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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Zindagi Gulzar Hain



Television...one of those apparatus...you browse through the numbers in the remote and most of the times i end up switching off the device in frustration... Yeah not much of a news person and not a sports freak either (i guess lots of women might get included in the bracket). I end up with a random episode of ' Friends' which most of the times was an episode i had watched earlier but still evoked some laughter and humour at any aspect which wasn't noticed earlier...and browse through the    odd music channel to catch up with videos and songs of  ' my time' kind and food recipes with my domestic help while we had our lunch....I guess my TV addiction is limited and so are my options. Comedy Central kept me occupied for days but being unable to catch something gripping...quit that as we'll. So it was about Zindagi TV I read in the entertainment section of the daily newspaper and the rave reviews...so gave it a try. Well I hardly watch soaps and not at all the kind shown last ten years...the bitching women with gaudy make up and most of the times they end up doing nothing save keeping their spouse contented....

Anyway...randomly I caught an episode of  Zindagi Gulzar Hain...and caught it up another day or two. Being the cynical person I am .....tried to cast it aside as another love story between a rich spoilt guy and a  middle class girl. The woman protagonist....so arrogant, so rigid...her head covered all the time....nothing felt right and the typical rich boy with his pretty girlfriend. Well like falling in love I never knew when the show took me all over. Initially I marvelled at myself  for still being young at heart...and enjoying a love story still...not only enjoying actually waiting with bated breath...for the two to get together!! I remembered my school days where I,d wait for Fauji...and another romantic soap called Farman...if anybody remembers!! Within a few episodes I was that school girl again waiting for Zaroon and Kashaf to fall for each other!!!!! And i have to admit Fawad Khan...Zaroon as I,d like to remember him always...slowly cast a spell on me with his eyes and intensity...and it may sound obvious but for a cynical like me...well...like exploring an unknown part of me. Well well all these from someone who was reaching  thirty six is a way bit too much...but who,s complaining!!

Yeah it began with Zaroon craze...but then it was the show in all, from the saplings of a sweet romantic love story, somehow it was not repetitive not at all boring, a surprise breath of fresh air with a more surprising realistic element...Kashaf  just could be anyone of us...middle class, cynical after the kind of life she has endured with her mother. A real inspiration was the well etched out character of her mother...and the little tit bits she has about life...though may sound typical...but it grows on the viewer and these little tit bits in a way holds her daughter,s life together. Things as simple and mundane as cooking for her husband...dismissed by her cynical daughter...but these trivial things bring the subtle changes in their lives. Normal discussions between mother and daughter if mother in law can ever replace mother which I believe most women can relate to...and the twist lies in her mothers simple gyan which strikes a chord instantly. Without being a spiritual guru or healer how simply she guides her daughter through the hardships somehow casts a deep impression on the viewer...just the right balance between respect for others and self respect. Sibling relation between the struggling sisters...love and bitterness and more love...and on the other end of spectrum sibling relation between the ' have it all' brother and sister struggling with their own hell in contrast...

There was this sweet intense love story which tickled the young girl in many of us waiting with bated breath to see the two loving fighting and coming together. Only eyes and expressions could create an impact many ' bold' scenes would fail. And yes Zaroon... for somedays I felt can,t take my eyes off him! Hopefully it mustn't,t be his looks rather the intensity he plays his role with!! When the hangover of  the love story begins to fade there is this realistic story with wonderfully etched out characters filling our hearts and ending the lull in Indian television. The sensitive , brilliant portrayal of women  by the writer and director all of whom are women...well just hats off to them. Years after there,s something in television for which we actually wait, which plays with our imagination and make us ponder..   All that from a show across the border....how little we know our neighbours where such sensitive shows can be conceived and telecasted. My friend was telling me she could not remember any soap she had liked or watched after ' Saas' save this one....

The sweetness of the language is also another pleasing factor and so is the realistic make up. Well I believe the writer and director could pluck just the right strings where it just spelt music....music to the heart...music unheard...music buried in some corner of the heart.




Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Yours... for ever

Hi

I didn,t think we will meet again...well i did...but in dreams !! Well, well no idea what you would be thinking about me but you know i had worried about that all through my school and college days and at least today i deserve to... you know open out...

Swati, i think you know or at least have known that i had a serious serious crush on you!! How i wish to see a smile on your lips as you read this. (Today i am going to take all the liberties and continue albeit shamelessly.) Our school i know you remember as well as i do , somehow studious students were a separate brand altogether and well left out and avoided by all!! I think we both were in the same category in different classes plus if you look thin and short like me and healthy and hearty like you ( you would not want to kill me for that would you!!) we should not even exist. But we did  you and me and so many like us... I don,t know exactly when i knew i had this thing for you or those boys made me think that..but i was happy with it. Like me you were not a wanted species with the opposite sex, i always saw you with what were their names...can,t recall really, either scribbling in class, or giggling among yourselves during lunch..three of you were hugely shy, awkward and under confident.Was i better off, not really but being a boy had its own advantages at least in those days.

You had and still have beautiful expressive eyes ( some boys knew about it)..and i think someone pointed that to me and from some day i began stealing glances . I know you never knew of that, you were in another world with those two girls i began to hate who would not let you alone though i had no idea what i would do alone.I continued like this for one year and then just after my school finals i had this fatal attack of typhoid , it was dreadful , guess i was you know about to die...lots of doctors, sadhus.. finally i was able to be on my own and you know i was in the same class as you!! We were in a bigger school then and you hardly knew me. I wondered so many times if you ever knew what happened to me and if you would ever come to see me...but i suppose the truth was you barely knew i existed. In the bigger school you looked a bit different, the awkwardness gone a bit and yes i have to say you looked beautiful...this time i made my presence felt to you in the pretext of lending some book through another guy of our class.( I simply told, tell her to come and take the book from me..boldest thing i ever did) After that i knew you were aware of me, i caught you staring at me...and you know you made me absolutely speechless and i think i stopped dead in the stairs one day...before you removed your eyes!! Do you remember Swati... I was certain of the look you gave me, gave me goosebumps but you know that tough exterior of yours...made me go numb. Swati i could not come near you...ahhh mobile, facebook, email...nothing was there in those days. When we had appeared for our exams, i knew i had very little time, i would lose you forever. And i did. I could not come to you.

I got admission in a good engineering college..though  i thought about you for many days but i guess i had also grown up to be a charming man  still short and thin but there were girls i,d go out with and in some day i didn,t realise i had actually stopped thinking about you. I had two very solid affairs and got married to my second girl friend. Somehow i never heard anything about you from anyone...upto a certain time when i visited our home town my eyes would look around frantically...if..if..i can see you. I knew you were studying in the same town, i,d visit our school sometimes...but you were not there. I,d turn the pages of my diary to find some verses where i could smell you or may be i can breathe in my first love..or let us say first crush. I also had this scene written down where we would meet in the future and i would the savour the emotions pouring from your eyes...i lost the diary finally as i lost you and began to live my life.

I came to the hospital for routine check up, as is my habit stuck up conversation with your grand daughter....don,t get surprised..our hometown ,our school finally i asked her your name.I never knew Swati this was how we will meet. I followed her to your bed..you didn,t recognize...infact you never recognized me Swati in school college never. 

Is she dying

Your granddaughter gave me a stern look

She will fight back

Before i left, i asked her if you had any email id and after i got hold of your address...here i am.
Swati you will open this mail won,t you...these are magic... mail and facebook and whatsapp had all those been there in our days...i,d have...i could have dared. You don,t believe me do you.. Swati was it real... the way you looked at me..or your eyes were pretty..did you stare at me so intensely that i stopped right in the middle of the class...finally i,d get a reply. 

P.S Don't worry i am a very happy well settled man with two pairs of grand children and one lovely nagging wife.

Waiting for your reply

Yours... at least for a few years was all yours...
Sujan


X Factor

All are special, unique...only some are. Only few have the X factor which sets them apart. For the rest of us we get eclipsed by the X factor of the select few and wonder most of the times why not me!!

Since childhood my mom would point out, ' Sara is so pretty' And i somehow got the message i was not...  ' Sara runs so fast... why can,t you'

Father being more subtle, would sigh at the progress card ' Next year you will top, don,t worry' And i grew up wondering what Sara had and i didn,t . The entire class flocked after her, boys and girls, teachers and parents. The X factor surely...

I gradually moved out of her shadow and was in the process of discovering me sans without any X factor. But life had plenty of Saras to offer and always I found an average tag following me and the brilliant one eluding me. Academics, career, looks, boy friends i fared okay with a great deal of struggle as i watched others fare spectacularly and of course some fail miserably.

Not that Sara had been a great success if i introspect her life now but she has done well for her...settled and independent. Or is it my habit to sulk, no i haven,t sulked all my life just i missed the X factor ,the oomph....

Though i,ve always told myself ' You are different!!'   I know i love myself  but like having a hundred likes after you upload a pic and comments overflowing after you add a post to your blog and being invited to every party which matters, having many men vying for my attention...

Yes i have out grown these a long time back or so i would like to believe. Yet i wonder people with the X factor... the blessed ones... or are they...

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Wo(man) Friday

How leisurely and long and taxing can a holiday be..of course this holiday isn,t the normal kind..here the husband leaves for work and the wife doesn,t..stays at home with a two and half year old and misses her ' man friday' ( the name given by one of my friends) terribly... her dearest ' Archana di' ..the best gift from mother-in-law ever.. :P. The broad minded me decided to give my ' Archanadi ' a break and have a taste of ' reality'.. reality bites..Be with the fussy eater toddler full 24*7 to the point of getting all wrecked up and the sound of ' maaa' doesn,t delight as much as it used to when I would come home from office for lunch and the enlightened smile followed by the sweetness of ' maaa'..Here the babble and bratism continues non stop to the extent I long to flee to work.

How contradictory can life be..how it can bring two persons totally unrelated  from different strata of society share a same house a same room and yes I hated it sometimes ,the same bed. I remember Archanadi,s entry into our lives.. I have heard of her months before she came with us to Delhi from my mother in  law.. her ardent desire to send Archanadi with us to look after the newly born Ninni..I have also heard myriad tales about her laziness , mood swings but mother in law would always justify ' You see, she is abanoned by her husband.. no kids.. you have to giver her that.' By that time I have learnt to nod in affirmative to all my mother in law,s sentences because of the huge fiascos I have created by virtue of my loud mouth ( my husband calls it lack of sensitivity though)..and this reminds me how much mad I may get at my mother in law sometimes..I have to giver her that..she has a witty sense of humour when she is not worried about her son, husband,daughter,son in law ,grand daughters ..and a sense of pragmatism which eludes women like my mother.. she also commented
' Archana would be a show piece..workwise zero but nice to have type'. After laughing it off appreciating her witty one liners..I had to wonder what would I do with a show piece struggling at that time frantically with job and baby...

The initial days..when she came with us to Delhi..grumbling complaining in Rajdhani Express while me and husband tried to put a rein to our growing irritations exchanging glances which inavariantly meant " Look at her.. full AC and three time meals..full rest..has she ever seen so comfort in her life"..yet she kept mumbling "What is this.. just sitting idle... can,t sit for so long..so tiresome.. " I tried to be at my humble best  with a curt  " Take rest..enjoy the AC" .Then on a calmer frame of mind..I remembered her village, we went once to meet her parents before we brought her with us ( it sounds like asking for her hands.. guess it was exactly that) the green tea gardens, lifeline of my state..so called muddy dusty roads then a small village endowed with lush green assets and their small house they call  ' home'. Her siblings awaiting our arrival, her younger sister hardly ten has painted her lips red, her grandma completely overboard with enthusiasm..her brother fanning  with handfan.. yes Benjamin Franklin and Edison have not yet made it into her village.. so may be the fully AC train could not be as striking for her as it was for us.. us who knew the joys and tortures of travelling in Indian Railways sleeper class..us who knew of the ordeal to hold on to the reserved seats..while a host of passsengers pushing their way for  a place to sit.. For her the world ended at Silchar the nearest town from her village and a bus or a shared Tata sumo did it for her...so the grumblings may be.

With all grumblings she settled down with us..began to take care of Ninni..yes she would not clean potty and try to look in a different way when I rushed about with potty washing cleaning..Me and my husband began fighting in English so as to escape her horizon of comprehension..(In the process we became very fluent and articulate in spoken English while trying to lend meaning to each trivial non trivial issues..:D) Yes I continued to get irritated at her because of her impeccable lackadaisical attitude, gulping two or more bengali films a day and at her being a real showpiece compared to my efficient part time maid.
Archanadi went to Allahabad with me when I had to go for a four months course and I fumed red and green as she used to sleep till 9 in morning as I rushed for class and would find her taking cozy afternoon siesta with Ninni as I came back from class....sigh!!But then in a few days she picked up who,s manager who,s junior executive who,s ATC..and yes these were the things I had began to share..sleeping in the same bed in hostel room with Ninni between us..and doze off or get immersed in reading when it was her turn  to whine..husband..brutal..violent..her village..her parents.. Our next venture was my training in Kolkata for another couple of months.. I struggled for a place to stay with Ninni and Archanadi and we shifted from one to another make shift arrangements. By that time Archanadi has picked up some hindi words from Delhi and Allahabad but the acid test  was to express herself in the  raw east bengali dialect incomprehendable to the prim and proper Kolkata bangla.But then Kolkata gave her enough paan and betel nut to chew for which she longed  in Delhi and though Allahabad solved the problem to some extent..nothing like Kolkata where it was so close to home..

Then finally I shifted my base to Barapani for a year..thanks to my job..and there she was now convergent in little hindi linguistically, little chinese little south Indian cooking while retaining her typical cooking style she imbibed from my mother in law and to it some days her village dishes which I began to love..A lot of me has gone into her..she makes good pastas with mayonnaise, sometimes we watch the same soaps..sometimes she plays games in Ninni's laptop. Sometimes she wil tell me ' You have to take a decision' or ' control' my cravings for spicy food and my mother if present will raise eyes as far as she can... " Look at her language.." I try to supress smile.She has learnt to reply in Bengali to my Malayali colleague,s broken english, communicate Bengali recipes to the Malayali with broken Hindi and may be who knows lots of her have gone into me..I try to watch her watering her plants outside my quarter her little potato onion and garlic plants, sometimes listen to her how jaggery is made out of sugarcane..how a cow gives birth  how much milk a cow can render in a day ,whether there is enough for her babies or we human being snatch it all.. and she goes on..' have you ever tasted pakodas with onion flower' as I stare blank and she smiles I know I would taste something new from her kitchen.
Though my pragmatic husband and mother in law warned me repeatedly not to grant her leave..what if she does not come back..finds her husband..it isn,t that I am not scared as I and my daughter wait for her return..may be in an effort to feel great and magnamious I granted her leave myself (as my husband always points out I love to have the feeling that I am ' great' sort) or may be I trust her..I know she would come back. I know of several stories of maids ditching..will she...I dont know..and if she goes back to her husband...I know my whole life will fall apart.. job ..Ninni..posting in that terrible place..and all the accusations.." you did this..indulged her..(in Bengali  placed her above your head)..now bear it" I can hear my husband in anticipation.

But she would come back..raise my daughter as her own for a meagre sum of money, nod her appreciation at a  new outfit I try..cook up delicaies for my parents and colleagues..yet be happy..in my world taking or mistaking it to be her own..chewing her betel nut..or would she remember her own world in her village..parents siblings relatives..her 'real' world which does not pay.
Huh life is tough.. tough and complex.

P.S. She had been staying with me for last five years and our love hate relation continues..

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Variety

Just wonder about relationships..where do we begin from and what do we end up with . Pointless wondering yes but..we all do pointless things in one stage of our life, some do it often , some more often.. some are just plain unlucky.

We are born with parents.. parents whom we can,t choose, parents whom we can,t change. Father.. doting, strict, protective, mean and mother loving, caring, friendly, nagging, bragging..types are many. Guess these two characters influence most. And these two people we love, they are the first to rebel against, first to accuse for our failures and they are many ' firsts' we fail to count. Siblings take over next sharing caring jealousy envy fighting for attention , discipline the younger, copy the elder. While my father has been and still is the one I have always looked upon in all phases of life from sharing any odd joke to comment on any book we read, I ponder over the relation I share with my mother..factious, complicated..arguing invariably, fighting incessantly, discussing at length the colours and prices of the outfits we buy, disagreeing vehemently on the same issues over and over again, swearing not to set our eyes on each other after each fight. And my reticent sibling who and I never agreed upon any single thing, for him I was always arrogant know- it -all ,academically better much-elder sis ..and for me doesn,t - know-anything , spoiled -massively -by -mother lil' brother. We had hit each  other, manhandled each other and grew apart gradually with time except for occasional phone calls.

I grew up in a joint family before I knew who was I , I was surrounded by uncle, aunt ,grandpa and a host of other relatives. My neighbours..I always called them aunts and uncles.. the youngest one was four years elder to me. In absence of  a sibling in my early days I just adored the three brothers and sisters, eldest one macho and hero, next one pretty and feminine, the youngest one my ideal and my guru and I followed her like a shadow. The games we played.. teacher student, train train, family family, Durga Puja games where we ended up making mud cakes as Bijoya Dashami delicacies, and those doll house games and the big brother after entry would play havoc with the dolls in a minute!! But the big brother rather the big uncle was the ticket to my love for old hindi film songs, those old unheard off songs..and the beginning of idolising Amitabh Bacchan just imitating him!! At home my real aunt replaced my neighbour as the next avatar.. independence finacial and personal for a woman was intriguing and I guess that was the inspiration when I set my feet outside my home in search for a job. And of course my uncle who reads my blogs, is active in FB ,who would spend hours with me filling me up with historical mythological political  fables and my first insight into real world. He bought me the first map and taught me to browse the Atlas.. was the first one to fly with me to Delhi when I needed immediate operation.

And in my old home, nobody could miss her presence.. as if the house and her soul were entwined, she filled up the house ,was a towering personality among her peers and juniors.. and how she continues to live after her death..my grandmother. I remember her in white saree ( after grandpa,s death) , two pairs of glasses, the reading glass and ' Ananda Bazar Patrika', the command in her personality, the warmth in her heart, the magic in her food.. I have always felt few persons can live after their death.. she being one of them, her strong presence felt long after her death.

School , entry into social life.. friends, peers..pressure.. Before we know friends decide our clothes , food, they take precedence over everything else unless first crush hits. When crush hits all fades into oblivion..crushes , heart breaks, some hand at writing verses..phew school days roll over to college classes. First try at fashion, beginning of parties though in my time and in my case fashion was just trying another set of salwar kameez with dupatta, and parties meant getting together at someone,s place and cook together and eat!! Drab idea  of party but in our times that was fun.

Then the struggle phase after university days..and close friends drift apart..competition, struggle in the job market, smooth lovely fun days are over and the time to confront the world friendless alone.. Work place gives a new class of ' friends' , with money to splurge and options galore life seems great. But then work place ' friends' never turn out to be the innocent childhood friends of school and college though exceptions are there but they just prove the rule.

Romance, affairs and ultimately taking the plunge. Life gets a new epicentre to move about and the vision narrower, with an infant popping into the scene life is just me and myself.  Centre stage is home.. funny while youth and teens yearns for the entire world as the arena..conjugal life constricts it within the four walls... the toddler fills up life, gives it a new dimension. Life moves on juggling work family..maid plays a central role in life, and by that time one knows to handle the unique eccentricities of the relationship with mother in law.. the most demanding of all the relationships till date..every move you make and every breath you take..counts..
And soon toddler grows upto a child and child to an individual and parents keep getting redundant to them.

Phew.. relations are many with varying demands and most change with time...like we ourselves do..  Like the golden days of childhood cannot be relived only watched through the hazy veil of present, wonder years never come back and the grey days of  mid life overlooked , unaccepted take over...with aches, ailments, some amount of financial affluence, some recognition, some sense and some memories cherished and nursed in some corner of the heart.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Uploads

She rechecked her facebook status. Likes were pouring in, not bad but she wouldn,t mind more, the new hair cut , the massage in the parlour, her face glowed in the photograph. Yes the weight showed, how much she hated it, though camouflaged by the floral print of her dress yet she could notice the bulge in her tummy, her chubby cheeks, fleshy arms. Damn....could i be ever like them, she tapped her smartphone checking profiles of her colleagues, their photographs. Won,t they ever get fat...

They looked gorgeous, she stared with envy while dissecting each minute details of their outfit, accessories and then thoroughly studying her own. I am myself  the usual line she repeated as always keeping her smartphone away. She tossed with the entertainment section of the newspaper... how to lose weight, how to carry off short dresses.... can the entire world lose weight...she pushed away the newspaper in exasperation and grabbed the more evil of the two..her smart phone.

She was going through the same cycle, whats app, facebook and anxiously checking the number of likes in the album she has uploaded. Likes do not matter...isn,t it silly... then why is it necessary to check and recheck... it isn,t absolutely  still she was doing it frantically. Was it like her uploading pictures and hankering for likes and comments... wasn,t she different...

Well... it has been long since she has last read a book though she prided herself on being a voracious reader...though she has family and kids and a job still she could find enough time for her passion until... this small device invaded her life. Yes laptop and internet took a significant amount of her time yet she was ' herself'. Since this little bomb of a device which can dance between her fingers, take excellent selfies and pictures which can be uploaded within minutes ,had taken over her life all she did was press with her thumb and forget books she hardly could move to the second page of the newspaper.

Wow looking great... She jerked upright at the notification of new comment in her little device, her face breaking into a big smile looking at the number of likes.

Time to upload a new profile pic!!!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Train to happiness...


Rail...romance and the beckons of a new land..is what i associated with train since i was a kid. And it is mandatory to remember my neighbour cum guru in my young days Tutu Pishi... as she initiated me to all the games we played... and after she had this trip of South India with her parents our new game was train train as she was super excited about her first long distance train journey!! Invariably the mind would conjure up the long lost image of a tiny sitting room with a sofa with blue cover, orange embroidered flowers and a large window... my old home... and the green branches swaying mildly and the big green hill..yes hill was intact and the buildings did not block vision then. For those who can,t imagine my 'old' Guwahati home was and still is at the footstep of the lovely hill..only not so visible and not so green any more but still when the yellow flowers bloom and the new leaves shine...it feels almost the same. Anyway when we began ' train train' the big window with iron rods and the green outside..and the two seater sofa..the feeling was very close to real.I was not new to train either most likely i had undertaken this dream journey to Delhi and Jammu from Guwahati..so this continued to be our favourite game for a while..so much we started a doll game with trains... Tutu Pishi and her creative mind made well suited bunks where the dolls lied down..she had a couple of dolls and my single one which she explained was the saali( sis in law)!!! So far so good.. only just about when the train was supposed to move her goon of a brother would break into the home..and in a moment...our dreams would be shattered by the ensuing Sunami!! ( Well both of them are respectable persons in society and might just be reading this )

The first journey i remember with senses intact was by Awadh Assam express..which completes the journey from Guwahati to Delhi (approx 1900 kms) in a time not less than 52 hours officially and the delay infinite not to be mentioned.We were three women... me my aunt and her friend and we were supposed to get down at Jhansi and then travel to Shivpuri at my uncle,s place. It was a ladies coup in sleeper class ( we hardly knew of AC coaches then) another girl studying in Bhopal engineering college was there in the coup..and the compartment we were in shunted all night in Gorakhpur as Awadh Assam left her to be picked up by some Mumbai bound train in the morning!! I remember being pricked by Gorakhpur platform mosquitoes all night.. as we tried to sleep tight. Then next short distance trips like Guwahati/Kokrajhar ( which i don,t consider), but Guwahati/Kolkata in Kamrup Express and the winner Guwahati/Delhi in North East Express or Brahmaputra mail were indeed thrilling and much awaited. I don,t know why boiled eggs with pepper and salt, slit into two were so much mouth watering and a must have in train and then slit cucumbers with red chilly powder and salt, fried kala chanas with onion..as the train pushes its way through the greens of Assam... Nalbari, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar.. Sreeampore to Bengal..the changed topography, pattern of wrapping saree.. Alipurduar Cooch Behar and in comes the 'mishtis' in earthen pots..Nabadwiper Mishti... Of course the ' Emergency Lights, Camera, Torch Chinese Balm, raincoat, umbrella vendors' in North Bengal kept us so busy and the 'Banglar Saree' wallahs were also tried many times!!

Guwahati/Delhi journeys..after Assam, Bengal.. in and around Kishanganj it is Bihar and the bengali script gives way to Devnagari. Bihar somehow always made me in sync with ' Aranyak' of Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay his extensive travelogue scanning Bhagalpur and Moonger..through the windows of train. Last state to be passed was UP...but i guess the filth of the compartment and the stenched or water logged wash rooms by then and the overcrowded compartment had its day and the romance has taken a back stage. But the yearning for the capital was too much to be subdued by these and i remember the Brahmaputra mail crossing the Yamuna in the early hours of morning and the beautiful red fort as it entered  old Delhi Railway Station..whenever it entered at the right time of course.


Like all Bengalis i also traveled a lot with my family specially in the Durga Puja holidays, where most Bengalis crowded every possible tourist place and hence was into many train journeys. Our Chennai trip via Coromandel Express or to Mumbai via Howrah Mumbai mail or to Goa via Konkan Railways and it continued to fascinate me romantically as well though no ' Jab We Met' ever happened...there was always this anticipation as you scrolled through the reservation charts..may be this time!!

Soon the mode was changing with introduction of the suave all AC Rajdhani and the supposedly hygienic food...and with it the disappointment of closed windows and missing vendors..but gradually open windows were a big no no for hair and unhygienic food a big no no for the digestive system and the low cost airlines served a value for time and money deal.. and Indian Railways was not the dream machine it used to be rather overcrowded platforms and trains were a big turn off.  But as it is trains continued to be a part of my life as i have to travel home or job wise as well...the romance faded, destinations known most of the times.. dreams gone, the mystery solved, aura nowhere. 

The twist in the story..this holiday as we returned from Ahmedabad husband surprised me as we moved to the end of the train searching for coach and i screamed from behind what is the coach number as we crossed the pantry car to the only remaining compartment. Well here was my first journey in AC 1st class, mundane it may sound got totally overwhelmed by the luxury, imagining a well dressed man laying tables and serving food, comfortable clean washrooms...choice of sweet corn or hot and sour soup, hot rice and rots served in casserole for dinner and being asked for more is a luxury unimaginable for me....well may be someday the Palace on Wheels...dreams still being weaved around Indian Rail...a whiff of lost love in the air and distant dreams...




Long back there was this soap in Doordarshan ' Intezaar' (when TV was about middle class and not eerie saas bahus) somehow related to Indian Railways...and the title song had the lines...

zindagi ke rail mein har koi sawar hain
apni apni manzilon ka sabko intezar hain


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Savi

Savi...the name....a bell rang very far off...did i recall... Ma was smiling at me.. See do you know her..Savitri our Savi... Did i...a shy dark strongly built woman flashing her white pearls at me, an infant rubbing his face on her chest and a toddler tugging at her saree.

They all look the same basically, all the domestic helps ma appoints and disappoints..she should be another of them, hard to know them really, but Savi...was she the one who tagged along as her mom used to work and later tagged along with me...dark, a bunch of unkempt unoiled hair and those mystified eyes...well i was looking into same old Savi , my companion my Guru on those days, well the days which i have the earliest memories of.

A small house extended at various parts without bothering about geometry but a house with a backyard and yes... a pond and wherein me and Savi embarked on our journey of  childhood. How aptly she would climb trees and ridiculed me as i struggled with my steps...finally when i would manage she would jump off from the branch with squeals of laughter. She would dive into the pond when the whole house was in siesta...she was not allowed with all the dirt oozing out of her shabby clothes. I remember her having her meals quietly with her mother on the floor outside the kitchen as we finished ours in the dining table.

Did i ever feel there was some sort of  lack of parity , i didn,t i guess..i enjoyed looking at her mystified eyes as i was whisked into the car for school and after school would happily join her in running around the house or any silly game she invented. At her insistence would take out extra bit of chocolate bar, or some cookies or pickles and watch her as she licked all bit by bit. But then my world was widening... school ,friends and running after the sturdy unkempt Savi was falling way behind in my list of priorities. During one of those holidays and one of the regular puja performed  in our house...lots of cousins around and i was busy playing with them the entire day, Ma grandma loaded us with goodies from puja in between and i never remember taking note of Savi staring from some corner. It was dusk... we were winding up our evening games, i went to kitchen for some water...and i felt like a gust of wind Savi storm out of the kitchen with rustle of her frock.

Savi

I yelled and ran after her some sixth sense striking me, catching her up by her frock.

What are you hiding

Tried to pull open her clenched fists as tears brimmed her eyes.

Let me see

Some sweets of puja offerings crumpled in her fists, her cheeks flooded with tears as she ripped her hand apart from my grip.

Chor ( Thief)... the scream came automatically...i still didn,t understand why i had to do it...

Cousins gathered around me for the fun... as Savi ran for her life before staring at me horrified for a couple of moments.

Guess that was the last of Savi i have seen.

At least till today.

Dadababu how are you

Savi was smiling

Something twisted inside my throat as i cleared it to speak... i could not frame words and put up a smile...twenty years almost i guess would Sorry make a sense.. can i get myself to do it...

I am good Savi

I smiled back.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Road Story... Barapani Diary

Udate pairo ke tale jab bahatee hain jameen
Mud ke humane koi manjil dekhi hi nahi
Raat din raahon pe hum shaam-o-sahar karate hai
-Gulzar




The road never ceases to fascinate.. as the vehicle turns left and the first view of lake hits the eye ..half obscured by hills and the eye just begins to yearn for more of the luscious beauty..the road beckons..to all ..all wanderers.. all travellers..And it is time to move on ..may be quoting Robert Frost,s most quoted lines

But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep



Every time I get out of my exile and the vehicle just turns left towards city..towards Shillong..towards a piece of my past.. I invariably feel the thrill, the thrill of city..thrill of the road and the thrill of the destination ahead..We cross the first bridge..right.. the lake plays hide and seek before giving in to the lusty eyes of admirers for a full view.. left.. pines bloom much down below..and somewhere I have heard the wind caressing the pines have a tale to tell..if you stop to listen.



We do not stop..but move ahead..hearts humming..blue jacarandas strewn carelessly along the sideways.. welcoming velvet carpet and a little drizzle always crafts the letters in the clear sky.. ' Welcome to Shillong'. By the time we have reached the doorway to Shillong.. Mawlai and the traffic to the city had begun to build up..congested roads, the lure of the city gets stronger...then a ride through the narrow alleys, giving in to a breathtaking view of colourful tin roofed houses blessed with rich flora and then.. at the zenith of climax.. Police Bazar...

Bliss..the aroma of freshly baked delicacies..the chatwallahs lining up the street in the evening and mind dancing to the music of being spoilt for choice.. momos and chowmein at Centre Point, Ilish (Hilsa) at Suruchi or nibble those heavenly mutton samosas at Ecee or wash down chicken pakodas and lollipops with a warm cuppa in the small road side shop run by the pretty lady (forgot the name of the shop)..or enjoy a relaxed ambience at Lamee ( Earlier Broadway) with usual North Indian fare or may be move a bit up and enjoy the open space of ' The Family Dhaba' or on a mundane note simply sit at Dominos and savour the half forgotten taste of thin crust pizza and coke or may be take a peek at R.B. Stores breath in the aroma and dig at their puffs and pastries..and yes..the Alu Muri and chaat on the wayside cannot be spared too..

Once we are done.. we most of the time includes me and my Malayali colleague..when let out of the workplace which we consider exile sometimes both in terms of location and bosses.. and we are no less than a pair of sniffer canines hunting sniffing for food we are deprived of. Sometimes we aso include my toddler and woman friday but since most of the days our venture is on friday ( no flight day for me) and woman friday is a staunch vegetarian on friday ( vegetarian as in no onion and garlic) and I have to struggle hard to order no onion garlic food for her..but level of irritation has gone down drastically and do it as a routine job like stuffing anything edible in my toddler,s mouth..to keep her going through out the trip.

Next stop after a fill is some shopping..if time permits ( since most of the times we try to sneak in the office vehicle coming to the city for work..we adjust return accordingly) window shopping. My favorite stop is Glory,s Plaza , wandering in the narrow stuffy semi lit alleys..though the betel leaf stained stairs is a sore sight..I have learnt to ignore and move up through the spiralling staircases.. shoes ( though I get my size rarely) clothes bags accessories..but the habit of malls with spacious trial rooms and visible price tags and sizes..so buying spree gets curbed to an extent..but hardly I return empty handed..shopping bags in hand..joy in the heart..and sheer glee of bargaining spins the happiness web..as we return to the crowded lane of Police Bazar.

Sometimes we would frequent the salon for a short or very short visit..yes.. surprise we do not have any salon in the nearest forty kilometres.. I know all city women would wonder how does one survive..and yet all the village girls manage to look pretty if not all city bred.. Beauty treatment never fails to leave a feel good happy mark in girls..and we too are caught in the wave..specially let out of our exiles..feeling pretty..irrespective of the fact that hardly anyone to notice..but I guess this joy is too selfish..beholder or no beholder.Hair cut, eyebrows, facial, wax..more we spend..our joys match the splurge in leaps and bounds.

We are almost done now..as we would wait for the vehicle..last minute rushes continue.. some apples and pomegrenate in exorbitant prices..some more eatables packed from R.B. Stores..rush to the ATM.. we are severely cash deprived there near airport where we work.. with ATM being 15 km away in a place where there is no means of public transport to commute, and always try to remind myself constantly to a buy a balloon for my toddler from the vendor when she is not with me and if she is there I end up buying a host of unnecessary things that suits her fancy to avoid the fiasocs created in the middle of the road overlooking the irritated eyes of onlookers with the message ' cannot control a child!' Yeah that is bad parenting..but who bothers..with the heart humming.. And as we would find our way through the underground parking our last stop is Baskin and Robbins where my colleague would tickle her sweet taste buds after being spoilt for choice for the flavour.

The curtains drop..if we are not standing in the long queue of ' public utility' to relieve ouselves in the rainy chilly evenings of Shillong..(which is a very cumbersome task given the long queue building up in the stench filled gateway).. we are in the vehicle struggling through the busy traffic of the city, finding the way out, pines bidding adieu..eyes closing in slumber..a' blink and miss' glimpse of the lake awaken a 'nearing home' feeling. we cross some more curves..and the pines make way for the broad view of the lake..evening lights donning the hills..the newly built view point..we cross bridge number three after first and second , the vehicle turns right..blue jacarandas hardly visible now..the vehicle zooms through the newly constructed highway..sing song heart almost fell silent..we reach airport.. exile..home.

How many times I have undertaken this journey since last one year..the thrill ,the music, the joy and the end continues...till date..and the road beckons...and wanderers wander....

A quote I read in Shillong , ' We also believe in God, only we spell it 'NATURE'.



Har mulaqaat ka anjaam judaai kyun hai
Ab toh har waqt yahi baat sataati hai hamein....

Queer

The diaries held me baffled. The write ups were random, beginning in any page in the middle. The crisp language and the rhythmic prose kept me engrossed. Her writings were scattered around the house in odd diaries and papers as i discovered when i rummaged through old book racks to find something new to read.

My aunt grew up in the same house where i spent my teens. I was her dearest niece. Single and working and independent someone i wanted to be always. Stories of her singleness flew around and i also could sniff them through relatives, neighbours. They indicated some affair and breakup thereafter but i always found nobody was convinced enough even if they would have liked to spin more yarns. Her brothers sometimes supportive , sometimes agitated but there was this immense love and trust from her parents ( my grandpa and grandma) and there was never any argument in the house. Now come to think of it in those days accepting a single independent woman without any rumours , affairs attached was a tough task. But since the time i was in my senses nobody ever dared bring the issue out in the open and always left with a hush hush note.

Her writings as i mentioned kept me hooked. They were short pieces basically, like in one she mentioned strong attraction one girl felt for another, the deep admiration and utter happiness at the sight of her. Those days i had no idea of anything queer, so my run of the mill mind at once assumed that she was speaking of a man. Since it would be embarrassing to write about one so she mentioned a woman!! Well at that age and time i can,t blame myself. I read more, another piece there was a letter addressed to a woman by another, where she speaks of the taboo of loving a woman and the pain she would endure as society would never allow to express her love. I continued with my beliefs all these writings were meant for some man. I asked the question inquisitively to other cousins and neighbours and nobody could make sense other than that she surely would be a jilted lover.

She left the house as i was stepping into my young days. And sometimes the writings would flash in my mind and slowly i knew there was no man. Could it be.... i was reading new things , watching new channels on TV....could it be... the thought was extremely disturbing and unpleasant. I did not want to think of her like 'that'... she was my ideal and my dearest. The perplexing thought made me put away her writings, nor did i ever wanted to discuss her writings with anybody not even my mom, nor did i ever want to read. I loved her so much..so what i did simply sealed that thought in some corner and moved on with loving her as always.

I never could ask her nor it made any sense and neither i talked to anybody ever once the implications were clear.

Movies, articles etc etc i smile and discuss with friends, occasionally laughing and always sure these things are out of my genre why bother.

They do exist. Long back she hid her pain in the randoms pages of her diaries.

Friday, 17 April 2015

PTM

Her solemn face said it all.


' Her performance....'


The two anxious souls scanned her face, a dread creeping through their beings.


' She isn,t able to cope'


We stared at her, our throats drying.


' She was so good... but of late..'


' Since when...she is showing this..this behaviour'  I was the one to get myself together first.


' Last fifteen days..' The teacher shrugged and went on for some more minutes while we listened helplessly and our five year old jumped around the class room and tugged at my arm in between ' Ma come na'


' Actually so many new words she is learning... it,s going to take time. ' I tried to reason out.


' Other children are doing it... getting fifteen out of fifteen correct... no reason she,d make it to only six or seven' Her voice was cool and unapologetic.


Almost felt like a tight slap.


Finally embarrassed and guilty, i followed my five year old around the class as her father fumed behind. I stared at the walls where so many write ups and other tit bits were pasted along with the names of the child and the class teacher,s words echoed ' She wrote so badly i could not find any work of her to be pasted'


' He is doing so well'  I was all ears to her words to an elderly man, grandpa perhaps who claimed with pride ' I did teach him'


There were blame games, me and husband blasted each other, fought and didn,t talk for a day or two, cancelled weekend outings. My mom incidentally present at the house day before was going through our weekend plans... PTM, shopping, visit to friend,s house some seventy odd kilometers away couldn't help commenting ' Drop the PTM... what's the deal if you miss once'


' Never... i love to hear the nice things the teacher would say about her' I had chipped in immediately.


All blame games played and replayed, I began the tedious spelling sessions with the little one.


' How was today... could you write your dictation'  Anxious me just after she got down from bus.


After many uumms and aahs ... 'Today she asked sight words.. you only taught three letter words..mujhe ek bhi nahi aya' and off she runs...the cool soul.


So mama goes on with sight words... H-A-S ... has... H-A-V-E...have.


Next day at bus stop...


' How was today' I ask with bated breath


' Arey Ma aaj to Hindi... tumne sikhaya hi nahi' She joins her friends fervently for games.


Now where i had heard that before.. this alleging derogatory tone...aaah she just sounded like husband.


I try to ask other moms, most of the times i,m in awe of them and most of the times i try to camouflage my callousness under my erratic job schedule.


' How,s Agrim doing... is he catching up...?'  I ask nervously.


' He's ok' The mom scans my face.


' I mean so many spellings together, it seems tough'  I try to smile.


' He,s restless but he has learnt'


There goes... the supermoms and super kids, i return home with a long sullen face.


' I cannot... i have studied all my life... now for this five year old...don't blame me always'  I try hard to gain husband,s sympathy.


' Talk to other moms.'


Huh... never again!!!


' Drop your arrogance and discuss with moms'


' You do that...' I fume with all the fire i have. ' Children have their own pace... give her time'


' Why didn,t you give this piece to the teacher... instead of firing me!!!'


 Silence


' She doesn.t even write within lines'


' If from five years you compel her to write within line... what will happen to ' out-of-the-box thinking'


There the damage was done as husband stared at me disbelievingly.


' Oh Oh'


More baffling arguments, the little one given ample doses of ' study study' ' write write' and sometimes she would chip in ' Didn,t get a star Ma'


' Did anyone else get'   The obvious question, even if a self declared liberated mom can,t refrain from.


She took some names.


' It,s ok darling'  It isn,t , it isn,t.


Just dread the next PTM. Ma,s idea seemed great.Drop it.


P.S. We send our child to a so called reputed school in NCR where every quarter husband writes the check with a fast beating heart and a dry throat!!!


Happy Parenting!!







Thursday, 16 April 2015

Outsider

The hills, the greens, the jack fruit tree in front, the mud ridden path to the well in the backyard, bricks strewn along to step in, in the muddy rainy days...I remember my home, my childhood in the state I left for quite some time now. Remembering.. getting nostalgic.. we do it so often though when I left my state nobody forced me to..and many like me, we left willingly in quest of a better career, better life. The state rides over our thoughts in a wave of nostalgia, romance, fond memories hardly of any relevance now.. except may be visit once a year, parents, relatives and the world of childhood changed a long ago.. the city has grown from a fledgling struggling teen to a youth in full bloom.

And then I see my city in headlines.. molesting a teen age girl , seemed a joint venture of so many sick men. But I see my city grabbing attention.. media.. TV channels, newspapers... Barkha Dutt arguing, politicians storming into the scene. Did we not wish Guwahati to be in lime light, to be in the mainstream.. so badly in our school college days.. and did we not vying for attention and ' mainstream' gradually made a beeline for greener pastures.. Yes we complained.. our state , our city not getting enough ' footage' in TV channels, national media, we stay isolated...and years after when I see the ' footage' the reason brings a lump in the throat. This is nothing new.. this had happened before many times many ways.. and it happens again.. among the glare and light of the watchdog media..

My state grabs headlines again, this time for a longer duration, this time when the entire nation felt the pain of the state, the tears of the region. Riots, deaths..hatred like infection caught the entire country, the ' exodus'..and we stand and sigh. I make a silent rewind of the journey of my childhood in my turbulent state..my first school days in Jorhat, three to four years of schooling in Goalpara, then back to Guwahati where I finished college and university. Jorhat I have a very vague recollection guess I was too young, but Goalpara flashes vibrantly in my memory..the Brahmaputra.. closest I have ever been to the river.. hardly five hundred metres.. cross the wide stretch of sand..and.. the river. Foreign influx, immigrants.. I had a vague recollection in Goalpara.. the vegetable vendors, the fish vendors who would come to our house sometimes would  talk of their hardship and from elders I would know they are ' Bangladeshis'. Rest apart the town was a mix  of all kind of population with a language of its own.. Goalparia.. a special genre of music with great Bhatiali notes specially catering to the songs of the river. I learnt my lessons of ' Assamese' there and with age was learning not to speak Bengali in public.. not because anyone told me anything..most of the people understand Bengali there but there is a feeling at work.. same feeling may be makes my 3 year old daughter speak in Hindi in Delhi without anybody asking her to...

I remember happily visiting my father's colleague,s house in Ramzan evenings..the aroma and the variety of food..mind boggling. I remember them coming to our house and putting up for weeks when the town was flood affected...through our relatives raised eyebrows, we cooked in the same oven and ate the same meals.. May be it was the time when the fruit of hatred was not ripe, seed has been sown into history though. As I spent my remaining childhood and teens in Guwahati  knowing it to be my hometown, my motherland..though accepting the fact that Bengali to be spoken in home and with other Bengalis. There was a time like all Bengalis I longed to be in Kolkata, listen to Tagore songs, watch Bengali movies, read a lot more of Bangla and speak openly. But then random visits to Kolkata never made it my own..may be the language and yes the raw accent of our sylheti  Bengali would draw the ridicule and sarcasm of the Kolkata Banglans. Therein surfaced the identity crisis gradually.. we are Bengalis from Sylhet uprooted during partition, settled in North East. I was tired of answering the question ' where are you from' with..' I am Bengali.. settled in Assam.' All drew a blank.. I can,t blame north or south Indians even fellow Assamese when the West Bengalis also remark , ' You mean you are from Kolkata'.. I am not , I never was.

But me and many like me.. rootless.. we began to love the city we were in..city has a common culture. a common lingo..and fell in love with Brahmaputra with Bihu and when a bit older with Bhupen Hazarika..and sometimes with Zubeen Garg and with All India Radio Guwahati.. churning out Assamese , Hindi music. The land became our own, the language our own and my closest friends whom I could tell ' I dont like your bland Assamese food'  and who could tell me ' Oh these Bengalis.. can.t speak a correct Assamese sentence.'

My land is burning today...lots I can relate to..lots I can,t. Lots I feel..of leaving my home, leaving my land..leaving my parents..of not being loyal to the land which knows to give and greet. of not being able to return anything to the land which gave everything to me..feel the pain of my land scarred by the immense strain of all the complexities, of the different population mix.. and the feeling of ' my state'and ' my city' deep inside me, may be an outsider myself in the dark pages of history..


North and further... Journey into life

Somehow in the place we were born and gradually finished school, college and university all of us had this dream to move  'out' though i still don,t understand why this yearning and 'out' in most cases did not mean moving out of the country simply moving to ' Delhi' , Mumbai did not have much attraction and next destinations gradually gaining popularity were Bangalore and Pune.

The brain drain or whatever started i think after high school when one of my close friend moved to Delhi to study in an  average college, and some other friends got though exams for admission into some engineering college. To stay back at Guwahati and pursue mundane graduation in a mundane college seemed a thing of embarrassment and more yearning to move out, go to Delhi to be precise. It held the keys to success, luxury a feeling of real world and what not.

First i moved out of my house for a  short stay in Delhi. Ironically uncle arranged a pg accommodation for me which i shared with girls of LSR college. Salwar Kameex clad, pinned Dupatta me had quite a cultural shock and kept my distance from them cautiously. They were smart and intelligent, at the same time they followed all the ' in' things which my small town upbringing forbade. Na i wasn,t all goodie type simply didn,t fit into the pattern. Actually i run off miles when i am aware of any pattern and me falling into it. Anyway during that short stay i missed Guwahati so much and somehow knew i was not meant for the big city. I did not have any friends nor i wanted to make any..as if i had left my soul at home. I had heaved a sign of relief as i had left that pg and again settled at Guwahati.

My urge to move ' out' much toned, i was happy in Guwahati. But as life would have it I came back to Delhi after a few years but this time with a job and some confidence under the belt and with lots of other small towners who had cleared same competitive exams, small towners who were much more under confident in matters of speaking english. North gave me a cultural shock of a different nature. Being Bengali and hard core non veg, slowly it dawned people do not appreciate gobbling up all the non veg food specially on some particular days meant for rituals and like my husband made non veg food a no no at office. Festivals here are celebrated through fasts for an entire duration of nine days where as in eastern India festivals means more food!!

Once i settled with the food issue , the veils were slowly lifting and i could see behind the veneer of urbanisation the poor and pathetic condition of women. Those who worked with me had no qualms about going and making perfectly round rotis whle their male counterpart watched  tv. Girls invariably were married off at an early age to a boy of the parents chose while in east ,north east India girls married late and lots of inter caste marriages if not inter religion ones. Dowry was another sock which both the parties happily obliged. Some how in that small city of mine in a corner of the country things were much healthy at least for a woman. And i leaned never to regret of having born in north.

We adjusted our lifestyles to survive in this city. Scorched ourselves in the heat of North leaving the sultry days of east. We learned to speak and adapt Hindi to the extent my daughter hardly speaks Bengali with us. One day i found myself babbling in Hindi in my siesta, felt the pangs of grief, is my language leaving me gradually...  We learned to celebrate Holi and Diwali more than the Durga Puja, have Rajma Chawal and Dal Makhni.

Some parts of North east still lives in us as we strive hard to be the hard core Northerners.... People here have welcomed us but only they are alien to the life people lead outside this Northern belt, the food they eat and the language they speak, the boundaries of the state they share. Till then we try to be one of them...

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Mr and Mrs Iyer


Just a little bit about my favourite  movie.  Excellently made, crisp direction and superb acting. Well this won,t justify the waves of feelings i go through as i watch this movie.

I will begin with the love story. And the best way to meet the love of her life... in a bus as they travel together to catch train from the same station. The picturesque roads unfurled themselves with every turning of the bus and the beginning of a unique relationship in unique circumstances between two protagonists for whom falling in love was not at all any priority yet the inevitable happens subtly, slowly. The plot and the love story flows seamlessly as the story unfolds... an average Indian audience can easily relate to the young educated married girl struggling with her baby in public transport, the tussle between the baby...his feeds, diaper changes the struggling mom and to the rescue the smart wild life photographer.

The focus of the story shifts from the interesting chemistry between the protagonists to the horrid communal tension and the gruesome killings and in between comes her startling discovery the man who had been holding and feeding her baby is from another religion she has learnt to hate, learned to keep her distance from as touching them would make her lose her own religion as she  stares in awe at the water bottle she had shared with him. Their relation takes a new turn as they move away from the crowd to save themselves from the mob and she discovers a man perhaps she had no idea ever existed.

When the group of young girls from their bus press them hard to share the story how they met imagining hem as a couple with a kid, the story flows like a poetry from his mouth as she listens to the dream she never had, feels the goosebumps she never did. Like so many times in life, one feels stunned of the things one can never reach and yet they can be so close. The riot gives her many a glimpse of the real life, the hatred, the violence and yet draws her to a man from another religion which was alien to her from childhood.

The love story ends as her husband finds her after she gets down from the train... or does it... the  Mr Iyer her soul had discovered through her journey and not the tag her family has stamped her with. No definitely not a love story out of wedlock, even if it is... it,s the beauty of the relation which keeps us spellbound and simply no fault finding with the husband as he is simply out of the entire frame.

I do love all of Aparna Sen,s films... they are smart, crisp and handle relations splendidly... sometimes i feel only the way a woman can.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Life in the Airport... Barapani Diary



There is something good about working in a small, very small  airport..it feels like your own!! All the staff.. all the units..so alien to each other in bigger airports..where we ATCS are totally engrossed in ourselves..here just seem like one big family. One flight is the life of the airport..all the units would be waiting for the arrival of the flight and breathe relief once the flight is gone. There,s a bond binding all of us..make us see where we all exactly stand..whereas in bigger airports somehow its always me and us..my job my task.. not my responsibility...all units are fighting their hearts out in the blame game..anyway that might be essential considering the tough lives we lead...Let me come again to my small airport..this small airport gave me a sense of ' importance' , this is very obvious but then hardly any mere mortals who doesnt get copmlacent with a little bit of recognition , little bit of self importance and if it doesnt get to the head it works on fine.. it gives a 'my' feeling..dont know exactly when the building the passengers the flight the staff became so ' mine'..flight,s safe timely departure arrival became so much my concern not because its my ' duty' to read ' Cleared for take off' and ' Cleared to land'..simply because you become involved , concerned and learn to think of the airport as a life which needs to be watered and nourished so that it can breathe ,survive and beam with life.

Such a lovely building.. all it needs flights passengers taxiwallahs stallwallahs..bursting with activities cutting across the mesmerizing silence of the hills..pouring life into the adjacent villages..dont know which future is better..this calm tranquil building in the middle of nowhere or an aiport ,a full working airport dragging in the villages within its powerful clutches..transforming the area into a fledgling township.. I dont know..and to be on safe side the future does not depend on me! Well that is too safe.. future follows its own course, may be with great foresight and vision from certain stalwarts who are able to give a direction to the future.. for the rest of us .. just wait , watch... may be brood sometimes.. ah the greens and the hills.. all gone..or may be nod pessimistically..no futureof this place ,of this airport..surviving only in bureaucratic papers...I dont know what is better..can just wonder and marvel at the greens and hills, peek into the local life , and feel sorry for my airport...

Monday, 13 April 2015

Knotted...

Family, kids… responsibilities the words played havoc. She dodged them as best as she could. Once you taste your freedom other tastes shun you. The taste of freedom… and she loved hers loved it dearly. From the time she woke up when sun rays rush way past her heavily curtained windows to the time her domestic help gets her coffee and newspaper on bed to the late night movies and parties she attend and trekking tour she takes. Freedom all the way.

Her job was steady, decent, fair enough salary and gave her ample time. Credit to the exam she had cleared once her job did not take the life out of her as she had seen others engaged in more gruesome sectors. There were nagging parents, more inquisitive relatives, dying for men but more than all her group of girl friends, colleagues who crib with husbands, babies and mother in laws. Most likely they were the ones who put her mind totally off any sort of commitment and gradually the resolve tightened.

Men… they have been around and gradually seem more of a nuisance. Sometimes she would reject one her parents chose siting the reason he was not intelligent enough other times he was not earning enough and the remaining time he was not good looking enough. But then sometimes out of turn things happen and that trekking trip brought her close to this man… not his looks which were indeed very good and not his career which she was hardly aware of, it was his charm which blew her off her feet. Though she wanted to badly and was hoping he would ask for her number which she would politely reject…nothing of the sort happened and she continued tasting savoring her own freedom.

The twist when parents got along with the prospective grooms’ family like fire and she came to know the man was the prince charming of her trekking trip her freedom penchant faltered and she was eager to taste the fruit of the forbidden bliss.

A dream wedding, more romantic honeymoon and the beginning of a lovey dovey wedded life all fell into place. She glowed with love and pleasure. And then…mother-in-laws chiding remarks which kept one on toes more than any competitive exam ever could, making secret phone calls to parents and cribbing and the prince charming…. a male chauvinist mamma,s boy who irked her in no time. And before eight in the morning she was ready with tea and after an hour with breakfast before she rushed madly for work.

Knotted for sure…           

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Justice

It was a matter of few seconds. As if some scene from a Bollywood Hollywood movie things happened 
fast and few shots were juxtaposed to give the impact.

I shrieked in horror as my friend beneath the steering gasped speechlessly in the middle of the road with the light showing red. The car ahead and we following somehow had jumped the red light without hardly realizing ( I know blame it all on girl drivers) and within moments the light from our left to right went green and very fast there was this huge colliding sound, the car toppling on one side hitting the divider with full force and turn upside down hit another bike in the process .
We paused in horror at the middle of the road as people rushed towards the car. With sense pouring in I nudged my friend ‘Let’s move… light is red’. Amidst all the fiasco we inched ahead slowly as people pushed the car upright. Both of us got the glimpse of a man, belt fastened , head tilted on one side absolute motionless and both of us did not know whether we saw blood trickling from his forehead or it was a figment of our imagination.

Our car started moving in track.

‘Should we stop’ my friend murmured in horror.

‘I think a crowd has gathered, they will help’ the sensible me tried to remain calm.

After a few seconds we were gasping with tears. I guess both of us thought that he was dead. She panicked ‘How do I drive, my limbs are trembling’

Later at the restaurant when we joined our office gang reassured us, ‘With belt people survive’
Burdened with guilt and shock as we were behind him as we crossed the red light, and I could vouch that in all the traffic somehow the light was not visible at all, with no timer and no yellow light there was absolutely no indication it has turned red. The car ahead tried to speed and clear off the red light as we faltered in the middle in confusion and moved slowly while another from the green light side had commenced movement. Was it his fault, did he drive rashly can,t be because we were just behind him and we could be novice drivers but not rash. Was the audi driver who had moved when the light was green was at fault, who was in such a hurry...

We didn’t know.. but could we be the one in Santro, trying to speed away after crossing a red light by mistake and then…  Well he didn’t die!! Didn,t he??  He couldn’t it was a busy road and so many hospitals nearby. I got convinced gradually as I tried to savour the food in the party.

This incident happened in the Mahipalpur Vasant Kunj red light two days back… would the authorities listen…was the light at fault.. can they ensure timers and an yellow light… can justice be done..

Should we have stopped the car and ensure he was taken for treatment, should we write a mail to Delhi Traffic Police…

Is the man alive… would justice find a way…


Friday, 10 April 2015

In to the dark...

Dearest Ninni

Is life really so tough..or it is tough so tough only on me..I think at some point of life we all face ...may be u will come across this question as well.. and the answer is...I dont know..Is life really too ' fair' on others...do we always reap what we sow..No Ninni I am not complaining..I have hardly sulked in life..(well may be some instances i did) in general I have been happy contented with whatever I have..But the last two months fighting with the strange horrible illness..sometimes it just seems..I dont have the tenacity to fight out anymore.. yes that sounds very depressing but this is how it is in life sometimes..I look at all healthy people around me and simply marvel..life is such a boon..even you know I look at the elderly and wonder.. would I live enough long enough to be ' old' when you would become a matured woman.. and even if i do would it be extremely painful..living long is a terror specially when u r attacked with all kinds of illnesses but missing out all the fun.. and waving bye bye to life..I dont know what awaits me and why...

Last one month..and till date what consumes me is my terrifying illness..sometimes I feel it,s killing my thinking power little by little, eroding my senses bit by bit.. No dont feel I have lost hope..I am trying to get better..doctor , medicines..I want to get better..for you, your father..your grandparents all..but somehow a strong force preventing me..consuming me and I can,t get out..

One morning I would wake up and feel may be today is better..it,s going to be better..but then again all the pain and nausea would take over..while at home in Guwahati I would simply think of the old times..the time I was not sick..the time I would lie down in bed with grandma with a book in my hand.. and talk staring at the leaves of the coconut tree outside the window..the times I had walked and walked to save my rickshaw expenses , the times I had roamed in the sun in search of a job..all I did in this city..yet I feel such a stranger now..lost..caught in a maize of several illnesses..a homelessness with a posting in Barapani, husband in Delhi..an apartment in Gurgaon lying unused.., parents in Guwahati in a house where I have not spent my childhood..in- laws in Silchar..funny..so many homes..yet I do not know which is my own and where I belong..You know it gives a sort of rootless feeling and I,m sure if I continue to roam with you like this.. you will all also get this feeling.. Still I had a home to miss.. my old house in the foot of the hills..wonder what I rather we are going to give you... a 12th floor apartment in a building called ' Maple Heights' to dig your roots in..

Some days I just feel I can,t make it anymore..yes I know I am still not diagnosed with any serious illness and can,t die like this..yet you know I feel life slipping out of me..I just think of passing another day.. sleeping another night..and yes I try to imagine the world without me..all would be fine..then you come rushing to me in between breaks of ' Doraemon' babble non stop..climb over me..try all your pranks..life seems too good...And the best part..you do not know to judge yet..calculate.. how much to give how much to take..you know between Doraemon and Chota Bheem you have to squeal ' maaa' and find me in another room...play..babble..and then safely go back to your own world..

This post may be inconsistent hap hazard.. perhaps in keeping with what I,m going through in this phase of life..

Yours
Ma

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Holiday...

Whats app icon was blinking...another message. I tried not to look at my smart phone and concentrate on my senior. Nodding in affirmative was the key and i did just that.

Hi...what,s going on

My message inbox hurled out the words at me as soon as senior was gone. The words were shy, staring at me beneath their long lashes just the way it happened in the Himalayas, foothills of Himalayas rather. Fingers ached to reply..and wait for her reply..Come on what,s stopping me...

Nothing much.. missing the Himalayan evenings

Fingers shot back..would it have the exact effect i wanted..it would..this little hide and seek game with a few words can do wonders and i was good at it. I knew what she would be reading into this..and i knew she,d be wanting for more. Well so long..i was winding my day at work and about to leave the office when the phone rang. Just stared at the number i have known so well, few years now...and wondered at my aversion to pick it up...men...we get bored...but mechanically i picked up the call as i headed towards the elevator.

You are out of office... more a statement than question... Good i,ll be there in five minutes

Before i could say much, elevator was there in my floor and all of us waiting stormed in. Divya.. my steady girl friend and to be wife..whom i won out of so many contenders in college. I was about to stuff the phone in my pocket..the chirping of whats app message...i knew the sender, my eyes sparkled in delight as i contemplated her next message, before actually opening it!! 

Are you... 

Two words..yes i am missing the Himalayan evenings damn it.. Just before reaching the parking lot i typed in a hurry...

Aren,t you...

How long i will continue this nonsense.. my car sped through the evening city traffic.


The Himalayas, where i went exactly... Dalhousie.. a long due holiday with mom and dad. And there i met her, so young.. fresh...travelling with her aunts. Whose idea was to share the cab...nevertheless i was very happy..she had this innocence and that small town look..and i was going to have a nice weekend. The mountains of Dalhousie..anyone would fall in love there..and i was just...well i am a man. The same hotel, and as i was sent to knock at their door to inform that cab was ready...i almost stopped breathing as the door was opened by this...morning beauty to say the least. Obviously i didn,t remember much of Dalhousie after that...who would...and i knew this Happy-Go-Luckyness of mine is a sure winner..well i had someone like Divya all over me...and this one would be an easy task. Aah i,m not flirty and selfish as i sound, i knew it would happen with anybody...and winning over each woman was a victory..every woman is unique... Three days... i was taken over by Anwesha.. even the name spelled magic. Dalhousie, Chamba, Khajjiar...and i had more of Anwesha, wanted more of her.

Asking her number was easy, yet i fumbled.

In case i send you a friend request...  I had smiled nervously.

It,s fun...this texting, waiting for her texts.. and finally i would call her. It isn,t a crime... men even women get into such things...few texts and chats, one doesn,t feel guilty because of this. That isn,t the problem. Did i want Anwesha..

The light was green, and i whisked my car along. When we started me and Divya.. a few years back..there was this magic of love..we longed for each other,we still do may be but that spell is gone..and i wonder after years of togetherness and under the wheel of ' real life'...where we would stand.

Once way back in childhood , i got a pine sapling from the hills during a school trip. I planted it at our backyard and watered it regularly. It withered after a few weeks

' Pines do not survive at an altitude less than 3000 feet, son. They are made for the hills'   Dad had explained.

Indeed. Some things are made for the hills, for the holidays... they would wither in plains like my moments with Anwesha.

My car took the service road where i could see Divya waiting impatiently.