Friday, April 25, 2008

Six stories

If you are not averse to digital storytelling and do not mind reading an interactive story, you can check the site We Tell Stories and read the six stories listed therein.

I somehow stumbled upon it today and have already read The 21 Steps and Fairy Tales, in between my work at office. Both the stories, I must admit, I enjoyed – The 21 Steps, for being funny and intelligent; and Fairy Tales, for letting me shape the story my way. Needless to say, I’m eager to read the other stories as well; but, you see, one also needs to do some work while at office.

Anyway, if you have got some time to spare, you can read them.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

They said

  • Something I considered the biggest asset of yours… was your lazy attitude.
  • Though you can do hard work, you prefer doing that only when the problem knocks on your door.
  • I had always confided in you with my problems, like many of us, and it is the trust you command that has made us do it.
  • You have enough capabilities. Yet, the way you make use of it (rather, don’t make use of it) is puzzling.
  • I should not give you advice as my case is also hopeless.
  • … All of us seem to be infected with optimism disease (to quote Rushdie) that we’ll meet some day. But, practicalities are insurmountable and however good friends we may be, I know that you won’t catch a train to Mumbai if you feel like meeting me and neither would I do something that impulsive. Except, optimistically speaking, through serendipity, we might be at the same place at the same time. But then what? I know so many people, good friends living in the same place who haven’t had the time in years to call up and say hello.
  • Rest is laid unspoken.

These are lines extracted from one of my old diaries. Years ago, while we were parting after four years of staying together, my friends in college wrote them down for me – reminiscing, thanking, advising, admonishing, and generally asking to ‘keep in touch’.

Except for occasional phone conversations or emails no one is really ‘in touch’ these days. And even if we end up talking on phone sometime, the conversation becomes tedious and forced. The lively banter of yesteryear is now replaced with more important talks of career, money, investments, marriage, etc. (which, I admit, are definitely important, but somehow doesn’t really make up for stimulating conversation).

But, why exactly this sudden spurt of nostalgia, you may ask?

I blame it on summer heat. Besides making my days dull and lethargic, it is also giving me sleepless nights. And on sleepless nights it is only natural to find yourself crowded with old memories. Old memories – they come to you in the quiet of the night, keeps you awake, only to fade away in the bright daylight.

Monday, April 21, 2008


The fiery red flowers dot the roadsides, announcing the onset of spring with a sudden youthfulness. Oblivious of the dust, smoke, pollution, and the scorching Sun, the gulmohars are in bloom again, driving away the drabness with a vivacious display of colors.

But, sadly, the gulmohar tree I used to walk by last year is no longer there. Don't know when it vanished. Maybe, in the process of road-widening it has been chopped off and disposed away. The place where it once stood is empty now. There is nothing to suggest that there once stood such a beautiful tree.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Saturday afternoons were a quiet time in the campus. And now with the semester exams around the corner it took an even deserted look. The leisurely crowds that thronged at different corners of the campus and indulged in endless gossip were nowhere to be seen these days.

“It’s like one of the fairy tale cities which have been put to sleep by some evil magician,” she thought as she walked past the co-operative building, where on other days she always found boys sipping cold drinks and gossiping. But today was different. Even on the road towards the library building she didn’t find a single soul. “Maybe, I should have remained in the hostel room,” she thought, by now feeling a little depressed over her own dismal preparation for the imminent exam. But she didn’t feel like going back to her room, where, she knew, she’ll inevitably find her roommate taking a nap. It was a method most of the hostelers used during exam season – sleeping in the afternoon and doing a night-out, studying all night long. She detested it. Moreover, she knew, even if she goes back now, she would neither be able to study nor sleep, however hard she tried.

Absent-mindedly, she walked past the empty classrooms and entered the library. The reading room on the second floor was nearly as deserted; just a few final-year students scattered around the tables with their heads buried in books. For a few moments she just surveyed around the shelves, without knowing what to do. She picked up a Taub & Schilling, flipped through a few pages, and put it back. No, she won’t understand a thing of digital integrated circuits at this moment.

Finally, she picked up a volume of Encyclopedia Britannica and sat on a table near the big glass window. Opening the book, she turned the pages, aimlessly, and pretty soon got bored again. “What if I break into a loud song now? Or scream with all my might?” The impossibility of the situation amused her much, and she turned her head to look out of the window, trying to suppress a giggle. Outside, the last rays of the sun were slipping away. A leafy silence spread all over the campus. Soon, the streetlights would come on to usher in the evening.

She closed the book and rose to leave.

On her way back to the hostel, she stopped by the lake. There wasn’t the faintest of breeze; the waters stood calm in the twilight. For a few minutes she kept gazing at the serene surface, lost in her own thought. Then, just before she was about to walk away, she picked up a pebble and threw it on the lake. Tiny ripples filled the surface, spreading in ever-widening circles.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


They say, you always remember your firsts. I don’t know if getting tagged for the first time counts as one of your firsts. But I’m worked up, nonetheless.

I’m talking of tagging memes, which keep doing the rounds in blogosphere. I’ve seen them before, and have also enjoyed reading some of the quirky memes. But, well, I never thought I’ll write one myself. To me, it was a silly thing to do.

But, ahem, you sometimes have to eat your own words. And here I’m doing exactly that. (As an afterthought though, I think, it was probably a case of ‘sour grapes.’ The truth was, nobody ever tagged me before.)

Okay, now let’s come to the tag. Plain Jane has tagged me asking to make a list of things that lay by my bedside.

To begin with, I should tell that I don’t have a bedside table or closet. So when I say bedside it actually means the bed itself, except for a few things which lay on the floor but within such close proximity of the bed that they can also be listed as bedside objects.

And now, without further ado, my list:

  1. Three candles, which lay on the floor, waiting for a chance to burn on a night when there will be a power cut.
  2. An electric iron, which keeps shifting between the bed and the floor.
  3. A mosquito repellent and a cell phone charger, either of which I plug into the electric socket before going to sleep.
  4. Two books borrowed recently from British Library – Rites of Spring (a collection of short stories) and Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature (an anthology).
  5. Nalini Jones’ book What You Call Winter, which I’m currently reading. And My Own Country by Abraham Varghese, which I’ve kept as an alternative read.
  6. Illustrated Oxford English Dictionary, which I’ve kept at me bedside for two reasons. One, because it can double up as an extra pillow at times, should I feel the need sometime. Two, as a ready reference, because on many occasions I’ve found myself spoiling my precious sleep trying to figure out the meaning of some silly words.
  7. A few desiccated stalks of rajanigandha, lying on the floor, and still giving off a faint fragrance.
  8. A pen and two old diaries.

Monday, April 07, 2008


A few days back I got myself a British Library membership. Well, honestly, I was a bit disheartened to find that the size of the library was rather small, and the membership fee was rather high. But then, I haven’t been able to locate a decent library in the city so far. So, I decided to give it a try anyway, exorbitant fee notwithstanding.

Anyways, it’s not British Library that I want to write about. I want to write about a different library, a place where I spent much of my childhood and teenage years, and which comes to my mind whenever I browse through books in any library. It was a place which initiated me to the world of books, and gave me an escape from my own boring life. For a nondescript small town, the District Library I frequented was indeed a well stocked library, although a bit carelessly maintained. My adolescent eyes, however, found it to be a place of mystery and dreamlike serenity. Rows and rows of books stacked in tall shelves, almirah-full of hardbound books with golden lettering on their spine, damp dark corners where frail and forgotten books lay among cobwebs and dust, a musty smell of old yellowing pages hanging in air, lengthening shadows stretched across the floor – all these made my visits to the library, often on quiet drowsy afternoons, a sort of dream and adventure.

I could borrow two books at a time, for a fortnight. But often, I’d go back within a week, having read the books back to back. In my early days, however, I didn’t go beyond the children’s section, from where I picked up fairy tales and detective/adventure novels with flashy covers. My reading was further limited by the fact that I didn’t have the confidence to touch the English books – I could read only Assamese and Bengali translations. It would be many years later when, with my teenage restlessness, I would venture out to the books on other shelves, and discover different shores. Those were exciting times as I’d find love, betrayal, conspiracy, pain, and myriad human emotions knocking me over. Sometimes, a book would keep me awake late into the night, with racing heartbeats, and confounding my mind with doubt, guilt, and embarrassment, as if I had tasted a forbidden pleasure.

I often wonder, what I’d have done during those rather boring days of my adolescence, if I hadn’t found this treasure-trove of books, where mysteries unfolded, adventures happened, and dreams took wings.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

EUFF '08

Just a small piece of info.

Someone looking for information on European Union Film Festival landed up in this blog. Well, I didn’t have any relevant information here, but this query prompted me to find out if there was any info available somewhere else.

Which made me dig out this link.

The 13th European Film Festival is indeed here. Pune will have it from 24 to 30 April. Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Kozhikode are the other cities where this festival will be staged.