Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Burrrrthday Dear Jeeeee-sus

My mother is sitting in the next room and reading out next year's horoscopes from a Bangla Magazine. Apparently, she will fall ill Sometime in the course of 365 days (would you believe it?!) and her children-especially the first-born- will have trouble concentrating on studies. Well I'm not complaining. Hopefully I will do something productive in my distracted haze-- like catch up on movies-criminal-to-not-have-seen, go cycling somewhere I've never been, stop rhyming unintentionally and actually write something meaty.

'Meaty' reminds me, I had one of the most Satisfying Christmas dinners of my life this 24th. At a place called KK's Fusion in Swabhumi. I don't know if they're always as good as we found it, but yesterday they were on TOP of their game- from the soup, to the Turkey in Blackberry Sauce to chocolate pancakes stuffed with ice-cream. The way I ate yesterday was verging on obscene, but hell, it's the 21st century. We have no standards. We is bad. We is cool. We is bold and beautifool. (What, I never said I'd stop rhyming intentionally. That was intentional, yes.)

And I don't care if I become fat. Fat is a social stereotype. Fat is in the eyes of the beholder. Fat is as fat does. Wait, fat isn't even derogatory so why am I trying to disprove its existence?

Indulge me, this is my Birth Month. I'm glad I was born a December Baby. Although my parents didn't ask me whether I was up to braving a turbulent and tainted world, they made some good decisions. This is a time when everything sparkles in the sunlight- be it a defunct Daisy Duck Clock by my computer, or coconut trees across the road. 'Coconut trees?', you think... wiggle an eyebrow if you're into dramatics. But wonder no further my friend, I'm not in Hawaii or Goa. This is just a pretty part of Salt Lake. Ignore the fact that beyond the slender, graceful Cocos nucifera lies a putrid canal- referred to expressively as 'Keshtopurer Khaal'. And remember, there are advantages to living in a place far away from everyone you like.

Another cool thing about December is-why pretend?- gifts. My Grandma is Mother Christmas. Roly-poly, twinkly-eyed, each wrinkle radiating the vibrance and warmth of laugh lines- aar ke hobe? Dida hasn't been very mobile for almost a year a now. But she has this amazing network of people who'll act as her scouts with the enthusiasm of little boys at role-playing computer games. And every year, I'll find her sitting on the bed, with a stuffed jhola on her lap and a smile of serene anticipation on her face. One can almost hear a soft voice whispering 'just for you' and 'look what I've got' from all corners.
That smile of hers would paint an empty card with Christmas Colours.

Of course, I have the good luck of knowing Mrs. Claus jr. too. Anumita Das. Among the things she gave me for my birthday this time, one was a selection of Neruda- in English AND the original. You know what? I will learn Spanish. I could never make 'No Ammonia' sound orgasmic like Penelope Cruz does in the Loreal Ad. But I WILL be a professor of Literature and read out Neruda in the original to my class. And everybody will go- 'Duuuuude, that was hot!'
Ok, don't run away. Indulgence. Birth Month. Remember?

But you know, I think I Could teach for a living, at least for a few years.
I was teaching my chauffeur's daughter English that day, and it was tough because her school has done NOTHING in preparing the foundation. They expect her to TRANSLATE and make sentences when they don't give her practice in spelling-dictation. She has no idea about how to string together words with prepositions. It was a challenge, trying to make her grasp the basic concepts. Without slipping into jargon or getting pulled along by the tide of technicalities sweeping through my brain. But I REALLY enjoyed it! There's something so fulfilling about watching comprehension dawn on a previously blank face, and detecting a glint of pride where uncertainty used to rule. I'm going to catch hold of her as regularly as possible, whether she likes it or not.
An entirely different but equally challenging experience was teaching one of Eliot's obscure poems to my 14 yr-old brother. Eliot, class 9, you heard it. How doth the little Council improve its shining status. How can a teacher explain open-ended Spiritual Conflict to a class already trained in wringing 'messages' out of literature? These things make me want to do something revolutionary. Pardon the fantastical choice of word.

Anyway, since it is MerryChristmas and nearly HappyNewYear, I will end on a suitable note.
Snatches of the past week----
Certain relatives of mine are so much fun when high. Think of someone poring over a menu card and going- 'Pork Steak. Palk Strait. Pork Steak. Palk Strait.' She also said- 'Ei size-zero Santa. Where is your bhuri?' to this man in Santa Costume. Admittedly, he wasn't as rotund as they used to make 'em.
And I'm still not over Carol Night in DI. HIP-HOP to a REMIXED Christmas Carol.
'Lala dhik chik. Your Christmas Tree's Delicious.' In addition, there were references to grinding topless which I don't remember word for word. I Had to choose between righteous anger and hysterical laugher. I go for the 2nd, what about you?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Ghost Story.

I first saw him the night I'd read a short story on a teenage ghost. I thought too much about it and dreamt all sorts of disturbing things. It was when I woke up, a little weirded out, that his presence struck me. Naturally I thought I was still dreaming. Which wasn't a huge comfort, 'cos hey- I might well choose a supernatural world over creepy dreams that felt so real. Anyway, there he was- looking as though he'd just come through the window and didn't know what to do next. Faint, and sort of colourless, but with all his lines so well-defined that he appeared intangible and material at the same time.

If I had looked closely enough, I would have been able to make out the pupils of his eyes. As it was, I noticed the hint of a belt below shirt-folds. A fraction of skin (or were they socks?) peeped out from under just-a-bit-too-short trousers. I remember wondering whether his shoes were polished... I couldn't tell because he glimmered all over. Yes, they do glimmer in real life. Or the afterlife, call it what you will. It struck me even at such a time. And partly to calm myself, I said out loud- 'What my imagination lacks in originality, it makes up for in detail.'

The words sounded so ridiculous in the night air. The abstraction practically ricocheted off the walls with a loud, dull thwack. He merely looked me in a way I couldn't fathom. Then took out a cigarette from his pocket, and lit it. Soon, he was wreathed in curls of smoke that somehow were even wispier than the usual.

'You know I don't believe in you', I said, rolled over to face the other side, and went right under a pink flowery blanket. When I woke up, my room was empty and I thought last night was done with. Sleeping in a pink flowery haze would effectively neutralise any twisted freak of mind. But 'I don't believe in you' was a statement I had to repeat on many more occasions.

And he never seemed to care. Sometimes he'd just look blank (he never spoke), sometimes mildly curious, sometimes faintly apologetic for shaking my skepticism to its foundations. I just couldn't figure out why he was there. Initially I thought it was by accident, and his lost puppy-dog air seemed to confirm my hunch. But he was surprisingly at ease with his company and whereabouts. His confusion seemed more linked to his state- as though he needed time getting used to being a ghost.

Ghost. I took care to avoid using the word. Firstly, ghosts weren't real. I stuck to that. Secondly, it might offend him. Who knew? Maybe Disembodied Spirit or something more technical is the term they prefer. But despite being so cautious, I slipped up in an entirely different way. I blame it on the moonlight.

Of all moments, he looked most substantial in the moonlight. It's funny really. When water merges with wine, the result is still a clear, light liquid. But when he stood in a flood of silvery light, the various shimmering translucencies came together to give this depth to his form. And he was posessed with a radiant energy, that was- well- so alive. Then, it didn't matter that his feet hovered above the ground, that he walked through walls. I felt- that I could touch him. So I did. Of course my hand went right through him like he was a cloud.

And suddenly, this whole new part inside me opened up. A pulse, a bloodrush- but with none of the warmth associated with those. Not that I got chills either. How would you describe certain things- like bookends, spiderwebs, dusty leaves? The earth after rain, the keyhole of a never-opened door. Flashes of these and more, swam about in my head. The very air I breathed had the quality of morning mist, and it filled my lungs till the point of bursting. Reeling slightly, I sank back on my bed for support, my vision branded with burning spots.

When it all cleared, he was gone. And he hasn't returned since. I wonder why... I didn't think he'd mind. After all, he'd hung about in my room for quite a while. Without my permission at that. But always for a short while, and never at an awkward moment. It took me so long to accept that he wasn't imaginary, I found no time to panic.
I guess I do miss him, and the novelty of what he represented. Cigarette ends glowing pale blue, ash which looked like stardust. Wordless responses. But that touch, it's done something to me.

There have been moments since, when I've felt someone reach into me, tap out a code and unlock those hidden dimensions. It happened that time I saw a tribal dance on T.V.- the drumbeats, the sways and leaps, and the chanting, oh god the chanting. It was an intoxicating whirlwind of the rawest elements, but too mystical to be earthy. It left me breathless. The same happened when my pet dog gave birth to puppies.
I realised then that my ghost- I mean, whatever he was- has left his imprint on me. I suppose I'm glad. Just a bit nervous, thinking about what my first kiss could do to me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Life ij a hard

When I regularly see myself at the bottom of self-updating blogrolls, I know that the world is blogging hard.

P.S- There's a Sherlock Holmes movie coming up. It had better be good. Holmes was my Very first crush.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Marshmallows and Matribhasha

A family friend gifted us marshmallows the other day. In a flash of blinding clarity that followed, I realised the true purpose of marshmallows. The small non-toastable ones at any rate. They are boredom food (Note: Food you eat when you are bored.) There is a certain category of food that wears this title with grace. They don't taste Goooood. Because gooooood food deserves a little more involvement than boredom allows. But they definitely don't taste bad, 'cos that would be off-putting. In fact they don't taste like much at all.
And they have a very satisfying texture. Generally the kind you need to chew.
Finally, they are not heavy so you can go on, and ON, AND on eating.
That, is boredom food. That is marshmallows.

I realise I've been affected a lot by the commodities that have entered the house recently.
My mother bought this toothpaste a couple of days back. It's cover says-
The toothpaste for bleeding, inflamed gums and sensitive teeth.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds it funny. It is rather despicable to be The Sole Person under influence of American Social Steretotyping.

Oh Oh, speaking of American. This is nothing to do with those starred and stripy people. Basically the whole cultural issue reminded me of the new change in the CISCE structure. English is getting renewed emphasis. Which is ok. EVE's gonna get the sack. Which is Better than ok. But if I read correctly, IT ISN'T COMPULSORY TO PASS SECOND LANGUAGE ANYMORE. And this genuinely upsets me. Vernacular is going to become obsolete!

Bengali classes were a farce anyway. A bunch of smart-asses (us) who didn't give the syllabus a chance. A syllabus SO unbelievably outdated and dreary that it didn't deserve a chance. And a cluster of old teachers who saw themselves as valiant martyrs, championing their cause against us piddling little culture-deficient snobs.
I don't blame the teachers, honestly I don't. If I had to teach for YEARS, a subject no one cared for, I'd be bilious too. And I do blame us for being so unenthusiastic but honestly, the root of all trouble was the syllabus.

EVERYTHING was in shadhu bhasha. Hello Mr. ISC, I don't want to disturb you, but I dropped by to say that OCCASIONALLY, it would be nice to read things written the way we talk. Just to remind us that what we speak at home is Bengali too. And it was so fucking morbid! It was tough to keep track of whether more people died or cried. Actually, the latter wins because half the people who died Also cried. If only, if ONLY they'd plan out the syllabus better, the classes could be so inspiring. I've had my dad read out some Bengali short stories to me. I've had my Elective English tutor read out Bengali modern poetry to me. And I remember being enchanted, dazzled, mystified! No mild admiration, that.

In fact, sometimes, some things in our syllabus would Really get us.
'Bonolota Sen' was more poetic and Romantic than half the stuff I've read by British Romantics.
There was this one day when we completed a very depressing but beautifully written chhoto golpo. For a while there was an awkward pause. Then people suddenly start giggling and making idiotic jokes. The teacher could have been a bitch if she wanted to (it's not like she'd never been) but she just said- 'Either you guys didn't get it at all, or you're really moved.' And we were moved.
Then we LOVED the one by Parashuram. Mr. Rajshekhar Basu. Who translated the Mahabharat. Wrote a dictionary. Allegedly helped Aurobindo make bombs (yes through scientific procedures, not by reading aloud to gunpowder.) And produced the most UPROARIOUSLY funny satires I've ever read. We should have had more stuff by this guy. Instead of bloody essays telling us how our generation is doomed.

Well, I think I've exhausted my energy for now. But I needed to say this. I feel that as someone who loves Literature, I'd be a different person if my school had inspired me to go back home and pick up a Bengali book. Of course there were people who still did. And it's not like my parents didn't try. But in my defence, my reactions to literature tend to be quite strong. And after discovering Saki and Keats, when I had to go and bury my nose in specimens of archaic morality, and LEARN lists of adjectives-I developed a minor revulsion towards 2nd language. Not Bengali. Just 2nd language. But it was enough of a hurdle.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Men. Women. Love. Sex. And yes I'm totally trying to grab your attention.

1. Apart from India, (cos that's, you know, us) which region do you think has the hottest women? My vote goes to South America. It befuddles me how Latinas could have the most slender midriffs and the most delicious curves at the same time. And it irks me why they're allowed to.

2. This question I have found incredibly entertaining to spring on people. Especially when it's taken seriously- would you rather die a virgin or a teetotaler?

3. Can Germans make 'Ich Diebe Lich' sound romantic? No offense to them. Brilliant race. It's just that all their words have the feel of bullet-rain on a steel window-pane.

4. If women in the Victorian Age could be ‘handsome’, then were the men purty?

5. Why was the Bangla word 'meyechhele' ever meant to imply 'girl'? That's like calling your mother mababa. And your aunt mashimesho. And making women sound like wee-men. Total stupidity.

6. What if humans could switch genders like sea-cucumbers? Would homosexuality still be an issue?

7. (Courtesy Priyanka Kumar): Why and how do men make conversation while they pee together?

Ending with the above question does not mean I am a feminist.