Dumb Test
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ms. Dutt, if you are listening...

I am not so sure if I want to 'express' this. But I feel compelled. During my growing-up years, television journalism was synonymous to Prannoy Roy's 'World This Week'. He covered Bill Clinton's presidential elections and I felt this is bringing news to our doorsteps. He covered the 1993 Mumbai blasts and I still remember his comments on how people lined up at the blood banks to donate blood the day after the blasts. When Barkha Dutt covered Kargil War in 1999, she seemed to be the most natural addition to Prannoy Roy's 24 X 7 entrouge. But somehow Indian television changed.

Today I strongly feel that Barkha Dutt is digressing from her responsibilities as a journalist. Yes, when incidents as strong and as numbing as Mumbai 26th November happen, we all feel compelled to express our views. Express them but please oh please Ms. Dutt do not put words on people's mouth. Please do not direct interviews so blatantly that you start to look ridiculous. Today, as I followed Barkha Dutt's coverage on NDTV from in front of the Gateway of India and her repeated attempts at putting 'words' in the mouths of those whom she interviewed, it disappointed me.

Media in India, we cannot deny, had always played a significant role in the politics of the land, whether it is Indian Express printing white pages or NDTV covering water-logged Mumbai, but the power that media gets from the endorsement of its readers and viewers must not be misused. Ms. Dutt we have loved you once, but please do not misuse the love and force words out of us because you want to hear those aloud. Please do not ask Mr. Santanu Saikia 'How he feels when his wife is missing.' - not you ma'am with so many years in the media.

Here's to TAJ Lands End, an icon and to Mumbai - my first love and muse:

(c) Durba Gupta.

My writing is not about what happened in Mumbai. My opinion from my living room is insignificant. But I do care if we turn to a group that just appears to be 'aware'.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Rokte Amar Agun dhorai, neshai kolkata

(You fire up my blood; you are my addiction, Kolkata - Nachiketa Chakraborty)

The queue was long. Hot and sweaty – Durga-pujo Kolkata. We were all trying to beat each other in the queue to reach the coveted spot. "May be my hand is a wee bit more outstretched than the uncle standing next to me." "Probably I am ahead of him." "I will be noticed first then" - these were the thoughts running through each of our minds.

Nope, the long queue was not for any pandal. We were sweating it out in a ‘xerox’ shop. We all needed photocopies. We had our changes ready. You never know, when it comes to changes, in Kolkata, in all probability you may be denied services if you fall short of it. The photocopier (not the machine) was working with inhuman dexterity. Organizing the copies, calculating the dues and handing over the originals.

Then, he came. He wore a long panjabi, typical of Bangalis during the puja season. He had a letter and an envelope for photocopying. His voice exuded confidence that made me turn my head. His smile gave it away. The letter came from School service commission appointing him as a teacher of Bengali in a secondary school in Burdwan. I slowly stepped back and gave him my place. He probably did not notice.

Today, in the IT and outsourcing world, at one end of the spectrum are those who compete amongst themselves in getting an European or a Silicon valley posting, and at the other end of the spectrum is his story of five years of education, in a language subject that almost everyone around him may have looked down upon (“Bangla Honors?, oh come on! What good is that?”), that had finally bore him a job of teaching in a place far off from Kolkata and he would probably be earning 1/5th of what some one of his age would earn from an IT job.

Yet he stood proud.

His confidence: intoxicating.

And his request to get the envelope (that had his address and the seal of school service commission) photocopied, twice, made me wonder how we take email confirmations from our prospective employer’s as final, how we almost never ever worry about photocopying the envelope in which the offer letter arrives. We have ‘soft’ copies.

He made his copies and left. I stepped forward. Silently I admired his spirit and wished him the very best. I know that during his education and his preparations for school service commission he probably showed more mettle in facing life than me (a privileged one). I am glad that he came out triumphant.

Wants are measured by different standards. The pleasure of a twenty-seven year old in getting a school service commission posting as a school teacher is probably what Nachiketa meant when he said – kolkata is my addiction. It is probably having that smile for a Rs. 7000 per month job (for a post-graduate), phuchka for Rs.5, the ‘IT sector (the famous sector V, Salt Lake) studded with food stalls and our endless speculations on the restoration and screening of Ray’s short film is what the ‘fire’ is all about.

(c) Durba Gupta

Monday, September 29, 2008

Of hearsay and heartaches…

I do not know if he loved her. I do not know whether she loved him either. I’ve seen them talk and I have heard them shout, at each other. I am certain their daughter heard them too. It’s been quiet now for a while. All you hear are old Hindi and Bangla songs, mostly classics.

Jet-lagged my eyes strain to read the time – it’s 3 o’ clock in the morning. He plays ‘Saare rahain chalte chalte, yuhin koi mil gaya tha…’ I listen.

In their fights and shouts, they lived. The wife watered her plants and the husband took their daughter to the school. Like a child’s early crayon work – celebrated the first time, shown to the guests the second time and abandoned for the rest. Then one day, he saw her. In a family gathering. Her beauty enthralled him. His eyes followed her everywhere. He wanted to spend time with her and talk to her. She was his wife’s cousin. He asked his wife to invite her home.

‘Humein aur jeene ki chahat na hoti, agar tum na hote, agar tum na hote…,’ he changes the play list.

She came. To stay with them. He was happy. He took her out to the movies, to the restaurants, the zoo and to the shops. He talked to her, walked with her and spent time with her. He seemed to have forgotten his wife and daughter.

They did not.

Ten days later, she left. He was left alone in the house, with those whom he chose to forget.

The shouts resumed with more vigour. Birthdays were not spared either. The wife’s complaints and the husband’s crumbling justifications gnawed at each other. And then, they left too. The flower pots are gone. Empty parapet walls gather moss. The daughter, I hear, chooses to stay with the mother.

Kabhie alvida na kahena…kabhie alvida na kahena…’ now continues to break the silence of the night.

A long day at pujor bajar (shopping for Durga Puja) has left her exhausted. But her eyes glistened at the sight of her one-year-old. She emptied her bags and stared at the blue pujabi with white embroidery that she had got for her husband and smiled. He will like it, she thinks.

Married, “happily”, with a daughter, thoughts of the cousin, now separated from her husband, may cross her mind, every now and then. The songs, however, I am sure, escape her.
“It’s strange didibhai (sister). She is happily married with a daughter now and these two could not stay together!” lamented my ‘source’ today morning.

I wish, I only wish, things were so easy – that the cause if removed, erased all the pain, hurt, and gnawing.

Palkon ke jharokon mein tujhko bithakar…maat ho mere jaan udas…” the clock strikes 3:30. The dogs bark.
He sits there, in his room, in the big house playing songs as ode to someone who was never his. Sleep eludes him – probably life and love too, at this moment. But he will surely bounce back. Human spirit, I hear is indomitable.

He switches on the television. The bomb blasts continue. I must try and catch some sleep now. His collection is great. Tomorrow, I hope he plays, “Chokhe naamey brishti, bukey othe jhar je…” (aka: jaane keya baat hain, jaane keya baat hain…).

I can’t help if you find the songs too corny to be true. Believe me the songs played in this sequence as I kept on abusing the keyboard at the middle of the night. All characters are purely 100% unadulterated hearsay and are not at all figments of my imagination. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is probably not a mere coincidence.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Love for Broadway

They descended on the pavement from the designer stores – their gowns flowing, their fur loosely draped over their shoulders, their neckties in a perfect bow and their stilettos drumming the concrete in the late hours. They bowed their head in humble respect and they ‘excused’ their ways in polite elegance.

And then there were the faded jeans and Snoopy Dog sneakers. Chewing their gums while fiddling with their ear pierce they laughed and talked and they marched forward.

But they all stopped for a while and looked up in silent admiration – the stilettos and the sneakers at the proud neon lights. They traced the lighted words with their eyes, few read those aloud, few immortalized it in the form of a photograph. The flash lights blinked – the bow ties nodded at the faded jeans. They seemed comfortable for they just realized that they have one thing in common.

Inside, the long black coats guided them in. Their shoulders brushed against each other as some hurried. But no rude glances were exchanged. For, they were happy in anticipation of something beautiful. The majestic chandelier and the ornamental walls reminiscent of the Versaille’s art welcomed again the set of new faces as they stood in queues to deposit their coats or grab a coffee.

The men walked their ladies in. The chewing gums stayed back while the sneakers moved in. They all settled down. It was dark. But they were eager. For they are there bound by a ‘common’ love – their love for the Broadway. As the 30 piece orchestra seated below the stage tuned their strings to the hair-raising, heart thumping score of Andrew Webber and the audience sank to their seats, the curtains were raised to the longest running Broadway show – The Phantom of the Opera.

I sat there, mesmerized by the sheer presence of it, grasping the experience that was soon to overcome me. As the cursed chandelier swung from the stage to the audience amidst the gasps, the phantom rowed Christine on his boat crossing the river covered by smoke or descended from behind the opera statuette among the audience, I marveled at the engineering that makes such complex tricks possible, live, on stage and perfect. For two and a half hours they laughed, cried, acted and expressed themselves through their songs in front of a live audience, never missing a single note. I recognized their sheer talent and dedication as they perform before a live audience day after day singing their own songs and shedding their own tears.

All stood up as the cast bowed after an exhilarating two and a half hours. They walked out of the auditorium in revered silence, nodding their heads in appreciation and lost in the magic of the musical. And for me, my first Broadway experience made me feel for the first time in a foreign land that how inconsequential my skin color was amidst this 'sophisticated' Caucasian theatre crowd for we were all there for a common love – love for Broadway.

PS: Thanks Deeps for zee award...mighty pleased and award you the same - one of the most humorous takes on life that I have come across.

(Note: I wrote this long back and had forwarded this to my friends before. )

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Chicago Summer

Here are some glimpses of the short-lived summer in Chicago. To begin with is the Blues Festival. People come from all parts of Chicago and subburban counties to enjoy the city relive their love for Blues music. It is a full day out for the music lovers.

Most are in their 40s and 50s....during the peak of Blues holding hands and swinging to the tunes that had probably brought them together.

And they will bring their chairs and barbeques, grill food, wash it down with a pint and have a day out. It is a festival on the park ground.

Next, is the sailing season. It kicks off with the summer and people bring out their boats and explore the downtown as they sail on the chicago river winding through the city. The innumerable bridges over the river open up to make space for the boats to sail through. Here are some glimpses of the same:

The bridge over Michigan Avenue is opening up.

The boat is sailing through.

And the vehicles wait...long live summer in chicago.

Then they have events in the Millenium park. Located at the heart of downtown, Millenium park hosts an array of events and performances. These images are from a group called Australian Passion Fruit. They enacted a short story for 30 minutes perched over a pole about 10 feet high - swinging, emoting and dancing as well.

And then the evenings in Millenium park, open-air theaters and people splashing on fountains. Human faces illuminating the night sky while Cloud Gate reflects Chicago skyline.

The Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor

The human face fountain in Millenium Park.

Next up is the Michigan Avenue - the shopping mecca-buzzing with people...

and make-shift sculptures...walking down the street makes you feel alive.

And the boat rides on Chicago river amidst the architectural splendour of the city.

The summer comes to an end with the Jazz festival. I was not in Chicago to experience that. But just prior to the Jazz festival is the Air & Water show. Will leave you with glimpses of that. The same drill - chairs, grills, food and lazing out.

Till the winter sets in...

(C) Durba Gupta

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Miracle Worker

Still from 'The Miracle Worker'

For most of us who have been misguided (admittedly or not!) at some point of our lives, (could be in our rebellious teens, in our ‘mature’ mid twenties or at the ‘ripe age’ on the other side of the magic number thirty) – and have somehow managed to scrape through that phase (with incorrigible consequences, for me say my obsessive compulsive disorder), almost always have someone to thank for, in helping us scrape through that period.

How many things do we generally take for granted? My humble estimate would be: Many. The blessed ones like us with no apparent reason to be lost or troubled (lack of finances, education, physical disabilities, etc. etc.) are generally the ones who have a great affinity towards condemning the world around us and thereby finding the necessary justification for our acts of rebellion and protest. We are more or less ‘unhappy’ with things the way they are.

But the rebellious phase, how much ever insignificant the reason may be, always have the tendency to take one in a downward spiral. A phase that you fail to recognize as a ‘phase’, a state of being that you do not recognize as ‘downward’, it is confusing yet alarmingly assuring in your misguided confidence. How do we come out of it? On our own or may be at times with the help of ‘the miracle worker’ - a friend – a brother – a sister – mother – father – a dog – a book or a teacher?

Helen Keller fought vigorously in her dark silent world for seven years before she met her miracle worker…visually impaired, highly intelligent and extremely diligent one Ms. Anne Sullivan. All she had to do was to teach Helen one word ‘everything’. Arthur Penn directed this amazing tale for the 75 mm format in his film ‘The Miracle Worker’ (1962) brilliantly portrayed by Anne Bancroft as Annie Sullivan and Patty Duke as Helen Keller. While the young Helen fought violently in her rebellious world trying to protect her very few rights, the miracle worker worked with an iron fist to break her rebellion and take her to the enlightenment that she does not know exists.

Watching the film and reading about Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan made me wonder, do we thank our respective miracle workers enough? So here’s to the miracle workers of our lives – the high-school teacher, the elder sister, the tenth reading of ‘To kill a mocking bird’, the John Lenon music, a spiritual connection, strumming your guitar or beating on your drums – they do miracles and we survive.

As for me I thank my high-school teacher Amalendu Sir for giving my life a path to tread on.

(As usual, encourage you to share your stories, if any.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Watch where ye goin’!

Warning: This post is for those who feel ‘strongly’ about most of the things ;)!

(Still from Manhattan)

Woody Allen walked the streets of Manhattan as the self-proclaimed intellectual with a condescending opinion towards almost anyone and everyone whom he did not fancy or had fancied at one point of time. His thoughts amused me but his ‘Manhattan’ stayed with me. Throughout the growing years, images of New York kept adding from the mushy ‘You’ve got mail’ to Spidy adventures to ‘As good as it gets’, ‘Raging Bull’ or sitcom ‘Friends’ – the city spoke to me from the frames of the 75 mm and the printed letters in paperback covers.

With a background of a city like Kolkata – a city that speaks to you, New York always appealed to me. Just as Bombay did, a city with its characteristics that either mesmerizes you or makes you curse it! I always aspire to live, work and brush shoulders with those who toil and sustain themselves in cities like Kolkata, Bombay, Paris or New York. A city about which the more you read, the more you watch, the more you feel that you cannot stay indifferent to.

Being a Bangali, I’m blessed with this sense of being overtly possessive about my opinions. Somehow the concept of ‘opinion’ for most Bangalis seems to sustain on uncontrolled emotions and strong feelings. Once there’s an opinion, it’s very likely that that would hold ground for ages to come. So if shi(n)gara (samosa) is good in Pun(n)tiram (a sweet shop chain), then that’s that. Period. We will shed tears if need be every time thinking about shingara that we are missing, sitting thousands of miles away from Kolkata. Or if it is the ‘lal jhanda’ of the communists that the Bangalis are vouching for – then they would do that for decades if need be.

So here I am, a Bangali, smitten by the thoughts and images of New York, finally setting foot on the big apple, already in ‘awe’ of what’s about to hit me.

First visual: Sardarji at the helm of a NYC yellow cab, in front of Laguardia Airport in his Punjab da accent, sternly at two Parisians ‘Maadam, tell me exactly bhwere to go.’
(The conversation that follows in French and Punjabi English makes the Bangali glad! She feels she is in New York!)

Second visual: The Port Authority bus drops her bang in the middle of 7th Avenue and Broadway. Faces greet her. Shoulders hit her. Neon Lights dazzle her. As she snakes her way through Friday afternoon pedestrian traffic towards the Path Stations, balancing her duffle bag and grabbing her camera, the Bangali tries to relate ‘Ah! It can challenge Shyambajar!’

Cars stop for people to cross and pedestrians give vehicles the famous ‘look’!


(c) Durba Gupta

First encounter: She finally reaches 33rd Street, Path Station. Sweating and dragging her bag (which by now, following the law of nature, has given away), tries to figure out the $1 and 75 cents to buy a ticket to Jersey city. She fumbles, keeps people waiting ‘impatiently’ (remember it’s New York) and delves deep into her bag to fetch the last quarter.

Finally one gives up! “How much are you short of?” he barks at her and then adds ‘Here’s a 25! Keep it moving’ he asserts. She uses his quarter, but finds her own quarter eventually and chases the good samaritan down the station to give him back his quarter. (he gives her the 'unlike New York' look and walks away with the quarter).

Second Encounter: On the platform trains whizzed pass her as she struggled to figure out her train, and inadvertently landed on people moving in unnatural speed. ‘Watch where ye goin’!’ said the strong jawed, bush shirt as he strode by quickly.

New York City, where they say no one has the time to stop, help and listen! First three hours in New York from the dazzles of neons to the famous New York ‘Attitude’ made her hungry for more…

The tryst with New York finally ended – after 36 hours – and I experienced a city with my eyes and my ears and my thoughts. I tried to take in as much as I could and I stayed true to my ‘opinion’ – a city given an opportunity, I would go back to feel more and live more.

Here's to Woody Allen's NYC vision:

(C) Durba Gupta

Friday, July 11, 2008

Courage of conviction

walking the talk - how difficult is that? sitting within my sheltered walls how easy is 'talking'?

For those, who aren't aware of Chris Mccandless, here is the story - of a hero, a villain, a headstrong kid, an irresponsible son, a courageous man or a brave being? - that i leave for you to decide.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

in appreciation...

@all wanted to thank you all for your comments and sharing with me your thoughts. i've been barging your inboxes with updates and would probably keep doing that for a while ;)

@ abhay, lolz...no u are not digressing, the fact remains that the world is pretentious and probably very very afraid...a deadly combination, making life for lesser beings like us even more difficult.

@ anirban, thnx man! appreciate ur taking time out and reading the mindless babbles, and for the encouragement.

@ anu, thnx gal for your visits, ur observations always meant a lot! howz life? new documentaries?

@ deepti, howz u? getting better by the day. have planned to put up a blogroll...will add yours soon. i agree with your concept of 'home', that was mine too once upon a time, sadly though it's moving more towards 'feeling' though and less towards 'people'...let's c how it unfurls ;)

@ gunjan, sirjee aap aye...hum dhanya huye. appreciate ur thoughts...and 'totally' identify with your bombay ka theka...yes the hardship days somehow mean so much more than the good days...is this common to all or is this rare? i hear people recall their 'golden' days more fondly than the harsh ones! dunno!

@ raj, yo man! howz fayettville treating u?

@ richie, finally gal...bullied you into visiting. yay!

@ anons - ppl pls leave ur names so that i can thank you in 'person' ;)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Of Libraries and Homeless Existence

His long hair was tied in a surprisingly tidy knot behind his head. His long beard was braided. He wore a sleeveless black travel jacket, long shorts and trek shoes. His possessions were one big backpack, one shoulder sack, one bicycle helmet, one Rottweiler named Stephano and an Alaskan Huskie (name forgotten) tied to the fence next to which he sat, on the pavement, in front of the Chicago Public library. He nodded as I smiled at him while getting in to the library.

Chicago public library is this heavenly abode of nine floors, of the smell of books, of open spaces, of thoughtful silence, sounds of pages turning, high ceilings and free internet browsing. Chicago Public Library provides great facilities to its members. Free Membership. Free heating and cooling. Spanking clean restrooms, ample seating area, free internet browsing and not to mention the amazing collection of books, films and CDs – of different languages. No, ‘am not trying to ‘sell’ Chicago Public library to you. All of this has a point.

Libraries remind me of ‘home’. May be because ‘am getting old and sentimental, or may be because its been long that I haven’t called any place ‘home’, these days I tend to define places that flood back old memories as ‘home’. My grandfather left their home in Dhaka, Bangladesh in the 40s to find peace in India. I grew up in Agartala, Tripura, educated till 12th there, moved to Bhopal for college education, then traveled and lived across places - Bombay, Pune, England and the US (these days) as a ‘perk’ of married life. I do not go to Agartala anymore and when it comes to ‘maika’, I camp in Kolkata.

So, yeah ‘home’ is probably in memories now.

To make the long story longer, every time I step into the Chicago public library, it feels like home. I do not know how many of us associate good memories with libraries, but I certainly do have many. My introduction to Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, that world is often enough for few billions, that Nicholai Gogol can dream, that Gandhiji traveled on trains, the first realization of being admired, sitting across the table and not talking, browsing the same shelf and sharing glances (yes, I belong to the stone age – things were slow those days), or merely to bunk ‘Debabrata sir’s’ class in school. Libraries from school to college to this city of Chicago still give me ‘home’ – of being on a known ground, of being confident.

The great physical comfort that the library offers is probably the reason that two tables away from where I am seated is a gentleman. He is African American, his meager possession a torn rucksack kept on the floor, unkempt clothing and hair, dejected eyes staring at the empty space filled with books, waiting away his time till the doors close for the day at 9:00 PM. He will look out for a shelter later, I think.

Next to his table is seated another lady – all her possessions bundled in her over coat. She snoozes as the young Japanese student struts by hurriedly towards the foreign language section. She’s startled for a while, but continues with her snooze nonetheless. For 12 hours Monday-Friday, she and her friend can stay off the scorching Chicago roads or the biting Chicago winds – a place that becomes a ‘home’ albeit not literally.

The restroom doors proclaim ‘More than one person is prohibited inside a booth.’ “A ‘home’ away from the crowded streets for some?” I wonder! Down in the computer floor, people are busy browsing the internet. From Turbotax.com to explicit pornographic sites. Free access and no ‘firewall’ to cross – touché to the indomitable human spirit.

I make up my mind for the picks of the day – armed with two Bangla novels, I walk towards the escalator. I’ll start my decent to the 3rd floor to issue the books. The African American gentleman decides likewise. It’s almost 8:30. 10 minutes later as I walk out of the door, I stop to hear their conversation.

“Hey man, you got a place tonight?” he asks the long haired man.
“I’ll be here,” the long-haired man says.
“How long are you on road?” asks the African American.
“8 years” says the man, “Started from Alabama.” He adds.

He had picked up Stephano from the roads he recalls. I smile at both of them and look at the dogs one last time, still lying down peacefully at his feet before I walk away to the 43rd floor where the roof and the walls wait to give me shelter.

Inside or out on the pavement, here’s to the library – ‘home’ to some of us.

If some hapless soul decides to visit this blog and read through it, please share your thought of ‘home’, if it appeals to you.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

See you all - here - the 'helly' abode!

There always comes a time when one must take a moment off - a moment of self-reflection - a hard stare at the mirror and know who you are and face it.

Thankfully the world of Internet has made it so much easier for 'utterly busy' individuals like us. Who am I? What do I want? What will happen to me? All revealed in just a few clicks...I must oblige.

Test 1:

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished me to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how I matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Moderate
Level 7 (Violent)Extreme
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's Inferno Test

What is Seventh Level of Hell?
Guarded by the Minotaur, who snarls in fury, and encircled within the river Phlegethon, filled with boiling blood, is the Seventh Level of Hell. The violent, the assasins, the tyrants, and the war-mongers lament their pitiless mischiefs in the river, while centaurs armed with bows and arrows shoot those who try to escape their punishment. The stench here is overpowering. This level is also home to the wood of the suicides- stunted and gnarled trees with twisting branches and poisoned fruit. At the time of final judgement, their bodies will hang from their branches. In those branches the Harpies, foul birdlike creatures with human faces, make their nests. Beyond the wood is scorching sand where those who committed violence against God and nature are showered with flakes of fire that rain down against their naked bodies. Blasphemers and sodomites writhe in pain, their tongues more loosed to lamentation, and out of their eyes gushes forth their woe. Usurers, who followed neither nature nor art, also share company in the Seventh Level.

Test 2:

Always knew...just needed some confirmation...it's all about 'assurance' at the end of the day.


-- Personality Disorder Test --
Test 3:

Getting there...

Free IQ Test

Free-IQTest.net - Free IQ Test

Finally some confirmation, affirmation and promise of 'doom'...I'll sleep well tonight.

Friday, May 30, 2008

“You have been chosen…”

“You have been chosen…” the famous words were spoken. Finally. To me. …the words that I’ve always waited for, in bated breath…when I took part in a competition or in a lucky draw ever since I was a toddler, waiting for the results of a dance, art or a singing competition. Never happened then – may be now is My moment!! He was tall, well-built and looked like someone in control. He stared at my boarding pass, looked at me, my photo-ID (US-issued…yay!!) again and nodded: ‘M’am the Airlines has chosen you…’…aa-papapp-shhhh---don’t say anymore, let me savour the moment – let me hold on to it – let me relish it for a while…pls!

What could it be? ‘Upgraded to the Business class?’ – hmm but that’s not happening coz I’m traveling in a 35-seater inter city American Eagle flight – difficult to stand straight – let alone business class! Seconds pass by – he opens his mouth to complete his sentence. Hold on my man! I search frantically – ahhh I know what it is! May be you wanna gift me a free airline ticket – aha! That sounds neat! Or some free gifts – I inhale in great satisfaction – you have no idea what few seconds can bring for you – utter joy to sheer disappointment. In those few seconds that ‘my good man’ took to complete his sentence, I experienced pure bliss.

“’Am all ready for you, my man – bring it on”, I smile.

He continues, “Ma’am the Airlines has chosen you TO GO THROUGH EXTRA SECURITY CHECK. PLEASE STEP ASIDE.”

What?!! Come Again!!! That’s not how the story was to unfold, this is not how one says ‘you browny step aside – wanna double check if you are carrying some weapons of mass destruction'! Nope that’s not how it's played out…ask me – I know. Heathrow – circa 2001 – one look from the security guard and I turn myself in for on-the-spot-frisking as my fellow non-browns walk by. I know this charade – I am quite comfortable with it by now. But…you don’t stop me and tell me ‘You’ve been chosen by the Airlines…’ no sir…no. You can’t raise my hopes like this and crush them – I want my free goodies.

But instead, I did step aside. Watching my personal belongings being examined, I decided it’s better to be generous than bitter and offered a cookie to the security person who was busy putting back my moisturizer into the zip lock. ‘No thanks ma’am. Pls don’t worry, it’s just a protocol.’ He tried to assure me. To tell you the truth, in fact I started to feel better – less disappointed. Since my personal belongings posed great threat to the ‘greatest nation on earth’ (oh that’s another story!), he chose to carry those himself – the 3 kilos laptop bag and an one kilo purse (‘am sorry, I generally carry my world in my purse, if you look hard enough you may find my salsa shoes in there too), I proudly glanced at the poor ‘unchosen’ ones – standing in the queue – carrying their bags and holding their jackets. A-h-a!

Then came the glass booth – holes on each wall – and I passed by it. I was not frisked by the security guard there but was taken to another isolated area where two ladies greeted me. Such beaming smile – am I in a spa I wondered! They explained to me that I need to stay calm (duh! What are you gonna do? Inject me with hallucinating drugs?!). So making me pose at different angles and using different devices they examined me and my bags. I spread my hands, then stood up straight, then sat down with my hands on my lap and then stretched my legs in kicking position. Midway into the inspection – the lady realized that she was not wearing her latex gloves. ‘I hope your hands were clean, lady’, I winked.

15 minutes since my fleeting self-assumed seconds of glory, I walked out of the security area – no more a threat to the society – being reassured by the airport staff again and again ‘Ma’am pls don’t worry. Did you change your flight? It often happens when you change your flights.’ She assured me. I in fact did had to reschedule my flight.

The world has changed. We live in precarious times. We inflict pain, we are pained too. For someone like me, when I face thorough inspection every time that I leave or enter my country while I watch at the same time people blessed with better skin color and citizenships are allowed to pass by with minimal questions, such charades in foreign lands do not matter much anymore. I just try – in every such situation – to look for some ‘fun’ in the experience. This time it was being the ‘Chosen one’.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To the Forbidden Land

We all have ‘Wish’ lists! Don’t we? I HAVE. Some good, some bad, some naughty, some funny and some weird! Recently I had couple of my wishes come true – all in one time – pretty amazing – huh! I won’t write down all the wishes – believe me you don’t want to hear those! There are some thirty of those. But one long-time wish was to answer the eternal nature’s call in a forbidden territory – ummm– the Men’s Room :).

As it happens to most of us – we take things for granted. What’s good in the Ladies Room? It seems mundane – walls raised between booths, the good ones with some lotion and cream to pamper yourself with – the unassuming ones forcing you to wade through some hurdles – do it and leave – the message. But we still stop for a while, just a casual glance at the mirror at least, if not touching up the make-up, a little chitty-chat with a colleague…all so common and known.

On the other hand, I have always wondered while bypassing the forbidden territory – why are they in so much hurry? They just rush in and rush out – don’t they have mirrors in there? A little checking oneself out, some attention to the booth next to them – some revelations, some pride, few moments of glory, may be? Do they have partitions? How dirty would the territory be? When do I get to ‘go’ in one? ...I wished;).

Well this weekend when I was in Washington DC, a friend fulfilled my wish. It was not planned, it was just to solve an urgent need – but boy oh boy was that ‘fun’! The friend had to stop by his office to check a mail from his wife. I, of course, had to ‘go’…that happens way too often with me :(. Anyhoo – being a weekend the office was closed and the friend looked around for the key to the Ladies Room. As destiny would have it, he didn’t find any…but, he had with him the key to the Men’s Room.

So as my friend stood vigil outside the door, I took my ‘sweet little’ time to explore the forbidden land. The booths were truly side by side – no partition but no mirrors either over each – would have been fun, I feel! The distance between the booths was not uncomfortable – it’s not that one has to elbow his way through – but close enough for greater revelations of life. There was no tissue dispenser next to each booth – I wonder why? Won’t it be hygienic? But then what do I know of the bigger mysteries of life?  The mirrors were above the sinks – big, shiny, but no basket of creams or lotions. Then there were also the walled booths – same height and size as one would find in a ladies room. It was surprisingly clean – no stink at all and all the toilet seats were DOWN!

As I walked out of the door, standing tall on my latest ‘achievement’, I thanked my friend and decided that I need to add more ‘weird’ stuff in my list. Any ideas people? And want a partner in crime? Yours truly is always ready!

Oh! By the way, if you are wondering, I ‘did’ it, before I walked out of the door.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Hope you’ll have a great weekend!"

She sat there smiling. Dark glasses sat tightly on her eyes. Her short hair pulled together in a clip. Age had left its mark on her wrinkles, curled fingers and her short stature. She held her purse close to her body. The bus was full. Someone pulled the string to request a stop. She looked up at the person – a young lady, dressed in all white, busy on her cell phone and smiled at her and said ‘Wish you a great weekend.’ The lady nodded, stepped off the bus and the doors closed.

She looked divine.

Next was a middle-aged African American lady. “Hope you have great weekend” she said to the lady. The lady smiled and wished her the same. Every single passenger who got off the bus – she smiled at them, wished them a great weekend and she shined brighter. Some acknowledged her wish, some wished her back, some didn’t spare a glance – but she sat there smiling, her hair softly surrounded her face, her expression – content and satisfied, wishing every single person who got off the bus ‘a great weekend’.

She touched my soul. I have always been hopelessly romantic and unfathomably foolish when it comes to emotions – but sitting there in that bus along with her in a sleepy town of the United States, I felt her divinity infectious.

Does she do this every Friday? Sitting on a bus, on her way back from work, does she wish each and every passenger ‘a great weekend’? She must be a very happy person. Call me naïve but how else can anyone spread happiness so spontaneously? Is this her habit? Her mother did that always, and she is doing that too?

The wedding band on her finger has lost its shine. The green jacket that she wore has worn off too. Her boots are dusty. Her smile though is the brightest. She takes off her hairpin – takes out a black woolen hat and puts it on. She grabs her bag and looks at everyone left in the bus, “I would like to wish you all a great weekend” she smiles, and gets off the bus. My eyes follow her…she turns away.

Whom is she going to? Is it that her family awaits her when she gets off the bus? A family of loving comfort and warmth? A husband, a couch, the mashed potato and even a cat with a small porch?

Or is it that she walks into a dark room and switches on the light? Her eyes take time to get accustomed to the darkness. The cat walks past by. She takes off her jacket and pours a cup of coffee. She sits on her chair, looks out at the porch, takes off the wedding band, touches it lovingly, puts it on her side table and smiles. Is that her story?

Her story… I’ll never know. But she stays in my mind and finds that small little place where you stock up your memories. You take those memories out and brush off the dust in the days that seem dull and the mind is numb. You are always thankful for such memories.

“Good bye ma’am. Hope you have a great life!” And yes…I am sure my weekend will be great!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Killing - people or films!

The land stretches for miles, deserted. You can smell your skin burn under the sun. The nature is timidly dry. The baked air crushes on the blades of a wind mill. The camera picks up a police car. The policeman makes an arrest. Puts the handcuffed arrested man – back shot of a moderately-built tall man with bowl-cut neck-length hair in the backseat of the police car. A gas cylinder attached to a captive bolt pistol finds its place in the front seat of the car. A voiceover narrates the deterioration of the crime scene in the locality. It is Texas, 1980.

The hot Texan landscape melts into the interiors of a police station. The camera freezes on the policeman now on a phone. The bowl-cut walks himself to the policeman from behind his back, grabs his neck under his handcuffs and pulls him down. The shoes struggle for breath and scratch the floor leaving marks, the marks grow thicker and deeper and then they stop. The bowl-cut has finished his job. Camera follows him outside the police station, taking the police car and driving off with the cylinder.

10 minutes after the opening scene, a killer begins walking his time in Texas.

“Would he be caught? Who else would he kill?” I shift my weight on the chair. “The heavy southern accent is killing me,” I frown. “So what is it leading to?” “It has to be good." I assure myself.

Back to the desolate landscapes…this time the camera picks up a hunter. He doesn’t get his game but he sure gets some money. As he sifts through the bloody scene of corpses and guns - a drug deal gone horribly wrong in the desert, he comes across two million dollars – the money for the deal. The true southerner walks back home with the booty.

But two million dollars that too looted can hardly give anyone peace! So begins the cat and mouse chase where the bowl-cut, as it turns out is actually a hit man, chases the hunter to retrieve the booty across motels in Texas and Mexico. The hunter puts up a brave fight. The 1980s Chevrolet chases and cowboy hats falling – the bowl-cut brings death wherever he goes in search of the booty. Very rarely does he give any innocent bystander a chance to choose their life or death!

“Too much of blood and gore.” I complain. “But the bowl-cut has the nerve of steel.” “So it is indeed a crime story.” “Is there an inner meaning?” I keep my thoughts busy.

He is limping and bleeding.He runs himself a bath. Pulls out a knife. Cuts off the trouser he is wearing, injects himself an antibiotic and the knife goes into his thigh. The bath tub goes red. His face doesn’t quiver…neither does his hand. In one quick motion he takes out a bullet. He lets some more blood flow. Washes the wound down with alcohol and gets up from the bath.

The bowl-cut just took care of the hunter’s bullet during one of the chases.

More characters keep adding to the film reels. They all sport the 80s look and clothes. One more bounty hunter. The hunter’s wife and mother-in-law. More motel owners. A local sheriff. His assistant. Sheriff’s wife. They come, some stay, many die.

And I desperately try to solve all the murders, trace the DNA in my mind and know that the bowl-cut would be caught if only Horatio and his team (CSI: MIAMI) were here. Most of my television watching in crime-infested America revolves around crime scenes and nailing the ***.

But it is 1980s. The Sheriff fails, the hunter gets killed, the bowl-cut gets his booty and walks away. The voice-over rants of a dream. A dream that suggests that there is ‘No Country for Old Men’ anymore.

Probably this year’s OSCAR was less of an ode to a good film (like it almost always is) but one to the criminal activities of present day America. “One burglary in every 15 minutes,” the stats say.

Javier Bardem, the Spanish actor in his late 30’s as the bowl-cut killer Anton Chigurh is the saving grace of the film.

to your comments and tagging

I'll take the comments from "You are a racist pig." and "You have a giving heart" together. In my mind I tried to link the two.

@Karthikk...yes with growth u get unwanted baggages. we wud get a frown once in a while in this land. hopefully if we are able to criticise our history and learn the good things from it, it wud help all.
@deeps and abhay, yes racism comes in some form or the other. in a discussion, the other day, we felt that 'groupism' is a part of all our lives...some take the form of regionalism, some racism...and it goes on. humans thrive in groups...animal instinct. :)
@anirban...i'll try and put in more experiences as I pass my days here and will try to keep them informative...at least my take on those ;)
@arghya, kemon achhish? tor payer dhulo porlo. ekta screenplay writing-er free course nichhi. let's do something.
@Nishant...yeah it is brave. hope brave people don't forget that bravery is a positive quality and do not associate it with negativity.
@shridhar, thnx man. how r u? long time no see. tried to weave history and present in the same write-up in this one...hehehe
@dhriti...thnx dhriti. yes of course we must learn from their carefree demeanour and channel it in the right direction. i very strongly feel that we r offered choices every step of our lives. what we make out of it...whether we at all want to recognise it as a choice or not is our decision.
@utsav,tanaya,thnx for visiting
@henmen nope not a guilt-trip actually...more of subtle sarcasm at situations where few work hard to be where they are and few take offense at that!!

I've been tagged by Deepti and after many futile hours I've cracked the mystery of it. As I told Deepti..."I am hiding under the table if anyone needs me." because it really is so simple. So here it goes...

Quirky facts about me:
1. I have what a friend calls a 'hook'. It gets stuck to something and I harp on it forever. You can say I get 'obsessed' by certain things.
2. I have a strong imagination power. You tell me something and I'll immediately imagine it. Believe me it is not a great thing...particularly when you are told graphic details of unsavoury facts.
3. I can't sit idle. I have to do something. As of now faced with months long wait for work authorization, I'm unleashing my opinion to unsuspecting souls.
4. I run in 'slow motion'.
5. I can't walk in a straight line. I almost always fumble and fall everywhere.

I now tag
Deepti, Nishant, Abhay, Swati, Sanjay and Navoneil

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

“You have a giving heart.”

“You have a giving heart” said Mr. Maceio. We were standing in the queue to collect our coats. It was a long day. A long day of learning and knowing new things for me. A day of probably reaffirming his belief and pride for Mr. Maceio. Mr. Maceio is a frequent visitor here. It was my first visit.

We were at the DuSable museum
of African-American history. It was Martinmas day. The museum was celebrating the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. A day-long event depicting the struggle of African-Americans in the 1960s against segregation. There were a number of documentaries, skits, shows and films.

One that struck me the most was ‘The Children’s March’ where thousands of African-American children marched to the streets of Birmingham to challenge segregation. The kids tuned into underground radio frequency for the D-Day announcement and they packed their toothbrushes to use in jail. They planned in hiding, bluffed their teachers and parents, assembled underground and did all that not to go to a film but to the prison! Dodging the Police, they flew from their classes in thousands, faced police dogs and fire hoses and courted arrest. It was an amazing story of solidarity and oneness seen in children from age six till fifteen.

Birmingham in 1960s was ruled by the notorious Bull Connor
who never stopped short of anything to uphold the segregation laws. How did these young minds get the courage to face that? What makes children so mature as to brave the authority so boldly?

I do not remember a single incident in the history where children of this age protested against the authority in such huge number for purely political reasons. Could I have done that? Would our parents have let us go to face inevitable violence?

I doubt that. I doubt that because of our upbringing. It is widely different from the African-American upbringing. I believe the African-American community faced with centuries of oppression till as recent as 1960s has taken a different approach to deal with their odds. They have probably learnt and taught their children to be defensive. To fight and to protect themselves always. We on the other hand have probably learnt that when we are young we need to let our parents teach us what is right and wrong, what to do and what not to.

Is it this cultural difference also a contributing factor that even in our late teens we take scolding from our parents on our semester results while I see so many teenagers homeless roaming the streets of Chicago doped and lost? An unwanted outcome of the choices that they thought they were mature enough to take from a very young age?

Although it sounds deeply clichéd, everything has its good and bad. The children’s march was a great step in the African-American struggle for equality, an incident unparallel in history and I am personally deeply moved by the perseverance that those children showed in the face of powerful water hoses (infact some of them broke into dances), reminiscent of our own independence struggle. However I cannot help but wonder if that courage and conviction has always been channelled in the right direction for the African-American community in the late 20th century!

Power to take decisions in the hands of young minds…hmmm! Call me old-school but am a bit sceptical. There were very few teenage African-American in the museum that day.

Mr. Maceio is in his early forties. A light shade of grey touched his hair. He had a pair of inquisitive eyes. A bit short built compared to an average African-American. He said, “I like to come here often, in search of my roots and my history.”

“I came to learn about your history,” I answered. “But now I am considering becoming a member and volunteer for the museum,” I added.

I wanted to be close, as close as possible to know a culture and of course express my thoughts.

“That is great Durba! You have a giving heart.” He seemed pleased.

I politely denied. The conversation drifted towards India, he seemed informed. We talked about culture and the clashes within it. Mr. Maceio was concerned about the future too. Time to take our coats and we bade goodbye to each other.

On our way back in the bus, me and the husband talked about our day and discussed our opinion – animated of course. The bus stopped.

“Have a good evening.” Someone said.
“Have a good evening.” Someone said again.

We turned back. It was Mr. Maceio. He smiled at us and got down.

I have saved some money Mr. Maceio. It’s time to get the membership. I will see you around soon I believe.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

“You are a racist pig”

“You are a racist pig” said the young African American man. To me. Outside the amc theatres, Riverside. “You guys don’t help no body”, he added.

Not ‘selfish’, not ‘dumb’, not ‘dork’, not ‘looser’ but ‘racist’.

I murmured “Thanks man!” with a sarcastic smile. It didn't infuriate me.

He was trying to sell a newspaper that was available for free to pay for his shelter.

I looked around. He approached few other movie goers. No one had the time. He however kept his opinion about them to himself.

I took a cab and as it pulled off I started thinking. My overwhelming gratitude towards him, whether it reached him or not, came from my weird position in the complex American social stratum.

Where are we actually placed in the American society? We-the H1, L1, H4, L2 or business visa holders. We are not students. We come here to earn in dollars and hope that we can save enough to buy that coveted car or pay off the home loan. When the sons of the soil seem homeless (for whatever reasons), we the brown skinned seem to have enough money to pay for movies or take a cab. Does it not sting them? Isn’t there an underlying stream of displeasure towards this group?

I believe there is. And it comes to surface when such opinions are expressed. Coming from a land of racial discrimination under British rule that our forefathers so vigorously fought and being labelled as ‘racist’ by another race that had the worst history of racial segregation across the world I thanked him again, albeit sarcastically, in my mind.

I always felt that the ‘racists’ have the power – economical, political and/or societal and then the ability to misuse that power over the subjugated race. So that day in front of amc theatres, did that African American man just give me – a ‘desi’ trying hard to save some dime, living at the mercy of the US immigration office, the acknowledgement of the power that I have over him? Power because I am probably more educated than he is or that I have a shelter?

But then in all probability even if he heard my ‘thanks’ he would not have understood where it came from. Simply because he had learnt since he was a child that labelling someone ‘racist’ is probably the worst swear word that can be used in post-apartheid America. And he just used that.

This, I feel is the root to why the African-American population although has come a long way fighting so many odds still has a higher probability statistically of going to prison (16.2%) than a Hispanic (9.4%) or a white (2.5%) in
America. Can education uplift people from its slumber just as I wish for the majority of my countrymen? Or should I just go back to amc theatres and tell him how the Indian community distributed free food to homeless people this Pongal and was attended mostly by African-Americans?

Or should I just let it go? Since I am here for a short-term do I just close my eyes and ears and let it pass by? Or do I try and do something? The bigger question probably is how do you fight ignorance?

So next to next evening, in the Laundromat when the middle-aged African-American lady shouted at my friend over a laundry basket and said “Who do you think you are?” I looked into her eyes and said politely “A fellow human being just like you.”

She stopped immediately.

I think it’s time to pay a visit to the DuSable museum of African-American history…and learn more.

History has always interested me. And I always wanted to learn more about what people make of their sufferings.

Believe me brother, I despise 'racism' just as you probably do too!

to your comments

@ deeps...thanx gal...howz it goin'?
@ Anup...oye that's a little bit too much of a comparison ;) but when i read the book I did feel a strange 'darkness'...quite similar to what i felt when i read 'God of small things'. I used "I" to make it personal...to cover the distance that a story-telling creates between the writer and the reader...will try and be subtle may be next time ;)
@ Brandy...gal u've got an eye for details...the two do speak of a similar state of mind...as u said once 'an alien' in chicago city!
@ akron...thanx ya...let's see how u feel abt the next one ;) terror i tell ya!
@sap...i guess the key is not to let it turn from a pebble to a boulder and yes joy, victory and sadness all have and must have their respective places.
@ Karthikk...yes it is finding that 'positive' i hope what 'moving on' actually refers to and not ignoring the loss or the pain

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Of Picket Fences, Temples and Grieving

The houses propped themselves up from the snow, apologetic of their existence, battered by the snow, guarded by the lifeless tree trunks. They came in white, blue, grey and even lavender with abandoned trampolines, swings and frozen ‘soccer’ balls in their backyards. Some stood close to each other gasping for air – melancholic and deserted.

She sat at the window – head resting on the glass, sleeves of her leather jacket lying on an open book on her lap, eyes staring out at the gloomy landscape of leafless branches, lifeless houses and ‘whiteness’ passing by. “Approaching Riverside” announced the mechanical voice. Few got out, no one got in, the journey of the ‘whiteness’ resumed. She kept staring out. The lady seated behind her made a phone call.

“Hey Tracy, this is Amanda. How are you?”
“Listen, I was speaking to David this morning and he was saying that he read in the obituary that Ellen Smith had passed away.”
“…yeah I thought I should let you know…”

The conversation drifted away. She blinked and made a solemn pledge to pray for Ellen Smith as a cemetery passed by her window. Her eyes didn’t emote. She closed the book. An hour later, she stood up to get down.

It’s been nine years since she had lost someone dear to her. Every year on this date she grieves the loss in her own way. This year she took a train in the North Burlington Santa Fe line and travelled 50 miles west of downtown to a temple.

She is now a part of the ‘white picket fence’ dream!

The way we choose to grieve our loss is up to us. For some we may notice glum in everything – the battered houses or lifeless yards. For few, grieving could be pushing it to the farthest corner of their minds. The occasional flipping through the old albums, family gatherings, a moment passed by in remembrance – and we move on. Does the memory get dusty? Do we really move on from our loss? I read in books and watch in films that one must ‘move on’. I don’t know if that’s absolutely necessary. Can we not keep our loss and pain close to our hearts just as our triumphs and carry on with it as our strength? Does moving on mean shutting it off? Forgetting it? Or letting it go completely?

Sri Venkateswara Swami temple rose from the ground like a colossal building – standing tall amongst the picket fences in a land thousands of miles away from the origin of Hinduism. A number of deities dotted the temple. The sound of the Hoover (read vacuum cleaner) criss-crossing the wall to wall carpeted floor played in background.

“The Aarti is for free. You will need to buy Archana from the counter”, said the priest.
At -2 degrees the priest had his woollen vest on. “Ah! This onsite posting takes its toll on the priests too,” she wondered (not aloud). Imagine the level of onsite support and problem solving that is required.

  • From a land of spanking clean temple floors to carpeted floors – the challenge of maintaining the sanctity and purity of the temple premises (without using water).
  • The on-demand Aarti and Aarchana to perform. (Devotees drive for hours to come here. It’s not like there’s a temple in every corner!)
  • Improvising on the priestly attire to endure the climate, the list could go on...

“I’ll opt for the Aarti,” She smiled.

Two hours later, armed with a banana, a flower and some almonds as prasadam, she walked out in the rain to catch a bus back to the railway station. A Good Samaritan stopped his car, “Can I give you a lift?” he asked.

She came to the temple to remember someone lost forever. She went back with old memories and new ones – where people still stop to offer help and picket fence fails to segregate people’s ways of life. “Will the houses still look gloomy on the way back?”

Disclaimer: as before

to your comments

@karthikk...i really like your concept of getting noticed by being ignored...psst...i tell myself that quite so often. appreciate ur comment and encourages me 2 unleash more :(
@anon...does hate come that naturally? i doubt...it has some roots, in upbringing, in growing up...some link somewhere. thnx for ur comment.
@swat...only time will say hon' how much more u can endure and not turn-away
@deepti...thnx deeps...will keep u posted
@vajra...the most constructive piece of comment. what do u think? do i?

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Turning-Away

We do that a lot.

Let’s face it (yes, that contradicts the very premise of ‘turning-away’) we have our desk jobs, (courtesy which you are probably reading the blog right now), our daily chores (solving the mystery why Marlboro lights is a tad bit less smokier than Benson and Hedges) or the need to take some quality time-off (oh no yet another wrong umpiring decision against dada!). Life is after all a merry-go-round!

Thus faced with so many predicaments we often choose to turn away – from the musician who plays around the corner, from the march that urges to save Pune-tekdis, the empty seat next to a friend that beckons and on a more serious note the innumerable requests that crowd our mailbox to read and comment on blogs. We eventually TURN-AWAY from those requests.

We give them one chance – one miserly chance to prove their comprehension skills and their capabilities in expressing that. ‘Show your best or I am about to set my inbox filter’, we frown. But ‘they’ still hang on. They still keep trying, keep posting and keep mailing. Somewhat bitten by the guilt and to have ‘quality time’, I decide to pay them a second visit and probably a third. I rarely leave a comment (something worthwhile i.e.) and I move on.

I do not feel much as I seal the sentence for the writer’s thoughts (or cacophony of words) – a slow death.

Two blocks down Monroe from where I pass my time in oblivion these days, a musician plays his trumpet. Every morning, every evening – 6 days a week. An elderly man, cold, hazy eyes, an unshaved story of self-abuse. 4 days a week Tuesday to Friday, he so much as doesn’t even get a glance from the passer-bys although his music breaks the -22 degrees chill, stirs up an unnoticeable spring on one’s feet to the music but there is the hurry and people choose to ‘turn-away’. On weekends though, the story is a bit different. People stop to ask about his music, wait in the cold for him to finish his notes or just pass by dropping a dollar in his hat.

So before I seal the fate of my own blog by inviting the ‘turn-away’ phenomenon, should I wait for the weekends?

Disclaimer: My thoughts dictate my punctuation.

Photo (c): Durba Gupta