A Wedding Affair

Weddings!!! The happiest and the toughest and the craziest time in any family would be when a wedding is being planned. Its mayhem at its best!! Insanity is one thing that could possibly keep one alive through the entire process.

Anybody would understand what an Indian wedding is like if they were to see “Hum Aapke Hain Kaun” or “Monsoon Wedding” (the latter being the better choice if you want to see the chaos involved!!) All the discussions…about the colour…the texture and the material of the clothes to be worn on the important rituals...the mandap...decoration...stay...transportation...guest list...food...menu...the sun...the moon...the stars...the lights...what not?!

As the winter sets in the Gujjuland my friends’ wedding cards start knocking at my new found home. There has been plenty of time I have been to my ‘girl-friend-turned-soul-sistahs’ wedding and always returned  with a tired but big satisfying smile on my face. Not anymore. Am sad and outside the circle, may be a bit for too long. 

Anybody’s life can get changed by just a minute…imagine only one minute before you were just “Miss something” and the moment you completed the last phera you are “Mrs. something different”.
If Punjabis can dance then Bengalis can organise impromptu cafe ambience anywhere anytime. And as it was a wedding shower it meant loads of adda with loads of dressing up. And I missed that last minute catch-up this year.  This season I am all connected with their social delight through myriad photos with mehendi, aaltaa, scrumptious delicacies, smiling faces of their families and extended families followed by few calls from the excited friends’ bridesmaids. And with a grumpy face I look at them and my stupid mind flutters in their biye-bari. There’s this invisible second me that whispers “Even I want to be the bridesmaid!”

If you have ever been to a Bengali Wedding you must have noticed, faces as vibrant as glittering sarees, shimmering with layers of make-up, made the bright lights needless. Men in their expensive sherwanis or dhuti-punjabi moving about everywhere.  The women with their fine trousseau thanking God ten times for innumerable reasons it’s not so cold to wrap their heavily embellished selves in expensive – mind EXPENSIVE shawls.

The blowing of the conch shell and ululation by the women gathered at the biyer-mondop and tune of Shanai fills my ear as I write. The smell, oh the smell of fish-butter fry and rojonigondha mixed with the scent of every perfect attire fills give you a different high.

 A scene pops up in my head, a couple of yards away there’s this trying-to-be-cool dude having a rather candid chat with girls probably half of his age. Another group of middle-aged women involved in something what sounded like a boisterous chatter with very fashion obsessed and high on make-up. The obvious topic of discussion among them would be Bengali T.V serials, geomancy, hair and skin care.

I smiled. I am so very much Bangalee by heart. And I never realised that. 

Flicking though the Facebook in my mobile, I leisurely look at my friend’s wedding attire. She looks stunning, more like a Goddess straight from the heaven.  

I miss running all round like a Mad Hatter. I miss accompanying her to the high-profile salon where they charge a bomb for this transformation.  I miss acting like her first-hand whilst she is busy welcoming the guests.  I miss tucking her saree, looking for a pin, holding her veil, wiping her kajal, wiping her sweat (in December!!!), picking up flowers that fell from her pretty bun, snatching gifts from her hands as soon as they were given to her, shooing off unnecessary relatives and friends, checking for safety pins poking in unusual places (hers not mine), wiping her sweat (did I tell you she had a winter wedding!!), frowning furiously at the Pandit who kept on pouring ghee in a roaring fire, making her wear a saree, folding her clothes, counting and tucking away her jewellery, packing the gifts, getting her water, feeding her, taking her phone calls, doing the screaming for her, sneaking her a drink when she needed it and occasionally reminding myself to breathe.
Her smile, her shy glances at her brand new husband, the chaotic giggles, make up removed, earrings dropped, young eyes meeting, exchanging numbers, the hullor , konya pokkho and patro pokkhyo.

I wanted to see and take part in EVERYTHING that makes a Bengali Wedding a BIG, FAT and CRAZY affair.

It must be hard yet pleased to watch her getting married, you know. It was like a part of me had to let go of her. In what way and why I cannot explain. I don’t know why I would have died every time I saw her crying her eyes out over those four days. I don’t know why I would have looked scared to see her in laws, whom she had already known for so long years, as complete strangers. I wanted to protect her, cry with her, sit beside her, hug her and smile with her all at once if given a chance just before she transformed into a beautiful pretty bride. 

In retrospect, I don’t want to remember much about my chipped nail paint, my mismatched make up, my clumsily draped saree and my spectacular absence in photo ops. But. I wanted to cherish the fact of me being there when she needed to be held, watching her smile, I want to guess what she would have hurriedly whispered into my ear right before she was getting married, I want remember how she looked sitting in the make up studio restlessly twitching her fingers.

With moist eyes, as I write this, I remember our sudden outings at CCD and Oly Pub. Her nervous voice just few minutes back when I called. I wanted to experience all of us, the Jing-Bang together at my deserted home, drunken and musically enriched – just before I left HOME.

Homeward Bound

I am at work and am supposed to WORK. Instead, I am staring at a blank document with a blank mind. All I can hear are the sounds of the relentless typing on the keyboard, my colleagues speaking in low voices, phones ringing and the humming of the not required cool air of the air conditioners. I have papers on my desk, a blue pen without a cap, a half eaten bar of chocolate and the cold bottle of water. I lean back on my blue chair and wonder what makes me so melancholic today.

Maybe it is because winter has finally arrived in Gujjuland, without much fuss, without knocking me down with few bouts of cough and unruly cold. Here, the winter is like an imposter, comes out as the sun goes down.

Or maybe because I miss November in Calcutta. I miss the feeling of Durga Puja, Kali Puja, BhaiphoNta being over, the familiar feeling of approaching Christmas, the trips to Vivekananda Park for phuchkas. November used to bring the sunlight in my small balcony back home where Maa used to put the blankets out for sunning one last time before winter finally arrived.

My boss gives me a look with an arched eyebrow, may be its time for me to write – write about the boring job scenarios all around the planet followed by the humdrum of ‘Global Warming’. I smartly don an idiotic ‘opppss... I did it again’ minus Ms. Britney’s glam-doll-lollipop-sucking –duck-faced look and pretend to work, as my mind takes me to the lazy evening in Oly Pub.

It’s just a matter of a week. A week in my city. The time when my city dresses up, puts on some make up and spreads her arms a little wider to take in the maddening crowd. Unstoppable of energy bubble that bursts only after rueful New Year’s Day.

It’s been a while since I’ve been this homesick, it really doesn’t go too well with my feelings now (yeah, one more time, word is sucha bitch). I wanted to have cha and fish-finger in a crowded premik para of Nandan.  Wander mindlessly around the JU-r math whilst munching muri-alur- chop.

The mild winter breeze, grey skies, over bearing crowd, traffic snarls followed by the bells of cycle rickshaws. And the horns. And now, a list of my ever loving old-maiden Calcutta:

The CNG autos. The low floored buses.

The mouth watering rasogolla at the neighbourhood sweet shop.

The familiar smell of warm toast in the morning. The tinkle of a spoon against a tea cup. “You still prefer black?”

The endless fish curries. The waiting for biriyani.  The mutton rolls.

The plans changed. Times not kept.

The doorbell ringing in the morning. “Didi, aajkey oi baari tey ki hoyechhey jano? ” (“Do you know what happened in the other house this morning?”)

The news bulletins on CPM, TMC. The heated discussions on politics, ideals and beliefs.

The new literature festival. The book fair missed.

Smiles, laughter.

The walks around a park. The life that seems a little troubled. A friend’s shoulder. A patient hearing.

Evenings spent with relatives. Neighbour’s lives. Gossip. Smirks. Laughter again.

Shawls and sarees. Kashmir emporium. New Market.

Sitting by the side of a mighty river. Staring out into the open.

Dreams had. Dreams lost.

Peace. Home. Hope.

Heartache. Soulmate. Best friend.


Back back BACK... you NOSTALGIA

I have spent a good part of my life in Kolkata where if I am honest, everyday has been a battle, and am still surviving. A fight for justice, a fight to love, a fight to give mercy when I have been hurt, a fight for a seat on a crowded metro or even a fight simply not to be cheated or taken for a ride by a local taxi driver. As a fighter or at least one who has had to fight to survive life in Kolkata, I have been very well equipped with weapons of war. I have a clenched jaw and a hard face that appears without my permission and a struggle to trust, a healthy fear of men who stand too close and some sweet evasive moves to ward off potential harm both physical and emotional.

I had an over-exaggerating urge to move to a city where I can thrive all alone, may be without much of these fights! The following next few months were again loaded with fights - this time with the inner demons. A battle between the two worlds of letting go! A world full of a 'brand new start' of a branded bandwagon and the other one was full of 'high hopes'. A random hunt for the 'grooviest' city and the fat cash - it continued. 

So! one day, quite unexpectedly, I chose a city where I was yet to make a bond with - Gujjuland - MY Dreamer's Gujjuland !!!! With all the stories that I heard, I made a collage of that place.

After much debate, calling my travel agent for another thousand times, checking and re-checking my checklists, folding forms, booklets, tickets, and much after carrying my favorite perfume - I landed in a city full of colors, loaded with religious differences, contrasting shades between the old and the new and a guy (whom I lost years back on a chilly night) named 'The lotus-eater'.

He took my hands and showed me the city through his eyes. Gujjuland doesn't fit seem to fit the bill at all, with it's everlasting demand from me to remain strictly alert all the time.

Season changed and so did my troubled bubble. With a lavish terrace and 'hand-picked' friends and luggage of boredom, I started venturing out in the city like a lousy traveler. I fueled quite UN-consciously, every curious eyes, every peculiar smiles from the colored crowd. 

...time evaporates and here comes Garba, the dancing act of men and women alike in mulch-colored clothes shedding all inhibitions aside. I've never been to a Bollywood movie set, but am sure there's nothing remotely dissimilar between them apart from the vanishing act of few super-stars.

As they danced and cheered with the 'taal' of 'dholak' , I stood there dumb-fucked with droopy eyes, buzzing head and heart-wrenching thoughts of my long, lost beloved 'Kolkata' . Whenever I am away from Kolkata, I impose a total media ban on anything related to the Pujo, taking a leaf out of the Government of India’s Ostrichian principle that if I bury my head in the sand and censor the flow of information about a certain thing, then that thing ceases to exist any more.

I was writing my puja post too. And it was very personal, and beyond the first three sentences I just couldn't go on (right words are such a bitch) and I was in a state of high-middle despair. It's Ashtami, dammit, when will I finish it and put it up? Which is when it occurred to me that I needn't, really, you know, put up a puja post. It's not a Pujabarshiki that I publish. Sit back. Hit 'save as draft'. Relax. Is okay.

Instead, I picked up my cell with teary eye and called " The Baul In Denims"...

...and it turned BLUE!

Sometimes the world turns stand still. It doesn't move an inch no matter how much you try hard! The emotions get replaced with a void - heavy with humdrum air and few of your past snap shots!

Sometimes a house where you have started crawling also takes the shape of an enormous jungle. Sometimes the broken fences and a room full of books become a slaughter chamber. Sometimes the green pastures at your back yard where you used to play with your lost childhood suddenly become unbearable. Sometimes, just sometimes you play-pause-rewind- replay the memories you thought you have flushed them all out of your system.

Don't need a bandage,
there's too much blood,
after a while, seems to roll right off.
...and then you meet her! The person who lives in the house. Her face bears no resemblance of someone you might have seen. Her eyes are inserted deep in her heavy tarnished glasses but no one ever even dared to steal the glint in her dark eyes. No one can fathom her age - it is more like age has refused to come to her. So she stays there like an old witch in a winter European castle. Alone. No thoughts. No feelings. No one left to blame. Just alone. When she smiled for the first time after I entered her house, it was more like those climbers which I just saw entwining her poor iron gates. One moment I thought she forgot how to smile. It gave me a shiver. Her webbed hands shivered while bringing me a glass of water. I was scared - scared to be eaten by someone as profoundly silent yet strong like her. I was in my late 20's then and there she was standing right in front of me - the mirror!

Yeah I was seeing myself in the house where I was born. The house which carries a plethora of my thoughts, my dreams, nightmares, love, hatred, confusion, solution - everything. And I am standing there alone in front of the mirror. 
A long pause.

Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.

Things need not have happened to be true. Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgotten. And when I saw my reflection probably twenty years later than I am now! I couldn't help but laughed. Laughed like a lunatic - laughed as if am in a mental asylum where I am getting treated. If fate doesn’t make you laugh, then you just don’t get the joke - they say! Within a fraction of second my entire lifeless house comes to life. The house, full of children and their ever lasting pranks and banter. My mother along with my aunts in the kitchen or engaged in an afternoon gossip while knitting or sewing. My dad and uncles in the living room - discussing about the latest political upheaval over a cup of tea. My grandmother with her tooth less smile - the smile that still haunts me! At times I used to wonder how did she manage to smile so innocently every time. May her soul rest in peace - she even died with a touch of that unadulterated smile! 

I watched them whirling inside my little room. the dim light added to the extravaganza and I had no clue what I was looking for till I found him. It is the Illusionist. He tore down my childhood like a brutal animal and presented me with a life that I will regret to have years later.

My head whirled. I wanted to rest.

But I was adamant. I wanted to witness. I wanted to undo my past. I felt like an intoxicated beast. With no exit on the other side of that cursed mirror. I saw the world tinted red. He kept on knitting lies after lies and I listened to him. As if he is my shepherd and I am his sole sheep. There was this song by Denver playing at the back ground - "Country roads, take me home... To the place, I belong..." and like a fool I was travelling with him. In my heart. I saw him drinking bottles after bottles my eyes glued to his stories that used to make me laugh or cry. I saw him flirting with women, fighting with the world, trying hard like a lion to prove his point. I saw him with a face of a skeleton! I was scared, feeling claustrophobic, I wanted to run away! But guess my feet were too grounded. I felt his touch - the feel which churns my stomach now. He played with me like a magician would do with his puppet. He attached his strings to my body - mind - soul and I danced to his tune.

The stage is set. The vaudevillians are ready. The musicians are all set with their instruments. People waiting outside the theatre to witness the grand finale of the show called “Illusive Love". The crowd cheered. Trumpets rolled and enter the Illusionist. His gelled hair, strong jaw-line, muscular hands and rugged fingers greeted them like a ring master. I still can't forget the barbaric cheer of the crowd that night. People brought me on stage - the Wizard's only toy! He snapped all the threads bit by bit while humming a Hindi retro song. I was tired; I wanted to tell him the things I never sensed I could tell. I wanted to close my eyes. But there I was lying lifeless on the floor. The hall emptied every one packed up their belongings except ME.

Like a trance I woke up from that dream. My cat purred around my legs - dinner time! I checked my mobile. What time is it? Then put it down. What’s the use of time when I have all the time to say good-bye!

There's someone at the door. I wanted to deny his existence. Still, half heartedly I opened the door to find him standing. My Dreamer - my little sylvan retreat! Who says only a place can carry that charm?! His deep, dark eyes and dimpled smile acts as a dagger to my poor little heart! He hugged me and all my stage act vanished in a flicker of a second! I was there, here. In my house, with the Dreamer. 

It started raining while we clinked our glasses. "Abhi na jao chor kaar..." in the background. While we lifted the glass he smiled. I know what he wanted to say, " I have seen them all too."

...."ke dil abhiii...bhara nehi!”

Eternally YOURS..!!

We connect specific people to special images in our mind frames. The very thought of a particular person is related to his image in our intellect. The face, the smell, the sensation of that particular touch, the voice of that someone remains etched in our minds.

And memory has no age; it does not grow older with years and the passage of time does not leave a wrinkle on its visage!

As years roll by, walking down those cherished by-lanes of reminiscences, I stumble upon those old images of amassed senses, those warm passionate touches, that glowing countenance, the smell of a half burnt cigarette and a glass of whiskey.

A dark dingy room with old brown curtains and its little holes, through which the first rays of the sun filters in, encompasses my world of memories.

"Can you see the light there?" you ask me, pointing towards the dark sleepy glides across the sparkling Subarnarekha. The river's at her passionate best, shining like quicksilver on a gorgeous moonlit night. "Do you hear the rumbling of the maadol?" I ask in return. Somewhere hidden in those mysterious shades of green, grey and brown jungles, someone is offering a prayer in a language we cannot comprehend, but whose essence we can both construe—music. It's well-past dinner time; and on another night when there's a nip in the air, we could be happily tucked in bed, sleeping or talking; or perhaps awake and wrapping up the end of a long day doing little things that make us happy.

On another night, at this hour, you could be sitting next to the soft lights of the terracotta lamp (yes, the one with those little bells on its rim…the one we picked up after much bargaining from the Poush Mela that year when you played for the first time in Santiniketan) leafing through some new music reviews, or humming lines from a very old favorite ghazal…maybe Zafar, maybe Momin…or even the clssic tunes of Mohiner Ghoraguli. On another night, I could be reading excerpts from the latest Book that you bought  from Blossoms, or perhaps just scribbling over the last few words on my jotter, or just may be...playing that guitar tune again and again till you ask me to play the other lead. But on such an ethereally lit winter night as this one, wrapped up in shawls, we are both happy to be awake and to let our souls drown in what we feel happens rarely, and therefore cannot be missed—the milieu of euphony, moonlight and mystery. As the apartment lights and halogen lamps switch off one by one, and the whole neighborhood plunges into honeyed slumber, we stay awake, straining our ears to hear and absorb the distant reverberation of a rustic Santhali tune, wondering and seeking the origin of a music so secreted, yet so eloquent, untouched by the periphery of urban life or parameters of "civilized understanding". We stay awake in a trance, relishing the music, the forest fires, while the moon moves slowly and deliberately over the landscape like a seductress, enveloping and embracing the entire panorama of our vision in a mystical silver veil. We are at a strange crossroad of feelings tonight…assimilating the beauty of the ambience individually, yet together, in a way. Unlike our usual discourses, we leave nature to initiate and lead all the conversation. After all, even sharing a moment of silence with someone who can read your thoughts can be so beautiful. 

Light dims, music fades and returns….

I see the room as an unpretentious little penthouse of my very private moments and very personal experiences. I still feel that diffident air in the room that smelled of burnt cigarettes and moisture.

Even now, I picture the room in its old image, with half-opened Kafka and Richard Bach, lying on a dusty old burma-teak desk, an yellowing letter from an old associate in the drawers, butts of Gold Flake scattered in every corner of the tattered rug that was once a red carpet, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd and Fool's Garden booming from an old CD player on a smoky, dusky afternoon., broken guitar and You!

Starry eyed you, with a thousand dreams in your doe-like almond eyes.

Fiery, passionate you, with that furious Cancer rage, one that could destroy the world, your relationships and finish you!

Creative, talented you, singing "Country Roads, take me home!" in my ears.

Passionate adorable you, admiring my face in the light of a match stick one midsummer night!

Then I see us!

We sharing a sunset; we reading out pieces from Love Story together; we wishing upon a silver shooting star, we holding hands in a dark theatre watching a gripping thriller, we dancing in the terrace on a cold moonlit night to Ian Anderson's magical flute; we hunting for old tattered pieces of wisdom in the pavements of College Street, we making love in the rain!

Thanks to memory, it has a selective vision.

Memory does not age. Its images do not alter, amend or modify with time and relationship.

Is memory infinite with neither form nor definition? Unbound by time, emotions or space?

To all my memories, its images and metaphors, its senses and emotions,

Eternally yours...

Returns the Baul


The proverbial Bengali is known by certain unmistakable racial characteristics such as living on a diet of fish-curry, rice and sweets, travelling incessantly, passionately following football matches and cricket tournaments, loving the arts, being lazy, making a lot of plans and never acting on them …the list goes on. One of these is the indefatigable love for ‘Bangalee Adda’ a term roughly translating to community chat sessions and including discussion and debate and brain-storming, all rolled into one. The quintessential Bengali can even forego his favorite meal and virtually survive for hours, on cups of tea or coffee punctuating that what he loves most of all – talking on anything and everything under the sun.

My Baul in Denims being a true blood Bangalee can't be an exception! There were nights after nights that we engaged ourselves in some nonsense "Nirihoaddabaji even if it is on-line. With red eye I used to head straight to work while the adda continued even when we are working. The little red webcam that glows right next to his name, lures this aged witch to see him again, just once if not ever again!

Aguntuk: Kabir Suman geyechilen "Khata dekhe gaan geyona,ulte paata jeteo pare!"

Me: Suman Shaeb eita janten na je "shesh bhalo jaar shob bhalo" hoy. Naamei paka, ekhono kochi kochi bhul korey bosho majhe majhe...

...and the dwellers of two different planets started to live on something called electronic media. It was a fairly unusual night that year of the Salamander. For years from that night, Astronomers and Shutterbugs would swear that never before was such a spectacular marvel that had ever adorned a night sky! Pretty much every pair of lenses and eyes in Never Land peered curiously at the sky to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon. And there it was, for ten whole peahens, against the backdrop of a cloudless blue-black sky, a white incandescent doughnut shaped moonette!! His endless love for the south-Indian grub and my pouting unseen face seemed to evaporate with time, place and of course IMAGINATION.

(suddenly a strange image of such dish pops up on my screen)

Me: ewww...what is THAT, something in between jhol bhaat and kichuri?!

Aguntuk: Na na, eita ek rokomer khichuri opore badam aar seuvaja deowa thake-y. Bhari moja-r!
Me: looking at it...can certainly understand that!!
(long pause with Mohiner Ghoraguli as background score)

Aguntuk: But, surprisingly I dont get bored with it. Apart from women I dont get bored easily...

I take a deep breath with my fire stick in hand and blow a smoke staring at the screen like a little lunatic. Is 'My Baul' going Urban, does he now learnt the trick of amorousness, does he.... Suddenly I feel my blood rush into my veins as if I’m fueled by an ever- ready battery. And off I am, to live like Jason Bourne, a life that is a gigantose covert operation in itself, shielding myself from the forces of, well, nature, and aware of everyone and everything around me. Such are the trained instincts of a soldier in peril. A soldier, fighting to evade the deathly embrace and ramifications of Project Red-Stone.

Me: hmmm...so how many women you've dated so far?

Aguntuk: Erm...never bothered to keep a count!

Me: One should always keep the count of their enemies, specially if they are of the opposite sex, they say!

Aguntuk: They have never been my enemies. They called my name - with different voices, tones, expressions and at different junctions of the city of my Love, Kolkata! Stoic silence was my only weapon to combat such emotions.

I waited for him to say something just more, but my mobile signalled the Dreamer's name and I couln't resist to pick up that call.

"Kauke chenona tumi,Tomake chene na keu,Shei toh bhalo..." 


It’s amazing what ample amounts of free time can do to a person. All of a sudden, 24 hours actually seem like 24 hours, Leona Lewis sounds closer to a beautiful voice weeping, crisp omelettes, washed down with orange juice becomes the revelation to what they meant when they coined ‘sense and simplicity’, and sitting in the balcony listening to the wind whistle over a cup of piping hot tea turns out to be the ultimate amphetamine to the mind wandering like a feather on a windy day.

So where does the mind wander, you ask. Well, the minute you let it go, it leaps like a delinquent far into the horizon, across the sun kissed meadows and then it digs its heels to a screeching halt to look for familiar territories. Such are the limitations of a soul in silo.

Aguntuk: Kaal shondhyebela, raat-e ki plan?

Me: Kaal? Jani na.
Aguntuk: Dekha hot-ey paare-y?

My heart which always procrastinates jumps a bit and then reminas still. No, this can't be true. I just spoke the Stranger few nights back and he never said he will come! I’ve always maintained that life is full of overrated moments. And the flavour of the season that never changes is incredible stupor.

Me: Ki odbhut!Dekha hobe ki kore?

Aguntuk: Jebhabe dekha hoy, thik sheibhabe!

I raise a bit from my couch and read that again. The Stranger, MY Baul in Denims is IN the city! And 'It' all started with a phone call!

Finally amidst the glamour and gliteratti and fashion and shopaholics we meet. The baul in denims with wollen scarf and yours truly in activewear. Yeah, it all started with a silly phone call and random texts! The guy from Nilgiris has stars in his bespectacled eyes.When one writes, there is no knowing exactly where it might lead. And so it is with this blog. I am at a loss as to what, if anything, it has achieved so far.

After some "Arreey...hain..maaney...accha..oh!...baah...besh..."  we head towards the cha-er dokan with cheap cigarette and cheaper mouth-freshner. The 30 minute time made me to remember the baul for a lifetime. It feels like eternity since words exploded across my screen like birds breaking out into the evening sky, scattered, numerous and with unassumed violence... It feels like a lifetime since I could feel and give life to the feeling... since I could showcase them into words...

We shook hands and with an uncanny smile said "good-bye". Then, it happened. All of a sudden, I heard nothing. The world was playing in mute. Faces moved, vehicles moved, people waved. But not a single sound. My euphoria cannot be compared. Shakespeare was cooing into my epiphany. The world was a stage, people were actors of a mime, in mute. White noise. Pure Bliss.


That Baul in Denims

"Amay khub jante icche kore, na?" - the question which took me back to some long unforgotten years! Little did I know that the guy from the Dreamer's Sylvan Retreat, The Aguntuk shall delineate the Punk Bangalee in me.

His love for  Kolkata or Calcutta — the media-distorted British-raped “City of Joy" and my utter dissaproval for the same, his proud confession like " “Food, music, film, dance, fun, literature, politics, science, arts and what not…in spite of all the problems and stupid politicians and promoters today, it’s just incredible. And I’m not even talking about her GLORIOUS history.” And my silent disapproval always criss-crossed each other!

Meet the guy from the Nilgiris where the weather is much cooler than the post summer evenings in the city, the guy who can sell his soul to the Devil to return to the land of Robi Thakur and Bangla gaan - MY  'Baul in Denims'. With his bright, big eyes, he wants to capture all the detailed varieties of life. While am a proper Dilli-wali whose mind always wanders among the crowded bylanes of the capital. There are old stones everywhere with hints of blue glazed tile and flocks of bright green parrots, and you keep passing monuments that have stood witness to centuries.  I always imagined that if I start digging in these places, archaeological treasures will start poking out of the ground.  Layers of civilization will peel away to reveal even deeper secrets. 

Me: Aami dumb-i bhalo achi. Tomra amar theke onek beshi buddhi rakho! 

Aguntuk: Eta ekta rog ... nijeke Gobet bhabte bhalobasha !

Me: Tomar-o toh rog ache, nijeke na bhalobashar!

Aguntuk: Hain ache toh!

Yes, it started with little exchange of stale secrets, the boredom of being lonely and the spark for the city of love or Kolkata! What happens when a Mohiner Ghoraguli Bangalee meets The North-Indian rustic Bangalee? - A total disaster!

Aguntuk: HaNslam keno bolotoh?

Me: kyano?

Aguntuk: Jodi boli je tomar sab hotspot e jatayat nei?

Me: Aamar hot spot toh Aarshi Nagar !
Aguntuk: Konodin decker's lane Chandni Bar-e gecho? jaoni....

Me: hhmmphh...

His longing for the city made me to come closer with it too. Not that I wanted to! But I did, may be the Aguntuk was too fasinated to see the love of his life through the eyes of an apathetic dweller! His day dreaming with a flavor of "jukti-tokko-golpo", his love for the South Indian dishes, his madness for the maddening crowd and his "joghonnyo" - always took out a little bit of Bangalee in me!  How strange does the stranger become when he suddenly professes his hidden inner ailments by saying, " Shono, ami "bhalobashi"...anek kichui bhalobashi, abar kichu kharap bashi, shob miliye ami ebong amar beNche thaka!"

Five years is a long time. To be up-rooted from the city where I grew up and descending to a place which was never mine,long enough to make one homesick (sic.). Long enough for the mind to wander. And wonder. I have witnessed a lot of changes in Calcutta. For the better.
And I wonder how much things could have changed.
I wonder.

And in turn, I question if they are going to change my childhood. My growing years. My memories.
I wonder.

The Aguntuk keeps on taking me back and forth the timeline which even Facebook can't really do! I mean at least there, you have an option to scroll while here,you jog your memories till they are scrambled enough! His continuous enquiry like if we still have the sudden clap of thunder and the ominous darkening of the sky with the mad frenzy of a rain shower bringing respite on a sweltering Summer afternoon. Kalbaisakhi as he calls it. And ek poshla brishti.

And in return it gives me the detailed picture of Kaki closing the shutters on the window to keep out the scorching sun. And turning on the radio and listening to the Bangla natok as she prepares for her siesta in the afternoon. Ghori Rahashyo. I still remember the name of the natok!

The stranger, my Dreamer's "Ek class-er dost" and I get entwined in an elusive journey, where we bump against the "phele asha purono din-er gaan". His college days, mess, "chaNda tuley mocchob" to his translations of several Bangla words for me - everything made me to learn a bit more of the sweetest language, Bengali! He still brings out that Bangalee in me!

Me: Aaii tomar case ta ki bolotoh

Aguntuk: kiser case?
Me: Dwosh (10) baar kore dakadaki korte hoy kyano?!amar na bhalo lage !
Aguntuk: Shohoje dhora dile aar ki moja!!

Meet the brutal "Twins" who make you to wait though he says like a saddist he loves the joy while inflicting the pain!

Aguntuk: Aami unpredictable ...unpredictability theke sabdhan!
Me: Amar toh mone hoy tomar baire lekha ache, Handle with care, Fragile inside !

                                                                                                                                                ... continued

Keeping Eyes

To start all over is how you open your eyes once more to mirrors which have made you into what you are now, these mirrors playing semblances along, rendering the most peculiar feelings. But it is not entirely how you look through them, sometimes it's how they eat on you in some light, how they leave you to figure the blur, these questions so hard to lose or lift off your rational days.

One day a stranger asked in the voice of a man who first broke your heart, aware now how far you've traveled from such times. "Have you gone, grown mindless of your past." It was as if all mirrors then moved towards you, cornering, like claws to a once elusive prey, so close to rob you with its old searing light when all you could rattle by was a stare-- the safest, you guess, of all human responses.

"I've been looking all my life," he drawled as his fingers on your body now, searching for that part where your  answers dwell. He was trying to tell you something-- each of his wordless sound, your inconvenience.

"I choose not to remember," you said.

As he arched his back, your fingers pulled him down, his face now on yours—  as if to make sure you'd own or steal his wander for a minute —  with hope after, he'd understand, from a little distance, your tearful eyes.

No more invitations, telegrams and calls for those who never arrived!

Imagined Interiors

Tonight we spoke like a frequency graph,
Like a landscape without edges,
Extruded strokes of light to my lips like fingers
stretching through the architecture of your words.
To cocoon the sounds in my ear longer

I scavenge images to furnish this room
that holds you in sprawling pieces
with feathered edges that overlap and repel.
I smear the walls with my tender vision.

This passage doesn’t permit complexity.
A blocked aperture half-closed
the debris left by a fragment fallen
from the frozen eye of the storm.
It obstructs my view of your dislocation.

Someone coughs in the background.
Your voice lowers to a soft tendril,
I hear your body turn in your sheets
As you describe the darkness
that stares back at you.

In these implicit movements I accrue
the inescapable graduation of weightless light
that reaches from me to you under a heavy winter.

Colour will slide in the morning
over the outline of your refuge.
(like an unfinished house)
Like music climbs through those sounds.


In life or love pain must be felt. There is no other alternative. But that pain is accompainied by something else… hope.

“You have no idea how much you mean to me.  Maybe you choose not to see it.  Maybe you look past it because it scares you, but I’ve always been in love with you. We’ve seen the best and worst of each other.  You were a part of the reason I hit rock bottom, but you also influenced who I am today and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.  It scares me being with you.  It scares me how much I’m going to miss you.  I’ll always be hopeful.  I can’t help it.”

You gradually get over the pain. It doesn’t go away, not for a long time, but it becomes easier to live with. One morning you wake up and he’s not the first thing on your mind. And then a few months down the line you realize you’ve made it through half the day without thinking of him. Sometimes it takes months, sometimes, years, but eventually you reach a point when you only think about them occassionally. You manage to do this because you don’t see them, you don’t hear about them, you try not to think about them. And then you bump into them walking down the street, or someone unexpected mentions their name . . . and the memories come flooding back. But memories also become less painful in time, and I can talk about them now without really feeling anything. But I’d rather now. If you know what I mean. Was I ever truly over him? At one time I was sure that the answer was yes. But if seeing him again- and merely touching his hand- could peel back so many layers of my heart, then did I ever stop loving him the way you’re supposed to stop loving everyone but the one you’re with?

It’s the tragedy of loving, you can’t love anything more than something you miss. I sat down with a couple of people recently and as I looked around the table, I thought wow, we are all broken people. Of course, we all understand this in theory, but the practice of understanding and welcoming the brokenness of others, especially people who we look to as leaders is an almost impossible task. But still we try to maintain for what we are NOT, after all we have to lead them in any case.

I lead people, have led people and sometimes, I do a crappy job and have done it pretty badly with my brokenness spilling out in all my sloppy need and sin. I need grace, I desperately want to make right my offenses, I want to be forgiven. I want to lead people well but sometimes, I fail.

I am guilty. Guilty of forgetting that people who have led me, people who have walked with me are broken, imperfect and perfectly fallible. Being surrounded by brokenness, even creation groans and writhes in destructiveness, I am looking for something better, something less broken, more perfect. So guilty, I confess that I have put people who are leaders in the position of being that something better, that something less broken. In fact, they are not less broken, maybe they just have more responsibility and maybe sometimes they handle that badly. Yet, I struggle to forgive the debts of those who basically broken like me but hold positions of power, I simply can not get over that they are not more perfect than I am. I have made them demi-gods. Given them power in my life and expected that they would use it well and i fiercely hoped that they would not fail me. They did fail me. They have failed me. People who lead are broken, they are me, human, frail, fallible and destructive at times. Hopefully, they are also vulnerable and transparent, if in fact we will let them be...