Got fairly bogged down, or lets say even a bit bored, by writing apparently serious stuff about Santiniketan and Visva Bharati. Let us move on to the lighter sides of life.

Prayer hall or Kanch Mandir was often a very convenient place to exchange old footwear for apparently newer ones (like it happens elsewhere too). In our times, the most popular foot wear was ofcourse the Hawaii Chappal, now elevated to quite a life-style statement courtesy our Chief Minister Ms Mamata Banerjee. Usually when the hawaii chappal had to be supplemented by a safety pin punctured to keep it in wearable conditions, it was high time to go for a swap. To avoid this unholy swap, students usually kept the relatively new hawaii chappals specially marked.
1One evening I silently left my safety pin supplemented hawaii chappal and picked up another almost new. Next morning I went to college, with my gait bolstered by the recently swapped hawaii chappal. In the evening, relatively nicely attired by standard of those days, with the stolen hawaii chappal worn with pride, I landed up in the Ashrama area, in front of Sree Sadan for a date fixed with one of the girls. It was a craftily conceived new venture for me, and a compelling reason to exchange the old hawaii chappal for a much sparkling newer one! Out she came from Sree Sadan, almost sailing like a bird, with a hidden smile beaming in her eyes. Few girls naughtily wished her an anticipated absorbing evening. After a few steps together, looking at my new chappal she jumped up in the air and proclaimed “Oh it is you, who stole my chappal?” Pointing out to a almost invisible tiny mark on the chappal she proclaimed “That is the mark I put on just yesterday!” Now, the emerging affair got severely nipped in the bud- actually ‘mutilated’ should be the proper expression. She was adamant not to have anything to do with a chappal-thief. I had to walk back home bare footed and never re-surfaced anywhere near Sree Sadan for about three months or so. I was terribly afraid of the dreaded Sree Sadan lady gang, lest they address me as ‘Choti Chor’ whenever they managed to get hold of me!

I understood in no uncertain terms that why in Rabindranath Tagore’s time everyone moved bare footed in Santiniketan, people were naturally much wiser then! It was a great far sight of Rabindranath Tagore in those days in Santiniketan as being bare footed was highly gender neutral which naturally reduced a lot of unforeseen complications like the one I had to endure. From that fateful day onward, I became quite suspicious of Hawaii Chappals as it was never a gender specific foot wear- you never knew whether it was meant for the ladies or the gents!

Till today my ‘one unfulfilled date’ old girl friend never exchanged even a hello with me inspite of coming to Santiniketan several times specially on Poush Mela days; and I could never muster the courage to invite her friendship even in Facebook or other social media even after nearly three decades.

There were many such curious mishaps in my life while interacting with the ever mysterious girls of our times, in and outside Santiniketan.
2In my school days, on a visit to Digha with my mother and few others, I was on the beach on my own. Waves were in simple harmonic motion gently splashing on to the sand and quietly moving away. I was etching my name on the sand of the sea shore, invariably to be washed off by the next tiny wave. Somehow I got hooked to the game, each time I wrote my name- at times quite emphatically, the next wave would invariably flatten the letters into a smooth layer of sand. A girl, of my age-I reckon, in nicely clad flowery skirt silently tiptoed in and watched me for a while and said “Why are you writing your name on the sand? Write your name in my heart, it will not get wiped off.”

Actually in Bengali she said ‘Balite naam likhcho keno? Amar book-e lekho, muchbe na!”. I got simply blown off, thinking how could I possibly write a name on the flowery and puffy chest (the literal translation of ‘book’ in Bengali!) of a girl, that also in broad day light! The girl waited for some eternal moment, and left with a jerk suggesting the unspoken words ‘What an idiot, you are!’ When she was away by 20 yards or so, realizing that she was actually probing the nuances of the heart, I felt a sudden impulse to run to her and make some cherubic presentation to her heart; but in reality I watched her slowly move away and be lost among many people on the beach.

The truth is, me being a Patha Bhavana boy, was never smart enough to catch up with girls of our age, right from our school days.
4Even in my college days, though personally I was never too petrified about spoken English, we specially avoided convent educated girls because we never felt too comfortable with their ‘phot’ ‘phot’ English often mixed with Bengali. I distinctly recall once after watching a movie in a popular Calcutta cinema hall, I was blown out of my wits when few girls discussed mode of transport back home- “Dhoro A Bus and Go Home Baba!” It took me quite a few minutes to comprehend what they were actually conversing, whether it was Greek or Hebrew! I was initially a bit tempted to interact with those rather smart looking college girls, but conversing in pure Bengali or in English was one thing, but to tackle this special brand of ‘Benglish’ appeared to be a tough proposition, and I refrained. In those day ‘Bong’ was not an in circulation phrase either.

To top all these when I was a 3rd year graduate student, I had a chance encounter with a first year convent educated girl from Shillong who took admission in Visva Bharati. She was on the basket court in the evening; where as, I was practising cricket on the bitumen road near the Ashrama play ground with few others. We just got introduced a few days before, seeing me wielding my cricket bat on the bitumen road, which was supposed to be a road rather than a cricket pitch, she walked up to me and said “ You are a nut”. I was desperately searching my brain for a suitable answer, after all a 3rd year lad is not supposed to be ragged by a first year girl so I shot back without thinking much “Oh is it? Then, you are a nut with cream, delicious to eat”. She promptly quipped back “As if you tasted!”, gave me a tantalizingly naughty look and moved away. So many things could have happened after that, my taste buds were always sprightly alive in those days; but I went numb in my brain to the convent educated street smart intelligence, I never had the instinct to follow up the interaction. I just watched her move away to Benukunja, then to her hostel…that was effectively the end on the story, well naturally!

Do you think all these episodes are real? Well, may be or may be not, maybe some are real, some others are imaginary. I leave this to the the readers; but the essence of all these stories of a Patha Bhavana and Santiniketan lad’s interaction with girls, is essentially true.

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  1. Shubhashis Mitra says:

    Sucharita Majumdar
    Darun lekha Sukulda . As if I have just seen a movie. Chaliye jao..

    Kabita Dey
    Well written!

    Sucharita Majumdar
    So you see we girls are much smarter . Jug jug dhorey hoye aaschhe.

    Shubhashis Mitra
    Se ar bolte! Ontotoh amar khetre to nishchoi…sei jonyo na ekhono eto admire kori!

    Mithu Ghosh Adhikary
    Bravo! But our dear Bhaiyada; you being such a hero in those days, people can actually add on input to your memoire I guess! You can retrieve some more..Carry on…

    Vinod Singh Parihar
    “Nut with cream” was too good, Bhaiya da…. Canter da ke jigges koro….he will share similar story about his interaction with a convent educated 1st year student…. Way back in 1988!!

    Nivedita Basu
    Shubhashis Mitra Bhaiyada- thoroughly enjoyed!! hope to see a few more treasures coming out of your “magical jhuli” … sokal sokal mood bhalo kore dile …. thank you.!! chaliye jao….

    Kazal Das
    khubi valo laglo…..thanks

    Indrajit Roy
    Ohhh… What a Brilliant Headline!!!

    Srila Chatterji
    Shubhashis Mitra, it could have been the same headline in your mothers time too!

    Rajlakshmi Mohan
    Sukul …kato kichu je bolar achey…thak shey shob! Daaruun mejajer jompesh lekha.

    Satyajit Mitra
    Enjoyed thoroughly.

    Shubhashis Mitra
    Satyajit Mitra, Thik bulhlam na ki thoroughly enjoy korli? Tokhonkar diner Meyeder na Amar Lekhata?

    Satyajit Mitra
    Tokhonkar diner meyeder songo to tokhoni enjoy korechhi, ekhon tor lekhata enjoy korlam aar phire gelam 40-45 bochhor aage.

    Shubhashis Mitra
    Satyajit Mitra, Be honest yaar, tokhonkar diner meye, ekhono enjoy korchis bol!

    Satyajit Mitra
    Mone mone………..Aswikar Kori ki kore!!!!

    Jitamanyu Das
    Khub bhalo laglo porte! Thank you for the treat.

    Ananda Lee Tan
    Thanks Bhaiyada, for recounting the eternal romance of dukkho horon road……

    Subhalakshmi B Nandi
    Tokhonkar diner meyera tor mukchora bhab ar bhabuk cheharata bodhhoy bhalobashto,ajo bashey money hoy, bhari sundar likhechish…

    Shubhashis Mitra
    Subhalakshmi B Nandi, Ki ar korbo bol! Sobsomeye-i mone hoto Meyera amar theke onek beshi buddhiman- ei jemon tor kotha-i dhor na! Mukh chora na hoye upay ache !!

    Sarbani Ghosh
    Great read Sukul

    Chandra Moitra
    Indeed, very hilarious story sukulda,there are so many such incidents we all could share. Now that is amader Santiniketan, full of life,never ending stories of peyara churi ,kul churi dim(egg) churi. Your choti churi reminds me all those superb theft we were all (sreeshadan gals) experts in.

    Tuhin Subhra Tapadar
    Shubhashis da….osadharon leka khub enjoy korlam .. thank you

    Banabithi Saha
    Nice write up. Which reminds me of a innocent fresh as well as naughty Friend of our time.

  2. খুবই সুন্দর লেখা, তোমাদের ছোটবেলা, না না কলেজ বেলা। সত্যি হলেও ক্ষতি কি?

  3. Tony Mitra says:

    Nice !!

    In my school days in Patha Bhavan, I attended most of my classes bare feet. In fact, I think I did not even have a pair of shoes to my name. The first pair of shoes I remember owning was something someone gave me – probably a present from some uncle or aunt, possibly visiting from Kolkata, which was kind of a canvas shoe when I was in Ananda Pathshala.

    I remember it only because I went wearing it but removed it at the kindergarten and came back happily without it – and faced my mother\\\\\\\’s admonition.

    Next time I remember owning a pair of shoes was in Adhya Bibhag, when I got a football players boot, with spikes at the sole. Those days the defenders boot used to have a hard rounded toe. No idea if that is still the norm.

    My dad, Sukhamy Mitra, played soccer as well as volley ball, ha-do-do etc wearing an anklet as the only footwear.

    Things must of course change with times. I guess today it would be unhygienic, unhealthy, and anti-fashion, to go about without wearing footwear.

    I started regularly wearing shoes only when I left Patha Bhavan and went to Bombay to study marine engineering as a teenager.

    Nice writeup – Bhaiya.
    ভাল লাগলো পড়ে।

  4. Shubhashis Mitra says:

    Banabithi Saha
    Sukul, excellent wrte up.Serious Sukul amar moto sabaikar pochhondo noi.Tanuda-r lekhatao khub bhalo laglo. Amar choti sab samyai hariye jeto. Abodharito khali paye cholte hoto. Borshar samoi chhata harato. kashinathdar class-e chhoto pencil niye jete hoto. Roj pencil haratam. Farsha Sudhadi amake sakaler line-e 1.5/2″ pencil dite badhyo hoten. Kashinathda tai amar nam rekhechhilen Pencil Kipte!!
    Note by Shubhashis Banabithi was my class mate in Patha Bhavana. AS far as I can comprehend, all the sandals, umbrella nad pencils that Banabithi lost- has to be the handiwork of the other girls of Sree Sadan for sure! Ha,ha…

    Sumana Saha
    Refreshingly new style of write up. Like a breath of fresh air! Especially liked the “nut with cream” episode”.

  5. khub bhalo laglo ! ekebare notun dharon-er lekha-khub shundar!—–

  6. amra chuti-r por Ashram-e fire juto khultam sree sadaner ghore dhokar songe songe, r abar shey juto-r khonj porto bari ashar shomoy—takhon obviously sheyta paoa jeto na–takhon Kolkata-r train dhorar agge Bolpur-e theme choti kine train-e otha hoto. bari fire dekhtam baba garom jol r shaban niye ready,amake ekta tool-e boshiye pa oi garom joler baltite dubiye jhama diye ghosha jake bole ghoshe diten r ma byasto hoye porten amar mathabhora ukunke attack korar jonyo, jate r boneder mathay na jai—-jak,’ shei je amar nana ronger dinguli—–‘

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