This is the most difficult tag I have ever done. 25 things to 'help me know better'? Questions like who would be interested in knowing 25 things about me crop up. Because logically, people who are interested in me know these things already. The ones who aren’t don’t want to know either! Anyways, here goes...
I started this blog in January 2005 because Udayan told me to. I did not know what to do with it and sporadically posted some of my old stuff till May 2006. After that, I started travelling extensively (again) and averaged about 10 posts a month till March 2008. The pace has slowed since then.
I was born a reasonably chubby baby of 8 pounds but after the first six months of being pampered beyond belief as the first grandson of the family, I was an unbelievably fat thing going into my annaprasan (rice-eating ceremony). In fact, some people wondered aloud how my petite mother managed to carry me around!
My first school was Montessori Shishu Niketan. I was such a terror that my mother dreaded going to pick me up every afternoon. I once bit a classmate (whose name, as inscribed on his water-bottle, was D. Bagchi) so bad that the poor fellow almost passed out. If somebody knows him, please pass my apologies.
I went to St Lawrence High School in Calcutta. My happiest memories of my school days are of walking home via Ritchie Road and Rashbehari Avenue with a gang of friends. Our standard stop was at Priya Cinema, where we always critically analysed the film on show and worked on the plans to watch it.
I almost got admitted into the English course at Jadavpur University for my BA – thanks to a really crappy first week of classes. I am very proud of the fact that I did quite well in the admission test. If I had indeed joined, I would have ended up writing newspapers instead of selling them!
Thanks to Bollywood and Calcutta, I have fantastic vocabulary and pathetic grammar in Hindi. But I have no recollection of this when I am speaking in the language, which I do quite often – scandalously enough – to eminent Hindi journalists during the course of my work. I can actually visualise their insides cringing at my onslaught!
I did my graduation (Mechanical Engineering) so perfunctorily that I remember NOTHING from the course. In fact, I tried my best to forget the branch as well but I haven’t succeeded in doing that. But in hindsight, I am glad that I enrolled there because otherwise, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends.
My memories of Engineering college consist of bunking classes and postponing tests. Without revealing the downright illegal methods, let’s just say our class did everything from switching off mains to scaling walls in order to achieve these. Nilendu and I raided a professor’s locker once but I need legal counsel before I recount that incident!
Very strangely, I never adopted the two passions of our college days – smoking Charminar and playing bridge. A non-smoking Bengali was a bit of an oxymoron in those pre-Ramadoss times but I never let that come between me and my smoking buddies, inhaling enough smoke during four years of college to last me four lifetimes.
During my MBA, I took 11 Marketing courses (out of the list of 12). Apart from the fact that I enjoyed the subject, there was the terror of flunking any non-Marketing course that I take. Our institute had a rule of expelling any student with four D grades. So, I took only 3 non-Marketing electives!
In a fit of boredom during the leave after my MBA, I took the institute yearbook and memorised the addresses of my entire class (130 of us!) and some of the juniors’. For about a year after that, I felt very happy by reciting the address whenever I met a batchmate. Yes, I was insane!
I have never ever done anything consciously to control weight (Actually I have... my wife and I went on morning walks for about 3 months in 2007), I feel very guilty when people compliment me on ‘losing weight’. Likewise, when I get favourable results in sugar or cholesterol tests, I am again a little guilty!
I never read Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I hated the little bit of Enid Blyton that I read. I started reading Jeffrey Archer and Sidney Sheldon really early. I found original Shakespeare unreadable (so I resorted to the Lambs). I hated (didn’t understand?) the style of most English classics but just loved the stories.
I am paranoid about the condition of my books. I just hate it if someone borrows a book from me and breaks the spine or dogears it. In my bookshelf, the books are always arranged in decreasing order of height (from left to right). I love the symmetry of a slowly decreasing line of books.
I have watched three films in a theatre back to back... TWICE! But in total contrast to the choice of films usually associated with such binging, the films I watched were all classics. In successive years of the Calcutta Film Festival, I watched Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar followed by Ankur, Nishant and Bhumika.
I have drafted letters intended for Satyajit Ray several times but never gathered the courage to send them. This has turned out to be a massive regret since Ray was a diligent respondent and replied to all his fan mail unfailingly. In one of the planned letters, I even proposed a location for him (Bhutan).
I am a big fan of Ramgopal Verma. Despite the fact that he has made many more bad films than good ones, I get hooked on to scenes, characters and points of view in each of his films. As a holder of interest, he is far better than – say – his perennial bête noire, Karan Johar.
I vividly remember television serials from the mid 1980s. Buniyaad, Khandaan, Yeh Jo Hain Zindagi, Ados Pados, Karamchand, Barrister Vinod, Rajni, Wah Janab (Shekhar Suman’s debut), Show Theme, Mirza Ghalib, Malgudi Days... I can still recite dialogues, sing the title music and describe scenes in intricate detail. They just don’t make ‘em like that anymore!
Mutton Biriyani is my favourite food. I am a big fan of fish but I realise that my non-taste senses cease to function only in the presence of well-cooked mixture of rice and meat. Connoisseurs – especially smartass Bongs – claim that no food compares with fish but that’s probably because they have never been to Shiraz.
I am still addicted to Sudoku. It started in 2004. My first Sudoku was in The Hindu, taking me about 30 minutes of head-scratching for the puzzle of 1-star difficulty. Now, I have the game loaded on my phone. I practice the 5-star difficulty ones whenever I get stuck in the infamous Dhaula Kuan traffic!
Whenever I am struck by a great idea/quote/word, I keep trying to use in everyday conversation – however silly that may sound. I did that quite well in college but not so well now that I have a job to keep! Therefore, Paranoid Android was used quite often but Slumdog is restricted to this blog only!
I love making lists. Eight Best Lalmohanbabu scenes. All-time Great Indian Test XI. Indian ODI XI. Twelve Best Short Stories – in English, Bengali. Seven Most non-deserving Filmfare Award winners – for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Film. Ten Favourite Quotations. Ten Best Scenes – from Bollywood, from Hollywood. Ten funniest jokes. 25 Things Nobody Knows About You!
I get illogically obsessed about quirky things, for some time. When I was in Chennai around the time Anniyan released, I got totally obsessed with Vikram – even watched un-subtitled Sethu on Sun TV! For several months now, I am obsessed about 55-word stories. For example, all the paragraphs in this post are 55 words each.
I get very embarrassed to tag people and therefore, don’t do it after any of my tags – including this one. This is the old fogey in me, who is always unsure whether a person I only know electronically would take offence if I ask her to list 25 things about herself! Phew, gasp, pant, pant...