Tuesday, September 30, 2008

She’s Here

With the Mahalaya over, it’s time to welcome the Goddess of Power. This fortnight is the time when the goddess is said to be visiting her parents’ house from her in-laws, residing in heaven. Calcutta is the place to be during the Durga Puja if you want to savor the flavor of this otherwise pan-cultural festival. I’m going to talk about the Puja and the impact it has on the lives of the people in the state in general, and the city in particular. But that will come only when we move deeply into the festivities. Let’s soak in the aura of autumn first.

Yesterday when I was going home, I could feel it in the air that She’s here. The decorative lights are slowly being put up. In some places they are hanging down from the walls of the neighboring buildings, while in some places bamboo stands are being erected to frame the ornamental lights. There are hoarding and banners all over the city, announcing the name of the Puja club or community, along with a tag of the main sponsor. That is something that has crept in stealthily, but steadily. Funds collected from the neighborhood are not enough anymore, what with steep inflation and stiff competition.

There is a distinct feel in the air that is very familiar to the nose of every self-respecting Calcuttan. This sense of happiness is what permeates into your skin and grows on you until you feel positively charged. This sense of happiness is not commercial, though the Pujas are determinedly headed that way. This sense of happiness makes the prince and the pauper happy alike. Work at all places is getting slack with each passing day, as we inch closer to the four main days. There is a prevalent sense of procrastination. Schools are slowly closing shutters for a period and work at office is getting postponed in chunks. All the year we wait for these few days, the anticipation reaches fever-pitch and then after one fine day, all of it is undone. The routine returns.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Stray Thoughts on Love, Infidelity, etc.

I don't know who spread the rumor that you can love only once. Also, I don’t believe in the concept of 'first love'. Love, if you ask me, is no competition where you get ranks. Love can touch your heart anytime, anywhere. It could also be more than once in a lifetime. Love is not like the arrow that goes straight and hits a target. It is like the light emitting from a torch; it glows and spreads in all directions, giving light and warmth to all.

A lot has been said, thought and written about physical infidelity. No one seems to care about the emotional aspect of cheating on your partner. What if you are in your partner’s arms but thinking of a person who’s not there with you, but is vibrant on your mindscape? Is that not cheating on your partner? Maybe I’m being too strict for my own good! But that is a side that I would like to explore. I don’t really believe in the brouhaha over sexual disloyalty. I’m more concerned with the disloyalty of the mind. That, I think, is more interesting and arresting.

Flirting with random people is a very boring affair. The tenacity of keeping up pretence for long is strenuous and self-defeating. You flirt because you want a diversion from the daily drivel. In pursuit of that you exhaust yourself coming up with witty remarks and most tiring of all, keeping that fake smile firmly in place. At the end of it all, you are full of doubt, about your own intentions as well as that of the person you were trying to impress.

There is nothing like having a steady partner by the side. But, there is a catch. Your partner, as a person, is losing importance each day. There are other less important issues that are making themselves manifest. That’s a topic that is beyond the scope of this post. To round it off, let me make a declaration. This post is disjointed in thought, as you can well understand. That is deliberate. I want you to fill up the gaps by your own reading of the post.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Recession

These are tough times. I suddenly woke up to a scary reality that was always lurking one step behind me, silent and chilling. Faith and trust in people you know have diminished in alarming proportions. The ‘sea of faith’ that Matthew Arnold talked about in his poem ‘Dover Beach’ has receded too deep for us to drench our heated souls in the comfort of its cool water. I can perceive people losing the basic trust that binds a person to another. They do not trust anymore. They do not care anymore.

The only entity shining through the haze of mistrust and skepticism is the ubiquitous ‘Me’. Everyone seems to be so full of themselves and in such awe of their own potential that they refuse to see the good in others. Honest appreciation is too often mistaken for brazen flattery. The isolation of the human spirit from the collective consciousness of the universe is stark and depressing. The modern modes of consolation, that keep the hapless soul occupied, are deepening the ridge between people.

In such a bleak scenario, it is difficult to keep faith either in the power without or the one within. What must we do to liberate the sea of faith from the perennial pull of the moon called ‘doubt’? What must we do to trust our fellow beings- our families, our co-workers, our co-travelers, our neighbors, our stranger friends? The questions far outweigh the answers and numb the senses to a disturbing mum.