Welcome to my Personal Page.
This page contains all sorts of silly details about me, which may bore you to death, as well as my often-erroneous impressions of myself. Additionally, as a disclaimer, at the request of some friends, these "facts" (or the somewhat juvenile language in which they have been expressed) have not been updated since I was about 20 (so everyone can have a good laugh at my expense, I suppose!), so several of them might no longer be strictly accurate. If you want to stay in this page in spite of these warnings, be my guest. Else, if you really want to find out something worthwhile about me, my thoughts and opinions, please visit my blog.
At first sight, I would come across as a rather shy person. Then, after you get to know me a bit, I'll come across as extremely reserved and self-centred. But I don't think I'm that bad, myself. I'm nice at heart, I assure you. I like having a core group of friends, who comprise my world. If you are one of them, you will appreciate my other qualities - for example, that I am somewhat unscrupulous and always ready to bend laws/rules a bit to accomodate myself/ my friends, I lack seriousness in almost every aspect of life, a pint or two always cheers me up, however bleak the circumstances, and so on. You can also care to have a look at my tastes....
There used to be a time when I received heavy tellings-off from my
Mom almost everyday for "wasting" an indecent amount of time on storybooks. I've even got caught (multiple times) having hid storybooks under textbooks. Sadly,
those days are a thing of the past. Reading began taking a back seat during the last two years of high school, and once I lost that addiction, it never really came
back. Even now, I average only one or two full books every 5-6 months. So, this section mostly deals with books I read till 2007-08.
It is very difficult for me to rate books, so instead of that, let me take up one genre at a time.
I simply love Indian mythology. Once upon a time, I knew all important mythological events by heart. Most of my knowledge has been derived from Upendrakishore Roychoudhury's works, which I have read at least 10-15 times. I took up Sanskrit as a third language at school, hoping that one day, I'll be able to read the original Sanskrit versions of Valmiki's Ramayana and Vyasa's Mahabharata. These hopes have remained unfulfilled as of now.
Next comes Tagore. Embarrassingly, I have read very little of his celebrated poetry. I plan to rectify this some day, though. His short stories fascinate me more than any of today's products, some of my favourites being Postmaster, Khokababur Protyaborton, Kabuliwala, Noshtoneer, Taser Desh, Chhuti, Guptodhon, Totakahini, Atithi, etc. His depiction of human emotions and tenderness can't but move me. Of his plays, the only one I've read in full is 'Achalayatan'. I've also been lucky enough to read his 'Jibonsmriti' in full. Apart from these, excerpts from numerous plays, novels and poems have graced my school curriculum, contributing towards making my experience of vernacular literature an enjoyable one throughout.
Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay's novels are unique in the sense that in addition to painting a picture of Indian society and culture and suggesting improvements, they, especially the historical ones, bring forth a sense of adventure and thrill. I have read Durgeshnandini, Kopalkundola (my joint favourites), Krishnokanter Will, Debi Choudhurani, as well as the series of incomparable satires Komolakanter Doptor.
Sharatbabu's novels appeal to me in varying degrees at different times, mostly depending on my mood. However, as I grow more materialistic, I find myself increasingly uncomfortable with him and turning my back on the sweet stagnant world described by him. Among other Bengali novelists and short story writers, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay is my favourite, followed by Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay. Pather Panchali and its two sequels and a few short stories like Puimacha are what I've read of Bibhutibabu's works. Among modern weepers, I rather like (if that's the word, given the usual tone of their writings) Manik Bandyopadhyay and Mahashweta Debi. By the way, the latter's late husband managed to horrify me by his vivid depiction of the famine of 1943. Yeah, you got it. Nabanno is what I have in mind here.
When you say 'humorous writings', the names of one God and four authors instantly come to my lips - Sukumar Ray, Shibram Chakraborty, Premen Mitra, Narayan Gangopadhyay and Tarapada Ray. I won't disrespect the peerless Sukumar Ray by commenting on his creations, except to say that I've been reading them ever since I learnt the Bengali script. While Shibrambabu's Harshavardhan-Govardhan, Premen Mitra's Ghonada and Narayan Gangopadhyay's Tenida have coloured my early teen years, I got permission to read Tarapada Ray much later because of his sometimes-adult sense of humour.
The concept of thrillers in Bengali literature begins with Byomkesh, followed closely by Hemen Ray's Manik-Jayanta and Bimal-Kumar. I have read some stories of each, but am nowhere close to completion. Of course, none has the same level of popularity among today's young generation as Feluda. I am no exception, having read all Feluda stories at least 5-6 times each. After Feluda came Kakababu (Sunil Gangopadhyay), Kikira (Bimal Kar), Arjun (Samaresh Majumdar), Pandab Goenda (Shashthipada Chattopadhyay), etc. At present, I follow the new instalments of Kakababu, Mitinmasi (Suchitra Bhattacharya), Dipkaku (Sukanta Gangopadhyay), etc. Thriller is probably the only genre of Bengali books with which I've been in constant touch till now.
There have been other Bengali authors and poets whose writings I've read sporadically, like Nazrul Islam, Jatindranath Sengupta, Jibonanando Das, Jaseemuddin, Syed Mujtaba Ali and Banaphool. I intend to finish them when I have the time and motivation to become a voracious reader once again.
In English literature, Romantic poetry attracts me like nothing else. I have resolved to read the whole of the 'Lyrical Ballads' some time. Keats' Odes, whatever little I understand of them, are also a treat. Other poets whom I adore include H.W. Longfellow, Robert Browning, etc. Longfellows poems, I don't know why, irresistibly remind me of my childhood and nursery days. I read the works of the war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen for the first time in my eleventh class and was immediately impressed by this contrary viewpoint towards war.
I haven't read many classics in English; however, I can think of a few which have left longlastling impressions on me, like 'Robinson Crusoe', 'Uncle Tom's Cabin', 'Gone with the Wind', 'Wuthering Heights' and a few others.
Author-wise, I love P.G. Wodehouse and the funny little idiosyncracies of the Victorian Englishman that he portrays. Dickens and Blyton are also there, of course - who doesn't love them?
Now for crime thrillers, which actually signalled my proper entry into English literature outside the school curriculum. I started reading books with slightly advanced English usage with the Hardy Boys in 2000. Since then, the great Sherlock Holmes has blessed me with his company, as have Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, etc.
Finally, though I mostly detest fantasy, Harry Potter holds a curious appeal for me, probably because I could so easily identify my own high school days with it.
In my childhood, unlike most children I'm sure, I hated the television. The first movie I remember seeing is 'Hirak Rajar Deshe'. Movie-watching actually picked up during my 10+2 days, and peaked during my early college days. Some of my favourite Hollywood movies include 'To Each His Own', 'Gone with the Wind', 'The Shawshank Redemption', the Superman movies, and 'Titanic', to name but a few. Sometimes, when I feel utterly lazy and not even willing to tax my brain a little bit, I watch some oft-seen, semi-old Hindi movies. All in all, movie-watching is not a favourite pastime of mine and my list of watched movies is not that extensive.
I am a self-proclaimed connoisseur of food, much like my fellow Kolkatans. Just like an average Bengalee, lunch loses its charm for me without a bit of fish thrown in. Fish is, needless to say, my favourite form of meat. Bhapa Ilish can make me go crazy any day. Other kinds of fish towards which I'm partial include Bhetki, Pabda, Pomfret, etc. Baked Pomfret, though not a strictly indigeneous Bengali dish, is a favourite of mine. Rui is the fish I like the least, but Rui Macher Kalia can easily seduce me. Other Bengali delicacies I admire include Paturi, Mangsher Shingara, Posto Boda, Lau-Chingri, Murighonto and countless others.
While eating out, I, like my parents, prefer European food the most. The huge plates of baked vegetables and meat with lots of cheese and different types of delicious sauces make me salivate profusely. Seafood is another favourite area of mine, the sight of soon-to-be-cooked gigantic lobsters, squids and what-nots setting my digestive system to work overtime. Lobster Thermidor is definitely my favourite dish in this area. My Mom often tries out continental recipes at home, with a lot of encouragement from my Dad and me.
Earlier, Chinese used to be my favourite eating out option, but having had it so many times has made it commonplace for me.
Finally, I also love good old Biryani, Chicken Chap and Kababs. Set a plate of Kababs before me, and no matter how much you warn me of its bad effects on the liver and so on, it will be empty in no time.
In conclusion, I must say I firmly believe that eating is one of the greatest pleasures of life, second only to sleeping.