Sunday, 25 September 2011


Every year, West Bengal celebrates a festival called Durga Puja, reminiscing how Maa Durga killed Mahishasura, the demon! Come Pujas and Calcutta is filled with pandals. This morning I came across a piece in The Telegraph showing the innovation and creativity people employ to create pandals. Here it is:

Welcome rain for herb worshipper.

Theme-makers across the city may be a worried lot, what with the daily showers jeopardising their preparations for Durga Puja, but Bapai Sen can’t stop grinning. The man from Lake Gardens had made his plans with an eye on the sky. “The more it rains the easier it makes things for me,” he smiles. All the three pandals that he is in charge of have vegetation as their key element. At 64 Palli Puja Parishad, on Manoharpukur Road, he has planted saplings of 80 types of medicinal plants.
“All of them — sandalwood, spinach, rudraksha, brahmi, chirota and nayantara — are growing so well in the rain. I am even growing paddy on slices of bamboo poles on the pandal walls,” he says.
Once a chain-smoker, he had kicked the butt with help from ayurveda. “Extracts of banana leaf and half a spoon of haritaki worked helped me get rid of my addiction.” He will be advertising the benefits of each of the medicinal plants through attached posters at the pandal.
“Did you know Nayantara is good for blood cancer and high blood pressure?” he asks.
At a Moore Avenue puja, he is growing ladies’ finger, pumpkin and other vegetables to depict rural Bengal. It is here that the rain is helping him the most. At Chittaranjan Smriti Mandir, near Kadamtala, he has grown a field of paddy. “The iron content in the Howrah water is too high. The rain water is working better,” he says.

I hope after reading this, not only will you enjoy looking at the pandals but also appreciate the labour which goes into making the Pujas a success! :)

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

'Tricks' of the trade!

After I came back from work today, I ended up watching the climax of an Amitabh-Shashi Kapoor starrer, Suhaag.One thing that struck me was --- the way every Hollywood film has to have a superhero, alien or extinct and mythological creatures, every Bollywood film's climax will have the following points :
  • The hero will come to save his mother/lover from the villian's clutches! (Somehow he'll always know where the villian is, and reach just in the nick of time!)
  •  The hero has to, he just has to deliver dialogues before firing at the villians! And by then someone or the other will kick the gun out of his hand!
  •  No matter how injured our hero is, he will keep fighting till the end! In Suhaag, Amitabh was shot a bullet in his shoulder, still he fought. Inspite of the injures on his arm he then hung on to a helicopter for nearly 5 minutes!  Stronger than Superman!
  • The film has to end on a happy note, well mostly, where the family is together and the villians are most certainly dead or sentenced to jail!
  • And now in the last scene, we tend to show that the police force also exists! ;)
Wanna add something...?

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Love sans luck (part 2)

All three went up to the classroom they’d been allotted. Some were waiting for Natasha, some getting ready, some reciting their lines. But the moment the trio entered, all eyes were on Natasha.
Nisha called out to everyone. “I want all you guys to get into the search right now. Divide yourself into groups. I’ll…”
“Wait, the actors aren’t ready yet. So you have no one from the cast who’ll be free. No not even Natasha, Nisha”, a fashion-designing student who was involved with the costume and make-up department interrupted.
“Ok, fine I won’t take the cast. I’ll go and speak to the school’s student coordinator. Lets see if he can help us.”
Personally, Nisha was happy she didn’t have to involve Aakash into this.

She came after a few minutes with some JIS students. Within those few minutes Natasha realized the gravity of the situation. They had to find the pug within the next thirty minutes. And the school was definitely huge. There was no way they could find him in such a short time. He could have gone anywhere.

This was all Shruti’s fault. She couldn’t take care of a pug? How could the pug just vanish? Hadn’t she kept it on the chair in front of her? The students had already gone for the search. Natasha knew the job was in the right hands. She could trust Nisha when it came to managing things. Natasha was getting ready for the play. Ten minutes had already passed. There was no sign of anyone from the team. She was getting frantic now. She just wanted to get up and go out in search of her pug. However she still had to get her make-up done before she was free. She was staring at the door waiting for some news to come her way. Instead she saw Aakash coming in. He didn’t look as if he was ready; then her eyes met his. She felt as if he wanted to tell her something but was resisting. That was momentary. The minute he turned away, things were back to normal. The anxiety, anticipation, frenzy — it all returned.
Just then Shruti came up to Natasha. She was all dressed up for the play to the last touches of make-up.

“Hey Natasha, I’m sorry. I didn’t know this would happen. I’d left him on the chair like we always do. I didn’t bother to tell anyone else because I knew I wouldn’t be gone for more than two minutes. The student coordinator had called me to tell me about the entry and exit points of the stage. In the meanwhile the pug must have jumped down. Looks like he’s growing up! I’m really sorry for what’s happened. But I’m sure they’ll find him before the play begins. Oh! Look here they are...”

Natasha saw the entire ‘rescue team’ come in. She closed her eyes, crossed her fingers and then said with eyes still shut tight, “I hope its good news, guys.” There wasn’t any reply. Mentally preparing herself to face the worst, she opened her eyes. Nisha was standing in front of Natasha with the pug in her hands. Natasha leapt with joy! Beaming with happiness she cuddled the pug. The pug started whining and licking her face. She was so happy she gave Nisha a huge hug! They found her pug! After all JIS was so large and the pug so naughty and curious.

And then suddenly it was all crystal clear to her. Aakash coming in — the entire team arriving together — no one mentioning who found the pug. She looked at Aakash. He was standing aside looking at the celebrations with a smile of satisfaction on his face. Everyone was taking turns to cuddle the pug as if it was the trophy of the drama event! He didn’t know what was coming his way. She went up to Aakash. He looked at her and started going away. She held his wrist.
“Why did you have to do this to me?”
Confused, he asked, “What?”
“Why did you have to find my pug for me?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“I’ve been trying my best to ignore you, to hate you, to forget you and you suddenly come up and do this for me.” She started sobbing. Everyone was looking at them. She knew it but didn’t care. “Who the hell told you to be so kind to me? What do you think of yourself? …”

Aakash pulled her into his arms. “Enough Natasha, not any more. I’ve seen you suffering for the past two weeks. Not any more. I don’t know why I did it. Probably I wasn’t in my right mind. I am sorry for what you had to go through because of me. I know sorry is a very small word but I don’t know what else can compensate for the trauma.”
“Please Aakash can we just forget what’s happened? It’s been a nightmare for me.”
“Just promise her that you won’t do this to her ever again”, piped in Nisha voicing the entire group’s feelings!
“I never will I swear. But if by chance I do it again, give me a good spanking, guys!”
“This is for even thinking of doing it again”, said Natasha giving him a light spank on his cheek. “Ok, enough of this drama. I think we should get back to the original play! Ten minutes to go. Every one get ready,” announced Nisha, still laughing!
Natasha returned to her usual spirit within a matter of few minutes. Her cheerfulness soon radiated to everyone. The play went off brilliantly. Everyone gave their very best. Natasha, who’d been good during the rehearsals acted beautifully, par everyone’s expectations! The cast had only one worry. They had a feeling that they probably hadn’t been very good in the sad parts of the play because of the high spirits they were in! They came third! However standing backstage, hand-in-hand with Aakash, Natasha had no regrets about coming third. Because she’d won her trophy even before the play began!

Aakash walked away towards the dressing room in a huff.  Natasha followed him to comfort him. Looked like Aakash had taken the loss to his heart. He was standing by the windowsill looking out.
“Hey it’s okay, Aakash. C’mon, we’ve come third! It’s not that bad after all. And the judge did say that we lost the second position by just a whisker.”
When Aakash didn’t reply or even look at her, she put a comforting hand on his shoulder. He pushed her hand away.

“Listen Natasha, whatever I said before the play began was a lie. I just wanted you to be in a good mood so that the six weeks of hard work and dedication of the entire group does not go waste on the stage today. You were our lead actress and if you would give an okay-ish performance then our chances would have definitely been nil. So in short we’d broken-up and we still remain broken-up. Whatever I said, whatever I did was all for the group’s sake and for the sake of their success.”

Aakash left the room leaving Natasha’s heart filled with anger and disgust but her eyes tearless…

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Love sans luck (part 1)

This is the very first story I had written... I hope you like it :)

She was heartbroken. He’d dumped her. It had been two weeks but she still couldn’t believe it. After all she’d known Aakash for two years now. He’d started staying aloof, not calling her up, not responding to her SMSes. She thought maybe it’s just a phase, maybe he was worried about something he couldn’t share and she gave him time but then this bombshell dropped. Sitting in one corner of the room, stroking her pug unconsciously, she was looking out at the grounds of Jain’s International School (JIS), thinking about the old happy times, when she realized that tears were rolling down her cheeks. She wiped them hurriedly and looked around to see if any of the others had noticed. Yes, someone out there had. Nisha was glaring at her.

Nisha came up but when she looked at Natasha up close she softened. Nisha and Natasha were the best of friends. They’d known each other since they were kids. She sat down beside her and held her hand. She knew what Natasha was thinking about. Natasha’s eyes were searching for Aakash. She saw him reciting his part of the play, looking down now and then to catch a word. She wanted to go and help him with his lines like she did earlier but she knew that wasn’t possible. Since their break-up, Natasha hadn’t approached Aakash. She hadn’t even bothered to ask him for a reason. How could she when she still couldn’t believe that it had happened? During the rehearsals she would just go and enact her part of the play and not involve herself much. She wasn’t the old cheerful Natasha. The entire group would try to cheer her up and yet give her time to gather the pieces. They desperately wanted the old Natasha back. Such was their bond!

“Natasha let’s go down to the grounds for sometime. Don’t worry there’s still about an hour for the play. You can come up and do your make-up, rather a touch of your make-up!” Natasha smiled. Natasha was playing the part of Fanny Price, a girl with no extraordinary beauty but a golden heart who lived life in a simple way.
They’d come to JIS to participate in an inter-school drama event. They were doing a modern adaptation of the famed Jane Austen novel Mansfield Park. They had tried to fit the entire novel within the ten-minute time slot. The important and more dramatic events where emotions ran high, audiences could be captivated, some humourous or interesting sequences wren being enacted by them and the rest was being narrated by Nisha between the acts. For the past six weeks the group had given it their all. Be it dialogues, costumes or even make-up, it had been approved by all. The only reason why they’d called it a modern adaptation was because they couldn’t get costumes of that era! Apart from costumes and sets each element of the play was as close as possible to the novel. Natasha’s pug had been kept to retain the closeness of the adaptation with the novel! The pug had been Natasha’s seventeenth birthday gift from her dad and it was very special to her! The entire cast knew how Natasha loved it!

“The pug?” Natasha asked. But Nisha had already picked it up and was going towards Shruti. She handed over the pug to Shruti and said a few words to her. Shruti looked towards Natasha and smiled as if encouraging her to go ahead with the plan. The group obviously knew about her break-up. They tried their best to behave normally with both of them. And Natasha was thankful to them for this. Because she couldn’t bear to see people chiding Aakash for whatever wrongs he’d done. Even now she couldn’t bear it!

Natasha and Nisha went down to the grounds admiring the small flowerbeds as they passed by. Even Natasha couldn’t stop herself from showering a few words of praise. The grounds of JIS did lift her spirits, though not for long!

Shruti came running towards them. “Natasha I have bad news! We can’t find your pug. No don’t shout at me! Please.” She said it all in one breath. Natasha opened her mouth to say something, but this time both Nisha and Shruti spoke together, “No, please don’t shout!” Natasha couldn't hep smiling at their frenzy!

To be continued...;)

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A salute to our city's police!

A resident of south Calcutta, this morning I heard a loud bang downstairs and I immediately rushed to my window overlooking the road! A truck had collided with a passenger bus. By the look of it, it seemed like it was the truck’s fault. Like it always happens, the passengers, conductor and pedestrians all gherao-ed the truck and demanded that the truck driver come out, blocking the roads entirely! I was about to get back to my work, assuming that the fight below would turn into nothing less than a brawl, when out of the blue I saw two traffic sergeants approaching the scene. By then, the truck driver was literally being heckled by the crowd. My fears for the truck driver subsided when the sergeants intervened, took the truck driver aside, heard the plight of the conductor and passengers and asked the bus driver to make way for others. Within minutes, the traffic snarl had vanished. But on the sidelines, the sergeants were carrying out on the spot verification of the papers of the truck and license of the truck driver. By the time, I relayed the entire story to Dad, who’d joined me by then, the roads were all clear. No police, no bus driver, no truck driver.
Over the past few days, the police of Calcutta have been very alert and on the go. There has been a definite change in the force and it can be seen. Today’s incident just instills more confidence in me!
A salute to all those who man the city and try to make it a safe place! :)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Beautifully painted!

My dad says, since a very young age I caught the habit of reading bill boards and shop names. Whenever we used to go out, I would read out all the names and phrases to him. The habit seems to have stuck on! :)
And it led to me to a new realization....

In some parts of my city, I have noticed that the signboards of the shops are still painted instead of sporting neon-lit boards. Something which used to be so common 2-3 decades ago, now has to be searched for. You might feel I’m weird or out-dated, but I personally like the painted signboards more than the modern ones. The modern ones mostly lack creativity and their sole purpose I think is to make the shop’s name visible in the dark too! The hand-painted signs exude craftsmanship, charm, creativity and add a personal touch. Of course they have to be beautiful too, and not just painted!…:)

I clicked some I came across in Calcutta… Found other nice ones on the net…

Check it out…

Sunday, 4 September 2011

It's all in the mind!

A fortnight ago, while I was waiting for an interview for my articleship, in the lobby of a firm my mind was full of apprehensions and dilemma! The regular chaos which comes before we face anything new... Clouds of doubt overcame my thoughts... How would the work be, my colleagues, my seniors, the work culture... While I was waiting for my turn, I realized that the long wait led my mind from nervousness to to impatience. by the time I was called in, I was surprisingly nerve-free because my mind had been diverted from frenzy and fear to boredom and frustration.
What I'm trying to say is it's all in our mind! The anticipation, fear, nervousness... The negative response to anything new... We don't wait to experience the change, rather we think of the worst possible situations which might happen! It happens... Happens to a lot of people... What we need to understand is that whether the change will be good or bad for us all depends on us! It's all in our hands... If we respond to the change properly and adjust ourselves to it, with the drive to make our life worth living come what may, how blissful it would all be!
If it's happened to you, don't worry you aren't alone! It's human nature to be wary of changes, but then it's also human nature to try and overcome our weaknesses. Next time you are all nervous, with butterflies flitting in your stomach by the dozen, take a moment out for yourself, inhale some deep breaths and remember it's all in our hands. What you make out of your life, depends on you. Every one has weaknesses. But all of us have strengths too! :)