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Preview: Notes from wherever I happen to be...

Notes from wherever I happen to be

Updated: 2018-03-16T10:26:08.173+05:30


A house in Gola


The wall art - fabulous to me, mundane, routine at Gola. 

Don't miss the happy (drunk I think) elephant!

A school in Gola


 This beautiful mud house with the bright blue door is a village school. But where are the children? Not quite sure. It was locked at noon when I visited the hamlet in Gola Block of Ramgarh District on a tuesday.

Hope he children are learning. Barely legible scrawl on the walls spells out that this is a village school. The teacher's name is Geeta. This is followed by messages on organic farming! Go figure.

Nevertheless, as I walked into the near empty roads of the village that afternoon, the white and blue school looked very beautiful.

Goodbye Mr. Chips ...


Came across your old possibly second hand copy of "Goodbye Mr. Chips". It was there last night out on the centre table along with ma's bagla magazine. She must have dug it out of the bookcase to read. Anyhow, having never have read it (imagine that!), I picked it up post dinner tonight and finished the 18 chapters or so in about a hour? Well at any rate while the oldies finished their dinner and before Maya came into clear the table and do the dishes.And just as well that I had not read it earlier. Was able to have those magical moments of reading something so utterly charming (though so tragic and sad). Unlike earlier when I was young, I'd have mopped on a bit about the sadness of the passage of time and how it was for Mr. Chips. Now I kept seeing myself in the near future, Ms. C. Remembered as funny, weird, irritating perhaps fun. Jai Hok. Loved every bit of it. Thankyou, so many many years later - Mr. Hilton.And the last few pages came up, out fell a hand written note in ink now faded to grey from black written on a a paper blotched with stains.The poem in this letter was in a fitof abstracted dementiousnessIf you dont ignore that,you;ll be ab even biggerP. R. that I thought.(Pompous rogue)Proux / Brown (illegible to me)PS: I head you were born todayI pity the worldPeb / Deb (cant read it clearly)So, I wondered who wrote it? And I turned to the beginning to see where the "poem" was.There it was at the beginning, Summer is over with a word changed here and there ....Time runs away with the dayThe grass that was green is now hayThe world goes around without even a soundAnd I guess our summer is overThe rains tumble down in the skyYoung swallows have learned how to flyThe leaves that were green are no longer so greenAnd I guess our summer is overThe sun and the moon take turns in the skyThe days drift on by too soonFriendship is kissed by by the cold winter mistI guess our summer is overFly away to a warmer sunDead leaves touch the ground one by oneBut we cant sit byWithout even goodbyeThough our summer maybe over[Signed by what reads like "Prosin"]Aww ... so it was a break up gift? The love, the thoughtfulness, the heartache? What was it? a summer or perhaps holiday romance?And finally after the cover page, in red"When the chips are down, I guess you've got to say Goodbye. But its been a nice thing while it lasted. So for now, and for many more to come, Happy Birthday. [Sign illegible]25/7/87***Sigh! 29 years ago. Who wrote it?For whom? God knows ... but a tiny little "what might have been" nestled in another more famous love story.The book's yours. So you must have read it. Quite sure the writing and the poem is not your own, even though the copy is yours. Thought I'd share it here and now. For you R.....Missing you in so many ways!!Aka What I found inside a book!![...]

Build up to Maddox Square


Photos clicked on Sunday, two days after Mahalaya .. part of the build up to Durga Pujas. Maddox Square was a hive of activity. Still continues to be this morning when I went for my morning walk .. though only finishing touches remain as the race to complete by Shosti is on. Perhaps it was just as well that I went for a preview. The crowd is IMPOSSIBLE from Shosti to Dashami. Better this way. [...]

Subho Mahalaya!


Mahalaya. Mahishashur Mardini on AIR with ma at early early am. Then what a great idea to go to Prinsep Ghat. Only so did a lot of others. Many many others. And followed us right upto Srihari for Kochuri and Langcha. But what the heck. Durga Puja is here!

For whom the bells tolled, pealed and madly so ...


The Cathedrale Saint-Etienne was very close to our house, possibly the tallest structure in Meaux and can be seen from miles around. It has a bell tower which clangs to announce - you would think - the hour? Well, it rang at 1/4 past every hour, 10 minutes before every hour and sometimes much more than the hour it was supposed to announce! I'd catch myself gnashing my teeth ever so often and then stop as these were after all god's bells.

I lived in Meaux for two years around 2003 - 2004.

A different sort of red kolkata


 Somewhere on Middleton Row, Kolkata. Panes missing, somewhat derelict but still beautiful 

The morning crossword


The morning crossword.

Lil sis gets through it first. Then I fill in the blanks. And between the two of us, we solve the crossword each morning. Or we used to.

For as long as I can remember, she always had the first go. Even on those rare days she would not, I'd feel guilty filling in a totally blank one. First rights after all. 
How strange it is to find a blank crossword.I find myself starting each morning. 

Then I remember, there is only me now. Lil sis has flown the coop. 
Seemingly small and insignificant rituals become so enormously important. 

Missing you in so many ways!

Calcutta Cutlet Experience


On my way home from weaver's centre walked passed baked and fried. Like I have before. Only this time, I stopped and ordered 4 chicken cutlets. Ah what an experience. That little shop in a garage, that bhishon bangali owner and staff, the regular clientele, that auto ride home with the cutlets warm in their box, against my legs, ah the aroma as I sat sandwiched between two commuters - fellow savorers I imagine. And then home and ma's carefully concealed delight and baba's extremely mild curiousity (!!), Ah the cutlets, those slim sticks of cucumber, carrot and onions and pungent Kasundi. Tea. Life if good.

The Tutor: Andrea Chapin


Lovely Kate meets Will and make poetry. In between there lies Queen Elizabeth's England, persecution of Catholics, a death or two, passion and betrayal and love and longing. Andrea Chapin's first novel is a marvellous historical fiction and a very entertaining read. She weaves a clever story around William Shakespeare and Katherine de L'Isle and how he persuades her to help him with his poetry. The image of a brash upstart over smart William stays long after the story ends and we are united with Kate as we shake our heads and say "How could you?".

Waiting for your next one Andrea Chapin!



Tsundoku - Japanese for accumulating piles of unread books. That is me. Thing is I can't help buying books and then also get tons from the public library which get reading preference on account of "due by date". And my own accumulate, unread. From years back. Too precious for me to discard. Too busy to read them.

Got it from here!

The Perfect Lunch


Perfect weather, beautiful place, striking people and then just the lunch waiting for us in quiet Rupkona village. The menu - rice, dal, sag, kundru's sabzi, tomato relish. Perfect.
 Luunch at Rupkona village, Rayagada district, Odisha

Review: Arctic Summer


Arctic Summer. An incredibly intimate, sensitive journey into the life and passions of Edward Morgan Forester. The book among other things takes the reader through a largish part of EMF's life -- in particular his two loves - one unrequited and the other where he finds fulfilment and woven in between these two is the slow development of his magnum opus "A passage to India".

This is my first Galgut. I have read EMF's Howard's End, A room with a view and the hugely entertaining "The Hill of Devi" - an account of his year at Dewas Senior as Secretary to the Maharaja. But I have not read "A Passage to India".

I have also read some of his letters or journal extracts and was already familiar with EMF - the man.  That is perhaps why, Damon Galgut's portrayal of EMF felt authentic. Or perhaps it was just the magic of Mr. Galgut.

I could feel EMF's internal hesitations, the awkwardness of not fitting in, his twisting his fingers or stumbling at the edge of the carpet and then feeling embarrassed about it, his pain, his loneliness. It was as if I was there with him in England when he was "Poppy" to his overbearing mother, in the bus in Egypt seeing the bus conductor Mohammed, in the hot and dusty Dewas with Bapu Sahib, In his rooms, in the horse drawn carriage where he imagines the young sais leaning inches from him;  and everywhere else...

Mr. Galgut, thankyou for this journey.

PS - I also highly recommend "The Hill of Devi".

Arctic Summer
ALEPH Book Company
Pages: 355
Price: Rs. 595

Janakpur Jaoge?


At last we arrive at Janakpur, Koria District, Chhatisgarh. Even the smallish Ambikarpur, from where we had begun four hours earlier, is gigantic in comparison.

A quick tea later, we hit the dirt road to the Villages for my official field visit. Like everywhere where else in Chhatisgarh, the wide open expanses are a constant source of surprise. The car stops on a sleepy little dirt track, we get off and walk  across fields and up to two mud huts in the middle of nowhere. As we near the huts, we are greeted by a pint sized thin as a reed totally naked boy who goes straight upto Fr. Xaxa and lisps in Sadri 'where did the car come from? I want to go to Jankpur'. Fr. Xaxa points at me and says"madam has come in it".

Half an hour later, when we are returning after our survey of the field and meeting with a few farmers, there is little Kisan ... dressed in his best shirt and shorts with both eyes shining in anticipation of Madam taking him in the car to far away Janakpur.


Surprising that a tiny town like this even exists today in the jostling India of more than a billion. But apparently a comatose town to one can be a  fabled Shangrila to others.

Alas, with a heavy heart, Madam has to leave.Without him. But Kisan is going to go far, far beyond Janakpur. One day.

Krishna Janmashtami


Our apartment was redolent with the aroma of the frying 'taler - bora' or tal (palm sap) pakora, this rain soaked afternoon.

Afterall it is Krishna Janmashtami!


As much as both the rains and taler bora are traditional Janmashatmi events, so is distributing boxes of the afore mentioned tal er bora to friends and family! Thankgod. It is quite difficult to stop eating them ...

Crimson Pride!


The dominant colour this rainy month has been gray in many many many shades! The jaba - (in Bengali) and hibiscus to the rest thought otherwise!  

Ma's verandah. Soggy August afternoon in Kolkata.

Gone for a six


I boarded the near empty bus from the Ruby Hospital stop.

This was my first time to Hi-Land Park Multiplex by bus. Apart from being like 100 times cheaper than my usual cab, the ride itself was very pleasant. It was only 11 am on this rainy Sunday. The bus fairly zipped through the empty roads!

I asked the conductor what the fare was.

"Over boundary", was his response.

What? I stared at him blankly.

But only for a few seconds .... before I got it.

6 rupees. And just in time too. Before his amusing poser would be lost on a stupid passenger!

Only in Kolkata, this!

PS - The movie was good too!

The Eagle has landed


Not the noisy crows. Nor the shrill mynah. She is back. Solitary. Regal. Many a nights she spent on the branches just outside my window, waking me up with a single cry early in the morning. Then she'd spread her wings and take off as another day began. Just as suddenly, she disappeared. But now, she is back.

The path less taken


Its only a short walk to Nandan along AJC Bose Road from Exide More.  But it had been raining on and off. I didnt feel upto the jostling crowds on the narrow stretch of a footpath which would be wet, slippery, muddy. So, I "ventured" past the Nehru Children's Museum - a passer by assured me that there was a connection right upto Nandan. I did. Just behind, was a beautifully paved walk surrounding a pond with the Saint Paul's Cathedral on the other end.

I was quite amazed. At my frog in the well view of the world. I have always had only one view of the Cathedral. I must have visited Nandan a zillion times ... or more.

But mostly at the sight of the white cathedral under a grey sky. Beautiful.

Clouded Humour!


Cirrus, cumulus and now humourous!

Clouds were in a funny mood that evening. Spread thickly all over (atleast my part of) Kolkata, they looked exactly like thick polluting smoke of a thousand chimneys. More than 50 shades of Grey (haha).

Roof with a view: Kolkata, 6:00 pm ish, 9th July 2013

Garage Sale?


The Motor hospital is in serious need of help. Standing Bright blue on Hazra Road, it has been a very helpful landmark for years. Hope it does not give way to a multi-storied. Soon. The road will be so much less interesting. 

Review: The Labyrinth of Osiris


Just finished reading Paul Sussman's The Labyrinth of Osiris.

Superbly entertaining. Like a Bollywood Blockbuster. It has all the elements in it: Exotic Locations - Luxor, Tel Aviv, Negev Desert etc; Big Bad Villains (american giant corporation), action aplenty, thrills, comedy (well more humour), women mostly in supporting roles and grieving on the sideliness, not one but two heroes ala Karan-Arjun or more like Jai-Veeru which ofcourse leads me to tragedy ... but saying anymore will be giving away the plot.

And infinitely entertaining, engrossing - all 500 plus pages of it.

Mr. Sussman, I find has written more books and so I will be reading them. But in reverse order since I have read his latest, first. It is also his last. He passed away shortly afterwards. RIP Paul Sussman.

Happy Holi Skies .... Dol Purnima


The Kolkata skies put up quite a show this holi. 

 The kolkata skies at sun set this evening and then the full moon (dol purnima)!

Kinne maari pichkari .... Happy Holi!


Wishing that the holis this year is as colourful as the colours and the pichkaris on display. Around Behala Chowrasta, Diamond Harbour Road, Kolkata, this afternoon.