Friday, July 22, 2005

Basic Rules to be a Blues Musician

Here is something interesting I have received few days ago from a friend.


1. Most blues begin "woke up this morning."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line.

I got a good woman,
With the meanest dog in town.

3. Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes. Sort of.

Got a good woman
With the meanest dog in town.
He got teeth like Margaret Thatcher
And he weighs 500 pounds.

4. The blues are not about limitless choice, convertible debentures, golden parachutes, BMWs, opera, or environmental impact statements.

5. Blues cars are Chevies and Cadillacs. Other acceptable blues transportation is Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Walkin' plays a major part in the blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the blues. Adults sing the blues. Blues adulthood means old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.

7. You can have the blues in New York City, but not in Brooklyn or Queens. Hard times in Vermont or North Dakota are just a depression. Chicago, St.Louis, Austin and Kansas City are still the best places to have the blues.

8. The following colors do not belong in the blues:
a. violet
b. beige
c. mauve
d. taupe

9. You can't have the blues in an office or a shopping mall - the lighting is wrong.

10A. Good places for the Blues:
a. the highway
b. the jailhouse
c. an empty bed

10B. Bad places:
a. Ashrams
b. Gallery openings
c. Weekend in the Hamptons
d. Trump Plaza

11. No one will believe it's the blues if you wear a suit, unless you happen to be an old black man.

12A. Yes, if:
a. your first name is a southern state -- like Georgia
b. you're blind
c. you shot a man in Memphis (see exception below)
d. your woman can't be satisfied.

12B. No, if:
a. you were once blind but now can see.
b. you have a trust fund.
c. you hold elected office.
d. your woman CAN be satisfied.

13. Neither Julio Iglesias nor Barbara Streisand can sing the blues.

14A. If you ask for water and baby gives you gasoline, it's the blues.
Other blues beverages are:
a. cheap wine
b. Irish whiskey
c. muddy water

14B. Blues beverages are NOT:
a. Any mixed drink
b. Any wine Kosher for Passover
c. Yoo Hoo (all flavors)

15. If it occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is a blues way to die.
Other blues ways to die include:
a. the electric chair
b. substance abuse
c. being denied treatment in an emergency room.
It is NOT a blues death if you die during a liposuction treatment.

16A. Some Blues names for Women
a. Sadie
b. Big Mama
c. Bessie

16B. Some Blues Names for Men
a. Joe
b. Willie
c. Little Willie
d. Lightning
Persons with names like Sierra or Sequoia will not be permitted to sing the blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.

16C. Other Blues Names (Starter Kit)
a. Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Asthmatic)
b. First name (see above) or name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi)
c. Last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)
For example, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Anorexic Willie, or Cripple Chirimoya.

[Personally, I dig "Asthmatic Kiwi Fillmore" given the above choices...]


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Growing up with a Bong Superhero

These rainy days make me quite nostalgic. Days like these brings back memories from the summer vacation, Maggi, Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot and comics. Comics was the main source of our hero worshipping (what else do a Bong kid can do on summer holidays with only DoorDarshan available!). To a whole generation of us Bong kids growing up Batul was our definition of the ultimate Bong superhero (though the grownups always talked about the Marxist superheroes but we somehow foresaw the future and knew Jyoti Basu was a dud!!). Every Bong house has atleast a copy of Batul or Handa-Bhonda or Nonte-Fonte present. I remember visiting my Mashimoni's place and spending whole day going through my cousin's collection of Suktara(he had an enormous collection; some date back even before my birth).

Batul is supposed to be the strongest man on earth - he can lift whole ship with a single hand, can blow the roofs of whole town by blowing his breath and can lift the prison building with one hand to catch the crooks escaping. The only similarity with Batul I found later was with Desperate Dan.

I've always wanted from then on to know more about Narayan Debnath, the man behind those hugely popular (they still are!!!) comics series like Batul, Handa-Bhonda and Nonte-Fonte. Atlast found an interview of him thanks to Parabaas.

Here's some vital-info on Batul:

Real Name: Bantul

Identity/Class: Unknown

Occupation: Various odd jobs when money is short

Affiliations: 'Lambakarna'. (a small boy, who has a special power of hearing from a great distance.); an ostrich (by manipulating his wings Bantul flies)

Enemies: Terrorists, outlaws, smugglers in general.
Bachchu, Bichchu - two small boys who are criminally-minded; Bantul always try to prevent them from doing mischief, so they try to harm Bantul.

Known Relatives: One very old aunt. Bantul is brought up by her, and he still stays in her house, looking after her.

Aliases: Bantul the Great

Base of Operations: A small township at a remote corner of eastern India, sometimes other parts of India also.

First Appearance: 'Bantul The Great' Comic Strip in Magazine Shuktara, started 40 years ago.

Powers/Abilities: He has physical power beyond imagination. He can move big things by blowing air from his mouth; his body is so tough that bombs, bullets or knives cannot penetrate. In a few instances terrorists fired missiles at him, and he used them as football. Even his tiny hairs (he usually has a shaven head) are so tough that they act like thorns or nails, so if he touches a ball with his head, the ball bursts. He can fly by manipulating the wings of his favorite ostrich.

History: Bantul is a superhuman who tries to enjoy a leisurely life in a remote corner of eastern India, who comes to the rescue of good people and to enforce the law and punish criminals. He helped Indian Military and Police a few times to catch terrorists and smugglers. The rest of the time he spends reading books, cooking, fishing, roaming in jungles and mountains, or try to earn some money when he runs short of it. Most of the times he land up in a mess when trying to earn money, as he is never conscious of his great powers, so he does normal things abnormally and destroy everything! (For example, if he takes a job of lawn mowing, he will definitely break the lawn mower!). Despite all his abilities, he's by heart a small boy, and most of the time he forgets his powers and try to act like a normal man. This way he brings miseries to his friends also.

Thank you Narayan babu for giving us the lovely childhood.

Here's a place we can read his masterpieces online.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

End of Innocence

So I've done with my 20s; today I've entered 30s. I'm no more 20 something, have graduated to 30 something today. Above is the cover of Time Magazine Jul 14, 1975.

Looking back it's been a strange, beautiful trip.

Incidentally I share my b'day with one of my favourite actors - Harrison Ford.

Here are some of the major events of 1975:

January 16 - Angola gains independence from Portugal
January 20 - Michael Ovitz founds Creative Artists Agency
January - Altair 8800 is released, sparking the era of the microcomputer
February 4 - The first successfully predicted earthquake occured in Haicheng, Liaoning, China
March 4 - Charlie Chaplin is knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
March 9 - Construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System begins
March 25 - King Faisal of Saudi Arabia is shot and killed by a nephew with a history of mental illness - the killer is beheaded on June 18.
April 3 - Bobby Fischer refuses to play in a chess match against Anatoly Karpov, giving Karpov the title.
April 17 - Pol Pot proclaims the "Democratic Republic of Kampuchea" in Cambodia and becomes its Prime Minister (1975–1979).
April 13 - An attack by Phalangists on a Palestinian bus in Ain El Remmeneh, Lebanon sparks over 15 years of civil war.
April 30 - Vietnam War: The Vietnam War ends as Communist forces take Saigon and South Vietnam surrenders unconditionally.
May 16 - India annexes Sikkim
May 16 - Junko Tabei becomes the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest
June 5 - The Suez Canal opens for the first time since the Six-Day War
June 28 - Mozambique gains independence from Portugal
July 5 - Cape Verde gains independence after 500 years of Portuguese rule
July 6 - The Comoros declare their independence from France
July 12 - São Tomé and Príncipe declare independence from Portugal
July 17 - Apollo-Soyuz Test Project: An American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft dock with each other in orbit marking the first such link-up between spacecraft from the two nations July 31 - In Detroit, Michigan, Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa is reported missing. August 8 - The Banqiao Dam, in China's Henan Province, fails after a freak typhoon. Over 200,000 people perish.
August 20 - Viking program: NASA launches the Viking 1 planetary probe toward Mars
September 14 - Rembrandt's painting "The Night Watch" is slashed a dozen times at a gallery in Amsterdam.
September 5 - In Sacramento, California, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, a follower of incarcerated cult leader Charles Manson, attempts to assassinate US President Gerald Ford, but is thwarted by a Secret Service agent.
September 22 - President Gerald Ford survives a second assassination attempt, this time by Sara Jane Moore
October 30 - Prince Juan Carlos becomes King of Spain after dictator Francisco Franco concedes that he is too ill to govern.
November 11 - Angola becomes independent from Portugal (a deadly civil war soon erupts)
November 14 - Spain abandons Western Sahara

Physicist Andrei Sakharov receives the Nobel Peace Prize

Music Highlights of 1975:

New albums carry four established acts to even loftier heights of popularity and respect: Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks, Chicago's Chicago VIII, John Lennon's Rock'N'Roll, and Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti.
Bruce Springsteen and his new album Born to Run.
The Wiz, a contemporary version of The Wizard of Oz, opens on Broadway.
Elton John's Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy enters the charts at number one and goes on to become his biggest all-time seller.
While on vacation, Robert Plant, lead singer of Led Zeppelin, is involved in a serious auto crash that almost claims his life and those of his family.
Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood and John and Christine McVie are joined by new members Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham for the new album for Reprise Records, titled Fleetwood Mac. It would become the sleeper smash of the rock era, taking 58 weeks to reach number one on the charts.
The Captain & Tennille release their album Love Will Keep Us Together. The title song, written by Neil Sedaka, becomes the biggest hit single of the year.
The Bee Gee's album Main Course produces the number one disco-flavored "Jive Talkin'," a song that changed the whole image and sound of the group, and foreshadowed the disco explosion they would launch two years later with the album Saturday Night Fever.
On Thursday, October 9, John Lennon's 35th birthday, John and Yoko's son Sean is born.
On Saturday, October 11, Saturday Night Live premiers on NBC-TV. George Carlin is the first host, and Janis Ian and Billy Preston are the first musical guests.

Popular Movies of 1975:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Dog Day Afternoon
Hester Street
The Hindenburg
The Day of the Locust
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Barry Lyndon
Farewell, My Lovely
The French Connection II
The Man Who Would Be King
Rooster Cogburn
Shining Star

Grammy Awards in 1975:
The 17th Grammy Awards were held in 1975, and were broadcast live on American television. They recognized accomplishments by musicians from the year 1974.

Record of the Year John Farrar (producer) & Olivia Newton-John for "I Honestly Love You" Album of the Year Stevie Wonder (producer & artist) for Fulfillingness' First Finale
Song of the Year Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman & Marvin Hamlisch (songwriters) for "The Way We Were" performed by Barbra Streisand
Best New Artist Marvin Hamlisch
Best Classical Performance - Orchestra Georg Solti (conductor) & the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique
Composing and arranging
Best Instrumental Composition Mike Oldfield (composer) for "Tubular Bells - Theme From The Exorcist"
Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman & Marvin Hamlisch (composers) for The Way We Were performed by Barbra Streisand
Best Instrumental Arrangement Pat Williams (arranger) for Threshold Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists Joni Mitchell & Tom Scott (arrangers) for "Down to You" performed by Joni Mitchell
Best Country Vocal Performance, Female Anne Murray for Love Song
Best Country Vocal Performance, Male Ronnie Milsap for "Please Don't Tell Me How the Story Ends"
Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group The Pointer Sisters for "Fairytale"
Best Country Instrumental Performance Chet Atkins & Merle Travis for The Atkins-Travis Traveling Show
Best Country Song Billy Sherrill & Norris Wilson (songwriters) for "A Very Special Love Song" performed by Charlie Rich
Best Ethnic or Traditional Recording Doc Watson & Merle Watson for Two Days in November
Best Gospel Performance The Oak Ridge Boys for "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor"
Best Soul Gospel Performance James Cleveland for In the Ghetto performed by James Cleveland & the Southern California Community Choir
Best Inspirational Performance (non-classical) Elvis Presley for "How Great Thou Art"
Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist Charlie Parker for First Recordings!
Best Jazz Performance by a Group Joe Pass, Niels Pedersen & Oscar Peterson for The Trio
Best Jazz Performance by a Big Band Woody Herman for Thundering Herd
Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female Olivia Newton-John for "I Honestly Love You"
Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Stevie Wonder for Fulfillingness' First Finale
Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus Paul McCartney & Wings for "Band on the Run"
Best Pop Instrumental Performance Marvin Hamlisch for "The Entertainer"
Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female Aretha Franklin for "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male Stevie Wonder for "Boogie on Reggae Woman"
Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus Rufus for "Tell Me Something Good" Best R&B Instrumental Performance MFSB for "The Sound of Philadelphia"
Best Rhythm & Blues Song Stevie Wonder (songwriter) for "Living for the City"

Academy Awards (Oscar) 1975:
The forty-eighth Academy Awards ceremony was held on Monday, March 29, 1976 at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion of the Los Angeles Music Center. When Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) won for best actress, she added sign language to her acceptance speech. To her deaf parents she said, "I want to say thank you . . . for teaching me to have a dream."
The hosts for the evening were Goldie Hawn, Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Gene Kelly, and George Segal.

Picture One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Actor Jack Nicholson (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
Actress Louise Fletcher (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
Supporting Actor George Burns (The Sunshine Boys)
Supporting Actress Lee Grant (Shampoo)
Director Milos Forman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
Adapted Screenplay Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) Original Screenplay Frank Pierson (Dog Day Afternoon)
Song "I'm Easy" (Nashville)
Score Jaws (Original) Barry Lyndon (Adaptation)
Cinematography Barry Lyndon
Costume Design Barry Lyndon
Art / Set Decoration Barry Lyndon
Film Editing Jaws
Foreign Language Film Dersu Uzala (U.S.S.R.)
Sound Jaws
Short Films Great (Animated) Angel and Big Joe (Live Action)
Documentaries The End of the Game (Short) The Man Who Skied Down Everest (Feature)

Well, so much for trivia.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Let it be

Words are flying out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Images of broken light
which dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai guru deva om
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Nothing's gonna change my world
Jai guru deva Jai guru deva

--- The Beatles "Across the Universe"

Can't help it, this song is on my mind from the morning. Hope Sir McCartney won't sue an innocent fan like me.

This song also brought back so many memories - Shubham and me listening to this song on an LP in a lazy rainy day afternoon at Shubham's place when we were in Class V (1986). The song brings back the smell of the rains in Calcutta, of the foliage in Shubham's garden, the sweet smell of innocence (yes, of course, we once were), the muri with acharer tel and the freshly done oil paint of Gautam da half dried. How much I miss those days only I know.

Now some trivia on this song :

Another by Lennon, this was a song that he deemed as one of his best. This had originally been recorded during the "Lady Madonna" sessions, and placed on the side. The Beatles weren't sure what to do with it. They wanted it as a single, then as a B-side, then it was to be used on a EP. Because none of these ideas panned out, The Beatles gave this song to the World Wildlife Fund for a charity album. Phil Spector liked it and decided to include it in "Let It Be." He took the original recording, edited out the opening overdubbed bird sounds, slowed it down a little, and added a choir and orchestra. The bird sounds can be heard on the version included in Past Masters II. John wrote this song after having met the Maharishi Masesh Yogi in England. The chorus phrase "Jai Guru Deva Om" is the name (Guru Dev) of the Maharishi's guru.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Food for thought - A Calcutta food fiesta

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Somebody took the time to make this list. How many have you tried ?

These are all available in Calcutta

Kabiraji Cutlet from Regent (S N Banerjee Road)
Moghlai Parota from Anadi Cabin (S N Banerjee Road)
Kosha Mangsho from Golbari (Shyambazar)
Phulkopir Singara from Mrityunjoy (Lansdowne)
Double Egg Chicken Roll from Kusum, Hot Kati @ Park Steet)(Campari @ Gariahat & Nizam is a close contender!)
Chicken Rezala from Shabbir (off C R Avenue)
Beef Steak with Peeper Sauce at Oly pub (with beer!!)
Ujjala's Chanachur ( no comparison anywhere)
Telebhaja from Putiram (College Street)
Daab Chigri from Kewpies (Elgin Lane)
Daak Banglo Mutton/Chicken from Oh! Calcutta
Chicken Cutlet from Baked & Fried/Mukherjee Sweets (Ballygunge Place)
Bijoli Grill's Fish Roll
Mochar Chop Dhoka from Apanjan (Sadananda Road)
Boudir's Lebu Cha (Deshapriya Park)
Kochuri & Tarkari from Tasty Corner (Mandeville Gardens)
Phuchka/Churmur/ Dahi Phuchka from Bilas or Boudi (Southern Avenue)
Chicken Cutlet near Samur (Bhowanipur)
Mishti Doi & Rosogolla from Mithai (Beckbagan)
Sandesh (all types) from Balaram (Bhowanipur) (Naram pak & Ice cream
Pantua from Bancharam
Indrani from Ganguram
Rabri from Chittaranhan
Darbesh from Sen Mahasay
Amritti from Bhim Nag/Ganguram, Maniktala (Jalebis are no match)

I wish I could add -
Skyroom's Prawn Cocktail & Mixed Grill & Baked Alaska
Blue Fox's Lobster Thermidor - NOT anymore....
even the
Mandarin Fish from Waldorf is no more available!!

These are unmatched:

Chelo Kabab from Peter Cat
Phulkopir Shingara: samosas don't stand a chance against these.
Phuchka: gol-gappas aren't a match on phuchkas.
Karaishutir Kochuri: a seasonal favourite, have it with alur dam.
Luchi: puri and phulkas - no comparison.
Alurdom: the world's best. Try the offering at Vivekananda Park.
Jhalmuri: a unique concoction, with nothing to equal it.
Telebhaaja: these and jhalmuri are like 'made for each other'.
Chanachur: many have tried unsuccesfully to steal the formula, MNCs included!
Alukabli: where will you get something like this?
Ghugni: again, chana is not the same at all.
Radhaballavi: try it with alurdom or cholar daal.
Chanp: even Pakistani cricketers have sampled these, in Chitpur.
Rezala: out of this world, just out of this world!
Paradiser Sharbat: there is one which is green, and another, pink. No college student from Presidency or the University has failed to sample these!
Lere Biscut: needed to make the batter for chop-katlet.
Chicken Kabiraji: an unbelievable variation on the chicken cutlet.
Moton Afghani: an equally innovative presentation of the mutton cutlet.
Dimer Kalia: again, where do you get something like this?
Kasha mangsho: it's become an institution now.
Roll: the ubiquitous mutton, chicken or egg roll. Unquestionably superior to any variants in any other city of the world.

And also..
Coffee houser coffee: try the float with ice cream.
Bharer chaa: on the Maidan, from shining brass vessels on a rainy day.

And not to be missed in all this,
Pan unmatched, even in Benaras or Lucknow. Honestly!

The sweeter side
Roshomalai: a creamy, mouth-watering delight!
Jilipi: smaller than the jalebis and tastes quite different.
Lal(Misti) doi: is an experience by itself!
Kamala bhog: a pale yellow orb, delicately sweetened.
Notun gurer sondesh: a winter speciality available in no other city.
Rosogolla: simply needs no introduction.
Natun gurer Rosogolla: the latest innovation.

There are many, many more traditional favourites.

And also:.
Shitabhog: pure white, sweetened to just the right extent.
Mihi Dana: golden yellow, saffron scented.
Maalpoa: rich brown pancakes, dripping in sugar syrup.
Ranga alur pithey: another traditional favourite in winter.

Some special one's:

1. Aamer morobba - the best outside Gariahat market
2. Kuler achar - the best outside Gariahat market
3. Shukno mashla makha tetul - Available with the churanwalas outside all schools, much to the delight of the students and dismay of the parents !!
4. Dulaler tal michri
5. Dulaler hojmi - mind boggling and healthy too
6. Bikrampurer kashundi - Mustard just pales next to this
7. Machher kochuri - Where else can you have fish in such an innovative form ????
8. Churmur - In my opinion this is slightly better than jhalmuri and phuchka. The sad thing of course is that it is unheard of in the rest of the country.
9. Alukabli - Another must at Vivekananda Park or opposite Menoka Cinema
10. Muri ghonto - Defies description
11. Mochar chop - A delight even for the staunchest non vegetarians
12. Kumro phul bhaja - In tiny little food joints around Chittaranjan Avenue
13. Kada paker sandesh - A sure winner, especially the jalbhara talshansh with the liquid gur filling, which is sublime
14. Darbesh - Our own version of the laddoo
15. Bondey - How does one describe this sticky sweet delicacy ?
16. Patishapta - A delicate crepe with a filling of coconut and gur
17. Chhanar payesh - Better than rabdi anyday and does not weigh your stomach down...

Ode to Oly

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Olypub or Olympia Bar and Restaurant (fondly called Oly by the regulars), is an institution for atleast 3 generations of Calcuttans now. Oly can be thought of as the Coffee House equivalent for the boozers, one of the cheapest possible place for a drink after office. What is fascinating about Oly is that it has stood almost unchanged and uncompromised from soulless beauties the current age throws us into.

In the sixties Oly was a favourite haunt for the Ad agency guys from Park Street and the sorrounding area. In the seventies it has been frequented by the young intellectuals(??) and the so called Communists. The eighties saw somewhat decline in their crowd quality as this time, continuing till mid ninties it has been infested by Maroo businessmen and their kin and the promoter types getting new taste of money.

The late ninties and the new millenia saw the renewed interest in Oly as again students and young professionals started frequenting along with some old time regulars. Yes, Oly has a die hard regular following, mostly the clerks from adjoining government offices.

The place opens at 11 am and the narrow side annexe to the older main establishment, Olympia Bar, leads to steep, rickety steps which display no embarrassment at the cheap and frayed coir matting adorning them, before opening out into the low-ceilinged mezzanine floor which constitutes the bar proper and which is further subdivided into two sections, connected by a stair of 4/5 steps.

Technically called Olympia Bar and Restaurant, Olypub is one of the best watering holes in Calcutta. It definitely isn't a "pub" in any sense of the word. More like an old fashioned restaurant who specialise in serving alcohol at prices that are affordable. The waiters are kind people who while measuring out a peg let the cup overflow generously which results in you getting an extra 5 ml of booze with your prescribed 60ml peg. The rates are affordable to the common man, with a bottle of beer still priced at around 50 rupees. Pegs of rum and vodka are available at a ludicrous 34 rupees per peg. The snacks range from ordinary to excellent but one notable exception is the beefsteak which sensible cow-eaters, Hindu or otherwise, swear by. It more than approximates a full scale meal and is a compelling excuse to stop by and down a few pegs while the cook inside roasts the beef to ones' desired specifications.

However, in the final analysis, what strikes one most about Olypub, is the sheer diversity of its clientele and its refreshing lack of pretensions. On a good day one can see come and go through the day, though not necessarily in succession, : couples in love or out of it conducting their matters, in between generous swigs of beer, Marwari traders boasting about their latest sting operations to lesser Bengali counterparts, lone poets and writers engrossed in staring fixedly at some predetermined point on the wallpaper and sporadically downing stiff whiskies or rums, earnest groups of wannabe management graduates, stuck up and snotty nosed, lecturing on economics and ethics (uneasy bedfellows them), three women and a peripheral man whose only role is to provide the women with an entry into Olypub (since the bar forbids entry to solitary unescorted women in the interests of the morals of its existing clients), groups of quizzers, winners and losers, after some gruelling exhibition of dilettantism at the Dalhousie Institute nearby, the Chowringhee yuppies self-consciously loosening their ties as they enter, droplets of sweat on foreheads and pink chins, a testimony to their sincerity and devotion to Mammon, the occasional 70's revolutionary, now potbellied and balding, seeking solace in alcohol which comforts, which helps one forget as well as remember, bibliophiles who subsist on rum and water, hunched over their priceless acquisitions from the second-hand book shops of Free School Street, and many, many more --- in short, a sample of humanity, which though unexceptional, provides enough material for contemplation to the lone observant drinker seated at the usual corner, the connoisseur of, if not drink, at least, the drinking experience.

It isn't a hip place, by no means. But that doesn't stop the women from getting there. After a particularly harrowing day in office, working, talking about football or politics, (sometimes both) - it is the place to unwind. You are likely to find an interesting cross-section of society once you are there.