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Thursday, October 17, 2013

And so, it is done

I am fifty as of today.

For once, at a loss for words. Or rather, don't feel like writing much...

If you are interested, I shall point you to old posts titled 'Auld lang syne', 'Forty five and counting' and the recent one titled 'Almost there'.

Biggest lesson learnt in all these years: love is too commonly faked. And people do it quite unselfconsciously,  too.

Most important resolution: to be much more picky, and much less forgiving. I absolutely hate being taken for granted, and that's what everybody seems to do, sooner or later. Surely I am now at an age when I can do without it?

Enough said.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Best in years

It’s been a far better pujo than I had hoped for: indeed, the best in more years than I can remember.

First of all, the weather helped. It was rainy all through, even with the occasional chill, interrupted only now and then by muggy patches. Then, the luxury of sleeping whenever you like, as much as you like, without being bound to a routine, and with family around you.  Going around the city just once before my wife was convinced that staying at home and watching pujo on television would be a far better idea. And then having our own pujo downstairs... all the fun and colour and gaiety you want, with the added assurance that you could slip off unnoticed to the peace and quiet of your own flat anytime things got too much for you, either by way of fanfare or boredom. Saw the contemporary urban Bengali middle class at its best and worst: all the bonhomie and cattiness, all the friendly conversation and backstabbing, all the cultural wealth and crass parvenu ostentation (everyone from the auto driver to the doc brandishing smartphones – diamond jewellery is better to look at, at least!), all the obsession with rabindrasangeet that no one cares to reflect upon and ‘cool’ distortion of the mother tongue, all the gourmandizing, the drunken dancing and faux-respectful distancing of elders from such display of ‘oposanskriti’... I took in a  fun Bangla movie in between, and read up a bit of a new biography of Babur, and watched the gorgeous skyline of nights, and shubho Bijoya has arrived in the wink of an eye.

Made some nice acquaintances, too, aged between barely thirty and eighty. Our housing estate has a rather diverse collection of residents, many of them absentee owners who live elsewhere in India or abroad, but gather here for the pujo. This is the first time I was staying here for some length of time on a festive occasion, and it didn’t take long to be found out – ‘Aren’t you Suvro Sir? My son used to be your pupil many years ago...’ and bang goes my hope of coming and going incognito. And a lot of them told me to come over and open up shop in Calcutta. Which is where it all started, three decades ago! If only I were twenty five again, or at least had money enough to go haring off on another adventure...

Anyway, I have had to promise a lot of people that I am coming over for Kali pujo. And we are all together looking forward to a lovely long winter. 

For a few photos, click here

Thursday, October 10, 2013

pujo once more

It's pujo time once more, and everybody who knows me knows too what I feel about it (see the post titled Bengal's annual madness if you don't). What is new this time is that I shall be in Calcutta - for the first time in nearly thirty years, I think. Only because my family is there, of course. Wish me luck. And have a happy pujo your own way, everybody, without hurting yourself or making too much of a nuisance of yourself if possible.

Oh, of one thing I am glad, I cannot hide it: there's rabindrasangeet in the air, thankfully, instead of the crassest kind of noise from Bollywood 'superhits' that has passed for music in this country for longer than I can remember. And though there's been a brief respite from the rains since yesterday, there's a pretty serious cyclone coming up from the Bay of Bengal, I hear...

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Holy mother!

The first editorial in Anandabazar Patrika, Sunday 22nd September edition, was as follows (the translation is mine):

Mothers and lies

Worship of mothers is a perennial thing. It is taken for granted that a mother would hug her child to her breast and gladly make any sacrifice for its sake. A child may be a black sheep, a mother never, she cannot be. No doubt there is some truth in this notion, but a great deal of blind faith and melodrama also work to keep it alive. A stern look at reality will show us a lot of mothers who make mincemeat of their wards’ love lives and sex lives, or otherwise perpetually cramp their personal space and limit their individual growth as human beings. In most of the cases of ‘honour killings’ that have been reported in recent times, a mother has been either directly involved, or given her full consent to the horror. Giving birth is merely a biological ability: it does not by itself glorify anybody spiritually. To raise a child well and educate him to live a valuable life is no mean task, and to do that one has to work hard at evolving into a good human being first. Mothers all around us incite their children to win the ratrace even by hurting the interests of their friends, and drive deep into them the disgusting habit of blaming everybody but themselves for their woes. And in most cases they inculcate this kind of meanness because they ‘love’ their children. Just as many animals enthusiastically devour some of their young so that the rest might have a better chance of survival. A certain species of eagle watches quietly while the stronger of its fledglings bully and kill the weaker ones. The panda bear mother, if it gives birth to twins, nurtures one and abandons the other. Perhaps natural selection favours this kind of arrangement, but surely the babies that are rejected and killed do not find much truth in the adage that a mother’s love is the most wonderful thing in the world!

Recently an American wrote this obituary shortly after the death of his mother: ‘Six of her eight children are alive, whom she subjected to every sort of persecution all her life…on behalf of all the children she made part of her unholy, malice-driven life, I am happily celebrating her demise, and hoping that next time round she might be at the receiving end of the same kind of barbarous cruelty and humiliation.’ This particular mother might have been an aberration, but even ordinary mothers all around us beat their children, mock them harshly, drown them in the pit of self-loathing by comparing them endlessly with others to their disadvantage, obstructing every attempt they make to find a little happiness in their own lives, and drive myriad little needles so deep into their souls that the wounds rankle lifelong, and destroy all possibility of their living decent lives of their own. Many mothers are certainly good mothers; however, it is equally true that many of them are cruel, abusive, or at least totally indifferent to their children. On the internet you can find blogs titled ‘I hate my kids’; there are even ‘groups’ of such like-minded mothers. All relationships can be the cause of either joy or sorrow: the mother-child relation is no exception to this rule. Camus created quite a stir by asserting this unpleasant truth in The Outsider. In that novel it was the son who was unbothered about his mother’s death. One rarely meets mothers who are indifferent to their children, even abusive in dealing with them, in literature. But one does in reality.”

S.C.: To the above, I shall add only that I do not personally think this is a gender thing. It’s only that the indiscriminate deification of mothers gets to me sometimes, seeing that there are lots of fathers who try very hard to be good parents, and lots of mothers who don’t. The crucial point is that so few people work at being good parents, so few even know that it has to be worked at, or that it is such hard work: and yet, especially in this country, somehow manage to raise children who feel it is their ‘duty’ to feel love and respect and be attentive to their parents’ needs lifelong, including the need to be shielded from all criticism within the family and without: my parents, my parents ├╝ber alles. Also, for the sake of variety I suppose, there are parents who try very hard, and eventually get kicked in the face for their pains... it is indeed the best of all possible worlds.