Thursday, February 26, 2009

Freedom !

Yesterday, after a loooooooooong loooooong time, it was so hot within and without the apartment (max temp in the 40 degree F somethings and the centralised heating on at full throttle) that I roamed around the house wearing K's shorts and a skimpy top. I so felt like a hot beach babe (although nowhere near possessing the necessary hourglass for that) that I'm seriously toying with the idea of doing it more often !

Job H(a)unting

Seems a humongous task of late. It seems people here don't know how to read. I ran an ad in a couple of popular websites here, which was worded as follows :

"Re: Wanted Part/Full-time Educational/Proofreading-Editing/Writing Vacancy"

In response, I've been flooded with emails, offering me anything and everything that I do not want to do. That includes accounting, quality check in labs and private companies,sales and sales related managerial positions, insurance representation, telemarketing, translating from French to English (I don't know French at all !), wireless consultation (?), personal lines production (?), secretarial duties (manning phones, answering mails and operating fax machines), collecting money on behalf of companies located in places as diverse as Qatar, Egypt, South Africa and UK (and USA, of course) and handling them wisely for a considerable commission and similar considerations.

I re-produce a few samples of the latter :

SPECIMEN 1:

"United Textiles
2225 Grant Avenue
San Lorenzo, CA
94580smith19885@yahoo.com

EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE, (Part-Time Offer)
UNITED TEXTILES

GOOD DAY,
The employment committee of UNITED TEXTILES does use this medium to implore your consent about the employment of new staffs in order to carryout/execute the post of a representative to our company.Being a representative to the company, you are to receive payments from the company customers who buy goods from our company and send the payments to our company branches where the goods are bought by the company customers.In addition, the board is willing to pay any representative a 20% of the payments made by the company customers and would also receive a monthly payment of USD $1,500 for the post of a representative of "United Textiles . Inc '' .More so,If you are interested, and willing to assume the post then email us back with the below information.

Information Required :
Age:
Full name:
Sex:
Phone number :
Occupation:
Address:

Thanks for your anticipation towards the growth of this company. I will be looking forward to hearing from you soonest with a positive reply.
Best Regards.
EMPLOYMENT COMMITTEE
UNITED TEXTILES
smith19885@yahoo.com
Copyright © 2004 United Textile, Inc. All rights reserved"


SPECIMEN 2 :

"Hello ,
How are you doing today?
I am DAVID WHALEY, a native of San Antonio,TX based in Saudi Arabia. I am crude oil merchant based here inSaudi Arabia for 32 years and i am also the CEO/MD of Alhamrani-FuchsPetroleum Ltd. I have a lot of business associates, clients andcustomers round the globe and this is what prompted me to contactyou. However, due to my large business empire i am finding itdifficult to handle most of the international transactions with mycustomers,clients and business associates and would like to employ yourservices as my Marketing & Sales Manager for investors and customers inthe states ..."Please take note that this position will not affect your present job".

DETAILS
Taking records of crude oil sale to my customers in the state.
Sending price increment or decrement notice to our customers in the states via phone,emails or fax.
Running the company's account in the states.(An account will be open on behalf of the company,which i will let you know when to do that and fund will be made available for that) Printing and packaging payments, mailing payments to suppliers inthe states.
Receiving payments from customers and clients in the states.
Deposit payments into the company's account or wait for further instructions from me.

2....PAY RATE.
$550 weekly is what i am willing to pay.If you are interested, get back to me with the below details so as toget started.

3....REQUIRED INFORMATIONS.
Name:
Address: (p.o box not accepted)
City:
state
Zip code >
phone :(Home and cell)
Age:(Must be 20 and above)
Sex:
Present occupation:

On my website, you will find a field where you could send your resume,do not use that because it's for applicants within Saudi-Arabia only, ihope you understand this very well.I await to hear from you as soon as possible if you are interested

Thank you and God bless.

DAVID WHALEY
CEO/MD
Alhamrani-Fuchs Petroleum Ltd
11 Kumaranyakae Road.
P.O. Box 7103
Jeddah 21462
Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia
Phone #966-2-663-5666
Fax #966-2-666-3702

Email DAVIDWHALEY101@YAHOO.COM
Website: www.fuchs.com.sa <http://www.fuchs.com.sa>"



SPECIMEN 3:

"Dear Sir/Ma,
My name is Terry Robinson.I own the ROBINSON HOME OF TEXTILES AND FABRICS in Dublin(Ireland).Our company deals in the manufacturing and sales of textiles and fabrics. We have been receiving orders from NORTHERN AMERICA,and AUSTRALIA which we have not been able to process competently since we do not have a payment receiving personnel in these Areas.So we have decided to recruit payment officers online hence we will be needing a representative to process our payments in these areas - due todelays in processing payments from these areas in Ireland.
ROBINSON TEXTILE AND FABRICS needs a book-keeper in these areas, so we want to know if you will like to work online from home, getting paid weekly without leaving or it affecting your present job?. What we offer: two hours/day at your choice, daytime or evening time.
WORK AT HOME: checking e-mail and going to the bank Part time or full time.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: no selling involved, no kit to buy,we won't charge you anything. WEEKLY SALARY: minimum of $450 every two weeks to a total of $900 per month.
COMMISSION: 10% of every money order/check that is cashed instantly"cash in hand" or "cash on counter" is what you get from the total cashed amount.
EXAMPLE If you receive a check of $1,000.00 your net income is $100.00,You will process at least 2-3 orders per day and you will earn more than $200.00 cash in hand each day. WHAT WE ASK:Two free hours daily not including weekends, Internet access for sending and receiving e-mails,available means of cashing money orders/checks at your bank using your existing bank account.
IMPORTANT. You must be over 21 years of age,U.S,CANADIAN OR AUSTRALIAN, CITIZENSHIP.
If you meet these conditions Please add your.....Full Names:Contact Home AddressZip Code:State:Phone/Fax numbers:for quick delivery of payments.We will never ask you for anything more then that, No bank names, No bank account number, routing number, credit card, passwords, SSN# etc. Ifanyone asks for those on our behalf please do not give out this info.This is to ensure your security and non involvement incases of Identity theft.
Thanks....
T.Robinson C.E.O
...Thank you so much......................."

If you have had enough, let's move on to more colourful pastures.



SPECIMEN 4 :

A certain James Dunn was very laconic. The following is his email, verbatim.

"Have you recently lost your job or did you quit?
Talk to you soon!

jamesnidezu@gmail.com"



SPECIMEN 5 :

This one sounded like a recently ditched lover :

"Hey, I just reviewed your resume posted here on Craigslist.

A lot of people we contact on here don't even respond back so ifyou're still available and serious about making a change right nowthen email me back referencing your file ID# 2008-2915 and I'll get you some info.

Sincerely,
Shannon Hansen

P.S.If I don't hear back from you within 24 hours I'll just assumeyou are happy where you are and I'll make sure you never get emailed again."



SPECIMEN 6 :

And do check out this one (ooh la la, I'm so honoured !)...

"Dear Gargi,
After reviewing your resume, we'd like to invite you to apply for our sales management training program at Bankers Life and Casualty Company. We're recruiting both entry-level and experienced sales professionals with:·
Proven leadership capabilities·
Strong communication and interpersonal skills·
Interest in joining the fast-growing baby boomer/senior insurance market·
Drive for rapid advancement into an insurance sales management position·
Desire to earn a six-figure salary with the freedom of an entrepreneurial lifestyle·
Ambition, competitive mind-set and strong work ethic·
Commitment to making a difference in people's lives everyday

Established in 1879, Bankers is one of the only companies in the country devoted exclusively to the financial security needs of seniors. We offer a broad portfolio of health and life insurance and retirement savings products through our nationwide network of more than 160 branch offices. And with the Baby Boom generation approaching retirement, both our company and our industry are experiencing dramatic growth. If selected, you'll receive:·
Unlimited income potential (associate managers earn $60K to $100K; top managers earn upwards of $200K)·
Competitive commissions and compensation package·
Opportunity to earn quarterly bonuses and exciting sales incentive trips·
Formal training in our nationally-recognized Bankers Learning Network program·
Access to Bankers' lead generation and sales technology programs·
Freedom to be your own boss, but with the support of large corporation

To learn more or schedule an appointment with a recruiter, please reply to this email or click the self-register link below:

SELF REGISTER

We look forward to meeting you!
Rick Whippee
Bankers Life and Casualty,
Somerset Branch
Click here to learn more about an exciting career with Bankers !"


SPECIMEN 7 :

This one had me totally flummoxed. :

"Dear Sir/Ma,
I was wondering if you would like to work for us . We will give you the details of the job when we hear from you. Please let us know if you are interested.
Thanks
C.E.O Onosoga Bolaji"

How on earth am I supposed to know whether I want to work for you if I have no idea who you are or what you have in mind for me ?!
Bizarre, to say the least.

LAST WORDS :

Just wondering how people in this country manage to land any decent and what's more, any relevant job at all !!!

Friday, February 20, 2009

V-Day etcetera

I'm still to recover from the surprise gift showers on our Registry Anniversary and V-Day...I just have to admit it : K took me totally by surprise !


Registry Anniversary gift (leather-suede tote bag):


V-Day gifts (Russell Stover chocolates, perfume, hairbrush) :

Although poor K had to go to office on V-Day, we made up for it with a sumptuous dinner at Shalimar, Edison (biriyani and the works), along with Madhav & Shilpa...


That reminds me, the mithai counter at Shalimar was a visual delight. Check it out :







Shilpa and I drooled over the confectionery almost to the extent the boys did over the goat curry !

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reminiscing Marriage

On the 28th of Feb, 2009, it shall be a year since we've exchanged vows to love, cherish and respect each other. When I reflect on the marriage rituals, I realise they really didn't imply much then (I cursed myself for prefering Hindi to Sanskrit as Third Language at school), although I recall being extremely alert during the whole process, trying to participate consciously in everything pertaining to it. My mind has rarely been so active and vigilant, not only noticing whether every single person who wanted but was wary of trying to draw my attention (since I was 'busy' getting married) was being accorded the necessary polite responses but also objectively attempting to comprehend the meaning of all actions that K and I were being asked by the priest to perform. I've often heard other brides recalling how their marriage passed in a trancelike state, their beings half-caught up in the wonder of it all. So it's surprising when I consider my extreme and even heightened awareness of the prolonged period of marriage that drew forth from my innermost recesses every shade of emotion known to existence. It was, without doubt, the most eventful phase of my life till then.

I might have struck terror in the heart of my limited number of readers with this sombre start. Fine. Let's move on to lighter episodes !

Some of the actual events of my marriage itself might perhaps interest readers of this obscurely narcissistic blog : (please click on photos to view enlarged versions)

For instance, how the bride sat down to her 'aiburobhaat' almost ravenous, a victim of what my male parent diagnosed as 'nervous diarrhoea', and eyed the lavish spread mournfully, finally eating a miniscule amount of it in the form of shukto-bhaat-payesh, while the maachh, the alubhaja and begunbhaja, the mooger daal, the chatni, mishti and the doi remained unscathed. And almost unfed throughout the next day, except the regulation ritual chnire-shondesh early in the morning. That naturally resulted in an extreme distaste on my part for anything edible late at midnight, after almost every guest had been bidden farewell and the immediate family sat down to the remains of the catered dinner.


Two days later, that extreme metabolic dysfunction precipitated horror on the face of the parlour personnel who were to 'make up' my person for the reception. Apparently, every single time they applied a layer of foundation and sprayed water over it to give it hold, my skin absorbed the water lightning-fast, telltale signs of extreme dehydration. Chumki Boudi finally handed me a bottle of glucose water and loomed large over me until I surrendered and downed the entire draught in one quick gulp. I still can't believe I received so many basketfuls of compliments relating to my beauty and poise at the event. I must have done much to prevent myself from looking visibly mystified.



Talking of make up, K had to spent a considerable part of his phuloshojya night patiently plucking hairpins from my hair. He un-haired almost 80. After applying hairspray to the entire hair, all possible paraphernalia and accessories had been employed to shape it into a retro updo. Apparently my hairspa sessions had done such wonders for the quality of the hair that its being so smooth and silky impaired all efforts to style it without the aid of chemical products designed to give it hold. Every female guest expended considerable energy and enthusiasm on hailing my hairdo. Poor K however was evidently at the receiving end. I spent an hour the morning after the reception in the shower, shampooing out all the mess and valiantly trying to retrieve what would have once been my hair.

There were too few people left to occasion a memorable bashor raat. Dhrubo, Babai, Bumba were the brave few that were determined to see it through, all the same. Most of my friends left for their respective residences, citing work next day. To be fair, one can't expect to have much fun if one insists on getting married on a Thursday. The bleak scenario dissuaded us from testing the patience of the worthy bystanders. We dispatched them summarily. The rest of the night was spent by K and Appa Dada at our Salt Lake residence, warding off the assaults (quite literally) of my worthy sibling and mamato cousin, Mohua, who refused to return his wallet, watch and mobile until he made a verbal commitment to gift (!) them a considerable amount for their trying to engage us all in a productive bashor. (Shudder.) Appa dada was dismissed as a traitor for attempting to side with the poor, solitary bridegroom, despite being the bride's cousin.
This rigmarole, it seems, had lasted till 3.30 pm, when everyone submitted to a state of deadlock. The exhausted bride, btw, had been fast asleep since 2.30 pm. Several were left wondering at the bridegroom's acidity (literally and medically) next morning. The bride's father, a doctor, fortunately resolved the problem in time with some medicine. Mitu began to cry so much in anticipation of my departure that K, downright scared, promptly handed over 3K to pacify her. Unfortunately, she persevered.

The bride hardly shed any tears at the bidaai. This unprecedented proof of heartlessness secretly owed much to the bridegroom, who had earlier expressed his extreme fear of being made to feel like an abductionist on the aforementioned occasion. The anticlimax came much later, when he actually enquired of the bride what had caused her lachrymal ducts to dry up so unexpectedly. He hasn't heard the end of that, ever since.




I was supposed to be exhausted after the whole marriage event and encouraged by my in-laws to retire early on kaal raatri, so that I would feel quite myself on the day of the reception. I shared a bed with Titai (my beloved sister-in-law) and Muniya, a friend, and we exhanged the raunchiest anecdotes we knew of till about 2 am, several times nearly rolling off the bed with laughter. So much for the cause of slumber.

Poor K was accused of stealing longing looks in my direction everytime his eyes happened to be in any direction except straight. Indignant, he left for Titai-Abir's place, a 10 mins' walk from our place, to spend kal raatri . Apparently he and Abir shared a bed. I don't think that contributed much to Titai and the latter's marital felicity. I myself overheard Abir grumbling at the injustice of it all. After all, it was only 3 months that they had been married. One couldn't possibly find fault with his wanting to share his bedroom only with his wife.

There are several such small and funny incidents related to our marriage. More of that some other day. I myself am too tickled at this moment to continue, even if you insist.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Utterly Butterly Disgusting

1) I'm getting the most idiotically irrelevant job responses possible from recruiting personnel who seem to think I'm either illiterate or bankrupt or have been fired from my last job.

2)I'm gonna miss Mitu's graduation fashion show on Wednesday, 18th Feb. One of the biggest events of her life.

3) My parents have forgotten I exist.

4) My friends, thanks to this time difference thing, have practically become reduced to abstract, virtual entities. I keep on dreading I'm missing out on all the happenings that matter in their lives. And some of them are newly married. Damn !

5) K seems to spend more time at office than at home. I feel more like a PA than a wife.

6) I need to lose 10 kg fast. I can't face that hideously plump creature in the mirror any more.

7) I miss Kolkata. Everything about it. Except the heat.

8) The 'What Not to Wear' show wasn't aired as usual on TLC at noon, nor at 1 pm. To think I practically ran home from the library to be in time to watch it. Oh, and the library was closed, today being 'President's Day'.

9)My camera battery gave out just as I was about to upload my newest set of captures to the laptop. Just the sort of thing that would happen to me.

10)I mixed up Moumita-Sabya Da's anniversary date and wished them today instead of yesterday. And to think I'd been so worked up about the occasion from the very beginning of this month.

Moral of Story : I should go drown myself.

Global Warming

Publication: Times Of India, Kolkata
Date:Feb 15, 2009;

(Section: Times City;
Page Number:5)

Missing chill signals Danger: Study Research Says This Could Be The Beginning Of A Drastic Change In City’s Weather Pattern

Prithvijit Mitra TNN Kolkata: The missing winter chill this year and the unusually mild monsoon last year could be ominous signs for the city, warn experts. These could be the indications of the beginning of a dramatic change in Kolkata’s weather pattern, predicts a research based on the findings of NASA. The study reveals that the carbon content in the mid-tropospheric level above Kolkata is unusually high. It is getting worse and the damage is permanent. Drastic changes in the weather pattern are the most likely fallouts of this change that has set alarm bells ringing among scientists. From 372 ppm in 2002, the carbon content in the layer has gone up by 4% till 2008.

“It was already high in 2002, which is the base year for the data. It has been steadily rising ever since, making the layer warmer. The warmer and thicker it gets, the heavier will be its impact on the local climate. It is still too early to predict the extent of the impact, but the bad news is that the damage is permanent. Even if all foul emission is stopped now, it will take hundreds of years for the carbon content to reduce,” said Gautam Sen, who is doing the study.

The dominant part of the carbon in the layer is believed to be carbon dioxide. It is also suspected to have some black carbon, which is worse. The layer also has particulate matter that might have percolated from the lower atmospheric layers.

“We are still not very sure about the nature of the carbon content. But if it has got particulate matter, the impact on weather will be even greater. They could lead to radiation and make the weather warmer. Once they have infiltrated the mid-tropospheric layer, particles tend to get trapped there and keep floating for hundreds of years,” explained Sen.

A hotter mid-tropospheric layer could have far-reaching consequences, said experts. It could alter the temperature-pressure balance in the region, which is important for maintaining the regular climatic cycle.

“There is no doubt that we are witnessing a climate change in the region and the change is irreversible,” said S S Bala, regional in-charge of the Central Pollution Control Board.

“Rising water levels and increased salinity is playing havoc with the ecology of the Sunderbans,” said environmental researcher Subir Ghosh.

Weather experts, however, also pointed out that rising carbon levels is a global phenomenon.

BEGINNING OF THE END?

ATMOSPHERIC LEVELS 0 - 1.5 KM: Boundary layer 1.5 KM - 8 KM: Midtropospheric layer 8 KM - 15 KM: Upper tropospheric layer 15 KM - 32 KM: Stratosphere

LIKELY IMPACT OF RISING CARBON CONTENT

Disturbed temperature pressure balance. Heat generated at the mid-tropospheric layer could radiate back to the lower layers making them warm

Higher temperature might raise pressure and lead to high rainfall

It could also melt ice faster in higher altitude and raise the water level of rivers and the seas. This has started happening in the region."

Should complacence still be our mood of the day ?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Somerville Photos

Armed with K's anniversary gift, a beautiful plum coloured Nikon Coolpix S550, I've been doing the rounds of the locality of Somerville, capturing memorabilia :

Please click on the photos to view their enlarged versions :


A Costume Shop on West Main Street :






An antiques shop on West Main Street :




Dunkin N Donuts : American counterpart of CCD



Alfonso's- the best local pizzeria, downtown Somerville :




Somerville Public Library :




Somerville Town Hall :





Somerset County Administrative Building :



First Reformist Church :





Methodist Church :




United Reformist Church, West Main Street :







Baptist Church :





Stained glass window panel on church tower :







Historic County Court House :






Senior Citizens' Housing :






An Interesting House Nearby:







West Main Street :



East Main Street :


Friday, February 13, 2009

Bookworm

I'm going crazy, trying to read several books simultaneously at the moment. I just returned two and took four more. God help me !

Here's the list :
  • How To Win Friends And Influence People : Dale Carnegie (to improve my PR skills)
  • Creating A Beautiful Home : Alexandra Stoddard (interior designing & decoration)
  • The Oxford Book of 20th Century English Verse : Edited by Philip Larkin
  • Contemporary Drama, 13 Plays : Selected & Edited by Stanley Clayes & David Spencer
  • Blogging For Dummies : Brad Hill (well, I like to consider myself one, floating in the endless sea of knowledge, Newton-style)
  • Razor's Edge : W. Somerset Maugham
  • Slow Man : Coetzee (just completed it, deserving the name 'Slow Woman' for sure)
  • Agatha Christie, 5 mystery novels (just returned it)

Here's a list of what K has been reading :

  • Unholy War : Terror in the Name of Islam
  • Fugitive From the Cubicle Police, A Dilbert Book : Scott Adams
  • "If This Is A Lecture, How Long Will It Be?" : Lynn Johnston
  • Calvin & Hobbes, a collection (just returned this one)
Whoa !!!

Adding a couple more :

  • The Notebook : Nicholas Sparks
  • The Crying of Lot 49 : Thomas Pynchon
  • The Known World : Edward P. Jones
  • Protect Your Home PC (Hackers, Viruses & Privacy) : Gateway Press
  • The Only Astrology Book You'll Ever Need : Joanna Martine Woolfolk


Facebook Tag II

Answer each of these questions USING ONLY ONE WORD (unless otherwise specified)!
It's really hard to only use one-word answers, but that's the whole point of doing this tag. If you're up for a tougher challenge, try not to repeat a word you've used. Be sure to tag the person you received it from.

Just for the record, Suchismita tagged me this time.

1. where is your cell phone?

Charging

2. your significant other:

Concerned

3. your hair:

Wavy

4. your mother:

Moody

5. your father:

Doctor

6. your favourite thing(s):

Beaches
Books
Blogging
Cartoons
Colour
Dessert
Foliage
Georgette
Music
Silk
Sunshine
Tee-shirts
Walks
Wood

7. your dream last night:

Vivid

8. your favourite drink:

Juice

9. your dream/goal:

Peace

10. what room are you in?

Drawing

11. your hobby:

Writing

12. your fear:

Violence

13. where do you want to be in 6 years?

Home

14. where were you last night?

Bed !

16. muffins?

Blueberry

17. wish list item:

Shoes

18. where did you grow up?

Wales

19. last thing you did:

Deep breathe

20. what are you wearing?

Tee-Tracks

21. your TV:

Hibernating

22. your pets:

Non-existent

23. your friends:

Refuge

24. your life:

Sedentary

25. your mood:

Serene

26. missing someone?

Rashi

27. your car:

Hyundai-Elantra

28. something you're not wearing:

Makeup

29. your favourite store:

Old Navy

30. your summer:

Icecreams

31. your favorite colour:

Purple

32. when was the last time you laughed?

Morning

33. when was the last time you cried?

DBY-morning

34. three people who email you:

Rashi, Ayan, Titai (& Dhrubo)

35. three of your favourite foods:

Omelette, paneer, yogurt (shukto, strawberries)

36. three places you would rather be right now:

Salt Lake
Shillong
Shimla

37. three people you think will respond:

Rashi, Sunayana, Aditi.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Impressive, nevertheless

I don't invest much in these psychometric tests, but the intricacy, intelligence and elaborate methodology underlying this one (and my dicovery of it on Clytemnestra's website) couldn't but impress me, nevertheless.

Here's my personalised report:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nick of Time

There's a shop on West Main Street where I frequently drop by to check out the latest sales and sensations. The young and fresh-faced store attendant knows me well by sight nowadays and calls out a cheerful "Hi there !" or a "How're you doing?" whenever I either enter the store or prepare to leave. Initially I'd felt somewhat awkward at exchanging such niceties with strangers whose fates really don't concern me in the least. But I soon got used to it in course of time, although I daresay K would be able to recall several unfortunate instances when I was singularly tongue-tied (very rude, was the exact turn of phrase he used, I think) whe, one evening, the most flamboyant and flirtatious amongst a group of young beauties asked me in passing how I was doing and I came up with the smartest response known to mankind, a blank stare (later, I tried to justify myself by arguing with K that she had addressed him and not me). On another similar occasion, a very young teen returning from school seemed to be eyeing me almost reverentially from a distance, obvious enough to make me sneak a quick peek at my attire to check out the flaw that premised her gaze (her expression surely being deciphered wrongly by my short-sighted self). Funnily enough, when right in front, she rewarded me with a flashing smile and a 'Hiiiiiiiiii there !" I sure felt very proud of myself after that for the most obscure reasons I (or anyone else, for that matter) could conjure up. But the point is that I've now internalised the custom myself and usually treat the Brookside maintenance crew or the salesman at a shop counter or the lady serving me at the post office with similar pleasantries, unless of course, I feel to sleepy or sulky to venture into speech of any form.

However, last Friday, I was caught totally off-guard. The store attendant at the aforementioned shop had exchanged the usual pleasantries and small talk regarding the weather with me and I was just settling in to exploration mode within the shop, elated at my eventual public appearance after several days of inclement weather and frustrated exercise. All of a sudden , he came up with the most bizarre question ever, "So, how's your partner doing ?" There was a long pause before I could muster up enough gravity to reply. His question seemed more to try and delicately move the attention away from the nature of K and my relationship than to draw attention to it but weirdly enough, it succeeded in having quite the opposite effect. For one moment, I battled with the mischievous desire to rise to the occasion by demanding which 'partner' he was referring to, but restrained myself just in time. It dawned on me in a flash : several small and overlooked signs coming together to complete the puzzle in a split second of intuitive recognition of his homosexuality.

I thanked my lucky stars that I had not risen to my own bait. Freedom of speech should always be encouraged, but not at the expense of others.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Talent, thy Name is Tanima

Tanima, I recently discovered, is blessed with talent. She can draw and paint, knit and crochet, design and sew, cook and create. That's a whole lot of skills, I would concede. Ever since I was young, my parents being Bengali parent prototypes, frowned on too much of extra-curricular activities, be they physical and strenuous or indoor and sedentary. Hence Mitu (my sibling) hardly found occasion to develop her evident passions for art and dancing, while I was not even the remotest bit encouraged to learn singing (thought in that my parents were a notable exception, since one of the most marriage-worthy features of Bengali girls are their mellifluous vocal flourishes) or any form of sports (although I was considered a decent athlete in school, especially in running and broad jump). While children of our age but enrolled in schools affiliated to other boards made the most of their evenings amidst games and giggles, we were advised to concentrate on our homework and hone our reading and spelling skills. Our longing glances outside the window at the fortunate others and our innocent childish comparisons were interpreted as rebellious rants and criticised with befitting asperity. Quite naturally, both of us grew up sallow and sickly, our immune systems ill-developed and our aesthetic aspirations nipped in the bud. I was fortunate enough to fare well academically but my sister, alas, was a victim of our educational system, too mediocre to do our parents proud. When I had the intrepidity of advising her to refrain from taking up science at the higher secondary stage, my parents (and so-called well-wishers) suspected the nobility of my intentions. She did not fare well in the concerned exam. Not because she was not intelligent but because she could not relate to science and the excessive dedication necessary to do decently in the board exams. And so surprise surprise, the victim became the scapegoat herself.

When I outraged my father by deciding to pursue English at JU instead of appearing for the Joint Entrance Examinations and consequently, entering the hallowed (and what's more, tested, tried and typecast) portals of medicine or engineering, most people (especially relatives) suspected that I had failed to clear the former exams. I persevered, undaunted, and did manage to draw the attention of most of the professors who matter (and are living legends, so to say) at JU. My attachment to my subject was so strong that although I did burn the oil at all ends and do quite well in both my graduate and post-graduate levels, I actually managed to thoroughly enjoy the whole tenure too. However, it was then that I discovered at the numerous college fests, to my immense dismay, that there lay a whole wide world beyond the academic threshold, where people were respected and even celebrated for their innate talents in singing, dancing, debating, dramatic acting, drawing or athletic abilities. Where they won accolades and were remembered for years to come, with fondness and envy, respect and even reverence.

And later, when I worked as counsellor and tutor at an institute in South Kolkata offering guidance, training and counselling services to students who wished to pursue higher studies abroad, I discovered that their target countries preferred all-rounders to mere rankers. Where just showing a decent GRE score would not ensure entry into an esteemed school or university. And when I went to interview people in the course of freelancing for a newspaper story on MBA as the latest career fad for 'The Statesman', this fact was reinforced by the astonishing avowal of the Regional Manager of the leading CAT-training institute in Kolkata, that even the IIMs considered the CAT score one of numerous other eligibility criteria to study the much desired stream. Extracurricular activies scored well there too. I was traumatised.

I have now learned to respect anything and everything that lies beyond the scope of our limited educational endeavours in India. I was the strongest and only supporter of Mitu when she proved drastically radical in her choice of career and went for fashion designing. I knew she had potential and would do justice to all the expenses that would be incurred in course of her academic training. I would not allow my parents to repeat the mistake they had made with me. I won prizes for art in school (in MHS). I did well in needlework class. Friends tell me I have a melodious voice and should have had it trained professionally. If my parents supported me, I might have taken up interior decoration. It fascinates me and I honestly believe I might have an aptitude for it. But maybe it's too late. Maybe I'm too old to start anew.

That's why I take vicarious enjoyment in Tanima's gifts. She says her parents rued her academic medicrity. I encourage her to overrule such orthodox assessments and believe, instead, that she is naturally gifted. Everyone, with a little effort, can do well in academics. You need to be blessed like Tanima to have other talents. God-gifted ones.


TANIMA'S TALENTS :
KNITTING....

CRAFTING....
DRESS-MAKING...

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Facebook Tag

Here's the latest in-thing doing the rounds on Facebook. I thought I'd share it with the non-Facebookeans too. Basically, someone sends you his or her list, tagging you in the process. You complete and publish yours, tagging 25 more victims, including the person who was (un)kind enough to forward this to you. But I have to admit, it makes for a great read. Not mine, silly. That of others. Sort of voyage of discovery.

Just for the record, Romila tagged me.

25 THINGS YOU NEEDN'T KNOW ABOUT ME

1) I love cleaning and sad music. They act as catharsis.

2) Water drives me crazy. I would willingly drown in a bathtub. I might have been a mermaid some time way back.

3) I’ve a thing for colours. Almost an obsession. Blue, green, purple, maroon are my favourites.

4) Maths helps me de-stress.

5) At various points, I wanted to be a lawyer, a doctor, an interior decorator, a pilot, a tour guide, an IPS officer, a fortune-teller, a librarian, a crime reporter, a politician, a poet, an author. Some of them I’ve given up, some I still toy with..

6) I believe in the supernatural. But I’m not scared of it. Death has always fascinated me. I don’t think I’ll be afraid to die.

7) One day, I’ll publish a book named ‘100 Ways to Make an Omelette’. I hope.

8) I hate waking up early in the morning. I’d rather stay up till 3 am.

9) I often hate my closest ones as much as I love them. There. I said it.

10) I miss sleeping in the sunshine on the JU bridge. Obviously I was supposed to be wide awake and in class at that time. I miss my tutorials with Tintin Da the most. I actually think I had fun.

11) I detest alcohol. In all forms. Even if I happen to say it’s ok to drink socially.

12) I read somewhere that my nature would permit me to murder, but not steal. I still wonder.

13) I always hated sharing everything with my sibling. Especially parents. Nowadays I wish I could share all I have with her.

14) I try not to be but I so am. Possessive about K.

15) My first ever crush was Ajay Jadeja. I even wrote a 37 page romantic novelette starring him and me. Man.

16) I criticize too much. Especially myself.

17) I need lots of space and solitude. The cellphone is a bane that way. There are days when I need to be just left alone.

18) I can’t write happy poems. Sadness inspires me.

19) To me, plagiarism, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, war-mongering and snobbery are crimes. When caught, the guilty should be hanged. Well, at least boycotted.

20) I need to learn diplomacy. But using tact somehow makes me feel like I’ve been lying.

21) No one has a best friend. I realized that recently. We only have friends. That too, if we’re lucky.

22) I’m afraid the Kolkata Metro automatic ticket checking gates won’t let me past some day. No particular reason. I might have an ‘I, Robot’ or ‘Eagle Eye’ hangover, perhaps.

23) I’m capable of watching most Bollywood productions. Good or bad. I even cry at most of the sad scenes. Oh, and the happy endings too. However clich├ęd they may be.

24) I want to create my own record of having read each and every work of Agatha Christie, Saki, Freud, Rabindranath Tagore, Hardy, P.G. Wodehouse, R. K. Narayan, Shirshendu. There should be some more names, I think, but can’t recall them right now.

25) I can’t be bothered to small talk or go out of my way to try and impress my intelligence on others. You have to draw me out. Lots of people consider me aloof. I think I’m just reserved.

Whewww. I'm weird.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Blues

I miss you, Ma.

This one's for you.


Monday, February 02, 2009

What's in a Name ?

A certain classmate of mine back in MHS used to claim the latest kid-on-the block as her relative. Be it a recently acclaimed singer or the reigning Miss Universe (at that point, Sushmita Sen), everyone with even the faintest trace of fame shadowing him or her seemed to form part of her immensely talented family tree, irrespective of how tortuous the path of ancestry appeared to us. Others used to laugh at this tendency of hers the moment her back was turned but were either too timid or too tender-hearted to tell her exactly what they had to say about this silly habit.

Strangely enough, she is not a rare instance. After several years of my pitifully plain and plebeian existence, I've come to be acquainted with numerous variations and specimens of this type. Several of them being educated adults with sufficient potential of their own and making a name for themselves in their respective fields of work. And therefore, you would think, not likely to have to glorify themselves by such a puerile habit. Unfortunately, such reasoning doesn't help when you encounter the complex species that is human. On countless occasions, I have had to bite my lips to prevent myself from vociferating against this inclination, in order to not strain my relationship with these people, often very decent, friendly and kind from every other viewpoint. Hence, the problem remains.

However, the issue is a disturbing one, to me at least. Gone are the days when one needed to provide proof of allegiance to a certain monarch or party or to be of illustrious lineage to claim right to a job or jewel, a possession or position. Nowadays, merit is supposed to be all that counts. I remember the case of Sanjeeb Basak, a boy whose mother worked as seamstress to sponsor his education and their family needs. Our parents were overwhelmed by his dedication and determination and did their best to convey the same to us. We deciphered that it was important to be lauded for earning one's own laurels rather than falling back on the feats of others to gain appreciation in any form. Another case I recall was that of a batchmate of ours in SPHS (let's call her A), who was extremely dark-complexioned, short and painfully thin. A used to avail of the schoolbus in which I travelled and provoked immediate attention by the skimpy and faded navy blue skirt that formed part of her school uniform. In short, she looked poor and plain. But I was touched by the great awe with which a very wealthy male classmate of ours (and who, btw, I was madly in adolescent love with) used to accord to her whenever he referred to her. This was because of her record in academics, which was scintillating. I myself have been at the receiving end of such bizarre difference in treatment when I shifted from MHS to SPHS. At my previous school, most (not all) classmates were from stinking rich families who distributed pencil torches with their ward's name carved on it on her birthday and viewed with disdain commoners like me who received a mere Rs 10 as pocket-money for a school fete or who, along with her sibling, carried a torn and tattered bag to school for several months at a stretch simply because their father lacked the time (not money) to go get them new ones. I felt I had come home when I moved onto SPHS. Everyone respected me only in terms of my academic performance, which was by a great stroke of luck, good. I therefore still consider the latter my true alma mater.

I diverge. The point is that when someone name-drops, it immediately gives you an impression of the way they perceive people. Not as friends or relatives or good or gifted or graceful. But as of being either potentially useful or useless to themselves in their climb up the socio-economic ladder. These are a different category of snobs. Parasitic and piteous. They thrive on their connections and networks for giving value to their own selves. They measure you in terms of set standards of the branded clothes you buy or the people you disco with or the car you whizz by or the profile of the company you work in and the salary you receive. Neither do they evaluate your intrinsic merit nor do they treasure your integrity as a person. They are too busy dropping names (in all possible ways) of the inside scoop on important things and persons (thanks to their contacts) to bother about such things as possess sterling worth.

I'm not being vitriolic. I really feel sorry for them. I was watching 'Luck By Chance' yesterday and it suddenly struck me that the Greek concept of 'Anagnorisis' still holds water. Only, some people are too busy and un-blessed to attain it. In time.

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