Thursday, 13 February 2014

Not Smoking in Public in Kolkata


On February 10th i took the decision not to smoke in public. It is a huge step for an addict especially for one in Kolkata. Here the rate of smoking in public is higher than any place i have been to. Back home it wasn't even possible for me because people would approach me thinking i was a prostitute or to moral police me. That way home was better. I don't think it matters that people ask you not to smoke in public because you are a girl. It's okay. Nobody should smoke in public. Ideally nobody should smoke. I know i will quit one day. I hope it happens before nicotine gets the better of me. 
Was reading in front of my department that day. An Equal Music by Amitav Ghosh. The book is a thriller. My definition of a thriller is a little out of the conventional, so don't take my word for it. I was brought back to the real world by the most gentle touch on the shoulder. It was an old friend, a senior-D. Were very close for some time and had fallen out for over a year. But when he touched me like that i felt it was by someone who knew me in and out. Who liked being near me. Who loved me. He wanted a cigarette. I had to turn him down. I later thought of inviting him over for lunch just because of that beautiful touch i thought most men were incapable of. Then dropped the plan. Have always been bad at starting things afresh, maintaining good ties with people etc. 
With the new year i had also decided not to waste food. This meant i would have to keep a few things in a refridgerator. My coconuts, curry,mint leaves etc. are therefore distributed among three fridges in the hostel. One in the mess in first floor, one in Al's room in ground floor and one in my neighbour and friend Mith's room in second floor. Every day a dish or two are born out of ingredients from one or more of these. Its a montage, a film student would like to say. 

So for the cabbage thoran for the day that D missed due to my horrendous social skills i went to Mith's room for the coconut. We talked for a while, she had just been back from MIFF in Mumbai. She casually asked me what i thought of a beautiful orange and green [great combination of colours this is, if you hadn't noticed already] jute bag hanging precariously on her cupboard knob. When i said what i thought she said i could have it. Polite no's. But my eyes watered. It had been long since someone did that to me. It had been long since someone touched me like D did that morning. Everything added up. I cried even after reaching my room. 

At night after the screening when i told A Leo Pou of the new decision he said he was going to gift me a flower pot. I forgot to collect it from his quarters that night. He had inspired all of us by making a beautiful vegetable garden behind the doctor's chamber and adorning the parapets of both his balconies with lovely flowering plants. The next day he came all the way up my room and gave me one of those plants. Purple. Lovely. Now sits smugly in my balcony. His documentary 'My Grandpa's Home' had been screened at MIFF and we talked about it for some time. It was about his grandfather who was the last member of his tribe not to have converted to christianity. A lot of people were impressed by it, he said. I was very happy for him. He then took me to his vegetable garden to pluck peas for his dinner. I got some too. Also gave me a mint sapling. I hope it flourishes. 

The gifted pot

Summer is on its way. I hope to get a single occupancy room soon. Even thinking of feigning some kind of sickness so that they are forced to give me one but truly out of ideas for it. As soon as i get one i will start on that long time dream of a vegetable garden. These are the things which will help keep yourself sane in this maddening shit pool. One has to have some fluffy couch to sink in at the end of a tiring day and here every day is one.


  1. beautiful plant... :-) love the purple colour...reminds me of the novel always...great piece of writing...