Thursday, 18 December 2014

I refuse.

I refuse to believe that one significant event from an interwoven unending sequence of events can be responsible for ‘You’. That the gravity of one moment is so profound that it can account for all the complex emotions of your heart and pragmatic reasoning of your mind.

24 Hours. 1, 440 minutes. Or 86,400 seconds multiplied with your years of existence is proportionally too wide a time range for ‘one event’ to change ‘You.’

You mature when that friend you tagged as your ‘best friend’ since high-school isn’t even aware of your existence when she moves to a different town to pursue her academics. You mature a little more when you realise that the yardstick of determining a friendship is not directly proportional to the frequency of their calls or messages but by a person’s ability to hold onto to you through your chaotic storms. And when you stumble upon the realisation that ‘people change’ and no matter how scared you are of being replaced or how hard you try to hold onto them, you eventually have to let go, acknowledge the person they have become and instead hold tighter  onto the memories you both made.

You grow strong when someone close dies. When one day they have a significant part to play in your life, and the next day they abruptly disappear into oblivion. You stare blankly at their lifeless body waiting for that familiar smile or touch their cold body desperately in search of the comforting warmth. When you force your mind to reminiscence every memory of that person, but time being the commanding master, you are left with only faded remembrance, you grow a little stronger.

You change when the person you love doesn’t love you back. You learn not to despise a person because they didn’t comply with your emotions or curse them to misery because the turn of events didn’t go in your favour. You instead learn to respect other’s sentiments, treat them well and move on knowing that the right person will find you eventually.

You become a better friend when instead of being critical and disapproving of your friend because she puffs a cigarette or drinks a bottle of Whiskey, you acknowledge the fact that every person has a different set of convictions and just because her’s are not in conformity with your’s is no reason for you to strain the friendship.

You become a little selfless when you give that extra scoop of ice-cream to your younger brother when he looks at you with his innocent eyes after finishing his own or when you decide to make the bed for the night glancing your mother’s tired face.

 You change when being honest in a deceptive world doesn’t fetch you anything. Where masquerade is the fashion and manipulation the law, your truth has little space to breathe. You either hold onto the person you choose to be strengthening your convictions an inch or choose to be one among those several imposters surviving in an unfair world.

You grow wise when instead of cheating in an exam to get full marks, you let that one or two marks slip by because you realise there is more to life than just ‘marks’, and giving up your integrity for an extra mark which will be lost to oblivion in the years to come would be a foolish thing to do.

You become a better person when you are there for someone who ill-treated you or wronged you in ways unknown in the past; when you continue holding onto the goodness in you when people around you stab it with all their might.

You learn to respect yourself when you set boundaries for how you want others to treat you. When you raise your voice at a lewd remark made at you under the garb of a joke or when you refuse to settle for anything that is less worthy of you, even when there are thousand eyes rolling at you.

All these little or big moments of your life, however you choose to remember them, together spin a bundle of experience which mould both your heart and mind to its present being.
I believe your heart is either sewed together by the strong jovial ribbons of strength, endurance and maturity or by the meek tangled threads of despair, struggle and hollowness; both of which is a cumulative outcome of the series of events you stumbled upon.

I believe that there exists a genesis to the person you have become, good or ugly and that one distinct particular event cannot be the only atom of your existence.

I refuse to define you by ‘one moment’ amidst 86,400 other multiplied interwoven moments.

Srijata Majumdar
Because Even Sunrise Can Be Heard

 It was early dawn. The Sun was still behind the blanket of clouds. I woke up. Wore my shoes, pulled up my jacket and jogged out of my door. While jogging, I came by the hill side. Slowly the day was leaping into the sky.

Some 20 feet beyond, I saw someone searching for something on the ground. I went closer. There was a blind man bent low on the ground searching for something. He was looking for his walking stick. It lay some 5 feet apart from the man. I asked the man what was he doing there. He answered,” It’s been almost twenty years since I last saw sunrise from my eyes. Today morning, I’ve come here to arise these faded memories of those days now gone by. Then, I used to watch the rising sun from my eyes, but now I feel it, I hear it, I sense it.” He closed his eyes and a glimmering smile came over his calm face. I wondered what brought that smile on his face. At that moment, he said,” I can hear the chirping birds. I can feel the golden sunrise, the calmness of the hill side, the dew glitter on the fresh leaves and the cold breeze blow over me.”

 Then he insisted that I close my eyes and then imagine the world. I closed my eyes, made myself peaceful at heart and mind and let my colours of imagination fly. Then I realized that what the blind man said was true. That moment was ‘all’ and that was ‘enough’. That moment’s impact was profound. What I realized was that with open eyes, we rarely wait to see what we are missing. We just keep going with the moving machines. What we all need to do is stop for a moment, WAIT and UNDERSTAND. When I closed my eyes, I could feel the sun rays break the cloud cover and shine bright on my face. I could hear the dawn’s music. The frozen water drops from the leaves. The leaves of the trees whispering among themselves. I could imagine the blue blooming into a flower and the pupa turning into a butterfly. I could feel a new ray of hope rising. When I opened my eyes, nature was in its utmost form. The sky above was lit in bright colours of golden, orange and dawn-rose. As the day begun, the shadows of the night melted and the colours of the waking earth returned. There were beauties that pierced like a sword or melted like snow. That ‘one moment’ was the one which I can single out from an interwoven mesh of memories and cherish even today. That very moment made me forgot the daily hum-drum of life. It laid a great emphasis on my interpretation of how beautiful and soothing our life can be.

A new day had begun. A new hope had risen. New goals had been set and new paths laid and the new opportunities awaited. All one need to do is to realize what one is missing. Therefore, for those who want to achieve greater heights, Sunrise can even be heard and impossibilities be achieved.

Rudrakhsi Joshi

That Moment Was All

Muflisi ki khalish ka

Iqrar hi kya hai

Rehbar ki sohbat

Chashm-e-bahar hi kya hai

Tamannao ke qile to

Aqsar toot jate hain

Fir supurd-e-khaak me

Khuld-e-nisaar hi kya hai!

A stale foggy winter morning.
Coolness has something to do with it. It makes you breathe stale air and feel fresh. Exactly!There's something to that foggy morning. It's stale. It's fresh - your perspective. Fog and smog bring down the visibility to almost zero. Your next step, might be another good one to lead yourself to where you want to be ; or you might step into an unattended open manhole , you drown while no one's there to help ;just one step in fog. And then what do you do? You try seeing things. Things tend to become clear. You realize. You assume. Your experience helps, and you keep moving on.
A foggy winter morning it is. At times, they call it life too.
Back then, it was a winter morning too. I was a 13 year old kid, dreading to wake up early (well, for tempting winter mornings, 8.00 am was early for me). Sunday, it was. As a kid, I feared Sundays (savoring them is obviously implicit, though). It was because my father had an off that day. This meant that I had to wake up ‘early’ and help my parents with the daily chores. My mom affectionately allowed me to embrace my laziness but my father found it to be his utmost priority to make his ‘now-a-teenager’ son realize, that life isn’t all about lying on your bed.
But that day was different. It was a Sunday morning and I didn’t feel like lying on my cot for long. There was something special about it. My father had promised me to buy me a new bicycle. In life, it’s good to have some gifts. Some surprises. Some rewards. The dilapidated drum of aging life keeps on rejuvenating by little charms.
The eager and impatient kid that I was, it was difficult for me to swallow the breakfast as I feared that my father would again be occupied with some work and will forget about the cycle (irrespective of the fact that I had already reminded him of the bicycle thrice since morning.)
And then, with my hair all oiled and neatly combed (just like my dad ever wanted his son to look all the more sophisticated) , I headed with my father to the cycle shop. There wasn’t much to be taken care of at the shop, since it was my father’s friend’s shop and much to my surprise, my father had already told him about the bicycle, and he had chosen one for me.
A beautiful amalgamation of yellow and blue – a Foster’s bicycle it was. I liked it. A comfortable leather seat. Chrome colored shiny rim. Sporty look. That’s all I wanted. That’s all it was. I was happy.
My uncle asked us to sit till the worker fixed the cycle parts for us to take it home. My father and uncle giggled over tea, while I munched the biscuits and noticed how the workers, their hands blackened with grease, the blackness seeping down their skin, their eyes, their soul , worked hard amidst the blackness of their lives to cater happiness to some fortunate ones like me.
The dilapidated drum of my mind struck again.
A hoarse voice broke my chain of thoughts. My inquisitive eyes searched for the owner of the voice. The owner of the voice was a young lad, of my age, I guess. He had come there to bring some tea for the workers of the cycle shop who had taken a break to freshen by a cup of tea. A winter morning, it was.
Chotu, he was called. There is something about this word – Chotu. No matter who you are. Ram. Ramesh. Asif. Xyzq. Anyone. If you’re a child labourer , you’re no more than a Chotu. Then this word isn’t used for a person, but a commodity. Someone, or something rather, which can be used, the way you want. To sell tea. Make Pakodas. Polish Boots. Anything.
Chotu, such small a name, such vast a legacy.
I read his eyes. His eyes mapped every nook and corner of my bicycle which stood proudly in a corner and waited for its new owner to ride it. He kept his canister of tea on the ground, leaned over the wall and gazed at the bicycle. There was this temptation, this urge in him to touch it. To ride it. To taste what it feels like to sit on something as luxurious as an expensive bicycle. Yes, a bicycle, can be a luxury for some.
Life, in itself, is an irony.
I don’t know what provoked me but I stood up and went up to him. I asked him if he wanted to ride it.
His eyes, much mature of his age, spoke a lot. Amazed. Shocked. Tempted. His eyes spoke for him. He didn’t utter a word. He just blinked with innocence.
I turned back and asked my father if I could take the bicycle for a round to see if the seat was adjusted in accordance to the comfort of my height. He agreed.
I took the bicycle with me. I held the handle and carried it with me. I didn’t sit on it I asked Chotu to follow me. Once we crossed the bicycle shop and were in the next lane, I asked him to ride it. This time he spoke.
He denied riding it and started walking back. His feet. His body gesture. His eyes. They wanted to embrace it. But his mouth denied it. Reluctance was obvious.
It isn’t about wanting something. At times, there is this subtle, invisible wall, which might not obstruct us, but in deed commands our mind to obviate the need to have it.
I reaffirmed that no one would say anything to him. He can ride it for a round at least. I stood there as he touched it. Much to my amazement, it wasn’t just a bicycle for him. It was something precious. Some worth craving for. A luxury in its ownself.
And when he came back from the round, he got down shook hands with me. The moist imprints of his warm hands had a lot to say. It was not just his hands which were moist. His eyes too. He thanked me. I asked him about how it felt when he rode it. His reply touched me. Moved me.
He said that it wasn’t the first time that he rode a bicycle. He had done that before too. To bring sugar and tea leaves for the shop owner where he worked. But it was different. The time when he rode his owner’s bicycle, he was a servant back then, sent on a ‘voyage’ to bring everything his master wanted. But today, the ride was different. It wasn’t heavy with the sugar bags, tea leaves or anything which signified subordination. Those 120 seconds of this day were his.
He felt light. His talks made me feel heavy. By then, we reached the shop, he thanked me once again, picked up the tea canister and left.
I was not the first one to ride my new bicycle. Chotu rode it first. And I was happy about it. I knew it was pure now. Pious for me to ride it. I think that was the moment which made me realize how much we, as humans, have been missing on what we have, in this urge of wanting something better. There are so many people, wanting to live the life we’re living today, while we the supposedly fortunate ones are busy cursing and cribbing for more.
At the end of the story, I’m just reminded of this couplet by Nida Fazli Sa’ab :
“Zindagi wo kehte hain
Jaadu ka khilauna hai
Jo mil Jaye to mitti hai
Jo kho jaye to Sona hai”
(Life, they say, is like a magical toy.
It’s nothing, when you have it

It’s everything , once you lose it)

Jayant Bharadwaj

That Moment Was All; That Moment was Enough

That' moment changed everything

It was when  self- respect and ego came between them . The argument which they had on  Saturday night ruined everything.  She said  she owned the credit of the work, because he did nothing . She rebuked him , he was hurt , hard and deep within. Nothing could crush their hearts and rip their souls apart.

That's all when it changed, that's all when all of it transposed and made them upset and cry . It was when their one year old friendship fell apart.They were the friends who were now strangers with memories.  The glances of the past surrounded her, their friendship was comparable to nothing. They were strong together, the moment she fell, he used to held her hand and pick her up. Today,  when she falls , she cannot find his arms which would pick her up. The moment she used to  become sad, he used to pamper her and tell her that all would be fine like before though that was the lie nobody would ever believe , but it was him who was talking. His words always comforted her. Today she misses those words , because 'that' moment changed it , which transposed it all and made them upset and cry.

No one knew how they became friends, how just a talk on a lecture made them buddies! Those late night talks and casual flirting , she  misses all of them. He was hurt , the clouds of doubts were all above him . It had hit his convictions hard this time , nothing could make him as sad as this.  He still couldn't believe that she was the reason of his sadness , the one who used to be the Venus and lightened up his world , when he used to feel horrible and ugly.  To her the world seemed worse than Chad would be for its natives. They did not talk for a month . She knew what she went through , she was feeling sheepish at what she did . The fit of anger and the words spoken in 'that' one moment had broken their friendship  , the moment when all of it happened she wanted it to get  detached from her life . She wanted that when she would walk on the memory lane , that very moment doesn't exist. She wanted their time back . 'That' moment snatched away the only thing she had conviction in,  which was her friendship with him . The voice ridiculing him was reverberating right in his head and never made him forget what she did to him , because 'that' moment changed it , transposed it all and made them upset and cry.

Those food treats he used to give and shared his happiness with her. Today , he shares his happiness with his new friends . The last day of the college when he used to give her a chocolate bar and a warm farewell hug that could make her day. Today she misses those chocolates and those arms which used to give her happiness. The times when they used to run around the college and beat each other hard . She misses those slaps and beatings . She misses it all. The times when he used to have her part of the scoldings  and used to cushion her like no one else could, Today she doesn't have him beside her to tolerate the chiding  because 'that' moment changed it , which transposed it all and made them upset and cry.

The times when they used to gossip and rebuke the world together and felt that they were the only lordly people sustaining on the planet. Today, she doesn't have him beside her to feel high-handed. 
They invented the "I am going craazy" dance and danced like maniacs . Today, he is not there with whom she could match their dance steps . The times when he used to pay for all her expenditures and bug her that did not pay him back when she used to . Today , he doesn't annoy her but his very absence is very annoying because  'that' moment changed it , which transposed it all and made them upset and cry.
Life taught her something and left her to decide , she grabbed her glasses and purse and went upto him . Today they are back together. She knows she has lost him , but he still tells her he would be there by her till her death bed but this couldn't make her feel her the same . His words , couldn't comfort her this time. Because 'that' moment changed everything . For them it was all over . Her friendship was the 'interwoven mesh' of such happy moments , which had now turned to mere acquaintance. But as they say "Friendship is a delicate glass, once broken it can be fixed but there will always be cracks", probably she is living with the cracks now. He is changed, they do spend their time together but she still feels the vacuum and is waiting for the day that he would hold her hands again and they actually might go back in their happy times.

Prachi Nirwan
Batch 2013-18

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Nostalgia- Fond Remembrance of Your City

Kanpur Delicacies

Hometowns for sure carry too much of nostalgia with them. The memories attached to them make us want to revisit the place time and again. Their memories are amazingly transportive. Just a thought and the sentiments attached to even the smallest thing of that wonderful place take us down the memory lane from where we are, to where we wish to be. I belong to the city of Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Known for its leather throughout the world, it also offers great food, especially sweets. I am a big time food lover and an explorer. To my memories, food has the greatest contribution. The intersection of food and nostalgia is not only for me but also for the anthropologist and other scientists, a popular topic. Whether it is immigrant’s homesickness for their cultural food ways or the emotional distress that may underlie poor but comforting food choices, one’s mind always has a strong connection between nostalgia and food.

As the city lies in the great indo-gangetic plains, it has a wide range of temperature variation - the hottest summers and cool winters. Food here too varies with the seasons. The nostalgia of the hometown is so strong that wherever eat lime-ice, just a lick takes me back to the days when we ran through the hot streets barefoot to stop the vendor selling what we call “makku” or “baraf ka gola”. Summer days just wouldn’t feel complete without we friends licking lime ice together in the middle of a summer afternoon. The city has in store a sack full of delicious sweets to offer. The world famous ‘Banarsi ke Laddo’ is the cities gift to us; it melts in your mouth to give a lasting happiness. Trust me; just one won’t help curb your sweet tooth pangs.            
The memories of steeling these from my grandmother’s secret cupboard will always keep these laddos close to my heart. To give you a sigh of relief from the scorching heat of the sun there also exists the very famous ‘kulfi’- “The Badnaam Kulfi” or “Thaggu ki kulfi” as we call it. As a child we were awed by the way he made kulfi (the Indian ice-cream) with milk without freezing it in the refrigerator. A man used to churn milk kept in a container, kept inside a box full of ice and salt which was churned and churned to give us this wonderful delicacy.

The city has so much in store, to all of which I have uncountable memories attached, that anyone would want attend at least once for its food. The lip smacking ‘chaat’, is another thing to which not only I but a whole lot of Kanpur-ites will have nostalgic connections. Nostalgic evocation through traditional cuisine is one thing we all natives have predominantly.

We as children, as soon as our vacations began, sat together to make a list of which dish we would eat on each day. Our list was extensive and it was so much fun eating it together. Those were the days of no stress and only enjoyment. During summers essentials on the list were ‘pani puris’, ‘kulfi’ and ‘makku’, and for the winter list we had ‘Malai Makkhan’, ‘Hot Jalebies’, ‘ hot kebabs and biriyani’ and the like.

Malai Makkhan is one thing found only in a few towns of U.P. It is meticulously prepared during foggy dawns. It has been my favorite ever since vendors sold it on a cart, moving around the lanes, singing its name in a tune which is still the same. I can clearly recall. As soon as we heard his voice echoing from a distant corner of the lanes, early on winter mornings, we ran out of our beds, throwing the blankets away. With eyes half open, we stood in the lane waiting for him to arrive with a glass in our hand for the chilled milk he brought in limited quantities. My dad always grabbed an extra serving for me to eat latter in the day. All the children in the neighbourhood stood together waiting for the vendor, and after eating comparing how much each ate.

The list of nostalgic connections to my hometown is very exhaustive. Having spent 20 long years of my life in that city, there is a special importance that the place holds and will continue to hold in my heart, no matter how small a place it is on the world map. It has varies place which make me proud every moment. My alma-mater, The St. Mary’s Convent, is one place in the city I will always be obliged to. The city has grown over the years, just like us but for the years to come it will continue to contribute to my treasure.

-Varija Khanna
Batch 2013-18

Nostalgia- Fond Remembrance of Your City

Rewari, Haryana

Rewari that’s the name of the place where I belong to, place where I spent my childhood, place where I spent 18 years of my life, place that instilled in me good qualities, place that made me what I am today.

When I came to Symbiosis and my fellow mates asked me which place I belong to, my answer “I am from Rewari, Haryana” got me blank expressions from them because nobody has ever heard the name of the city called Rewari. So now, here I am telling everyone about my city.

Rewari is one among the 21 districts of Haryana State. It is located in south-west Haryana 82 km (51 mi) from old Delhi and 51 km (32 mi) from Gurgaon. It was founded by Nand Ram, an Ahir. It remained a part of Gurgaon district until reorganization in 1972 saw it transferred to Mahendragarh district. Further changes, in 1989, led to the creation of the Rewari district.

Rewari is famous for lots of things like “Rewadi” a sweet-dish as the name says metalwork industry in brass, copper sheets and utensils, ornamental shoes (Tilledar Jooti), festival of Teej and many more but the most famous and known place is The Rewari Heritage Steam Locomotive Museum.

Rewari Heritage Steam Locomotive Museum is  is the only surviving steam loco shed in India and houses some of India's last surviving steam locomotives. It was built in 1893 and was the only loco shed in North India connecting path with Delhi to Peshawar.
After steam engines were phased out by 1990, the loco shed remained in neglect for many years before it was decided by Indian Railways in December 2002 to recuperate it as a heritage museum. The restoration of loco shed from the lost, ruins and unremembered to its present considerable condition has been a long process and a result of lot of time and dedication by many people. The loco shed was renovated as a heritage tourism destination and the refurnished heritage museum was opened in 9 October 2010. The engines are also available for live demonstrations.

This place has many visitors from India and outside India who just come to see a steam engine and see how it works. It’s a great, joyous and memorable experience for everyone who visits there. Lots of films have been shot at the Rewari Steam Locomotive Shed like Gadar, Veer Zara, Rang De Basanti and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.

On the whole it’s a great place to visit with historical significance and the only place in India to see Steam engine and their live demonstration.

-Aashi Agarwal
Batch 2014-19

Nostalgia- Fond Remembrance of Your City

The Doon Valley

Dehradun loves its spicy street treats. Even though multi – cuisine restaurants make their presence felt in the city, there’s no dearth of street food lovers who prefer snacking at their favourite stalls.
Usually, the word ‘street food’ conjures up images of chaat in an Indian’s mind. But in Doon valley, street food means momos, along with the desi version of dishes like spring rolls, gravy rolls, chowmein, soups, bun omelette, bun tikki, vegetarian kebabs and many more.
They form an indispensable part of Doonite’s regular appetite with each being able to name at least one spot they have visited time and again to have the same dish. They love it because of the taste, the feel, the air of Doon, and most importantly, the prices.

There is an Indo – Chinese restaurant, which boasts of good ambience and is mostly crowded at weekends. Its special ‘devil momos’, ‘noodles’ and ‘soups’ are delicious, mouth – watering, appetizing and tasty. There are places that give 10 momos for 10 bucks. There are many road side shops known as Maggi points which serve hot and spicy Maggi noodles. The pocket – friendly rates are what enable groups of usually cash – trapped students to eat frequently.

Evenings are all about taking a stroll down the road and relishing the spicy street food that Doon’s umpteen roadside stalls offer. For us the real pleasure lies in having momos and gravy rolls from the sadak – wali dukaane. For they have contributed in making solid memories for us, as shops and malls kept popping up and disappearing in the ever changing landscape around us.
Another thing that makes having these momos on roadside shops such a joy for Doonites is their perfect combo with Doon’s cool and pleasant weather. Come evening and the roads are flooded with people bending over their steaming bowls.

Apart from the hustle bustle of Doon’s markets, quaint military areas and the street side food spree, Dehradun is a forward looking town of people who understand the world order. It is a place of people who have a hunger for education and are striving to grow.
And Mussoorie, ‘The Queen of the Hills ’, which has lush green hills and varied flora and fauna is just a hop away and is very popular among the tourists.

Thus, if one wants to enjoy a mouth watering street food journey with the bliss of cool and pacifying weather, Dehradun is undoubtedly the ultimate choice.


 -Rudrakshi Joshi
Batch 2014-19

Nostalgia- Fond Remembrance of Your City

Aamar Shohor Kolkata

Home, as they say is where the heart is. Home is where mother wakes you up in the morning, screaming of your uselessness and yet rumpling your hair and cooking you food. Home is where father tells you to wake up because the sun is up and the day is new. Home is where sister listens to your incessant opinion about everything that is going on in this world and beyond. Home is where your heart is because your heart consists of the people you love. And for me, home is Calcutta.

One of the oldest cities in this country, Calcutta has an inexplicable charm and beauty of its own. It is surrounded by its old world charm as well as modernity. It is a place where women don’t mind wearing vermilion powder on their forehead and ‘shakha’ and ‘pola’ on their wrists to symbolize their married status while teaming it up with denims and a t-shirt. It is a place where the women wear western clothes and a sari with the same sort of √©lan. It is a place where you know you’ll never get lost because there will always be this one person smiling and guiding you to your destination.

Calcutta is the most beautiful city on this planet, according to me. You enter the city, you see the Howrah Bridge over the Ganga. You will never want to leave the place if you happen to simply glimpse the Ganges flowing beneath you. For a relatively non religious person like me, I do go to Dakhshineshwar and Belur Math religiously simply to sit by the ‘ghat’ and look at the flowing ganga. The amount of peace that one gains from it cannot be put down in words.

Calcutta is a beauty, it is magic. You wake up to the songs of the birds; you get to see sparrows perched on the balconies. Neighbours greet each other through the kitchen windows whereas some greet at early morning walks too. It is a place where everyone is ‘kaku’ or ‘kakima’ or ‘ dada’ or ‘didi’. Everyone is related, it seems, but in reality everyone is respected.

Calcutta is a place where a six year old will be taught how to ride a bicycle by everyone in the ‘para’ (locality), it is a place where everyone celebrates one person’s success and everyone mourns one person’s grief. Calcutta is a place where you can go for an early morning tram ride to work because you just felt like it and realize midway that you’re terribly late. It is a place where if a young girl feels dizzy or unwell in a crowded metro station, people actually notice it without her having to say it and they go out of their way to help her. It is a place where if you are outside your home after ten at night, the only thought that will haunt you is your parents’ scolding. It is a place where you can go to the local grocery shop in your shorts and bathroom slippers and the only weird thing will be your haste to get home so that at least someone cares.

Calcutta is defined by ‘Balwant Singh ka Dhaba’ where people go to eat religiously. Oh, and if you ever go there? Don’t leave without having ‘ doodh cola ‘. Yumm. Calcutta is ‘mishti doi’ and ‘roshogolla’ and ‘phuchka’ and ‘shutki machh’. Calcutta is both love and ‘bhalobasha’. Calcutta is people getting all awkward if two people hug in the middle of the road and yet smirking, looking away and walking off and letting them be.

Calcutta is Victoria Memorial and Alipore Zoo and the various families who plan their picnic there on the first of January every year. Calcutta is Princep Ghat and the lovers who happily plan their future there, a place where nothing seems to matter and everything so insignificant apart from the person one is with. Calcutta is New Market on Christmas and New Year where the entire city does their Christmas shopping from, regardless of whether they are Christians or not. Calcutta is Park Street all decked up where people go to party like crazy. Calcutta is Arsalan’s mutton biriyani and cewai and halim on Eid irrespective of what faith you belong to. Calcutta is Durga Pujo and the many beautiful women that you can see on those five days. It is the many love stories that are formed or sown in those five days, of which people speak to their grand children with moist happiness in their old eyes. Calcutta is Kumartuli, where the idols are made; it is an artist’s paradise. Calcutta is that one last flick of wrist which renders Maa Durga’s third eye complete. Calcutta is the red and white sarees that the women wear on Dashami and the Sindur Khela that ensues. It is the Pushpanjali on Durga Ashtami.  Calcutta is a place where everyone celebrates every single festival irrespective of the religion that they follow.

Calcutta is Nahoum’s plum cake and Flury’s for breakfast. Calcutta is Narayan’s kachauri for a delicious Sunday breakfast and the phuchka you get in front of Globe theatre. Yumm again.

Calcutta is where you don’t need to worry about losing yourself anywhere because some way or the other everything is linked. Calcutta is Saraswati Puja being the Bengali Valentine’s day. The one day when boys and girls dress up in their Indian best and go to school.

Calcutta is your neighbours telling you to continue your riyaaz at four in the morning because it’s a good start to their day. Calcutta is everyone being concerned about your board results and coming to your home with sweets to know your results. Calcutta is Pujo shopping and Pandal hopping. It is about family lunches every Sunday and dinners at ten every night. Calcutta is Red Road on Republic Day and Eden Gardens on any day. Calcutta is about every insignificant thing that one can think of in life. All those little things that make up life? Well, that is just one day in the City of Joy, Calcutta.

It doesn’t matter who you are and where you’re from, if you live in Calcutta, the city will embrace you with open arms. Calcutta is a place where everyone is family. Calcutta is the rickshaw pullers knowing exactly where you live; it is all those late night Dover Lane music conferences. It is about all those strong, Bengali, independent and argumentative people who are highly intellectual and fiercely protective and passionately loving. Piece of advice? Never, ever pick a verbal fight with a Bengali, you won’t even know how, when and why you’ve lost.

Calcutta is the best place and the worst place. It is slow, irritating, noisy, hot and humid; but it is beautiful, passionate and fiery too. You might want to run away from there because you don’t want the overdose of excess love that you’re bound to be embraced with in there. But once out of that city, you’ll want to go back.

It is that one place where you can argue politics anywhere and everywhere without your opponent keeping any hard feelings after the argument. Most of such arguments happen at social gatherings like family lunches or a wedding or a birthday party even. You can argue politics with your father but keep in mind, when you’re just on the brink of winning, your mother will call you for dinner. It is a city with which nothing else can match.

Calcutta is home for the people, for the silent buildings who have for centuries now smiled at first loves, smirked at lover’s tiffs, laughed at children’s idiocies and grieved at a good soul’s leaving the earth. It is that one place where no matter what, people will care. It is that one place where people will come to your home with food and stay there by your side at odd hours of emergency.

Calcutta is a beauty which is incomparable because it includes everything. The food, the people and their compassion, the transport system, the slow city life. The afternoon naps and the brilliant dates at Princep Ghat. Calcutta is home to me not because that is where i was born, but because of what the people there have given me and because of what I learnt in my time there – Hope, strength, happiness and an overdose of excess love. It has taught me to love, to hope and to instil hope in others as well.

‘Amar shohor Kolkata’ (My city Calcutta) will always be mine forever. You can take me out of Calcutta but not Calcutta out of me. That is home, and home as they say is where the heart is. 

-Sohini Bardhan

Batch 2014-19

Nostalgia- Fond Remembrance of Your City

Namma Chennai

Chennai is the capital city of the state of Tamil Nadu. Well, to me Chennai is more of an emotion than a city. Having been born and brought up there, the sights, sounds and smells of the city have become a part of me. A city which is branded as "boring" or "uncool" by many outsiders, it does have a lot to offer. Be it long walks on the sands of the Marina (which also happens to be the second longest beach in the world) or visiting the ancient temples in Mylapore, everything in Chennai gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling of acceptance and calmness. Even though Chennai has only three climatic conditions, hot, hotter and hottest, when it does rain the entire city looks so bright and colourful that it injects a wave of energy into you and refreshes you completely. Yes, the people can be a little down to earth, but that's what it means to be a Chennaiite. We have that imbibed in our culture.  And in line with our studious nature, we also have the huge, seven- storied Anna Centenary Library. Filled with books on each and every topic a person could think of, it truly is a research scholar’s heaven.

If a survey is conducted among Chennaiite as to which place they love visiting the most in the city, everyone regardless of their economic background would say it‘s the beach. There is something about the sand and the vast blue expanse that just calms people down. Every step taken barefoot on the sand helps a person break free from the shackles of everyday life and they have some time just for themselves. From children who are splashing around in the water or playing football to couples who are totally lost in the company of each other (yes, the beach somehow manages to overpower Chennai’s epic conservativeness as well) to gatherings of old people who reminisce about their glory days, the beach has something to offer for everyone.

When it comes to culture, look no further than Chennai because it's still home to the finest traditional dance and music of the South. The month of Margazhi truly is amazing. The entire city almost bursts with an abundance of classical music concerts. In fact, it is so famous that people living abroad mark the dates on their calendars and make sure they are in Chennai to attend the concerts. Attending the concerts truly is an enriching experience.

Next on the list is food. Chennai is home to two of the best things South India has ever introduced to the world. The chain of Hotel Saravana Bhavan restaurants and ‘filter kaapi’. Hotel Saravana Bhavan is home to the best South Indian food in the country. And this is not only my opinion given the fact that there are branches all over the world! Yes, our very own Idli-Sambhar excites the taste buds of foreigners as well.  ‘Filter kaapi’ is like Chennai’s version of Starbucks. Given the fact this can be made at home anytime during the day, this cup of coffee has achieved cult status in the city.

You know you’re home when you start to see the coastline from your flight. The long white line of the sands of the Marina is always the first sight of home. Also, seeing Chennai by night from the top is a surreal experience. The whole city will seem to twinkle in happiness because you’re coming and is the first taste of the hospitality you will be experiencing. The newly built Kathipara Flyover can truly be appreciated only from a bird’s point of view. At night when it is completely illuminated, it looks like something from the maps Grand Theft Auto has come straight into the real world.

I haven’t really written much about my wonderful city. Only when you visit Chennai do you realise that the city fills you up with more than good memories and fun experiences and that it enriches you on a higher level and everything about Chennai becomes a part of your life. It is after all Namma Chennai (Our Chennai) so you’re always welcome.

-Aditya Rajesh

Batch 2014-19

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Reassuring Faith

Comfortable is a good place to be.
But that is not where you grow.

Miles away from the protected shelters of love and affection, the first day of Law School might not be a very comfortable experience for many.
Nervous and apprehensive, you find yourself lost amidst the unknown.
Unfamiliar faces, cold stares and arrogant turn of heads might break your self-confidence into jagged pieces.
But before you decide to pack your bags and start journey back to the familiar abode, stop.

Don’t startle when someone reciprocates your enthusiastic attempt of striking a conversation with a blank look or judge that  nervous boy sitting all crouched up in the corner.  Some of them might be very vocal in their expressions- laughing their heart out on hearing a random joke which probably didn't even make sense to you, while some others will most definitely refuse to even nod to your bright smile. Don’t judge them either.

Some of you will be drawing cartoons in your notebook while some others will be engrossed in listening to what is being briefed on the Dias. Some of you will jump at the idea of staying back after the orientation programme to familiarise with one another while some will just return to the hostel with a gloomy face.
Believe me when I say which ever group of people you can relate yourself to or whatever emotion you are experiencing at the moment is absolutely normal and anything but usual.

Everyone is as lost to the unfamiliar as you are. Some are trying to hide their apprehensions by laughing it out while some others are so intimidated that the best they can do is force a feeble smile at you. Everyone is as jostled as the ship in high seas, all finding their own anchor to familiarity and comfort.
 But it is this very feeling of despair, worthlessness, emptiness, remorse or regret and all other emotions that are playing doldrums in your heart at the moment that will lead to grow in ways unknown over the next few months.

Stepping out of your comfort zone, challenging your infirmities you will find love, friendship, unfaltering support and unfathomable knowledge in a place where you wouldn't regret residing even for a day.
The girl who first refused to even smile at you will be the one you confide all your secrets in. The loud girl who you once detested might be the one with an ever-helping heart guiding you in your projects and that boy who you saw all crouched up in the corner will turn out to be amazing orator teaming up with you to win debates.

And in this process of learning and unlearning, somewhere down the line you will find your comfort and solace. Eventually or gradually these little experiences will not only help you grow immensely as a human but will nurture your heart with strength and determination.
And someday when you reflect back upon your initial days of Law School, you will realise how silly you were to judge people and form notions about them, how judgemental you were of the unfamiliar before even giving it a chance to familiarise and how ridiculously insane you were to even allow the thought of leaving college creep into your tiny head.

But for this fleeting moment of chaos and confusion, you need to hold on to the person you are. Believe that no matter how dark things may seem or how difficult it may be for you to find your footing when you are completely astray, there is hope for each one of you here. Love that will soothe your edgy nerves and care that will protect you from all adversities.

Let your faith in yourself be bigger than the fears that shake you.

So to all the new learners, the Symbiosis Family welcomes you with warm hearts and outstretched arms. You are part of the Family and know no matter how hard you stumble, we will be right there to lift you up and help you soar high.

 -Srijata Majumdar
Second Year Learner