Memories a la carte
A non-combative silence greets you at the South Park Street cemetery as you leave the belligerent traffic behind.You can stumble upon the oldest recorded British grave of an unsung Mr. Wood, a 'writer'.Walk past the two sons of Charles Dickens who lie buried here.The earliest grave dates go back to 1768. The pavilions, pyramids and mausoleums are in a state of permanent decay. The infuriating calm around them almost thoughtful, cultivated.A towering monument is that of Sir William Jones, the founder of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal. A curious one is that of an eccentric Irishman, who was nick-named 'Hindoo Stuart'. Interestingly, he was Major General Charles Stuart, who cared for a dip in the Ganges every morning.A few feet away lies the stouthearted Henry Vivian Louis Derozio who left a permanent impact on the Bengali mindset.This could be the real flipside of Park Street.
Room in the sky
Mrs. Indira Gandhi used to love Sky Room's Prawn Cocktail. Hardly surprising that it was flown in freezers regularly to Delhi.My uncle loved his Chicken Tetrazzini except that he would order it as 'Petrazzini'. They understood.Baked Alaska and Black Forest Pudding was like health that did 'melth in your mouth'. The Telegraph once carried a report that Sky Room would reopen. That never happened.Good things hardly happen twice.
Some lives stay in a state of permanent surprise.They do things unanticipated, unimagined.They are half-remembered people who do some delightful but bizarre things. There was this guy called Kapadia who did the strangest thing at St. Xavier's School.He actually attempted to and successfully did bite a dog.The Prefect almost did rusticate him for this terrible mission he was on.To me he was the unstoppable spirit we all lacked. Kapadia later in life went on to do extremely well at one of the Tata companies.
Anthony Quinn in the film 'Lawrence of Arabia' had made a perfect statement on life – “it was written”.Without labouring the point, I do feel the spirit of Kolkata is a script already written and we are merely following it, unexpected turns included.