Sunday, October 7, 2007

Color conversion --> Blue to Red

Am feeling Blue.

An uneventful week along with some unpleasant happenings, brought a friday on which I received a message from a friend from the past,to meet up at London.A week consisting of
bad days at office,not feeling well and gloomy weather in a very morose place made the idea of
taking a break for a few hours from the monotony seem like an excellent proposition.

On a not so sunny Saturday, picked up my purse, my mobile and my ipod and started for a
rendezvous with an old friend.Luck favoured me with the train timings followed by a lovely
journey through the English countryside. All in all a great start to the day.

Friend had got stuck somewhere in the London tubes, which gave me enough time to browse the shops at the station.Bought some raisin chocolates at the chocolate shop there.Window shopped some cosmetics.Checked the latest prices of some of my favourite perfumes.[why cant there sometimes be nice surprises]

Friend made it to the station.

Both of us fought the London tube crowd to reach an Indian restaurant at Leicester square called Imli.[very soon London is going to beat Mumbai as far as crowd in trains go].Ended up among a row of Chinese restaurants.Chinese food not ok to my vegeterian friend.Walked half an hour through a series of Chinese,Lebanese and Carribean restaurants,till we finally found 'Imli'.Had a sumptuous meal[though jaws dropped at the quantity served] and shared our
chocolates with the waiter who said "If you are having chocolates in the restaurant, you have to abide by the rule which says that all chocolates to be shared with the waiter ;)".Talked of good ol' times.Laughed like crazy in an otherwise quiet gathering.

Left for Oxford Street.Roamed around the streets looking through shops which were much beyond our pocket limits.[London is one of the most colorful cities, I noticed].

Time up!!.Left for the train station.Sat beside a grumpy auntie with red nail polish and a stiff
upper lip.i-Pod came to rescue.Reached Morose-city.Walked from station to home listening to the following song and imagining Prince Charming singing it for me.

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

Ended it with the following song. This song somehow has this 'ultimate hapiness and freedom' feel to it.

Get this widget | Track details | eSnips Social DNA

Back home with the 'Blue' lightened by a great deal and specially replaced by the predominant
'Red' in London[You get to see the color Red in London a lot...the buses..lamp posts etc.].
Switched on laptop to write blogs.:))) while waiting for the dawn to break at some other part
of the world.... to share my experiences.

Friend for a few moments.

Sometimes it does cross my mind how some friends have remained so despite the fact that
I have hardly spent time enough for them to be called 'friends'.I hope I don't sound filmy,
but reminds me of some dialog in a film about how some people leave a mark at the first meeting
itself.I have never been in constant touch with these people but when I meet them, it feels
as if there never was a time lag between us.A farewell message, generally always ends with
'Keep in touch'. These friends never did that. But despite that they have remained good old friends always,without any expectations and without any promises.

I had met K during a very temporary situation in my life.It was a friendship of 3 months where we bunked classes for that ice-cream at Nirulas along with a movie at Chanakya [Delhi].
Once I left for Pune for my graduation, it didn't look like we were ever meeting. I thought like
many of my other friends she would also remain another entry in my scrap book.Initially we
exchanged a few letters and gradually those stopped as well.Then again after a period of
a few years she dropped a 'Howdie' to me and we started conversing again.Since then we have
constantly got into this cycle of silence followed by 'Hows u...dude?' mails.But till date
whenever I meet her its like old times again.Through the years we have come closer,exchanging
notes on the latest happenings and updates.

S was my roommate during my engineering days for a year.Having stayed together for a year, we understood each other very well.Our favourite time of the day was in the evening when we sat with our cup of chai ordered across the hostel fence from the gujrati bhaiyya's chai ki dukaan.We discussed about life,future and all other concerns that crosses the mind of a 20 year old.When I left the hostel after my graduation S said,"One thing is for sure, I am not going to keep in touch. You know very well that I am very averse to writting mails or calling up.But yes, i will still miss you.". And true to her words,we havnt had more than a few phone conversations
since then. But whenever we talk, it feels like the same Pune air and that cup of tea.

Similarly I crossed paths with A, at the introductory training program organised by my company at Chennai for 2 months.We had the same crazy mind,the same idea of 'fun', shying away from studies and the false attempts of excercising to keep 'fit' and of course the same lousy sense of humour.Her company was a constant source of entertainment."Eh yedi, aaj woh item ne joh samjhaya ...tujhe samjha kya? Mere toh bheje me kuch gaya hi nahin." her skewed mumbaiyya hindi was a riot.And specially since she spoke them with utter honesty and genuine intentions, made it sound even funnier, much to her confusion..."Arrey Mumbai me yehich hindi bolte hai"...she used to say with concern, whenever she caught me laughing.Today I met A at London.We spent those 4 hours laughing away to glory while roaming the streets ,speaking of old times during training days.Exchanged info on common friends and how some friends from Delhi have drifted away because we could not keep in touch.Suddenly she remarked ..."Pata hai aisa hi accha hai...yeh woh dilli wali junta bahut zyada senti ho gaye...ab kaisa hai na...tereko koi phona ya mail nahin bhi karo toh itne din se....kuch toh bhi aata jata nahin hai....itne din baad mile bhi..toh majja aaya na?

Buddies, hope to meet you again,some other time in some other way.Keep in touch..just the way
you have till date.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kashi ahe...maushi?

Recently a friend of mine has left for Pune to start her "hostel life". Brought back vivid memories of my own days in hostel in Pune and also got me wondering what all those people who were a part of my daily life then were doing now.One such person was Maushi.Maushi was a shrivelled emaciated 70 year old who used to wash clothes for those girls who cared to pay some extra money to get their clothes washed by her.Most girls though were in a dilemma whether to get the clothes washed by her or not.She looked too frail to wash clothes and we were filled with guilt to let her wash clothes at her state, but at the same time that was her only source of income.Maushi was an integral part of our lives those four years.We had the language barrier between us, though eventually we did pick up a little bit of marathi. But in the initial days we used to converse with her without either side comprehending anything.The first sentence in marathi, that we hostellers picked up was "Mala marathi yet nahin..", which literally means, I dont understand marathi. Whenever maushi went on with her incomprehensible stories in marathi, we used to say that to her and she would be just too amused to hear us telling her in marathi that we dont understand the language.Mausi frequently blessed us and prayed for "changla nawra" or good husbands for us.One particular day, before the exams,she blessed a girl with changla nawra, when the girl replied indifferently "Mausi pehle exam pass karne ka ashirvad do.Exam pass nahin kiya toh accha nawra kahan se milega?". I dunno what exactly mausi deciphered out of that, but she nodded and went away smiling.One particular winter vacations, we were packing our bags to leave for home, when maushi came to our room and said "Aga, mala sweeeter de na?".She aksed us to get sweaters for her from home for her. The winters in Pune is quite chilly and I did notice that she dint have any woollens,apart from a torn shawl.On returning from home, I gifted a sweater to her.I noticed within a few days that she still did not wear any sweaters.I soon observed that the her grandson was wearing the one I had given. I questioned her why she had given it away to her grandson when she replied very innocently,"Such fancy things dont suit me, I prefer my shawl."[I got that translated by a maharastrian hostel-mate].One day,we in our room were short of cash.We had just a few rupees with us and had decided to go to the bank the next day.Coincidently the same day, maushi came to us in the evening asking for 10 rupees "Mala peesha de na?...daah rupiya ".In a very embarassed tone we replied, that we did not have any. She went away dissapointed and am sure not convinced that we did'nt have money.Next few weeks, I did not catch sight of mausi. I wondered what happened to her, when one fine day I again spotted her in the same corridoors of the hostel,smiling and chattering away.She had gone to her village for a vacation :).
The day I left the hostel, my friends saw me off and it was quite a sentimental moment all of us in tears and hugging each other.But mausi stood at the background waving with the same cheerful guileless smile on her face.I hope you are well mausi, wherever you are.

Men in Olive green.

Many a times I have come across some impressions that the citizens of my country hold of the Army or of the soldiers.
I have heard people talk about the 'free drinks that soldiers get'. Or for that matter, 'So your father is in the Army, alchohol must be really cheap'.
'Hey you get really great things in you canteens at great prices, isnt it so?'.
'The government provides you with a house and furnitures, right?'
It pains me to see that this is the only thing that comes to people's mind when they think of a person in uniform.
Another conversation totally left me spellbound. A group of us were discussing about the number of soldiers dying in insurgencies, when a lady said, 'So what? Its their job to die for the country. They get paid for it.'. At that moment,I was too repulsed by that person to make anything clear to her, but to all those poeple who carry this impression, all Ihave to say is, a soldier has as much right to live as any one of us.They definitely are not paid to die. They are paid to fight and just have a hazardous job like a fireman,policeman or an iron-smith.

I was talking to a senile veteran soldier, about the Army and the life it provides when with a distant gaze he remarked, 'Everything is all right...but the service that we provide is not acknowledged by the people and that makes everythingfutile.'. Very true Sir.

In a certain train journey while talking with my co-passengers, one said,'You army kids have a lot of attitude.You guys are too proud.'. Before I could defend myself, another one remarked, 'They have all the reasons to be...'.

On a lighter note, a humourous song heard in the army circles..:)

Hey I dont want to join the army now,
Captain, I want to go
Major I want to go
Show me the way to go home

The tents in the army, they say are waterproof,
You get up the next morning, you are floating on the roof.

The boots in the army, they say are mighty fine,
You ask for number seven, they give you number nine.

The ration in the army, they say is mighty fine,
They give you some gunpowder, mixed with turpentine.

..... And some desi versions of the paragraphs....

The breakfast in the army, they say is mighty fine,
They give you sukhi-puri and aloo all the time.

The doctors in the army they say are mighty fine,
They run after the nurses and leave the patients dying.

ps:- apologies to all army doctors for the last para. To be taken with a pinch of salt.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lonely Traveller

While writing my previous blog it struck me, how enjoyable it is actually to travel alone. I am the sort who hates getting into a conversation while I am travelling. Be it my daily travel from home to office and back on the office bus or a train journey or a flight. And the very idea of me managing everything is quite cool, though the idea trust me is scary especially with my penchant towards goofing up. But even with all the goof ups, I guess travelling alone has a charm of its own.

Many of my acquaintances have guessed that I like travelling alone because I like to sleep off on the way. On the contrary I hardly sleep while travelling, the repercussions of which is felt later.

My first travel all alone was when after my graduation I was returning home for good. Having packed up everything including heavy books gathered during my studies, my luggage wasn’t exactly travel friendly. Moreover it was a flight journey with a weight limit. I being a novice did not care to get my luggage weighed before hand. Nor did I care to take the usual precaution of carrying an extra bag for transferring extra stuff into the hand baggage. During check in I was told that my luggage is 13 kgs overweight. I had no clue about the extra luggage charges, so very confidently told the airlines personnel that I will pay for the extra luggage. He looked at me apprehensively and I am sure guessed that I was a student and that I certainly did not look like the type who would be paying a lump some for extra luggage. None the less I was directed towards their office where I was handed a receipt for the money by an equally sceptical elderly gentleman. I looked at the receipt and handed over a 100 rupee note to him. He gave me a resigned look and told me “There is another zero”. I thought- “Oh my gawwddd 1000 rupees for 13 kgs!! This is obscene.” Well those who have studied away from home would understand that at the end of semester a person with 500 rupees was considered rich. In fact once, I and my sister had travelled 48 hours by train on 183 rupees! Though, we always made sure that the tickets were sponsored by Papa. For the current situation I made a meek face and excused myself and called up my friend who dropped me at the airport. Thank god it was the end of my college, the very reason why my room mate came to see me off with tearful eyes and moreover thankfully she had not left by this time. I gave her one of my suitcases to back, leaving it to my parents to figure out how to retrieve it from Pune to Kolkata.

Another journey I undertook was when I travelled to Mumbai on a Volvo bus, on the Mumbai – Pune expressway. Those who have taken this journey would agree with me that this is one of the most scenic and beautiful roads in the country. And when everything seemed perfect, they played the movie “Baghban” on the bus video system. Arrrrrrgh!. My parents would have been pretty glad though. They feel that movie deserved nothing less than the Oscar. A prospective wonderful journey dampened by the tears of Hema Malini and Amitabh Bacchan. Thankfully on the return journey the video system “played up a bit”, much to the embarrassment of the driver and his assistant. Sometimes it’s nice to see some things not working. :)

Another one to Delhi had a funny end, just how they show in the movies. My friend came to pick me up at the airport. On my way out there was quite a crowd. I just could not figure out where she was, when I was told that this one is not the only arrival gate. God bless the person who discovered mobile phones. I called her up and she was equally perturbed for not finding me. We wondered whether we are at the same place and so described our surroundings. We realized later that we were actually standing at a distance of a couple of meters with our backs to each other. For close to 10 minutes we described what we could see within our sight range but neither of us had the sense to turn around. After much talking, she asked me keep standing where I was and that she would ask a few people how to get there. As a landmark, I told her about a big blue balloon hanging from the ceiling, when she shouted “What! I am standing just below the blue balloon”. That’s when we turned around and found each other.

An unknown place. A new house. A new workplace and the lonely me.

Well don’t be scared, this is not some weepy story of a helpless girl left alone in the world. But when I landed here, it seemed quite so……. to me at least.

I have been sent on deputation to UK and though this is the second time I am visiting the country, the experience is certainly very different from the previous one. To elaborate, on my previous visit I was sent on an assignment for a project where I had worked previously for close to 2 years. Apart from the shift in location everything else was familiar. A familiar group of friends and it was a known turf. I hardly felt away from home.
This time, everything is new. The place….the people….. and the work.

During my first visit here, I had been advised by a close friend to pen down my first impressions. “Its nice to read them later.” , he said.

My impressions during my first visit:-

· It was cold. [brrrrrr…..even recollecting it gives me the shivers]

· Women wear awesome shoes. While waiting at the coach station at Heathrow, I spent the entire two hours watching the shoes that the ladies around me had put on.They actually manage to run around comfortably in 4 inches stilletoes !...wooaahhh

· The journey from London to Bristol was …well black and invisible, because I was travelling at night. I really wished then, that I was travelling at day time, so that I could see the famous English landscapes, I had so often heard of.

· This is a place to apply all that you have learnt at school about saying “sorry” and “thank you”. Courtesies are very much appreciated and I quite admire this. I noticed that I started sounding much more polite than what I did earlier.

· I loved the very popular “fish and chips”.[It’s a different story that the needle on the weighing machine went an inch ahead on the right side, because of this and the one below.]

· Awwwwwwsssssssuummmm cakes. Sllllluuurrrrrpppp!

· The Sahara dessert has more crowd than a discotheque here. :(

My impressions this time:

· Travelling alone to an unknown land was not that bad. :)

· Broad daylight at 9:30 in the night!!!.

· The place is much sleepier than the one I stayed before.

· Tonnes of colours all around

· The office looks like a scene lifted from a sci-fi film, where they show campuses similar to NASA.

· And of course a very new experience of staying with a British family. Am getting to know their way of living from close quarters. Not very different ….trust me. More on this later.

· The shopping centres [more popularly called as the town centres], in every town in UK looks the same…..the same shops and the same layout. On second thoughts, all towns here look the same!

· All shops and markets close at 5 in the evening :(.

· This place actually has a jungle on the way to office :D. They call it a sanctuary. Haven’t seen any animals though.

· The cakes still are as yummy as before. He he.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Photographic memories...

During one of my visits to my dida’s[Bengali for grand ma i.e mother’s mother] place, I happened to find an old album lying at a corner. Many of you must have felt similarly, I remember to my young mind it was unfathomable to see my mother and uncles so young. Well my mother had the same face just a little childish and dwarfed. The photographs simply fascinated me. My mother in a polka dotted frock and pigtails, a passport photograph of her in school dress. A photograph of her and her cousin, which looked like a scene, lifted from a nineteen-seventy’s Sharmila Tagore movie minus the hairdo -- two ladies standing in a short-sleeved blouse and bold floral printed saris, demurely smiling at the camera. A photograph of one of my uncles as a baby, and a photograph of him grown up and looking cool in bell-bottoms. Another photograph of my mother sitting pretty on a chair,which I came to know later was sent to papa for a look before wedding .Dida has preserved the early photographs of my father, of my parent’s wedding and one much later. I found some of my photographs and my sister’s, which I had never seen myself. It was almost like finding a treasure.

I ran to dida, seeking ownership of the album. She simply replied – “You have my daughter…let me have her photographs”. Her words almost made me guilty. Since then I have never laid claim to the album again, but till date browsing through that album seems to be a favorite activity whenever I visit her.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Celebrating a success or a failure?

I received this picture in a mail forwarded to me by a friend. The subject of the mail said “Ads for thought”, so this one got me thinking. The idea was to impress upon people not to abandon or abort a girl child and that girls can be more successful than men, by pointing that Ms.Kalpana Chawla’s brother runs a “small” business and is less successful than her. But what got me thinking is that no doubt we should celebrate the success of Ms.Kalpana Chawla, but should we debase her brother in doing so? Are we happy that she succeeded or are we glad that her brother failed?

This has been going on for quite some time in my mind, that the many feminist who raise different issues or non-issues, concentrate more on degrading men rather than uplifting women. This makes me wonder are they at all clear about their objectives??

For example, these days there is a lot of talk over whether a lady should write her maiden surname or her husbands surname or both after wedding. My question is does it at all make a difference? Does a woman writing her husbands surname become “less of a daughter” for her father? Or can her husband deny that she is his wife if she writes her maiden name or for that matter, is she a little bit of a wife and a little bit of a daughter if she writes both the surnames? And I further would like to question all so called “feminists”, how important is this issue to that woman in a village who actually needs “upliftment”[Please excuse the distortion to the language]. Will her husband stop torturing her if she writes his surname or will her father agree to support her after a failed marriage if she writes her maiden name?? Or will her husband respect her a little bit and her father help her a bit if she writes both the surnames??

Another example is if whether to write Mrs or Ms. Well, I echo my question what difference does it make to the position of women in the society? Will your colleagues treat you with more respect and will acknowledge your capabilities if you write Miss? And if they do so, are you really being respected?

My aim in pointing these issues is to highlight the futility of such issues; rather I would like to call them non-issues. How will the position of a woman improve if her male counterparts fail in their lives or if the surname or title issue is resolved?

What I would like to understand is why in the quest to uplift women do we end up concentrating on degrading men? Well, let us women actually ask ourselves, are men the only reason why women don’t have an equal position in the society. Are women not equally responsible? Consider a case of dowry death. There are many cases where the mother-in-law is also equally involved along with the husband. Isn’t she a woman who has an equal hand? Or for that matter, in villages very often the mother herself doesn’t want her daughter to be educated. With such cases can we just blame men for our position? We condemn the “saas-bahu” serials because they frequently show scheming and evil women, thus putting women in a bad light. But isn’t all that true, just dramatized obnoxiously? Again to see the other picture of this, don’t men have a big hand in the success of women? Didn’t Kalpana Chawla get immense support from that “not-so-successful” brother of hers to reach where she did? All women who are in a better position than others, can they deny the role of the men around them for their better life?

Are we going to define “women liberation” as “the time when men will start fighting for their own liberation”?

Friday, May 4, 2007

Jai Gorakh Daju

In the years when daddy was in the army, one of my finest memories lies in the time spent with all the "dajus". Here is an account of some of the special ones.

Chete - daju :- He was with us when I was about 2.I had just learnt how to speak and I was making very good use of this new found ability. But mind you, there were just a few people or "things" who or which could experience the pleasure of listening to my constant blaberring. Others I guess just simply lost patience. Well to elaborate clearly, I used to put forward my opinion either in front of my mirror[which could never protest, if it was bored] or to Chete daju. Chete daju was my companion throughout the day[I am not sure whether he enjoyed it or not, but I guess he dint have much choice.]. We lived in tiny cozy little place called Bakloh, in Himachal Pradesh. With not many companions around, I found solace in being with Chete daju. For me he was the best guy in town and I preferred having lunch with him and used to end the day with a cute peck on his cheek. He used point to his cheek and say "Kaju, pappi?" and I planted a peck on his cheek.[Now that I think, he must be missing his children terribly...a soldier's life is tough indeed].Many years later,when I had grown up enough to speak nonsense in a sensible manner, he came to visit us and tried reminding me of things which I never remembered. Well to describe it exactly, I felt like "Mini" of Tagore's Kabuliwala...the part where Kabuliwala meets Mini after many years and a term in jail and tries reminding her of things which she never remembered. Am sure daju felt as helpless as the kabuliwala. :).

Ghale daju :- He was with us when I was around 7 yrs of age. He was simply our[me and my sis] hero. A constant source of entertainment, whatever he did was just too cool. He crooned "Papa kehte hai bada naam karega", playing the papa's tennis racket as a substitute for a guitar. He created innovative games for us, like hitting a target,which used to be a half made lamp shade. Ma was trying to make a lampshade with ice-cream sticks.Mom, there are better uses of ice-cream sticks!!. Anyway, sorry for diverging from the topic.When Ghale daju went to Nepal on leave, he asked us what would we like for a gift. Me and my sis after much thought decided on some furniture for our dolls. We had a tough time making him understand the kind of wooden chairs and tables that we wanted for our dolls.Daju on returning got lovely colorful slippers for us. Well it was a little difficult hiding our dissapointment, but the slippers were very pretty. Thank you daju. For the time being I guess Barbie had no choice but to sit and sleep on Papa's Oxford dictionary.

Prem daju :- Dressed in the best of brands and with an awsome pair of glares on his eyes, we thought he could give Salman Khan a run for his money. Only thing which we never figured out,....why did he wear full shirts during summers and half sleeved tees during winters. Well never met him again to ask him.

Pune daju :- But the sweetest of all, was Pune daju. Though I was never very close with him, but there was a special bond. I learnt to speak Nepali from him. He was strictly instructed by Papa not to speak to us in any other language. A fifth member of the family, Pune daju was one of the most caring persons I have ever seen. More than us, he shared a very special bond with my parents. Through out the 6 years that he stayed with us, we were touched by his concern for the well being of us "Behnis". We being away from home and staying in hostels, he used to constantly enquire Ma, how we were managing with our food, about our studies and when we would be home on leave.

Oh by the way, those who are a little confused about all the technical terms used above, heres a glossray. "Daju" literally means "bhaiyya" or "Elder brother". Papa being in the Gorkha Regiment in the Indian Army, we came across many daju's. By profession they are soldiers but for us they are very special to us.They stay with us, as a professional obligation but are no less a part of our families. And they are really really special to us kids. Away from their families, they shower all the love on us and leave behind a lot of lovely memories.

"Jai Gorakh" is a common salutation used in Nepal. Literally it stands for "Hail Lord Gorakh" and is used as a greeting in Nepal.

"Behni" - nepali for "sister".

Salute to all of you.

Jai Gorakh Daju.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Why did I start?

...because i have a lot of time now :).

...because daddy says i should write ..."if you have to sit in front of that computer all something constructive".

...because i wanted to be able to leave comments on others blogs.

...because I wanted a "Red" space for myself. [I am obsessed about the color red to such an extent that I wish to be found dead wearing red :D].

...because not having a blog id seemed like an identity crisis.

...because i spend so much time on the interenet .....listening to all the stories that it has to tell me....i thought of making it a dialogue instead of a one-sided affair.

...because i have been told that i will need a lot of "pre-occupations" in the near future.

...and lastly because apart from the reason above... all others are nothing more than crap !!

ps:-whenever i feel the need to add to this list..will modify.