Monday, May 11, 2009

Lemonade Days - IV

God's Own Country.

It's a personal opinion that travelogues get boring if a person starts to recount all that happened in the way. So while writing about my visit to Kerala, what I am going to do is, write about five of the most memorable incidents from the trip! Okay! Now for the panoply of words to flow..~

The Drive To Pondicherry.

Chennai. The city is no different from the other metropolis of the land when it comes to traffic congestion during busy hours! It took the Qualis almost two hours to extricate itself out of that mess of a traffic, but once we were out of it, gearing up past the airport, and landed upon the highway, it's total bliss! The drive to Pondicherry! The smooth road, with a well-planned and well-maintained divider all along it, made the journey look more like a flight than a drive! And Oh! what a drive it indeed was! 140 kmph! Man! Not many an Indian road will give you the same pleasure! Everything was just flying past; and it was a thrill to note how the bikers manoeuvred and were up to their histrionics..!! To the young daring Indian, it's infinitely attractive, it's dangerously attractive..! Believe in the saying, "This one life I am going to live it all..!", and you wouldn't think twice before making your bike run for its money here... and run for its pride...Promise!!

It'as just sheer pleasure!

The Mahabalipuram Rock.

"Mahabalipuram rocks...", I have heard my cousin Bumba Da say many a time when he was in his college days! And if Mahabalipuram attracts many a curious visitor, it's primarily becuase of the Mahabalipuram Rock. It's difficult to express in words the awe with which people stare at that rock, for huge as it is, the single monolithic rock, fondly known as Krishna's butter ball, stands still on a sloping surface! It's just amazing, and you can't help but just smile looking at the nature of balance that Nature seeks to exemplify for us, perhaps! :)

Though Mahabalipuram is an equally favourite destination in South India as a sea-side place, and the Shore Temple is another piece of marvellous architecture from ancient India, if I decide to go back to the place at any point of time in the future, it will be purely be for the attraction of that Rock. It excels as a rare wonder!

Lemonade Days - III

And sometimes, the lemonade drink just doesn't taste as good as it should. In an otherwise bright year that was so full of wonderful events and happiness, there was a family bereavement too!

The sad demise of Dadu.

Death. It never makes me a frightened man.. frightened of life.. but at the same time it makes me realize that it's the inevitable conclusion! I particularly dislike the vacancy created by the demise of a person, and the toll it takes on the most intimate of realtionships akin to that man! For one, I have seen how my Dida lost almost half of her life-force after my maternal grandfather's death. Though Dadu was bed-ridden for almost 20 years, and couldn't manage a thing by himself, his very presence seemed to motivate Dida to do all the chores, be very enthusiatic about everything in life, and be the very vivacious person I had always known Dida to be! But things changed gradually after his death. Though Dida was never a person who would be seen crying in public, we could make out that she grieved more than any amount of crying would ever justify it.

And this time, it was my paternal grandfather. Surviving purely on injections after repeated kidney failures and regular dialysis, the man ultimately gave in at the age of eighty in December. For the last two years, the time Dadu had been suffering, whenver I went to Moyna, I would make it a point to look at Dadu's fragile frame with all the affection I could muster. For I believed that the man would give in any moment. And everytime he proceeded to say to my Dad, "Khokon, tui chole jachhish... mon ta khub kharap hoye jachhe re..." when we were about to make the return journey to Kolkata, i would say to myself, "Subho.. Dadu'r pashe giye ektu bosho.. aar hoyto beshidin noy...!" If Dadu could have been made to survive a little longer, that he was! For my Dad gave his heart out to provide for every possible treatment that Dadu required.

The man left me a humble person! I believe I was the most notorious of all his grandchildren. From challenging his marital status with my grandma in early childhood (for his name was Vivekananda, and throughout the early school text books I had learnt that Swami Vivekananda had never married.. so.. ) and embarrassing him in public with the innocuous "Dadu, tumi ki bibahito?", to putting Fevi-Kwik on his pillow so that his head would get all stuck when he would try to raise himself from it, I have always had something or the other to do against the old man! But after he died, Thamma discovered a small poem from one of the books in his shelves in which he writes how glad he used to feel to play cards with me.. and how it always disheartened him to see me lose in a game with him.. so that he would always make it a point to play another game and make me win at it just to see me smile..! "Subho has a bright smile", he wrote. :) That's humbling! And a guilt-pang or two! :x

And his death made my Dad cry like I had never seen before!

Lemonade Days - II


A promise made between four friends in 1st year. And the promise kept a year later. The promise was made between Bibi, Sags, Purab and myself. That we are going to come to St. Xaviers in 2nd year and win in the paper presentation category! That we did. But with one change! Purab went out of the group owing to his tryst with his girlfriend (no regrets man!) and Yash filled in the slot, quite beautifully I would say, proving himself to be more competent than ever.

And once the group was formed, the real hard-work began! From running to ISI to consult economic journals and trying to meet persons of high-profile for obtaining clues as to how to proceed on "Political Economy of Oil and Its Implication for India" to chatting with each other till midnight, thinking up models and endlessly questioning our assumptions and finally rejecting them if it got too cumbersome, only to land upon yet another idea; from continuously urging our teachers to make us understand either the time series or the basics of econometrics to learning better as to how to work well as a team and respect each other's opinions, while at the same time to contradict, to disagree at length, and not just for the sake of it, till we were satisfied with what we put on paper. I must admit that Sags is relentless when it comes to questioning the answers! And it's almost gruelling, so to say, to be under his scanner! :)

We had one of the most fun-filled days this year, though, while we were at it. The three of them, for one week atleast prior to the submission date, assembled in my house and sat with the project since 10:30 in the morning till 9:00 at night. And though we were mostly sincere with our work, as is perfunctory with college-goers, the allure of interesting conversation about life, and beyond... never failed us! To reminisce how often we have lost our stoic selves to the soft feather touch of a woman... to what if a past love would suddenly make an appearance in our lives again! From questioning the human spirit of charity to discussing the equation of power in a lifelong tryst with a woman... the conversations just got better with every passing day! And of the numerous conversations that we had during that time, I will always remember a few for their sheer intensity and sense of purpose..! That of Yash narrating to me how his father set up his business when he was just a toddler of two years of age perhaps...leaving behind all the securities of a steady job! Or Bibi putting into a soliloquy how a man evolves over time... how what he seeks in a woman changes with maturity... and how sublime is his transformation from a self-centred young boy to a caring father..! Well..the list just continues..

The icing on the cake though was the fact that we came third in the paper presentation event, and returned to Scottish Church with lots of accolades and a happy smile! There was a standing ovation from our batchmates! And since we are known by face by most of the teachers and the Principal, we received many a hearty congratulation wherever we went! And since I and Bibi were representatives of our college for the EcoSummit, a greater satisfaction for us lay in the fact that we also came joint third, overall, with Presidency College! When we were in the first year, it had been a disgrace for us to witness that Scottish Church featured nowhere in the awards ceremony! We vowed to change that. And happy we were in being able to do whatever little we could in that regard.

To put in a nutshell, cheers mates! And thanks too! For making such a lovely memory! Though I would like to believe that the Eco Summit achievement is a minuscule one compared to what we would like achieve in our individual lives, it fostered in us a sense of brotherhood that would always be worth looking back many years hence... sometimes, maybe even with a teardrop amidst happier indulgences! The prizes were wonderful, but more important were the times spent together!

The affair with Presidency College.

To have met one of the most loved of all professors across Kolkata, and to be humbled by his decision to allow a few interested students from another college to be a part of his classes is a memory that I will cherish forever! "An ice-cream today is always better than the promise of an ice-cream tomorrow!", the man said in one of his lectures, I remember. Precisely! College-life won't come back to me again! So I am very glad I said a "Yes" to the man asking us " will love to do a few classes, is it?" when we told him that we required a book that is to be found only in govt. college libraries but which we possibly couldn't procure unless we were a part of that college! Thank you A.C. sir. :)

Lemonade Days - I

Lemonade Days will be an ode to the year gone by! lots of memories! And though it's quite impossible to recollect all of it with the breathtaking perfection of a photographic mind, it's always a delight to give it a try! It's like a lemonade drink then that it becomes! Refreshing..~! But the sweetness of it is also accompanied by a hint of sourness now and then..! Anyway! let's give it a try now...
Vedic Village.

Quite an expensive place. But a world-class experience. Learning about the basics of playing snooker from a well-to-do businessman. Playing table tennis with my Dad. Relishing the sumptuous meals. And spending the night in a room that had all the requisite features of one from a 5-star hotel. I am not sure about the star-status of Vedic Village, but am sure it qualifies as a top destination for spending a quality weekend. Thanks to the pharmaceutical company that sponsored our trip! I guess it was Emcure. Thanks to it.

Into The Breeze.

And just when the heat got more unbearable, we didn't think of procrastinating that short trip to Mandarmani any longer; something we had been planning to do since last year!

And when I write this article, the memory of the trip is still fresh in my mind. It's May 2009.

The Sana Beach Resort. That's where we stayed. And it's quite interesting how you get there! For, since the place is still hugely at its nascent stage as a tourist destination, there is what I would love to call "sand transport" instead of "road transport"..! For the cars have to get onto the soft sand ( It might get dangerous I tell you if you are travelling by a heavy car on soft sand. If by chance the tires start sinking into it, you have almost a "chorabali" kind of nightmare extricating the vehicle out of it. we faced it on our return journey!) to travel the last few kilometres to get to the resorts! Therefore once the tide is on, every car must come to a halt for atleast an hour till the waters recede and the sand regains its dryness and hardness!! Have you heard of that before? :)

If I go on to say that the Sana Beach Resort is born out of the same concept that designed the Vedic Village, I won't be making much of a mistake! The only difference being that it's made keeping more the bourgeoisie in mind. And I was delighted once again to see those thatched houses that I got to see in Vedic Village a few months earlier! There is the freshness to the concept; which, with rapid emulation of it, will only stand to lose though!

While in Mandarmani, I did all those things that I started taking a hiatus from! I slept for almost four hours in the afternoon. I re-evaluated all my current realtionships, and where they are headed for, and what form they should take in the days to come! And what I can do to make them more meaningful (I may be wrong, but I believe that unless people work on what they treasure most in life, they are not able to take them to the level of satisfaction they crave for!) I gorged on so much food during lunch that I could eat only two bowls of chicken sweet sorn soup for dinner! And then I went for a walk. Along the beach. The full-moon on my back. Being the quiet boy I am, without the company of friends, a solitary walk in a serene environment gives me that unique sense of satisfaction that usually eludes the busy city-boy! And truly beautiful it was. While my parents conversed with each other sitting on the near-empty beach, I waded through ankle-deep water and let the wind just brush through my hair... it was 'luxury reborn'..! :)
A lovely place it is! Mandarmani.