Thursday, June 25, 2009


A few months back, we had been watching the 15th Annual Star Screen Awards 2009 on Youtube. Later, we watched the 81st Academy Awards on the ABC Family channel, here, in USA. And not to mince words, the contrast between the demeanour of nominees and participants at the two awards ceremonies could be best summed up in the adjective 'stark'.

When I contemplate the Star Sceen Awards, I cringe at the way Ashutosh Gowariker publicly insulted Sajid Khan at that occasion, paving the way for the media to mire the incident in controversies that leave a bitter taste in the mouth. Ensuring one would remember that ghastly moment first of all when one recalled this year's function. Not others that had eminently more recall value, such as Akshay Kumar's abdication of his most popular actor's trophy in favour of Aamir's role in 'Ghajini' (however cynically detractors may dismiss or decipher that) or the sensation that a relatively low budget (and certainly less hyped) film like 'A Wednesday' created by director Neeraj Pandey getting to share stage space and acclaim with the best director of the best film 'Jodhaa Akbar'. Or how 'Rock On' really did rock the Bollywood community, sweeping off several successive awards (Best Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Most Promising Male Newcomer, Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role). It's a different issue that Sajid's jokes did often sound forced or insipid and even seemed to border on the inane or farcical at times, but even an audience of laymen would vouch for his disarming non-malicious good humour at any point of time. If you are part of the 'acting' industry but cannot laught at jokes directed at your actor's persona, then you're in the wrong place at the wrong time and need a reality check pronto. It was all fine when Gowariker, coming up to accept his prize for the best director, began to express his grief at how he felt Sajid and Farah were capitalising on box-office collections as a means of dismissing films like 'Love Story 2050' or 'Tashan' that saw a whole film crew's vision falling flat on its face. But those in the audience secretly lauding his representative humane side received a rude jolt when he threw a crude "shut up" at Sajid and proved to be as bad as Sajid, if not worse, using the podium to make a mockery of the sponsors' goodwill, effectually jeopardising the reputation of this annual event. The trepidation on the face of Suzanne Roshan or Hrithik or Priyanka Chopra sufficed to suggest that Gowariker would do better to limit his philanthropism to directing films.

I couldn't but help compare this bizarre turn of events to the poignant cameraderie that bonded nominees for this year's best actor and actress awards at the Oscars. It was a moving moment when yesteryear's awardees were called on to announce and accolade this year's shortlisted few. Be it Anthony Hopkins on Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman on Angelina Jolie or Sophia Lauren on Meryl Streep, the warmth and emotional connect in the film fraternity was evident from the body language of everyone present. The actor giving away an award seemed to be as proud of his role at that point of time as the awardee him/her-self . Everyone seemed to subtly sense that the occasion was one that highlighted the entire Hollywood film industry and was more about them all than any particular winner as such. Their behaviour happened to be commensurately classy.

And now this , this , and this !

Bollywood, er, Ashutosh Gowariker I mean, is getting bizarre by the day. And I so agree with Subhash K. Jha's conclusion, although that could be applicable to himself too. On mumerous occasions, he has received verbal brickbats from newspaper readers for dismissing /dissecting/ detractive statements on actors of known stature and calibre, which have indeed called his integrity as a critic into question. But let that rest for the moment. The question is why AG needs to portray Bollywood as a squabbler's h(e)aven to the rest of the world. At the rate he's endearing himself to the film fraternity, he might soon have to contend with a premature termination of his career due to all the lead actors making themselves scarce to him !


This is the incredibly sombre, sobering forward I discovered today morning in my mail-box :

"Subject: A330: AIR FRANCE CRASH PHOTOS, AMAZED BY GUY'S INSTINCT......2 photos after Collision and before Death....

Feel so sad for all the passengers including the extraordinary photographer, who kept his cool even in his last moments of life and took this photo. Hats off to him !!!

Yesterday the world saw the disappearance of an A330 Air France during a trans-Atlantic flight between Rio and Paris. Very ironic that a day before, I got a mail of the photos taken by a passenger on a flight mins after a mid-air collision, and mins before the crash of the said aircraft : two shots taken inside the plane before it crashed. Unbelievable!

A B737 had a mid air collision with the Embraer Legacy while cruising at 35,000 feet over South America. The Embraer Legacy, though seriously damaged with the winglet ripped off, managed to make a landing at a nearby airstrip in the midst of the Amazon jungle. The crew and passengers of the Embraer Legacy had no idea what they had hit. The B737however crashed, killing all crew and passengers on board.

The two photos attached were apparently taken by one of the passengers in the B737, just after the collision and before the aircraft crashed. The photos were retrieved from the camera's memory stick. You will never get to see photos like this. In the first photo, there is a gaping hole in the fuselage through which you can see the tailplane and vertical fin of the aircraft.

In the second photo, one of the passengers is being sucked out of the gaping hole.

Photos taken inside the GOL B 737 aircraft that was involved in a mid air collision and crashed.....

These photos were found in a digital Casio Z750, amidst the remains in Serra do Cachimbo. Although the camera was destroyed, the Memory Stick was recovered. Investigating the serial number of the camera, the owner was identified as Paulo G. Muller, an actor of a theatre for children in the outskirts of Porto Alegre. It can be imagined that he was standing during the impact with the Embraer Legacy and during the turbulence, he managed to take these photos. Just seconds after the tail loss, the aircraft plunged. So the camera was found near the cockpit. The structural stress probably ripped the engines away, diminishing the falling speed, protecting the electronic equipment but not unfortunately the victims. Paulo Muller leaves behind two daughters, Bruna and Beatriz."

Last words : Sukanta Chaudhuri, one of our most respected professors at JU, once told us when teaching 'Macbeth' : "Disaster is what we think always happens to others. Until it suddenly dawns on us that tomorrow, we may be the others." I just remembered that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


While taking a walk one evening, a couple of days ago, K and I were discussing when would be the most opportune time to die. It does sound a tad too premature, I concede, but then on some days, the weather’s so fantastic, you feel you’d like to live forever but know it isn’t possible and then, abruptly, you’re beset by the contemplation of mortality and human existence. Besides, we were both a trifle ‘senti’ that day, having shed tears (me, mostly) at several points while watching the film ‘Up’ that morning in the theatre and feeling like we needed to re-examine the nature and purpose of our respective trips through life.

Well, then. I brooded over the topic for a while and announced that my fears of old age were mainly related to loss of independence. In all senses. Not only in the crudest sense of the slowing down or disruption of one’s bodily functions but also that of feeling infinitely more vulnerable and irrelevant all the time. Of being too old to be in sync with trends any more, of leading too solipsistic a lifestyle to allow the current events and incidents taking place elsewhere in the world to matter or work me up into a reaction of any sort any more. An indifference towards knowledge in any form. A relentless wait for the inevitable. That seems like time to make a graceful departure.

K’s attitude was distinctly different. In fact, his thoughts were not half as complex as mine. He put it very simply : he wanted to live as long as his partner did. He wanted to be able to bask in the comfort of the thought that he was there to care for me and me to care for him. Otherwise, life would seem rather hard.

That set me into rewind mode. ‘Up’ (2009) had reinstated our faith in our relationship, somewhat indirectly. A very ordinary child who grows into a very ordinary adult and then a very ordinary old man, receives a fresh lease of life when his wife’s ‘Adventure Book’ (a scrapbook) reveals to him how their fun-filled personal life had been adventure enough for her. From the realm of death, she succeeds in convincing him that their humdrum life together had been as good as a historical romance, where love had helped to enhance each experience and endow it with meaning. They had had no children, but towards the end, Fredricksen realizes that any child may be your own child, it’s your approach to life that makes someone family. The realization is reinforced in a brilliant sequence, where Fredricksen begins throwing out all the furniture Ellie and he had carefully created, collected and cherished over their years of marriage to decrease the weight of the house and set off to rescue Russell. Ellie’s last autograph, persuading him to embark on a fresh adventure, convinces him that it’s the emotions that make a home and not the furniture it contains. The grumpy, grizzly Fredericksen finally emerges as a hero in someone’s life : in Russell’s life.

The lesson’s simple : life is as exciting as you make it out to be. Every moment is an adventure, ticking away all the time, while one is foolishly pining away for more thrill, envious of the lot of others.

Who can tell what’s in store for us tomorrow ? Right now, we are together. That’s what matters, right ?

Carpe diem !


Let's see :

By Me....

Maggi (don't laugh, mine tastes really good !!!)
Chnirer polao
Veg Chowmin
Grilled cheese & turkey sandwich
Grilled cheese, tomato & cilantro sandwich
Bread Poha
Sunfeast pasta
Tomato Rice

Mashed Potatoes

Moong Dal
Pindi Chana
Pineapple-Mushroom-Capsicum Chana

Garlic Spinach
Dim Pnauruti
Doi Phulkopi
Bnadhakopir Dalna
Bnadhakopir Jungka (supposedly a Goan dish)
Phulkopir Chhnechki
Masala Gobi
Kumror Chnnechki
Shorshe Bhindi
Jhinge Narkel
Doodh Jhinge /Lau
Pepe Ghonto
Chili Paneer
Paneer Butter Masala
Matar Paneer

Palak Paneer
Chili Mushroom
Deemer Dalna
Mixed veg scrambled eggs
Pabda Machher Jhaal
Doi Maachh (Curd fish)
Garlic Butter Tilapia
Dhaniya Chicken
Chicken Chettinad
Chicken Korma

Mild Shahi Korma
Ginger Chicken
Creamed Spinach
Cream-Cheese Okra

Mushroom-Capsicum Okra
Shnosha- Narkel Mixed Veg Curry with Black Pepper

Spring Onions with Tomatoes
Doi Begun
Stuffed Masala Brinjal
Soyabean Curry
Butter Soyabean
Tomato Chutney
Papaya Chutney
Gajorer Halwa
Fruit Salad
Shimayer Payesh
Coconut Laddoo
Blueberry/Cherry Vanilla Cake

Chocolate Vanilla Cake

By K...

Mixed veg Khichuri
Vegetable Fried Rice
Chicken Biriyani
Mooger Dal
Musoor Dal
Chholar Dal
Pindi Chana
Keema Matar
Chingri Malai Curry

Tomato Fish
Chilli Fish
Tandoori Pomfret
Machher Jhaal (Mustard fish)

Chicken Biriyani
Chicken Capsicum
Butter Chicken
Masala Chicken
Chilli Chicken
Malabari Chicken
Sweet & Sour Chicken

Tandoori chicken kababs
Lucknow Masala Murgh
Chicken sausage-mixed veg spicy curry
Lamb Rogan Josh
Shorshe Kumro-Phulkopi
Bandhakopi Stir-Fry
Various permutations & combinations of mixed veggies
Shimayer Payesh

Not half bad !!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Memorial Day Vacation -2

Well, but apart from the ducks, there were actually other distractions in the Main Street region of Lake Placid. Foremost was the nature of downtown itself, which looked like the ideal vacation spot...people in summer attire with just a light jacket or wrap draped casually over their shoulders, strolling about with soda or coffee cups or icecreams in their hands with no definite aim in mind except appearing aimless, huge groups making merry in their own quiet or boisterous way at dinner in the smart roadside restaurants (which sported menus with prices alongside on their doors and walls itself, making it easy for passers-by to make up their minds about whether or not to enter at all), Memorial Day sales going on at most of the big stores, a crisp and bright sky above us and the Mirror Lake, with a beautiful natural waterfront which looked all the more enticing with a few additional strategic accessories, such as a couple of artificial terraces, a few stray deck chairs and a small glass greenhouse skirting the lake itself. Somehow that seemed to have increased the appetite of a huge group of holidaying Indians, who were all gulping down huge mouthfuls of bhelpuri/chaat for what seemed like an endless era. We eyed the area appreciatively and sent the boys to get coffee while we scoured the Gap store by the lake, succumbing to the lure of the 'Upto 50% Sale' Posters.

The 'GAP' store :

Sure enough, the boys ended up with 2 T-shirts each, falling into our "yeah, bargain !" traps (although I must confess I was astonished to find myself magically unaffected by the great bargains and actually exiting the store with nothing but my handbag in tow). Luckily, they were so elated at the prospect of more clothing options (somehow they always end up after packing with insufficient spare clothing, according to us of course) that they remained in a good mood for the rest of the evening, indifferent to Moumita and my constantly attempting to try their patience by stopping umpteen times for photos and inexplicably disappearing into every second roadside store that happened to catch our eyes (too frequent an occurrence for anyone's comfort and enough to annoy a person of the most philosophic temperament). Our ventures were however rewarded at one particular store by a most well-behaved and mild-mannered lady of the canine variety, who seemed to be attending to the counter while the real owner lady chatted with a friend. She even obliged our click-happy selves by gazing right into the lens, unperturbed by the spark of the flash.

The remarkable canine specimen :

But the most memorable part was the half hour we spent lazing by the Mirror Lake, which deserved every cent of its name, with its crystal clear surface. There was a duck couple swimming about near our very feet, who took very little interest in human activities or exclamations and only waddled right onto the bank and upto our feet to check for accidental crumbs (which , much to the hilarity of the others, caused me to panic and grab my bag from its reclining position on the grass, as if anatine characteristics included bag-snatching).

The duck couple :

Despite the 'Please Do Not Feed the Ducks' (which the bhelpuri family decided to follow most religiously), there was an Indian couple which decided to do exactly what they were not supposed to do. Even worse, their liberal supplies of crumbs to the unfortunate birds seemed to consist entirely of buttery popcorn, which probably wouldn't exactly be what the vet would have recommended as part of their diet. We pretended not to notice. After all, everyone was on vacation and the last thing they would have wanted was an impromptu lecture on the morality of feeding ducks.

Mirror Lake :

The view by the lake was like something out of a fairytale, it was so perfect and pristine, so still and serene. We could have spent an entire day there, just listening to the hushed chatter of people around us, the giggles of playing children, the sighing breeze fluttering our hair just the gentlest bit, watching the swimming ducks dig around for worms in the wet grass, the tiny ripples tickling the clear surface of the lake and the houses in the horizon that merged into trees that merged into mountains that merged into clouds that....well, you get the idea.

Felt like heaven :

By the way, the boys failed to win 'Mission Venison'. Apparently, it not being the hunting season, deer meat was not readily available. (It's a totally different issue that our rafting guide Sam mentioned the next morning that he wished he'd known, since he had some venison lying at home in his refrigerator a couple of days ago and would have loved to share a bite with us.)

K, in the quest for venison :

Anyway, before we were finally persuaded to prepare for departure, I as usual casually sauntered into a smart looking restaurant bang in mid-downtown, used the restaurant to freshen up (what a bizarre euphemism, I've always thought !) K is always scared that the staff are not going to be very polite if they notice that I don't really intend to order anything at these places except for working flushes...he behaves as if someone's going to arrest me or something until I actually exit the place without anyone even noticing me most of the time. Moumita being my worthy accomplice today, both the boys were equally jittery until we finally marched out with praiseworthy poise and relieved them (no pun intended) , apparently unharmed after all.

Anyway, we finally set out for the hotel, almost 2 and a half hours was 8 pm when we set out and now, our prime concern was where we should finally obtain dinner. This is what has always struck me as bizarre : the fact that even on weekends, one usually considers oneself lucky if one manages to find any diner functional at the perfectly plausible hour of 10 pm. This is one of the few things that we're yet to become acclimatised to : the fact that people here rise with the sun and retire with sunset, have dinner at 6-7 pm and top it off with a miniscule supper of cookies and milk at what would be our normal dinner-time or haunt the refrigerator in the dead of darkness for a midnight snack to satisfy sudden pangs of hunger. It's obviously the most practical thing to do, I've always thought, given the pattern of late evening sunshine in the northern hemisphere, but we being used to an entirely different set of food timings on the other side of the earth and in a tropical zone, simply cannot order our bodies to follow a similar rhythm. Hence, we were driving back, hoping to stop at some rare highway exit diner along the way, which catered to the eccentric travellers' whims. However, most seemed to be closed or closing, indicated from a distance by dimmed lights, neatly stacked upturned chairs on tables, the lack of any vehicles whatsoever in parking lots and more obviously, by the utter absence of any human being in the premises. Well, we were getting more or less reconciled to dining on our stock of travel snacks that night, especially considering that even the fast food joints nearby the hotel seemed to have downed shutters. We were singularly lucky to find the local Wendy's 'drive-thru' functional. We ordered salads and wraps at a point before the actual window, addressing a disembodied loudspeaker presence (Sabya Da did the honours actually, while we collectively prompted him), which repeated our orders for confirmation. A couple of mins later, we were happy humans, receiving our night's supply of food through the drive-thru window at the back of the eatery. We stumbled into the hotel, bidding each other goodnight at the stairs, into our respective rooms, where a shower later, we were having a healthy dinner (we were the salad freaks, of course) and hit the bed. Actually, K was snoring quite audibly, by the time I had worked my way halfway through my stack of greens. It wasn't very good manners to fall asleep with the TV on, but he was too tired, of course, to take that into consideration !

(To be contd...)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What else, in the name of CPM ?!

I've been struck speechless ever since I read this article today morning...what hope or scope of improvement is there in a country where people are more concerned about milking the poor and sick for their own private monetary benefits rather than happy to witness them being provided for medically by people as selfless as this particular couple ? And where political parties exist only to fuel such selfishness instead of curbing it ? None, methinks, none at all.

Saturday, June 06, 2009


The sight of this ad in today's TOI (click to enlarge) gladdened my last we're going commercial with eco-friendly products !

Way to go, guys !


"I'm tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn't work. Of course it doesn't work. We are supposed to work it. " ~Alexander Woollcott

Source : THE TIMES OF INDIA, 05-06-2009 (HEADLINES)

Diarrhoea grips Sunderbans

70% Aila Victims Suffer, Govt Sees No Crisis

Prithvijit Mitra TNN

Kolkata: Sunderbans is in the grip of the worst diarrhoea epidemic to break out in south Bengal in three decades. Nearly 70% of Aila-affected people are suffering from the disease as they have no choice but to consume contaminated water.

The sachets of water being supplied to the mangrove islands are but a trickle for thousands of thirsty villagers. And a poor distribution system has prevented it from reaching villages in the interiors. Voluntary organizations working in the cyclone-ravaged areas have come up with shocking data and warn that things could get worse.

The government, however, paints a completely different picture. It says the situation is under control and not more than 5% of the population has been affected.

Doctors, voluntary workers and paramedical staff working in the area say the disease is spreading very fast. Figures compiled by the South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE), an NGO, reveal that 67% villagers in the Sunderbans are suffering from enteric infection and diarrhoea. A further 18% are victims of snake bites, dog bites and accident injuries, 9% are suffering from skin infection and 6% from other diseases. Which means there is hardly any healthy individual on the storm-struck islands. And less than a dozen doctors to treat them.

A team of doctors from the Medical Service Centre (MSC) — a voluntary organization — confirmed the figures. It could be even worse, they fear. “There is not a single safe water source left there. Millions of gallons are being supplied, but they are either diverted elsewhere or do not reach the people at all. Medicines are sent but unless steps are taken to provide potable water, the epidemic cannot be curbed,” said Angshuman Mitra, who led the MSC team. No more than 30-35% of the victims have access to relief support system, the NGOs said. The only drinking water sources in the Sunderbans — tubewells and PHE pipelines — have got contaminated.

A Sandeshkhali resident fetches water amid the debris on Thursday

How about us all pitching in for a change, instead of playing the old blame game all over again ?


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