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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Auguries of Innocence

I was walking down the street yesterday when a kid came running and hugged me before I could realize what was happening. Barely till my waist, that little charmer gave a shy smile when his mother managed to disentangle him from me. She apologized, probably thinking that I was offended. I wasn't. It was a pleasant surprise. (Other such incidents: here) And I was reminded of one of my favorite cousins.

When he was in Kindergarten, he liked one of my youngest paternal aunt's classmates (who had completed her Masters then), Kakali, so much so that he insisted he'd marry her.( Aami tomake biye korbo) What would Kakali say? She promised she'd when he grew up- he was a little young.( Tumi boro hoye nao- ekhono to tumi chhoto)

Another of my cousins had a record of chasing his best friend with vermilion (the mark of Hindu married women) in his hands. Precocious? Maybe. But endearing all the same. And innocent. To think so simply: you marry the one you like the most and then you live happily ever after. Sometimes, I wish I could still believe in endings like those.

Picture this: A couple is smooching in the subway when a toothless girl tells her mother,' Mom, look ! They are doing like birds do.'
Her mother tries to explain,'They love each other. They are kissing.'
'But you don't kiss me like that !'
Her mother tries to distract her by saying,'It's not polite to stare.'
'Why are they doing something in front of everyone which we are not supposed to look at?'

Now, answer that ! I wish I knew what her mother had to say, but my station had arrived.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hierarchy of Needs

In his paper, 'A Theory of Human Motivation.' (originally published in Psychological Review, 1943) A. H. Maslow says that, 'Man is a perpetually wanting animal.' and adds that ' need or drive can be treated as if it were isolated or discrete; every drive is related to the state of satisfaction or dissatisfaction of other drives.'

It is interesting to note that he studied exemplary people such as Albert Einstein, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Frederick Douglass rather than mentally ill or neurotic people, writing that "the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy." (Source: Wikipedia)

Maslow's theory, also known as the, 'Hierarchy of needs' describes at least five sets of goals, which we may call basic needs. These are briefly: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization.
(Source :Wikipedia)

"These basic goals are related to each other, being arranged in a hierarchy of prepotency. This means that the most prepotent goal will monopolize consciousness and will tend of itself to organize the recruitment of the various capacities of the organism. The less prepotent needs are minimized, even forgotten or denied. But when a need is fairly well satisfied, the next prepotent ('higher') need emerges, in turn to dominate the conscious life and to serve as the center of organization of behavior, since gratified needs are not active motivators. "

So, when you are at the cross roads of life and wondering - 'Why does the address, which once meant a hallowed precinct to me, is just another milestone in my life now?' -you probably are waiting to rise to the next higher datum plane of existence. Find it and be it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

And the 100,000th visitor to my blog is...

Wow!!! I am the 100,000th visitor of your blog.
I was waiting for this moment for quite some time.
May your blog flourish everyday and may your writings reach
new people making them happy, jubilant, positive and most importantly
let your readers feel that you are speaking their minds.

Oh btw, incidentally, he happens to be my Dad too :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Travelogue: Niagara trip and NYC

They say that we all need to separate ourselves from our comfort zone and go to new places and be open to influence, to change. It also helps us to see the world and the self in a different perspective. When I was leaving Boston and everything that I consider important to me, I was not aware that I'd see the trip in this light.

Four days filled with travel and fun - it was a kaleidoscope of activities which I can write a book on, if I mention just the highlights. I will try to shoehorn some snapshots here and I hope you feel a little of what and how I experienced.

Day 0, Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008; Destination New York City

My backpack was stuffed with random assortment of clothes- mostly casuals. It was a last minute confirmation from Sejuti that we were going to NYC this weekend for our Niagara trip. I would have chickened out thinking of the to-do list I had, but she got my tickets without arguing with me. (Good girl) When someone is so gung-ho about it, you tend to catch it too.

So, after my class in the evening, I met Sejuti and one of her friends at South Station, where we took the 9 pm bus to NYC. The journey was uneventful, except for a guy sitting right behind our seat, who kept singing through the whole journey and I suspect he had serious vocal problems and misconceptions about his singing skills. But then, we were quits. If you have sat next to three chirpy girls going out on a vacation- you'll know what I mean.

It was 1:30 am when we reached NYC and it took us a few minutes to reach RC's place at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. We chatted till 3:30 in the morning and when Seju said : 'I'm not sleeping, I need to close my eyes- they are burning.' we decided to call it a day.

Day 1 Thursday July 3rd, 2008; Corning Glass Museum and Maid of the Mist

At 6 am, three alarm clocks buzzed one after the other. And RC was right, I heard the most irritating alarm clock of my life where the radio starts automatically. By the time we got ready, the others joined in. I had met ADB before, Adak and Sayantan (nick:Gere) were new acquaintances. When RC took a fancy for his iPod and decided to upload some songs, we (the girls ) started whining about how we would miss the bus at 8 am.

RC had told us that it takes an hour to reach Canal Street from Battery Place- which was of course a lie- to get us ready early. ADB tried to pacify us by saying that it takes only 5-10 minutes. When we screamed about RC being a liar, ADB added: '...if you have to wait for the subway- it might take an hour.' Lesson#1 Never trust a guy. Lesson#2 Never trust a guy who vouches for another guy.

It took us a while to get to Canal Street anyways, we kept messing up the subway trains and the platforms. Finally, when we reached, Seju's friends from her undergrad days- Kinjal and Arun had reached from Brooklyn(which was further) before us.

We occupied the seats in the following order: ADB-RC, Sayantan-Adak, Sejuti-me, Arun-Kinjal. Not that it had any particular significance, now that everyone knows who put the sticker on Adak's hair before it ended up on RC's back. Unfortunately, when we were at Corning Glass Museum and I tried to put a sticker the tour guide had handed me- Seju freaked out thinking I was up to my nasty tricks again. :D

The Glass museum was beautiful for those who love work of art in.. well.. glass. At that moment, however, I was more interested in reaching Niagara. (Another of my faults- I think of the destination and forget to enjoy the journey)

But Niagara didn't disappoint me. The mist rising from the falling water could be seen from miles away. The still river suddenly gains momentum and runs like crazy. And you begin to feel the thrill in your veins, waiting to see how the plunge is. I don't know anything less than spectacular to describe what I saw.

We took the Maid of the Mist ferry ride to the falls, draped in Blue.

When we got back after our dinner at an Indian restaurant - the vision had changed. Niagara was an enigmatic woman by the night.

Day 2 Friday July 4th, 2008; Cave of the winds and 4th July Fireworks at NYC
From here, I can stop using words and make it a photo blog instead, but if Maid of the Mist allured my sense of sight the previous day, Cave of the Winds touched me. We splashed in the waterfall and were drenched from head to toe.

Soon, we started our journey back to NYC, just in time to catch the 4th July fireworks, celebrating American Independence.

Day 3 Saturday July 5th, 2008; Century 21 , Central Park, Angon and Tonic

Try cooking egg curry with paanch-phoron. These guys need help, lot of help. When I asked: 'What spices do you have?' RC promptly replied : 'Jeera (cumin)' and handed me Paanch phoron. His argument probably was that cumin is one of the five ingredients of Paanch phoron. However, he challenged my culinary skills by stating: Radhuni bhalo hole - ghore ja aache ta diye e ranna korte paare ( A skilled cook can concoct something with what is available in the house.)
Izzat ka sawal tha !

After lunch, and with a 'different' taste in mouth, we set out to shop at Forever 21. The only thing remarkable about it was the fitting room alley- they saved tons of money with curtains that don't cover you. I guess it was exactly when I decided to start gymming.

We roamed about in Central Park then, before dining at Angon. The food was good. I specially liked the traditional kurtas worn by the guys serving us.

I was tired and reluctant to head for Tonic by the time we got back. But a quick shower woke me up and Times Square was a visual treat at night. But the crowd was a bit pushy that night. Seju slapped a chap who was being obnoxious. When we were about to leave, someone tried to pick me so I told him: 'I'm sorry -I'm with my BF.' and hugged RC. You should have seen his face when he said : Oh I am sorry! I didn't know.' I have said weirder things actually. Once, on Seju's birthday in a pub it was: 'Sorry, my girlfriend wouldn't like it.' :D

At 6 in the morning, when we were sitting by the Hudson bay, Adak was almost on the verge of tears, pleading: Aebaar bari chol, bhishon ghum pacche. (Let's go home now, I am feeling very sleepy.)

Day 4 Sunday, July 6th, 2008; Back to Boston

Sunday went by in a blur. Seju cooked aloo-posto. And we waited in the longest queue ever to get our bus tickets to Boston. While we waited, I showed Adak my book and let him read a few side notes I had written for myself in the author's copy. RC tried to peep in, but I didn't let him- lest he should make fun. His victim was Adak then: 'Can he read English???' We laughed aloud and soon it was time to bid them goodbye.

I am bad at saying it so I never try. When we were about to board the bus, the guy at the door asked me what if there was a seat available only for one? I smiled: 'I couldn't leave her (looking at Seju) behind, so I guess I'd wait for the next bus.'

I knew I'd be glad to be home- but I'd miss NYC. Strange, eh?