Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Thursday, October 30, 2014
The sights and sounds of our amiable sparrows
Our neighbourhood is now a bee-hive of babies who are not lesser than six months and children who are not more than 10 years old. The moment morning breaks and the sun rises in the east at around 5.45 am some sparrows come to our verandah like small children. When the babies -- who live nearby and whose voice, laughter and cries have become so much familiar --are fast asleep, these sparrows add life to our daily routine work. They wake my parents to a new day.
of five to seven and the number of male bird visitors are greater than females. The male birds, who wear darker shades of brown on their wings and neck, make a louder sound which if carefully heard seems like "speak speak" and "quick" and then they whistle. They nose-dive from the grill to a level of our first floor and again starts flying from than point without touching the ground and comes back in full energy to swing on a hanging cable. Like I watch them sitting on an iron bar, these birds too look at me with their sharp eyes. The females are less smarter and have a faded look with a thinner shade of light brown beak. By the time my day starts they become restless for their daily dose of puffed rice spread especially for them on a flower pot in the verandah. No sooner that two or three have finished having food, the rest comes flying to the venue to check if they are missing out on something. Earlier I was the one who gave them food and in fact I had regularised the system of offering them breakfast as a part of our daily life but with passing time the duty shifted to my mother's work schedule which indeed makes her happy. For the last one year the sparrows have started inviting a pair of mynahs since the time I have added a few more plants. These birds come in turn and also at intervals.
The sparrows have friends in our locality where they visit everyday to check how the whistling cockatoos are doing inside their cage.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
A cat gives good company
|Toofan became really thin after a fight with a stray cat and his health had deteriorated at that time. Here is sitting in a meditative state in our kitchen.|
Pets have a unique way of building relationships with people. Like dogs are faithful to their masters, cats never forget their house number. We human beings often wonder how can a cat remember the house even after it refuses to become completely domestic. Since I was in school my experience with cats have been quite so fascinating since one of these animals was my constant company for more than five years. Like puppies, kitten too love to play with us but their hidden claws to catch prey are something one should careful about. In Bengali there is a saying that cats are "Bagher mashi", which means they are linked to the tiger family and the the proverb is true in every sense. They quietly proceed towards their prey-- a mouse is their favourite hunt -- and pounce upon it. They don't kill the prey but waits for it to die holding it under it claws like a winner. After that the cat enjoys playing with the prey to check if it has actually a successful hunt. Now he looks happy having finished his operation. I had the opportunity to watch my pet's antics since Panchu, my pet cat, came to me when he was barely a year old. Initially I had named him Pancham. But his nick name became more popular and my parents too adored him. A pet cat can be a neighbour's envy since they enter our door like a guest making their presence clear to everyone by a typical sound which only his owner can identify with. They not only don't meow but also modulate their voice according to their requirements. Our cat used to get scared by any kind of noise but listened to music with his eyes closed when I used to play the music system. He loved fish, milk and bread other than sandesh, a sweetmeat. Unfortunately is no more alive. At the middle of the night it used to come through a window and we never felt trouble since it had become a part and parcel of our life. Since then many years have passed and after almost six years one more cat had joined our family and we had named him Toofan and he had a brother, Baggu. The brothers were fed by my mother and me in turns. Like two human beings, my cats were also very different in nature. One like to sit quietly near the kitchen door while the other stayed out. In course of time, Baggu disappeared but Toofan continued to visit our house for food and love. They are grown-ups now and stay away from home. Once in a while other cats walk over the boundary wall of our flat and pause to take rest. I never miss a chance to feed one of those who suddenly take this way. There is immense happiness in giving some bread and milk to these small little animals.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Pakistani serial show on Zindagi channel touched my heart
The name of this channel sounds as interesting as the names of the shows that they air for the Indian viewers. Zindagi tells us stories of Pakistani people and portrays a very different picture of our neighbour which was largely unknown to me. After more than a week’s advertisement on some news channels, Zindagi finally started rolling with programmes loaded with faces of new stars.
On television the natural beauty of Pakistan amazed me but the roads looked so much deserted on the suburbs. Pakistan looks so much like Delhi with huge buildings, big houses with gardens, and roadside restaurants. I had started with “Zindagi Gulzar Hain” which made me watch the month-long serial because of the lead actor, Fawad Khan as Zaroon, Kashaf, the lead actresss and her elder sister Sidra. Their families, their culture, “adab, kaide”, were good to watch on TV. I used to follow the programme from 8 pm to 9pm at night when my family was busy having tea and snacks. Fawad is not new in acting since “Khuda Ke Liye”, a Pakistani movie, had introduced him to us. Like his earlier performance, here too we had found him loving his guitar and failing to understand a woman’s mind. Since this was a televised show, a viewer comes closer to the actors and actresses and deeply feels for the characters. I must acknowledge that each one in Zindagi Gulzar Hai gave their best performance. But we must know something that the butterflies of Zindegi theme will flutter because of Zaroon, the new hero.
For all those who missed the show by chance must know what happened in ZGH. The story in a shorter version speaks about Zaroon and Kashaf, their friends in the university, their families, their relatives and life in Lahore as well as in Karachi. Zaroon is friendly and a lover of music who sings in college fests where Kashaf notices him for the first time. All the girls were swooning to his magical voice. She was the only one who was tensed to go back home since it was already late for her. After the show came to an end, students dispersed. Kashaf was always seen in the company of a girl who seemed to be her friend. Both did not go back home together and Kashaf was left with no choice but to get inside Fawad’s car which was completely unknown for her. His car was meant for some other girl, Asmaira, who came from a well-to-do family. Kashaf took the rear seat and reached home only after the other girl got down at her destination. All three reached home safe that night despite their disappointments.
Unlike Pakistanis known for their tehzib, Kashaf was curt, she wanted to do something good in life, she loved her sisters, and poured her heart in a diary almost regularly. She liked helping her mother and elder sister Sidra in the kitchen. She lived with her mother and was the second among her three sisters. Her father, Mr Murtaza, was very much alive but staying in some other house where she hardly ventured. A university professor, who she addressed as Sir, was the man with whom she used to confide his thoughts about further studies and plans of a career. Kashaf did not have too many friends and stayed aloof but portrayed a kind of grit in her behavior. She knew she had to complete her studies to find a place for herself in the society. But luck did not take her side in the university campus where she involved herself in an altercation with a group of friends where Fawad was also present. While she was searching for a book from the rack, they were saying something about her and this made her open her mouth against her friends. Knowing the consequences of breaking silence inside the university library, she revolted against their unfriendly and inhuman behavior. The result was very obvious since she was alone and they were three together. After the incident Kashaf did not go back to the university for two to three days. Circumstances compelled her to stay at home since her elder sister was about to get married and she volunteered to work and make up for the money required to make her sister’s marriage happen at the right time with the right person.
She started working and broke her ties with the varsity where she didn’t make a place for herself. Zaroon tried to apologize many a times over phone but that did not help him. Meanwhile he got engaged to his long-time friend since his family wanted him take life seriously. Zaroon shared his thoughts with his sister over a cup of tea or coffee in their lawn and discussed about his life with his mother and occasionally at the dinner table.
Everything was going gaga in Zaroon’s life when suddenly his sister wanted to break free from her husband and took shelter in her father’s house. She refused to go back even after her husband tried to patch up and this incident shook Fawad A Khan for the first time. He broke up with his long-time friend with him he was engaged and decided to leave his house and look for a job to make himself independent.
As it was destined, Fawad and Kashaf crossed each other’s path at a different city in Lahore where both were looking for jobs.
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
An unfortunate incident spoils my shopping mood at the end of the day
Yesterday I had a bitter experience of facing some very ill-mannered men in bus number 91 on the route of Jessore Road at around 8 pm when I refused to leave the senior citizen’s seat to an old lady who had boarded the bus near Lake Town.
I had taken the same seat some three to four seconds before the lady stepped into the bus. After standing in the metro from Rashbihari to Belgachhia with a heavy packet in my hand I was also not feeling well inside the bus which was very crowded at that hour.
Just when I had rested on the seat, the old lady and the conductor told me to get up and vacate the seat. I told them to wait for two minutes since I was about get down in the next stop in another three to four minutes. Like it was expected of a conductor, he went on pestering for the seat. He refused to listen to my request. A passenger shouted at the top of his voice pointing finger at me and blasted to protest against me. My reasoning didn’t reach his ears since he was not in his senses as far as I could understand from his facial expression.
On our way back home from shopping at Gariahat I had taken a auto-rickshaw to Rashbihari metro station from where I had taken the train to Belgachhia at 19.19 pm. We reached our destination at around 7.45 pm. Since there was a long queue for auto rickshaws I decided to take the bus instead of waiting and wasting time on the road.
We went to Gariahat to buy some furnishings and crockeries and had finished shopping despite incessant rain which made us wait at intervals and delayed our work. By the time we had taken our stuff it was dark and still raining.
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Shopping culture of Kolkata during the Durga Puja festival
When Durga Puja festival is round the corner and pandals are being erected with bamboo sticks at every nook and corner of the city, my mind only thinks of shopping at this moment. This year the Durga Puja begins on October 1 which is Saptami. There was a time when buying clothes during this time of the year was indeed something very special when school gave us vacation to welcome the arrival of the Mother Goddess Parvati from Kailash to her father’s home and worship her with utmost reverence on those five days when she stayed in her father’s home. That was the time each and every day was a long wait to prepare myself for the half-yearly examination and time and again taking my mind off from the pages of the books to count how many days were left for the puja shopping. Those days are now memories but the habit of buying new clothes and wearing the same to soak into the puja fervor still remains alive in our family culture.
|Puppet models inside a pandal in Kolkata.|
Kolkatans know where to shop since the city is known for her markets which have not only pampered us with a bountiful but business that takes place particularly during Durga Puja strengthens her economy and this has been the scenario since ages from era of the British Raj till today except those times when rain played a spoilsport for three to four days flooding streets and main roads. But that doesn’t deter the city people to feel less enthusiastic to start shopping which begins from now on till the festival. The open markets or ‘bajars’ have become healthier over the years and have taken the shape of markets across the length and breadth of the city. They have particularly developed along those belts of the city where residential localities have thrived with people coming and settling down from other parts of the country. This is the time shops offer huge sales on every item they are selling to the people and the public of Calcutta. Shopping, particularly clothes, can be really fun even one has to spend the whole day almost on his legs. The excitement of hopping through the markets is real fun if it can be done in the evening but a very few people have such the privilege for marketing after the scorching Sun gives a relief at the end of the day; but those who have markets in the vicinity are really lucky. Shopping experience in Kolkata during this time can save people from the suffocating crowd that can make the same activity very tiresome after some months. One will get to see a variety of new designs, cuts and new colours on dress materials especially for women and select their own choice of colours if they walk into plazas, arcades and malls at this time when two months are left for the puja. We can shop at Gariahat market while walking by the side of the road and drop in at any big store which we like. We can also visit the very-old and favourite of all, New Market, or just find the world in the glitzy malls of Forum or South City.
During my stay in the city of Banglore as a student I had got a chance to enjoy the Durga puja festival in the southern state of Karnataka where many Bengalees spend a quality period of their lives to gather a different feeling since Bengalees are also known for their migratory habit. There are associations and clubs of Bengalee community who conduct the Durga Pujo at the heart of the Bengaluru city and make the festival a real grand affair. Unlike Kolkata and her citizens, Bangalore has a prosperous shopping life since the cosmopolitan culture has led to a number of malls across the Silicon Valley of India. The big brands draw the youngsters to the stores and hook them to a colourful life which is apparently possible when men and women of all ages drape themselves according to their selection. The Kannadigas celebrate their own Ganesh Chaturthi festival and Yugadi (New Year in Karnataka) while Bengalees shop for the same to mix with those people who speak a completely different language. By dressing like their South Indian friends, a Bengali changes himself to a perfect South Indian.
I got so used to the shopping at glamorous malls in M. G. Road, Brigade Road and occasional visits at Commercial Street that even after coming back to the city my heart keeps missing those roads where I had walked to simply shop jeans and t-shirts.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
A great man who had stirred entire West Bengal and made a place for himself in the hearts of men and women as a Hero in the era of 1950s and 60s and 70s is no more alive but his memories have not faded since 33 years have passed by since his demise in the year 1980 on 24th July. A versatile actor and a man of great genius was popularly and lovingly known as Uttam Kumar to all and sundry. I have seen him in real on television and he looks so much real that it does not seem that he is acting. He is like our Guru. His movies have kept him alive not only in our thoughts but make us believe that he is still there...Yesterday was his "Mahaproyan Diwas". The entire afternoon was spent searching for a single movie of his on television but much to my dismay there was not one which was aired between 3 pm to 6pm. Finally, the news channels made me very very happy when they aired some very special moments where some great people were remembering the "Mahanayok". Some popular Bengali songs from his 60's movies came on a local channel and finally there was an old movie,"Shapmochan" which was telecast at night and all these made my day.