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Nostalgia

The Sea of People


population

What’s the population of your city?”

This innocent looking question seemingly becomes one of the most frequently asked question in ‘foreign lands’. And if you are live in the west ask this question to an Indian, well I, being an Indian can guarantee you that situation will become humorously awkward in in a few moments. Why? Two reasons… Firstly, we generally don’t remember the population statistics of our cities. On the contrary I (including my friends) find it weird that people in the west actually remember their city’s population. So the most common answer that you would get any of the facial expressions expressing shock and confusion, a strange look, five seconds of pin-drop silence followed by a hesitant ‘quite large’. And I am telling you, he is being modest. Secondly if you meet an exceptional statics-crammer or a person who has faced this situation earlier and learnt from it; well then his answer will most probably blow your mind out. Believe me! Me and my friends have been asked this question many number of times in our short foreign tours and… there have been no exceptions… ‘Shock’ is the only word that can describe the situation of the person who asked the question.

Example required? OK… I am from Kolkata. And the population of Kolkata is… well infinite. No… probably ‘more than infinite’ is a better approximation. You may object to this claim and open up Wikipedia and say that it is ‘ONLY… 14 MILLION’… and then after a gulp, still defend your pride by saying… “Well that’s still not infinite.”

To that I would only say, “What matters is the feeling… Come to Kolkata and you would realise what I mean.” Upon that… it is not the population what matters is the population density. And you CANNOT beat my city on that. People seem to be crammed up in this city. Open up the list of densest cities in the world and you will find 5 out out of the top ten cities to be Indian. What is more surprising is that ALL of these cities are practically in Kolkata. Beat that if you can!

And if you really want to see the population miracle of the city; board the local trains. It would be an astounding experience for the newcomer to realise the various weird angles at which our human bodies can bend when crammed for space. And if you are a young boy; you might very well try hanging out from the doors of a running train. I have tried it (or have been forced to try it) several number of times and trust me… you can never get bored (my parents are not reading the post, right? 😛 ). And if that was not enough, your self-esteem will surely get a severe blow once you see a vendor with a huge basket on his head moving smoothly through a compartment which you thought could not accommodate a single more soul.

But all of this said, Kolkata is a city of its own kind. The cheapest, the vibrant and the nostalgic. quoting from my earlier post. There is something in the city which always captures your imagination. There is something in the city that it has produced so many greats in the world. There is something in the city that I just want to be a tiny drop in the sea of people… forever…

Through the Aroma of Your Pages


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Through my brief journey with words, I have realised the immense power they posses. The journey through written words is a journey not only through words said; but through the entire stories that each word hides. Those words take you to a new world. A world where you loose the identity of you, and become the person whose words are being read. To share his sorrows and tears and pain; you share his smiles and joy and pride. A journey though ones work is a journey through oneself. Its an attempt to stand in his shoes and look at the world in a way that he does…

 

Presenting an outcome of one such experience as I become the writer whose blog I have been following since… well a long time. And writing a piece pretending to be her in my own way….

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Dear Diary

An year and counting… and the turmoil doesn’t seem to end. As I flip though your pages, I realise how long it has been. And in this long year and a half, how much has changed and yet remained the same. This city with which I had a love-hate relationship seems to attract and repel more strongly than ever. The desire to get out of the city has transformed into an unknown love in recent times. And now when time has come to say goodbye, the memories seem to cling to me even more. Memories of friends; memories of beaches; memories of giggles and laughter and smiles; memories of silence and tears and cries…

All these four years I thought I lived in this city. But now I seem to realise that somehow this city lives in me. And the day I leave this city forever; it seems the city within me too would depart. The city will leave with its local trains, the city will leave with its winter rains; the city will leave with its sea-shore breeze, the city will leave… silently… probably with ease. And so will the present become my past; and will stay in my heart till the memories last.

And you know what? As I leave this known, beloved past; I delve into the an unknown future. Changes are always like that I guess. But changes were never so hard… you know. May be it is a treasure of joys, but as of now, it seems uncertain. Fear… yes fear surrounds me as I jump across the trench. What if I fall?

But again… I can’t stay here. Agreed the city gave me friends, stature and identity; But how can I forget that this city… this city of past, snatched away me from myself. He, who was my soul mate, my love has been captured by the city to be a part of past. The more I stay in this sea of memories the deeper shall I drown, it is hence the time I jump off and leave the town…

Oh I hate you, you diary… I envy you so much. You weaken me… Who says you are a true friend? You are evil… Every time I flip through your pages, I find myself trapped in memories. Memories sweet and sour, experiences good and bad… And you know what the problem is? You don’t help. You just show the memories… And then what happens? The moments of pains and tears are re-lived; and the moments of joys and smiles are missed. How the hell does it help?

Thousands of words remain unsaid. Probably I shall share some other day. But I know dear diary, you know them already… After all you are the witness of my past. And each part of me is trapped within the aroma of your pages.

Having Lost My Powers… I Write


nostalgia

There was a time… There was a time when world around was simpler and more beautiful. Unfortunately, it seems that the world has changed while remaining static. There was a time when I was in Kindergarten and cried the hell out during an exam just because I just ‘didn’t feel like’ writing the exam. I forced the teachers to call my mother (our home was a two minutes walk away). As she stood outside the class, I forced her to come inside in the exam time, held her hand tight and said…

Haan… Likhiye… Likhiye na… Main bol raha hoon, aap likhiye… (Ya… Write… Write no… Write as I say)”

Tum likho na… Exam hai… main kaise likhoongi? (You write… It’s an exam dear… I am not supposed to write in the exam)”

Uff!! Mera haath dard kar raha hai… Aap likhiye… Likhiye… A… P… P… L… E… Likhiye na… Dekh kya rahe hain? (Uff! My hands are aching… You write… Write… A… P… P… L… E… Write no… Why are you looking at me?)”

Those were some moments that shall be cherished forever. Once I declared that elephant is a bird… Well not my fault… An animated cartoon series showed a flying elephant… and as we all know… ‘Anything that flies is a bird’ and so elephant – which flew – was a bird… Simple! 🙂

Another instance which I remember was when our school teachers gave us homework to ‘write all the English alphabets five times each without looking (bina dekhe)‘. Now the ‘without looking’ meant not to turn overleaf where the alphabets were already written (as classwork) and write them out of memory. But being a very ‘obedient’ kid in the class, I took the words ‘without looking’ literally and there you go… I sit on my bed, with my eyes towards the ceiling, probably closed, trying to write the English alphabets five times each in my ‘four-lined note book’ (I hope you remember them… Don’t you?)

And today in my hostel room, I recall those memories. Golden days. Days which define a natural, carefree, unrestricted life. One in which words like personal, private, ego, deceit and dishonesty don’t crop up. There was nothing to hide back then. When happy, we would laugh our hearts out, when sad we would cry as if hell has broken loose, and when angry we would swear never to talk to that person again at his face.

Those were the days… Today when happy, we no longer laugh, we are grown-ups, we smile; when sad, we no longer cry aloud, we are grown-ups, we sob silently inside a pillow; and when angry at someone, we no longer shout off at his face, we are grown-ups, we remain silent, let the anger grow and ultimately seek revenge.

Oh we do a lot more as grown-ups. We start having our personal lives (oh god… I hate this word so badly). We make a point not to intrude into ones personal space (you see, the same thing has two names) and get outraged if someone breaches our privacy (now it has three names).

But yet in this grown-up world we try to preserve our childhood via friends. Well my definition of friends is a very strict one… Friends… a group of people where ‘good morning’ or any general salutation is replaced by… well… you know what. A group of people who fight so hard that they forget that they are friends. A group of people who care about each other in ways unspeakable, who share joys in ways indescribable, who share tears in ways inaudible.

I have always been extremely selective about friends. But yes, I do make friends, the real good friends. But sometimes… just sometimes big words like ‘personal space’, ‘personal life’, ‘privacy’ seem to mist the transparent air around. Those times, I seem to loose my childhood, I seem to loose my power to make friends – real friends; and in those times I write…

The Road Already Travelled By…


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This poem is inspired by one of the classic movies that I recently watch, named Pather Panchali (1955) by Satyajit Ray…

Although a Bengali movie, I would urge you to watch it at least once in your lifetime and experience the great Satyajit Ray…

 

Each Moment I try

Every moment I fail

To retrace and relive

The same old trail

 

The waves of time

Seem overly strong

Trying to wash off

The memories of long

 

Time is cruel

Furiously does it fly

And moments pass by

Within a blink of an eye

 

Yet wonderfully well

The mind preserves

The works of wonder

Which it observes

 

These are the words

It steals from time

Collects them together

In a wonderful rhyme

 

These are the treasures

With scents from past

Which refreshes our lives

When we move too fast

 

Keep these pearls

Close to your heart

As life seems void

If any of those depart

 

We all have to travel

Until the day we die

But never forget to look back

At the road already travelled by…

The First Spring


alien-competition

Well, the grass was just too long for him; but who cares! It was the first spring in his life! With so many colours around, he really had a tough time posing for the snap. You can’t be ‘just casual’ about the background flowers with so many choices around.

“Doesn’t white suite me the best?”

“No, thet are too dull. Are you a grandpa? Buck up man! be more cheerful. Orange it should be.” said Mouse.

“Don’t be silly, red’s the best. Take a snap in then no time would you see ladies swarming around you.” countered Harvey

” And how many times have you tried and failed to please Deutsch Fraulein? Talking of pleasing ladies! Huh! Take my word. Magenta is the way to go.”, Witch added in an affirmative tone.

And soon was the whole area down with commotion. Typical Dede style. In the world where giving advice is free, everyone gets his share.

Dejected and confused, Alien slowly sidelined himself. And then suddenly a tiny little creature caught his attention. Curious, he ran towards the flower it was sitting on. But the creature was too quick to fly off to another one. And elated, he continued chasing. It was a butterfly after all. And surely they were not found in Mars. And getting hold of it would only be a dream come true.

However, Alien was not the only one to notice the butterfly. Sunny, an aspiring photographer (in those days) did pretty well to capture the moment. Probably it was the best snap he ever took. The elation was evident on his face. But there was a small problem – he missed the butterfly.

That was a wonderful day, when all the Dedes were out to celebrate the spring. And this photo which Sunny presented him that day, was the most wonderful gift he ever had. After reliving the moment for long he kept this photo back in the drawer. And then as he looked out of his window, at the colourful carpet of leaves on the roadside; he exclaimed with a smile, “This world can never be boring!”. Can it?

N.B.
This story is written to be submitted to to a competition on my friend’s blog (http://dedepuppets.com). She is a wonderful artist and an online hermit. Don’t forget to visit her parallel universe!

Running Around to Keep the Chariot Still


imagesCAWET4NA

Reading is a pre-requisite to writing. While I must admit that I am not a voracious reader of ‘highly intellectual literary material’, since my entry into the blogosphere I have been reading and enjoying (otherwise I won’t read) thoughts and views by people around the world. So in this regular routine of reading blogs, I came across this interesting piece by my friend priyom…

Recollections

Dad accompanied and insisted on waiting with us for the school bus. We didn’t want him there, (certain issues regarding inappropriately-handled-teenage-trauma) we were perfectly capable of waiting on our own and we were already shaking with nervousness in our new grey skirts with matching grey stockings.

And it was in those quiet few minutes of silent anticipation that we saw a man with khaki pants and loose chappals. The man was making loud hand gestures and was walking around in circles. We smirked at the behavioral ridiculousness and wondered if there was something wrong with him. Our dad however did not even reciprocate by a small hu-ta-tu.

After that, we would see him there almost every single day, same routine of course. We pronounced him to be unhappily senile and yet crazily amusing. On perfectly good days, he would sometimes sit down to talk to himself from perfect hollow memory. At times, he would simply march to and fro. However if there were in fact more fitting conclusions to this daily show, we never did know because our bus timings did not allow us the opportunity of any more such clarifications.

In the afternoon, we would see him perched on this bench outside a tiny tea shop, staring into the distance. We speculated on an extremely sad family history and on his whereabouts during the night, if he actually had any place he could call home. We saw him as weak and uncared for.

We made it a point to shamelessly stare at him each morning till the day we allowed ourselves to grow up and till there was no longer a bus at 8.30 anymore. We gave ourselves the permission to forget about him simply because we didn’t care enough.

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It was some time before I came back home for my college holidays. That day, they were sawing the huge birch tree near our lane. But that old tea-shop was still there. And sitting with the same vacant expression, was the same person that I had lost to memory some years back.

It was not like he was a part of an exciting story and deserved any specific remembrance. But somehow, on highly dramatic grounds, the fact that he was still there, unchanged, unaffected had me feeling triumphant.

His being there told me that he had survived changes and time. Because I sure as hell hadn’t.  Yes, he was a consolation. He was still there.

The author does not state what he had he been doing in the earlier days. Neither do we know whether he was successful in his quest. But the story reminds me of people around me who seemingly achieved nothing all their lives. You might very well say that they wasted one great chance over their cynical acts. Delve deeper into their lives, only to realize how they have meticulously succeeded in what they aimed for. In most cases their rarely appreciated contributions are instrumental in consolidating ground for things which can be appreciated.

Hats off to the wheels of the chariot of success on which our heroes ride; for they are the ones who keep running around to keep the chariot still…

Lost Childhood


A carefree face, a pleasing smile

So innocent; my heart stops for a while

Eyes large; and full of joy

Searching for his favorite toy

There it is! and flash, he goes

Out of his heart, laughter flows

A laugh which hides no pain

A laugh which knows no loss or gain

Hours of play; no rest or respite

Wanders his mind in unbound flight

Then greets his dad with hugs and kisses

Tosses his child up, and then he catches

Fearless, the child gives a zealous call

He knows his father won’t let him fall

He laughs without fear, tension or grief

So strong is the faith; so firm the belief

I stand and watch; the marvel of nature

And try to to peak into his distant future

Will he not lose the carefree face?

Will he withstand the mean world’s embrace?

Will clouds of fear not question his faith

When he encounters the unjust’s wraith?

Will he be able to smile as I could

In my own; lost childhood?

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