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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I Was Finally Happy... Till You Left



Clarificatory note: The ‘I’ in the note is not I, and I don’t know of any ‘You’ among my circle of acquaintances. It is a work of my imagination; it is my perception of a heart break. 


I was finally happy. I had stopped running around in the quest for happiness because it had finally found me. I had found happiness with you. I realized all the songs that I rolled my eyes at actually made sense, because I was in love. I went about my days with a smile on my face. My day revolved around the expectation that you would call. Or text. And we would meet for dinner. Or it would be a simple coffee date, and that would perk me up. Before I came to know you, I cherished myself as a level-headed person. But then you came along and swept away all the logic in me. And I told myself, this is love and it feels great.  No matter how bad my day went, my solace laid in the fact that you were with me. I could talk to you all about it and you would make me see things straight and even manage to make me see a positive side to my getting reprimanded at work. 

There was no bringing your hope down and I loved that the most about you. On the hope scale of one to ten, you were at a twenty. And you transported the pessimistic me with you to a twenty. It was ridiculously insane how well you understood me. Every glance, every breath, every smile, you understood all the meanings behind them. I remember the way you looked into my eyes and smiled and told me I was an open book to you; you could see right through me into my soul. And for the very first time I felt satiated. And safe.

And then I came crashing down to a zero when you abandoned me. I had felt you slipping away for a while. It started very subtly and took me a while to realize what was happening. I ended up being the one who would always call, always text, always asking to meet after work. You were polite and obliging at first and answered my calls, replied to my messages and turned up at the right time at the place we had decided. And then slowly the frequency of calls, and texts and meetings diminished till there were no more calls, no more texts, no more meeting over coffee dates. You always found an excuse. It was work, it was a family emergency, it was your extra classes. It hurt so much when you wouldn’t pick up my calls. It became apparent to me that I had over committed in the relationship. And I felt stupid, but most of all I felt sad because I was unhappy once again. I felt happiness abandoning me. And yet my days revolved around the hope that you would call or leave a message. It was hope that kept me going for a while before I realized that I was never going to hear from you again. You clearly had moved on and I was no more a part of your life.


 I tried moving on too, but you had made moving on so hard.  I would find myself staring at the phone, almost willing it to ring, hoping that you would be calling. I would go to my phonebook, type out your name and gaze at your tiny little profile picture for hours. I would contemplate calling you, just so I could hear your voice one more time. It didn’t matter if it reached your voicemail, at least I would get to hear your voice one final time. I would go visit your Facebook page and see what you had been doing. I would hover over the message icon and deliberate sending you a message. In the end I gave in and did leave you a few messages which went unanswered. And I finally got my message very clearly - we were definitely over and you didn’t want anything to do with me anymore. I would sit in my room behind locked doors and reminisce about all those times that you made me laugh. I would play our conversations in my head and would laugh by myself. I would go through my inbox and read all the e-mails that we had exchanged when we were together. Your charm and charisma poured through your sarcastic and witty remarks and made me laugh some more.  When we kissed for the first time, I remember Ed Sheeran in my ears – “This feels like falling in love…We’re falling in love.” Little did I know that I was the one who was only doing the falling.

I go back and think how silly I must have seemed to you, fawning all over you. I guess you found that pathetic and that put you off. Clearly I don’t know what put you off, and that is the most painful part. You decided to leave without saying goodbye. A part of me hates you for nonchalantly casting me aside, but a part of me wants to thank you because you made it possible for me to be happy for the briefest of moments. All those moments spent with you were bliss; you taught me how it feels to be content and love someone almost unconditionally. I didn’t think that I would ever get to know the feeling of intoxication that love brings, but you gave me a chance to experience all that. Happiness was being with you, happiness was knowing what we had.

Monday, April 21, 2014

We're Never Gonna Survive, Unless We Get A Little Crazy...



“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.” Robert Louis Stevenson couldn’t have echoed my thoughts any better.  The bug of wanderlust had been implanted in me when I was very young, thanks to my father. I remember every year we would take this grand trip to some part of the country; it was a majestic affair. But those were different days, and these are different days. I grew up, moved out and am now traveling all by myself with a mate. This is the third trip that we took in less than a year. While all three of the trips have been short ones, mostly over extended weekends, but the aching legs, the dirty laundry, the worn out shoes, the insect bites, the empty wallets that the trips have culminated in, have been profoundly satisfying. 

The one thing that I absolutely desperately miss in Mumbai is the capacity to walk around freely.  My friend and I often lament about the lack of space to move or walk around freely in the city. So we try and tame these longings of walking around and then let them free during the trips. On this recent trip to Mahabaleshwar, we let our fancy of walking run amok and ended up walking 15km, give or take in two days. We walked under the blazing sun, we walked in the drizzle, we walked under a cloudy sky, it didn’t matter to us what the condition was, we just walked. 


The trip served both of us as a nice break from the city. Don’t get me wrong, both us love Mumbai, but one has to turn away from it on occasion to appreciate it more.  The trip was a sudden plan and it happened to coincide delightfully with the ‘Strawberry Festival’ at the Mapro Gardens. We were thrilled as we were greeted with free bowls of strawberries and mulberries; we hadn’t expected such hospitality at a festival. 

At Panchgani, we decided to do the entire table top plateau on foot. We were enthusiastic and brimming with energy and excitement for having found the opportunity to walk around such a huge open space. The experience of the entire walk under a blazing sun would have been surreal had we not been robbed by a water bottle robber. Yes, our bottle of water, which I had set down to investigate a cave, was robbed by someone. I had set down the bottle and went down the steps, cut out crudely at the side of the mountain, which made climbing down the stairs, without the use of your two hands to hold onto something for your dear life, a little risky. I grumbled for a while as my friend tried to pacify me, with her logic that probably the thief was thirstier than we were but after a while she gave up. She said if you want to go on grumbling for the rest of the walk, then let’s break up and walk separately. Well, I didn’t want that of course so I shut up immediately. I am happy to announce the rest of the walk was very pleasant indeed. 


 After the taxi dropped us off at our hotel, we realized that we were short of cash. And the nearest ATM was 2km away, in the main market. So we set off on foot, gleeful at the opportunity of another walk. We walked all the way to the main market and found it to be a colourful and vibrant place. We congratulated each other for undertaking the walk for we would have surely missed the sights of the market. We roamed about the streets for a while before setting off again for our hotel. It started drizzling, but that didn’t deter us from completing our 5km walk. We marched on and our painful calf muscles are our proud war wounds. But we didn’t stop there. While nursing our sore legs and enjoying the cool breeze at night, we hit another crazy idea: we would walk the 2km with our rucksacks, up and down the hill to the bus stop. When we were checking out the manager kindly offered us to book a cab, but we vigorously shook our heads and said we were going to walk to the stop. It is needless to say, the poor guy looked very surprised and I think I also detected a hint of bewilderment. No one sane decides to walk 2km in the sun with a rucksack, up and down a hill just because they were deprived of walking for three months.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Miracle Diet Isn't A Miracle



So people who read my blog, or my posts on Facebook know that I have been on a detox diet. It is going to be three weeks this Saturday. I was feeling pretty good, which is why I decided to check my weight. I weighed myself and found that I now weigh 44kilos. So the last time that I weighed myself was back in November when I weighed 49kilos. Now, I will be very honest, I have no idea if I shed all of this weight in just three weeks or gradually in the course of 5 months. So yes, I have no freaking clue if my diet actually works or not! And here I have people from my friend list, begging to be told what the magic diet is. Now, fair warning, the diet might not have helped at all and might not be conducive in losing weight. I might have lost all that extra kilos when I was away in Hyderabad, a place I didn’t bond too well with. And even the Hyderabadi Biriyani couldn’t lift my moods. So, I thought that it is best to come clean to all of you guys out there, who are in awe of my miracle diet that helped me lose 5kilos. 

All those who know me, you know that my disposition is usually skinny, so the dynamics of gaining and losing weight stumps me. I have never had to deal with weight issues. On the contrary, I was always told to put on some weight so as to resemble something other than the sample skeleton that hung in our Biology lab.  So now the obvious question, why of all people should I go on a diet? So let me tell you all about it. My diet isn’t exactly a diet. I am not depriving my body of food at all, what I am doing is eating healthy. It was a nice change from all the junk that I had been putting in my body. So one Saturday, three weeks back I decided enough was enough, I am going to eat healthy now. So here is what I did. I gave up fizzy drinks, any other carbonated drinks, canned juices. So yeah all the non-healthy drinks, I kicked them out of my refrigerator. For those out there who enjoy an occasional drink or not so occasional drinks, it's best to avoid drinking for at least three weeks, if not a month.  The things that came next in the line of fire were butter and cheese; I gave them the boot too. Although ideally one should kick out jam too, I didn’t. I stuck to brown bread and jam. I gave up everything non vegetarian, especially read meat. While you don’t have to become a vegetarian, but if you are serious about losing weight, it is ideal to abstain from it from at least two weeks and then slowly let them back in your diet in moderate proportions. So what did I eat then? Because it seems like I threw out almost everything. Well I will tell you what I ate – fruits. 


My breakfast now includes one cucumber, without salt, one apple and two pieces of brown bread, ideally not toasted with jam. One thing that will be difficult for most of you is giving up caffeine and tea. While one cup of either is okay, it is ideal to give away both for the first two weeks. I am lucky in this regard because I am neither a tea person nor a coffee person. Lunch includes rice, brown ideally, daal, because you need your protein and any veggie in a light curry. Along with this, now that it’s summer have curd without salt or sugar. Towards the afternoon I usually feel a little hungry, so I carry with me either a bowl of grapes or a bowl of watermelon slice. I have also had oranges which does the work. After coming back home, I have crackers and a glass of fat less, low cholesterol milk, without sugar. Dinner is the same as lunch, except it is a different daal and veggie; the curd is a must though. So folks, you see my miracle diet isn’t actually a miracle, all it is, is healthy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jaatishwar



Srijit Mukherji’s Jaatishwar: A Musical of Memories is truly a majestic musical memoir. While in his Baishey Srabon, Mukherji paid homage to the Hungryalist era in Bangla literature, in his latest venture Mukherji, strives to remind the audience of the Kobigaan era in Bangla music.  Mukherji takes his audience on a musical journey, of the glorious past of Bangla music, a genre that has almost become redundant in the modern times.


Jaatishwar is an intertwined tale of two men, separated by centuries who have one common connection: their love for music.  The movie shows how music can cross the barriers of time and space, language and culture; music is eternal and that is where the universality of Mukheji’s plot lies. The storylines of Rohit Mehta, a Gujarati boy born and brought up in modern day Calcutta and of Hensman Anthony, more popularly known as Anthony Firingee in the 19th century Bengal, unfolds in a parallel fashion, almost complimenting one another. These two men hail from two widely contrasting eras, culture, background, but are united in their passion, love, and devotion for music.  

Jishu Sengupta plays Rohit, whose inclination for Bangla language, culture and music equates with Anthony Firingee’s love and passion for Bangla language and music, played by Prosenjit Chatterjee. Chatterjee flits easily between the shoes of the Portuguese merchant with a penchant for all things Bangla and as Kushal Hazra, an assistant librarian, Anthony’s reincarnation in the 21st century.  Kushal Hazra is a haunted man by his past painful memories, and as he keeps shuffling between his past and present, Chatterjee evokes strong feelings within the audience with his portrayal of idiosyncrasies and eccentricities. Swastika Mukherjee plays Mahamaya, the love interest of Rohit and is a crusader of Bangla culture. She fights against the present day attitude of disdain towards Bangla culture. When her superior at the radio station tells her that the ratings of her show are dropping, she stands up for bangla music – “…Rabindra Sangeet er shonge ami band er gaan o bajai…Sudhin Dasgupta aar Salil Chowdhury o. Karon Bangla gaan bhalobhashte gele jemon Mohiner Ghoraguli shona uchit, temni Ramprasad o. Karon Nachiketa Chakraborty ebong Nachiketa Ghosh, du jonei amake niye likhechen.  Karon Anjan Dutta ebong Mukul Dutta du jonei amar bhashay gaan likchechen. Karon Anupam Roy o jemon amar, Anupam Ghatak o amar. Karon Rupam Islam, Nazrul Islam shobai amar.”

Music is the very soul of Jaatishwar and Kabir Suman hit all the right chords with his immaculate arrangement. He lends a very authentic tone and style to the ‘Kobiyal Gaan’, which only goes to prove his tremendous dedication to music. Mukherji’s brilliant production design that brings alive the Shovabazaar Rajbaari during the heydays of ‘Kobiyal Lodai’ has been shot in sepia tones to bring about the air of nostalgia. The ‘Kobiyals’ played by various guest stars put up an exceptional performance. This particularly holds true for Ananya Chatterjee, who plays the role of Jogeshwari, the only female Kobiyal of note and Kharaj Mukherjee as Bhola Moira, the erstwhile champion of Kobiyal Gaan, whom Anthony Firingee finally defeats. Out of the other supporting actors with cameos in the present, Mamata Shankar, who plays Mahamaya’s widowed mother is the best of the lot. Come what may, she believes every problem can be tackled with a cup of tea. 

The camera work has been flamboyant by Soumik Halder, especially the panoramic shots of the Ganges, rural Bengal or the terrace of Merlin Apartments in Tollygunge. Jaatishwar is a tribute to an era in music that has almost lost itself in the conundrum of the present times.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Midnight Palace



I have been a fan of Carlos Ruiz Zafon ever since I read his The Prince of Mist. Marketed for young adults, something that I was not aware of when I picked up the book at my local library, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I finished the book in one day; I read into the wee hours of the morning. And after I finished it, I was too scared to sleep. So I waited for the sun to rise, checked the bottom of my bed for any lurking monsters, and then went to sleep. 

Till date I have read three of Zafon’s works, and each one of them gave me the same eerie, uncanny feeling of being watched or of a presence in my room, when there were none. My latest Carlos Zafon was The Midnight Palace, again marked as a young adult book. However I agree with Zafon in his introduction when he says that the book is for all those who are all “young at heart.” I guess when it comes to Zafon I will always be young at heart.


The Midnight Palace is set in Calcutta of the 1930s. Yes, that’s right C-A-L-C-U-T-T-A! The story revolves around the twins Ben and Sheere, who were separated at birth by their grandmother to protect them after the untimely death of their parents. While Sheere was brought up by her grandmother, Ben was left at St. Patrick’s orphanage, in the charge of Mr. Carter to be raised with other orphans. According to the rule of the orphanage, the charges are expected to leave the orphanage and pave their way in the world once they turn sixteen. On his sixteenth birthday, as Ben and his friends, who form the secret Chowbar Society are celebrating, Ben’s grandmother Aryami Bose comes to the orphanage with Sheere to warn Mr. Carter that the dangerous past of the twins was catching up to them. This is the very first time that the twins meet and like all other young adult adventure series, the twins and their friends decide to confront the past rather than run from it. With a dark, mysterious villain with supernatural powers, The Midnight Palace comfortably fits the bill of the horror supernatural genre.

Zafon builds the tension marvelously with his plot but falls miserably short at its dénouement. Even his majestic and hypnotic descriptions of the dazzling city of Calcutta in the 1930’s under the Colonial rule could not soothe the disappointment I felt with the tame ending. That is the sad part of most of Zafon’s books. I had to strain myself to finish both Midnight and his adult novel The Angel’s Game. However he more than makes up for it with his ability to invoke visually captivating imageries through his writing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

United We Stand...


I had deterred watching this movie ever since its release way back in 2006. But after watching his Captain Phillips, I told myself that enough was enough and I wasn’t going to be scared anymore. I don’t know if scared is the right word for it. Every time I think of this movie, I am taken over by myriad emotions. Dread, I think is the primary one. Because I know the ‘story’, so I know how the movie will end. Paul Greengrass’s United 93 does not have a happy ending unlike Captain Phillips.
 
Fifteen minutes into the movie, I see the captain of the flight United Airlines 93 announce what beautiful a day it is to be flying and I am thinking what irony! I believe the script was written that way to portray the irony, but somehow it got stifling and difficult to watch. And then the plane takes off, and I know this is the last journey that United 93 will ever make. United 93 is a movie about the dreadful 9/11 attacks on American soil. But the focus is on one particular flight, United Airlines number 93, the only one of the four airplanes hijacked which failed to reach its destination. While its destination can now no longer be confirmed, it is widely assumed that it was headed to strike either the White House or the Capitol Building. But it crashed in a field in Pennsylvania, owing to a revolt in the plane when some passengers tried to regain control of the plane.


So there, you know the story once again because you know the ‘story’ from the news report.  I don’t know how many of you would want to watch the movie now. It took me eight years to find the appropriate courage and the right frame of mind to sit down and watch the film. I got goose bumps several times during the movie. I don’t know why; I am not particularly fond of America.  Or Americans. I guess the humane part in me had a difficult time coping up in general. 

The action takes place when we are well into the movie, almost an hour into the film. The air traffic jargon however can bore you at times, and I at times lost concentration. But it adds to the authenticity of the movie. While at the same time it is relevant because that is how the audience is made privy to the news of the hijacking of the other three air planes, something that the passengers of United 93 get to know much later. Greengrass’s signature style of shooting with hand-held cameras makes the audience feel included in United 93’s bumpy ride all along the way. 

The one thing that I found utterly ridiculous, bordering on it being ludicrous was the red bandannas. As the terrorists gain control of the airplane, two of them manage to find time to don red bandannas on their head. Yes, yes, we all know it signifies Viva la Revolucion, but it was very John Rambo-ish and I think Greengrass could have totally avoided the whole red bandanna spectacle.

Human courage never fails to amaze me. It comes in all shapes and sizes. We are reminded of that when the passengers try to regain control of the plane. They battle it out with two of the terrorists and overpower them. It was one of most brutal onscreen deaths that I have come across recently. But then again, when the primal instinct of survival takes over, man is capable of doing anything.  

The closing scene is brilliant and I am going to be very tight lipped about that. Ironically I had caught only the last scene of the movie eight years back and that had what intrigued me about the movie. But it also scared me which is why I had been procrastinating watching it for so long.