Saturday, 19 November 2016

Tum Bin

Watching movies during our Engineering hostel days was fun. Those were the days when laptops we made only for the CEO kind of people, and mobile phone users felt proud to carry one. Quite rarely though, but when any handset started to ring in any public place, owners didn’t accept the call immediately. They would take the phone in hand, had a closer look at the B&W screen, still ringing. Only after nearby people got to know that the particular person is having a mobile phone, the call was answered.

Our college was located at the outskirts of Guwahati city, and our hostel was at the extreme end of the campus, surrounded by hills. There was a time when only a single computer was there in the entire hostel, and unfortunately it was in my room. Initially, we used to bring movie CD's on rent from some of the video parlors in the city. They charged heavily for 24 hours, and any delay in returning was again a pain in the ass. Almost everyone loved to watch movies, but there were only a few who usually took initiative to bring the CD's, counted how many guys watched the movie, calculated the share accordingly, collected the money from everyone, and returned the stuffs.

The following semester many more desktops arrived in the hostel, similarly in all the other hostels of our college. Soon, latest Bollywood/Hollywood movies, along with the other category of movies which were on high demand, were available in the campus itself. Watching movies became easier and cheaper. But there were also issues with those pirated CD's. Apart from the low picture quality, there was also a much bigger problem. While watching, all of a sudden the computer got hung. We tried many options, but most of the time a restart was the only solution. Sometimes in a single movie session we had to restart multiple times. Guys usually avoided CD's with scratches on it, but sometimes even handsome looking CD/DVD was also capable enough in hanging the computer. 

'Would you like to watch “Tum Bin” movie?  My friend Rajat asked.

'Tum Bin? Is it a new movie? Never heard of it,' I answered.

'It’s a latest one. I’ve heard it’s a very good movie. If you want I can bring it, we can watch on your computer,' Rajat suggested.

I was a bit confused. Even though Rajat watched many movies with us, but it was for the first time he was taking an initiative. I said, ‘okay, let’s inform our buddies, we will watch together.'

Unlike him, he was a bit reluctant to watch it together with other friends. 'Too much crowd also spoils the fun. Everyone keep talking, we cannot concentrate properly.'

'But then our individual contribution would be pretty high in that case.'

Rajat smiled, 'That’s okay. You need not pay. Anyway, we will watch on your PC only.'

My confusion started to create ripples of suspicion in my mind. "How come Rajat is so much interested in the movie. He’s willing to bring the CD and also want to pay for it, alone."

So, in the same afternoon Rajat brought the CD. We watched "Tum Bin" together, only two of us. Even my room-mate, Nair, wasn’t present, he was not in room that afternoon. 

'It’s an okay kind of movie, not that great. What’s so special about it that you were so much interested?' I asked out of suspicion. 

Rajat smiled. 'I don’t know, but some of my friends said it’s a very good movie.'

Later in the night, I shared the experience with Nair. Both Rajat and Nair were from Mechanical branch. After listening to my words, Nair couldn’t stop laughing. He then told me the real reason behind Rajat’s interest in "Tum Bin".

"Tum Bin movie starred Priyanshu Chatterjee. He’s the main hero in the movie. Priyanshu made his Bollywood debut with Tum Bin in 2001. Some guys from the Mechanical batch already watched the movie. They said the new actor looked very similar to Rajat. The entire classroom started to tease him, called him Priyanshu. Rajat was very happy, particularly when few girls also joined the party."

We then went to Rajat's room with few more guys, pulled his legs for the next two-three hours.

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Asia's Cleanest Village

No, it’s not in China or Japan. Neither it’s in the Middle East nor in Indonesia or Philippines. It is in India. Asia's Cleanest Village is "Mawlynnong", located amidst of lush green forest of East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, a state in the North East part of India. It is a tiny village, 600-odd person, 100 percent literacy, well-known for its cleanliness and natural attraction. Mawlynnong was awarded the prestigious tag of 'Cleanest Village in Asia' in 2003 by Discover India Magazine.

Meghalaya in itself is very beautiful. All the villages in Meghalaya are quite clean as compared to other parts of India. But Mawlynnong is a completely different story altogether. This is for the first time I visited such a village, so well maintained, such clean road. I was very curious how the villagers manage such cleanliness. Because of this curiosity Mawlynnong attracts so many tourists. I was simply mesmerized with the surrounding, colorful tress, hanging fruits and vegetables. I had the sweetest pineapples there that are grown abundantly in this region. 

I observed that the cleanliness is deep-rooted in their culture. I noticed many villagers with brooms in hand, the children cleaning the streets, sweeping up dead leaves and garbage. The locals are so humble and well-mannered. Whenever a visitor dropped something on the ground, they wouldn’t say anything to the visitor directly. But they would pick it up and throw it in the rubbish bins. Well, the garbage bins are also so beautiful, hand-made with bamboo, cone-shaped baskets. The traditional bamboo waste baskets are scattered all over the village, on the streets, outside each and every house.

The houses are mostly traditional thatched hut. The villagers plan to keep it that way, they simply want to keep their traditions alive. I had a talk with few of the locals. There were many tourists, both Indian and foreigners. I got to know from the villagers that cleanliness has been a practice from the time of their forefathers. Right from the beginning the kids are taught in schools about the importance of cleanliness in living a good life. As soon as the kids reach Grade 1 or Grade 2 they are given the task of keeping the area around the house clean. I was highly impressed with the system.

Another satisfying thing in Mawlynnong was the food. We enjoyed such a delightful lunch out there. The chicken curry, rice, vegetables, everything was delicious. And yes, the chutneys were so refreshing. The little eatery place was also magnificently clean. My tummy was full, but not my heart. After lunch, we just lazed there for a while. There were smoking areas. I was over cautious to flick the ash out of my hand. We had tea in a small stall. I looked at the kettle while the tea boiled. It was actually shining, so clean. I had a chat with some tourists, a group who were on a road trip all the way from Maharashtra. They liked the village so much that they stayed there for 10 days. Even though there’s a guest house at Mawlynnong, but some families also offer home-stay facilities to the visitors who want to stay long. Such decisions are not taken individually though, but the entire village collectively decide on that.

It was time to experience the Living Root Bridges. We enjoyed a wonderful trek, about 1 or 2 km to a neighboring village, Riwai. We reached the spectacular natural bridge that makes a pathway across a stream, making it easy for villagers to commute. 

Living root bridges are unique to Meghalaya. There are many such bridges all around Cherrapunji. This is an age old method used by villagers to cross the numerous streams in the area. According to Wikipedia the local Khasi people do not know when or how the tradition of living root bridges started. The earliest written record of Cherrapunji's living root bridges is by Lieutenant H Yule, who expressed astonishment about them in the 1844 Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal.

Mawlynnong is a lovely experience, something to cherish forever.

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

Saturday, 13 August 2016


Those days, watching movies was not less than any festival. I remember the Sunday evening movies aired on Doordarshan. After waiting for the entire week everyone just loved to watch the Sunday evening movie together along with friends and neighbors. On New Year’s Eve, during family and friend get-together, when lot of relatives used to visit home, and on few more similar gatherings people used to rent VCR and movie video cassettes. Even though after the introduction of cable TV things got changed, but the tradition of watching movies together like a festival continued for few more years. 

I remember "Titanic" movie was released during those days, in the late Nineties, the time when I passed out of school and was about to join Engineering college. Titanic was one of the biggest blockbuster till date. It's an epic romance-disaster film directed, written, co-produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. A fictionalized account of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in the early morning of 15 April 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as members of different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. The movie won hearts across the globe. Everything is so perfect about the movie, the emotions, romance, cinematography, special effects. It was the most expensive film made at that time. Titanic was nominated for, and won several Academy Awards, including the awards for Best Picture.

Most of my friends already watched Titanic by then, but I wanted to watch it on a bigger screen. Finally, I had the opportunity to experience the magic of James Cameron during a short Guwahati trip. Months later, I don’t exactly remember the occasion but our house was full with guests. Many relatives visited at the same time, cousins uncles, aunties, some elderly relatives as well. The situation was perfect for a movie festival. Some of us went to to rent VCR and movie cassettes. The majority, particularly my mother demanded to watch Titanic. It was a lovely afternoon. I remember an international cricket test match was going on between India vs West Indies. In between the movies, sometimes I paused for a while just to look at the score, and every time my mother and few other relatives shouted at me for the disturbance. 

So, we were watching Titanic. The TV room was completely packed, not enough space was left to accommodate another person. My father was also enjoying the movie. At a particular moment, when Kate requests Leonardo to sketch her picture, I was getting a bit uncomfortable. But I was quite grown-up then, I thought it wouldn’t be nice to step out of the room. I simply played a trick, I wanted to switch to the cricket match without pausing the movie for a while. Unlike other times, even after having a look at the score I didn’t switch back to the movie. The audience were getting impatient, and my mother turned furious.

"You don't let us watch even a single movie in peace," she screamed and then Kate Winslet reappeared on the TV screen, but this time without any clothing. Before my mother could realize she already returned to her seat. The room turned more silent as Kate and Leonardo got more closer. I tried to be cool as if nothing happened, tried to sustain the illusion that I was concentrating on the movie. With my third eye I wanted to have a look at everyone’s expression that moment. And then one elderly uncle suggested, "We can watch cricket for a while." But I remained a statue. Finally, after the painting session was over, everyone had a big sigh of relief.

Grab a copy of my debut book Story of Tublu from Amazon or Flipkart. It is a Contemporary Fiction novel, published by LiFi Publications Pvt Ltd. The book has its share of drama, that entertains; humor, that makes one reminisce; love, friendship and emotions that defines the amazing journey that is, life.

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