The Idea Of Being In Love

For the longest time now, I think I’m in love with the idea of being in love.

It’s an idea created through the fairy tales at first, then the romcoms and all the mushy songs. There is never any denying that I have always romanticised everything. Whether it’s the weather or a special conversation, there are some things that always try to enforce the idea of being in love.

So I thought of penning down a few thoughts about love that cross my mind often.

Yes, love is important. There will always be people who will deny it and the importance of it, but believe me, they are probably the people who crave for it the most. I recently read a fantastic book called the “The Palace of Illusions” by Chitra Devakaruni where the author wrote that a person will always crave most for what he has not received in his childhood. Somehow, I couldn’t agree more. So don’t trust people when they say love is a waste of time and energy. It never is.

People mess up. People change. I am probably the worst when it comes to letting go, but I have learnt that giving it time is the key. From holding on too tightly, there will definitely come a time when letting go won’t hurt as much as you imagine it will. Forgive. That’s extremely important.

I have also realised that it’s somehow more tempting to fall for men who seem dark and exciting. My friends have told me this a million times, but it’s the mystery about the “wrong” men that probably draws you to them. Believe me, a few drunken encounters and 3 a.m. conversations, you’ll know that every single person has a story to tell. You just need to give them the time and space. The “wrong” guys just know how to work the charm and present the story in ways that will get you excited. That is it.

Growing up, and particularly college will broaden your minds. I have learnt to never judge people. No matter what their choices in life are, there is always some reason behind them. Accept and understand.

Love is strange. Very strange. I always thought it was easy to put down labels on each relationship of mine. Best friend, acquaintance, crush or something else. I learnt, that there can also be relationships you cannot label. Those which you cannot put a tag on. People will probably not understand, and they don’t need to. You aren’t answerable to them. Let it remain undefined, as long as you are happy. These people will be very special and sometimes, not defining it is beautiful in its own way.

Everyone needs to experience heartbreak at least once. I think there’s much to learn from it. Pain is never bad. Crib about it, cry your heart out, stay indoors and curse the hormones. But if you never feel the sadness how will you ever know what happiness feels like? It is only after a heartbreak that you can fall in love again. The next time around, you’ll value things more. You’ll learn to trust again.

In a milder way, the above is true about fights too. Forgive and forget. You’ll somehow become closer to the person if both of you manage to do that. Letting go because of petty issues is not acceptable.

The idea of what you want from a guy will change over the years. From stupid criteria framed when you were 16 with the girlfriends, respect and kindness will come into the picture. Fall for a guy who never trivialises it, when you cry. Who isn’t ever too busy to ask you how your day was. Who will not crib if you want to dropped home on certain days. Who is proud of being with you and wants to be with you as much as you want to be with him. Who you’re comfortable with.

Lastly, I know this post is more of a rant, but I just needed to write it all down. There is no harm in being in love with the idea of being in love. It is painful, crazy and beautiful all at the same time, I tell you.

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As the sky turned golden. Picture clicked by my father, Saikat Bhadra.
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Kovalam- An Affair With the Sea.

In the end of April, 2015, I went on a family trip to Kerala. It was a much needed break from the daily routine. It proved to be a lovely trip with lots of relaxation, mountains, chilly air, houseboats, pristine beaches and quality time spent with my family. It was a also a trip, where I lay down a lot on hammocks and enjoyed music. Dad clicked some amazing pictures, which is what I’d like to show you all in this blog post.

I’m specially dedicating this blog post to a beautiful place called Kovalam in Kerala. It has some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen.

A Panoramic View.
A Panoramic View.

Kovalam boasts of three main beaches, namely the Lighthouse beach, the Hawa beach and Samudra beach. The pictures is this post are mainly from the Samudra beach, as our hotel was situated on this one. We stayed in the Kerala tourism hotel, which was situated right on the beach and had sprawling gardens and many hammocks.

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The blue waters, accompanied with calm waves and huge boulders adorning the beach, the place looked spectacular during sunset. To enjoy the sunset while sitting on one of these boulders was an experience I’ll never forget. As the sky turned gradually from blue to yellow and golden and then reddish, the fact that the beach remained nearly empty aded to the charm. As a person who hates crowds and noise, this was everything I could ask for.kovalam 2
My sister is the more lively one and thus, could not resist walking into the sea. She found the idea of just sitting to be rather “boring”. So she jumped about and splashed about a little in the waves.

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As the sky turned golden...
As the sky turned golden…

But is a trip to the sea complete without some serious splashing about in the waters?

I guess not.

The next few pictures, in my opinion, express how much joy the waves can bring. I had initially decided not to plunge into the waters and had decided to sit on a pretty recliner and sip coconut water, but after watching my sister splashing about, I really could not resist for long.

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Initially, I decided to just dip my feet, but soon I was all wet.

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Even though mountains remain my eternal favourite, activity wise, the sea indeed has a lot to offer.

The expressions speak a lot, in my opinion.

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My sister put in her best efforts to make me sit down. Then began our eternal fight of splashing water on each other.

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All said and done, this was one my best trips ever. This was just one segment of the tour, there’ll be more.

All pictures, as I mentioned, have been clicked by my father Saikat Bhadra.

Corporal Punishment in Private Schools

 

By Aruni Sunil and Sunayana Biswas

April 12, Chennai: In January, a student from Don Bosco Higher Secondary School situated in Perambur, Chennai, lost his life when he was made to ‘duck walk’ in school grounds, a usual punishment for late-comers. The boy was dehydrated and not given proper first aid. While this may raise concern about prevalence of corporal punishment in schools, many argue that this ‘duck walk’ incident cannot even be categorised as a case of ‘corporal punishment’.

Section 51 of the Tamil Nadu Education Rules allowed corporal punishment of children with the aim of disciplining. The rule said: “corporal punishment shall not be inflicted, except in case of moral delinquency such as deliberate lying, obscenity of word or act or flagrant subordination, and it shall be limited to six cuts on the hand and administered only by or under the supervision of the headmaster.” However, this rule was removed in January 2007.

Andrew Sesuraj, professor at Loyola college, child rights activist and project coordinator with the UNICEF, is of the opinion that the removal of this rule was the beginning of awareness against corporal punishment in schools. This amendment recommended that instead of causing mental and physical pain to the child, corrective measures like imposition and suspension from class should be adopted by teachers.

The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act of 2009 prohibits physical punishment and mental harassment under Section 17(1) and makes it a punishable offence under Section 17(2). Juvenile Justice Act (Care and Protection of Children) 2015, also established corporal punishment as a punishable offence. According to the Act, if a person employed in a child care institution is convicted of such an offence, they will be liable for dismissal from service and shall also be debarred from working with children thereafter.

Nonetheless, problems in implementation of the law points towards loopholes in the legal system itself. Section 88 and 89 of the Indian Penal Code disallows punishment for guardian or teacher for “an act done by consent in good faith for benefit of the child”. Although this does not directly allow corporal punishment, it has often been used in the defence of teachers and educators who partake in the same.

It is ironic that these sections are still held valid, despite India being one of the first countries to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1992. UNCRC lays emphasis on the responsibility of the state parties to “take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity and in conformity with the present convention.”

Such discrepancy is also reflected in opinions and attitudes of parents, teachers and students towards corporal punishment in schools. Chairperson of Tamil Nadu State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR), M.P. Nirmala, is of the opinion that the ‘duck walk’ incident mentioned above cannot be tagged as corporal punishment. “Children should learn from failure. If they are not reprimanded, and are pampered all the time, how will they face any difficulty later on in their life?”, Nirmala pointed out.

Students from class ten of Little Oxford Matriculation school in T Nagar, said that the school had a strict policy against the use of steel scales in beating children. However, the use of wooden scales to hit children on their palms continues to be a common form of punishment. Children were also made to do around 50-100 sit ups for coming late and improper uniform. Students of Smt. Vasantben Chandubhai Shah Matriculation School, which is in the same area, alleged, “To punish us for improper uniform, the teacher hits our knuckles four to six times with a bamboo stick. Many of us do cry when hit, but we’re used to it.” Sit ups as punishment is a common practice in this school too. Not surprisingly, parents of children who go to these schools claimed that there have been no instances whatsoever of any sort of corporal punishment, and that teachers usually notified parents about all disciplinary matters.

“Teachers raising their voice at children cannot be considered as corporal punishment. There was a case from Shrine Vailankanni Senior Secondary School where children were isolated in a dark room as punishment. Now, that, is corporal punishment,” said Nirmala. This suggests that mental harassment as stated in the law is undefined, and hence, its enforcement is flexible. As in the above case, parents and teachers painted a rosy picture of this school too, commenting, “In case of any complaint, parents are immediately informed. Teachers do not hand out any form punishment to the students.” Students who were surrounded by their peers and parents, chose to remain silent.

A common misconception is that cases of corporal punishment are higher in public schools. “Big private schools charge high tuition fees and can adversely affect the child’s future if parents choose to speak out against the school. Therefore, most cases of corporal punishment in these schools go unnoticed and unreported,” said Nirmala.

Chellaselvakumar, general secretary of Right to Education forum and one of the founding members of the SCPCR, said that the instances of corporal punishment are higher in private schools due to the pressure put on parents in the form of high fees which translates into high expectation from children. “These schools work on a business model and are backed by politicians, who use their influence to bury the cases of corporal punishment,” he added. Children from lower middle-class families are enrolled into big private schools in places like Namakkal, Erode and Salem, where parents struggle to fulfil the demands put forward by the school.

Children from marginalised (caste, class) communities face difficulties to sustain in these private schools. “Many children are singled out and humiliated by teachers in front of their peers, as parents often find it difficult to pay the huge amount charged as fees, on time,” said Chellaselvakumar. It is a status symbol for most families to enrol their children into private schools, as most parents believe that these schools have better standards of infrastructure and education. In reality, the teacher to student ratio in such private schools is skewed, going against the RTE guidelines which specify the ratio to be 40:1 as the maximum capacity. Ironically, government schools are a lot more responsible in these matters as they are answerable to government authorities during routine inspections. Therefore, pressure on children and teachers demanding speedy completion of syllabus and high results is reduced. According to RTE, minimum qualification to enter the teaching profession is Bachelor of Education (BEd), but many private schools don’t pay heed to the rules, bringing down the quality of education. “These schools function as breeding farms where students are treated as mass produced commodities,” said Chellaselvakumar.

“16 cases of corporal punishment have come to us from Villupuram district, and 10 from other nearby districts. There is a caste dimension to chores like cleaning toilets and fetching water meted out as punishment by teachers belonging to dominant castes, to students from marginalised groups,” added Chellaselvakumar.

According to Andrew Sesuraj, one cannot view corporal punishment as separate from culture and the education system prevalent in the country. Corporal punishment is a systemic problem which is to be treated as a part of the whole, and not as an aspect in itself. “Many schools and teachers face intense pressure to finish the syllabus. So, instead of focusing on comprehensive development of the child, there is unnecessary emphasis on completing portions in time, regardless of whether students are actually learning or not.”

Most teachers are strong advocates of “spare the rod, spoil the child,” since they themselves were brought up in an educational system where corporal punishment was the norm, and seen as being of “benefit to the child.” This leads to most teachers justifying methods of punishment like sit-ups and beating on knuckles and palms using wooden scales and sticks, as “traditional and successful methods of disciplining.” Normalisation of this kind of punishment was evident from the attitude of a few children who were interviewed. “Teachers use animal names such as donkey, monkey, buffalo to shout at us, when we don’t complete our work,” said Janaki and Vaishnavi from Little Oxford School, as they laughed amongst themselves.

Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh recently saw a case of corporal punishment where a 12-year-old girl was slapped twice in each cheek by 14 classmates over a period of six days for not completing her homework. The school principal was later quoted in the media, claiming that the slaps were “mild and friendly”. Such encouragement of violence amongst children might lead to normalisation of violence and promote tendencies of bullying amongst children. “In such environment, children grow up thinking that it is okay to use violence,” said Shreya Hiryur, child counsellor.

Age is an important factor that must be taken into consideration while evaluating the impact that certain methods of punishment might have on children. “Sarcasm, for example, might not work on younger children, while the same might be very humiliating to an older child,” added Shreya.

Often teachers take refuge by claiming to be helpless when asked not to use corporal punishment. Teacher wash their hands of the matter when students flout school rules. This leads children to believe that their character is inherently flawed because of the constant criticism from teachers.

Child Psychologists and counsellors are of the opinion that shouting and beating the child should be replaced by positive and participatory methods of punishment. According to Shreya, corporal punishment instils in children “fear of the punisher, and not punishment.” Since most cases of corporal punishment do not go out of hand, it is very difficult to convince teachers that this is not the right approach. According to Prateeksha Khatri, child counsellor with Billabong International School, “sudden discrepancy in the child’s behavioural pattern caused by corporal punishment should be immediately brought to the notice of a psychologist.”

Teachers need to understand and communicate with students instead of instilling fear using corporal punishment. Alternative methods could include two extra hours spent in the library or an essay explaining why the child has come late, etc so that the child him/herself realises the mistake and rectifies it. “Teacher should be a friend and must understand instead of passing judgements and to inculcate this kind of attitude, teachers need counselling, workshops and training,” said Prateeksha.

Under schemes like Sarva Sikhsha Abhayan, workshops have been conducted to train teachers in alternative methods of disciplining. “Such one-day training sessions are not enough to bring about the necessary attitude change, as they focus only on the consequences of corporal punishment, and do not propose alternative methods or provide guidance on how they can be implemented in schools,” said Andrew.

K.R. Montford Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Perambur, came up with unique and effective alternative methods. In 2015, the students of this school, came up with a campaign that proposed simple alternative methods for betterment of student behaviour without resorting to verbal and physical violence. They designed the ‘wheel of change’ that has many tasks marked on it, such as preparing a lesson plan, taking a class for their peers, conducting assembly sessions, reviewing books, writing notes for classmates and preparing a question paper. “Instead of beating children which only induces fear, we are making them take up more responsibilities”, Anitha Daniel, principal of the school was quoted as saying in the Times of India. The students have also tried to spread this ‘Anti-corporal punishment’ campaign to other schools in Chennai by organising visits and addressing them.

Chellaselvakumar, with his team, which comprises educationists, child rights activists (representatives from NGOs and independent activists), and lawyers, along with government officials, are working on a State Child Policy, which focuses on the rights of children in educational spaces. It has a section which deals with total eradication of corporal punishment, and how this can be brought about. The team is optimistic about implementation of the policy in Tamil Nadu by the end of this year.

The problem with corporal punishment is that it has been accepted by the teaching community and the society at large, as the most effective method of disciplining students. Broadly polarised opinions held by teachers on one hand, and activists on the other, regarding the issue dissipates the seriousness of the few cases that are reported and brought to the attention of the public.

It is necessary for all the stakeholders in this matter to reach a common ground in order to ensure the implementation of existing policies. Teachers and parents shirk responsibility by falling back on popular narratives like, “the problem is in the system,” and “beating is the only option.” Models like that of K. R. Montford will be possible only when students, teachers and parents work hand in hand. However, it is equally important for the school management and authorities to create an atmosphere that facilitates this discourse instead of laying unnecessary emphasis on record-breaking results.

 

 

The Cauvery Disputes

Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing of Tamil Nadu’s plea regarding the distribution of the Cauvery river water, DMK led opposition parties have called for a Tamil Nadu bandh on the 5th of April.

Two DMK workers also allegedly tried self-immolating themselves while protesting in Coimbatore. Protests erupted all over the State regarding the issue as well. The main demand being put forth is the constitution of the Cauvery Management Board immediately, which had to be done following the Supreme Court order announced on February 16th.

“We understand Tamil Nadu’s problem. We will see that Tamil Nadu gets water, and will solve the issue,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Deepak Mishra said on Monday.  Tamil Nadu has accused the Centre of refusing to act to “protect the interests of the farmers and the larger interests of the State.”

People in Chennai seemed worried about the upcoming bandh and emphasized on the need for the issue to be resolved immediately.

Many acknowledged that living in Chennai, they probably aren’t the worst affected due to the deprivation of the Cauvery water, but the farmers’ plight is the worst.

 

The Tamil Nadu and Karnataka dispute over the Cauvery dates back to the British era. Due to the formation of States after independence, the problems magnified. Tamil Nadu accused Karnataka of building dams on the river which goes against agreements signed in 1924, but Karnataka said that the agreement was only valid for 50 years, which has lapsed. A Water Disputes Tribunal gave a verdict of how much water should flow to Tamil Nadu in 2007, but in 2016, Tamil Nadu accused Karnataka of not releasing the said amount. On Sept 5, 2017, the SC ordered Karnataka government to release 15,000 cusecs of water a day for 10 days, to Tamil Nadu, which led to mass protests. Finally, on February 16th, the SC gave its verdict saying that Karnataka will get additional 14.75 TMC of the river water and Tamil Nadu will get 177.25 instead of 192 TMC water. Bangalore’s water scarcity was stated as one of the primary reasons behind the verdict.


A December To Remember.

Winter.

Picnics. Hot coffee. Blankets.  Love.

Is it just the weather though that makes this time of the year so special? Wher exactly does the charm of winter lie? Is it a way of bidding goodbye with a blast or having a good time to forget the sorrows that the year brought?

Having stayed in a city like Calcutta all my life, where it’s mostly hot and humid all year round, this one word spells happiness. I’m writing this because it was today that there was a lovely wind blowing when I woke up, probably announcing the arrival of winter  (hopefully) and that got me insanely excited.

So here are a few reasons which make this season a favourite for me.

The happiness all around. With most college exams ending around December, the dip in temperature and Christmas approaching, it always proves to be a very happy month.

I think half of Park Street’s charm lies in all the happy faces around. Yes, all the pretty lights too, but it’s mostly the spirit of the people who go there anticipating a brilliant end to a year, which makes it such a special place. I have a friend who told me recently, “You know Rupsha, Park street is too special a place to go on a date with anybody random. I keep it reserved only for a few.” It’s this special place that Park street holds in our hearts that can never have another replacement.

December calls for good food and a great time spent with the ones who matter.. Koraishutir kochuri (peas kochuri). Nolen gur er paayesh. Christmas cake. Hot coffee on chilly evenings. The list is really endless, but it would be unfair if I did not mention the rooftop barbecue. There’s a little story to this, which I’d like to share.

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Most anticipated, the koraishutir kochuri.

 

So one 24th evening, my dad, mom and I went to Park Street for dinner. This was about 10 years ago. However, my dad hates crowds and somehow didn’t enjoy it much. So the next year, in an attempt to make our Christmas special, he made his own barbecue kit. I invited four of my childhood friends. there were a couple of my parent’s friends, and that’s it. Dad set up his tent (He trekked a lot at one point of time) on the terrace for the kids, arranged for a few lights and we spent all evening having delicious chicken and listening to ghost stories inside the tent. That party has become a ritual now and any person who has attended it once will want to attend it every year, guaranteed. This year, the guest list is almost touching 30 and Rheya (who had seen the first edition) will be here after about missing 3/4 editions due to college. From new lips smacking recipes, succulent chicken to the momo that was added to the menu a couple of years later, the party is one that I personally look forward to every year. The rooftop barbecue happens around 5 times in the winter season nowadays, but the one on Christmas is the biggest. Be nice to me and I might invite you for the next. 😉

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Clicked about two years ago.

It’s the season when the best people come back to town for holidays. On a very personal note, each year, more and more people seem to be leaving the city to either study or work outside. But thanks to the holidays during this time, they all come back to visit. That always calls for an extra round of celebrations, doesn’t it? This year, my best friend Rheya, studying in Nagpur and Bablai dada, studying in Chicago come back around the same time in December. Toshani, studying in Orissa is already in town. Only I know how excited I am.

 

Blankets. It’s the season when my sister will cuddle me endlessly in the morning because she refuses to get out of the blanket.

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That’s my best friend Adrija. She literally refuses to get out of this even when I go over.

 

Hot coffee. Long walks. Romance. I’d leave it to that as I’m sure each you have your own romantic dreams and fantasies associated with winter. There is no denying, that it is only when you spend the special times in the arms of someone you love, is when you can call the year complete.

Picnics, meeting old friends and dressing up in the fashionable woolens.

It is also the time for all shutterbugs to get out their cameras. Fresh dew and the mist and fog make some of the perfect frames.

 

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Those are dew drops on the spider’s web that make it look this way. Picture clicked by Saikat Bhadra.

 

The list of things that make winter special is endless. I know I emphasized on December, but that’s because it’s this month that sees so much joy and festivity around.There is an unmistakable hope in everyone’s eyes. Hope for a better year next year. Hope of being together with the favourite people for longer. A hope to let go and enjoy the last few days of the year because you just a fixed number of trips around the sun anyway and it calls for a celebration..

There is an unmistakable hope in everyone’s eyes. Hope for a better year next year. Hope of being together with the favourite people for longer. A hope to let go and enjoy the last few days of the year because you just a fixed number of trips around the sun anyway and it calls for a celebration..

Or maybe, there is a little bit of pixie  dust in the air that brings about the magic.

So go out there and make it a December to remember.

The Heritage Quiz – CREDAI Bengal’s Realty Expo 2015

The Heritage Quiz, an event conducted as a part of CREDAI Bengal’s Realty Expo 2015, was held on the 6th of November, in the Milan Mela grounds, where the Realty Expo was being held. I as a member of the audience and part of Kolkata Bloggers thoroughly enjoyed the quiz, hosted by none other than Mir Afsar Ali.

Mir. Photograph by CREDAI Bengal.
Mir.
Photograph by CREDAI Bengal.

The quiz was broadly on the city of joy, Kolkata and touched upon all possible facets of the city including mishti, pujo, bus routes, iconic areas, personalities and more. The quiz saw participation from some of the most well-known faces of the city namely, Anindya Chatterjee and Upal Sengupta (of Chandrabindoo fame), Tathagata and Debleena Datta, Sidhu and Kamaleshwar Mukherjee, Rupankar Bagchi and Chaitali, Lopamudra Mitra and Joy Sarkar, Ritwick Chakraborty and Sohini Sengupta. All of those taking part are people who have made a mark in the areas of music, theatre and more in Kolkata and a quiz testing their knowledge of the city seemed quite interesting at the onset.

The Quiz in progress.
The Quiz in progress.

With a quizmaster like Mir, who is an acclaimed radio jockey, television anchor, comedian and more, the quiz promised to be an entertaining one and it lived up to all expectations.

There were 6 rounds in total.
Three rounds were the general question and answer, followed by audio and visual rounds and even rapid fires with buzzer rounds.

The quiz started with quick introductions, with quite a few jokes being cracked about Sidhu’s new hairstyle, who was expected to win, Joy Sarkar taking up too much time to finish his makeup and more. It set the mood for an evening filled with humour and very intriguing questions.

Round 1 started with the question ‘Whats special about the Ramlal Bazaar to Haltu bus route that crosses B.B.D.Bag and other points in the city?’. The question could not be answered by any, although the answer seemed quite simple after Mir revealed it – It the bus route number 1. There were questions about what “lalu bhulu” as a product refers to, which is commonly sold on local trains under this name. Correctly answered by Sidhu and Kamaleshwar, it refers to the pens which have two colours of ink in the same pen – red and blue. From the first transport strike in Calcutta, called by the palanquin bearers to Mahatma Gandhi being in Beliaghata on 15th August 1947 the round compiled questions from several different fields.

Round 2 touched upon topics like Durga puja, sweets, makers of the Bandel church and even dacoits.
One of them was ‘ Which Durga Pujo in Kolkata was formerly known as Company’s puja? ‘. The answer being the famous Sovabazaar Rajbari pujo, which, after the infamous Battle of Plassey was attended by Lord Clive and hence called “Company’s Pujo”. Another asked about the makers of the Bandel Church, which after many guesses by various teams was answered correctly – The Portuguese.

By this time, the audience area was brimming with people and everyone was majorly engrossed.

Photograph by CREDAI Bengal.
Photograph by CREDAI Bengal.

Round 3 was the audio round. Started with a lovely rendition of the famous song “Shohaag chaand bodoni dhoni” and the question being about which category of folk song or lok geeti this belongs to. The correct answer was “Dhamail” or the kind that is sung for brides in weddings. Doing justice to everyone, this round touched upon eminent personalities like Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar, Suchitra Sen, Uttam Kumar and more.

Round 4 was another one of the “dry rounds” as Mir called them and comprised of regular questions. One of the most interesting questions of this round was ‘In the B.B.D.Bag area, the pin code is 70001, but only one spot has a unique pin code of 700062. Which building is this?’ The correct answer was Raj Bhavan. Another one was, “India lost Eden’s first one-day match to which country?’ The correct answer being none other than Pakistan, although it was arrived at after quite a few guesses. Another one asked, “Who started the trend of summer vacations in schools and colleges of Bengal?”. Answered correctly by Tathagata and Debleena, the answer was Vidyasagar.

Round 5 was the very interesting audio-visual round. It had a picture of the Shyambazaar more before the iconic statue of the Bose on horseback was installed and it was answered correctly by the help of a famous medical shop located there. It had questions about illustrations on the cover of a Charlie Chaplin book, done by Satyajit Ray. It also had a clip of Sourav Ganguly’s first ever run scored in an international one-day match. From the scriptwriter of Madhumati to the name of the Chevrolet shown in the movie Ajantik, this round also encompassed various iconic aspects of the city.

After the fifth round, team Anindya and Upal were leading with 70 points, followed closely by Sidhu and Kamaleshwar with 60 points and then the rest.

To keep the audience thoroughly engaged and engrossed, Mir also had several questions just for the audience. There were questions about Feluda, Jagodhhatri Pujo and more. Needless to say, my favourite was “What’s the most iconic and famous item in Milan da’s canteen in Jadavpur University?”.

The final round was a buzzer round in the form of a rapid fire. This round had the easier lot of questions, but whoever pressed the buzzer first would get to answer it, making it a race against time. Contestants mixed up answers in the rush of the moment, and tension of having negative marking and excitement could be seen on all faces around. From Devdas’s surname to the very new Parama Flyover, these questions ranged from locations to mega serials and much more.

The end of this round saw a tie between the teams of Anindya and Upal and that of Kamaleshwar and Sidhu. The tie breaker, also in the form of a buzzer question, was a recording of a male voice singing, the man behind the voice being the question.
It was none other than Rabindranath Tagore, which was answered correctly by Anindya and Upal.

The winners, with Mr Sushil Mohta and Mr Nandu Belani. Photograph by CREDAI Bengal.
The winners, with Mr Sushil Mohta and Mr Nandu Belani.
Photograph by CREDAI Bengal.

With a befitting end to a wonderful quiz, the audience was left smiling and asking for more. With Mir’s unmatched wit and humour, coupled with intelligent questions, this was an enriching event.

An event like this also makes it more entertaining for most. As Mir said, in the Realty Expo, organised by CREDAI Bengal, with the leading companies changing the face of the city every single day, this quiz was an endeavour to indulge in nostalgia and have a look again at the City of Joy.

The Realty Expo organised by CREDAI Bengal is being held at the Milan Mela ground from 6th to 8th November 2015. It is a celebration of real estate, and its contribution to increasing societal standards in gradual steps. Do take a look at their website atwww.realtyexpo.co.in

The Joy of Spreading Love

Each year, the city decks up in its brightest hues and starry lights during the festive season. The city doesn’t sleep for more than just the four days. The pandals bewilder many with the amount of skill and expertise that the workers exhibit. The spectacular lighting, new clothes, never ending queues in front of eateries and dressing up is what comprises pujo for most of us. What always attracts me the most, is how happy everyone becomes during this time of the year. But is everyone really that happy?

There still exists a great number of people, for whom pujo doesn’t mean all of this. Pujo perhaps mean extra work to earn a few more bucks. In the midst of this, there are children, who deserve to enjoy childhood and pujo the way most people do, get left out. They deserve to see all the magnificent decorations and feel happy, just as we do.

In an incredible initiative by Vivel, ITC’s leading personal care brand, these kids will get to experience just that. Vivel Pujo Love is an initiative, that plans to take underprivileged children around town to witness the spectacle called Durga Pujo.
They’ll be taken around town, by Dev, a popular Bengali actor and brand ambassador of Vivel.

Kumortuli. .
Kumortuli. The kids here lead very ordinary lives and perhaps never get to witness what the idols’ new, decorated homes look like.

In my personal opinion, it is the children who can enjoy pujo in its most unadulterated form. It is only during childhood, that most of us live without a bag full of worries of pending work. So these, kids, who have usually always felt a deficit of love might finally, thanks to this campaign feel happy and joyous.

At home, dad and I always gifted new clothes to the sons and daughters of our domestic help and other women who did similar chores in the campus. I have personally witnessed how a small act of kindness leaves them so excited.

So this festive season, do your bit to make kids feel a part of the celebrations. Support this initiative by Vivel, so that more and more corporates take up similar initiatives to make the city a happier place. Support this, so that these kids and enjoy the rhythm of the dhaak and the joy of new clothes, just as we do every year.

If you too want to be a part of Vivel Pujo Love, click a selfie with a child on your phone and post it on the timeline of Vivel using the hashtag – #VivelPujoLove.

Spread love.
Spread happiness.

Have a memorable Pujo.

Songs and Poetry – Apeejay Bangla Sahityo Utshob

At the last session of the Apeejay Bangla Sahityo Utshob, we witnessed a lovely discussion on modern day music and songs, and its relation with poetry.
With Tridib Chattopadhyay as the moderator and well-known musician Surojit Chatterjee as the speaker, it seemed to be the perfect end to the “festival”.

The member of the popular Bengali band “Bhoomi” spoke about how poetry need not be understood completely to be enjoyed. They need to be felt. Quite similar to music, I think. It isn’t always necessary to understand every lyric to understand a song. The tune and the melody, quite often steal our hearts.

A session on song and poetry would remain incomplete without a mention of Tagore, who in my opinion, composed the finest of them both. Imdadul Haq discussed that and more.
Modern day Bengali songs, have evolved over the ages to become what it is today. It has adapted to suit the preferences of the youth, and it is this transition that marks the true beauty of the language. Where it can evolve, change and still make people love it.

The session came to an end with a soulful rendition of “Kandey shudhu Mon keno kandey rey”: a Bengali modern classic. The day could not have ended on a better note.

Literature Has To Be Controversial To Be Popular

The third session was about how important controversies are in making a book popular.

With references from Shakespeare, which not only contained vulgar songs and cheap jokes, but will always remain a favourite, this session, I understood will definitely be very interesting.Yes, controversy does make a work popular, but it can never be a benchmark for good literature.

Ranjan Bandhopadhyay, who has written highly popular books like “Kadambari Debi’s suicide note” which became controversial and famous, spoke about how he wrote it because the lady intrigued him and thus, he had to put it down in a fictional piece. He never thought that it would make so much news or become so popular. He looks for interesting pieces of information, which would get reader intrigued but does not do that to make the book scintillating. He has also written books about Vivekananda, which did not become controversial, but was loved nonetheless. He believes, that whether a book becomes popular or not, is not about controversies, and is totally dependant on individual authors.
Tilottama Mazumdar said, that controversy and literature cannot be anticipated and so, the author can never guess what becomes controversial and what doesn’t. Discussion and controversy is not necessarily negative. It is only when an author hurts the sentiments of a community or section of people, is the time when a danger arises. The publisher however, does look for certain elements of controversy because he needs to publish books that would sell for ages.

Swapnomoy Chakroborty, who has taken the road less travelled by and written books on transgenders, spoke about how some books, when they come in the news, only paves the way for betterment.

Kaberi Roychowdhury, a bold writer, currently residing in Bangladesh, has a readership that includes the youth. She says, that sometimes, even the publishers purposely create a controversy to highlight some particular author or work. She says that when someone writes a character they elevate the characters to a level where no one can identify them. Especially if that character has been written from life. They breakdown the character to a level where none of their loved ones would recognize them. Writers have to write forever: so for them, they need to find ways to survive in their craft. Sometimes there are scenes which might not be accepted by the world at large, but needs to be depicted by the writers to substantiate their point in the book. Raat bhor brishti was controversial but she did not understand it during the time of its release.

The session contained a healthy argument about controversies and literature. It opened up new ways of looking at the entire idea of controversies, which not necessarily is negative. In the end, any publicity is indeed a way of making a book famous, and that can definitely make a book more read than the usual.

Writing out of love, or for readers? – Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utshob

The second session at the Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utshob, being held at the Oxford Bookstore, Park Street had speakers like Anish Deb, Prachoto Gupta, Bani Basu, Ullash Mullick and Dipanwita Ray.
The authors seem ideal for this session, as all of them are from varied fields of literature. Anish Deb deals primarily with ghosts and the supernatural, while Ullash Mullick is a filmmaker and Bani Basu is a prolific author whose works have been regularly published in Desh, apart from others.

In Session.
In Session.

With a very witty introduction, involving how diabetes patients will always crave for sweets and how its not always okay to comply with what the heart wants.

Bani Basu began with how all authors initially write out of love, but then mould it into something that readers will love. Whether a writer ultimately will love the finished product or not, is debatable, but the publisher, primarily has to like it.

Pracheto Gupta, says how his writing is mostly born out of a fusion of both. He writes to satisfy himself, as well as, to earn a living. According to him, it is a constant quest for an author to fuse both sides –  to please himself and to impress readers. He says, a reader will love a writers writing only when the reader is inquisitive about what the author’s heart wants.

Anish Deb went on to use the analogy of which came first, the hen or the egg, to describe the topic. Generally, he has observed that whatever pleases him the most, also seems to impress readers a lot. He would always choose to express his feelings and write his heart out, instead of thinking about whether readers would like it.

Ullash Mullick, who mostly writes humorous pieces, says that its a reflection of his humour in real life. He feels, that in todays age, he cannot claim that pleasing readers can be of much good as the readership has decreased significantly anyway. He prefers writing, and laughing on his own.

Bani Basu says, when she reads, she prefers knowing the genres she hasn’t explored or doesn’t know of herself. As a reader, its those pieces that intrigues her most. Anish Deb says, writing science fiction has been his passion right from his childhood.

The discussion, indeed, made me think too. It is true, that each reader is different and preferences vary widely. Some love cheesy romances and some love action and the thrill. As an author, it is perhaps a very tough job to understand what he should cater to. It is important, that the works are loved and read. Pracheto Gupta summed it up pretty well. He said, that every author also becomes a reader simultaneously. He needs to close his eyes, and let himself get into his own writings and let his own writings make him laugh and cry. How the reader interprets a writing, whether he relates to the character or not, should just be left to the readers. It isn’t something that can be predicted or anticipated. That shouldn’t be tampered or bothered with. As an author, he needs to be content even if five people read and love his books instead of looking for numbers.

With the flow of writings, often, writing takes its own course. Characters form in the flow and often, even the author is left astonished. The discussion, involved wit, humour and serious debate amongst much more. Topics like generation gap, literature for kids and much more were also discussed in great detail. Most importantly, the discussion gave me a clear insight into what goes on in the mind of the author. Indeed, writing needs both. One without the other is not a very happy possibility.
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