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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 !

London

London.. The headquarters of the erstwhile superpower of the world, the center of power in a small island which almost controlled the entire world by its own,  the city with rich history brimming in the foundation of power, wealth and politics, the city which has transformed itself into a living delight into the modern world of the 21st century, the city which now boasts of a cosmopolitan population, mixture of races language and culture.  And this is the same city where I have now spent 3 years of my personal and professional life.

The river Thames running through the heart of the city, small in size but yet clean and beautiful. The walks along the southern bank makes you realise that you are encountering citizens of almost all countries – either coming here to pursue their dreams or a better living or just stopping by to absorb the pulse of life and attractions.

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The now lonely red telephone booths scattered by the path ways speaking of a glorious past and yet now neglected to the mercy of the occasional tourists stopping by just to take a snap. The dials are rarely dialed now, yet the wires dangle awaiting their destiny.

The reverberating music echoing in the tubes or under the bridges speaking of unfulfilled dreams of dreamers and performers. Yet quite lively on sunny days thronged by unknown passerby stopping occasionally for a couple of minutes and then walking away towards their destination.

The tube network cris-crossing underneath the city and carrying people, some tired,  some engrossed on music or fiddling with their smart phones. The same journey where you find to listen ten different languages in less than ten minutes. The travel when you are forced to rub shoulders against strangers, yet with a politeness that defies normal logic.

The long yet narrow escalators symbolising modern life when humans just keep running through the moving stairs with not a single minute available as a spare time to look around the boards showcasing the latest theatres. When standing on the left sometimes can be a big ordeal with you forced to chug along the uphill stairs till you reach the top.

The pubs at every nook and corner of the blocks filled with people enjoying their bubbly almost everyday. Where the less dressed girls do need to step out in the cold to draw on their cigarettes, hiding their shivering with occasional laughter.

Where the railway stations on late nights starting from Thursday are filled with dressed and beautifully painted women running barefoot to catch their last train home with the high heel shoes dangling in their hands. Where you will see some heroes walking like a knight in 10 degree centigrade with just a real short shorts.

Where you will find the elderly going religiously to the Lords cricket ground to enjoy the test matches and yet dozing off for quick naps just after lunch. Where you can still support England’s opponents with your top voice and enjoy the friendly banter with the fellow English supporters whenever your team is in trouble.

Where you will find the unique Kolkata egg chicken roll in the middle of the Zara’s, the Debenham’s of the world. Where Oxford Street stands for shopping and not related to education. Where you will see swelling crowds everywhere, irrespective of whether there is a ‘sale’ or not.

Where you will find immense greenery within the heart of the city, where ducks, squirrels, swans do not get afraid if humans go too near to them. Where you will find lazy guys sleeping with a cap on their eyes, where you will find roller skaters of varying degree of proficiency, where you will find people enjoying the sun on beach chairs without any beach nearby.

Where good weather means “no rain”, where sometimes summer starts by the arrival of the month in the calendar and not dictated by the ambient temperature, where you are forced to hear “mind the gap” on rainy days even when the gap is quite small for a toddler to jump across, where you are often reminded to take your own stuff when you leave the train.

And the list goes on and on….

This is a city which became part of my life and in spite of the rare sun you get to see,  this is a city which touched my heart and which continues to make me wonder how so many people from so many countries and so many cultures make this city ever vibrant that you tend to enjoy.

Champions League 2014 Final

At the outset, I was totally pessimistic on today’s final between Atletico Madrid (AM) and Real Madrid (RM) – simply because Real Madrid was a much superior team in terms of individual players, experience and style of play. This effectively meant that Atletico Madrid as the “weaker” team will play to a strategy that will be hardly entertaining. As I believe a weaker team will have to play defensive and a “negative” brand of football, relying on either counter-attacks, slice of luck or eventually the “lottery” system of penalties. This is the way I have seen football evolved over years and I had written the same in an earlier post (click on the link https://ayanmajumdar.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/the-evolution-from-a-laymans-eyes/ to read the same). But this is not the topic that I want to write on today. What I want to share with you are my thoughts on some defining moments of today’s game.

Firstly the gamble of playing an injured Diego Costa backfired on AM. Not just of being deprived of a prolific striker, but also consuming one of the important substitutions which will be costly specially if the game went into extra-time. And as destiny would have it, the match did went into the extra 30 minutes, thanks to a last-minute injury-time equaliser. Whether a star player who is injured should be brought into the playing XI is always debatable, but I personally believe this is worth a gamble. Because one chance or one flick resulting in a goal can be priceless plus the morale of the others rise tremendously when you have the star striker playing, when many people think he won’t.

Then came an ultra-defensive display of AM for next 30 minutes. Hardly the RM creative players got space – be it Ronaldo or Gareth Bale or anybody else – only exception was Di Maria who was threatening to break free through some skilful wing play. In the history of the game, there have been many instances when defensive-playing teams have pulled the result in the end … and they have done defending doggedly in their own half. However, what I found a difference between AM and other defensive teams of the past, AM forced the opponents to keep the ball in the mid-field and not just in front of their penalty box. This is indeed a credible strategy – as the pressure of soaking of attacks just in front of the penalty box is too high. Very often, the team’s succumb and one moment of brilliance of the opponents or one mistake of the defense can lead to disaster.

But the “mistake” came from RM – an almost trophy-loss mistake from the experienced Casillas. I still wondered what he was thinking ! The AM player Godin was getting an innocent center, there were 2 stoppers behind Godin, the ball was even not within the small box and on top of it Godin had his back towards the goal – so the most he can do is to head backward, which can never be powerful. But to my dismay, Casillas went ahead, was caught in the no-man’s land and that tame back-head was a goal !! Just reminded me of 1990 world cup when Zenga, the Italian goalkeeper, made a similar mistake against Argentina and that had resulted in the elimination of Italy when the world was thinking that Italy should be the champion!

Then was a continuous spell of dogged defending – very often by 8-9 players. By that time the pressure increased from RM and in spite of the defense, Di Maria was breaking the defense – however Ronaldo and Bale were often spectators. So, my thought was that either there will be a mistake or a blunder for RM to come back to the game, or it would be a victory of AM. My thoughts were almost coming true … almost …

Then came the equaliser in the 93rd minute of the game – just 2 minutes away from the end of the match. And I felt that there was a big mistake by AM in their defense. Yes, it was a great corner and a great header by Sergio Ramos, but what was the defense doing ? I will not blame why Ramos got the space to head without being challenged greatly (as that kind of movement and head flick can happen without much challenge).

I will blame the strategy of defending against a corner – normally you keep two defenders keeping the ends of the two posts with the goalkeeper in the middle. And the reason you keep those two defenders is to thwart out a perfect head or a perfect shot – which will beat a goalkeeper when the ball enters through the corner. To me, irrespective of the quality of the goalkeeper, there is that space having the width of a ball which an out-stretched goalkeeper will never reach – if you can place there, whether in a dead-ball situation or a penalty or a shot, the chances of getting a goal is 90% … and that is why you keep those two defenders to protect that precise situation. But here, there was no defender at all manning the posts – and so a perfect header from Ramos was beyond the AM goalkeeper Courtois to protect. Look at goal below for you to judge:

So, just 2 minutes away from the match, a drastic mistake aided by a perfect header … the match was equalised and the die was cast.

It was now just a matter of time when RM will tear apart AM – as not only they got rejuvenated by that life given when they were about to die, but equally AM players will feel the despair of being so near and yet so far. And now you have a  rejuvenated RM coming at a despairing more-mentally-tired AM with full venom for 30 minutes. So it was just one goal and the flood-gates will open … and it so did … the strike from Gareth Bale after a mesmerizing run by Di Maria – the match was over. Two more came in as a bonus.

So, at the end of the day, I felt the right team won and the right spirit of the game was upheld – a spirit of positive, entertaining football (instead of a negative defensive brand of soccer).

PS : I don’t know who was the Man of the Match – but my choice would be Di Maria as he alone threatened AM continuously and was definitely the architect of the Gareth Bale goal

Champions of Europe

 

At the end of the day, when sleep beckons ….

At the end of the day, when sleep beckons
The delicate silhouette takes away my senses
Which emotions breaking the darkness, silences my work ?
Come and take me away …..

They walk with their heads down
And happiness blotted up
Never turns back to imagine their return
I need to go to them at the end of the tide
Leaving behind my home
Will you give me space in the last boat of the day
Come and take me away …..

All the loved ones have gone to their love
All the aspiring ones have gone to cross the river
Only the in-between’s lie torn in the evening
Waiting for someone to call them back home
Come and take them away ….

Devoid of any fragrance of the flowers
Devoid of the success of their living
Tears have dried up on their faces
The light of the sun has vanished from the horizon
And yet the lamps of the evening have not lit
They have all silently sat beside the river
Come and take them away …

 

I, me and Sachin

Those who know me well will vouch with full conviction that I hate waking up early in the morning and I prefer to be a late-night person. So, when I had a grueling three weeks in office including some of the weekends as well, I had looked forward for a day off yesterday when at least I can sleep till late in the morning. I had just landed on Thursday night in London from a business trip and was on my way home thinking of the next day off from office. The next day was Friday and so effectively an extended weekend for me … the day was 15-Nov-2013.

And yet it is amazing that I setup the alarm at 3.45 am on that day (remember a holiday for me !) which will allow me the 15 minute settling down before the last journey begins. Because that was the day I knew for sure Sachin Tendulkar will walk in to bat for the last time in his life. I had to be part of that walk, I had to accompany him for his last innings. And so it was a cold morning in London, me waking up, wrapping up in a blanket, sitting on the sofa, switching on the TV at 4 am (9.30 am India time) and waiting for the Master climb down the stairs from the pavilion amidst a deafening sound of “Sachiiiiiiiiin Sachin”. Yes, I could not afford to sleep for some more hours on a holiday, because within me my heart told that I should at least sacrifice some hours of sleep for a person who became a part of my life.

Why is it that Sachin Tendulkar became part of myself, became so integrated with my life, became so much embedded with my heart and emotions ? He does not have a great personality, he does not look great, he definitely does not have a Amitabh Bachhan-like voice, he rather looks like a dwarf on the field, his mannerism while batting is not great – specially his squatting while holding a part of his body is quite comical …. yet this person, whom I have not ever met, had unknowingly become a part of myself !

Probably it was the similar age between Sachin and myself … maybe it was the time when I could imagine myself being represented in the great sport of cricket through the body of Sachin … maybe it was the classic straight drive with a straight bat whether be in the front foot or backfoot … maybe it was the courage of one Indian cricketer who could counter attack the pace bowlers who tormented Indian cricket throughout the years …. maybe it was his humility … maybe his grace while batting touched me as a cricket lover …. maybe his passion for cricket and India  … maybe it was a combination of all these.

While I was young and growing up & Sachin was also growing and maturing to the best ever batsmen ever, I had two “guru”s defined in my life and I used to tell openly that to my mother – one was Kishore Kumar and the other Sachin Tendulkar (It was much later on that I learnt Sachin also loved Kishore Kumar songs so much – what a pleasant coincidence !). It was a common fact that if Tendulkar played well, my mother used to say that my mood will be very good and that I will eat that extra bit during dinner. My uncles knew about this and very often during family occasions used to plan within themselves and pretended to throw discussions with the message that Sachin was a rubbish batsman – and my reaction was predictable – I used to fight hard to prove that they were totally wrong.

Later on came Saurav Ganguly as the successful captain of India. With him came the common debate amongst most Bengali’s hovering around the point on who is better – is it Sachin or Sourav ? And the debates often rose to heated discussions with expletives being thrown left right and center. As was with every fan, I could not tolerate any ill-speaking of Sachin and sometimes to cover up his failures, I had to think of some different point of view so that I can divert the debate to some other sensitive topic so that people forgets the main reason behind the debate.

Every match of Sachin, every Indian match was something I need to watch – whether it is India vs Bangladesh or India vs Australia, it did not matter. And when Sachin used to bat, the tension was doublefold for me. If Sachin hit a four on a delivery, I used to force my friends not to shift from the seats they were seating till the over is finished. Generally the unofficial rule for me became – ‘first Sachin should score runs, then India can think of winning’ – a selfish way of thinking, no doubt.

So during the last 24 years, starting from the debut vs Pakistan till the end against West Indies, I grew up with Sachin … and the lines got merged with his playing and my growing up. His success made me feel as if I am myself successful, his failures made me scramble for excuses like ‘the ball was simply unplayable’, his centuries made me feel that I had went to bat and scored a century, his brilliant over at the Eden Gardens Hero Cup final made me shout “finally, we have got a great all-rounder” …….. without me knowing consciously, over the years Sachin became me, I became Sachin in life.

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And so, when Sachin’s last day came today on 16-Nov-2013, I am personally feeling a great void within myself … as if I have retired and will not know what to do tomorrow morning. People say that I am not that much an emotional person – but I literally could not hold my tears when Sachin walked back up the stairs on 15-Nov-2013 after making the majestic 74. It is so rare that a person whom I have never met could have impacted myself so much.

This story is nothing unique and all Sachin fans are perhaps experiencing the same feelings … that is the greatness of the man. So, when through BCCI I get the above personalised digital photograph of Sachin, I feel like a teenager once again – elated, happy and showing off the picture to everyone.

Today while I say THANK YOU SACHIN for the immense pleasures he gave to me for my last 24 years, I sign-off here with an online magazine on him, a small tribute to “a part of my life” (called Sachin Tendulkar) from myself : https://flipboard.com/section/all-about-sachin-tendulkar–bAlhRO

Wish Sachin all the best for the years to come …. and if ever I happen to meet him face-to-face, I will probably shake his hands and say “you made me complete as a human being … thank you for that”

 

One incident …..

Thirty years ago…..

It was a normal school day. All the kids were playing during the lunch break. The entire place was filled up with the pleasant cacophony of the innocent. There was this 9 year old boy playing with his friends. His structure of only skin and bones with no flesh did not match with his vigor and enthusiasm. Then all of a sudden the incident happened. The boy fell down with the entire weight of his body on his left elbow, which could not sustain the momentary pressure. It became clear later on that his left elbow was broken.

However, elders have told that when a boy becomes a man, he never cries. The urge to become a man was too strong, yet the pain was unbearable. With the help of his friends he wobbled to the sports teachers office, who gave a cursory look, seemed totally disinterested, told the boy to lie down on the sick-bed, got the telephone number of the boy’s father and called him to come and pick up his son…. and finally disappeared from the room.

The struggle between becoming a man and the pain was immense….. the boy bit his lip and tried hard to resist the tears, yet they came one by one until it became a steady flow while the boy writhed in pain on the sick-bed. Then came the white-robed person by accident….

He saw the boy on the bed and enquired what was the issue and when he realised the seriousness of the same, he left his work and sat beside the boy for the next one hour till the boy’s father came. Continuously he was stroking the head of the boy hoping that this will bring relief to the pain. He was also trying to sing, make some jokes through out, again hoping that the pain will subside soon.

Yet, the tears rolled off the young face of the boy who could hardly move because of the jolt he received from his broken elbow. But the elderly gentleman was wiping off the tears, singing, telling stories, caressing the boy’s head… doing all these things for ‘another’ student of the school, for a boy whose name also he did not know till that point of time. And because of the continuous pain, because of the great care and fatherly love, the boy slowly went to a slumber…  and yet the robed person stayed besides him in case the boy wakes up….

Finally the boy’s father came to pick up his son and take him to a hospital. And he also saw the tenderness of this robed person, who lifted the boy on his own hands and took him to the car.

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Thirty years later….

The boy has grown up and had become a man, and yet he still remembers this incident which brings in tears in respect to that great human being, that elderly robed person working in the school.

The great person’s name was Father Joseph Sassel, who came from Belgium at a young age and spent his lifetime at St. Xavier’s School, Calcutta totally dedicated to help young kids grow up in the ‘Small School’ not with just knowledge, but lots of values in life.

And the boy was me…

I write this as a tribute to the respected “Father”s in our school, who in spite of our pranks and naughty incidents, believed from their core of their heart that each one of us have great potential…..  and dedicated their lives to develop us to be a better HUMAN BEING. Their contribution to make us “independent” is immense and as a selfish individual, I can think of this incident on my country’s independence day more than anything else.

The art of telling stories in 30 seconds

Is there an art of telling stories that will remain in your mind for months and years ? Of course yes. Now if I add a clause that this needs to be done in maximum 30 seconds, what will be the reaction – naaahhhh, very difficult, impossible !!! Well, that’s what advertising in television needs to achieve – isn’t it ? And how often we see this as a difficult task when we are just watching TV ? Most often, either we take a deep yawn or run to the loo for the long-awaited leak and run back for the match to restart ….

But the companies have that time slot to make a mark on our minds at least for a near future, if not more. That 30 second slot may be worth thousands of dollars and hence the cost per second is simply huge. And if you can’t make an impact in that duration, all those spent dollars gets down the drain. That is why, it is important that we have a great story to make that impression amongst the huge viewers.

Now, I had the privilege of staying in various cities, countries and cultures for last 7 / 8 years and obviously have had the opportunity to watch many TV commercials. What I have observed (now this my personal observation) is that the advertisements in the western world is more direct, goes straight into the product details or features and rarely tells a great story to remember by. Obviously, there are exceptions – but generally this is what I have felt over years. On the other hand, the eastern world advertisements, specially from India, tend to tell a complete story in 30 seconds and hence makes it more touching, more memorable.

As an example, let us take the case of Cadbury’s. The same multi national corporation has so different quality of advertisements when it comes to say UK and India. The UK ad here is quite direct whereas the Indian ad touches the emotions and make you smile at the end of the 30 second story. Maybe it is just me who feels this way, maybe it is a cultural issue here, but overall I find the average Indian advertisement much more touchy, memorable and enjoyable.

UK advertisement:

India advertisement:

And obviously, there are exceptions on both sides :-)

Definitely, I am an animal !

It is said that human beings after all are animals and hence possess qualities that are called commonly as “animal instincts”. However, one of the reason why these animal instincts are not displayed very often in public space is because human brains have an extra ‘layer’ of sanity, education, sense of ‘good vs bad’. But when circumstances push and push human beings to the limit of sanity, the strength of these animal instincts become so forceful that it overcomes all other senses and is then displayed in bouts of madness, extreme behaviour that defies common sense and understanding.

Therefore, whenever we see such incidents, we feel that is the limit of humanity and then we are on that grey corridor of uncertainty between an animal and a human being. This limit varies between person to person and probably gets dictated by the cumulated mental state of mind the individual has been for some months or years. Otherwise, how will you justify that in situations of mob violence, many ‘sane’ persons tend to lose themselves for that fraction of a second and actively participate in the act of insanity. Some gets triggered by the sense of frustration on the system and breaks down into a bout of extreme violence only for a couple of minutes. After that, you will very often find that person not only normal but also regretful with his insanity accompanied by self questioning of “how could I do that ?”

But today’s topic is not animal instinct – rather on the fact whether we ‘sane’ animals love to see acts of ‘animal instincts’ in play when human beings disintegrate amidst strong and pushy atmosphere ? If there are certain players doing this and we see a live (or rather edited) display of the mental disintegration on television, do we love to see that ?

I believe so ! Because that’s what reality shows like Big Boss (the Indian version of Big Brother) tends to do. We sit on a sofa, drinking tea, waiting for some explosive scenes to happen within a group of diversified individuals being mentally pushed to a limit. And if one episode ends without any quarrel or any clashes, we feel ‘bored’ and switch off the television. Basically, in the name of a contest, we human beings love to watch animal instincts being displayed by human beings, who in normal life are known to be well-behaved and dignified.

To trigger the most unpredictable behaviour amongst the people, the producers selects people who have varied upbringing experiences, who are mentally strong (and hence can be brittle as well) and put them in a ‘circus’ arena to bring out their ‘animal instincts’. We, the common people, sit around to see the circus and applaud loudly if someone screams or threatens to hit out others in scenes of extreme stress.

We sometimes are not so much interested to speculate on who will win this years contest, but we are definitely well-informed through the ‘trailers’ whether tomorrow’s episode has a quota of violent behaviour and hence, we make ‘time’ to watch the episode at any cost, in spite of tolerating the break in continuity through the numerous advertisements.

Definitely, I am an animal … are you ?

 

The immortal creation that appeals to generation after generation ….

With just a few weeks to one of the biggest celebrations triggering off across the Bengali community in the world, the first thing that comes to my mind is the evergreen creation of Mahisashur Mardini played at 4 am on the Mahalaya day. This creation still appeals to all generations, still is as popular as ever and still is one of the best ‘classics’ created by Bengal – scripted by Bani Kumar, music directed by Pankaj Mallick and rendered immortal through the unique recitation by Birendra Krishna Bhadra.

To me, this atmosphere at 4 am, every Mahalaya actually paves in the festive spirit of the Durga Puja and it symbolises a charm that even energises the most lethargic people as well.

You wake up at 4 am, switch off the alarm, grope your way in sleepy eyes to put on the radio, start listening to the fantastic recitation of Biren Bhadra and the songs of legends, sometimes go to a peaceful slumber, then suddenly wake up to another song, see the morning rays enlighten the blue sky, hear the first chirps of the birds, again go automatically for another short nap, waking up to the final crescendo of “Ya Devi Sarbabhuteshshu, Saktirupena Sanksthita, Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namasteshwai Namo Namahah”, then take the morning tea and realise that the celebrations has just been kicked-off.

Durga Puja cannot be the same without our “Mahalaya” and the Mahalaya cannot be the same without Biren Bhadra and his immortal creation ! By listening to the same in next 10-14 days, let’s pay a tribute to the creator of this unique creation.

My last walk in England

It is the last walk on a sunny afternoon … though it is summer, the chill in the air was still being felt by many. Sweat, hard work, success and failures – all has been a part of my life. All these qualities are there in any human being; I do not consider myself extra-ordinary, even though some of the people do think that I am a class apart from my seniors, peers as well as the juniors across the world. But I do not feel the same – as I only believe that talent is just a beginning, it is the hard work and then giving more than 100% pays. And that is what I have been doing for last 14 years, day in and day out.

This walk is not a happy one .. as probably I will be leaving England in my current active role for the last time. Normally the last walk is always supposed to be full of praises, full of nostalgia, full of memories. When I wake up tomorrow morning, I am sure I will get a fair quota of each of the above three … but what has made the walk a sad one is because at the end of the day, I have faced another defeat … our pride had gone down the drain after so much success in last few months … here was the last chance to regain some pride – but my colleagues and friends could not make that … As always, I have tried my best – got some success but no so much just before I started my last walk.

I wonder what has gone wrong in the last few months – but do not get any answer. I must be exhausted as my mind is not working – this surely has been such a mentally challenge for the last few weeks …

People say that my success is often overshadowed by the success of my great colleague .. maybe so, but I as an individual have never bothered about my success … this is a work I love to do and while working, I give my best … rest, as they say, will be history.

I look around as I walk past my workplace – some people are giving their customary clap, some wishing me good for my future, some cursing the decision-maker for a tough call … but still, I cannot enjoy the walk as I retreat for a lost cause .. a lost cause specially when we were on top of the world even a couple of months ago … don’t know why this disaster has happened – but I am an optimist and hence believe my juniors will rise to the occasion the next time … only difference will be that I will not be there to enjoy the English summer next time with the greens, the strawberries and of course, the red cherry coming at you at a high-speed and lateral movement ….

Well, that’s life … let me take rest, raise my legs on the table, relax back and close my eyes … the day is coming to an end ….

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This must have been what Rahul Dravid was thinking as he walked back to the pavilion after being dismissed in the last innings of the India – England test series at Oval, England, 21st Aug’ 2011

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