The turns and breaks, valleys and ravines of a river called LIFE, written in June, 2008
I don’t know who coined the term Home Page, but I feel that’s a very apt term for what a Home Page is actually intended to be. My Home Page is supposed to tell you everything about ‘me’ at my ‘home’, or in other words my true self. Yes, that’s what I also aspire to achieve through my home page. But I feel, to know a person properly you should also know about his world, not only his home. That’s why I call my home page my Home & the World.
Home is a place, a space or a domain where a person is truest to his own identity, closest to his own self, least pretentious and hypocritical and most creative. Home is somewhere where he doesn’t have to think of his reputation, image or credentials. It’s somewhere he doesn’t have to think what others are saying or thinking about him. Home is a place where he literally feels ‘at home’, isolated, insulated and secluded from everything else.
Complementing the Home, World is a place or space or domain where a person is not isolated or insulated from anything. He is a part of everything. He is one of the innumerable people around him. This is the place of his work, his growth and his reputation. He can’t be ignorant to what’s happening around him. He has to compromise, accommodate and adjust, within the limits of his ethics and personality off course, which can give rise to contradictions within him. Nevertheless, both Home and World are inseparable aspects of anyone’s life. It’s the effective balance between the Home and the World that makes a man successful, happy and content. It’s a person’s behaviour at Home and World that becomes his identity or rather personality.
Tagore’s Ghare Baire is all about the contradictions of Home and the World. I personally feel that our entire life can be broadly categorized into these two broad categories, Home and World. I need both for my survival. I might like a certain kind of music and hate everything else. But I can’t create my own music at home. I’ve to get it from the World. In the same way if I’m a writer I can’t write only for me. I’ve to write for the World outside me and that’s where I’ll get the recognition.
When I started to write this page it reminded me of the essays that we’d to write in our school days about ‘Myself’. I don’t remember exactly what I used to write in those essays. Apart from the birthday and family details about parents and siblings it was also mandatory to write about the aim in life. Once up to the higher classes I didn’t have to write these types of essays on ‘Myself’ any more but the aim in life kept on haunting me from time to time.
At different ages I’d different aims. For example, at a very young age, I really don’t know why, I wanted to become a ground engineer. I don’t even know if that’s the correct term for the people whose responsibility is to check the flights before take-off. Somehow the idea of the lives of all the passengers in the flight being at the mercy of the ground engineer used to make the job very fascinating to me.
Then at some point of time I and my brother decided to become a music composer duo, inspired by Shankar-Jaikishan and Laxmikant-Pyarelal. Actually that was the time when I started learning violin in early eighties and my brother, merely five-six years old, started playing an old harmonium all of his own. We both started appreciating the fact that creating a good music is something much greater than anything else in life. We’d taken up the ambition so seriously that we started listening to the afternoon “Man Chahe Geet”, listeners’ choice, program of Hindi Movie songs in Vividha Bharati, once we’re back from our schools. After a short while we could identify the music composer of most of the songs just from our acquired knowledge of the distinctive styles of the different composers. In fact we’d also composed a few short music pieces. Once I joined the residential school at Purulia in 1985, our musical sessions came to abrupt end, though we still discuss music most of the times whenever we get to meet now-a-days.
Once I was in high school the thoughts about ambition in life started to flow in a very predictable fashion. Gone were all those lofty and fancy ideas. Mainly from peer pressure (and to some extent parent pressure) the ambitions became quite restrictive. I’d to either become an engineer or doctor. I understand now why most people want to become a doctor or an engineer. Perhaps those two are the easiest shortcuts to success and earning a decent living without exerting the brain much. Even after cracking the famous IIT-JEE exams, getting grilled for the next four years at IIT and then finally landing up with a high paying job, my hypothesis is now, after working for twelve years, getting more and more concretized into a law that most other fields have greater scope for creativity for mediocre people. Well, I really don’t mean that Joseph Strauss, the architect of the Golden Gate. Bridge over San Francisco Bay, one of the most aesthetically and artistically constructed pieces of architecture, or John Utzon, the architect of Sydney Opera House, one of the modern day architectural wonders with a profuse medley of science, technology, artistry, culture and heritage, or for that matter Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of perhaps the three most important indispensable things of modern life – electric bulb, gramophone and motion picture, were less creative than Mozart or Shakespeare or John Keats. None of them were mediocre and all of them were creators, and not engineers, very much like Mozart or Shakespeare or Keats.
Lately, I’ve been getting a bit bored with what I’ve been doing for the past twelve years. Like the childhood ambition of becoming a music composer, I now have the ambition of writing a book. Specially after reading a few recent books like “Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, a doctor by profession, “Five Point Someone” by Chetan Bhagat, an IITian, “Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri and few other Bengali ones, I’m quite inspired to pen my first novel. Well, that would be a story of could-have-been-Shankar-Jaikishan-becoming-Chetan-Bhagat!! Wow, that itself can be the title of my novel.
Coming back to reality, ambition is the fuel of life. Whether it’s fulfilled or not, people shouldn’t stop dreaming.
I was born in Behala, the place where both my parents have been staying for more than fifty years. My father was brought up in Behala by his eldest sister and her husband ever since he landed up in Calcutta in 1947, just after the independence and partition of Indian subcontinent, after a horrid and poignant escapade from Bangladesh during the brutal period of communal riots. I’ve heard so many times the nerve shattering story of how the three kids, the eldest, my father’s elder brother aged fourteen years, the youngest, my father aged seven years and the other, his elder sister aged about ten years, traversed a fateful journey from their ancestral home in Goila village in Barishal district of Bangladesh to Calcutta, leaving behind their home, their father, whom they never saw thereafter in their life, their mother and two new born sisters whom they met again only after seventeen years, all alone, crossing big and turbulent rivers on steamers, for which they had to stand in queues for a week just to get the tickets, taking trains ridiculously crowded with merciless and desperate people who did very little to accommodate or help three hapless kids and finally reaching Calcutta and getting stamped at the Sealdah railway station where my father broke one of his rib-bones. Throughout my childhood I kept on asking for the same story again and again in vain efforts to understand rightfully the exact pains and sorrows my father and his siblings might have gone through. I can now visualize each and every moments of those few weeks.
Starting from there, with a broken rib, and his sister’s family with a very modest earning of a clerk in the Calcutta Port Trust, where his brother-in-law used to work, and overwhelmed with the task of providing shelter to so many refugee-relatives pouring in from Bangladesh, my father managed to become a Mechanical Engineer from Jadavpur University in 1965 and finally retired a few years back as the GM Works in a gear-box manufacturing company in Calcutta. He is truly a self-made man who has created his fortune literally from scratch and brought me and brother up in a very comfortable way.
My childhood, till 1985, when I joined the hostel in Ramakrishna Mission Vidyapith in Purulia, was filled with awe-struck real life stories of my father and his siblings, struggling through their lives but still being so happy and content with their passion for music and literature. If I ever really manage to write a book I don’t think I’ve to look for any material. The story of our family can provide enough elements of thrill, mystery, climax, success, failures, passion, betrayal and everything else that’s required for a best seller.
The school-years in hostel from 1985 to 1992 were very formative for me. My passion for music and literature took a definite form. I’d read most of the Bengali and English classics from the school library during this period. I also started writing for the school magazine and organizing cultural events. A very awakening experience during this period was the frequent trips to the interior villages of Purulia, one of the poorest districts in India, from Ramakrishna Mission for the education and healthcare of the local tribal population. Till that time I’d no idea of the real hardship and poverty that human beings have to endure. I used to be appalled at the sight of everything. Even at that early age in life I’d decided to do something, especially towards the education of the kids of Purulia. By that time I’d known very well that only education can raise the social and economic status of a person – my father is the daunting example of this. Since the past few years I’ve worked out an arrangement with my alma mater to make some humble contribution every year for this purpose.
The four years in IIT from 1992 to 1996 were the most enjoyable and memorable to me. The truly cosmopolitan atmosphere of the IIT with so much of diversity and every other student being a topper at his/her own state board had a very good effect in imbibing a sense of humility and equality in everyone. All these coupled with the austerity of the IIT lifestyle and the grilling curriculum helped everyone to develop of a firm but generous personality adaptive to any situation. I believe the best part of the IIT life is the development of the right attitude and personality. IIT also provided lot of scope for cultural activities, which I made use of in the best possible ways. I became the Governor of the Technology Music Society (TMS), the official Institute Band, during my final year (1995-96) and spent most of the final year in putting up musical performances for various occassions. With a few of the members of TMS returning back to Bangalore we decided to start a band of our own in 2007. That’s how Kohal was born.
After spending a year in Noida in my first job in 1996-97 I moved to Bangalore in 1997 and ever since have been staying in Bangalore for the past 11 years. I got married to Trinita on 7th August, 1998 and we had our first and only kid, Hrishav, on 25th January, 2003. Travelling has been always our best leisure. Whenever we get time we indulge into travelling. Over the past eleven years we’ve covered almost the entire South India. Every place, however small or unknown be it, has its own uniqueness and is different from any other place in the world. You just need to have the right set of mind and open senses to appreciate the speciality and the beauty of a place. Even the smallest of places have been so wonderful and memorable. We made a short trip to Europe, covering parts of Switzerland, Austria and Germany, in 2004 when Hrishav was just 1.5 years old. In 2007 we made an even shorter trip to Thailand covering Bangkok and Pattaya. Our next target is to cover places in North India, especially Rajasthan.
Apart from travelling, reading books, listening to music, watching movies and playing violin for myself and our band Kohal, I’m also associated with Sarathi, a socio-cultutal trust involved in organizing cultural events around Diwali and Durga Puja in Bangalore.