Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Place that Sang in Silence.

There is a place in the outskirts of Amalapuram, a half-natural, half-artificial forest which is devoid of sound. A deep, impenetrable silence seems to fills that place; so much that even when a bird spreads its wings to fly with a sharp cry, it falls silent immediately, as if unwilling to disturb the sanctity of that place. I had found this forest when I was eight. 

I could never remember the remaining details of that trip- the occasion, my relation with the place and no matter how many times I enquired my parents about it, I always managed to forget. It was as though that forest wanted to stand alone, all by itself in my memory and who was I to deny it that place?

I had actually stumbled on that place by pure chance. We were about to leave that town following the completion of whatever purpose for which we had gone there and though I was made to wake up at the crack of dawn and bathe and get ready, no one seemed to be interested to actually start. So, I ventured out on my own. 

I slipped past the horde of adults laughing over freshly brewed filter coffee and ran out of the gate shouting "I'm going for a walk" in such a way that it escaped everyone's notice but at the same time gave me a truthful chance to say that I had informed in my defence.

I had taken the straight path to the left of the house, turning back every few steps to check if it was still in sight. I reached a small bridge where I remember standing fascinated by a pot-bellied man slapping clothes in a rock at the banks of the water body beneath. A string of droplets would fly in the air with every lift and a resounding slap would ring out as the dhoti hit the boulder again and again till it was satisfactorily lean.

I think I had wanted to cross the bridge and reach down to the bank to watch this proceeding from closer quarters but upon crossing the bridge, I discovered that place which erased everything else from my mind. It was filled with a seemingly endless number of coconut and banana trees and the difference in the height of the two plantations allowed the first rays of sunlight enter, half diffused, into the thicket. It drew checkered patterns on the ground that was made of black soil and grass, with a few bushes of wild flowers strewn here and there.

I remember standing there transfixed by the sheer greenery around. And the silence. It was as though the thick stems and branches of the trees had absorbed all the trivial sounds. But it was silent without being frightening. It was dark without being overwhelming. There was a music to that place that played even in the silence, and it was so pure and so beautiful that my heart seemed to inflate in size to take it in. 

I used to sit for hours at my bedroom window as a child straining to look for a sight of the green in the dust and I have grown with the same search in my eyes except that now I look outside an office window and try to ignore the tall, ugly concrete that hides the birds.

It was a beautiful place and often, later when I was old enough to understand the value of such calm, I found myself longing to be back in that place, and get all the stuffy, confusing voices in my head absorbed by the silence for a while.

When I came back to the house that day, I discovered that my absence had gone unnoticed. Today, after almost 15 years, I have set forward to seek that place again. And this time, I hope my absence would be for a long enough time to get noticed.




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

In search of words

The unmistakable stench of chemical effluents disposed in a water body fills the air as I grope for the light switch in the darkness on the terrace of my building.
It is funny how even a terrible smell can evoke such tender, fond memories.
For it was this very strong, sour stench of chemicals that used to announce the arrival of Haldia every time. I used to stifle my nose with a handkerchief when Durgachak used to be around the corner back then; today, I take a deep breath to fill that smell in my system.

I vividly remember the last time I traveled from Kharagpur to Haldia. Rather, I have memories of what I thought was the last time because the semester got extended for two whole weeks due to the postponement of the last exam. 
I remember fighting the unimaginably strong breeze that seems to flow around Haldia every minute of the day and look out of the window, and write that moment in my mind with the label of my last, my very final journey to Haldia. The actual final time I traveled there, I have absolutely no memories of.

And maybe, after ten, twenty years, that image of myself sitting at the window seat of the ladies compartment of the 5:20 Howrah-Haldia local and preserving a memory with a choked throat will what I would remember as my final journey to that place. Because as Shahid Ali writes, "my memory keeps getting in the way of your history" and that is what always happens- we replace the objectivity of history with the subjectivity of our memories.

I do not write this with the sentimentality that demands a sizable lump in the throat and swimming pools in the eyes. I write this with a perfectly dry vision, that too not because of a poetic "my eyes have dried with the tears they have cried" phenomenon, but due to the simple reason that I have become weary. Weary of craving for things that I will never get back. Weary for people and places that will never come back in my life. Weary about everything in general.

I do not write this with a sense of defeatism either. There is a fine line between being defeated and being wistful and I hope my words, to whoever reads them, deliver the latter.

I write this because a friend asked me why I had stopped writing. And though I was asked to 'fuck the journal entries' and write proper prose, I write these words in defiance because I do not get stories in my head anymore.
And if I force characters out of me right now, they would think and feel what I think and feel right now. Which is just fine because that is how it always works out but this time, I don't want to lend my emotions to my characters now. They are mine and I want to keep them.

If I write about a girl now, she would require to have a short-heighted, tom-boyish friend around whose shoulder putting an arm was as perfect as it could be. She would need to have a beautiful dancer friend with the most hypnotic eyes, whose (mis)adventures with guys falling for her was a constant stream of amusement. Her character would demand to have a hiding place in a kind -hearted girl who would be her 'mother 2.0', a companion for music and poetry and all other arts in a girl with the most beautiful voice, a person with whom silences were comfortable and walking, magical.
It wouldn't do if that girl doesn't have a mother who had both her children far away from her and yet she found ways to be funny when her daughter would cry for home.
It would be unfair if I didn't give her a father who would watch over her always like a silent guardian. Like Batman.
And it would just be impossible if that girl didn't have a brother who thought she was the most innocent, deserving person in the world (and who cooked like a masterchef too).

So my story can't be about this girl because I would never be able to do justice to all the people she has in her life and I cannot think of any other character in my head now.
Maybe I have failed. Failed as a writer, as a story teller and hence I write these words now. In defiance. And with terrible, terrible sadness.
There is nothing worse than not being able to pen down the avalanche of words in your head.
I am what Emily Dickinson's 'Volcanoes be in Sicily' describes perfectly. A crater of emptiness waiting to blow.

"I judge from my Geography-
Volcanoes nearer here
A Lava Step at any time
Am I inclined to climb-
A Crater I may contemplate

Vesuvius at Home."

Friday, July 10, 2015

Diet and Dieting- What we need to know

Summer. For some it is an opportunity to flaunt their perfect figures in shorts and trendy tops while for some it is time to hide dollops of fat acquired during the winter in baggy tees.

I happen to come in the second category, thanks to the evil named PCOD (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disease) and 3 years of neglected diet.



After suffering a lot both physically and emotionally due to the medical condition, I have finally understood what it means to have a healthy, balanced life and how important it is for each and every one of us.

Any health problem associated with sedentary life style and unhealthy eating habits is like a Nemean Hydra that just keeps on sprouting two heads each time you cut off one. Trust me, I have been there.

With PCOD comes not only serious hormonal imbalance and weight gain but also severe mood swings, lethargy and self-confidence issues. Medicines are generally not suggested because they cause only temporary relief from the problem and end up resulting in further hormonal imbalance. All the doctors I have visited suggested me only one thing- exercise and  a balanced diet.

We all have written long, rich answers for a balanced diet at school but I don't think any of us realised the actual importance of it at that time. I do now.

A balanced diet might sound boring but it is very important to stay healthy and fit in the long run. After I decided to put an end to my laziness and join the gym, I also started eating healthy you have no other choice when you are at home :P)  and believe me, just after a month of it, I can totally feel my body being lighter and more flexible than before.
                    
Balanced diet is nothing but proper, nutritious food taken at proper timings and intervals. I know hostel life takes away all the resolution of eating proper what with the late night hunger demands and hurried stuffing for breakfast. But we can at least give it a shot.

Breakfast, being the most important meal of the whole day shouldn’t be neglected at any cost. A lunch rich in all carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, proteins and minerals should be mandatory. A light snack in the evening followed by a protein rich, light dinner in the night should complete the balanced diet for the day.

Being a complete vegtarian, I had intially my fears about going short on protein but with a bit of reserach and help from my trainer, I could follow a protein rich diet with pulses, curd, chana, cheese without much effort. 


A balanced diet might sound boring but it is very important to stay healthy and fit in the long run. After I decided to put an end to my laziness and join the gym, I also started eating healthy you have no other choice when you are at home :P)  and believe me, just after a month of it, I can totally feel my body being lighter and more flexible than before.
                    
Balanced diet is nothing but proper, nutritious food taken at proper timings and intervals. I know hostel life takes away all the resolution of eating proper what with the late night hunger demands and hurried stuffing for breakfast. But we can at least give it a shot.

Breakfast, being the most important meal of the whole day shouldn’t be neglected at any cost. A lunch rich in all carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, proteins and minerals should be mandatory. A light snack in the evening followed by a protein rich, light dinner in the night should complete the balanced diet for the day.

Rather than taking 4 complete meals in the day, eating small amount of food at regular intervals is also recommended especially for those who are dieting. 8-9 small meals consisting of fruits, nut etc would keeps your hunger pangs that come with dieting at bay.  

On contrary to what people think and believe, dieting is not ‘stopping to eat’ at all. Rather, it is more of completing the food cycle of a day in a particular method and time and restricting certain kinds of food.

My gym trainer and dietician told me to eat anything I liked (not junk food of course) but to eat them in sufficient amounts and at proper time. I have seen many people crash dieting and gyming at the same time which resulted in body weakness.

One thing that people don’t realize about crash dieting is that you might lose your kilos very fast, but you will gain double the amount equally fast. In Rujuta Diwekar’s words, Crash diets are like fake jewellery, bure time mein aap ke kaam nahi aata! and more funnily “Crash dieting is like a fling with a bad boy (even when you are in it, you know it’s not going to work long term)” and once you ponder over it, you realise how true it is!

I have also noticed that from the time I have started eating balanced meals at the proper time and exercising regularly, I don’t even crave for stuff like chocolates, chips and other junk I used to eat randomly before. I hardly ever feel hungry except at meal times.

So balanced diet my friends, is the key solution to all the vices of diabetes, heart diseases and all the sickness that we are prone to these days thanks to our sedentary lifestyles.

And when you are bored of eating similar food everyday, you can make it interesting using Honey Diet which adds sweetness to the food without hampering your health!

This post is written for Dabur Honey