Wednesday, May 13, 2009


You must have heard of Marco Polo - most people have.
You might also have heard of Giovanni Boccaccio.
However, most people have not heard of Giovanni's great-uncle (grandfather's brother) Roberto Boccaccio. Roberto was Marco Polo's contemporary, more or less. He was from Florence, and like the Venetian Marco, was a traveller and trader. While Marco went to China, Roberto concentrated on India - and mostly Bengal. He was a frequent visitor to the ancient port of Tamluk, and to the nearby university town of Kharagpur. In fact he set up his residence in Kharagpur, where he built a grand hall with Florentine flamboyance. This in due course came to be known as Roberto's Kharagpur Hall of Residence, or RK Hall. During his frequent stays in Kharagpur, Roberto made many friends, old and young.
As the years passed, the older friends died one by one, or in batches, and soon Roberto was left with mostly younger friends, who called him Boccaccio-da. (As you may know, "da" is a Bengali suffix of sorts, added to a man's name to show that you love and respect that person as your elder brother. The love and respect portion is often dubious, but the usage is authentic.) And then, on one of his frequent returns to Italy and Florence, Roberto died. The news reached Kharagpur within a few years. Needless to say, his friends were saddened or at least moved. Several Condolence Meetings were held in various parts of Kharagpur - people talked of all they knew about their favourite Boccaccio-da, using memory and imagination. A commemorative statue was erected near RK Hall, while a couple of rich friends set up the "Boccaccio-da Fund" for mentally challenged students.
As time passed, the term "Boccaccio-da" became a part of the Bengali language. It was used to describe a) a revered person, as in "our teacher so and so was a big Boccaccio-da"; b) a beloved friend as in "hey Boccaccio-da, what's up?" or c) a newcomer to the university, as in "aare fresher Boccaccio-da, welcome, welcome! 50 sit-ups!"
It is time we revive and introduce this noble word to the world. Friends .... er.... umm ... Boccaccio-das .... say Boccaccio-da to all the people you meet and explain to them its true, pure meaning. You can also send a shawl to your local politician and have this benevolent greeting embroidered upon its Brahminical front.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Bamboo, why expose yourself to the vagaries of weather?
Come into my nether.

(Translated, after years of endeavour, from the legendary Bangla poem "Bansh keno pore thako jhore jole rode, etc." by some unknown but undoubtedly creative poet.)

Monday, March 26, 2007


As you were walking down the road,
You looked up at the sky,
And a crow crapped on your face,
As it flew across, high.
And you didn't curse, or scream
Or even let out a sigh,
But just murmured to yourself,
"Thank God, cows can't fly."

(Translated from a Bengali poem received as SMS)

Thursday, November 16, 2006


Every time I get insulted in a tea party,
I can seldom come up with a repartee.
It’s only after partaking a joint
That I remember the rejoinder, to the point.

Whenever I write poems, in verses,
My rhymes evoke colourful curses.
And then I have a smoke and lines flow;
My poems are joint efforts, really so.

When suddenly I find myself in trouble
Like when cement won’t mix with the rubble;
I retire, and have a deep toke.
Problems? What problems? It’s a joke!

When I sit and strum my guitar
And my fingers can’t e’en hold a bar,
I go to the toilet for a puff –
Lo! I’m Clapton or Page, in a huff!

And then, when I am stuck at work,
When designs don’t meander, they jerk,
I simply roll up and light a reef –
And suddenly the plans meet the brief.

But when a deadline’s gotta be met
And I realise I’m bound to be late,
To get inspiration, I go get blown.
Alas! By then the client has flown!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Recently read in the papers that soon
ISRO scientists are planning to send someone to the moon.
For that purpose they are trying to build a rocket;
And asking the government to take the country and hock it.

You see, they have presented a multi-crore budget
Though I dare say they're soon going to fudge it
And the expenses shall increase again and again.
"Unforeseen necessities" is the usual refrain.

So, the poor shan't be fed, the ill shan't be treated,
The infra-structure shall remain completely depleted;
No one's thinking of the common man in RK Laxman's cartoon.
And all this just to go to the moon!

Well, they can easily save much pain and a whole lot of money
If you send them to me, honey.
I'll simply roll them a Manali, stiffy,
And they will reach the moon, Mars, Venus or for that matter anywhere in the blasted universe in a jiffy.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


The World’s first truly heavy metal band made its debut in Calcutta recently. The band is named the Who Who, for some unknown reason. They are fast making a mark in the music scene. A recent article in the net edition of Dukkho Bajar Patrika was headlined: "Hu hu kore unnoti korchhe Who Who."

Speaking to our underground reporter Bara Bari Misra, the lead guitarist of Who Who, Pete Bumsend (known as Pb to his innumerable fans) said, "Ours is the world’s first truly heavy metal band. My guitar is made of lead (Pb), with antimony (Sb) strings, while Halfu’s (Band drummer Half Moon) drums are made of chromium (Cr). We also use a bass guitar made of basic mercury (Hg) which might explain the liquid bass solos. The marimba is made of molybdenum (Mo).

Who Who have recently released their debut CD called Cadmium (Cd). The critically acclaimed songs in the album include: Fragments of Lead, A Man in a Thallium Dress, In the Mercury, Black Widow’s Arsenic and Copper Door.

Their concert was telecast live by the Nickel-odeon channel.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Football is the greatest game
Where two teams play for name and fame
And glory (and no little profit!)
Or simply for the great fun of it.

Eleven players play for each side
Some stay central, some run wide.
They strive, they feint, they slog and sweat
To put the ball in the other’s net.

In their midst is a man in black
He has a whistle, his whip to crack;
He controls play as well he can
And ensures fair play to a man.

But when you consider Calcutta
The game’s handled by GG Gutta;
Apparently, his one big aim
Is to shame this glorious game.

Thus fixtures come and fixtures go,
The programme changes ever mo’
He uses pencil – easy rub;
And all to suit a certain club.

He fixes all the referees
To put that club in splendid ease;
The rules are bent with non-chalance
To give that club another chance.

The transfer laws are ignored, too,
To benefit, well, you know who!
Thus, he’s simply put to shame
Football, this fantastic game.