delhi....

delhi....

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life as an Army Officer's Wife



My first impression was of the green lawns lined precisely by those white and red painted bricks and the unending lines of the three tonners and two tonners. This was a world alien to me. This was the OG world to which my husband belonged. Coming from an entirely civil background, I had no clue as to what I had let myself in for. And my husband had done nothing to alleviate my ignorance.







When our train reached Jammu, my husband remarked that there might not be anyone to receive us at the station. I smiled wryly. Who did he expect? With the smile of a self-conscious, newly married husband, he scurried out. I scanned the platform to breathe in the place where I was to start married life. My gaze was riveted by the sight of a group of OG uniformed jawans all lined up. A bewildered anticipation welled up in me. My husband re-entered the coach. He had changed from a self-conscious newly married husband into OC, workshop. “These jawans are from my workshop. My CO has sent them and his Jonga to receive us. You must return their greetings appropriately,” he informed and instructed me. My baptisement into army life was beginning.

As the Jonga came to a halt outside the officer’s mess, the whole unit was waiting for us; from where the ragging started. An officer posing as a jawan tried to act fresh with me. But, of course my husband’s concern for the officer gave the game away. Then I was welcomed as a new bride by ceremonies of different states by the ladies. After this there was a small game where, blindfolded, I had to identify my husband’s palm by touch. Providence was on my side that day of my initiation into army life and has been ever since.

Of course, there were the initial teething problems. But on the whole I count myself lucky for having been exposed to this kind of life. At first, I used to feel like a bird that has come in from the wild and been imprisoned. There were so many rules and regulations. All that hierarchy from a second Lt to a Gen-one had to be, oh so careful. But slowly and gradually I learnt to transform my frivolous, college girl attitude into that of an army officer’s wife. This I achieved by my husband’s acute disapproval of anything unbecoming of a lady and by sheer observation of other ladies. I learnt to mix with different kinds of people coming from different social backgrounds from different parts of India.

My major obstacle was my fleeting acquaintance of the language in the fauj-hindi. Hindi spoken in the army has it’s own personality. It carries reminiscences of the British. Besides, it has imbibed the colours and whims of the various states of India. It is a true case of fusion and is rich research material for the linguists. Here my servants came to my help as I spent a substantial part of the day with them (much more than with my family.

Using this language, I learnt to mix with people: some of who were familiar and mostly unfamiliar but friendly. In a gathering, I learnt to acknowledge the presence of everybody on entering and leaving. It may seem ridiculous to mention it, but it is ridiculously conspicuous by its absence in gatherings where people confine themselves to groups. The army is one establishment where one’s social etiquette is honed to perfection. At the base of it all is the cardinal attribute of humility, which one learns due to the system of hierarchy.

Besides humility and good manners, hospitality towards guests (a dying art where T.V serials gain priority over socializing) is very much interwoven in army life. One is bound to bump into an acquaintance due to different postings and because the armed fraternity is after all, a small one. What at first seemed nerve racking and impossible is now a pleasure- entertaining unexpected guests. When a new neighbour arrives and is busy unpacking or an old neighbour has sent off their luggage on being posted out, it is but good sense to ensure they get help and a meal or two. For, after all, all of us face the same situations. And thereby the chain of good samaritanism cannot but grow.

Had I not married into the armed forces, so many creative arts would have bypassed me. At every posting I love the challenge of dressing up a new quarter to suit our personalities. I have dabbled in the arts of gardening, flower arrangement, singing, choreography and public speaking. I believe every woman has an artistic niche in her personality. But how many have the fortune or opportunity to explore it, I wonder.
But most of all, what makes army life a charmed one is the abundance of good humour and good cheer (and here I mean the “spiritless” one.) Here nobody is too old to let down his/her hair if the Queen of Sheba so demands in a Mess party. It does the heart a lot of good to see CO’s and 2IC’s scrambling in the mad rush all around. Midnight raids of newly married couples are a must. And we were delighted not to be spared. Midnight picnics, a sudden outing to see a movie, shopping expeditions in groups, rain dances, beach parties, barbeque parties, dandia discos, Halloween nights, husbands’ nights are all arranged in a jiffy to take off the intense pressures of living in a secluded world.

But life can be very difficult and lonely though; like getting posted to outlandish where you have to live in “bashas”(a makeshift arrangement) with only two three families close by. The whole day is an endless wait: waiting for your husband to return, waiting for your children to return and waiting for your servant to come. There are times when you are settling in a new place and you have no servant; which means one has to double up as the “bai”, chef, gardener, et al. Then when social outings become a compulsion, you have to wear a smile to match the outfit and brave it all as others do. A teaching job with suitable hours is all right. But no woman can seriously think of a 9 to 5 career. The social commitments as an army wife are all encompassing but can be profoundly satisfying depending on which way you look at it. Then there are times when the loneliness stretches over when your husband is away on temporary duty or exercise. But then, of course all the ladies rally around each other as family. The biggest disadvantage of this kind of life is the disruption in the children’s education.

But again one has learnt to cope with it all; because the smallest and most important unit in society :- the family - gets to spend more qualitative time together. We get to see facets in our near ones, which we never would have known existed. We ourselves become enrichened personalities by learning to live in all kinds of situations: in the bush or by a warm hearth. Life is truly a ‘bed in the bush with stars to see………..
This is the life for a (wo)man like me
This is the life forever.’
For me, the pride that I feel as an army officer’s wife is worth all the sacrifices I have had to make. It is a badge of honour I shamelessly flaunt.

Published in Femina (Oct 2000)

(1,263 words)

Friday, June 11, 2010

mysore trip



.......unspoilt mysore, a place of temples n palaces, a place where you can become part of history, a place poised to take off like bangalore....and thats sad..

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Strength Training : A beginner's diary

Thus I started weight training or strength training. It wasn’t easy. Firstly you have to know exactly what you are doing to convince others who confuse weight training with weight lifting. You have to start with the lowest weight. 1.5kg is reasonable enough. 10 minutes daily or 20 minutes on alternate days bring pretty good results. And here is the rest of it. STRENGTH TRAINING: A BEGINNER’S DIARY, PUBLISHED IN "WOMANS ERA", 2004
(1,441 WORDS)
Nearing forties is a bittersweet experience. The feeling that you are over the hill is so pervading that it is very easy to give in and give up to fate. Your sense of “Oh it’s all over” grows in proportion to your waist length. Your knees start making embarrassing clicking sounds to the world every time you change from sitting to the standing position. Your calf muscles protest by cramping when you revel in your usual early morning stretching. Your whole day becomes punctuated by “Oh I wish I could lie down for just a minute”. Mentally, too, remembering where you kept that last magazine you were reading or where you saw that face becomes taxing, if not embarrassing. And then when you visit the doctor because you are having headaches; and he tells you that you need glasses as age is catching up on you – you know the party is over.
But the funny thing is: it is at this age you are at your most creative and original. It is as if you are so scared at the turn your life is taking that you want to do something really outstanding. That is why I suddenly wanted to do “strength training”. I had always known that my husband was right when he said “Do it now before it is too late”. But it took my knees to click to really pay attention to what he was saying. I am in my late thirties (do I do this deliberately: this self torture?) doing many things without doing anything really significant. And being a homemaker (however wonderful and creative that may be) you need to exercise the right muscles the right number of times. For a person like me who has always been on the slim side, weight has never been the problem. Lethargy is and so is the thought that god was on my side all along; but now has decided that I have had enough spoon feeding and should learn to take care of our most precious possession: our body.Thus I started weight training or strength training. It wasn’t easy. Firstly you have to know exactly what you are doing to convince others who confuse weight training with weight lifting. You have to start with the lowest weight. 1.5kg is reasonable enough. 10 minutes daily or 20 minutes on alternate days bring pretty good results. Before I began I had to read up a lot about it because if you do not do it the right way you may hurt yourself and your enthusiasm. If you exercise your calf muscles today you should avoid that the next day and do something different. Come back to the calf muscles the day after and so on and so forth. The initial weeks are thrilling actually after the first day first show uneasiness. The whole neighborhood gets to hear you are doing something different and gaze at you in wonder. Every time you see those Hollywood sizzlers you think you have something in common: that slight hint of muscles. Your husband starts looking at exciting clothing items. And to top it all: he has you in mind. But all this is short-lived: two months or three months at the most. Then what began as excitingly different becomes monotonous punishment. Enthusiasm wanes. Craving for the good things in life grows. You stop as suddenly as you began. And like marriage this is the real challenge. The excitement is over. You have to work hard to get results and enjoy your work internally- not because others think it is exciting. And if you really get over this phase the real battle is won. You may frequent the gym on alternate days now but there is a new determination, a new strength in your training.
Some salient features that I came across in my wild surfing online:
-What running was in the 80’s and aerobics was in the 90’s, strength training is now-Strength training decreases the rate of loss of bone mass and thereby can prevent osteoporosis
-It also helps prevent the loss of muscle, which is inevitable with ageing. You may not lose weight but you lose unwanted fat as muscles replace fat
-Strength training helps strengthen the vaginal muscles and thereby increases sexual pleasure
-It gives a new strength to your personality-The perspiring, which comes with these exercises and all other exercises, is the best facial.-It helps improve your posture and thereby apparently add inches to your height
-Strength training is also recommended at or after sixty years of age as it decrease chances of wear and tear as you pull, push or lift objects as part of your daily chores (but of course you must take medical advice and professional guidance)
DO’S AND DON’TS
-Do begin with lower weights: 1.5kg for a woman till it feels like there is no strain at all. Then graduate to a higher weight.-Do it very SLOWLY so you feel that slight strain on the desired muscle
-Do ten minutes per day or twenty minutes on alternate days
-Do supplement your strength training routine with the abdominal crunch.
-Do the Kegel exercises in between.
-Do the exercises in sets of 10 or 12 doing three sets per session-Do not do the same exercises on consecutive days. Leave a day’s gap to exercise the same muscle
-Do increase your intake of carbohydrates as you are burning more fuel-Do drink plenty of water to replace water loss through perspiring
-Do stretching exercises before and after weight training
-Do not give up midway. It has far too many benefits.
-Do not overstrain
















BENTOVER ROW (mid-upper back)
Bend your knees and tighten your abs. Lift weights up to chest height and slightly back. Do not arch your back. Hold for three seconds and go back to original position. This is for a toned upper body.


















STANDING SIDELIFT (outer thighs and hips)

Stand with arms crossed over your chest. Slightly bend both knees. Press your body weight back into your heels for better balance. Lift your leg out to the side at knee height. Hold for three seconds. Finish one set for one side. Then switch to alternate side.





REAR FLYE (upper back and rear shoulders)

Lie abs down, arms perpendicular to your chest. Take light weights. Bend your elbows. Keeping your toes, ribs, and hips on the floor lift your arms four inches off the floor. Allow head to rise naturally. Movements should be smooth and unhurried.
















DOUBLE EXTENSION (triceps)


Bend your elbows above your head to make 90-degrees angle. Slowly straighten your arms to full extension palms facing each other. Lower your forearms to starting position without resting weight or elbow.







FLAT FLYE (chest)

Lie back, knees bent. Extend your arms along your sides parallel to your chest. Lift weights off the floor four inches high. From this position lift and lower your arms for all sets. Keep chin off chest, lower back pressed to the floor and wrists straight.

Another variant of this exercise, which is helpful in lifting up a sagging bust line, goes like this. Lie back, knees bent. Hold the dumbbells as shown in Flat flye. But this time dumbbells should touch each other, elbows slightly bent. Lower both arms together on the floor behind your head till you are midway and you feel the strain on your muscles supporting your breasts. Bring back to starting position. Movements to be slow. .








BASIC SQUAT (quadriceps, glutes and thighs)

Stand tall, arms extended at your sides, chest raised, butt tight, knees tracked over your toes. Lower your hips contracting butt muscles and making 90-degrees angle at the knees. Hold for three seconds. Go back to starting position. Repeat.



















HAMMER CURL (biceps)


Stand tall. Turn the weights to vertical position. Curl weights up to chest level. Hold for three seconds. Repeat.




















EXTERNAL ROTATION (for shoulders)


Stand tall with weights in each hand. Open your chest and press knuckles in back of you keeping your wrists straight. Hold for three seconds.















TORSO STABILIZER (mid to lower back and sides)


Hold one dumbbell against your chest with both hands. Arch your back three to four comfortable inches. Then gently bend to left side, then front and right counting each side as one repetition, Movements to be strong and slow.

(These images and information regarding these exercises have been downloaded from msn.com/thrive on line/health for women)

-Soma Majumdar (Jot)

Friday, June 06, 2008

THE LAND OF RAMIYA AND SAAMBAR

Relationships have a tendency of descending into habits whether one likes it or not and then they become too difficult to break. And my relationship with Chennai was no different. Despite the fact that it was not at all love at first sight. Quite the contrary, in fact. It took me at least six months, excruciating ones, to get used to a place where there are only three seasons: hot, hotter and hottest. We landed in Chennai in the month of June. The very first place I visited was the tailor’s shop to chop off all my sleeves of all my garments. By 10 o’clock we would be jumping up and down with miserable perspiration rolling down our backs. Afternoon siesta became a thing of the past. The floor of the bathroom would be the only place of tolerable temperature.

Besides the temperature, the other aspect of Chennai that makes Chennai what it is: aloof and mysterious, is its language. It is a juxtaposition of sounds, alien, to one not exposed to anything South Indian than the dosa. And the streams of sounds fall faster than the waves that wash the wide, expansive beaches of Chennai. You go to the bank. There they dampen you. You go to the shops. There they bathe you. You go to the bazaar. There they drench you. My husband, I found, was quite impressed. He told me, “These people are so polite. They keep saying ‘sir, sir’ all the time.” I was wont to disillusion him by telling him that they were most probably saying, “seri, seri” which in Tamil means, “okay, okay.” Thus began my attempts at learning a language whose intonation, I found, gave it its personality. I tried to ‘Learn Tamil in Twenty Days’ as the book said on the cover. It sounded like French. So out went the book. Into the kitchen I walked with a slip of paper. “Bring, bring,” I gestured violently to my maid, “Bring, bring, Tamil?” She looked totally baffled. “Yene konduva amma?” I looked around, “Bucket konduva.” She brought the bucket. She actually brought the bucket! I scribbled on paper. Thus through phonetics and dumb charade I learnt enough to save myself in the land of idli and dosa.

Chennai is a place, which is at once religious and modern. They perform so many pujas here and so sincerely. They celebrate Vara Lakshmi, Pongal, Karthike, Navaratri Golu, Ayudh Puja, Vinaya Chathurthi to name a few. The landscape here is dotted with temples of massive proportion and intricate architecture. And you can see and feel the immense pride that the people take in their rich culture and tradition. On the other hand you get to see the largest number of super store chains. People here have been used to the off-the-shelf purchases for day-to-day requirements for a long time now. Vitan and Chintamani were the pioneers. Now there is stiff competition amongst Foodworld, Nilgiris and Palamudir Solai. Then of course there are the endless numbers of lifestyle stores like Landmark, Wills, Shoppers stop, Lifestyle, Globus, Westside, Pantaloons. Trips to plazas like Spencers plaza, Ebony Plaza, Fountain Plaza tend to become a whole day affair.

Besides the well developed shopping experience that Chennai offers, another aspect that commands awe-inspiring respect are the well-managed hospitals. Apollo, MGRamachandran, Sundaram, Vijaya, Madras Medical Mission, Shankar Netralaya are places not just providing health care but quality health care. Every hospital is manned and managed by a security system, drug store and restaurant facilities. And everything is spic and span, very clean and hygienic. Where education is concerned the number of private colleges for higher education is staggering. And the astonishing thing is that every institution has its own mode of transport. You can also feel the winds of change in some schools. A certain number of them are experimenting with activity-based methods of teaching with more emphasis on application than mere textual academics.

A somewhat conservative lifestyle co-exists, without contradictions, with the most erotic silver screen experience. The brilliant choreography and almost ethereal camera angles make Tamil film music enthralling. The rhythm and beat of their music make you feel like dancing. I have become so addicted to Tamil film music, I confess, I cannot go to sleep without my daily dose of Ajit, Vijay, Prabhu Deva, Jyotika, Simran and Ramiya. Music and dance run in the blood of the people here. Young girls at the age of 5 or 6 give flawless stage performances. The youth here are slightly more careful in what they wear than other metros. Having been brought up amongst rich traditions they have a high sense of attachment to their families. At the same time they also take immense pride in being part of the scientific and electronic temper, which is personified in our present president and computer guru Narayanan. The young formula car racer, Karthiken best epitomizes the youth here.

Five years of living in Chennai has made me what I am today- more spiritual, more modern, more aware and more tanned. And now I count the days left for us to leave and move to another place to build another relationship. As I sit and write I can smell the curry leaves in my garden and strong coffee from somewhere. The tantalizing odour of sambar floats from evey household. My son puts on some Hindi music. I ask him to change and put on “malle, malle, malle, malle.” My maid comes in. The fragrance of the flowers tucked in her hair announces her presence. She then goes out to draw a most symmetrical rangoli infront of my doorstep, which is like a ritual for Tamilians. I can hear my son talking fluently in Tamil with her. I soak in the completeness of my relationship with Chennai with an aching sadness that it is slowly coming to an end.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

OOOH.....TY

My husband handed me something. “Your tickets for the Queen of hill stations”, he said. I looked down. “Oh Ooty,”I looked and felt disappointed. When families all across were on a ‘going abroad for a small holiday’ trip, Ooty was like falling down from a peak. ....

From Chennai we were to travel to Mettupalayam, which would be a good 9 ½ hours. From there we were to board the narrow gauge ‘Toy train’.
NDVD_140.psd

I was told it would be a novel experience for our seven-year-old son and us. It sure was. When we reached the station we found the train already packed. It was on first come first served basis. But our persistent efforts paid off in the end. We were bundled into a coach full of luggage. Another family like ours also managed to squeeze in. thus began our sojourn heavenwards with our feet failing to touch the ground. I cannot put down on paper the thrill of clutching onto something, more tangible than my husband’s hand, for safety with one hand whilst a finger of the other was pressed onto the Start button of the handy cam hung around my neck. The thrill deepened with the rising rattling sound of the age-old engine, which echoed and tried to leave deep imprints on our eardrums. Every sense was aroused. When we entered the tunnels (about 3 to 4 of them) the smell of burning coal announced the slightly scorching fumes which enveloped us. We grew smarter with every move. We pulled up our glass panes on anticipating tunnels. I wish somebody had told us to avoid the last coach as the Toy train is run on coals and an uphill train engine always pushes a train. Not that we had much choice. But I thanked whoever it was that told us to sit on the left side as the right side of the train faces the rocky slope. Half way up the journey a friendly guard tried to alleviate some of our tribulations. He ordered the sacks to be pulled out and dumped somewhere else. Thus our feet found the ground when the memorable ride came to an end.

We had organized our trip in such a way that we would stay in Aravindkadu which was about 12km from Ooty and 6 km from Conoor in opposite directions. The next day we hired a cab for Rs 800 to show us around Ooty. Feeling the warmth of woolens next to my skin was as novel as driving amidst the rugged beauty of nature. The first stop we made was called Six miles. When we looked down we saw an unexciting slope covered with these tall and slim trees. NDVD_154.psd

We had been told that many movies are shot there. The only thing I could think of was the around-the-trees song sequences. Nevertheless we decided to go all the hog and go down there. What we found there was one of my highlights of Ooty. There was a bluish green lake, wide and meandering alongside mountain slopes and disappearing between two slopes in the far horizons.

NDVD_151.psd

There is a huge boulder almost strategically placed to take photographs.

The beauty of the surroundings makes you feel beautiful. When we were coming up, a busload of people seeing us huffing and puffing, changed their minds about going down. They had indeed missed one of nature’s treats.

The next place we stopped was called Nine miles. This was uphill. Here we walked upwards almost towards the point where the skies kissed the slopes.It was an unending expanse of greenslope wide beyond belief

NDVD_160.psd


Then it was onto the highest peak called Dodabetta. From there one can see all around. But it wasn’t one of our lucky days, I guess as the peak was covered in fog and clouds.dodabetta

From there we went to Pykara Lake. There are boating facilities there. It is not so commercialized and crowded like the Ooty Lake. We enjoyed the peaceful and quiet ride punctuated by the boatman’s warm answers to our typical “tourist’s” questions. The Pykara waterfalls is a wonderful picnic spot.
pykara waterfall
The still waters around the waterfalls are picturesquely dotted with pink lotus. By the time we reached Ooty Lake, a light drizzle caught up with us. So we didn’t stop there for long. And as we had already seen the wonders of another lake we decided to forego the pleasures of this one. Then we drove to the Botanical Gardens. A huge signboard proclaimed that a charge of Rs 50 would be charged on a camera and Rs500 for a video cam. We reacted worse than Scrooge. We indignantly walked in without any. And what we missed. The garden was in full bloom. All those songs, which you see in Tamil movies, choreographed around flowers, must be originating from there. Moreover there were seeds and saplings also for sale. Our feet were killing us when we reached home, tired and satiated with the beauty of the place.

With a night’s restful slumber in between, the next day we went towards Conoor. We drove through steep tea estates; beautifully landscaped gardens and picture perfect bungalows.tea estate
We even enticed a shy tea plucker to pose with us. When I made the request, like a frightened deer, she turned around and asked a man with her if she may do so. Her voice still rings in my ears, “Anna………”. After Ooty Conoor was like raw nature. We drove through narrow uphill roads through heavily forested areas. This was Nilgiris in its raw form. In some places the sunlight can hardly penetrate. Thus we drove a dangerously winding road through Adderley Estate (about 8 km from Conoor) to a place called Dolphin’s nose. Of course standing there you cannot justify the name. It is believed to be shaped like a dolphin’s mouth I guess.waterfall

But from there we had a telescopic view of Kotagiri (a place vying to get into the tourists’ line of vision), Mettupalayam and a most ‘videogenic’ St Catherine’s Falls. After tiring of the view with the monkeys (it is full of them) one can enjoy a quiet cup of masala tea and carry home small packets of rare spices and herbal oils extracted from the trees adorning Nilgiris.

Lambs rock, which is close by, offers a rustic appeal. Here one has to climb up a rocky roughly cut track. One gets to walk (at last!) up the forested slopes only to see the frightening and sheer fall from a height. My memories of Lamb’s rock will always be wrapped up with images of branches of trees curved as a parrot or a pony by nature and unforgettable signposts one of which read “Truck and enjoy the fresh air”.
NDVD_174.psd.psd

We also enjoyed the fresh and fragrant air of Sims Park. Here again we got to see wonderful flowers in bloom, different types of gardens and innovative landscaping.

garden
When we got back from Ooty (this time by a cab) we definitely fed renewed, recharged after having made that connection with nature right there in the heart of the Nilgiris.

(WATCH OUT FOR UPDATES WITH PHOTOGRAPHS)


Monday, November 19, 2007

NANDIGRAM DEBACLE

everyday there is something or the other on Nandigram... it pains me to see what is happening there. infact sometimes i wonder whether it is all true. there is a total sense of incredulousness to see what is happening in those peaceful villages that i used to visit when i was a child..true that CPM cadres have had a grassroot existence even long before i was born. but to think that now they are trying to hold onto their vote bank by hook and more by crook and openly is disgusting.
yes, i too have been an ardent admirer of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya...i thought unlike Jyoti bose he would rise above mere politics to usher in the rennaissance, the gentleman he is..But his recent statements to the media about paying back the opposition in their own coin was a statement unworthy of a gentleman who had always seemed so above any reproach.
Often in my younger days i would listen , horrified, to stories of these CPM cadres trying to woo the villagers before elections, by money or threats. but then it was just that...just threats. but now when the cadres seem to be so out of control, is it not impertinent for the top brass of CPM to stop the rot. but look at what is happening now...leave alone stopping the rot...the top brass goes all out to justify their totally unjustifiable and inhumane actions in todays world. Shameful!
there is so much disillusionment now and there just does not seem to be any way out...where is the viable, sensible , intelligent alternative??? trinamul? ....thats a laugh. having all the weapons in their hands they are unable to do anything. the gimmicky, publicity hungry Mamta Bannerji does not strike a chord with anybody.her vitriolic outbursts are only to be taken with a pinch of salt. talking of salt...her hunger strikes are pathetic public posings, nothing more than that. imagine seeing her constant companion, who was also on a hunger strike, on a TV channel that same evening shopping to her hearts content! thats the kind of opposition we have in Bengal. the advent of DErek O Brien was welcomed initially...but whats wrong with the guy? he seems to be a total replica of Mamta Bannerji in attitude and verbal violence. somehow after he has entered politics the amazing suave coolness and wisdom he seemed to incarnate seems more like a mirage..
so where do we go from here?
bengalies seem to be dominating everywhere all over the world in every domain...and doing it with the utmost dignity and intelligence...but Bengal?
Bengal is totally neglected and forgotten...forgotten are the poor people and the villages which have been our glory and pride...now the poor are killing each other in hatred orchestrated by philosophy lacking politicians...will somebody show us solutions?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

LEARNING COMPUTER BASICS

If you have heard these cries, ladies it is time to wake up and undo all the hours, days, months and years of neglect you are guilty of. I am talking about a very important and comparatively new member of your family- YOUR PC. Have you never wondered why it is called that? It is because it is your very own ‘personal’ computer. And after the initial getting to know each other, when you start lavishing all your attention on it, it will become your ‘lap’top.
You don’t look at me mama
You don’t touch me.
My brothers and sisters are always playing with me.
When you are not looking, papa spends hours with me.
Is something wrong with me mama?
Is it because I look so different from the other members of the family?
If you only come near will I be able to open up to you, be your most obedient child, do as you tell me, keep you entertained and informed for hours.
Just try mama, just try……..
If you have heard these cries, ladies it is time to wake up and undo all the hours, days, months and years of neglect you are guilty of……...
It is true I know, that the PC made its way into our homes when our knees started making those tell tale creaking sounds, and our memories were faculties we serviced in kitty parties and ladies meets. But hey, all it needs to work on a PC is good mothering skills. And that we have in plenty. First we have to break the xenophobia (fear of strangers) that, not you but, the PC feels towards you.
So gently touch your PC to bring it to life. But before that you must ensure to put it on life support system (no no, its own personal energies are not insufficient but the government’s electrical energies are.)I am talking about the UPS (uninterrupted power supply) that usually comes with every PC and is the supplier of power when there is a power failure.
Next comes the most difficult part. How do you control this brat called mouse? Let me give you a tip. Remember the first time you made chapattis. (I know that’s a huge time span) How agonizing it was to bring it to shape. But you did succeed. How? Practice, practice and more practice. Exactly what is required to bring your mouse under control. And you have all the time in the world to do that. Your husband will not be back before that very important meeting and may stay on for that business dinner. Your children have to rush off to the tutorials from school. Your maid?… now that’s a problem. Send her to the market with a long list. And have fun. Remember all those Tom and Jerry cartoons you used to watch with your children. Play games that are on your PC to help you gain control. BUT GET THAT MOUSE TO BEHAVE.
But it’s not all hunky dory. Sometimes your screen will not change at all despite giving commands to it. And may try to frighten you by quoting some error or insufficient memory or says it will hang up anyway. Remember your child when he was going through those ‘terrible two’ phase, when he would throw tantrums to get your attention. I hope you didn’t give him any. Here too. And if he acts stubborn and refuses to budge, just bend down and press your restart button (you’ll find it somewhere on your CPU) for sometime, till there is activity on the screen. Don’t worry. Your husband will not divorce you, if you press the restart button. Ask him. He must be doing it all the time. Sometimes you have to try the game of hit and run, trial and error. Like necessity is the mother of invention, mistakes are the foundation of ‘never to be forgotten’ knowledge. (And keep that in mind when your son brings home those class assignments of his. So instead of asking him how the others fared, ask him to find the source of his mistakes. Do tell me if this worked, next time we meet) and do remember there is this wonderful thing called system restore (program>accessories>system tools) where you can ask the PC to go back to an earlier date and erase the memories of your misadventures. Of course first you have to make sure that your husband did not switch system restore off. My gut instinct tells me he hasn’t. Sometimes if your PC slows down, you have to resort to good old spring cleaning. Go to program>accessories>system tools>disk cleanup>choose diskC>tick temporary internet files, recycle bin.
You might want to relate to your PC as a family or as an individual. Personally I believe one must always have a space for oneself, to give space to others. So go ahead. Do just that. Open your own account with your very own password. There you can scribble, poems you always wanted to write, paint crazy pictures, edit pictures, do the most childish of things which no one will know. Only you and your PC can giggle over them.
To do that, find the control panel. If you go to the start menu, and move your mouse over the various icons one will read “control panel/provides options for you to customize the appearance and functionality of your computer”, go alphabetically to “user account” left double click on “create new account” and follow directions blindly. You can add your password by double-clicking on your name icon and clicking “create password”.
Now you are your own person. You can write down those recipes, which are on torn paper, using MS words. It’s only a typing job. You can use one finger or two or three. I never heard a law against it. You can make a permanent list of your budget, or list of monthly requirements. You can copy down the written games that were played at the last ladies meet so that you can play it in another station. You can write down people’s names and important dates like birthdays and anniversaries which your ram(random access memory) can’t hold but your PC’s ram can.
By now I am sure you are clicking away to untold joys of chartering unchartered seas and traveling on the road you had chosen to avoid. Now is the time to fly. You can travel to the virtual world. Surfing the net is not just for your kids and husband. It is your basic right too. Fight for it, if you have to. And stop waiting for your husband to come back from office to go online. What a waste of time that would be. The whole wide world (www.) is like the magazines you flip through and much more. Search your desktop for the shortcut button to the internet via dial up or broadband whichever be the case. Double click on it. It will ask for a username and password. I am pretty certain your husband or child will tell you what it is. (If they don’t, come and tell me.) Soon a flickering icon at the bottom bar will tell you, you are online. Now you need a window to go to different websites. These are called internet browsers. You might be having internet explorer. Double click on it and an empty window opens up. A word of precaution first. Do ensure there is a good anti virus programme installed. Avoid pop ups. NEVER click on the popup which says you can claim your prize as you are the 1,00,000th visitor or some such thing. Remember the saying “if anything is too good to be true, it probably is”, especially on the net.
The first website you should visit is www.google.com. This nothing but a directory or search engine. It is like the smart cab driver who knows various places of where you want to go. Suppose you say you would like to go to a mall. He will tell you all the malls there are in that place. Now if you specify that you want one where you can get shoes, he might take you to Metro Plaza (I would if I was in his place. Now I know what that ad for monster.com means – I should have been a taxi driver)If you want the recipe for a sponge cake, just type “sponge cake recipe”, it will throw up a lot of websites. Visit each website one by one and find out what is best suited for you. If you want a rangoli pattern, go to google, choose images, type ‘rangoli’ and there after zoning in on to one site you can make your choice. Forget your prepositions and grammar (some people have forgotten their spellings also, after becoming a netizen). You want the phone number of Wockhardt, Rashbehari outlet, type “wockhardt rashbehari kolkata”, want dosas home delivered from nearby, type “south Indian food alipore home delivery”. Just mix and match and grow from strength to strength. Find out details of the rarest of rare diseases. Find out the prevention and causes of osteoporosis which afflicts so many women nowadays, the pros and cons of hysterectomy which every third women is undergoing these days, the benefits of drinking red wine occasionally or keeping a pet, find your old batch mates on batchmates.com. And talking of batch reminds me of match, of course, of the match making type for your children. Various matrimony sites are there but just as the first reference point and to be followed up through other sources, very very thoroughly. You can visit sites of women’s magazines, contact them and send a recipe you have created. Who knows you might see your name in print; or better still, win a prize for it. My first article for Femina got published like that. You can read it at my blog (a personal site anyone can set up by going to blogger.com, blogit.com, typepad.com, etc) www.indiaperspective.blogspot.com . There I have done it at last, the goal behind writing this article, the climax of my mothering skills, like getting your child to do what you want through indirect methods.
And if I have been able to mother my PC and still am, as it is a never endng job (I nearly chucked up my teaching job when they asked me to feed my students’ marks into the school computer), so can you.
WITH A LITTLE MORE CONFIDENCE
• You can scan pictures from old albums and preserve them on cd’s as otherwise they tend to become yellowed with age.
• Don’t clutter your pc with heavy( MB ) photographs. Open the picture, go to the picture editing tools>file>save as>choose jpeg format, not bmp. When you want to take a print out, convert them to bmp.
• Download ‘picasa’ a free picture editing software that makes your pictures look lovely.
• You can use ‘mozilla firefox’ as your internet browser. It has more security features.
• For internet explorer you can download, the google/yahoo toolbar. Then to search you don’t have to go to the google site . Firefox has inbuilt search engines.
• Amongst free downloadable antivirus programmes, you can try ‘avira antivir’
• You can open an account in ‘flickr.com’, and post photographs you want to share with others, friends and relatives and retain copyright so that nobody can download them if you don’t want them to.
SITE- SEEING IN THE VIRTUAL WORLD
www.sanjeevkapoor.com, www.tarladalal.com, www.bawarchi.com, (recipes)
www.gettyimages.com, www.flickr.com, www.illustratorworld.com, (images)
www.nationalgeography.com/kids, www.familyeducation.com, (HW, fly activities)
www.bollyfm.net, www.itunes.com, www.hamaracd.com, (music, Hindi, free download)
www.tenaday.co.in, (MBA CAT exams)
www.webcanvas.com, (artistically inclined)
www.mediamax.streamload.com, www.xdrve.com, (online storage in virtual world)
www.think-free.com (online office suite)
www.google.com, www.clusty.com, www.chacha.com (online search)
www.monster.com, www.naukri.com, www.timesjobs.com, www.jobsahead.com, (online job portals, helps if you log in and keep your resume there for free
www.triggerstreet.com, www.studentfilms.com (online movie making )
www.seventymm.com (rent DVD online, starting in Kolkata this March)
www.indianrail.gov.in (train travel related)
www.makeytrip.com (flight related)
www.calcuttatelephones.com (telephone related, broadband)
www.bbc.co.uk/lifestyle (home decor ideas, gardening)
www.whfoods.com (to know all about healthy foods)
http://health.msn.com (health related) www.womensheartfoundation.org/content/Exercise/stretching_exerciseexercises for women, (a must do) (simple stretching

Relevance of Rabindranath Tagore today



Scanning the newspaper for tributes to the great Bengali Bard, Rabindranath Tagore, I came across a presentation by Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee. And my mind raced back to an evening in the past; an evening of recitations and songs I had experienced in Bengal Club.(please note the word experienced) a year back. A friend of ours had invited both of us, husband and wife, to this musical evening in honour of the Bard. Being used to spending the evening watching Himesh Reshmaiya snorting out popular numbers or watching with mounting disbelief the progression of the fast paced, nailbiting episodes of Indian Idol( we live very ordinary lives) , we were a bit apprehensive of what the evening had in store for us.

Amongst the performers were Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee himself,singer Pramita Mullick, theatre personality Bijoylakshmi Burman, actors Arindam Sil, Chaitee Ghoshal, Parambratta Chatterjee amongst others. There were English renditions of various poems and plays. The English translations were so good that it added to the beauty of the originals. And the raw emotions which came across through the renditions made me get goose bumps . Rabindranath Tagore still had the power to thrill me in an age of remixes and Kaavya Vishwanathans. That is the genius of Rabindranath Tagore.

Like his English counterpart Shakespeare, Rabindranath Tagore is universal in appeal through time and geography. Their mastery over different genres be it the novel, a play or poetry or short story makes them stand out like a giant astride the world of Literature. If we cling onto him as being only precious to Bengal we would be doing him a great dishonour. He was a self proclaimed man of the world. Many of his works bear influences of foreign origin. His Purano sei diner katha is a take of from Auld lang syne. It was his genius that translated what could have been mere imitation to something which belongs to the ethereal and universal world of Tagore. Very similar to Shakespeare’s Hamlet bearing the strains of Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy but far far above Kyd’s packaging of motley happenings. It is this extra vision and complete mastery over their craft that makes them stand tall.
Yet today Shakespeare is more universally known than Tagore. Why?
The fault lies with us.
We cannot cling onto him and stifle him to death.
We have to let him go.
Go striding all over the world and let the world thrill to his words.
In today’s words and world he needs to be “packaged” and presented to todays youth. A change in medium and mode will not alter the quintessential Tagore that we know. It will just make him the universal genius he was. That is why presentations like those of Sujoy Prasad Chatterjee, Xaverians: Soumyojit Das Sourendra Mullick, Moubani Sorcar should be saluted and encouraged.
Go take Tagore on a world tour. He has been closetted in Bengal for far too long.


TRANSLATION OF AN EXCERPT OF TAGORE’S “SHESHER KOBITA
Do you hear the footsteps of Time
Trampling upon our hearts and souls?
Awakening this muted cry….
Oh my friend
This vagabond Time
Engulfs me in its whimsical web
Carrying me to its chariot
To far far away lands
On its journey into the end
Far far away from you.

A thousand deaths have I died
And now am born to this new dawn.
The winds of Time
Hath scattered far and wide
My old forgotten name.
I cannot return
From yonder you see me
Yet you do not see.
Farewell my friend, farewell.

Someday, hence in a moment suspended
When the breath of the past
Shall lightly fan your cheeks..
On an autumn day
When the air will be filled
With the cry of fallen May,
There will you find me
For part of me hath you stolen and locked within your breast.

Hold onto that nameless dream
You dremt
But dream it wasn’t my friend
Illusion it wasn’t.
It was the truth , my friend
It was my love for you.

My love hath I given to you
Untarnished and new forever may it be
Though tarnished, I now float away
Down the tide of Time
Farewell, my friend, farewell

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

indian idol update

Amit Paul's "pehla nasha" last friday was as inspiring as his last performance Amit Paul's "pehala nasha" last friday was as inspiring as his last performance and did not let down the expectations of a growing amit paul support club.


The song can be downloaded from
http://www.bollyfm.net/bollyfm/mid/386/tid/2524/mp3soundtrack.html
LYRICS

Chaahe Tum Kuchh Na Kaho Maine Sun Liya
Ki Saathi Pyaar Ka Mujhe Chun Liya
Chun Liya
Maine Sun Liya

Pehla Nasha
Pehla Khumaar
Naya Pyaar Hai Naya Intezaar
Kar Loon Main Kya Apna Haal
Aye Dil-e-bekaraar
Mere Dil-e-bekaraar
Tu Hi Bata

Pehla Nasha
Pehla Khumaar

Udta Hi Firoon In Hawaon Mein Kahin
Ya Main Jhool Jaoon In Ghataon Mein Kahin
Udta Hi Firoon In Hawaon Mein Kahin
Ya Main Jhool Jaoon In Ghataon Mein Kahin
Ek Kar Doon Aasmaan Zameen
Kaho Yaaron Kya Karoon Kya Nahin

Pehla Nasha
Pehla Khumaar
Naya Pyaar Hai Naya Intezaar
Kar Loon Main Kya Apna Haal
Aye Dil-e-bekaraar
Mere Dil-e-bekaraar
Tu Hi Bata

Pehla Nasha
Pehla Khumaar

Usne Baat Ki Kuchh Aise Dhang Se
Sapne De Gaya Vo Hazaaron Range Ke
Usne Baat Ki Kuchh Aise Dhang Se
Sapne De Gaya Vo Hazaaron Range Ke
Reh Jaoon Jaise Main Haar Ke
Aur Choome Vo Mujhe Pyaar Se

Pehla Nasha
Pehla Khumaar
Naya Pyaar Hai Naya Intezaar
Kar Loon Main Kya Apna Haal
Aye Dil-e-bekaraar
Mere Dil-e-bekaraar
i wish the girls were putting in a lil bit more effort, but somehow they seemed to have lost the zing. puja looks quite expressionless...perfection of notes does not appeal if the soul is missing. she has to feel what she sings, not artificially put it on. what has happened to deepali...such a confident singer...looks all nerves and she chooses the wrong songs. her choice of song has to improve. will ankita get over those shaking legs of hers...the winner in these kind of reality shows is usually the one who can sing, perform and enjoy performing despite the competitiveness and their uglinesses...one whose nerves are made of steel. all the girls seem to be wilting under the pressure. it was a shame that Parleen was voted out...but one never really had a good performance from Parleen after his "Taal" number..."ramta jogi, ramta jogi"

Sunday, July 29, 2007

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS

Did harry potter leak or not? There was a review of the deathly hallows on 20th july which said a little and left more unsaid. But the leak was only some photographs of some pages which were not as promising as the book promises to be. When i asked my twelve year old son as to wherein lies the charm of harry potter, he very condescendingly told me that it teaches certain life skills: courageousness, strength of character, how to outwit bullies. hence i was not surprised to read this article on net. read it, you must, the story of one of the kids invited for the first reading of the Deathly Hallows . it will make a harry potter fan of you as a parent.
The release of this book must be going down in history as an outstanding example of savvy marketing, with hints, suggestions and an astounding security arrangements. imagine lights dimmed during printing process, barbed wires around printing presses.

Here is a review by my nephew Rwik Roy from Kolkata, who couldn't wait to get his hands on the copy on the 21st july...he must have lain awake all night on 20th wondering whether potter would survive the onslaught of Rowling's literary meanderings......

"The much awaited final installment of the enthralling Harry Potter series by Joanne K. Rowling was released with a lot of fanfare at 12:00AM (London Time) all over the world.

Here in India Bookstores opened their doors to long queues of Potter fans at 6:30 AM (Mean Time) & started selling the book thereof.

"Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows" is really the thriller it was claimed to be, with Rowling providing Potter fans the answers to the questions that were left unanswered in the previous books.
Also many secrets were revealed in the book, including the redemption of Severus Snape.

The book begins with Harry preparing to vacate the Vernon's home (along with the Vernons). He is escorted by The Order of The Pheonix, whose plan is to create 7 Harrys (by using the Polyjuice potion) to confuse the death eaters if they tried to intercept them. But disaster strikes when they find that they are surrounded by death-eaters when they fly out. Harry flees with his life, but Mad-Eye Moody & Hary's pet owl, Hedwig, die. Next we see how at Bill Weasley & Fleur Delacour wedding, The death-eaters arrive & destroy the celebrations. It is at that moment that Ron,Hermione & Harry escape to carry out their mission of finding & destroying the remaining Horcruxes.They face many difficulties but ultimately get hold of the Locket Horcrux & destroy it by using the sword of Godric Gryffindor.They also find The cup of Hufflepuff & destroy it too(after a close call at Gringotts).In between Harry has a few close calls & is almost caught by Voldemort(who is at large).They also discover the secret of the Deathly Hallows.the Deathly hallows are actually three objects which make their owner the Master of death.They are an Elder wand, a Stone(which brings back people from the dead) & Harry's own Invisibility Cloak. What follows next is a race against time to destroy the Horcruxes & to prevent Voldemort from getting the Deathly Hallows. In the final showdown at Hogwarts, Harry realises that Snape was essentially faithful to Dumbledore & that he himself is a Horcrux, so he lets Voldemort kill him. He goes to heaven,meets Dumbledore & gets ressurected & comes back to battle Voldemort.
Meanwhile Neville kills the snake, Nagini,the last Horcrux, & Voldemort himself gets killed when his own killing spell backfires. Thus the saga ends.

Many important characters die in the book, but the ending makes up for them.

In the epilogue, "Nineteen Years Later", we see thaqt Harry is happily married to Ginny Weasley and Ron marries Hermione.Harry has three children - 2 sons & 1 daughter,while Ron & Hermione Have 1 son & 1 daughter.

All in all it is an enthralling book which is unputdownable. "

Sunday, July 15, 2007

indian idol amit paul?

in fridays performance amit paul had everyone swooning with his rendering of nasha yeh pyar ka nasha.....i have to admit Amit paul was never one of my favourites...Chang and parleen had already created a niche in that list...but strangely amit paul's magic has started workin on me i guess.......i think at this level, the choice of songs is very very important...one has to go for foot tappin music with the crowd asking for more . Amit paul has been doing very good homework on that front.. look at the choice of songs he has done..
Main hoon jhoom jhoom, In dino, Aao twist kare, Aaj kal tere mere pyar ke,
Do you want a partner,
Khamosh raat, Na jane koi kaisi hai yeh zindagi, Phoolon ke rang se, Dil lena khel hai, Chal chale.
he made me immediately download the song and start tryin 2 sing it as soulfully as possible...and i am sure this must have been happenin in a lot of homes ...and as shabana azmi so rightly pointed out he had jus that right amount of confidence not too much or less...n he looked so relaxed ..way to go.......

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Nasha Ye Pyaar Ka Nasha Hai
Ye Meri Baat Yarron Maano
Nashe Mein Yaar Doob Jaao
Raho Na Hosh Mein Deewanon

Nasha Ye Pyaar Ka Nasha Hai
Ye Meri Baat Yarron Maano
Nashe Mein Yaar Doob Jaao
Raho Na Hosh Mein Deewanon
Ki Jabse Maine Tumko Ye Dil De Diya
Meetha Meetha Sa Dard Le Liye
Suno O Priya
Maine Tumko Dil Diya

Nasha Ye Pyaar Ka Nasha Hai
Ye Meri Baat Yarron Maano
Nashe Mein Yaar Doob Jaao
Raho Na Hosh Mein Deewanon

Nazar Se Yoon Mili Nazar
Deewana Main Ho Gaya
Asar Ye Kya Hua Asar
Kahan Ye Main Kho Gaya
Behke Behke Kadam Behka Behka Hai Mann
Chha Gaya Chha Gaya Mujhpe Deewanapan
Suno O Priya
Maine Tumko Dil Diya

Nasha Ye Pyaar Ka Nasha Hai
Ye Meri Baat Yarron Maano
Nashe Mein Yaar Doob Jaao
Raho Na Hosh Mein Deewanon

Jhguki Jhuki Nigaah Mein Bala Ki Shokhiyaan Chhupi
Khuli Khuli Laton Mein Bhi Haay Ghata Ki Mastiyaan Ruki
Ye Haya Ye Ada Ye Haseen Ye Nayan
De Gaye De Gaye Meethi Meethi Chubhan
Suno O Priya
Maine Tumko Dil Diya

Nasha Ye Pyaar Ka Nasha Hai
Ye Meri Baat Yarron Maano
Nashe Mein Yaar Doob Jaao
Raho Na Hosh Mein Deewanon
Ki Jabse Maine Tumko Dil Ye De Diya
Meetha Meetha Sa Dard Le Liye
Suno O Priya
Maine Tumko Dil Diya

Nasha Ye Pyaar Ka Nasha Hai
Ye Meri Baat Yarron Maano
Nashe Mein Yaar Doob Jaao
Raho Na Hosh Mein Deewanon

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

front cover


front cover
Originally uploaded by somajum164.
designed for a durga puja souvenir 2005 on photoshop

front cover


front cover
Originally uploaded by somajum164.
designed for a durga puja souvenir 200 on photoshop

Friday, January 26, 2007

HAPPY TEACHERS DAY

Today is Teachers Day: a day for students to show their love and respect for the people who are God's representative within the school environs; a day to strengthen the very bonds that mould their personality n attitude towards life.

And yet in todays context of unpredictable student fury it is indeed a moment of poignancy. Prof. Sabharwal's death amidst election violence in Ujjain, a teacher's apology forced by students protests in MCM DAV College all raise doubts about those bonds of love and respect.

Who is to be blamed for this sorry tragic state of affairs? Of course one can in no way condone the acts of violence that led to the death of the professor or the humiliating apology forced out of a teacher just because the use of mobiles was prohibited or the vandalism of a group of girl students in Chandigarh when they were not allowed to meet the VC to air their grievances. Behind each incident is a specific issue that has to be dealt separately. The first is about the relevance of political parties in university elections(education n politics), the second one is about the limits on the use of mobiles in school n college campuses(changing attitudes n lifestyles), and the third one is about specific malpractices going on in that particular instituion(corruption n indifference).

But there is a common thread running through each story : that of breaking bonds.

But the source of this malaise is not in the college n university campuses where violence is raising its ugly head .

It is in the schools.

Look at the number of students in a class. 45 ! and thats the minimum. a teacher student ratio of 45:1! how can you expect the bonds to grow?

You attend a parent teacher meeting and find it is merely a handing out of reports. where's the dialogue between the two people that is nurturing the young mind?

Young mind? Now what is that? A student is nothing but a roll number.As the teacher hands out reports she tells me that my son is very confident in English, has good marks in Science but needs to give more attention to Geography.....Even i can say that looking at the report. does the teacher even know my son's name i wonder.

But can one really blame the teacher? teaching is one of those few professions in which you need to be alert mentally n physically for nearly 8-10 hours. altho number of students have grown the number of teachers haven't. thus the teachers load has become abominally high. in India payscales all around seem to be hitting the roof. but what about the teachers payscale? is it commensurate with the efforts that are put in? In the US teachers pays are around 12lakhs p.a.isn't it ridiculous what the indian teacher gets paid?

Ultimately it is the school management that has to take all the blame for all that is happening today.

license should be granted if the school maintains the healthy student teacher ratio of 25:1 or lower(and not on the basis of profit margins)

If you want a healthy soceity you have to restrenghten those bonds again.

HAPPY TEACHERS DAY.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Reel life and Real life: a review.

Corporate, Rang De Basanti and Kabhi alvdia Na Kehna.. three different movies, three different directors, three different storytellers. yet all three weave a reel life story about some bitter truths of real life. but it is only one bitter reality pill that the indian people are finding it difficult to swallow :KANK. the other two ( Corporate and Rang De)people have swallowed and forgotten.

Corporate raises the issue of pesticides in soft drinks and Rang De raises huge doubts about the safety of Mig 21 aircrafts being imported into the country. Both serious issues, mind you. but in both movies the reaction of the people stops within the entry and exit doors of the theatre halls ;for as two corresponding characters in both these movies so rightly point out, ".....the memory of the indian "junta" is very short term" . Whereas, Kank is being talked about in "chai addas", in drawing rooms and even encroaching the privacy of bedrooms. Even a no-sensation-hard -core-truth-exposing TV channel like NDTV had Barkha Dutt roping in Karan Johar and Sharukh Khan for their views on adultery in We The People.

Armed with the Right to information we, the people can make India the sensible and mature nation it should be. But in today's scenario we are so wrapped up with what happens to me, my husband, my children that we are not even remotely disturbed by issues that do not concern us directly.

So what if Officers die in Mig 21 flights?

So what if there are pesticides in soft drinks?

So what if we have a right to information?

So what if the government is trying to amend it to make it into a toothless weapon?

So what if politicians are desperately trying to increase their take home pay pockets despite the fact that no commensurate pay packet dignifies the pay packets of defense personnel?

So what if............................

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

POLITICS IN UNIVERSITY CAMPUS

The death of Soumik Bose in Bengal Engineering and Science University caused indirectly by the political violence in the campus raises the question of whether students union in universities should be patronized by political parties.

Hearing this news my husband recounted, during his engineering college days in Tripura once during such clashes, how he and some friends had to run away and hide in the jungles nearby; that too at night whereas during daytime they would never dare to venture out there at all.

I remember when i was doing my post graduation in English in Calcutta University there were atleast 4 or 5 guys in our class who had enrolled for the course just so as to be an active member of CP or was it SFI? Who cares? They never used to attend classes but passed with flying colors. Why are these universities being used as breeding grounds or nurseries for budding politicians. Its a shame that such reputable institutions like Calcutta University or BESU should allow themselves to be tainted with the presence of politically affiliated students unions. One never hears of such things of Oxford or Cambridge. i believe Jadavpur University and Presidency have been trying to keep out political patronage of students union. But shouldn't the state government's education policy add this as a clause (students union not to be politically affiliated) to enable universities to do what they are best equipped to do: produce alumnae to do us proud?

Look at Indra Nooyi, the present CEO, Pepsi. Alumnae of IIM Calcutta. Shouldn't we concentrate on producing more such alumnae or providing a state of the art library, proper well maintained classes(when i think of CU i can remember the dark classrooms we had) or proper table chairs(not those horrible benches where we kept falling off on the arrival of some latecomer). There is so much to do only if there was a genuine will to rise and raise standards!

Kolkata or for that matter West Bengal or for that matter India :Why is it so difficult for Governments to realize that education is the future of the country not just the past.

Monday, January 22, 2007

OF PUDDLES AND PAKORAS

it is very unusual to be raining so much in kolkata at this time of the year. but it is. this is the time for the monsoon to recede, raising the humidity to unbearable limits("pocha bhadra" they call it in the local idiom). but not so this year; although i believe in some parts of West Bengal( like Malda) it is so hot and humid that local administration has shut down primary level schools. In Kolkata however, for the last two weeks it has been raining in a very irritating manner. the sun tries to peep through in the early mornings as if to accept everyone's "surya pranam"; but the sun golden orb is soon brow beaten by the over domineering black nimbus.seasonal viruses are on the rise, idly batters does not fluff up find it difficult to rise, clothes don't dry.....but life goes on through puddles and potholes, through cuddles and lots and lots of hot pakoras.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

THE SHELTER

I literally sank into the sofa. I was trying to regain my composure. Three of us had ventured out to do some thing meaningful for society. We had heard of this place called “The Banyan” a home for destitute, mentally imbalanced women. And all of us felt, due to some reason, that the time had come to go out and do something for the socially downtrodden. We drove ourselves to this place. With idealistic (or is it purely selfish motivation turned inside out) thoughts of spreading love and peace amongst the destitute, we entered the impressive gateways of the institution. Nothing had prepared me for what happened next. Hordes of women lost in their own worlds of heaven or hell sat staring at us. Some were smiling, some laughing, some muttering, some were utterly blank. To me it seemed that a common bond tied them together: they were totally cynical and were laughing at us. A knot of intense fear started growing in my tummy. Only the thought that I should not let my friends down kept me from turning back to the security of the car.

As we were led into the temporary security of the lounge, a young man breezed in. “I am Lazar”, he announced in a self-effacing fashion. We asked him to let us know exactly what was required of us. He told us he had been asked to show us around the place. And he led us upstairs to the second floor. My initial feelings came rushing in on me. Behind grilled, locked doors stood a bunch of disheveled looking, frightening women. “This is the first stage,” Lazar was explaining, “After picking them up from the streets they are kept here under observation. Sometimes they get violent. That is why we keep them locked up. After medication: general and psychiatric and counseling if an improvement is noticed we take them into the second phase.” One of my friends indicated she wanted to go inside. We walked in. All the women surged towards us wanting to shake our hands or touch us. I saw Maya smiling calmly returning their greetings. I tried to do the same but could feel my smile becoming more watery with dumb fear. And then there was chaos. A girl came running towards Maya crying, “Get me out of here. I am not mad. My boyfriend deserted me here”, as she prostrated herself on the floor. A woman came, running and shouting, towards Kavie. Kavie turned around and said she wanted to get out of the place. She has bouts of claustrophobia and as soon as she lost sight of the woman who had locked us up she lost her calm. Somebody was shouting for the ayah. Feeling extremely ashamed and extraordinarily relieved, I followed Kavie outside. She had a medical reason for coming out. I had none.

Then we were taken to the second phase. I could feel the disgrace that was tangible in my friends’ sympathetic looks and in the social worker’s complete ignorance of my presence. Again I followed Maya inside. This time funnily they seemed less fearful. Somebody came and shook my hand and asked, “How are you?” Normally a question like this would have elicited an almost reflex like answer. But now I found myself muttering incoherently, “Good very good, fine, nice”. Her next question had me glowing, “Where is your Amitabh Bachhan?” And when she told me “You must promise to pay Rs15000” I found myself jokingly respond, “For that I have to work extremely hard”. Maya brought a girl to me saying I might be able to understand her as she speaks Bengali. I started asking her questions, her name, where she stayed, was she married, where were her parents, etc.

Gradually the “bunch of disheveled looking and frightening women” had crystallized into one extremely lost and frightened woman who for some reason had boarded a train “just like that” and traveled from the heart of Bengal to Mogappair in Chennai. Immediately Lazar handed me a paper and said, “Write”. But Boba (for that was her name) refused to divulge any thing the minute she saw the paper.

As soon as we were well out of sight I wrote down the scraps of details that Boba wanted to erase from her life; but which the institution required to rehabilitate her but had been unable to do as she spoke a language, which nobody had understood. Lazar then led us to a huge conference room. He sent us those women whom he thought we might be able to understand, to place them, so as to help them in their rehabilitation. We were more than willing to oblige. Thus for nearly one hour I spoke to Kalpana. She had been found loitering at night by the police. She sounded completely sane but destitute nevertheless. She had taken to prostitution to provide for her family after having been married off at the age of twelve. Sometimes I found her story meandering with justifications and gaps. But she did give lots of addresses. If one of those helps speed her homewards I would know that I had been meant to be there at that particular time. Even otherwise, to be a part of a movement began by two courageous women, to give shelter and succor to physically abused and mentally scarred women is itself an eye opener. Because at The Banyan they believe that “behind every shadow there is light”

Situated in Mogappair a few km away from Chennai,‘The Banyan’ is a center for women by women. It was started in 1993 by the commendable efforts of Ms Vandana Gopikumar and Ms Vaishnavi Jayakumar, who were then in their twenties. It is a home for the mentally disturbed, destitute women found roaming in the streets. They are brought into this institution. Through medication, counseling and other therapies they are then rehabilitated into the families they had temporarily forsaken or had been forced to leave.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

diwali night rangoli

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after the fireworks, muted, and tambola its time for the ladies to gather around and pose with the rangoli which was put together, hurriedly, in the last minute

Diwali

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The central Govt officers' quarters at 30, Belvedere Road all lighted up for diwali

Lakshmi puja at 30, Belvedere Road

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even the children want to participate in the proceedings be it fanning a dhuno into life

Sindoor khela at 30, Belvedere road

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Kali puja pandal, BF Salt lake

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CF Salt lake puja pandal, kolkata

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shaped like a palki but diff fro putiari club as it is made of cloth not bamboo

BE Salt lake protima

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idol also made of terracotta

Thursday, October 26, 2006

BE Salt lake

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terracotta theme

Barisha Unnayan palli protima

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nothing prepared for the experience inside. we did the devi darshan amidst the continuous chanting of ohm. oh what a calming ambience it created in the middle of our mad pandal hopping- somewhat similar to our experience of 25 palli, kidderpore

Barisha Unnayan palli

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the pandal was a stupa amidst a waterbody

Vivekananda Sporting club puja pandal

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the turban display on the pandal as seen from outside