September 28, 2014

Musing: Another Piece of my Childhood

"A sister is a piece of childhood that can never be lost." - Marion C. Garretty 

The First Picture of Us Together, September 1989.
September 2014. 

"I still remember the first day you were brought home from the hospital," my sister tells me as we drive from Parkar Parade towards her house, "there was a power cut, and I spent the whole day fanning you."

I smile. Our mother had told her repeatedly, that I was the helpless tiny thing and since she was my elder sister, it was her duty to take care me. Words that I think she took to heart. Because even today - my sister refuses to come to terms with the fact that I have turned twenty five. She still thinks I am the baby that was brought from the hospital, and that I belong to her...and anyone who wants anything to do with me, needs her stamp of approval.

If you don't have an elder sister, I cannot explain. And if you have an elder sister, I do not need to explain. 

December 2010. 

This was taken during my first trip to Singapore. I have admitted to being positively terrified of being alone with her back then. Because it had been a long time since we'd been alone together. 

My sister had left home for NUS in 2008, the year I came to Jadavpur University... so the time I was truly turning into an adult, from a schoolgirl - my sister was not around. 

I have to admit, it was plain annoying, pretending not to understand a lot of things...and keeping a lot of secrets. I used to watch my other friends with stronger bonds with their siblings, sharing almost everything under the Sun with them.

"Maybe it's the age difference," a sympathetic friend had once told me, "I am very close to my sister because we are a lot closer to each other's age..."

October 1997.
The First Trip to Pondicherry that I can remember, 1997
Thirteen and Seven. 

Those were our ages back then when this photo was taken. And it seemed like a never ending age gap. We had sat around at the dining table, talking nineteen to the dozen, about when she'd be in college I'd still be in school. A school that had decided to label as, "Roopsha's sister" as soon as I'd set foot there.

I still remember the day when the teacher selecting students to perform a dance number for our annual function had come into the classroom, called all students by their names. Suddenly, she scanned the classroom, calling out, "Roopsha's sister, where are you?" And thus began my resentment for having to live up to her shadow...

It was not easy being "Roopsha's sister", I tell you. She so good at everything: studies, singing, well-liked, and she has a charm, that makes you want to do whatever she asks you too, no matter how ridiculous you might find her demands. Everyone who has come across my sister has managed to love her, despite stating that she is a Queen and they are all her subjects. If there really exists the art of getting your way - I believe she's mastered it. 

The only sisterly memory I have attached to that first trip to Pondicherry was when my sister whispered to me in the middle of the night from the upper berth to the next, "Oi! Do you want to have a chocolate?"

It was more than a piece of chocolate for me. It was the start of something new, I had believed. Little did I know, it wasn't going to be that easy to breakout of the little sisterly rivalry we had going on. (My sister believed I was the favored child, and I believed for the longest time I was the ugly and dumb one in the family. Being the youngest in a joint family often does wonders to your self-confidence!!)

2011, 2012, 2013... 2014

August 2014: Cab Selfie with the Sister :)

So, I decided to visit my sister, using most the money I'd managed to save up (and of course being helped by our beloved little mum!) 

And during this trip, I found it a lot easier telling her about all the things that I'd been up to during my BA and MA days - and how MPhil has been an enlightening experience...

She even took me out dancing...and here's a bigger improvement, I no longer feel bored in the company of her friends...because no one treats me like a kid anymore. My brother-in-law is a key element for that too... "Aren't you twenty five? Stop acting like a kid!"

That's still a little confusing. Since my brother insists on still treating me like a kid...something that keeps bringing us back to being at loggerheads all of the time...and that had once upon a time, seriously stopped me from confiding in my sister. 

"Having a sister is like having a best friend you cannot get rid of." - Anonymous

I realized another easy way of making sure my sister treats me like a grownup. I just tell about the new friends I've made, and who are older than I am, but treat me like an adult. Of course - they like indulging me...but they are people, I can safely say things too, without the fear of being snubbed with the obvious, "Well, but you're still just a kid..."

"Ah, but they've met you when you're already an adult. I have known you ever since you were born," she likes to argue.

"Don't worry. You're my sister. And I will always you best." I assure her with a laugh. 

"You better." She grumbles. 

In many ways, I am not sure who's the elder sister and who's the younger one. We both throw tantrums and we both expect the other to pick up the pieces, when everything else seems to fall apart. We fight, we scream, we disagree...but we end up declaring a truce after awhile. It is pretty annoying to be the sister of a woman who is almost always right about things. 

I trust her judgement. Because all of her predictions have turned out to be true... *grrrrrr* And now that I'm older, I realize that by pretending I'm still her 'baby' sister - she tries to protect me from the world. It's just too bad, that I've already realized how cruel this world can be. 

But I also discovered the great secret of life: Nothing will ever get you down, unless you let it. 

My sister really is a piece of my childhood. I'm just glad we're at a much happier phase in life...where I don't have to pretend to be a kid anymore. I can be myself - and without bothering about the fact if it offends anyone else. ;-)

September 18, 2014

Musings: An Ex-Student Talks About #hokkolorob

I have been away from home since 23rd August, but that does not mean that news does not reach me. I have hardly ever used my Facebook page or my blog for anything other than creative purposes. But what happened on the night of 16th September is unforgivable. It made me think when I have a platform to voice my feelings, I should bloody well use it. After all, we want to be heard. What better way to do it than broadcast my thoughts on this blog of mine?

Since I have not been present remotely in the city, I asked my friend, Indrani, to guest post for me.We went to college together for five years. We became the best of friends. And never in our time together we have never experienced something as heinous as the 16th September night And this particular incident has left us both shocked beyond words. Still, on my request, the following are her words and her feelings about the whole matter:

Jadavpur University, the name that floods my mind with sweetest of memories. 5 most important years of my life I've spent there made friends, best of friends... 
Silent witness to history, glory, inventions, discoveries, cultural and social revolutions is my University. The music of life plays throughout the sprawling premise. every day tons of students, friends, people, musicians, artists, dreamers gather here the energy is perennially bustling...And finally the fest each student in the University wait for this week of pure festive joy that one of the greatest Cultural fests of Kolkata sees, Sanksriti, organized by the AFSU/FETSU each year.
A young couple without harming any soul any where were simply on their own. I am not going into any moral policing here about what one should do, one should not. A bunch of hostel students,drunk in their own ideologies wanted to teach this couple a lesson and how did they do that? 
By dragging the girl inside the hostel and attacking her physically. Abuses, molestation, wild violent thrashings continued for God knows how long
And the girl wanted justice.....justice is probably the most widely used yet abused word in the current state of conditions in our beloved state
The respected VICE chancellor ├žouldn't'take any action at that point of time
no one knows why. What's better he wanted the victim to be out of the campus and not even near the gates ( how we all know she is the masked monster lurking around the campus and not the bunch of scoundrels who shamelessly pounced on her) { here am at a loss of words}and when the students decided to stand against this horrible, inefficient, ass-licking, political puppetry, all hell broke loose within 7 hours of 'gherao' and peaceful protest ( I repeat- peaceful, all that these students had were musical instruments and slogans as weapons) the VC came up with  this brilliant plan of killing it down by calling up police (read goons in green ganji) at the dead of night when these students were peacefully , calmly protesting against the crime. The police stormed in the University gates when suddenly lights went off ( let me tell you here, being a student of the University for 5 years, the electric switches for lights is essentially inside the VC) office and in that darkness at odd hours of night lashes broke out on innocent, unarmed students where so many of them were beaten to pulp, they were shocked, traumatized, girls were groped, dragged by the breast, beaten up...
          Guys, lets use a little bit of common sense:
These students cannot really attack the goons or hulk for policemen sent to the campus also, in support of my writing, kindly refer to TOI coverage of the incidents and the flurry of videos that depict the truth. This is ghastly. For humanity's sake this is one of the esteemed Universities of the State where students come to make friends, learn, enjoy and realize the spirit of youth. This is meant to be safe, this is meant to be peaceful after all these an institution where knowledge is believed to pass down through generations where bonds between teachers and students are meant to last for eternity cannot have a a cruel, inhuman, criminal in the name of VC.  
Kindly sign the petition and get the pain in the name of VC out of the post and out of this beautiful center of education
Here I request all of you to come together in solidarity with the bravest of brave students of JU and help them get the much deserved justice!

Please click on the above link, and sign the petition. As a human being, as a student of JU, I request everyone to sign the petition.
If anyone else wants to guest blog post and spread more awareness about #hokkolorob, do get in touch with me. Thank you, guys. And do remember to sign the petition.

September 17, 2014

Singapore Diaries: A Musing on Turning Twenty Five

Because I have been missing Pippo like crazy these past couple of days, my sister decided to gift me Muffin on the night the clock struck twelve and I turned 25 years old. 

That was the 12th of September 2014. And I have been meaning to blog about that for the longest time...but, oh know what they say - old age tends to catch up with you. ;)

Okay. I lied. It doesn't. Age really nothing but a number. And while I freaked out about 25 and pulled a stunt that took me away from home, far from where everyone who know me and care about me, would've probably forced me to celebrate my 25th birthday - I forgot the flaw in my plan. 

I was going to be spending my birthday with my Elsa. Who really is a Queen of celebrations (I think she gets that from our mother). I was not really surprised by the notebook. Everyone who knows me knows about my love for writing. The best thing to give me is always a pen and a notebook, and leave me to my thoughts.

But my love for writing is not the point of this particular post. The point is to tell you how I had to celebrate turning 25, when in fact, I had made the elaborate plan to get out of it...

"Oh, I asked my lab friends to come for your birthday party. You'll get to meet them," my sister tells me one of days we're home. She is busy working on her laptop, and I've abandoned all pretense of trying to figure out what Jakobson had said...and am busily playing with my phone. 

The only words I catch are 'birthday party'. Oh, no!

"What are you talking about?"

"You know...the birthday party for you. For turning 25. Our friends said they'd come..."

"What exactly did you tell them? My baby sister is turning 25, please come to her party?"


By now I was utterly perplexed, "They don't even know me. Why would they come for my birthday?" My plans of slipping into being 25 was getting ruined...

"You met most of them at once...and well, you know Madhubrata's mother." 

I rolled my eyes, "I met her father, Didi. This is so weird..."

"Oh c'mon...all of them agreed to come. Isn't that sweet of them?"

"Oh's a party. Why would someone turn that down now?" I retorted, sarcastically. I didn't tell her the whole party scene was upsetting me because I felt no happiness over turning 25. I was almost dreading it. But she's older than me. So my little age problem would probably get dismissed. And because I continued to look miserable, she said,  "Look,why don't you invite your friend too?"

"Because he'll say he's busy. He hardly returns my texts, in any case." I muttered.

My birthday came. And spent it watching Nancy Drew and going to the East Coast Park, in the middle of answering texts, phone calls and IMs. I sang Rachel Platten's words to myself in order to make myself go out of the house that day:

"Nothing ever happens if you stay in your room,
Nothing ever happens if you leave the party too soon..."

Since my sister had to work in lab, I had to go with my brother-in-law, Satyaki da, to see Finding Fanny. I really don't understand why people are raving about it. They bloody killed a cat. And no, I don't that a least bit funny. Oh, well...

The day of the party dawned. By that time, I felt bad. My poor little Elsa...going out of her way to make her Anna feel at home. What she didn't know was, if I was home, I would probably escape somewhere, switch off my phone and refuse to meet anyone. Of course given the friends I have,they would have hunted me down and made me celebrate my birthday. Anyway, we got the house all cleaned up before the guests came. Post 8:30pm, one by one, they started to arrive. 

(Unfortunately I forgot to take too many pictures that day. And I really wish I had. Because the party had unleashed a string of fresh characters on me.)

My friend Rini claims that people watching is one of the best pass times ever. I have to agree with her. If I tried to write about every single one of our guests, this would become an awfully long and boring blog post. So how about I just tell you about my cousin and my sister's lab friends who like to define themselves as 'nut jobs'. Well, they clearly have not met some of the people I know. Nut jobs don't even begin to define them... (The cousin doesn't define herself as a nut job,by the way...that's just Queen Elsa's subjects.)

The girl in green is my Queen Elsa. (Those of you unfamiliar with Disney's Frozen...just look up the scene where she says, 'You can't marry a man you just met.' Both my mum and I burst out laughing and agreed that sounded exactly like my sister. So Queen Elsa i.e. Roopsha Brahma Banerjee (my didi) is married to Satyaki da (also in picture), and the lady who got cut out of the picture is our cousin, Sohini (di). The only one in the entire family who does not use my nickname. (And thank God for that.) 

And these are the people who are my sister's friends from lab - Jeremy, Nikhil and Madhubrata di. (Yes, the girl whose father I know -_-)

And here is Didi and Madhubrata di again, with Arun. (You know I keep remembering the politician Arun Jaitley every time I hear this name.) Anyway - they claim to be crazy people. I guess they are. Most of the people I've met in my life have been a little crazy. But I guess all the best people are. 

Even though I'd met a lot of the other people who'd come for my party...I ended up talking to these people in the pictures the most...each of them come with a different story, I have to write a separate blog post for that. 

All I can say right now is, I am glad they came to my 25th birthday party. They made me miss home a little less, and feel much more like a grown up. I still cannot believe I've reached the landmark of a quarter of a century...Wow, 25th. You lived up to my expectations.

And because we have to go out now, this blog post will not get the profound ending I ought to have given it... 

P.S. - Do remember to keep an eye on this blog. You really need to meet the interesting characters - I'm sorry - people I met on my birthday party day. ;)

September 10, 2014

Singapore Diaries: Of Bicycle Rides & Coffee Evenings

East Coast Park, as the Sun goes down...
Every time someone asks me what have I been doing while my sister and brother-in-law are busy at work, I say...I'm busy with my own work. And when I finish working (or just want a break), I often walk down to the East Coast Park and spend a good amount of time there.

This week, I think I even stayed there till 8:30 pm one time. Because the place really is beautiful. And I get to ride a bicycle in peace. Something I've missed doing over the last few years of growing up...

It really did feel like I was a kid again....riding the bicycle, with the wind rushing past. Apparently if you learn to ride a bike, you are never going to forget it. No wonder it felt so wonderful...

The Bicycle 

I insisted on this bike because I was not really sure if I would remember to balance myself. It turns out, I did remember. And quite well at that. It was one of the best evenings here... 

We did go out for movies, and dinner, and lunch...they have always been nice. But the whole riding the bike along the east coast, being able to gaze out into the ocean...surely takes the cake. 

Another really nice thing about yesterday evening was finally being able to meet the Coup d'East (the bloggers group I happen to keep raving about) Captain, Prashanth for coffee. (And Teriyaki Chicken and Potato skin!)

With Prashanth

I guess by now I've met the maximum number of my team mates, and the numbers only go higher up.

Singapore is proving to be fun. And I hope to have even more fun by the end of this week...

It is quite a big deal for me, anyway.

Let's see.

So far the trip has been great. I've not done the touristy things because apparently we have covered everything before...

Until next time.
Take care, everyone!

September 4, 2014

Singapore Diaries: East Coast Park & A New Friend

Last week when I got bored out of my mind, and decided to do a bit of exploring of my own. And in some stroke of miracle I found the way out of this beautiful maze Didi and Satyaki da live in called Villa Marina. Then my GPS took me to the East Coast Park. So I had walk for 19 minutes. Well, big deal. I still haven't hired a bike and rode around the park yet. I keep saying, "I'll do it tomorrow." But tomorrow, sadly, has not arrived yet.

East Coast Park...looking at the ocean I kind of walked as far I dared to stray. (Yes, I'm a little bad with directions. So I was careful. I will still be careful when I go biking either tomorrow or day after. Let's see.)

Walking around the ECP last  week...

And then, when I was on my way back from getting dinner. I made a new friend...

I had been missing Pippo a lot. So I thought maybe it was the Universe's way of telling me that there are other friendly cats around too. I just never seem to notice them. Isn't that funny?

I really hope I run into him again! :)