Saturday, November 26, 2011


Recently, I wrote an essay titled ‘Solitude’ for my English class in my father’s tuition. I got fairly good marks from baba for this essay. It was also an essay that I enjoyed writing, as it made me think. Here is the essay that I wrote:

            The dictionary tells us that solitude is ‘a state of being alone’. It is a feeling that seems to float like an ominous dark cloud on the lives of people, always eager to engulf their lives with gloom and despair. When given a choice, no person would choose solitude over company. Solitary confinement is the worst punishment that one can have to suffer. Solitude is like living death: this is the most common idea about solitude. However, in reality, solitude might sometimes turn out to be blissful.
            Imagine a beautiful sea shore. The waves are lapping gently on the beach. It is twilight, and a soft breeze is blowing over the water. Would you like to sit in such a place with a large number of noisy friends? Then again, think of the last time you tried to listen to a good song in the midst of a crowd. At such a time, you would have given anything to get a little time alone with your music. There was nothing that you detested more than the crowd around you. Or maybe, the day before the mathematics examination, when the only thing you wanted was to be alone with your revision in a room. In all these times, solitude turns out to be one’s dearest friend. Sometimes, people need to be alone just to unwind. At such times, all kinds of thoughts and feelings crowd one’s mind. That is the time for self-analysis and self-realization. One uses that time to sort oneself out, and try to understand one’s own heart. It is during such periods of solitude that flashes of inspiration may astound a person. A girl sitting alone humming softly may suddenly realize that she has an entire poem ready in her mind, waiting to be written down. The greatest masters of the world have almost always created their masterpieces in solitude.
            Contradictory as it may sound, you can enjoy solitude even when you are sitting in a large company. Completely self-engrossed people in all ages have been able to feel that they are alone with themselves amidst noisy crowds. However, it takes a great amount of discipline and dedication to reach that level of self-possession. We call those who have achieved this extraordinary, and revere them as great and holy men. Such solitude gives a person completeness, and he attains enlightenment.
            So we see that solitude is a very important part of life. One needs all kinds of experiences to live life fully, and the experience of solitude is an essential one. After all, it is in solitude that man can understand oneself, and with understanding comes growth.

I really do enjoy being alone. It is nice to be able to talk to yourself without having people staring at you and wondering whether you are completely nuts. Anyway, the activities that I enjoy doing the most cannot really be done in a group. Take reading, for example. Let alone serious, thought-provoking books, even light chick-lit cannot be read properly with friends. Reading is something that you have to do alone. It is not an experience that you can share. Even in literary clubs and places like that, people go and select their own books, and read quietly by themselves. Then there is watching movies. A movie hall is certainly not the best place to watch a good movie. The amount of noise and disturbance that goes on in a hall makes it nearly impossible to concentrate on the movie itself. In fact, I hardly ever go to the cinema to watch movies, and when I do, it is not so much for the movie as to spend some time with my friends. Watching the movie takes a backseat then.

As for enjoying nature, it is something that one can hardly ever do with people. Maybe a big reason for that is, nowadays most people cannot perceive the beauty of nature. That is why even when people go on holiday trips they choose places that have lots of hotels and restaurants, shopping malls and beauty salons, discos and nightclubs. Going for picnics with such people is indeed a tiresome thing. Even if they go to a beautiful place, they will shout, fight, dirty the surroundings, and come away without taking in even a little of the beauty of the scenery around them. When asked to recall the picnic, they will talk about everything other than the place they went to. This attitude of today’s population is actually a blessing to oddities like us who enjoy basking in the beauty and the serenity of their surroundings. My family and I love to pay occasional visits to a place called ‘Molan-Dighi’ outside Durgapur-proper. The road to this outlandish place is through Sal forests, and the traffic is not too thick there. People do not stop while passing by the forests, at any rate, so it is a comparatively quiet place. We enjoy the wholesome peace and solitude of the place, and so when we start feeling suffocated by the noise and overwhelming flow of humanity in the town, baba takes us to this enchanting little place, where we spend a blissful hour or two, each absorbed in our own little worlds in our heads, happily oblivious to the outer world. And sometimes, when I spend such idyllic hours of seclusion, I suddenly realize why Rabindranath Tagore has said, “Moha bishshe mohakashe Mohakalo majhe/ Ami Manobo ekaki bhromi bishshoye, bhromi bishshoye”…

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Of greatness and the iPad

Steve Jobs, the chairman and former CEO of Apple Inc. is dead. He passed away yesterday. He was fifty six, and had been suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer.

Today, people are mourning worldwide over his untimely death. Many people (teenagers like me, and people of my parents’ age as well) who were not even sure about who Steve Jobs was till yesterday are talking about how much they loved him, and what a ‘great’ man he was, and how he had ‘changed the world forever’ with his contributions.

Let us see, Steve Jobs commercialized the PC, was the creator of the first computer animated movie (Toy Story), of the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad,  and other such gadgets. These were his ‘world-changing contributions’. These are the works that would make people remember him ‘forever’. The entire world is in tears today at his death. One of the greatest men of the 20th-21st century has left us yesterday.

With all due respect to Mr. Jobs, I really cannot see what made him the ‘great’ man that people all over the world are mourning today. Okay, he invented the iPod, the iPhone, computer animated movies. So what? Is it really animated movies that define the cinema industry? I think not. Is living really impossible without an iPod or a smart phone? Look around you, and you will get the answer. So what exactly is this hype about?

iPods and smart phones are essentially playthings. They are not life saving gadgets, they do not contribute substantially to one’s character building process, they do not give us happiness in the true sense of the word (a century ago no one had heard about an iPod or a cell phone, and I am sure that people of the time did not all die of either boredom or sadness without them). So what do these gadgets really do? They are most used by halfwit teenagers who are biologically incapable of doing anything of a much higher intellectual level than pressing buttons. But just because these gadgets offer such people something to do in their idle hours, can these gadgets be tagged as ‘world changing’?

Okay, let me try and imagine a world that has not heard of computer animation and smart phones and iPads. What would it be like? Animation would still be there. Only the process would be more strenuous and require more direct human effort, that is, someone would have to draw the scenes with one’s own hands. Without Apple Inc to make iPads and iPods, many overworked and under-loved fathers would be saved from their children’s constant pestering to buy them the latest gadget that Apple has launched. With no iPods, fewer people would die on the roads and the railway tracks from having been too preoccupied with the music from their headphones to have heard the honking of the cars and the trains. Young adults who have just started earning a living would be less prone to spending the greater part of their income on the latest version of the iPad instead of on pressing family needs. Teenagers who think the world of themselves would feel slightly less compulsion to display how ‘cool’ and ‘in’ they are by flaunting their latest Apple gadgets. Students would employ their time better studying and waste a little less time playing on their smart phones with their numerous ‘apps’. In a nutshell, slightly less time and money would be wasted in everyone’s life. Of course, my generation has an inborn talent for finding out things that are completely worthless, but that can be used for ‘time-pass’, so there would have been other ingeniously devised gadgets that help you to waste time. But we can still hope that without so many of these ‘i-’ gadgets, we might have found some more people engaged in doing more useful things. Sports, dance, music, painting and reading, for instance...

I have an Apple iPod myself, presented to me a couple of years ago, but I can also say that owning it has not made any significant difference in my life. The cell phone I own also has many modern ‘apps’ and I use hardly one or two of them, but I get on very well indeed without utilizing all the ‘smartness’ of this ‘smart’ phone. Before I owned the iPod or the cell phone, I listened to music all right. I had the old Sony Walkman, and the older music player, and the sound they produced was good enough for me. Someone on Facebook seems to have said ‘we are what we are’ because of Steve Jobs. Now I have nothing against Mr. Jobs, but in no way can I say that either he or the gadgets he invented have contributed even 0.00001% in making me what I am today, or indeed, what my iPod-owning friends are today.

As for his being called a ‘great man’, I wonder. Even when I was much littler than I am now, I have heard much talk about great people in my family. My parents do not agree over everything, but when it comes to calling a person ‘great’, I cannot remember having ever seen them with different opinions. Afterwards, since I started developing my own mind, and started looking at the world with my own eyes, I drew my own conclusions. When I think of great people, names like Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Chanakya and Albus Dumbledore come to my mind. But then, I must remember that I live in a world where everything and everyone can become ‘great’. Michael Jackson was voted the greatest entertainer of all time, and Princess Diana was voted the greatest British personality over Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and Winston Churchill. Ah well…  

P.S. 24th October: I was sent this link by an anonymous commentator. I would appreciate it if people tell me their views on this article. I do not want to add any comment of my own here right now. And if Mr./Ms Anonymous is reading this, I'm sure you have a pleasant enough name, so you might as well use it while commenting on my blog. Otherwise, I will not publish your comments. Sorry!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

It has been weeks since the last installment of the Harry Potter movies was released, but I kept postponing writing the review out of sheer laziness. A day or two ago my father gently reminded me about how long ago we went to watch the movie, and so it sort of dawned upon me, and I finally pushed  myself to sit and write down the review that I have been framing in my head for so long today.

My father, a student of his and I went to watch the second installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the first show of the second day. Daddy and I had been rather worried that we would not get the tickets if we did not reach the hall much before the show timing. But strangely enough, once the show had begun we found that far from being houseful, there were rows of empty seats in front of us!
This installment began from where the last part had ended, in Shell Cottage, at Dobby’s grave. For a while, Harry sat silently in front of the tiny grave. He then went inside the beautifully kept cottage of Bill and Fleur.  It was evident that in spite of the war going on outside, it did not affect the Cottage interior at all. Such minute details have made the movie very heart warming.

The next few scenes were done very beautifully. As Bellatrix Lestrange, the sadistic Death Eater and Lord Voldemort’s devotee, Helena Bonham Carter has always done well, but where she outdid herself was as Hermione disguised as Lestrange. Her first appearance as Hermione-disguised-Bellatrix was at Shelly Cottage itself, where Hermione had just had her Polyjuice Potion. The first thing that she asks on appearing in front of Ron and Harry was “Well? How do I look?”! It was one of the many sweet lines that the director has included in the movie. Helena played the part of Hermione-playing-Belllatrix splendidly. She walked clumsily, looked very awkward and completely ill-at-ease with herself. She even replied to a man who had wished her good morning in the Diagon Alley courteously, totally unlike what the real Bellatrix would do. As the book says, she aroused suspicion in the minds of people, and very soon everybody knew she was an imposter, and only Ron’s timely use of the Imperius Curse on the Head goblin of Gringrotts saved the day.

One of the most charming things about the movie is that the director has blended touches of humour in the most threatening and risky moments of the movie. When, after having retrieved Hupplepuff’s cup from the Gringrotts vault, Harry, Ron and Hermione had been deceived by Griphook their guide who had stolen the real sword of Griffindor and left them to die, and they had to find some way to escape from the bank, Hermione says very matter-of-factly that she has found a way to escape, though it is very risky. Then she jumps down on the dragon’s back, and urges Ron and Harry to follow suit, almost as if riding a dragon is the most normal thing in a wizard’s life. They free the dragon, which stretches its wings and flies out of the bank, destroying a major part of it. The dragon scene was well done overall, but I kept feeling that it had lost some of its grandeur of the fourth movie. Maybe that was because this dragon was a half starved and sickly dragon that had been forcefully chained in for protecting the vault…

In this movie, the director has concentrated on the Battle of Hogwarts, so by the ending of the first hour of the movie, Harry and his friends had apparated to Hogsmeade to try and sneak into Hogwarts by some means. However their landing in Hogsmeade had turned on the curfew alarm that had been set by the Death Eaters. They are rescued by Aberforth Dumbledore, Dumbledore’s brother, and with his help, they follow a secret tunnel through a picture of the Dumbledores’ sister’s, and come out in the Room of Requirements, where many students now seemed to live.

Here, the director has added some more of those quirky lines. After a huge applause that greeted Harry’s arrival, and the anticlimax when on seeing Ginny Harry just says “Hi”, the trio tell the people in the room “We have to find something, but we don’t know what it is, and where it can be found”! Then, as Snape addresses the students in the Great Hall and urges them to come up with any information they had of Harry’s movements that evening, Harry steps out of the group of students and says, “It seems despite your exhaustive defensive strategies, you still have a bit of a security problem, Headmaster.”!

The eeriest part of the movie was positively the voice of Voldemort that rang through the school. At first, one girl started screaming in the Hall, and then another. And then the cold and steely voice of Voldemort could be heard all through the Hall, asking for Harry and commencing the battle of Hogwarts.

From here began the thrilling part of the movie. The visual effects were very real; you could almost feel them happening to you. The preparations that were made to protect Hogwarts were portrayed very effectively. The simultaneous charm cast by the professors and some Order members formed a kind of milky white transparent globe around the castle, protecting it. Professor McGonagall used a powerful charm to call in all the statues of Hogwarts to form an army. After using the spell, she said with childish glee, “I have always wanted to use that spell.”

The scene after Harry’s first death, in King’s Cross Station with Dumbledore was painfully white and bright. The part of Voldemort’s soul that had been destroyed and was lying as a charred baby was pitiable, yet disgusting. It was at that point that Dumbledore tells Harry not to pity the dead. The last part, where Harry is about to return to the world of the living, he asks Dumbledore whether this was real, or it was happening his head. Then, in a very Dumbledore-ish fashion, Dumbledore says, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”  However, here I feel it would have been much better if Richard Harris could have played the role of Dumbledore for the rest of the movies as well. I have always felt that Richard Harris was the real Dumbledore, not Michael Gambon, and that feeling came out strongly in me when Dumbledore said this line. This line, somehow, would have sounded much more real coming from Mr Harris...

The Battle has been portrayed on an epic scale, better than the original text, in fact. Characters like Neville and Luna and the Hogwarts Professors have been given their due recognition. The way that Neville cut off Nagini’s head was nothing short of grand. Snape’s death was cruel, but thankfully it was not shown in the movie. The scene where Hermione and Ron go to the Chambers of Secrets to get a Basilisk fang and destroy the Hupplepuff cup was not there in the book, where Hermione and Ron come and tell Harry that they have already destroyed it, but it was a very nice alternation. The part where Bellatrix dies in the hands of the gentle Molly Weasley is another scene to look out for, but the best of all is the duel between Harry and Voldemort. There is real fighting and dueling in the movie. Unlike in the book, this duel continues for quite some time, in which Harry gets repeatedly bashed by Voldemort, and finally throws himself and Voldemort off the roof of a tower. They land outside the castle entrance, where the final duel takes place. The Elder Wand cannot kill its master, and Harry being its true master his own wand overpowers it, and it flies out of Voldemort’s hand. Harry catches it deftly, and Voldemort’ own death curse affects him, killing him once and for all…

The next part is short, but touching. Harry moves through the Great Hall, where all the dead and the injured wait for him. There is a faint smile on the faces of all those who are alive. The dead are being mourned. Harry sees the bodies of Fred, Lupin, Tonks. On the other side, Neville and Luna sit beside each other, with a look of contentment identical on both their faces.

And finally, nineteen years later. It was a very nice way to end a great story. Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione see their children off to Hogwarts, some for the first time. Ron especially looks like a very satisfied family man. He has grown a paunch, and it looks like Hermione has been feeding him continuously for the last nineteen years!  Even Draco has come to see his son Scorpius off, and he even smiles at Harry and family! The train rolls off, with all the children waving their parents’ goodbye, and there begins the story of the next generation.

After the movie was over, I felt slightly incomplete, as if a part of me had ended with the movie. It was certainly a grand end of an era. For those like us, who have grown up with Harry Potter, a fan has nicely summed up this last movie in a letter of hers to the production team: “Goodbye Childhood". But for me, Harry Potter will go on forever. That is the beauty of good books and movies, I guess. Even after you have finished reading them or watching them, a part of them stays with you, your dear friend, forever.

Monday, June 27, 2011

To be knowledgeable...

A few nights ago my father showed me this. It is about people who have done great enough things for us to have heard about them, but for some reason we do not. It reminds me about what Rabindranath said about such things "Bipula e prithibir kototuku jani" (how little I know of this great wide world). While I was reading it, a thought kept nagging me at the back of my mind. I keep hearing from many mothers that the pressure of studies has gone up in leaps and bounds these days. Children these days have to study a lot more than their parents did. A mother, whose daughter has gone up to class one this year requested me to get the exercise books of any girl who had gone up to class two this year. She said that if she did not get the exercise books of any senior to help her, the little girl will not be able to cope with the 'work load' of the 'senior' class. After this conversation, I was too stunned to speak for a long time, but now that I look back on it, I realize that this mother is not at all exceptionally crazy. In fact, she was just one of the million other mothers around her who want their children to be 'educated'.

Indeed, when it comes to examination results, our generation does seem to be doing much better. There are so many more seven-pointers these days than there used to be at the time of our parents. Numerous students these days get a one point in English. Even students who did not get more than sixty five in school examinations can hope for at least a two point in ICSE. But when it comes to real knowledge, tested by quizzes and IQ tests, the results are pathetic. 

Even so-called 'brilliant' students who regularly come first in class cannot remember what they had learnt two years ago. Students of classes nine and ten cannot spell and do simple mathematical calculations in their heads without making a large number of mistakes. What a student of class four knew during the time of our parents a student of class eight may or may not know now. High school-goers cannot say their tables and their parts of speech correctly. Most students do not know any history other than the minuscule part that they have been instructed to learn by their schools, and that too only to get the marks. 

The only thing that is important is the number of 'excellent's in the report card. It is the only measure that would mark a student as 'studious' or 'well-informed'. It does not matter how the marks are obtained; whether anything is learnt or not. Cheating has become a daily affair. Everyone cheats from everyone else. And the parents don't seem to mind either, as long as cheating brings the desired marks. So much for the honesty of the students.

The idea of learning in the true sense of the word has become an obscure idea only to be pursued by the craziest of people. All that most people want from educational institutions are a few degrees that would help them to get some 'good' jobs. For girls, the situation is even worse. Studying in an 'English medium convent school' would increase a girl's demand in the marriage market. That is all that schools and colleges are worth; that is what most parents have drilled into the heads of their children nowadays.

Both parents and their children would get a nasty shock if it were to be declared just now that a lot of questions would come in the board examinations that would be from outside the few prescribed textbooks and would test the student's actual knowledge and awareness about the goings-on in the world around them.  Be that as it may, this might be the only way to make them really learn anything rather than just blindly mug up a few books and throw them up in the examination paper only to forget everything completely in the next instant. 

The list in that website was one about really little-known people, but I can confidently say that had I shown any of my classmates (or their parents, for that matter) a list of Hitler's most notorious officers or even the highest paid women in the world or any other such popular lists, they would have been as astonished and as uninterested as they would be with this list. This is the 'educational progress' that has been taking place everywhere. I am tempted to say that our ancestors (who were not so 'educationally progressive') were much better off intellectually and much more knowledgeable than we would be any time soon. Who knows, for them this list might even have been pretty well-known... indeed, my father said he recognized five of those people.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Admission Diary

After a long time, we are back to our old routines again. After almost fifteen days of very strenuous admission work, the long stream of anxious parents determined to admit their children in my father’s classes has slackened. We have once more started keeping our phones connected without getting eight calls an hour on average!

The last fifteen days, though really hectic, have also been very interesting. The process of admissions is usually eventful, but this year it has been even more so. This year was a doubly special batch; it was the admission session of my father’s silver jubilee batch, which also happens to be my batch! I found it pretty hard to believe that the classmates, the same ones with whom I had spent my thumb-sucking days were now in class nine, and I was admitting them! My parents said that they were feeling the same way about me; that the kid who used to go about in their laps was now getting admitted in daddy’s class! But the strangest feeling was when I went downstairs on the day for class eight admissions. It took me quite some time to digest the fact that the boys and girls standing in our garden with their parents were actually younger than me! Till now, I had been used to the idea that the students who came to enroll their names here for class nine were older than me. I was supposed to call them ‘dada’ and ‘didi’. Last year, they were my classmates, but this year, they were kids! In fact, watching them, I was reminded of a line from Harry Potter part five, when Ron, watching a stream of fresh-faced juniors at school, had commented with a bemused expression “These kids seem to be getting smaller every year”!

On 23rd, the results of Carmel and St. Xavier’s were declared. I went to school by bus, but came back with a friend in her car. Anushua and Srimoyee had very kindly offered to help us during the admission period. Usually, dad’s older ex-students come to lend us a hand during admissions, but this time none of them could turn up. Instead, two of my friends came over. At first, both my parents and I were not really sure about how much they would be able to help. But very soon, all our fears were proved groundless. Both Anushua and Srimoyee were working deftly and confidently, and enjoying themselves a lot. I myself have been doing admission work for over five years now, so it is not particularly exciting for me any longer, but for my friends it was the first time, and they really made the most of it. In fact, had it not been for their help, we would not have been able to handle the first day’s crowd so smoothly and hassle-freely.

Like always, I had been a bit tense about what my report card would show, but as usual, nothing unexpected came out of it, other than a better-than-expected grade in Computer Applications, maybe! After we had gone through our report cards with mounting relief, both Anushua and I rushed back to her car to get home as soon as we could. Srimoyee was going home with her father. Afterwards, she changed into fresh clothes and came over to our house, got herself admitted, and then came out to help us. All the three of us are in the same batch. We had planned it that way, and that was a good thing too, as we are now in different sections in school, and see each other less often than we would have liked to.

In the beginning, only Carmel girls kept coming in a slow and steady rate. It was fun, and not very hectic, attending to our classmates in ones and twos. The rush started when the St. Xavier’s boys started coming. I have often wandered why these boys like to come in huge groups, and create a mess both for us and themselves, but for some obscure reason they do it every year. But this year the Xaverians outdid themselves. When the first of the lot started coming in, I went and sat under the large bokul tree just next to our gate. We had divided the job between ourselves in such a way that the people who came to get their names enrolled for class nine or those who wanted to get their children admitted in class eight came and spoke to me. The students of class nine were first sent to my mother, who with the help of my friends gave the candidates certain notices and forms, and sent them in to daddy’s room for the final step. Things went on more or less smoothly, and as always we came away with different kinds of experiences.

It is surprising how often adults behave like ten-year-olds. There was a time when almost fifteen pairs of guardians were waiting with their wards in the garden. A great number of them were people who wanted to admit their children in class eight. It was my job to get them to enroll their children’s names for class nine before I told them the date for class eight’s admission. At one point, a group of eight parents surrounded me for enrollment. It was a hot day, with the sun blazing down our necks, and everybody felt irritable. It turned out that all the eight parents were in a hurry, and they seemed convinced that I was intentionally working very slowly to trouble them. As a result, all the parents started telling me their child’s name, their address and other details all at once! When I asked them to come one at a time, they took offence and stood there grumpily. None of them seemed to be able to understand that I was working as fast as I could! Others came and started bargaining over the batch timings, as none of the four batches was convenient for them. This caused a lot of delay.

But there were also some very co-operative parents. A lady waited with her two sons for almost half-an-hour without complaining once. When I offered her my chair, she politely refused and said that I should go on with my work and not worry about her. Another group of parents came prepared with every requirement. They had even decided on the batch that they wanted before-hand, so they hardly took ten minutes to get admitted and leave without any mess.

We had to send almost half of the people to get their report cards photocopied, which made me wonder why I bother to tell the parents about all the requirements when they come to enroll their names in class eight. Most people did not seem to have heard a single thing that had been told to them the previous year. So this year, I did a lot less talking, and simply enrolled the names and told the parents about the probable fees. Since we would have to tell them everything all over again the next year, why do it now?

Along with all the people who came, my mother had to handle a continuous flow of phone calls. So when we came upstairs at twelve thirty, all five of us were dead beat. We took our baths, had some food, and all of us, including my friends fell asleep for two solid hours.

In the evening, my friends remained to help, while I had to go for tuition. When I came back at seven forty-five, they were still there. After I came back, both of them went home to Anushua’s place, from where Srimoyee’s father came and took her back. Back at our place, we attended to people till almost quarter-past-nine. There wasn’t so much of a rush during the evening, and things went on peacefully enough. By nine-thirty, we had packed up and locked up the house, and come upstairs for a long cold shower, a filling dinner and a cool bed. Thus ended the first day of admissions. After that, the days were not as hectic. People kept coming in a steady flow, but we could handle that well enough by ourselves. Then, on 2nd April we had the admissions for class eight. There was going to be only one batch, and too many enthusiasts, so there was some unpleasantness, which we are all trying to forget. But all in all, this year’s admissions were peaceful and satisfying. I only hope that next year’s will be even more so, so that there won’t be any unhappy memories at all.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Looking back on 2010

A very happy new year to everybody. May this year be full of joy, happiness and warmth, and success. May all the painful past of the previous year be forgotten, and a peaceful future be looked forward to.

Every year, I feel strangely overwhelmed on these early days. Only, this year the feeling seems much more intense and sharp. It is just that time, which flies anyway, seems to have traveled in the speed of lightning… Days seemed to have been only about fifteen hours long last year. There has been so much to do, yet I have spent so much time brooding. I have tried to patch up all incomplete works of the year in the last few days, but have obviously been badly defeated. When I look back now, scanning the days right from the early wintry days of January last year, which was not all so different from what it is right now, to the last few days of December, I realize that so much has happened during the year. So many things have changed my life from what it had been two years back, though many of the events have been pretty inconspicuous. From last year, I have started travelling alone by bus to school, and to other short distances. I can understand how much having to let me go must have worried and pained my father, so I am grateful that he did. I rejoined karate classes, and have been enjoying them much more than I did the previous time. The centre is very close to my house, the teacher is nice, and added to that my having earned the orange belt and frequent praises; the experience could have been no better.

I have strengthened the bonds with some good old friends and managed to shake off some who were not so good. I have thickened my skin much more towards what people might say to me. I have understood the value of silence, and I positively talk much less now than I used to. I have also discovered with some shock that I enjoy long periods of solitude. I say that I was rather shocked to find this because when I was younger I used to start throwing a racket even if I were left alone for a very short time! I have watched some very good movies, and read some very good books. I am very happy to say that I have managed to make a very unlikely person start reading, and she is already starting to understand the magnetic pull of a good book. This can be counted as one of my successes of 2010! I have found a few like minded people who read and think and reflect. I would love to find many, many more such people, but I guess their number will always be restricted to a few. Ah well…

I have almost completed an entire year in school without too many complaints from my teachers and classmates. Some of my closer friends have been a bit bothered about my having become quieter, but nothing can be done about that. People do change. I have also had some very new and wonderfully exciting experiences. Some have been intensely personal, and could hardly have been any better than they already have been. The others have been less reserved. The best of those experiences have undoubtedly been the starting of this blog and my joining my father’s classes. Other than that, I have had the very sweet experience of keeping a dog at home, and the very heart-breaking experience of having to part with it as well.

I have experimented with quite a few things. Some have turned out to be utter fiascos, but others have come off well enough. Others still I have tried and failed, but have decided to try and try and try again until I do succeed, one such thing being trying to talk in a single language fluently and continuously without lapsing into another. Another is improving my hand-writing, and another is reading more Bengali books and forming a strong base in my mother tongue and its age old culture and heritage.

All in all, 2010 has been a fulfilling and eventful year. It has been a year that I have been able to spend without having to feel ashamed about too many things. When I look back, I have a happy, proud feeling. And the best I can really hope for in this new year is that when, another year later, I write a similar post again, I may be able to feel even prouder and happier with myself for my activities all this year round.