Saturday, November 24, 2007

I used to be an ardent follower of the Bengali literature scene during my school and college days. Of late I seem to have lost touch. Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay used to be one of the big favorites. In one of his short stories, called Prateekshar Ghar or Waiting Room if I remember correctly, he touched upon a line of thought. I bring this up because the thought has visited and revisited me and many of my friends throughout our lives. Simply put, the author was looking through the eyes of a bunch of unemployed youth who do nothing but fritter away all day sitting in the little used waiting room of a railway station in north Bengal. They play cards, smoke bidis, raise all sorts of topics to discuss, like, do house lizards ever drink water, the question that begins the story. And in the middle of this unhappening, gloomy scenario, the protagonist asks himself : Has susomoy ( the good times) passed away, or will it come sometime in the future? Or, the crux of the question, is it here right now, the time they are frittering away? Don't know if that comes across as intended, but for those of you who didn't read the story, let it be told that there is no moral high ground here. The question is profoundly introspective without being preachy. Throughout our lives whenever we went through dull phases, and God knows they were aplenty, this question came back to haunt me and some of my friends. The boundaries so often blur. Today's gloom when looked back at tomorrow, may seem like bliss.Or vice versa.Think about it. Better still, read the story if you haven't. I believe these are now available in translation too.

In the next decade, which marked the beginning of the Mtv era, we gave a new phrasing and twist to this concept. We divided our waking life into three types of timescapes: Njoy, timepass and getting bored. Needless to elaborate, the Njoy moments were few and far between. Most of us have lives of steady boredom punctuated by intermittent timepass hours.But like I said, hard to tell them apart. In absolute terms.
Important thing is to take stock and ask oneself the question, what time is it?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sitting in a corner of the living room and feeling a bit melancholy. Early evening, late autumn, in an industrial town in the great Indian outback. Could've been anywhere in the world.