It was celebration time once again at Presidency College just a week after New Year’s Day. Milieu, the annual college festival organised in association with Unish Kuri, kicked off on January 6 with off-stage events like carrom and table tennis competitions.
The weekend extravaganza turned out to be a grand affair. “We had a high number of registrations for the table tennis competition this year, with representatives from almost all the reputed colleges,” said Sayantan Saha Roy, general secretary, Presidency College Students’ Union.
The Eastern Nite saw a performance by city-based folk band Dohar, which had the audience dancing to traditional rural folk tunes. Up next was a performance by Usha Ganguly’s theatre group Rangakarmi, which performed Maiyyat, a drama based on caste issues in northern India.
Over the next three days, Milieu saw more than 20 colleges participating in various on and off-stage events like antakshari, eastern solo competition, western dance, quiz and medley, the last being a mix of a number of events like just-a-minute (jam), spin-a-yarn, dumb charade and extempore.
One of the most popular events was the western band competition that was held on January 9. “Twenty two bands came to register for the competition but we had time only for six. We had to increase the number to 10 because of the immense rush. Even then 12 bands had to be turned away,” said Sayantan. Later in the evening, Bangla band 4WD performed at Milieu Dinner.
The film festival held on January 10, which showcased movies like Jana Aranya, by Satyajit Ray, Run Lola Run by Tom Tykwer and Pulp Fiction by Quentin Tarantino, was also a big hit.
One of the main attractions of Milieu, as always, was Chao Quiz, held at the canteen where the participants had to crack questions with a twist. Sample question: Which city has the maximum number of taboos' Answer: Ban-galore.
The main attractions, however, were the performances by bands in the evening each day. Western Nite was reserved for a spot of headbanging with city-based bands like Krosswindz and Hobos taking the centre stage.
The fest wrapped up on January 10 with a performance by the popular band Cactus (picture above by Bishwarup Dutta) which regaled the audience with hits like Saridon and Holud pakhi.
Pointers to the past
Trust South Point School to raise the bar yet again in a matter of numbers. The school’s reunion at Nalban, in Salt Lake, brought together 1,200-plus former students.
“This is a new record. Last year the footfall was around 900,” Krishna Damani, president of South Point Ex-Students’ Association, was ecstatic. Perhaps in anticipation of a record crowd, Meghnad Roychowdhury of the class of 1990 was posted at the gate with a wireless set.
The next person who walked in was not a South Pointer. Bollywood singer Udit Narayan had decided to make the most of the sizeable gathering to promote his Bengali album Kolkata O Kolkata. Chaperoning him was music company Saregama’s business head S.F. Karim, a South Pointer of the 1971 batch.
If the romantic lines in Bengali were greeted with catcalls, the crowd broke into cheers as soon as Udit turned to Bollywood and his latest hit Khaike paan Banaraswala. That set the tune for the rest of the night as Lakkhichhara took over with drum beats that played on the eardrums. “The music is so loud,” Class II student Tamoghno Chattopadyay, one of the few current Pointers around, sat with a martyred look next to his mother.
The teachers had taken shelter from the night chill under a far-away shade. “Our presence would restrict their fun,” junior school principal Madhu Kohli chuckled. Deputy commissioner of police, traffic, Jawed Shamim, and actresses Papia Adhikari and Rimjhim Mitra walked in as the night rolled on leading to a fireworks display (picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha).
At one side of Nalban, former Pointers were being called over to pose for the camera batch by batch. Ananda Sengupta was not bothered. “We passed out in 1974,” he said, as students of the 1995 batch scrambled on to the dais. His daughter Urmi, now in Class XII, would join the rush next year.
| Abhijit Gupta
Last evening, I saw a news clip of astronaut Sunita Williams talking to students in Punjab from space, and marvelled not at the ingenuity of it, but how commonplace all this has become. In three or four years’ time, we may well see Stephen Hawking in space, lecturing on the world, the universe and everything from a spaceship spinning 100 km over the earth. And if you, gentle reader, had enough money — say $200,000 — then you could also find yourself a passenger on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which plans to offer sub-orbital spaceflights to the paying public from 2009.
But later that night, a memory waved a tentacle from the murky depths of my subconscious: what would Kartik Chandra Paul have thought of all this'
If you claim to live in Calcutta and do not know who K.C. Paul is, then I am afraid you are not the real article. For the past three decades, Paul has been the most tirelessly dedicated graffitist in this fair city, leaving his mark from Tala to Tollygunge without fair and favour. Working with nothing more fancy than whitewash and black paint, Paul has been proclaiming that it is the sun which goes round the earth, and not the other way round: Galileo, Copernicus, Aristarchus of Samos had all got it wrong.
I met Kartik Chandra Paul 18 years ago when a friend and I had gone to interview him for a now-defunct magazine called Calcutta Skyline. We had sought him in deepest Howrah and had met a shy unassuming man, who lived in a two-roomed house by a pond covered with the ubiquitous water hyacinth. Amidst grazing cattle and waddling ducks, the man had stood gesticulating wildly as he talked of Ptolemy and cosmology. Behind him, the whitewashed walls of his house were covered with astronomical diagrams.
Paul had told us that he was in the armed forces when he studied the movement of the evening stars and became suspicious about the position of Venus. After a course of self-study he came to the conclusion that while the heliocentrists were right about rotation, they had got it wrong on revolution. In 1974, he concluded that the earth stood still and the sun travelled around it with its orbit titled at an angle of 231/2°. Among the other things he said was that Mercury and Venus orbited the sun, and the three of them were orbiting the earth as a system. The outer planets orbited the sun but were not moving along with it. Paul had even corresponded with NASA on the subject but the space body had politely told him that they were satisfied with the heliocentric system.
Unfortunately for Paul, almost all of recent astronomy contradicts his theory. But I still remember how both my friend and I were charmed with the quiet assurance of the man, and his unshakeable belief that one day the astronomical textbooks would have to be rewritten. If Richard Branson has another free seat going on his ship, I would strongly recommend Kartik Chandra Paul for it.