No, the reference here is not to Chetan Bhagat’s IIT-reminiscing bestseller FIVE POINT SOMEONE. Peter Rozovsky, who writes a full-of-twist-and-turns crime-fiction blog, has forwarded an interesting four-cornered meme. Digging into multi-cornered memories and fancies, I came up with:
Four Places I’d Like to Go, or Things I’d Like to Do:
1. The British Isles. Of course, in the 1990s, most students of English Literature in India were fed on an almost-exclusive diet of British fiction (as opposed to writing in the other Englishes), and so I have grown up visualizing (and being forced to write long answers about) Shakespeare’s London (and Stratford-on-Avon), Wordsworth’s Lake District and James Joyce’s Dublin and the place near Westminster Abbey where all the famous poets are buried (to name just a few of the Eng Lit hotspots). Besides, when I was in school, my Pishi (father’s sister) got herself photographed standing beside the wax statue of Indira Gandhi at Madame Tussaud’s, and I’ve always had a yen for doing such deliciously desi touristy things myself.
2. Switzerland. The Hindi movies of our childhood might be set in Mumbai or Delhi or anywhere else in sweltering India, but most of them would zoom straight to the snowy Alpine slopes for a song. And the unskilled-in-skiing heroine would tumble straight into the hero’s arms, and the cold weather would be a nice excuse for a cuddle. So environment-friendly, na?
3. The United States. Which we called “Aay-mey-rica” in unsophisticated Bengali. Associated in my childish mind with Walt Disney and Disneyland. And a Bengali translation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin which wrung out a flood of my tears. And HOLLYWOOD highlighted against the hills. And then, in university, with the Great Gatsby and the “green light at the end of the dock”.
4. And Enid Blyton’s books (like The Caravan Family and Five Go Off in a Caravan) have made me yearn to have a holiday meandering through the countryside in a horse-drawn caravan (with bunk-beds and neat shelves and a cooking stove).
Four Places I Have Lived:
4. ----- (my imagination may fly, but the body had been fairly rooted)
Four Places I Have Been on Vacation:
1. Digha. My first visit to the sea. Digha was empty and unspoiled then. And I collected so many tiny colourful shells.
2. Darjeeling. My first visit to the Himalayas. The sharp frosty cold. The warm delicious momos. The white-crowned majesty of the Kanchenjanga peak.
3. Benares. Crowded with people making a living out of religion. Not really my cup of tea.
4. Goa. Blue sea. White sands. Quaint churches. Lovely people. Heaven!
Four Food or Drinks I Have Liked:
1. Fish. Especially freshwater fish. Especially silvery Ilish bought during a boat-ride with our entire family (father, mother, grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousins) on the Ganga on a long-ago New Year’s morn.
2. Rezala (a yogurt-based mutton preparation perfected by the Muslim Nawabs) and Roomali rotis (handkerchief thin wheat flatbread) at Shabbir’s in Kolkata, a Durga Pujo treat given annually by Baba (father).
3. The kuler-aachar (sweet-sour berry pickle) and aamsi (sweet-sour dry mango pickle) bought from the vendor with the little wooden pushcart on the long walk back from school.
4. Natural’s Ice-cream. The sweetest, creamiest, fruitiest, yummiest thing in Mumbai.
Four Books or Movies I could Read or Watch Again:
1. All my dog-eared, much-thumbed, yellow-pages-falling-apart Agatha Christies.
2. The Harry Potter series for their intricate simplicity.
3. Sholay. The drama, the comedy, the romance, the banquet of emotions. And every time I do, I never fail to cry at Jai’s (played by Amitabh Bachchan) sacrifice and death.
4. Dr Spock’s book on Baby and Child Care. Endlessly fascinating for the last eight and half years. (Just kidding).
Four Works of Art Before Which I’ve Stood (or Sat):
Since I’ve never seen any really famous work of art up-close, I thought I’d mention four works which I’d love to stare at.
1. Michelangelo’s Pieta. How can marble express such pity and tenderness?
2. John Everett Millais’ Ophelia. How can such overloading of earthy details be so ethereal?
3. Claude Monet’s Waterlilies series. How can one subject produce so many variations?
4. Dali’s The Persistence of Memory. A perspective-puzzle or a new truth?
Four Figures From the Past Whom I’d Like to Watch at Work or Meet for Dinner:
1. Shakespeare at work on King Lear.
2. Cleopatra arming herself in glamour and guile.
3. Charles M Schulz at his studio, discussing the daily Peanuts-dose of innocent wisdom.
4. Rabindranath Tagore sitting under trees with his students at Shantiniketan.
Four People I Think Might Take it Upon Themselves to Take Up This Meme:
(Feel free to alter/add/adjust at will. Anybody else can also join in).