Tag Archives: bengali

Secularism-it’s not a word, it’s a way of living

One doesn’t love a city just because of its scenic beauty or its malls, when we say we love a city it is because some very pleasant memories are etched to our mind-memories that have the ability to make us smile even when we feel blue, and those attached to these fond memories are who we hold close to our hearts.What makes a city famous is its history, its natural beauty, its contribution towards the economic development of the country and so on and so forth. But what makes a city great are its people. In the past seven months of my stay here in Bangalore, all I get to hear about the northerners is their lack of etiquettes and how loud and showy they are. On the other hand, the North Indians complain of the “south-indians” being aloof and not being friendly and welcoming enough. And although I know that there’s no real end to this war of words, still, whenever such a conversation strikes up, I inevitably end up thinking about a third kind of people- the Bengalis. And while many might argue that we Bengalis do not know how to live without any agendas and just need a reason to create unrest, I know that’s just because the majority of the blamers do not know what it takes to take a stand. True, we have a stand for and against everything under the Sun and the Moon and unlike the rest of India, we do not feel inhibited to voice our opinion unequivocally, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We not only voice our opinion but also stand by it till the very end, even if we end up paying heavily for our beliefs. Most of the Bongs like to think about things from a point of view that is beyond religion, caste, creed or any other bigotry for that matter. This is probably one of the many reasons that although we cannot boast of a strong economy we can boast of having a relatively more peaceful communal environment than most other Indian states.
I belong to what the Indian Constitution defines as the minority class of the population, and while many may not like it when I say that in my life I have seen and faced many issues just because of my religious beliefs, it is true. Once, while I was staying as a paying guest in Kolkata, the landlord suddenly asked me to vacate the premises on religious grounds. I was devastated because it is very difficult for a single working girl to find a suitable accommodation. I asked my friends who were staying with me if they would also vacate along with me as I felt this would serve the dual purpose of me being able to rent a flat with flat-mates I already knew as well as teach the landlord a lesson for harbouring communal feelings. The general tendency of the people being not to get involved in somebody else’s problem, I could not gather enough support. But one among them agreed. And she not only came out with me, she also had to bear a financial loss when the landlord did not agree to pay back the security deposit she had submitted while entering the premises. After this financial loss of hers when the two of us started our search for an apartment, we faced more issues, some because people were skeptical of letting out to two single working girls and others because of my religious beliefs. And while we were searching under the scorching heat of the sun getting one negative reply after the other, not once did she complain or make me realise by words or by gesture that she was doing me a favour by supporting me against the landlord. And in the end we did manage to find a place as per our liking and moved in.
The truth is that today, I really don’t harbour any ill-feelings towards those who refused to help me or who refused to let out their place to me that too because of a reason that is entirely personal to me and should not affect or concern them at all, as a matter of fact I won’t be able to recognise them should I accidentally happen to meet them on the road today, such is my indifference towards them. But I do remember this girl, and I am still very much in touch with her inspite of the distance and the hectic work schedules we have. I do remember that this particular girl helped me when none would. She who is much younger than me had the mentality and the maturity to support me not only through encouraging words but actually went ahead with me all the way, and to me she symbolises the true Bong girl-the kind of person that today’s communally torn India needs. She is the numero-uno of all my reasons for loving Kolkata.

Oh My Kolkata!!!

Kolkata is not the city I have grown up in as a kid, it’s not the city in which I was born, it is the city in which I developed as a human being. As a kid, I was terrified of the city. I was brought up in the beautiful valley of Dehradun-the tranquility, the calmness, the peace, the hills-all in stark contrast with the hustling-bustling, hot, sweaty, polluted, over-populated city of Kolkata. As Bengalis, every year during the two-month long summer vacation, we would make an annual trip to the City of Joy (back then to me it wasn’t). I started staying in Kolkata in 2010 up until 2014-and though it may sound clichéd the truth remains, that those are till date the best days of my life. Since 2014, I have travelled halfway across the world to USA, could not bring myself to like it there, eventually came back to India’s silicon valley-Bangalore, but not one day passes when I don’t miss Kolkata. All my relatives, my boy-friend stay there, but more than missing them, I miss Kolkata, I miss the city of Kolkata. In the evenings, I miss Park Street, during afternoons I miss the tiny by-lanes of Shobha Bazar-the calmness of the yesteryear houses, during winter I miss Maidan, the St. Paul’s Cathedral and in the morning I miss the Howrah bridge, but during the entire day I miss the 8-B bus stand.

Kolkata is a food paradise, but when I read the food-blogs online, I often come across a few famous, already known to people ones like Peter Cat’s chelo kebabs, Flury’s pastries, Mocambo’s devilled crabs and so on and so forth. I do not deny that they are absolutely delectable and an absolute embodiment of perfection, but to me Kolkata’s food is much more than these elegant, posh restaurants of Park Street. The beauty of Kolkata’s food also lies in its affordability and the local adda that one gets for free with the food. I have lived in Kolkata as a student while pursuing my Master’s degree from Jadavpur University. For those of you who have lived in the Jadavpur  “chottor” you will know what an absolutely exciting place it is starting from the 8B bus stand, to the Jadavpur Railway Station, the 2nd gate of the university, the “chaar number” gate, with ShamoldarChaa and Maggi, the whole area is vibrant. It is my favorite place to be and even when you are in the worst of mood one walk through this area is bound to cheer you up. The one thing that makes Kolkata stand out from amongst the various other metros is its retro charm, you go to the local chai wala, you will not only get a cup of chai, you will also get to know about everything that’s happening across the globe starting from Obama and ending at the local parar dada and that is the reason, why you won’t feel lonely in this city or rather feel the lack of a company in this old-world metro. I recently went to Kolkata this December. I went there after seventeen months so obviously I was in a very elated place mentally, because somehow even the aerial view of Kolkata has the ability to make me happy. As is usually the case with all the Bengalis, I wanted to carry back the famous NolengurerSandesh with me. As I was getting my sweets packed and also having those which could not be possibly packed and yapping away to glory with my boyfriend, an elderly gentleman came and picked up a conversation with me about the very many sweets that were available in the store and finally asked who the guy standing with me is, to which I just smiled and he lovingly laughed back and wished us a very happy future together. It so happens that Kolkata is the only city in India where I can expect a total stranger to talk to me in such a loving manner, without even knowing my name and actually wish us a good future whereas in the rest of the country people are way too much busy with their hectic work schedule.

I also remember hundreds of such incidences wherein I would go for a cup of tea alone to a very small chai-wala and return back a couple of hours later, having puffed a couple of cigarettes and some very intellectual conversation with someone who was almost the age of my grandfather and in my heart I would feel very satisfied after having gotten to know so much from a total random stranger whom I might not see again. Such is the beauty of Kolkata.

People nowadays say that the Calcuttians have changed a lot, nowadays people have stopped bothering about others, and it is not the same old culture that is followed by many, but what we tend to forget is that it is people like us who have always blamed the Bengali chromosome for being over-emotional, for not being professional, for not being as progressive as the rest of the country and it is us-the very same people who blame us for what we have turned the city and its people into.

Image Courtesy :http://openbuildings.com/buildings/howrah-bridge-profile-11696

কে পাগল ?

অফিসে বসে থাকতে থাকতে আর ভাল লাগছিল না অভির। আর ক-একটা দিন ত বাকি মাত্র পূজোর । এসময়ে কি আর কাজে মন বসে। সেসময়ে আচামকা কানে এল কাথাটা। এগিয়ে গেল সে আলোচোনার দিকে, কথাটা প্রথমে ঠিক সে বিশবাস করতে পারে নি। আসলে এসময়ে এরকম একটা মারাত্মক ঘটনার জন্যে অভি তৈরি ছিল না। কিন্তু গিয়ে শুনল না ঘটনা টা ঠিক-ই। এখনি সবাই যাচ্ছে, আনিচ্ছা থাকলেও উঠতে হল আভিকে। কিন্তু আর গিয়ে কি হবে যা হবার তো হয়েই গেছে।

আভ্রা-র গাড়ীতে বসে যেতে যেতে একটাও ক্থা বলে নি অভি। চুপচাপ বসে ভাবছিল নিলয় এর ক্থা। ছেলে-টা এভাবে চলে গেল। নিলয় বলেছিল সে একটা মেয়ে কে ভালবাসে । এখন মনে এল সেই মেয়ে টার নাম টাও অভি জানে না।জিজ্ঞাসা করার প্র্য়োজনও মনে করে নি কোনোদিন।মাঝে মাঝে নিলয় বলতো সে চুপচাপ শুনতো তার ক্থা। কোনোদিন পাল্টা প্রশ্ন করে নি। নিলয় বলতো মেয়েটার নাকি মাথায় গন্ডোগোল ছিল , তাই তার বাড়ির লোকেরা সেই মেয়েকে মেনে নিতে পারছিল না। অভি তখন বলত তো সেই পাগল মেয়েকেই তোকে বিয়ে করতে হবে, আর কি কোনো মেয়ে নেই। নিলয় চুপ করে যেতো, মাথা নিচু করে বলতো সবাই এই কথাই বলে।তারপর একভাবে চলে যেতো নিজের ডেস্কে।কিছুদিন আগে বলেছিল ওর দাদা নাকি মেয়েটার বাড়ি গিয়ে যাচ্ছেতাই বলে এসেছে, তাতে নাকি মেয়েটার বাড়ির লোকজন ওকে অন্যকোথাও রেখে এসেছে আর ফোন টাও কেড়ে নিয়েছে। ওদের মধ্যে ক্থা এখন পুরোপুরি বন্ধ। অভি বলেছিল ছার না তোর মেয়েটাকে এবার। অন্যকোথাও বিয়ে করে ফেল , সব ঠিক হয়ে যাবে। ঠিক অবশ্য হয়েই গেলো।

শশ্মান থেকে ফেরার পথে একটা প্রশ্ন বারবার মাথাচাড়া দিয়ে উঠছে অভির মাথায়। সেটাকে সরিয়ে রেখে সে ভাবতে চেষ্টা করল আজকের ঘটনার ক্থা। নিলয় রাত ৩ টের সময়ে আত্মহ্ত্মা করেছে। সুইসাইড নোটে যা পাওয়া গেছে তা থেকে বোঝা যায় নিলয় অনেক চেষ্টার পর আগেরদিন পলা-র সাথে ফোনে ক্থা হ্য় । হ্যাঁ মেয়েটির নাম পলা। নিলয় পলা কে বলে যে তারা দুজনে পালিয়ে বিয়ে করবে। পলা যেনো তাকে ঠিক পরের দিন রাত তিন টের মধ্যে ফোন করে। আর যদি না করে তাহলে নিল্য় আত্মহ্ত্মা করবে। তো সেইদিন রাতে ৩ টের সময়ে নিলয় গলায় দড়ি দিয়ে আত্মহ্ত্মা করে। কিন্তু তার ফোনে প্রচুর মিসকল ছিল, তবে সবকটা ৩ঃ০৫ এর পর থেকে। না, আবার সেই প্রশ্নটা মাথায় উঠে এলো মনের মধ্যে “আসলে পাগল টা কে ছিল?পলা,নিলয়, নাকি আমরা যারা বলেছিলাম যে এই মেয়েকে বিয়ে করে কি লাভ তারা”

image courtesy : http://www.sheknows.com/entertainment/articles/1052663/why-you-should-read-and-re-read-these-high-school-books-as-an-adult