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Saturday, May 4, 2013


KOLKATA DIARIES: The Awakening

Posted by Chandan Sharma on 12:14:00 PM with No comments

I rubbed my eyes and tried to recognize the blur ambience through my dozy eyes. ‘Oh, it is Kolkata.’ Last night was a bit difficult, despite of a working AC in my room, I could not get a nice sleep. New places have been problematic for me, specially for sleeps.  It was supposed to be a busy day. I picked up the mobile to see the time; it was 6:15 am. I took a long breath. I threw my blanket aside and jumped out of the bed.

After getting fresh, it was the time to brush my teeth and take a bath. I went towards the bathroom mirror to take a close look on my face. My dark color was deepened and sunburns of yesterday were quite visible. The oil glands of my face have got an ultimate companion in the form of humidity. I closed my eyes and tried to console my heart.

When I opened my eyes, my attention was grabbed by the ‘BINDIS’ stick on the corners of the mirror, as many as 6 of them. The first one was round and big, green color. All others were also round but red in color. I thought about the beautiful Bengali ladies who stayed in that room with their husband, boyfriend or family. It was hard for anybody to say that how many people have stayed there before me. They all would have come with different purposes and different mind-sets. Had the walls of this room could speak; it could have told us a splendid set of stories.

I ordered a cup of tea for me and it was over-boiled to an extent which was far more than required. It made it bitter and heavy. As soon as I had the first sip of the tea, I remember a line from a Hindi story called चिकित्सा का चक्कर written by perhaps ‘SUDARSHAN’ (not sure).  स्वाद ऐसा की मुर्दे के मुंह में डाल दो तो वो भी तड़पकर रह जाए’. I felt as if my stomach had jumped into my mouth. I kept the cup of tea aside and waited for the breakfast to arrive.

After a while ‘AMAR’ (the boy taking care of guests in that guest house) brought my breakfast. Bread and omlette with butter…exactly as I ordered.

‘omlette ki chini milano aachhe?’ I asked sarcastically.

‘Na’

He answered and quickly moved towards the stairs. He had no time for my petty sarcasm. I closed the door and finished my breakfast. Despite of my speed and urgency, it was already 11 am.

I moved out of my house and walked towards the main road. I took a taxi and asked him to take me to ‘SHIVPORE’. He casually acknowledged me and started his meter. After travelling 15 minutes or so, my mind started to push me to call my friend Prasun and ask him about his address. I do not discard my intuitions normally.

‘Is it SHIVPURI?

‘NO, it is ‘SHIVRAMPUR’ and once you reach there ask for ‘PONDIT PADA’.

My friend just saved my time and money to go in vain. I asked taxi driver go to ‘Shivrampur’. He acknowledged again and nodded his head. After going through an ordeal in that taxi for almost 40 minutes and asking around 8 people about the address, I finally was able to leave the taxi. Prasun came to receive me.

After all the greeting and Namaste formality, it was the time to have some ‘NIMBU PAANI’. I wondered whether this was the thing which was found during ‘SAGAR MANTHAN’, at that time, people may have called this ‘AMRIT’ but now it was ‘NIMBU PANI’.

After all the news/gossip exchange, we felt that we were running low on energy. So, it was lunch time. Rice, Fish, Daal, Lady-Finger and Jack-fruit. I don’t know whether everything was so delicious or I was so hungry, but either ways it worked. Later I came to know that there was sugar in all the vegetables and I wondered that it still tasted so good. So, putting small amount of sugar in food is not that bad, it is just that you should know, how much to add.

After a long gossip and tea sessions, we decided to go to ‘South-city mall’. An AC mall seemed like a good idea. We booked a taxi and went to south city mall. Being from Delhi, malls were not a new thing for me. In fact, I was tired of going into different malls and seeing same kind of expensive culture but this time it was different.

I entered the mall as soon as I got off the taxi and felt the serene touch of AC on my sweat-clad body. It was like a touch of your first love…deep and soothing. I could not move far from the vent of air for almost 5 minutes. After experiencing the 5 minutes of cool air, I moved in. Lots of showrooms, restaurants, food courts, game-courts…none was of my interest. While Prasun and his friends kept themselves busy in those showrooms I found suitable place for me in ‘Crosswords’. I found a copy of hand written diary of ‘Rabindranath Tagore’. As I turned the pages of that diary my hands shivered. The creation of one of the greatest was in my hand. I could see how he wrote and then cut certain words to find the best combinations, same as we do while we write in out copies and diaries. Though I could not read the entire writing but I could feel the soul of his creation.

Drowned in the memory of literary excellence of English and Bangla, I stepped outside the mall. A rush of warm and humid air collided with my face. I took out my handkerchief and started wiping my face.

Small stalls, hawkers and peddlers had occupied the street right outside the mall. It had all kinds of things starting from fruits, water, chaat, tea, books, crafts and everything which comes in your mind. Generally big malls do not allow such small peddlers to set their business near it. On one side mall was standing proudly with its AC, expensive showrooms, food courts and much more, and on the other side these poor peddlers were trying to increase/gather their livelihood from there. What diversity…ah!

Everybody had talked about the city of joy and its rich culture, but grievances of these peddlers remains constant. I felt a pain in my heart. We feel happy to purchase a creation of a person who no longer exists, no matter how expensive it is. But feel reluctant and negotiate to the highest extent to purchase a piece of craft which is being sold by a person trying to survive in this harsh world. Perhaps we respect the creations of ‘Rabindranath Tagore’ but don’t understand it.                       

Just when I thought that ‘KOLAKATA DIARIES’ will be a simple memoir and I have found what I wanted to pen down through these blogs, I realized that journey of KOLKATA DIARIES is not yet over:

“I thought that my voyage had come to its end
at the last limit of my power,---that the path before me was closed,
that provisions were exhausted
and the time come to take shelter in a silent obscurity.

But I find that thy will knows no end in me.
And when old words die out on the tongue,
new melodies break forth from the heart;
and where the old tracks are lost,
new country is revealed with its wonders.”

                                                                                                                     -Gurudev

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

      


 
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