Many of my friends who are still decadent in their 40s are from Calcutta. They are talented but addicted to alcohol and drugs. They are decadent at home, eating and using home food, but they are very rude to their parents. They are India’s “beat generation”, or should I say, they are the next generation of “beat generation” – even more beat generation.
”Wen” Qing is a child of the Renaissance, and the Indian Renaissance is the son of British colonialism. The colonization of India by the British East India Company began in Calcutta, Bengal. Since then, the westerly wind has blown into the South Asian continent, bringing in capitalist production methods and Western values of rationality, freedom, and democracy.
It is generally believed that the Bengal Renaissance was initiated by Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833), a rationalist social reformer and anti-colonial movement in the 18th century, and reached its peak by the poet Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) in the 20th century. A rich and contradictory movement: while envious and absorbing Western civilization, while “discovering” the unique value of the “East”, anti-Western and Westernization, and anti-colonialism towards modernity.
On the streets of Calcutta at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, there were many “Bhadralok” with foreign accents, who wore suits, played the piano, played the violin, loved literature, and liked to talk. Patrolo literally means “a person with elegant manners”, but it is actually an irony, referring to a particularly pretentious rich man who thinks he is more noble and civilized than others.
The legacy of the Renaissance is still visible today. Bengali people advocate humanism, and large sets of books are often used as gifts for weddings and funerals. “Book” is a symbol of class and culture, and it is also an extremely high-end “home decoration”.
“Little Uncle” Herbert
Kolkata, India The “beat generation” refers to the generation born after India’s independence in 1947, many of whom grew up in refugee camps.
Indian independence is an event that should be mourned collectively. During the British colonial period, Bengal was divided into east and west halves. The east belonged to Pakistan, which was dominated by Muslims, and was named East Pakistan (then the liberation movement broke out, and Pakistan became an independent country, which is today’s Bangladesh), while the west belonged to Hindus. Majority of India. Most Muslims migrated to East Bengal and Hindus migrated to India.
The Partition of India and Pakistan was a tragic exodus of millions of people in human history. During this period, countless conflicts between Hindus and Muslims occurred, and hundreds of thousands of people died. Many women were forced to “suicide” by their families before they migrated to prevent their chastity during the journey. damaged. Kolkata, which originally belonged to the Badroo world, turned into a huge refugee camp immediately after independence. By the 1970s, there were as many as 5 million refugees from East Bengal.
These post-independence children were in the rebellious youth of the 1970s, a period of cultural and political turmoil. The Bengali film “Herbert” (2005) directed by Suman Mukhopadhya portrays the madness, absurdity and loss of this generation in great detail.
The parents of Herbert, the main character, are typical Badroes. His father is very handsome in a suit and tie, and his mother is very charming in an Indian sari. They named their first son “Herbert” by a foreigner. . Dad was a film director, and his family often had parties every night, and he often flirted with actresses on the set. Herbert’s parents died early, and the film presents the ghost of his parents filming his son’s life in the sky, which also symbolizes that the “Beat Generation” lives under the eyes and shadows of the brilliant Renaissance parents.
Herbert was a “literary youth” since he was a child. If he was excited, he would write poems to express it. His “mysterious growth” began with contact with Marxism. After India’s independence, there was a very active leftist movement in West Bengal, and children received Marxist propaganda materials from the Communist Party from adults since they were young. In 1967, the peasants’ armed uprising in the Nasali area inspired the Kolkata youth resistance movement in the 1970s. While reading, reciting poems, drinking and reveling, they conspired to transport guns and plant explosives. Calcutta is full of wars, middle school students and college students often play hide-and-seek with the police on the streets.
Herbert was ten years older than the rebellious children, their “little uncle”, with a very strange walk and appearance. Following the rebel team, he accidentally discovered his special ability to talk to the dead. The big guys made a fuss because of this, and started a business of pretending to be ghosts and psychics. While psychic swindling money, they drank and started revolution.
Soon, Herbert was denounced by the rationalists of the scientific movement and ordered to close his business. In desperation, he cut his wrists and ended his life. The brothers formed a funeral procession, waving flags and shouting loudly all the way, carrying Herbert’s body and mattresses into the incinerator. At this moment, the mattress exploded. It turned out that there was a bomb inside. The police wondered, where did the deceased come from as a terrorist? The movie starts here…
My literary youth friend Basu, who is 43 years old this year, is about the same age as “Little Uncle” Herbert. He has been abstaining from drugs for 8 years. little movie. In the past few years, he has often “picked up” drug-addicted literary and youth friends to rehabilitate them.
The original text of “pickup” is “pickup” in English. Here, it is the “jargon” of the Indian abstinence circle. As the name suggests, “pick-up” is to pick up drug addicts to the rehabilitation center. However, this process is not easy to operate. Usually, the parents and the rehabilitation center conspire to transfer several big men from the rehabilitation center when the drug addict is sleeping in the middle of the night. Put it at home, sneak into the room and catch it in the car while it is unaware. If the timing is inaccurate or just bad luck, and the “transfer personnel” happen to be awake when they rush into the room, there will inevitably be a tug, punch and kick. “Pick-up” jobs are high-risk and are usually performed by “professional” people.
Rehabilitation centers are like prisons. Once in, they last at least 3 months, usually up to 1 year, during which relatives and friends can only visit at certain times. Most of the people gathered in the rehabilitation center are rough men who have been marginalized by society for many years. They rarely speak English, but what is interesting is that there is an English word “pickup” in their “jargon”.
One day my friend Basu couldn’t sleep at night because he arranged a “pickup” for his friend Ruddur. The idea of this arrangement originated from the fact that another friend of his had passed away accidentally due to a drug overdose recently. In order to avoid the same tragedy from happening again, Basu decided to discuss with Rudul’s parents and make such a decision together.
Basu can treat the younger brother as a human bookshelf, with books on the younger brother’s head, which is convenient for the older brother to walk, smoke, and read at the same time.
Basu’s first experimental short film “Never Again” was shot in 2007 to commemorate another friend who died of drug addiction. During that period, Basu himself was addicted to tobacco, alcohol and drugs. In order to obtain enough tobacco and alcohol, he joined the underground organization and received the careful “care” of “comrades”. He followed people to rural areas to do organizational work. One day, he woke up from drunkenness and went to the grass to pee. He accidentally kicked a large bag of hard objects on the ground and almost fell. When he saw it, it turned out to be a large bag of guns.
Basu’s father belonged to a landlord-class Brahmin family, and his mother was from East Bengal and grew up in a refugee camp. The relatives on the mother’s side live in the refugee camp. The simple and dirty living environment is very different from Basu’s family. When Basu was a child, if he went to the refugee camp to play with his cousins, he would try to avoid going to the toilet. Learn to hold back feces and pee for a long time. Basu’s own home is located in the core old city of Calcutta. He was the king of children since he was a child, and he was also a genius in the eyes of his parents.
At the age of 7, Basu wrote a short poem in Bengali, which was published in a magazine, and often led the children in the neighborhood to disassemble electrical appliances to study and do various absurd experiments. When everyone was still singing Tagore songs, Basu knew how to listen to Bob Dylan, Leona Cohen, Pink Floyd and the Beatles when he was more than 10 years old, and he knew how to read “One Hundred Years of Solitude” . However, the Wenqing in Calcutta are not the melancholy and solitary type of people.
“you are my hero”
At the age of 20, Basu formed the “World”, a small art gang, with himself as the boss and several younger brothers at his beck and call. The eldest brother not only provides tobacco, alcohol and marijuana services, but also teaches younger brothers how to write novels. The younger brother is obedient to the elder brother. For example, Basu can treat the younger brother as a human bookshelf, with books on the younger brother’s head, so that the elder brother can walk, smoke, and read while walking. They even made a “membership application form”, and only those who reached the “absurdity” standard were eligible to join the club.
However, there are also abstinent Wenqing who do not drink or smoke. For example, Shroff, the music composer of “Never Again”, majored in physics at university. After graduation, he “wasted” at home and lived a self-disciplined life like a monk. He devoted himself to the study of physics and music, taught himself electric guitar and arrangement, and composed many pieces of music that blended Eastern and Western styles, reaching a high level.
”Never Again” wouldn’t be much better without his score. Shlov’s father died young, and his mother raised the weed rice bug alone. She was quite resigned to her fate and never expected her son to find a job to earn money to support the family. In Calcutta, there are many families with such children who do not know whether they are sane or crazy, motivated or decadent, useful or useless.
Compared with the vigorous Wenqing in the 1970s, Basu’s generation is much more bleak. The period of the Great Revolution has passed, and what they have is little madness, little literature, little movies, and little excitement brought about by alcohol and drugs. Regarding “the world”, whether it is the ambition to create world literature or make world cinema, it has become a false dream.
After waking up from his dream, Basu “picked up” the brothers who were also confused to the rehabilitation center one by one, and established a monk-like or prison-like collective life in the rehabilitation center, where he went to bed early and got up early, and cleaned every day. Regularly experience the crisis of self-doubt again and again, fight against the impulse of self-destruction again and again, and look for the meaning and value of “living” in “day by day”.
I often say to him: “You are my hero.” This is a sincere sentence.