Saturday, November 05, 2005


I shall recount a curious incident, which took place in my first fortnight in I.I.T.
First the necessary background. I am an alumni of D.P.S. RKpuram, a place with various claims to fame, some dubious ones at that. In my class, there was a girl. I would rather not name her, keeping in view her social standing in the institute. So lets call her A. i must mention that any resemblance of name to any person living or dead might be coincidental. Anyway lets not digress. She was a quiet sort of girl, always immersed in books and it was not often that we interacted. But still, I was her classmate.

As expected she cleared JEE at one go and landed in Chennai with an impressive branch. In the meantime I slogged for another year and barely managed it the second time. So I landed here, after a nerve-wracking year, 3000 km from my home, hopelessly looking for some help in the vast place that is IITM. Friends from Delhi had asked me to send their regard to their mates in IITM namely A and a certain Varun. Seeing the mammoth size of the place I gave up the idea of delivering regards. After all no freshie with his grey matter in the right place would go inquiring about the hostels looking for lost pals.

So there I was trying to adjust to the hectic schedule, almost forgetting that I had to meet a few people here. One of these days, it was a Wednesday morning if I remember correctly, I was walking down one of the CRC corridors when I saw A coming from the opposite direction. I did not recognize her at once. She had done away with her glasses and done something shocking to her hair. Nevertheless the change finally registered in my mind and before she passed by me, I exclaimed, ”hey A!” She looked up quizzically. My initial plans for the conversation was to go along traditional lines. Something like” hi A! How’s life?” Etc etc etc.

And similarly her reply perhaps would have been “hi, how r u? Which branch?” etc etc etc.But her incredulous stare somewhat unnerved me. I could not understand what should be the next suitable sentence. Finally I gave up and hoped she would take the initiative in furthering the conversation. She did not. After what seemed two minutes not much headway had been made. We just kept staring at each other. These are those moments in life when you fast run out of options and have no inkling what the next course of action should be. A’s quizzical look had slowly begun to give way to an irritated frown. Well, can’t blame her. No self-respecting girl can afford to look at a stranger in a crowded corridor for two minutes without any substantial reason. By this time the search engine in my head had come out with a perfect explanation for the apparently inexplicable situation. Viola! She hadn’t recognized me. At last I uttered the golden words,
“I am Sayan.”
No reply.
“Sayan Ganguly.”
No reply.
“Sayan Ganguly, DPS RKpuram, section E, third row first bench”, with a desperate coaxing voice.
A’s expression changed for the third time. An expression of relief mixed with slight guilt. I am not sure about the guilt part, I might have imagined it.
She said,”ah! Yes. Sayan. Yes. Sayan Ganguly. Yes. Good. So you are in IIT. “

I wanted to reply that no I wasn’t. I was actually on Saturn and she was just viewing my apparition, starwars ishtyle. But I decided to control my sarcastic instincts for the moment.
Her monosyllabic replies were not making the conversation more exciting and I had begun to feel that perhaps talking to her was not among the better ideas I had that day. Suddenly she broke into a laugh and said, “Hey, I hope you don’t mind that I did not remember you. You were in my class, weren’t you?”

That did it.

I muttered with clenched teeth,
“No, not at all. Why should I mind? Anybody could make such a mistake. No problemo”.
Hence making the biggest understatements of my life, I decided that the time at come to draw the curtains on the wonderful rendezvous. I looked at my watched and gave a loud exclaimation , ”yikes, I am late for my class, gotta go. sorry. Will catch up later.”

And hence the meeting ended on a friendly note.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Point To Ponder Over.........

"I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem their native self culture and they will become what we want, a truly dominated nation". - Lord McCauley (in his speech of Feb2, 1835, British parliament)

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Sevoke. Will I ever be able to actually grasp the aura of the place? The place beckons me again. And the beckoning brings back all those wonderful memories I have of that place.

The forests.
The river.
The mountains.

The road.
The bridge.
The army trucks.

The tea.
The plate of steaming momos.
The bhutta.

The chatter of friends.
The speeding car.

The sense of solitude and company together.

And me....

Everyone has a place, where when they visit, experience something which inspires them and gives them a sense of peace with oneself. Growing up in a place like Siliguri enables one to view Mother Nature in her full splendor. Whether it is the mighty Himalayas or the enchanting Terai forests or even the fickle rivers, it’s a place which entices the human mind and body. Every time you go, you discover something new. Something more beautiful. For the umpteenth time your convinced that this will be the most beautiful thing you will ever see, only to be proved wrong on your next visit.

Sevoke will always hold a special place in my heart. It might not be the most beautiful place I have been to, but it has some strange stranglehold over my senses. When I am there it seems my life has come to a still. I never want the moment to end. It seems as eternity has set in and nothing can go wrong now…

The drive to Sevoke takes about thirty to forty minutes depending on how fast one drives. Negotiating with the impossible traffic of Siliguri is a challenge I always enjoy. The traffic in the city, like in most Indian cities has absolutely no regard for rules. Yet there is an amazing sense of order in the chaos. As soon as we begin to leave the city limits, one begins to notice the drastic changes in the immediate environment. Houses made of wood on high stilts. Traditional Nepali attire replacing the otherwise predominantly Bengali clothes one sees in Siliguri. More Buddhists monasteries than Hindu temples. This sudden change within a few kilometers make one seem as if he has crossed over in to some other country. But it’s just the suburbs of Siliguri, filled mainly by Tibetan refugees, Nepali laborers and Bhutia immigrants. The nature of siliguri and its surrounding areas is truly very cosmopolitan. Inspite of being the second largest city of Bengal, the city is not predominantly Bengali. Nepalis, Marwaris and Bengalis are the main communities with healthy percentages of Sikhs, Sikkimese and Bihari. All these diverse cultures give the place a unique feel.

As soon as we are out of the city, the omnipresent army camp comes. Siliguri, thanks to its strategic location is surrounded by army camps. It is impossible to leave the city without going through any one of these camps. By the time one weaves through the camps, he will realize that the redoubtable Terai forest has engulfed the area.

The Terai truly is a standing proof of the axiom that the most dangerous things in the world are also among the most beautiful. Driving along the empty road with towering Sal trees on your either side, dense foliage hiding the secrets of the jungle is an experience one has to go through to realize the sense of thrill. On most of my visits I stop the car at one side and listen to the sounds emanating. The pregnant silence interspaced with the clamor of the cicadas. A silence so full of imminent possibilities that you feel like waiting there for ever for something to happen. After a spending a few moments I embark again toward sevoke.

The drive through the forest is a long one. Surprisingly, the road here is always in an excellent condition irrespective of the time of the year. So it makes the drive all the more enthralling. Just when you begin to think that the forest will never end, there emerges a sudden downward slope, the forests clear away as if magically, the Himalayas till then hidden behind the high trees emerge from nowhere and before you lies the most enchanted river you will ever see- the Tista. The sight springs up so suddenly that for the first few minutes a first-time visitor will be struck dumb. Even for a regular visitor it’s not something unattractive. This was the place which we call Sevoke.

Sevoke is placed in an amazing setting. It’s the point where the Himalayas end and the tista makes her first foray into the great plains of north Bengal. There is a railway line running right along the mountain edge and an exquisite steel girder bridge running over the river and connecting the Terai to the Dooars region. A little behind the railway bridge, someway off is the road bridge, also popularly called the coronation bridge. It was considered an architectural wonder when it was first built in 1930 because of the single arch holding the bridge together.

Now something about the great Tista. The Tista is undoubtedly the biggest and most fearsome river in north Bengal. Having its origins in the formidable glaciers on the Sikkim-China border, it winds its way through narrow gorges and valleys in Sikkim before emerging in the plains at sevoke. From their on its gathers in size and goes on to Bangladesh to join the brahamputra.

to be continued.......