Thursday, June 14, 2018

Brazil: We Need the Cup Again


I was may be three or four years old – I don’t remember clearly. But, what I do remember that it was the first time I had watched the game of Football. I was with my uncle, standing near the field, watching players getting ready for the match.

Someone was saying, “Where is Pele?”

‘Pele’ – that was the first time I heard the name.

And, even after more than 25 years, I still vividly remember that voice and that sentence.

“There he is” – someone said as a man jumped and ran into the field. I only remember that he had worn yellow coloured socks.

I do not remember anything more about that day. My sub conscious mind stored only that memory. And, until I grew a few more years older, for me Pele was the guy whom I had seen that day.

Football once again entered my brain when I was nine years old. It was the year of the Football World Cup 1994. Brazil won the Cup, Romario and Bebeto’s name got inscribed in my brain and since then I became a devotee of Brazil. However, my only memory of that World Cup is the penalty that Roberto Baggio of Italy missed in the Final.

Football fever finally engulfed me during the World Cup 1998. I was hoping for a Brazil win and their loss in the final made me cry. I had even made posters with Brazil and Ronaldo’s name and pasted them in our drawing room prior to the final.

The next edition of the World Cup in 2002 finally put the smile back on my face. The mesmerizing display of football by Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho ensured that the Cup goes to Brazil. The free kick of Ronaldinho against England will forever be a special memory and he will always stay my favourite footballer of all time.

I am still waiting to see Brazil lift the Cup once again, after those agonizing defeats in the last three editions of the World Cup. Hope this year fulfils my wish.

Best of Luck, Neymar and Co!

Live it Up!

We want that Cup!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Songs and Nostalgia


Imagine a life without music?

Can you?

No, it’s quite difficult.

A few days ago I was watching a short video clip of one of Charlie Chaplin’s silent films. And then, it hit my mind. What if, there were no songs and music in our life? How dull it would have been.

I then realized how powerful songs are in evoking the various thought centres of our brain. I am sure many of you associate certain songs with certain events or happenings in your life.

I started thinking about some of such songs and found that I can almost relive my entire growing up years through certain songs.

While ‘Rangoli’ and ‘Chitrahaar’ gave us the first taste of bollywood songs, it was the songs of ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ that made the first indelible mark on my mind. The film had released around the time when I was in love for the first time, and the song ‘Tum Paas Aye’ was the reason for many a sleepless nights.

Over the years, as my love for her had increased, the voices of Kumar Sanu and Zubeen Garg kept me awake many a night. Starting from ‘Aashiqui’ to ‘Hiya Diya Nia’, those songs still find a place in my playlist.

And it was another musical night when I had proposed her. And for that reason the film ‘Pyaar, Ishq Aur Mohabbat’ and especially its song, ‘Jab Tujhe Maine Dekha Nahin Tha’, will always be embedded in my psyche. That song was playing in the background, while she had acknowledged that she too loves me!

There are also a few songs which I always associate with my Tezpur University days. There is a song by Zubeen Garg titled ‘Mon Heruwai’ from his album ‘Sabda’, which me and my roommate used to hear often. We were in the first semester and it was the onset of winter when we first heard the song. We feel in love with the song and used to listen to it every night. Whenever I listen to that song, my mind goes back to that wonderful ‘Winter of 2007’.

Another song that has always stayed with me is the evergreen classic by Kishore Kumar - ‘Mere Naina Sawaan Bhado’. At the hostel, I used to request my roommate to sing a song before going to sleep and this song was my most requested song. Even now, I sometimes call him up late in the night and request him to sing it for me.

With numerous songs being released almost every week nowadays, I have found that I have not been love with a new song for many years. I still listen to songs which I can associate with the early years of my life; maybe because I can relive those moments through these songs.

It seems Music can create Nostalgia at its best!



Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Fragile Relationships



A few days ago, I was talking with one of my childhood friends over the telephone. We had spent our childhood together in one of the largest tea estates in eastern Assam. While me and my family do not stay there any more, he is now an employee of that tea estate. While I was talking with him, he shared with me the present whereabouts of some of the boys I grew up playing cricket with. I also asked him about a few other persons, who were once our neighbours. At that moment, I realized how relationships change with time. There was a time when our lives revolved around these people and now I do not even know where and how these people are.

After finishing the call, I started thinking about all the people that have been a part of the journey of my life. I recalled the moments spent with people in various walks of life. And, although I still have regular contact with many of my friends, cousins, old neighbours, extended family members, I realized that there are many persons with whom I have totally lost contact. 

I then remembered another incident. A few years back, while attending the marriage of my aforementioned friend, a boy came up to me and asked whether I recognized him or not. I looked at him but couldn’t recognize him. Only when he told his name, I remembered that we used to play cricket together. I also remembered that his brother too used to play with us and asked him about his whereabouts. He said that he died of an illness a few years ago. I was shocked to hear that. That ever-smiling boy, who used to hit the stumps with his accurate throws, was dead! I had felt quite sad at that news. 

In today’s frantic pace of life, we are slowly drifting away from the people who were once the very fulcrum of our lives. Our worlds are shrinking and getting limited to our parents, spouses, children and a few other select persons. The relationships are slowly turning fragile.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

When Men Cry – An Ode to BCN Boys


It was the Summer of 2007, when a batch of about 50 students entered a Hostel – a place which was to become their homes for their duration of study in Tezpur University. I was one among those fifty. The Hostel was Brahmaputra Chatra Niwas – BCN Boys for most of us. Though the nomenclature was changed the next year to Brahmaputra Men’s Hostel, it will always be BCN Boys for us.

 

The first thing that was on the minds of each new student was Ragging. What are we going to face in the initial days of stay at the Hostel? Would there be any physical violence? How are the Seniors and how will be our nature of relationship with them? These were some of the questions on the mind of most of the new students. However, we were lucky that we got some of the best seniors that any junior can ask for. Except for a minor incident, which was blown out of proportion by the university authorities, there wasn’t any unfavourable episode during those initial days. Once the University Freshers was over, we all shed our inhibitions and became our usual self. BCN Boys became our home. 

I stayed at BCN Boys for two years and have been part and witness of numerous incidents occurring in the Hostel. However, in this write up, I would not mention any such incident. Rather I would write about those days when we left the hostel after completing our studies. These last days were a testimony of  how dearly we - the boarders of BCN Boys – loved this hostel; and how this hostel has forged a strong sense of companionship amongst us.


 



Even before our last term examinations were around the corner, the feeling that we would be leaving the hostel and university were starting to haunt us. One day, while our end term examinations were going on, I went to one of my friend’s room. Upon entering his room, I could see that he was packing his bags. On seeing me enter he stopped packing. I silently went and sat on his bed. He too took a seat in his chair. After a few seconds of silence, we both started crying. Those were the first drop of tears that fell from our eyes during those last days – many more were still to follow. 

After our exams were over, one by one the students started to leave the hostel, leaving behind the innumerable memories that he shared with his fellow mates. Those were indeed very hard days. The eyes remained moist most of the times. After spending most of the time together for two years, the wound of separation was too much to bear. The day I myself left the hostel was one of the most difficult days of my life – with my mind refusing to leave. I had left my room and hostel after shedding gallons of tears, shared between me and my roommate.

Men usually don’t cry. Although science insists that crying is natural, still it is expected that men would not shed tears easily. So unless there is indeed a deep grief, a man hardly sheds tears. So when I saw numerous men (boys) shedding their tears while leaving the hostel and the university, it shows how deep a grief it had been - a grief about leaving your home, leaving your loved ones. It shows how integral BCN Boys were to their lives. 

On my part, I would like to state here that I have been indeed lucky to be a part of the BCN Boys Hostel – a hostel which held true to its ideals of wisdom and camaraderie.



Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Death is not an Art



Celebrated Assamese poet, Hiren Bhattacharyya (popularly known as Hiru da) had written ‘Mrityu Eti Silpo’, meaning ‘Death is an Art’. He had written it during a time when Assam was still a peaceful state with very few incidents of violence. But time changed. Violent insurgency took over this beautiful region and violence became a way of life. At this juncture, popular Assamese singer Zubeen Garg sang ‘Mrityu Jodi Eti Silpo Hoi, Mrityu Kidore Sahaj?’, meaning ‘If Death is an Art, how could it be so commonplace?’. It was a valid question. Artistic ability is a rare gift and it is not bestowed upon all. Artistic talent is not commonplace, and as such, death cannot be said to be an Art. That song by Zubeen brought home the truth about those violent days in Assam, when death had become commonplace.

The situation is still same now. Death is everywhere; whether it is in Paris or in Beirut or in Kenya or in Assam. It has become commonplace. Death is now just a number - 129 dead in Paris, 90 dead in Kokrajhar, 100 dead in Nigeria. It has all come down to statistics. The gravity of the situation is now determined on the basis of number of deaths. Deaths - which have cut short many promising lives – some of whom might have someday become an Einstein or a Picasso or a Mozart. Though there is grief at every death but people have now, more or less, got accustomed with violence and death. Death no longer is an Art.

Also, there is a bit of criticism in the social media nowadays that people only care about deaths in places like Paris but there is no media attention to deaths in places like Beirut or Kenya. But, here we need to understand the human psychology. People usually connect events to places they know and hear about and are familiar with. As such the outpouring of emotion is more when people are killed in Paris, a place which is world famous and a tourism hotspot. People cannot connect themselves much with a place in Africa or the Middle East. Same is true here also, where deaths in Mumbai would surely invoke greater emotions nationwide than deaths in a remote district in Northeast India. But that does not mean that people ate insensitive to deaths in those places. Death of innocents always hurts a fellow human. It is just that outpouring of emotion is not shown in all occasions.

The terror groups like Islamic State are carrying out their own selfish agenda in the name of religion. They are brainwashing poor kids from under developed regions. But it is a certainty that such organizations cannot last long. Those organizations would surely get destroyed and the people leading those groups would face justice. Humanity has endured such barbarism before and can endure this too. But at the end, I am sure peace and harmony would surely prevail in this world.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Fragrance of Durga Puja



There is a Tahitian proverb which says that “When the dew-laden breeze of the uplands creeps swiftly down, it brings with it the fragrance of the gardenia." Well, in my cases, I want to rephrase it as “when the dew-laden breeze brings in the scent of Sewali, it brings in the fragrance of Durga Puja.” 

Since my childhood, my mind has associated the scent of sewali flower (Night-flowering Jasmine) with the occasion of Durga Puja. I had spent my childhood in a tea garden in Upper Assam. While we were children, me and my sister used to collect dew-soaked sewali flowers from our garden during the Durga puja. I do not even remember collecting the flowers on any other occasion. That’s why whenever I sense the smell of sewali, my mind immediately links it with Durga puja. 



 Sewali

Nowadays it is very rare to get the smell of sewali in the city. So, yesterday evening when I whiffed the scent of the flower, my mind automatically indicated that Durga puja is about to arrive. And along with it, the fragrance brought back numerous memories associated with Durga puja.

During our childhood, the best thing we liked about Durga puja was that we were able to stay outside even at night. We were allowed outside at least till 9 pm, which was a big deal for us at that time. We spent most of the time in the tea garden puja pandal premises with out toy guns, playing some bizarre shooting games amongst ourselves or a shooting competition with the boys from another tea garden colony. The balloons were the added attraction and I remember that we used to play volleyball with bigger balloons in the field near the puja pandal at nights. Though we were mostly a gang of boys but when the girls also joined us, we would play antakshari with them, sometimes almost in the middle of the road!

 How I wish if I could play with this again......

There was, however, one aspect of the puja that deeply disturbed me. In our tea garden puja celebrations, animal sacrifice used to take place every year. Goat, pigeon and duck were sacrificed there. It was the only puja in that area where animal sacrifice used to take place and that day witnessed the highest footfall as people from all the surrounding areas came either to witness the sacrifice or to themselves offer an animal in sacrifice.

The first time we watched the animal sacrifice was when we were may be around thirteen years old. I still vividly remember how the legs of the duck were flapping after it was sacrificed and thrown to the side. On that day, me and my friends had decided that when we would be adults and will be members of the puja committee, we would stop the practise of animal sacrifice at our puja premises. Well, I certainly didn’t get to be part of the puja committee as we left the tea garden after a few years. Now, I do not even know whether the practise is still carried on or not.

Also, durga puja was incomplete without pandal hopping with family. Two-three families of our tea garden used to go together and visit pandals in the nearby areas. I remember on one such occasion after we came back from a long pandal hopping session, I opened my shoe and found a dead frog inside my shoe, crushed to its death under my feet. I had kept the shoe outside the house in the afternoon and it must have gone inside. In the evening when we went out, I had put on the shoe without checking. I was deeply hurt seeing the frog dead. Till today, I feel sorry for that frog and blame myself for its death!!

Another special thing that happened to me during Durga puja was that I proposed the girl I loved. She was a girl from my neighbourhood. After falling in love for the first time in the age of thirteen, I proposed to her three years later during Durga puja. And I was fortunate enough that she accepted my proposal. That was one of the most memorable nights of my life. And this made Durga puja more special for me.

After we left the tea garden, I gradually lost my interest in Durga puja. I never feel that charm of Durga puja anymore. The puja celebrations at the Tea garden remain the best memories for me. Nowadays, it is just a routine celebration for me where I meet my friends and go for a stroll around the various puja pandals. And since now I stay outside my home town, it is one of the best opportunities where I get to spend some time with my family.

But, every year, around this time of the year, I think about the old times and look back towards those golden days – the days which were much simpler, pure and beautiful. Alas! I can’t get back those days.