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Monday, February 04, 2013

Things happening around me

A few isolated thoughts for now.

It truly bemuses me to see that more and more of my old boys who have gone in for engineering are turning to cinema as a serious hobby now, and even secretly dreaming that they might succeed in making a profession out of it. One has left behind two short movies that he and his friends have made which I found to be pretty good, given that they have been done by young amateurs with very basic equipment and software. I wish them luck (they want me to act in their next production – what will people think of next?)

A girl in college who was visiting recently told me that her boyfriend has been shocked witless by the teachers at a coaching class he has just joined in the hope of ‘cracking’ the CAT (toughest management-school entrance test in the country) because they have told him he will have to read up at least a hundred story books in the next six months.

Will someone run a survey to find out whether in this country there is a strong correlation between people growing up in culturally deprived backgrounds (no music, no art, no good movies, no political, economic or philosophical discussion at home, and above all, no books) and those professing to be interested in physics and math from an early age? I am talking about people who have grown up in the last thirty years, of course: I am perfectly well aware that people were different earlier.

I have been seeing photographs on Facebook of some who used to be my friends and students in the 1980s and ’90s, and I wouldn’t be saying this if it didn’t hurt badly, but many of them look not just old but positively decrepit and ugly. What have they been doing to themselves, for God’s sake?

Listening to people all around me speaking a strange hybrid of broken Bengali and pidgin English, I wonder how much longer the Bengali language will survive. Indeed, had it not been for Bangladesh, maybe it would have been dead already (how often do you hear people saying dhonyobaad or suprabhat, or amar duschinta hochchhe instead of tension korchhi?)

And finally, I am feeling rather doleful because the long winter (it lasted a full three months this time) seems to be leaving. That means we shall not only have to brace ourselves for another – presumably unbearable – summer, but I shall be doing double duty round the week as soon as a host of new batches come in, which will be from the end of this month. Every year I fear a little more that I cannot take this for very much longer.

But my daughter is growing up fast. My mind keeps going back to February 1980, when my friends and I were getting ready for our ICSE examination. An entire generation has passed, and it’s my daughter’s turn now. She’s been studying at the same table which I used back then – that’s good teak wood for you! Dollops of nostalgia...

11 comments:

Shilpi said...

This one is a very strangely juggled post.

1. Would you be "playing" yourself in the next movie production by your students?

2. That is unusual. This section of the comment would probably fit for your previous post and maybe make many let out gasps of absolute horror. I can't for the life of me remember whether I told any of the GMAT students I was once-upon-a-time exam coaching at one coaching institute to actually go and read any books...I think I'd talk of some books but I don't know whether they thought I was rambling.

3. I wish you were in formal academia at some university here as some "Special Professor".

4. "Hear, hear." I used to look on Orkut and was sort of horrified by some pics of even some who were younger. Being much taunted, teased and sniggered at or pitied for looking like 'what' I did when in school...I hope I can laugh all the way for the rest of the path.

5.Dhonyobaad I still hear ringing faintly and use it sometimes, if I can, but suprobhat I heard only on the radio in school, and duschinta sort of feels it's weightier than 'tension' somehow. I am guilty of using the word "tension" in my speech.

6. The bit about winter leaving makes me sad since there is no spring; only the rude blast of summer. Last winter stayed for longer there, I remember. As for your double-duty, one thought that figured was the 'lottery' bit you mentioned last year...

7. I was trying to tell your daughter funny stories about my ICSEs to make her laugh - but I don't think I chose well. I've been getting the gentle jeebies. One good memory I have from that time was the long break and the interesting food to look forward to since the other girls had their mums bringing their afternoon meals. I used to go around tasting the goodies unless I was...silent pause fits best. Well, writing a rambling story for the English exam too was a good un actually.

Pupu has my absolute best of luck. I seem to remember your table rather clearly (but I don't know whether it's a real memory) but Pupu was telling me two years ago about your-her table during Spring cleaning....
You could have included a little bit on the "dollops of nostalgia".

Rajdeep said...


Not much to comment at the moment. Sorry for being so bereft of ideas.

The most important part is to wish Pupu all the best for her exams. I'm sure she will ace them.

I have always been very poor at Maths so I've never been anywhere near CAT.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/education/news/Only-10-of-B-school-graduates-get-hired-Study/articleshow/18265326.cms

I think I have sent this article before but anyway, here is sending it again.

I have learned to enjoy winters except when it rains. In fact I love snow. This year however, a perpetually bleeding nose due to some allergy doesn't seem all that funny.

Dushchinta does sound a bit more serious than tension.

By the way, you have written about only one side of pidgin English.
I am waiting for the other side, the more humorous side...your version...
(ref. Richard Lederer, Amitav Ghosh; authors you introduced)


ginger candy said...

Dear Sir,

It's true that there has been a widespread interest in good movies among young people in their twenties, and I think that is a good sign. The instant availability of movies on the Web may be one reason behind it. And yes, while it seems harsh to comment on someone's physical appearance, I completely agree with you that a vast majority of people look decrepit these days. Some of my friends in their late twenties not only look ugly but also very unfit- I find that extremely worrying. Physical fitness was never a priority in middle-class Indian households, and now with the economy booming and what not, an overwhelming majority of people have become increasingly reckless in their consumption of junk food and alcohol. India booming, quite literally!

Thanks,
Joydeep

Debarshi Saha said...

Respected Sir,

Warm regards.This post is so very much in unison with the nervous energy of spring(or rather,the first days of summer!)in the air.You are once again at your observant best-and,as the blog-spot title suggests-You truly feel bemused at all the flurry of activity around you,Sir!I often wonder how people live Life these days,Sir-A childhood deprived of good books,wonderful music and uplifting movies is a childhood wasted in entirety,devoid of the sense of fantasy that often pervaded children's imaginations and could be termed as the birthplace of their creativity.Sir,well,it just feels so heartless-for there isn't any other word to put it aptly. John Lennon's words spring to my mind here-

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand Life."

Its such good news to hear,Sir,that your students are exploring the world of the reel-The suggestion of you as an actor is a great idea too!

I wish Urbi the very best for her forthcoming exams-It feels so strange,Sir.Back in 2006,I often alternately felt keyed up and bogged down-as if I had some great load on my shoulders! Now,when I look back,I think-How Time has passed!How I have learned to re-evaluate Life's little lessons-most importantly,Sir,I wish I could go back to those very days!There's something about a sweaty football game in the sun,the nervous anticipation of an exam,and the feel of dark wooden benches that just beats all the times now.The old ways are sometimes the best,Sir.

As for your teak-wood table,that's a very rare asset,Sir.I have always believed,Sir,that we leave some very small part of ourselves in the objects we use-why else would the spiral of a particular section of gnarled wood remind us of some particular day,some particular moment?I often find these facts inexplicable-and the final fact presents itself with startling clarity,Sir-these teak-wood table had and still have,a particular sense of classiness about them;unlike their newbie counterparts,they aged well-and still remind us of the times we had once spent at them.

With best wishes,
Debarshi.

Soham Mukhopadhyay said...

Dear Sir,
Speaking of movies, I want to share something too. Recently I got interested in movies and I am watching a few. I must thank Sir first and then my friends in college. Sir always used to say in class that it is always nice to watch a good movie because we get to learn many things from it. I still remember the short movie Sir showed us named "little terrorist".So, Sir was the first one to get me really interested. My friends in college have seen a lot of them for the past few years and they seriously debate on them as well as on books. Moreover, they are planning to make one too. I learn a lot from them. I really feel lucky to have got such an atmosphere around me. I also wish Urbi the very best for her oncoming ICSE board examinations.

With regards,
Soham Mukhopadhyay

Abhik Chatterjee said...

Dear Sir,
I have got a feeling if the boy really ends up in reading a hundred 'story books' in six months he may not revisit that coaching class. He will definitely think of doing something more 'worthwhile' than 'cracking the CAT'.
Regards,
Abhik Chatterjee.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Precisely, Abhik, only they won't. era shudhu 'kaajer jinish' porey boro hoyechhe je!

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

boys and girls, blogging and writing well is increasingly becoming a good to top skill. just go and check how Google crawls your writings and comments in blogs and you will see what I mean.

while on this, here's where everyone thinks things are heading -

"Shareconomy" is keynote theme for CeBIT 2013

this sweeping trend that emphasizes sharing knowledge, resources and experience to create new forms of collaboration.

"Put simply, it's about the Facebooking of the global economy. Whoever wants to be successful must actively network."

http://www.cebit.de/en/about-the-trade-show/facts-figures/about-cebit-2013/keynote-shareconomy

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thanks for the input,Subhasis. Where I live, people evidently appreciate what I do enough to have kept me comfortably off for so many years: if they appreciated early enough the full market value of what I do, I'd have been driving a BMW.

There's one point in my post on which nobody has yet commented.

My daughter is truly lucky and blessed: I am amazed at the number of good wish messages she has got for her exams via phone, email and in person. Thanks a ton, everybody who bothered.

Shilpi said...

You'd have had that villa of yours that you mention in the header post of the kind of person you are...if the people there had appreciated the full market value of what you do. I still have a fond hope (I can hear 'a fool when she grows old becomes an old fool' ringing but still). Why a BMW, I do wonder. A Merc would have suited you better, I think in terms of a car...if the roads are okay.

The bit about surviving and flourishing - Bengali in India - always pains and throws a cold chill on me and so I actually just let your line stay. Bengali can't die and will survive if there's one genuine lover of the language or ten or hundred or more, and if that love is transmitted in a knowledgeable and/or a sense evoking way... a lit-up hope or maybe this is one of my hard delusions that don't go away. I often do think and have thought - as unlikely as it might sound - that so much of Bengali literature should have and could have been translated and found a worldwide readership like French and Spanish literature and why that hasn't happened. Maybe it was/is because of the lack of patrons who'd engage individuals to translate the wealth of literature. Maybe it's because those who do love and can translate didn't get any chances. Maybe it's both. It is connected, I'd say - reading and writing and a language flourishing and the works of literature in the language being translated. You mention the same on your Debjaan post.

Oh dear, I wonder whether I did wish your daughter a proper good wish message...but she knows I did. I was amazed that she put up a post on her blog apart from a couple of other things!

I think Debarshi was right - this post of yours sounds like a renewed Spring and a little breathless and with even the hint of old memories...but I'm sorry - I do not think you can be an actor any longer. Who, for instance, would be directing you?...But maybe I feel this way only because I think too much. I don't know.

So much for now...before I look into the latest post of yours for a little longer and look at it from two or more or multiple povs across time-space....

Take care.

Abhishek Anand said...

Respected Sir,

I must say, the students who left engineering for making a career in cinemas are courageous. Not many can do that. This reminds me of a comprehension passage we solved from Total English 1- it spoke about the life of sportsperson. By the time sports could no longer feed them, it was too late for them to look for another job as their contemporaries were far ahead of them. Most engineers presently are probably in a similar condition(Sportsperson are at least very passionate, I wonder whether engineers are).

I am not sure whether there is a correlation between people growing up in culturally deprived backgrounds and those professing to be interested in maths and physics from an early age. However, there is a clear correlation between people growing in culturally deprived backgrounds and professing to be interested in 'good' jobs from an early age. If an Indian Institute of History earns 'reputation' similar to IITs, very soon FIIHJEE will be established!

Yours faithfully,
Abhishek Anand