It has been long since I have felt like this. Its been a long time since I could actually relish my tea. With the classic Charminar. You know there is something about this tea. They serve it in a bhar(a clay cup).Well I have actually lost count on the number of times I had asked the chai-walla not to boil the tea leaves in milk-but to soak them in warm water. I had given up on him. But still years later when I came back I absolutely admire his tea. There's something that pulls me towards the good old “Mantur cha” or coffee at 15 Bankim Chatterjee Street, Kolkata 73. The adda sessions at Albert Hall has changed.But still the essence is very much there.
There was I time when my evenings would seem incomplete without Inner Eye, Kalpurush or Silpantar. Sandesh and Sesher Kobita is lost in the world wide web. There used to be an old man who had a music shop in Rippon street. He used sit in his little corner and tune his guitars. On an idle evening I can still hear him playing “Where are all the flowers gone”. I can actually see the winding lanes of Marsden Street and 65 Bentick Street before my eyes. I no longer listen to my favourites -Pink Floyd, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin. Gone are my days when I used to spend hours together to finish “Jara Bristite bhijechilo” at one go.The soulful renditions of “Jete pari kintu keno jabo” echoes from a faraway land when I don't realize how my Sunday went past.
Boat rides at Outram Ghat at sunset is now just a memory. The river used to look breathtakingly beautiful from Princep Ghat during dusk.The other day when I was paying the bills at the swank new supermart that has come up near my home, I remembered how I used to bargain with the New Market or Fancy Market hawkers even if it was for bucks. I can almost feel the green of Maidan under my feet when I spent those never ending minutes struck in a traffic jam. I can almost see the black fairy trying to fly away from the marble dome of Victoria Memorial. How I proudly tell anybody who would listen that the Indian Musuem is the only one in the country to have a real Egyptian Mummy on display. Or the number of times I have told people about the resident ghosts of National Library.
I was deep into my work when my Outlook Calendar suddenly reminded me that I have got a dinner invitation at Barbeque Nation - one of those posh restaurants in town. Nowadays it takes an invite for me to go out and have fun. Also the fun comes at a steep price. Years back, I remember there was this bunch of young boys who on one fine day would decide that they are going to bunk the maths tuition and go and have Egg Rolls, from the para shop. The adolescent phucka dates or the muri aloo chop adda sessions at chai shops are things that I truly miss.There are many like this. Macher Jhol-Bhaat infront of Writer's or Nihari-Paya-Beef Biriyani in Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Chello Kebab at Peter Cat, Pork Friedrice at Gunjan, Turkey or Hilsa at Waldorf, Ice cream sundaes at Hobby Centre, Chinese at China Town and Mone Rekho pan at College street are a few that deserves mention.Oh I forgot! The durga puja devi darshan (the ones in and around the pandal)at Maddox Square,College Square and Ekdalia was an integral part of my growing up days. So was beef steak and whisky at Olypub, the blues and jazz night at Some Place else. Then there was Saraswati Puja-the bengali V-day. The yellow saree and twinkling eyes' day. Then there are days when we used to drop by Tantra or incognito(don't tell my mom) to check out the mini skirt clad grooving to hit bollywood numbers.
I still honestly feel that a dozen Chinnaswamy Stadiums can be packed into one Eden Gardens.On a match day it was a ritual that we would feast on Biriyani sold at the stadium itself. Well it was more of a auction you see. Like at noon when there was ample chicken and potatoes a plate would cost you 50. Later when no meat pieces were left but a few potatoes are left behind they might give it to you at 25. The final price would be 10 when you would get only rice. I also earnestly feel that one who has not seen a Mohun Bagan-East Bengal clash at the football stadium has not seen what football can mean to a population of a good few lakhs-rather a few hundred truck load of people. Given a choice I would jolly well go back to the days so well spent at Millenium Park or Archies Galleries or at The Statesman Vibes.
I was restless in my bed. I dreamt of a day. It was raining heavily. I was cycling on a National Highway. The first showers of the year was washing away all the tears and heartbreaks of my adolscence. I wish I could relieve that day. I wish I could still bunk college and sneak into Academy to watch Nandikar or Bahurupi where Soumitra Chatterjee, Kaushik Sen, Rudraprasad or Swatilekha would perform. I wish I could spend those hours at Nandan back again when I had nothing to worry about but how to show my report card to dad. I wish that I can breathe the air of this city for the rest of life.........