Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Saraswati Puja.

Vasant Panchami is also celebrated as Saraswati Puja, mainly by the Bengalis and at other eastern states. Like most other religious festivals of Bengali speaking Hindus, this festival has also transcended the religious barriers and has now become a sociocultural event for the young. Kids are happy because strangely, due to some custom, studying is barred on this day at Bengali households.We followed this custom meticulously when we were children. Another custom was to abstain from eating Kool (Berries) until the Saraswati Puja day. Somehow we always broke this custom and suffered the pangs of having sinned and remained in the mortal fear of doing poorly in the exams.

A very interesting part of Saraswati Puja was the hijacking of brahmin priests, almost to the point of kidnapping. Now Saraswati Puja is a simple one without too much parapharnelia and generally finished by the morning. Till the puja is done, the devotee household keep a fast. So it is in the interest of everybody to have a quick Puja. But on this day there is an explosion of religious fervour amongst the Hindu Bengalis. Almost every household has one. Not to speak of Housing societies, Paras (Mohalla), school , colleges, clubs and even hospitals. So the demand for the mantra chanting brahmin priests is huge for the window between 6 a.m. to 12 noon. In this scenario , it is natural that the priests are bodily lifted from one place to another. Often the priests get delayed for households with lesser physical resources because they get waylaid by the young brigade of various clubs and colleges. And the priests too, riose admirably to the occasion with a superfast rendition of the mantras in an incogitable version.

After the winter, Vasant Panchami heralds the spring season which culminates at Holi. The guardians used to let their wards have a little fun and frolic on this day and looked the other way on the detachment from the textbooks, Kids had their first experience as organizers by arranging for Saraswati Pujas at every available nook and corner and collecting donations for that. Different clubs were formed, disbanded, merged and broken during this time. These clubs were formed with great ideas but ultimately lasted for a week or even less than that, generally.

Collection spree by these mushrooming clubs was a pestering activity for families, no doubt but looking back now, from such a distance, I have only an indulgent smile on my face as I recollect my association with such clubs as also my indignant reaction to their demands as a family man. The best example which I still remember was my experience at Jalpaiguri, perhaps in 1990. within 250 meters on either side of the house, I stayed, there were two Saraswati pujas organized by youngsters. One was named "Five Stars" and the other "Seven Bullets". Each demanded a donation of Rs 51 and hinted repercussions if I didn't support their noble cause. The style was to write a receipt and give it to the householder. Eventually, after a lot of heated arguments (twice) and protracted negotiations, I donated Rs 11 each to their funds. But I also advised them to merge and name the new club as "Dirty Dozen". The irony was somewhat lost on the kids as Hollywood Ingrezi films were not so popular in those days, as they are now.

It is now an eagerly awaited day for the teenagers as the equivalent of Valentine's day. Because most cases of first crush and love affairs germinate on this day in tender hearts. Girls perhaps wear their first sarees on this day and each of these teenaged girls radiate like a blooming rose with a flush on their cheeks. At least I always felt so. Sometimes the change is so drastic that you are unable to recognize even the neighbour's daughter whom you have always seen in a frock or skirts. The guys wear long kurtas, leery look and an insecure countenance at this sudden transformation of larva worms to veritable butterflies.

Schools and Colleges also used to hold this Puja with cultural functions which showcased the talents of the students, teachers, sub-staffs and even some guardians. Even strict teachers used to smile at the most naughty student indulgently. Such was the charm of life. Girls schools and Colleges were opened for unrestricted public access and boys used to throng there.

The other important part, as predictable with any Bengali festival was the connection with food. The Bhog Khichdi garnished with seasonal green peas and cauliflower served with fried Brinjals (Begun bhaja) were a de-riguer for lunch, accompanied with Papad bhaja and sweet Tomato Chutney. Generally this day was one of those rare vegetarian days in households. A picnic sort of atmosphere pervaded all around. Immediately after the puja was done, we, as kids, ran out to eat kool.

All this probably have changed a lot now. But some of it perhaps still remain with the new kids. I will not comment whether the changes are good or bad because every generation has its own way of life. But sometimes, this wave of nostalgia takes you to your roots. Thankfully, there is a Saraswati Puja being organized bang across the road where I live by a local Bengali association. We don't have a holiday here. So will visit the pandal in the evening, after I return home. I also have invitations for eating Bhog at two other Puja pandals. Life is not so bad, after all.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Train to death

At least 27 people were killed and 36 injured after nine coaches of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Express on its way to Bhubaneswar derailed, Saturday night, 21st Jan 2016. The death toll in the incident is expected to rise. The authorities are investigating the cause of the derailment. It is the third train accident in past two months. And this is not counting the large number of deaths happening on railway tracks every day and a variety of minor, major or serious train accidents happening regularly where a lot of people are injured but no casualties occur.

Every time there is such an accident, the PM tweets his sadness, the Railway minister his helplessness and the Home minister does a "Kadhi Ninda". We too give our instantaneous reaction of rage or sadness, as befitting our mood and then forget about the whole thing until the next accident happens. The discussion space on railways is more taken over by whether we should have Bullet trains, Metro rails, fare-hikes and other such issues. Probably these are more important than the sundry numbers of people killed by accidents. Just like the deaths that occurred in the wake of Demonetization program. And what the heck, the government pays money ( or at least announces) as compensation for such deaths so nobody should say blame the government. Argument sealed.

And now, another interesting spin is immediately adduced to make every train accident look like the part of a great global conspiracy. The bogey of "foul play" is raised with unfailing regularity and the blame is shifted to terrorists, militants, and Naxalites. They are very common punching bags. And when everything fails, we have the ISI to blame. They are on the highest pedestal of Indian Standards in blaming.

The problem now is that if you point out or even try to understand the technical, mechanical, human or organizational fault behind these accidents, the matter immediately politicized. A group of people immediately paints you as a supporter of the Congress or the other parties except those in the ruling coalition. Then the obnoxious question of - "What were you doing when such things happened between 1947-2014 - is placed as a counter logic. Then lastly the person with such a query is branded as a liberal, secular and socialist, presently an anathema with the ruling dispensation and its brainless supporter.

This present government is very efficient and dynamic, in shirking responsibilities for its actions, inaction, and propaganda. But they will have to answer for their heartless and careless attitude to the common people. That they have squandered a golden chance of good governance is entirely their fault, not the opposition or critics. And they will have to pay for this, dearly.

Just to jog the mind back and recap the fatal rail accidents, only recently on 6th December 2016, two coaches and the engine of Guwahati-bound Capital Express from Bihar derailed in North Bengal. At least two people died in the accident, while 10 were injured. The incident took place shortly after 9 pm nearShamuktala Road station.

Around 146people were killed and 179 injured when the Patna-Indore Express derailed nearPukhrayan station, about 60 km from Kanpur city on 20th November. The accident was one of most deadly train accidents in 2016, and overall India's second deadliest.

September30, 2016: Two GRP employees died, while 27 other were people were injured when Bhubaneswar-Bhadrak passenger train and goods train near Kathojodi station atCuttack collided with each other. The officials said that two coaches of the train were derailed after the trains collided. The investigation revealed that the trains were running on the same track.

On July 26, 2016, a passenger train hit a school van in eastern UP. Eight children, not older than the age of 10 years old, were killed in the accident. The police revealed that the train hit the school van so hard that it flew up in the air and landed in a nearby field.
This post is not to blame the government because after all, accidents do happen and nobody can predict when and how they happen. But the apathy, blame game and responsibility shirking is what enrages me, more than the aggrieved feeling. These are sheer stupidity.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


You leave me alone 
every night in a trail of dreams.
In fine threads, that get tangled 
with my sleep and keep me awake 
throughout the night.
I lie in the darkness 
and silently call your name 
in a last ditch attempt 
to reach you across the dark space.
Half asleep, in a semi-conscious state 
drooping somewhere between 
the heights of ecstasy 
and the depths of frustration, 
I sink into an oblivion, 
a sort of suspended disbelief 
with my senses awake, waiting for you.

But you don’t, and will never come, 
I realize my folly staring around me. 
But by then I have already lost my sleep
and you have come back again, 
perhaps to wake me up. 

Sunday, 15 January 2017


All the travails of life that I endure,

in search of an identity;

ultimately ending up with one

that’s so different

from what I had started with.

Sounds like anti-climax, yet true;

this boredom of existence

mired in the excitement of living

is a morass that I’ve created

for myself.

I dive in it to test the bottom

but somewhere down,

those hungry hands pull me,

deeper into the cesspool

teeming with infinite possibilities.

Every bit of it changes me

with every passing moment;

I become something different

from, the way I have been.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

I walk through a door

I walk through a  door
that opens for me
into the narrow labyrinth
of known smell and sounds.
As I proceed into the darkness
I can feel the walls closing on me.
In the blinding alley,
I can't see anything.
No sound emanates
other than my own heartbeats.
Still I carry on my exploration
hoping to see the end of the tunnel.
But somehow whenever I do this,
I come back to the same door
through which I had entered.
The deep secrets within me
remain buried in obscurity.

Monday, 9 January 2017

#Respect Meryl Streep

#Respect. "There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good, there was nothing good about it, but it was effective and it did its job."

"It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back."

"Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence. And when the powerful use their position to bully others we all lose."

-- Meryl Streep in her acceptance speech at the Golden Globe awards ceremony .

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Such a fine morning

A fine morning of winter,
gifted after so many days
knocks at my door;
soft sunlight streaming
through the glass panes.
If the rays want to play
with my unkempt hair
or drip into me in a
warm fluid motion, let it be
I want the warmth
to slowly engulf me,
let it travel deep inside me ,
after a cold night.
Happiness will find its own way
to reach me perhaps;
just as it does
with the dew soaked grass carpet
or the flower on it.
Such a fine morning of winter
deserves a warm welcome,

a tight hug from me. 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

For a change

Let’s try out something new
 that makes no sense apparently.
After so much of those sensible things
 that we have done in life, you and me.
Why not check out a different way
to look at things, to disturb the placid surface,
 the symmetry of the sonorous symphony.  
We still have a life to spare
and maybe we could give it a shot.
Uncertainty is the only affirmation
that we have from life for all our questions;
 then why, this show of aseptic neutrality.

Shining glory

Enticement of opulent luxury
 in colorful abstract
within  the crystal prism
holds back the revolt 
that could break it into smithereens.
Thus remains the piece of conscience
frozen and delicately balanced 
in the midst of transparent clarity.
The crown jewels on display
for viewers to appreciate

the dazzle and the shine.  

Wednesday, 4 January 2017


Do you know what the word Vellichor mean?

Well, I too never knew, until I chanced upon this word . Apparently it means-the strange wistfulness of used bookstores.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, by John Koenig, is an ongoing collection of invented words, each representing an attempt to find a word to fit a concept for which our vocabulary is currently lacking. Vellichor is one such word, and Koenig’s site has hundreds of others, such as zenosyne (the sense that time keeps going faster), liberosis (the desire to care less about things), and sonder (the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own).

These words are obviously not "real" words, at least not in the sense that many people think of words are being real; they are intentional creations. However, something peculiar has been happening to some of Koenig’s words: they are now cropping up in online lists of words that people particularly enjoy, and are so inching toward some sort of realness. Some purists might well say that this doesn’t make them any more real, and that they still are just made-up. This is obviously true, but what is also obviously true is that sometimes this is how a word enters the language.

Now, I have a mind to create new words; why words, I can create a new language by myself and spread it through the internet.