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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Empathy

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Oh look!

Teen boy (came running and stopped in front of me): Pretty dress.
Me: Thank you !
Teen (to his father): Look Daddy..
Father: I know.. pretty dress.

And I realized the kid might have been 'special'. Well, at least to him I had something good. Sometimes, I feel these people are much better than the 'sensible' ones who knowingly hurt others to satisfy their egos..

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Diversity

Which group would you rather be in? 
(irrespective of gender)

For some, it is more convenient to hang out with people with similar tastes in food, clothing, music, even the same set of values. There is less chance of conflict, less possibility of being shocked. You can feel you 'belong to' the group. And of course, there is ingroup favoritism and perks like free mentoring from your alumni association, or information about musical concerts of genres your share affinity towards.

A group can be of new parents, foodie, bloggers. I'll definitely appreciate a passably decent social event for marketers for startups right now. The categorical variables may vary, but the idea is the same. In some cases, it is essential to belong, to have conversations regarding your existing interests. But if we interact with people ONLY within our comfort zone, we will never learn new things or see the world from a different perspective. Scary.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Terra Nova

I was talking to SG's niece, who is a few years younger to me and is in the final year of her undergrads . During our conversation, I remembered my final year of Bachelors. In fact, every major event when I had to start afresh : when I had to leave home for the first time, when I finished college, when I had to leave the country I grew up in -for my Masters, when I had to say goodbye to Boston to settle in California.

I had to relocate very few times compared to some other people I am acquainted with. I guess almost everyone feels some degree of anxiety when making a move- the fear of losing friends, the fear of a new world we are not prepared for. But we are a strange breed. We find a way to flourish even in the most unlikely places.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thoughts on Dashami


As a kid, I always wondered why they immersed the idols of Goddess Durga in water on Dashami- the 5th day after Durga puja begins on Shasti. So much effort and resources go into making the pandal and idols only to be drowned (traditionally; doesn't happen in US) at the end of the celebration. A meaningless exercise until  you realize why it is important. It is like building a sand castle at low tide and then watching it wash away on high tide.

Dashami. Time for immersion. Time to let go. So that you can rebuild again.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Smartphone Wars

I am no conspiracy theorist but consider the following figures of Nokia's Market Cap over the last 5 years, in the context of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's phone and services business .

Source: Ycharts.com

Even on Sept 25, 2008 Nokia's Market Capitalzation was 76.86B. Today, Sept 24, 2013, it is 24.87 B.

Was Stephen Elop, the CEO of Nokia (since Sept 2010; he worked for Microsoft as the head of the Business Division from January 2008 to September 2010. He will be joining Microsoft again as an Executive Vice President) a Trojan Horse, planted to devalue the company and prepare it for acquisition by Microsoft? Was he someone the board of directors anointed to help them sell the firm in bits?

Imagine you own a startup, which for practical reasons you can't continue to run anymore. (Competition, cost of doing business, other commitments). Subsequently, you decide to sell it with an initial asking price 10 million. But you get no buyers so you hire a consultant  to 'trim the fat'.  He/she suggests to close/get rid of some non-profitable businesses even if they are unique to your company. (In February 2011, Nokia announced that it would use Microsoft's Windows Phone OS as its primary Smartphone platform, and Symbian will become its franchise platform.) After the haircut and grooming, your company is ready to visit the marketplace. A wooer who was waiting immediately makes an offer of 6 million. You will take what you get. Only for Nokia, it is billions of dollars less than it would have been even 5 years ago.

Elop will receive nearly €19 million (€4.2 million in salary and bonuses and €14.6 million worth of share price-linked bonuses) from the deal.

Sharing intellectual property rights between the two companies  was an impediment to developments in the past. Now, Microsoft can speed up the progress of Window phone devices, just in time when Apple is struggling to make even marginal improvements.

Everybody wins. No?

Unless the Nokia shareholders sue someone.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

10 reasons you are oversharing on Facebook


  1. Your parents didn't love you enough in your childhood.
  2. You are actually a very lonely person, and trying to deal with it by creating fake conversations online.
  3. You have a chronic need for attention.
  4. You are a social psychologist secretly, writing a research paper on what makes things go viral. Your posts are your experiments.
  5. You don't know about other cooler online communities which lets you create and share more substantial content.
  6. You just like to express yourself, FB is simply one of the many venues.
  7. You like to stay in touch with your friends.
  8. You read a lot of stuff online and you share them on Twitter/Facebook because those usually are the first two share buttons.
  9. You find people more interesting online than in real life.
  10. Find your own goddamn reason. I gave 9 already.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

You Taught Me Love

I longed to be lost
To be blind in love
But you said-
It wasn't the way.

You asked me:
To open my eyes
To the beauty around
In the world to see.

You taught me:
To laugh aloud
When we made love.
And to trust like a child.

You wanted me:
To be in love,
But also be
Who I should be.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Black Cat


In memory of my pet cat, whose affectionate ways I still miss.

In Bengali Hindu culture, black cats are considered inauspicious and harbinger of bad news; at least, it was, in the community where I grew up. My father encouraged me to question superstitions and think rationally:  how could the pigmentation of an animal be responsible for unrelated events?

I already had a male Japanese Spitz named Snowy. He was 10 years old when a black kitten found its way into our home. I think she started with foraging for leftovers from Snowy's dinner bowl. One day, when Snowy was in a foul mood, she tried to steal from him again. He gave her a chase, and she hid under our fridge. I heard him bark incessantly, and decided to see what the ruckus was about.

I prostrated myself on the ground and saw the poor thing - smaller than a rat. She looked scared and I feared she might have a heart attack. Snowy just wouldn't stop. I took him to another room, closed the door and offered a saucer full of milk to the kitten. After much coaxing, she appeared, hardly able to walk - a tiny baby. I wondered where her mother was.  I asked her.

But she seemed content to lap up the milk as fast as she could, and to show gratitude, she rubbed herself at my feet. I picked her up and petted her. She needed to be cleaned. Snowy had stopped barking.

A few days passed, she stayed on. No one ever came to claim her. And she became quite friendly with Snowy too. In the winter, she slept in his lap. Many times, I saw Snowy wake up before her but he didn't move lest he would wake her. He took his paternal duties quite seriously.

She demanded PDA frequently; hopped onto my chest when I lay on my back, massaged me with her paws, sniffed my lips, and licked me clean whenever I allowed her. It was her way of saying she owned me. I gave in most of the times, but it was worrisome when I had to study and she jumped on my study table and curled up on the book I had just opened, refusing to budge an inch until I petted her to her heart's content. My parents didn't make any fuss, but some of our neighbors reminded us constantly of the myths associated with a black cat. I felt furious but I couldn't change what they chose to believe, so I kept quiet. Sometimes, I argued that she wasn't completely black, she had some white fur on her chest- like that would help.

She grew up to be a gorgeous cat. Her fur was glossy from the healthy food, and she took great care in grooming herself. Her vanity grew when suitors tried to woo her. We often wondered who she would choose- one was a rough looking tomcat, another a baby-faced singer who serenaded her with cat songs at 11 in the night - much to our chagrin. My bet was on the singer.

Soon enough, she had a litter of three kittens. A male we named Simba (her first born who looked like Babyface; we decided to keep him) , and two females we chose to give away. The second kitten was the prettiest I have ever seen, with eyes like Cleopatra- as if someone had drawn her winged eyelids on both sides of her eyes. I wanted to keep her too but it isn't practical, advised my parents.  Dad and I helped Mini  through her motherhood. She gave up her usual bed in favor of a cardboard box we got for her. The kids grew up fast and it was time for two of them to leave.

Snowy passed away owing to old age. And a year later, I left home for my undergrads and my parents moved their residence. I heard it was quite traumatizing for her initially and she hid for days. But she got comfortable with her surroundings eventually and started  going out again. However, one day she vanished from our lives just as she had walked in.

When I visited home, I asked my parents what happened to her, where had she gone, if they had looked for her. Years later, I was told something I choose not to believe : that she was seen  dead by the road. I wondered if someone had run her over, was it dark and they couldn't see her? Did she die a natural death? Was she in pain? I guess I will never know.

Suggested Further Reading:
Why do cats groom people (MNN)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Impasto

Tried my hand at impasto painting. Buddha- one of my favorite subjects. 
(Click to view larger image)


Sunflower girl wrapped in blue. Not really the way I wanted it, but time to move on to other things.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

প্রেম

(This Bengali script will be best viewed in Google Chrome)

আজ 'চোখের বালি' দেখলুম। দেখে মনে হল প্রেম কত তুচ্ছ জিনিস। মানুষ কে কত সামান্য করে দেয় ! আমি অবশ্য চিরকাল বিশ্বাস করে এসেছি যে যেই প্রেম মানুষকে ব্যাথা দেয় , কাতর করে- সে প্রেম ত্যেজ্য। তাকে মাথায় করে স্তুতি করার ভুল করলে সে কালসাপ হয়ে দংশন করে। তার বিষ না পারে কেউ ছাড়াতে , না সেই বিষে কারো মৃত্যু হয়। শুধু অসহ্য বেদনায় আকুল হয়ে প্রাণ ওষ্ঠাগত হয়। প্রেমের সেই ভয়ানক রূপ আমার দেখা আছে।

আবার আমি এও জানি যে প্রকৃত ভালবাসা মানুষ কে মহান করে তুলতে পারে। তার শত দুর্বলতা সত্তেও তাকে সক্ষম করতে পারে। সেই ভালবাসা পরিণয়ের প্রত্যাশী নয়, তাই তাতে প্রতারিত হওয়ার ভয় ও নেই।

কত যুগ ধরে কত মানুষ, বিশ্বের কত জায়গায়, কত ভাষায় এ ভাব ব্যাক্ত করেছে, তাই নতুন করে আমার বলার কিছু নেই। শুধু জানি- যার সন্ধান আমি করেছি চিরজীবন, তার উত্সমুখ আমার কাছেই। নিজেকে ভালো না বাসলে যে অপরকে ভালবাসা যায় না সে কথা গুনী লোকেরা বলে গেছেন বহু কাল আগে।

আর আমি এ ও জানি যে গোপন প্রেমে কোনো গৌরব নেই, আছে শুধু অপমান। মানুষ যা চায় তা সব সময় পায় না, তাই বলে তাকে অজুহাত বানিয়ে অন্যায় করা দুর্বলতার লক্ষণ, অপরিণত বুদ্ধির পরিচায়ক।
*

বিনোদিনীর মহিমের প্রতি আকর্ষণ হয়ত খুব স্বাভাবিক। বিনোদিনী সুন্দরী, সুশিক্ষিতা, প্রাপ্ত যৌবনা। কিন্তু বিয়ের এক বছর না যেতেই তার স্বামীর মৃত্যু হয়েছে। বৈধব্যের সকল সে ধর্ম পালন করেছে। সখের মধ্যে আছে তার একটু চা খাবার বাতিক। কিন্তু ১৯০২-১৯০৫-এর পটভূমিতে এ যেন সামাজিক প্রতিবাদ। সকল বাধার প্রতি এক তীব্র তিরস্কার- ম্লেচ্ছ সাহেবদের প্রিয় পানীয় পান করা। আমরা যখন বিকেলে চা এর কাপটা নিয়ে বসি তখন কি ভাবি এক কালে গল্পের এক নায়িকাকে কত অনুষ্ঠান করে এই পাপবোধটুকু দমন করতে হয়েছে যে সে মনের মত কিছু করতে পারছে।

পুরুষ-নারীর মধ্যে বেধাভেদ রবি ঠাকুরের সেই গল্পে শেষ হয়ে যায় নি। আজও বাঙালি ভদ্রসমাজে এক বিপত্নীক বছর না ঘুরতেই (বোধ করি চক্ষু লজ্জার জন্যে) দ্বিতীয় বার বিয়ে করতে পারে; কিন্তু একজন বিধবা যদি একটু সাজতে চায় বা গাঢ় রঙের লিপস্টিক ও লাগায় সেটা নিন্দনীয়। তার অবশ্যই কোন পুরুষবন্ধু আছে যাকে মোহিত করার জন্যে এত সাজ সজ্জার বাহার। মেয়েরা যে নিজেদের জন্যেও সাজতে চাইতে পারে, তা এখনো মহিলারা অনেকেই নিজেরাই বোঝেন না।

বিধবার জীবন হবে চিরভারাক্রান্ত , বিয়োগব্যাথাপূর্ণ এক নির্মম অভিশাপ। যার নিত্য কাজের মধ্যে একাদশি, যার রন্ধন শিল্পে এক ফোঁটা পেয়াজ-রসুনের ছোঁয়াও থাকতে পারবে না- সে যদি কামভারক্লিষ্ট যুবতী হয় তার উপস্থিতিতেও অসুচি হয়।

আমি অবশ্য বিনোদিনীর ছল-কপটতা সমর্থন করি না। আশালতা তার বান্ধবী। স্ত্রী-পুরুষ এর আকর্ষণের সকল অভিকেন্দ্র বলের উর্ধ্যে সেই সম্পর্ক। আশালতার স্বামীর প্রতি তার দুর্বলতা এবং তাকে কাছে আনার সকল কলা কৌশল অভক্ষ্যভক্ষণ ।

Sunday, June 30, 2013

SF Pride 2013

I have wanted to attend the Pride Parade in San Francisco ever since I knew it existed. Finally, this year we made it. It was the 43rd annual parade but definitely not the one to miss- only days after Supreme Court overturned the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and granted privileges to legally married same-sex couples. (Read the Rulings).

Commute could have been a hiccup, but unlike previous years I didn't let it deter me. We usually drive to SF from San Jose-  a matter of 45 mins to an hour on a regular day. But finding a parking spot in Downtown SF on days like these can be near impossible . So, we parked at Millbrae station and took the BART to Powell St. A lot of people got down at Civic Center. The parade started at 10:30 am. We had started from home at 9 am and reached Millbrae at 9:30 am. But it took an hour before we could get the BART tickets in the crowd. We took the yellow line.Significantly, a child with two Moms was in the seat in front of us. She looked happy and smiled at me. I don't care if the kid doesn't have a father, as long as she has enough love from her parents.

We used the public transport after years; I remembered the first time I had ridden the Boston Red Line with SG on my first day to my university.

The parade had already begun when we reached Market and Powell around 11 am. The atmosphere was celebratory. It smelled of weed, beer and fried food, like most rock concerts do. I found a very convenient spot right in the front (900 Market St) and took as many pictures I could. Someone asked  how the pictures were coming, I said I was trying, but it was difficult to focus. He said maybe I should walk into the street. I didn't think it was a good idea. He asked me where I was from and he mentioned that he had lived in India for 10 years from 1986- 1996. He asked me if I was from Calcutta when I mentioned I'm a Bengali. I told him I was from North-East but my husband was from Kolkata. We chatted for a while. SG found me and put his arm around me.

One of the largest assemblages was 'Free Bradley Manning'. We saw SFPD, Sheriff's department, Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), other straight elected officials who have worked for gay rights, employees from Chase, Facebook, Safeway and students from schools and universities supporting LGBT rights. Many of the couples in the parade were announcing their engagements. We saw a contingent  of senior LGBT members too.

We were given fiesta beads, wristbands, candies, condoms and lubricants as freebies. I took so many shots, my fingers hurt. It was a new experience for me in many ways. And overwhelming. So many people out on the streets walking for equality. And pride.




Saturday, June 29, 2013

An exercise in imagination


'Never stop looking, for what isn't there' advised Monte Wildhorn in the movie ' The Magic of Belle Isle'. You might have heard,'The creative adult is the child who has survived.' We often can't imagine like we could as a child because we don't let ourselves do that anymore. Imagining shapes out of clouds, seeing faces in a petal, and abstract art in the haphazard growth of moss on an old wall- I enjoy doing these whenever I can. Here's something for you: Imagine a story about the picture  (taken in La Jolla, 2013) and share with me if you want.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Bird watching : Charleston Slough

We went to Charleston Slough (Mountain View) on a Sunday morning upon a whim.  My 'Audobon Birds' android app (best $1.99 spent on Google Play) listed it as a local hot spot for bird-watching. It is quite close to Googleplex, the corporate headquarters of Google,Inc. We parked on Terminal Blvd, which true to its name is a dead-end street. Right from the parking spot you can walk into a trail, beginning from under a tree, which stands like a check-post to a wonderland. You can almost hear it say 'Welcome! Leave your worries behind.'

I had a bad back when I first went there. But the walk didn't feel so bad. There were people around walking with their pets or loved ones. I was with SG. We had a standard zoom lens (18-55 mm)- great for landscapes but a poor choice for wildlife. It was a blessing in disguise. I paid more attention to the view and sounds without having to worry about taking shots. I sat on a bench and enjoyed watching a retinue of water birds forage for food, until they were filled enough to turn their attention to post-meal chatter. Some of them tucked their heads into the back  feathers and rested, sometimes lifting a leg up. Now, that's a challenge for even the most accomplished yogi.

It was time to go home, but I promised myself to go back with a telephoto. Plans were canceled over the week owing to overcast weather and the disagreeable back ache. Every time I heard sparrows chirp beside my bedroom, my heart raced back to the swamp with an urge to see those feathery friends in their natural habitat. I told myself, 'Soon..'

We went back with a 75-300 mm lens, but were still myopic in our view. Nevertheless, here are some shots by SG with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i (until we can afford a super telephoto : say 600mm or 800mm)

 A pair of  Black-necked Stilts

Caspian Tern

Goldfinch (female)

Other visitors
 American Avocet with eggs
Heron
California Gull

Retro morning (That's me)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The pursuit of happiness: Relations

'Your net worth is your network'-I agree.  You can't be a lone ranger and flourish always. In fact, no matter how hard you try, you'll need others to make your  life fuller. Even schools teach you to work in teams, to be more patient and empathetic towards others. Some people will be negative. There is nothing you can do to help them. Yet, try to see their goodness. Even the most worthless (in popular opinion) has something beautiful in them. Focus on that. But most importantly invest in yourself. Stay  busy.

Foster and cherish genuine relations. Sometimes, it will be 'give and give'; don't regret doing a good deed. Even if it never comes back to you. The joy of doing good should be reward enough. It usually is. Expect nothing. When you get something when you least expect it, the happiness increases manifold.

Love at least one person unconditionally. You need that to enrich your emotional experience.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Dunwich Horror




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

Friday, May 10, 2013

I am a writer

As far as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer. What lacks in talent, can be made up (to a certain extent) by hard work. I think I gave up trying . I have made a timeline of significant events which shaped my belief that I could be a successful scribe -just to remind myself what I once wished to be. If a certain desire still lives in your heart, and you wish to set fire to it, do it today. Because every day we walk towards our demise, and we are left with even less time to try our best at what we were born to become.


The rest of the post is more of personal significance:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mad Men

I was catching up with a few episodes of Mad Men on Netflix, when SG remarked,'Why is everyone sleeping with someone else in this show?' I failed to convince him there were other elements too- the narrative, the character sketches. I thought to myself: Maybe people were like that in the 1960s. Promiscuous, borderline alcoholics, who smoked like there was no tomorrow. I am no prude but there were certain instances when the 'act' wasn't justified or even necessary.

The protagonist Don Draper is a self-made man, starting from oblivion and reaching an irreplaceable position as the Creative Director in Sterling Cooper and later as a founding Partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Most of the times, he is a confident man who can think on his feet and make the clients eat out of his hand. But his vulnerability is real when he gets competitive with a talented  and unorthodox copywriter Michael Ginsberg.

He is sort of a phony sometimes when he insists on honesty and loyalty from his subordinates, but has no qualms about crossing the lines too many times. There is always a reason: he is not happy enough with what he has. My advice to Don Draper: Stop sleeping around. If you can't find happiness in what you have, you can never find it by chasing other things. Or else it is like a bucket with a leak- the happiness will just flow through, you won't be able to contain it.

TV doesn't dictate the moral code of the society but it should have some responsibility about how it projects an idea/philosophy. (This is why I never watch Indian saas-bahu sagas) An episode is hardly ever viewed for it out-of-context love-making scenes- they have sites for that. I have watched all the seasons of Mad Men so far, and I think I will remember it mostly for the jingles, taglines and presentations at the office (the advertising aspect of it), songs at the end of each episode, and the taste of the glamorous 60s in Madison Avenue when everybody made an effort to look good- a soigné but confused crowd.

More on my favorite characters from the  show later.

Check out this fake ad in the meantime, which says it better.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Change

I was having a conversation with my father when I mentioned my impression about a certain person. I knew him years ago, and I always saw him as a loser who stalked me. I opined ,'Even if he becomes Bill Gates, he'll still be that loser for me. I just can't get rid of that image from my mind.'

'People change' he suggested. I agreed,' Of course, they do. I did.  SG did. But I believe that people have certain core values. A dishonest person will always be dishonest. A liar will always be a victim of habit.'

Dad said that only people with low IQ can't change. Criminology theories indicate that criminals seldom change their modus operandi. By critical reasoning, you might have already arrived at what I am going to say- people take up crime only when they have failed at everything else.

Now, modus operandi  acts as an identifier of the perpetrator because certain features will be unique. Criminals seldom evolve (thank God for that- an intelligence criminal, say like a real-life Professor Moriarty would be a menace to the society. And we all know-we don't need any more twisted minds in this world.)
A cat burglar who jumps the fence, gets in through the window, steals jewels and sells them in the flea market will always do that. Dad says, in his experience, those thieves will never take a stack of cash even if it's lying right there. And if someone has to- they literally sh*t in their pants. I thought of all those videos featuring 'World's dumbest criminals', and realized  it wasn't so rare then.

I also reasoned: I'm not stupid (as far as grades or deadlines go). Then if I want to change something about my life or behavior - should it be impossible? Do I need to sh*t in my pants in fear of it? No.

And I'm not going to feel sorry for myself for the rest of my life for not having tried enough. That is for losers. I may lack a lot of things, but I have never found myself not achieving something I have put my heart to. A sense of personal failure can arise only when I have not tried enough. If I have done my best, there is nothing left to do except wait for certain circumstances to change. If I have not- I have no right to waste time in brooding over things instead of doing something.

Here's to change. And may we all be the change we want in our lives.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The cynical girl

My old friends often coax- 'write something on your blog, we want to read'. Lately, I have been a little upset about some things. Maybe it is a sign of age that I don't always see things with those rose-colored glasses anymore. There is outrage and there is disbelief. But I'm not much of an ambusher with words (unless extremely provoked). I prefer the silent treatment. I know that I should express my feelings somehow instead of bottling them down. Hence, these cartoons. I have to caution you I have never done this before. Here are some eyesores I created :
Pups know better

It will leave a pot of honey for a dead fish


Monday, April 15, 2013

The musings of an ex-pat on bereavement

We always think we have enough time. We are wrong.

I lost two very dear people in the short span of two years- my paternal grandma (thakuma) and my maternal aunt (mashi). I envy those people who saw them in their deaths and have some sort of closure, because I still think of them and believe that when I visit home next time I will see them, and they will greet me with the deluge of kisses and hugs and genuine queries after my well-being.

'Home'. It means so different now. It isn't the place I was born in, not even the country. It is a place I always wanted to be in. And living here has its price. But unlike some who choose to regret living away from their families, I choose to make reasons to be where I am. There are beautiful people everywhere in this world. We just have to find them.

I was really sad on Saturday  morning when I received the news of mashi's cerebral stroke. But I had guests coming for dinner. JD and CD's visit was long due. JD brought us black forest (Schwarzwälder) cupcakes. The conversation kept my mind occupied, though I found myself wandering back to my childhood. They praised my cooking lavishly, and I felt they were being kind.

The following day MD arranged a picnic for us. Three families got together at Vasona Lake for a wonderful afternoon together. SG learned Fishing 101 from DR (a more elaborate post on this when we go out for fishing next time). MD and her 5-year old daughter had both hugged me when they saw me - I never felt I needed it more in my life.

I walked with the kid as she rode her bicycle by the lake. I tried to see things from her perspective as she asked about the cottony pulps floating in the air. I explained those were from the water reeds and it was a method of seed dispersal for the plants using the wind as a vector. I saw colorful bugs,  ducks and geese, and people in their sail boats, paddle boats and paddle boarding on surfboards. The cool breeze from the lake and the sunshine on my back felt so nice, I wondered why we didn't do it more often.  We played poker after lunch using two other deck of cards as currency. It was fun.  But I was still very distracted, I folded my cards even when I had a flush and bet heavily because I was curious to find a bluff. There was none.


Back home, I was tired but I still managed to make some vegetable pulao for dinner- like the kind I had taken to the picnic. It was different because I skipped a few ingredients including the ginger and rosewater, but it tasted good. Life is like that- things are never the same- but you find a way.

Today is Bengali New Year, and we invited SG's brother and sis-in-law for dinner. A family get-together will be nice. They have a 2-year old son whom I absolutely adore.

Everytime I lose someone dear, I think of the names they called me endearingly. Memories come flooding back. The little things become so precious. I know in my heart- no one can replicate the feeling I had- the warmth of their hugs, the way they told stories. But life has to go on, and we always have to find someone to love.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

FOPAL

Last year, I went to Palo Alto Library on a book sale upon a friend's recommendation. One of the volunteers chatted with me and opined, 'You have a very sweet way about you- maybe you should become a volunteer.' I took her advice and signed up a volunteer form of FOPAL (Friends of the Palo Alto Library ). I had almost forgotten about it until I received an email from Janette about volunteering opportunities this month. Sunday, March 10th 1:30 pm- 4 pm seemed like a convenient slot for me.


Janette explained my duties as a cashier in the Main Room. A cash box was provided and I had to write receipts. We had to add the book amounts aloud so the customer could hear us. Then we had to write the total amount due on the receipt indicating what was sold (books, CDs etc.) with the date and our initials. I was soon through a receipt book, and it made me very happy to see the cash box full when we closed at 4 pm. Janette said she would definitely like to have me back again. Another volunteer joked that all the buyers flocked to the pretty girl. Actually, my seat was more accessible on the way out.

Greg, sitting next to me, is an artist and he mentioned that the San Jose Museum of Arts (on Market St)  had Monet on display a couple of days ago and is currently housing a collection by a very talented artist. I made a mental note to visit it again when I could manage some free time.

There were many interesting people who bought books- there was a man who said he was going to ship his purchases to libraries in Asia. Another man bought an old postcard because it had a stamp on it which he hadn't seen before. A lady identified one of the picture frames by Arthur Court. A lot of people donated change towards the end for the fundraiser.

SG picked 3 bags full of books- and he didn't even visit the Bargain Room. (There it was $5 a bag!) Greg said I could take a break if I wanted to, but I didn't feel too tired though I had slept only 4 hours the previous night. The Daylight Saving Time began today- and it was Greg's least favorite day of the year. I can understand why.

But I was happy to be amidst books; crunching numbers isn't bad when you get to touch magazines, monographs, graphic  novels, comic books,  paperbacks, and hardcovers of all kinds. If I had the time, I would have loved to read all the hand -written messages on the used books, some of which even had the author's signature on them.

The book sale event at the Cubberley Community Center raises approximately $200,000 for the libraries each year. ( About 270,000 new readers ) A senior volunteer mentioned that the Main Room and Bargain Room had about 20,000 books each at a given time. If you want to help, visit their site to volunteer, donate, buy books or you can look for similar opportunities in your local libraries.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Violinist


I heard Grammy-nominated Philippe Quint play the violin tonight at Flint Center, Cupertino. And what an experience it was! I feel extremely moved by good music, books,  films. In fact, I like to give in to the power of any kind of beautiful expression. Today was no different- my eyes welled as I heard the fiddle virtuoso recite Violin Concerto No.1 in G Minor, Op. 26, (originally composed by Max Brunch).

I discovered that Phillipe plays an antique Antonio Stradivari violin -"Ruby" (1708), on loan to him through the Stradivari Society. After receiving a much-deserving standing ovation from the audience, he played  for us The Red Violin ( composer John Corigliano) from the 1998 Canadian drama film, which was inspired by one of Antonio Stradivari's violins- the Red Mendelssohn (1721). I don't think Phillipe's choice of that piece was a coincidence.

I always had a desire to learn to play the violin. I heard that my father used to play it a long time ago. He took guitar lessons after he retired from the Indian Police Service. Every day I try to dream of at least one seemingly impossible thing or at least something that requires a long-term commitment- this gives me something to look forward to; today it is going to be to play the violin- no matter how long it takes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fresh Paint


The whale is a standard template. A friend suggested that I  should do an art project with just my handwriting.

The pixie was done with Fresh Paint, the background from a stock photo.

But when the storm passes, will we still be together?

I use the stylus for pencil sketch. For brush effects I use fingers. The stylus isn't accurate when it comes to brush on Fresh Paint. I haven't tried other apps for sketching yet. If you have suggestions, let me know.

I don't think I can ever forget the first time I tried MS Paint as a kid. Used to make circles and feel happy about it. Oh , the simpler times!

Inspiration can be from anywhere. For Graphic Designers:  Worst Client Comments turned into posters

Friday, February 22, 2013

For my readers

I'll put up a lottery from the likes on the Facebook page of 'The Variegated Sky'. The winner will receive an Amazon gift card from me.

Time to show some gratitude to my loyals, even though I don't write as frequently anymore.

*
Update March 10, 2013. The first lottery for The Variegated Sky Facebook fans is now closed. Winner Shilpi Chakraborty will receive an Amazon gift card via email .