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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Ground Floor

Couple of days ago I saw a story  (watch video) on CBS 5 news where children go to school unplugged. The first graders shuck corn and build a garden, while fourth graders explore the philosophy behind Celtic knot drawing. Personally, I feel that you can not protect something you feel disconnected from, so the first lesson in every school should not be just A-B-C or 1-2-3 but also the bond we share with our environment.

I was reminded of a conversation with my mother-in-law where she lamented that technology has made us lose touch with nature. She opined that youth today are so engrossed in their iPods, their music and their world that they forget the world around them. They miss out the chirping of a bird or the beauty of a day. I remembered the first day I stopped paying attention to people- the day I got excited about having Internet in our home for the first time. She had a point there.

I agree that technology can be put to good use- to gather information, to dissipate new ideas, like this Google ad asserts:

But I too, like many others, spend most of the day making love to my laptop. Of course, some of my best friends are the ones I video-chat with over Internet because they live far away, and I miss having face time with them.

A song from arguably the first Bengali rock band - Moheener Ghoraguli(est 1975) plays in my mind:

পৃথিবীটা নাকি ছোট হতে হতে
Satellite আর Cable-এর হাতে
Drawing Room এ রাখা বোকা বাক্স তে বন্দী
ভেবে দেখেছ কি ?
তারা রাও যত আলোকবর্ষ দূরে
তার ও দূরে
তুমি আর আমি যাই ক্রমে সরে সরে

(Has the world shrunk and been held captive by satellite and cable in the drawing room idiot box? Have you thought about it? Slowly, we drift apart from each other further light-years than the stars.)

I also understand the importance of isolation for creators- how crucial it is to incubate ideas and live in your own world for days till you complete the composition.

Most days, I choose to get out from my third floor apartment, get into the elevator only a few steps away, and switch on the ‘P’ for Parking Garage; blissfully ignoring the ‘G’ for ground floor. And of course, my destination is air-conditioned and so is my mode of transport. On days that I am feeling extremely adventurous, I go out for a walk in the park in front of my house. I marvel at the vignette of the mountains drenched in fading red rays of a setting sun and take pleasure in watching several activities: owners bring out their pets to play, new mothers take out their babies in strollers, visiting parents or families walk together sluggishly, a few men and women play soccer, and a determined, athletic person does his daily rounds of jogging.

I watch them while I sit on a bench or stretch –depending on the time of the evening. Then I go to the gym, promise myself to go to park more often, and forget all about it afterwards. Technology is a beautiful thing. It has done wonders to the way we communicate. But like our daily requirements of dietary fiber, we need our basic daily dose of ground floor trips where we step out of our comfortable corners and walk on the face of the earth, albeit on a paved footpath. Weather permitting.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If I had to marry my rapist

I read this article on CNN about the difficult choice a woman made when she had to choose between marrying her rapist and serving a sentence in jail. Several outraged women suggested that she should marry him and exact vengeance by poisoning him etc. It is all very good from an idealist’s point of view. A film maker of moderate talent might even make a heart-wrenching tale out of her plight. But my rage is towards the options she has or doesn’t have.

Media influence
My first impression about rape was extracted from the Bollywood movies of the 80s and the 90s, some of which depicted rape as a visual treat for the audience. I often wondered why such scenes were allowed for public viewing while something as natural as love-making was considered taboo. In a certain sub-genre of horror films, a female gang-rape victim killed after the assault turned into a white saree-clad ghost who seduced men and killed them on the mere pretext of their ogling at her.

Growing up
When I was growing up, I heard from my close friends or cousins – how they were made to discover their developing sexuality by a stranger groping them at an unguarded moment or a close acquaintance of the family making a remark about their growing assets privately. Growing up was a shame. There was no one to condition the mind and prepare it for the developments of the body. The well-intended Moral Science classes at school were not enough.

After my much protected childhood, I started living away from my family for my undergrads in NCR. I was told that there are certain things you should take care of if you don’t want to be violated against your will. Most newspapers and hostel seniors forewarned girls against accepting drinks from strangers. Of course, there are enough predators wishing they could take advantage of you while you are sober to let intoxicated senses pose no difficulty of access for unwanted elements.

Crime prone areas: NCR
As an undergraduate student, I often read in the newspapers: “North East girl gang raped in Delhi’. She was on her way from work, was a BPO employee or a student taking a morning walk with her friend in the early hours of the morning. Then the report of a similar incident at a nearby place followed. The most sex-crime prone areas would be listed yet another time.

Years later, nothing has changed, it has only worsened: the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of home ministry revealed that the rape cases in the capital increased from 459 in 2009 to 489 in 2010, in spite of the fact that only 1 in every 69 rape case is ever reported in India.

Demographic of the most-effected victims in NCR
NGOs report that about half of the sexually assaulted women belong to North East. Women with distinct physical features like small eyes are more prone to attacks because the attacker knows that the person is not from around the region, and more often the victim decides to leave NCR and go back home than face taunts on the street and go through the whole ordeal of a quadriplegic justice system.

The CM of Delhi, Sheila Dixit promised the community to set up a hostel for working women from North-East but few have moved to the one that has come up in Jasola because it is located in a remote area and has poor security.

War rapes
We know that rape is not always a means of sexual gratification; it is an attempt at psychological dominance by humiliating the victim. The offender often feels the need to control the situation and uses aggression to hurt and control.

Whatever the psychodynamics of the assault are, what every woman needs to know is that you can protect yourself from certain situations. But if an accident happens, you don’t need to let it define you or your relations. There is no reason to feel less worthy as a human being.

Our social institutions might not always help us deal with difficult situations like this, but self-suggestion can help us reduce the damaging effect of the assault. I can’t speak for the woman who had to leave her job or the woman who has to marry her rapist, but for some of us, who have the right to choose, can choose to live with dignity. An animal blinded by lust can’t be the biggest thing that happened to us or the most important parameter of measuring our lives.

Read the title of this post again, if you don't have to make such a difficult choice, you are already on your way to recovery.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


I had an interesting conversation with my friends about why people choose to cheat. In this case, the Nash equilibrium would be when both partners choose to be loyal to each other (1,1)and the pay-offs are great. But sometimes, the fear is the possibility of being fooled by the other (1,-1) (-1,1) and be let down. An extreme outcome (and prevalent social scenario)would be when both choose to betray the other (0,0) Maybe the betrayal doesn't feel so bad then.

Also, think of the relation between a corporation (A) and an employee (B). The employee chooses to be faithful to his/her firm- gives his/her best shot at work and do more than asked. The firm in return provides ample scope for growth, gives incentives for hard work and so on and so forth and the relation is a long, strong one. The employee doesn't feel he has wasted his efforts and the firm is confident of its most essential resource : its employees. But if the employee is lazy, or not giving his best- wary that it will be unacknowledged, he/she will not be loyal to work and attrition will follow (1,-1). The firm might downsize or let go of people to cut down operations costs. Even a hard-working employee will feel cheated then (-1,1). In times of economic affluence, a firm might not care what quality of work is produced, and the employee may take no care of improving performance (0,0). Both lose.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

"The happiest man on earth would look into the mirror and see only himself, exactly how he is."

How often we do stand in front of a mirror and feel fascinated with our looks: the soulful eyes, the locks on the temple, the sweet mouth, the fullness of contours, and the grace of form and movement?

Or wish we were slimmer, taller, had longer hair, or whiter teeth? Some of us consider cosmetic surgery and indulge in a keyword search that we think will improve our self-perception if followed. We presume,’ Oh! I will be happier if I look more perfect.’ Nothing could be farther from truth.

It is true, we need to be physically fit to live life- have a threshold amount of health to be able to enjoy what life has to offer, but the bilateral symmetry which we obsess over is over-rated. Why is that some women who are the epitome of pulchritude have the messiest perceptions about themselves, are very difficult to be with and often suffer bouts of depressions? On the other hand, the-not-so-perfect looking individuals are happy, living life with a good sense of humor and focusing on what is really important.

What is it that they know? What is the secret mantra to success and happiness? I can’t speak for everyone, but I strongly believe it is the knowledge of the self- as it is. And an incredible thirst to know further. Everything we learn helps us expand our thinking into another dimension. Every experience and talent we earn is making us a more complete human being. And the thirst to know our inner selves through different forms of expressions should at least be equal to, if not greater than, our desire to be perfect in our physical appearance.

Are there directives about how we should go on that quest to find our completeness?

In Bhagwat Gita, Krishna says:
'Among women, I am fame (kirti), prosperity(sri), speech (vak), memory (smriti), intelligence (medha), endurance (dhriti) and forgiveness (kshama).'

I find it relevant even today and it gives me a good sense of what qualities I could work on to be more accomplished. And make that image in the mirror more like what I want it to be.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chader pahar podcast

This site includes no advertising and generates no revenue. This podcast is under fair use of copyright (US law, Section 1.2.9 ).

Chader Pahar (Mountain of Moon) by Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay.

Click on the label 'podcast' or 'mp3' for more audio clips and 'video' for videos.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Recently, I have noticed -a few have the misconception that it is very trendy to trash others without having any real authority to do so. They think it is lame to read, write, draw, take pictures, sing, cook, dance, walk, learn a language, and volunteer to work for a cause. In fact, anything that does not include pointing fingers towards other human beings and then scanning them under a microscope for flaws- is a complete waste of time.

Personally, I have never faced such issues, because I am surrounded by very positive people who encourage any form of creativity. But for the unfortunate few who are often told that they are not good enough or their work is not worthy of attention- my advice is -keep an open mind for constructive criticism (very few will invest the energy, really), but don't give up on your passion(s).

Also, it is alright to feel frustrated or disappointed with your composition sometimes. But the important thing is not to quit. It may take months or years before you can create a masterpiece- maybe never (the worst possible scenario), but it is a lot better than not having tried.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Last week, I was very upset by the news of Steve Jobs’s death, now confirmed as respiratory arrest owing to complications from pancreatic cancer he was long battling. I had not known him personally or even as an employer, but his 2005 Stanford commencement speech had inspired me at a time when I most needed it, and for that I felt a certain kind of gratitude towards him.

I was also disturbed by the events at a cement factory in Cupertino where a man shot dead three of his colleagues and wounded several others when he opened fire in a staff meeting. He was a single parent with two kids. Someone who had authored a self-help book, reported for local news, and worked at the cement factory for 15 years. After widespread panic and one of Silicon Valley's most massive manhunts, he succumbed to his own shot in the head.

Two very different deaths. But the obsession of a certain segment of media with the gory details of the later event, instead of a healthy discussion on what is a social tragedy, was disturbing. Not as globally known or mourned as the death of a tech pioneer, but indicative of a disease that lurks in the society to spring on good,god-fearing (from interviews) people on a Wednesday morning at 4 am. Why did he lose his temper to such an extreme?

Recently I read somewhere about how poets and artists fear their passing would be 'quite unnoticed'. The Fall of Icarus by Brueghel, and Musee des Beaux Arts by Auden have spoken well of human indifference. The first time I saw the painting, I wondered why the perspective of the painting is such that the fall and the consequent death of Icarus is an insignificant aspect in it. Now, I understand and see the beauty of it.

The Fall of Icarus by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Friday, October 07, 2011


This picture has done quite some rounds with the punchline: A wife is a matter who the hell u are

So I decided to retaliate with the other aspect of marriage:

P.S. I can joke abt it because I have no such issues.. yet :P

Friday, September 30, 2011

Brush strokes

I have been having some fun with watercolor lately.

Geisha, Sept 30

Bamboo, Sept 21

Thursday, September 29, 2011

An unusual friend

I was talking to my brother when he reminded of one of the most unusual friends I had as a kid.

It was a crow with a broken upper beak.

One day, it stood on a brick wall separating our home from our neighbors on the west. I was in a good mood and so I sang a song to it I composed simultaneously , something about a faraway princess and his being her messenger. (How I knew it was a 'he'- I don't know, I just assumed).

He eyed me dubiously at first, and relaxed at the realization that I was a bit cacophonous but innocuous. I thought I should reward such an enduring audience and borrowed cookies from my mother and placed them on the wall. He performed a sort of war dance around it stepping side-wise to and fro, then suddenly picked it with his broken beak and rushed to the quieter end of the wall where he munched on it. He flew away without saying thanks.

The next day, however, I heard a knock on my bedroom window, south of the house. I don't know how he realized it was my room, but he got me a half eaten fish-bone and cawed, coaxing me delicately to eat it. I was surprised at this gallantry. He probably sacrificed his lunch for me. I begged some more cookies from my mother.' It is that wretched crow again!' I told her he got me something too. She couldn't believe her eyes when she saw it.

I often shared scraps of food with him. One day, he even got his girlfriend along. I wondered if she was the reason he broke his beak. Was she worth fighting over? I guess she was. I looked at them like a mother regards her grown-up children. She fussed with him and they fed each other bits of food. He wasn't as lonely as I had imagined him to. It was good to know.


I had almost forgotten about him, and then Dada mentioned him in a conversation today. Crows live a good many years - over a score. I wonder if I will still see him if I visit our old house.

You know about my pet dog, did I tell you I had a cat too?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Crime City on Google+

Vote for your favorite game avatar:)

My favorite is the last one- looks more professional and dressed for combat. Sometimes, I put a FBI vest or a tank top on her, and change her pants to military monochrome.

That's my gang attacking my mobster boss- Natty Blunts.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan or the bond of protection is primarily observed to celebrate the bond between brothers and sisters where the sister ties a rakhi or sacred knot around the wrist of the brother and he vows to protect her through life. The brother could be related by blood or be a muh bolah one. My post is about the later.

There are several historical mentions of the rakhi-bond; as a kid, I read about Krishna-Draupadi, Karnavati, the queen of Chitor and Humayun, the Mughal emperor. There was a time when it meant something. But I have become a cynic over the years.

A psychoanalysis session might yield the following as a causal event of my attitude:

A boy (A) in my class had a crush on a girl(B), everyone knew about it - including the
girl. On Rakhi, the greatest fear of a boy was to get a rakhi from someone for whom he had a romantic predisposition. Many skipped school  on that particular day for the same. However, A was not so fortunate. When classes got over, B got hold of A and tied a rakhi round his wrist. I saw his face. He waited until she turned her back, took it off, threw it in the ground and stomped on it like a maniac, with anger so real that it hurt me even to watch him.

Many girls have resorted to this technique. When a certain undesirable wooer tries to seek affection, the girl waits till rakhi to crush all his dreams. I am a woman but I feel it is foul play. I can understand the fear can be real for some who know the havoc unrequited love can create, but trying to extinguish feelings by spray painting a pseudo-relation? You can't force anyone to love or unlove. This age old ceremony became an arrangement for emotional castration. Worse still, I saw a rakhi brother and sister date- something equivalent to incest- at east in my books.

I am not a syngenesophobic, but I hardly ever call anyone my 'brother' until I really mean it. I have tried calling one of my very old friends,'Dada'( elder brother in Bangla) on several occasions, because I see him that way. But I have noticed he feels offended by it and protests vehemently. I will never know if he dislikes it because of the age connotation or because he thinks it makes him feel like a asexual being. It is the tragedy of a generation that has seen sex appeal being overrated in media and probably thinks sex is the only way to connect.

Whatever the reason- my only supplication is - girls, please don't use a rakhi as a protection from the one you are tying it to- it disrespects the sentiments associated with it. And boys (not men- they know)- don't try too hard to capitalize on your sex appeal- there are a lot of relations worth more than that.


It is a misnomer. The later half deals with commercialization of education, the first half is equivocal about reservation.

Prakash Jha tried to create a cinematic sonnet by stating a problem in the octave and proposing a solution in the sestet. The ninth line might be where Mrs. Anand (Tanvi Azmi) suggested scholarships for meritorious but financially backward students and remedial classes to cope with the weaker students from disadvantageous sections of the society.

It had great potential, but the pseudo-intellectual attempt ruined it. And they banned the screening in Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh? What a laugh.

But it is good to see contemporary Indian film-makers make an attempt at least.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Travelogue: Las Vegas


Each place you visit teaches something about yourself- something you never knew or something you had long forgotten. Las Vegas, which means ‘The Meadows’ in Spanish, has something to offer to everyone. Whether you will remember it as the ‘The Entertainment Capital of the World, or ‘Sin City’ or by some other name depends on what you are looking for in your trip, and what you find really.

He said he wanted to spend his birthday with me- just me, and that he wanted to take me to Vegas. Soon enough, we made reservations for our hotel, rented a Jeep Liberty (usually, we don't use our own vehicle on road trips) for what could be a 8-10 hrs drive- depending on the pits stops and the traffic. We knew it would be a gas guzzler, but we found comfort on the road and were happy with the choice of our car. Initially, we wanted to see Death Valley on our way, but later gave up on the idea to save some time.

We started early morning on his birthday- July 8th, Friday. On our way, we stopped by San Luis Reservoir, and at Bakersfield for lunch. Windmills always remind me of Don Quixote - the canonical ideologist disenchanted by society.

We saw Boron, named after the element, which inhabits the largest deposits of borax in the world. A dead river at Mojave made me sad. There were interesting posts that said :
'Water=jobs, Keep water flowing into farms'
'Congress created the dust bowl'

We always stop to buy some farm fresh fruits on our trips. The spiced pistachios we picked from a fruit stall made delectable munching material. He drove, I DJ-ed on our ipods & the satellite radio, and we sang old favorites together. When the first road sign mentioning Las Vegas appeared, we were still a couple of hours away. But the appetite to get acquainted with the city increased.

A couple of billboards said,’ Going to Vegas? Go where Vegas began. Flamingo.

One of the most celebrated early resorts; Flamingo Hotel was built by the mobster Benjamin’Bugsy’ Siegel, a member of the Meyer Lansky crime syndicate. Lansky and Siegel were lifelong friends and the former is said to have convinced the Mafia to place Siegel in Vegas. Lansky had heavily invested in the Flamingo, like many other syndicate bosses in the 1930s who invested their illegal profits in a smorgasbord of ventures.

After long delays and cost overruns, the hotel was still losing Mafia money. Most of the bosses wanted Siegel dead. It is said that Lansky bargained twice to save Siegel and give him some time. But in 1947, Siegel was shot and killed in Beverly Hills, California. The crime went unpunished. Only his brother and a priest attended the funeral. Much of Siegel’s life is the subject of the 1991 movie,’Bugsy.’

The Ten Commandments and another billboard stating,' Not everything stays in Vegas' prepared the wayfarer morally for what lay ahead.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Just for fun

                               Motion sequence with a very obliging model :)

My brother says that with frizzy hair I look like a lion :D

Friday, April 29, 2011

To catch a thief

First year of hostel life had its charm- the first time I was away from home- and the only birthday when my seniors and classmates stood me up against a wall and threw eggs at me to celebrate it. It was a year of discovery- of the beauty of some people and the ugliness in the hearts of some. It was a year that made me realize that everything wasn’t black and white. Sometimes, my heart aches to think of the naiveté with which I viewed the world back then, and the fearlessness I fostered in my heart. I believed I could do anything. I still do… somehow…

I heard rumors from my batchmates about this girl who lived a couple of floors above me in my hostel room. We made jokes about her stealing sanitary napkins- she was so indiscreet in her choice of ‘resource allocation’. I suggested with all the goodness of my young heart- that maybe she was a ’kleptomaniac’, who submitted to impulses and needed clinical help. My argument was refuted by the fact that she often stole money and other valuables. But a tube of half-used apricot scrub? Evidently, when anything went missing – even your favorite red bra- we assumed it was MP. (Hope she has a better career now)

Half of the hostel had begun to boycott her for her stealing habits (many people vouched for it), and the rest avoided her for dressing like an attention whore and grinding seniors on DJ nights. (It was quite scary at that time, and unless you were doing it too- it could be quite a taboo)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

10 things a man should know

The idea of a perfect man changes with age. The prurient teenage fantasies about the physique of Fabio give way to the hope of finding a caring man like Roberto Benigni in Life is Beautiful, who will call you his princess and believe so too. Soon we learn that a good sense of humor is the most important thing needed to live life. So, that would be numero uno in my list. The rest are enumerated in no specific order.

1. A man should know how to laugh at himself and occasionally, at you so that you don't take yourself too seriously.

2. A man should know how to make a meal. Even fixing sandwiches is a good quality.

3. He should know how to talk to children, to elders, to waiters- in fact, to anyone. He shouldn't be verbally challenged, shouldn't be garrulous either. Everyone will have their own fulcrum on which they balance the extremes.

4. He should love to travel, to explore new things. Novelty should excite him.

5. He should own a vehicle and know how to change its tires.

6. He should know to play at least one musical instrument. Better if he can sing along too. You can thank your stars when he serenades you or begins to hum your old favorite. Writing poetry can be a supplementary trait, or dancing, or painting -actually, anything in fine arts- you get the drift.

7. He should know his threshold of alcohol intake. Nothing is more embarrassing than a man who drinks beyond reason and makes a complete fool of himself socially.

8. He should know how to challenge you. Shouldn't agree with everything you say. You can't be right always. And if you needed a feet-licking pooch, you'd have gotten one. A man looks a man when he can give compelling, rational arguments to prove you wrong. You probably wouldn't like to admit it, but you'll be glad to see things from a different perspective.

9. A man should know how to take care of himself. He should follow a healthy exercise regime, try to eat right and nudge you to do so if you feel lazy at times.

10. He should know how to love and how to make love. I don't have to explain that.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


12:51 AM PST
A little while ago Dad called to say that she passed away around 12 noon, IST on 4/23/2011, Saturday. I knew it when I saw Dad's number on the caller id. 1- He never calls up so late at night. 2- We talked about her often, and he never sounded so disconsolate about her gradually deteriorating condition before like he has been recently. So, I knew before I heard it, and had cried through evening wondering how it would be to never see her again- if Dad's fear were true.

It seems so unjust that just when I have begun a new life, someone so dear to me should end her earthly existence. I can't say it was abrupt- we had been expecting it for months now. But bereavement is never easy- apprehended or not.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Riddle me this

Riddle me this- which saree was I actually wearing? 1, 2, 3 or 4

Friday, April 01, 2011

Bleed Blue

As a very young kid, I walked into the TV room and saw my family getting excited over a match. I asked my elder brother- ‘How many goals have been scored?’ He laughed and said, ‘Stupid, it isn’t football (American : soccer), it is cricket! You don’t score goals; you score runs or take wickets. I would have probably forgotten the incident, but he makes it sure to remind me once in a while my naiveté about a game that defines a country, unites its diversity and rekindles passion in many a passive existence surrendered to the daily grind of day-to-dayness of life.

Over the years, my education on the game continued with my family participating actively in my grasping of new terms -onside/off-side, pacers/spinners, no ball/wide ball, lbw (leg before wickets) – I learned the nuances of the game as I got acquainted with basic cricket vocabulary.

Cricket means family and friends to me. Cricket means what almost every kid plays in the gullies of India, believes in the superiority of his skills and brags about it to his GF when he grows up. Cricket means seeing people get pissed off because the team you support is misfielding in a stadium, miles away from where you are watching the match. It means a new leash on life, a chance to forget mediocrity and bask in the excellence of a few. It is a reason to reach home early in the blaring traffic or to stay up all night. Cricket also means when a star player can sell you anything from shoes to cold drinks. But most of all – cricket means a religion – something you believe in, something that drives you- even if it is just for a few days.

My mother is one of the bigger cricket fanatics I know, who watches any match that is broadcasted, but her frenzy reaches its crescendo in World Cup every four years. I know, even today she will get back from work just in time to watch the final.

Here’s my recollection of some matches:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The color of passion, blood, courage. The color of the living. I have often wondered what happens when we reach a state we have long coveted. Is it the end? The mental equilibrium - does it tame us? Do we give up on passions and merely satisfy ourselves in living the day-to-dayness of our lives? Or do we wish, more than ever, to catapult ourselves into the next higher datum plane of existence?

I crave for the adrenaline rush that comes from setting a distinct goal and focusing all my energy into achieving it. For a long time, I feel I have been disconnected from things that should really matter to me, things that should never stop mattering. Not anymore. I am going to give myself a push to make that leap.

Sunday, February 13, 2011