My Very Special Birthday Wish


A Reason to Celebrate: My New Tagore Album. Please visit, listen and download (click on the picture).

Today I’m writing to celebrate my birthday. But today is not my birthday. It’s tomorrow.
I’m writing today because tomorrow I won’t have any free time. Birthdays here in the U.S. do not wait for a free day (or a day when you can make yourself free), and just like some other days I love to celebrate — such as Durga Puja or Tagore Jubilee — they often fall on a busy day in the middle of the week, and I cannot celebrate them the way I want to.
That’s not what I call a free country. (But that’s a different story.)
I also want to celebrate those days I love to celebrate with a lot of people and family and friends, and that don’t ever happen either.
(But that’s a different story too.)
I really love to celebrate my birthday. I’ve always loved to do it. I’ve done it in our small, limited-means way both in Calcutta, Kolkata — where I spent the first half of my life when Ma cooked some of the best Indian-Bengali dishes you could ever get anywhere in the world (ask any of my old friends); and then here in the U.S. — where I spent the second half and where my wife cooked some of the best Indian and Bengali dishes you can ever get anywhere in the world. Believe me: I’m not making it up.
So, great food is not a priority no more on my wish list. I’ve been blessed with great food — homemade and heartfelt — all my life. I seek something else. My mind asks for something more. It’s a spiritual yearning.
Perhaps, my very special birthday wish this year is: would you be mine? (Now, I know that’s cheesy 🙂
This is a very special note at this very special time. I want to smile. I want to chime.
Would you remember today to smile and chime? Mr. Bright? Ms. Bright? (That’s also perhaps again not so cheesy, right? 🙂
I need to see a lot of smile. I need to hear a lot of laughs. I want to hear a lot of songs. Happiness has been in seriously short supply. Seriously. Recently, it’s reached a critically low level.
Yeah, that’s it!

My family and friends — especially those who I know deeply care for me — often tell me these days that I have changed slowly but surely from a sprity, forthrighty, frothy, fizzy, frolicky, fun person always with a big smile and grin and loud laugh and sense of humor to a rather sad, glum and grumpy old man. Now, that’s major bad news. I want to change it.
This is a major tipping point.
So, on this very special day (like, starting from tomorrow), I want to remember the good things that happened to my life and be happy thinking about how lucky I am that those good things indeed, actually happened to me — things that do not happen to most people I know (and I know a heck of a lot of people — like, thousands, literally). I’ve sort of decided to come to a resolution that I shall, in my mind, focus on those positives and ignore, delete and de-focus the negatives.
Now, I know it’s easier said than done.
I also know it sounds like one of those Deepak Chopra books — comics that people actually buy and read and make-believe they are happy now. But Deepak Chopra or not, I know I ain’t got no more choice. Or, it’s gonna be fast and painful death for me. I don’t want to die fast and painful. More importantly, I don’t want to die and be remembered a sad and glum and grumpy man. Oh, no no no, man! Because, I am not a sad and glum and grumpy man. I never was. I never will be.
I’ve actually thought about it long and hard: what is it that pulls me down and makes me sad and angry?
I could perhaps post a long laundry list of those things in layman’s terms — events, experiences and feelings all of which happen to be true and raw and depressing and dirty — that could pull any human being with a heart and brain down. Like, deaths of loved ones — and way too many of them too untimely. Like, leaving India practically for good — out of compulsion. Like, being born too poor and seeing too much poverty and starvation too up close. Like, going through a hell of a lot of physical and mental injury and insult. Like, extreme verbal and physical abuse…like, sexual abuse. Like, hiding them all…way too many of them…and pretending they didn’t happen.
Then, there is more. Like, being forced to go through a social, educational, economic and political system that absolutely, totally, unquestionably cheated you. Like, not being able to use your delightful, lovable, warm personality and sprite, blotting-paper-like desire to learn and respect for your teachers, God-given talents, knowledge, experience, analysis and proven leadership to put to use to change the society and system in a significant way…and at the same time helplessly witnessing one of the darkest and dumbest and most exploitative and violent chapters in human history unfolding in your own life…one event at a time…like a bad, obnoxious movie…acted, directed, produced and promoted by some of the most corrupt and inefficient-yet-arrogant crooks in human history. Compared to them, yes, Caligula or Nero or Kissinger or Cheney is like child’s play.
I’ve come to a major resolution. I can never be president of the United States. Heck, I know I can never even be the chief minister of West Bengal. Only people with tons of money, a Bush-like one-of-a-kind predecessor, a major-media-sponsored genocide or a despondent-hopeless-pathetic regime and equally hopeless electorate could make you a president of the U.S. or a chief minister of West Bengal. I’ve therefore given up on those secretest desires.
That’s sarcasm, as you can see.
My parents-in-law became destitute refugees, overnight. Thanks, Gandhi.

But truly and cross-my-heartly, I’ve resigned to believe a few other not-so-idiosyncratic thoughts. Like, the two Golden Bengals will never be reunited and Bengalis will forever be blasted and looked-down-upon by the West and East alike as a failed race (and nobody will read the history book and know either the Pala Dynasty, Sri Chaitanya’s Bhakti movement, Raja Ram Mohan Ray, Derozio, Vidyasagar, Lalan, Swami Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita, Tagore…and of course, on the flip side of history, the British barbarism). Nobody would ever know how prosperous Bengal was where after the Battle of Plassey, Lord Clive and his women looted so much gold and jewelry that they went absolutely wild berserk. (Read about Clive’s atrocities here.)
I’ve resigned to believe that at the London Olympics of summer, 2012, there will be no demand from the millions of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants-turned-British citizens for an official apology and reparation for the British Raj’s two centuries of occupation, brutality, mass-killing and mass-looting. I’ve resigned to believe that in India, the same illiterate and feudal-chauvinists who were responsible for a bloody partition, riots, refugees and famines will keep in power for many years to come. I have resigned to believe that very few people even in the so-called enlightened West would ever care to know exactly how many hundreds of thousands of Bengali women were raped and killed by the Kissinger-backed Pakistani army in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.
I have resigned to believe that people who I thought would care would not care. I have a number of examples of that disillusionment. Obama has been the latest example on that list.
My Alma-Mater Speaks Loudly.

I have resigned to believe that Tagore’s Nobel Prize, stolen from his own Vishva Bharati University’s national museum, would never be found. I know the British monarchy would never return Koh-I-Noor and numerous other treasures they looted from India. I now know the British government would never tell us how Subhas Bose — whom Gandhi sabotaged — perished in exile. (Am I digressing too much?)
Okay then. I’ve come to realize that nobody in the elite academia in the “free-thinking” West — especially those in the seat of power — would ever care to learn or promote philosophers and intellectuals outside of what Harvard, Columbia or University of Chicago asks of them to freely think. They would not want to know Tagore. They would not know Bengal Renaissance. They would refuse to know or teach anything majorly un-Euro-American.
I know for the fact that none of the above would ever read my blog.
So, as you can see, I have my reasons to slowly but surely transform from sprity, fun, frolicky to sad and glum and grumpy. But at this rather critical juncture of my life, I refuse to be a victim of their doing and die and be remembered a sad, glum and grumpy, bitter man. I shall not give in to their grand plan: destroy the thinking mind, dumb-down the non-thinking others, keep the trouble makers on the edge, and kill all the smiles.
No, I won’t die their prescribed death.
I want to celebrate this birthday. I want to celebrate it with a smile. I shall live on the many positives that happened to me.
I hope you do too.
Smile with me.
Let’s celebrate life. Let’s celebrate it together.
That is my very special birthday wish today…and tomorrow.
Sincerely Writing,
Brooklyn, New York
Another Reason to Celebrate: Teaching American Labor Rights!


  1. I am SO happy to hear, Partha, you are going to focus on your many blessings. As someone who suffers from a chronic painful illness (MS) and also has had to heal from a past of physical and sexual abuse, I know how easy it is to go down the path of anger and sadness, but I truly believe that by focusing on our blessings instead, we open our spirits up to even more positive goodness in the world.
    I hope you have a very Happy day on your Birthday and well as all the rest of your days!

      • Who says your are old. You have just spent a quarter of your life each in India and USA. Two quarters of your life remains: you are just young. Who say you are not as spirited as an youth can be: you just cam to India a few weeks back alone, visiting so many places, meeting so many people, posting on Fb, giving lectures in academic institutions, recording an Album of Rabindra Sangeet, then continuing with your blog even as you are busy in your regular job, helping the weak and the oppressed. You continue the youthful impatience with things not always turning out the way you wished. Have a Wonderful day and let all smiles glow your face throughout 25th April, your birthday: you are just a younger to Sachin who turned 40 today on 24th April. God bless you.

  2. No one really forgets his or her past or present, however painful or joyful. It’s only positivity that can help us overcome and move on….am glad to know that you want your birthday to take off on a happy note, the underlying currents notwithstanding…lol….sincerely wishing you A VERY, VERY HAPPY B’DAY, Partho…may the years ahead give you the joy and happiness you so truly deserve.

  3. Our caring and curious natures cannot be denied despite efforts from a few to look down upon us. We deserve our lives as much as anyone else and that little bit of factual knowledge always brings a small smile to my face. Happy birthday Partha.

  4. Happy Birthday, Partha, we all need those reminders that there are hidden joys and blessings around us every day, but we often are wearing our blinders, too focused on the past or the future to love the present moment. May your birthday find you smiling!

    • Thank you for your comments. Present is good but past good is also good. I’ve realized that positives can far outweigh negatives even though negatives could have fierce short-term effects.

  5. Partha, thank you for sharing this with me and others in your friends list. Even in the virtual world we have the power to open eyes, hearts and minds with our thoughts, words and kindnesses; above all kindnesses. Opening eyes, hearts and minds is very important in this aching world of ours.
    Yes, there is too much negativity in the world and sometimes people will disappoint us. In the end, they are just people and since we are all human and not Gods, we are fallible. We often place too much hope and expectation on mere people, who aspire to great things; things that are bigger than originally understood and that is where our disappointment comes from. This is where we must learn to forgive and encourage those that falter in our expectations to try again.
    The failure in humanity is not in faltering. The failure in humanity is in failing to get back up and try again, with the insight and knowledge of history and past mistakes, ever improving. That is all we can hope and encourage each other to do. When we fall, we must pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off and try again! This is persistence, and persistence practiced with a dedication in love is the most powerful pursuit that humanity can make for its greatest fulfillment. Just my thoughts, since you asked me to share them with you.
    Blessings to you and yours always Partha!

    • Absolutely honest and heartfelt thoughts, Margarita. I very much appreciate the things you said and the way you said it. One of the things I’ve been trying hard through my writing is reaching out and touching people who could be friends and friends who could be close friends. To me, this bridge building — through writing, singing and talking — is extremely important. It keeps me alive and well. Write more.

  6. Thank you Partha. I appreciate your kind words of support for my writing. I wanted to say that I went and listened to some of your music and wish that I understood your language. Very nice music. I will try to be more engaged in the future and hope to keep learning more.

    • Thank you again, Margarita. I have translated some of the Tagore songs myself; if you want, I can send them over to you. Let me know. I think Tagore music, even without the translation, has a universal language of peace, love and spirituality. That’s the beauty and genius of the great poet.


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