Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Big Apple once again

Just one more day of office and then it'll be time to plunge into the human currents of NYC once more. My first trip to New York was a very involving experience in itself but it was limited to the streets of midtown Manhattan and some clubs of which I have rather foggy memories. 

It was New Yorker's New York that I had seen on my last trip and now am hoping to cover the touristy part of it. The city should be even more alive with the Thanksgiving holidays on. New York is the epitome of the urban jungle and I am dying to stalk it's streets again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Games" period

It used to inhabit the first half of a Wednesday morning, a follow up to the robotic exercises that constituted PT period. There was usually a torturous class of regular studies in between set to inflame the need to run out on the grounds even further. The school grounds loomed vast and empty through the windows as we alternated between glancing at the watch and the grounds, waiting for the bell to ring in the freedom. The daily long lunch break always found us in the same ground playing cricket to our fill, but the ability to swing a bat in the midst of full fledged study time carried a special significance. 

We would grudgingly go ahead in orderly lines, always on the verge of bursting over held back only by the fear of the thin cane in Frank sir's hands. The gate into the grounds was the magical marker line beyond which we were free souls. A single step into the grounds and the lines would disperse into a wave running out to the centre of the ground where the pieces for action would be set. The stumps driven into the grounds, teams hurriedly picked by a coin toss and the most intense half an hour of cricket ever played would progress. And then the bell would ring bringing the curtains down on all the grit and emotions on display. Dust caked on our feet and our throats parched, we would return weary but satisfied with our liberty on mortgage for yet another school week, 

Cashing in on misery

The greatest irony is that I hate their music almost as much as I am enthralled by it. Acid rock was never supposed to be bright and inspirational, and indeed if you really crave a peppy song then you should rather buy yourself a pop album. The music of Pink Floyd is perfect for the mood that it set out to create. There is no feeling of insecurity, loss and helplessness that their songs do not probe and bring to the surface. 

Every random sound on their songs is actually a road marker to that eventual goal of making you feel as miserable as possible. They lack the seething anger that other bands display when faced with a intolerable situation. Their cold acceptance of the hard realities of life and the death of dreams are both horrifying and strangely soothing at the same time. They are one band I'd avoid like the plague, were I really depressed! Floyd are the undisputed kings over their self constructed empire of sadness.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Unlike the normal Calcutta bred Bengali, I've not grown up immersed in the infinite world of his poetry, prose and music. The extremely limited Bengali reading skills that I possess are not enough to appreciate the rhythm of his words or their appropriateness. So when on a Saturday afternoon with nothing to do, I set out for a busy part of North Calcutta, I didn't know what to expect. The red brick building that was the Thakurbari lies a short walk from a busy intersection and in fact serves as the campus for a University. This is Jorasanko, the ancestral house of the Thakurs or Tagores whose genius reached a cumulative high with the influence that it had in shaping the life of Rabindranath Tagore.

From what I perceive, Tagore was to Bengali culture what William Shakespeare is to the Brits multiplied manifold. A cultural cornerstone without whom the identity of every Bengali is incomplete. I bought the nominally priced ticket that allowed entry into the main house and climbed into its cool interiors. The walls were lined with quotes and paintings of the great man, the English translations of which were powerful enough. The impact of the original words written in the language closest to his heart must be even more amazing. I came across parents explaining in detail to their kids of the signifcance of each little item on display and every member of the Tagore family tree. I was way past that age when the facts could be drilled into me but I could tell without any doubt that these were facts worth knowing.

To walk in this house was to feel the current of creativity surging through the house. The beautiful verandahs which looked out onto the central garden was just waiting for another set of little feet to play in its shadows, hop out into the patches of sunlight which had blustered their way in and run in among the elders who would indulge their childish exuberance. It was hard not to be a genius when parents, your uncles and your aunts are artists/ philosphers / scholars par excellence. Not to take anything away from the grand old man though. For this is a man who shaped not only the minds of all Bengalis to come but also the spirit of India. It was a honour just to breathe the same air and walk the same ways that had nourished his brilliance.

Nights out on the towns: Sequels to the first adventure

If you've been following my blog in the recent months, I had been describing the enamourment of the senses on my first visit to a night-club, a joint called "Mantra" in downtown Boston. The initial thrill is of course the greatest and the childish levels of excitement are a thing of the past much to my relief. 
Now under the "evil" shadow of my cousin, every weekend trip to Boston culminates in a grand late night entrance into A. "Pearl" an Asian club, or B. "Caprice" where Greek beauties hang around or C. a plain ol' 'Bangdaa' party (as PIOs tend to call it) or some other kind of a temptation laden place like that. The following day has only brought severe hangovers and embarassing stories to relate till date but the obvious lessons to be learnt are faithfully ignored by me. As heartlessly pointed out by one of my readers, "Aristotle goes clubbing" and is still not ashamed of his fish-out-of-water status in there!
And the above was only the Boston chapter of the story. My trip to New York City was supposed to be a grave educational trip to the city with a day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, followed by a ferry ride past the Statue of Liberty and a solemn minute of silence observed at where the WTC once stood etc etc. I had paid in advance for a room at a bare-to-bones backpacker's Hostel in the heart of NYC to further this noble cause. 
Instead I was party to my cousin bro's party of party loving party animal friends as they swooped down upon New York from Boston the same weekend that I was there. After meeting them in the neon lit wonderland of Times Square, I remember drinking like a fish at a birthday of a Punjabi girl whom I had met almost 5 minutes ago. That was the hall at the Bryant Park Hotel and after that it seems we went to three more parties. When my bro told me of this fact the next morning I was pooh-poohing him away until I checked my camera and found pictures that I did even remember taking. Point accepted, bro! Thank God he brought me back to the hotel where he was staying, or I surely wouldn't have made it back to my Hostel on the maze of trains that is the NYC subway system.
By evening next day i.e Saturday, my head was still in a buzz and we wandered into this Indian joint called "The Kemia" emerging in grand style from the blue lit interior of a blinged out stretch limousine. It had all the trimmings that you'd expect with champagne on ice, an earth shattering music system and infinite space to bounce around in. We were going to come by a simple NYC cab but this plaything of the rich offered us a good deal which we seized. The latest Bollywood mixes, lots of beer and unrelenting peace-to-the-eyes later, I was back to the same stage I was the day before. Drunk and unable to find my way back to the Hostel. So I ended up paying for two nights in a Hostel where I didn't stay! Needless to say, all my original points of action for a trip to NYC to be remained completely untouched.
The latest in the series of mis-adventures was only last weekend. My cousin's crew and me as a tag-along were at this party at the Park Plaza hotel and we were pretending to be dancing right next to an all girl entourage of six beautiful young blondes eyeing them every second of the evening. 
Lesson no 447 of drinking: Don't swig on your beer too fast in a misinformed attempt to impress female on-lookers because when out of the blue one of them requests you (of all the guys in your group) to take a picture of them, your frazzled senses will make you fumble around desperately for the shutter button. Sure, it'll make all those blondes flash their stunning smiles at you and laugh with you but God knows it'd be for all the wrong reasons.
Enhanced by Zemanta