Monday, July 6, 2009


My wife and I have quite a few recurring disagreements – like all other people engaged in wife-husband or any such partnerships. Among them many are petty, some interesting, others fairly trivial. I consciously am avoiding the use of the word ordinary because no spat-fight-brawl-struggle-contest (and so on) is commonplace when it involves human opponents of the marital kind. I use the word marital loosely, in an all-inclusive sense. Whenever two humans live together, the contentions are never boneless.

The most recent ‘discussion’ that is storming my household may not be of national or international significance, but it definitely has a wide universal and temporal implication. I remember seeing a film called The Gods Must be Crazy – in that film the adventures of an African Bushman were recorded. He was trying to get rid of an evil machine (a beer bottle dropped from a plane) which was wrecking havoc in his community. Trying to show the superiority of the Bushmen society, the narrator presented a peculiar piece of information about ours. He showed how we are ruled by numbers and angles. There are little or large machines in our household which are sometimes digital and sometimes analogue, which show either angles or digits, and thereby completely control our lives, irrespective of natural conditions. This made me think (by no means a rare occasion, though some people of the opposite camp would make it their business to prove so). There was no way I could escape the tyranny of the watch or the clock or the timepiece or the much-hated alarm. But I could always play with it. This is a ‘Marvellous’ idea, read ‘To his Coy Mistress’.

This ‘play’ is the problem. My wife is a person of a disciplined nature. She believes in all the right attitudes; she believes in truth, justice and the Indian way. Though not quite a superwoman, she is in possession of a superpower called Temper, and all contemporaries know how daunting the wrath of a fair (ex)maiden can be. Excuse me for being unnecessarily romantic and politically incorrect. It is the turn of words that draws.

Therefore when I made all the watches, clocks, computers, mobile phones show different times, she went slightly fanatical. It is a credit to mankind that I am still holding out. I shall not bow to the boring rule of uniform time. Imagine all the time-showers showing the exact same time. No sense of adventure, no sense of the uncertain, no sense of the erratic. Erotic alone can never be that exciting, you have to have the element of unpredictability in it – and the same rule applies everywhere. It is unpredictability that is the salt of life, nothing else. The only compromise I engaged in was that none of the timers show a time which is behind, all of them are ahead. I have to keep a job, don’t I? Being too erratic can be detrimental to financial health.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Under Siege

Yesterday I had the dubious fortune of seeing boys with sticks and stones and other forms of more or less sophisticated weaponry (allegedly bombs and guns and swords) run in with the intention of causing bodily harm to their rivals in politics. Although I had heard of a legacy of violence which our institution boasts of, yet this time seeing it right in my face I was, to be honest, somewhat shaken. I knew that we were not their targets. Their scared targets were doing their best to make themselves scarce. Fortunately quick action on all mature parts ensured that none of us had to confront the actual mob face to face. We may not have been the targets, but with limited intelligence, peaked adrenaline, and a hunger for basic atavistic violence, the eye often fails to recognize or distinguish friend from foe from neutrals. And a brick thrown in mistake causes the same harm as the one intentional. Even seeing them from afar, seeing some familiar faces turn into the proverbial beast within was not a happy experience. I still believe that the intention was not blood, but nevertheless bloody. It was muscle-flexing of the worst kind. Later when I ventured out for some reason comments reached my ear that some of the targets have been well-crushed, not damaged entirely, but enough to put the fear of Man in them, I could not really believe what was happening. Though most of the perpetrators were professionals in this game, but some boys were familiar. Some of them were actual friends with the targets. And still there was no hesitation in pulping the pupils who, though by no means innocent, were incapable of such a magnitude of violence.

We were busy with out duties when the sound of consecutive bombings reached in. There were some attempts to blow the sounds out of proportion and turn them into gunshots. But they were immediately discarded. Such hearsay is much more dangerous than the actual violence, since they beget more misconstruction and more resultant violence. Then we saw boys escaping, boys pursuing. We shifted to one place, numbers being the greatest security. It was a state of siege. Then police action and all clearance. But for a large chunk of time the possibility of a bloodbath remained. Curiously enough the targets, their backs to the wall, backlashed on the institutional authorities. In the days of erstwhile, they would have taken the law into their own hands. But with Change changing everything, including such ideas of exchange, this was another face of student politics that we saw. It was the face of fear. To make an understatement – it was not a happy face.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I saw Slumdog Millionaire today. Well, although I would agree with almost all the rest of the world that the film is not Best Picture material, yet I would say I found it a not so bad film after all. I did not approach it as the story of Jamal or Latika or Salim. I saw them as representative figures that go through so much in life that seems horrible, but are facts of our lives which most of us tend to ignore/forget/overlook. Beginning from the anti-Muslim riot till the police tortures all the details are spot on, real. Only Jamal is unreal. These kids do something extraordinary. Real kids never are so lucky.

The only problem with the film is the romanticism. Of course this is something that one may expect from a Fox-Warner-Hollywood sort of a production. Apart from that the realities shown may be seen as a packaging of the scatological India for a predominantly Western audience, yet their realities can hardly be questioned. Jamal’s winning all that money is unreal, Latika being able to come out is unreal, the police buying his story of how he came to know the answers is unreal – but they are required as a frame. Often unreal frames work wonderfully with real pictures – just as fantasies are often well bound within realistic casings.

Whether one can find such things in the film or not, it was a well-made film. Though I will keep my opinion of how fit young Mr Patel was for the role, at least appearance-wise, to myself.

It is truly disappointing that the kids who played the different roles had a ball of a time, but now they are simply being forgotten. In forgetting these kids, and the kids they had played, we are doing injustice to something. Unfortunately, the result is boiling down to some awards for the makers, for which they had made the film after all. The kids are just a means. The end is vicious.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Recently I have realised something. As most of you know, I have shifted from my parents’ place to my own about 18 months back. Here I live a very new kind of life. Since I have shifted, and since my responsibilities in the workplace have increased manifolds, I have very little time left for my relatives and friends.

Here let me make an interjection. I have several categories of friends. All of whom are very very dear to me. My (earlier) locality friends are the first category since I have been friends with them for the last 30 years (I am 34 years old, you do the math). The next category would be my school friends. With them I have stuck through thick and thin – literally since some of them are now either far too overweight or too sickly. One of them died of an obscene disease, obscene because the disease took hold of his little finger one fine day, and in 36 hours he was dead. Complete paralysis. It was a rare disease. One in a million sort of statistics. It seems my friend was one in a million. My next group of friends belongs to College. Thankfully I am in touch with 95% of them. I am not so fortunate with my University friends though. I am in touch, but not of the constant type. Then I have so many friends from my first job – and here I shift away from my age bracket. As I do as far as my present job friends are concerned. Of course, age is no factor as far as my internet friends are concerned. Right now, the person who is one of my closest friends, from my current locality, is 52 years old. I also have the occupational advantage of making new friends every year. A few of the students who cross over to life remain in touch, some become good friends over time.

You see I have been extremely blessed as far as friendship is concerned. Without friends I probably would be in a mental asylum. Let’s not harp on the reasons for that…

Another interjection: all Bangali, and most Indian, people have two names, one formal, the other familiar or ‘pet’. Being a typical Bangali boy (from what age can one call one's self a man? I guess I should ask Bob Dylan) I also have two names. This is where the realisation part comes in. Apart from the first category, none of my friends call me by my familiar name. I have been called by my formal name so much in the recent years – my parents call me ‘babu’, my wife also calls me by my formal name in the rare cases she is not upset with me (the other names are not fit for public domain) – so my familiar name is slowly getting lost.

It is like a part of me is slowly getting lost. Only in cases when I meet my relatives or my first friends that I remember the name of my childhood, of my innocence, of a time when there were no worries, no hassles, when all I wanted was to grow up. Does growing up mean leaving all that behind?

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Some things should never be forgotten or forgiven

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Golden Question

Yesternight I caught the telecast of this year’s Golden Globe awards. It was nice – though a trifle embarrassing – to see Mr. Kapur vehemently cheering Danny Boyle when he won for Slumdog Millionaire and the more gracious Mr. Shah Rukh Khan presenting the same film or the even more sociable Mr. Rehman accepting one. To be on such a platform along with global celebrities is indeed an honour. Yet suspicious minds (paranoid really) like mine always try to find an ulterior motive. So what Sony Pictures now has a firm foothold in India, so what Fox Searchlight is producing films with Indian content, so what if Universal and other such studios are expressing interest in India – it does not mean that they will devour whatever there is in good old Mumbai film industry. Corporatization is good from one point of view, may it be international or national, it allows new talent to spring because the so-called stars become either unavailable or too expensive. And kids can have a bit of a space to show that they also have it in them to be corporatized. But please tell me I am being paranoid. Please tell me that even our tiny little existences would not be so drastically conglomeratized. Like most other indigenous stuff every thing will not be patented. Please tell me (if you or anyone can) that our politicians would not sell our country that shamelessly to the highest bidder for greed of paper, luxury and flesh. If you are thinking Raj Thakray vis-à-vis Mumbai, I am thinking IQ, Mr. T isn’t thinking at all, and those who are manipulating him are thinking money.
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