Friday, November 9, 2007

A radiant night

I have never cared much for festivals. As it is we seem to have too many of them in India and hardly enough happiness all around to justify celebrating them with so much gusto. Of course, there's the other theory that festivals are the only way to break the cycle of normal life. In school or in college, normal life was just so interesting that all this hulla-baloo about festivals seemed childish! But since I have started working every reason for a holiday or a different kind of day seems really welcome.

But today was always different even on earlier occasions. Diwali, the festival of lights captured my imagination back when I was a kid and even today. The existence of Lord Ram and his return to Ayodhya is not a scientifically verifiable story, but at least it comes really handy to celebrate a grand festival. The crackers with their earth-shattering sounds and captivating colours, were the real attractions as a kid when all other nights were of the early-to-bed and early-to-rise kind. Now certain things like the immense smoke and disturbance that crackers cause to people who are really not into the mood of the festival and not to mention the fact that these crackers being made by young hands for whom the future is so dark and fatal put me off such celebrations, and prevent me from enjoying as much as I used to. I know all these considerations may sound so 'pseudo' in nature to those who don't know me so well but that's how I feel now.

But beyond the crackers, its what Diwali represents that really appeals to me. The symbolic victory of good over evil, though we all know in the real world the battle will probably never be final and complete. It restores a little faith in the hope that eventually at some point centuries or tens of centuries later, being good will pay off and for now keep up the struggle through the rough times that all good men have to face! The lamps all around casting their golden glow, the children's faces beaming with happiness and the general sense of bonhomie that is so rare. A light in the darkness, a imagery used ad nauseum, yet never ever losing its aura of frail yet somehow infinitely powerful beauty.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A chance encounter

It was a typical Sunday morning, when I came out of my house in my faded Tee and crumpled shorts to make my weekly pilgrimage to the local cyber-cafe. Emerging from the gate, on the side of the road where most times of the day, a beggar makes his voice heard, I almost walked into a most famous gentleman called Biman Bose. Seeing a face seen so frequently on the television standing right near my gate, took me by shock and with my three day stubble and wild, fresh from sleep hair I also seemed to have taken him by surprise. For an amusing 5 seconds or so, we regarded each other with mild suspicion and for want of anything else to do, I moved off while he climbed into the Bolero which by then had materialized from somewhere to deliver him to his party headquarters.

Now Biman Babu as the local residents call him, may not be a national news creating political figure but as state General Secretary of the CPI(M) party in 'Red' Kolkata, there are few politicians more important. I always knew that he stayed in the house opposite mine but never actually expected to literally bump into him in the flesh. To find someone capable of bringing this entire city to a screeching halt within half an hour, and responsible for moulding decisions that influence crores of people, waiting with a significantly irritated expression for his car to show up adds a curiously human face to the powers that be. To see an emotion like surprise on a face that normally is busy extolling the latest achievements made by his party or debunking the Opposition's accusations made me do a rethink. Its funny how after seeing all the dramatics that politicos put up for daily consumption on news channels I had stopped seeing them as normal human beings and part of some larger soap opera in which they had their roles and one in which I had no stake. But as I felt then, the people that rule are actually not so different from the people that they rule.