Saturday, June 28, 2008
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
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.
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.
Always knew...just needed some confirmation...it's all about 'assurance' at the end of the day.
-- Personality Disorder Test --
Free-IQTest.net - Free IQ Test
Finally some confirmation, affirmation and promise of 'doom'...I'll sleep well tonight.
at 9:03 PM