BFF: Rimi and (right) Radhe spend quality time at their home on Cotton Street. Picture by Arnab Mondal
A parrot and a dog are scripting a unique bond in the home of a Burrabazar trader. Neeraj Sharma, 25, has had his Spitz, Rimi, for the last two years. The pet parrot, Radhe, entered the scene six months ago. Not confined to a cage, Radhe soon developed a friendship with Rimi.
The best time to visit them at their Cotton Street home is in the evening, when they share a meal of rice and chapati from the same bowl. Both have been brought up on a vegetarian diet. “Sometimes when we serve them in separate bowls, they end up eating from the other’s bowl too,” says Sharma. Both the pets also refuse to eat if they are not served by the trader or his mother.
From playing with each other to protecting one another, Radhe and Rimi are inseparable. “Rimi barks loudly when she smells a cat, warning Radhe,” says Sharma. There’s a tinge of competitiveness in this friendship too.
“When one gets petted, the other immediately tries to seek attention,” laughs Sharma. While Rimi guards the house, Radhe goes to work with the trader, keeping watch at his handkerchief store.
“I take Radhe to my shop everyday. If a customer arrives when I am away, Rimi chirps loudly to alert me.”
Radhe’s poise has often left customers amazed. “Once a woman tried to touch the bird, thinking she was a toy. The customer found it hard to believe that a parrot could sit so still and not attempt to escape,” Sharma says.
Both the pets have their favourite spots at home, Rimi’s being a particular chair.
“It is very easy to bring in pets but you have to work hard to make them a part of your family. I have trained the dog and the bird to protect each other. Even when we are not at home, we know Rimi will protect both the house and Radhe,” says Sharma.
|A scene from Padmagatha, to be staged at Madhusudan Mancha by Dolls Theatre on March 21. The tale of Shakuntala is retold as a war between nature and pollution in the puppet show directed by Sudip Gupta
All in the mind
What does a psychiatrist do when an adult patient differs from his family on the course of treatment? How should a doctor react to an acutely suicidal patient, whose family refuses to admit him to a psychiatric ward?
Such issues and more were discussed at the two-day conference on Mental Health Law and Policy in India organised by the Mental Health Foundation (Calcutta chapter), in association with Kolkata Psychiatry Club. The event was held at the South City International School auditorium on March 9 and 10.
The main discussion revolved around the proposed Mental Health Care Bill, 2012, that has evoked a huge response. “The bill has got both positive and negative reviews. Some felt it was an exceptional attempt to correct historical wrongs while others felt the bill was shrouded in mystery,” said senior psychiatrist Jai Ranjan Ram of Mental Health Foundation. “We want to make people aware of the bill and tell them that they can now seek legal help if the need arises,” he added.
Other speakers at the conference included Prabir Paul, the president of Kolkata Psychiatry Club, Alok Sarin, a senior consultant psychiatrist at Sitaram Bhartia Institute, New Delhi, and Sanjeev Jain, the head of psychiatry at NIMHANS, Bangalore. On the second day, Hidden Pictures, a documentary on global mental health by Delaney Ruston was screened.
Ruston, a doctor, had grown up watching her dad suffer from schizophrenia. While reconnecting with him after years of estrangement, she became interested in the experiences of other families around the globe. The film uncovers personal stories in India, China, South Africa, France and the US.
There is no street in Bengal named after sweets or after the confectioners who have moulded these delicacies over generations. Nor do we have a national sweet.
|(From left) Shankar, Krishna Bose and Gautam Bhadra at the Bengal Club. (Sanjoy Chattopadhayaya)
“Perhaps we take our store of sweets too much for granted to show respect to these artistes. Yet they are the ones who pass gruelling hours by the furnace to give us our sandesh, rasogolla and rabri,” said Shankar, the author.
He was speaking at a discussion on sweets at the launch of a website on rasogolla by Chittaranjan Mistanna Bhandar at Bengal Club on Thursday.
Shankar traced the Sanskrit roots of names of Bengali savouries. If priyorotika has become paratha, chaporotika is now chapati, gurapat is patali gur (jaggery). But kachchepudi (little puri) has origins down south though it is a local favourite now, going by the name of kachuri.
Icons had their favourites, some siding with sweets and some with the salty. Debendranath Tagore loved kancha amer tok (a green mango preparation). Sri Ramakrishna swore by jilipi. Swami Vivekananda had his own recipe for cooking pulao. “It has not been proved which taste man got first — sweet or salty.”
Krishna Bose, wife of Subhas Bose’s late nephew, recalled a letter from Netaji, then in Mandalay Jail, Burma. “He used to miss Bengali sweets in prison. When one of the inmates prepared jilipi, he was so happy that he blessed him with a never-ending term in jail!”
In Presidency jail, Bose used to prepare luchi-fried brinjal for Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das. “A joke went round that Deshbandhu’s cook in prison was an ICS,” Basu said.
Historian Gautam Bhadra traced the first mention of sale of sweets to 16th century poet Mukundaram. “Itinerant hawkers selling sweets, as described by him, existed till even the 1960s and 70s.”
A ribald work by Ishwar Gupta, the 19th century satirist, describes how the male gaze perceives a woman’s body using metaphors of sweets stacked at a confectioner’s. But sweets in myth date further back. “Radha is said to have fed mando to Krishna.”
During the freedom struggle, sweets took on names of leaders, a case in point being Nehru sandesh. Swadeshi supporter Satish Chandra Dasgupta started selling Janata Sandesh at “50p a sher” from the Khadi Gramodyog outlet at Shyamacharan Dey Street, Bhadra said.
“Our sweets deserve an encyclopaedia,” Shankar concluded, as he launched the website.
Fest for a cause
A scene from Madhabi
Three theatre groups in the city have come together to stage a three-day festival at the Academy of Fine Arts from March 20. The event, organised by Bhawanipore Swajan, is in aid of backstage workers and people in need.
Nandikar opens the festival with Madhabi on Wednesday, Ballygunge Swapnasuchana presents Byalaseshe Kolahol on March 21 and Drishyapat will stage Oedipus on March 22.
“Bhawanipore Swajan acted as the catalyst and we joined in. Through this, we intend to stand by socially committed individuals and institutions engaged in meaningful work,” said thespian Rudraprasad Sengupta.
Madhabi, directed by Swatilekha Sengupta, is a story from Mahabharat, about Yayati’s daughter Madhabi and her beloved Galab, a disciple of Rishi Vishwamitra. The play follows Madhabi’s quest for love while performing her duty to her father and her lover.
Byalaseshe Kolahol, directed by Sohini Sengupta, tells the story of a couple who are on the verge of divorce and their individual interpretations of love and life.
Sophocles’ Oedipus will be staged in a contemporary set up by Drishyapat. Directed by Anirban Bhattacharya, the play has Debshankar Halder and Shejuti Mukherjee as the protagonists. Tickets priced at Rs 150, 100 and 60 are available from the Academy counter.
A passenger in a taxi caught at the Esplanade signal, dozing off slightly, was awakened by an unusual word. “Rashbihari, Rashbihari,” a vendor was announcing close to her right ear. She looked, and then realised from the bunches of fruits that what he meant was “raspberry”. But the fruits were gooseberries, or tanpari in Bengali.
So much for globalisation.
(Contributed by Shubhi Tandon, Showli Chakraborty and Sudeshna Banerjee)