Author Archives: ayanmaj

13th July 1997 – the ultimate demolition in front of 130,000 people !

13th July 1997 – that’s the day remembered fondly by many and hated by equally many. In our generation, that symbolised the passion of football in Kolkata, the eternal rivalry now going 100+ years strong … and of course, the ultimate supremacy of East Bengal over Mohan Bagan, which I hope will continue till my last day.

The frenzy surrounded the match was something that I had listened from my uncles but never witnessed at a mature age. Two things aggravated the situation – the insulting comments of the Late Amal Dutta, the coach of the macha’s and the fact that there was an issue on whether the match will be telecast live on TV – after all, it was the Federation Cup semifinals and a mouth-watering one too.

That season, Mohan Bagan started with a bang – displaying a brand of attacking football that was not seen in last few years, by adopting the so-called diamond system. Such was their initial success that their coach was called Diamond Dutta – till 13th July, when the diamond was crushed to dust. On the other hand, East Bengal was clearly the underdog before the match with some good players on paper – but after that match, the rise of Baichung Bhutia, the empeccable defense of Sammy Omollo, the tactics of counter attacking play against a stronger opponents – all became part of history.

Now, there have been many posts on how the match went, how East Bengal’s Baichung destroyed the myth of the diamond system, etc etc. I don’t want to elaborate on the same thing – but what I want to write is why that day was the most memorable day related to sports till date in my life !

First thing that strikes me was the total frenzy before the game. Tickets to the game was simply not available as they were sold out days before the game. In my locality, fights did happen even before one/two days before the match just because supporters of one club made some bad comments of their opponents. Me and my friends were desperate  for tickets and finally we managed to get through different people. Once we got the tickets, the tension amongst East Bengal fans were just immense – we were subject to taunts, banters and hence we were simply raring to go after them with the hope that a cornered East Bengal club is the most ferocious thing to happen to anyone.

Cometh the Match Day – all lucky shirts (slightly torn), lucky shoes and chappals (worn out with visible holes) were out. And I was stunned when we reached Salt Lake stadium. It was a sea of people with chanting, shouting – the noise outside was tremendous. Rs 10 tickets were being sold in front of me at a price of Rs 800 – 1000 and all those ones were being sold like hot cakes. Never before I saw police jeeps patrolling with portable microphones blaring announcements of “this match will be now telecast live, so for those who don’t have tickets, we beg you all to return back to your homes” !! The entry to Gate-4 was impossible – the queue was at least 2 km long. We had to finally break the queue risking police sticks on our backs and managed to enter the stadium.

Inside it was a hot, noisy cauldron. Stadium packed up even before 1 hour to the start of the match. Even though the official number was 131,000 people in the stadium, unofficially it must have crossed 150,000 as I still remember people standing in the stairs throughout the match – they did not get any space to sit. And the noise when the teams entering the ground – simply unbelievable.

The other thing that I learnt on was the impact of sound waves. Those who are familiar with the Salt Lake stadium layout – we sat in Gate 4, which was just behind one goal. That day, Mohan Bagan managed to score one goal – so while the East Bengal gallery was totally silent, the MB supporters were shouting “GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL”. And we, sitting at the opposite end of them, literally felt the sound wave coming – starting from a feeble rustling sound, then growing exponentially to an ultimate crescendo – all for a period of maybe 8-10 seconds. Unbelievable impact to the ears. And boy, did we not return that impact to MB supporters ? Yes, we did … not just once, by 4 times !!!!!!!!

The most dangerous thing that can happen to any human was if someone, by mistake, sits in their opponents gallery ! As many outstation policemen was deployed inside the stadium, there was one constable from Patna (we came to know later) who was sitting near us. In the first half, when it was 0-0, Cheema Okerie of Mohan Bagan piled on a strong shot which luckily when outside. And this guy, forgetting where he was sitting, jumped up and started shouting and dancing…. by mistake. Oh my God ! Everyone pounced on him and started to give slaps (we call them “chataas”) – but then when it was learnt he was new to the city, etc better sense prevailed. But the story does not end here – when Baichung went on the rampage in the 2nd half, after each goal, everyone forced the poor constable to dance continuously for 5 minutes (per goal) !! It was a hilarious scene for all of us – but must have been a poor ordeal to that guy.

In any East Bengal – Mohan Bagan match, one thing you have to cope up is huge amount of gaali’s and that too innovative ones. There was a father who brought his 9-10 year old son – and he literally tried to close his son’s ears by his both hands everytime someone was shouting some expletives ! Finally he had to give up lamenting “why on hell did I bring my son to this game !!!”. But the funny part was when East Bengal was leading 2-1 in the 2nd half – at that point of time, there was at least 20-25 minutes left. One elderly gentleman suddenly got up, starting shouting expletives towards the referee, when there was absolutely no issue in a mid-field play. People got surprised and someone asked what happened ? (“ki holo, dada” ?). And his reply was unique – “Shourer xxxx referee, referee’r xxxxx, xxxx … etokhon khelaono’r ki aache ???? Amra jitchi 2-1’e – aar referee ekhono kheliye jaache ?????? Shalaaa xxxxx, xxxxxx – ekhunu khela sesh koruk !!” ….. I will not ever forget this incident.

Another thing that will ever be in my mind – it started with a disappointment. We were planning to sit in Gate 3 (where we normally target a fixed place) so that we can see the match better sitting middle of the ground. But we were forced to sit in Gate 4, behind one goal. So, when action happens in the other end of the goal, sometimes you cannot interpret things better. So all of us were grumbling before the start of the match and we were shouting at the policemen who refused to let us go to Gate 3. Boy, did we get compensated at the end of the match ??? Oh yeeeesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss !!! All 3 goals of East Bengal’s in the 2nd half happened at our end, including Baichung’s hat-trick !!! What more could we have asked !!!! And literally I had such a sore throat that day because of the shouting, that I had to bunk office the next day !!!

Let me make three take-way points before I end this post:

  • Nothing is more enjoyable than an East Bengal – Mohan Bagan derby; specially when East Bengal wins. Even when India won the cricket world cups, I was not as happy as I was that day !
  • Atmosphere on the ground in a football match is just electric – even the most advanced dolby sound effects cannot replace that experience
  • Now to the Mohan Bagan fans – you guys simply have to admit we are much superior than you when it comes to the Derby match. I know you will start shouting right now – but again all street dogs bark more than they bite :-)

Finally, as I reminiscence the happiest sporting day in my life, I attach the remnants of that day’s match ticket – which I still carry in my purse wherever I go. Why I do that ? Because it symbolises heavenly happiness, it symbolises good omen and at the end of the day, it symbolises that East Bengal was, is and will be always superior than Mohan Bagan till my last day !

IMG_20170826_130822

 

Advertisements

The end of globalisation and the strengthening of the right wing ?

Let’s see some of the critical incidents that happened in last 3 years. Incidents that are likely to have deep impact on the interconnected world.

  • The tumbling of the unity of the Euro currency within the European Union – with subsequent noises coming from Greece, Italy, Spain, etc that had a promise to break the very existence of the European Union 
  • Clamour for Scottish independence and the subsequent referendum that almost rocked the concept of Great Britian
  • The Brexit decision by the people of the United Kingdom
  • Donald Trump as the President of the United Stated with his radical ideas for America 
  • Noise coming out from countries like Italy

All the above incidents have been dealing blows after blows on united regionalism and globalisation. The very essence of corporate globalisation defined by optimal and low cost sourcing across an unified connected world is now under threat. Organisations can no longer neglect local issues and the impact strength of these local issues have gone stronger and stronger. Profitability at any cost within the legal domains is now being boxed in by forcing organisations to first have a look on addressing local issues first.

Engagement of the local people in terms of economic growth and prosperity was there always – but the power of influence has grown exponentially in last three / four years. Add to that the complexity of geo political situation in various parts of the world where the repurcussions of unstable governments are becoming higher and higher. Both views obviously has their pro’s and cons – hence, there is no correct binary answer. But what is very clear now is that the world has to.recognise and accept the so-called “radical” thinking on the rise across various countries. People can contest the usage of the word radical in this contexy; but I would assume that no one probably will be contesting the fact that the world has changed quite a bit in the last few years.

Therefore if any organisation feels that they can afford to neglect this aspect, then I would think that either they will commit a big mistake by being naive in a delicate situation. Acknowledging the current situation should be the first step, irrespective of whether we like it or not. Once we acknowledge this as a reality, then I am sure different models will evolve to come to a  balanced midway solution between total globalisation and that “radicalisation”. 

Influence of one Mr. Ray

I make it a point of not missing any Felu’da movie, irrespective of the actor who is playing that role. Whether it was Soumitra or Sabyasachi or Abir or anyone, I don’t care. Today was another day when I went to watch Double Feluda movie directed by Sandip Ray. This was a special year as this was the year when Felu’da turned 50 years, even when the creator of the character is no longer present amongst us. More than the two stories depicted in the film, I was sent to direct nostalgia when I saw the end tribute from many of the actors who played immortal characters of the journey of Felu’da captured in celluloid. This made me pause to retrospect the influence one Mr. Satyajit Ray had on my growing up.

When I was a child, I was introduced to story books by my parents and I must have immersed myself in the love of reading; because the moment I can think of my first memories of my life, I saw myself devouring any story book I got hold of. My brother shared the same love towards books and that always created a big problem – there was always a major fight when new books or magazines came to our house – who will read first !! And one of the major attractions, if not the only attraction, was the magazines of Anandamela and Sandesh where the stories of Felu’da and Prof Shanku will come. The order of priority was Felu’da, then Prof Shanku, then TinTin followed by others. Clear priority definition – never had any ambiguity on this aspect as a child.

Actually Sandesh magazine came to our house to stop the fight with my brother on who will read Anandamela first, when that was the only magazine subscribed by my father. I still remember that there was an office near the Triangular Park in South Kolkata from where either Sandesh was re-published or distributed. Back from school, we used to stop there for 5 minutes to buy the latest issue of that magazine and I used to hold that tightly in my hands. Anandamela used to come automatically through the newspaper vendor.


Picture from internet
As any normal child, I used to draw pictures when I was a child. Crayons was a good past time; but what I enjoyed most was drawing pictures using just a normal pencil. Nine out of ten times, it was a picture of Felu’da or Felu’da in action that I tried to copy in my drawing. It was always a great pleasure of growing up when somebody could recognise my drawn picture as something that at least was resembling Satyajit Ray’s drawings even by a poor 10%.

Came the movies of Satyajit Ray for children starting with Goopy Gayne Bagha Bayne. Movies are always enthralling for kids – and it was kind of moving to an ecstasy world by watching Satyajit Ray s movies. The ultimate was when the character that moved me from my childhood days, I could see them in almost real life. Sonar Kella and Joy Baba Felunath – this were the two movies that actually transformed the drawn pictures of Felu’da into someone I could relate to. I still don’t know how many times I must have seen these two movies.

Science fictions never appealed me that much, whether be it in story books or be it in movies. But somehow I was fascinated by the Professor Shanku s stories. I could relate them as very much possible in real world and not just fantasies. Probably that was the reason why Prof Shanku was so much liked to me.

Before I end, I have encountered so many writers through their creations in my life so far. My love towards detective stories or thrillers is quite strong. So starting from Enid Blyton to Pancha Pandab to Kakababu to Kiriti to Byomkesh to Sherlock Holmes to Alistair Maclean to Agatha Christie to Moitrayee Bhaduri – journey has been good and still continuing. But no one has touched me so much as one Mr. Satyajit Ray – he has been a big, major part of my growing up. Later on, I went through his gammot of movies and writing, but the pleasure of growing up with Felu’da, Prof Shanku and Ray’s other stories has been tremendous. Whenever I think of Satyajit Ray, the first image that comes to my mind is that he was my best friend while growing up.

And I still remember the thing that I did with my first every salary I earned – I gave the salary to my mother and she in return gave me some money to buy something that I liked. I then requested my father to take me to College Street as I wanted to buy some books. Everybody thought I would go for some food items – but I pleasantly disappointed them :-) Along with my father, I went to Ananda Publishers office at College Street and bought the complete set of Feluda and Prof Shanku at one shot  !!!!

That thing came naturally to me and probably that only told of the influence of Satyajit Ray in my growing up. Thank you Sir !!!! And my journey still continues when I rush to a movie theatre whenever any story of Satyajit Ray is converted into a movie, irrespective of the actors or director ….

The annual gainless pain …

A typical Bong (Bengali) will always look forward to buy new clothes or other associated things just before the start of the Durga Puja. That’s a tradition that is there for centuries and some of these traditions are good to keep – I don’t have any problem with that. But when this annual thing becomes a big blister on the poor backside of myself, that’s when I feel the pain. Shopping is an activity that is generally loved by all women and absolutely loathed by majority of the men (at least that’s what I have observed over the years). Again, I have no problem with that fact of life. But being induced into “forced shopping” mode is something that can bring in sweat even in the coldest of the winters.

It all starts with the sentimental bombarding of “you need to go as this is a tradition where the entire family buys stuff for the rest of the family”. At times, I give a damn about traditions – and this is definitely the most appropriate timing to exercise that. When that foils, then comes a rapid fire intense round of negotiations with kind of risk-reward scheme of terms and conditions.

“Ok, lets do one thing – we will visit New Market or Gariahat for 2 hours and after that we can still have that mutton biryani, even though your doctor has advised against it”. Never before I have witnessed such Mother Teresa equivalent kindness – this is that historic moment of individual’s life when the Home Minister can overrule the doctor’s years of acquired knowledge and experience. That’s the only time when that elusive “mutton biryani” suddenly becomes devoid of all cholesterol, LDL’s – even though the same biryani is served for the rest 364 days a year. But that’s when lesson’s learnt are applied and I think of the last year when I was butchered like an innocent lamb who just fell for that extra bit of ‘lush green grass’ coming free. So, I stand up tall like Netaji Subhas Bose and counter that satan-like greed for biryani – “You just give some space and I will get freedom for myself”. Normally that statement is followed by a nasal humming of “amake amar moton thaakte dao, aami nijeke nijer moton ghuchiye niyechi”.

But as always, it’s the home minister who passes the law and as a common man, inspite of how much rebellious you can be, its the time of execution. The only hope in all of this is the agreement on three contractual clauses of:
– the ordeal will be not more than 1 hour maximum and limited to one shop only. So the participation will be in the final selection round and not during the initial never-ending rounds of shortlisting things
– playing mobile games are allowed even during the exercise – not because I don’t want to participate, but I claim that I am good at multi-tasking
– this clause is more of a request to be complied on a “best effort basis” – very feebly the petition is raised that if this happens in an non-air-conditioned environment, this poor soul will feel very near to Satan. That always is met with a steely ice-frozen look (without words) – and that’s when you can not only hear the sound of silence, but also realise the power of silence !

Now I enter the shop with a mood that can scare the friendliest of any living being. Because just being dragged out of a half-sitting-half-sleeping stupor while watching a nonsense movie like Housefull-3 is not always energising. Nevertheless the ordeal starts. This is normally accompanied by unique characteristics like:

– running around like a headless chicken with the only rule of “follow thy master”
– pausing to check Facebook or Whatsapp amounts to threatening of “the time spent on these useless activities will be deducted from the 1 hour negotiated time”. Nawaz Sharif will also be looked upon as a toddler, given the intensity of these threats
– hands should be occupied by holding dresses. You will never realise that even after “short listing”, there will be still so many dresses to be tried out
– looking at oddly shaped women in front of trial rooms. 80+ kg women darts out of the trials rooms wearing skin tight dresses only to get a nod from an impatient husband waiting outside the room, who just happened to hide a big yawn before giving a million dollar smile and saying “looking too good” … and then the transition from that smile to a big frown comes in a lightning speed, that will make even Usain Bolt feel proud !
– once the trials are over, then comes a period of intense subjective and objective analysis on which 3 dresses out of 12 are the best. If you try play smart and want to end the ordeal by quickly selecting any 3, then you will be virtually guillotined by the AK47-like spraying of bullets of defending the selected 3
– finally standing alone in the queue with 3 ladies dresses. Why alone ? Well usage of idle time has been recommended by all. The waiting time in the queue can be executed by any dumbass like me while a last minute tour of the remaining store can be utilised.

After all this, when you come home, sip a cuppa on the sofa with a game of football on, and then thank God by saying “thanks for giving me strength this time”, you hear from another room that I need to go again tomorrow as we have forgotten shopping for a loved one !! Why do we have so many loved ones ? Why, why ?

Come on !! Not again !!! “Bidroho aaj, bidroho charidike, bidroho aaj” ….. that’s the only time when the socialistic concept of rebellion comes to life for me

Happy last minute Puja shopping everyone !

 

AI can evolve into something we don’t want to see

The battle for Artificial Intelligence or AI is up for grabs. Already all leading corporations are spending huge money and time to build upon the challenge of AI helping mankind. However the debate on whether AI is ultimately good for human civilization is also hotting up good time. The sci-fi movies on robots evolving and finally establishing supremacy on humans has been there for some years now. That may come to a reality when AI will reach a stage when robots can produce other robots on their own.

Google has predicted that five years from now, AI will reach at a level which will be at the level of human beings. All other AI experts might dispute on the time frame, but I don’t think anybody has disputed that AI has the capability to reach the human being level and hence can then go ahead of humans when it comes to intelligence. So the possibility of the earth being ruled by machines are quite high. Based on media reports, China is building up a huge setup to explore contacts with aliens – and if that happens one day where the so called aliens having higher intelligence gets in touch with earth ruled by AI more than humans, the impact will be huge. But that’s for a longer time horizon we are looking for – a horizon which I am unlikely to witness. Phew!

However the other negative implications are quite imminent as was evident when Microsoft apologized for racist and offensive tweets from its AI engine. Refer to the below news report from the Guardian :

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/26/microsoft-deeply-sorry-for-offensive-tweets-by-ai-chatbot

This leads to many possibilities which are more likely to happen in the near future. Soon, feeding up the AI engines through government organisations and stronger countries are likely to happen which will lead to forced propaganda across big sets of populations. The very concept of free thought, freedom of speech might be under threat if AI is used by government or corporation machinery. Further, if terrorist organizations can access the feeding part effectively, this will lead to justifications and glorification of terror activities, impacting the thought process of  millions of next generation children. Already many such organisations like ISIS are turning out to be tech savvy organisations – hence the possibility of such groups doing a forced molding of AI to defend their sets of actions are quite high.

Now all technologies have their positives and negatives. Einstein’s E=mc2 provoked the atom bomb; the evolution of weapons of mass destruction got accelerated from advancement of technogy; internet has caused a parallel track of hacking, fraud; etc. But AI has the possibility of leading to an area which has never been faced or seen by humans. Therefore the impact of the same can be extremely useful for mankind on one hand and also catastrophic on the extreme.

Only time will tell how we, humans, let AI be used……

‘Fair’ Journalism

When I was in my teens, I remember that the main source of getting information was through a limited number of newspapers and Doordarshan News. The debate that time was on the style of reporting – amongst the English newspapers in my home city of Kolkata, while it was reported that The Statesman did ‘direct’ reporting with a ‘matter of fact’ tone, it was alleged that The Telegraph reported the same incident with more ‘flair’, more in a story-telling mode. However, I don’t remember much controversy on the whether there was distortion of facts or not. And on a lighter node, watching Doordarshan News was a kind of a torture because of lack of visuals – still the incidents were reported on an ‘as is’ basis.

Then came a whiff of fresh air, when Prannoy Roy started with a capsule programme of “World This Week”. We had a glimpse of the world in a 30 minute slot. The whole family used to be riveted in front of the idiot-box watching impacts that happened across the world. That probably gave us an indication of media-starved Indians what journalism and news reporting should be like in the years to come. Immediately, Prannoy Roy became a household name and the making of mega-stars in the news making industry started from that moment of history.

electronic-media-aquarius-media

Next came a barrage of channels that carried out news using the cable television distribution channel. NDTV was the pioneer with 24 x 7 news first time in India probably ? It was still Prannoy Roy who led the show and budding news anchors started to make their marks in the national arena. While NDTV became a household brand, many other breakaways mushroomed in the market and they also became strong brands very soon. All facets of life – politics, international news and dynamics, sports, entertainment – everything started to be covered across channels. Associated with the competition, came the fight to gain TRP which is directly proportional to viewership.

Frankly speaking, I did not even hear the very word of “TRP” and its significance only till recent past. The other word that I learnt in last few years was “paid media”. Initially I was perhaps naïve not to believe in that. Why will an journalist put in a biased view of an incident when his / her job was to report on what happened ? But to my dismay, I soon discovered that different news channels started to portray the same incident differently – imposing their ‘point of view’ on that incident. I don’t know whether that falls under the ethics of journalism, but I did not like that concept at all.

You report on what happened on a ‘matter of fact’ mode – it is upto the individual viewers to make ‘judgement’ on different perspectives. I, as a viewer, am not interested with what a channel thinks, but rather I would prefer that freedom to be given to me. Unfortunately, that became the fashion. Very soon, we could see one incident being portrayed in one way in one channel and the other channel showing the same incident in a totally different way. Coincidentally, the views matched with the biased interests of different political parties. And I could not remove the thought from my mind on whether the media has become “paid media”. This thought started to get deep in my mind when some of the mega-stars of Indian TV channels were “alleged” to be the ‘middleman’ between business houses and political parties, trying to broker some deals.

Now, that has gone to another level. In order to score high on the battlegrounds of TRP, circulating unverified video’s, telecasting so-called “doctored” clips has become the order of the day. Whether the media houses are themselves producing the same or whether the so-called “paid media” channels are just executing orders from their masters – it is not clear to me as a viewer. But the very consequence of all the actions has resulted into an individual doubting each and every news whether that is the truth OR whether that is a lie; whether that is the truth OR whether that is just a biased version of the story !

While the electronic media has evolved drastically in India in last 20 years, I think the deterioration has been drastic as well. You just keep on shuffling the news channels and I can bet, any person can guess whether that channel reports in line with what Congress party wants to say or what BJP wants to say or what Left parties wants to say !

Overall, the trust that was there 20-30 years ago on printed and electronic media has now vanished from the common man. I don’t know whether the media channels feel the same, but as an ordinary Indian citizen, I feel ashamed on how “fair” journalism has fallen so low !

Hope some day better things will prevail in journalism and till that date, I can only keep on hoping !

 

Friendship 

The year was 1981. A ten year old kid arrived at a new place, new home along with his family. The feelings were quite mixed – happy to see a new and bright, bigger home; slightly depressed for being uprooted from old friends. Feeling of sadness got increased in a couple of days when Sunday came up as that was the time to play, but where are the friends ?

Coaxed out of home by his parents, the kid trudged along reluctantly to the play ground that was near to the new home. Probably sweat started to roll out – not just because of the month of July in a typical tropical Indian weather, but also because of the enormity of the challenge  that lies front of the kid. Unknown environment, unknown park, all alone, degree of being introvert scaling new heights, yet expected to gain company and friendship from a place which is absolutely unknown. Happiness lies on a thin thread – it was a do or die situation.

The kid saw some kids of his same age playing football in a small area as the bigger park was occupied by seniors playing the same game. Probably the seniors booted out the juniors who were now forced to take refuge in a small piece of plot, which was difficult to define as a play ground. Yet, the guys were playing football so happily, running around the ball and kicking it with some venom.

The kid just stood silently holding the rails of the big gate watching the game. Inside him, the eagerness to join the match was so immense, but his shyness prevented him to run to them. After all, he did not know anyone of those running around the play ground. It was probably the biggest ordeal faced by him. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes hours. And still he was standing all alone, clutching on the rail as if holding that will give him great mental strength.

Finally one of those playing saw him. The game was stopped. He came to the kid and asked “you new here ?” Reply was quick but monosyllabic “Yes”. Conversation started “where do you stay ?” “That house in the corner” …. And finally the million dollar awaited question “do you want to play ?” A big smile appeared for the first time. But there was a quick twist to the happiness “okay, go stand as a goalkeeper”

The kid was not absolutely elated in hearing that. After all, being a goal keeper is looked upon as a novice in the game, who cannot even kick the ball, but can just hold it, that too for some few seconds only. But who cares ! The ice was broken, new friends being created, life is definitely bound to get better, more happier. The new place, new environment looked more radiant and bright for sure.

That’s how the journey started 34 years ago. The friendship grew into great relationships and even today, the friends remains as true friends, united in happiness as well as crisis situations. Those kids grew up to become adults, professionals, having their own families. But the common bond of friendship grew stronger and stronger, year after year. 

The kid was me and home was at BD Block, Salt Lake, Kolkata. On this day when the world celebrates Kali Puja and Diwali, I think of those days and the still-strong friends. Let this friendship grow, stronger every year to celebrate at least 34 more Kali Puja / Diwali’s. 

দুর্গা পূজা

দুর্গা পূজা
এক রাশ ওণুভুতি
নতুন কাপড়ের স্পর্শ
কাশ ফুলের দুলুনি
ভোগের গন্ধ
প্রতিমা দর্শনের হুড়াহুড়ি
পান্ডেল আলোকসজ্জার চমতকার

দুর্গা পূজা
চিন্তার উপর জয়
মানুষের মিলন
গান বাজনার সময়
সকলের হাসি মুখ
ভুলেছে সবাই তার দুঃখ

দুর্গা পূজা
পাশের বস্তির ছেলেটা
সে তো পেলো না জামার গন্ধ
ঢাকের বাজনা মেটাল না খিদে
কুকুরের সঙ্গে বেঁচে থাকার লড়াই
জানালা তাই তার বন্ধ

তাঁরই মাঝে আধ খাওয়া আইস ক্রীম
খুঁজে পেল জীবনের এক চিলতে আনন্দ
নিল সে এক মহান ওংগিকার
যতই হক বড় উতসব, যতই হক টাকা খরচ
যা থাকবে হাতে, ভাগ হবে সবার সাথে
থাকবে না কোন ওপচয়
কারণ এটাই তো চিরকালের মানব ধর্মের পূজা

The ordeal that comes on an yearly basis …

I had been outside home for last 3 years to spare me the shopping experience that is associated before the start of the Durga Puja. Having to stay 100 miles away from shopping malls for so many years, I was expecting that this time, there will be no sparing of the so-called wonderful experience that is named Puja Shopping. Frantic negotiations started few weeks ago – the ask was for 3-4 complete days and my initial position was no such visit at all. Finally, it was mutually agreed (didn’t have the documented proof though) that at least an afternoon is the ordeal that I need to go through.

So here was I telling bye bye to the coveted post-lunch siesta on 2nd October as I started the car in the afternoon. The incentive that I managed to coax out of the last minute adjustments was dinner at home from Oudh 1590 with the classic mutton biryani. That was not approved – but was under consideration if I participated in good spirits during this expedition. The greed was substantial from my side and hence I decided to try my best in the most difficult probation period in my life.

Entered the shopping mall at City Center with the biggest yawn – which unfortunately got noticed. Smelt immediate danger, the angry glances just increased the risk level by an exponential curve. The objective of the trip was also decided very clear in black and white terms. Did not allow any speck of grey – thanks to my professional experience – though it resulted me a loss of great amount of fluids through profuse sweating. Objective was buying of 2-3 items for me and that was presented with the clause “see, everything it is for you, nothing for me”. I feebly tried the tactic “I don’t need anything, so let’s forget this trip” – but that just went down the drain. So, after that big yawn, went into the Men’s section and tried to focus upon the job in hand. Within 5 minutes, I finalised a shirt. But that was perceived as a tactic of closing down the ordeal fast to my advantage. So, in spite of finalising the one in few minutes, had to look at 20+ shirts with running commentary from the salesman why that cotton quality was so great, why this one is such a value added buy, etc. Irritation finally overcame me and I had to cut short the salesmen saying “thanks for the advice, if you can instead get me additional 30% discount, I will be more happy”.

Finally went to the jeans section. I thought that just holding the jeans in front of me and taking a judgement call of good fitment will be good enough. Instantly turned down quite vehemently. Trial is a must and the trials should be in the ratio of 1:3; which basically means that if the target is 1, you need to trial at least 3 pieces. So, had to finalise on 3 and went to the trial room. Never realised that there can be such a big queue in front of the trial room – making innocent face did not help as no one could identify the pains within me to allow me to break the queue. Agreed on the lucky piece and now was the turn to pay.

Suddenly another twist –  if the total sales is more than x, then you will get Rs 500 discount voucher which can be encashed only when you do next shopping of Rs 2500+. Basically, the trick was that for Rs 4500/- money spent, you just get a Rs 500 discount. But the word “discount” was too tempting for some – so had to scamper around to buy something that added up the total which will enable to cross the threshold. Another 20 minutes to buy that “add on” and another 20 minutes extra in front of the payment queue. What an irony – here you spend your own hard earned money and yet you need to wait for 20 minutes without even thinking of losing your patience and temper. After all this was Puja Shopping.

I thought after the payment was done, this is all over. What a naïve innocent person I am ! Wearing not anything ethnic is supposedly a dastardly act that Ma Durga may not be able to tolerate. So, again had to change shop and went to FabIndia shop. The name has a “Fab” built in – Fab must be standing for Fabulous. No doubt – all items are Fabulously pricey indeed !! By that time, I was dragging my feet like a child. Colours, design were all meaningless to me by then. So I took refuge on a small tool, which was meant for the Security Guard. He probably also felt the pain as I was sitting there with my face down, looking at the design of the floor. But then my sixth sense felt that there is a fiery thing hitting my left cheek – I turned my head and saw someone staring at me with piercing eyes. Realised that I still have reflexes alive as I sprang up into attention position and went running again to the trial room. The ratio still was 1:3.

Finally, payment was made and then even the most timid person like me said with conviction “enough is enough!”. That moment I did realise that revolts and revolutions can happen en-masse; so there is still hope to all Marxists that one day “biplob” will run across the streets of Kolkata. And without even waiting for a reaction, I started walking towards the car. Desperation can drive people to daring acts and that I did achieve. Better senses prevailed as someone realised that slavery might be good, but slavery leading to revolution is dangerous.

That’s how I enjoyed the ordeal with a wish that next year, hope something comes up with a real strong excuse to be excused from this exercise once again. And the world still has some people who keeps their word – I did enjoy the great Oudh biryani in the night; even after India lost to South Africa in the first T20 match !

The FIFA storm

Lots of action, drama unfolded in the past few days surrounding FIFA and the future of football in general. Camps were formed, strong opinions, stronger press conferences, FBI in action, twitter flooded with emotions – all possible ingredients of a classic Hollywood movie came into life in a week. Camera, focus, media coverage, action then went into the FIFA Congress at Zurich when the famous or infamous (depending on the camp you belonged to) Sepp Blatter got elected as the head of FIFA yesterday……. again!!!!! Prior to the voting, as part of the build up, UEFA announced veiled (or was it direct?) threats against Fifa through Platini. Even Mr. Putin, Mr. Cameron played their roles to the great drama. But still Mr. Blatter won…. convincingly.

Are there genuine issues in FIFA? Definitely… Grumbling and rumbling about rampant corruption charges were floating not for months, but for years. Allegations, denials were all part of the natural drama in the world of football for last few years.

Is this the beautiful game that everybody dreamt of for last 40 years? No is the answer.

Is there a need to rectify the rotten system and processes? Definitely yes… and the good thing is that everyone acknowledges that there is a major problem – that is the first step towards rectification indeed.

However what baffles me is the approach taken by Sepp Blatter’s opponents. If you have to fight head on, you have to really fight HEAD ON!! You just cannot fight for some time and then back out and then crib for the rest of the days, Mr. Figo. If you need to change the system, you need to get inside the rotten system and then change the same. You just cannot shout and scream from outside hoping that the rotten system will change on its own. To win a vote anywhere in the world, you need to form teams, you need to do lot of lobbying, campaigning and spread your point of view across all voters. I am sure all of Blatter’s opponents did the same – but did they fight till the end?

Now after the voting results, twitteratti is again full of rants from ex players, general public lamenting that the dooms day of football has again arrived yesterday. But what’s the use of this emotional outbursts apart from relieving your heart? Unless we play strongly within the system and then go for change, the existing system will continue the same way, irrespective of how much rotten it might be!!!

The only thing now to see is whether UEFA will lead the world with Latin American countries to bring up an alternate “rebel” FIFA equivalent and an alternative world cup soon….  Is there a Kerry Packer equivalent in the making? Well, UEFA and Mr. Platini – if you really meant those threats of withdrawing from FIFA, you better execute the same quickly to save international football….

%d bloggers like this: