Life's Like That

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dear Ron


No you have'nt gone mad, this is a letter from yourself...just 15 years down the line. Yes. At age 30. No, we will not talk about what it feels like to be so old. Why? Because I said so thats why. Im twice your age and you will shut up and pay heed to the pearls of wisdom I have to share.

So, how was the 15th birthday? Did you have fun giving it back to those changra fellows near Campari who dared to pass comments on you and the gang as you shashayed past? They deserved it, the morons. School's going to get over in just about a year, and life as you knew it will indeed be over. Though ICSE will not be the nightmare that your teachers make it out to be. After Mrs. Jacob's exam papers, the ICSE Chemistry paper will be a breeze. Math will be tough, I admit, but you will do reasonably well in that too. Oh and keep an eye out for RD on the first day of the exam, she will provide you with much entertainment and cause for laughter years after its all over. She will also giggle at you throughout the Geography exam. Ignore her. You still know RD, and SD and SR and T and MC. They are in different parts of the world but you are in touch. In fact, by the time you are where I am right now, you will be in touch with most people from your class. Yes, even AB. No really. She lives in the same city as you, though you try very hard not to meet her (The Internet will have this thing called Facebook and....oh never mind its too complicated to explain. You'll see).

Oh by the way, you know D? He is really into you as well. He has been telling P all about how much he adores you (yeah despite those spectacles) and has been begging her to help him convey his feelings to you. Just stay near the phone this New Years eve. Thats all I will say now. Though, a word of advice, when you do plan to go see a movie with him, do plan it reeeeaaalllly well. Ensure its not a holiday when Dads at home or he might insist on dropping you to the theatre and...well..the word fiasco comes to mind. Though you will laugh about it in the years to come so maybe you should just let it happen. Also, while we are on the topic, next week you will be invited to go to Nicco Park with P and her parents and D and his parents. Try not to giggle and simper too much. When you are my age, the memories of a simpering you will make you want to slap yourself heartily. And wear that black skirt. Its not too short and you are not too fat. You have nice them off. D will appreciate very much.

Speaking of clothes. For Gods sake girl!! You are NOT too fat. When you are my age you will be looking back, wondering why on earth you would want to spend your teenage years in shapeless salwar kameezes and T shirts. As far as fat goes, you will be a whole lot fatter in the years to come, so please wear some nice fitted clothes now. Live a little. There is no reason for you to avoid parties and social gatherings because you think you are fat and ugly. You are not and frankly noone cares. Everyone is too busy having fun to stop and look at you and think you are a misfit. Walk in like you own the place, be yourself, let your hair down. You are a popular girl with lots of friends, you will manage to make friends and have friends to hang out with all your life. Stop with the inferiority complex already.

What? ICSE? Again? I told you, it was no big deal. Noone ever asked you for your ICSE results since your Plus 2 admissions. And you know what? So many of your classmates who were not too academically bright are doing way better than you professionally. Just goes to show doesnt it? Yeah you have a job. One that you don't like much. You are not very ambitious, even at age 30. You are doing resonably ok in a career you dont like much and thats good enough for you. You have managed to learn to drive, though not to swim or ride a cycle. Your ability to cuss in Bengali Hindi and English at age 30 would probably make the convent bred you at age 15 blush and die. You didnt go college in Calcutta. In fact you left Calcutta right after Class 12. You moved around the country a fair bit, something you are very grateful for. You now live in the South of India and right now are craving a ghee roast masala dosa.

Oh yes you are married. No not to D you silly twit. Did you really think teenage loves last a lifetime? You are not even married to a Bengali. He is tall fair and mostly harmeless. You will meet him in college but liked him only after a common friend re-introduces you a few years later. He was obnoxious earlier. But when you are re-introduced to him and get to know him a little better, you will know in a week that he is the One. You will feel like you are walking on air when he drops you home one night. And since you are YOU, you will tell yourself not to be a complete moron and get those romance novels out of your head. But fail miserably. Now you are happy, even though you are overcome by the desire to slap him hard from time to time but I think thats a reaction most men elicit from their wives, so its normal.

As I write this letter to you, I'm tempted to tell you what's going to come next in your life. And advise you to join School A instead of the School B that you did eventually join after 10th. Im tempted to tell you about exactly what will happen next with D; about the boy you will meet in college; about the boy you will meet in University. Im tempted to tell you to stay away from the last mentioned boy as well as from a girl you will think of as your best friend. Tempted to tell you of the lonliness and heartache you will experience in University thanks to that boy and the best friend .

But then I stop myself. School B was not as glamourous as School A. For a while you with your convent bred English will feel like an alien in a place where some girls pronounce plaits as plates. But with time, you will make friends who speak your kind of English, with similar likes and dislikes. You will make some great friends there. I would'nt want you to miss out on those friends and the fun you will have. The boy in University is going to be dreadful and your experience in University will be dreadful but you need to go through it. You will emerge stronger from that experience. The rose tinted glasses with which you see the world will finally be removed thanks to those people. I would'nt want you to change anything about your life between age 15 and 30 because it will all combine to make you the person you are today. Except maybe some changes to your wardrobe and self image. That is a must do item I think.

This is all I have time for today. Was fun finding you again. Have a great time finding your way out of your teens and through adulthood. Its a fun journey most of the time.

Take Care

PS: Don't bully your sister too much. She will soon grow up to be a gorgeous teenager with oodles of attitude, a tattoo and a pierced navel. You will be very intimidated by her.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Loudspeaker memories

Durga Pujo is around the corner. I will be in Bangalore. Working. Life's like that whattodo. Last year we took the boy to Kolkata and showed him Durga Pujo. He enjoyed himself but it was very trying for me as I had to translate everything for him, including neelkanto pakhi, Shaami kano Aashami (from movie posters) etc. Anyways, I was discussing Pujo and Kali Pujo with my aunt last night and amongst other things we both fevrently thanked God and the Government of West Bengal for banning loudspeakers during festivals. You see, our memories of any festival cannot be separated from the memories of loudspeakers and loud blaring "muujiik"

Living in Dover Lane, we were spared of mujikal entertainment during Durga Pujo since the closest pandal (Shinghi Park) was quite a distance from us. Kali Pujo on the other hand.....SHUDDER. Not one but three pujos were organised around our house. One 10 metres in front, one 10 metres to the left, one 10 metres to the right. The 3 pandals had 3-4 loudspeakers each. They started the mujikal entertainment early in the morning...say at around 5 a.m..from 3 days before the actual pujo. This continued for a good 3 days after the pujo. I have a great aversion to all Kumar Sanu songs irrespective of language.

The day started with "Chiiiiiirrrrroooodiiiniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii tuuuumiii je aamaaaar/juuge juuugeee aaaamiiii tommmmaaaarrriiiii". At 5 a.m. The high pitched Chirooooodiniiiiiiiii breaking into ones dreams abruptly and loudly is not a nice feeling. Im surprised none of us had heart attacks. This would be followed by the breezy "Hoyto aamake kaaro mone nei/Aami je chilaam ei graametei" I have no clue which movie this gem belongs to. But I know it by heart. Would you like me to sing it to you?

As the day wore on the entertainment would move towards Bollywood. "Dekha hai pehli baar/ Saajan ke aankhon mein pyaar" the loudspeakers would inform us, about 10-15 times in a loop, till one would be overcome with the desire to catch the Saajan of the pyaar filled eyes and poke them eyes out. Just when one would be seizing a largeish knife to go in search of the Saajan's eyes, it would switch to "Hawa hawa/ aye hawa / khushboo lutalee". I never quite understood this song. Is it an ode to the wind? To ones love who is like the wind? What does it mean? Towards afternoon, the organizers would shift to mellower music, possibly in deference to the post lunch siesta that most boudis and mashimas of the area would want to indulge in. Therefore the soulful "Snaasoon knii znaarooraat hnai jnaisnee" or " Dhnirree Dhniirree se mneri zindagi mein aaaanaa" would croon nasally from all sides. Needless to say all boudis and mashimas would spend the afternoon heartily cussing Sanu and his loyal fans and tossing from side to side. This would generally be interspersed with some Bangla gaan...cultural gems such as "Eeeee aaaamaaaar gurdooookhinaaaaa/ gurukee jaaaanaaaaiiii pronaaaam ( I can just picture Taposh Pal singing with mouth wide open, clutching a microphone..pained constipated expression on his face) or "Beder meye Jyotsna aamaye kotha diyeche". I think the general thinking was that Bangla gaan is more suited to sleeptime activities...more kaalchaaral if you know what I mean.

Evenings got even worse, if such a scenario is imaginable. "Dil diwana/ bin sajna ke / maaaaneee naaaaaaaa/ yeh pagla hai..." screeched Anuradha Padwal. I hate Maine Pyaar Kiya. It has 10-15 songs. Each of which would be played nonstop. SP Balasubramaniam telling random (freakish) kabootars to ja ja ja in a heavy South Indian accent is not conducive to homework. Trust me on this one. As the evening wore on, the organizers would get more skittish. Hormones and all that. The songs took on a distinct lecherous note.. with "Oye Oye" eveteasers favourite and "Oh laal dupatte walli tera naam toh bata" which made it virtually impossible for girls to wear lal duppattas for sometime. Then there was "First time dekha tumhe dil kho gaya / Second time mein love ho gaya/ Yeh akkha India jaanta hai/ hum tum pe marta hai" and the rather violently composed "Maine pyaar tumhi se kiya hai/ maine dil bhi tumhiko diya hai". But my all time favourite remains "Aami Kolkata roshogolla". 16 times nonstop the day before my Math exam. It is seared in my brain for eternity. On the 11th rerun, my normally very shy and reticent Math tutor could take it no more and burst out "Eta ki hoche tokhon theke. Ki gaan eta. Aar tumi ei gaan ta gaicho kano? Ebhaabe onko hoye naaki?(What is this nonsense? What song is this? and why are you singing along? How can you study like this?). Singing along like lobotomised zombies to any rubbish song that happened to be blaring outside was a dangerous side effect that we all experienced. Sometimes we sang even without provocation. I was once punished in school for absentmindedly humming "beder meye jyotsna" in Chemistry class.

Things have changed now of course. Loudspeakers are banned Im told. My aunt and I were heaving big sighs of relief just yesterday ( the organisers in her para had a particular fondness for a morbid number that went "tomar barir shaamne diye / aamar moronjatra jokhon jaabe/ tumi baranda te dnaariye theko/ shesh dekhata dekhte paabe" worries about the mental state of the person who played this number at 4 a.m. Poor thing). I wonder what songs would play on loop today if it was allowed...I can picture myself gnashing my teeth at the 25th rerun of "Zara zara touch me touch me / Zara zara oooo oooo ooo. I can also picture my mother hyperventilating and my fathers pained expression. At the cost of repeating myself...thank god!!!
But tell me, what are your loudspeaker memories? Sing it aloud while typing. Go on..its festival time after all.