Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Day in Patna

That is where six of us were last Saturday. Now, you must be wondering what the hell I was doing in Patna of all places. That shall be recounted a bit later. We reached Patna station at around 5 a.m. After leaving the station, we were greeted with a sea of people moving in all directions. It kind of reminded me of Howrah Station, minus the size. Guess it’s the same in all major cities around the country, with the huge population that we have. Anyway, Hims was really under pressure and was about to shit in his pants when he (thankfully) found a ‘Sulabh Shauchalay’. While he was gone, Nilesh suddenly realised that he could not see anything. That was because he had left his newly acquired specs, which cost a fortune, in the train itself. Brilliant! And the train was about to leave for the next station. So he made a run for it, across the crowd, over the foot-bridge and to the platform where the train was still (luckily) standing. He returned five minutes later, his eyesight now restored. As they say, “Morning shows the day!” And this was one hell of a beginning of a day.

Next stop: Patna Medical College Hospital, where we met Dev. Now, the reason we went to Patna was because Dev’s father has been hospitalized and needed blood. I wish him a speedy recovery.   

Hims was like really freaking out because he is scared of syringes. We had a ball of a time chiding him for it.

Useless Observation 1: Cattle like cows and goats are huge in Patna, I mean larger than their normal size. I saw one cow there; it stood in the middle of the road and blocked all the traffic, which seemed to be mainly composed of autos, rickshaws and bicycles for some reason. I had never seen a cow of that size before. The same goes for a few goats we ran into. Guess there growth hormones really kicked in at the right time. 

Anyway, we went to the blood-bank section of the hospital and after some paper-work were ready to give blood. I was first in. The nurse asked all kinds of questions like have i had any disease like jaundice or malaria, whether I had taken any anti-biotics etc. etc. Finally assured that I was clean to give blood, I was asked to lie down on a bed after which I was poked with a syringe in my arm. And the blood was flowing- my precious blood. Meanwhile, Hims came into the room and went through the same process himself. Around five minutes later, they finally took away a pouchful of nice O+ve blood. The nurse asked me whether I was feeling fine.


Of course I was feeling fine. Best feeling in the world: satisfaction that I have done something nice. It was bliss. I could see golden sprinkles in front of my eyes and then everything went white- pure and untampered white. The feeling was awesome. I am guessing that this is what they mean when they say drug users are on a ‘high’. It felt like having attained ‘Nirvana’ or ‘Moksh’.

(I was later told that I had actually fainted for about half a minute till some water was sprinkled on my face. Guess the blood just stopped flowing to my brain)

Hims could not stop laughing and get his back on me. After all the leg pulling I had done for his fear of needles, it was I who had fainted. Ohh! The shame of it.

Ten minutes down the line, however, I felt absolutely fine, absolutely no problems. So we decided we would roam around Patna, and bid Dev and his family goodbye. Unfortunately, we could not find anything interesting at all. We finally ended up back at the station at 6 p.m. It was now my turn to use the ‘Sulabh Shauchalay’. They are precious jewels of the civilized world.

Useless Observation 2: The feeling was amazing when the pressure was relieved and I had emptied my bowels. It is difficult to believe that sex would be better than this. I hope it is.

We had a situation on our hands at about 8 p.m. Two among us had to catch a train from Gaya to Lucknow, while the rest of us were going to Dhanbad. It was around 8 that we learnt that the train to Lucknow had been cancelled because of some trouble. So, these two guys had to go through a lot of trouble and spend a fortune on getting tickets for another train from Patna to Lucknow. We finally departed Patna at around 11 p.m. with a few cherishable, but mostly forgettable experiences. To be honest, unless it is a necessity, I would not be going back there again.    

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Durga Puja through my eyes

So, finally Durga Puja is over. Probably my best holidays since I joined college in terms of enjoyment. I did not take part in the actual ‘pujo’ part of it, though, for obvious reasons. I do not know if it was me or whether the crowd seemed to have dwindled in number compared to previous years. Another thing I noticed was that there were hardly any people (especially of my age group) who were not with someone from the opposite sex. Hmmm.

That made our group of the 2006-batch from school quite unique, when you consider that we were more than a dozen or so in number while roaming about and never less than five at any point of time, without a girl anywhere near us. No, we are not gay, at least most of us aren’t. Some people like to call themselves bachelors (BBC for the people directly involved). However, I am assured that towards the evenings, a large number of our group did betray us to spend time with their female friends. (Because of uncertainty, I shall not use the word girlfriend.) There is hope for us yet.

                                 The Pratima(idol) and interiors at Babubagan in South Kolkata.

We hopped from one pandal to another, most of which were impressive and innovative. They ‘were’ seriously good pieces of art/architecture with immaculate designs and delicate craftsmanship. The same is true for all the pratimas (idols). Dismantling the pandals and immersing the idols in the river of Hooghly at the end of it all seems like sacrilege, if you think about it. Imagine dismantling the Taj Mahal or the St. Peter’s Basilica, or throwing the ‘Statue of David’ or the ‘Mona Lisa’ into the ocean. Michelangelo or Da Vinci would not be too pleased by that, would they? Neither would they be as famous as they are now had that been the case. Imagine the kind of fame these artisans who make the Durga idols have got if their works were preserved.

An article on these lines was published a few days ago in TOI describing how the artisans need to be indifferent towards their own pieces of art. And the last time I heard, they weren’t rolling in cash either. That means they get neither the adequate amount of money nor the recognition they deserve for their work. Isn’t that grossly unfair on them?

I guess the whole thing culminates to our tradition that the idol must be immersed in the ‘holy’ waters of the Ganga. Besides the afore-mentioned loss to the artisans, it must be contributing immensely to the already grave water pollution scenario. After all, the paint used does contain lead and other toxic chemicals which are mixed with the river water after the immersion. Maybe it is time we have a re-think over whether our traditions are really worth following.

Lots of people may be up in arms over such a thought, but it does not take Einstein to figure out that such festivities at the end leave both the people and the environment poorer. In this respect, it was ironical that one particular pandal had chosen ‘Pollution Control’ as its theme for the pandal and lighting this year. I wonder whether they did anything substantial to control pollution themselves.

Photo Courtesy: Saurav Samaddar, Babubagan Sarbojaninn Durgotsav Committee

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Overboard with Chips

I like chips, but this stall, near a puja pandal, just went overboard.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Musings during a Train Journey

Travelling alone by train is one of the most lonesome experiences possible. Had the misfortune of being at the receiving end of one such journey the other day, when I was returning home for puja vacations. As DD rightly put it, “When you travel alone by train, you get a first-hand experience of the fact that staying single is so boring.” Because of the ample amount of free time, I could contemplate about many things which I generally would not, and so I penned (or rather typed) them down.


The ‘common man’ in India is probably one of the most insensitive among all common men of the world. How can we be so indifferent towards what is going on around us?

We complain about the fact that the government does not do anything for us. “Chaaron taraf kitni gandagi hai.” You will hear this often, and yet it will be the very same people who litter the streets without thinking twice about it. Can’t they find a dustbin anywhere? They should take a leaf from Saffrondude’s book (read his post on Littering).

The huge population of the country, especially the large number of poor people is often decried. Yet, when a poor man tries to honestly earn some money, there is everyone trying to push him down. I was witness to one such occasion during this uneventful train journey. A vendor was selling ‘samosa and kachauri’ and charged six rupees a plate. Having eaten one plate myself, I must mention here that they were delicious. Yet, when it came to paying for it, a fellow passenger had a fight with the vendor over the price saying he would pay no more than five rupees. The man was well-dressed, flaunted an expensive mobile phone and looked like one whose troubles in life were mostly artificial. Surely, he had felt the pinch of inflation himself, or did he think that he was the only one to be affected by it and people like the vendor still enjoyed prices existing 10 years ago. Then what was it that drove him to engage in a war of words over ‘one rupee’, one tiny, useless, insignificant rupee; something which probably did not have any value for him but must surely have had meant something for the vendor.

To add to this particular passenger’s impudence, ten minutes after this incident he went to the door and had a smoke. “Surely, sir, your cigarette cost more than the one rupee you just robbed from that poor man.” I felt like slapping him, one because of the aforementioned incident and second because the smoke was irritating me. But then, I can’t go around slapping people. I couldn’t even muster enough courage to tell him that he was wrong. Why? I was just as likely to be shouted down as the poor vendor. Boy, do some people think they are the ‘centre of the universe’ or what?

This is more a generalization than an exception. While I accept that most people are not as insolent or uncouth as this person was, the indifference and insensitivity is there for all to see. How often is it that we see an accident on the road, and only a couple or so people rush to help while the rest watch it and then continue without looking back?

 “It is his/her problem; there are so many others here to look after them, what do I care?”

Someday, sir (or ma’am), you will find yourself in the same position and then there would probably be no one to help you out. Maybe, then you would realise that there are some things in this world called humanity, kindness and benevolence as well.