Monday, October 31, 2005

When I was Sick and Lay in Bed

Could not walk, just managed to talk
Yawned all through the day,
Propped against a pillow, sheets and cushions,
Nothing was going my way.

Grey skies outside, a dull flat breeze,
Smoke by the windows.
Shrieks of laughter of children playing,
Added to my woes.

Read a few lines of a crime thriller,
Didn’t make much difference to my mood,
Until this spark crossed my mind
And here is what ensued.

Wrote mails and letters
In poem and prose
To long forgotten
Friends and foes.

Called up my friends,
We spoke for long,
Suddenly, the world, it seemed,
Sang a beautiful song.

Now clouds have parted,
And I see the sun,
And I can smell a fresh breeze,
When a new day has begun.

Thank you my friends,
I know you care,
I shall never forget,
This love we share.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Rain rain go away

This Chou - a tribal dance form among the Santhals of Bengal - makes a formidable face while warning the Rain Gods to quit. This is a part of Kolkata's Salt Lake,BE block Pujo pandal this year.

As if to add to the depression of Pujos getting over, its been raining incessantly for the last four days. I haven't been able to leave home for two days, braving myself to venture out only yesterday. Surpringly Indian Railways has been rather sporting and despite the rains, trains have been only ten minutes late on an average, a remarkable feat by any standards.

Worse still has been the predicament of people in South 24 Pargonas and Purulia. Houses have been washed away, crops destroyed and an epidemic is about to spread.For a lot of us, its easy enough to sit in our airconditioned cubicles, sip coffee and look out of the St. Gobain glass and admire the rains out there. Its quite another thing to know that for a lot of people, these rain spell disaster. Much of the attention of the world is focussed on Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma, but back home, our people are suffering the same plight and there is no respite for them. While India continues to send out aid for hurricane victims in USA, cyclone victims in the country itself are languishing.

This post is dedicated to all those whose who have missed schools(gladly),colleges and offices because of the rains. To those hapless citizens who could not get the right trains and buses to their destinations, to those travellers whose flights got cancelled due to the rains (please note: this does not include those who wish to travel by Deccan Airlines) and on a more serious note, those who have suffered personal and financial losses due to the wrath of nature.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Why I am in Kolkata during Durga Pujo

Durga Pujo has been synonymous with Kolkata ever since I was big enough to understand Pujo. I have spent Pujo at different places, different states but nowhere did I feel the spirit of the Pujo in the people, the leaves of the trees, the roads, the stray dogs and in the weather. It seems as if Nature herself has willed that Kolkata should blend into the soul of the Pujo till the city is unrecognizable as a separate entity.

Nowhere will you ever find that you have to park your car five miles away from the pandal and still walk the distance in smiles because of the famed Protima that you are about to visit. Only in Kolkata will you encounter atleast ten more Protimas that will surreptitiously appear along the way during your five-mile sojourn pleasantly surprising you.

Heated discussions regarding the merits and demerits of various pandals can build into fist fights for the Asian Paints Sharad Shamman. It’s a time when relations are mended and forgotten friends remembered. It’s the time for romances while the chill begins to settle.

Pujo is when we shop for months in advance. Carefully planned out garments- the best one reserved for Ashtami are put aside. Girls must wear sarees for the Ashtami anjali and this year there was a resurgence of the old Bengali style of donning the national dress. Makeup and accessories in place and all set and done, nothing can stop them, not even the rain that threatened to mar the celebrations this year. Heat and humidity can be forgotten and the mad crowds ignored for those four days of glory.

As the day fades into dusk, the lights come out and the city is bejeweled with tuni bulbs that weave dreams in the city's skyline. The crowds thicken, but that does not dampen the spirit of the Kolkatan. All night outings are a birthright of the young ones and as the teenager retires into bed wistfully sulking at his elder sister who'll be out all night, there are promises to keep for the time when he comes of age. Suddenly, nobody is worried that a daughter will be out till late night. The city will protect her.

Its a time for gorging egg rolls, ice cream, mutton chops and chowmein. It’s a time for looking good at Maddox Square and shopping for titbits at Park Circus. For the Nagardola at Bagbajar Sarbojanin, bumping into old friends at Mohammad Ali Park, comparing notes by the huge pool at College Square and watching for Maharaja himself at the Pujo in Saurav Ganguly's home at Behala.

Tired but not disheartened, they prepare for the next day and the next. Unmindful of the millions of old people who will remain confined to old age homes and the TV for the Pujo. Fortunately, all is not amiss. There is the Pujo Porikrama at Doordarshan and a host of programs, prizes to win and TV stars who greet the viewers by the minute. Television has managed to capture the Pujo not only in Kolkata but also in West Bengal and outside, in Mumbai, Delhi and far UK and USA.

Doshomi brings a gloom that will remain for sometime. Shidoor khela and bodhon over, Ma prepares to depart promising to return again the next year. Bijaya greetings flow across phones, smses and emails. Huge processions of tearful people taking the idol for immersions and teeming millions lined up on the streets watching them. Then there is a wait for another year, amongst the sweets that are distributed; there is an eerie silence that can be discerned. The Kolkatan hopeful of the year long wait till go home in anticipation, because he knows that she will come back again.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

One Fine Autumn.....

Clear blue skies.
White tufts of clouds gently floating about.
Bright fragrant flowers.
Dew wet grass.

Working late

A season of festivals.
A daughter returns home after a year.
Peals of laughter.
The smell of new clothes.

Over-crowded trains
Frayed tempers
Traffic jams

Sleeping late.
Staying out all night.

Here's wishing everyone a joyful Durga Puja free from mishaps and a silent prayer for the people who died from the earthquake. May their soul rest in peace.