A Celebration Of Kolkata

At the age of seventeen, most of us pass our time glued to the screens of our smartphones (much to the dismay of our parents). However, Mahima Varma, a student of The Loreto House, Middleton Row put this addiction to a very different purpose and shot a beautiful short film on Calcutta through the lens of her iPhone.

Mahima, talking about how she made her short film.
Mahima, talking about how she made her short film.

The short film called “Kolkata: My Heartbeat” was screened at the ITC Sonar Bangla Hotel on the 26th of September. The special screening of Mahima Varma’s film was under the banner of WelcomArt. WelcomArt is an initiative of ITC Hotels to promote the Arts and provide a platform to young and emerging talents The afternoon started with a performance of the Loreto House school band. this was followed by a discussion of what makes Kolkata so dear to us.

The band performance.
The band performance.

Then, the film was screened. It is a film that sought to capture the many facets of Kolkata through the mobile phone camera. From early morning “chai” to men doing their daily round of exercise near Rabindra Sarobar to the glitz and glamour of five-star hotels and Quest mall, this film captured it all. It also had the flooded streets during the monsoons and the trademark yellow taxis stuck in traffic jams. It successfully portrayed the cricket frenzy that hits the city during the IPL season. From jalebis and phuchkas to fancy decorative cakes, it also showed bits of the culinary delights that Calcutta has to offer. There was also a portrayal of the rich culture in the spheres of art, dance and music. The film also had various other clips which made me fall in love with the city all over again. The music, composed by Bickram Ghosh, was splendid and brought out the essence of the movie even better. Usha Uthup’s vocals ended the short film.

The screening of the film.
The screening of the film.

Indeed, Kolkata is a city of many shades. It offers so much and accepts each individual as they are. With a tremendous amount of warmth and a heart of its own, Kolkata will usually leave a visitor happy and asking for more.

All of seventeen years of age, Mahima captured the essence of the city beautifully. Here’s saying cheers to her creativity and the constant source of love, Kolkata.

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I went to this event as a member of Kolkata Bloggers.
All pictures are clicked by Mr. Abhishek Chamaria.

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Jadavpur University

“Ei Jadobpurer gaaye, koto boyesh mishe jaaye.”

Jadavpur University is a place that grows on you. A place that teaches you so much and eventually makes you fall in love with it. A place that will hold a new surprise each day. A place, which is huge, and yet, each corner will hold one special memory, which will make you smile each time you walk past it. Whether it’s Moni da’s canteen and adda, or coffee at worldview, there are too many memories stashed away in each part of campus.

Jadavpur was a place, that I walked into, around a year back not knowing what to expect. You hear a lot about this place and not all of it is good. Yet, you’ll discover if you’ve studied here, that this place is simply special. And you cannot pass a judgement of “good” or “bad” about things and places that are special.

The Open Air Theatre in college, all done up for the fest. it looked lovely.
The Open Air Theatre in college, all done up for the fest. it looked lovely.

I remember walking into a class which was full of unfamiliar faces. Eventually, I discovered people I could pour my heart out to. Whether it’s Shivvi and her madness, or Vanshika and her overthinking and excitement, I started looking forward to each day. I had a fantastic professor who took classes really early in the morning, but I never missed a single one. Classes ended earlier, but I couldn’t return home too early. Milan da and the chicken fingers and then Moni da and tasty food, college became a fun place. I met a guy called Rahi, who held my bags if a wanted to dance and walked me to 8b each day just because I did not want to walk alone.

At the college Freshers' with my favourites!
At the college Freshers’ with my favourites!

I have to mention here, that my class has been a blessing. There are people of every kind and from different backgrounds and yet everyone fits in. The parties are insane (and cannot be written about here) and adda is always cherished. Each person has a different story and I have discovered so much and learned so much. I have had intense discussions with Rituraj on our way back in an auto. There is Somashree (I call her Tiya) who rushed to college very early one morning, way before classes started, just because she knew I was upset. There is Ushmayo (better known as Mayo) who I have spoken to so much over WhatsApp and yet not much up front. There’s Wilson and his guitar and Ridhhi, the responsible one, who always greets me with a hug. There is Krishnadev, who taught me how to play cards and Stayaki who is always up for all plans. There are Joshita and Dwai who are just wonderful. I cannot name everyone in this post, but you guys know who you are and you are special.

College peeps. Clicked on a picnic we went on, after the semester got over.
College peeps. Clicked on a picnic we went on after the semester got over.

It’ll be unfair to not mention my seniors. They made it a point we were comfortable right from the first day. I eventually became very close to some of them. I met two of them in the most awkward situations, and that’s how, college teaches you to deal with a lot. There is Souj to whom food spells happiness and Trisrota (always called Tota) who is caring and mature. There is Ashmita who I bonded with much later and she is a sweetheart. There’s also Josh, who was my go to person during the first few days of college. I went to him with tiny little problems and he patiently listened.

Yes, college is different. very different. I have also often discussed with my school friends about how complicated college is. I have learned how the definition of friendship can change and yet some people stick by. There are fights, which don’t get resolved too easily and ego plays a huge role. There are misunderstandings and other nasty stuff, but it’s all part of the deal, I guess.
Yet JU is a charm. It’s not just a college but a place. I have walked into worldview on certain days and found people playing amazing music. There was a guy playing the violin one day and believe me, I have never heard anybody play it better. There are couples having a quiet time or groups playing cards and chatting. On rain-drenched days, the college looks different and on the days of Sanskriti, it feels different.
The months of hokolorob taught me how much the atmosphere meant to me. On days that campus seemed desolate and empty, I understood how much the random smiling faces meant. How much the intellectual conversations and different styles of dressing added to the charm of the place.

I could go on and on about Jadavpur. There cannot be an end to it. I am writing this today, because perhaps when I pass out, I will feel different about this place.

As Dyuti di had once told me, this place becomes a habit.

Also, this is a very personal post with personal opinions. So you are free to disagree.

A Magical Childhood.

Childhood is one of the most interesting and happy periods of one’s life.
While under the topic of “buddy parenting” I assume maximum entries would be from parents. I am, on the contrary, a nineteen-year-old, who isn’t a parent but has been blessed by two lovely parents and thus I thought I must share my thoughts.
My parents were never the strict ones who stopped me from going out with friends or doing something I wanted to. If they did, they would patiently explain the reason to me and there were never strict rules at home. What happened in turn, was that I enjoyed a lot of freedom but I learnt how lucky I was and thus never misused it. The same goes for my sister.
I did understand that my parents couldn’t relate to many things that we did at this age as it was different in their times, but they’d patiently sit and listen to the stories instead of imposing rules. Let me elaborate on a  few instances and fun times that I have spent with them.

Pillars of Support
Pillars of Support

My parents were cool enough to buy me a new dress when a went to a disco for the first time at the age of eighteen. I’m sure they never went at that age, but they were as excited as I was about it all. It was a fun process to teach my mother how to use her smartphone because she is practically technologically handicapped. She was so happy when I taught her how to instantly upload pictures from her smartphone which initially seemed like a huge task to her.
My childhood was great too. My dad taught me the basics of photography while mom instilled in me the love to travel.
I could honestly confide in her about my first date. My first drink was with my family. Similarly, I download all the cool applications on their phones. I make it a point to take them for movies and the new places to eat that come up in town.
Mom also sits down with me just to chat sometimes. We discuss things about her office as well as my college. It is through these, that I have always been extremely comfortable discussing everything with them. Whether it’s disturbing fights with friends or advice of some sort. Even my sister can come back home and freely talk about her day at school and her friend’s new crush. Mom and dad made it a point to never make any discussion too awkward.

In my personal opinion, this is a blessing really. Simply because there is nothing more comforting than knowing that I can return home and talk my heart out if there is a problem of some sort. At the end of the day, parents are the people who would unconditionally want the best from you. It’s always been wonderful to know that I never have to lie about where I am going or who I am going with. They’d never say no unless there was a reason. A happy home is a splendid thing.
At the end, it just adds to my happiness in life and makes me more mature. I know there are choices I can make sometimes and my parents would understand if I explained it to them. This is a bond I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
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This post is an entry for the “Khuljaye Bachpan” contest being hosted on Indiblogger, organised by https://www.facebook.com/mychocos 

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani- Lessons Learnt.

Meet Ananya Mukherjee. She’s a friend of mine from school, currently studying sociology in Presidency University. She is an extremely bubbly girl and also one of the most photogenic I know. One fine day, she messages me about writing about a movie, which holds a special place in probably all our hearts. I asked her to go ahead with writing it and this is what she came up with.

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Seldom do we come across a thing which incorporates many memories, emotions and reaches a place which is beyond the realm of time or place. This ‘thing’, for me, is a movie. The name, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.

Not-so-Ridiculous as it may sound, this movie will always be a special one for reasons more than one. On a summer night, you would probably not expect a non-writer to start writing but then…

So the first time I saw this movie, I remember coming out of the hall with my mother and telling her how wonderful Bunny was, how splendid the wedding was and how beautifully picturesque the trip was. I remember my mother smiling and saying, ‘Exactly what was so annoying, you know, it is not so beautiful’. You may call her a weird person (I did that as well that day).

Few months later when our batch stayed back in school and watched the movie at 1 in the night, saw the trip on screen and was reminded of their batch trip, many promised to go out on trips henceforth. We saw Bunny, fell in love with the idea of Bunny and promised each other that we would find our Bunny. We saw the extravagant wedding and made plans for our friend’s wedding, what we would wear and how we would dance. We saw how people loved and kept it to themselves and how some of them let it out and we all vouched that we had learnt what we had to. We saw the friendship taking its course and claimed that nothing could harm ours. We…

"You're not wrong, Naina, Just a little different from me"
“You’re not wrong, Naina, Just a little different from me” Source- https://www.pinterest.com/pin/405253666442615342/

Some months later, ‘college’ happened and look, it’s been a year! We figured that trips never really happen and that differences crawl in when texts shift from ‘let’s meet and plan’ to ‘let’s plan and meet’. We figured that Bunny was a myth, and no! No one is perfect and we just learn to collect ourselves. No one really wants to see a ‘Bunny’ in the guy they like to look at, at the canteen, maybe. Weddings seems so far off, come on, ‘Career comes first, maybe?’. We  loved, faced heart breaks and when we thought it was all said and done, we were left to figure out that all is never really said and done. We saw the estrangement among friends and could do nothing but accept it. But no one really grew out of it, you see.

Maybe not a trip to Manali but a small little trip to a beer/cupcake/biryani shop happens at intervals. Bunny is sexy but ‘my guy is different’. And no, this is not crude comparison! Weddings are still attractive and jokes about how our best friends would get dressed still give us reasons to laugh. Thesedays, laughter fades into a smile. We know our friends don’t just call up or even leave a text but that “she-will-be-there’ feeling is still there!

This movie has given us every reason to smile and it’s strange how much a smile can hide. This movie will continue to remind us of that one special person whom we never had, it would make us dream for that amazing enviable life Bunny led, inspire us to call up up that old friend from school, it would make us remember all our fantasies related to weddings and most importantly it would tell us how difficult it is to let things out and how easy it is to deal with the ‘other’ and not the ‘self’.

The movie will continue to give us a feel good factor and then when it ends you would realize how much you lost while still struggling to smile. And on a lonely night, this movie will be your companion. It will give you all that you thought was no more and sing a lullaby for you.

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.

As The Rains Came Down.

Standing alone in the balcony, one solitary evening, she watched the tiny raindrops transform magically from a light drizzle to a heavy thunderous downpour. Flying away with the strong winds she was transported many a year back.

As the sun started playing hide and seek, the rickshawallahs and kokilas would usher in the rains in harmony. Rain quenched the thirst of the parched earth and brought relief and joy to everyone. As the sky became overcast with dark menacing clouds, people rushed out to their balconies looking up expectedly. As the wind picked up, birds hurried to return back to their nests and trees started to  sway from side to side and this heralded the arrival of pure bliss. Then, with the royal accompaniment of thunder and lighting, when the showers finally arrived, this was nature at its seductive best.

Holding ma’s hand, as the little girl, while returning from school on sweltering summers school days, it was God sending down a gift when it rained. Wrapped beautifully in the mild breeze preceding it, which slowly picked up momentum and converted to a storm, He above made sure she enjoyed it. She would jump over muddy puddles staining the school uniform and white shoes with streaks of brown mud and dirt. Ma would hurry her back home to avoid catching a cold, but she would try and delay it as long as possible and hop around in glee. As soon as she entered home, dida would rush to her with a spotless towel and wrap it around her. A bath in warm water followed, which according to dida would prevent all sorts of sicknesses. Evenings meant making boats out of old newspapers and setting them on sail on puddles and overflowing drains, hoping they’ll reach a stranger in some quaint mysterious land.

The years flew by. She started looking forward to rainy evenings for a variety of reasons. Rain meant the intoxicating smell of the earth afterwards and a dinner of hot khichudi and a variety of fries.

It reminded her of watching the dadas playing football in the mud. It reminded her of walking in the pouring rain holding hands with a childhood lover and the hopes of a “happily ever after”. There were always those little children who’d take off their shirts and run and prance about. Dadu’s big black umbrella finally came to its proper use and not as a walking stick.

Then, there were the periods of heartbreak. Of crying in the rain to camouflage the tears. Eventually the rain washed them away, along with the sorrows. It brought with it the sunny pleasant day, the next morning. It reminded her of those long drives with her better half and sticking her head out of the car enjoying the freshness of the cool drops on her face. She smiled at the thought of her grown up daughter as an infant, fascinated by rain and terrified of thunder.

Rains were beautiful. It took her breath away and made her fall in love with life. All over again. It re affirms her belief in Him above and that he listens to your prayers and sends down these occasional surprises. There was always something so refreshing and romantic about rain. Standing in the balcony feeling the spray of water on her face and letting her hair loose for the wind to play with, she smiled.

Happiness, is rain.

Clicked through my phone camera from my balcony.
Clicked through my phone camera from my balcony.

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This post, was actually written just about a year back. Back then, I did not have a blog. So today, after the refreshing rains, I was reminded of this. Hope you enjoyed reading it!

To Be Brutally Honest.

There seems to be this common game of sorts doing the rounds on social media. On an extremely personal front, I would never do this publicly as I feel every relationship has its own secrets and nuances and in my life, I’d rather include all of those in a tbh and send it as a personal message.
This post is extremely personal in nature. It isn’t a tbh for a particular person but instead is just series of absolutely random thoughts. They have no link as such with one another and is just musings which I chose to write down.

To be honest, I’ve come to realise, the dual nature of rains. There are days when the overcast skies seem to make you feel blessed and loved. The rains seem refreshing and romantic. Long walks, getting drenched and coffee seem to make the best of days. The rains can also change your mood for the worse and make it unnecessarily sad, gloomy and melancholic. It’ll bring back memories and can ruin lots of plans.

To be honest, is there really a faint line drawn between infatuation and love? And is there any possible way to find out when you’ve crossed it? What happens when you perhaps, realise too late? It is perhaps stupid and pessimistic but “once bitten and twice shy” seems to sum up a lot. It’s difficult to trust the same way again and hope for the better. I know letting go always works best. Second best is having zero expectations from anything or anyone. You can never be hurt that way. Trying your best will yield no results, you’ll find no answers and then one fine day it wont affect you at all. You’ll take decisions, make mistakes and learn a lot in the process. Yet there’ll be days when you’ll want to believe it all and in the end, hope always wins. Love is a strange word indeed.

To be honest, I attended my first college fest, Sanskriti recently. Fests at Jadavpur University and the OAT have a charm of their own. Not just fests, everything. It has just been around 8 months in college and already, there are memories attached to every nook and cranny in campus. From taash, adda, music and lots of cold drinks in worldview to serious discussions with my best friend at Moni da’s canteen, Jadavpur teaches you a lot in its own way. Most importantly I feel, it teaches you to accept. Accept all the different kinds of mindsets and people and in the end, you’ll blend in and start loving the place. There have been colourful great days spent happily chatting, eating and cracking jokes. Others, spent worrying, consoling and cribbing. Whether its serious matters, mindless banter, romantic talks or just sitting idle, the campus has a perfect spot for it all. There’s a lot that goes on, but Jadavpur feels like home. Always.

To be honest, there are more people who care than you think there is. I speak for myself, but when I put up one slightly negative WhatsApp status, I get unexpected pings asking me if anything is wrong. I really believe, what happens, always happens for the best. Even when times are dark and you ask the question “why me?”, you could always answer that with the fact that every person has problems in their life. Try being there for as many people as you can when they’re down and maybe, you’ll actually feel better about your own life. Make someone smile, give someone a hug and tell someone you love her/him and believe me, your day will be made. Some talk about it, some don’t, some problems are more major than you think it to be and then maybe you’ll realise, that your problems are perhaps not all that huge. And it passes by. It always does. You can try having faith in time.

To be honest, this post is perhaps stupid, exceedingly long and very few people will actually take the trouble of reading it all, but I went on a holiday recently to Kerala. My next post will be about that, and I promise it’ll be colourful and full of amazing pictures. Kerala, is quite rightly called God’s own country.

At the Kovalam Beach.
At the Kovalam Beach.

Each of the individual points perhaps deserve a post of their own, but well.

Happiness on the Streets!

When was the last time you gave up your coveted Sunday morning sleep and home made breakfast for something fun?

For me, it was this last Sunday, 22nd February, when I visited the “Happy Streets”. This was a brilliant initiative by the Times of India and was being held on Park Street, which can arguably be called the happiest zone in the heart of the city.

Roller Skating!
The bicycle stunts! Picture Courtesy- Indrajit Lahiri

I woke up grudgingly at around 6, after putting the alarm on snooze two times. Just managed to brush my teeth and get into whatever I found first in the closet. I really didn’t want to keep Srabasti di waiting. I got into the car, muttering to myself “this should really be worth all this effort”. And, it sure was.

Park Street, was closed from Camac St park crossing till Chowringhee from 6:30 AM to 9:30 AM. The entire road, which is usually overcrowded with cars, was now beautifully decorated and wore a new carnival look. The usual loud honking was replaced by songs and guitar melodies. There was a band playing at one end, children roller skating all around, a group of cyclists performing stunts (which frankly left me awe struck) and many others gaily walking down one of the most iconic parts of the city. We took about three rounds of the entire place. There were zones marked out for activities like karate, yoga workshops, badminton, cricket and more. There was even a mini football arena, which remained crowded all through with people playing, as well as onlookers cheering them on. There was a little boy, who looked adorable while trying to learn roller skating but falling down often. He sat down, laughed and got back up on his feet to try again! Quite inspired from him, one of my brothers tried his hand (or rather, his feet) at it too. Well, he admitted two minutes into the skating shoes that this was indeed not as easy and fluid as it looks. There were elderly morning walkers, enjoying their morning walk in a different part of the city. There were some, who had bought their dogs out for a walk. (A particular Spitz I petted was undoubtedly my favourite.) There were karate at one end and a yoga session for all being conducted at another.

Karate. Picture Courtesy- Indrajit Lahiri
Karate.
Picture Courtesy- Indrajit Lahiri

After a long time, I had such a splendid Sunday morning. Starting a day in a healthy manner, with a breath of fresh air was refreshing. There were happy faces all around. Kids and elders, all having a gala time in the area which can arguably be called one of the most happening parts of the city.

I had no complaints about giving up my Sunday sleep for this. And to top it all off, we had delicious breakfast at Au Bon Pain.

Do join in next Sunday, if you want to witness something you never have before. You wont be disappointed.

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The pictures were clicked by Indrajit Lahiri. You can visit his blog here.

Feluda: Gen Next

Feluda, someone all of us grew up with and one of the first detectives we ever came across. He captured our young minds and Satyajit Ray still remains one of my favourite authors. The thrill, suspense and action in the books left us wanting more. The movies later on, became iconic ones too.
In the movies, Feluda has been portrayed by Soumitra Chatterjee, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Abir Chatterjee and Shashi Kapoor.
I obviously cannot express in words, how excited I was about this session which had Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Abir Chatterjee and Sandip Ray in store for us.
(And of course, I have a teeny weeny crush on Abir Chatterjee)

In conversation.
In conversation.

Sandip Ray admits, he had always wanted to start his career in films with one Feluda film. But never found courage to make it, as there were already two excellent movies that had been made. He even talks about some other hobbies of his like calligraphy.
Soumitra Chatterjee says he had always had the determination and desire to star as Feluda and was delighted to act in “Baksho Rohoshyo”. He was to look up the illustrations and says Sandip Ray’s guidance had helped him immensely. They say that they don’t plan to improvise much on the character of Feluda and don’t want to modernise him. They talk of how “Sherlock” has been a rage all over the world, but even then, they don’t want Feluda to be using tablets and phones in the movies.
On being asked how much of “Byomkesh” and how much of “Feluda” he feels, Abir (looking really handsome) says that he is thankful to the audience for accepting both and loving both. He says that neither of the two movies were made for a commercial purpose and they remembered at all times the amount of sentiments attached to the two characters. He was in a dilemma at first about doing both roles, but was excited ultimately when he was cast as Feluda.
They admit, that they will not make Feluda in Hindi as the people of Bengal would never want to watch it.

This was a splendid session and to see my favourite actors up front was indeed a privilege. To know future plans and hear about personal experiences, was equally interesting.

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