August 29, 2007

Cartons and Brown Tape

I am crossing the Ring Road this weekend, and looking to rehabilitate flatmate and myself on the other side. Packing and Moving, has somehow, been a recurrent image in visual memoirs so far. Cartons and brown tape to be organised. Suitcases and trolley bags to be dusted. House-shifting memories of Calcutta invariably throw up images of dust- everywhere, lots of pencils and erasers found, left companion of old blue ear-rings, forgotten broken toys emerged from underneath beds, half-baked angst poems written on last pages of Homework books.The site of our lives packed in cartons and brown tapes would always make me nervous, that when the cartons were reopened the alignment of our lives would be reconfigured.

Moving was sort of exciting. Reclaiming of spaces. Renaming of nooks and corners. Refighting over 'my side' and 'your side'. Remaking of friends in the new neighbourhoods. And never quite growing out of the old ones.

I went back to one of my old Calcutta neighbourhoods in my graduating year, in college, during the Pujas. To find fourteen-year-old boys still hanging around in groups, and making fun of girls in stretch jeans. And one or two lone bravehearts, crossing the bridges, and cracking South Point jokes with the Friend of the Pretty Girl. The names and faces were unfamiliar. The ritual was still the same.

******

After school, the moving became a me-myself activity. The shivers felt on the night before I was to be carted bag and baggage to the Hostel, all of eighteen. Straight out of missionary girls' school. Never having slept alone. This was the promise and jitter of Unfettered Freedom. And home on Saturday afternoons. And back on Monday mornings. For the next five years.

Friday-night Packing became a habit. Laundry, toothbrush, specs, lenses, project material, some reading. Leaving behind a boy to his Weekend Boys' Club respite.

Then there was Internship packing. For a month or so. Court clothes. Winter clothes. Ma's Handyman kit would contain medicines, san naps, hotel toiletries, facewash.

******

The next move was to Delhi. Which involved Ma's ruthless censoring of all things 'stupid teenager', that would not fit into 'Now you are a lawyer' era. So loud tank tops, tie-up pajamas, bandanas, glass bangles, stupid books, Aantel books, Aantel clothes, were mercilessly eliminated. Of course, a chapter of my wardrobe, that Ma never got to see, took the Karnataka Express directly from the hostel, in polythene bag, and came to Delhi. Independently.

And the New era over the last year and a half collected for itself, new Aantel books and clothes, new hats, new Sarojini pajamas, new unmentionables. And are now being cartoned and brown-taped for another round of the Pack and Move.


******

Glossary
  • South Point: A beacon in the Bengal realm of education, holds some Asia record in being a popular/populous school. Ask any Cal bong for cultural context anecdotes.
  • Aantel: The French and Bong way of saying 'intellectual'.

August 23, 2007

Legal Sized up

By-laws and bare acts.
Judgments in juice-shops.
Legal sized.
Centres and Margins of
1.33 inches.
Heretofore
and Theretofore.

We screw or get screwed

Meticulously.
In ministerial wings.
In joint secretary's underpants.
In Corridors of gossip.
Courts of impleadment.
Impleadment of affidavits.
Affidavits of courtrooms.
Courtrooms of justice.

We screw or get screwed

Over
Dams of displaced.
Muck of minorities.
Quotable quotas.
Forests of the forensics.
Interim orders.
In territories of jurisdiction.
In terrorist movie-halls.

Heretofore, maybe
Theretofore.

We screw or get screwed

Likewise.

August 11, 2007

Of alone-times

When we were in school, 'loner's were the weird scrawny girls who used to go round and round a big tree on the school grounds, during games period. When the rest were learning how to dribble. Or sprint. Or show off the tan on their thighs. Or walk around in groups chatting about their 'boyfriends' who buy them ice-cream after school.

Loners were girls who never took part in the annual play, or the elocution competition, and had their class-teachers tell their mothers "She is very competent, but should try to participate in more activities to gain confidence." Of course, I was never one of them. So my class-teacher always told my mother "She should chat less in class, be less distracted, and improve her handwriting." So I would do the school play, and the debate and the elocution and try my hand at the piano and try my hand at Bong poetry. And scoff at girls who ate ice-creams with cute boys after school. Of course, scoff at the cute boys per se. They were all so lame. And none of them offered to buy me ice-cream. So I was the vivacious, un-pretty, 'all-round' student. And not a Loner.

I never needed alone-time. In fact,in college, I would probably be a little worried about my popularity quotient if I found myself reading a book in the hostel, on a Saturday night. Alone-time, was what people who wrote thirty papers in a term, needed. And then there was a night, when it rained, and I had half a paper left, and six hours away from a deadline. And I smoked a lone cigarette perched on the tank, at the terrace, and watched eucalyptuses sway in the wind, and street lamps make eucalyptus-shadows quiver along the phallic pillar of the library building.

Through the next coupla years, I spent Sunday afternoons walking around Church Street and St.Marks, around the corridors of the Academic Block. Along Park Street, Free School Street, Dhaurmotolla, Sealdah Station, in local trains. In Lutyens' galis, around CP, in Chandni Chowk, in Tees Hazari, in the Supreme Court. Not wanting to participate, express, or improve handwriting. Very content to simply absorb. Perhaps, wanting alone-time. Perhaps, a Loner. A happy one at that.

August 6, 2007

Bongspeak

I am increasingly beginning to get the feeling that Delhi digs Bongs lots. Especially the artsy-fartsy, wine-and-kabab-at-habitat Dilliwala. For whom the imagination of the Bong is thus:

- Men spout Goethe and Habermas in their nappies;
- The sexier men are photographers, film-makers, film crits, litcrits, wannabe writers;
- The sexiest men live in abject poverty;
- Marx is taught in nursery rhyme in the Bong home;
- The women are all dusky-hot with big eyes and crumpled cotton saris;
- The sexier women are film crits, lit crits, political scientists, dancers, actors;
- The sexiest women are very rich;
- The sexier of the sexist are enthusiasts of jazz, western classical music and robindroshongeet.

Now, I am thinking whatever is going to happen to the millions of sexy Bong men in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ohio, Dallas, San Francisco and Salt Lake who are :

- Spouting code in their orgasms;
- Sucking phirang (ahem..) organs to jump from green to purple card status;
- Knowing astrophysics, biotechnology or code;
- Knowing that their mothers are virgins;
- Not knowing rich any sexy dusky Bong women with big eyes and intellectual boyfriends;
- Making lots of money and no love;
- Living in perpetual fear of voluble girlfriends(who are giving no action), mother and sisters (who are, of course, virgins);
- Spending Dallas-weekends with Kakoos and pishis in Connecticut.

Further, I am also wondering and feeling somewhat sympathetic about the zillion Bong women who are:
- Rather adipose-friendly and devoid of intellectual boyfriends;
- Finishing PhDs in astrophysics, biotechnology or code;
- Finding Presi-Eco boyfriends or JU-English boyfriends to be devoid of prospects;
- Therefore finding 'prospect'ive boyfriends in Dallas or Ohio;
- Wearing tight slinky sequin dresses and daincing in Tantra when they are feeling frustrated at not finding Dallas boyfriends;
- Singing robindroshongeet and Linkin Park;
- Giving out subtle mate calls in Maddox Square, Kolkata during Durga Puja.

So, basically, I am feeling mighty flattered at the IHC-wine-kabab-modernity gang's interest in my clan, but am wishing they would be little more inclusive in their Bong-fetish, so that many more dadas and didis (including myself) can feel sexy.