Christmas

It’s Christmas eve and Mr and Mrs Chubby have decided to have a jolly good chubby time today. With pudding, cake, slow roasted edibles and other such niceties that induce warmth and subtle indigestion in your holiday-sensitive innards. Who are Mr and Mrs Chubby? Well, you’ll figure that out eventually, my curious and festive audience. 

Christmas means a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s about giving and sharing, well cherished family bondings dotted with friendly banter with long lost cousins, meaninglessly lavish lunches, pleasantly wrapped gifts from aunts and uncles, inquisitive glances at your overpowering dark circles followed by concerned murmurings about your health and the general reckless abandon of today’s youth. Christmas is about embracing the festive spirit with good cheer, along with embracing all questions pertaining to your career, marriage plans, and growing pot belly/anorexic state of being. Christmas is about wine, or beer or vodka. About cursory glances back to your childhood and the excitement surrounding the favourite day of the year. For me, it would be a month long, well crafted brainwashing of my mother, with subtle and not so subtle hints about what I want from Santa Claus. There would be frequent trips to Wonderland and Landmark with earnest pointing and tugging. (no fancy malls back then, in the before times, in the long long ago) It would be about carol singing in school and lots of fruit cake. (How I hate fruit cake! I detest it. It is positively revolting. Creamy frosting and decadent layers of chocolate for me any day, thank you very much)

Today, 24th December, 2013, happens to be my convocation. A special day. I would have gotten my Master of Arts in English Literature from Jadavpur University degree today. If I were attending it. I am not. I am at work. It’s a Tuesday, a working day. And I suppose it’s alright. I have attended one convocation anyhow. Two years back, again,on a Christmas eve, and I remember it very clearly.

I am looking forward to having a jolly good chubby time today. Much like Mr and Mrs Chubby. I shall wine and dine and laugh and sing out of tune and be generally merry. I shall dance too, make no mistakes. Drunken dancing is the best kind of dancing. Almost like a ritualistic Dionysian ceremony with fellow revelers. My office being in Flury’s I might just drop in for some good old fashioned rum balls. No fruit cake. I also intend to stroll through the Christmas Carnival and see what it’s about. So far, for the last few days, all I have seen are throngs of red Santa hats wriggling all around me, scurrying to and fro, up and down Park street and nameless little faces pleading me to buy rather hideous looking balloons. So, that. What else? A bit of bitterness and disappointment at missing my convocation I guess. 2011-2013 gave me a lot of moments to treasure, thanks to my department. Long, lazy afternoons on the ledge, endless cups of tea from Shyamal da’s, right outside Gate 4, terrible food at Milan da’s. The friendly faces and tail waggings of Bagha, Jocasta, and my monster pup, Bhodu, basking about in the sun or sprawled across the department corridors. Hnorshie (known as Milo) near Worldview. And Handsome Hank, her forever changing boyfriend. Comforting faces. Friends. I really, really miss them so much. Spending time with Aveek, sitting in the grassy shade at Gate 3, long. long walks around the jheelpar. Coffee. Cigarettes. Many, many fights, a lot of making up. Plotting and planning endlessly, and one evening, long back, we kissed under fireworks. It was magic, frozen in time.

I guess Christmas is a lot about recollections and nostalgia. Despite attempts at stoicism. Have yourselves a merry Christmas, everyone! And have that damn fruit cake. It’s the only time of the worth it’s bearable anyhow.

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Felinity

Bathsheba and I

 

That is me with Bathsheba. The eponymous Hardy heroine. He is a mild mannered boy. Though he looks genuinely endangered here. 🙂

familycat1These beauties were my grandmother’s pet. I had the good fortune of meeting the youngling.

amsterdam kittyThe beautiful calico princess I met in Amsterdam

kitty and me

 

amkit3The lovely, cuddle loving boy we greeted in Lidon

ghutum

 

The many moods of my precious Ghutum. The silent prowler, the sentinel. The head-butting goat-cat who I love so very much.

 

 

Tangents

Give voice to your impulse. Speak out loud. And clear. Because sooner than later, you’ll forget all about it.

 Speak now or forever hold your peace…

 Your mind might be a brilliant montage, a stunning kaleidoscope of creative compulsions. You should let it explode, give the catalyst. Speak about it.

 Speak about the divisions and statis in your thoughts, in the government, in filial affections. Speak about the trivialities of everyday life. About the daily subway journey to your office, the coffee shops you visit, the faces that frequent them, the faces that never return.

 Negotiate with the mundane and maybe it will reward you with something extraordinary.

Speak about your confrontations with an empty wallet on a Friday night. Speak about your disappointing business lunch, your annoying blind date. Speak about the blessed indulgence of five more minutes on sleep on a Monday morning. Speak about that movie you always meant to watch and finally did, alone, thankfully. Speak about the murderous thoughts you get about a stranger’s bawling kid in a movie hall. You shall not be judged.

Speak about the assumptions of a metropolitan life. About recycled New Year resolutions.

Speak about desire, and desperation. About moments of crisis and failed tests of character.

Speak about the danger lurking around the next corner you take. About sudden bursts of anger that threaten to underpin all the compassion in you. And how you overcome them.

Better still, write about it. Because writing lets you create your own dreamscape. No, it does not have to be a sensual soliloquy, heck it doesn’t even have to be coherent. You’re not scripting an epic monologue for a tragic hero coming to terms with hamartia.

Write for yourself. Write because it gives you freedom.

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Dear, dear Oly

We all have a favourite pub. Or bar. Mine is Oly Pub. It’s my happy place. It’s where I had first gone as a 16 year old for my first drinking session with a couple of friends, post school- excited, slightly nervous and driven by a sense of adventure. It had been a happy winter afternoon.

Then the familiarity grew. University, new set of friends. Heading off to Oly for a cheap glass of beer became more and more common. But the charm never wore off. Still hasn’t. Probably never will. Park Street is a special place for me, like most Calcuttans and Oly defines Park Street for me. Not Flury’s. Not Mocambo. Or Peter Cat. It’s Oly. Magnolia’s or Silver Grill is never an option, let alone a priority It’s where I reunite with friends who live in different cities during Durga Puja. It’s where I go for binge drinking with my partner, on a whim. It’s where I celebrate little joys and random bouts of depression. It makes the village drunk in me very, very satisfied. There’s something very warm about that place. With it’s cheap, tattered sofas and disgruntled waiters. The rats scurrying about and the occasional cat that saunters by you, looking at you nonchalantly.

Few things feel as good as the chilled bottle of beer that arrives at your table. The water droplets trickling down the bottle as it fizzes and pours into the nondescript glasses. The colourful plastic bowls- red, green and yellow, heaped with chanachur that’s given to you. There’s something positively magical about that heinously unhealthy chanachur. It has the propensity to make you feel like a homeless delinquent in a free banquet. And if you know the waiter (read: bribe him generously on every visit) he will never hesitate before refilling that colourful plastic bowl with more of the hazardous stuff that tastes like manna.

I have graduated from school to university and now Park Street is my playground, what with me working there. And nothing compares to the feeling of rushing into Oly Pub and climbing up those stairs and plopping down on a sofa (if I am lucky enough to find a place to sit) as I await my beer. Makes life just a bit more special.

The Importance of Human Speech

You quieter you are, the more you can hear. And the chances of you being branded as the friendly, neighbourhood serial killer increases by 67%

Quiet people appear serious and intelligent, usually. Especially if they are wearing glasses. But they can also be thought of as a deaf-mute-Chinese chimney-sweep, sweeping away 1-2-3 with a smile on his face. People are busy. No one will notice you. So you automatically get your shiny, black invisibility cloak! You’re invincible! Or you can be written off as a spastic child. The kind who has nothing to talk about.

s-o-c-i-a-l-l-y a-s-t-u-t-e

Verbal communication is an art. It is also perhaps a science, considering civilizations have been built on the basis of human communication. And we have evolved since the time of hieroglyphs

 

 

We have had a Demosthenes and a Seneca, an Anthony, a Steve Jobs and a Rahul Gandhi. Nations break and build on the basis of powerful oratorial skills. Because people are suckers for motivation. People also like talking. Mostly about themselves.So it’s never a bad idea to just listen. But maybe throw in a word or two here and there.

 My previous blog was named “In secret be quiet say nothing.” As you can see, I have a new blog now. Conscious decisions, etc.

Train roll on…

I love traveling. I love the idea of traveling. I like making elaborate plans and poring over every possible website or book I can lay my hands on to virtually and vicariously be at that precise moment wherever it is that I want to go to. I am pretty sure I drive my partner insane with the fussing and obsessive twitching and frequent arguments about where to stay and what to do and what to do after that. And after that. I love journeys as much as the destination.

I love train stations. I have mostly traveled from Howrah station. As a kid I used to hate them and how dirty they were and lined with urchins and shady looking men. Hated the smell, the garbage, the cry of hawkers. Hated being tagged along on family vacations to Puri or Delhi or Rajasthan or wherever. The station has not changed much. Fellow travelers have. Perceptions have. I have grown to love train journeys. All the stations the train stops in. All of them have so many stories to tell, stories to conceal, stories you get to live for whatever time the train stops at the station. The arrivals, the departures, the porters precariously carrying a ridiculous number of suitcases and now, fancier luggage, on their heads. And the arguments that follow about how much they should charge. Most people are of the opinion that they are being duped of their hard earned money, right? Right.

I love the energy, the smell of hot, spicy, sweet tea brewing in the little tea stalls, the maatir bhaar in which they are served. (I don’t like plastic cups) The friendly dogs that demand to be fed biscuits. I like browsing through the book stalls and buying random magazines and books. As a kid, I would usually buy Chacha Chowdhury, now I buy novels that I don’t remember the names of. The last one I bought was probably Veronica Decides to Die. I like the big, ominous clock on the platform in Howrah station. Countless arrivals. Even more departures. People love leaving the city more these days and migrate to whatever qualifies as a bigger, better, more prosperous utopia.

Breaking the Hiatus

It’s been a long, long time, since I have blogged. Primarily because I am lazy. Secondarily because I am a self conscious writer. Tertiarily (no that’s not a real word) because, well, I can’t think of a reason right now. Excuses, excuses, hah! Okay. Hopefully there weren’t too many tears shed or love lost or protests staged to mourn my absence.

From time to time, I face these inane Prufrockian dilemmas. The “Do I dare?” kind. The procrastinating kind. The kind which really have no reason or rhyme to plague my mind to begin with, but do anyhow (it’s called procrastination for a reason). That’s why, I wanted to name my new and improved blog “Prufrockian Lamentations”. But I realized that it sounds too much like an eulogy for a tragic hero. Or a vague, cursory commentary on the tragedy of modernity. That’s not it at all…not really what I want to do. I also thought of “Prometheus Unbound”, but immediately got vivid images of a hapless, semi naked man tied to a rock, with an enthusiastic eagle feasting on his liver. Too much violence for an otherwise benign morning, I say. Nomenclature is important. It’s what we are known as for the rest of our lives. It’s what we are, in more ways than one, even if Shakespeare disagrees. It’s what gives rise to pseudonyms. It causes dissent among agitated youths, if deemed uncool. It gives occasion for heated clannish arguments when there’s a birth in the family. It causes embarrassment. It can strike fear and awe in others if you make something of yourself, something worthwhile. And if you’re unlucky, it can even be an expletive. (“What a Dick!”, “Stop being a Potol,” “Why are you such a Stuti?”) Bengalis tend to face this even more, thanks to the marvelously bizarre and intensely common nicknames that parents bestow on us. We all know a Babu, and a Mamoni and a Shonai. We all laugh. But we all feel a tug of knowing empathy. So yes, names are important.

I thought, why not Shakespeherian Rag? It sounds fancy, maybe even pretentious. Evidently. But you see, it is “The Mysterious Rag.” And as the great Eliot noted, “it’s so eloquent, so intelligent.” Good thing to aspire to then. I like it, and since this is my creation, this is what it shall be known as, forever and ever. Amen.

But no. This is about hitch-hiking. Of transgressions and stumbling upons. What I figured is, too many thoughts, too many stray incidences pass by every day, day after day. And I forget. I try to remember, but I forget. So, this blog shall be all about recollections and observations. Things which fascinate me- randomly, passionately, hazily. It won’t be a well crafted exaltation on the glory of life, or sermons on how to adopt hygienic means for the betterment of the self, it doesn’t aim to inspire or incite. It’s more like a quick scribble on all things fleeting- ideas, experiences, stories chanced upon, recurring thoughts and random musings on all and sundry.

Thank you for being a compassionate and large hearted (and thankfully invisible) audience.