- Antara Dasgupta I stand outside Ballygunge Maidan Camp, waiting, my earphones in, and look at the neatly ordered row of plants. A truck rolls out of the gates. Two Panic! at the Disco songs later I can see Navika coming down the path. The main path is lined with trees on both sides, just like my own street. Walking down it feels familiar, but so different. Everything is planned , down to the colours of the flowers lining the walkways. I can see nobody else. Everything feels a bit unnatural to me. I am used to being surrounded by a sort of beautiful disorder, the improbability that comes with lots of people. I am unaccustomed to this much order. Everything is calm, but it’s an odd sort of calm. And I wonder what the calm has in store for me to uncover. As we walk through, Navika tells me what happens here, like she’s gifting me snippets of the real stories of these spots that stay hidden to my foreign eyes. I hear about school ,and the parking lot where everyone likes to bunk, her jogging path. I see the beauty parlour that nobody actually goes to, and the gym, and the little pond she likes to sit near. And I slowly start to actually realise that people live out their lives here, in this neat, ordered place. I know that, of course. It just doesn’t really set in till Navika helps me to really see the place. Helps me to find all the little bits of human lurking behind the neatness of it all; like a pen, a notebook and a patterned coffee mug on the desk in an unnaturally tidy room, like a photograph on the wall of an office cubicle that is identical to a hundred others on that floor. The little things that hint at people. Things that give you little pieces of just-like-me, which are comforting. They also help you start to really see a place, because what is a neighbourhood if not the people that live in it?
little pieces of entire lives
- Antara Dasgupta We step out of the car and it strikes me almost immediately how much is going on. I realise that I know, without even looking, that the man in that little shack a few steps away from my building is almost certainly making someone a roll or noodles. That the water truck from the municipal corporation standing there on the road means that those little boys and girls will be waiting to fill up water, some in tubs that are almost bigger than themselves. That there is a circle of friends standing and chatting on the other side of the road, and Milon Kaku will go join them as soon as he parks the car. I realise that these are things I experience everyday and have come to expect to see, without even knowing that I expect them. Suddenly, now when I am here to show Navika around, I notice things that I usually take for granted. When I take her through the gap in the blue and white fence outside the lakes, I notice the people playing football, instead of my mind dismissing them as an everyday part of the scenery. I notice the artists sitting under a tree, sketching away intently. I notice the squirrels scampering up and down the trees and the cormorants on the lake. I notice that tree hanging over the lake, and the bench nearby where I sometimes sit to stare out at the water. I notice the people doing yoga, the group of ladies with their mats spread out on the ground, and the man selling chaat. We come out of the lakes, and we’re walking around, and I look at the buildings that I’ve seen so many times while walking to a cafe to meet a friend. We walk past Lake Kalibari and I peer through the glass behind which there are sweets to be used as ‘proshad’. I pat the dog that is often on the footpath in front of the Birla Academy of Art and Culture. I realise, while introducing Navika to the place where I live, the sheer amount of life there is everywhere. The absence of the lively buzz of people living out their own lives, that feeling of something being missing that I experienced where Navika lives, made me understand how familiar and comforting it is to me.
- Antara Dasgupta and Navika Pedram If asked what our number one desire in life is , a typical answer would be wealth , fame ,knowledge or perhaps love . But if we analyse these answers as well as the reason why the respondents answered so you would find that it all sums up to wanting to be independent . Independence is being able to shape your life with regard to personal priorities rather than external constraints or pressure . Everyone wants that don't they ? Freedom to me is a very important aspect of my life . I am always debating with my parents about how they don't let me make my own decisions and how there are too many constraints. Everyone is unique and have different vocations thus I believe that it is mandatory to give them a certain amount of independence to build up their character . I believe being independent makes a person confident and responsible . They learn how to claim their success as well as deal with their loss . Independence is a funny word. We love independent choices, but independent of what? I think about it. I begin to realise something scary. I begin to realise that almost none of the decisions I make in the independence I revel in are truly independent at all. They are all based on and around what is expected of me. All the expectations are hardwired into how I think about things. So when do I think independently ? Choose independently ? Is it when I decide to read Philip Pullman today instead of Patrick Ness ? I don't know. Maybe. What other person could that possibly depend on ? And this is where my overthinking puts me in a bit of a spot. In the midst of my wandering thoughts I begin to think of myself as the end result of hundreds and thousands of circumstances that I have no control over, the result of the influence of every person I've ever interacted with. So, I decide that no, nothing I decide is independent of all these people. Would someone else that has had every experience that I have had, down to writing this very piece be the same as me? React to things the way I do ? Have the same thoughts as me ? Thinking about this confuses me a great deal and I am utterly befuddled, because I am almost unable to understand some of my own thoughts, which makes articulating them just that much more challenging. From thinking about independence in my daily actions, I have been carried to thinking about my independence in my existence, and I am quite certain that this is going to follow me in my thoughts for quite a while. Meanwhile, I suppose I shall have to take comfort in deciding what to wear and what to eat and where to go while trying to avoid thinking about who or what it is that has resulted in me.
- Siddhant Shree Vodela First of all, the definition of independence from my point of view is when you are free and can live life to its full potential. If I was alive during the “British Raj” or the time when the British ruled over my country, India. I would be stopped from walking on a particular road or from entering an A.C restaurant just because I am an Indian! Even though it was my own country. We owe this free and happy life of ours to the brave men and women who dedicated their lives to free our country from the Britishers. Perhaps independence is craved by many like a Tiger in a local zoo or a convict sentenced to prison or even by a man trapped in his mundane life. Can Independence be seen in different perspectives? Yes maybe it is possible, an animal trapped in an enclosure might be wondering if we are the creatures who are trapped in an enclosure. Though it is great to be independent but we have to understand that our true independence depends upon the independence of others. THE END
Behala at Twilight
- Orshiya Sarkar My mind says, “It's nice to be in a brand new place.” My hearts says, “Visiting this place is something I've already done.” Wonder at the familiarity is etched on my face Because Behala is almost exactly like Dumdum. The car moves along the crowded Chowrasta As Sakher bazar greets my eyes. I wish the car could move a bit faster. Congestion is taking up all of my time. Déjà vu fills my head but I am jarred Back to reality as familiar sights Are absent, even if I look hard Because this is not Dumdum but Behala at twilight.
A strange familiar place
- Orshiya Sarkar Coming back from a place that left my mind reeling, The area around my home seems to be strange. I cannot identify this different feeling But I think that something has caused it to change. Was that alley there before? I wonder where it leads. And those shops, have they become more Since the last time I gave those dogs a feed? Why do I feel my surroundings have shifted? Shouldn't my home have remained as before? Why does it feel that my thoughts have just lifted From deep within my racing mind's core?
- Orshiya Sarkar All alone at lunch, No one was around It felt like a punch. I wanted to be found I wanted someone, anyone. To come looking for me. Someone with whom I could have fun. Someone to want my company. Was I not enough? What made me so strange? Making friends was tough. I wish things could change. Something caught my eye, A big word in bold I had no idea why But my mind began to unfold. One word on the board, Written in bold, chalked And then my thoughts soared. Independence talked. The thought of the day, Independence it was, Gave me something to say And freed my heart from loss.
“You are free,” the word said. “You are your own person.” Finally, my shackles were shed My fears were all gone. And I sat there, all alone With newfound confidence. My need for company was done I was INDEPENDENT.
- Nikita Jalan For someone to be made entirely out of their ideas and opinions is one of my definitions of 'independence'. It may also refer to confidence. Confidence to stand tall in the shadows. Confidence to listen to the whispers from unknown sources. Confidence to reach into the bottomless depths of the mind. Though, despite having found a few definitions about independence, at the same time, it feels as if it is impossible to do so. As if, it's not meant to be defined at all, but to be relished as a feeling. Or maybe, it's not a feeling,but an abstract sensation. Everytime I try to find a firm idea of independence, I ultimately doubt it. All of my theories have been discarded. I have long since given up.
- Disha Nevatia Visiting Moomal’s neighbourhood was an exciting and beautiful journey. I went to her neighbourhood straight from school. She lived in a parchment coloured building. She lived on the third floor. She first showed me the riverside where her puppies gave birth to a litter of cute puppies. She also showed me the pond at the back of her house was a home to a number of fishes and birds. The pond was surrounded with trees making it a perfect spot for a picnic. She even showed me the area where she and her friends became adventurers and explored the debri. Next she showed me the street where she played badminton with her friends. This street was filled with tall trees. There were many small and hut-like shops in the slums. We ate food in a Chinese restaurant called Greenland China. After eating lunch we went to a puchka corner. My favourite part of the journey was when we went to see the cats living near her house. Moomal expressed her wish to live in a nearby bunglow just because a labrador lived there. Soon, the day was over and I had to go back to my own neighbourhood.
- Disha Nevatia The stranger walked on the streets. It was night time and a cold wind was blowing. The stranger wrapped the shawl tighter around him. The stranger was me. The buildings was tall and there were crayons scribbling on them. Most probably by the children The stray dogs looked up. Their eyes burning with unjustified hatred. I walked to the end of the street. The house on the right was blood red in colour. The house had a terrifying aurora around it, as if a ghost will come out of it to scare the bystanders. I entered Saud, a restaurant famous for its fried chicken. The chicken was so good I even packed some for the remaining journey. I even bought a soda from the paan shop. I entered the hotel again. Knowing that tomorrow I’ll be visiting another part of the same city, of the same world.
My Partner’s Neighbourhood 13 Deshapriya Park
- Moomal Majhee Streetlights flashing in abundance, Shadows lurking in the corners, and dancing across the wide lane, Cars passing by often, With loud honks and glaring headlights, Shops and salons adorn the sides, Memories haunt the streets ̶ Memories of friends who have left and who still stay, I see a bleak old house ̶ is it a haunted house? An intriguing unknown calls out to me, And a stroll through an unfamiliar neighbourhood…….
Looking at My “Para” with A Stranger’s Eyes
- Moomal Majhee I have always looked at my “para” (that is Bengali for neighbourhood) with a very fond eye. All trees and dogs and cats and birds! I showed my “para” to Disha, pointing out my favourite haunts and the interesting spots. It was a delight to explore my own “para” with a stranger, and to look at it once more, from an entirely new perspective. I asked her what she thought of my “para”, and her reply was something like this: It’s nature I see, Greens all around, It’s like the olden days
Have once more returned, We can take a deep breath, And it’s all fresh air! So many cats…. I’d love to live here >> It is heavenly to see a stranger appreciating my very own “para”. It made me fall in live with it once again. ̶ With love, From Patuli (my “para”)
LABYRINTH- EE BLOCK (MINe)
- Chitranjana Bandyopadhyay I live in a limit-less land. There are mosquitoes, and angry men in checkered cotton towels. There are ruminating thoughts that fester in between the rusted cable boxes. And there is a less than fragrant, less than wanted canal that runs parallel, to me. I live in a ludicrous land. There are thistles and thorns and an occasional mustard seed you’d find on a plate. There are wise men and wiser crows who’ve seen it all. I live in a linguistic land. You can hear broken Bengali and broken hearts along the staircases. You can also hear broken families becoming whole again. I live in a labyrinth-esque land. You need to know the specifics. There are twists and turns and you’ll get lost. But you’ll also get found. Now isn’t that the dream?
STRANGER THINGS- HA BLOCK (HER’S)
- Chitranjana Bandyopadhyay It’s niftier where she lives. All north breeze and espresso skies. That is to say, I’m lost there. There are trees more green that envy and more aged than wine. Yes, its niftier where she lives.
There are five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes in one year. Time slows down there. There, walking along the port holed paving, I was the most foreign creature the pigeons had ever seen. They looked at me funny, frightened. I was a threat, unwanted.
It’s strange, where she lives. The houses have two floors, with a garden attached. One grew roses, the other, weeds. Yes, it’s strange, where she lives.
Its calm, where she lives. Not a sound of a drill, or a street vendor announcing his arrival. It’s as if, there is a price for a voice to pay- A costly one. Yes, it’s calm where she lives. And she lives there well.
- Deveshi Bose Along the streets of Kolkata Along the city of passion and joy We admire the heroes From marvel and abroad Yet we never know or see For whom we walk free They are the unsung heroes Whom we forgot along the road
Imaginative experiences for children and young people through an engagement with the arts