Friday, December 31, 2010


So, here it is--the customary year ending blog post. A post reviewing the past year would seem rather common at this point of time, but I would never attempt my hands at anything different. That's because 2010 was the most memorable, challenging and strange year of my life. As it draws to a close, I cannot but sit and wonder at the way events unfolded in the last twelve months and demanded a host of plans and calculations and gave birth to a whole new set of emotions. I'm talking like this because the entire year brought changes with it--sudden, tricky ones and expected ones as well--and with them, my mentality changed too. There was the height of success at one point and a deep inferiority complex at another, when all that had seemed made of dreams became a harsh reality and I began to question that success itself. I seemed to be changing my like/dislike for poeple over a span of a week or two. When bad times came, I actually became bent on enjoying myself just because that is what I had intended to do during that period, instead of trying to understand the condition of those around me. But, I'm glad I recovered myself and learnt that happiness and light could be found naturally even in the darkest moments. I wouldn't have to force happiness upon myself or on others. Instead, supporting them should be my primary concern. Perhaps, support, cooperation and patience themselves combine to bring relief. A plethora of new faces got added to the album of my brain. But, in getting engaged with them, was I distancing myself from the old faces? Have I been able to fully connect with them yet ? If I have, then why was I so desperate to bring alive those old faces again? Why did I feel that I would almost die if stuck with these new faces for ten extra days?

I've had to deal with more sets of questions like the above and sometimes, a plain blankness of mind. The night before leaving my hometown with my bag and baggage, I swear that I didn't feel anything--no sadness, no excitement, not even the usual frenzied depth of my prayers. But, it's been memorable because I've been able to overcome many, if not all, of these challenges and questions. So, ultimately, I have felt happy-- very happy and satisfied with myself. The year was not satin smooth but it brought an immense measure of happiness at the end of every long tunnel. And in the case of those tunnels through which I'm still travelling, my eyes are all set on the next year. I'm ready to confront whatever lies at the end of every journey because 2010 has taught me to fight and believe in happiness itself. I want to thank God for adding a year such as this to my life.

I would like to wish everyone who is reading this post a very Happy New Year. May your lives take the happiest of turns!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The boy who lived

A blog post after a long, long time. When this year began, I wrote a post urging everyone to update their blogs regularly, saying how bad I felt not to get a peak into the minds of my fellow bloggers anymore. But after my last post on this blog in September, I myself disappeared. No, I wasn't that occupied with other things, or particularly depressed for any reason. Frankly, I don't think I had anything to write about. But today, I have a very good reason to write a post. What better reason to write a post than the advent into our lives once more of the boy wizard? Yes, its Harry Potter I'm talking about.

No matter which city I live in, how could I miss a Harry Potter movie? 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows(Part 1)' is here and is here with great expectations, which I'm sure it will satisfy. Based on J.K. Rowling's last book of the Harry Potter franchise, this is the first part of the entire movie, the second part of which is scheduled for release in July 2011(so, its not completely over yet:-)). I think this division into two parts has been the wisest decision that the production team has taken. The seventh book, although shorter in length than its two immediate predecessors, is cramped with much more information. In fact, only after reading the seventh book does one realize that there's a lot more to the story than one thought there was at the end of the sixth book. So, a movie of even three hours couldn't have done justice to the book, and this is the reason for which the movie automatically becomes more engaging. It has stuck so well to the book that when I saw some of the scenes, I remembered that had pictured them exactly like that while reading the book. It doesn't eliminate the important stuff, provides the audience with the details and doesn't leave inconsistencies and jumble-ups like the sixth movie. The tense moments are really tense and the dark moments are really, really frightening, specially the two sequences featuring the snake. However, amidst all the violence and horror, the humourous bits wont escape the audience's notice. That is, I guess, the brilliancy of David Yates' direction and the actors' dialogue delivery.

Speaking about acting, I'm totally enchanted by Rupert Grint after watching this movie. He was, in a way, the best thing about the movie. All those paroxysms of jealousy against Harry, the dilemma, , the moments of realisation, the love for Hermione--the expression in Rupert's eyes are just like what Rowling had described in Ron's case in the book. Emma Watson again delivers this good, consistent performance as always and Daniel Radcliffe is actually a bit of a letdown in some scenes. But, its Rupert Grint who brings alive the sequences featuring the three of them. A special mention for the three actors who played the roles of the people into whom Harry, Ron and Hermione are transformed after drinking Polyjuice Potion: they were a hilarious trio. I also liked Tom Felton and Alan Rickman in their tiny portions in this movie. Their real parts though, come in the next one.

There are some people, even in my college, who are saying that this movie is not good. But, they belong to that roup who have always criticised Harry Potter movies and books. For people like me though, its different. My room mate and I were discussing last night that we have grown up with Harry. So, he's within us. We identify with him in many situations of our life. For us, the feelings associated with a a Harry Potter movie are bound to be different. From a very impartial perspective, this movie was much better, truly much better than the fifth and sixth movie and it was very good as a movie. But, even if there are some fine points of criticism, I'm bound to overlook them because every time, there's some new addition to the Harry Potter collection, life becomes happier and more energetic, like it has for the last one week. My spirit just got lifted a thousand times more!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Life comes full circle at Stephen's

Even a few days ago I was ever willing to chronicle my life in this wonderworld called Stephen's. Now though, somehow, the excitement of a new life has dwindled. But, don't get me wrong. That's not bad. The things which had existed as in a dream for a while, have now turned into reality. Stephen's is my own sphere--I have made it my own sphere. Stephen's is no more that intimidating structure made of red bricks where I had come for my interview on a hot June afternoon. It is not about those tense moments spent outside the interview room, shooting nervous glances at my possible would-be classmates. Rather, it is about passing by the same room thrice a day for having my meals with the same classmates-- without ever remembering what that room had meant such a short time ago, but on the contrary, thinking about rushing to the assembly, the next class or going for a night stroll.

The reason for which I feel even more that life here has come full circle is that I'm excited beyond words now about going home for the autumn break. Sudden bursts of homesickness are also an integral part of life here, specially during weekends. So, excitement at the prospect of going home, counting the number of days left, going crazy about this with friends( who are equally excited), reminds me even more that this place is not alien to me anymore. Ok, I know this sounds a bit contradictory and strange, but I can't help it. This is how things have taken shape.

And, after all the emotional talk, I again feel like jumping, packing my bags, crossing out one more day on the calendar and breaking into crazy jigs. Well, this was one crazy post I had never intended to write!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Second Home

It is 7.00 in the morning on a busy weekday. My cellphone alarm rings. I switch it off and go back to sleep again. When I get up again, its already a quarter to eight! But, I still feel relaxed because after having woken up late in this manner for a whole month, I have already mastered the art of taking a bath and getting fully ready, which includes meeting the 8.30 a.m. deadline for breakfast!

So, this is how a day begins for me at St. Stephen's College. Miraculously, I'm always in time for breakfast and for the morning assembly, which begins at 9.05 a.m. The classes, which begin from 9.35 a.m. are still not at all pressurizing. Instead of talking about studies (which are undoubtedly enjoyable thanks to those brilliant lectures), I'll talk about the other aspects of classes. Classes also mean getting to see a lot of greenery from each of the windows, pigeons flying into the air suddenly from the lawns, and even having dogs in the classrooms!One day, two dogs actually slept soundly in our classroom while we took notes. My classmates, in general, are nice, crazy and very talented. One of them, Sohini, is also one of my two closest friends here. I'm so happy and honoured to have a friend like her who actually got a compilation of poems and short stories published when she was in the 9th standard. One has to read them to believe what a sense of imagination a 12 or 14-year old can have. Then there's Suravi. Now, the moment I think about her, I start hearing giggles in my mind because that is what Suravi does most of the time. She giggles about anything and everything, forcing all eyes to turn upon her. But, she doesn't seem to care, and now, after spending a month with her, even I don't care. That's because smiling,shopping, sharing similar thoughts, going crazy and going crazier, are just the things that have woven a strong bond of friendship between Sohini, Suravi and me. When I think about how quickly we have taken a liking to one another's presence, I feel that this bond was always destined--there's something so very natural about this friendship.

Speaking of my other classmates, I feel sorry for the marginalised male section. There are just five boys in our class who always sit quietly in a corner, intimidated by the presence of 23 girls!College life during the day also means going to the library, the cafe and the chapel. The construction of the library is pretty interesting and I love a particularly dusty section among the downstairs bookshelves. The cafe( and not the canteen :-)) is obviously always full of people and we like going there in between classes to take a look at interesting people and regular people and for having the nimbu paani. The chapel is in complete contrast to the cafe and according to me, its the ideal place to study if one is too tired of sitting in a residence room. The chapel is a tiny world in itself because the moment one steps inside it, all the hustle and bustle of the world outside, the rustling of the tree leaves and even the sound of rain is shut out from one's senses. The only thing that one keeps on hearing is the sound of some musical instrument which someone or the other keeps on playing inside the chapel. The kind of peace that spreads throughout my mind and body then is indescribable.

One more extremely important aspect of my life in college is being a part of extra-curricular activities. For first years, its easier to participate in them and I'm trying my best to do that. But, talking about them will require a separate post altogether. So, I'll finish this off by talking about Residence. The most important person in Residence is my roommate, Barathi. She's a student of first-year Chemistry honours and is a state champion shooter. But, more importantly, she's a very nice and cooperative person. I've already had a lot of momos thanks to her and she too is a die-hard Harry Potter fan. She too gets up late, and in this way, we go along very well. We don't always talk a lot, and yet, sometimes, we go on chatting after switching off the lights at night. But, with her also, right from Day One, I've formed a very sweet bond.

Tomorrow morning, my day and week will start off in the same 'relaxed' manner. Life here is good. Every moment that I have to spend without my parents and they have to spend without me, is absolutely worth it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My Last Duchess-from a different angle

Ok, before you all think that this is going to be another post on Stephen's, let me tell you its not. Well, its is connected to Stephen's in a way but that's not going to influence it in a huge manner. In my next post though, I'll revert to the Stephanian mode again because each day spent here gives rise to a new experience.

Anyway, I had read this beautiful poem called 'My Last Duchess' by Robert Browning in the tenth standard. But, I now realize what a limited outlook we had formed then about the poem. For us, it had been concerned with this plain and simple plot about a duke looking at the painting of his last duchess, admiring it, and expressing his suspicions about how his wife could blush when the picture had been painted or how could she could have 'depth and passion' in her glance, despite his absence. He never appreciated the fact that she smiled 'in much the same way' at him and many others and so, he took steps to wipe her smile forever. So, this was all and the mot analytical thing that we were required to do was to judge the duke's character, invariably as a very cruel and remorseless man. Looking back, I realize that not critiquing the duchess's or the painter's characters left us with an incomplete knowledge of the poem.

First of all, we should try to find out why the duchess behaved as she did. One of the explanations for this is that she was young and immature and didn't quite know when and to whom she should limit her favours and smiles. Then again, having married into such an old and glorious family, she was expectd to know how to conduct herself. So, maybe she had married the duke just to get the family name for herself. Maybe, she had married the duke to meet this selfish end only and didn't bother anymore about loving the duke. Just because the duke had killed her or sent her off to a nunnery because of her close association with people of lower ranks, the duke cannot be blamed entirely. Yeah, I agree that his action was a bit harsh and the duchess didn't deserve being treated so unfairly without any evidence but even then, a man could not--just could not--tolerate the idea of his wife being unfaithful to him.Therefore, at a certain stage, my sympathies do lie with the duke.

Then, there are other things that can make the poem so much more interesting like the way it is read. Yes, a difference in the way it is read can bring a whole world of difference to its meaning. The first three lines of the poem, for example, read:
That's my last duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder now...
Normally, one would interpret the first two lines as the duke's admiration for the painting, which was as good as real or alive. However, if one overlooks the full stop between 'alive' and 'I' in the second line, the meaning changes to a recalling of the painting scene by the duke. This contrast of meaning can apply to all lines of the poem. Plus, there's this whole discussion about visible characters, invisible characters, what's the significance of their being visible/invisible, etc., etc., etc. So, I dedicate this post to Browning and hope to return in future with more posts about his creations.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The next stage at Stephen's

On a certain weekday morning in this month, many students gathered in front of a certain assembly hall in a certain college of India. After a while, they began entering the hall and occupied the seats that had been allotted to them. Their whisperings seemed to create a stir not just in the hall, but throughout the college grounds. Then, as the principal of the college entered the hall along with the other teachers, silence fell. It was when the principal began speaking and welcomed all his students as a part of the college family, a new period dawned in my life.

Our first day in College kicked off in the above manner. This morning assembly is, in fact, a very important part of my college. For the non-Christian students, its an affair for the first four days of the week. Not that everyone likes sitting through the long speeches every morning, but I feel that if the assembly is ever stopped completely , life here would somehow be incomplete. We, the Stephanians, are very proud of our family and like our principal mentioned on the very first day, I always try to walk on the Stephen's grounds with respect. The best thing about this place is probably its old world charm with its red buildings, high ceilings, black wooden doors and windows. Till now, my experience here has been very good because the people are very nice. And, that includes everyone from the students to the teachers to the non-teaching staff. Even the ragging part was fun. The most prevalent from of ragging here is introduction. I was all by myself in my residence room ( we don't say 'hostel') one afternoon when a few seniors came and wanted me to tell them about myself. Then, they asked me to guess their courses, which states they come from and what they aspire to become. So, I kept myself cheerful and made one of them the future President of India, and they too were really happy. Now, I'm on very good terms with them.

Life here is obviously different for the Resident Scholars and Day Scholars( I love the Stephen's terminologies). I'm a Resident Scholar, which means that I stay at one of the residence blocks in College. So, I'm a part of the routine here 24X7. One of the aspects of this routine which I really admire a lot is the dining. I feel that the dining hall resembles the Hogwarts dining hall(of Harry Potter fame) a lot , with its long tables. The way people sit together and enjoy their food even if its mess food, the way the food is served very neatly and the way people bond through the eating sessions thrice a day, is something so wonderful.

There's naturally more to the life here, but as of today, I want to leave the narration here. Actually, there's a lot more to discover about this place like the Chapel, the societies, more regular and proper classes and most importantly, more people from almost all the 28 Indian states. Till then, bye bye!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Stephen's experience

It was a very hot day and my woes added to the heat. By the time we reached our destination, there were beads of sweat on my forehead despite the journey by an air conditioned car. All the way from my uncle's house in Gurgaon to our destination in Old Delhi, my parents and uncle kept on discussing about the landmarks, which would help us to reach our destination the next time. But, I just couldn't concentrate on what they were saying. I just felt...well, I don't know even now just how I felt that day before the first ever interview of my life.

My interview for the English honours course at St. Stephen's College, Delhi, was scheduled for 3 pm. I caught my first glimpse of my would-be college after our car turned a corner, which sent a chill through my nerves. Inside the college campus, everthing was so peaceful. The Stephen's college campus is so much different from all other campuses that I have been to in this one month. Whether it was Presidency College, Lady Brabourne College or Jadavpur University, I saw student unions, senior students, prospective students and parents engaged in a war of words and a desperate fight to make the whole situation chaotic. Being used to such an atmosphere, Stephen's made me even more nervous at first with its silent grounds, smart students,calm parents and admission officials looking as though they were doing a very trivial job, unlike in Kolkata's colleges, where they give themselves airs. I really liked all this though and it made me more eager to be a part of the paradise called Stephen's. But, I still couldn't get over my nervousness. I had never before appeared for any kind of interview, and I knew that the Stephen's interviews were tough. My cousin, Sayantani Dasgupta, had told me about her interview experience at Stephen's. From her tale, I could picturize a dimly lit and very cold interview room, and myself not being able to answer the questions as smartly as she had.

It was only when I was waiting outside the interview room that I started gaining some confidence. As the candidates stepped out of the room one by one, the others gathered around them to know what they had been asked. I caught snatches of what they were saying , and I felt that if I would be asked the same sort of questions, I would be able to answer well because the questions mostly seemed to be about books, and books are my forte. Finally, it was my turn amd what a turn it turned out to be! My interview was ...a sort of discussion about books. They asked me about the books I had read recently, and what I thought about them. Slowly and steadily, I went on to discuss a few Bengali and English books with them. But, I thought that my last answer was the best one. They asked me, "Which part of our syllabus attracts you the most?" I replied, " I had gone through your syllabus a long time ago and cannot recall much, but studying in this college itself is an attraction for me. Whatever is there in the syllabus, I'll study with interest because my main motto is studying here." Then, my interviewers smiled and let me go. I came out of the room very much satisfied with myself. It didn't matter to me whether they ultimately selected me or not. The fact that my first interview had gone so well was the biggest joy.

But, they actually did select me! I got the on-campus residence facility as well. Now, I am a Stephanian. I am a student of that beautiful place with its red brick walls, lush green gardens and rich legacy.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Where the sea is a gorgeous blue

The days after the ISC results have sure been busy. They have all been about online college application forms,last dates of submission, admission tests, interviews,cut-off marks, etc., etc., which has kept me hooked on to the net for long hours, in the hope of getting the correct information, not just for myself but also for my friends. But, what seems to have been completely overshadowed in this aftermath, is the short but superb trip we made to Vizag just before my results.

It wasn't exactly a surprise trip. The train tickets had been bought long before , but they weren't getting confirmed. We were still on the waiting list of passengers. We had almost given up hope, but two days before the scheduled day of our departure, they finally got confirmed! Actually, my father had to go there for some office work and we decided to keep him company. After a train journey of around 17 hours, we reached Vizag early in the morning and saw the small hills surrounding it, looking beautiful in those early hours. Once we were at our hotel, we slept for a while, not having got much of it the night before. Later, we had a splendid breakfast with idlis, vadas and utthapams. As my father had to get on with his work, my mother and I hired an auto and went to the city's sea beach, Ramkrishna Beach. Vizag is one of those cities in India, in the state of Andhra Pradesh, which has the distinction of having both hills as well as the sea. Ramkrishna Beach is, by no means, one of the best I have seen. Neither does the sea have big waves nor is the beach very clean. But, in the light of the noon sun, the water turns a lovely shade of blue, something that I haven't seen elsewhere, even for the same sea( the Bay of Bengal).

The sea as visible from Ramkrishna Beach

From Ramkrishna Beach, my mother and I proceeded to Rishikonda Beach, again in an auto. The best thing about it was that along the entire route from Ramkrishna to Rishikonda(picture left), the sea was visible to us on our right and the hillocks on our left. Rishikonda is about half an hour's journey from the city, and the beach is almost similar to Ramkrishna, except for the fact that its much more clean, and much nearer to the hills. We returned to our hotel just in time for lunch. At the same time, we learnt that the tickets for our return journey to Kolkata were still a long way from being confirmed, and no tickets were available via the Tatkal Scheme. So, we first went to an airline office and bought plane tickets to return to Kolkata. Next, we had to go to the railway station to cancel the train tickets which weren't confirmed. All this naturally took up a lot of my father's work time. But, he said that he would be able to work in peace now that there were definite arrangements for our return. Dropping him off at the hotel, my mother and I ventured out again, this time to the Kailasgiri hills. The auto took us upto the foothills. From there we climbed a few stairs and completed the journey to the hill top on ropeway cable cars. It was a top class experience, as we went slowly up the hill, and left the city and the vast expanse of sea below us. From the main view point on the hill top, we could see the waves softly lashing against the sea shore, and numerous boats with white sails. It was blissful to sea the blue sea and the green hills against the backdrop of the faint orange evening sun. We liked the place so much that on our third evening at Vizag, we returned there with my father. We thought that he shouldn't leave Vizag without enjoying that view. When we went with him though, we were a bit more late, and stayed on to see the city and hills completely lighted up. A park has been built on the hill top and a train ride through the park, gives one a very good view of the whole landscape.

My mother at Kailasgiri(top);The view from Kailasgiri (above and below)

On the second morning of our stay at Vizag, my mother and I preferred to stay back at the hotel as my father went for the final round of his work. Having finished it, he came back jubilantly and then, post-lunch, we went to Simhachalam, a temple town about an hour away from Vizag. Simhachalam is the abode of Nrisinghadev, one of Vishnu's avatars, I think. Anyway, it so happened that we went there on the occasion of an important religious festival and so, saw people from all parts of Andhra Pradesh thronging the temple. We had to wait two hours in the snaking queue before we could catch a glimpse of the deity. But, tarpaulin sheets had been hung to protect the devotees from the sun and I found, much to my relief, that South Indian temples are much more disciplined than North Indian ones. The temple's wall carvings, mostly of stone, were very beautiful.

Simhachalam in the afternoon (above left) and in the evening(right) when we were returning

The next day, we visited the Three Hillocks. The three hillocks have a temple, a church and a mosque on their hilltops respectively.We went to the temple and the church, both of which are very nice. The view from the top was also very good, but not as good as the one we got to see from Kailasgiri. In this case, we mostly saw the docks, and less of the sea.

From the Three Hillocks, we journeyed to Bhimanipatnam or Bhimili, another small place away from the city, by following the same hill-and-sea route from Ramkrishna to Rishikonda, and further beyond. Again, we were spellbound by the fact that we never lost sight of either the sea or the hills. Bhimili's beach is more open and large(picture on the left shows myfather and me at Bhimili). Otherwise, there's not much of a difference with Rishikonda. But, for tourists, its definitely the best beach around Vizag. The same afternoon, we had Hyderabadi Biryani for lunch. Though n0t much of a biryani lover myself, I enjoyed the one which we had that day thoroughly. I thought it was the best biryani I had ever tasted.

Our flight was scheduled for the early hours of the next evening. So, we only had a few hours of the morning left to see the only thing that remained. It was actually a boating programme in the sea, just around the breakwaters, in a launch! The day being a weekday morning, it took a long time before our launch got the minimum number of people, without which the authorities refuse to venture out into the sea. Needless to say, the launch ride was awesome(one snap from the ride on the left and two more below). The launch ride lasted about twenty minutes, during which we could see those little boats sailing past us, and those big ships only a little ahead of us, all of which we had so far seen from a great distance. At first, everyone was seated, but as soon as the launch moved into the clearer expanses of the water, they all got up excitedly, moved towards the doors and windows, and tried to feel the breeze by slightly leaning out of the doors.

We couldn't visit Araku Valley this time, but I would love to return to Vizag, tour Kailasgiri again and go to Araku in future.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On top of the world!

When the message alert tone rang on my mother's cell yesterday afternoon, I thought my heart just stopped beating. My mother's hand was shaking as she pressed the 'Select' button to read the message. We then began looking at my board exam marks and when we finished, we both shouted out in joy and hugged each other. Then, she was the first one to jump up in joy, with her eyes filling up with tears at the same time. And this moment yesterday, was definitely the most memorable one of my life...

On the day before my board exam results, I had only wished for one thing, forgetting all my other targets. I had just hoped that I would be able to make everyone in my family and all my teachers very very happy with my results, and that is precisely what has happened. I have secured 96.5% marks from the humanities stream. I got 92 each in Geography, Psychology, Environmental Education and English, 95 in Bengali, 99 in Economics and an unbelievable 100 in History! My exam was undoubtedly good, but then, who expects 100? The aggregate marks(96.5) is calculated according to the 'Best of 4' system (taking English and three other subjects in which one has secured the maximum marks). But, I feel that my biggest victory has been becoming the school topper, my long cherished desire. Many people had looked with scorn upon my decision of taking up Humanities in Class XI. They were sure that it was a mistake, and I have been working very hard for the last two years to prove them wrong. And, I have actually done it now. I have edged well past the Science and Commerce stream students of our school to become the topper. :-)

I am very thankful to my parents for supporting my decision to take up Humanities because in Kolkata, most parents don't do that. I have heard weird stories of some of them threatening to leave their homes if their wards wish to take up anything other than Science! My parents never had any qualms about this, which is one of the foremost reasons for my success. My Geography tecaher, Pratima Ma'am, also the head of our Humanities department, encouraged me a lot and helped me to face the kind of challenge that I had taken up. Her contribution in my life will remain unparalleled. My other subject teachers, Manisha Ma'am, Abhijit Sir, Saswati Ma'am, Tanushree Ma'am, Saheli Ma'am and Shaluk Ma'am, have also encouraged me a lot and have always egged me on to go for the best, to go for full marks, to go for a 95+ in every subject...I now feel on top of the world to see my parents, my teachers and all my family members so happy....Now, nothing seems difficult....I just hope I am able to make the right career choices for the future and make them even more proud. :-)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Day of the Jackal

As the Jackal readies his rifle, adjusts it into the perfect position and positions himself to pull the trigger, my pulse races. Even before he pulls the trigger, I become sure that in the next few paragraphs, I'll read about how Charles De Gaulle will die on the spot, how he will lie in a pool of blood with his skull cracked, how the highest authorities of France will not be able to save their president despite all those security measures and how people all over the world will be stunned at the whole incident. But, unfortunately, the Jackal is unsuccessful. Its hard for me to believe that he, The Jackal, is unsuccessful. Its so tragic that even after all his preparations, he falls prey to one of those slight, and yet, very big, mistakes which human beings commit. He overlooks a simple Gaullist ritual and misses his target, eventually bringing about his own downfall.

I know that while reviewing any book or movie, I'm not supposed to give out the end. But, for this masterpiece named 'The Day of the Jackal', written by Frederick Forsyth, I couldn't help doing so. I strongly wanted to express how bad I felt for The Jackal in the end. The Jackal is the codename of the anonymous Englishman who had been hired by Marc Rodin, Operations Chief of the French OAS organisation of the 1960s, to kill Charles De Gaulle, the president of France. The book starts off with the true account of an unsuccessful attempt to kill De Gaulle in August 1962, by Bastien-Thiry and others. After Thiry's execution, Marc Rodin decides that the only way left to overthrow De Gaulle, is to hire a foreigner to kill him--a very experienced and skilful killer, but a foreigner, whose name won't be present in any French police records. It is then that The Jackal enters the scene and chooses his codename himself.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part, 'Anatomy of a Plot', describes how The Jackal plots to kill De Gaulle. He goes about securing false passports and driving licenses and makes very careful observations to assume as many as four false identities. He gets a very special rifle made,practices with it and decides everything relating to when, where and how he will kill De Gaulle. Everything goes on very smoothly for him and there seems to be no force on earth which can discover his activities and stop him.

But, as the first part draws to a close, we find Commissaire Claude Lebel, 'the best detective of France', on The Jackal's trail, after a certain OAS member is captured. The French police and other authorities conclude that a man about whom nothing, save his codename, is known, is out there somewhere, waiting to take the life of the French President. It is then that Lebel is ordered to take the rsponsibility of finding him out with necessary help from other departments. And, when it is the question of the life of someone as important as the French President, the authorities leave no stone unturned to try and track The Jackal down. The second part of the book, 'Anatomy of a Manhunt', concerns this tracking down. The third part, 'Anatomy of a Kill', is about the final touches to the work on the part of both The Jackal and Lebel , ultimately resulting in the detective's victory.

But, I so wish that The Jackal had been successful...Its not that I particularly hate De Gaulle when I say this. In fact, I'm not considering any historical fact here. Its the fictional part about The Jackal's adventures that enthralls me. His cleverness, his extreme courage and confidence to undertake those risks and his sheer determination to carry on, even after knowing that the whole of France was on the lookout for him, make me feel sorry when he misses his target by inches. Full credit goes to him because while he laid out the plan and almost executed it completely on his own, Lebel received loads of help from the authorities of several countries. Sometimes, The Jackal is very ruthless, killing two or three innocents, when he realizes that they may prove to be obstacles in the path leading to De Gaulle. He is not bothered by these crimes because the only thing that matters to him is piercing a bullet through De Gaulle's head. In spite of this ruthlessness, he spins a secure web of support in the end from the readers.

The author also presents several other characters, who are connected with the main plot in one way or the other, and also portray the attitudes and emotions of people who had been affected by the Gaullist policies. Lastly, kudos to Mr. Forsyth for presenting The Jackal in such an exciting manner! The various situations he has created in the book can engage the readers so much that they cannot let their attention be diverted even for a fraction of a second, and therein lies the biggest power of his writing--to keep the readers glued to the book till the last page is turned.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Eating sessions!

I'm writing a post around ten days after my exams got over. So, what had I been doing all this time? I had been eating!

Yes, ever since my exam ended, that's how I seem to have spent 70% of my time. It all began last Wednesday, when I had a lot of ice-cream to taste the freedom of the post-exam days. On Saturday, we received an invitation from my mother's school friend and ate fish fries, a typical fry with butter filled inside( forgot the name), and potato fries and glasses of cold drinks. The fervour continued on Sunday afternoon, as I went for lunch with my parents and grandparents. We chose the buffet spread and got to have a wide range of dishes, from soup to noodles, chicken to prawn and lamb to crab. Even the dessert included fruits and mousse, apart from ice-cream. That was not the end though. The same evening, due to a bizarre string of incidents, my parents and I went to see my uncle, who's been sick for some days now. While the rest of us were engaged in a conversation, my aunt slipped into the kitchen and prepared puris for us. After a while, I lost count of the number of puris she had served me!

I again had dinner with my parents at McDonald's on the occasion of Bengali New Year. Besides, I enjoyed the great food prepared by my grandmother, on the day I spent at their place. Tomorrow, I will be going out with my friends and so, there are more eating sessions coming up. So, you can all understand by now that very soon, I'll put on weight!

Monday, March 29, 2010

I'm waiting

Finally, this long, long month of March has come to an end. When it began, it seemed that this would be the longest month of my life ever. But now, it has ended and it wasn't so long after all...My exam started on 3rd March and went on and on and on...There were long gaps between the exams. We had an exam on the 8th, then on the 15th and then on the 25th! But, the next one was on the 27th and the next today, that is, the 29th! So, a gap of ten days before one exam and of just one day before another...weird timetable! Our timetable is the worst among all the other board exam timetables. The West Bengal Higher Secondary exam started long after our exam did but it'll end before ours does! And, like my cousin Woodsmoke said, we had long enough gaps between two exams to sign up for a Tollywood movie...

But, I am so happy and thankful that with today's exam, almost the whole of this battle is over. Now, just the economics exam is left and that is again after eight days! So, I can relax and study. And then, I'll go all crazy. I just can't wait to read all those story books which were bought long ago. I plan to watch all the Potter movies again. I'll do whatever I want to and for the next one-and-a-half months, its going to be complete fun and relaxation for me.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

My birthday

Different people celebrate their birthdays in different ways. Some like to go out with friends and have a blast while others prefer to stay at home and have a quiet celebration with their families. Some enjoy the surprise parties thrown by their families. But, I celebrate my birthday by sitting for exams!

Yes, I really was born at a peculiar time of the year--the time when all sorts of school exams are held all over the country. The result is that every year, I end up celebrating my birthday by sitting for the day's exam and preparing for the next day's one. When I was in the fifth or sixth standard, I used to feel very disgusted. I would see my friends lavishly celebrating their birthdays while I would find myself in mid-ocean on a day which is supposed to be the best day of the year for any person. I would envy them at times. But, gradually, I realized that my birthday is special just the way it is. If it really is the best day of the year, its good for an exam to be held on that day. Then, there are more chances of being luckier.

This time, my birthday on 3rd March is bigger than ever. That's because, this year, my twelfth standard board exams begin on that very day....the day I turn 18! I just hope that I begin adulthood by writing one of the best papers I have ever written. That is how I want to celebrate my the sense of joy, satisfaction and relief that I'll earn by writing the first paper of the most crucial exam of my life till date.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My name is Sengupta and I'm not a fan of MNIK

I just returned home after watching the Hindi movie, 'My name is Khan', and in true 'My name is Khan' style, I want to tell Karan Johar, the movie's director, something. I want to say, ''My name is Sengupta and I don't understand your movie.''

I do not understand which is the focal point of the movie and I personally feel that this is the biggest problem with it. It doesn't have any strong storyline. It can neither be called a movie which spreads a message about autism( the disease the protagonist suffers from) nor can it be called one which deals with the plight of Muslims in the post-9/11 USA. The two themes have been ridiculously portrayed! They don't seem to mingle with each other throughout the movie. So, the end result is a long, long film, which is meaningless and boring. Even the way in which the autistic person has been portrayed in certain scenes, makes the disease look like something funny. Besides, there is way too much drama in the film. There was no need to have portrayed the hurricane in Georgia and how the protagonist's relief work there creates ripples across USA. Everything related to this hurricane looks so absurd!

I'll mention the good points though. Kajol, the lead actress, is brilliant and people should watch the film for her only. The first half of the film is also good and I realize now why it is good. Its good because it has a lot more of Kajol in it than the second half. It is the romance between Kajol and Shahrukh Khan which is worth watching. Shahrukh himself isn't that good in the movie but the two of them are very good together. And, I'll remember this film only for Kajol's performance. Oh, and also the song, 'Sajda'.

My name is Sengupta and I just spent a very disappointing evening with Mr. Khan...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Darkness descends

It was a pleasant evening--neither too hot nor too cold.Lots of people had gathered together for an evening full of fun with their family, friends, boyfriends/girlfriends, and others....I was present among them with my parents. I was walking with my father scanning the treasures lined along the wall and attempting to pick one of them up when, all of a sudden, the lights went off! Groans and sighs could be heard all around...The Kolkata Book Fair 2010 had once again plunged into darkness...

I am telling the story of yesterday evening when I visited the fair with my parents. We were inside the Rupa and Co. book stall when this unfortunate incident took place. We had read in the papers about the power-cuts at this year's book fair but hadn't expected them to continue even on the fourth day of the fair. It was just horrible and over the next two hours, the authorities couldn't do anything about it. When we had entered the fair, it had been crowded with lakhs of people. But, the crowds started dwindling in the absence of electricity. It was weird to see a book fair without crowds ...

After a while,it wasn't too bad actually. We could go through the books more easily as we weren't jostled by people anymore. A bit of light from the paths outside the stalls prevented them from going pitch black. Aided by that light and the light from our cellphones, we didn't have much problem in seeing the books. We even bought books by the light of the cellphone and there were many others like us! I bought 'Roots' by Alex Haley, 'Letters from a father to his daughter' by Jawaharlal Nehru and 'Great Stories By Nobel Prize Winners.' My father bought 'The Namesake' by Jhumpa Lahiri and '101 stories' by Satyajit Ray, while my mother bought 'Jiboner Jal Chhobi'( 'Life's Water-colour') by Pratibha Basu.

But, this doesn't mean that people will be happy to use their cellphones every year. The whole incident was very shameful. Most of the stalls were fully empty and the salesmen were sitting disappointed. The food stalls were the ones making real profits and somehow, in most of the food stalls ,there was no power cut! We also couldn't go around the whole fair. The darkness just ruined our mood. We ended up roaming around a particular lot of stalls, but what more could we expect? I just hope everything returns to normal next year. Its disheartening to see my city losing one of its greatest possessions.