24 April, 2007

Last rites

Today a well-revered member of the Xaverian community passed into the West. Metaphorically speaking.
Mr. Bijon Kumar Ganguly had been the renowned head of Physics in our school for over 20 years. His prodigious grasp of the subject, coupled with his acerbic moods and delightful sarcasm made him one of the most memorable pillars of Xavier's; one who defined the science section as much as it defined him.

His farewell speech this morning was greeted with a burst of spontaneous applause. Started off like this (trademark rumble):

"You have filled me with a sea of nostalgia, on which waves of emotion are flashing. The equation of the wave has too many variables for me to define. Only, remember these three things:
Do not be ego-centric. The more you lessen your ego, the greater will your inner intellectual become.

Be humble. Remember: a humble man is not he who thinks less of himself, but thinks of himself...less.

Physics is not a formula-based subject, but a concept-based one."

It is impossible to recount the times our batch had with the old fellow. I mean, its not every teacher who comes into a class and says, "I'll vectorially displace you from the classroom. Your vocal-chords are perpetually in simple harmonic motion.
You talk like a fool, laugh like a fool, look like a fool. Hence, you are congruently a fool..."

23 April, 2007

A tribute

Today is the death anniversary of one of the greatest film-makers in the world - Satyajit Ray. He remains the only Indian director to have received an Academy Award (on his death-bed - a screen with Audrey Hepburn extending the statuette to him in Hollywood, while he reached out for a facsimile from his bed in Kolkata). Myraid awards were heaped upon him, including the French Legion of Honour.

His first film was Pather Panchali(Best Foreign Film at Cannes), which told the tale of grinding poverty in rural Bengal and the joy with which the child Apu grew up amidst all this. Internationally acclaimed as a landmark in realist cinema, he came to be regarded as one of the greats of thoughtful cinema, ranking with de Sica, Kurosawa, Bergman and the rest of the best.
With shoe-string budgets and inferior technology, all his films had a limpid clarity of style that was essentially his vision and had the ability to reach out to a world audience.
His many films span countless topics - from social statements to satires and children's films. Justly it is said:"...till someone else comes along, Ray's Bengal will be realist world-cinema's India."-Sight and sound.

My personal favourites are: Pather Panchali(Song of the Little Road, Charulata (The Lonely Wife), Kapurush-Mahapurush(Coward-Saint).

Today is also the birthday of Shakespeare. We had four charts hung up about him in school. Only I and Agni knew of the fellow Indian.

19 April, 2007

The flight of the fledging thought

He sang. Sang to the rhythm of the whirling dust, the charred branches and fossilised personae around him. Sang out against the grey blankets of an insensate world that seemed to smother him. Sang for all the unknown poets, blind painters and dumb singers in the whole Universe.

A silent song.

As silent as his unsaid thoughts, furiously hidden moments of tenderness and unconfessed cravings.
As silent as the devotee, that trembling creeps up to the altar. The kneel which keels over into a slump - paroxysms of ecstasy. My highest reverence. My darkest moment.

He sang of the Unrequited. The fallen lovers and peacemongers in Life's marketplace.

Then he scratched his head, dislodging copious amounts of dandruff. Belched. Went to sleep.


I just thought of this. I'd like to change places with the guy. He can sing. I can't for nuts.

14 April, 2007

Bengal's New Year.

Poila Boishakh. That is what the first day of the month of Boishakh is called in my beloved mother tongue. Tomorrow.
I called it Bengal's New Year keeping in mind that everybody is affected by this festivity, be they Bengali or otherwise. It is a time of joy, ushering in our own private 'new year' according to the reckoning established by the Emperor Akbar. Universal greeting of 'shubho nobo borsho' :- happy new year; interspersed with mutual offerings of sweets. There is a joy of a peculiar sort - one which is justified by its existence alone, of the general goodwill to all men (and women, and other indeterminate categories...). A collective upsurge of the happiness-quotient. Over the golden paddy-fields, lonely tree-shades and mud-huts of rural Bengal. In the cultivated gentlemen comprising of the urban 'Calcatian', the GenY in the shopping malls (okay, maybe I got too hopeful there!), the chain-smoking intellectuals of the Coffee House(who respond with a flurry of poetry).

My spinster aunt's birthday also falls on that day. She lives in the forsaken family house with the ample company provided by five cats of various temperaments. Pishi will come as always to our place tomorrow.

We'll phone our relatives: too busy to go over as in the old days. Frantic calculations of overseas timelines for some. And then I'll dream. And forget about being cynical.

Shubho Nobo Borsho, everybody!!!
Happy Bengali New Year!!!

11 April, 2007

Demigods

Twenty-one storeys above the city, a sea of buldings stretching away into the haze of the horizon. Makes you feel godlike. The wind tearing at our fluttering souls.
Thanks to an obliging uncle, our team of intrepid film-makers gained accesss to the roof of the Everest Building. Shot the opening scenes, mainly featuring the Victoria Memorial, Cathedral, the Hooghly Bridge . . . gave the voice-over.

My anorexic friend, Agni, came directly to the point.

"Tor pisheymoshai-kay bhaara kora jaabey?" Hey, can I rent your Uncle?
"What?!?" In understandable indignation.

"I-I mean can we get your Uncle to lend me the roof-top?"
"For?"

"Well, you know, on the roof, that high above the ground . . . the perfect place to kneel before someone and say the stuff."
Seeing me snigger, he can't but join in.

The major part of the raw video capture is done. Now for the editing and finishing touches. I'll post it on YouTube if it turns out to be any good.
Right now I'm dead tired. Whole day out in the sun, traipsing around the city. And school starts tomorrow. The first day of my last year.
Should I be sad at leaving the memorable alma mater. Or happy at departing from the haunting past and inane connections.
Like to say that I'm just feeling a sense of fulfilment: one stage is done, now for the next.

But actually, I'm just feeling tired. And resigned. Opened too many masks in one day. Heard too old a friend recite too moving poetry.

08 April, 2007

Knotted up

Like nine-pins my cousins are getting married off. All rather older, and generally rather nice. Ah well...
On my Mum's side that is. Manchu went first, off to Liverpool with another Cambridge doc.
Now its Tinu's turn. This'll be the first Catholic wedding I'll be attending. She put Aubhi (her brother) and myself as the official purveyors of the music dept. No shenai.

I was so busy putting on masks, that by now I wonder if I'll ever finish taking them all off. More importantly (and disturbingly): will there be anything left if, hypothetically, I manage to succeed.
Never smiled enough for them, and then it's my last chance of being something to them. My indifference to my fellow creatures (including family) is something ingrained. That is what makes me what I am, hones the other aspects of me that I do not intend to lose.
However, the bitter tinge of regret at the end of the day cannot be wholly obviated either. The room's emptying. Someone has to turn off the lights and fans, put the chairs back in place. Maybe even have a last glance around the place, the emptiness peopled for an instance with those whose lives had intersected for a brief period. Transient flashes.

That 'someone's' me. By choice.

Rear view

Countless rear-windows overlooking the dingy lanes converging at an equally dismal square. I'm looking around, trying to follow the winding paths.
Every time I think I am succeeding, it's all more muddled up than before. Remembering to look around, seeing many others trying to piece things together. And losing the train of though as usual. The Night I feel is a must, so that when the sun shines out, we love it the better.
Serenade of concerted crows, interspersed by backing-tunes of cars.
A normal day indeed!

04 April, 2007

Meltdown

Scorched pavements shimmer,
Reeling from the heat;
The distance all a'glimmer,
Existence no mean feat.

Saffron-clad flaming dervish
Gyrating through the dance of fire
Eyes blood-shot in rhythm feverish
Summer's onset filled with ire.

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