Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Memories from home

Vakratunda Mahakaya Suryakoti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kurumedeva Sarvakaryeshu Sarvadaya

A Ganesha idol in our house

The Mandir at our house

My Vision of what Gods must look like....

and Ma.....

The desk in my room

A closer look at my favorite haunt...
My books' cabinet

In my view, one of the BEST places in Calcutta to have tea at.. Balwant Singh's Dhaba
on Elgin Road

The elixir of life.. :D
Rs. 7 for 'chai' in a 'kulhar' !!!
However, you can also order a smaller 'kulhar' for Rs. 4.

A Rangoli that a friend had made in front of her house
[I assured her this wasn't 'traditionally' artistic, but yet the sweetest rangoli that I'd seen. :))]

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The traveller packs his bags

As I pack my bags for my flight back to Ahmedabad tomorrow, it is a moment to pause and contemplate. It has been a nice trip back home. As I look at the clothes, the CDs and the books that lie randomly on my bed, I realise that I'm leaving with a lot more than just these articles of daily consumption.

I now have memories.

Some happy and some sad memories; some quiet moments where tears went unnoticed, a few moments where a chuckle and a laughter was all that remained of the innocent past; a few moments of passion which rekindled love.

Dad has already asked me to try and get placements in Calcutta. I haven't promised him anything. Who knows where destiny plans to take me tomorrow and what wings fate might have in store for me? I'm certain I'll be back in Calcutta once my convocation gets over, but for how long, God alone knows at this precise moment.

*Chuckles* Today, Dad kinda realised that his son has grown up. Since last night he kept peeking into my wardrobe and kept asking me at regular intervals what clothes I wanted to take back so that he could pack my bag. I would have none of it and completely refused to tell him what books or clothes I wanted to take back.

Finally, today afternoon, I said, "Dad, you just sit right here and watch me do it. Mind you, I'll stop packing the moment you tell me what to do," I said in mock anger. So Dad just sat right here and watched me arrange all the clothes, books, CDs and toileteries. All it took me was half an hour, and the manner in which I packed the bags (thanks to all the travelling I've been doing alone) impressed Dad. He didn't say a thing at the end; just walked out of the room, went to the kitchen and told Mom, "Well, he's learnt how to pack his bags, at least." Rites of passage?? :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The last kiss

I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you...

I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away...

[Excerpts from "The Reason" by Hoobastank]

Monday, October 23, 2006

Saal Mubarak

The day began early for me today, i.e. at 6 AM. Really, I was surprised that I could find the energy and the enthusiasm to visit three different temples with Mom and Dad in the space of an hour considering I'd slept for only 3 hours. I started watching 'Sholay' last night on my laptop at around 11, and hence the late sleeping hours. :D
I feel it is a wonderful way to begin the year by going to the temples. Most people, I observed, had come to the mandirs with the sole purpose of meeting elders and greeting others from the same community circle. However, the main reason, which somehow seemed to have been overlooked (sadly), was that you want to begin the year by praying to God and wishing Him a happy new year. Once that was done, I had little interest in greeting people I did not know and whom I had no interest in meeting ever again. Radical thinking, by my parents' standard, but that's me.
Spent the rest of the day at home, reading a book and playing Prince of Persia on the computer. Later, 'Chatur' called up and it felt nice to have a frank, honest and open discussion with a true friend after a long, long time. We also met up with 'Cheeta' and had the usual banter about who was her boyfriend, while she kept insisting, between splits, that she was our 'choti behen'. :D Felt nice to be back to our goofy ways.
Have just returned from another 'chai adda' at Ajanta Dhaba between Chatur, Bulla and me. We chatted about life in general, but later we were speaking about placements. Chatur isn't very certain he'll get a good finance related project for his summer internship in Calcutta, and coming back to Calcutta is what, it seems, his family wants the most. I told him that I'm not too certain now (as I was, let's say, a year ago) that I wanted to take my final placements in Calcutta. He asked why, and I was at a loss of words. Somehow, Calcutta seems to have lost that appeal for me. (Or maybe, its just a negative phase that I've hit upon.) Anyway, the truth is more that I am open to a placement anywhere in the country (or abroad, if I'm lucky ;) ) as long as the job profile excites me. I'm not stringent or focussed on any particular vertical or industry. Just show me something that's challenging and interesting, and I'll be there!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Home for Diwali

Hello people. Just to inform you that I'm back home in Calcutta for Diwali. Will be here till the 29th.

Will post when I have some more time...and cash ;)

Enjoy and have a VERY HAPPY DIWALI. :)))

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Hey, Amitabh's human too !!

Amitabh Bachchan reading Playboy !!! :D

Lazy movie days

I had 5 classes today, but the mind simply refused to take in so much mental activity in a day. :)

So, I gleefully slept my fill till mid-afternoon. Which reminds me, there is this strange problem that I have with sleeping.

You see, when I decide not to sleep, I'm a devil. I can stay awake for long hours, and trust me, there have been days when I've only slept for 2 to 3 hours and have been back on my feet for the next 24, only to sleep for another 3 to 4 hours and be back on for the next 12-18. Usually, I draw the line there and head for a peaceful 6-10 hours after such a schedule, but one never knows for certain. Of course, there've been disastrous consequences (during that crazy exam), but one learns to laugh and move on.

Then, *sigh, there is the other side of me, what people politely call the 'Kumbhakarana'. I sleep, and sleep and sleep for hours on end. My record stands at 40 hours of non-stop sleep (!!!), but then, I had had very little sleep the previous 3 days. Anyway, the point is I can sleep A LOT !!!

Err...so where exactly is the problem??

Well, I would really like it if could actually only sleep for a regular 6 hours. I believe there's been some research work done somewhere which says that a man needs to sleep for a full 6 hours in order to completely recuperate. Of course, the total non-REM sleep would be only 4 hours. (Surprising, did Chanakya know about the definitions of REM and non-REM sleep?? 'Coz he certainly instructed the kings in his 'Arthashastra' to sleep precisely for 4 hours.)

Well, the day went fine. I attended only the last 2 classes and had a nice dinner. Narendra Modi, the CM of Gujarat, was here at the institute for the Convocation dinner of the Nirma Institute of Technology students. The dinner was lavish and like a few friends commented, we almost felt as if we had come to a wedding reception rather than a convocation party.

I've been watching a few movies lately, thanks to the P2P network setup on the intra here recently. I watched 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' yesterday, and I so completely feel that the movie is over-rated. I know there might be many who disagree with me on this, but hey, the movie was just the run-of-the-mill stuff. Still can't see why the country is going crazy over it.

Also saw 'The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift' yesterday. The movie was ok, the babe was ultra cute and the songs were awesome!! :) By the way, you know you're getting old-er when the person who you refer to as 'babe' in the movie, Nathalie Kelley, was born after you. :(( 21 years old and already famous!!

Finished seeing 'Batman Begins' an hour ago. I thought the movie was nice. But I'm biased towards Batman. Have always been. I love the dark aura that surrounds him. And even as a child, I used to argue, that though Superman and Spiderman were good, they just weren't Batman. Others have gotten their powers from something, Superman was born that way, Spiderman got his powers after getting bitten by a radioactive spider. But Batman was different. He found his powers within himself. He learnt to battle the darkness within and accepted who he was. (Thanks to Tushar for reminding me that Phantom was a childhood favorite too, perhaps due to similar reasons.) In fact, one of my all-time favorite desktop wallpapers is the following:

Anyway, me off to washing clothes now. *deep sigh* Yaar, the best part about being in a hostel is that since you have to depend on yourself for getting clothes washed or washing them yourself, no one really knows (or bothers) about the last time your clothes interacted with H2O, unless of course you're stinking to high heaven. However, when you need to go home, the story needs to be altered a bit. Clothes need to be washed in order to be orderly and presented in a neat fashion before folks back home.

Basanti leaves tomorrow evening and so does dear Mr. Roomie. I leave on Thursday, with a chatterbox of a Bengali babe on the same flight. :) Gosh !! It feels nice to know that only a few hours separate me from home.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Roller Coaster

Life has been, and continues to be, a roller-coaster ride of emotions the last couple of days. In short, I do not know whether to classify my mental state as "happy" or "sad"; I guess I've just become a pendulum which swings between the two, never really coming close to either.

From Saturday night last week, when I was so angry and frustrated that I had trouble sleeping, through to today, when I am not being able to come to terms with myself to 'enjoy' life, I can say I've gone through it all (or have I?).

Don't get me wrong, I'm no poor-guy-look-at-him-and-feel-sorry. I'm fine, I'm normal; I'm just not.....me.

So, I began by taking my cell phone last Sunday and throwing it with all my might against the wall. I guess I hadn't let go of my anger (towards the world in general and myself in particular) for a long, long time. And the cellphone, in its decrepit condition (I'd been using the same phone for over 3 years), was just a focal point of all that was wrong.

The phone lay in 8 pieces before me, but I wasn't done yet. I shifted my gaze towards a brown carton which contained memories; letters, cards, photographs. One by one, I tore them up...pointless to carry stones and thorns with which one can only strew the path of the future.

I do not know what happened next, but something led me online. I was, in fact, staring at the blogger settings page which prompted whether the user was certain whether he/she wanted to delete the blog. Somehow, I resisted the devil's tempation. However, the fire was yet to subside and I automatically progressed to my Orkut home page. Somehow, I didn't feel the tug this time and I promptly went on to delete my Orkut account.

Back on my laptop, I deleted the various tools of communications, MSN Messneger, Yahoo Messenger, Skype...the works. "If someone really wants to contact me for something important, he can always e-mail me", said the little voice inside my head.

Oh, and before I forget, a whole folder of photographs on my laptop was also deleted.

Just last night, when I had the opportunity to hang out with friends and enjoy the various videos of groups that were prepared at the Institute, I gave up the idea 'coz I was feeling nauseated and sick. Unknown to many, I had had a dull, throbbing headache since afternoon. And of course, my sleep has lately been plagued with nightmares of fire, sweat, heat, death of loved ones, screams and crying...lots and lots of crying. No. There was no way I could reconcile with these emotions and put up a 'mukhota' in front of friends.

It's difficult to try and act normal when one isn't so. If I could have had it my way, I've would've remain locked up in my room and not come out till I would've felt better.

But the wonderful thing about this world is that it forces you to come out of darkness, both, literally and philosophically.

I went for lunch to US Pizza today and observed that this was the first time in my stay at Ahmedabad of 1 and a half years that I was coming here. Needless to say, I was met with more than just an incredulous look from my friends.

I went to meet Bhai today as well and as luck would have it, Bhabhi was there too. While talking to her, I realized how close to the word 'hermit' I'd actually come. I'm not saying that I've reached the definition of the ultra 'corporate' hermit (that would be someone who talks-sleeps-eats-drinks 'business' and does little else), but yep... I've only gone for 1 movie to the cinema hall during my last 1 and a half years of MBA (which also means that I haven't been to Fun Republic to watch a movie, the basic criterion by which we say we've "had a good time"), my regular eating-out joints are limited to a) Madhurya, b) the Shiv Shakti Dhaba, c) Mc D at Big B on the SG Highway, and oh yes, I haven't once been out playing dandiya or garba on the 18 opportunities (9 nights x 2 years) that I had.

I dunno whether I'm weird, but I surely know that I don't feel like I've lost out on stuff.

P.S. Btw, I had posted something on my blog last night for a couple of hours, but then deleted it 'coz it was way too negative. Adios for now.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Don't touch my bhaisaa

That's a bull which had been left overnight within the shelter of a mosquito net by the farmer. Spotted by Basanti on the CoNfU-zOnE gang's (that's what we like to call ourselves ;)) way to Thor Lake.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Federer wins Japan Open

Go Roger, Go !!

The Argumentative Indian - Amartya Sen

I've finally finished reading a book which I started reading aeons ago. I'd originally picked up the book at the college library, only to return it after having struggled through the first chapter. Although I loved the content (and Sen's style), I just couldn't find the inclination to move ahead with the book at that point in time.

Come my summer internship in Mumbai and I went on a book buying spree, what with the absence of other modes of entertainment (television in general and the Internet in particular). That is when I chanced on this wonderful book again and this time, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands (literally, I remember).

This book is a must read, especially for those who aspire to know India in the modern context. The advantage of being Amartya Sen is that not only are you steeped in Indian culture but are also someone who has achieved tremendous success in the international arena which allows you to observe and dissect national issues with remarkable ease. As the back cover of the book reminds you, "If ever there was a global intellectual, it is Sen" (Sunil Khilnani, Financial Times). [Separate issue altogether that the comment reminded me of Nirad C. Chaudhari.]

Sen achieves the superlative in this book by being able to analyze Indian issues with a mix of the observer's interest and as a passionate lover of the country (he still holds his Indian visa after all these years abroad). He not only discusses the giants of Indian history such as Aryabhatta and Akbar, but also introduces us to modern masters such as Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Satyajit Ray. The fine amount of research done is evident by the number of asterisks that you keep meeting while browsing through the text. You only wish that the references to the other works of Sen himself and some of his other esteemed colleagues were included in the 'Notes' at the end of the book and only those post-scripts were added which furthered the narration and understanding of the reader.

For me the book stands out simply because it has re-generated my interest in Indian history. God knows, and my school marksheets are proof enough, that I was a bad student of history. This book not only makes one proud about our history but also arouses curiosity about who we are as a nation. Forces us to take a relook, and not emotionally or through saffron or green tinted glasses, but at the recorded history and as a proud citizen of a secular country.

There are also readings about India's political and cultural communications with countries such as Pakistan and China. There is even a comparative analysis done on the manner in which China and India have progressed socially over the years, especially since their move towards economic reforms (post-1970 for China and post-1990 for India). Makes for terrific reading.

All in all, I felt as if I must read Nehru's "Discovery of India". I stick my head out and will say that in a small way, this book has established itself as a classic must-read for the modern reader of India.

"Prolixity is not alien to us in India. We are able to talk at some length. Krishna Menon's record of the longest speech ever delivered at the United Nations (nine hours non-stop), established half a century ago (when Menon was leading the Indian delegation), has not been equalled by anyone from anywhere. Other peaks of loquaciousness have been scaled by other Indians. We do like to speak.

This is not a new habit. The ancient Sanskrit epics the Ramayana and the Mahahharata, which are frequently compared with the Iliad and the Odyssey, are colossally longer than the works that the modest Homer could manage. Indeed, the Mahabharata alone is about seven times as long as the Iliad and the Odyssey put together."

Read more of the extract here.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Voices from the past

He didn't know what led him away from the crowd. He just knew he had to walk. A raspy voice within whispered, "Walk, my friend, walk..."

As his feet guided him into the darkened alleys, away from the crowd, the music, the drumbeats, the sweet music of the flute, he could feel a shadow rise within him. The occasional couple which was hurrying towards the huge garden party paused only briefly to watch the man walk away. And even though they saw a lonesome figure, he was already not alone.

Away from the garden where friends and lovers were alike caught in the rhythmic dance movements of 'garba', the shadow that had started forming had now risen to its full size; a warrior, powerfully built with sharp, intelligent eyes.

"How have you been, my friend?", asked he who was only known as the 'Lone Warrior'. The voice was no longer a whisper; it was now a gentle, baritone voice which, although friendly, made no attempt to hide the maturity and the deep knowledge of the world that guided his words. "It's been long since we last spoke."

"Much has happened since then, and oh, how my world has changed", spoke the man. There was a hint of emotion, a weak moment perhaps.

"I am aware of the changes, you know," smiled the Lone Warrior. "I never really leave your side. But come," he continued, "I haven't come to hear you cry and be weak... weakness is a crime, and you know that." The Warrior laid a heavy hand on the man's shoulder.

The man smiled.

And so, the two friends walked together, just like they used to in the days gone by. They spoke of the world, and they spoke of the happenings. They discussed issues of importance to our friend. They spoke strategically...and a lot of questions were tossed about. A number of scenarios were ruminated upon, always beginning with the 'best-case scenario' and progressively moving towards the 'worst-case scenario'. This allowed them to build up a momentum to concentrate most on that problem which might occur.

It was like listening to two friends strategize the friend's moves in a game of chess; only, this wasn't a game. The stakes were much higher here. "What if the competition reacts like this? What if the competition reacts like that? What if they take it all in their stride and decide to move ahead? What if, heaven forbid, they decide to strike back? (A silly option, no doubt, but one must always be prepared.)"

If someone were to overhear their conversation, they would perhaps laugh at the silliness of it all. After all, 'why ponder over issues which may never even see the light of day?' But the two friends, ignorant of the thoughts that others might have, continued to debate.

Their walk took them away from the limelight, from the loud, blaring speakers that churned out songs that Gopis sang for Krishna. Little did they know, that their Krishna had changed. He was no longer the same Devki-nandan who played the flute and gambolled around the forests of Vrindavan. He was now Parthasarthi, the charioteer of Arjuna, whose duty it was to guide the ever-focussed warrior prince in the battle of karma. Dharma-kshetre, Kurukshetre, my friend, Dharma-kshetre, Kurukshetre...

The walk had taken them to another part of the compound. The music had died a long time ago. There was just the sound of feet quietly stepping on the cemented path making childish attempts to disturb the the silence of the night, frequently helped in its endeavor by the chirping of crickets. It was a full moon night and the light cast a long shadow of the man, staring at the path ahead of him and walking with both his hands behind his back, the left supporting the right.

The man paused...and looked up at the moon. The 'poornima' night brought back a flood of memories. Nights like this would've enchanted him to write poetry, once upon a time. He would've written about the beauty of Nature, and the mighty hand of God and all the beautiful creatures that He creates effortlessly.

Yet, now, all that he stared at was the moon. A satellite of planet earth. It was now no more than a heavenly body which reflected the light of the sun. The moon was now just indicative of the fact that this was (perhaps) time to rest from the daily battle and for a few moments ponder over the challenges that dawn would bring.

And even as they completed a circle of the huge ground and made their way towards the garden again, the man could hear a female voice call out to him from a deep, misty end of his mind: "Can't you...can't you for once become who you were before? Why must you torture yourself so? Are you scared of the crowds of young people who dress up and enjoy themselves? Why the phobia? Do you feel that you won't fit in? Just because you know that you're different doesn't mean that you will not take a break from your ever-warring thoughts and enjoy yourself, does it?"

The Warrior stood aside and wondered whether his friend would remember the advice that he'd given him long ago. He prayed that his friend would have the strength of will to fight the current urge, for he knew this was just a fraction of the challenge that awaited him in the days to come.

The man paused. And smiled.

There were voices from the past, calling out to him.

"No," he replied, "I'm not scared of the milling young crowds...not any more. And neither am I jealous of them. Let them laugh and play and dance all that they want. That is the path that they've chosen. And I've chosen mine."

And having said that, he once again moved away from the glare of the shiny halogen lights into the dark avenue with trees on either side.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Wonder where I learnt to pray?

Me and Dad

At the feet of my father. :)

PS: Special attention to the Bengali 'bhadrolok' appearance in the dhoti-kurta. :D

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Dhari travelogue

I scribbled down the following lines in my diary during my visit to my native village, Dhari. Thought I'd share it with you folks to tell you how I spent my birthday (1st October) and the day after...


Date: 30th September
Location: Bapu Nagar, Ahmedabad
Time: 9:30 pm

Left the hostel at 7 pm and reached Bhai's shop at 8:15. Had something to munch, though I'm certain I'll again feel hungry sometime during the night.

Currently just waiting for the bus to arrive. Expected time? 11pm. That leaves me to wait all alone for the bus for an hour and a half. Just spoke to Dad again. He's extremely upset I couldn't collect the birthday card that he'd sent (with much trouble). I tried explaining to him how it was impossible for me to do so since I was out in the city since early in the morning and by the time I returned to the institute, the receptionist had already left on account of it being a half day.

All the same, I LOOOVE MY PARENTS !! Nay...I worship them. :)

Date: 1st October 2006
Location: Shri Narbeswar Mahadev Mandir, Dhari
Time: 7:35 am


I reached here approximately 15 minutes ago. At once, I felt relieved of all pressures and tensions that have been harboring in my tormented mind the last few weeks. I felt a sea of calm wash against me as soon as I stood with my folded hands in front of the temple.

Spoke to Mamma and Pappa at around 6. They sounded pleased; I do not know whether it was because they wished me early on my birthday or because I'd managed to wake up early on my own, being the lazy bum that I am. ;)

Btw, guess what? There's Airtel and Hutch network in this village now, but no Reliance. It is going to be a peaceful two days.

Date: 2nd October 2006
Location: Shri Narbeswar Mahadev Mandir, Dhari
Time: 10:45 am

My eyes opened at quarter to 5 today morning. I had adjusted the bed last night so that I could see the mandir even as I was lying down. Hence, the first sight to greet me today was that of the mandir and the puja that was in progress (the pujari bapu here gets up at 4 and starts the daily puja at around 4:45 - 5 am).

I had slept at around 11:30 last night, surprising since I'd woken up from my 'afternoon' nap at 7. I'd had my meals the day before at Dhiru Kaka's house in the village. Although the meals comprised of regular stuff (roti, aloo ki sabji, kheer, kadhi etc.), it was a much refreshing change from the McAloo Veggie at McDonald's or the heavy butter-rotis and paneer at Madhurya (a restaurant near the college).

Anyway, as I lay awake in the bed at 5 in the morning, I recollected that the milk that I'd requested for Puja wouldn't be here till around 8. I went back to sleep, only to wake up at 9. I quickly had a bath and proceeded to the mandir. Once I sat in front of the shiv ling and closed my eyes in prayer, I lost all track of time. When I opened my eyes after a 108 chants of the "Om Mrityunjaya Mahadev" shloka, I saw some people from the village who had come to visit me waiting outside. I asked them how long they had been there. They said that they arrived around 20 minutes ago. I checked my watch. I had been meditating non-stop for an hour and a half.