12 September 2020

Swami Agnivesh


Swami Agnivesh left this world on 11th September 2020. It was really sad to hear this news. May His soul rest in peace. I only met him once on 9th August 2010 at Lalgarh in West Mednipur. It was a Monday. There was a protest gathering against the evil Left Front Government of West Bengal. In those days the CPM led Left Front was in power in Bengal. But it was quite clear that they would be kicked out of power in the next Assembly elections. Anyways, the protest gathering at Lalgarh was attended by political personalities like Mamata Banerjee and by members of the civil society like Swami Agnivesh and Medha Patkar. But this gathering was not under any political banner. 

I still remember that day very clearly. We all organised ourselves and met at Esplanade by 8 a.m. There was a huge convoy of cars. A lot of people had gathered. There were also a lot of students from Jadavpur University and Presidency College. We left Calcutta around 9 a.m. and reached Lalgarh around 1 p.m. In the Tata Sumo in which I was travelling, there were also Joy Goswami and his wife, Pratul Mukhopadhyay and Prasun Bhowmik. Throughout the journey they discussed about everything from politics to poetry. It was really nice and enriching to be a part of that discussion. The journey to Lalgarh took almost four hours. There was an element of risk in visiting that place in Jangalmahal. 

Lalgarh at that time was under Operation Greenhunt. When our car entered Lalgarh, an officer of the paramilitary forces recorded who was inside the car in his video camera. He did the same thing for all the cars. Medha Patkar was travelling in the car which was in front of us. It was a very very very hot day. It felt as if fire was coming down on us from the sky. There was a big stage. A lot of local people had gathered to hear from Mamata Banerjee, Medha Patkar, Swami Agnivesh and others. Before going on the stage, Medha Patkar first went and talked to the local people there. She also visited a few nearby mud huts. She also spoke to the journalists. 

Once the stage meeting started, I was behind the stage. I met a lot of people whom I had known during the Singur - Nandigram movement. There were a lot of old people too. Some of them got sick due to the extreme heat. I escorted an unknown old man to our car and gave him water and also poured water on his head and asked him to take rest inside the car. It was tremendously hot that day. After everyone finished their speeches on the stage, the meeting got over. Swami Agnivesh came down from the stage and started interacting with the soldiers of the paramilitary forces. He asked them about their families and also asked them from where they came. He treated them as normal human beings and not as soldiers. I met him there and shook his hand. He had a calm and sweet smile on his face. He was dressed in saffron robes and also had a saffron turban on his head. 

Around 4 p.m. we all started leaving the place. But we got stuck on the narrow road in between the jungles for almost two hours. There was some huge traffic mismanagement and a whole convoy of cars got stuck. Finally around 6 p.m. the convoy of cars could hit the national highway. By then it was totally dark. The journey back was tiring. But by evening it was a lot cooler. It was amazing to look up in the sky and see so many stars. We do not get to see so many stars in the Calcutta skyline because of pollution. But that evening it was really mesmerizing to see a sky full of millions of stars. Our beautiful planet Earth is so tiny when compared to the vastness of the Universe and still we stupid human beings have made this place a living hell for everybody. Finally I reached home around 10 p.m. I took a shower, had my dinner and went straight to sleep...


26 June 2020

Again At Park Street


Last Saturday, that is 20th June, I again went to Park Street. First I went to Kwality Restaurant. I don't exactly remember when was the last time I had gone to Kwality. I usually go to either Peter Cat or Mocambo in Park Street but now I am thinking that from now on I will go to the less visited restaurants in Park Street. Kwality was almost empty. After I entered a few more customers came inside. I ordered chicken biryani. The food was good but nothing extraordinary. 

Then from Kwality I went to Flurys. There I had a cup of coffee. It felt so nice to enter Flurys after so many months. Flurys was 50% full. It was nice to see customers inside Flurys. I sat near the window and looked at the passing cars and the passing people on Park Street. I really love spending time inside Flurys. Next time I will have their 'All Day Breakfast'. Haven't had that for a long time. I still remember that Flurys had reopened on the Christmas Eve in the year 2004. There was a long queue in front of Flurys that evening. Before that it was closed for quite some time due to renovations. In those days there was 'The Tea Table' also which was diagonally opposite Flurys. Everyone used to call it T3. That was also a nice place to hang out.  

On 22nd June, I went to Apeejay House for some official work around 4 p.m. From there I did not feel like going back to office therefore I went to Cafe 42. This new Cafe is on the balcony of Ilish Restaurant which is on the intersection of Park Street and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road. At Cafe 42 I ordered fish kabiraji. The view from the balcony was very nice. This Cafe opens everyday at 4 p.m.   

From Cafe 42 I took a walk throughout Park Street and smoked a few cigarettes. It was sad to see that my old favourite Olypub is still closed. I am really waiting for Olypub to open again. I feel like having the beef steak and chicken-a-la-kiev at Olypub again. I have been going to Olypub for the last twenty years. I had my life's first beer in Olypub. I have so many fond memories of Olypub. Eagerly waiting for it to open again.  

After the walk, I went to Barista to have coffee. It was nice to enter Barista after so many months. I think Barista had opened in Park Street in the year 2000 or 2001. Previously it was on the other side of the road. There used to be a black Signature acoustic guitar on its wall. The price of coffee started at 50 rupees in those days. I still remember that in the year 2002, me, my first girlfriend and a friend of hers had gone to Barista and we had a lovely time there.   

After having coffee at Barista I walked till Park Circus and smoked a few more cigarettes. From Arsalan Restaurant I bought a packet of mutton biryani to have it at home. From Arsalan I took an Uber and came back home.   

On 23rd June, I again went to Apeejay House for some official work around 2 p.m. After finishing my work I decided to have lunch at Trincas. There was not even a single customer at Trincas. I was the only one there. I ordered lasagna. The food was tasty. It was sad to see Trincas totally empty. The waiter told me that the live music performances have stopped too. I am really waiting for Trincas to go back to its old form. Since the fifties, Park Street has been the party street of Calcutta with live musical bands and also cabaret shows. Then the evil communists came to power in 1977 and destroyed the party culture of Park Street. All the restaurants were forced to stop their live bands and cabaret shows. Trincas was the only place where the live music did not stop even for a single evening and they showed their middle finger to the bloody communists. But now this evil Corona has forced even the mighty Trincas to stop their live musical performances. From the evil communists to this evil Corona!      

Yesterday, that is 25th June, I again went to Apeejay House for some official work around 1 p.m. From there I went to Mocambo for lunch. I ordered the Irish Chateaubriand Beef Sizzler. It was yummilicious. It felt awesome to enter Mocambo again after so many months. It was partially crowded. The last time I had gone there, I had ordered Chicken Sizzler so this time I went for beef.  

After lunch I went to my favourite shopkeeper at Park Street and bought a packet of 'Black' cigarettes. I wanted to buy a packet of 'Gudang Garam' but it was out of stock...