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Saturday, December 29, 2007

No Smoking

Over the years, I have heard some strange justifications from people who smoke.
# It helps to release tension - is probably the mode of all excuses statistically ordered. Then follows:
# Cigarettes are more faithful then men/women. I am disillusioned with relations with human beings, I am having an affair with ciggies.
# The day I find someone I will quit.
# No one asks me to stop! No one really cares!
# It is cool ! ( A passé now )
# A ciggi is my act of rebellion.
# It keeps off the cold.
# I am not addicted! I can give up anytime I want.

Personally, I don't like to nurture any kind of enslavement. Maybe my control freak nature is an impediment. A 22 yr-old acquaintance of mine defends that it is no use drinking if you don't get drunk. I argue that I want to know when I am having a good time. Why turn oblivious?
The cool quotient in yesteryears might have been associated with a cigarette dangling from your lips. Fortunately, nowadays it is uncool to have unhealthy habits. ( If you excuse the 4 hours sleeping routine ). Most of the gym inhabitants are very particular about their diets too. I saw a chain smoker quit. He simply woke up one day and told his roommate 'I'm quitting' and he did. On the other hand, there's someone I know who has been trying since the past three years and has written a post about it. He left smoking for three days and bought a packet on the fourth day. Reason: 'Too much work pressure, I needed one.'

I observed a general trend here in US- women smoke more than men . Or maybe I noticed it more. The typical Indian mentality is that a girl who smokes is easy; hence, most Indian women prefer to smoke privately, careful not to send out wrong signals. I have also seen cigarettes being associated with a sense of power. A middle aged woman who's the HR Director of an IT firm with a huge market presence in India can never be seen without her favorite brand. It's awe aspiring in a way. It is not just because she smokes. She has a personality that is captivating. But the first thing anyone will mention while describing her is : She smokes a lot!

And who can forget Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct (1)? The classic scene: 'Have you ever f***ed on cocaine, Nick?' couldn't have been depicted as effortlessly by anyone else. The menace accompanying it is enhanced by the way she lits her cigarette. A silent threat meaning: 'Don't mess with me. I can overpower you.' So, is it the attraction for the darker side that attaches you to your 120mm long friend (if you are a smoker)? I don't know. But if you are pregnant or your girlfriend refuses to kiss you because you smell like smoked salmon, then it really is the time to quit :D

Photo courtesy:,, and respectively.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A wish for you

I hope you had a great Xmas and will be having a bright new year too. Just don't stop spreading the good cheer. Have blessed day and an enlightening year ahead.
May you find what you truly seek.

Monday, December 24, 2007


When I was in high school, I had a heated debate with my Dad at the dinner table and it proved to be more than the regular table talk we used to have. I don't remember how it started but when I opined that attaining success -by any means - is the raison d'etre of my life, he expressed his views that values are as important as success is. And the whole concept of : 'the right path with the right motivation' competed with Mom's deliciously cooked dishes to fill in our mouths.

Years later, in retrospect I feel that he was right. It is not just enough to be happy. You should be happy for the right reason. I am not ashamed to say that I thought that being vindictive gives you a sense of power. And for that reason , I never forgave. In fact, so abashed I have made someone with my verbal assault that he alleged I have paid back more than he could have ever wronged me.

Now I think it is time to let go. Maybe it does feed your ego for a while, but a revengeful attitude starts gnawing into your mental peace soon. It has an infinite appetite; it's better not to indulge in the starters and let it starve to death. However, I also feel that you need to have that "Don't mess with me !" expression on you so that people don't take advantage of your vulnerability. If they can't locate it, they can't exploit it.. right?

Wrong. Your close ones would know your weaknesses and yet, never try to manipulate them to gain an edge over you. I am talking of the closest circle in Set A

So, is the key to let your hair loose and be yourself with your inner circle and wear a mask of professionalism/ armor of strength when you are out in the big bad world? Maybe.Maybe not. I have recently earned the name of a "tough nut" (Dada), "hard heart" (Ma) etc from the members of my family. The veracity of the statements have yet to be verified by Dad. But I guess that it is what he always wanted me to be. TOUGH.

I cry less. ( Doesn't count that I wept while watching "Happy Feet" yesterday. Now, how dumb is that ?) I mean I cry less when people don't do what I expect them to. Somehow, I have begin to respect the differences and that has given me a quiet inner peace. I know I am human and I have my flaws, my negative biases, even prejudices. But I am glad that I don't limit myself to them . I let the shackle break free when I am proved wrong.

For example, the derogatory term ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) is applied to the second generation kids of Indian origin, born as US citizen who have a different accent and taste for food/music/attire/anything you can think of. The general idea is that they are confused about their identity and are not aware of their own roots.But I have seen even first generation Indians turning either an assimilationist or an atavist to survive. It's natural - isn't it?

I am in Maryland with my maternal aunt for my Christmas and you can call my two cousin brothers (Age 13 & 14) ABCD if you want to. But I beg to differ. Last night, when I was doing the dishes, my aunt kept insisting that I shouldn't move a limb and stay put and enjoy my vacation. But I know how difficult it is to manage the domestic chores all by yourself. Ok, answer this question: #How much should men contribute in household work in a country like US where domestic help is not easy to get? ( I need statistics to prove a point, so please reply :D )

I stove her out of the kitchen for a while and did what I could to help. The younger cousin came over and teased: You are disrespecting your elder (by defying her). And I winked :Aren't you? (by questioning me? ) And we both laughed. I felt glad that they were not alien to the values I had inculcated myself while growing up. It has nothing to do with the geographical location, or the differences of breeding, or in being brought up in a different environment. The kids here are as respectful and probably more polite than they are back home. I think I will have a word to say when someone uses the term ABCD to mean NRI kids.

Quote of the Day:
Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.
-Lao Tzu

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Shameless Lions Writing Circle

Nothing better than this to "de-costify" for a while:D ( Current status: preparing for Cost Accounting Paper tomorrow)

I was nominated by Abhinav in The Reluctant Writer
And for this, I thank my Mom, my Dad, my Brother,my Grandma, my friends who have been tolerating my craziness for years, my neighbor's cat, my laptop, my Internet connection... ( Background noise: Sheesh! Ask her to shut up someone!).. Umm.. See what an award can do to an apparently sane (?) person like me :D Hee hee. Sorry. What is life without a bit of drama?

So here you are. My current favorites, arranged alphabetically by titles of the blogs:

A bend in the road : His archive begins from July 2007 and though I haven't read all of his posts yet, I love the dash of humor he adds to each post. He has scripted some of my favorite comments in my blog too.

A Little South Of Sanity She is right. She is the "the oldest 18 year old to walk the planet". Her natural style fits in with her biological age but her meditativeness sometimes surprises me pleasantly.

Candid Diary I could have put Amit Verma's India Uncut or Scott Adam's The Dilbert Blog here , but I like the kaleidoscopic view he provides of the world without any pretensions. A haven for the still child at heart.

Intelligent Bacteria's breeding ground Here again, humor wins hands down. He is wicked. I specially recommend his Public Interest Litigation.

Post a Secret: This doesn't need an award, it is pretty popular by now. And one page I look forward to visit every Sunday morning. Not because I find any voyeuristic pleasure in knowing other people's secrets but because some of those shared are simple yet compelling. Each little postcard gives you the scope to dream up a story behind the confession. And you have to appreciate Frank Warren's entrepreneurial spirit. Anonymous works, his name. Kudos for dreaming up something like this. But the best thing is the effort he has put in for charities. Maybe philanthropy can be practiced only when you have become able enough. Someday...

About that three elements, requisite of "good writing"- I don't believe you need three, just one component is enough. The feeling that something will choke you to death until you pen it down somewhere. That's for creative writing. For tips on "good" collaborative writing, I will charge $65/hour for consultation. :D

P.S Thanks Abhinav, I love the way you described my page :)
Sorry to those who are my favorites, but I couldn't mention here. Blame it on the paucity of number 5 to accommodate so many wonderful pages from blogosphere.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What is the strangest predicament you have been in?

I got stuck on a glued floor while turning out the trash today. The workers renovating the carpet covers on the corridor in front of my apartment and their caution : "Watch you step ! " came a tad late. :D

Funny in a way. How we waste time musing over things that might/might not happen in the next 2-3 years when we don't know what will come to pass the next minute. The best and the worst thing about life is its unpredictability. Thinking about the past or future is so futile! Live for the day. Carpe diem!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Snowstorm @ Boston

This is for Seju who is stuck in the snowstorm and has asked me to write a post about it.

The classes got canceled for the evening today. The universities and offices closed early up (around 2:15 pm) and the traffic on the main road is still moving at snail pace. I went out with my roommates to have a little snowball fight. Here are some pics taken in the beginning:

The parking on the west of my apartment- still recognizable.

Pooja -left, Kiran-right, me-behind the camera :D That's when Kiran's snowball hit poor, armless me. This snapshot reminds me of the PC game Doom.

After this, I got busy retaliating :D
More on this later .

Update: 7:55 am, Dec 14, 2007

A view from the gallery.

Buried in snow. A cold tomb. Brr.

If I try any more stunts with the window open, I will freeze to death. More updates later.


Quote of the Day:
Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be.
-Daniel J. Boorstin

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Back to Square One

Thank you for all the wonderful responses in my last post. Kudos to intelligent_bacteria for saying : love is just a way of life. However, I also agree with dharmabum's "I believe love isn't 'because of'...Love is, 'in spite of'.." Someone who loves you at his/her convenience doesn't love you at all. But this conjures a scary thought- does it exist in the plane of reality then? Or do we have to satiate ourselves with philosophical discussions and quotable definitions? I am yet to learn.

Nevertheless, there is one love I have great faith in. And that's self-love. There is no adultery, no fraudulence associated with it, unless you are clinically insane. You are the only person you have the power to change. And the only unit of existence that you can constantly evolve into something better with conscious efforts.

I viewed an old post and was pleasantly surprised to find that three of the four wishes I had made last year have come true. I am expanding my wish list to include the following. It is more of a task list I want to refer to when I am lounging away (make that #10 :D):

9. I want to work for some years after my MBA before I pursue higher education again.
8. I want to publish my second book.
7. I want to learn driving soon.
6. I want to keep enhancing my vocab and oral presentation skills. I have a very good voice and excellent eye contact (Prof. Novak's evaluation) But I feel I can make my my body language more enthusiastic.
5. I want to master the art of getting straight As in all my reports .
4. I want to complete the tutorial CDs I got for improving my German.
3. I want to finish reading : Shantaram, Walden and The Heart of Darkness
2. I want to "Stay hungry" and "Stay Foolish".
1. I want to be me.


Quote of the Day:
To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance
-Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Love just is..

Love isn't the adrenaline pumping in prurient youngsters or gossip running in a racy red dress ahead of news. Love just is.
It is the belief that someone will be happy to see you at the end of a tiring day.
It is feeling glad to lie side-by-side holding hands.
It is the fragrance that lingers when he/she hugs you goodbye and you don't know when you will see him/her next; but you hope it is soon.

It is the whispering of those magical words in a crowded airport.
It is the smile across a hall full of strangers that means- "I'm here".
It is the silent promise which says more than words ever can.
It is weeping because the other was hurt.
It is laughing together on a silly joke.
It is letting him/her have the last bar of chocolate you saved for yourself.
It is hating his yellow shoes or her brown sweater and telling him/her that without any preamble.
It is sharing an umbrella on a rainy day and splashing on puddles.
It is sipping ginger tea on a cold evening together .
It is his saying "Excellent" to describe a dish she cooked , even though she knows there should have been more salt.
It is her saying "Not long", when she has waited for hours and he knows it too.
It is creating happiness out of nothing.

All my life I believed that I know what love means but I feel disenchanted today. It's a lot more than I could have ever known. Like I said- love just is.

Credit to Imputrescible's In the Name of Love, for triggering this random chain of thoughts, on a topic I had been avoiding lately, for reasons unknown to me.
And the person to whom I gave flowers today.Happy Anniversary!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Six Sentences

This is a mail I got last night, from the editor of Six Sentences:

Dear Aparna,

Very well done. And a great piece to kick off the new year!

"Role Playing" will make its debut on Tuesday, 1/1/08.

Welcome to 6S!


Robert McEvily
Editor, 6S

I thought that I owe this to my readers, to let them have a peek at the piece I had submitted :

I wonder if I am I not proud of the fact that my greatest talent lies in my acting skills. I play the role of a perfect student/daughter /sister/friend so absurdly well that it scares me sometimes. Which of the masks I wear is the real me or have I lost it somewhere in my pursuit of perfection? I look into the mirror and ask " Who am I actually?" And it replies back- "More than you think you are, less than you can be." And I start afresh with renewed vigor.

Also, this is an occasion to declare formally that I am seriously thinking of starting the work on my second book and first novel, "Seasons of Love".

A rough draft of the author's note follows:

"The toughest part about writing this book was to decide where to begin. My previously published work is a blook- my blog ( turned into the book: The Day I Was Proven Wrong, containing the entries from May 2005 to Dec 2006. Somehow it seemed to be an easier task because when I started blogging I was almost anonymous, until it got decently popular and my family, peers and later on, my colleagues started viewing it. That was when I faced the clichéd "writer's block". The fear of being judged by people whom I know in my real life held me back from being myself. I tried to make the content "responsible" and that almost killed it.

Then I realized where I was going wrong. If I didn't care to read my own composition again, there was no reason why people would want to browse through it - let alone come back to it. So, when I set to script "Seasons of love", I made a pact with myself- "I'll be honest". And I will not "try" to please my readers. All I will give is my effortless love and if they can feel it, even on the printed pages in black and white, I am sure they will love it back too. I don't have any high expectations about the sales. Just a request- if you happen to come across this book, read it and like it, please pass it on to someone else.
That is all I will ever ask."

I hope to begin scripting it after the end of this semester. Though my previous publisher would be keen to have the book, I want to give the rights to someone with a more global presence. Any interested party can contact me at

Thank you.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ayushman Bhava

Meaning "long live ", is a Sanskrit phrase often uttered by elders in Bengali Hindu culture, when they bless the young ones. I recollect that on every birthday or religious festival or upon the  declaration of my exam results, I'd run to my paternal grandparents to touch their feet in reverence. ( Called pronam in Bangla. I lost my maternal grandparents early, so I don't have many memories with them.)

My now late paternal Grandpa (Thakurda) would insist that I be adorned with "Dhaan-Durba" ( grains of rice with the seed coat and a type of grass )while he closed his eyes in prayers for my well being. I liked that so much that when my other cousins hurried to brush off their hair of the yellow and green bits, I'd let those stay on, pretend that I didn't notice, and let out an Oscar-winning "Oh!", when any of them pointed out "Hey you still got bits on your hair!"

It made me feel special. It made me feel cared for and blessed. I wanted to keep it with me as long as I could.

One day I asked my Grandpa the significance of using the combination. He opined that the grains and the grass signified prosperity and health, respectively. The age old idea of "Gola bhora dhaan"= "barn full of grain" represents affluence; and that special grass has the amazing capacity to regenerate even after a house and its lawn have been completely destroyed by fire. So, when elders wish for our long lives by pronouncing "Ayushman Bhava" (or "Ayushmati Bhava" while blessing a female child), they also wish us a life of prosperity and health along with longevity. Maybe I treasured those bits because I knew what it meant while most of my other cousins didn't.

The last time I got dhaan-dubba was when I went home to visit my family before coming over to Boston. My grandma said that I wouldn't be in India by the time my birthday arrived (14th September), so she wanted to give me blessings and some INR ( I still have that money in my bag ). This little rite is something that is probably going to die out with time. And I don't know, several years later if I try to put grain and grass on my kids' heads, maybe they'll think "Mom is crazy" or file a case for harassment. Maybe not.

Whatever, back to present. I was walking to school when I saw the snow melting on the lawn and the green grass still thriving beneath the sheets of ice, and it all came back to me.

This post comes at the wake of an unfortunate event when an oil tanker truck blew up in Everett. One of the houses destroyed was Carol's - a MGT671 classmate of mine, who has lost all her possessions. It makes it even more difficult with the semester end approaching. I'd probably try to take out my passport, credentials and my laptop with all my assignments in case of a fire emergency- whether I manage to take out a coat at -13 degree C or not.

I request anyone reading this post thus far to take a moment to wish her strength and courage to ease her through this trying times. I might/might not believe in God the way most people do, but I definitely believe in the great strength of will.

I have grown up near a commercial center and have seen two major fire incidents where I witnessed some people lose everything. One of the women crying like an insane person on the street was a mother who had saved all the gold ornaments in her shop for her daughter's wedding the following day. Some slaves can be real bad masters.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Tagged again

Previous tags:
Reflections I snoitcelfeR
Tagged- II (5 things about Aparna Kar)

This one is from Bubbles of Firewhisky

1. Name one person who made you laugh last night?
SG with his description of Howrah station restrooms and his plight during his journey from NJ to Boston.

2. What were you doing at 0800?
Sleeping. Was waken by the delivery man at 0823 who gave me my new baby - a T61p Lenovo Thinkpad

3. What were you doing 30 minutes ago?
Browsing a page in Wharton MBA site

4. What happened to you in 2006?
I grew up

5. What was the last thing you said out loud?
Can't remember me being loud. I clam up totally when I get angry. Could have been "Yuppie" when my roommate showed me the white lawn in the morning.

6. How many beverages did you have today?
Tea in the morning

7. What color is your hairbrush?
Purple and silver. Very bright and happy looking :)

8. What was the last thing you paid for?
My dinner last night. Ate out for a change.

9. Where were you last night?
Home. That's where you always have to get back to, right?

10. What color is your front door?
Off white

11. Where do you keep your change?
Wallet and drawers

12. What’s the weather like today?
Click here to know :P

13. What’s the best ice-cream flavor?

14. What excites you?
Today: parcels. I could have kissed that delivery man :D

15. Do you want to cut your hair?
Needs a bit of trimming. Might go out this weekend. Am planning to grow it longer.

16. Are you over the age of 25?
Not yet biologically.

17. Do you talk a lot?
Only when I feel like. I prefer to listen.

18. Do you watch the O.C.?
What's that? I watch only Scrubs on TV

19. Do you know anyone named Steven?
Would that help? I know Mike, Gordon , Matt, Chris, Jonathan, Bryan, Jeff, Bill, Marc, Pacy, Ben, ... must be a Steven somewhere.. who knows? How about Steven Spielberg. Does that count? I know him, but he doesn't know me :P

20. Do you make up your own words?
Yup. And phrases too. They become catchphrases among my friends soon until I coin something new.

21. Are you a jealous person?
About my prized possessions- yes. That makes me protect them

22. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’.
Can't think of any.. ummm .. maybe Abir Mukherjee (AM in my blog)

23. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘K’.
Kaushik.. dear old Koshu - my ex colleague

24. Who’s the first person on your received call list?
SK- who is in love again :D

25. What does the last text message you received say?
D. A reply to a multiple choice question I had sent across to SG

26. Do you chew on your straw?
No. But I have taken to chew the fat with my roommate a lot lately. We have pillow talks in a walk-in closet, at the dining table- everywhere you can think of. I'm glad to have her around to talk to. Will miss her :)

27. Do you have curly hair?
No, I have straight hair which gets wavy at times.

28. Where’s the next place you’re going to?
Washington DC for my Christmas to visit my aunt.

29. Who’s the rudest person in your life?
Rude? Umm.. most people do it when they are upset. Tout comprendre c'est tout pardonner

30. What was the last thing you ate?
Pretzel crisps with my morning tea.

31. Will you get married in the future?
No hope for the next 3 years. :P

32. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks?
Past 2 weeks makes it difficult. I didn't have much time. Watched Beauty and the Beast again and cried again.. Lol. And Om Shanti Om 'cause of the great company I had.

33. Is there anyone you like right now?
You mean "like" as like Robert Pattinson? :P

34. When was the last time you did the dishes?
Last night.. boo hoo.. even after I ate out 'cause I had a team meeting and had to rush to the univ after lunch. I love cooking but I hate doing the dishes!

35. Are you currently depressed?
Why should I be? And even if I were, my blog would have cured me or I'd have talked to my family/friends or cooked or watched a movie or read something. I don't like being depressed. It makes me feel a lot less than near perfect.

36. Did you cry today?
No. And I will never again for a person/thing that doesn't deserve it. But when I get emotional/ watch a good movie/ read a great book, I tend to weep. My lachrymal glands are hyperactive :D

37. Why did you answer and post this?
Didn't want to keep my readers waiting for too long for a new post. And tags are the quickest things to do.

38. Tag few people who would do this survey.
Anybody who wants it, can have it :)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tagged- II (5 things about Aparna Kar)

It is an old post but since I'm evolving every moment, many of the things that held true before might have become obsolete now. Initially, a tag by Rohit, it is a good quiz on how much you actually know Aparna Kar or how you see her :)
1. Organizational Analysis and Skills (Mgt 650) is my favorite subject in school.
2. Ted umm.. embarrassing but true, I still sleep with my teddy bear
3. Jonathan Livingston Seagull and its theme of a newer, better plane of existence has changed my outlook towards life, second only to Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda. The third favorite on my book-list is of course, The Alchemist.
4. Maple leaves Love them. The colors, the contours. That's why you will see a little maple leaf at the beginning of the title of each post.
5. Cooking is my new found hobby.
Now tell me 5 things YOU know about her.