Saturday, January 9, 2016

Aam Pachak v/s Walter White


Blue meth's got nothing on this s**t.
-
It looks so innocent on the outside.
-
A yellow plastic tube with a friendly mango saying "Eeyah!"
-


On the inside, is a darker, more malevolent force. Take a couple of tablets, it says. But my stomach is empty, my brain replies, I don't need digestive boosting. Never you mind... take a couple, it repeats.
-
My arms revolt... obeying the dark side and guide the potent tangy sweet spicy contents towards my mouth again. And again. And again. Till the tube is empty.


-
I feel helpless. Like I have felt before. In front of packets of Pachan Amla & Hawa Ban & Fatafat. In front of the stupendous selection of the drug cartel Jaina Silpa Mandir's stalls at the Pujo Pandals.
-
Whatever it is that they put in there, pachaks, churans and aachaars [or as my Dad calls them 'tokktokiyaa'] are chemically designed for total domination over self-control. Strange circuits light up and on long, busy office days, my overworked brain keeps begging for more.


-
Don't know about all the other stuff that they claim India invented "first" but I can guarantee at least this... that the slogan "No one can eat just one" sure wasn't originally coined for a packet of Ruffles Lays or anything sold in Albuquerque. 

Sorry, Walter... but Aam Pachak is the one who knocks.


-
[http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.in/2016/01/aam-pachak-vs-walter-white.html]

Monday, January 4, 2016

Phanoosh


New Year's Eve. Close to midnight, the party at my cousin's is picking up pace.
-
But I am not feeling it.
-
Only a couple of days before, I was at the Nimtala Burning Ghat. The closure that the final journey and the all consuming flames seemed to offer then... doesn't feel as complete right now.
-
Like so many times before. we had taken for granted that Kaki Dimma would return home from hospital all smiling and chatty about the latest pain & complications she had overcome.
-
This time though, she gave us the slip.
-
This party is peopled by my paternal side cousins & their families, with no connections to Kaki Dimma, the last of her generation from Mom's side. They obviously are in a completely different frame of mind.
-
The rooftop of my cousin's building is dark. An ensemble group ranging in age from 8 to 50 tumbles onto it as all around the city skies light up. A spray of colour here, a boom of sparkliness there - all in celebration of what was and what will be.
-
What was. Dadubhai. Dimma. Pishi Dimma. Kaku Dadu. And now Kaki Dimma. Wrinkly knobby slow moving hands, snow for hair, indulgent to a fault and never without a smile to spare - they occupied a unique shelf in my childhood cupboard of categorisations. 
-
"How can anyone be so nice? Are they for real? If so, why can't everyone else be like them?" 
-
Restore & double the lost money of a recently pick-pocketed 10 year old grandson; jump out of sick bed to fulfill the luchi-aloo bhaajaa demands of that same grandson; from his own shop's stock, pour out more brown and white wrappered Melody chocolates than a small pair of hands can hold - all legend establishing standards of care.
-
The roof is abuzz with activity. Brothers, sisters, brother-in-laws, nephews and nieces have set about clearing the pooled firecracker stock. Charkhas whirr in duets and rang-mashaals blaze with no particular agenda. In the darkness beyond, I watch with borderline detachment.
-
The 'cells' make an appearance, their heavy cylinders packed with surprises to be revealed a few hundred feet up in the air, with a flash of sound and light - if things go to plan. As it turns out, things do go to plan to everyone's relief.
-
The bigger plan, the plan of plans, however, never goes to (our) plan. Fully aware that nothing is permanent, we, quite foolishly, cling on to the hope that it is. 
-
Enthusiastic conversationalist armed with a girly giggly laughter and a wide-eyed concern for all, Kaki Dimma, of all people, the sweetest of all my Dimmas, had seemed timeless. 
-
On our rooftop, it is phanoosh time, the closing act. Phanoosh - the funny sounding Bengali word for hot air balloon - also moonlights as the word of choice for Chinese sky lanterns. 
-
After the manic razzmatazz of the 'cells', the careful unwrapping of the thin papered lanterns brings a dimension of calm to the proceedings, a thoughtfulness so far missing in the revelry.
-
Careful planning and teamwork by us, cousins and brood, cannot prevent our first launched phanoosh from confidently sailing into a neighbouring building. There are no screams of terror that follow nor does the attacked building go up in flames soon after. In retrospect a minor mishap. 
-
The phanooshes that follow the pilot launch are significantly more well behaved.
-
It may be the near disaster of the first launch and the resilient cheerfulness of the launch team. It may be that other phanoosh that rushed groundwards, only to catch a breeze just in the nick of time, rising straight up into the sky, past a wildly cheering group of cousins. 
-
Whatever be the reason, I am feeling significantly better.
-
Come to think of it, the only flavour added to my life and to that of many others by people like Kaki Dimma through all her years is the flavour of happiness. Being morose on account of her is contradictory to how I want to remember her.
-
The sadness will remain, no doubt, a gap never to be filled. Yet there is some comfort to be drawn from a constructed image.
-
The analogy of a loved one becoming a star is, if I may say so, done to death. 
-
It is much better to think of a phanoosh, the way it brings a group of people together under the flickering light of the flame. There's the wait for the hot air to fill up the delicate paper. There's joking around, there's impatience and finally there's the tug.
-
Should we let it go? Is it ready? Are we ready to let it go?
-
All questions answered as the phanoosh climbs, ever so slowly, leaving a glowing trail of smiles and cheer, a bright spot of familiarity in the endlessness of the dark night sky.

-



-