I have decided not to dedicatedly write anything negative about Visva Bharati, no not because everything is fine about the institution, but because it is no point criticizing, as Visva Bharati, in its own way is perfectly immune to criticism. It is therefore just an wastage of time.

Being almost born and purely brought up in Santiniketan, till today, the idea ‘Santiniketan’ and Visva Bharati is not synonymous to me, like many others of my breed. These days Visva Bharati has engulfed all of concept ‘Santinketan’ physically and intellectually, turning the place less exciting and too University centric. So life is fairly stymied here, or let’s says that, life here revolves too much around the University. Anyone not linked with the university is bound to feel bored after the initial wow has subsidized. And then to be honest, people linked with this university has got bored stiff too, it’s the salary which is keeping the place on move.

Photographically like all places Santiniketan is also interesting. If one has the keen eye, there will be infinite possibility to explore this place, or for that matter any place. Observation can be fascinating without even any ulterior motif. Blessed with that sense I am a great enjoyer of life, maybe an effect of growing up with wonder struck eyes in Santiniketan. Right from childhood so many things caught my eyes and imagination blossomed.

The Koel community enthralled Santiniketan perhaps for a century by now. This bird is fairly intriguing in the sense when mimicked a Koel gets terribly angry and tries desperately to call even louder. The mimicking trick to make a Koel angry was my childhood favourite. This year a crazy thing happened. I indulged in mimicking a Koel one evening somewhere near my home in the evening, the Koel got angry, raised its pitch, reciprocated by me. Of all things, after a few parleys the Koel’s voice broke! But still he did not give up. I felt terribly sorry for him and called truce. The Koel went of calling with a broken voice all evening. A rare experience indeed to find a Koel with sour throat!
But do not try this trick with a Papiya, the experience invariably will be the other way round! Well, I had tried that too with a disastrous result!

Along with Bulbuldi, who is no more with us, is Subhra Mondal, my batch mate in school. She was prolifically good in Sanskrit, being a good daughter of Sj Panchanan Mondal. Good in sports in the form of running and basketball, she used to score in Sanskrit at par with our scores in Mathematics, which used to be in the kissing range of 100%. Now, I hardly ever scored more than 40% in Sanshrit, and was at terrible awe of Subhra, who lived near my house at Ratanpally. I had a firm belief that she belonged to some other planet. Subhra also completed her higher studies in Sanskrit with accolades. Few decades later I was hugely surprised to find her as a fairly successful entrepreneur in animation business in Kolkata! From Sanskrit to animation, what a wonderful journey, that also being basically an housewife! For many such reason and more, I have steadfastly remained a big admirer of Santiniketan ladies, well in every sense!!

The rains will make the Khoai interesting again. Though receding fast from around Santiniketan. Traces of Khoai is available here and there if one knows the location. In childhood we have spent many boy-hours searching for tiny fishes in these tiny waterways just for fun. Even today, I really won’t mind to venture again, but now my friends are not with me. Well,’An Old Man and the Khoai’ can be a good piece of literary venture, can be a masterpiece too if handled by geniuses like Hemingway.

Like these, there are innumerable stories which can be stitched together to keep the concept Santiniketan alive, at least to us. Honestly, a much rewarding and fulfilling venture without any expectations from Visva Bharati. Damn it…just let us be like ourselves, nothing more and nothing less.


Shubhashis Mitra

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