Monday, June 15, 2015

Seriously If You Find That Quote Let Me Know. I Am Beginning To Worry About Myself

Longest day. I won't blame Monday though. It's the week or maybe the whole month. 

My old research organisation had organised a Book Launch today. It is perhaps the first book on arsenic contamination written in the vernacular. 

There was an initial hiccup and the event ran the risk of being held at a lounge bar (poor planning on the hotel's part. The co-ordinator forgot to mention there would be an event till 6 p.m at the hall booked for the book launch and they said they could only prep the hall for the launch at 7 p.m) I was there in the capacity of my present organisation. And as I surveyed the bar and the flimsy curtain that would form the backdrop for the headtable where socio- economic perspectives of this "deadly poison" would be discussed,  I couldn't help but let a giggle escape. 

That's when hysteria hit and I haven't stop giggling. The slightest hint of something funny and off I am. I guess that's what happens when the pressure gets to a point you let it escape and it escapes in bursts of giggles.

Jean-Martin Charcot photographed his “hysterical” patients at the Salpêtrière, a Parisian lunatic asylum. Charcot believed that hysterics adopted characteristic poses, and that if he could catalog these poses, he could make sense of the disease.   Augustine, the subject of this photograph, was Charcot's star patient. Charcot published many photos like this one in the Nouvelle Iconographie de la Salpêtrière.
And then I remember my boss showed me this whatsapp message about Lao Tzu advising something along the lines of mosquitoes on penises? I guess it was meant to be inspirational...or something.  And at this point I am beginning to wonder if I am hallucinating. Does that quote even exist? I can't find it on Google. Also Diamonds have cleavage? I should probably get myself to bed. 

Unrelated: It's the baby cousin brother's birthday today. He is in town but this is probably the first time that I haven't shared time with him on his day. I feel like a horrible sister and a horrible many other things. 

Updated: It exists ! It exists! 

OMG...SO relieved. :P 

Friday, June 12, 2015

I write Poetry When It's Rainy. Bad Poetry.

It's Friday night. I have presently said no to two invitations and I did actually end up being busy till 8 p.m. So I don't feel so bad that I lied about being held up. It's been an exhausting month so far. Been thriving can't complain...This week's been a bit weird. Been bumping into little bits and pieces of my past and I've been so very confused. I started writing poetry. That'll happen, especially when you have facy stationary and everything. 

Here's reproducing them in no particular order: 

"If I were to disappear, 
Into a little blip..
Would the earth shatter, would it matter
To those doomed to keep at it? 

And clutch their heart while it beats. 
As it is condemned: to Pain, dear Pain 
Unforgiving, unrelenting. 
The rain pours down in sheets. 

If I were to disappear 
In the moment and never come back...
Would it matter? 
Change how the rest of it unfurled 
To unleash chaos on an unsuspecting house of cards? " 


"Gobsmacked is a funny word. 
Yet one must often find 
In narrow lanes and rain laced window panes
To be hit by occasions, unsuspectingly benign. 
Till one must step back, 
Take recourse to distance. 
Understand that it does not concern 
The idiot that lives under broken bridges of the past
And amid loves lost and gone asunder." 


"An unexpected burst of the city's weariness 
I flee from work with mom. She has also been given an early respite. 
We enjoy the rain. 
A slight feeling of guilt, 
Interrupted by the beauty of the city. 
Kolkata you are unbearably pretty. 
Tendrils of lightening tracing veins through 
The thunderous heartbeat of the sky.
Catch your breath and sigh
Miracles are on their way. " 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Pet Cemetery

The office overlooks a cemetery. It is supposedly one of the most haunted places in Kolkata. Funnily it has been a year and a few months at my place of work, but I'd always chose to go home through a more circuitous route (that involved a 15 minute walk and if bad luck prevails another 10 minutes or so till there's only room for a lot of huffing and puffing and a grateful sinking in to the sweat infused cool comforts of the AC taxi, because fuck buses and everything else). 

Because I'm stupid that's why. 

It is only very recently that I take the straight walk to the oft-frequented bus stand which is roughly a two minute distance from our office. I'm grateful that good sense has prevailed. 

But closer digging of the sub conscious has now revealed why this easy walk has been avoided for the past 12 months. I remember a certain man with pink head phones crossing me on this path and whispering "very.big.boobs" into my ears and that was enough to freak me out because he made it sound like a delicacy. Seriously. I had also been stalked by two men in biker jackets in this very route (not sure if I've written about it here, but that accounts for a whole different blogpost). O and Btw? Kind of related:  That random call at 3 a.m in the night? that I was romanticising about it, thinking the man to be an ancient mouthpiece of unknown languages? Is just a pervert who  calls almost every day now.  ~sigh~  my naivety has become a source of entertainment to me these days.  I went to the phone service provider to trace the calls...and turns out that not only is that impossible but in the off chance that the dude calls again...I could pay 50 extra bucks for each of  the months to follow...and the number will totally pop up then...and I could take this guy to court THEN. Yay profit margins?!! Assholery at its peak much? 

Anyway, I get the drift.. I had my reasons to opt for the more roundabout way. I still do. But these are busy times and the thought that there's a bus just two minutes away from here to get me home is strangely comforting after a long day at work.

Snapshot of Friday evening from the Bus Stop. Cemetery - the green leafy bit to the left. Office is probably the yellow building at front. May be wrong, I am not used to leaving the office when it's still daylight :p 

This two minute walk entails me passing the cemetery. And I wouldn't have noticed ...(yeah that's how desperate I am to get home after work) if it hadn't been for a couple of boys loitering about the streets on their summer holiday. 

At the risk of sounding rather obtuse, I'll just call them boy 1 and boy 2. 

Boy 1:  look to the you see that? 

I look to the right...and for a second I stop too.. 

Boy 2: what is it ? 

Boy 1: that? that my friend is a giant fort of darkness. Stand back and behold it. 

And indeed...there was the entrance to the cemetery...there was the light at the entrance...and that's it. An invisible wall of utter pitch blacketyness had taken over after that and wouldn't let you see through. 

Boy 2: Keep walking...we need to get home before 8:30 p.m remember? 

Boy 1: Please...can we just wait here and watch the darkness for a bit? 

I grinned. "Watched" the darkness for a bit with them... and made my way home. Stronger. Braver. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's Time To Start Adulting Again

People need to stop sending me the now-you-can-call-me-on-whatsapp message. It's making me uncomfortable, because I predicted that it was spam. But turns out it isn't. And that's unsettling because now I have to worry about whether a notification that totally sounds like spam might not be one?  and maybe I should pay more attention to things. 

We've settled down with our lives now that mom's back.

A Glimpse of Where She's Been....Solitude...Comes With A Price But I'd Pay
For It...Every.Single.Time.

I have stopped wearing quirky jewellery to office. The quirky jewellery had come out when the mother left. The Boss had looked at me questioningly. "This is me in the holiday know my way of..." and then she smiled indulgently and understood.

 It has been a mostly smooth ride.

 Except that time I got a call at 3 a.m in the night from a number I will never know...and from a voice that sounded like it was from a 100 years  ago. The thing with a dual sim phone is you can have a 3 g number where you have all the internet data usage in one sim. So you have a "whatsapp number" ; an exclusive number for whatsapp you can share with people you want to and that's always a very welcome thing. But at the same time, if one of these people call me on this 3 g number it always registers as "Unknown", so do the numbers of prank callers,  who experiment with random number combinations to call?  So it's always a surprise picking up calls on this number. I generally ask these friends to just call me on my "normal number" instead to avoid confusion. And then they just stare at me and ask me "why do you pick up calls from the abnormal number anyway?" I have a ready rejoinder for that. "Because sometimes, the mother and the boss call me there by mistake." 

Having said that, I really had no reason to pick up that call at 3 a.m. It was an instinct thing I suppose. It was a man. Sounded like a really old man. And he was screaming...nightmare screams and speaking in a language I wish I understood. If now-you-can-call-me-on-whatsapp spam messages ever had a threatening voice, this would be it. 

It took a while for me to go back to sleep after that. 

A few days passed. I relegated this frightfulness to the Doctor Who marathon. I'm sure this can be explained and it'd probably be something stupid, so I am not going to let this bother me as much, me thought to myself. 

Mom got me  strings of rubies spun on golden threads...they glistened like pomegranate seeds. The strings looked far removed from the conch shell necklaces and weird junk  I'd been sporting the past few days..And suddenly I felt shy, coy even and I wanted to go hide somewhere...remember the childish fears and tears of the days without her...and shake my head at me. 

It's time to start  adulting again. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Post About Pinterest, Crotch Traps And Assholes. There Is No Method To My Madness, Sorry

I have been on Pinterest for what feels like a million years now.

Every now and then I come across craft ideas that look deceptively simple and I will pin them. But when I think about it I get really worried that people who look at my pins will now assume that my house will have these awesome things. And disillusionment is one of the worst things you can inflict on anyone so I pin away and decide to live a hermit life, nobody gets invited to my house anymore, thank you Pinterest. 

Because if they came to our house they would know that it's a fucking mess even without trying to be. I can colour code my bookshelf and throw away the junk, clear out the tiny garden in the balcony and  there would still be more mess creeping some weird gravity defying oil spill. At this very moment, as I type this, let me describe to you how the computer works. No it isn't by pressing the button on the CPU, that's so passe. We simply have to yank the two wires that spring out of the CPU from the back (the button is defunct  our mechanic tells us) and we have to pretend to be like ape men trying to light a fire by rubbing stones... and join those two wires and magic...comp's on. Hurray. Day is saved. 

 "That's okay, but can you please give us a switch mould we could fit these wires into? so it doesn't look like a science experiment every time we try to turn our computer on?" I beseech. "Sure thing, " the mechanic promptly responds. "I'll get you the switch tomorrow evening at 7 p.m" It's 9:30 a.m the next day, I guess we're getting stood up. 

I like to think of it as a back-to-basics thing.

I tell my budding-engineer baby brother how we're turning into engineers based on every day circumstances and he sends me a recording of a self-composed Bengali song about dreams and this photo: 

This is supposedly an exam question 

I tell him that that looks like an awkward crotch trap and he should totally study hard and set the crotch free. 

Crotch traps and I we try...we really do. Last week she couldn't find two of her sarees and turned 5 of our almirahs upside down(yeah 5 almirahs for two people and there are still stuff lying around the house, we are terrible hoarders). 

I found a ragged old blouse piece that she never uses and did the following: 

Try and Be Impressed. Okay? 
It's my work diary. All my colleagues have the same kind, so I thought mom's old blouse sleeve border would be my marker.  Yay Pinterest? 

Speaking of work, I kind of had an epiphany: 

Assholes. All of us have one. I don't know how it came to be an insult. But I guess it's like an equaliser right? Like when you want to call someone an asshole and then you realise you have one too, so you have to keep reminding yourself to at least try and not stoop to the level where that body part kind of becomes your defining factor. I guess what I'm trying to say is we are all potential assholes but we better just try and keep the chemistry with the commode and not people. It's kind of gross. 

I am going to stop typing now. 

You are welcome. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hugging Hulk

I've adopted a plant. No really.

It's what mom got for World Asthma Day (May 5). I never had the gardening bug in me. I don't even know what these flowers are called. Tried to do a Google search of the image, ended up doing those "what flower are you" quizzes instead. (FYI: Lily). 

But I've been going to the districts quite a bit over the past year. It started with Haldia...Tamluk...Mahishadal..(I've written about it here) 

Then a sunny winter morning found us in Jejur, a small hamlet tucked away in Hooghly. 

This year we made a short trip to the naval base in Diamond Harbour and yesterday work took me to Dhapdhapi a rugged unforgiving block in Baruipur. 

But there was God was there green. There were jackfruits, jamruls hanging low and effervescent litchis (careful, my colleague warned me. This is an arsenic infested area...guess what's watering those fruits. ) I don't care I thought to myself. Death by arsenic. So.Be.It. 

And so I've been shaken out of the many clouds that my head usually tucks itself into. Let's see if I have green fingers. (Because then I qualify for Hulk's girlfriend too right? He's hot)

Here's to growing some roots... here's to giving in to the little bits and pieces of the maternal urges that I know are kicking in...It comes with age, I suppose... This need to protect, preserve and hold dear to oneself.

Updated: The aunt has finally come to the rescue. The plant is called Vinca or Periwinkle or old maid. Seriously. Old Maid. And you know what? We're going to do just fine old maid and I. Just fine. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

May The Force Be With You

I was wondering about May. I kind of like May. It's at that precarious edge where it's not half a year yet and there's the heady mix of summer, freshness even (the heat hasn't gotten half as unbearable as June and July).

More importantly, to me, May is the month of hope...of taking things in your stride and accepting them. 

 I accept that I am not the bunk-your-work-and-travel-for-fun kind of person.  I like rules, adhering to them even. So this month I stay at home and follow business as usual as the mother and the aunt enjoy a trip to Ladakh. Of course the repercussions of the earthquake and a host of other worries cloud my mind while mom makes excited calls to the travel agent and hunts suitcases for that one woollen garment that she knows would be ideal for Ladakh. It's dizzying being near her at this time, infectious even. 

I realise that this might mean that there won't be any vacations for me this year...

But that's okay because I get to  spend  more time with the city. Every day...I  fall in love with it a little more. 

A Sliver of A Fair 

It's nothing magnanimous really...I'd be walking down a quiet, lit up lane, there'll be an occasional whirring of a bike passing me by, a random kid running along...and I'll look up at the sky and the moon will take me by surprise...against the dark sillhouette of the houses. It is sharp and golden  and calming like a little glob of amrutanjan balm on a lingering headache... 

That's when I know the city has my heart in its blanket of dreams, in all its familiarity and it's constant urge to