Reunion at Ranikhet...

Rani, you were lonely,
Silence was your charm-
Resting comfortably,
In Himalaya’s arm.

Then came a group of boys,
Exhausted from work or study-
Yet full of noise,
I admire this synergy.

They met for silly gossip,
And feast;
To worship Friendship,
To say the least.

Rani’s face lightened up like that of a fawn,
As they made merry and said- “Cheers!”
But when they were about to be gone,
She drenched them in tears,
Wishing- they came back,
Again, after years!

Two Minutes…

Have you waited for five minutes to travel two minutes? Sure you have! For an elevator. The first thing you do is to look whether “the button” is pressed. I’ve seen some fools waiting for the elevator only to realize that it wasn’t pressed, when someone else arrives and does it for him.

First you wait for the elevator to come and pick you up from the ground floor. After several minutes of staring at the display for the floor number, when you get bored and look at people around you and look back at the display, you find that the elevator is still on the topmost floor. Indignant, you’ll find some people constantly pressing the button in a desperate attempt to bring it down to them faster.

Finally when the much-awaited machine does land, you’ll see lots of people already gathered around you. Nothing wrong with that… but they don’t maintain a queue in this country. So you wait longer while others shove you out of your way into the ‘lift’. And all the waiting goes in vain, unless there’s another ‘lift’ to pick you up.

So when your elevator comes in and there are people getting out of it, there will almost always be people who will block their way and delay the process. When you finally make your way and look at the glowing buttons, you might find your destination floor button already pressed, you might need to press it yourself or in a crowded elevator, you might have to ask someone else to press it for you. (The lift-man is an endangered species these days)

Just when the sliding door is about to close, there comes a bag in between- and the door reopens. All the inmates get irritated unless the bag belongs to a beautiful lady! If you’re unlucky, you might find an old man (or a woe-man). You might find a lean person trying to get in but the elevator refuses to move, signaling “overweight” and the lean man has to leave, cursing himself and wanting to visit the gym more often. When the elevator finally begins its upward journey, you’re slightly relieved. But if you are in a hurry, you’ll find one person getting down at every floor lower than yours. You will want to kill the obese lady getting down on the 1st floor!

The journey can be exciting only if you have “interesting” people around or if you have the eyes to see them. The first few minutes- you spend evaluating the attire of your co-passengers. Some people always manage to get mobile network inside an elevator- I never do! They keep calling their beloved ones, sending and receiving SMSes from them. You will possibly find some people talking amongst themselves like they’ve met after several years- while others stare at them or smile imperceptibly at their PJs. If you manage to end up standing beside a lady, your olfactory system will be filled by aroma(?) from excessive make-up. Meanwhile, if you’re blocking the way of the people trying to get out of the lift from behind you, you’ll be flooded with “Excuse Me” requests from gentlemen and ladies, and pushes and shoves from the crude ones. But tell you what- both are equally irritating, if you’re in a hurry! And finally, you end up doing the same when it’s your turn to get out of the closed room. Once you’re outside, the first thing you enjoy is fresh air which you unknowingly craved for during an eventful 120-second sojourn.

The Bong Connection…

Well, it is certainly unfair to generalize the characteristics of a community, but most likely, the commonest ones feature here. If you are a Bengali:
·         You most probably own at least a copy of any of the large collection of Tagore’s works on your shelf- for display. You rarely find time to take out the Gitanjali or Sanchayita, dust them, flip over the pages and read a few lines. But you take pride in your prized possession.
·         You are a fan of soccer and have hooted in favor of either Mohun Bagan or East Bengal. Never mind India’s rank in world soccer, any match between these two teams takes the form of war. And you don’t dare tread the territory of the opponent during the match- not even in the stadium-galleries.
·         You like to eat- mostly non-vegetarian food and sweets. In fact, you’ve tasted more recipes of different fishes alone than most people have, all vegetarian dishes combined. Most people know of Rosogollas, but you know there are way too many to name! You also eat pakoras, but while debating over something as spicy, during chat-sessions (adda) with friends at the tea-stall.
·         You’ve learnt at least one form of art as a child- be it singing, painting, dancing, recitation or playing a musical instrument. But more importantly, most likely, you gave them up because of studies.
·         You are very fond of music- usually all refined kinds but resort to songs composed by the bearded saint (Rabindrasangeet, of course) for all moods- gay or gloom.
·         You may not be a movie-freak but you definitely like Satyajit Ray’s creations and you idolize Feluda, whether you are eight or eighty.
·         Your heart yearns to return home- whichever part of the globe you live in- and stay with your family during the Durga Puja, roam around with them in gorgeous new attires, eating junk food from streets and visiting pandals all day. You enjoy visiting schools/colleges during Saraswati Puja in traditional clothes even if you claim to be an atheist!
·         You don’t understand business very well- fail to attract customers and even manage to keep the existing ones at bay. In all probability, you don’t dare to think of becoming an entrepreneur- you play it safe- employed at someone else’s place!
·         You worry unnecessarily over politics. You’d go on to spend an entire day listening to a speech by your political idol under the scorching heat of the sun. You’d take up a fight and quarrel over minor political debates. You’d go to the extent of shutting down shops, offices and schools as a mark of protest- unknowingly shutting down your way to progress itself.
·         You don’t care about your health unless you fall ill, mostly because of ill eating habits. Forget gyms! You’d go for morning walks only when you are sixty, retired and… insomnia doesn’t let you sleep beyond five.

The above, though incomplete, more or less, made a Bengali a Bengali, as I’ve heard and experienced while growing up. Things have changed. Though most part of it still remains the same, the youth have taken to Sidney Sheldon, rock music, cricket, B/Hollywood and gymnasiums. But, in an attempt to come up with this list, I’ve most certainly adhered to another characteristic of being who I am- something I almost forgot to include in this list: to criticize

Lend Me…

Lend me your wings, O bird,
So that I may fly,
Be a messenger of freedom-
To soar high in the limitless sky,
Far away from the boredom-
Of this shackled life.

Lend me your color, O sky,
So that I may paint myself with your hue,
Be a messenger of peace-
To soothe your sore eyes with the tranquil blue,
Drifting from the gory reality-
Of this sorry state.

Lend me your legs, O child,
So that I may play all day ignoring all dictums,
Be a messenger of motion-
To make you smile at my tantrums,
Off the barren course-
Of this stagnant life.

Lend me your ears, O friend,
So that I may tell you a story,
Be a messenger of friendship-
To take you to a dream journey,
In a spaceship, away from the hardship-
Out of this world.