North Bengal’s Secret Spellbook, Page 101: Village hues

Last night, there were fireworks – red, green and golden – erupting in the black sky above Rajbari Dighi. Hindi party songs reverberated from all directions and melded at the point where I stood alone on the veranda, surveying the horizon speckled with a hundred trees raising flag masts of scanty leaves. New year’s day…

Winter semester: a tea-maker’s recipe

I’ll just lay it out there. Imagine a cup of tea. It is made with not much expertise, but with enough care to retain the identity of the quintessential Bengali elixir in small earthen cups. It is supposed to go through a screening that would further expose it to the likes of high-end Makaibari breed…

#100Fireflies: November rains of fire

When October ended, I was genuinely displeased to not have made a friend in Kashmir, I felt bitter every time I woke up to crows cawing in dark Calcutta mornings because the alarm clock of the traveller kept going off inside me, I was too weary to go back to my text books, and I…

The Choir Loft, and other winter stories

For some reason, the very last visual memory I have of this one place – no, lifestyle – in Princep Street, is of long red woollen caps with a white ball of fur on the top of each. They were supposed to be Santa Claus caps – and, paired with smart, black blazers, they formed…

Kashmir #2: Of fall colours, yellowed pages and hushed Octobers

What a delicious phrase Robert Frost had created, “hushed October”. Think of a poem about autumn as a person. Don’t be so ambitious as to capture it in all its essence at first sight. Imagine it strolling towards you through fog. You see a silhouette. Your imagination explodes. That is what this one line of…

Kashmir #1: Daybreak road trips down Srinagar highway

22nd October I was just falling in love with Gulmarg when they announced that we were to leave for Pahalgam the very next day at four AM. That announcement did the impossible: it made nineteen Calcuttans rush through dinner. We barely slept for two hours, when we were packed into our buses with sandwiches, and…

Thamma, the Silenced Scholar

For the last thirty minutes, I tried my level best to hold back tears. Thamma didn’t say much. Not all stories are made up of elaborate details. I have been listening to this story for years now. I don’t believe anything grips me as more tragic – nothing in my immediate surroundings anyway. I believe…

As Autumn Draws In

  There is something about dusk on busy flyovers. The man on the truck chewing the betel leftover of his wasteful day, the girl in school uniform on the edge, waiting for a bus, hair arced across her forehead in sweat, the two young flickering Naxalite men blowing wistful smoke into the dry wind, the…

The twenties, and the not-twenties: A Playlist

Technically, I have been twenty years old for two days. Emotionally, it has been a while. I can feel it because it was not a science experiment. I did not put an age-tracer in my brain and have it change colour with changing perspectives. I only know, it has been a while. It is that…

How has Big Data helped us?

The Indian elections of 2014 saw a flurry of political startups explode. Namely, they comprised Voxta, Frrole and Simply 360. Frrole is a big data company based in Bengaluru. They have been known to filter numerous political posts on Twitter, and persuade voters. How this essentially captures the application of big data is remarkable. To…

Anatomy of Memories: Five Haikus

ANATOMY OF MEMORIES #1 Wooden heart atop Trembling tiles of vertebrae  Thatched eye weeps July #2 White wind caresses Fossils of summer leaves born From forest fires #3 The motionless dusk Spills the dust of old incense Like girlhood secrets #4 Thirteenth rainy year Our turquoise paper boat must Now in Shanghai be #5 Sun rises homeward The…