Other Pursuits‎ > ‎


To hell with facts, we need stories! - Ken Kessey

Here's a link to my poetrysoup page where I put poetry sometime. 

Chronicles of my untimely sneezes!

April 19, 2015 at 10:55pm

Sneezes come to me at any moment, any unearthly hour. I am quite accustomed to it being there and proudly announcing its holy presence at intervals of ten seconds, for around ten times at a stretch, every now and then. I am used to this sudden involuntary twitches in my nostrils, followed by an explosion and thereby spreading sound waves, isotropic and unhindered, reaching any neighboring ear(mine too), in all its glory. I am used to that impeccable feeling of disquiet around my nose, that happens to come in public places, or in isolation, in a state of embarrassment or empathy, in ecstasy or in blasphemy. 

Illustrious sneezes have some pros and cons, as most things in life have. Let me enlighten on my sneezes more.

My untimely sneezes have got a glorious history. And it has got a lot to do with history too! One of my school friends might remember this incident in unbelievable detail, not (just) because my stories are usually extraordinary, but the fact that she had an eye for details, I presume. And a memory for details too. 

It was half-yearly examination of class nine. Again, I must confirm this with her. We had history examination. In those days history was the only treacherous subject for people, primarily because Mughal emperors had big names and big achievements. Although I found geography more intimidating. Anyway, so two days before the exam, we were almost swooning over the magnanimity of the fascinating history of India on us and almost drowning passively into the ocean of this horrible fascination with an air of who-cares-what-happens-ness. We were studying quite a lot, as one would do in the spirit of examination, although knowing deep down within, the futility of it. 

The good day ushered in the conundrum of an all-pervading outbreak of sneezes. The good day to die hard, for everyone. And right from the morning it came in occasional spasmodic outbursts. I said, "Et tu, brute?" in my mind, as if history was just not enough! I couldn't have taken anti-allergic, that too in this examination, particularly when we already knew that half-yearly history examination was known to have insufficient time, dating back to old ages in school history. So I just took one weapon to fight my sneezes: handkerchief (that too, male's handkerchief given that my dad offered this precious weapon first, before anyone else in the family. He seems to be a kind man). I entered exam hall in bold strides(and sneezing). I started writing(and sneezing) persistently, without breaks. The exceptions were the two minutes every now and then when I wanted additional sheets(and sneezed). That friend of mine had probably asked me after the exam, "did you sneeze or give exam?"

One specially inquisitive, special friend had recently had the requisite amount of curiosity and patience to count the number of sneezes I can come up with at one go when I am the victim of an outburst. It was twelve at that time. I hardly dishearten anyone who try to count my sneezes with a lot of enthusiasm and expectation of getting a two-digit number. My office mates and the ones from my neighboring office-room are perpetually amused by the extent and consistency of my sneezes. One of the office-mates often provides me with excess paper-tissues, in case of emergency-sneezing in the office.

Yesterday, I was personally charmed by my untimely sneezes. The number was small, three. My sneezes behaved decently this time, they knew that it was a talk by some big-shot, so they cannot just come in uncontrolled epidemic, in unprecedented exuberance. So they were just three short, cute outbursts. However the moment was well chosen. The talk had become stretched and unmistakably extended beyond stipulated time and we were hungry. Fortunately the big-shot couldn't hear the beautiful explosions. But the neighbors did. One of my office-mates started giggling with his palm on the mouth in an attempt to control the laughter, while on the other side another colleague distinctly laughed when the second one came. They probably hoped that as usual I would throw ten nice, neat explosions and create a mayhem. After the third, a post-doc sitting two rows down the line, looked back in amusement. I was already half-embarrassed and half-choked in laughter. I was beginning to have a feeling like those unruly, mischievous back-benchers in school, who disturb classes by such sounds. That, kind of, elevated my spirits but on the other hand I also wanted to drown in embarrassment in anticipation of another blow. It didn't come, however, and saved the day gracefully. 

Thus it keeps coming, going and enchanting me along with many others. It might come with rains, it might come with sun. It makes me believe that sneezing is an art and very few people are born with that ingrained talent of sneezing consistently, to the absolute horror of people around them.

I am looking forward to more memorable occasions when I would be able to show the charisma of my characteristic untimely sneezes more elaborately. Till then.


Rooftop Memories

July 9, 2013 at 3:32pm

There is a slow sleepiness about the roof. The kind that could cause your eyelids to droop. It's all about afternoons. Slow, poignant afternoons. A mat spread over, books lying around aimlessly, a bowl of puffed rice and biscuits lying on the mat with an eccentric inadvertence. That's probably one of my earliest memories. This would be my sibling's idea, though, the biscuits and books and puffed rice. I remember him solving maths there. And I would probably read something.

There would be not-so-silent evenings, starry skies and me desperately clinging to the railings because I wouldn't be able to grab the top surface. Now that I have watched stars more than once, in proper star-gazing sessions, I am still as clueless as ever, trust me, and I still wonder what I had wondered then. Stars do make me happy, though. They always bring good memories.

In those evenings I would stare around the world with a skeptical look, ignorant of my mother silently walking up to the staircase and putting off the light. I would shout aloud, furrowed eyebrows, trying to jump over the grills to the staircase, instead of walking round the longer path. Maa!  By that time she'd switch it on and smile. There isn't anything to fear, even in darkness!  That probably worked. I wasn't ever too scared of darkness, ghosts or anything lifeless. Forms and structures with life are often far more scary.

My roof reminds me of countless diwali fireworks! There would be a fake bonfire made of the empty paper-cases of the rangmashal and tarabati. All that remained was a burned mass, unrecognizable, and black ashes. All that remains would always be smoldering ashes. Always.

Colored candles and small pradeeps would light up the railings and obscure corners of the roof. Who cares, if that scares off the bad spirits or not. All I knew and believed is that the blinking lights made it look beautiful.

There is a line of flower-pots. A customary money-plant as it could climb and ornament, a tulsi as well. There is an empty bulb-holder, sticking out of white plaster on one side. A lonely crow would perch itself there and piss you off with its incessant, harsh calls. In between the flower pots there would be a region of  an eerie, undefined reality. It always reminded me of Tagore's poem, one of my childhood-favorites-

আমার রাজার বাড়ি কোথায় কেউ জানে না সে তো

সে বাড়ি কি থাকত যদি লোকে জানতে পেত? 

(No one knows where my king's palace stands 

Would that palace exist if they had known about it?)

I don't remember all the lines, but somehow a fuzzy recollection suggests me the location of রাজার বাড়ি (King's palace)-

ছাদএর পাশে তুলসী গাছের টব আছে যেইখানে ...

(Where the tulsi-pot lies beside our roof)

You know what? Rooftops are mostly about stereotypical, poetic, starry childhoods. And all your irrelevant, lost imagination.


Evenings of the child!

June 7, 2015 at 11:51pm

Evenings are like quaint thinkers, who wouldn't paint you a picture to see the colors and bounds of real entities. But would tell the meanings in gray. Or black-brown. Rather than showing all those red-blue-yellow flowers and rivers and boundaries of the visual world, and an apparent limit called sky, evenings would ruffle your hair and trigger your mind to make stories of boundless worlds inside you. Evenings wouldn't let you see a thing. Evenings are the powerful, piercing and poignant poets who give you intangible yet pretty, pretty pieces of thoughts.

Quaint, quaint evenings!

Evenings are the ones that'd make you wonder about 'little stars' and what they are. Evenings would give you sounds from unseen sources. Evenings are like philosophers who would never be explicit but impelling you with impulsive urges. You couldn't but wonder about a whole land of unknown, unseen, unexplored truths in the evenings. 

After the entire morning of undisputed notion that the blue gives a limit, you go up in the roof and suddenly see those stars all look same from every directions and definitely get perturbed as a child,

"These are far, far away and these don't seem to give a limit at all! There is something fishy about this sky."

Suddenly you suspect a conspiracy of your morning. Suddenly you ponder that this sky may not be a limit at all. 

"That's why,", you think, "no matter how much I jumped, I could never be near enough to those clouds that morning showed 

to be so close."

Your evening smiles.