This would be my signing off post of the Kolkata diaries. I spent around 20 days here, and got only 12 written entries in, but I’m sure that a few of them weren’t complete waste of the reader’s time. The best I feel about is the amount of readers and feedback I have received over this course. As an aspiring writer, the greatest earning is in the form of people who are willing read and appreciate your work. Anyway, getting down to it.
After a week full of stuff at the house, I came to spend the last 2 days at The Nani’s place. My readers will know by now that that means day full of intellectual madness in my head, fuelled by the endless knowledge The Nani posseses. But today I won’t share the stories ‘cus I need to summarize and reflect on this trip. ( I shall post those stories on sufficient requests :P )
They say you can never go back home, but I believe you can always re-establish it. To be honest, I can go on discussing about Bengal and its people forever like some old tavern landlady with 36 cats, but there’s something about this place that’s incredibly interesting. I started my journey with a quest to figure this out, and I sort of have.
Kolkata is an amazing place to come back to. If one has to acknowledge one benefit of the ‘unchanging’-ness of the city, then that is its -familiarity and comfort. By that i don’t mean the comfort of cushiony bus seats, but I am pointing towards (*raises the index finger and points*) the warmth in being somewhere you know hasn’t changed and most likely won’t very rapidly. For isntance, I am already curious about how much the bus fares and Cafe systems would’ve changed in Mumbai, like it did the last time I was away to Jammu for 2 weeks this summer. But I am pretty confident nothing will be different much here even when I return next year.
Is that bad? Maybe…is that good? Is it good to know there’s someplace that will never transform and will always welcome you in howmuchever dirty and irritating way it did a year back? Yes…!
Haven’t any or most of us gotten really bugged with our overbearing parents sometime in our childhood, but missed it once having to leave home? (It isn’t valid with me though. I am more fussy and bossy than my parents :P)
Time for some character match the following! Now, my favorite pass time has been mapping character traits from my parents to myself and my brother for a few years. It’s become soo inborne that I do it undeliberately. So here I did it on the 2 sets of my grandparents. They say there’s no better way to know yourself than discovering your roots. So here it goes..
Paternal Grandfather: I get the love of the old world, a little musical nature, and reflecting on your childhood and your people and remember anecdotes part from him.
Paternal Grandmother: Work my ass off and be worried if it isn’t done, speak a LOT and sometimes repeatedly, and sudden increase in blood pressure when tensed, and evolving with the changing world I got from her.
Maternal Grandfather: Interest in fitness and variety of food(mostly vegetables and fruits), curiosity of new products , liking of a little discipline in life, walking around a lot…I got from him.
Maternal Grandmother: A heightened state of intellectual awareness, love for people’s life stories, liberal and understanding of complex human psychology, writing abilities and a neverending thirst for Knowledge, about almost everything.
It really is important to know where you get what from. Why? Because knowing the good sides of a person, will help you tackle the bad sides as well. I mean, you don’t necessarily inherit only the good from your forefathers, you do the cons too.
So when in life you face some troubles, you figure your mistakes, you would be able to analyze what and why you did wrong by tracing it back to the trends you have figured from your (grand)parents.
Why should you know your own flaws? ‘Cus the days are gone when you can afford to be “WHO YOU ARE” and expect people to just tolerate it. No man/woman is bound to any other man/woman anymore. And honestly, I have never even understood the concept of “I am like this only. Accept it or leave me.” You NEED to change, you NEED to know your shortcomings and then set on a journey to ACCEPT them and then change that part.
“Why should I change myself for someone?” .LOL. You don’t my friend! You change yourself FOR yourself, ‘cus at the end of the day you are and only you are responsible for your own life. And how do you expect to do that if you don’t even know where you lack?
Trust me, try it. Figure out the life of your parents and grandparents, and try to map the trends to YOUR successes and failures till date. If your IQ is a little sharp (I expect it is if you are understanding my posts) then you will have no difficulties a tall in doing so. Just extrapolating the theory, I don’t think Bengal and its people are aware of what they are lacking, or what their flaws are. At some point you need to let go of the age old adamance and look around. Anyway, that’s that.
In another eye, I want to commend Kolkata for the good and the honorable things. Kolkata was the first city in the country to get the fully underground Metro rail system. The passion and vigor of the residents towards the independence movement was so much that the British had to shift their capital to Delhi in 1911. The art, literature, and music of this state is till date the most supreme in the entire country. In modern terms, this is also the only city in India to have a working 4G LTE network.
The most important thing for me about Kolkata is, it is where I find my family, my house, my cousins, my home tongue, and endless memories from summers from my childhood. I have a love hate relationship with this city. Either hate it at times or love it, but I can’t just ignore it.
The summertime spent here was really enlightening. And I am sure it will do the same every summer I spend here.
Until Next time, from the west coast,
ps: This is the end of ‘Shoemon’s kolkata diaries’.
‘the Shoemon chronicles’ with random babbling from the life of a young deviant, will return in few days.
ps2: I just wanted to write the stupid tv show advertisement like ‘ps’ for the heck of it. Isn’t my blog more interesting than tv? …No? Yep. Didn’t think so.
ps3: I will ride on Howrah-Mumbai Duronto of 8th August. Woot Woot. I’ll be the ugly kid with a huge blue backpack,a red laptop sling bag and a blue guitar bag
Another day out in kolkata is what this post will be about!
We took a non-wooden-aluminium bus, called the minibus to Victoria Memorial today afternoon. The imperial gardens look over the majestic White Marble masterpiece, completed in 1921 erected in the honor of Queen Victoria who was then, the Empress of India. Lord Curzon the Viceroy of India started construction of a Grande Memorial in her honor, upon her death. (Shahjehan Mumtaz anyone?)
So, this is what he made…
And ofcourse there has to be The Queen Victoria herself,
Its ironic how they made the QUEEN herself in BLACK marble, while they ruled a country of black people. Can you see a reason?
The memorial is adorned by acres and acres of lush green-ness, trees, hedges, and big and small ponds.
We walked around admiring the awesomeness of the building. And I couldn’t help but ponder about stuff. How is the marble so freaking white? It has been 91 years since the building was completed. Marble is this awesome maybe.
Now other non-stupid questions. Why did Britishers make Calcutta as their capital? honestly, the place isn’t even a port, forget being in the center of the country. The weather also sucks, since mostly forever. Something about Calcutta really absorbed them. Maybe the women/men, or the food, or the culture, or the Literature, or the other various Art forms, or the hugeness of the kingdom of Bengal which that time consisted of West Bengal and Bangladesh.
Most of the office buildings in Kolkata are still the ones left find by the British, and honestly they haven’t seen much renovation either. The museums and statues are better off though, in every way.
Fact time: Did you know? India was the richest country in the WORLD, before the British Empire took away everything. I am not complaining though, we have written essays in secondary school on “How British rule was beneficial for India”. We wouldn’t be India even but many small countries if it wasn’t for them. But every other British touched region of India has grown phenomenally, except Bengal which was their capital even! What went wrong? I wish to find the answer. Did a certain Communist party’s 30 year old rule freeze this place in some time capsule?
Anyway, we spent some time sitting on a bench in light drizzle. Rains always bring out so many thoughts, most of them today were imaginations of life of the people in Kolkata in the olden days and a lot of clips from the movie “The city of joy” which is based on Kolkata.
Later we attended the Musical fountain show, which is (I AM NOT KIDDING YOU) amazing!( The HD video is getting uploaded right now and will be up in 3 hours,here)
We returned in, believe it or not, again in a non-wooden-aluminium bus! Tired and hungry as we were, ended up hogging on the awesome Mughlai Paratha which is basically a really thick square filling bread stuffed with eggs and fried, served with salad and a potato thingy.
My sister still hasn’t given up on finding me a wife, so she took me to look around for a while more. I guess I prefer that to having to dance on Bieber-licious numbers.
Anyway, my days here in Kolkata are just 2 more. So giving all the love I can, which means I should stop writing and go talk with everyone.
ps: Tomorrow I go to THE NANI again. :)
The past 2 days have been Interesting, if not awesome. The intricacies in human societies never seem to astonish me, as much as I so. Rather, the more you dig deeper- it opens wider.
Lets start with my project to paint the stair’s railing(stair railings?).
Look at how I found it:
(ignore the starting white part, I had already started to clean it)
Now, supposedly people stopped cleaning it 10 years back ‘cus the old people got older, and the young people had better things to do. But I didn’t understand how can you tolerate looking at this blackness and passing it by everyday, in your own house. My grandmother has always told me this is my house. Well, according to Indian traditions and all the ‘Family inheritances’ rule does testify the same, hence I couldn’t be OK with just ignoring such a doable task.
In old vs. new battle, what suffered is the house. Living in the urban apartment system, we don’t need to care about the tanks, stairs, outside walls, etc. But in your house all of these form the major chunk demanding your care and time and money. And hence, at some point of or more of these factors play against your will to take care of the establishment. I mean, the maid has to clean around 2500 square feet of area in all, every single day! And there are more windows and doors in this house than there are in many small buildings back in Mumbai. Anyway, time for the railings:
We bought paints, sand paper, brush, scrotch bite etc. The process isn’t simply that you paint it. There are steps.
So first I took a bucket of surf and water and a scrotch bite(its a rough surface thing used to clean utencils) and started scrubbing.
Ok, at first it didn’t seem that difficult but it WAS. You need your entire body strength working through your arms on a particular square inch of a metal which has been sedemented with 10 years of grease,dirt,countless dead-skin-cells(this is my imagination, ‘cus when people take its support and walk , some cells detach and get stuck to the greasy surface of the railing. Am I wrong?)
I couldn’t help but wonder all the things that has happened in this house in the past 2+ decades of its existence. My father getting a job, marrying my mom, my first memories of this house…tailing my granny or grandpa. Endless summers were spent in this house, and I used to utterly refuse to go back to Bombay. People fed me overtly, loved me to crazy extents and best part, I didn’t have to go to school :P . In this house I had made a Shiva-ling from plaster of Paris 14 years back which is still being worshipped. Pic below.
^The green part is the algae ‘cus it stays dipped in water daily.
Anyway, half way through the cleaning of the first quarter of the stairs, my uncle came out screaming (he is overly protective about his kids, me included). He said my hand will get destroyed by the exposure to detergent and scrubbing the stairs, and that it will cause lifetime damage, and to leave it right NOW. But I didn’t listen, thanks to the educated 21 year old’s sense that NOTHING will happen to me hand :P . So then he told my grandmom to tell me to stop by scaring her, and she also being very loving told me to stop. So soon everybody in the house started fighting as to why I was doing this and blaming each other as to who made me do this, directly or indirectly.
Actually I don’t blame them, when I was born and for 7 more years before my brother arrived, I was the only kid(a cute one at that) to rule this holy kingdom of The Baruas, the Mitras(my mother side) and other extended families. Hence today I am older than most of my cousin Mamas and Chachas. So point being, everybody has grown to be extremely take-care-of-Suman way to a mad extent.
I was onethird-amused onethird-irritated and onethird-moved and after 5 minutes of the entire house very near me all quarelling…I stood up, mustered up all the height I had(which wasn’t difficult ‘cus I am the tallest here) and announced that I, as a fully grown man of age am taking full responsibility of my actions and that nobody in whatsoever way has influenced me to take this decision. (Yes, I am still talking about scrubbing stair railings. sigh)
After the surf and scrubbing, you have to take sand paper and again scrub the entire damn thing to make it smooth for the paint. The tricky parts on the railings are the vertical beams which aren’t circular but cuboid-al, which means it has 4 faces to be scrubbed individually. The work was hard yes, but somehow it was worth it as I was doing it for my own house.
Anyway, 2 hours of more countless brain meandering and nearly killing my arms and back, this is what I achieved:
Kinda cool right?
Well, then I bathed and stuff and later in the night picked up the paints. Well, my uncle would’ve tackled me into giving up the paint and everybody BANNED me from doing any more work on the stairs. I pleaded and did many “this is my house, and I want to work on it..” recital stunts, but people were ready to chain me, with love of course. So I gave in, and they promised to hire a labor to do it soon.
I wish to build my own house someday, and hoping against all odds that I would still possess the vigor and passion as I do today. It’ll be a quaint one, facing the sea in some far away island country. (sort of like the Shell Cottage from Deathly Hallows) You are free to visit THAT day, if you leave a comment on this post, TOday :)
Until next time-