Friday, January 19, 2018

The Sage Singers - Baul Fakir Utsav, 2018

Looking at those people singing on the stage, wearing a knee-length attire kept me wondering, why do they choose a life like that?

Bauls..... that is how the world knows them, are basically the wandering monks, but there are many who taunt them as vagabonds. 

Renouncing wealth and proclaiming love is what they tune their life with. But don’t they need money to live a life? What is this life they look for even in this world where 2 months baby get raped or a man is killed because of his religion?

Sitting on the straws under a tent in a winter evening, I was enthralled watching them performing at the Baul Fakir Utsav, 2018. But these questions hovered my mind all the time.

This 2-day congress brings Bauls from various corners of Bengal. The embracing, selfless voice without an ego is enticing; and maybe that is what captures the heart most. You have to listen every word to understand what they want to convey. They talk of humanity, unity, truth of life, basic living and love. They sing songs of Lalan Fakir and their Gurus, they sing their own creation while whirling with their musical instruments lost in translating the meaning of life.

Wearing an ocher-colored attire and playing an Ektara doesn’t make a Baul. A real Baul lives a life based on Deho Sadhana, and Mana Sadhana, and that is not easy. Some say, they live a repulsive life, whereas, some say they are free birds.

This Utsav starts at 6 am in the morning and ends at 4 am. You can hop in at any point of time, only if you want to understand them.

A song is not only made of music, but it combines words as well. So when you hear them, listen to what they say. The songs have a rustic touch without any classy elements, yet very true to every strata of society. Bauls never bind themselves to the conservatism existing in the society and their songs reflect that belief.

A Baul once said, “The entire world is my home. We walk anywhere and are welcome anywhere. When you walk, you are freed from the worries of ordinary life, from the imprisonment of being rooted in the same place."

It is hard to realize what the Bauls have achieved, but these so called ignorant dancing monks are way more learned than the mass, and you can tell that from their songs. So, if you are in Shantiniketan during the time of Keduli Mela, or if you are in Kolkata during the Baul Fakir Utsav, give yourself a chance to experience the divine, love, mysticism from the earthen voices of the vagabonds and step into a land of fraternity.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Stagnant Valley

Google Image: @Showkat Nanda

Endless days and night
Endless hours that strike...
Stories begin without any endings,
and happiness now got a new meaning.....

The voice you can hear, laughs no more,
the voices tell you life that breaths no more...

Remember the valley you heard that lived, is now a desolate land…
where shadows hover childhood, while they seek asylum. 
They look at the canvas with disgust and hatred and speak not of dreams they believed. 

Now fear lives in that valley,
the fear of independence ... that which is a distant dream!

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Wisdom

People say, too much wisdom is never good. It results in nothing but collapse of the brain. Like how Socrates got killed because of his brilliance or maybe the madness that gripped doctor Nash. Too much of anything pushes you away or put you in an isolated state. Bearing the testimony of all those losses, if I may say so, I still tried to hold on to my wisdom for long.

Occasionally I tried to digest the pain of bearing it alone and ostracizing from the social acceptance; and sometimes I was rebuked incessantly for being so ardent in my decision.

I have carried my bold semblance for years, not bothering the care and concerns of my fellow beings. I have paid visits to the chambers to ease the boggling mind filled with wisdom. But alas, it always came back bouncing stronger than before and backlashing the jaws harder.

So with lots of vigor and subdued ego, after 4 years I decided to let it go.

On Saturday morning, when the sun got shrouded behind the black clouds of August, I got down from my apartment. My birth giver insisted to take a rickshaw, but I was not ready, because I want to let it go valiantly. So I walked the broken roads, the undulated terrain and the swarming marketplace. I crossed the faces of men and women I know and those I don’t.

And finally, I reached the chamber.

The chamber that will take away a part of my soul, caressed for years inside my mouth. Behind all the others, it stands, at the corner, where my gum kisses my tooth… yes my Wisdom Tooth, for years unknown.

Soon, the white coated man approached, accompanied by a woman nicely draped in seven yards. She got a pearl necklace around her neck and there was a smile studded on her face, mocking the very existence of those useless set of teeth. Now, was that comforting?

The doctor is an acquaintance of mine. He has an extremely brotherly affection that I cannot deny and has also a resemblance of a distant cousin of mine. And of course, I must say, he is handsome, well mannered and a man with an agreeable character.

He asked me to take a seat in a chair which suddenly turned my universe flat. May be this was the reason for the learned individuals of yesteryears to think the earth was flat, I presumed. Anyway, there was a light right on my face and I lay my hand on an extended armrest trying to relax my sinews. There was a holder beside the chair that had quite a number of instruments, many of which were beyond my knowledge. But they all look very much like the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Well, now the doctor asked me to relax with a 3 inch needle pointing towards my mouth. Destiny is definitely mocking me and I realized there is no way out. So I opened my mouth half-reluctantly and the 3 inch needle swooped in, pinching my gum.

Within a few minutes I realized I was looking like Sylvester Stallone, I am relating only to the facial part as the rest of the muscular thought is nothing but a fantasy. And when I mentioned this feeling my doctor said, “Relax, its anesthesia effect, your face is not deformed.”

Then comes the most astounding part of this event as I realized I can swallow a whole head at one go. The doctor could actually put two of his hands in my mouth and indulge in mechanical engineering with his god knows what toolbar. Can you imagine his two hands inside my mouth, which used to be timid? It is funny how the human body works; keeping you astonished revealing some of its dark secrets.   

After a little bit of pressure and gloves full of bloody affair, finally it was uprooted (literally uprooted actually). I must say, it was painless and a successful uprooting moment. The doctor showed me my wisdom tooth and I kept staring at it with mesmerized eyes, as if I was given an infant to hold that I just pushed out of my womb.

My mother, who was in the chamber for last 1 hour facing the wall and not turning around and trying to pretend as if she was invisible, excitedly plunged in to see the wisdom that I held with love for many years. And then immediately she asked to get rid of it. I, on the other hand, objected the decision and declared the full authority of my wisdom.

Wrapped in a tissue and holding it in one hand, I kept my mouth open letting the doctor perform the last rites of stitching the recently usurped throne and concluding what started 4 years back.

After I came back home and gobbled 2 chocolate cups of ice-creams (it has always been my dream to experience this feeling, which turned out terrible), I dug a hole in the soil of a potted plant belonging to my mother’s window garden and laid the wisdom to rest.      

May be some day when I will grow old and start telling my grandchildren the stories of my bravery, I will unearth the wisdom and tell them, “No matter how much you are in love with yourself, just get rid of this wisdom!!” 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What I see

I see the world today with love and care of mom. Father guides to show right path and guards against what's wrong.

I see the world today with eyes full of hope. The people are inspiration who motivate to do more.

I see the world today with careful watch and vigilance. Fearing what instored for me as everything seems so wrong.

I see the world today letting go off those ties. I know nothing lasts forever, but still it is hard to move on.

So tell me lord which world is right as am so confused and lost.
I can't stand still, I can't go on as the feeling of being deceived stands strong.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Sisney – The Small Himalayan Hamlet

As the car took the next turn, leaving the ranges behind us and I fixed my thirsty gaze to the front screen, hoping to reach the destination. But no!  Nudup had some other plans as he kept on steering and taking us to the… TOP TOP and TOP!!

Nudup, a local guy and our driver, happens to be one of the best things in our trip to Sikkim. Personally, I felt, stories of this small Mongoloid man with tiny eyes were much  more trustworthy than someone who is speaking bheto (typical) Bengali or praising the beauty of the Himalaya while spitting beetle nut pieces around.

We started from Kalimpong at 7:30 am and we reached Sisney around 10 am. This is a small hamlet surrounded by the mighty ranges and it is almost disconnected from the city. It would be wrong to call the topography rough because the mountain in this part is still green, yet with a tinge of aridity here and there.    

As we got down from the Scorpio (not the predator, of course!), a dog came running to me and tried its best to drill down his canines through my two layered pants. My friend laughed and said, "Here doggie, go for the leg pices!!" Fortunately, I saved my tender leg with a confused look, showing a knuckle to my friend. But  soon, the four-legged animal turned friendly and while patting it, I saw the dog has a broken paw. However, that didn’t seem to curb down the energy of the little one. It was still happy and ready to play.  

Well, the reason I called Sisney a hamlet disconnected from the city is because, once you are here, there is no way you can have telecommunication with the rest of the world. Yes, this is a smart place where your Smartphone looks stupid.

If you have to make a call, walk a few kilometers; sit on a tombstone and talk, while admiring the beauty of the Mother Nature. Or, you can also rest your phone on a glass window pane, roughly at 85 degrees and talk hands free. 

Now that is some engineering! I wonder how people carry out a private conversation over phone at Sisney. May be he asks people around to move away, or maybe he howls, “Hey guys, shut your ears, am trying to make a private call here on loud speaker!”       

So, tell me, do you want to go there? I say you must! The place is just half an hour from Rongli Bazaar towards Zuluk.

The sound of the small stream running over the rocks, the soft cold wind touching your skin, the jingling of temple bells will tell you just one thing, “Take a break.” 

The population of Sisney looked like 20 families only. Every colorful house has its own garden with flowers hanging down from the balcony. The locals sit at the corridors to chat and greet you with warmth. Nudup said, each of these local owns a mountain.  And we were like, “A mountain? Are you kidding?!” But then he explained, ‘Like you own land, we do not have plain lands here. So these mountains are our property, given to our ancestors by our kings.” But we were still like “A mountain?!” 

With houses on either side, the narrow lane takes a serpentine course, moving with a charm that tempts you to follow her. But as you go up, there is nothing to see except the alluring mountains, the sound of your own breath and the echo of your existence.

Sisney has only one school for the children of the locality. After completing the secondary education, the parents need to send them to another village for completing their higher studies.

The natives are mostly engaged in farming, cattle rearing, and other labor oriented jobs. We even got to know that the Sikkim government is helping the locals to build their houses. I really admired the way the houses were maintained. Financially, they may not be very well off, but they know how to live a beautiful life. There was only one small shop in the village with minimum things of daily use; and if they need anything more, travelling to the city is the only option left. 

In the winters, when the sun goes down and the chilly cold breeze rules the neighborhood, the locals gather around a bonfire to enjoy the weather with a cup of chai (tea) and loads of addas (chatting). They say that wild bears come at night to find food or for a prey. So they prefer to stay inside their sweet houses after 8 p.m.

Being a silent spectator of their life for a whole day, I realize that we can live without a mobile phone even today. We really do not need so many things to have a peaceful life. Yet again, I accept, the people of the mountains have a hard life with lack of medical facilities, no work opportunities and lack options for education. But don’t they still have a life?

   Well, the grass always seems greener on the other side!

If you really want to feel this life, there are a few homestays available at Sisney, but don’t go with an expectation of lavish living amidst the fauna. All you need is a shelter for a day and food; and these homestays assure that amidst the bliss of the Himalayas and care of the Mother Nature.

Isn’t it enough?        

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

|| আমার ছোটোকাকু ||

টেবিলের ঠিক পাশেই ফোনটা রাখা ছিল; বাজবার সঙ্গে সঙ্গে ছুটে গিয়ে ধরলাম, ওপাস থেকে আওয়াজ এলো, “কি রে, আবার তুই ফোন ধরেছিস?” এক গাল হেসে বললাম, “আরে ছোটো কাকু!! তুমি ফিরে এসেছো বাংলাদেশ থেকে?” কথাটা শেষ করতে না করতেই, আবার কাকু একটু competitive কন্ঠে বলে উঠলো , “তোদের বাঁশ পড়েছে? আমাদের কিন্তু প্যান্ডেল প্রায় শেষ!” আমিও ছাড়বার পাত্রী না, বললাম, “কি যে বল, লাস্টবার-এর Asian Paint শারোদ সম্মানটা কিন্তু আমরাই পেয়েছিলাম| আমাদের প্যান্ডেলের ফিনিশিং টাচ চলছে! ফাল্গুনী সংঘ তো আমাদের ধরে কাছে আসেনা|” কাদের পুজো কত ভালো, এই নিয়ে বেশ অনেকক্ষণ তর্ক হবার পর, বাবাকে ফোনটা ধরিয়ে চলে গেলাম| তবে এটা জানতাম, পরের বছরও এই তর্ক আবার হবে, আর সেই competitive স্পিরিট নিয়ে ফোনে আবার কার পুজো ভালো সে গল্প হবে|

রথের দিন যখন আমার সামনের পার্কে এবার বাঁশ পড়তে দেখলাম, মনে মনে নিজেকে বললাম, এখন থেকে আর সেই চিরপরিচিত কন্ঠে কেউ আর ফোন করে বলবে না, “তোদের বাঁশ পড়েছে?” 

এক বছর পেরিয়ে গেল, কিন্তু কাকু আমাদের মধ্যে এমন ভাবে মিশে আছে যে মনে হয়না আমাদের সাথে নেই| হ্যা, শারিরীক উপস্থিতি নেই আমাদের মাঝে, তাই যেকোনো অনুষ্ঠান বা আড্ডাতে ছোটো কাকুর অভাব বড্ড বোধ করি|

 মানুষটাকে নিয়ে এত কিছু মনে রাখার মুহূর্ত আছে যে লিখতে গিয়ে মনে হচ্ছে কোনটা ছেড়ে কোনটা লিখি| আড্ডাবাজ কাকু আমাদের ছিল বিশাল মজার| কানে কম শুনত বলে একটা stylish pose নিয়ে বসতো, কার কাকুর মতে ওই ভাবে বসলে নাকি কেউ বুঝবেনা যে কাকু কানে কম শোনে| বাঁ হাতটাকে মাথার পিছন দিক দিয়ে ঘুরিয়ে, ডান কানটাকে মুচকে ধরত কায়দা করে, সেই ভাবে বসলে নাকি লোকে ভাববে আরাম করে বসেছে| কি অদ্ভূত চিন্তাশক্তি!!

আর একটা ঘটনা মনে পরে গেল, তখন আমরা বরাট এ থাকতাম| পুজোর ঠিক কদিন আগে এসেছে দেখা করতে আমাদের বাড়িতে| কোনো কারনে বাবা দোকনে ছিল তাই আমি আর মা জমিয়ে বসেছিলাম খাবার টেবিল এ আড্ডা দিতে; হঠাৎ টেবিলে পরে থাকা দুটো আস্ত সুপারি সোজা মুখে পুরে দিল| দুটোকে গালের দুদিকে রেখে একটু হেমন্ত কন্ঠে গাইতে সুরু করে দিল, “জাগো তুমি জাগো..... জাগ দূর্গা, জাগো দশপ্রহরণধারিনী...”; আমি আর মা হেসে লুটোপাটি খাচ্ছি, আর কাকু চোখ বন্ধ করে একমনে গেয়ে চলেছে|

যখন এ ছোটো ছোটো মুহূর্ত গুলো মনে পরে, ঠোঁটের কনে ঠিক একটা হাসি চলে আসে – ছোটো কাকু সেরকমই একজন মানুষ| জীবনের শেষ বছরটাতেও একটা অদ্ভূত positive aura ছিল| টাটা ক্যান্সার মেডিকেলে যাবার সময় বাস গুলো আমার অফিসের পাস দিয়ে যেত আর ঠিক সেই সময় আমার Whatsapp বেজে উঠতো – “তোর অফিসের পাস দিয়ে যাচ্ছি|” আমিও হেসে বলতাম, “নেমে পরো মুড়ি খেয়ে যাও|” কাকু উত্তর আসতো, “ফেরার সময় গেটে থাকিস মুড়ি হাতে, কন্ডাক্টারকে বলে তুলে নেব|” ..........এই ছিল আমার ছোটো কাকু|

এক গাল হাসি আর অনেক সুন্দর মুহুর্ত ...এইভাবেই তুমি আছো আমার কাছে|

Monday, June 27, 2016


If you find me ever again, don’t hold onto those leaves,
It’s nothing but dust that just crumbles in your grip

If you find me ever again, don’t cry over the memories
It’s nothing but illusion that fades with birth of new twigs

Can you listen to those roars again, as the sky cracks and pours?
It stays only for some time because it knows… there is nothing more

The smell of leaves, the touch of wind – it’s just a passers-by
Now brace yourself to struggle with waves,
          cause leftovers give nothing but despair…