Showing posts from May, 2021

May 31, 2021 Commentary from a car seat

May 31, 2021 Commentary from a car seat: It rained all day. They are calling for some more thunderstorms. It is a holiday for some – those who are connected with the USA. Today we remember those laid their lives down for the myriad of wars the young country has seen from its violent birth. It is as if my city weeps for the fallen. The rain came in spurts, it cooled the air, sometimes a chilly wind seemed to blow through the soul. Remembering the fallen. Those who served in the American military. The militaries across the World remember their fallen on various memorial days and on those days rains across the World act as reminder of the tears. Today, in the slow and painful birthing of a post-COVID-19 World there are other fighters, those who remain true to no single color – be the tiranga or the thirteen stripes. This military swore to defend the oath written by Hippocrates. The oath to “primum non nocere” – do no harm – first and foremost. But in doing no harm, much harm has come to t

May 30, 2021 Commentary from the couch

  May 30, 2021 Commentary from the couch: What happens after a storm is sometimes more important than what happens during it. Yaas came in with ominous possibilities. The city braced for it. Some parts of the city had electricity turned off. There was great foreboding that destruction was on its way. The reality was a little different. Much like the tsunami of cases that was predicted for India by the West at the beginning of COVID-19 in 2020, there was the sense that Yaas would be a devastating event rivaling the Aamphan of 2020. Thankfully the first wave was not as bad as anticipated. But it was the days after Yaas that surprised the city. The rain came after Yaas. Unexpected. As did the second wave of COVID-19. The deaths came in the second wave. The news turned bad quickly as water accumulated across the city, the trash was mixed in with the torrent and COVID-19 again took a back seat. The city was inundated, looking out the window there was rain and overcast skies. But that too cl

May 29, 2021, Commentary from Zoom

May 29, 2021, Commentary from Zoom: Today was an important day for some of us. About 52 weeks ago one of my bondhu from Calcutta Boys’ School (CBS) had suggested that, since many were in nearly two and a half months of lockdown in Calcutta and there were varying levels of lockdowns in the rest of the World, we should consider an adda on Zoom. The adda is an invention of Calcutta. It is an absolutely open-hearted conversation between friends about nothing. Many cultures have similar concepts but for people from Calcutta, the lifeblood is the adda. This is witnessed on the front stoops of the city’s houses, in the coffee houses, in family gatherings on Sundays after a sumptuous Sunday lunch of “pathar mangsho (mutton)” and myriad other food to be concluded with mishit doi (sweet yogurt) and if the season is right – aam (mango). Those memories linger in nearly all Calcuttans no matter where life has placed us. Without the adda, we are suffocated, and the best adda is when it is in the Ben

May 28, 2021 Commentary from the sofa

May 28, 2021 Commentary from the sofa: Does a body “Rest in Peace” after a cremation? For those who cremate their dead, is it fair to use the “RIP” epithet? I wonder. For many who cremate their dead there is an accompanying belief in the soul which remains and does never rest until united with a greater Good. I ponder because in one of my digital networks there were many RIPs stated, in deep grief, as we lost one of our own – from IIT – a person who clearly meant a lot to many of us. And to the best of our knowledge the disease was not involved in the felling which removed a slice from our collective narrative reality. A newspaper person. Does a part of reality disappear when a journalist can no longer write? That particular narrow slice of reality disappears forever, because there may not be anyone else in the World who knew the stories that the fallen was pursuing, had swimming in the head, to be put down on paper. Alas. We may never know. Even though I remain listed in the Board of

May 27, 2021 Commentary from Complacency:

May 27, 2021 Commentary from Complacency: Last year around this time there was a sense of “war.” Fighting the unknown with masks only. The war metaphor was being liberally used. Today the war, it appears, in some places has been won. Winning a war means you vanquish the enemy. The enemy lies slaughtered at your feet as you raise a bloody sword of victory or walk into a shop without masks. There are rules of war, there are metrics of winning and losing that in most cases there is a sense of comfort at the end of the war. Masks off. Order has been returned and reconstruction can begin. And that is why the war metaphor of last year now seems misguided because that same metaphor demands that an end to the war must be declared. There must be a resounding victory and public spectacle of the enemy beaten. Abbottabad. Tikrit. Berlin. The end of a war brings end to anxiety. Is there an end to anxiety today? How gingerly do we take the mask of? Are we sure we can take it off? The lockdown extend

May 26, 2021 Commentary from a place below

 May 26, 2021 Commentary from a place below: It was the full moon. Although the storm had hidden it, there were parts of the World where it could be seen. A very good bondhu shared a picture – the Flower Moon I think it is called. In the storm ravaged West Bengal and Orissa it would be the Buddha Purnima. A day of peace was ravished by the cyclone. The view from AC 140 was not especially violent, the trees were moving rather threateningly but the rain was not as bad as anticipated. Other places did not fare too well, the Sundarbans and the coastal areas offered shocking images of destruction. Storms are predictable. Indeed, the prediction technology has become increasingly accurate and thus the destruction, at least to human life, can be managed. In the meantime, the shock and awe media were ringing its hands with the disappointment of Calcutta being largely spared by the storm, denying the display of shocking images. We will know later how many perished and there will the standard rec

May 25, 2021 Commentary from a moving place

May 25, 2021 Commentary from a moving place: The storm turned. The rain in the morning was light, the sky was a strange shade of grey, the clouds seemed to be showing off the many shades of danger that a cyclone brings. Looking out through the window, there was only a little bit of rain. But that was only Salt Lake. Other areas were not spared as much, a tornado tore through a neighborhood close to where one of the Angels live. Tornados are a part of life in the Appalachian foothills, and much more in other parts of the USA. The pictures of the aftermath of a tornado is always the same – no matter if it is in Bandel or Louisville. The storm kept people indoors. Some waited through the morning, and when the rain was not as bad, some ventured out later in the day, things cannot be put on a greater stop than what the lockdown had already done. But the lockdown seems to have worked somewhat in other parts of India. The streets of Delhi are still empty, but the numbers are starting to come

May 24, 2021 Commentary from an empty place

May 24, 2021 Commentary from an empty place: Today I heard someone died. Someone I did not know. But someone who started me on this journey of trying to do something. It was early in April. There was a phone call from Texas. I was asked to provide support. I did what I could do, but that was not enough. This morning was the strange warm before a storm comes. Some are saying it will be a big storm. The Bay is churning. Will it hit where my home is? Weather is so mercurous. I experienced the morning but am escaping the storm. Running. Running away. Coward. Or not? Things have to be done, people need support, thus money. The initial fund raising was a fantastic success. But one cannot rest when the needs continue, and the storm will amplify the needs. Thus I must find more and bring forth the riches. They call these storms cyclones; in the US we call it a hurricane. Same story – same destruction. I wanted to launch the Angels today, but in anticipation of destruction the authorities have

May 23, 2021 Commentary from just a chair

May 23, 2021 Commentary from just a chair: Nothing happened today that was bad. That is a good thing and a time for reflection. There was some more movement on the distribution of medicines. The families that are being supported will hopefully benefit from the medicines that will be provided tomorrow. In the meantime, I have entered a new space for reflection in the solitude of a lockdown where I live on the screen. This COVID-19 experience has been a play on the idea of selfishness. Why do we choose to do things that do not benefit us directly, or do things that might appear to have greater value beyond the self? It all started with a bondhu in Texas. A simple phone call, an inquiry, and that got me into the process. For me, it was a selfish act – one that was very centered in providing answers for a bondhu – as I would have for myself. Then I realized that being selfish could extend to larger degrees of separation and some acts could be framed within the “selfish” framework but ends

May 22, 2021 Commentary from a dark room

May 22, 2021 Commentary from a dark room: This dark room has been good for me. I can go places from here. The whole idea of cinema was to whisk you away to a different place. This afternoon I was back in Chicago again. Spent a lot of time there, and watching Paul Newman and Robert Redford sting the guy from New York took me back to Halstead and Michigan Avenues. Good old Van Buren and the old Greek town and the Gyros that were heavenly. For two hours I was romping around State Street and was south of the river. Those days of driving up highway 57 and listening to PBS give the reports on the futures market on corn and soybean. Memories. Eventually emerging into a reality of COVID-19 and the heat of the afternoon. The chill of the Windy City was replaced by an afternoon shower, perhaps a precursor to the big storm on the way. What destruction awaits. The government is clamoring that COVID-19 work will not be interrupted by the impending storm. But the added anxiety is having an effect. A

May 21, 2021 Commentary from a cold room

May 21, 2021 Commentary from a cold room: No I am not in a morgue. I am in this space I have created for myself. A room. All the windows are blacked out. A womb. Here I can sit – pitch dark – even when the sun is blazing outside. A space where time and space both seem to get confused. One projector, creating the verisimilitude of different Worlds – from the crematoriums of India to the wanton violence of Capone in Chicago. This is the lockdown space. In lockdowns, in darkness sliced by the projector beam, place disappears from sight. It is the image on the large screen that matters. It is an attempt to deny the reality of place and create that post-COVID-19 place where one can be anywhere and everywhere. Relationships are not based on touch but being there together, on the screen, and connected. But reality tends to creep in, as it did today. In a good way. The efforts of support are becoming concrete. Met, in flesh and blood, with a kind soul, one who is helping out as well. We worked

May 20 and before, 2021 Commentary from Different Places

 There are many more to read if you are interested. All available here in an article