Monday, October 31, 2005


You don’t realise it unless you wake up early enough. The sudden .. no, not a nip, but a pleasant coolness in the morning air. The change in the quality of the light. Perhaps that’s what woke you up in the first place? And strangely enough, you do start waking up early, about a week before it happens. To revel in .. well, to revel in something.

When it starts, you can’t quite admit it to yourself. Especially if you’re pushing 40 and all mature and respectable and too old to sing on the balcony. I feel like singing Robindro shongeet (Shumon Chattopadhyay, SHUT UP already about ‘Robindronather gaan’. It always has been and always will be Robindro shongeet) I know which one, too – Ey din aaji kone ghorey go khuley dilo dwaar. Not in the affected min-miney pursed-lips Dokkhinee style but the way Kishore Kumar sang it in 1982, full-throated, a chest full of song.

Because the sunlight is suddenly sharper and more mellow all at the same time, the morning air smells different, and is that .. yes that IS a stray banner of kaash phool in the corner of the park.

Kaash phool. I saw so much of it, growing up in Salt Lake in a time before the houses grew together like fungii. Somehow I didn’t associate it with Pujo then, because it appeared in the last months of the monsoon, before the rains cleared and the air smelt like crisp new cotton. Now we have to drive ten miles to see kaash phool. No, wait, there are waving expanses along the Rajarhat expressway, silver-tipped where the setting sun sparks off them. (That exhilarating sight is the only good thing about catching a 5 p.m. flight).

There was a sea of kaash phool around the 40-acre field in the Sainik School in P*. Lovely in the morning when the late sun slanted through the morning mist, the beauty heightened by the clean feeling at the end of a good run in fresh air. That is not really a Pujo memory, but all memories of cool air and crisp weather seem to be linked to Pujo because it signals the start of the travel season for Bangalis. I remember we were in Shimultola just after Pujo one year“Aaji joto tara tobo aakaashey”, the first time I saw constellations spread out three layers deep.

And of course, the last of the kaash phool in the low sun of November.

**** **** ****

What IS it about Durga Pujo?

Digression – Puj-OH. ‘Puj-AH’ (or Puj-AHS’) is only used when we are all so propah and anglicized and taking a letter to our class-teacher asking for some extra leave because we have to rush to the bedside of an aged relative who may not be long for this world and tickets are just not available till the day after Doshomi .. And SHE knows and WE know that this is so much bumph, we’re all off to Rajasthan for Pujo’r chhuti, but we shall be civilized and dissimulate and ooh and aah and get it counter-signed by the Vice-Principal and if it's nice Mrs. D’ Souza, she will wait till January and then ask how our great-aunt is. With a smile hovering somewhere behind her misleading hatchet-face.

‘Puj-AH’ is also used when we have become terribly smart career people in suit and phitey deowa juto (as distinct from kaabli choppol) and must make small talk about how terribly primitive it is to have so many days off from work, when will we ever develop a work ethic, it’s so professional in our head office in Boston yadda yadda yadda. Can it, McDuff, try to swing a deal in Noo Yawk on 27th December before you give us all this first world shit!

**** **** ****

On-off, sing-song, loud over the radio at 4 in the morning, “Joshong dehi, dhanang dehi” and the theatrical intonation of Birendra Krishna Bhadro. Unique, inimitable, the voice of Pujo, Durga’s herald long after he died in his 80s. All the years past curled up in the corners of the room as I snuggle back into bed and listen to the Mohaloy programme through a pleasant haze. Mohaloy. Pujo. Durga Pujo. Pujo eshe gechhe!

**** **** ****

Rain Song

Morning glistens on the monsoon roads. The air is a flapping curtain, damp and faintly stale, rent by little swirls of coolness that carry green smells.

The rain breeds moss on walls and unruly greenery on road dividers. It scrabbles holes in roads and leaves stains on the sides of houses. It breeds nostalgia.

Returning from a visit to the doctor, I find myself on a tour of my youth. Tyres susurrate, a bedraggled vendor raises a persistent yodel. Seasons past well up in memory.

**** **** ****

Jodhpur Park. A long trek from the bus stop to her friend’s house, the fan soughing like the distant sea as I disappeared into the bathroom to wash my face. Frosted green khus sharbat (Rasna ready-pack? Or did that come later?), a shelf promising delight, the comfortable background noise of the girls talking, a conversation not demanding more than the occasional smile and grunt while I ploughed through a book. The collar-chafing armpit-slicking heat outside heightened the cool of the room, the awareness of comfort perhaps more deliciously pleasurable than the physical sensation itself.

Then the darkening of the day, sullen mutterings on the horizon, a distant turmoil from the shanties on the southern shore of the Dhakuria Lakes. The scent of rain would invade the room well before the first fat drops battered the window glass. A sense of expectation, building and building, until the first flash of lightning followed by the deep elephantine roll of thunder brought release.

As the memory plays itself out and the rain streaks past the windows, we pass the spot where, 20 years ago, we stopped for phuchkas. Now it is a garbage dump.

**** **** ****

Other days of rain more sedate, even wistful. A verandah in Salt Lake, a Turner-scape with houses scattered among the waving green, breathing great lungfuls of pine trees sodden flowers wet earth grass and the faintly sour smell of iron window-grilles with coy rain-drops trembling on the edge.
That first year in Salt Lake was lonely, with afternoons spent on the verandah ledge, feeling the smooth black mosaic (too hot to lie upon during the heat of May but cool and welcoming in late June), musing on the diminution by perspective of the line of fir trees that made up the ‘Green Verge’.

The rains were even lonelier, long summer vacation mornings where the whisper of rain accentuated the silence broken at long intervals by the passing of a bus. The sound of a slamming door followed by the ‘ting’ of the conductor’s bell, carrying clearly over the acres of swaying grass that raked at my legs when I tried to walk through it. Sometimes the radio would be turned up loud in the nearest neighbours’ house a hundred yeards away, if I was lucky Vividh Bharati would be playing Kishore Kumar, the music slightly tinny and tremulous because of the distance and the vintage of the “transistor”.
And somehow the silence would be audible around the edges of the song.

**** **** ****

Purno Das Road. Always associated in my memory with summer afternoons that thrummed with empty trams passing Triangular Park, as I walked down to the stretch between Gariahat and Gol Park to browse the book-stalls. That was where I first discovered pornography, but it was also where I picked up the spare descriptive prose of Louis L’Amour enthusing about his ‘country’, where I found Maugham and MacLean behind piles of medical text-books, where I picked up a quaint little gem called ‘Love on a Branch Line’ along with (God knows why) a slim volume by Epictetus.

The book-stalls no longer await me at the end, they vanished ten years ago and now a fly-over has planted its foot where they beckoned by the light of gas lanterns spiced with the smells of tele bhaja*. Purno Das Road used to have a succession of three-storeyed houses with curving fronts, round-shouldered cousins of the more spacious bungalows on Lake View Road. The few that survive now seem to huddle together in the drizzle, waiting for the hammer and the ‘dozer that will finish them before the pile-drivers beat the ground for the apartment blocks to come.

I turn away and look back up Southern Avenue at the house opposite the Ramkrishna Mission, the house I’ve always wanted to own, white and remote behind ten-foot walls and serene in the knowledge of wealth.

On the same corner, just across the lane, is a lime-green house with an awning on the terrace. D lived there, a tear-away even in Class V, D who took me up on the terrace to show me how he could shoot crows with his Brno .22, who fought bitterly with me because I teased him about the cute girl in the TT coaching camp and then put his arm round my shoulder while he cheeked Zal the instructor. He was only 11 at the time, I was 10. D who – as I heard when I came back from training in Mussoorie – put another of his father’s guns to his head one rainy night in 1988, all because of another girl.

Too much death and change on this corner. I look away as the car passes Mouchak and turns into the tangle between Gol Park and Cornfield Road.

**** **** ****

A web of little alleys run like capillaries off Fern Road. Unchanged in 30 years, I think. The front verandahs hemmed in with fanciful grilles, a glimpse of mosaic floors in lozenge patterns, lines of school uniforms on sagging lines this Sunday morning. Smells of cooking, the hiss of vegetables released into a hot korai*2 as we pass a kitchen window, paanch phoron and kaalo jeere*3 warring in our nostrils, a steady roll of noise translated by memory into the rhythm of a grinding stone.

A grey moustache at the corner of a lane, peering towards the distant back gate of Gariahat Market. The hand behind his back must hold a little bag of rayon twine for the fish he will buy within the next hour. A face that woke late this morning, scratching luxuriously at a tattered genji*4, then sat up in bed with a pillow on his lap, drawing satisfaction from the first noisy sip at his cup of tea before peering out of the window and shouting to the kitchen, “Din taa meghla ache, bujhle. Boli khichuri chapao, dekhi byata Jodu’r kachhe aaj ilish thhaakbe nishchoi*5”.*

A drizzle sweeps out of the sun, leaving diagonal streaks on the houses and wetting the little metal plates set into the walls with the names of the lanes. Narrow cement-paved corridors lead in from the road, down the sides of houses where straight-barred louvred windows open into rooms with the remains of breakfast and empty tea-cups on scattered tables, perhaps even on bookshelves.

An advertisement for a “BBC spoken English course” glares in garish maroon from the wall of a garage. A corner has come loose and sags with the weight of the rain. A cat appears in the crack of the garage door, arches its back and closes its eyes, then disappears again. We pass on.

**** **** ****

Ekdalia Road yawns in the morning rain as we turn left. Two gates down is the B--s’ family temple. We’ve been there at least one evening during Durga Puja, every year since 1983 except for the two years when I was in exile. Even then, she came and lolled on S’ mother’s bed to be pampered till the clash of cymbals in the temple forecourt announced the start of Shondhi Pujo*6.

It used to be a sprawling red-brick mansion, half the rooms locked and two cousins living in what used to be the servants’ quarters over the garages. My other friend on Ekdalia Road has an uncle who told me, in a voice of hushed awe, “Even in the ‘70s, there used to be 22 cars parked in that courtyard. Foreign cars, all of them, the B--s never drove desi cars as long as their money lasted.” And of course there was S’ uncle who periodically vanished into the Sundarbans when his debts piled up, but he deserves a story of his own.

Now the red mansion is gone and strangers live in the block of white apartments that has taken its place. And S’ mother, who pampered us even as she scolded us, died ten years ago.

The other house I used to visit on Ekdalia Road, cool smooth floors and a gracious drawing room looking out on the Puja pandal of Ekdalia Evergreen Club, is gone as well. Except that in its place there is still the grey and brick ugliness of an apartment block under construction.

**** **** ****

Ballygunge Place. More cars, a lone rickshaw clattering down the road with the occasional flat sound of the finger-bell to warn the stray umbrellas turned up against the steady drizzle. Two young faces peer out above the polythene sheet that screens the rickshaw seat. Whither on a Sunday morning? The tyranny of tuitions? Music class, where a harmonium will underline the tremulous offerings of Robindro Shongeet from a faded diva?

And occasional glimpses of the lanes that have always made this para*7 magic for me, from the days when I walked these streets on summer afternoons and winter evenings, when I sought to exorcise the loneliness of teenage angst with solitary fantasies and pretentious poetry.

Now, I roll down the window to catch the lanes as we pass their mouths, lanes that hold together hamlets of community in the flow of the city’s life; lanes where still, as siestas fade, young men stand under windows and call each other out with the assured intimacy of boys who have grown up together. Lanes that lead to wrought-iron gates and stuccoed walls, then vanish round a corner with a backward glance that tempts me to follow …

**** **** ****

The Bypass then, gritty as the rains break it down, and I have left behind the Sunday mornings of my past, headed towards another temporary exile leavened by a Very Small Smile. The skies clear as we pass the Shonar Bangla. Which is a good thing: the rains breed nostalgia, a fungus of the memory. The sun clears the mind.

Yet memories lurk in the shadowed corners of the day.

**** **** ****

(Now for the truly pretentious bit - a glossary!)

* - vegetable fritters fried in (preferrably unidentifiable) oil. Literally, "oil-fried"; a taste bonanza paid for in heartburn and acidity
*2 - something like a wok, though usually smaller
*3 - spices. 'Nuff said
*4 - Undervest. Since you asked ...
*5 - (transliterated) Looks like rain; put on some khichuri (a savoury mess of rice and lentils with spices) while I go get some ilish (a distant cousin of the shad)
*6 - I'm not too strong on ritual. Call it a major bonding exercise and leave it at that
*7 - neighbourhood, but with a very strong underlying sense of community more than the physical proximity

**** **** ****

J. Alfred Prufrock, July 2005

Saturday, October 29, 2005


ny Bengali, especially calcutta kid, these days will identify with what Im talkin about . Its a part of our new sense of respectable identity. Im talking about Bangla bands. I mean, think about it..... these days if you don't listen or proffess to know anything about them or scorn them as wannabe acts and proffess your love only for sophisticated "classical" stuff such as Euro- pop, or only Rolling Stones/Ac/Dc club, you are bound to be called a "tansh goru" behind your back or a anglicised to the largest extent. But if your music repertoire consist of Mohin, fossils, lakkhichara, cactus(yuck!) , chandrabindu, bangla and what not to pepper you dignified taste of Led zepplin, Floyd, mettalica, judas priest etc... you will see that a blooming flame of respect that rises on the faces of our co-youths. This is the respectable identity sense i'm talkining about. Now, I realise that what i just said might raise a huge storm of finger pointers and correctors and you might say that there is nothing wrong in the opinion of bangla ands to be wannabe acts and such like. and i agree on that part. but what i mean to say is that the first situation sort off reeks of lack of appriciation for something that is very much calcutta born. a lover of all things calcutta can appriciate the good and the bad facets of the city. and bangla bands inspite of all their wannabe-ness, has now become an essential part of calcutta culture.
If one sees it from one point of view, Bangla Band music has sort of brought back the bengali youth to listen and pay attention to bengali music again. And that by itself has infused a new life and energy into bengali music and spurring it to go on. Bengali music is not only rabindrasangeet. Bands like Bhoomi, Krosswindz, Kaya, etc has infused new life into bhatiyali and sort of convined us that its not entirely bhat. and the tradition goes on.
The fact that Bangla Band means wannabe-ness power infinity is true to a large extent but we cannot say that we have a dearth of talent or originality. Some bands have very very strong song-writers.... say Rupam of Fossils, Chandril and Anindo of Chandrabindoo. And Wannabes they might be, but all these bands posess a huge amount of musical talent in their extremely good musicians, even though the material might not be very original.
The energy that these bands generate in their programmes are awesome. The fact that before a month or six back , most of the bands only got to promote themselves through the word of mouth, the radio to an extent and only by their music sales, is an amazing phenomenon, that most of kolkata know about these wannabe bengali rockstars and all. For example, In a Fossils concert, you will hardly find an variation in the song line up. Yet they pack crowds in, and are able to hold them in thrall and controll them a bit. It helps that theyare amazing performers too.
No one can deny that Bangla bands are now a really strong part of all things that makes Calcutta, Calcutta. They have emerged from a pseudo-underground movement to being a mainstream calcuttan cultural limb.

Friday, October 28, 2005

More on Calcutta photography...and newspapers

Check out this link. I adore the one where the elderlies are engrossed in the khoborer kaagoj-s. It's so darned Calcutta-ish!
Speaking about newspapers, do any of you guys remember the transition from The Statesman to The Telegraph that Calcutta has seen during the last decade or so? It happened sometime during my mid-school years I guess. And now my boro jyathababu, an earlier ardent Statesman reader and who held that The Telegraph was too much of a spin-off from Aanondobajar Potrika (which also would be read) can be seen with The Telegraph in the mornings.

But really, hats off to The Telegraph guys - it's a brilliant newspaper, methinks.

Schools all the way

Stole this one from the school ygroup site. It's "Calcutta" Boys' there :)

the crowd, the yellow cabs, and the bloody traffic!!!

Remember this??? Posted by Picasa

Pratt Memorial School...

and, sorry, but schooldays and all that...Pratt Memorial School, front view. Posted by Picasa

Lawless, as usual...kolkatar raasta

er, this is from another site though. is that illegal? tell me quick! and PLEASE, PLEASE tell me how you manage to post ALL pics in ONE post! Posted by Picasa

bishti pore tapur tupur...

Okay, so not the best rain-in-cal pic i could find, but still... Posted by Picasa

Which ghat would this be?
Posted by Picasa

Book Street!

Pretty common pic, this; but one of my faavourite places in the city. good old College Street. Posted by Picasa


This is taken out of a mail that was forwarded to me. And although the theme is hackneyed and the lines cliched, it still evokes a certain nostalgia that I have come to associate with Calcutta and being away from the city I so love.

And to quote a few lines from Veer Sanghvi's brilliant article:
"........... And to understand Calcutta, you must understand the Bengali. It's not easy. Certainly, you can't do it till you come and live here, till you let Calcutta suffuse your being, invade your bloodstream and steal your soul. But once you have, you'll love Calcutta forever. Wherever you go, a bit of Calcutta will go with you....."

was i supposed to post this?

ahh whut the heck!

panty == Kanti == Heart of the Dark
Telytoot == Teleute == Ruins of the Day

from conversations and incidents during the blog meet --

1)LOST or thoroughly confused/Finding T3 ( where bloggers were called on account of blog meet)

Over the phone :-
Panty -- dude T3's near Sify Gamedrome(a gaming cafe) k
Me - ohh then i'll find it.
Panty - k cya there.
*i take bus to Park Street and reach Gamedrome*
Me-- ahh now where is T3???
Me -- *walks walks walks walks*
Me-- *walks some more*
Me -- *definitely lost*
Me -- *wtf wtf*
Me -- like where is the place?
Me -- *get stared at by taxi drivers*
Me -- *walks in direction of T3*
Me -- *almost walks past T3 but spots panty*
Panty -- *wave* *wave*
Me -- *wtf! Is that guy waving at me?* *realizes its panty*
Panty -- *wtf*
Me -- *enters T3 and seats himself*

2) To Tele-tubby or not to Tele-tubby --

Telytoot -- Don't u dare call me Telytoot again! *glares*
Me -- *WHAAA?* *HUH*
Me -- *oh*
Me -- But its such a great name :D :D
Telytoot -- i prefer anything over Telytoot
JAP -- Ahh then we should start calling you Tele-tubby.
Telytoot- *hmph* atleast its better than Telytoot.
Panty -- *whispers* Atleast she doesn't know what you originally intended.
Me -- HEHE :-D
(yes ur allowed to guess what i originally intended)


Me -- dude your paying for me.
Panty -- WTF!
Me -- yes u heard me.
Me -- *hehe*
Panty -- damn! only because its the blogmeet.
Me -- *orders coffee with ice-cream :D*
Waiter -- *servers the coffee at the other side other the table*
Panty -- *schemes*
waiter -- * serves coffee*
another waiter -- *serves a whopping triple scoop chocolate sundae to Sphinx*
Me -- * : O *
Me -- *get up runs at sphinx and begs for ice cream*
Panty -- * hahaha * * starts drinking the coffee*
Sphinx -- * being the incredibly nice guy that he is,offers me ice cream even before he has any* (:D thanx man ~~ )
Panty -- *drinks drinks*
Me -- *goes back to chair*
Me -- *looks for coffee*
Me -- *WTF WHERE's MY COFFEE * *spots panty*
Panty and me -- *fight over coffee while JAP takes a picture*
Panty -- *succeeds in finishing more than half* (DAMN YA DUDE)
Me -- *spills sugar all over body*
Sphinx -- Dude u messed up big time.
Me -- whaa?
Me -- *sits*
Me -- *looks down*
Me -- *spots sugar*
Me -- *whoa nice white crystals*
Me -- wait a sec!
Me -- *: O that's SUGAR!!!*
Me -- *gets up and wipes it off on panty while panty looks the other way*
Me -- *finishes panty's cake :D*

4) "gay" waiter -- During the blogmeet all of the waiters were staring at us after the incident between me and panty fighting over coffee.There was one particular waiter who kept on staring

A waiter *comes upto me after coffee fight*-- Sir,could you please keep your voices down for other customers will get disturbed.(He said this very awkwardly in hindi)
waiters -- *stare*
waiters -- *move to take orders from others*
"gay" Waiter -- *stare* *stare*
Me -- panty watch this.
Me -- *waves to waiter in an extremely gay fashion(almost like saying hi)*
Panty -- *WTF*
"gay" waiter -- *: O* *comes upto me*
"gay" waiter -- Haan?
Me -- *leans face over to waiter's*
Me -- Pani. (Water)
"gay" waiter -- *heart breaks* *practically stumbles away* *somehow manages to fetch water but spills half of it*



(with powder still clinging on his neck LOL!)

(Hilarious till once notices the vampiric Srhino in the background)

(the one in the green dress)
(notice the chicken patty she's winking at)
(Hint: its carefully hidden behind the glass :D)

And FINALLY.......
(notice that Telytoot is still winking at the patty :D)
(this picture also shows what chocolate sauce can do to a fish : O)
(Hint : look at the eyes of the bloggers sitting)(notice anything yet?)
(and of course see panty hiding in the distance looking ready to pounce on the unsuspecting)

and of course
plz do visit my blog
A Tribute to Stupidity

Pappu I know you Pappa

I wanted to post this on my own blog sometime back but didn't since the topic is very inherently Bong by nature and only a Calcuttan will understand who/what I'm talking abt. The topic being - para kakus.

How many of you have interesting para kakus (PKs)? They are always there - discussing everything from the local municipal elections to Sachin's tennis elbow and how "he should concentrate more on cricket and not tennis coz Sania is much better at that" :) I love the way they stop every person walking by and ask them the exact same question - "ki bhalo to"? But lest you think they don't care for you, they add in their own personal touch to the situation as well - "tumi ki porcho jeno? bah, bah, khub bhalo!"

What amazes me most abt all the PKs of my locality is that they all bring out references to my dad. Now I know my dad and I know that he wasn't much of a para person. But that doesn't stop all these kakus from referring to him - "bujhle to (followed by some deep introspection) ... tumi tokhon onek choto. tomar baba aar ami khela dekhtey gechi ... jiggesh koro" OR "seta 1970s er kotha hobey ... tomar babar money thakbey" OR "arre Mukut (my dad) key to amiyi bollam engineering portey ... o to bhabchilo pure science niye porbey". Surprisingly my dad claims complete ignorance to most of these references. Also I have noticed that nobody makes any references to Mom - not in our para, nor in her own childhood para.

All very amusing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

of Tollywood 'stars' and radioactive fish

Our dear Mr. Basu lends the celeb touch (ironical, that. as you shall soon perceive) to this blog by gracing us with this article of his, posted here for general entertainment. so you'd better be entertained.

or else!!!

The emergence of a distinct new species usually takes millennia of
careful evolution – unless (and listen carefully) there's a drastic
change, a sudden mutation in the original species or its environment.
In which case, there's reason to believe that there's some new
neon-green radioactive sludge that's being eaten by the fish that we
consume with manic efficiency every day. Because over the last few
years, a new breed of human has waded out of the traffic-swamps of the
City of Joy – the Calcuttan Celebrity (Pirmanentli Fotoshute)

Calcutta's not a city which had any kind of P3 list until very
recently – yes, we were always insanely proud of our icons, but never
wanted to know what they did on their weekends, or what they really
felt about global warming. But now, thanks to thriving city
supplements, retail explosions (and radioactive fish), the discerning
Calcuttan is able to watch with a fond eye as June Maliah or Raima Sen
(or, on a slow day, Bikram Ghosh) pirouettes in a new designer
creation in the morning, fights for world peace in a bookstore at
noon, opens a household gadgets store in the afternoon and addresses a
conference on modern women in the evening.

It's all harmless, mindless fun, and I like my daily fix of What They
Did Today as much as anyone else. But behind the glittering enamels,
the tittering PR people and the flashing flashes there's a serious

We don't have enough celebrities. The legitimately talented ones will
only play along when there's an actual reason to appear in a
photograph. Even the most pliant of celebs occasionally has to take
time off to (shudder) work. Plenty of Tollywood stars have time on
their hands, but not too many can be seen with the naked eye without
causing grievous mental damage. And the real celebs – TV astrologers –
would have drawn huge crowds, but those chart-busting, wild-haired
megalomaniacs are far too busy making piles of money. All our business
tycoons and politicians are old or ugly.

Thus, thanks to endless shuttling between malls and studios and
overexposure to harmful flashbulbs, our small but dedicated
professional celebrity class is beginning to lose its shine. They
laugh hollowly while battling poverty; they weep silent tears as they
point at paintings.

In desperation, photographers have taken to turning innocent
bystanders into celebs by simply putting their names and pictures on
the page – but how long can a cerebral, culture-fixated city be
sustained on the knowledge that Dolly and Gautam preferred to hang out
by the bar instead of getting into the groove with Neha (sexy in red)
and Daniel? Reporters do their best too, but except when well-known
Mumbai types drop in and they can write thrilling articles on the
lines of ‘11.30 Saif scratches his thigh. 11.35 Saif yawns. 11.36 Saif
goes to the loo’ the going gets really tough.

So I'd like to appeal to everyone in my beloved city, here and now, to
join my campaign to Save Our Celebrities. We'll march from Forum to
Tantra, very slowly, dressed in designer lingerie, chanting new-age
slogans for TV cameras. Join me. I've called up all the photographers.
Hell, we'll make Page 3, even if nothing else happens.
And eat more fish, just in case I was right about the nuclear sludge.


I think i'll pass the last, though, thanks you very much. and let the guest blogging continue!!!

Pench Puja

Tragedy of life time struck a Maddox devottee this puja. Instead of doing pet puja in the various eateries that sprout around calcutta and seep to pour into the streets, i had to do Pench puja instead. as in Pench Madhya Pradesh. with Tigers, not Ma Durgas lion. and thats they bottomline of the tragedy. lets stretch it from there. like the plot line of Dil To Pagal Hai after the intermission, like a chewing gum, Boomer. Lets Not make a lot of sense from now on.
The holiday was lovely, really. BUt what will satisfy the heart of a bengali who craves the carnival atmosphere and non-existant cerfews? What was I to do with the excessive amout of brand new clothing recieved for the occassion? what to do with those traiterous roaming phone calls made on my Damn Cell One connection, that works everywhere but in calcutta? what do i do but to sit and dry my tears in misery and doze off in sleep in an uncomfortable position, stuck between 2 pairs of legs at a back of a cramped jeep, giving up hope of seeing those dastardly invisible tigers anyway? I persevere, thats what. and sleep, sleep and more sleep. with frequent reports of whats happening in and around calcutta. ah sad life.
BUt never fear... more to terrify coming up. Im affraid of butterflies. huge moths. moths, dark, fluttery and scary. am terrified. and these in artificial profusion decorated the cieling of the dinig hall of the hotel. I was more convinced than ever, never leave calcutta again for the pujas. never the less, i survived and was my way home hopefully, cursing everyone who had fun when i was away.
BUt speedy home delivery ws not to be. got laid out in benaras, for a day due to Bihar elections....had a most interesting time , making up for the dud puja days. Benaras is like the most interesting of cities. oldest and dirtiest. fascinating. saw plenty of sexy shadhus... made up for the loss of mine to see dashing mahishashur. Had an interesting encounter in the Biswhanather gulli. Saw a potentially rockstarish sexy south indian young sadhu turn into one cool dude with a backpack right in front of my eyes.
that was my entire holy experiance during the pujas. how holy no?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

the bong and his fish

so, for those who wondered online and off where I was during the pujo, well, I was tucked away at my grandparents place for more than a week. it stripped life of all those things I thought was essential for sanity – the internet, for example – and still, still, I had a really, really good time. I did.

I came away after lunch tuesday afternoon, and contrary to traditional expectations, it wasn’t a huge affair. lunch, that is. in fact, it was laughably unpretentious bengali ‘shadharon ranna’, a simple everyday home cooked meal. and it was delicious. like meals at grandparents inevitably are. there might just be a post about my stay, I certainly want to write one, but not everyone has the evocative talent of this lady or this avuncular gentleman, so it might just remain in my mind, till the dust settles on it, and it takes on a sepia, forgotten tint…

but today, we’ll talk about fun stuff. the stuff I discussed at lunch with my grandaunt jhu and my granduncle’s friend binku. there was ilish for lunch (and kanti, I bow to you as well. ilish with a spoon! kid, it’s one of the more painful ways of killing yourself slowly but suddenly. they’re called fingers. use them. if you want to live.), and I was, as usual, much scorned for scorning the fantasy of , or so everybody insists, every bangali. however, being family, there wasn’t the usual shriek of “tui ilish khaash na!!!” instead there was much shaking of graying locks and shiny brown scalps in my general direction, and tut tutting under the breath while hunting for the tiny transparent bones embedded in the fish’s flesh.

“children these days…” sighed binku. “ilish, rui, bhetki, chingri. that’s all they know. isn’t it, phuldi?” phuldi being my jhu.

phuldi nodded sadly, and broke two green chillies in a small heap of steaming rice before topping it with bhaaja tel, the oil the fish was deep fried in. “true, true…do you remember, binoy (that’s binku), in bikrampur (that’s where the family is from; it’s in bangladesh) – actually, even sometimes in dhakuria (that, of course, is in cal, but this was during the second world war, when dhakuria was almost a village) when it rained too heavily…”

“we too!”, interjected binku enthusiastically. “went out to the banks of the rivers and the paddy fields for koi maachh. achha, did you eat khoyer maachh in your family? or kholshe? the kind that grew in dobas? small ponds?”

“khoyer…khoyer…ahhh, you mean fyaansha maachh? of course we did! and my mother used to speak of times when she and saraju khurima (this is not a relative I’ve heard of. but then she was my grandaunts’ aunt. so…) rushed out to catch kholshe and koi at the height of the monsoons. even back then, I spite of being the bous…their mother-in-law was…indifferent. she was keen on social work, distributing grains and rice and cooking oil to the poor ‘low caste’ women. she didn’t much care what she ate. or her daughter-in-laws…”

I’m a little surprised, satisfactorily so, to hear jhu curl the quotes carefully around ‘low caste’. I bet when she was a child, in the early 1930s, that was the general form of referring to people. their casts, that is. how fast times have changed, I wonder for a second. in some pockets of the country. there are no caste distinctions in my family, I know because I overheard a neighbour once tell my grandfather, in tones of mild regret, that all the children of the house married out of the caste. and my grandfather ignored the tone, gave him a sunny smile and said, “yes, they’re all so happy. I’m a proud father.”

and I’ve never heard of these fishes jhu and binku are suddenly speaking of. they’ve all lost out in the battle of place in the sophisticated urban cuisine. some have, perhaps died out. others have lost out ‘cause they’re too bony, too dark and slippery, maybe a little bitter. perhaps too icky to look at. or maybe just too downmarket. (this is a term I’ve picked up recently from my twelve year old cousin, and for some obscure reason, it’s a scary word). others have survived – barely – under other names. the more familiar khoyer for the bangaal fyaansha, for example.

or kaanklash maachh. if you know bengali well enough to read, say, bibhutibhushan bondhyopadhyay, you’ll know what kaanklash means. it means fatally skinny, a bag of bones, starved taut skin thrown over a dry skeleton at the brink of turning to dust. not a pretty picture. that’s what this fish looks (looked?) like. thin, very little flesh, the snout pointed and sharp, a sickly whitish green. not for the fashionable or healthy platter. I wouldn’t buy it to save a few pennies. I’d much rather just have plain boiled rice. but people with large families and little to keep them on ate this though. regularly.

then there were baan, baaing, lyata, chang and pangash (also known as ghaayir this side of the padma). some of them looked like small snakes at first sight, some like smaller shol maachh. good deep fried, but not usually for the gentleman’s platter. hmmm.

but there are cuter names. some you’ll ooh – ahh over too, maybe. baanshpata maachh, I think, is rather cute. shaped like the leaf of a bamboo plant, hence the name. or kanchki. which are a smaller version of the more famliar mourola maachh (like that’s possible. hey, I may not eat it, but I’ve seen mourola, okay?). and wait, there’s another rname for khoyer maach…or is it another fish that looks like khoyer…anyway, since I haven’t seen either, this one’s called chapila. please tell me it sounds alien and nice. I like it. it apparently smells like ilish as well. poor man’s hilsa, eh?

now for the good ones. there’s believe you me, a silvery, exquisite variety called the shillong maachh. it looks just like bacha maachh (that’s bengali for ‘living’ minus the ‘chondrobindoo’), except that it’s snout is not quite as sharp. both are silvery white and delicious. and extinct. apparently.

then there’s bele maachh, glistening white again, and eats sand, according to popular belief. hence bele. sand=bali, which lends itself to bele.

“with white stones in it’s head, na binoy ?” jhu looks up from her ilish, “we used to collect them in small wood and ivory boxes on the sly, ma would’ve raised hell if she knew there were fish parts in the bedroom”. and she laughed. jhu was a notoriously irrepressible tomboy as a child. and then they branch off, talking about the basin bikrampur became during the monsoons. people used boats, shaajimatir nouko if that means anything to you, to visit neighbours. sometimes when the river and local ponds overflowed, people had to build shaankos, narrow short bridges made of single or double bamboo sticks across rooms! can you believe that? the houses were flooded, so you had to use a bridge to go from the drawing room to the bedroom!

“aar uthone daariye borshi diye maach dhora jeto”, binku laughs uproariously and helps himself to more fish. I’m a little concerned. he’s had three already, and nobody’s getting any younger. but in true bangali style, nobody cares how much of what they eat at our place. I had finished, so I get up, wash my hands and get my tiny telephone diary. that’s all I’ve got by way of a notebook, but these names I have to write down. there’s no way I can remember them – two generations down the line, these household regulars have become remoter than an eskimo’s diet.

and there are varieties of poonti maachh, or small, bay fishes. there’s a variety, apparently, that has a perfect black circle, like a teep/bindi on it’s tail fin. another’s called shorputi. shor as in the layer of cream on milk? the yuck thing? what’s it got to do with fishes? binku didn’t have an answer. jhu shrugged and passed him the salt.

and then come a few familiar names. before some completely alien ones. foli, kaalbosh (which is notoriously difficult to bring to land, even if you’ve caught it), chitol, mrigel, gurjaali, which is known here (if it is at all) as omlette maachh. pouya maachh, known as bhola maachh, similar to bhola bhetki. mohashol, which, I’m given to understand, is nothing like the shol. then there’s the loitya, known in bombay as the, surprise surprise, bombay duck. why duck? perhaps our resident quack expert could explain...

fotka, which is poisonous but if blown into the mouth, its tummy enlarges and makes the sound of a small balloon bursting quietly.

or, this is wayyy stupid but you gotta know, bhyada maachh. which in west bengal is called nyadosh maachh.

and then there are the chingris. golda chingri, bagha chingri, shotinpora chingri, kucho chingri…but let’s leave that for another time, yes?

because binku and jhu couldn’t come up with more names, see? they racked and raked their brains, but all the old memories have evaporated…

On Bengali mobs - murderous

My good buddy Rohan had the some things to say about my unprovoked attacks on the collective Bong machismo. I have reproduced the relevant portions of his argument, with his permission, of course. Here it is.

"...While I agree with you in most parts, some serious thought into the whole matter springs forth certain anomalies.

1. It was a bong man, Arobindo Ghosh who in conjunction with Tilak wrested control of the Congress from the hands of the "petitioning-moderates".

2. Chakki and his motley crew were the first to use force/violence in the agitation against the Brits. The de-railing of the train of the then Bengal governor, as an example. Gun and Bomb making, and their subsequent use during the freedom struggle, first found root in Bengal.

3. The Armory raid at Chittagong was as closest as you could get to guerrilla warfare. All bong men in that brigade, mind you.

4. Subhash Bose and the INA of course, and a lesser known gentleman called N.N. Bhattacharya who tried to gun run German made stuff into India during WW I.

Post Independence,

1. The whole Naxalbaari stuff, nearly all -young bong men.

2. South East-Asia’s last major revolution – Bangladesh. Yeah the bongs got slaughtered there, before Indira Gandhi decided to save the day. But in its very essence it was a very violet, up in arms sort of Freedom Struggle. No soft "petioning" here.

While we as a race do not readily conjur up visual images of "physical strength or vigor", a look at the history of the last one hundred years, as listed above does indeed paint a different picture. While we do not easily slip into the "image" of the warrior class and all it’s associated trappings, violent revolt and as an extension the alpha male attributes, are actually very much a reality.A bong man for his entire bow bazaar dancing girl decadence sets the stands on fire at the Eden or Salt Lake Stadium at the slightest provocation. For all its marginalization from mainstream Indian politics, Bengal has always seen the most violent of political agitations...."

(Copyright, Prasenjit Guha, 2005)

And like most of what Guha da says, this too makes a great deal of sense. Why does everyone assume that Bengalis are meek and mild, when they have such a rich tradition of violence? A North Indian friend commented, on meeting a Calcutta lumpen - "A rowdy Bong! Now I've seen everything."

To shed some light on this apparent dichotomy, let us recall a popular joke.

Q) What do you call one Bengali man?
A) Poet

Q) What do you call two Bengali men?
A) Political Party

Q) What do you call three Bengali men?
A) Two Political Parties

Q) What do you call four Bengali men?
A) A procession and a counter-procession down Chowringhee at rush hour.

So - have all you smart people spotted the pattern? Not difficult, really. For Bengalis more than other communities, the size of their immediate cohort almost completely determines their behaviour.

An certain Iyengar Brahmin says that Bengalis are fun to talk to one-on-one, but too many intimidate him. Individual Bengalis are quietly intelligent and sufficiently well-informed on many topics which makes them great conversationalists. Even two is fine - at worst they'll have an animated debate (UNLESS you have a North-South Cal split, in which case avoid mentioning football). However, things start getting out of hand when the number increases beyond that, usually culminating in large-scale screaming in Bangla, on matters none too serious, with the participants nearly coming to blows.

The average Bengali is a pack animal. Deep within the recesses of his soul lies a caged animal waiting to break out. The sight of other werewolves is just the spark he needs and Dr. Bruce Bandopadhyay finds himself answering the call of the wild - transforming into a green-skinned monster wielding a mashaal and laying waste to every heavy vehicle on the streets. Truly, the Bengali mob, or Bonglomeration if you will, is a sight to behold. Mild-mannered clerks, bureaucrats, insurance salesmen turned into bloodthirsty beasts all driven by a shared passion for unmitigated violence. Is it any wonder that Calcutta witnesses an average of nearly one lynching death a day?

To use a scientific analogy, the Bengali male can be likened to a 1Kg mass of Uranium-235. If you are exposed to one of these occasionally you will suffer from a bad headache at worst. However, bring 5 or more of them together and we have critical mass. Kaboom!

The Bonglomeration has risen in the past to fend of attacks from such savage races as the British and the Punjabis, who made the mistake of underestimating the capacity for violence in the Bengali, thanks probably to impressions formed based on Bengalis they personally knew. The following are transcripts of historic conversations.

Conversation 1: circa 1858

Lord Canning: Well, your Majesty, we now have to worry about ruling that bloody country.
Queen Victoria: Indeed, Lord Canning. I have no idea how we are to go about it. First of all, where in bblazes are we going to have a new capital?
LC: Don't worry m'lady. I have the perfect spot. Remember that town Cahl-cah-taa. The one that old Charnock stumbled on. I think it will be just marvellous.
QV: Why that place in particular.
LC: A little bit of research on my part, ma'am. The people who live in that god-forsaken place - Bungawlees I think they're called - are a bunch of spineless wimps. Wouldn't say boo to a goose. They'll give us no trouble at all, so its the safest spot on earth.
QV: How can you be so certain?
LC: I know a few of these Bungawlees myself. There's this chap Bonnerjee who takes shorthand at one of our offices - most subservient goose I ever met. Then there's Bose who practices law. Always gets shouted down by the judge and never says a word. Then there's...
QV: You've made your point, Lord Canning. Cahlcahtaa will be the new capital. I can see us ruling the bloody place for another millenium now.

Conversation 2: circa 1974

Gen. Yahya Khan: OYE! These bloody Bangalees have won! Oh meri maa ki ******. Abhi us Mujib ke bachhe ko dikhata hoon, behen****.
(Mujib answers phone)
Mujib: Hallo. Who eej thees?
YK: Oye, who eej thees ke aulad! Saale, mein tera baap bol raha hoon, madar****. You bloody phool. Just bikaz you er winning leckshun, you think we will allow you bh***********s into Slambad. Teri to...
M: Mishtar General Shaar. Pleej do not shwear like that. I am a bhadralok and I am bhery upshet at hearing shuch languages.
YK: Abbey beti****. Abhi tujhe dikhata hoon. You bloody Bangalees will never be aybull to faarm a gvernmant.
M: Thish ij outrageoush. Bhe bhill oppoj thish infrigement on our bashic democratic rightsh. Bhe bhill phight on the shtreetsh. Cholbe naa, cholbe naa... (cut off)
YK: Dekh loonga, madar****.
Aide: Sir, agar woh bagawat shuru karein to mushkil ho sakta hai.
YK: Oh behen****. Woh kya kar lenge? Bahut behen**** Bangalee dekhein hai maine. Tu meri gaari nikal, Shahi Mohalla jaana hai.

The rest, as they say, is history.

So, my fellow countrymen, remember that however mild-mannered your Bengali colleague may seem, do not provoke him in the presence of the Bonglomeration. Your life is forfeit if you do. Do not try shooting someone in the head, molesting a local damsel, or picking anyone's pocket in a public place in Calcutta. While these things are commonplace - and in fact encouraged - in Delhi, you will be pulverized by the wrath of the Bonglomeration before you completed the task. If you are a law-abiding citizen in the presence of this multi-headed monster, keep your hands to yourself, speak in hushed tones, and avoid all sensitive topics.

And in case I have given you the impression in this post, that Bengali men are as rowdy as their Northern counterparts, perish the thought. This is only an anomalous situation. We are actually a race of well-bred intellectuals interested in art, culture and the finer things of life. Gentlemen who watch cricket and... What's that you say? Dravid is a better captain!?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, REMOVE GANGULY FROM THE TEAM!!! BOKA*****, KH***** CH****, LA****** B***! MAAR SHALA KE! KAALO HAATH BHENGE DAO,


PS - The term Bonglomeration is copyrighted to the Punjabi ex of a friendly Bengali Blogette. Other terms are in the public domain.

On Bengali nicknames - degrading

In this post I will attempt to alert people to a great injustice that is being perpetrated upon the sons of Bengal. So you thought they were wimpy to begin with. Far from it, my friend. Their current state is a result of years of conditioning by the oppressors - namely the women. By using a variety of psychological weapons, they have reduced these fine men to what you see today.

Today we focus on the first weapon in their hands - the nickname.

When a son is born into a Bengali household, he is gifted with a resonant, sonorous name. Bengali names are wonderful things. They convey majesty and power. A man with a name like Prasenjit, Arunabha or Sukanta is a man who will walk with his head held high, knowing that the world expects great deeds from him, which was why they bestowed the title that is his name upon him.

But it simply will not do for these men to get ahead of themselves. Their swelling confidence needs to be shattered. How can one go about it? This task is left to the mothers of these lads and is accomplished by the simple act of referring to the boy, not by his fine-sounding real name, but by a nickname which Shakti Kapoor would be ashamed to answer to. Their are some rules for creating nicknames, which need to be followed. They are -

1) Nicknames must have no connection to the real name. Arunabha cannot be called Arun. No, for that would be logical, and such things are anathema in the world of women. Instead he shall be called Bhombol. If possible, the nickname and real name must have no letters in common, but an ancient alphabet proves to be the constraining factor there.

2) Nicknames must be humiliating. If you are a tall strapping boy, with a flair for soccer, an easy charm and an endearing personality, then you shall be nicknamed - Bhondu. And every time, you have set your sights on a girl, and are on the verge of having the aforementioned lass eat out of your hand - your mother will arrive and pronounce loudly - "Bhondu, chalo". The ensuing sea of giggles will drown out whatever confidence you had earned from that last winning free-kick.

3) A nickname must refer in some way to a suitably embaressing incident in your childhood that you would give your arm and leg to forget. If it took you a little too long to shed your baby fat, then years of gymming will not rid you of the nomenclature - Motka. If your face turned crimson when you cried as a toddler, you will be called Laltu. When you turn 40, your friends' children will call you Laltu Uncle. Even age will not earn you the right to be taken seriously thereafter.

4) Different members of the family will make up different nicknames - each more embaressing than the preceding one. If one member of the family calls you Piklu, then another will call you Mitul, and another will call you Jumbo. The humiliation multiplies.

5) You will always be introduced by your nickname until people forget you had a real name. Ranajoy might have taken on a gang of armed men single-handedly, but Toton really didn't have a chance. After a point Toton will completely take over the beaten body of Ranajoy,
weighed down by the pressure of a thousand taunts.

This strategy is surprisingly effective. Ask yourself - would you take Professor Rintu seriously? Or put much weight by the opinion of Dr. Bubai? Or march into battle under the command of General Thobla?

The power of the nickname has scarred the psyche of Bengali men everywhere. It follows them like a monkey on their backs. That too, a monkey with a flair for slapstick, that was gifted to them by their own mothers.

On Bengali men - wimpy

If you were from another country, you might conclude that the men of Bengal are a sad, frustrated lot. In fact, you'd be right. But give them a break - its not really their fault. I shall explain why in a scientific study.


I recently noted that my male friends - most of them Bengali - have been suffering from what is known as "doormat syndrome". In other words, throughout their lives, they have been trod on by stiletto-clad feet until it hurts (which is pretty soon, if you know your stilettos). The average Bengali guy is therefore a confused chap who, in spite of a towering intellect, cannot figure out why he's missing out on the action that the Singhs, Aroras and Sharmas are making the most of.
On the other hand, the women of Bengal are using the aforementioned stilettos to good effect. Oozing confidence, intelligence and serious attitude - the world is at the feet of these tigresses, just waiting to be trod upon.

Why this strange divide? Why have the sons of Bengal caught a collective cold, while the rest of India keeps its hankies firmly in its pocket? To answer this question, we will have to go back in time.

Reason 1

The area referred to as Bengal (including present-day Bangladesh) has seen much less military action than the other parts of South Asia. Note, for example, that the Bengali caste system does not include a warrior caste.
The reasons are mainly geographical. Bengal contains the riverine plains of the Ganga-Brahmaputra system, and is incredibly green and fertile. Also the multitude of streams divided the land into small self-sufficient communities, each of which could grow pretty much whatever it wanted. These factors combined to turn the Bengalis into a contented bunch who didn't really feel like getting out of bed in the mornings, let alone tramp across the countryside to conquer the next village.
Compare this to the arid North where fertile land was at a premium, and the ruler with the most land to his name was invariably the most powerful. So the Northerners were forever riding into battle in an attempt to boost their landholdings. In fact at the time that the Rajputs were battling the Turks in the Thar, the Bengali men were taking afternoon siestas.

So how does all this ancient history affect Mr. Basu's love life? Well, its like this - in times of war, the relative stature of men, with respect to women in the community, will invariably rise. If the men are forever on horseback fighting for the glory of the land, the women... umm... just hang around. Swordsmanship isn't really a woman's forte. On the other hand, even today, while making the idol of goddess Durga, the first lump of clay is brought from a prostitute's house (one of the FEW things Bhansali got right in that movie he made), showing that Bengali men are only too glad to grant the superiority of women in bed. And considering they spend so much time in it...

Segue to the present and - Reason 2

The primary deity of Bengal is Goddess Durga, the embodiment of Shakti - woman power! Right through their childhood, all little Bengali boys are treated to an annual spectacle of people praying to a violent thousand-armed lady on a lion spearing a male demon with a spear. Then there is Kali, who is quite, quite scary and is portrayed walking all over her husband (a prostrate Shiva) with her blood-red tongue sticking out. And lest we forget, there's Lakshmi and Saraswati as well. Male Gods? What are those? I mean seriously, Kartik was also Durga's child. How come HE doesn't get his own festival?
And this is unique to Bengal. The Ghatis have their Ganpati Bappa, the Northerners have their Shivratri (which gets the award for the ritual most demeaning to women), and there's Dussehra, which coincides with Durga Puja, but where the lead character is the virile blue-skinned Rama, and the only woman involved is his hapless damsel-in-distress, Sita. If you thought that was bad, the Southerners do one better - they show devotion by pouring milk over an idol shaped like Shiva's phallus. No seriously - "Just in case you women didn't get the point that you are completely subservient to us, we shall make you bow to a divine d**k". How sad is that?
So basically, the vagina monologues are limited to Bengal, and everyone else is completely (well?)hung up on male domination.

With imagery like this, the average Bengali boy grows up in the shadow of the Mother Goddess, in awe of women in general and utterly under the thumb of his mother. Every time our little lad has wanted to defy mummy, an image of a lion and a spear flash through his brain, and the thought passes. Is it any wonder he finds himself wanting in the battle of the sexes?

So, history and social conditioning combine to make Bengali men complete and utter wimps. At the same time, the women of Bengal are confident, powerful and very very dangerous. Not even a fair fight. In fact the Bengali women are even competent to take on the testosterone-pumping "Wham bam, Sat sri akal ma'am" brigade of the North. And they thought Turks on horseback were bad!

So Messrs. Mukherjee, Basu, Chatterjee, et al - its not you. Its fate. Tough shit, guys.

A small suggestion, though. Make a beeline for the towns of Haryana and Rajasthan. There you will find women who are still under the misapprehension that they are inferior to menfolk. They have had a different set of ideas drilled into their heads, and are so completely subjugated that even you guys will have no trouble handling them.

A final prayer to Buchuchandi, the wrathful Bengali goddess of South Asian History -

"Maa Buchu, I know have offended thee with my shameless desecration of ancient history. Please find it in thy heart to forgive me my minor shenanigans, and turn thy mighty vengeance to targets within thine own realm of Notoon Inglistan. Om Shantih."

They were all there once

A million toddlers and even a Drama Queen
Some touching forty, others in their teen
The greatest of Bongs and a Sad Old one too
While some Hate Fish, others 've Started to Blue
A Mithun persona who also likes playing games
Others have Inspiration dripping from their names
And as some of them regale in the Ruins of the Day
The rest just stay in Dark or walk the Insanity way

So why send so many emails when you all can post?
To the Calcutta bloggers - I raise a toast!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

When Bloggers Meet

16th October. Blogmeet.

Is meeting bloggers a good idea in the first place? Can the persona of the blogger and the person in real life be reconciled? We like Gaurav Sabnis's blog but do we really like the "Real Gaurav Sabnis" ? You may read Greatbong's weighty musings but would you care for his actual weight?

With such thoughts reverberating within my demented mind, I walked into the apocalyptically titled "T3" ----the waiters having a definitive cyborgian air about them. I had seen JAP before----though it was evident that JAP had left a bigger impression on me than the other way around; he forgot the fact that we had crossed paths before on another continent.

Anyhow, JAP --having seen a few more summers than most of us was seated in the middle holding the entire assemblage together. And me---having occupied a fewmore cubic feet than most of the others, counterbalanced him at the other end.

On my left was seated a rising star of theatre. And some bloggers---still in high school. Acutely conscious of my own age (I was reminded of a question thrown at me by a number of "juniors" at Stonybrook: " You actually saw Sunil Gavaskar bat?")

I looked to my right and there were first and second year "tanayas" (ladies) from JU and Presi. I wistfully thought of the days I had spent in AC Canteen jharofying their didis many moons ago. Needless to say, I do this any longer (Freudian slip)---- with age and maturity, I have become more respectable.

The conversation flowed freely---cha and coffee were ordered. After which a bizarre incident took place. The cyborgian waiter suddenly said: "No more coffee" in a definitely Gandhian non-cooperative way. Fortunately, JAP had booked a table at Flury's across the street and we trooped out. As we did, I glanced back at the waiter in order to confirm a suspicion I had been harboring for some time based on what I had read in "the Historian". Imagine my sense of vindication when his white cap moved a little and I saw what I had been expecting to see----a hidden ponytail. No wonder, he was being rude. He had been possessed by the evil Chicken spirit and thus had as much regard for bloggers as Dracula has for garlic.

T3's loss was Flury's gain. Kind of. Conversations carried on along the normal lines of murderous school principals, Moonmoon Sen's non-mainstream celluloid achievements, mass copying, short tops and "golabondho" jeans, Bhappi Da's moojik, getting under the table and call girls (which suddenly elicited an enthusiastic response from someone---that individual not being named for fear of causing slander and of consequently getting a notarized email). Samit Basu, the great Duck, blessed the gathering remotely. IIPM was *not* discussed---except a passing word or two.

JAP took pictures of all of us --on the condition that individuals are not identified. Hah..."fat" chance of anyone being able to map me in those pictures !

In all, an extremely pleasant afternoon spent with like-minded people. And yes it does make sense to get to know the people behind the silly monikers----if only to see how sillier they are in real life. Here's looking forward to the next one.

On Sunday, I set out to T3: The Tea Table. A blogmeet was supposed to be held there. My Dad offered me a lift because he was going that way. So, at four twenty-five, I found myself on the corner of Park Street and Free-School Street. I had never been to T3, so I decided that I would have to look for the place. So I looked around ... and saw a familiar face. Trina was sitting and looking out of the window. I looked up and saw the signboard. It said T3. I walked towards the entrance ... and saw another familiar face. Teleute was standing there looking very confused. Obviously, she did not know Trina. She saw me, and we engaged in small-talk. Just then, another confused face popped up. His name was Krishanu. He was wondering whether we knew of a blogmeet. The door opened, and Trina came out. After the brief introductions, we went inside and met another blogger called Sphinx.

Soon, other bloggers started showing up. The venerable JAP, the insane UI, Jaded, Srin, Rimi, Babelfish... the numbers grew. Soon, we were making lots of noise. Much coffee was consumed before the management gracefully informed us that they were out of coffee. More likely, they found us too noisy.

A general exodus was made in the direction of the main Flury's. The people inside stared as a lot of people walked in, and stared harder when we made lots of noise even before being seated. Food was ordered, from Chicken-Cheese sandwich to Coffee with Ice-Cream to Chocolate Pastry.

Photographic evidence was also acquired. JAP took a few pictures, the best of which has to be the one of UI and myself engaged in semi-mortal combat over Coffee with Ice-Cream.

Slowly, some of our number began to disperse. At about seven fifteen (not sure), we left Flury's. We split up, but not before posing for a photograph in which all of us cross the road together.

Then, we went our separate ways. And that was the end of the blogger-meet.


Well, so the second Cal bloggers' meet happened and was a great success.

Cal bloggers of sundry ages from 14 to 137 (guess who?) carried on conversation, ribaldry and mayhem with great gusto. All was very 'kewl' as a certain Kaku would say.

Some people were missed.

The Ducky, especially. There are moments when one runs out of witticisms and looks for some effortless humour of the duck kind.

And the duck does this sort of lit party/blogmeet summing-up thing much better than anyone else, so would not have attempted this if the basu had been present to record and comedify ( as opposed to 'commodify' - which, our favourite professor of drama in JU once told me [to my great amusement] should mean, according to the rules of the English language, 'make into a commode'. I had used that word in a tutorial and he was much peeved/ amused. "The right word, which no one uses, is 'commoditize'", said he. Have never managed to use that word so far. Will, as soon as I can.)

I digress.

The Bridalbeer and Sagnik of 'no url left' were remembered with much affection. Hope we can all meet and be merry together at some point.

There was a lot of laughter and randomness. Ice cream spoons were dropped and thrown around on brand new kurtas and hair, the scene shifted from T3 to Flury's in Japdas able organisational hands.

The gorment was lauded, feared and deeply revered.

I met two old acquaintances, and having had no idea they were bloggers, was much pleased. Heard that most of JU english dep is now blogging.Which is good. And before the whole JU/Presi debate starts again, lemme clarify that I have no particular feelings of patriotism for any of my alma maters. And that includes Oxford. Im just not that kind of person, whattodo.

The best and most salacious bits of the conversation, mostly courtesy the Greatbong, cant be put down here cos they involved famous ponytailed and non-ponytailed celebrities, old school rectors, actresses who are JU alumni [no, not me, before you ask], alleged 'quizmasters'/ 'theatre personalities' with the initials P.M and more such. And whoever said Cal and ex-Cal types would ever run out of gossip?

Snippets of random conversation I remember.


Japda (in the most melancholy voice): Was at the Durgabari this time, and felt some one hundred and thirty years old...

[Pause in conversation when no one says anything and every one tries to look sympathetic.]

Laura: And you're not?

Japda (looking hurt): ...

Laura(smiling sweetly): Good to know.


Japda smoking pipe.

Sweet young thing: You should put substance in that pipe.

Japda (smiling enigmatically): Uh-huh. No. I dont do that anymore. Substance was a long time ago. The last time I did substance was ... was... was...was... was...

[The longest pause while he pokes pipe with keychain . Vajpayee would have been ashamed.]

Laura ( very helpful and ever ready to complete other people's sentences): Woodstock?



Greatbong: So is this like a post-bijoya shubeccha meet?

Rimi (I think): E ki tahole gurujonder pronaam kora hobe na?

Japda (petulant): Keu korche na to!

We are all happily stationed at a Flury's table by now, pre-booked by Japda.

Laura: Ei to, we shall all be crawling under the table to do just that right now.

Arnab: Ei, ei, have you seen Boom? Maane this is too much like Boom

Laura: Jani.

Japda (deeply embarrassed to the bottom of his bhadrolok soul but trying valiantly to cover up) : Was trying very hard to be decent, but if you are going to say all this...

Let's not finish that one.


Greatbong and Japda bonding over Mithun.

Greatbong: And do you remember that? 'No warning, no arrest, only bhog of ma'

Rest of us: What? What?

GB: Crowd screaming in the background 'Mayer bhog, mayer bhog.'

There was much else. Am sure the others will put in there bits. Kanti's schoolname is hilarious, but I kind of like the chap, so wont put it here ... though I think I laughed the longest time on that one. Lemme just say the word starts with 'P' and rhymes with his name. There. Will stop at that.


um guys.... how bout jazzing the template of this blog a bit eh?

Monday, October 24, 2005

there have been rumours of an *upcoming* blog meet.
most likely sometime around the third saturday of November(19th)
So people keep your schedules free.
Naa aashle KELIYE DEBO !!!

Friday, October 21, 2005

dear all,

this is the blog we were speaking about (well, sagnik and trina, at any rate. i think...) so, since young (even by my standards, heh) unjustified insanity has put up a post already, i thought we might as well get some work done here.

since the blogmeet was where it all started, it'd be a good idea to post all your relevant posts here. trina? arnab? JAP? would you please please please do it?

(oh, damn! and blast. i didn't invite arnab. sheesh! me!)

right, then, JAP says, and i completely agree, that pujo posts everywhere is a brilliant idea. so, everybody who wrote anything about the pujos, please put it up here.

also, this isn't attempted racism (it's better to play safe, you never know) but will members please scout blogs and their own archives for their cal and bengali related posts? (g9's post on bongs spring immediately to mind...)

so, posts up ASAP, what?

and any changes to the blog name/template/settings? (i'm not over-fond of the name, so please suggest changes if you want to)

Hi all

ahh now that we've finally got it created.
Tell me, what exactly are we planning on doing with this blog?