Winds of Change
This has been an eventful time, and a phase that I won't be able to forget in a hurry. A flurry of activities occurred one after the other, and each event that passes by seems to carry whisper that it'll be the last time for me.The school Marathon was the first of those. Although it's only the second time it's been held, the Marathon has already made an indelible impression on our boys, and it's a fun event for all who take part. I'm glad it has been reintroduced during my time in the school and not after I pass out. Although I fell and got myself badly bruised, running the Marathon was good fun.I've been attending La Martiniere Sunday for an extremely long time now...having attended my first La Martiniere Sunday when I was in class 3. The service is much the same as it used to be then, but there's something about St Paul's Cathedral, especially during that time, which lends an unexplainable aura about the proceedings. Having sung with the choir every service, I now wonder how strange it will feel to watch choirs sing without my bass vocal amidst them.The Inter-House Athletics meet is taking place day after tomorrow, and after years of watching the house captains lead the march, I will be taking my place amongst the other house captains at the head of the line. It feels good to hold the Macaulay house flag, and before long it'll be time for a new house captain hold it aloft. Elections for the Nature Club are coming up...and it's time we select our successors as the Executive Board of Directors. I will now badge the incoming NCL Secretary at the not-so-distant installation ceremony. I've to also hand over the reins of the Quiz team captaincy to my long-time teammate Debdeep Nath, having already called time on a decade long school quizzing career. And of course, I've to give my suggestions for next year's 6 prefects and recommend a House Captain from amongst them to take my place. My tenure's been good, and even greater has been the phenomenal ride of school life. The process continues as it always has, and now I look forward to ISC and CET, and hopefully NLS, Bangalore. Life's long journey has only just begun.
Minstrel's Evening used to be an annual event, where we celebrated Martinian musicality. This was first organised by the now defunct Minstrel's Club (hence the name), and later was taken on by Mr. Abraham Mazumdar and his boys. However, for various reasons, the event stopped occuring, and we went by 6 years without having a Minstrel's Evening take place.This year, when my good friends Varun Kishore and Bhaskar Dutta took over the presidency and vice presidency of a very inactive Music Club (which had started off as a successor to the Minstrel's Club), they had made the Secretary of the club. The three of us were involved in this show presented by the Reader's Club celebrating 40 years of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at the Seagull Bookstore. During the run-up to the show, we decided that we would be the ones to revive the Minstrel's Evening event, having a two part programme comprising the orchestra and the band which performed at Seagull.We approached the Principal, Mr. Sunirmal Chakravarthi, with only a vague idea of what would take place. He gave us the go-ahead, and even gave us a few pointers as to what we should be working towards. Thus, we began planning Minstrel's Evening.Varun and Bhaskar worked out the programme between them, and we had the posters designed and printed with a little help from Varun and his dad. Stephen and Steve, the mainstays of the school band, decided to present two acoustic renditions, while the orchestra were working out their own stuff. After a lot of pleading, I managed to persuade Bhaskar and Varun into playing a Bob Dylan song which would feature my vocals...initially we were set for All Along The Watchtower, which was changed last moment to Knockin' On Heaven's Door.We planned Minstrel's Evening as a quiet, formal affair, much unlike any of our school fests, and so we kept it simple. That's exactly how it turned out. I had a very simple job as an Announcer, and the turnout was quite decent. I got to sing more than I thought I would, providing vocals on Knockin' On Heaven's Door and Time of Your Life with Bhaskar, being part of the Choral piece Glory to God and providing co-vocals on Prithibi. The Beatles were most prominent on the song list, thanks to Bhaskar's inherent bias for the same. Stephen and Steve did an amazing job of Tears in Heaven and More Than Words, and were very well received for their rendition. The evening was brought to a rocking conclusion with Gautam Chattopadhyay's Prithibi...featuring a collaboration between the orchestra and the band and with the vocals of 6 singers...yes, 6 voices belted out Prithibi. The song brought to an end a very successful revival of Minstrel's Evening for the Music Club of La Martiniere.Music has an amazing power of it's own...otherwise, why would non-Bengalis like Kandoi and Gambhir etc, who didn't know even a word of the lyrics, be so moved by the song Prithibi? It is because music, when played from the heart, speaks its own language and communicates more than any meaningless phone conversation we can ever have."Prithibi-ta naki choto hote hote satellite ar cable-er hateDrawing room rakha boka baksho te bondi...Ghore boshe shara duniyar shathe jogajog aaj hater muthuteGuje gechhe desh kal shimanar gondi...Bhebey dekhecho ki, tararao joto alo borsho dure, taro dureTumi ar aami jai krome shore shore..."
That day was a momentous one by all means of reckoningA day the likes of which aren't oft recurringIndeed the portents were good in its eager comingI have since wondered if it'd ever be repeatingBut I never saw youYou were never thereI never once intended On catching sight of youThe wayfarer's call greets me in my endless wanderingsLike a madman in the streets I'm ever roamingAnd yet in the midst of all this I can't help rememberingOur solitary adventure in that momentous meetingBut I never saw youYou were never thereI just want to forget Any recollections of youCan I help being so unwary in my cursed emotionsOr should I have tried to stop what was already in motion?Impaled and cut deep by the wounds of passionI tried but I cannot suppress my heedless reactionsBut I never saw youYou were never thereI don't even want to thinkThat I could ever love youI never tried to even contemplate how things should beAt all times I was immersed in matters pertaining to meAnd yet now I realise as anyone could seeThat something strange and unusual has happened to meBut I never saw youYou were never thereIt's just not like meTo feel this way about you
There's something about Bong songs that have a separate power about them. They seem to capture emotion much better than any English songs around (barring Dylan, of course, but he speaks of thoughts more than emotions). Although I had an avowed apathy to Bengali ever since I first had it as a subject in school, I now find myself amazed at the sort of effect listening to these songs are having on me.Bengalis are, by their nature, an intellectual lot...and they are very romantic at heart. Although this romantic quality doesn't find much expression in the public eye, anyone who has read Bengali poems or heard our songs will readily agree with this statement I make. Bengali songs seem to capture emotions very well with their words and in their melody. However, I'm not ust restricting this to my own mother tongue. The only other songs I find equally expressive and powerful are old Hindi songs, a la Kishore Kumar and Mohammad Rafi. In their voices, one feels the emotion flowing - and that has a tremendous impact on the listener. It's something that is missing in later songs, which makes one doubt the sincerity of emotion in our times, causing artificial expression.Love is not just comprised of happiness and despondency. It is a bittersweet emotion...and for songs writing about such a powerful emotion, you need to have an understanding of its bittersweet nature. Somehow, I feel that in our times, we have lost the ability to truly love...we don't feel the sincere emotion of love nowadays.
Here, I must speak of a very difficult period for me...a time when I was addicted to smoking. This was quite a long time back, and recently I was reminded of that phase, so I thought I'd share my views here.I have a theory that people start smoking for various reasons...but mostly people take up the stick to feel comfortable with their inferiorities, insecurities and general tensions. The same was with me. At the time I started smoking, I had been wallowing in a great deal of self pity. I was extremely depressed with the way I saw myself, and felt greatly isolated from others. The only thing which provided me some sort of comfort from this was the cigarette. Smoking provided me a release, however temporary, from the thousand different things about the world and about myself that were playing on my mind. And since it did give me that sense of release, I kept smoking...which caused an addiction to the tobacco. I later realised that it's never good to be reliant on something for your mental peace...it's always better to attain it without the help of substances, which create a false sort of mental peace. It needed a great deal of will power and determination to quit smoking. Contrary to what some think, I had resolved to quit a lot earlier than I actually did...later events just strengthened my resolve to not smoke.I managed to kick the habit...and I've gone a very long time, smoke-free. I must confess that it wasn't easy, laying off something I've been dependant on...but I managed it. Since that time, I've had a couple of cigarettes occasionally, but now I find the taste of the smoke abhorrent, and the few times I've taken drags, I immediately felt like spitting because I no longer liked it.That said, I find that smoker-bashing has become a fashion, and those who do smoke get a lot of grief from others because of their habit. Since I've been through the phase of smoking, I know how the smoker feels, and what kind of a release they get from smoking...which is what causes their addiction. That is why I sympathise with the smoker, and although I don't smoke anymore myself, I don't discourage them from smoking. No amount of cajoling, shouting or discouraging will cause the smoker to quit...and even if it is a detestable habit, if you do all that it'll just increase his longing to smoke. It's like if I want to vote for Congress and then you put a gun to my head and say, you must vote for Congress - even if I would've voted for them anyway, I would not want to vote for Congress. It's the same way with the smoker. It's best left to the individual to realise what he should do with his life.