Mind

Millenarianism

the political establishes its credo well

so does the economic and the cultural

 

reprehensible personalities ruling and set to rule

going Greek and not Dutch and a new film star each day

 

is the social set for a revamp?

one would never know

 

atleast the religious says so!

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Heart

Dear Mr. Writer

NPG 2929,Thomas Hardy,by William StrangI have read a number of your writings. I belong to an age where satisfying the needs of the person at the consuming end matters more than anything else and hence I write to you with a wish list of things I want you to pen down in the work that you take up next. I sincerely hope that you would not take to heart a petulant reader’s intrusion into the world that you alone are and should be the master of. See if you can be accommodating enough and touch upon themes I so want to read about. If you could write a short story dealing with the bane of our times. Yes, I mean privacy. If you could clarify through the wisdom soaked nib, nuances of all the lies we say to each other all the time merely to keep our cupboards with hidden skeletons locked and away from the public view. Would you be interested in painting the portrait of an artist as a young man who does not realize and has no belief in his acumen. It would fascinate me no end reading about his encounter with a real life successful artist who cannot do justice to his oeuvre merely because of the shallowness of his approach and the powerlessness of his style. See if you can talk about vanities that have come to count for distinction. Thackeray is dead and gone. I want to read about a pair of women professionals who live a dying life each day in order to proclaim their status of being alive to the rest of the world. If you could put in a chapter where they cry hoarse about their birth as humans first and as women later. Will it be possible for you to devote a section of your book to overgrown children who look half their age and think along varying shades of grey. Write about a tree that looks at all these people standing silent and firm. Bring in the buffalo chewing its cud and pondering deep over the next big thing that the internet would be able to do for it. I don’t think including all of these requests into a piece of writing would be feasible, but then, yes, at times you must attempt a failed novel, a prosaic poem and an autobiography that is a disaster of all sorts. After all nonsense matters as much.

I hope to hear from you,

Regards!

Heart

Cinema

Smita_mmI think of cinema and of images that move and of those which don’t. Thinking of a torn sari clad woman at the hearth under the sky. Blowing her life into the fire that refuses to quickly send the chapatis in the daughter’s plate lying in front of the little imp in a blackened frock with mickey mouse prints hidden beneath layers of dried mud, dried pulse stains and in places with remnants of coal lozenges that she played among since the yellow morning as the unyielding, sick sun rose today. The mother looks perturbed as the girl’s father is likely to come back from the town empty-handed. The brown of her dress reveals the dark of her blemish free dark face where a little black dot finds a neat spot to the right of the lower lip. She swears at the waiting girl who has a running nose while balancing the other infant lying carefree in the lap and positions her breasts for the tongue of the hidden tiny creature. She streamlines the fuel and makes it cross the bottleneck of the mud house of the hearth into flames as the flour ball kept in the wooden bowl to her side diminishes in size. Her hands twist over the round chapati on the hot plate till it steams off hot puff through the orifices left open in the body of the flat circle. A sudden stream of this puff aims at her fingers with the worn out silver ring and in disgust she utters ‘damn it’ while the wrinkle on the forehead too artificial for her vibrant visage appears to soon make way for the droplets of sweat that emerge from the crevices. An earthen pot falls behind her wooden seat and the water flowing out of it drenches the clay floor. Clogs stick to the protruding tiny feet of the infant in the lap. As the toddler tries getting rid of the glue with its other toe, the splutter muddies the floor further and spreads to the other toe making for a pair of muddy toes. Passes from the scene a village elder who pauses and asks the girl with the plate about her father while trying hard to get a glimpse of the woman’s face. The girl is too dumb to answer that. One end of the brown cloth gets clipped between the woman’s canines and she looks away. Whispering from that hidden angle to the child “Tell Uncle he is in the town and will be back soon”, she directs her to him. The child leaves the plate and walks briskly towards the man. Tries to pull down the red and white balloon that he has bought for his grand-daughter who is sitting with a plate in a similar kitchen elsewhere in the village. The old man raises his hand so that the balloon goes higher up in the air, beyond the girl’s leaps and bounds. The woman after a while yells out her name “Lalli” only to realize that Lalli isn’t around and two of those expressive eyes etched above whiskers and below the turban are still busy hunting for a glimpse. Lalli’s mother blushes and keeps the chapatis going as they were.

Mind

Showcasing My Friends-6

(For the sixth post in this series, for which I have interviewed people I am close to, I emailed Uma Shankar Pandey a set of questions. His responses have been reproduced here. I hope that you would like the idea and enjoy the conversation. The series is to be continued with other friends as and when possible. Sincere thanks to all readers who commented on and appreciated the earlier posts).

viewerUma Shankar Pandey is my newly found friend on the blogosphere. What initially attracted me to his blog was a kind of poetic prose that is so characteristic of whatever he writes- short stories, reminiscences or book reviews. I find him to be an avid reader, a fiercely attentive writer who has all the concern possible for details and above all a very gentle and endearing individual, interacting with whom can be a real source of joy and inspiration. The vocabulary he employs in his expression is rich and classical to the core, to say the least. In this interview, I plan to dig slightly deeper into the person that Uma is. He says on his blog page that he is a “A banker by profession and a writer by confession” and that he shoots when “…the sordid pursuit of livelihood condones such indulgence”. A minute more with some of his lines that linger in my head each time his blog comes to mind should be in order here.

Reviewing a book he says about the author:  “She is a quiet writer of the human disquiet”. Describing in fascinating terms one of his childhood visits to a temple in the city of Varanasi, he writes : “There was no priest in sight and we had to deal with the Goddess without the luxury of a bailiff.” Goes Uma at another point in one of his short stories: “A month passed and the April suddenly started getting intolerably hot and stuffy. I fell to my old habit of pulling out a mattress on the terrace, fixing up a mosquito net on sticks and sleeping under the open sky. The nights were hot to start with but once past the midnight, the wind would pick up thick with the fragrance of night jasmine.” For more of the lovely stuff he writes please do visit uspandey.com. I promise you would not be disappointed!

With that glimpse into the world of his words and musings, on to him directly!

————–

 

Personal Concerns- Benaras to start with- I wanted to know of your take on the charm and mystique that this ancient city is sort of emblematic of.

Uma Shankar Pandey- I have conflicting memories of Banaras.

Ganges River, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India.

 We used to live in a house on the riverbank. I remember peals of bells, many, many of them, ringing, every morning and evening. Then I remember a boat ride where I almost drowned. It was a serene evening and the wind was picking up. People had started scrambling into the boat and I tried to make it on my own and slipped into the river. I was retrieved quickly and someone took off my trousers. I believe I was embarrassed but I was quickly enraptured as the boat pulled into the river, merrily swaying to and fro. Soon, all that stretched out from the boat was rippling water. Ghat after ghat slid past and the chanting grew louder. Beating of drums and cymbals grew and faded as we closed in on temples and then moved away. The women in the boat started singing.

 

I grew up with the perennial awareness of the huge river in which I could drown and on which stood a distant bridge. And all the meandering lanes invariably led to temples milling with people murmuring with half-shut eyes and bowing and falling flat in front of idols. I was more conscious of monkeys gliding across ledges and rooftops than the cows with menacing horns. What hounded my thoughts often though were the human shapes being carried away on bamboo stretchers, the quartets ushering those chanting dully. As a child, I soon learnt what it meant when a group of grim looking men from our paternal village stood at our doors, refusing to come in, demanding to see our father urgently. Draped in shrouds shining red and orange, someone surely awaited the final fire at a ghat nearby. The river of life was filling me with shivers for life.

 

People visited us when they wanted to take a holy dip in Ganges too.  I was told about Kal Bhairava, an incarnation of Shiva who in a fit of anger had severed one of the heads of Brahma and the head had clung to him and accompanied him everywhere. The skull dropped off his hand only when he visited Kashi, or Banaras as it was known then. It is the legacy of deliverance that prompts the sinners among Hindus, and who isn’t a sinner among Hindus, to trudge their way to the holy city by the river ever so often to drop their baggage of misdeeds. And the Ganges has remained a mute witness, a perennial cleanser of the physical and mental excretions of the sinners.

 

Those are the thoughts that sweep my mind when I think of Banaras. Death, because that is what humans fear but actually succumb to; deprivation, because that is why humans pray but to no avail; hope, because that is what humans pray for and their success may vary; delusion, because that is how humans pray and there really isn’t anything out there.

 

PC- During one of my conversations with you, I got to know about your unfinished Ph.D at Lucknow University. I was interested in knowing more about your research. 

USP- My guide, Prof R N Srivastava, had a mysterious brush with T. S. Eliot. He’d get dreamy talking about it, breaking into a vicious American accent. He had a book gifted to him by the towering litterateur and he cherished it like his life. During my stay in Lucknow University as a student he had taken a liking to me and would trust me immensely and that is why I was once lent the very same book which I went on to possess for an unduly long period. I was never truly forgiven for the sin.

Professor Srivastava was a man of honour and a man of words who clung to what he professed come hail or high water. He was kind enough to take me under his fold and suggested ‘Comic Apocalyptic Fiction with Special Reference to Joseph Heller, Thomas Pynchon and John Barth’ as a topic for the doctoral thesis. Of all those names, Joseph Heller’s masterpiece Catch 22 readily rings a bell to many. I was done with reading Heller and had started writing my critical interpretations. Prof Srivastava, however, wanted me to consult certain tomes even before I put my pen to the paper. I, on the other hand, feared reading other’s works about the genre may perchance sneak in a bias in me or worse, nip my original ideas in the bud. I was afraid I’d be overwhelmed. I did express my apprehension to the professor but he would not budge. It was not that I was adamant or I was sworn not to check out the works my guide wanted me to, much as I was in awe of him anyway. But, it being American Literature, the British Council Library at Lucknow would yield nearly nothing on those authors. The other libraries in Lucknow claimed never to have heard of those, whatsoever.  It was the early 1990s and Internet was not yet born to us. My only option was to go to Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL), Hyderabad., down south. It was a long way off, Hyderabad, two nights away, not earth shattering but a deterrent nonetheless. That, I was a Research Assistant associated with a critical project at IIM Lucknow didn’t help matters much. Eventually, the impasse became insurmountable.


PC- How do the profession of banking and the urge to read, write and blog go together? Since when do you blog?

USP- My earlier job at Indian Institute of Management Lucknow was contractual in nature. I was fervently looking out for teaching positions in Lucknow University and its associated colleges. Unfortunately, it was a complex system being controlled by non-transparent machinery. I am not sure when, if ever I would have ended up in the coveted vocation. Meanwhile, the sordid saga of livelihood started gaining the upper hand with each passing day. Calls for cracking the commonly held recruitment tests started getting shrill. Even Professor Srivastava opined that I should be able to sail through competitions such as those for probationary officers for banks. I did write a few of them and cleared a couple of them and joined my present employer in 1994. For many years after that I was a rolling stone, moving from one branch of the bank to the other, forgetting everything about writing. But I did put up a ‘Homepage’ in 1999, when ‘TCP/IP’ Internet connections became common. Prior to that, I had been trying my luck with publications like Pioneer, TOI, Gentleman, Dharmyug and Saptahik Hindustan. But once my own website was up, I started posting sporadic works there. I started dabbling with ‘Blogger’ circa 2004. I have preserved my first post, ‘Soliloquy’ at uspandey.net. I have been writing intermittently on my current blog One Grain Amongst the Storm at uspandey.com since 2007.


PC- Who are your favorite authors? Any specific novel that you wish to talk about?

USP- It is impossible to have just one favourite author. Some of the authors I love to read are as under:

Shakespeare
Thomas Hardy
Emily Bronte
D H Lawrence
Ernest Hemingway
Mikhail Bulgakov
Boris Pasternak
Joseph Brodsky
Anita Desai
Shashi Deshpande
Arundhati Roy
Rohinton Mistry
Vikram Seth
Manju Kapur
Phanishwar Nath Renu
Janice Pariat
Jeet Thayil

And many more! Hamlet, Jude the Obscure, Wuthering Heights, A Farewell to Arms, Doctor Zhivago, Fire on the Mountain, God of Small Things, Small Remedies, The Immigrant, Boats on Land, Narcopolis are some of my favourite books.

PC- Is communalism ( I am referring to Hindu Muslim animosity/ events of violent conflict in particular) in Uttar Pradesh entirely a political problem?

USP- It is a complex problem. It is impossible to singularly pinpoint at an agent that is at the vortex of the persisting hurricane. I am afraid the seeds of discord may have been sown way back in our history.  I do not intend to invoke the communally subversive strategies of many a Muslim ruler of this land, nor do I wish to invoke the ghost of Jinnah, who have been redeemed by none less than the top faces of a party with a prominently ‘saffron’ bias. What I do believe in is that alarmingly low level of poverty and the resultant illiteracy in people constitute a fertile ground for superstitions and excitable emotions. It is the avarice for power that propels the communal, religious and political leaders to perpetuate the status quo of the preacher and the preached. Enlightenment will mean an adverse shift in power in favour of the populace.  I find the holy altar of so-called secularism more alarming than the bogey of communalism. These pseudo-intellectuals tend to impose themselves where they are not only not needed but are wholly unwelcome too.  They are like the bad conscience that kept egging Adam to eat the forbidden fruit. The underlying equations are overwhelmingly common to both Kandhar and Uttar Pradesh.


PC- Tell us something about your plans regarding the upcoming book?

USP- All I can say is that it is a recurring old dream that grips me off and on with varying force.

PC- I have discussed this with you once. What according to you is the strength of the stream of consciousness style of writing?

USP- The Stream of consciousness mimics the human mind at work. Emotions like pain, anguish, love, hate, sorrow and joy have contextual rather than chronological existence. The fabric of memories is woven of people, places, objects, suffering and happiness, free of temporality. It is one of the most effective tools to explore the psychological landscape of characters and render a meaningful structure to the whole as well.


PC- Favorite film/ song of all time?

USP- I cannot have a favourite film/song for ever. Yet, my favourite singers are Mukesh, Ghulam Ali, Paul Simon and Norah Jones. Some of the best films I have enjoyed and still think highly of them are following:


Enter T
he Dragon (I was a child then, but then still!)

Gone With the Wind

Casablanca

Star Wars

Terminator II

Ben Hur

An Officer and a Gentleman

All Quiet on the Western Front

Ghost

Gladiator

The Ghost and the Darkness

Forrest Gump

Bazar

Saransh

Parinda

Dor

Welcome to Sajjanpur

Khosla ka Ghosla

Well, that is just an indicative list!


PC- A scene from a Shakespearean play that you love. What makes it worth a mention here?

USP- It is from Macbeth’s soliloquy (Act V Scene V)

She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

Well, the bard has said it all. We are but a small cog in the big scheme of things. Overarching ambition? Greatness? Where am I headed to? ‘Quis hic locus, quae regio, quae mundi plaga?’

—–

At the end of the interview, Uma also sent me in writing this added small gift- a short note about Personal Concerns. Just made my day!

USP

Your blog

“I have recently started reading your blog and am often stung by the breathtaking evocativeness and sensitivity of your posts. I have read ‘Sleepy Men’ several time over and am mesmerized anew every time.  I wish the best to your muse and I’d love to see your art blooming into a valley of flowers. That said, I’d like you to write oftener.

Yours truly,

Umashankar Pandey”

 ——-

(All comments and suggestions about the format and the presentation of the interview would be deeply appreciated. Friends who wish to be included in this series, please let me know. It would be lovely to have you here on my blog. Cheers!)

Heart

Strikes

Thank heavens! Infatuations last but hours and minutes. God forbid the outcomes this churning of the being would have had if it were to extend into days of my life that are to follow?

This ambience arrests the mind and soul, imprisons it for a phase. Yearning as Wells says in The Time Machine has a fourth dimension too. One yearns only because there is a duration through which one yearns. Imagine yearning in the absence of time or through the entire expanse of it. Sincere thanks to the creator of our psyches. Thanks for it is intelligently forgetful of the most venomous of arty sensations. That face impresses  in the most ordinary circumstances. No flower beds and no waterfalls are called for when a heart has to fall for the falls of the tresses of a beauty. When that grace flutters around, the heart stoops down to the dirty, slimy ground, gathers every bit of it in the pockets of the clothing I wear to transport it back home, to kiss it when alone and to sleep with the scent of those floral prints, head meshed in thought while the arms hold tight to the moment still alive!

These faces are peculiar. They seldom speak. Even if they do, one does not actually get to hear of that tone and modulation. Lips move at a distance, rarely uttering anything audible. Most of the time, they chew at the helplessness of the onlooker.

This person assisted. Because of her being there, the journey back home free reeled into the circles of energy that engulfed. All along the lengthy road back to the abode, lingered in mind the coziness of the bed where I would lie at ease, recollect the scene, admire the eyelids, inject myself with the charm once more in the most private ways I would like to. The dogs barked in the dead of the night as I walked carefree, humming the tune of ten instruments mixed into one. Fearlessness.

These grace fountains are deceitful. They dry up once the eyelids feel heavy. In dreams appear crocodiles, snakes and lizards- never those heads. In gardens bloom roses and jasmines- never the little flower on that print. In libraries are stacked books- never those words I could not hear those lips chew away.

To prepare oneself for the next entourage is mindlessness. The uncertainty of the frequency of its occurrence just kills. A sex machine alone can truly guess when another of her like would next come calling to stir and shake. To think of a cure for this disease would be suicidal for the malaise creates a life enough!

Uncategorized

Book Review: Love Peace & Happiness: What More Can You Want? by Rituraj Verma

 

In the pages of this slick and colorful book lie wonderfully captured the lives of an impressive range of characters. The people in these stories, their life worlds and above all their strikingly individual attempts at finding a way out of crucial existential dilemmas they face is the reason the nine stories in this anthology deserve to be read, appreciated and pondered about.

Firstly, each of Verma’s stories are about a sufficient detailing of the predicament in which the protagonists are situated. Secondly, each story uses the technique of conversation and dialogue quite powerfully. As a result, we meet quite a good number of people from varied socio-economic backgrounds, read about who they are, get to know of what they think and ‘hear’ a lot of their justifications for the decisions and choices that they have made in their lives. Each story is ultimately about a tension that we aim to resolve so very often in our lives that  it begins to  seem unresolvable and hence banal. Verma takes us back to those ‘love marriage versus arranged marriage’ and ‘learning to say No versus learning to compromise and sacrifice’ debates.

These stories do not make a villain out of any of these actors and refrain from offering easy solutions to the deeply philosophical issues they raise. Interestingly, the book offers the readers an innovative option to rewrite the endings of these stories on the author’s website in the event of their dissatisfaction with any of the endings. The episodic nature of some of these stories and the detailed biographical element in others arouse equal amount of interest and one would have to appreciate the comfort and ease with which the author addresses an impressive range of emotional entanglements. Be it the plight of a failed love affair, anxieties and insecurities of a marital discord or the complexities of living in a joint family, Verma addresses them all with a studied  sensitivity.

Two stories that I specially enjoyed reading would be The Practitioner of Austerity and The Soul Mate Theorist.  The former reminded me of Ritwik Ghatak‘s classic Meghe Dhake Tara. Through a glimpse into the tribulations of its protagonist Aparna’s life, the story says a thousand things about the meanings of being a daughter, a woman and a civil servant from the scheduled caste whose life is ultimately nothing but a sacrifice that hardly anyone takes a note of. In what appeared to me to be a modern-day adaptation of the Rajesh Khanna starrer Amar Prem, The Soul Mate Theorist takes us to a bar where two college friends discuss women, love and sex. From the bar we are taken to the apartment of a sex worker where we meet her son. This story is a wonderful take on the static and constraining institutions that marriage and family can actually turn out to be.

The book is written with a specific audience in mind and does falter on its ‘appeal’ quotient. In a few places, the descriptions seem  trite and unnecessary. The reference to the internet pages where background research on the settings of these stories was undertaken could have been avoided. Overall, this is an interesting book- one that ideally can be read on one of those days when the mind is prone to some  retrospection and is willing to pause and take stock of all the puzzles that life has had to offer!

 

Uncategorized

Showcasing My Friends-5

(For the fifth post in this series, for which I have interviewed people I am close to, I emailed Sharmishtha a set of questions. Her responses have been reproduced here. I hope that you would like the idea and enjoy the conversation. The series is to be continued with other friends as and when possible. Sincere thanks to all readers who commented on and appreciated the earlier posts).

Three posts ago, I wrote a few things about the person Sharmishtha Basu is- an artist, a nice friend and above all an active blogger who is not just regular but also remarkably consistent with regard to the quality of her posts. I hope this interview serves as a little window and brings us face to face with some of the unnoticed aspects of the person behind the lovely colors that she employs to illustrate the rhymes of her delicate words.

—-

Personal Concerns- To start with, I would like to ask you something about your blogs and your experiences with WordPress?

Sharmishtha BasuAs you already know, I am obsessed with writing. I started with Mydomainpvt, so I could use my blog in Intent.com properly, the posts of WordPress can be copied in intent without any editing. Then intent.com shifted to Facebook and I concentrated on WordPress. Two of my earlier blogging experiences- with MSN ( a mixed experience) and Blogspot (horrible) initially made me a bit skeptic about WordPress. Now I feel that WordPress is the place every writer who loves to write and wants genuine readership should be in. It’s an amazing site, the more I compliment WordPress the little it shall be. I have found the very best people of the world both at intent.com and here. I just love the readers and writers at WordPress. They are amazing.

PC- For you, how is Haiku special as a form of poetry?

SB Haiku is the form that unleashes the dreamer in me fully. I love writing Haiku because its main concept is to capture nature, being a great lover of mother earth I really love to play with this form, trying my best to capture mother earth’s beauty in every way I can.

PC- You have lived both in Delhi and Kolkata. In what ways do you find the two experiences different?

SB-I love Kolkata because of its people. It’s the best place for a single woman to live in. Delhi is the scariest place in India I believe. Even when I left Delhi at the age of sixteen, I could feel the scariness of that place. The worst part is that one had to be cautious about family men, neighbours – something which fortunately is still absent in Kolkata. Most probably because Bengali men respect their wives…. Ha ha. They don’t want to get spanked by their wives for eve teasing. Kolkata is full of warm people who let others live in peace.

PC- How many languages do you know? and which of them are you the most comfortable with?

SBBengali, Hindi and English. I am equally comfortable in Hindi and Bengali. I love Bengali the most because it’s a very sweet language. It really sounds sweet to the ears. I have heard a lot of languages, some of them with a little bit of understanding and some without any understanding at all. Bengali really sounds sweet to my ears more than most of the languages, and a lot of my non bengali friends say the same. My English is not bad I believe.

PC- Sharmishtha is a nice sounding name. What does it mean ? Do you also have a nick name?

SB– Sharmishtha means extremely lucky- which I am. My self-given pet name is Trisha.

PC- Who is/are your favorite poets? Any particular poem that you would like to share with us?Kuakata, Bangladesh. Tomb of Kazi Nazrul Islam...

SB-My favourite most poet is Rabindranath Tagore, then comes Kazi Nazrul Islam, Wordsworth, Frost, Shakespeare (I love his sonnets). Its tough for me to look for one poem, song, movie etc. but one that touches me very deeply is Tagore’s Jethay Thaake Sabar adham (where the poorest of poorest dwells)

Your feet dwells

Where the lowest of the low dwells

In the lowest place of all

With Those without anything at all

When I lower my head at your feet

It stops somewhere midway

It cant reach the place

That lowest of low place

Where your feet dwells

My arrogance cant reach you

Down there where you dwell

Like the poorest of poor

Amongst the poorest of poor

I seek your company

Sitting on my pile of wealth

Surrounded by loved ones

But my heart never reaches

Down there where you dwell

Amongst those without anyone

Amongst those without anything.

PC-Any memory from school/college that strikes you as special ?

SB- I was a student at Burdwan Raj College, two of my fondest memories of that college are that of our history teacher Alok Chakraborty- India really needs such teachers, and the five girl gang we had formed- me and Nilanjana, Rimita, Shampa and Swagata. We used to have so much fun. I graduated in 1995 and my combinations were Economics, Political Science and History. Well, Alok Chakrabarti confirmed my firm belief that even the rowdiest students respect the sincere teacher. Quite a handful of the students were older than him, yet the moment he walked inside the class it fell silent and his students almost never missed his class. He was not just an amazing teacher but he gave us suggestions that worked so well. 

Well, we used to spend a lot of time together, I used to visit Swagata at her house regularly, and Rimita, Nilanjana and me went to the same tutor. It was girlish fun mostly, both Rimita and Nilanjana had boyfriends and we had to lie to their parents 🙂

One day Nilanjana did not come, we went to her house to ask how she was and to give her the notes of that day. Her mother opened the door and was shocked to know that Nilanjana had not been to the classes…because as she knew it, Nilanjana had gone for the tuitions. It took a lot for us to convince her that actually it was us who had bunked the classes and were looking for her notes. We used to go out together, and Nilanjana was the one with tight purse strings, always trying to convince us not to spend 🙂

PC- Censorship on the Internet has become an issue around which there are so many opinions. What do you think?

SB- I am absolutely against it. The websites may keep an eye on their content but not the governments. I believe they are scared for the way truth is spread through the internet and the manner in which it has resulted in the collapse of so many corrupt governments.

PC- What have you been reading these days?
SB- Recently I was reading Reader’s Digest, this magazine has been in our home since 1949, way before my birth. My father was its regular subscriber. Heaven only knows as to when did I start reading it. After 1985 I started reading them all, from the start till the end. It is amazing, but now it seems to be slowly disappearing, mostly because it’s not trying to glamorize itself, I hope it doesn’t and I also wish that it gets back its readership once again. My favourite section in the same was that of the real life drama, it was an amazing section, that was so spirit lifting- to know how brave human beings can be. Apart from that I love its various humour sections which have one thing in common- they are not vulgar and really funny.
PC- I wanted to know about one of your favorite films.

SB- I have favorite films and the films that move me the most. There are too many in the ‘favorite’ section starting from all Jurassic Park movies, The Lord of the Ring, some horror films, some thrillers and quite a number of Bengali movies.

The movies that moved me the most are fewer. I am afraid I will not watch most of these movies again. Schindler’s List, Shawshank Redemption, Dead Man Walking, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Edward Scissorhands, My Fair Lady, Twelve Angry Men, Hirok Rajar Deshe, Sound of Music- I can watch these any day anytime.

PC-Please share with us a song of your choice. I would like to know what makes it stand apart?

SB-The same song that I added as a poem above- its lyrics; it’s amazing in Bengali, it touches your soul in its deepest place and moves it, asks you whether you have such humility?

PC-Do you consider yourself a good cook? Which are your most favorite Bengali recipes?
 

SB- I am a horrible cook, I cook a lot and have been into full fledged cooking since the age of sixteen…a thing really uncommon for Bengali girls fortunately to juggle between cooking and studies, my expertise is some day to day Bengali cookings such as the poshto (poppy seed paste) and jhol (mixed vegetable curry)- just two out of many others. 

(All comments and suggestions about the format and the presentation of the interview would be deeply appreciated. Friends who wish to be included in this series, please let me know. It would be lovely to have you here on my blog. Cheers!)