I had asked a professor here for a place where I could buy art material. I had laid my hands upon water colour painting some weeks ago and the brushes I had were of very poor quality.
This professor's story is that for a long time I didn't know that he was our our professor. He was somebody who was just there all the time. We would see him talk to other professors at times, sometimes have tea at Vimal da's, but most of us for some reason never thought he was faculty. It could be our casteism. I am not sure, because I always thought he was a friend of the professors', one of those film school pass outs who had failed to make it in life. I found lethargy in his walk. Anyway this man, SH, teaches graphics. We had a very interesting module with him where he took us through some interesting posters of movies. At the end of that week all of us made posters for our continuity in DV projects. I made one for one of the exercises I had done in the earlier practicals because I was trying to forget the blunder that my DV movie was. I tried to use Gimp to make the poster and failed. So I drew the poster and gave him. He said he couldn't accept that. But he was so kind hearted that looking at the poster I had drawn he replicated it in Photoshop. It looked like this. The exercise was called 'waiting'. The task was to show waiting without showing the clock. I don't know if I succeeded in that, but I liked the shooting process. My room mate, NN and my friend from the Dept. of Producing, Sri had come with me during the shoot. We were also asked to write about any poster/s which had intrigued us and I had written about the posters of 'Chaappa Kurishu'.
During our Art Direction module I had got to know that SH painted. That's how I asked him to direct me to an art material shop and he directed me to a place in Gariahat called Kumar's Concern.
On 8th September, Sunday, I set out looking for the place.
I took a bus to Ruby and another from there to Gariahat.
I am very bad with geography and direction. [Yes, whenever I say this to people here I get 'Then why are you in direction?' I think its a very bad joke. The question is valid, though]. So even though I had been to Gariahat a lot of times, I wasn't sure of where to get off. I asked the man sitting next to me. He told me the place and asked me where I was from. When I said I was from Kerala he shifted to English from Hindi. 'You came all the way to Calcutta just to study?' he asked in astonishment. I smiled. He asked me for how long I had been in Calcutta. When I said it was going to be a year soon, he was surprised again. 'One year and you don't know where Gariahat is?' I didn't know how to explain my problem with places, roads etc to this man on the bus. So I said that it was the first time I was travelling by bus to Gariahat and otherwise I always came by taxi. I felt rich for a while. In talking, I mean.
After getting off where he asked me to, I took a right keeping SH's instructions in mind. Like he said, everyone knew where Kumar's Concern was. But when I reached the place I saw that it was shut. It was a Sunday, I was a fool.
I was hugely disappointed. I had nothing to do in Garihat anymore. So I just took a walk and that ended in a disaster. Money-wise. I am sure anybody from a middle class/upper middle class family who spent some time of their student life on their folks' money will understand what I mean by this. But to most people here, it is a puzzle how people like me never have money for anything at all. Well, this is how.
Your folks give you money. Which is just enough PROVIDED you live a normal student life. Now THAT you don't. You have your bad habits. And the Government in all its good heartedness likes to curb bad habits so it periodically hikes prices of substances which cause them. This results in you spending more on your bad habits and less on the good things in life like food, cinema etc. You can never go for a movie in the multiplex just half a kilometer away. You cannot take a taxi even if you have 15 kilos of equipment on both your shoulders. You cannot eat out. But in this scenario, you also have your sudden bouts of shopping and spending. This is what results in guilt pangs for two days and utter poverty for a week before you lie to your folks about some bizarre class project which requires money. On Sunday, I had a bout of shopping like that.
The long walk I took on the pavements full of shops resulted in air tight containers for the kitchen, rice powder from Spencers (this is one of things unavailable in the markets nearby) and clothe clips.
I would have been really happy if I had stopped there. But I didn't. What I did is take a bus to Park Street. And walk. In Chaurangee Lane I met my already thin wallet's anorexic end.
I had glanced upon them many a times in the previous walks down that road. More than anything its the smell I like about them. But till that day I was pretty successful in controlling my shopping urges.
I ended up buying five articles. A wallet, two purses and two coin purses. The shop owner gave me a complementary key chain as well. I was really happy about the wallet. For a long time I had wanted to buy one. The one I was using was pretty good, it was dear to me. I was used to its comfort. There was the sadness of parting with it, but I made a choice. The relationship was turning abusive.
But the guilt trip lasted more than usual. I pacified myself with some papaya I bought there. It was really good. Besides that gave me the illusion of cutting down on food expenses. Back in the institute I accused the professor of rendering me moneyless with his grand idea of Kumar's Concern. I truly have no idea when I am going to buy those brushes. The leather batique items cost me 250 in total. It was a pretty good bargain and all that, but there is no end to student exigencies and contingencies and the month is long. All months are long. Here.
This is how my old wallet looked. It was made of jute.
These are the money purses.
It opens to look like this.
This is the big purse
This is the complementary key chain.
Yesterday, 29th September or something, I finally went to Kumar's Concern. That truly IS the place for all things art. I got them brushes and some colour pencils and a crayon set. I had a lot of sweets from Golpark. But, I lost my phone. Must have happened in the auto I took to Ruby. The sky was overcast, it was going to rain any moment. A classmate, S. Kar was in the same auto and he was pointing out the contrast between the white buildings and the grey sky. When it was about to rain that happened, he said. This was supposed to be some artistically valuable information so I had to pretend to listen. My classmate Deb Banerjee was calling me on my phone and I didn't want to pick up because I had a feeling it was for the tripod I was carrying which was stolen from the transit room. It in all probability was hers. So I put the phone on silent and as far as I can remember I put it back in the side pocket of my bag. But in Golpark when I was going to check if someone had called me, I realised it was gone.
By the time I had reached Gariahat it was pouring. I didn't have an umbrella. So when I reached Kumar's Concern I was soaked. The shopkeeper asked me if I came in the rain just to buy those things. I said it wasn't raining when I set out.
But my misfortune didn't stop there. Today I went out for a shoot to Shyambazaar. On the way back from New Garia station I took an auto to Peerless hospital. I lost my wallet in that commute. I had almost fifteen kilos of equipment which included a camera and a tripod with me and I must have lost it while I was trying to balance these , my bag and my wallet in the auto. So that's why the fifth article I bought at Chowringee Lane is missing from the sketches. I am going home (Kozhikode, Kerala) in the first week of October. So I might get some money to do some shopping for folks at home. I hope to sneak in a new wallet also to that shopping list.
Penniless and phone-less, I now feel like a bird or something. There is just sky above and earth below. Just wish I had pots of money somewhere in between them both.
PS. Thanks again to VK for the camera. The writing that has creeped into some of the pictures have all got the spelling of batik wrong. Its only now that i googled it and learnt the right spelling.