Explore this blog by clicking on the labels listed along the right-hand sidebar. There are lots of interesting stuff which you won't find on the home page
Seriously curious about me? Click on ' What sort of person am I?'

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Debts, and food for wonder

I often think of the people who do a lot for me – for a price, yet they have become reliable long-time friends. Maybe they are the only ones who will actually miss me when I am gone.

There is our family doctor. I have known him for nearly four decades now. Suffice it to say that our debt to him cannot be repaid, though we have tried very hard, and I seriously fear the day when he will no longer be around. Doctors I have known aplenty, but I know no one who can ever fill his shoes for us.

Manikda, the doctor’s compounder, is someone much more than that for us, and his friend Shibu, the man who goes around collecting blood samples from door to door when tests are in order. There’s Mayadi who has been cooking for me for years, and Parvati, the slightly retarded young woman who has been cleaning the house for a long time, too. There is Sanjeeb the mishtiwallah, a good friend to chat with whenever his busy schedule allows him a few minutes of breathing time, and who was one of the first to cheer me unstintedly when I gave up my last salaried job – ‘Suvroda, you will be much better off now, you’ll see!’ There is Tapas, who takes care of all my needs that in any way connect to computers, and still goes around on a decrepit bicycle, though I know a thousand morons not worth his shoelaces who ride snazzy bikes at half his age. There is Firoz, the first driver who is likely to become a friend too, though I still don’t know him as well as I’d like to, reticent man that he is. There’s Mrinalda, who has been filing my income tax returns for a quarter century now, and Saibal, who kindly manages my investment portfolio though I am really too small fry for him to bother.

Ram Asan Singh the newspaperman has been a fixture for a long time now, and Baikuntho, who started off as a plumber and has become a man-for-all-seasons general contractor, someone I call up whether I want a new water heater or the wc flush is not working or the house needs to be repainted. Arvind the grocer is someone who is always there for me, and Indrajit who runs the cigarette-and-coffee stall. There are my favourite greengrocers and fishmongers and barbers. Not to forget Bhola, who has been binding my books and doing my photocopies and sundry other chores for more than twenty years now. With each of these I have a story to tell…

Funnily also, some such people who have enjoyed my custom have never become friends, or dropped off after a while, sometimes after decades of knowing me. I shall never figure out why, but I have not tried to find out. No point in naming them.

Then there are so many people who come to my door, either to ask for charity or to sell odds and ends – like brooms and boxes of incense sticks – who always make me wonder: why do they stick to it? Does it ensure a halfway decent living? Not all of them look hungry and desperate, either. Someday I really must sit down with them and ask them to tell me more about their lives. If so many people can make do with so little, materially speaking, why does this disease of running endlessly after more money afflict so many others?

There, I have said it at age 53 – it’s a disease. And the fact that, like tapeworm or snoring or obesity, it affects a very large fraction of the human population does not make it one bit less so. It’s a very bad world which passes off encouragement to such diseased people as ‘development’ and ‘progress’. Some day, when we are all much more civilized and sensible, we might think of progress in terms of making life easier for good, nice, hardworking people who are not greedy pigs and have real, harmless interests to pursue: interests which are not constantly manufactured by the advertizing industry.


Rajdeep said...

It must be nice to be surrounded by such people. They are drawn to you because of your personality.

I feel more is coming after this post. So, let me keep this short and wait for the sequels.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

As I said, Rajdeep, there's the other kind, too. The vast majority of the parents of those who have been my pupils at one time or the other belong to that category - I have always wondered why. Until lately, now that I have deliberately become an ogre.

'...more is coming'? I really don't know about that.

Lokesh Kumar said...

Hello Suvro Sir,

Hope you are doing well. I am not sure if you remember me. Here is a quote to express my gratitude being your student:

“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” - Brad Henry


Lokesh Kumar
ICSE 1991 batch
St. Xavier's School, Durgapur

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Hello Lokesh,

Thanks for writing in. Sorry to be late in replying. Forgive me for a clouded memory, but it has been a long time, hasn't it? Good to hear that you still remember. I hope I was that kind of teacher to you. I shall be glad to hear what you think about some of the things that I write on this blog.


Lokesh Kumar said...

Hello Sir,

I really admire your command on the English Language!...

Sir, I was not among the elite of your class but you were one teacher who never let me off the hook. Like you did to other students, you tried to extract the potential out of me. Thanks, you made a difference for me.

The teacher-student relationship of today reminds me of my school days - Your English Class - where the focus was on English Language (in its true sense) rather than preparing for the chapter(s) of the upcoming exam.

As a teacher, how do you feel getting a message from your student after a long time? Such incidents rarely occur, isn't it!!


Lokesh Kumar

Nishant said...

Dear Sir,

I enjoyed this post a lot. It's always very heartening to read gratitude for people who make our lives easier. I hope some of them read the post and the others somehow get to know about it.


Suvro Chatterjee said...

Thank you for the two rapid-fire comments in succession, Nishant. I was missing you, wondering if you still read this blog.

Yes, the world could do with a little more publicly-expressed gratitude, especially to the humble and self-effacing. I try.

As for the Murshidabad trip, we could go together if you ever come halfway across the world. Do keep in mind, though, that the proprietor doggedly keeps the hotel facilities at the pedestrian level, though you can have an airconditioner in your room.

Nishant said...

Thanks for the invitation, sir. I would be happy to join you on a trip when I can. I followed the link to the pictures of the hotel and its grounds. The hotel seems okay: as long as it's neat and clean, I'm quite happy.

It had been a while since I had visited your blog. I'd have to catch up. I always enjoy reading and watching travelogues if not visit all those places. With your recent travels, you've given me a lot to read about.


Saikat Chakraborty said...

Dear Sir,

Everyone has a story. Few people listen and there are fewer to tell those stories. Thank you for sharing some of them; it was a heartening read.

I would like to hear more about them and others- maybe your interactions with total strangers at a different place, whether your paths crossed when you visited those places again.

Looking forward to more stories.

With regards,