you mind for comedy as well as romanticism.

Go read it!!

Published in July, 2007, I wonder what made me buy this book so late in the day!!
You can also read Advaita at her blog: