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Sunday, December 27, 2009

How well do you know me?

Don't worry, this is not another survey for a Marketing class. :D
Just some fun stuff if you really want to kill time.'All of the above' is an option too. You can reply with unlisted choices if you think they are viable enough. Enjoy !

A. What was my nickname(s) growing up?
  1. Hitler
  2. Lara
  3. Captain
  4. Mayataru
B. Where did I first meet SG in person?

  1. At a house party
  2. At a restaurant
  3. In an airport
  4. At the back of my yard
C. What did I want to become when I grew up?

  1. An author
  2. A doctor
  3. A danseuse
  4. Sherlock Holmes
D. Which movie made me want to become a nun?

  1. The Sound of Music
  2. Nun's Story
  3. Black Narcissus
  4. Come to the Stable
E. What is the longest crush I had on a guy

  1. 6 years
  2. 2 years
  3. 5 months
  4. 30 secs
F. What is my best feature ?

  1. My eyes
  2. My smile
  3. My hair
  4. Can't be listed publicly
G. What really grosses me out when someone does it in public ?

  1. Farting
  2. Picking nose
  3. Scratching groin
  4. Jacking off
H. Which places would I really love to visit?

  1. Salzburg, Austria
  2. Backwaters of Kerala
  3. Monasteries in Ladakh
  4. Wildlife parks in Montana

I. Which color clothes was I forbidden to buy anymore, with a threat from my mother to stop my wardbrobe allowance if I didn't comply?

  1. Black
  2. Blue
  3. Pink
  4. Green
J. What is one thing I wish to change about myself?

Friday, December 25, 2009

3 idiots

Booking the tickets online for the 6:30 pm show in the afternoon was a wise things to do 'cause by the time we( Rahul, Pu, Soma and I) reached Alewife to watch '3 Idiots' at Entertainment Cinemas, the tickets were sold out. The show started considerably late -incessant elbowing, maddening crowd, mismanagement of demand, a medium popcorn and a large soda later -around 7 pm. A pity that it was not playing in one of the AMCs.

Desi junta queuing up before the show

A satire of the Indian education system. 'Aal izz well' might as well become a buzzword with Hindi movie goers like 'Jadoo ki Jhappi' and 'Gandhigiri'.

I will leave it to the film critics to analyze the rest. My personal opinion - 3i is good, clean entertainment with few pretenses. 'Philosophy in colloquiality'. Have a dekho, it will be refreshing, even with its excesses.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My infinite wish list

I think I am alive because I have a wish list.

It is in the eyes

Mom often quoted,'Face is the index of character'. I have seen the world a little more too closely to believe in that anymore. The devil can appear with the sweetest, most shy smile, then charm you and rob you of all your happiness. And an angel might look the devil, but he will help you like a guiding star.

What do I look for then? 'The eyes, the windows to the soul.' Some eyes have sparks of eccentric genius in them, some look tired, some sparkle with the hope of a better tomorrow, and some are visionless, confused, lost in the roads of desultoriness.

The day I truly grow up will be the day I can be inert to everything around me, and filter in only happiness, no matter what. Spiritually, that would be day of my Salvation. What the Vedas conceptualized as Moksha, or the Buddhists called Nirvana - the ultimate liberation. That day, I guess I will have the calmest pair of eyes.

Reposted for Mona :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

The last day of school

I'm pretty emosanal today. Officially, it was my last day to school. Exactly two years, 3 months and 1 day ago on 2007, Sept 13, I  had attended my  650 class(first semester requirement), Organizational Analysis and Behavior.

After we practiced our final team presentations for our capstone course (final semester) 689,  Strategic  Management class today, my teammates AJ, Vlada, and Karan (right to left) posed for a picture.

Below, Professor Theodora Welch (Strategic  Management) and Angel, one of my classmates from a previous Services Marketing class.

Just when I was walking down the corridors of Wheatley for the last time, I heard Professor Novak's voice. I couldn't believe my luck. It all tied  back together -ending where it started. It seemed like yesterday when I had walked into a new country and a new life, for my MBA program. The then Director of the College of Management had introduced me to my 650 class Professor and Associate Dean of Graduate Programs, Prof Novak.

I waited patiently outside his classroom for about half an hour while he was giving feedback to a student of The Front End of Innovation class. It was worth it. He was almost as happy to see me as excited as I was to see him on my last day of school. He asked about my future plans which I readily shared. When you are happy, you want the world to know you are happy, and want them to be happy with you.

A graduate student probably expects some kind of salvation at the end of a rigorous coursework. My redemption is in the knowledge that in an odd sort of way -it all makes sense.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Second Life

As a requirement for my Internet Marketing course, we have to create avatars in Second Life. Yesterday, we had a virtual classroom meeting at the University Island. For the first time, one of my professors taught me how to fly. :D

The sailboats at Fox Point resembled my actual university campus, and was pretty neat and basic. Unfortunately, there weren't many people around except for the students.

I visited Copenhagen where the UN Climate Change Conference is taking place. I had a crazy critter dance there before and after class. My professor asked me to be careful, since there can be pretty weird stuff going around. I experienced peeps, unsolicited gifts from strangers and nudity, though I stayed away from adult content. The guy running around naked was probably still trying to figure out how to get clothes back on his avatar.

For a while, I lost my hair, and went bald. SG (whose avatar paid me a visit after class ) thought I looked cool bald headed. I thought of getting a Persis Khambatta style butterfly tattoo on my avatar's head but then realized it would be a bit too much.

I changed my polka dot pink dress to a black, more formal wear and had some fun teleporting. I'll be glad if you can mention some fun spots to visit in SL.

Trivia: Scion's had released a xB for the SL residents that they could drive around the 3D world. Share some SL fun facts if you find time.

Has anyone used Smarter Planet yet?

And oh, like most others, I am waiting for the release of James Cameron's 'Avatar' next week :)

Monday, December 07, 2009

No plan B. Period

The greatest contentment of my life was when my brother said to me: I am proud of you sis. You have taken all the right decisions in your life.

I am saying this to myself when I make the next BIG decision of my cosmologically insignificant life. If I can't be happy with my decision, I can't make others happy.

So here's to my quest for happiness, which gets defined by how I view it, and what elements I want to include in my happiness realm. There has never been a plan B. There won't be one this time.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Everyday I see a story

I was walking to some place, for something- don't remember when or why. But I remember what I saw on my way and I want to write it down. Sometimes, I see complete strangers on the road and I see snapshots of their lives. I like to imagine the whole story from mere snippets. I tell no one but today, I'd like to share.

The gracious old man always greeted me with a smile and I smiled back in acknowledgment. I didn't know what language he spoke, where he was from. It was the human connection that transcended all boundaries. I assumed he was living with his kids, 'cause I often saw his wife with an infant in a perambulator, but I never saw the baby's parents. One day, I saw the couple waiting outside the building. His wife seemed upset. I wondered what worried them. Didn't their kids treat them well? I wish I could help, but I knew I couldn't.

At the subway station, I saw a very pretty girl with the prettiest smile. She was looking at someone and smiling. But I guess he couldn't see it. He had a white cane and dark glasses. I wonder if he could feel it. Her happiness when she saw him.

At the airport, there are a thousand more fragments you can gather. There was a very angelic looking child who ran to greet his father. The father kissed the kid generously. I marveled at the pristine beauty of the child, then he turned his head and I saw the other half of his face, which was burned. For one unguarded moment, I felt repelled in horror. I think the father saw me then.

I could tell you some more stories, but I guess I have somewhere to go.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Service Encounters #1

This is something I shared with my Database and Internet Marketing class, but I'd like to share it with you guys too.

Customer Relationship Management has become critical to the success of firms that provide either product or service offerings. Many firms have large numbers of customers and several touch points at multiple geographic locations and it is highly unlikely that a customer will be served by the same front-line staff on two consecutive visits, yet the consistency of the service has to be ensured for healthy CRM.

Traditionally, banking services have taken care of high-net worth clients. In private banking, for example, Bessemer Trust Company targets families with a minimum of $5 million in investable assets who want capital preservation combined with wealth accumulation. However, most retail bankers might find it difficult to differentiate themselves, and this is where a sound CRM can help. Financial services may end up having incorrect cross-sell opportunities and potential regulatory compliance issues if they are not well aware of their customer needs and preferences.

When my elder brother got his admit for his Masters in Carnegie Mellon, I was surprised by the efficiency of say, Bank A, in calling him up to discuss a suitable offering of a student loan. He did not need it at that time.

My experience with another Bank B was however, completely different. My friend needed to transfer online some money she owed me, and could not figure out how to do it, even though the account details and other essential information were provided. I called up the customer service to help her out, and since it was a considerable sum, paying back in cash would have been impractical for both of us. The first executive I talked to was extremely rude and couldn’t provide any solution. I considered changing my bank account for a moment, even though I considered she might just be having a bad day.

I decided to call again, hoping another executive would be more helpful. This time, she tried her best to help me and though I got the solution from another friend while I was on call, the attitude of the second executive changed my perception about the banking organization.

Another experience with Bank C was almost equally confounding. When I took leave without pay from my job to prepare for an exam, Bank C refused to let me use my account to transact money. My boss wouldn’t let me resign but I couldn’t use my corporate bank account either, though there was a considerable sum in the savings account. At that time, I had only one credit card with that bank and to say the least, I was in a fix. I talked to a service executive but she said she could not help owing to the nature of my account and I had to visit another state to resolve the issue. I got bailed out of the situation soon and decided to cancel my account with Bank C. A couple of months later, they emailed me offering me great savings for opening a NRI account, claiming they knew exactly what I needed!

While I have been not very conscious of my consumer rights (maybe it is a cultural thing), and I have learned to ask for my rights only after I landed in US, I have always taken my banking services seriously- obviously because that is where my money is.

Both the experiences showed inconsistent service encounters and bad CRM implementation- one I’d attribute to bad training, the other pure difference in interest. It is ironical because banks are the institutions that customers ought to feel most loyal to, and most secure about.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

FarmVille: for beginners (& late adopters)

I have started waking up early again, to harvest my crops before they wither.. well.. in my little farm in FarmVille (beta version) on Facebook. I tried to stay away as long as I could. I have been hooked on to enough games and applications (from Lara Croft to Bonsai Blast) to know it is bad for you, unless taken control of. But like I mentioned it to one of my friends who finally got rid of FarmVille updates from his news feed, 'it is like crack, you know shouldn't and that is what tempts you.' (Though I never have and never will do drugs)

So, after what was supposed to be the last mid-term week of my life, I decided to see why everyone is so hooked on to it.(There are currently 63,543,438 monthly active users worldwide.)

It all started with my real-life neighbor, giving away a lost, black kitten on Facebook. It reminded me of the kitten I had adopted as a kid. (Aww, isn't she cute?) But now, it wasn't enough, if you took it, you have to give it a home right? Jump in. And suddenly, you are in the league of the jobless people you thought have no better/more productive work to do.

You can raise trees, plow and plant seeds of fruits & vegetable, watch them grow (don't stare too long) and harvest them when they are ready. Ask your FarmVille friends to help you, while you help your neighbors and earn experience points (xp) and coins in the process. You can also gift your neighbors and hope they will be kind enough to return the favor. (My cousin gave me my first horse which I really treasure)

There is a market you can buy stuff from - right from seeds, trees, animals to decorations. Some have limited editions- I own two green BOV1NE-09 cows, which look like they are from outer space. The app also had crop circles for a while. Some farm elements can only be gifted.

You can develop your own strategies to expand your farm; different crops have different profit margins per harvest. You can make your own portfolio of crops, animals, & trees. Investing in decoration in the initial levels is not wise, but I so wanted a small pond, I ended up spending 5000 coins for it.

The trick is to know your real-time log-in times and plan accordingly, 'cause the crops wither if you do not harvest them after full bloom. Fertilized crops yield more xp and look fuller when reap. But you can't fertilize your own crops, so use the goodwill currency. Do unto others what you want to be done to you.

I have visited a couple of farms which have withered crops, but that probably means you are busy somewhere else, which is good. Someone mentioned that it is a stress-buster. I agree, as long as it is not eating away into your work hours.

I wish Zynga would make FarmVille Android-friendly so that I could play it from my G1. Do they have an iPhone version yet?

Feel free to share your own tricks. Happy farming !

FarmVille Fact: Sweet Seeds for Haiti (Sweet Potatoes) was a success and over $583,000 was donated to impoverished children and their families in Haiti.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A stranger to love

"...We are not criminals. We are not disillusioned. We are not drug addicts. We are not naive children... We are one massive, global, tribal village that transcends man-made law, physical geography, and time itself. We are The Massive. One Massive. We were first drawn by the sound. From far away, the thunderous, muffled, echoing beat was comparable to a mother's heart soothing a child in her womb of concrete, steel, and electrical wiring. We were drawn back into this womb, and there, in the heat, dampness, and darkness of it, We came to accept that we are all equal. Not only to the darkness, and to ourselves, but to the very music slamming into us and passing through our souls: we are all equal...."
- Unknown

It is highly implausible but true, I have learned more about love from a stranger than most people I have known for years.

It was one of those days again, when Murphy's Law is the only adage that holds true. The perversity of the universe nauseates you and you want to break free of every possible norm. A thousand desires and a thousand more. And yet, I saw myself standing alone.

When DJ asked me if I wanted to join the gang to go clubbing, I didn't say 'no', I wanted a break. I wanted to dance like no one was watching. Dance and release all the demons that were gnawing into me. I wanted to feel free.

There were seven of us, four guys and three girls. DJ got me a drink and we hit the floor. Initially, the group was closed and we danced in a circle, the guys nudging away anyone who wanted to dance with the girls. But soon, they lost interest in their roles as protectors. And when I saw DJ dancing with some babe who seemed to appear out of nowhere, I smiled at him and winked, glad that he was having fun.

And then I saw that guy again. He didn't seem to have budged from where he was standing some twenty minutes ago. Right behind me. I wasn't intimidated. Far from it. He amused me with little eyes and a ready smile. He held out his hand for a dance.

DJ looked at me but I couldn't read his expressions. Maybe he just wanted me to be careful. The little guy whispered into my ears: You dance like a Bollywood heroine. Indian? I laughed at the outrageous comparison and nodded. We had fun dancing together and I even showed him some Big B dance moves when the Disc Jockey played some desi music. He seemed to enjoy it thoroughly.

He asked me if he could buy me a drink, and I thought another Long Island Iced Tea wouldn't do me any harm. The bar was too crowded and I was feeling suffocated. We decided to go out for a walk.

The open air was refreshing. There were couples sprawled on the park in front of the club, most of them in intimate embrace. It was little embarrassing for me to walk down there with a complete stranger. We sat down at a bench, and he looked at me the same, warm way. Suddenly I asked: What color are your eyes?

I don't know what made me ask that of all things. He laughed aloud: What is that? My eyes? Brown, I think. What do you think?.

I peered hard, it was too dark to discern. They look green to me. Can't really say. Maybe I am high.

Oh no! You are not. You are doing fine.

I gave out a snort. The truth was - I didn't feel fine. And it had nothing to do with my being tipsy. I was feeling lonely. I wanted some kind of assurance. And I was not going to say that to this strange guy whose name I didn't hear well in the glaring music on the dance floor.

I said to him: My friends might be looking for me, why don't we go back?

He said: If you want to.

I would like to.

The crowd at the counter had cleared by now. I had a tab open, but he insisted on paying for my drink. We hit the floor again and I felt I was really enjoying dancing after a long time. He held me by my waist while I bent backwards in abandonment. He was strong. Ruby whispered into my ears: He is so decent with you and so gentle. She almost coveted it. I asked her if she wanted to dance with him. Oh no ! You guys make such a cute couple. I laughed at the thought.

I went to the restroom once and asked him to wait. One my way back, a hunk stood in my way, asking me for a dance. I said: Someone is waiting for me.
Are you sure?
he asked, with a incredulous look on his face.
Yes. Not sure if he was still waiting for me. But there he was, looking like a lost puppy.

I thought you'd never come back

Why did you think that?
( And I thought, you wouldn't wait)

Soon, it was time to close. I didn't realize it was 2 AM already. He asked me if I'd need a ride home. I said I'd rather go back with my friends. He said: As you wish. And then, he asked me: When can we meet again?

I teased. Tomorrow. The day after. Maybe next week. Maybe never. I will call.

The following day he smsed me. It was a great night. Waiting to see you again.

I felt like a teenager again. There was so little excitement left in my life. Everything seemed predictable and dull. But his eagerness was so fresh, I felt enlivened by it. I told my guy the story. He seemed entertained, asking me if it was a French kiss. I was shocked and humored at the same time.

Debating whether we should meet, I replied to his sms the day after. He wanted to show me the pedestrian bridge at Harvard. We met up at Tavern on the Square on Massachusetts Avenue, where he told me about a Hindi song he had heard as a kid: Jaane tu ya jaane na.

I translated the lyrics for him. Then we walked by the bridge and took some pictures. And we talked. He cracked some delightful jokes about his workplace - how one of his colleagues exaggerated his French accent and copied him, while it was usually him who would imitate others. I had a pleasant evening and promising to meet again, I left for my home.

Back in my apartment, it was the same tense environment between my roommates. I hated coming back. I felt I should have stayed out longer. Soon, I found myself seeing him more often. He'd make me eat like my mother does, always insisting I could eat some more. Now, where would you find a guy like that ! He'd tell me tales of his ex girlfriend, his colleagues, about a young girl battling with cancer.It was around that time I had met someone getting treated for cancer, whose positive attitude has changed my perspective towards life.

In a lot of ways, we were different. But in a lot of other ways, we were very similar. We were foreigners in a country that we had chosen to live in. We both wanted to give back something, but were not sure how much our roots would hold us back.

One day, he emailed me saying:

..I might go back to France by summer, not sure yet, but possible. I know you are a wonderful girl and you are full of love and life and a very smart girl too. We both have a great time when we meet, but I don't want to be selfish and continue doing so if you are seeing a relationship and I don't.

I hope to hear from you,


I assured that there was no such danger. He seemed relieved. And I was relieved too. We were like two ships meeting at a harbor on a dark, stormy night. The following morning, we had to set out on our own journeys. There was no 'together forever' for us.

Sure enough, it was time for him to leave. I knew I was going to miss an amazing friend. He advised me on matters of my family, my love life, and teased me about getting a 100/100 even if I did not study for a test. He taught me a few of his recipes, got me to develop a taste for White Zinfandel and French cheese, most notably the creamy Saint Marcellin. It was he who reminded me that : If he doesn't love you the way you want, it doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't love you.

* Dear D, the last day we had met, you said that SG is a very lucky man. And the best thing about me is that it is not hard to make me happy - 'cause I can cherish the little things someone does for me. I said that I will write about you. It has been a while, but I have kept my word. Bisou*

A desert rose. A parting gift from D.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Hayden Affair

Lara's account
I can feel the devilish snake raise its ugly head again, a venom fills me from within. I need my pleasure drug to boost my dopamine levels. J will not hear of it. He will probably take me to another quack or a rehabilitation center, or worse still -refuse to give me a divorce.

J's account
Ever since I returned from my trip to LA, I have noticed Lara's carelessness about her personal grooming- dirty fingernails, unkempt hair, a flaky face, coupled with bouts of euphoric planning about our future together and then depressions and long stretches of sleep. Many a times, I have come home to find her snoozing with the patio door open and the cold breeze freezing the room. How much I miss the warmth of the home we had and the smell of a freshly brewed broth when I came home for dinner after a long day at work. I hope she is not on crack again. If she is, I will kill the bastard who is giving it to her.

Andy's account
The Haydens lived at Emrose Avenue, just a few blocks away from the new Carribean cuisine restaurant. Jimmy Hayden was a well known comedian and made terrific impersonations of some of our former presidents. Popular for his good humor both on and off screen; his loyalty to his friends was legendary. He was the last man on earth you'd think of seeing the name of in the lurid headlines of your morning newspaper. Maybe there is a dark, morbid humor in all of it, if only I could see it.

When Lara came home late at night, I could hardly believe what she said with her convulsive efforts to breathe. She said she had killed her husband. She showed me the gun she was carrying. I wrapped it up in a plastic bag, not sure what to do next. I asked her to rest for a while and hoped it was all a bad dream or she was on crack again and hallucinating.

It seemed like yesterday when J met Lara, an aspiring actress then. She had the face of Madonna, but her talent at acting was weak. All these years, I haven't seen more than two expressions on her face. J had great faith in her.He said she just needed her lucky break. It never came. I was the best man at their wedding and the godfather of their elder son.

I saw her sleep, but couldn't rest peacefully. I decided to visit J. I entered the front garden, the garden gnome still held its lantern. There was a huge stoneware mushroom near the vestibule. The main door was open. I had an uncomfortable feeling and entered his bedroom on the second floor almost immediately,instinctively.

J was lying on his bed, in his night pajamas, drenched in blood. He would have hated to have been seen this way. Always dressed for a dance he was. When one of the major networks cut down his airtime, thinking it was not bringing enough revenue, he stood his ground and didn't care to call back the headhunters who were wooing him for their Network TV. Soon, the channel owners saw their mistake and gave him exclusive one- hour prime time airtime. They say the least number of viewers J ever had was 4.5 million. He had dignity, that guy.

He must have been sleeping when he was shot, and still wearing his Mickey Mouse watch which he loved so much. I often teased him about it. But he said it was his first gift from his grandfather. I often asked him which time zone it displayed, and he would laugh and say, he didn't wear it to track time. I understood. But I loved to see him defend it. This and many of his idiosyncrasies made J so lovable. He was not perfect, far from it. But his imperfections drew people to him. He could crack a mean joke and he would still be loved. His practical jokes almost cost me a fortune once, but it was a good laugh.

I dialed 911 from my cellphone which seemed to be the only thing I could do. I was sitting on the stairs when the police arrived. There was a barrage of questions. I replied to what I could, wishing I could faint. When I reported Lara's narrative, I had uneasy feeling that I have made a mistake somewhere. Accompanied by some officers on the way to my house, I was at the last traffic light when I realized it was too late.

Sprawled on my Persian rug (it was a gift from the Haydens) was Lara's listless body. She had shot herself through the mouth. They found traces of alcohol, cocaine and antidepressants in her blood. She had shot him thrice- on his forehead, his chest and his forearm. Strangely enough, it was the shot in the arm that killed him. It had reentered his heart through it.

The verdict was murder/suicide.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am upset

Recently, I viewed the works of a press photographer who had sent me an invite on an online community.Some of the visuals were very disturbing. They were of realities I will never know, I should never know. Of malnutrition and hunger, of a woman injured in a bomb blast, blood drenched dead bodies of soldiers, a farmer dragging a wooden plank on his shoulders to level his field. Made me wonder how superfluous my life is and how superficial my needs are.

I am upset.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I try not to waste food

.. but things need to be organized more large-scale, like United Nations World Food Programme. Now, I know which charitable events we should focus on this year, and why.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Eyewitness

Manas Uncle, Dad and me form a mutual admiration society. He writes very effortlessly and his articles in The Times of India have always worked up a voracious appetite, making me want to read some more.

Recently, Lancer Publishers ( published his book The Eyewitness - Tales from Tripura's Ethnic Conflict; ISBN 1-935501-15-1.

Here is an excerpt from one of the two incidents that feature Dad.

Out of the jaws of death
“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings.” 


On July 5, 1984 the sun had risen burning bright and the mood was happy. Despite the summer heat that was already in the air and would evidently set in with searing fury as the Thursday morning would proceed to noon, Sub Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Amarpur Amitabha Kar needed to travel to Ompi to verify information about movements of militants in Ompi-Amarpur area and plan his operations. There were reports of TNV militants’ movements and the 26 kilometer stretch between Ompi and Amarpur was indeed dangerously replete with ambush points, but then, the duty calls. Besides, the SDPO posted here for the last two years had himself driven from Amarpur to Ompi several times and he knew the road with all its treacherous ups and down, bends and turns well enough -like his own palm. Today however he would not be alone. His new found friend Vinod Kumar Khullar, Assistant Commandant of 13th battalion of CRPF wanted to accompany him to Ompi where he would visit his own camps.

The visit to Ompi was important as only on June 28, 1984 TNV militants had set aflame Laxmicherra market under Baikhora police station and waited to trap the advancing police. The militants were successful as they way laid and killed a Sub Inspector Dinesh Ghosh - the first casualty of an SI ranking officer in the militancy related incidents in Tripura. Two days later reports of militants’ movement poured in from Sarbong area under Amarpur police station where they had killed a non tribal and waited for advancing police to ambush. This time, however, police did not fall into the trap.

Kar and Khullar set off with two jeeps. Kar was in the lead followed by Khullar. In those days shortage of vehicles was a serious problem for counter insurgency operations. Almost all the police jeeps were diesel run and old that would roll down the road with too much of sounds but virtually with no speed. However, only recently the then SP South Tripura AC Rama Rao had given Kar his own jeep as the SDPO was almost always on the move hunting the militants in remote areas. But Khullar was traveling on an old diesel jeep that was evidently finding it difficult to keep the pace of SDPO’s vehicle.

Kar said:

At 9.10 am we crossed Tetuibari and saw some tribal women were working in a patch of paddy field on the western side of the  main road. The road ran straight through paddy fields and then steadily went to upland. As our vehicles passed the women in the field they looked up and smiled to us. I felt something amiss in their smile and had an uncanny feeling. I took out my 9 mm pistol and kept it ready in firing position. I did not know why as I never, in my life, had such an uncanny feeling. We hit the hills and moved. We were near the 21 kilometers point and only five kilometers were left to reach Ompi. And then there were hail of bullets from road side raining down on us. My first reaction was –‘so, the nightmare has come true. I ultimately got trapped and ambushed facing the death’. Instinctively I kept on firing on my left though I could not see anyone there.

My two personal guards were instantly hit by flying bullets before they could retaliate. But by this time my driver Manoranjan Debnath despite being caught in the storms of bullets flying from every side did not lose his nerve and just pressed the accelerator with all might. Later I found that my jeep was damaged in the front beyond recognition but as the luck would have it the engine was on. We whizzed past the ambush site and took a turn taking us out of ambush coverage. My guards were injured but none killed.

But unfortunately Khullar’s jeep which was already showing problems could not pass. His one body guard was instantly killed. Khullar – later we found- tried to fire back from his pistol but it seemed his pistol got stuck and as he was trying to clear the pistol lock by taking out the magazine he received brush fire from LMG and the magazine fell on the jeep floor. He was also killed on the spot. He, in fact, took all the LMG burst in his stomach and right arm.

His driver also armed could not fire back. He however tried to zoom past but was hit. Khullar’s jeep in terrific speed skidded off the road and banged down on the road side milestone. In fact, later we found that the jeep had almost tumbled head on over the militant who was firing from the LMG. The LMG tripod mark was only about a foot away from the jeep.

What was intriguing was that the militants ambushed from under the deep cover of deep and dense roadside bushes. They were lying almost parallel to the road. It was not at all a conventional ambush point but in guerilla warfare you are to expect the unexpected only. The militants succeeded in killing a senior CRPF officer for the first time. Meantime, two of the Khullar’s body guards did something spectacular which can only be dreamt of in films. Trapped in the hailstorm of bullets they reacted in a manner that even stunned the militants. The ran straight through the several meters of ambush stretch dodging automatic gunfire, now directed at them, and jumped on to a ditch at the other side of the road. From there they opened up their SLRs and fired back to the militants. One CRPF jawan was hit and died. The other jawan did not loss courage and continued firing. He emptied his own magazines and then picked up the slain jawan’s magazines and kept on firing.

By this time, Kar reached Ompi and regrouped security forces so fast that when they returned to the ambush site the militants were still there. Kar came back to the site with CRPF personnel posted in Ompi police station. Reinforcement from another CRPF camp at Tehshil Kachhari also rushed to the spot. Officer In charge of Ompi police station Haripada Bhattacharjee also ran to the spot with one jeep and one 3-tonner vehicle with his policemen.

There was a Rajasthan Armed Constabulary camp –about one kilometer from the site. The RAC jawans did not come out but started blind firing from the camp

As we reached near the ambush spot we could hear the gunshot still reverberating from the ambush point. The militants were firing at the lone CRPF jawan who continued with his encounter. But when suddenly there were firing sound from the side of the RAC camp we were befuddled. We thought this could be another group. But soon as we understood it was the RAC we climbed a hillock overlooking the ambush point and sought to fire at the militants. In the mean time the CRPF reinforcement arrived and it fired a grenade from a grenade firing rifle. The brave CRPF jawan fighting from the ditch shouted for not firing grenades and there was eerie silence from the side of the militants. The militants by then started slipping out though we could not see any movement in the jungle. Our prompt reaction however prevented the militants to loot the two SLRs from the CRPF personnel. Though Khullar’s pistol was found missing.

By this time as the news of TNV ambush on us spread police forces fanned out from all directions. SP Rama Rao also proceeded to the spot and in fact saw the militants crossing a paddy field near Nagrai. But they were out of firing range, Kar said.

The ambush on the SDPO and the CRPF Assistant Commandant was led by Kripasadhan Jamatia. Later, it was found that the militants were actually way laid the Education department’s jeep that was expected to travel on the road with employees’ salaries. During this time it was always on the fifth day of the month that the education department salaries for Ompi were taken from Amarpur. It happened to be that the SDPO and CRPF officer appeared in the scene before the Education department vehicles.

Many years later Kripasadhan Jamatia came to Kar for a personal help. Jamatia after surrender got a vehicle which was rented out to the police. The former militant visited Kar –then Commandant Provisioning - for early payment of his bills.

Looking at him I was just thinking ‘you had almost killed me and now you are here asking my help’. But, well, this the way of life of a policeman” said Kar, now IGP.

He still feels it was for Rama Rao, the then SP he was saved.

“Had not the SP given me his new vehicle I would have been killed like a sitting duck in the ambush. He saved my life. When I thought of my friend Khullar a jolly good Punjabi with two angelic daughters I feel depressed till date. It feels like escaping the near death was guilt on my part when my close friend got killed. Khullar’s wife was later inducted in the CRPF as die in harness case.

Book review at

Monday, September 28, 2009

Seasons of Love

Finally, here's the beginning of my second book. I am looking for publishers in the United States and India with aggressive marketing behavior. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for the same/feedback on the scrapped content.

Chapter 1: The Prequel

I have often wondered where this story began. It could have been the moment my mother conceived me after a cosmic thrust released all the potential 'me's into her but only one succeeded, and I came into existence. Or it could have been the first time she saw my father, resting on a sofa, with his right hand bent an angle on his forehead and his eyes closed. She knew she had been arranged to marry the eldest son of her English teacher. It was his first visit to his folks since the arrangement was made. The initial observation she had was, ‘He has such long eyelashes!’ She was 21, still in her undergrads. A girl of that age, at those coordinates of the universe, at that time, with no experience of the world, would have probably noticed only that.

It could, as well, have been the day my paternal grandfather was teaching a group of students and he suddenly fell ill. And while rest of the students sat still (probably wondering what to do), my mother rushed to his aid, trying her best to comfort him. That day my grandfather decided that she would be the wife of his first son, his eldest daughter-in-law. She often prides upon the fact that I got it from her- the willingness to serve.

Whatever the circumstances were that lead to my being born, I am here today. And this is my story...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Amor vincit Omnia

It is 12 more days before SG moves to Northern California to assume his new position at NASA Ames. I know I will be too busy with four courses in my final semester to miss him too hard, but it won’t be easy. I have often wondered whether we stop coveting what we see very often. I don’t know, but we are definitely prone to growing used to having some people around, so much so that we take their presence for granted. In that case, a little distance would be good. The trouble is – I think I will never get used to having him around.

It is not the first time that we will be away from each other. The initial months of our courtship witnessed a long-distance relation spanning across two continents. Nothing deterred it. I think that if you put your mind to it, a temporary separation doesn’t matter. And when it is for a future together, we should embrace the circumstances.

My immediate task list would be to preserve my 4.0 GPA and get a job in the West Coast. People often talk how about difficult it has become to find something suitable nowadays. I can’t agree completely.

There are two ways to live:
1) Quitting
2) Starting with renewed vigor every time you feel a little low.
I am choosing the later.

It was a special week. I celebrated my birthday in 4 phases. SG took me out to The Blue Man Group show at the Charles Play House on Sunday afternoon on the eve of my birthday. He played the perfect date demonstrating old age chivalry that I value so much in a man. He fetched me drinks, held my bag while I took my seat, clasped his hand in mine when it got scary. Throughout the evening, two girls kept constantly staring at us; I saw them through my peripheral vision and asked SG later: Do you know why they were looking at us with such covetous glances? He opined: Because you looked so beautiful. I propounded: Because they thought I am so lucky. And I relished the aftertaste of those words in my mouth.

I had started the day at 6 am, trying to prepare some lessons, cooked and finished some domestic chores before we went out and I was really tired by the end of the night. I dozed off as soon as 10:30 pm, taking the last call wishing me Happy Birthday in advance.

Around 12:02 am I woke up hearing some familiar voices. I have this habit of identifying people by the way the talk when they walk on the sidewalk below and past my window. I checked my phone to see 9 missed calls and I called back. In the meantime, my roommate came over to wish me.

Shef and DJ entered with a strawberry cheesecake – my next favorite after Tiramisu. Last year, Sejuti had got me one. A birthday feels so incomplete without a cake. I missed her this year, and I am looking forward to spending some time with her when she is through with her Qualifier.

The following day, I had my first Strategic Management class and I thought I’d keep it low this year, but my roommate suggested: Who stays by herself on a birthday? So, I emailed a few friends to have dinner at Olive Garden at 9 pm and then to meet at my apartment around 11 pm for the birthday cake.

It was a Monday, late for most working folks and given the usual timings of our classes (6pm to 8:45 pm), I wondered how many would really turn up. But I saw more people than I had expected to see at my apartment. It felt really great to have those beautiful people around. Shweta requested me to sing a song. I obliged, though the cold sparkling wine had set my voice heavy. The crowd hung around for a while and then dispersed wishing me again. I don’t remember when I fell asleep – still smiling.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The meaning of life

The meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment. To put the question in general terms would be comparable to the question posed to a chess champion: "Tell me, Master, what is the best move in the world?" There simply is no such thing as the best or even a good move apart from a particular situation in a game and the particular personality of one's opponent. The same holds for human existence. One should not search for an abstract meaning of life. Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone's task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.

- Viktor Frankl, author of ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The End

Someone told me recently that the real story in the movies begin after 'The End.' But most of us try to hasten to a point where we can see it happening in our lives.

Am I in a rush too? Sometimes, yes. When you know you want something, you probably want to have it as soon as you can. But happiness is like an ever extending horizon, your range of perception expands to include other elements as soon as you reach your destination.

I want to live it, see myself transform as I am introduced to newer desires. And I am sure it is going to be beautiful. Till then and beyond it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

To Heaven and back

I visited my aunt last week. The trip was planned at a short notice. SG was going to Montana for a week and when I had gone to register for my Summer courses, my Program Director had advised: You are going to be really busy from July 13, enjoy the Summer till then.

I was running a temperature and my internship as a Marketing Research Analyst had started from June 11. It was a tough call. But I knew I wouldn't have time later. I told my boss about my trip and knew I'd make it up for him.

Seeing my cousins was a joy. Anupam ( Mashi's elder son) had grown up quite a bit since I last saw him in Xmas 2007. He picked me up from Washington Ronald Reagan National (DCA) airport. We took the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Yellow Line to Gallery Pi- Chinatown and then switched to the Red line to Silver Springs (The red line that smashed into another yesterday was on the way from Takoma to Fort Trotten. Takoma is the station before Silver Spring)

It was at Takoma where the man standing next to me said: Nice ring. I smiled and suggested: You can get it at Kay. He asked me if I was visiting or lived there. I looked at my cousin and mentioned that I was visiting my aunt. He asked a score of other questions like where I was from, whether I went to school etc. I scanned his dark business suit and wondered if he worked for the FBI. But I think he mentioned United States Department of Agriculture- quite innocuous. He said he was getting down at Silver Springs too. Before he could probe deeper, our station arrived and I got busy dragging my suitcase out in the crowd, and he shouted: 'Welcome to DC, have a great trip !!' I smiled at his affability and asked my cousin if it was common there to be so friendly. He said: I think he was trying to hit on you or something. And we both giggled. I saw the demographics was quite different from Boston. It was.. how shall I put it.. more diverse.

It was a vacation typical of my school days. I didn't have to cook. I had to sneak in to do my own dishes. I could drink tea without brushing and even had lunch once without having a bath first (very unlike me). No rules. Watched a couple of movies. Read : Stephen T. Kay's Boogeyman with homemade popcorn- oh yes, I did. Though, I don't think I can manage 'The Shining' all by myself yet. Boogeyman was not as scary as I thought it to be. It was all about confronting your fear. I liked the shots, well detailed and artistic. I usually like Sam Raimi's productions. My first kiss of fear was from Evil Dead. Ewww.
The 39 steps (1935) with homemade samosas and gulab jamuns. Hitchcock's depiction of a man and woman being tied in handcuffs together - now where have I seen this copied before? The 'Memory Man' concept was ingenious and hilarious. The following day, my aunt recommended that I watch Tales of the Kamasutra 2 :Monsoon. Helen Brodie looked good. Her father is Scottish I believe. Gulshan Grover was a convincing bad man. But the director could have done a better job. Later, we watched The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior and I think Michael Copon is cute.

I had picked The Kingfisher Illustrated Animal Encyclopedia by David Burnie and Anupam shirked : What are you reading? Personally, I found it interesting. The Argonauts for example. This unusual octopus spends most of its life in open water. The female is up to 20 times bigger than the male, and she has a paper- thin, spiral shell. Unlike other mollusks, the argonaut's shell is not attached to its body - the female holds it in place with her arms. She uses her shell to protect the eggs, and once they have hatched, she will often discard it.

I didn't know that Scorpions carried their young ones on their backs (or had forgotten the fact) and that some fishes have beauty consultants in Cleaner shrimps (a swimming decapod crustacean) who eat the parasites off their bodies and have a symbiotic relations with their hosts.

The overcast clouds spoiled most of our plans to go out, except when we attended a dinner invitation on Friday and went to Wheaton Mall on Saturday. I got the Transformers Blu-ray for Anupam and the Indiana Jones series for my collection. We tried to find four leafed clover, but in vain.

I saw something my father had said to me once.
Anupam showed me the Washington Monument while driving back to the airport on Sunday. Later, I recognized the obelisk in an Indiana Jones movie. Just like most movie makers show the Boston skyline with Prudential and the John Hancock towers to convince the audience.

Andy had recommended the Holocaust Museum but the rifle-wielding James von Brunn, an 88-year-old white supremacist from Maryland, fatally shooting a security guard marred our plans.( Apparently, he is a known Holocaust denier who created an anti-Semitic Web site called "The Holy Western Empire" and has repeatedly claimed that "The Diary of Anne Frank," is a hoax.)

I can't complain. I wanted some rest. Mashi and I bonded over some manicure. Anupam made a Transformers wallpaper and showed me the E3 2009 Batman Arkham Asylum demo.

I saw Anirban playing XBox online mostly. He has grown his hair and his back looks exactly like SG. We made a joke of it. Poor kid had fever when I left them. The Wasabi sauce with sushi cured me of my cold. I hope it helped him too. And the Jamaican Habanero sauce with shrimp and vegetables spaghetti was heavenly.

My flight on Sunday got delayed owing to inclement weather in Boston. It was a good break, but I was pining to be back. My roommate picked me from the airport after being chased twice by the traffic control. SG joined us for dinner at The Kebab Factory.

The following morning I had my weekly meeting. But I felt ready for it after a restful week. Last night, I made the Italian sausage recipe I had learned from my aunt. It was a hit.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Abanimohan Kar Smriti Puroskar

Honorable Chief Minister of Tripura, Mr. Manik Sarkar is handing out the awards

Digging up the pics took a while, but I am glad I have them now.

Dadubhai always said : Kokhono bhulo na tumi kon baarir meye. (Never forget which family you belong to) I don't think I have ever forgotten that. And even if I had, the world would have reminded me.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Minnesota trip: Day 2: The wedding

The next day, I woke up thinking, 'The day has arrived !' Needless to say, I had been looking forward to it for some time now - ever since we got to know about the wedding date; that would have been seven months now, at least.

The ceremony was scheduled at 3:30 pm on June 6, 2009 at the Trinity Lutheran Church, Medford, Minnesota. Sangram had to reach at 12:30 noon for signing the wedding license. Since we had nothing better to do, we decided to accompany him. That meant getting ready 3 hours before the actual ceremony. Most girls would complain about that. But I didn't want to miss anything, though the thought of lazing about on a Saturday morning felt tempting.
We helped the best man get ready, I tied the ponytail :D

It was pouring when we reached the church. A professional photographer was directing the poses for the bride and the groom. The couple looked beautiful and very much in love. I always thought that Mitch and Sushma complement each other very well. That is how a husband-wife pair should be- like a team, making up for the weaknesses of the other by one's strengths.
Sushma and Mitch

I had already wept at the rehearsal, and John had offered to bring tissues on the day of the wedding. I felt choked with emotion again. It was like watching a very romantic movie. Most guys will never understand what is there to be sentimental about a wedding. Well, I don't blame them. They are emotionally less evolved than women. (Do I hear protests?)

In the afternoon, Arindam, John and I went out to fetch coffee for the groom and the best man. I had pancakes and apple juice in the morning. In fact, I liked the pancakes at our hotel so much that for three days in a row I had nothing else for breakfast.

I had seen a Caribou coffee joint somewhere on our way the previous day, but it was on the highway and we did not want to drive into the traffic. We couldn't find coffee shops nearby so we checked a couple of gas stations. The first one had only cold frappucino from Starbucks' and I was dying for a hot, brewed coffee. The next one had a coffee maker but the coffee was cold in the pot and there was no way we could reheat it. John lost his appetite for coffee. I decided to settle for a cup of hot chocolate and took French vanilla toast for the others. Though the guys insisted on paying, I rushed to pay in cash. That was the only thing I paid for the whole trip, except for the flight tickets. I kept track of my expenses, but Sangram wouldn't hear of it.

Before him, I had dated mostly losers who felt shy to take out their wallets. And since my father's first lesson was : 'There's no free lunch', I always ended up paying the bills. It feels good to have someone pay for you instead. After my father, I think it is him, who has me taken care of every little whim of mine. One more reason to feel special.

Fast forward to the ceremony. The ushers escorted the lady guests to their seats. The groomsmen walked first and laid down the white drape for the wedding party to walk on. I didn't see when the groom and the best man had appeared from the door beside the altar. The maid of honor and the flower girl walked in, followed by the bride.

We sang hymns in unison. One that particularly appealed to me was from ,' O Perfect Love'.
O perfect Life, be Thou their full assurance
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope and quiet brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.

The Pastor gave a humorous speech about love. He said that it started with Eros, 'Oh you are so hot', but it isn't enough to sustain a long-term commitment. The next stage is Philia, where you are more like companions, the husband is shouting : Where's my beer? But that isn't enough either. The ultimate stage is the love for God, with childlike innocence.

Neither Sangram nor I am very religious, but we have our own beliefs. And over the years, our relation wouldn't have sustained if we did not believe in each other. We were the oldest couple there, but I was the youngest in age. Naturally, there were questions about our wedding plans too. I told Mitch's Dad that we are just enjoying a long courtship.

Mark (Mitch's elder brother) asked Sangram if I were his sister. We have been asked that often. I wonder if we look like siblings. John negated that. Sangram told Mark that I was his girl and showed my picture on the wallpaper of his phone as proof. I didn't realize it then why those two were looking at me and smiling. I believe that was exactly the moment he sent me the text message: 'I love you.'

Sushma had asked me to wear a saree for the ceremony. Indian clothes can be really gorgeous. They were about five of us wearing sarees: The bride, the maid of honor, Sushma's aunt, Mrs. Seelan ( the wife of Dr. Santosh Seelan from the University of North Dakota, Mitch's undergrad guide) Someone feared what if they came unwrapped. That didn't materialize. I changed for the reception into a dress I had got exclusively for the wedding.
Sangram and me at the reception

Soon after dinner, and after quite a few number of audible requests from the guests for the couple to kiss (the traditional clinking of glasses with silverware), the speeches were made. Sangram mentioned that he and Mitch lived on Taco Bell's for a year until they discovered it was not healthy; they strummed the guitar and jammed the piano at odd hours; played racquetball and Mitch hit him every time Mitch lost. George Bernard Shaw was quoted and the speech emphasized: To be happy with a man, you must understand a lot and love him a little. To be happy with a woman, you must love her a lot and not try to understand her at all.

I agree somewhat. A plausible explanation could be that most men need space to breathe, unless you understand him, you can not respect his need to be on his own sometimes. And women need to be loved, they love getting pampered (at least I do) by the special person. But we have the most ephemeral emotions with a very dynamic internal environment, by the time our men get to understand us, we have hopped into some other mental state.

Mitch's eldest brother-in-law said that Mitch was a kid when he married into the family. He followed him around asking all sorts of questions. 'He still does that' he quipped. :D Matt and Mark welcomed Sushma to the family and said : It's great if you understand Mitch, because we don't. The audience was in splits.
Mitch's parents dancing

The floor was prepared for dancing. Sushma had requested a couple of Hindi songs too. You should have seen everyone dance at that. But imagine my surprise to see Sangram dance to a song of 'Disco Dancer' ! He hates to dance in public; I think he feels too conscious. Though, I had tried teaching him Salsa before and he had picked the steps really fast.

John teased, 'I thought you said that your guy doesn't dance.' Me : 'I thought so too', with my mouth agape. Sometimes, I think he does all the nakhra  just to surprise me in the end. John went to Sangram and asked, 'You should teach me how to dance.' He snapped back, 'Are you kidding me?', his feet still tapping.

Soon, they played one of my favorite romantic numbers: 'Have I told you lately?' I wrapped my arms around his neck while he held me by my waist. The floor cleared except for the couples and I looked into his eyes, like we were the only one in the whole universe. He joked what if some of the couples were talking about household expenses and their kids' school. I cracked up and thought that some day maybe we will too and enjoy it equally. But until then...

I closed my eyes, rested my head on his shoulders and found peace in a long, long time.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Travelogue Minnesota trip : Day 1: The rehearsal

Our flight from Boston Logan International (BOS) to Minneapolis St Paul Intl (MSP) was scheduled at 10:45 am (EDT). The expected arrival was at 12:52 PM (CDT), [that would be 1:52 pm Boston time.]

I met up with my fellow wayfarers, Sangram and Arindam at terminal A of Logan airport and made way to the check-in kiosks. I was really excited about seeing my first Christian marriage, and looking forward to the trip. I kept hopping around in the airport in anticipation , while the guys laughed at my childlike demeanor.

While Sangram and Arindam brooded about the 'Bahut kharcha ho gaya' factor at Au bon pain (French translation: At Good Bread), I sipped at my coffee and savored my apple croissant quite obliviously.

The flight was uneventful, except for the National Geographic magazine that I borrowed from Sangram and he showed me some vacation destinations including St. Moritz in the Engadine valley in Switzerland.

At Minneapolis we met two other people who would be attending the wedding : Balint Karosi- a friend and the organist at the wedding, and Karen- another of Mitch's friends.

We pooled a car from Minneapolis, dropped Karen at her Grandma's place, had lunch at a joint called Hamburgers. The freshly baked bread and the fresh ground meat made it a haven for steak lovers. And it was dirt cheap compared to Boston. While any high end steak house could charge you $ 30 + in Boston, I had a combo meal - of a swiss melt steak with mushrooms and onions, a vanilla shake and fries for just $12.49.

The state, also called "Land of 10,000 Lakes" , would be a perfect vacation spot for anglers too. I had seen quite a few water bodies when we were airborne. However, I imagined that our tight schedule wouldn't probably permit fishing, and I was content with feasting my eyes on the lush green meadows.

Someone mentioned ( I think it was Karen) that it was drier than usual. I looked at the tint of yellow in the grass. Anyways, it was a welcome break from a city like Boston. ( I love Boston, but a change is invigorating)The great stretches of land reminded me of my Colorado trip. Except, Minnesota appeared a lot greener. Colorado is more reddish.

We left the twin cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul behind us and drove some 60 miles on Interstate 35 to reach Owatonna, our destination. For some impalpable reason, the traffic was moving at snail pace. Gawd ! It was as bad as I-93 South in Boston with two left lanes closed at rush hours.

We took exit 48 on Mitch's direction and met Mitch and Sushma - the to-be groom and bride at Preferred Outlets. Sush was still doing some last minute shopping for her wedding and told me about the really cheap clutches she saw there. From Calvin Klein to Nike, Bath and Body works to Levi's - there were stores of all kinds and I wanted to start shopping right away. But I knew I had to control my impulse. I voiced my desire anyways. Sangram mock copied me, 'I really should find time to shop here', but I knew he had made a mental note of it.

We just had time enough to check into our hotel. My chums were not helping and I was feeling a little weak. A quick shower pepped me up and a new brush of eye shadow took care of the rest. I discovered a disaster among my toiletries. I had forgotten my bronzer. Would have to go without make up on the wedding. I was glad though. My skin could breath. Trying to look glamorous can be a pain in the wrong place. I am the most comfortable in a pair of shorts, an old t shirt and my glasses.
We were at the Trinity Lutheran Church before 6: 30 PM CDT and I got a fair idea of how everything was going to be the the following day.

A pastor had flown from Boston and I was surprised to see his competence at remembering names from the guest list. The wedding ceremony participants included the Maid of Honor- Meenu, Sush's best friend (I am guessing),the Flower girl - Paridhi- Sush's kid cousin, Best Man- Sangram, and Groomsmen Mark and Matt Schull (Mitch's elder brother)

We had dinner at a place called ' Celebrations', where the reception would take place the following day. There I met the rest of the Schull family and also the youngest guest at the wedding.

Mitch and Balint with Mitch's niece

The bed looked very inviting by the time we went back to our hotel. It boasted of free wi-fi and free HBO on TV. None of us had got our laptops but we checked our mails from our phones. I remember seeing Stallone in Demolition Man; there was this funny scene about a Moral Statute Machine (in the future) charging for violation of Verbal Morality Statute. I guess that was exactly when I had fallen asleep.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The confessions of an ex- orkut junkie

One of my friends often kidded about my addiction to social networking sites, suggesting that I should take up a job in orkut. Now, with the emergence of the social web as way to influence buying decisions and circumvention of marketing messages of traditional media, consumer behavior in the social media is the big thing on Web 2.0. And here to stay.

Honestly, I'd like a job in Social Media Marketing. That intern position for Social Media Director was droolworthy. Hope to hear from them soon. I have another interview today courtesy someone who was kind enough to refer me saying : You are one of those few incredible people we interviewed. Hope this works out for me. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Quarter Life Crisis : Good Ol' Days

An old friend caught me online. We were together in school and went to the same undergraduate college. He was an awesome dancer, in fact, one of the best dance partners I ever had. And one of those people who believed in my abilities even at times when I did not feel so sure of myself.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that he had been recently promoted to the department chair of Bioinformatics in my undergraduate school. I kidded about not being able to dance with him anymore. He said it was true, he felt wary that his students might see him. And he said that he felt old suddenly.

I reasoned that we are not old (just 25), but definitely mature. And life is a lot more in control now. I believe that.

I promised to give a guest lecture for the MBA students next time I visit India. And yeah, it would be great to see Noida and my campus again.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Mentalist

Alain Nu was at the Campus Center ballroom yesterday, demonstrating his ESP(?) skills. I had missed a major chunk of the show owing to my class schedule and managed to watch only the last half an hour or so.

At one occasion, he jumped off the stage and stood on the seat right in front me, and asked a student to hold a stainless steel knife while he bent it. I am not a skeptic usually, but I like to know tricks when there are any. It was fun watching him perform and wonder- 'How does he do that?' I have heard of the usage of chemicals. And the two girls might have a psychological explanation. Any takers?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Long way home

I said to Dj as we walked on Brighton Ave, 'Coming up on my blog, next'
He laughed, ‘Tu kahi meri le to nahi rahi?’ I protested, ‘Come on ! Nahi yaar.’

It is not the first time someone’s car got towed. But it is not about the chain of events. It is about assuming collective responsibility. It was his treat and his car. And I felt bad about that. I wanted to help when we went to pick cash from the ATM but he pushed me away saying ‘Don’t do that. It is my car, my responsibility’ I couldn’t help it, I tried to reason, ‘ …but we were all in it !!’

Given his old age chivalry, I should have known that he wouldn’t take money, not from a girl. A dude who is particular about how you dress when you are out with him, and fusses if someone cusses in front of you, wouldn’t.

Last evening, I was supposed to pick grocery with one of the few good friends I had made at the university. Good friend: someone who is there with you both on your good and bad times. And it is not just the campus life, a quarter century later, I have come across very few people who do that. Anyways, this is going to be long if I digress so much. More terms from my private dictionary later.

Dj asked me if I’d like to go to a temple before we went to Shaw’s to pick the groceries. I agreed. I haven’t been to a temple in a long while. I am not a very religious person, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t have faith. I have great belief in the ability of men to do both good and evil. Since I am a believer of actions, Swami Vivekananda’s discourses have great relevance in my spiritual domain. I didn’t read Gita for religious purposes. I read it when I was in school, before my ICSE exams because I wanted to understand the philosophy of action.

Having said that, I was a bit disappointed about how religion is conducted in most parts of my country. I lived near a Sanatan dharma (literal: the eternal religion) temple in Noida. The richness of the temple was not exemplary, but the priests seemed very obvious about their preference for people who could donate bigger bundles to the ‘bhet’ box. In the house of God, everyone should be equal. From the mendicant, to the filthy rich- that should be the purpose of religion- to preserve the humanness and love and respect for your fellow beings- even if you are a poor man with money. But that is just me. I pray sometimes. I want to feel connected to a source of power bigger than my comprehension. I just don't like mediums, with human flaws.

My mother doesn’t let me take a mid-term test without first offering sweets to the Gods. I have never seen my father enter a temple; he’d rather wait outside while we prayed. But he never imposed his views on any of us. And he let my mother believe whatever she wanted. We had all kinds of religious festivals at home- Laxmi Puja, Saraswati Puja, Durga Puja – I even looked forward to them as a kid. And I still miss being at home when the Autumn Goddesses arrive.

So, I went. It is a Laxmi temple at Framingham. And it is beautiful. There were five of us. We prayed, we got the tika and we had the prasad, before we drove back to Boston hollering out Hindi film songs. DJ requested me to sing first, but I warned: Don’t do that, you know I don’t stop when I start. And I asked one of the other friends to testify. However, he insisted and I dragged one of the other enthusiastic friends who had already started displaying his vocal skills , into a duet. I suggested, ‘Why don’t we all sing?’ There were many moments, but ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ beats them all. You never know how your voice sounds in a chorus. Right from the days of my singing in a choir of the school assembly I realized it. But there are certain songs that you love to shout out in unison. They let me sing a few myself when we started playing Rapid ( the one where you pick words from a previous song and sing another) It was funny because Devansh kept breaking the words into syllables and added another syllable to create a new word which he plugged into his songs, claiming it was a valid way to play. How we played it didn’t matter, the idea was to have fun.

We teased him about replacing ‘kehna’ with ‘karna’ in his songs, and I exclaimed: Tu hamesha karne pe kyu aa jata hai?’ Dj observed: ‘He is desperate’. To which he sang: ‘I am a despo dancer.’ All in a friendly banter. It seemed like good fun, something I hadn’t have since I last saw my cousins together- years ago.

Most of the junta wanted to go to Qdoba, the Mexican grill. We knew one near NEU. But it had just closed down at 10 pm when we arrived. So, we went to ‘Indian Dhaba’. The food was oily, spicy and goooood. Very much like what we get back at home. Dj offered: My treat. It was the occasion of his H1B being approved. If you are an immigrant trying to make a future in another country, your visa status is probably THE most important concern of your life for a long time. Until you decide to marry a citizen and get a green card. We met someone at the restaurant who had done just that. Apparently, he was a senior from my school who had graduated before I joined the program.

I wished my parents on their anniversary and told SG that I am having dinner out, ' Will call back when I reach home.' Another event was- we had banarasi pan when we were done with the dinner. We explained to some other people in the restaurant what it was. The leaves weren’t fresh, but the extra helping of sweet jelly made it lovable. I always asked my father to let me have a pan when we dined out in India. He always obliged. It is a secret indulgence of my own.

We were right across the street when I wondered aloud: Where’s Dj’s car? Someone remarked, ‘Must be behind the van’ I walked around fearing the worst: did someone steal it? When we walked to the parking lot, we saw the signs: 'Parking Limit 1 hour.' There was a contact number of the towing company. We wondered why we hadn’t seen the signs when we had walked out, and then we gathered that we had all walked out of the car and crossed the street while the posts were behind us. So that when we came back we could look like fools.

DJ said that all of us needn’t walk 1 mile. Fortunately, the GPS was still with him and the tow shop was open 24 hrs. One of us accompanied him, while the remaining three waited at a convenience store. Two of them picked ice creams and I picked a Leanin’ Tree card sans occasion.

They rescued the car and it was an hour later than I had expected to be at home. DJ apologized for wasting my study time. I laughed and said: It was quite an adventure.

I was too tired to study for my Marketing Communications test (on Tuesday) anymore. I just crashed on my bed after calling up SG. He said: At least it isn't as bad for your driving license as getting a speeding ticket. That guy always sees the best in things.