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.

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…

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Celebrating Chinese New Year in Kolkata

Kolkata has also synced in with rest of the world to celebrate the Chinese New Year of 2016 on 8th of February. This is the year of Monkey, which is the 9th animal in the Chinese zodiac cycle. Though it is considered as one of the most unlucky years in the Tianxian (Ancient Chinese believed that their land was right under the heaven) calendar, but those who are born with this symbol are characterized by lively, humorous, innovative and mischievous natures.

The date for Chinese New Year keeps on changing because of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is also known as the Spring Festival which lasts for 15 days from the 1st to 15th day of the first lunar month. China Town, the major Chinese hub of Kolkata, has been celebrating the New Year bash for quite some time and I longed to experience the carnival for last 3 years.

So, when I was informed that the prime event for the 1st day of Monkey Year was scheduled at Tiretti Market, I asked a friend to join. Both of us were mistaken about the exact location of this place and we thought the Market must be located in Tangra because that’s the usual residency for Kolkatan Chinese.

Being new to the place, I was thoroughly enjoying China Town. The Chinese Kali Mandir was a surprise for me; though the idol bears no Mongoloid features (I was expecting one). The buildings of this part of the city were different from architectural appearances and the streets were filled with the typical Chinese cuisines smell.

The town was still sleeping after the mid night celebration; there were empty beer bottles, burnt crackers and yawning faces.  All these made us apprehensive and we asked our Indian GPS system (local panwala) about the dragon dance event. He looked at us, as if we committed a juvenile crime and with a smirk on his face he said that Tiretti Market is near Lal Bazar and not at China Town, Tangra. I had only one question in mind, why didn’t we check it earlier!!  

It was already show-time, so we hired a cab and tried to reach the market fast through the crowded streets of Monday. On reaching Tiretti Market, we walked down a street following a distant sound of drums coming from a lane around the corner. The gate was full of spectators raising their cameras to take shots. But God knows what shot because there were more cameras than the Chinese residents. I found it very disgusting, but I had to take pictures. So, I said to myself, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and took my camera out for taking some snaps. 

Amidst the elbows, heads, shoulders and lens, I could get the view of 2 dragons – Red and White. There were a few people who tied a bunch of lettuce leaves at one end of a string and tried to feed the dragons from 2nd floor of a balcony. The dragons tried to get a hold of the bunch but the leaves were pulled up immediately. Tradition I guess!! This continued for some time; finally the dragons could snatch the leaves and everyone rejoiced beating Chinese percussion instruments.

While returning, we came across two more dragons and this part of the street-show was conducted by a gang of girls (the first one was performed by young boys). They called themselves Fa Mulan, who was actually a legendary woman warrior of China. Just as the previous one, the same event was showcased but in a less crowded manner. The over- enthusiastic photographers were not aware of this bait, leaving us an opportunity to experience the Chinese delight without any disturbances.    

Though I was irritated with the horde of photographer but there was a different feeling altogether. I could associate to the Chinese community of the city, celebrating their New Year with dragons jumping and dancing gracefully, on the streets of My Kolkata.