Meeting the ‘Satyanveshi’

‘Satyanveshi’ means ‘one who searches for the truth.’ What a beautiful description for a detective! And that’s why, Mr. Byomkesh Bakshi dislikes calling himself a detective or jasoos which he thinks are vulgar terms.

I first got introduced to this sharp, intellectual person in the nineties through a popular TV series on India’s national channel ‘Door Darshan.’ The TV series captured my imagination and I can still recall many episodes and their key scenes. Looking back at those times, i wonder at the catastrophic loss in the quality of content now being dished on multiple channels. I haven’t watched TV for the past five-seven years. And I would choose a re-run of content from those days over current fare any given day. 

Anyways, coming back to the Satyanveshi. Originally written in Bangla by Shardendu Bandopadhyay, you can call Byomkesh the Indian Sherlock Holmes. Much like Sherlock, he is a creature of the intellect, at his best when ‘the game is on.’ Doctor Watson’s role here is fulfilled by Ajit, the friend and chronicler of Satyanveshi’s life and cases. But this comparison is not with the modern Sherlock dished out on the BBC these days. Much like the original Sherlock Holmes, the beauty of Byomkesh Bakshi the TV serial was in its simplicity. Set in a Calcutta (not Kolkata) untouched by the modern era, like Holmes’ London, it has a certain noir quality to it. Life is not encumbered by modern gadgets, people still have time to take a leisurely stroll and there are no constant news feeds to scream for one’s attention. Against the backdrop of this quaint world, human greed and crimes also appear mellowed out.

Last evening I started reading Satyanveshi Vyomkesh, a Hindi translation of the series published by Vani Prakashan. The translator is Sushil Gupta and the book is beautifully illustrated (albeit sporadically) by Dharmendra Ravinderlal Paare. I wish it had more illustrations as they bring out a certain nostalgia associated with the lost world of Byomkesh’s times.

It was a strange feeling to read the first story, to hear the author describe his main character rather than seeing him on the TV screen. That’s why I’ve clicked a pic of those words when we are introduced to this 23-24 year old, whose very personality looks stamped by intelligence. Somehow, reading a story gives more to the mind than watching it on a screen. So despite remembering the endings of most of the cases (a handicap for detective genre), I will venture forth and read the life and cases of this seeker of truth. I’m sure it will be fun.

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I’m an occasional poet
No, not one of occasions
But the one who tries hard
To run away from writing
As much as one can
The one who hides
In work and weekends and worries
As much as one can
It is only when i can’t run, can’t hide
Only when it feels some part of me will die
It is only then
That i wear these waxed wings of words
And fly

-Adee, some months back in 2015 on a blue evening in London

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the old ‘kothis’ of New Delhi

Ever since I remember I’ve looked at the old ‘kothis’ of the old New Delhi and lament their passing. Places like Old Rajinder Nagar, Karol Bagh and Patel Nagar were filled with these big houses, mansions by today’s standards. I don’t think these were as old or as grand as the old ‘havelis’ of the old Old Delhi, but they were old enough for me, a kid growing up in the modern, architecturally monotonous government residences. There was something very homely in their wooden doors, shuttered windows and little deities guarding the main doors…as if they had a thousand stories to tell and promised that no kid would grow up alone under their roofs. Alas, the old must give way to the new…and when in the space of one such house, four floors of independent, modern flats (or ‘builder floors’ as we call them in Delhi) can be built, profits and practicalities take precedence over old world sentiments. Some innocence though is definitely lost in the bargain.

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Skype / स्काइप 

रूखे रूखे से लफ्ज़ 

ठंडे ठंडे से एहसास 

बर्फ़ लगती हैं बहुत मुस्कुराहटें यहाँ 

चलो न काँच के परदे हटायें और दिल सेंके


लंदन, 14/01/2016

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Where does the Sun go for holidays?

The peonies I brought home last Sunday have bloomed beautifully. So has the pain I got with my Monday evening’s ice skating adventure. Apparently it was a full body workout disguised as fun. And then, there’s the right hand thumb. I must have tried rather hard to break it. Working (or trying to work) from home today. A writer needs his thumb to write, right?

The morning was washed out, rest of the day doesn’t promise much sunshine either. Wondering where does the Sun go for holidays. Definitely not ice skating I assume.

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imagine you have entered a room where you can’t see anything except a colourful mist completely enveloping you. the only things you are really sure of are the floor beneath, some voices floating around you and the smiles or shock audible in those dismembered voices. you enter a state of surprise-filled exploration. the first thing you do is to assess how much you can see so that you don’t bump into someone or something. when your mind has grown accustomed to the lack of inputs to process and make sense of, you start walking. putting one foot in front of the other. like when you first learned to walk. the only difference being that now you fear injury. other shapes float in and out of your view like ghosts. their density measured by how near or far they are. and when the mist is really dense, you can hear a voice coming towards you but not see a shape until the body carrying that voice is only an arm’s length away. sometimes even less.

YBP Collage 01

here you are alone despite being in a crowd, but more fundamentally, you are alone despite yourself. after the rush of clicking images and futile selfies, slowly your mind’s chatter subdues, the mist grows dense, you are in a space which is both disorienting and uplifting. one moment you find yourself scared, the next moment you are grinning. then you stop imagining, stop thinking, something settles to the bottom of your being. you are both connected and disconnected with what you think is you.

the mist is still enveloping you. almost like you are in a colourful cocoon. you realise that with direction and perception you have also lost the sense of time.

YBP Collage 02

it is time to tear away from this. like life, it was dreadful and joyful till it lasted. it is time to walk out of the room, catch the tube, go home, cook dinner and go to sleep. and then dream. a dream in which you imagine that you have entered a room where you can’t see anything except a colourful mist completely enveloping you.

Artist Ann Veronica Janssens’ new installation ‘yellowbluepink’ is on display at the Wellcome Collection in London. I can’t recommend it enough. To know more and visit, click here and here.

-adee, 23.10.2015, London

YBP 01

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intezaar / इंतज़ार

कई रोज़ हुए अब

रात से नज़रें बचा

छत पर आया नहीं वो अपनी

न ही टाँकें सितारे संदेसों के

न ही खिड़की में झाँका मेरी 

चाँद बीमार हो तो

मेरी हर रात अमावस होती है 
-adee 15/10/15

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तीली-तीली, तिनका-तिनका
मुश्किल है घर बनाना जी

नारा-नारा, भाषण-भाषण

आसाँ है आग लगाना जी

उसका ख़ुदा, मेरा ख़ुदा

मेरा राम, उसका राम

क्यों दीवार बनाना जी?
-adee 06/10/2015 @delhidreams

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Psychoanalysis of London and Delhi weather

If I were a psychiatrist, I would have treated London weather for dissociative identity disorder. (Fancy name for multiple personality disorders.) And I would have told her “You have some serious issues, Miss Murphy.”
Saturday was hot and sunny. Yes, this is an Indian guy saying it was hot. Sunday it poured for some time and then went back to being grey. Monday has been a drizzle so far with bouts of sunshine predicted as if the sunshine itself was some major affliction.
The weather back in Delhi is much simpler. Bipolar, mind you, but simpler. With Miss Singh, you know what you are going to get. When it is hot, you get baked. When it is cold, you freeze. When it rains, you soak.So basically you know how your next few months are going to pan out.

Here, you are not sure of how your day will turn out. The weather app becomes as much a part of your ‘what to wear’ deliberation every morning as the decision to take a shower or not.

But yeah, all said and done, it is fun. Delhidreams might even temporarily be turning into Londondreams it seems. Behn di blimey!

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They say, It was a colour Michaelangelo couldn’t afford
And Vermeer loved enough to put his family under debt

The ultimate blue,

The blue to which aspired all other hues
Sourced from the mountains of Afghanistan

One grounded lapis lazuli into a fine powder

Infused it with melted sighs, wax, oils, pine resin

and kneaded it in dreams and diluted lye solution
Only then the ultramarine would come true

Brimming with minerals, riddled with puzzles

No two dabs the same, 

no two angles showing the exact same hue
All that is gone now

Now it is just another colour in the palette

A hundred percent pure hue

Available in a synthetic tube

No wonder its sharpness stings the eye

And Michaelangelo looks down and cries

Because when we dissected it, synthesised it, batch-produced it

We also took away its impurities, imperfections, individuality
Dear heart,

Let my love be not too pure a love

Let it have a doubt of green in it, a folly of yellow, a stab of red

Let it be the ultramarine of an age gone by

Full of imperfections, inconsistencies, a thousand blues in a single hue

But to itself, only true

-adee, first drafted on June 09, 2015. Inspired by an article i read online, the practical details are by the original author, i’ve taken some liberties with emotions.

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