Friday, March 16, 2007

And they left one by one...

Yesterday was a day which I could not come to terms with easily. It was after quite a few days when I had absolutely nothing to do. No classes, no preparations for exams... nothing at all !!!

Yesterday was also one of the more misty-eyed days here at Nirma. Friends-in-arms, co-conspirators in pranks and people with whom one can spend an entire afternoon without worrying about the going-ons around you...all of them left for home one by one. I was surprised by how lonely I felt at the end of the day when I realised that so many of my friends had gone back home and that the hostel resembled an empty fortress more than anything else.

Mini 'Dolphin', Whale and the Piranha, all left by the afternoon bus. So did Sudhanshu. Later in the evening, I accompanied Sexy Sam to drop Basanti off at the Kalupur railway station. Right through all this, there was a voice in my head which kept on saying "Hey, before you know it, it'll be the first of next month, and they'll all be back." It wasn't before Baap (err...that would be my friend Neeraj; his nick-name at the insti. is Sabka Baap, or 'Baap' for short) knocked at my door at 2 in the morning to say goodbye (he had a flight at 6) that I realised how empty the hostel had become.

The Whale, before leaving, had his revenge from me though. :D

For the uninitiated, Tushar (aka The Whale) was my room-mate for the last one year. And on numerous occasions have I left him waiting outside the room while I was somewhere on this 140-acre campus with the only keys to the room. Well, yesterday, after we loaded his stuff onto the college bus that was supposed to take them to the railway station, Whale realised that he had forgotten a blanket at the room. I gave him the keys and he rushed upstairs. By the time he came back, I was busy saying my good-byes to the rest of the gang. And the nutcase that he is, he too forgot about the keys.

It was only after the bus actually started off that I remembered that the room-keys were still with him. That bloody idiot!!! I ran after the bus shouting his name, but the bus had already gathered speed. I gave up the chase and called up Mini to ask Tushar to throw the keys out of the window. Before that could happen, though, I had to run behind the bus for a good 100 metres. That !@#%!$@!#$@. Wait till he comes back.

I started reading "By the river Piedra I sat down and wept" by Paulo Coelho at around midnight yesterday. Finished reading the book at 3. Would have finished by 2 or 2:20, but slowed down owing to the break in the middle to have a final chat with Baap before he left. Kinda ok book, nothing great.

Ok then... Me off to Goa today evening with a bunch of 5 other equally idiosyncratic and crazy folks. Will be back on the 24th.

Till then... ciao, take care and make your Momma proud!! :D

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Book Torn

Though neither of my parents ever told me this specifically, my upbringing has given rise to a conscience within me. That very same conscious screams and tells me that what I have done today was a grave sin, yet I had no option but to do it.

I tore up a book into little pieces with my own hands.

I know what I've done is wrong and pray to God that I never have to do it again.

[PS: Just to clarify, I don't feel guilty at my having torn the book, just extremely sad that I had to do it. And yeah, mixed with the feeling of sadness was an insane feeling of pleasure, that though it was such a difficult thing for me to do, I managed to overcome emotions and actually tear that particular book. The book that was torn was symbolic of events of the past which, though cannot be erased, must be shoved into the dark recesses of the mind.]

Monday, March 12, 2007

Just Jive Baby !!

Saturday marked a speed-breaker in the exam schedule for the second year students. After the consecutive exams on Friday and Saturday, we had the much needed break on Sunday, which meant that Saturday evening was free for the juniors to organise the farewell celebrations.

And so, even though I was tired and dead sleepy (having slept for just 2 hours before the Business Laws paper), I druggedly walked into the auditorium. Well, titles for all the senior students had been thought up, keeping in mind their personality, their traits and their habits during the last 2 years.

Here's what came up when my name was to be announced:

My Farewell Title

"dyNIMite Shekhar Ruparelia
He has got menacing looks
Directed movies, has a good voice
Book Club's undisputed choice"

[The NIM in dyNIMite stands for Nirma Institute of Management]

Actually, the guy reading out the title told the audience that he would read out the title one line at a time, and that they should guess who the fellow was. No sooner had he read out "Books, Books, Books.", my friends started calling out my name. :))

This session was followed by a lavish dinner on the college grounds, and then came the dance party. Now, those of you who know me personally would vouch for the fact that I'm the kind of fellow who wouldn't be dragged by twelve wild horses to any area within a hundred square kilometres of a dance floor. But, Saturday was different.

It was time to hit the dance floor and do what I'd never done before: Chill out in the midst of a crowd of 123 budding managers, cheer loudly at the songs that were being played, sing along, and throw my hands and legs about wildly.

[For those of you who had to submit yourself to the wild sights of me dancing like a man possessed, my apologies. It was 10% caused by the fact that I had had very little sleep and 90% because I was in the company of such unbelievable friends. YEAH BABY !!]

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Two Down, Two to Go

All right, I'm through with two of my exams and two remain. And like they say, well begun is half done and I'm now confident that I'll carry through with the effort in the remaining two exams.

One of the benefits of having a metropolitan upbringing is that you're exposed to the best of all cultures, religions and beliefs. I've specially been attracted to the various religious beliefs and religious texts such as the Bhagwad Gita, the Holy Bible, the Holy Quran and the Guru Granth Sahib.

Day before yesterday, I called up an Aunt in Calcutta. When I told her that though I was confident of doing well, yet couldn't overcome the feelings of dread and nervousness [Jeez!! I sound like a high-school student :D], she instantly recommended that I read Psalm 91.

Here's what's been inspiring me and amazing me with its simplicity and beauty over the last 48 hours:

Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Alternate Title:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run"

I've been irregular here with a reason. End-term examinations start from tomorrow, 9th March. Last MBA exams, and to be honest, these exams are gonna be a toughie.

And since it is an evening of being honest, let me (be human and) admit that I've been troubled for a few days now. (Motee spotted it the other day and asked 'what you thinking about??'.) Well, what else do you expect from a guy like me who's gotten into this (bad?) habit of thinking too much all the time, huh? ~grins~

I kinda got worried today morning when I realised that I'd seen myself smoking a cigarette in my dreams last night. I could vividly remember the smell of burning tobacco, the sensation as I allowed the smoke to enter my system and envelope my lungs and the puff of smoke that I exhaled, I remembered all of it with an eerie ease. This is the second time in the last month that I've seen such a dream, and frankly, it scares me. Appropriately so, for I've never smoked a cigarette in my life. Having seen how Dad suffered 'coz of his lifelong habit, I'd vowed early on that I would never ever smoke.

Anyway, let me not turn this into a post where everything looks dark and gray, for that is certainly not what is the truth here !! Accepted that there's very little to think about these days apart from studies, syllabus, exam schedule...I don't have the leisure time to think about other stuff (and how thankful I am for that!!).

Yet, life is fun when you know you can listen to brilliant songs with beautifully worded lyrics. What the heck !! Imagine this... a guy washing his clothes in a deserted bathroom at 2 in the afternoon and loudly singing "Khudi ko kar buland itna" (the Junoon version), and suddenly, his loud chanting is joined by a couple of other folks who've walked in. Get the picture?? Well, that's what a guys' hostel is all about !! :D

Although I'd promised to keep myself away from books (non-acads books, that is) till the end of examinations, I just couldn't help flipping through the first few pages of "Man's search for meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl. It's a psychiatrist's account of time spent in Nazi death camps. To quote from the back-cover, "at the core of his theory is the belief that man's primary motivational force is his search for meaning."

I smiled...

...and recalled the following lines from a previous post:

I kept staring at the picture of Kali Ma (the photograph is a capture of the deity at Kalighat Temple, Calcutta) and wondering what the purpose of life was. Somehow, I felt that I was just wandering around life aimlessly, not knowing what exactly I wanted. To quote myself from a chat that I had with a close friend a few days back, "most of us are like rudderless boats rocking to the waves in the ocean of life...". What exactly was my mission in life?"

I sighed, looked at my wrist-watch (a gift from Dad before I left Cal for my MBA), and reminded myself that I needed to prepare for the exam...the last MBA exam. "One more round," the voice in my head egged me on.

And then I knew that I had to log in, and blog about one of my all-time favorite poems:

- Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

From :
Rudyard Kipling's (1865-1936) inspirational poem 'If' first appeared in his collection 'Rewards and Fairies' in 1909. The poem 'If' is inspirational, motivational, and a set of rules for 'grown-up' living. Kipling's 'If' contains mottos and maxims for life, and the poem is also a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. 'If' is perhaps even more relevant today than when Kipling wrote it, as an ethos and a personal philosophy. Lines from Kipling's 'If' appear over the player's entrance to Wimbledon's Centre Court - a poignant reflection of the poem's timeless and inspiring quality.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Steve Jobs at Stanford

Here is one incredibly inspiring speech from Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Inc.

"I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much."

Source: 'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Scent of a Woman

Was hypnotized by Al Pacino's acting and dancing prowess in this scene from Scent of a Woman..

Also brilliant was the beautiful tango music, "Por una cabeza". [Trust me, the music is so sweet to hear that it made a fella like me want to learn the tango. This, coming from a fellow who's never stepped inside a discotheque or dancing hall of any sort.]

por una cabeza.mp3

On trying to find out more about the song at Wikipedia, I was surprised to find out that the song talks about a race-horse gambler's comparison in addiction to betting on horses and being attracted to women.

I got the original Spanish lyrics and the translation here.

Por Una Cabeza [By the head of a horse] (1935)
Music by: Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera
Lyrics by: Carlos Gardel and Alfredo Le Pera

Losing by a head of a noble horse
who slackens just down the stretch
and when it comes back it seems to say:
don't forget brother,
You know, you shouldn't bet.

Losing by a head, instant violent love
of that flirtatious and cheerful woman
who, swearing with a smile
a love she's lying about,
burns in a blaze all my love.

Losing by a head
there was all that madness;
her mouth in a kiss
wipes out the sadness,
it soothes the bitterness.

Losing by a head
if she forgets me,
no matter to lose
my life a thousand times;
what to live for?

Many deceptions, loosing by a head...
I swore a thousand times not to insist again
but if a look sways me on passing by
her lips of fire, I want to kiss once more.

Enough of race tracks, no more gambling,
a photo-finish I'm not watching again,
but if a pony looks like a sure thing on Sunday,
I'll bet everything again, what can I do?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Special Days

Like I said in an earlier post, films have the power to inspire us. They also have the power to make you pause and introspect. A beautiful example is from the (highly surprising) Hindi film "Bluffmaster".

The protagonist has just found out that he has a tumour in his brain and that his days on earth are numbered. On realising how upset and disappointed the hero is and how he just wants to sulk his life away, the doctor decides to give him some advice.

Walking along the Gateway of India, the doctor tells the hero something which, I feel, has a very powerful message hidden in it.

"Zindagi mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti hain, jo dino ko ek zindagi bana deti hain, aur hum inhe kabhi nahi bhool paate.

Zindagi mein tumhe aise kitne din yaad hain? Your first job, pehla suit, pehli salary..

Pandarah, bees, pachees din...tees? 30 right ?!! 30 special days...30 special days..

Tees saal ki zindagi, aur tumhe sirf tees din yaad hain? Baaki ke dinon ko kya ho gaya?"

English translation:

"There are small things in life which make each one of these days equivalent to a lifetime, and we are never able to forget those days.

How many such days do you remember? Your first job, your first suit, your first salary..

Fifteen, twenty, twenty-five days...thirty? 30 right ?!! 30 special days...30 special days..

Thirty years of living, and all you recall are thirty days? What happened to the rest of the days?"

How many special days can you recall, dear reader? :)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Bengalis A-Z

As if the heart wasn't already nostalgic enough, my friend Bamz sends me a forwarded e-mail on Bongs (no, I don't think it is disrespectful to call Bengalis as Bongs...after all, I too am more often than not thought of as a Bong). I'm just reproducing the parts which made me cackle as I sat in my chair, threatening to make the good ol' won't-laugh-won't-smile serious faced me look like a 5 year old who has just discovered the joys of watching Tom and Jerry.

For those of you who've stayed a considerable period of time in the city, go ahead and laugh through the mail and heave a sigh at the end. For those of who've not been to the City of Joy, here's a short and humorous description of the most lovable city I know, the place I call home.

Bengalis A-Z

C is for Chappell. This is the Bengali word for the Devil, for the worst form of evil. In the night mothers put their kids to sleep saying 'go to bed, or Chappell will come and take you away.'

D is for Debashish. By an ancient law every fourth Bengali Child has to be named Debashish. So you have a Debashish everywhere and trying to get creative they are also called Deb, Debu, Deba with variations like Debnath and Deboprotim thrown in.

F is for Feesh. These are creatures that swim in rivers and seas and are a favourite food of the Bengalis. Despite the fact that a fish market has such strong smells, with one sniff a Bengali knows if a fish is all right. If not he will say 'eeesh what feeesh is theesh!'

G is for Good name. Every Bengali Boy will have a good name like Debashish or Deboprotim and a pet name like Shontuda, Chonti, and Dinku. While every Bengali Girl will be Paromita or Protima as well as Shampa, Champa and Tuki.

Basically your nickname is there to kiil your good name.

H is for Harmonium. The Bengali equivalent of a rock guitar. Take four Bengalis and a Harmonium and you have the successors to The Bheatles!

L is for Lungi. People in Kolkata manage to play football and cricket wearing it. Now there is talk of a lungi expedition to Mt.Everest

M is for Minibus. These are dangerous half buses whose antics would effortlessly frighten the living daylights out of Formula 1 race drivers.

T is for Trams. Hundred years later there are still trams in Kolkata. Of course if you are in a hurry it's faster to walk.

U is for Ambrela. When a Bengali baby is born they are handed one.

V is for Violence. Bengalis are the most non-violent violent people around. When an accident happens they will shout and scream and curse and abuse, but the last time someone actually hit someone was in 1979.

W is for Water. For three months of the year the city is underwater and every year for the last 200 years the authorities are taken by surprise by this!

X is for X mas. It's very big in Kolkata, with Park Street fully lit up.

Z is for Jeebra, Joo, Jip and Jylophone.