Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I never saw him in anything other than a short dhoti and a short kurta. White. When my dad closed the door to his room to practise playing the violin with Master-moshai, I used to spend the next sixty minutes standing outside, listening to them play. My dad was learning, while Master-moshai, who usually played the tabla, rarely picked up the violin.
I heard from my dad that he used to play like god. Then why doesn't he play any more?

Every Sunday morning they used to sit together for one hour. Then Master-moshai had to go visit his other pupils. On foot. I watched him from my upstairs window as he walked till the end of Sovapur Road. I never knew who his other pupils were. "When did you hear him play?" I would be curious at times, but my dad's answers were vague.

I grew up, went to college and got to meet Master-moshai only when I came home for vacation. He was still the same. Same white dhoti-kurta, and looked the same age. As if warped in time. "How are you, Suvo?" was all he asked every time he met me. I even played the harmonica for him at times and he would pat my back and walk out. To meet his other pupils. Maybe I'm no good, I thought.

One such Sunday morning I was sleeping late as usual. (Those days were blissful, weren't they?) I woke up to this wailing of a violin from downstairs. It was like a mendicant friar singing a sad story, to no one in particular. I kept listening till it stopped playing, wiped the tears that welled up unawares, and rushed down to meet Master-moshai. There he was in dad's room. My mom was standing at the door. And there were two other people that I'd never seen before. My dad introduced me to them: Mme Reba, a beautiful old lady with her exquisite violin on her lap, and Mr Gunther, a rather lean German who worked at the local Max Muller Institute. They were obviously the two other pupils that Master-moshai used to go to. Apparently, most of the others were dead.

I never saw him after that. And I would never have known his story if I didn't chance upon a strange article in The Statesman last week. It was the story of an unsung hero. Siben Guha, or Master-moshai as he was popularly known, was a Naxalite leader. In 1971, the year I was born, the police had beaten up and paralysed his sister Archana (a fellow revolutionary) in their custody. For the next twenty-one years she kept fighting two battles, one against her paralyis and another for justice. One never knew where the funds for her lawyers came from. Archana Guha finally won the case against the ex-police commissioner of Calcutta. It was a moral victory she had to trade an entire lifetime for.

But Master-moshai was never to be seen again. The police suspect he is still a leader of this secret society of Naxalites who remained underground after the uprising in the early 70s. Some say he is dead.

I haven't called up my dad since. Maybe I will, some Sunday morning, to hear a violin wail in the background.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dui Naari (Two Women)

Dui Naari is a book by Sunil Ganguli, two stories about two different women. Here're two stories of two different women, and I just had to borrow his title:


There's music
and there's music in a washing machine
A mother's lap
or a disturbing dream
A jog
or some late morning sleep

When I'm dead, you'll cuddle up, eyes closed, still.

The other

There is a pause somewhere,
longer than a comma,
blank somehow.

Has the free fall ended in a stark white page?

Monday, September 12, 2005

mypasta dot com


Here's the simple recipe for the pasta we had that night.


a normal packet of fettucine (or macaroni)
minced meat (howmuchever you want)
1 carrot
1 capsicum
1 onion
English mustard (or a cheap substitute can be Kasundi)

Fuck, I'm tired already. Will cook tomorrow. You get the stuff by then.

Lebu Cha (lemon tea, served hot in a thick, chipped glass by Laluda)

"Lalu da, a couple of lebu chas please..." I ordered the tea, and went to the nearby paan shop to buy her a couple of Gold Flake cigarettes. I don't smoke, but I try a puff or two from her.

"If this is how you light a cigarette, I wonder how you will remove your undies when you get married," laughed the paan shop guy as he lit it for me. I had already wasted a couple of matchsticks, so I thought he had the right to make that dig.

Without informing him that I am very capable of removing my undies and that I have been married for eight years now, I smiled and walked back across the road to Laluda's tea shop.

"There you go," Laluda smiled as I held the couple of glasses gingerly and walked toward the stairs where she was sitting.

She was looking brilliant in a white saree. I've never seen her in a saree before, and if you ask my opinion about sarees, I'd refuse to comment. Better avoided is what I feel about sarees, quite frankly. But this was a different twilight. The sun had set on us, and probably we were meeting for the last time tonight. A saree did not look out of place at all. Maybe you need that much cloth to drape one's unrequited dreams.

"So?" I asked, not finding anything else to start a conversation with. "Why did you call me at all? I thought you didn't wanna meet me again."

She looked up, looked into my eyes and held her gaze for a second longer than usual and looked away. Please, Niks, I don't need sarcasm right now.

"I told you what happened."

"How is it possible? How can anybody show him my letters?" If not you...

"I don't know, Nikhil, he just knows about our plans."

"So how does that change things? Why can't we go ahead with them? Tell him all."

"I cannot."

That was all she said. End of discussion, period. Find peace in your existing life and trudge along. The faint light from her cigarette was reflected in her eyes. And there were a couple more reflections that found their way down from her eyes.

Maybe she is really crying, maybe she is just calling it off, maybe I was being too pushy for sex. Maybe she thought I wanted to just sleep with her and never loved her at all? How can I read her mind when I haven't been able to read mine till date?

"Ouch," I scalded my tongue trying the lebu cha! How come it never got cold all this while?

"So, there's not going to be a getaway? No Pondicherry together? I should have known all this while," I tried to sound a little off.

Apart from placing her hand on mine she didn't utter anything. I was supposed to understand everything from that touch, make all my conclusions from her exceptionally dry palm that night.
I couldn't.

This is what I think would be our last goodbye, a big lump forming in me, tears welling or perhaps even trickling down to embarrass me even further. Who knows what's going to happen tomorrow when we meet?

Only my scalded tongue seems to hurt already.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

So, finally

Nothing really happened. Nothing expected or unexpected. We had very little time to catch up, except for one evening when we discussed sizes. Of various things. We did that every time we met. Exchanged notes. He and I.

It happens, boss. It happens to you sometimes. Happened to me many times. You are led on, carrots dangling, and then dumped. So big deal! You go dump someone in return, simple. Your hurt ego comes back to its normal size. You feel good, "another one bites the dust." In your mind it's only cliches that run.

Not in yours. In ours. That was a generalization, "you." Not for you, because you are special. You have a vaster repertoire of analogies or quotes to choose from. Your mind has stored many more metaphors and symbols than ours could in the last ten years. Maybe more. I know you for the last ten years.

The significant other is in the dark. Gullible and unsuspecting. She calls to find out how you are, how work is. I want to see her. Is she very sexy? "Do I get to sleep with her if I ever go there?" I wondered. A man's mind is one track. Mine is. Especially when I think of making love to a strange woman who's desperately in love with someone else. It is not kinky to think like that. It's natural, trust me.

You are drunk. And hence quieter than the usual quiet.

I liked your choice of Smirnoff Raspberry Twist. It has an expensive taste. But I couldn't figure what to have it with. Soda tasted nice, but I would have preferred to cover up the raspberry with lemon.

We talked about our first bike ride together. All the way to the Rohtang. About Vinay and Revati who are busy catching fish these days. About the gay Belgian who kept ogling at me all day from his third-floor balcony. The idea of making love to that guy did cross my mind, but by then (this was in the year 2000) I had become very heterosexual. I wanted one of our designers to come along with me, but you came with me instead.

Was it Kasaul? What was the name of this place near Manikarn? Kasaul? Do you remember the pair of panties we sniffed at? Or did I? I haven't written your name here, so don't get worked up. We do like sniffing panties of beautiful, young, stoned, Caucasian women. Only we don't get the chance too often.

And you rolled us joints. Very potent, adventurous joints. Fat, too.

Sayantani saw the pictures later and asked me why I wasn't wearing my jeans that day at the hotel balcony. She is possessive about my legs.

Even when the night got over, we never knew it was the last night together, catching up, listening to five-year old cassettes fished out from my shoe box of memories.

You got over it. I got over the bitterness lacing my mind. We were buddies again. We connected, no matter how far we were. The onlookers thought we had fought and were making up. They needn't know what we were bitter about.

Thanks to Smirnoff, or to the coolth in the September night.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

"saying goodbye to you has been the toughest thing..."
"in an ideal world it wld've been like that with me too"
"maybe i know"
"maybe you do"

(maybe when we meet again, there won't be a reason to?

have a good trip, break a leg
is all i say to you