21 October 2007

Dashami morning, etc

(Image and video of the Bagbazar Puja by Lincoln. Thank yee)

Everyone's been about the whole town last night like there's not gonna be another puja. Even the people who sleep on the street are still tucked in in their makeshift beds at ten thirty in the morning. No one wants to wake up. Maybe if you kept on sleeping, the day wouldnt begin and night wouldnt come, and Ma didnt have to be sent away so soon. Well, we do try.

Maybe it's just my imagination, but I find Kolkata quite sad on Dashami mornings. People look wistfully at the pandals, sigh, and resign themselves to another year's wait.

Puja's a good time to introspect. Because, three days of holidays can get a little too much for just going out, sleeping, hogging, etc. So, by Navami or dashami day when I did start to think (yeah, have learnt to stop thinking nowadays. No, not meditate, just stop all thought processes until further notice), I thought of my three pujas in Kolkata, and what has happened in between.

I looked around with wide-eyed wonder the first time round. I was working with a newspaper but had already given notice. Kolkata was still not home then. I was out on all the puja nights and days. Was fascinated most by the dhaak and surprised that the kaamini/chaatim (not sure about the right name. Have got two names for this flower from two different sources.) flower bloomed just in time for the puja. It's like Ma made sure her brand of city freshener was in place before her visit.

A couple of months after the pujas, I took, what many would term, a big career leap. From gigantic mainstream to little-known but purposeful small-time. I've been doin the same thing for about two years now, with a brief gap. (It's been good, but more about my salaried work in another post.)

But the most important thing that's happened/happening personally is developing the guts to take risk. Financial ones, that is. Sometime this year I realised that if I must work my ass off, I'd be better off doin it for myself, ahem, I mean working for myself. Actually, am not really on my own, but working with Linc in his business.

It was one of the most mulled-over decisions in my life, considering that most life-defining ones have been taken in a matter of a few seconds. But I am beginning to think it's perhaps the best decision work satisfaction-wise.

Of course, this has meant a huge cut in salary plus uncertainties that tag along with any business. It has also meant a lot of belief in my self, patience, number-crunching, and daring to dream, oh, what dreams. Also, I love it.

By next Puja, I should have lots more to report. And hopefully, Ma Durga willing, lots of blogging will happen.

11 October 2007

Silence, not calm

A couple of days ago, the Times of India carried a story on Page 1 on the riots over the public distribution system in West Bengal. It was more an edit than a story. It said something like the calm of 30 years' Left rule in the state is being finally stirred, etc.

I wondered whether it was calm or Silence, the Deafening type.

Just before I joined journalism college five years ago, the Left had won the state elections. And Frontline magazine had attributed the victory to, what else, land reforms. It struck me as weird.

However great or dismal an achievement or event may be, how could it continue to be the trump card 30 years later? Had nothing changed in 30 years in Bengal? What about people who were born 10 years after the land reforms? They would be around 20 now... was there no difference between their and their parents' aspirations? How could Bengal be so different from what was happening everywhere else in the country?

Last year, the Left won again. There was jubilation in my office. I couldnt understand that. Didnt the very fact that one party continued to rule for 30 years in a democratic set-up strike you as somewhat odd? To this question too, I got the same answer: land reforms. And someone also told me: probity in public life.

Let's not talk about the Left and its land reforms. There is only so much their frayed nerves can take. Probity in public life: well, it's all over the papers now. Dont know if national television has picked it up yet (I have stopped watching news on TV; bollywood is better.).

Rizwan-ur Rehman's death is the latest squeak from behind the wall of Silence. No, it's not limited to religion, money and status. It's got everything to do with the state of things in Bengal. The suspect cops have not even been suspended, let alone their being ever punished. Right from Buddha babu to the cops, everyone knows that if they sit mum and sit tight through, say, a month more, it will be business as usual.

They also know that the people who staged a candle light protest against Rehman's death will not see the connection between things.

The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh?