Monday, 25 August 2014

THE SATURN RING


Badalbabu is sure that he will get back his missing finger ring. He has lost it on four occasions earlier but every time he got it though at some irregular intervals. Now, he is eager to see if it comes back galloping or cantering or trotting. As we know the canter is the controlled of the three-beat gait performed by a horse. It is faster than trot but slower than the gallop. I have used these terminologies purposefully. Badalbabu is my friend and a bureaucrat. He is retiring next year. Like me, he does not trust in the power gems. He often says, ‘The confidence as well as the personality of a person varies inversely with the number of stones put by him in his fingers.’

But, Badalbabu wears a metallic ring in his finger. It was gifted to him by one of his junior colleague Mangal Biswas. In fact, he gifted similar rings to his boss and other colleagues as well. These rings had been prepared by the gentleman from the plate of horse-shoe. It’s more than a decade. Mangal’s daughter was then studying in a college at
Bhopal. She was staying as a paying guest. The house owner has his own stable. After dropping his daughter when Mangal was leaving for Agartala, the house-owner gave him an old piece of horse-shoe and said, ‘Take this and keep a portion of it attached with your body. He will always get the blessings of God Shani.’

The gentleman has great knowledge about the particular God. He advised Mangal Biswas not to bow down head before Shani at the time of offering respects. Otherwise, the Lord of Saturday will sit on the shoulder of his disciple. So, Mangal Biswas prepared some finger rings with the metallic piece and gifted one to Badalbabu.

The ring was loose from the beginning. First time, when Badalbabu lost it he could not recollect for few days that he had lost it. But, he got it in canter gait from the drawer of his table after three four while disposing file. Next time, it came back to him in trot mood. This time, it was beginning of the summer after the departure of winter. One evening he was putting his shoes, but next moment he decided against it. The ring slipped into the shoe. It was only after about a month when his daughter put all his shoes in Sun for drying it surfaced.

The encounter of its coming back in galloping mood is quite interesting. It was a holiday in October. Badalbabu was trimming the rose plants of his flower garden. After completing the task he was dropping the cut-branches in the Municipality dustbin. Suddenly, one of his neighbour said, ‘Badalda, so you have even put ring at your rose plant!’

The ring was hanging from a thorn. It took maximum time for returning about two years back. This time he searched for it at all possible locations. Ultimately, it came walking as his brother found it in a gap of bamboo fencing of garden close to the gate. After opening the gate, Badalbabu generally keeps his hand on the fence and it slipped there in the process. 
I am also sure that the Saturn ring will come back to my friend.


JAWAHAR COAT



It happened accidentally two three days back. Middle-aged Meghnadbabu seldom did get time to remain present on such occasions. It was a holiday. When his professor friend Bipul invited him as audience in a seminar, followed by dinner at Tripura Central University, he could not refuse. It was organized by the English Department and as a part of the seminar a few selected writers from Tripura and adjoining State Assam read out their works. One of the local writers read out a poem on facebook. He narrated how one of his poet friends is still alive in his Facebook friends’ list even after his death.

The gentleman was a common friend of Meghnadbabu in his facebook. In fact, Meghnadbabu has lost two three other close friends as well. He didn’t drop their names from the facebook, rather treat them as white dwarf stars. Meghnadbabu thought about his classical singer friend Snehashisbabu who died a few month’s back at the age of 85. Suddenly, it came into his mind that he had designed Snehashisbabu’s facebook profile. Initially his aged friend was not familiar with Facebook operation. He recollected his friend’s password.
At night, he opened the facebook account of Snehashisbabu. To his utter surprise, he noticed some new posts. But Snehashisbabu had restricted the recent posts within a closed group. None of the members of this group appears to be from the mortal world. Meghnadbabu decided not to disturb this setting. Instead he preferred to visit his new found domain as per his wish.

 Snehashisbabu’s one of the posts is on Jawahar coat. Meghnadbabu had seen the singer in an old Jawahar coat at various functions when he was alive. He thought that it might be his lucky dress and so he put on this all seasons. Sometimes, the artists are found eccentric. But, he didn’t know it was more than sixty years old. As we all know Nehru coat is a hip-length tailored coat for men or women, with a mandarin collar, and with its front modeled on the South Asian achkan or sherwani.  Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Tripura in 1952. Snehashisbabu liked it. Late Edhan Khalifa stitched it for him with fine Munga thread. It was once repaired by a Khalifa of Lucknow when Snehashisbabu was in his Gurukul. Actually, it became short for his height and so a jhalwar was added with similar Munga garments. Meghnadbabu could make out difference in the texture of the fiber from the photograph of Snehashisbabu in his facebook.


Sunday, 24 August 2014

POLICE OFFICER ARINDAM NATH'S NEW BOOK : A BALLAD IN PROSE



Police officer Arindam Nath's new book : a ballad in prose

Shekhar Dutta

 

 

Philosophers have defined man as rational animal but man`s underlying animality often overpowers his rationality. Perhaps this is the reality which explains human penchant for crimes and journey into the murky underworld , apart from familiar factors such as greed and associated mental retardations. Police officers-serving and retired-endowed with high imaginative faculties and power of expression are eminently capable of exposing the underworld of crime and criminals . Marshall Frank, retired supercop in Miami , USA and Dallas state`s former senior cop Debra Knapp have illustrated the point in their masterpieces , `The upside to crime` and `Mountana the police horse`-the latter a childrens book. Tripura`s popular police officer Arindam Nath`s latest book `Sub-inspector Karamchander Diary` based on his professional experience as DSP (central) in the state capital is an authentic study on crime and criminals observed from a highly imaginative and creative angle. The backbone of the book is Sub-inspector Karamchand (Nath`s junior colleague in West Agartala police station) who used to maintain a diary of events and characters related to crimes and the dark recesses of the underworld.

Nath`s book is a veritable revelation to the extent that under a thin camouflage he has shed transparent light on crucial protagonists of the underworld and their operational style. A discerning reader would find it easy to identify the quintet who died together while manufacturing crude bombs in erstwhile Hostel No-2 of MBB college as the killers of CPI (M) activist turned Youth Congress Vice President Swapan Das. The blast had occurred in the run-up to the Loksabha polls of 1996 while Swapan Das had been slain in his home a few months earlier in December 1995. The leader who had plotted the murder had gone to Calcutta to attend an all Indian conference of his organisation after handing in the blue-print to his hired assassins. It is to Nath`s immense credit that barring experienced journalists and active players in the act nobody would be able to what or who he is hinting at in the camouflage.

The state`s most famous-possibly notorious-murderer and mafia don Amit Ghosh, currently serving long prison term, also appears in `Sub-inspector Karamchander Diary` towards the end in the pseudonym of Abhishek . Nath was the police officer who finally brought Amit alias Abhishek to justice by arresting him in connection with a murder case but ,significantly, Amit alias Abhishek had been a regular caller by telephone. Amit`s voice and manner of expression would emit signals of threat and possible danger but Nath had a most bizarre experience when one fine morning Amit alias Abhishek`s wife, a one-time cabaret dancer in Calcutta, materialised in his office to complain of threats to her and her two sons lives from her consort.

Nath has imaginatively focussed on varied human characters in his book in all their diverse traits : perennial police source Sudhir who made police station his virtual home , polygamous Kabir Bhai and his border home and a large number of burglars, dacoits and murderers and their graduation to the murky underworld of crimes. But the most startling conclusion a reader is left with from a study of Nath`s book is that the old adage-`frailty thy name is woman`-might well be replaced by a new adage : inconsistency or unpredictability thy name is woman. What illustrates the point is the life and evolution of a veiled character Tilottama Das of a bordering village. Tilottama had been violated by a criminally-motivated man , Madhav Das , allowed the violation to be an almost regular affair and finally collaborated with the violator in having her husband murdered and then turned an approver in court to have the supposed paramour land in jail with a life-term. A truly amazing crime that defies any definition.

`Sub-inspector Karamchander Diary` is Arindam Nath`s fourth book-a testimony to the man`s creative and imaginative faculty. Endowed with a flair for lucid expression, reflective of his pristinely simple nature, Nath is well on course to producing more books with eminent readability as their forte. The `Gyan Vichitra` and `Book World` publishers have made a laudable job in producing this sleek 128-page volume with a good cover photo from Sukanta Banik and Aparesh Paul.

MIGHTY WAVE




 ‘Mighty wave this is, O dear,

Set the sky rolling, defusing the past and future.

Brilliantly shining is life with a wonderful wave of joy.

The sun, moon, stars all are in swing, hence,

Jolted, thrilled is the stream of my perception,

Waves dance throughout the world, the heart tweets.’

It’s an English version of Tagore’s song, ‘Bipulo Tarango Re…’ I am fond of this song though I am skeptical about my perception of this song. In a sense, the incidents which we witness in our life are just the interaction with the ripples created by this mighty wave.

The other day when I came across a man with name Bipul, meaning mighty, at once the song came in my mind. The gentleman is an octogenarian person and perhaps, the oldest surviving retired Gestetner Operator of my office. He was very sincere in his work and was eager to percolate the trait to the next generation. Running a Gestetner or a Cyclo-machine is a tough task and there is every possibility of getting smeared with ink if it was not rolled properly. Now-a-days this machine has become obsolete and is being replaced by high-speed photocopiers. Clad in a white dhuti, the gentleman was standing by the side of the road as I crossed him with my comrades in course of morning walk.

It was a non-conventional route for our group of three persons. I could not recognize him in that ambience, though he appeared known to me. On earlier two three occasions as well, I had seen him at the same spot, standing, dressed in similar attire. But, before I had refreshed my memory with the retired Gestetner Operator, we had another absorbing encounter. We met an old lady at the square, where we generally take our turn. She displayed a jackfruit and few mangoes for sale. One of my friends, a teacher enquired if these were from her garden and why she was selling these. The reply was a bit peculiar. She said, ‘Baba! It’s from my garden. Today is Ekadashi and I shall be on fast. If I take only fruit for breaking the fast I shall suffer from gastric pain. So, for purchasing some solid food I require the money.’

Finding no other promising customer, the aged lady pursued with my friend, ‘Baba! Take this fruits, you will like it.’

-Mashi! Aami Money-bag Aanchi Na…. Mashi! I have not brought the purse.

-Money-bag Aancho Na….You have not brought the purse!

The lady cast a disheartened glance. At this, we also started searching our pockets. In the mean-time, my teacher friend traced thirty bucks in his pocket. He offered this to the lady making her the most pleasant personality of this planet for that moment. But, another problem had cropped up how to carry these fruits. Soon, it was also solved. The lady brought an old but gigantic poly-bag which accommodated the purchased fruits.

As we came near the man in dhuti, he also came forward and taking my name he asked if I was his former boss. This time, I also recognized him and in a pleasant face took his name. By this time, we could smell each other’s respiration and we embraced each other. His torso became bare as the end of his dhuti dropped to the ground.

The thoughts of the two aged person engulfed our minds till we met a youth in his early thirties and his mother. It’s by a sheer coincidence that his name is again Bipul. Bipul works in an insurance company. With his dwarf stature he has a boyish look. He is an ex-colleague of my other friend who works in a civil department. Bipul shook hand with me and said, ‘I have enjoyed your talk-show on TV, the other day.’

On way back, my friend narrated his life struggle which can beat the story of any mighty film any day. Bipul’s father was a carpenter and a habitual drunkard. His mother had to work as a maid servant to provide two square meals a day to her four children, the eldest one, a daughter and the rest three, sons. Bipul was second amongst his brothers. His elder brother joined a shop when he entered into his teens. His sister eloped with a truck driver which made her happy. Bipul was a studious student. When he crossed the primary sections, his father appeared as a stumbling block for his study. His father wanted that he should join him in his carpentry profession. The boy evaded this, saying that his physical ability did not permit him to take up the strenuous job and so he would give his father similar earnings by selling beetle leaf. Bipul continued his studies without knowledge of his father and side by side ferrying beetle leaf from a wholesaler to retailers. His other family members assisted him. Once, he couldn’t go to the wholesaler for few days due to school exam. When his father came to know about this he became furious. That evening, his drunkard father didn’t spare him from beating. Bipul missed his classes next few days and when he joined his school, he suffered corporal punishment from his class teacher.

But, this led to the disclosure of his hardship to the headmaster who had pity on him. After a few days, his principal gave him an offer to stay in the house of one of his teacher friends. The couple had no issue. His father said, ‘You can leave this house, but remember it will remain closed for you for ever.’

Bipul took up the challenge. First few years went on smoothly. But, gradually the wife of his protector became harsh upon him and made him busy in all sorts of household works. This way he passed eighth standard. His next run up to Madhyamik was quite smooth. Meanwhile, he lost his father and went back to his family. His patron, the headmaster arranged his admission in a Jahwar Navoday Vidyalaya. Bipul also got free lodging and food in the school hostel. The atmosphere conducive helped him to pass Madhyamik in first division with letter-marks in Mathematics.

But, his economic condition didn’t permit him to take admission at any school for the next phase. Instead, he started working at a photocopier shop. The owner was a widower and a moody person. He was in the habit of taking few pegs in the evening. He allowed the boy to stay in his house and take some tuition on Mathematics in the evening. It was in course of one such tuition session, Bipul got the next opening. One of his students was a girl of eighth standard. Her father was a retired officer. The girl was not impressed with her new teacher, especially with his short stature. She didn’t feel it necessary to carry out the home task. When it happened for three consecutive days, her teacher said to her, ‘Look, I am here to teach you Mathematics. If you don’t understand, ask me to clear your doubts. You must carry out the home task. I shall rather prefer to leave this assignment, than to accept an un-attentive student.’

This was heard by her father who was incidentally sitting in the next room. The gentleman was highly impressed with the teacher. He listened to Bipul’s struggle in life. It had so happened that the principal of Polytechnic Institute was a good friend of the man. He arranged his admission in the Polytechnic Institute, two months after the scheduled commencement of session. The owner of the Photostat shop also extended help. In fact, he gave him shelter in the house of a friend who was an authorized distributor of popular automobile brand. The couple had no issue and they extended him all assistance to continue his study. He started appearing in competitive examination when he was in the final year of Diploma study. In the process, he hit the ‘Bull’s eye twice in succession. He got selected in the Staff Selection Commission and in the clerical jobs for the State Government Offices, simultaneously. He took the State Government job, which helped him to stay with his family members.

After completing Diploma, he passed graduation through distance. He continued his struggle and appearing in competitive examinations. Presently, Bipul is an officer at a government insurance company. He didn’t miss caring for his family members, specially his mother. I have read the story ‘Arjun Kaka’ of Banaful. Somewhere I find a resemblance in this mighty world.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

'PARKINSON’S DISEASE'




Joining of a new officer often brings in some changes in any organization. Recently one middle level officer has joined my traffic unit. He is the only fresh blood in my office, others have put on considerable service under their belt. Fortunately for me the officer is very articulate with good sense of humour. It helps in developing a conducive atmosphere in our day to day work which otherwise remains very dull and unpleasant since a major percentage of people engaged in driving vehicles on road get a vicarious pleasure by violating traffic rules. Added to this, they do not leave any avenue for getting scot-free after being caught red handed for traffic rules violation.

So, we are blessed with a pseudo term, ‘Parkinson’s disease’ to define ever increasing Parking problems we face in our capital. It has all started with an eminent neurologist raising the problem. He is a specialist physician for this decease. The foot-path in front of his chamber has been declared as a Parking Zone from the administration. All the time, the space remains packed up with parked vehicles. Even, the people residing at other localities prefer to keep their vehicles on this spot during nights. On that occasion, we had to identify the owners by checking registration number of vehicles from internet to solve the problem.

But, while checking the registration numbers I didn’t miss to see if there existed any similarity between ‘Parkinson’s disease’ and ‘Parking problem’. Parkinson's disease is a neuro-degenerative disorder. It is characterized by progressive loss of muscle control, which leads to trembling of the limbs and head while at rest, stiffness, slowness, and impaired balance.

The other day an IIT engineer Mr. Srivastava made a presentation on the traffic problem at Agartala. According to him, in a city like Agartala average speed of 30 KM per hour is treated as ideal. But, between
10 AM to 11 AM, it hovers around 11 KM per hour at A.D.Nagar to Battala area and roughly 16 KM per hour between North Gate to Circuit House. The average speed of traffic never exceeds 20 KM per hour at Battala area during other times. It may not be good at other places as well. ‘Parkinson’s disease’ of our city is certainly a reason for this. Unless, we make optimum use of the designated ‘Parking Zones’, like a patient of ‘Parkinson’s disease’ the flow of vehicular traffic shall gradually attain ‘Parkinsonian gait’. It becomes difficult for a Parkinson's patient at this stage to walk, talk, and complete simple tasks.

As a student of Physics, I like to bring another analogy. My officer is a student of English. I feel that traffic flow on road has similarity with the blood-circulation in our body. Blood changes speed at various points in the body. It is highest at the left ventricle and aortic root and extremely slow in capillary beds, especially the ones surrounding the alveoli. Parameters like elasticity of blood cells, viscosity, Bernoulli’s equation, stress, etc are also involved in governing the flow of blood. However, contrary to this similarity the velocity of blood flow is inversely proportional to the total cross-sectional area of the blood vessels. In case of vehicles, it’s the reverse. The speed of vehicles shall be more with the availability of free space. The case which the eminent neurologist described at the beginning shall be described as thrombosis or blood cloting, in that case. Alternatively, the difference beween ‘Parkinson’ and ‘Parking’ lies in ‘G’. As pointed out by one of my friends the other day, ‘G’ actually stands for ‘Garage’. Parking problems can only be solved by properly garaging the vehicles.


AAM-RUKH




All of us are aware of a Bengali proverb, ‘Barota Bajche’, meaning ‘an impending damage’. So if one asks you a question, ‘What shall be the time when an elephant sits on the fence of your garden?’

The answer is obviously
12 o’clock. When we first landed up in police academy for training more than two decades back, reading 12 o’clock time for first generation police officers like me was not easy at out-door classes. The out-door faculty in police training academies are generally headed by police personnel from armed branches and Sub-Officers (SOs). Unlike Bengali officers like me they are quite fluent in Hindi. Thus, in out-door classes the medium of study is Hindi. One of the initial classes in out-door is on ‘Field of fire’. It’s the area that a weapon can cover with fire from a given position.

So, our ustad used to say, ‘Koyi Per Ya Jomini Nishan Ko Pohele Aam-Rukh Pakaro…Fix a tree or land mark as Aam-rukh….’

Our instructors could not give suitable substitute for the word ‘Aam-rukh’. It was a bit of a problem for Bengali speaking trainees, particularly for our elderly comrades. This forced them to search for aam ka per (Mango tree) or even amarud per (Guava tree) in the vicinity. Often they faltered by choosing a mango or guava plant at some wayward direction.

The younger group could somehow grasp it easily. So, they explained it to their senior brothers, ‘Aam-rukh is a landmark in general direction in front which coincides with the
12 o’clock mark of an imaginary clock.’

Based on this, general clock locations are described as ‘Ek baje ke line…one o’clock direction’, ‘Do baje ke line…Two o’clock direction’, ‘Dash baje ke line…Ten o’clock direction’, and so on. When we learnt this, it became really handy for us and we continued to search for ‘Aam-rukh’, whenever we took fresh guard. It’s equally handy for younger generation who takes interest in ornithology to locate promising birds, or may be brides. ‘Aam-rukh’ keeps us focused in life.


AMAR BHALOBASHAR RAJPRASADE…




Today is a sad day for us. Our beloved singer Manna Dey passed away. He died at a nursing home in Bangalore following prolonged illness at the early hours of October 24, 2013. Yesterday, we observed the first death anniversary of prolific Bengali writer Sunil Gangopadhyay. Two of our icons have chosen their death on two consecutive dates. This afternoon, while discussing the demise of Manna Dey, I said to my wife, ‘I like to book 25th October as my final departure from this material world.’

‘But, I believe your engine will run for some more years’, she said.

‘Still, if there is scope for advance booking I shall prefer this date’, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity for their association.

This time, she gave me nod. Well, this I believe is a sporting way of taking death. Man is mortal. Our motto should be Maran re, tuhu momo shyam saman.

Our liking for Manna Dey is due to his Jeebanmukhi Gaan, the songs pervasive in our day to day life, both for joy and woe. It has an easy going. It may not be categorized as having universal appeal like Tagore’s song. Still, it fits with various situations. It reminds me of a situation described in the book ‘It Doesn’t Die’, written by Maitreyi Devi. In the novel, while pronouncing his words of wisrom to protagonist Amrita, Tagore used to look towards sky instead of looking at her. His sermons are for everybody who may fall in such troubled situation.

Manna Dey’s songs are popular not only for their melody, presentation and classical background but also for their lyrics. People of my generation do never feel bored listening his songs. I was not so fond of Manna Dey songs till I joined
MBB College, Agartala for graduation. In those days, for boys like me from moffusil areas adolescence remained subdued. Coming to Agartala, I found a Manna Dey-fan Club among our fellow-students from Sadar Agartala area. Some of them were in love with girls and good singers. We enjoyed a lot, during excursion to places like Calcutta, Bombay, Goa, Hubli, Bangalore, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Bhubaneswar and Puri in October, 1981. Manna Dey’s songs like Amar Bhalobashar Rajprasade, Se keno Eto Sundari Holo, Swapon Jodi Madhur Emon Hok She Miche , etc used to consume the prime time. I became an ardent lover of Manna Dey’s songs by the time we returned from one month’s tour. Yet, it is sad that I could not manage to see his live program at Jirania Engineering College in December, 1982. The situation was not so conducive for me.

After the release of film Maine Pyar Kiya in December 1989, Antakshari became popular all over
India. Even during our professional courses, Antakshari is performed during leisure. I have noticed Manna Dey’s songs are best suited for Antakshari. I am just putting eight songs starting with letters from the name of singer MANNA DEY as a remembrance.

M: Meri Bhains Ko Danda Kyo Mara…

A: Ami Je Jalsha Ghare..

N: Na Na Jeona O Shesh Pata Go…

N: Na Tel Aur Na Batee …

A: Amar Valobasar Rajprasad…

D: Deep chhilo shikha chhilo…

E: Ek Chatur Naar Karke Shinger…

Y: Yet Raat Bheegi Bheegi..



Lastly, Manna Dey has an album ‘Madhushala’. But, interestingly if we arrange the letters of his name it comes, ‘ANAND MEY, MAD NA NEY… Please do not take wine while making pleasure.’ Let it remain the sermon of the day.