As I walked through London…

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My London,

I have always talked about how I have found my Paris in London. The statement might not make sense to most but over the years I have learnt to ignore this set of ‘most’ and pay more heed to the people who make ‘my kind of sense’. I have always expressed through words written better. From the time I was told stories of myself trying to grab a pen with a tight grasp within my little fist, I remember being told how I liked to write words down rather than scream them out loud. I have sworn by imagination and floated in mushrooming passion inside my head. Through books and letters and notes and pictures, I have captured moments of London even before I set my foot inside Hyde Park. My first picture of why Hyde Park would look like it eventually did to me, was formed by a very important person in my life. I have constructed roads and paved pathways through alleys of London with him until I landed into the city I had always thought I knew.

You wouldn’t believe if I told you, would you? it felt like I had known the city before I opened the map. The routes, the subways, the Piccadilly line, the Baker Street crossing, the swift and smooth turns, they were all right in front of me even before I had locked the main door of 36 Hyde Park Corner apartment. I carried myself, a bit of my future and most of my imagination as I walked passed every gate and every street that morning and the next. My Hyde Park was right in front of my eyes every morning for 4 days and I could not have asked for anything better.

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Bookstores lined by Leicester square
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A sudden shop of polaroid frames and postcards in Leicester lane

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If you asked me my favourite place in London, I would hardly be able to mention one. It could be Russell square, the National gallery, the Waffles shop outside the museum, the alleys with lined stores of fish and chips, the ice cream parlour near Baker Street or Leicester square.

I think, now that I remember, I would want to stick with Leicester square. Somehow it meant the world to me to go into those alleys, past some smiling faces and capped men. The alleys were narrow and clean, leading me to a place so similar to Diagon Alley that I wanted to cry. A row of shops lined up, almost every shop had glowing glass windows, some had grilled gates to keep out dogs. A silence engulfed the alleys and it was as if a spell had been cast. These bookstores had underground storage spaces and of course I climbed down into them. These spaces had smells I could die in, happily. They were crowded with books and notepads, colours spilling over each other’s pages, hard-bound covers looking rock solid in a light-bright atmosphere.

As I was walking out of the alley, into the square where men and women sat on the floor drawing graphitti with more colour shades than I had ever seen, I wandered off to the pigeons who rested calmly on the streets and I hardly could stop looking. There were men playing the acoustic guitar and humming tunes they loved, there were babies running from one end to another, a merry fair as if being held within a muted music video.

I remember the pubs and the restaurants, the cafes and the umbrellas on them as clearly till now as I remember the last sentence of the Miniaturist I was reading last night. The memories and the words from strangers, the printed taxis and the fancy hats, London remains somewhere I would still want to reside. Fills the gap for me between myself and my generation. Takes me back to a classical tale and brings me back to vivid modernity all at once, at the same time.

Letters to London and letters about London, fill my diary pages. They always shall, my idea of romance, desire, passion, ambition and images, shall always start with London and end with it. Till I am able to go back to London and open the front door of my house beside Albert Hall, I will rest romanticizing about London and spare the narrowing eyes of my readers., who I am sure are disgusted with the overtly sensitive and elaborate descriptions of London that I put forth time and again!

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My London can pass off better than your romantic Paris any day.

 

 

Sonata, a conversation

It was a conversation of camouflage, confessions and comfort. This is not a cinema review, it might just be a letter, commemorating the art of conversations.

In the back of my mind, I had decided to start writing about this cinema, soon after I watched it. It has been a month since then and today as my examination is approaching more rapidly than I thought it would, I have decided to sit and write about conversations, about the bias that the cinema celebrates, the gorgeous woman Aparna Sen is and about the subtlety of relationships that the cinema celebrates.

The last time I remember discussing the upper middle class setting, was inside a cafe, fighting my heart out with a friend of mine. He criticized this way of subjecting bangla cinema to an upper middle class bias, said it reduced the viewing of cinema, narrowed down perspectives and I fought. I remember fighting so hard with him that when he said ” Bangla cinema is dead” I almost got up to leave. The conversation had started with me wanting to watch Sonata.

The cinema was not near to perfect. Navigated itself and confided itself to just one setting, too many words, too many emotions. Very upper middle class bias, pulling in clouds of melancholy in every moment. It also showed sensitivity. So much sensitivity that after a while, the bias, the perspective, the confining, all started to kind of match to my comfort and settle itself down right within me.

The idea of transit lounge got me thinking on the other hand. Not that I thought their relationship to be showcasing any romantic side, not like I was supportive of very directly altering of stereotypes, too evident, too forceful. But, somewhere, happiness and moments of bliss with the transit lounge, going back to the cycle of mistakes because we are all slaves of our own emotions. The conversations were all too classy, too grey-y, too upper middle class like. But, I loved every bit of it. I did.

Sonata, definitely made me sad. Very sad, because it was meant to make all of us sad. Sitting there in the audience with hardly a handful of other people, I wondered whether Bangla cinema is indeed dead. Then, well, I realized, commercial running should be the last thing on my mind when I am defining ‘good’. sonata-movie-review-759

Parched…

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When I began watching this cinema, early in the morning out of a rather sudden impulse, I was definitely expecting a strong message but not really a strong story.

Most of the time, when I try to sit and review any cinema or a well-written book, I am left dazed by their after thoughts rather than specific scenes that depicted certain strong yet subtly put opinion and information. Today, as the very first scene unveiled on the screen, with the bus taking the two women along and the veil on the woman’s head flew away every time the wind slapped across her face, I sat there re-watching the scene many times over after the movie had ended. Sometimes, perhaps, some scenes, bring in stories in themselves. Perhaps, I watched and re-watched that scene after the movie was over because somehow the end and the beginning brought into me the same exact message despite completely transformed circumstances.

There were ample times, in the film I felt like life of women still remains such a joke, every where. With all modernization creeping into our veins and apparently transforming our minds, women are being allowed and often motivated to work outside, earn and be independent. But, on another note, just a passing thought, motivated to work outside of our homes and even return late into the night only after successfully juggling the expected responsibilities indoors, well, because that is exactly what is still expected of us. Being called a ‘Femi-nazi’ almost all my college life, I have been taught that, having an opinion and expressing it out loud, is the worst kind of mistake one can commit. But, alas! opinions are all I have and I would rather be vocal about them than let them sit and brood in the inside of me.

This cinema, gives hope. Some would prefer to call it utterly unreal and superficial. Three women, undressing from the taboos, secretly fulfilling their sexual desires, running away and returning at dawn without any signal of protest from the otherwise orthodox panchayat, seems as beautiful as it is in real, dangerous. The cinema shows the system of paying the bride’s family, as if intending to bring an object home. The cinema shows how there can be little specs of revolution from within an orthodox family, an orthodox village, from the wife of an orthodox husband.

There lies little moments of joy within the film, with every word she speaks out against her alcoholic husband, with the whore being called a whore because she lures husbands to her with her charms, with the act of being defensive and frustrated at the same time for something known to be not really worth the cost. It is her fault always, never the man’s. It is her fault because she is supposed to be the woman who has been made to save and form families from centuries and after only to be ordered and treated like commodities thereafter.

I watch films like these and I think why they don’t run, why they don’t make money, why they do not become as much popular in the conventional sense of the term. This is maybe because somewhere down the line, so many of us still think feminism is just about women. We still think, these are women-centric films made for opinionated women who invariably hate men, if they do not, they are not feminists enough.

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The Last Thing On My Mind

 

 

I do not remember when I first saw this advertisement, maybe on a friend’s timeline and ever since it has been on my mind, and has increasingly become a screaming match to my conscience.

In a society filled with stereotypes, the least we can do is not deny them. This advertisement right here addresses it all, hopelessly and shamelessly accepts it. When the media comes up with pathetic excuses for feminism and stereotypes, I vehemently oppose to it. I write about it and criticize it. But, when the media comes out beautifully like weaving out a butterfly and freeing it from the cocoon, I will with all my heart praise it. This advertisement by Tanisq, popularly known as Mia #bestatwork talks about women, yes, talks about how at home, how at our workplace, how at an internships and how everywhere else, we are blamed of getting away because we are women. It condemns what they say and puts it aside as being the last thing on her mind.

In a society like ours where they think we are promoted because we are sleeping with our bosses, in a society where we are criticized if we are not able to juggle work with home and in a society where we are not supposed to work late and have a screaming match not because we are women but because men are men and we are bound to accept them the way they are, ignorance is the best we can do.  A revealing cloth determines our character and our arguments determine our loss of modesty, where we cannot carry heavy boxes down the stairs because we are weak, the only way out is set the comments aside and keep them to be as the last things on our minds.

The advertisement puts one sentence each to every situation that we have to grapple with. It puts forth one set of words for every mess we are supposed to fix, addressing the worst stereotypes against women with every word. Through this wonderfully crafted piece which talks about us, talks about not our distresses but arrogance as the gift in return we have shamelessly wrapped to give to the society, it takes out a bit of me and finds out a way out for me, even if for a while. For a world like this maybe this is all we have got to offer to what they say.

 

Hence, “their fragile egos I bruise with my views because they think I am too big for my shoes” , well, they may judge my arrogance time and again but that shall be the last thing on my mind .

 

There has always been a problem with my idea of sexy

 

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When I used to be younger than I am, right now, I remember getting attracted to dark broad backs, bright beady eyes dampened with kohl and fuzzy hair with unshaven faces in the crowd. As a teenager as well, I remember calling things beautiful which never suited the conventional ideals of ‘beauty’. Why I had formed such bizarre notions, I do not know. Maybe I did, because, of the books I used to read, maybe I did because of the things mother told me during lonely starry nights or maybe I did because I was just a little weird from the very start.

I have always found black and white pictures, sexy. To use sexy in the true sense of the term, I have scrambled through books that fell off the backside of the shelf, I have inhaled the raw smell of the letters that my lovers had once gifted me and I have curled up inside my blanket, playing with the light that seeped through the cover, into my eyes. I have found all of that sexy.

When talking of humans, rather people, I have found dark skin very sexy. When soft curls have dangled on a broad back, some of it swiftly covering a part of the dupatta, I have looked on and found it sexy. I have found the watching of dusk carry itself into the night, very sexy. I have found booky people sexy. You can always identify them by looking them in the eye. Like the eyes have made their way into some lost dream, lost road. Enthralled by the smell of the old and the new, they tend to gulp down the pages like a hungry tide. I have found, intelligence sexy. Not bookish knowledge but I found analysis to be sexy, always.

Lastly, I have always found ‘thought’, sexy. The thoughts maybe a little dirty or largely distorted. These thoughts maybe about winds that sail or the buildings that echo, these thoughts may just be about a lusty encounter, thoughts which have been deep, weird and witty, have always been sexy for me.

With the world, losing out on real conversations, I wonder how much of my kind of ‘sexy’ still remains. Lust, is sexy for me too. Romanticizing of the body and not just sleeping on it, is sexy. I do not find women with half baked minds sexy, makes me a little bit of a snob though. I find good snob sexy as well. High heels and an empty brain, does not fall into my category of sexy.

Well, hence, my kind of sexy has always been rare and there has always been a problem with my definition of sexy!

Stereotyping generalized versions of emotions

 

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Well, in this writing today, I have wholehearted intentions to make it look like an introspection by the ‘society’. As I was pondering into the very idea of emotions, I all of a sudden happened to land up in a curled mist of bizarre, well, emotion bizarre. Emotions have undoubtedly been favorites of mine and so has sarcasm. Be it a wooden letter box fastened to some wall of a beautiful dead house or a leather bag dangling from the shoulder of a lady like figure. I have always ended up emotionally getting entangled, to the figure, the object or to their overtly breathtaking surroundings, only for the sake of customary stereotypes. I have lived as a stereotype.

Once in a while, I have tried to fit in a more rational approach nevertheless. I sincerely still try. But, often the attempt ends up into another mess which drives me and directs me towards another cascading set of emotions, kept steady, together. “Read at your very own risk my friend, because I seriously believe to have lost out on the art of being able to elaborate by the help of alphabets”.

Lust, love, give aways, take aways, companionships, and compatibilities all such equations have always confused me. I am society and I like to be comfortable with habits that have always been mine. I like to measure emotions in terms of a judgment scale and I rarely hold a neutral point. The emotion is either nearer to being a sin or closer to being a well accepted norm, thus far away from sin. If I happen to accept it, it can be measured far away from the notion of sin if I happen to want to let go of it, well, feel your emotions at your own risk. Lust to me is like a deserted storm, something everyone is scared of. Something someone or anyone is afraid to be and afraid to take. Hence, a sin. I like to let go of it. I detest the notion of lust.

Feeling compatibility with the mind and the soul, very well distinguished in my dictionary, is not a sin. Feeling compatibility and self acclaimed satisfaction through the body, is a sin. Well, it’s a rule book and I like being comfortable with the way I have always been. Change is a farce.

Love is pure. Living with each other is not. An official declaration to me, is recognition and if unrecognized I prefer throwing the emotion into the category of sin. Living with a person after dabbing a pot of vermilion into a once used to be clean head, is recognition. A balcony of cold winds and a smile of satisfaction after a hard day, is not.

Emotions have been tangles dangling lose from the pleats of my skirt. I have measured them and the ones who make me, have broken them. I have lived and I shall. I detest change. I detest the emotions, they happen to lie unrecognized by a band of dissatisfied muggles, hence I detest it. I have forced to let go and give in to shameless adjustments only because I fear my measuring scale. If you have a problem, be the change yourself, I will hold steadfast. Because, well, change for me is surely a farce.

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🙂

 

Is it about Un-growing or growing up?

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             …..Now the shadows beneath the street lamps floor the pavements.
the shadows walk through the pavement just as the body walks on the street
then suddenly,
like a smoke riding an ocean wind into darkness
the shadow mixes with the body and walks away
walks away into some lined imperfection

the morning comes and goes
before it lifts its veil from her half sleepy face,
the newspaper boy throws a bundle making a thudding sound on my balcony floor
the crows travelling on the cleaner’s van, make a shrilling caw
an array of windows open out to the streets
all together at once and sometimes in successive melodies

it is all in a cycle.
travelling from within distanced faraways and unseparated woods of silence
it is like growing up
and un-growing too

can we ever really say, we have grown up?