Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Patratu and the mountains in spring time

The road like a waterfall

What it means when its spring in the mountains? One of Kaleidoscope'a favourite songs is John Denver's Annie's song. His most favourite two liners from that song go like this: 'like a mountain in spring time/like a walk in the rain' someone is supposed to fill up Denver's (or perhaps Keleidoscope's) senses and fill him again.

Well, what mountains in spring time mean in New Mexico and how they whisper to the 'country boy' Denver is perhaps impossible for Kaleidoscope to imagine. He has never been to Denver's country roads, neither he can empathise him remotely. He, nevertheless has been through the forest in chhotanagpur hills this spring time and he is never shy to write as he experiences.

The highways, with provocative curvatures within a few moments of the journey began to fill Kaleidoscopic senses. Kaleidoscope didn't know about the place Patratu but heard it from one of the experiencers who fell in love with the place and perhaps found love in the place. Yes, Patratu embodies falling in love like feeling with brown fallen leaves, red palash flowers, light green mahua fruits decorating an ever changing pattern on the black bitumen. The white straps of lane divider called for a regularity and continuity. The entire highway appears like a love line which flows through every moment as Kaleidoscope was navigating. It opened up a new chapter of love affair with each passing moments! Yes, Patratu invites you through an unusual combination rocky mountain and deep blue sky forming alternative river banks through which to go availing a mystified highway. If kaleidoscope considers the highway to be the river, which time and again comes into his thought, the entire space transforms into that surreal beautiful landscape which kaleidoscope like thousand others used to draw and paint during their childhood drawing classes.

While the ola rental professional driver quickly understood the couples are on a pleasure seeking adventure he never exceeded the speed beyond 60 kmph. Hence, the spectacle could settle and fill the senses. At some point the road virtually jumps off the cliff towards the lake - which kisses the sky - the entire forest whispers - gosh thats Patratu. That waterfall like road shouts and challenges "come on get in here!." The lake where no one came at that time humbly submits and whispers the stories of rainfall through mountains. The Gangchil birds were waiting and roaming around aerially while the boat introduces to the lake and a small island nearby. The overlooking cloudy sky painted the canvas while thousand sheds of green complemented the 'mountains in spring time'.
It was fairy moments to feel water underneath, a few raindrops, accompanying Gangchil, thousand sheds of green surrounding the nature's den patratu.

A teastall nearby named 'facebook tea stall' reminds kaleidoscope about the world outside, the world back urbanite homes.

The spectacular sky in between the mountain peaks started to turn red. It demanded kaleidoscope to make his return and experience the mesmerising melting down of the loving souls of mountain, raindrops, fallen leaves, palas flower and smell of Mahua to become the one in darkness. Intimate moments approaching someone whispered to Kaleidoscope and so the car started to navigate once again. Kaleidoscope stopped midway when the sun was about to set to see fallen leaves talking about the year passed bye... the naked tree trunk bidding goodbyes and the setting Sun creating private sphere. Kaleidoscope could see the innocence of the new and colourful leaves! He left before the private affairs began - somewhere in the background its the Denver again 'you fill up my senses/ come fill me again!'
Those unexplored paths lying alone

highways and curvatures

Lake or rain in a bowl whatever they say

Hint of colour

Those provocative curvatures

One side of the bitumen clad river

A swift slope

Yellow eyed babbler on a palas tree

The witty facebook hotel

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Anthem, theater and a singular nationalism

Accessed from http://teekhimirchi.in/2016/12/national-anthem-singing-not-enough/

Kaleidoscope is experiencing an increasing shrinking of the space to be entertained. Being a regular visitor to the movie theatre he has no hesitation to say that yes, he enjoys the ambiance. When the movie on screen is not enjoyable he enjoys the play that runs parallel among the spectators. For example while watching the much celebrated Srijit Mukherjee movie Zulfiquar, one of the co spectators shouted at the entry of a celebrated poet Srijato: “Look it’s the Spine poet, writes in the facebook!” – so for a moment it was enjoyable. While he played the role of a backboneless cowered, a couple of lines were played inside kaleidoscope's  head in a loop mode “I am a human being, you too/ but the difference is in our spines!” It was difficult to stop being laugh out loud.

The real absence in the entertainment started to appear when one of the Kaleidoscope’s favourite songs the national anthem “jana gana mana” is made compulsory before the commencement of any movie. The problem is to prove you are a patriot now you have to stand inside a movie theatre, well Kaleidoscope doesn’t know what happens to those theatres where people enjoy b or c graded pornographies. Do you really need to stand before you watch pornography? How embarrassing it would be for the country which is popularly projected as the “mother!” kaleidoscope could remember many of his friends had embarrassing experiences of being caught in the act by their mothers! Perhaps most embarrassing experiences with pornography till you have to stand for national anthem before watching pornography at the theatre. Kaleidoscope wishes to do ethnography on it!

On a serious note the problem is whether you consider nationalism as an imagined community (Anderson), or impersonal society (Gellner) or ideology (Hobsbawn), there are expectations from the nation. Human rights, secularism, freedom of speech, syncretism and the like are a few of those. The depression is now you need to reinforce these sentiments (and you are miserably failing to do so!) which were always been there and actively practiced by the forefathers. Examples of Sayyad Ibrahim, translation of Mabharata as Razmnamah represents an atomic portion of the whole volume. While Indians are compressed between Caste, state and religion they are happy to stand at the movie theatre and see an orange clad man selling noodles or becoming CM. Territorial dimensions have always been porous and changing, Hinduism has always been multiple and so does the Muslim and other religions! So when you need nationalism to maximise your interest you tend to make it commonsensical to make others accept Brahminical Hindusim and undermine the rest at places and at others you play "jana gana mana!"

Kaleidoscope, nevertheless did not stop going to the theaters and he stands with others as he is supposed to stand often holding a bucket full of popcorn. The problem is when a movie like Rangoon uses other parts of the Jana Gana Mana people stood up and asked those who refused to. When Kaleidoscope insisted that this is not the national anthem, he gets a reply which makes him happy with the movie theater once more: “This is the old National Anthem!” Kaleidoscope knows it pretty well that movie theaters would never fail to amuse him whether there is a national anthem played or not!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Varanasi diary: A saint and a friend

Ghats do become lonely at times

Well Kaleidoscope is not going to give a five ten or fifteen pointer about Jogi who has just climbed up chair and is expected to saffronise the country. While there was no Jogi on the show, Jogi was there declaring how to rape, whom to rape, what to wear, where to install what and also trying to rewrite and make new history. A lot of others would continue to write on Jogi! Here Kaleidoscope will write something about a different sort of jean clad jogi at Varanasi. This gentleman roams around the ghats of Varanasi, belongs to an extremely renowned family which owns the worship rights to more than ninety nine percent of the temples there. Yes, Kaleidoscope met him on the Daswasamedh ghat when he was trying to take a few photos of the Sannyashis in the ghat. Let us call this gentleman Shiva.

Kaleidoscope watched Shiva buying a Betel leaf from the same shop which offers good cigarette in the day and marijuana in the night. Shiva was watching kaleidoscope buying cigarette after he finished his work with camera. It was late February and the mid day Sun was quite hot. Shiva asked Kaleido about the heat of the Sun and whether he feared going to Manikarnika ghat - the palce famous for burning bodies. Something clicked between them and they remained friends since then. However two stories Kaleidoscope would like share here about Shiva.

First, Shiva is very fond of alcohol but he needs to go away at least a fifty kilometer to enjoy a drink or two with his friends because he is supposed to be a priest. Shiva, does worship everyday and does it with utmost dedication but also loves to go frenzy with daaru, meat and other things. Once, in their early twenties they went to a restaurant about a ten kilometer from the city and drank. At the time of payment the restaurant owner refused to accept the money, saying "you belong to the holy family, how can I accept money." That was Shiva's biggest embarrassment and he had to run away. However, while saying this Kaleidoscope could clearly understand the challenge and pressure of being saint that his friend is carrying for so many years.

Second, Shiva had a love affair but obviously he had to leave her because of his caste identity. Shiva had to understand this dynamism in his early adulthood and has been repenting being born in that family for ever.

No, not everything has a conclusion and life is unpredictable so does this blog!

PS. If Kaleidosocpe feels like he might write about their joint exploration of the city. Until then do find Human nature inside every flesh and bone or caste and creed, brilliant or stupit. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

McCluskiegunj: Promised land, Imagined Community and the Unknown

With a sleepy mid day Sun, accompanying hungry stomach and an already awestruck but irritated driver we reached the place. McCluskieganj invited us with no excitement at all. The google map ends at a small station with low heighted platform. The typical arched station entry point painted black on yellow depicting the name "McCluskie-Gunj." The low heightened platforms indicating a place of not much importance for the railways as well. McCluskie's Gunj - the nostalgia in creative imagination unfolds and we followed the trail. Gunj - typically means a small town, larger than a village, usually a hub of activities - more often than not small business and redistribution center. The McCluskie-Gunj is not what the name suggests, its a place to make you imagine things which is not there, but one can always trace the trail.

Just like any other

There is a demand of an imagined history but the natural beauty of the place would engulf you as soon as you decide to reach the place. Yes the journey is no less exciting than the destination itself. The approaching road comes through undulations, green foliage and brown stems of growing Sal, Mahua, Kendu trees. Several red patches of palash flower depicting spring has a wild call. The love for wild is definitely going to enhance a hundred times as one reaches Jagriti Vihara - a school inside an undisturbed natural surrounding. The guest houses, dinning places, nursery would invite your soul to stay a while. While you walk through the fallen leaves, listen to the sound of unknown birds, you also feel the engagement of the local people, outsiders and forest in a complementary way. The Sun was up, asking to take refuge under a shed, but the call of birds kept us roaming around. We could look at fan tails and brahmani mayna as two unusual birds among others, however, Jagriti Vihara too seems to be deteriorating and there is of course a rise of the Don Bosco campus. The junior section runs on an now abandoned bungalow.

Typical Approaching road

Fan Tail - captured inside Jagriti Vihara

The call of the history started climbing up our feet, demanding amorous attention as we walked through the broken pavements towards the car which would take us to the St. John's Church. The Church declares "To the Glory of the God - Feast of the nativity of St. John."

A small script on the wall of the church

St John's Church

Yes, indeed the nativity of St. John and the gift of a space to worship, soul search for a small town of people who could imagine the place as their own! A quick look at the history would reveal an imagined space designed by McCluskie - in todays world he could be seen as one of the promoters with a creative imagination (of course a rare find!). The following advertisements supplemented by the fact that during 1930 about four hundred Anglo-Indians found McCluskiegunj as their promised land - a space of their own invites imagination of the time, space and narratives.

Advertisement published in news paper, taken from http://www.probashionline.com/holding-anglo-indian-settlement-mccluskiegunj/

The Home calling effect of the advertisement take from http://www.probashionline.com/holding-anglo-indian-settlement-mccluskiegunj/

We did not try to find out the Anglo-Indians, and kept our ethnographic selves satisfied with the fact that none of the families live here anymore. A few handful families which chose to stay, had to leave because of Maoist activities which allegedly targeted outsiders - and they were outsiders in every sense. We never wanted to meet them as whatever they wanted to say is available online and we could imagine how difficult it is to be treated like a living Museum object. Instead, we mounted on imagination, yes, Archaeological imagination (Long live Binford). 

The entire space of McCluskiegunj is a space that took up the question of identity seriously. You can easily think of the issue if you start imagining of a secluded space filled with people with similar origins - having parents one from the West and one from the East. The Britishers would never think of you as their own, and you will always be seen as an outsider by the native Indians. Hence, at McCluskiegunj, the marginals could find 'their kind', share 'their stories' and 'their space' in some tiny little township surrounded by mountains and forest - a space which does not have much to offer if you intend to earn resources and become rich. We could perhaps never be sure whether McCluskie thought of an isolated cityscape which would provide a refuge to souls which are already torn apart by the Britishers and "pure" westerners in their refusal, and "skeptic" gaze of Indians who fought against the British. Even in later period the fight continued among themselves based of caste, religion, region and what not! One can think of Anglo Indians as aliens under constant surveillance.

The whole narrative of McCluskiegunj as a space to contend, fight and accept one's identity becomes crystallized as we encounter the space where a Temple, Mosque and Gurudwara stands together. A space for Church is also marked by the conspicuous presence of a wooden cross. The Gurudwara is significantly smaller than the Temple and Mosque which are of equal height and almost same architecture. Gurudwara is significantly small and the Church does not exist - except for a demarcation and the wooden cross. 

The four faiths together, but only two is conspicuous

Temple and Mosque, from the Northern side, photo by Anwita
The Cross and demarcated area for Church
Does the difference in size narrate something which could ultimately depict a clearer picture of the promised land and great departure? We could think of restless souls in an imagined place seeing others making their way out. Would you chose otherwise if you are still marginal and allegedly threatened by the rebels, perhaps disturbed with the internal pressures as well. The fact that most of the Bungalows are taken over by their caretakers or are exchanged in pittance - indicates a complex and untold story to be tormented by multiple narratives aided with imaginations.  

What called off the day before the dusk was Mr. Jadav's regular act. Being in-charge of the temple he was present and offered a Muslim gentleman with incense sticks as he forgot to bring one. Both of them exchanged smiles, and we were watching the gesture and the story. 

Perhaps McCluskiegunj gives the words like 'imagined', 'lived', 'nostalgia', 'identity' its social significance. Perhaps there will always be trails as "A great civilisation is not conquered from within until it has destroyed itself from within" - Will Durant.

A few more shots:

Oriental Magpie Robin (Doel in Bengali)
Brahmani Mayna over Palash tree

Brahmani Mayna over Palash tree

Palash against the sky

All souls could rest beside a river - Dugadugi 

Important links:






Thursday, March 9, 2017

Letting go 12: Those memories of South Eastern Railways

There is nothing amazing or astounding in being engulfed into the memories. Its not just a statement but an experience. The only difference between kaleidoscope and several others is that kaleidoscope finds whatever experience he has as exceptional. He also finds above average spur of emotions to fill him. Often such emotions out runs him and flows all over his body and soul.
Here is another one and with so many different layers that he finds it intriguing. His journey towards  Ranchi, Jharkhand suddenly results in discovery of layers of memories. The most recent one of course is about his abrupt disjunction from the riverland. Kaledoscpe in his initial days of seeing the river from distance used to run on rails. While kaleidoscope had to get down but the river would continue to flow to a different direction. As it flows even today.
The widest span of Rupnarayan (the real river) could only make him awestruck and later he continued to enjoy playing with a dusky sky over the river in monsoon. He would think of coming back again and again towards the river. Although he had to leave.
The more he would travel to cross others including Kangsabati and Subarnarekha the older memories would crop up. Memories that once made a Kaleidoscope to watch a small station to disappear as the train didn't care. The station which formulated a lot of the beings as Kaleidoscope encountered 'others' in country liquor, intoxicating test of real ganja, ant larvae sauce and thousands of words and an imagined love affair with an impossible setting sun over a rocky river.
Memories no matter how everyday it seems is not going to leave kaleidoscope anytime soon. Meanwhile its Rupnarayan again and its time to go back to the love affair again.