Thursday, July 2, 2015

Finally, it’s Raining in Kolkata!

Image Courtesy: Kunal Chakraborty 

 “I always like walking in the rain, so no one can see me crying” … these words belong to an unforgettable comedian who added pun in every laugh and he is none other than Charlie Chaplin.  

I can never question the wisdom of this genius, but I experienced different moments today while returning from office. The day seemed fine, until the phone call came and it took away all the happiness I held for so long. Here I stand in a position, where I cannot question because the call was important and I have to compromise. However, I cannot deny the fact that I was sad.

The moment I came back to my desk (after the call ended), few colleagues started talking about the much expected July downpour. And I laughed out saying, “Thank God it’s raining; now, my monsoon content could be posted in the social media wall!”

I never hated rain, but yes I was angry today.

The clock ticked and it was already 6:45 p.m. Our office premise turned into a small island and I was pretty sure, finding a vehicle all way to Karunamoyee would be next to impossible. So, I turned off my computer and bid goodbye to my colleagues for the day.

The moment I stepped out of the office, waterlogged road welcomed me. Flowers started showering in form of heavy rain and cars splashed water like blessings. Now, that is 30 minutes rain in Kolkata for you!

Excessively crowded buses with passengers hanging from everywhere (why don’t they try Olympics, I wonder!). Autorickshaws charging fares as if they are a part of “chalo, loot lo Kolkata” auction. I was already aware of all these. So I decided to walk all the way to Karunamoyee and then get an autorickshaw to home.

There was irritation and anger of not being able to get things in my own way. Everything was hitting me very hard, but to tell you the truth, monsoon has a magic. It can make you sad, nostalgic and absorb you in depression, but once you become a part of the crowd, there will be an automatic smile on your lips, you cannot let go off. 

There were people on the road with funny expression - a guy reminded me of the movie, Forest Gump, waiting eagerly to go home, all drenched. Then there were some who were walking in a beach style, i.e. wet shoes in their hands. Of course you cannot ignore the lovebirds who grab this opportunity to get close to one another, trying to relive the Raj Kapoor- Nargis moment. There were also some snobs who were trying to find a dry land to stand for a while, but had to surrender for the day and walk through the “drain- er jol” (dirty drain water). I pity them!! But I was actually enjoying, identifying the ups and downs through the waterlogged broken road and avoiding chances of tumbling into water (of India or Indians may be... ew!).

Finally I arrived at my destination and nearly bumped myself onto a man, who should be in his 40’s. He was super excited and nearly shouting with joy. He shared his happiness to his co-bike passenger… “aj hebby moja hoyeche” (I really had a great time). There was a childish spark in his eyes that I could not avoid and smiled at him the moment I crossed. He smiled back and then started talking to his fellow passenger once again with the same thrill and joy.

I nearly bargained with an autorickshaw (felt like a part of Chaitra Sale) to reach my home.

May be He wants to cheer me up too because there was a woman surprisingly selling bunch of roses only for Rs. 10. I bought 2 bundles for Ma and came back home happily, with more positive thoughts that I got rid of many calories today!    

I was annoyed and angry, but things around made me happy. The expressions of people and how they were dealing with the situation made every moment very interesting. I found 2 men complaining when 2 women forced them to get in a crowded bus (very unusual moment, I must say); and then a man trying to educate another, how to start a scooter in a road full of water.

Actions varied, but each one of them wanted to reach home and share their story for the day. There were expressions of annoyance, but everyone was united. People were walking on the street, warning others about safety and even sharing small jokes. 

I didn’t cry in the rain, rather cursed, laughed and sang (humming of course!) because I was enjoying my own time in my own way, observing the life in Kolkata, when it rains….     

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Nursery Rhymes and Us

Have you ever thought why these nursery rhymes or poems have ever been created? What is the truth behind the baseless and meaningless terms that have been synced in with rhythm? The famous poet Robert Frost once said, ‘A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.’ This is so very true because when you first read a rhyme, you find it funny, where the ‘wonder’ rings nicely with ‘are’ or the meaningless word ‘Humpty’ sounds hilarious with ‘Dumpty’.  Similarly, each of the rhymes conveys some wisdom, knowledge. In other words, these are the rhythmic techniques of communicating some of the long lost stories and truths of life, which otherwise could have sounded really monotonous. 

Rhymes can be considered as one of the oldest tradition to interact with individuals irrespective of the age. From the perspective of education, the nursery rhymes have been considered as one of the important parts in the process of learning. These make children aware of surroundings, make them learn the basic norms of life and also help in developing the ability to understand and decide what is wrong and what is right. A blank state of mind that can be called as “Tabula Rasa” is good to start with easy verses that can be remembered without any trouble. Apart from that, the kids get to know new words like ‘twinkle’, ‘ding dong’, ‘hush’ and so on, which are different but defines certain activities, shapes, habits as well as behaviors in an easy manner. Even research has proven the fact that rhymes have been one of the key tools used in increasing the ability of spatial reasoning in children. 

Nursery rhymes have yet another advantage and that is building up of confidence level and enhancing the ability to speak in the public. Children learn to converse properly, work on their facial expressions and gestures, thereby understanding the formal as well as informal ways of communication. 

It is a fact that most of us have the idea that rhymes are made only for the children and these are nothing but a mode to communication with the juvenile section of the society. Think again! Is it only meant for the children? Why would someone talk about a massive London Bridge to suddenly crumble down? Or why it was not possible to put back someone named Humpty Dumpty back onto the wall? 

Each of the nursery rhymes actually talks about some historical event. With passage of time, the facts are long forgotten but the nursery rhymes continued to maintain its popularity. However, the idea behind these rhymes was to develop a parody about the contemporary leaders as well as the royal politics. The addition of music is nothing but an innocent vehicle to spread rebellious messages in a mild tone.   

Humpty Dumpty was in reality a huge canon used during the English Civil War. It was placed on the wall next to St Mary's Church. But due to heavy bombardment, the canon fell down and could not be placed back to its original position by “All the King's horses, and all the King's men.” Similarly, the rhyme “Baa baa black sheep” is connected to the increasing demand of wool industry in 15th Europe after the devastating plague. There are even controversies stating this rhyme as racially dubious, but there is no evidence to prove this fact. Even the popular game named Ring around the rosy” is also connected to the Black Death and the symptoms that appeared as a red rash ring on the skin of the victims.
In Bengali literature, Sukumar Ray has tried to give the materialistic world a new look through his humorous masterpiece, “Abol Tabol”. When he created the poem, “Gonf Churi” about a man who presumed that someone has stolen (Churi) his mustache (Gonf), the readers can actually get an idea about a typical clerk. Sukumar Ray talks about the behavior of people when they get angry and how they can blame anyone without evidences. 

Rhymes are beautiful ways to communicate the feeling of sadness and happiness. The very last poem of this book communicates to the readers the eagerness to live a free life without boundaries. Sukumar Ray wrote this poem a few days before his death and he expressed the happiness to leave this world because he could dream about a fantasy. He could build castle in the air and conveyed the readers to take a break from the busy schedule and think of something nonsensical. Therefore, he finally ended the book by welcoming death with the rhythmic lines…..

Ghoniye elo ghumer ghor
Ganer pala sango mor 

Restricting the nursery rhymes or the poems only to children is injustice. For a child, these were nothing more than a tool of communication to educate and entertain but as we grow up we appreciate the inner meanings. The impact that these poems leave upon the elders are mixed with emotions wrapped in colored papers encouraging us to live the complex life with hope and smile.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

I Want to Fly!

Image Courtesy: Google

Nostalgia… what is that? Going back to the past and trying to find out the lost old days, happy moments and then coming back to reality, realizing you are in just an opposite state.

May be you should think again. Did you actually leave anything behind? Or better to put it in this way, have I been able to leave anything? For the last 27 years, I have been waking up to the same old life. Of course there were phases – childhood days, student life and currently the great working stage. There were times when I believed, all I do is for a stable career. To get appreciation for the work I have done and by the end of the month get paycheck for the toil.

But what has left in for me to cherish? My degrees gave me a job and in turn money, to earn a living. As for the living part, I stay with my parents; so I still don’t stand to say “earning a living”. Or maybe I can say that because I see some of my colleagues are on the same pay-scale and still making a living out of it. Err, whatever!!

But, do I want that living? Do I want to go to a room enclosed within 4 walls with artificial cold air blowing down from a machine? The answer is NO!!!

I feel like a balloon that has been tied to a rod. It is allowed to float in air but it is not permitted to fly away. The wind thrust it in different directions but it cannot loosen up the string.

Yes, I feel like that. I can see places, I can see travelers, I can see roads but I cannot fly away. Every day I wake up to see the same old houses, trees, and people shouting about their unending problems. Papers have nothing good to say rather than printing the shittiest news on its first page.

Is this the life I presumed to live? I need to cut off that string or ill get deflated soon and accept the nostalgia of nothingness, killing the traveler that lies within me.     


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Temple on the Other Side of LOC

Even before religious discourses were set in and innocent bloods were spilled to claim authority on the northern piece of land, we shared a common history, culture and tradition. We used to live in a land where sky had no boundaries and birds flew away freely without worrying of getting hit by a bullet.

Yes, I am talking about the so long discrepancies that India and Pakistan share since 1947.

The huge sigh of relief after the partition didn’t last for long, soon the war clouds crumbled in to assert dominance over Kashmir; added to that are other territorial issues, which further created an insecure political relation between the two countries. I am here not to blame anyone, but trying to look back at the lost old culture and heritage that we once shared.

While browsing through the news websites of Pakistan, I came across an article that speaks on Hindu temples still standing strong in this region. Well, there is nothing to get surprised because Indian subcontinent, unlike today, was a huge mass of land that includes the whole of Pakistan and Afghanistan as well. Therefore, having a Hindu temple in these thickly populated Muslim countries is not shocking at all. 

The temple that captured all my attention was the Kastaraj Mandir of Katas. This is located in the divided land of Punjab in Chakwal District, witnessing the history that connected the two nations for ages. There is a pool within the temple complex, which is considered sacred because of its healing powers. The temple existed since the days of Mahabharata. It is believed that the Pandava brothers spent 4 out of 14 years in this place. It is here that Yudhisthir confronted the witty questions of Yaksha and answered them all correctly to save the lives of his 4 brothers.

Another story explains that the large pool in the temple area was the result of Shiva’s mourning over the death of his beloved wife, Sati. It is said, he cried so hard and for such a long time that 2 holy ponds were created- one at Pushkar in Ajmer and the other one in Katasraj. In some ancient manuscript, Katas is also considered as the birth place of Lord Rama. But there are controversies because Ayodhya has always been referred as the birth land of the Vishnu Avatar.

It is even said that Al-Beruni spent some time at Katas to learn Sanskrit and wrote his renowned Kitab-ul-Hind, which talks about scientific knowledge, religion and social customs of Hindus. The site houses a group of seven ancient and medieval temples, remains of a Buddhist Stupa, havelis and a few recently built structures. Ramachandra Mandir, Shiva mandir and a Hanuman mandir are the other temples found in this location.

Kastaraj Mandir is spread across the uneven slopes and the localites named it, Qila Katas. This sparsely populated region was once resided by Hindu population who migrated to India after 1947 separation. So, one can find presence of mostly Muslim residents in the region. However, the relationship between the Hindus and the local Muslims are cordial enough. It is quite amazing to see the Hindu devotees traveling from far flung places to attend Shivaratri festival, which is celebrated in this ruin. The government of Pakistan has recognized the temple as a heritage site and has worked for restoring its beauty and history. 

After reading about this temple, I couldn’t stop myself leaving a comment in the blog that solely confines to the heritage and the beauty of the undivided India and how the imaginary lines have divided us. After a few days, I thought of taking a look at the same blog and I came across a reply to my comment. An Indian guy replied in a rough manner stating “Why cry over spilled milk!” But that was not my point. Yes, I mourn over the tragic incident and may be partition was the best solution, but the point is why someone cannot praise the lost history. I am providing an apolitical view, why can’t you accept it!

Let me not end my blog rumbling over some pointless issue rather I must keep my hopes alive to visit the interesting destinations of Pakistan and to that list I now add Kastaraj Mandir. Though this country remains one of the most threatening places in the world, but I wish to visit it someday and witness the history with my own eyes. I will have my own photographs then, and would not be depending on Google anymore.

(Photographs courtesy- Google- The Great Search Engine)