Saturday, December 19, 2009

Come again to Copenhagen



All eyes or to be more realistic many eyes and ears had been focused in the direction of Copenhagen during the last two weeks. I would feel left out by not making a statement about this much talked about “Climate Summit” as it had a grand closing yesterday. The climate summit was not surprisingly given contradictory ratings by various countries as some terming it an unprecedented outcome while other saying it a good start and a few terming it an outright failure. Probably they have to come back to Copenhagen or maybe Mexico to take this further.

What does it really mean to us lesser mortals? We quite do not understand the difference between 2° temperature rise and 1.5° rise and how can a nation control that. It is particularly difficult for someone like me to perceive this extremely relative affair concerning temperature. I feel cold at 15° while my friends live comfortably at -25°. I guess it will be prudent to leave this complex issue of climate change and global warming in the able hands of the scientists and the leaders as their spokespersons.
But there is a thing or two we could all chip in to make this world a better place for us, our coming generations and other forms of life with whom we share our planet.

I feel particularly sad to see people waste paper. I equate paper with deforestation and destruction of the habitat of the animal kingdom... if there were to be a kingdom. This is something we need to consider with sincerity. We can start by using both sides of the sheets and when it comes to free leaflets and pamphlets we need to rethink before we pick one up.

A few years back I was involved in the making of restaurant in a five star hotel. As the operations took over the restaurant and started to prepare their staff for service, we got to hear a few very important instructions going out to the waiters. "Serve water as soon as the guest takes the table" was one and "try to sell more" was the second. We have to add one more bottle to the already huge pile of plastic while it is difficult to believe that such a state of the art property do not have reliable water filtration installed!

We all can help in the recycling process by separating the different category of trash. We human generate a huge amount of trash every day with our mindless lifestyle churning out bottles, cans, cartons and other forms of plastic and paper every moment that we are awake.

And finally we can make a statement by buying only what we require and not what we desire…….. Well, As much as practically possible!


Bins in the roads of Dubai

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

adieu


The New Year is synonymous to change as we bid goodbye to the old and welcome the new. This year I am very nostalgic about the Bajaj Scooter as we bid farewell to this icon with a heavy heart. The scooter has been a part of the life of every Middle class Indian and even if they did not own one.

The Message from the president said: “We have sold the last of our Chetak scooters and Bajaj Auto will not be building any more of these classics. Bajaj Auto has"retired" the Chetak tooling and closed the plant……”


I remember those teenage days as I first learned to ride a scooter and it wasn’t easy to synchronize the clutch and the gear and the accelerator. A smile crossed my lips as I thought of the college days when a friend wanted to try the scooter and nobody was ready to ride his pillion. I had volunteered and he managed to get us airborne followed by a nose dive to the amusement of all others.
A few years later I moved to Delhi and I had my own scooter, a Bajaj chetak and it was my companion as long as I lived there. I have very fond memories of those days but I also remember quite vividly the two near death experience on the Delhi road. On one occasion a Blue line Bus pushed me so hard that I got quashed between the bus and the pavement fortunately I was unharmed but my chetak took the pressure and developed a crack right in the middle of the chassis. Living up to its name on this occasion as it was named after “Chetak” the legendary horse of Indian warrior Rana Pratap Singh.
The Bajaj Chetak was a very popular homemade motor scooter produced by the Bajaj Auto Company. The original design was based on the Italian Vespa Sprint. We can still recall those days when waiting lists for Bajaj scooters stretched into years and people were willing to pay a premium equal to the original cost to possess one of those. This became the symbol of resurgent India and was a popular wedding gift in certain parts of Indai. I remember people trying selling their allotment at a premium and some trying to get hold of foreign quota to get their hands on one.

Bajaj’s long-running advertising campaign ‘hamara Bajaj’ will continue to find resonance in the ears and minds of the people of our generation while the young generation will never know how much the life has changed after the economic liberalization of the nineties!! And will never see the scooter being tilted on one side and kick started to glory…..

Watch the video here

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Celebrating Christmas

Over the past four decades that I have been roaming this planet Christmas had been part of my life bringing new flavors in new ways and had rediscovered this most celebrated Birthday everytime. My early memories are of more traditional celebrations in my first school “The Holy Cross School” which was run by Christian missionaries. In Kolkata the Christmas day is known as “boro-din” a popular belief that the days starts to become longer and night shorter from this day. This day is ear marked in all Bengali’s calendar as a day to go out for picnic. Our college campus which is on the bank of the river Ganges and adjacent to one of the oldest Botanical garden in the country used to have hundreds to visitors mistaking it to be the botanical garden, which turns into a family park during holidays.

In Bahrain I have some very dear Goan friends and we had great time together during the whole week leading to 25th and without a doubt had the best Christmas of my life. But all in all this day has always been a day for celebrations!
I am sharing some of the lovely pictures that I have received by emails and unfortunately cannot stand by for the authenticity of these information but they do look marvelous.


The Capitol Christmas tree in Washington, D.C.

Christmas tree display rises up the slopes of Monte Ingino, Italy
 
A Christmas tree is projected onto the exterior of the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka,Tokyo.

Illuminating the Gothic facades of Prague's Old Town Square

In Venice 's Murano Island renowned throughout the world for its quality glasswork

Moscow

In the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal

St. Peter's Square in Rome


In Singapore

Against a backdrop of tall, shadowy firs, a rainbow trio of Christmas trees lights up the night (location unknown)



Monday, November 30, 2009

When Spring Returns


This weekend the dark clouds gathered around the global economy once again and this time it was on concerns that two of Dubai - owned companies may default on their debt obligations. Watching the news develop in the television stations a thought crossed my mind … “How happy we were there”.

I was transported to another world when I read Oscar Wilde’s “Selfish Giant” for the first time. The statement “How happy we were there” remained closed to my heart and popped into my mind every now and then.
This time it was not so much for us as we had reached Dubai as matters had already started to get sour, though I would have loved to live there. There has been hundreds of thousand s of families who had to leave the land of their dreams. The economy was buyout many people lost control over their lifestyle started to live beyond their means. They were sitting on the edge spend their past , present and future income with an illusion that they are immune to the global economic downturn without realizing that a strong breeze could throw them off balance. While some developed cardiac problems when hit others departed abandoning their earthly possessions. The state does not have personal bankruptcy protection and that prompted many to leave behind massive amount of unpaid credit card and personal loans. Many of them left behind their much loved new cars in one of the many parking lots. About 6 months back the government auctioned about 3000 sparingly used cars but there are still many and I guess new ones are joining the ranks like this one that I spotted in the expensive airport short time parking lot.


But this place was not fair to the people who actually built the city. The wages were as low as 1000 dirham while the bosses at the developers were at times taking home as much as 170,000 dirham a month. While the rentals for the apartments skyrocketed every effort were being made to drive the laborers, taxi drivers and other low income groups to outskirts keeping the city only for the rich, famous and the tourists.
Hope the city will embrace everyone rich and poor with open arms when spring returns to its gardens.How happy we are here! They will cry out to each other once again.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

A few unrelated Current Affairs



We are scared to turn on the news stations these days and we wonder every time we switch it on about where has humanity gone and what value does a human life have today? We are dying in hundreds without any reason or fault of our own. This week there was this gore incident in the Philippines, where political rivals have killed 60 opponents and buried their body in a mass grave. Just for having different political views or was it the usual struggle for control?
Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the Mumbai attack. For us it is only a day to remember those people who lost their lives for just being there … wrong time wrong place for them. But for the families of those 165 people, it had been 365 days of painful existence.
Then there are two wars (would rather not call them war) being raged in Iraq and Afghanistan. The question is whether to increase the number of troops and if that will do any good. In brief they are putting more life at stake. My question to them is why do you struggle so much and waste so many lives to kill the end product. Why don’t you cut their supply lines of the number of arms and the extremist? While the extremists are usually homegrown, the arms & ammunitions are supplied by the developed (so called) countries.
Ireland has witnessed a couple of stray incident this week and that is not a good sign according to me.
Is there a deterrent for a suicide bomber? I wonder what punishment could be given to them if they could be apprehended!
As a child we learnt that when a people die they go to heaven and would point up to the sky. Many a stories have been written where the child asks for his dead father and mother points to the sky and assures that he is watching them from there. Today one American Astronaut Randolph Bresnik, who is in the International space station, is eagerly waiting to comedown to meet his child who is born while he is up in the sky. Things do change, don’t they?

Please do not get upset with the proportion of bad news. This is usually the proportion that we witness in the media today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Simplicity in Glitches

As a kid we used to have radios, the SW/MW kind of gadget and a few years into our childhood we met the first TV set. It was a black and white television set with a selector which could tune into 6 or 8 stations the selector came with an extra ring which was used to fine tune. In addition to that was the off/on and volume knob and all built into one. The radio used to have exactly similar set of control to tune in to a station or control the volume and a knob to switch between short and medium wave and I cannot recollect the existence of FM (frequency modulation) in those days! And the telephone was a solid black piece of equipment and well connected (with wires off course!).
Life was so simple then. Whenever one of those gadget failed transmit we immediately knew the cause. If it was not the power source it was the antenna connection unless the station is having trouble with transmitting the program. In latter case we a sweet voice would invariably come up apologizing for the interruption.
But now life is quite different! We have tens of gadgets in our house and each one of them has hundreds of controls options. Powered by nano technology, literally every household item has a micro processor chip installed and a few programs that run on that (No wonder the IT professionals and programmers are so much in demand). If we are not watching the Television we are watching a DVD or listening to some music or may be on the play station if not surfing the internet. But there is one uncanny similarity between life then and life now. Whenever the gadget stops working I have no doubt about what has happened… whether it is the phone or laptop or the TV or anything else ………. It has HUNG itself! But the good thing is that they are not humans, a simple reboot brings that back to life!!




Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All is not lost


Last week while I was being driven around I had noticed a building with big neon sign announcing that it housed the “Jarir Book Store”. I had decided on that very moment that I will have to visit this place, and I will have to do it sooner rather than later. Yesterday when I reached home after work, I was very disappointed to find that someone e has occupied my parking. So I decided to venture out in search of the Book Store…. in quest of knowledge, so to say. But with my level of road sense it is never easy to find a new location and as I lived up to my expectation. Fortunately for me there is a roundabout very close to my house and so I could first go straight, and then right and finally left, every time coming back to the roundabout to change direction. After taking a few turns at the signals I could see the neon sign I have been so desperately seeking to find. At that moment I thought of giving a “Land Ahoy!” cry but restrained myself somehow. But all was not as smooth as I had to enter through the exit gate making “please excuse me gestures” to the car who was trying to go out through that exit. I was helped by a parking attendant giving signals with his hand quite similar to the boys who helps the pilot park his airplane. He actually wanted to wash my car to make a few bucks (they are usually an exploited lot and have to survive doing such odd jobs). He started to speak in broken Hindi and was very amused when I replied to him in Bengali and in the brief conversation that followed, I told him that my ancestral home was very close to where he is living now and it’s unfortunate that it is not accessible to us.


I went up to the Book store and was pleased to discover that it was more than a simple bookstore. They had everything starting from laptops to school text books and there was a big section dedicated to arts and other hobbies.
After spending a good one hour among those interesting products and picking up a city map and a few other stuffs, I proceeded to the checkout counter. I was running a bit dry on cash and wanted to pay using my credit card. To my shock I could not find it in my wallet and after settling the bill I almost took my wallet apart to find that particular piece of plastic. But it was not there... it was no where!! All sorts of thought started to overtake my thinking capability. I shuddered to imagine how much I would have probably lost if someone decided to use my card.
Then I remembered that last time I had used that bit of plastic was exactly 10 days ago, the day I landed in Doha and that was in a “Subway” outlet. Fortunately I did not take any wrong turn on my way back and manage to reach the “Subway” quite quickly. I went inside and asked “did I leave my credit card here?” and gave my name.” To my utter relief he retrieved it from the safety of cash box and handed over to me my lost and forgotten mate. I felt like giving them a hug….. As I drove back home I wondered if I would have got it back had it been another country… another time … So all is not lost in this world!!!
But as I reached home I found my parking spot still occupied. I found a spot a block away and as I prepared to hit the bed I realized that this is life……. Kabhie khushi kabhie gam … (joy and sorrow goes hand in hand)

These images have no relevance to this city and are borrowed from the WWW.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Modern Day Gypsy

Last few weeks have been very hectic for me. Tough decisions are always tough to take. It was not at all easy to decide to leave Dubai and go. The stay in Dubai was short but sweet. We had some of the best moments in our life while living in Dubai. But as it turns out I am only a modern day Nomad ……. a gypsy of the 21st century. I have tried putting up a home in so many times in so many cities in the past decade but could never stay long enough to grow my roots and that is the reason why I am able to relocate myself to a new place with relative ease. As they say that a rolling stone gather no moss… I am on the roll once again! I do not have any regrets in leaving that place, but I am a bit sad that I had to leave in such a short notice.
The boom of the past few years had attracted people from all walks of life and from around the world. There had been a mad rush in the past years to reach there to make a living and build the city. When I landed there, it was as if a grand party was in progress. The place was humming with all kind of activities. The streets packed with cars, the malls with shoppers and the restaurants with tourists. The city which glitters like a diamond every night is full of friendly people a bit preoccupied and busy with their own life though. But as it turned out, we were a bit late in reaching there. When we moved here from Kuwait, someone told me that the party was already over and the closing ceremony was in progress, and it turned out to be very true. But I believe that this is only a temporary phase for Dubai and it will soon get back to its former self and a new set of people will rush back to this city which never stops changing its skyline.
When I was offered this option of getting transferred to Doha, Qatar by our company, I took the hard decision to leave and move for the moment. The other option was to hold on to the fort and travel up and down to Abu Dhabi everyday and that was even more difficult for my set of priorities! So I had to come to this new country, new city and start fresh once again!
I have heard a lot about this place and everyone has their own opinion and view point. When I posted that “I am liking this place” in my FB, I received a barrage of reaction from my friends… so today being the day off, I took a “get to know the city” drive in the afternoon and clicked a few snaps. I am glad to see the West Bay skyline and the way it is developing further. I can now rest assured that I have arrived to witness another megacity in the making.






Sunday, November 1, 2009

Spot the real model




Few days back I had written about the living statues in my other blog A Slice of Art & Design. What a coincidence that a very similar technique was being used in one of the popular malls in Dubai last week. A few stores had come together with a Radio station (who runs a few FM channels in different languages) to host a competition. The competition was quite uncommon (I shall not comment if I liked the idea or I did not) for this city where there is a constant attempt to inject new ideas to promote consumerism.

This particular competition was called “Spot the real model”. There were a few (5 to be precise) model who were posing with the mannequins in the display windows of the stores spread all over the mall. It was exactly the same act as one of those living models. The only difference probably was that they were working under a corporate or a modeling assignment and not as street performers.
All one had to do to claim a prize (shopping vouchers) was to be one of the first three persons to spot the live model and run and report to the organizers. You would then receive a shopping voucher and you could also request your favorite song to be played over the fm station.

But for the models, it was not easy. Seating or standing there in a frozen state and people taking picture might not be all that fun. I may be guilty of taking this picture…. but I did it just for this blog. I tried asking for her permission before taking the picture using sign language. I took her silence to be her consent. Probalby I am mistaken.. probably they were enjoying the whole Paparazzi attention and were well taking in their strides. After all its all in a days work as they say.....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A man's dream





Probably there are two types of man in this world. There are those ones who let out a sigh after reading an “Andy Capp” cartoon and the ones who does not. Every morning while reading this comic strip a smile lights up my face and I always end up dreaming for a few moments "what if" I was going to spend the rest of today like Andy. But never succeeded to cross the "what if" threshold. Even if I am at home, I would not be able to spend the entire day for instance in that sofa couch of Andy. What amazes me the most is the extent that a person imagination might reach to create and keep a character like "Any" and "Flo" alive and filling up the morning of millions like me with their sense of humor and a feeling of freshness.


In the early days of my blogging I had written about the "Stay At Home Dads" where we spoke about the lucky “stay home husbands”. The lot who doesn't really have to struggle for daily sustenance and on the contrary could spend their time playing golf and socializing. But leading a life like Andy must be a dream realized only by a fortunate few or maybe an unfortunate few!

There is a bit of history behind everything in this world. If you are interested in knowing little bit about this comic strip the wikipedia probably will be useful.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andy_Capp

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Our Crime Master Gogo



"Aaya hoon, kuch toh loot kar jaoonga" is a dialogue from the movie "Andaz Apna Apna" and no one can do better justice to this than my 15 months old. To put things in perspective, this is one movie I do not mind watching every time it shows up on TV because of the sense of humour and comic timing and to sum it up, I find it entertaining. The music too is entertaining with a comic as well as retro flavour. I do wonder if Amir Khan and Salman Khan are together in another movie. The villains here are portrayed as a bunch of comedians rather than the usual ruthless killers. One such character is "Crime master gogo" which is played by Shakti Kapoor. Every time he showed up, his opening dialogue was "Aaya hoon, kuch toh loot kar jaoonga. Khandaani chor hoon. Mogambo ka bhatija, Crime Master Gogo" (Since I have come here I am not going to return empty handed.)

My daughter follows the same principle and so at times we affectionately call her "crime master Gogo". While awake, she is the busiest person in the house, doing something very important on her own, which we wished so much that she didn't. If she is not doing anything in particular, she will be stalking the house, looking for something to put her hands on. Till a few months back we had our home neatly arranged with many a object carefully placed at different levels to deck up the image but not any more! with every inch she gained in height, we had to come up with new ideas to relocate stuff and had to keep doing the disappearing act till we ran out of ideas and started to pack them off to be unwrapped sometime in the future. But the great thing about her is that she is not deterred by disappointments and setbacks. She approaches targeting one particular object but if we manage to move it before she reaches, she will settle for whatever else is available and never return empty handed. If we lift her up instead of moving the object she will try and grab something that is available at the higher level. Now that she has mastered the art of climbing a chair, we have moved them away from the dining table and placed them against the wall. We had her dining chair against the wall as well and I had to put her up there one day as she cannot get out of that by herself, so that she remains convict for some time while we ran some errands. But to my astonishment she was standing on the chair and fiddling with the door security phone very happy and very excited too. We let her play with the phone to her heart's content! Aaya hoon, kuch toh loot kar jaoonga..............
She has reinforced in me to thrive to make the best use of all available situation and not to give up.
Isn't this a wonderful philosophy!





Monday, October 5, 2009

A Thought for the Day



Today as I was driving up to work, I had a thought which I would like to share with you all. It might sound a bit odd at the onset. Did you ever observe a strange resemblance the way we look at us and our cars!

As a new car is launched it becomes the most sought after object in the town. Everyone dreams for a few moments of togetherness. But only a lucky few succeed. The real character form within is often quite different from how it looks from the outside. We try to explain saying that looks can be deceptive!
The most striking fact is that the same car for which everyone vied for a few years back goes unnoticed in the crowd if it was not in the good hands. After the first owner has let it go after use and abuse, things has never been the same. It only exists as wreck of what it had been, a shadow of its former self.
But to retain honor and still held be held in high esteem after losing the youth, one has to be a Classic or a vintage model, well kept and well maintained and well cared for.
Don’t we treat ourselves and our fellow human in the same way?
So ……. the best way to remain respectful and honorable and withstand the test of time in this world is to thrive to be a classic!
That's a thought.. think about it!


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Effort Worth Taking ...


Earlier this month my fellow blogger Gaelikaa of “Gaelikaa’s diary” passed on an award to my blog and I thank her for that. I like to receive awards of all types like any other fellow human being. For awards and citations are recognition and appreciations for what we do.
I have not received many awards like most of the achievers of today’s world. I remember having received only a few of them, 3 to be precise. And out of that only one was at a national level and remaining 2 at zonal summit and nothing in the International level. Those were long way back during my college days. I do not even have the certificates as they were hanging in our college department wall when I saw them last. I hope they are still hanging on and have been joined by many more brought by the boys, who came after us!
Though I was very happy to receive the award, I was not able to put it up in my blog. I was a bit too busy doing something which I have not done in years and definitely not done it enough when other does it most. Yes! You guessed it correctly. I was preparing for a professional exam and by the grace of good God, I was successful and my score was way above average but unfortunately not the “Crème de la Crème”. It was quite difficult for me to say the least. But I was lucky to have my wife around who used to be a school teacher. She not only did take care of the daughter but also monitored my monitor so that I did not drift away from my goal. It was a good reminder of good old school days!
But as the saying goes... All Well that ends well! I am happy and so is everyone else. An effort worth taking!
Once through with that I decided to put a bit of effort on the other blog that I want to put up. It is called “A slice of Art & Design”, I intend to showcase Art and Design and Architecture in there. I invite all of you to pay a visit there whenever your time permits. I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Durga Puja ..... In our hearts and minds



The Bengali self within me does not allow me not to think and talk about the Durga Puja while at home we are celebrating the biggest annual festival. This is the time when all Bengalis come together in celebration leaving behind all their differences, well most of it! This year we did not get the taste of the Puja, we thought of going up to Muscat and then we thought of visiting Abu Dhabi but finally decided to sit back ruminating through all the earlier Puja. The only taste of Puja this year was when my brother let us listen live to the “dhaak and kasha” playing in our building for the “shandhya arti” via Yahoo Messenger voice service.
The puja in Agartala used to be the greatest in terms of fun and enjoyment and I cannot imagine having the same fun in any other time of place. Ironically I did not quite enjoy the celebrations in Kolkata to the same extent even though it is the heart of the Bengali land. But it definitely provides immense pleasure to see how vibrant a place can be and how all sections of people can have fun forgetting all their worries.
Delhi which was my next stop used to be quite a different place. For us it was the first time that we realized that the 4 days of Durga Puja could be working days. This is something which is quite unimaginable for a typical Bengali. We used to have a small theatre group of our college friends and we used to go around the city (with prior booking) and perform one act plays with portable sets, stages and equipments which we carried along in our car. I used to be the light man or the prompter and giving hands to all the ancillary works. We could perform only in the outskirts while the stars performed in the downtown. I still remember the massive gathering and celebrations in C R Park areas both the old ones and the new one that started in pocket 40.
After New Delhi, it was Muscat. Muscat had two well structured temples and is the only place in the Middle East to have proper temples. Every few years there used to be a new idol and I was there in one such occurrence while we unpacked the Goddess who came all the way from Kolkata and put her up in the altar. The ladies usually would take care of the worshipping and other rituals during the morning hours. The men folk used to gather after working hours and after few moments of socializing all used to move out to one of the auditoriums reserved for the purpose far away from the temple. It was a big community get together and invariably a “Good food – Good wine” event.
Twice I went to Sohar, a suburban town and a few hours’ drive from Muscat where the Bangladeshi community hosts two Puja. I was touched by the way they received us took us among them in spite of being total stranger and mind you this is in stark contrast to their Indian counterpart (outside India).
We love to sing the song ….
“Mehman jo hamara hota hai
Who jan se pyara hota hai
Zyada nahin lalach humko
Thode mein guzara hota hai”
(The guests who visit our homes are dearer than our lives, we do not ask for a lot and are content with whatever little we have). And they love to practice the same! Since then I only visit their celebrations! Because they are so much like us yet so different. I am not sure how many of you will agree to this?
While I was in Bahrain there used to be two Puja in the same temple, one by the Indian Bengalis and one by the Bangladeshi counterparts.
And then it was Kuwait and again we spent our time with the Bangladeshi community and we enjoyed a lot. Here are a few images of the Puja in Kuwait.
Finally Shobai ke janai Sharod Abhinondan!
Wishes to you all on this festive season!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Those Two Days

Two months back I celebrated my first birthday. Do you this was the second biggest party of my whole life. We celebrated the first one in Kolkata. It was the day I got to taste of rice for the very first time and along with that a lot more thing that made very little sense to me. Many curries including Fish and also sweets, which could hardly fit within a 10” plate... all I could think of at that moment was... "ore baba re" (OMG)! They (ora) like to call it my annaprashon. You know, I was very sad this time as we do not have my relatives here in Dubai and I missed them all very dearly. I thought I will not write about this party at all as I missed the family so much. But now that I have spent a good one month time in Kolkata with all of them, I feel much better. This time most of the uncles and aunts we know here in Dubai have also gone out for their summer vacation and there were suggestions that we postpone the birthday party. But tell me how can we postpone my first birthday party.... yes the first birthday! Actually at the end we did have quite a few guests and I made many friends though they appeared to be a little elder than me. I had great fun running after them and shouting aloud... yes shouting with all my strength.... you see, I still have to learn how to talk like you guys! It was sad though that Ma did not allow me to go around the pool as it was too dangerous.I actually thought it would be somewhat similar to the annoprashon party. at one was in Calcutta Rowing Club and believe me, it was a great party. I almost felt like a queen, that evening. We actually sent out invitation cards well in advance all those cards created especially for me. I had my grandparents, uncles, aunts and so many other guests.
At the annoprashon earlier in the day it was great fun too. You know for we Bengalees it is a very auspicious occasion. This is the day we worship our family Guru and are introduced to the real world of all the perceivable senses. Everyone was ready with their cameras when Pishimoni (aunt, father's sister) got a plate with lots of goodies, as I was sitting on my mama's (mother's brother) lap and I was supposed to select whatever I liked. There were money, jewelry, cosmetics, pen, pencil and a book. Can you imagine that I selected the book from all those things? Everyone was very excited ... I did not quite understand why! It was actually a book on finance from kaka (father's younger brother). After that all the elders started to shower me with all sorts of ornaments.... I wish I had many of such occasions! But it only comes once in a lifetime.But all in all both my parties had been great fun. ... A lot of fun!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thinking Aloud

Be it a tilt in priority or a time management issue but the matter of the fact is that I am not being able to do much of blogging for the past few weeks. I do try and take a quick tour of the blogs that I follow whenever I can manage. I wish I could scribble a few lines in my blog now and then but ….. I guess blogging have to wait a bit more!
I could best describe this situation by following Filmy line …. “Majboor ye halaat idhar bhi hai udhar bhi” (“I am restrained by the compulsion is on either side”. Excuse my poor translation)
Following are a few pictures of My City, Calcutta. These are taken from emails which have been making round for sometime now and most of us have received once already! These pictures were taken in 1930ies (nineteen thirties) less than two decades prior to our independence from the British rule.
One point bothers me whenever I look at these images. Almost 200 years into British rule our people have been dressing themselves in traditional attire. But what happened in the next 25 years that made us to abandon(except for special occasions/ festivities) the “dhoti - kurta” altogether? Could we not have tried to do make our traditional attire evolve itself to stand up to the need of the 21st century?
I am thinking aloud and would welcome your thoughts on this!
Please click on the image for a bigger picture.

















Friday, August 21, 2009

About Awards, Copy, Paste et al

I believe one of the most powerful inventions of our life time is the personal computer. I was introduced to this thing of wonder a bit late in my life maybe not as late as some other but late enough. At our Engineering College the computer room or computer lab as it used to be called used to have an uncanny similarity to an ICU. This boss man used to reside in an air-conditioned glass room under lock and key and with limited access and strictly under supervision of the protector of the glass castle. When we were allowed to enter that room we had to leave our foot wares outside. It was imbibed in our mind that it was a very delicate instrument and one has to take extreme care while dealing with him. Little did I know at that point that you need to be a genius to spoil it (not by vandalism)!
Later on in life I got the opportunity to have regular handshake and at one point could manage the limited network of pc in the office. But those were the DOS days and we used to write long commands whenever there was a need to copy or move a file. But then came the windows and along with it came the user friendly way of dealing with the pc (I will not go into the controversy of PC adapting the Mac way of life).
But what it brought along is according to me the most powerful tool of our day to day existence today-the “copy & paste” tool. This tool has done wonders! This simply does not require any more elaboration. Now we can even “drag and drop” stuff but I still believe that “Copy and Paste” still wins hands down. But there is a catch:
I heard a story where a patient goes to a doctor with a knee dislocation problem. The doctor applies a light stroke with his hammer and the patient is fit to run again. The patient argues how you justify your fees of 100 bucks as a stroke like this is nothing more than a child’s play. The doctors say “my dear, you are only paying 1 buck for the strike while the remaining 99 is for knowing where to strike”.
Today I thank our fellow blogizen Aparna for giving me an award on 19th August 2009 and also sharing the knowledge of the place to copy it from and the location to paste it to. At this moment I regret to state that I will not be forwarding the tag and award that came my blog’s way any further. Let these rest here (I was tagged by Sujata on her blog on the 4th of July 2009) for the time being.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two Tales in Two Cities



Today India celebrates 63rd Independence Day. We undoubtedly achieved a great deal in the past years. But there is a long and bumpy road ahead. There are two events that bothered me this morning.

First Incident:
"Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." It's the Golden Rule and we believe that it is the ultimate norm of high morality in all culture.
Last Saturday night I was on my way back from Kolkata, my hometown, where I went for a brief break taking a week off. I was travelling back alone as my family stayed back for a few extra weeks so they could spend some time with the family.
We were on an emirates Airbus A 330 aircraft and the flight was smooth enough to let me start writing this blog at a height of 36000 feet above the sea level. I was a bit skeptical about the departure time as the flight preceding ours was delayed by a few hours. To shake my confidence further I spotted a dead cockroach in the waiting lounge and none of the house telephones were in working condition. Once up in the sky I discovered that my co passenger was just a little short of a robot and since I did not know where the switch was, I never got to start a conversation and I was on my own. Emirate airlines provide a wide range of choices for in-flight viewing. After dinner I dozed off for a while. When I woke up the lights were dimmed and I the plane was very quiet. As I looked around I could make one definitive conclusion and that is SRK is a superstar. I could conclude this because all the video screens visible were tuned in to a movie starring SRK and yes all of them without an exception. It was the movie called “Rab ne bana di Jodi” (“a match made in heaven” is probably a close translation). That is his level of popularity among Indians, Indian Diasporas and also many non Indians. I remember the Al Nasr cinema in Muscat used to witness plenty of fighting and back marketing when one of his movies was screened. SRK is the initials of Shah Rukh Khan who is only the second movie superstar of India and second only to the one and only Amitabh Bachan (The Big B or AB as he is popularly known).
Today He was stopped at an airport in New York and interrogated for two hours and not allowed to make a phone call either. While a mere search in the “Google search” would have brought out all his details and the total number of pages would have been many times of that of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp put together. So the security agents have detained him because of the word “Khan” attached to his name. Now the question is those guys are uninformed or Stupid or stubborn or simply Idiots!
I think Indian authorities should take a note of this and treat the same way when one those Tom Cruises or Brad Pits visits our soil! But probably we are too cultured to treat our guests likewise …. We are like this only….. !!!

Next Incident:
At the dawn of our independence from the British our first prime minister’s words are worth remembering... "The ambition of the greatest men of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but so long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over." -- Jawaharlal Nehru’
But unfortunately we have a quite e different scenario today and left with some leaders who seem to have quite different views towards life, country and countrymen. Mayawati wants to decorate the state with statues of leaders. She is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the northern state which is among the largest and most populous states of the country. It is also one state with a high number of rural population most of whom are below the poverty line. To make things worse a drought is looming overhead this year. But apparently our Mayawati has requisition the central government for Funds worth 5.56 billions of Indian rupees for statues building while allocating only 2.5 billion rupees in her budget as a special economic package to deal with drought hit provinces of the state.

But these are only a few glitches in our way of progress …. Jai Hind!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Password protected Life.

We all require safety and protection from the big bad world outside. Today I am sitting at my desk well protected and with a sense of security but totally entangled in a web of random numbers and letters. Every moment of this existence, I am reminded that all good things in life come with a price tag and in this case I am almost paying with my mind. I consider myself fortunate that I can still use a key to enter my house (a remote key like the car is in my wish list though) and a keyless biometric provides access at work. I am thankful that keyless access to cars by punching access code did not go too far.
Password has been in existence since time immemorial. I am told that in earlier days sentries would only allow a person or group to pass through or allow access only if they knew the password. The dictionary meaning of the word “password” is a secret word or expression used by authorized persons to prove their right to access, information, etc.
Before we were required to make an effort and somewhat match the signature stored in their record (which was a difficult task by itself) to get our money from the banks. At times we had to explain across the counter how prettier she became over the years to justify some modification to our signature. It did work most of the time!
At the beginning I took it as a challenge to have difficult passwords which was difficult to guess and even more difficult to create. But soon I was inundated as a huge demand for passwords came my way as I needed a user name and password right from reading a online newspaper to accessing the internet banking. Friends came out with ideas: using favorite brand names; pets’ names; friend’s names etc and then spelling those names forwards or backwards or sideways or another possible direction. Slowly I realized that I was getting entangled into the maze of password. Everything I did required a password. If that was not bad enough they started to demand a new password periodically. While some providers only advised a change of passwords, the IT systems at work as well as banks are a bit ruthless. Passwords there come with an expiry date. I had this bright idea to have a set of 3 passwords and keep them rotating. But my plea was summarily dismissed and it refused to accept them fully or partially.
The security priority varies from site to site but we need to bear in mind that if someone is able to crack one he might be able to take a guess how your mind works and it might make cracking the rest. The pundits say that the most difficult passwords to crack are the ones created by a combination of Mixed-case Letters together with numbers (D5x0rJ00dZ, Ur2GooD4Me). It is also the most difficult ones to remember.
I dream of getting liberated from this password trap some day, but till that happen we need to remember that no password is un-crack able and the best we can do is make it difficult and non-trivial to determine our password. Also whatever method we choose, it's a good idea to change the password often.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Remake and remixes


A Taj Mahal Remix by me


I resisted myself from watching the remake of the film Don directed by Farhan Akhtar even though I like his films. In fact when I finally watched it on the cable I have to admit that I quite liked it even though in my opinion, it was not as good as the original one. But the matter of the fact is that I am not too comfortable with this concept of Remake. I do agree that many changes have been made to the original one to align it to the present times but the fundamentals as well as the concept remains unchanged.
I wonder how the people of the world, particularly the French, will react to the idea of remaking the Eiffel tower with some modifications and changes. Maybe we could suggest adding a few stainless steel members in between to get some polish and shine. Another remake I may suggest of my mind is the Statue of Liberty. Maybe we can replace the crown in her head with a baseball cap to give it a more realistic look and connect with days generation. After all in current time not many people wear a crown as compared to the baseball cap. Or closer home maybe we start replicating the Taj with a double glazed dome and Grey steel minarets.....
On the other side of the coin sits the remixes. Many songs that we grew up with and were very popular when originally composed are now being recomposed and released as remixes. Most of them got dance beats injected into them with some raps punched in between and not to forget the eye catching videos. Unfortunately many of the younger generation is not aware that there exists an original version and there exists an authentic & original creator, while the new version is just a replica. Now a days the remix version is created alongside the original composition with variable input from the composer. These should be called a variation rather than a remix. But generally there doesn't seem to be so much of apathy against remixes and everyone is happy to listen and dance to those tunes.
Do you really like imitation or accept that there are any sense in imitating? Doesn’t it virtually signify the end of creativity? As we walk through the shopping high street of any popular city which are frequented by tourists, we see scores of imitation products. Replicas of Lui Vuitton bags and Rolex watches or Gucci sunglasses are most common. Interesting enough we use another terminology for such products. They are called counterfeit instead of remixes. These are actually a form of remixes by their own rights. Usually they use cheaper materials where the color and texture are different and inferior to the genuine ones. At times we see that they pick the design of a model and use the material of another model. And in the interiors of the developing world people use these products even without realizing that they are actually the end result of hardwork and creativity of some designer and design house.
Hence I conclude that the matter of the fact is that someone has decided for us that remakes of movies are acceptable and remixes of old music are acceptable but a replica of a Rolex or a Gucci handbag is definitely illegal and a counterfeit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Navigating the high street


A shopping trolley abandoned in the middle of the aisle in some super market is a common sight and we all have learnt to navigate our own cart around such obstacles. Abandoning one's shopping cart in the middle maybe still acceptable with a little bit of inconvenience to fellow shoppers but to find a pram with a child nicely parked in the middle of an aisle makes me nervous.
Certainly there is something mostly in the female genes (no offence intended) and in some males too, that causes the brain to freeze the very moment the eye spots an interesting package on the display shelve. All other logic stop working if there happens to be some red tag declaring a “Sale” or a yellow tape wrapped package stating "special offer" or “buy 1 & get 1 free” or maybe a yellow sticker with "free" written in red ink attached to any product on display. The world around does not exist anymore as the brain starts working on complex calculations towards establishing how much profit this offer is going to make to the weekly budget. The shopping cart is abandoned then and there with no consideration for fellow shoppers.
I had been all along trying to get some traffic sense into shopping cart driving of my better half and finally took charge of the steering bar. While she does the shopping I and our daughter who has recently graduated from her pram to the shopping cart take care of the maneuvering. Now I have come to realize that there is much more grief than to worry about an abandoned cart. One has to steer through groups of people socializing with no concerns for fellow shoppers. The good thing is that sometimes they move and give way when you give out an irate grunt (excuse me please)! The other menace are the learners as the proud parents lend the control of the cart to their 5 year olds who is already sporting a pair of skates (the normal shoes fitted with the wheels) which does not make things any better. They come and hit you from behind (believe me it hurts!) and you are not supposed to even yell at someone else's kids.
Now a days we are able to beat the traffic, both inside and outside the supermarket, as we do our weekly shopping during the middle of the working week. It is peace and tranquility for now till others decides to do the same.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Wonder Years - I wonder what they do

Ora je ki kore - I wonder what they do!


Last few days I am noticing a new of excitement around me. We have been making frequent trips up to a hotel and they ("ora" as I say in Bengali) are talking to a manager uncle about banquet hall and balloons and food and what not. I have a feeling that they are so excited because I am about to reach my first milestone. Actually this happens to be the first anniversary of the best thing that happened in my life. I remember that day in Bhagirathi Neotiya hospital very clearly. It was the morning of 11th of July and that was day I have seen the first ray of light and felt the first gust of fresh air hit my face and blowing whatever little hair I had that time and most importantly got the first hug from my mother. After a little while one aunty dressed in white clothes took me out through the corridor. I saw many people waiting for me there but I was so sleepy that I could barely keep my eyes open. Somehow managed to open both my eyes for a moment and was greeted by thakuma, dida, dadu, pishi, kaka, baba and some uncles. Baba clicked a photo within that one moment and I thought "ora je ki kore" before I went back to sleep. I lived in that place with many small babies like me for about a week before they took me to my home. Our hospital room had a large glass window and every afternoon the curtains were pulled back and we used to see hundreds of people outside that window smiling and waving their hands at us. We waited for that moment all day.Today, those days seem to be from so long time ago, a time when I could practically do nothing by myself. Except off course those two basic things and for that kaka calls me H Kumari. Each day of this one year has been very exciting for me. I have spent every single day of my life looking for new adventures and facing new challenges. Ma was so excited the day I first turned around that she made a note of that in a nice note book that I am not allowed to play with. But after that many more exciting development happened. One day to my surprise I found out that I could control the movement of neck and head. I was so excited that I started to keep my head up as long as I was awake. Baba used to push my head down to the pillow but I liked to keep it up and in my control. Then slowly I could drag myself in the bed on my chest. They (baba & ma) use to say that I move like a snake but I did not care. I used to enjoy my new found mobility so much that I used to move around all over the bed whenever I wanted. The real big day came a few days before we when to Kolkata for my annoprashon. The A-day was a very special day and I had the opportunity to taste all the food that they always ate. I will leave that story for another day. I crawled on my four. That gave me so much of freedom that I cannot express in words. Within a week of coming back from Kolkata I could stand on my own legs and my happiness knew no bounds. I have been waiting for so long for that day. What a great sense of achievement! You will only realize it the day you can do it yourself. A few days after that baba started to take me to a huge swimming pool with him. First time I saw the pool I was surprised and thought ora amake abar kothay niye elo (now where did they bring me). The pool was so much bigger than my bathtub; it is even larger than the big bath tub that they use. To be honest with you I was very scared and irritated with them when they dipped me in that pool for the very first time and said to myself Rai, tui kader pallay porli re (Rai, what type of people have you land yourself with?). But today I love to be in the water and jump back into the water the moment I see Ma coming to take me. Now baba say "my little daughter is now a big girl" and I agree with him totally. I can walk and even run up and down. A few days before I completed 11 months I started to take a few steps at a time. I saw the recording of me walking and both my hands are turning like a spin bowler (Ma taunts "haath ghorale naru paabe noile naru paabe na"). The video looks so cute a nd I tell you that you have to watch it to believe it. Actually this is the only occasion when I did not say to myself “ora je ki kore"!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Three syndromes that caught my fancy


This is my second post on the English language but that does not mean that I am a pro in this language. But language like habit keeps growing on oneself over the period of time and we keep plucking and storing an odd phrase, word or a sentence. Following are three syndromes that are not so medical and did catch my fancy and would like to share with all who are interested.
Emperor's New Clothes syndrome: An emperor of a prosperous city who cares more about clothes than military pursuits or entertainment hires two swindlers who promise him the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they tell him, is invisible to anyone who was either stupid or unfit for his position. The Emperor cannot see the (non-existent) cloth, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing stupid; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they dress him in mime. The Emperor then goes on a procession through the capital showing off his new "clothes". During the course of the procession, a small child cries out, "But he has nothing on!" The crowd realizes the child is telling the truth. The Emperor, however, holds his head high and continues the procession. The Emperor's New Clothes is now synonymous to the governmental head not reacting to public outcry about controversial state agreements and treaties.

Stockholm syndrome: The name refers to a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed. The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term "Stockholm Syndrome" was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast.

China syndrome: The name refers to the idea of the nuclear material burning a hole from the United States to 'the other side of the world', i.e., China. Despite several meltdowns in both civilian and military reactors, such an extreme meltdown has never taken place. China is a metaphor, as the opposite side of the globe from the USA is actually the Indian Ocean. In 1971, nuclear physicist Ralph Lapp used the term "China syndrome" to describe the burn-through of the reactor vessel, the penetration of the concrete below it, and the emergence of a mass of hot fuel into the soil below the reactor. He based his statements on the report of a task force of nuclear physicists headed by Dr. W.K. Ergen, published in 1967.The dangers of such a hypothetical accident were publicized by the 1979 film, The China Syndrome.
Please share with me if you have another of such interesting syndromes. It would be great to hear how you feel about this .

I have borrowed the image from the internet.