Thursday, December 23, 2010

MIRCH : the Film

(Photo courtesy : Wikipedia )

MIRCH : A film worth watching.

Humour, pathos, suspense, short, an aesthetic feast. Wonderful performances from all concerned (Arunoday Singh's a revelation !): Raima, Konkona, Ila Arun, Boman Irani, Shreyas Talpade, Shahana Goswami, Sushant ensemble cast who complement each other to perfection and compliment the director's faith in them. Tisca Chopra in a brilliant cameo. Great cinematography, amazing dialogues, intricate and compelling sets, visual delight in the form of costume selection and sweeps of landscape and especially the presentation of "Kaare kaare badra".

Those who interpret the 'A' certification as offering a lot of lurid sexual excitement would be in for disappointment. Sex is a character by itself and one that infuses vibrant life into the characters, stories, dialogues, landscapes, sets and scenes. The film, however, is more than just four stories. Each is a carefully executed little gem. My personal favourite is the third one, I have to confess. And I can't recall Raima looking as exquisite as she does in this one.

I was especially taken by the director's careful use of colour (black & white vs rich colour) to separate the connecting narrative to the stories narrated. It is evident that a lot of hard work has gone into making the film since it translates into considerable visual subtlety.

Music has been used sparingly but to excellent effect, speaking for the characters when it would not do to say much for themselves. I just can't get over Shankar Mahadevan's "Kaare kaare badra" is the song of the moment, walking about the corridors of my heart-heavy mind.

And I hope people don't find gender issues in the film. The complexities of a human mind have been evocatively portrayed and I personally feel that sexual biases would mar the intended empathetic depth of the viewer. Just go with the flow of the film and it should please you. If uncertain, just remember, the direction is by Vinay Shukla.

Well then, what are you waiting for ? Go watch it !

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Striking back

Ok, so there was a strike yesterday. There was violence before that. People were hurt, people were killed. Our BEd pre-test exam got postponed by a day amidst unprecedented controversy and widespread resentment.

My question : Would the tragic hero want his memories to be sullied by people (who didn't even remotely know him) recalling his name as that person who was (in)directly responsible for turning the course of that one day totally awry ?

I don't think so.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Koffee, anyone ?

What is it about 'Koffee with Karan' that makes even the most reticent of celebrities open up like they've been waiting all their lives for this one hour's worth of national showtime to share the deepest secrets from their innermost being ? And how is it that Karan Johar has this incredible effect on everyone...someone as forthright as Kareena to someone as discreet as Bipasha ?

I have been thinking. And I suppose the answer's really simple. Everyone can distinguish between a genuinely interested and concerned friend as opposed to a garrulous busybody. We all feel like sharing the most intimate secrets of our life but are scared of being judged as arrogant, vulnerable, whimsical, eccentric, volatile, vicious, biased etc. In short, we are afraid of being our own spontaneous self. And yet, these celebrities are opening up on National TV ! That speaks much for the goodwill of Karan in the industry. He doesn't really belong to any camp. He's genuinely interested in other people, be it their trials and suffering or their little joys and jealousies. All that distinguishes them as individuals.

And people understand that. Especially in Bollywood, where acting is as much of a survival skill in everyday life as it is a professional activity. He's nice to everyone not because he's on a chat show but because that's him. The stars see the Karan they themselves know as a person before them and they give up their inhibitions and armour of diplomatic restraint and no longer feel the need to tread the tactful middle path. Indeed, there's the feel of a typical living room adda going on, one where you are being your simple self, turning on the logical and rational democratic citizen in you instead of prickly, pried into, peeped on and perennially paparazzied !

It strikes me that some people have to enrol in a PR course while it's as easy as breathing or eating or singing to a few lucky ones.

Thank you, Karan. I'm glad that you ask so many questions (especially for the sensation that is the rapid fire round !). But also for the fact that you know when it's right to stop. And let go.

I wish there were more sensitive people like you around these days.

For those interested, this site contains videos of all former episodes.

Sunday, December 05, 2010


It's nice to have some friends with whom you can be yourself. Just sit back and listen to them and that in itself makes you happy. School and college friends usually comprise this elite category but it's rare to also have ex-colleagues with whom you are still in touch and long to reunite with, from time to time.
When we were young, there were friends and best friends. Now I feel enlightened. After many tests and trials, I feel I'm lucky to have friends at all. The world nowadays being what it is, that is cause enough for celebration. At the end of the day, there are few people who would actually be there with you, any time of the day and night. To just listen without judgement. I myself have few friends to whom I would be so attached. But yes, I am lucky to have quite a few.
Those of you whom I have never been able to open my heart to (you know whom I mean), thank you for being there. I'm glad you're my friends.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Those which come to my mind right now :

The BEd pre-test is due and so is the final teaching day. Breathing down my neck, night and day. So I'm working and studying on a regular basis. Hard work is a shortcut to success, I've always found.

I finally made a perfect omelette last night. Unfortunately, there was no witness and I ate it before I could photograph it. Very me, of course.

I'm planning to learn Spanish. At the beginning of the next year.

I can manage the household entirely by myself without losing sleep over the whole process. Of course, that excludes the cooking and cleaning bits. Come to think of it, work never ends.

I'm back to brushing up my proficiency in my mother tongue. I must be one of those rare specimens who think in English and then translate, most of the time. And no, I'm not proud of it.

I've finally lost enough weight to garner compliments most of the time. Of course, I too have those 'nothing fits me !' days once in a while. But Priyanka in 'Anjaana Anjaani' has given me enough motivation to remain in shape for the next few months ;-)

I'm finally looking forward to watching Bengali films. Of the 'Autograph' type. Even unexpected, I'm humming lyrics from contemporary Bengali film songs.

I've a career plan in place. Well, a few. There's the Gemini in me speaking ;-)

I discovered that I can still lose sense of time and place when reading a Mills & Boon.

I'm back to my culinary enthusiast self. Planning to cook something new this weekend.

I finally have some girlfriends with whom I can go holidaying alone. Although our pre-test dates seem to be hell-bent on messing up our winter vacation plans.

I'm planning to revisit my poet alter ego. Soon.

I've re-connected with my roots after a visit to my paternal grandparents' ancestral place and my paternal grandfather's sister's place in Shantiniketan. I feel somewhat sorted out and stable now. Freud was right when he emphasised that it's our childhood that determines the person we later turn out to be.

I feel I have a better understanding of the members of our apartment. I might be wrong, of course.

I feel I'm happily married, after all ;-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

'Autograph' vs 'Angshuman er Chhobi'

Well, we've just finished watching 'Autograph' and 'Angshumaner Chhobi' back to back. A happy coincidence, since both films deal (although in drastically different ways) with the Bengali film industry and the inner lives of its fraternity. I am not planning a comparative review of the two, though. Just jotting down a few things that struck me while watching each of them.

'Autograph' was technically sound. Not that I'm the last word when it comes to the former. But yes, being an avid cinema-goer since God knows when in the past, I can distinguish a good film from a mediocre one. Mediocrity being a relative term and one that in my dictionary, deals exclusively with the gulf between the potential and the actual. The treatment also matters. I watch from a layman's viewpoint and often think in a similar manner. I only note the tightness of the story, the smartness of execution and the ability to involve the spectator. Not too much to ask for, what say ?

Well then. 'Autograph' scores everywhere. Simple storyline. Great music, meaningful lyrics, poetic thought. Well-etched characters, solidly structured, effectively executed. The inner life vis-a-vis the outer life reflected in dialogues, dreams, sets, songs and the cinematography in general. Sharp editing, leading to a slow exploration of the characters' minds and emotions, without any painful slowing down of the pace of the film. A great homage to Ray's 'Nayak', as it claims to be.

'Angshumaner Chhobi' is inconsistent. There is enough to make a good story but the treatment is flaccid in parts. There are bits and pieces that don't hold the fabric together tightly, after all. Places are unnamed, incidents half-heartedly depicted and a lot of things never logically accounted for. Who is the supposed gym health-products salesperson after all ? Is Neel's love really perversely intense enough to kill Madhura's husband ? Why is the CID lady dressed like a corporate executive. with bizarrely heavy eye make-up ? How does the film direct the course of its director's life ? Where is the development in the Neel-Madhura relationship portrayed ? And the worst part is the stilted, hesitant acting of most of the characters. It is as if they are into an episodic understanding of the scenes but never able to weave everything together into a consistent whole because of an inability to grasp the director's totality of vision.

And if you are someone to whom music is the food of love, you must listen to the songs of 'Autograph'. They inspire. They bring back the poet in the Bengalee.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Ayodhyas et al

K came home at 4 pm yesterday . He informed a stupefied me that IBM had even declared a holiday for their employees, fearing the worst that might result from the Ayodhya verdict.

An English daily doesn't mince words today when it comes to Advani and the BJP. Apparently, they have invited the Muslims of the country, out of sheer pity, it seems, to help in building a grand temple for Ram on the disputed site. Apparently other parties like the Congress are too embarrassed to even react to their celebratory ardour and ridiculous press releases.

Hello ? What's happening ? I must be very dumb if I am one of the minority who, after scouring through several news channels and reading the newspapers from end-to-end, feel that the verdict of the three judges is mind-numbingly indecipherable. They seem to differ on quite a few important issues pertaining to the whole case and that's only quite natural, the three being three individuals of varied background and education.

Then why the urge to invite more trouble by making irresponsible statements ? If political parties don't show restraint, then how will this country ever heal from the horrors of its past ? People like Advani pose a menace to society. I'm ashamed on his behalf.

On the other hand, it has been a refreshing change to read Aveek Sen's article in The Telegraph, where he recounts first-hand how the Jama Masjid, on the day of the verdict, inspired all gathered within its premises to behave with maturity and dignity. Although the article itself ends with dark undertones, the optimism remains to haunt. Thank goodness we have sensible people too around us.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Someone close tells me I overreact to and over-analyse every situation in life. A B.Ed. batchmate and colleague tells me that I'm too straightforward to survive life.

Well, now. I'm totally confused !

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Peepli [Live]

Watched 'Peepli [Live]' last Sunday. The film's still going housefull. But somehow I'm still brooding over it.

There's something curiously detached about the film. It touches a chord and you have that 'this is so true-to-life' feeling several times, which makes you nod gently to yourself. But it's very Dev D in its execution, by which I mean 'no nyakami and no out-to-grab-the-eyeballs-by-in-your-face-realism'. I had received feedback that it was a 'sad' film but surprisingly, I remained unmoved. I was touched, of course by the maturity of the art and the brilliant directorial vision that brought the media and political world together in their larger-than-life roles. But the fact remained that it was exactly what it sought to be : something sad and stoic. sober and subtle. Almost Tolstoy in its breadth of vision and range of characters but very Shirshendu-like in the portrayal of their foibles and eccentricities. The note on farmer suicides at the end anchored it in grim reality and ironically extrapolated any compassion it might have aroused onto yourself. It shook you with the realisation that there was nothing to enlighten us about, nothing that the print and broadcast media had not already told you. And yet, you hadn't done your bit to remedy whatever you could have. Instead, you came to a multiplex, paying for a Rs 180-worth ticket to watch a film that made you feel that you were part of the 'thinking' middleclass.

A slap on the face. Yup. That's what the film was for me.

Sunday, September 05, 2010


I'm halfway through Iris. And scared.

What if it happens to me ?

John Bayleys are hard to find nowadays, you know.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Dead and Not Loving It.

I'm very down and out today.

I don't know what it is that makes me feel this way. It might be the fortnight-old cold that just doesn't seem to cure. It might be the fact that S and I are off to catch 'Aisha' today but without Ko, whose grandpa's down with malaria. It might be because my friend's marriage is on the rocks. It might be because I have so little time for myself nowadays that I don't know what to do with my leisure any more. It might be because I want to blog but not to rant and yet that is what I'm only upto right at the moment. It might be because the brand new sharodiya 'Anandamela' is lying on the bed but I don't feel like reading it. It might be because there's so much of household work all around that I'm sick of my very existence. It might be because I feel the girl in me is wasting away, careful always to not tread on anyone's toes. It might be because my life seems all too predictable right now and that's the last thing the Gemini like me would wish for.

There's so much yet left to do : learn a language, test my interior designing skills, write a book, complete my anthology (long overdue), have a child, build my own house, visit new places (so many !!!), become famous...

But nothing seems to matter now...

Am I dying ?

Not literally, of course. That might have been better.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inception : The film

The review of Inception by Time magazine's Richard Corliss echoes my first thoughts while watching the closing credits roll :

After a long time, I think I watched a film that actually challenged my intellect and stimulated it and even caused me to struggle to keep up with the intensity and complexity of perception that went into structuring it. Of course, it's true that I was so conversant with dreams , the unconscious and their interpretation in my psychoanalysis phase in JU that I was mentally equipped to interpret the dream world and its logic (or lack of it). Which is not the case now. But yes, I could recognise the fact that years of research and reading had gone into planning and perfecting the aesthetics of Inception and much hard work underlay its deceptively fluid appearance. And at points, take delight and pride in the fact that my months of non-purposive (and to all appearances, esoteric) reading was finally finding importance somewhere : namely, in understanding the film.

Not that the film wasn't lucid at the level of narration. Although not having had any previous notion of what the film might be about, I did struggle with the opening dream sequences and was as perplexed as Ariadne (Ellen Page) might be when her practical knowledge of architecture had to be restructured radically following the stringent and often logically irreconcilable demands of Cobb's mission. But I learned with her and almost at her pace. By the time she was about to suggest the unplanned and risky fourth level of dream terrain, I had mentally predicted it and was only wondering whether the time differences at the respective levels and the strength of Yusuf's sedative would allow it to be implemented without the danger of limbo overtaking the dreamers.

There were mental hurdles, of course. The appearance of the dream-box (the technical equipment of Cobb's team, stored in a briefcase-like container) at each and every level was too solid and concrete a possibility as well as a coincidence, even for lucid dreaming. And of course, the forging of identity by Earnes (Tom Hardy) to assume that of Browning (Tom Berenger) was very sci-fi like in that it strained credulity to an extreme. And yet, not once did it seem that the entire film was an exercise in suspension of disbelief, despite the awe-inspiring amount of theoretical knowhow it drew on, be it Freud or Jung or Borges. There were only multiple narratives and the Lacanian premise of the truth that is never true - altered, filtered and faltering as it is in entering the perceptive level of each individual. And why not ? What is reality but our constant adjustment to our environment and its immediate demands ? Nolan must be lauded not merely for his film, a work of art, but also for the questions, theories and discussions it should necessarily trigger off. The trajectory of the film is a remarkable one, moving on from one certainty to another and yet, beginning and ending in ambivalence - suggesting rather than telling tales, the true-blue mark of a classic.

I disagree with Barnali's review ("it fails to show the profundity of human emotion") at certain points, although it is a brilliantly graphic one. I couldn't but be moved at Ariadne's growing and obsessive fascination with the compelling projection of Mal (Marion Cotillard) in her dreams and by extrapolation, with the 'real' nature of Cobb's relationship with his invincible-even-in-death wife. Similarly, the need for Cobb to accomplish 'inception' as a special ("it's not exactly legal", as he prosaically informs Ariadne) assignment with a definite goal in mind is a poignant parallel exercise in self-justification, scarred and sobered as he is by the guilt of fashioning his wife's death. There is nothing as sad as the anagnorisis of the tragic hero and Dom Cobb is no less than one, wracked in an unrelenting remorse, although his exile isn't exactly self-imposed (or is it ?) The playful banter between Eames and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is also an endearing instance of a pair of incisive minds, each trying to outdo but secretly in awe of the complementary other. Further, I cannot but beg to differ on the topic of the other characters being "mere shadows with exceptional ability". Surely we cannot have multiple focal points in a narrative already taking risks with multiple levels of reality and dreams and shifting, mutating viewpoints and dreamscapes. It is commendable that Nolan creates memorable characters with true-to-life eccentricities and foibles, including the almost ethereal Mal whose character could easily have lapsed into cliched idealism.

As for the sets, I'm still lost in wonder at the sheer sweep and scale of it all. A lot of informed visualisation has resulted in the sets that we can only gape at. The wikipedia entry tantalises one's curiosity in this aspect but doesn't quite exhaust it. I need to surf around diligently to satiate my own particular interest in it all. Even the background score was brilliant, still playing in my head insistently, unobtrusive yet unmistakably there.

Much has been said about how The Matrix provides a substantial starting point for the film. It might, of course, since the former is as much of our collective consciousness as we would allow it to be. But from the maker of The Prestige, you cannot but expect an original. He is only moving from strength to strength.

Nolan reminds me of Hamlet's soliloquy (used somewhere in the film, if my memory isn't at fault) :

"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how/ infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and/ admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like/ a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals..."


Friday, July 23, 2010

Lesson Plans and Planned Lessons

Yesterday, in the English Method class, AR made us teach the texts we had recently submitted lesson plans on, with the help of the latter. Having been absent for two consecutive days due to a stomach bug, I was initially clueless about what to do. Turns out most of my classmates were in a similar state, even though they'd been informed about the thing in the last class. Naturally. I mean, not all of us have actual classroom teaching experience. Not that it would have helped much. Following the lesson plan toto is an incredibly intimidating proposition, as we were soon to find out for ourselves.

No one wanted to volunteer to be the one to initiate the process. AR was obliged to first convince and then coerce (the time-tested and universal way to make students do something new). Ultimately, a girl called Sayantani was selected. After considerable nudging and prodding, she took the stage. She had to teach a poem called 'The Kitten at Play' to students of class 7. It's about a kitten playing with withered leaves, sitting on the wall, oblivious to the existence of the rest of the world. A simple poem, you'd think, at one read. But teaching it, as we soon found out, was a whole different ball game. We, by the way, had to behave like class 7 students and give apt answers to questions the 'teacher' might put to us. That wasn't too hard, all of us ready to be in splits at any comic relief that came our way, thanks to the whole mock-teaching session. But seriously, when it was my turn, I found out how hard it could be to follow the lesson plan to the T. It needs a considerable amount of practice.

My text was 'Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost, to be taught in the second language period of class X. A poem we're all too familiar with. To my dismay, it turned out AR's area of speciality is American Literature (she has a PhD). Naturally, all my mistakes would seem glaring to her. Anyway, I had no option of opting out. I started with testing the 'previous knowledge' of my 'students' (to help link their past knowledge with their future), asking them about their personal encounters with forests, snow and horse-drawn carriages and urging them to provide adjectives to describe a snowy winter evening in the forest. Having captured their attention by now, I proceeded to write the title of the poem on the board (being careful to ensure that the chalk didn't squeak, as that would distract their attention pronto) and introduce a few new textual words ( following the 'Knowledge' section of 'Behavioural Objectives'), discussing their meaning and opposites and even asking a few selected students ( trying to avoid the rude "yes, you") to compose sentences with the new additions to their vocabulary ('Application'). I also had to test their 'Understanding' by asking why the woods would feel quiet and lonely, why the horse was possibly confused and how the poet had described the stark beauty of nature even in winter.

The next stage was a few immediate text-related questions which preceded the actual ideal reading of the text (loud and clear, with correct pronunciation, proper punctuational pauses and poetic fervour). The students were then supposed to read the poem silently, with the teacher moving around, offering assistance wherever required. Meanwhile, a verbal gist of the text was given by the teacher to aid them in the comprehension of the text. After the reading was over, students were to be given appropriate examples of new concepts incorporated in the text, for instance, examples of other units of distance (other than 'miles'). The use of teaching aids like charts or models was to accompany the teaching of the text while ample and judicious use of the blackboard was a serious factor in measuring teaching capacity. The students were to be divided into groups thereafter and allowed to discuss the text (a bad idea in most schools, as far as discipline is concerned, and definitely inviting trouble in terms of marks for 'classroom management'). The process was wrapped up by the three-fold steps of consolidation (a pointing out of the central idea of the text by the teacher), evaluation (a few pertinent questions addressed to randomly selected students) and writing down a question for homework on the board. Finally, the teacher should not forget to rub the board before leaving the class.


I still can't believe that I was treated to effusive praise by my classmates and a complacent look from AR (which, as far as I know her, is a good sign). I was still sweating from sheer nervousness.

Teaching in a school isn't half as easy as one thinks.

Well, at least, in your one month of practice teaching, when your lesson plan has to be submitted (you may consult only the text and your teaching aids while actually teaching) to the teacher sitting in the last row, observing you (ready to pounce on you, more likely) and the students know you're a temporary phase (and therefore get ready for all sorts of 'Sound of Music'-like pranks).

God save me.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I've been pulled up by two different teachers in two different B. Ed. classes for appearing sleepy. And let me, tell you, it isn't nice being asked why you are drowsy in front of your classmates, most of whose names you aren't even acquainted with, it's so early in the session. I do admit that I've been having some difficulty waking up at my usual time in the mornings nowadays, but that doesn't mean my entire section should be forcefully involved in my lifestyle, especially since it hardly affects them in any way.

It all started with SKG's class. That was just a couple of days after we'd begun attending college. I was sitting in the second row (it's just a habit folks; no, I'm not hard of hearing and neither do I have vision problems) and I was actually just beginning to be conscious that my eyes were feeling heavy when it turned out that someone else had noticed that too. My drowsiness, that is.

"Ki holo, ghum pachhe ?" (What's the matter, feeling sleepy ?)

Naturally, I was wide awake now.

"Na Sir". (No, Sir.)

He left it at that. But by then the entire class was eyeing me, pleased with the impromptu break. I, of course, didn't like all the attention.

The next one to lose sleep (hey, that wasn't intentional !) over me was UKM. This time I was paying 100% attention despite stifling several would-be yawns. They just arrived by force of habit. Every holiday necessarily means an afternoon nap for the true-blue Bangali and I was no exception. So, I was still getting used to the attending-classes-during-my-rightful-naptime thing. Until...
"Ki holo, ghum pachhe ?"

Oh, nooooo. Not agaaaaain.

"Na, Sir." (No, Sir.)
"Khub raat jagchho? "(Staying awake till late into the night ?)
"Na, Sir."
"Prochur khatni jachhe ?" (Lots of work, then ?)
"Na, Sir."
"She ki, kichhui khatni nei?" (What, no work at all ?)

I interrupted him at that point. Things were getting personal and I felt it was high time I (very much married and assertive) made him aware of that.

"Na Sir, ashole college shuru howar age ei shomoy ghumotam, tai ghum pachhe." (No Sir, actually, before classes started at college, I used to sleep at this hour. That's why I feel a bit drowsy at this time.)
I'm glad he accepted that explanation without further ado.

The class considers me as the intelligent but sleepy girl, I am now led to believe.

I so hate being in the limelight, especially for the wrong reasons.

P.S : I have now made a decision. The next time I'm caught (yes, I'm an optimist by nature), I'll just say, "Sorry for yawning Sir, but I am paying attention too. You can question me if you want."

I hope that works. This time I'll be ready with the answers.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Losing Weight

I've just lost 8 kg.

Yes, thank you, I appreciate the applause. Especially since losing weight has never been a piece of cake for me or for anyone else, I gather. At least as easy as piling on the kilos.

Everyone is asking me
1) How I lost so much weight (which I interpret as "How can you be so consistent in exercise or diet or whatever it is you do ?")
2) Why you need to lose 6 kg more ( which means "Being 5 ft 9 inches, you look quite presentable after losing all that weight. So why do you want to put us all into a complex by seeking to lose some more ?")

I have a few things to say about losing weight at all :

I've realised in the last couple of years that health is wealth. If you're not well, you aren't in a position to enjoy the pleasure or comforts of life, even if you're stinking rich. You need to be physically and mentally at peace with yourself to appreciate life at all.

Exercise is not an option. It's a must. It's as important as eating or sleeping or recreation is to our well-being. Just as a door long shut will creak when you finally open it, your body will protest when after years of inertia of rest, you suddenly decide to explore its possibilities. Do you want to be self-sufficient in your old age ? Then you have to exercise.

Losing weight is not just about looking good. It's also about feeling good. If you exercise, your body is toned and conditioned and that shows in your face. Your circulation improves, you sleep better, your digestive system works optimally, your face has the glow that not even a Rs 500 worth cream can buy.

Losing weight means you can carry off any and every fashion with confidence and charisma. Even make up becomes superfluous when people stare at you with awe. After all, let's be honest. All we want at the end of the day is to stand out in a crowd. Try exercising for rapid results !

I love food. And yet, I've never found it a depressing challenge to lose weight. That's because I don't believe in starving my body or being unkind to it in any way. You need to understand the needs of your own body to help it fight the flab.

I'm lucky in that I'm partial by preference to most healthy 'diet foods' like salad, most vegetables (I hate potol or pointed gourd, though) and fruits, grilled and steamed dishes, soups and dairy products, and abhor the usual Bangali spicy and overfried stuff, I do have my own particular weakness for eggs, desserts, salad dressings and Indian Chinese. Naturally, that has to be taken into consideration when I am determined to lose weight. So I've researched and found out the ways in which I can cheat a little. It's fun :-)

To lose weight , you need to motivate yourself. Others can't help you if you're lazy and a glutton.

The book I recommend to all of you is Rujuta Diwekar's 'Don't Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight', published by Random House India, priced at Rs 199. She's the lady instrumental into leading Kareena into size zero mode. You'll find the necessary details in the book itself and it really makes for an interesting story. The book itself is an amazing read. It's lucid, layman-friendly and practical. It's transformed my thoughts on the subject of losing weight forever.

For those who aren't into reading anything as complicated as a book, I'll be here soon with another short (hopefully) article soon on the most important things to do or avoid. Till then, you'd better check out yourself on the scales ! ;-)

Just to show you that I'm not half as narcissistic as some of you may think, here are two of my own photos, gym-ad style ('before' and 'after') to show you the difference, especially since the first place where my excess weight shows up happens to be my face !

Me now :

Me then :

It was a pleasant surprise to read that Aamir Khan's thoughts run on lines similar to what Rujuta Diwekar's book suggests.

I can't help but be impressed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010



I meditate in my cave
Defeated by devotion
Devoid of dimension and distraction
Judgement, emotion and convention
All that tie me to my idol of myself
And render me an unhappy iconoclast.

I seek to be free from all desire
Anything my senses depend on
To beguile them from what they lack
And yet, think they may just...a little, possess.
For it is true, I think I know,
Nothing belongs to me now
Nothing belonged to me before
I was blinded by my existence
And wanted to please the world
Not my self
For I don’t have any self of my own.

I now know.
Knowledge will outlive me.
Time will outlast me.
Life will outcast me.
Words will outlaw me.

And yet,
I crave something
Some one being
Some creation
I shall beget
Be responsible for
Reality to
Refuge of
Part of me
And yet
Not my own
Not my shadow
Not my self
Nothing to disown.

My child,
I sacrifice my self,
My dreams
My life
For my desire.

And awake.

Raavan !!!

This is about the spur-of-the-moment decision we are still rueing. Namely, turning a purposeful visit to the nearby Metropolis Mall to order a new pair of spectacles into an evening of fun at the multiplex. While on our way, I was wondering if we could meet some friends at the food court and catch up and K obliged by calling up his college friend A and his wife D. It transpired that they were in the parking lot of the mall by a happy coincidence, having already bought tickets for Mani Ratnam's Raavan. Although we had been wondering whether it'd be possible to catch a show of the film that evening and yet not be too late for dinner back home, we had till then not planned anything definite. By a dismal twist of fate, we decided to go for it. GKB citing exorbitant prices for the spectacles wouldn't have spoilt our evening. Raavan ended up doing just that.

What I remember about the film :

1) Beera smeared in shades of white, yellow and black.

2) Shrieks and screams, both of men and women. Mostly superfluous ones.

3) Ragini dancing whenever she's in the company of her husband. As if that's the way to build a real relationship with one's husband.

4) Some memorable acting by Ravi Kissen as Beera's brother. After Hello Inspector on Doordarshan, this is the second time that I like him.

5) Govinda as the forest guard. As if he was born to play that role.

6) Priyamani as the sister whose doomed marriage started it all. Very refreshing to all the senses. Hope to see more of her in future.

7) The lush, virgin green of the forests and hills, the frothy white of the majestic falls and the panoramic sweeps of the camera that took our breaths away. It was better than any of the 'Incredible India' ads we get to watch on TV sometimes.

8) Mediocre music by A.R. Rehman. He broke my heart.

9) A frustrating first half in which nothing was comprehensible, including Beera's 'Chaka chaka chaka chaka' and why the actors decided to do this film in the first place. I would like to believe Big B when he blames the editing. There's a lot of abrupt scene movement and it doesn't feel right somehow.

10) A somewhat more comprehensible second half and a Mani-esque end. Which makes me want to watch the Tamil version to excuse him and the film itself. It's supposed to be way better. And of course, lucid.

A little bit about publicity stunts related to the film. I find it disgraceful that Abhishek Bachchan should try to highlight his supposed mega dive from the hilltop just to grab the limelight. The former diving champion who actually did the stunt is evidently disgusted. Abhishek apparently even insisted on repeating the same story on CNN-IBN, narrating how his insurance people had refused to cover the whole thing, considering him to be taking an unnecessary risk and how even Ash dear didn't know about it until it was over and done with. Well, it was definitely an 'unnecessary risk'. Although my logic for saying that isn't quite what Bachchan Junior would like to be confronted with. The truth will out, sometime. I mean, does he seriously think his countrymen will swallow all that he says ?

As for Papa Bachchan slamming Mani Ratnam on Twitter...wellllll. When will the man grow up ?!

For once, I must confess here, I had believed in Pratim D.Gupta's review of the film in The Telegraph. Although I don't care a fig for what this man usually writes, sneering at anything and everything not quite upto the mark (come on ,it's Bollywood, for heaven's sake !!!), this time I had a sinking feeling that he was right. Especially since it's so pathetically evident that he's a huge fan of the director and would have liked to write a proper 'review' of this film at least (for a change).

Btw, you might want to check out all these reviews of the film.

As for me, I'm hoping to watch the Tamil version soon. Especially since I liked the photos of Vikram I found on the net. Without that strange haircut and without the grisly bear moustache, of course. He might have had tremendous screen presence but I wouldn't have fallen for a man with hair issues (pun definitely intended).

A much more presentable Vikram, methinks.
Photo source : the net.

So long.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hey !

Hey guys...sorry for the hiatus, but things have really been very hectic and stressful on the personal front and I was too passive and preoccupied, reacting to non-stop exigencies, to express myself. In short, things kept on piling up before I could acknowledge their existence at all.

Anyway, I'm back and I couldn't resist putting this up's worth a read !


Training courses are now available for women on the following subjects:

Topic 1. Silence, the Final Frontier: Where No Woman Has Gone Before
Topic 2. The Undiscovered Side of Banking: Making Deposits
Topic 3. Parties: Going Without New Outfits
Topic 4. Bathroom Etiquette: Men Need Space in the Bathroom Cabinet Too
Topic 5. Communication Skills : Tears - The Last Resort, not the First
Topic 6. Communication Skills II: Getting What you Want Without Nagging
Topic 7. Driving a Car Safely: A Skill You CAN Acquire
Topic 8. Telephone Skills: How to Hang Up
Topic 9. Classic Footwear: Wearing Shoes You Already Have
Topic 10. Oil and Petrol: Your Car Needs Both


Note: due to the complexity and level of difficulty of their contents, each course will accept a maximum of eight participants each.

Topic 1. How to fill ice-cube trays: Step by step with slide presentation.
Topic 2. Toilet paper rolls: do they grow on the holders?: Round-table discussion.
Topic 3. Differences between the laundry basket and the floor: Pictures and explanatory graphics.
Topic 4. Learning how to find things, starting with looking in the right place instead of turning the house upside down while screaming. Open forum.
Topic 5. Health watch: bringing her flowers is not harmful to your health: Graphics and audio tape.
Topic 6. Real men ask for directions when lost: Real-life testimonials.
Topic 7. Is it genetically impossible to sit quietly as she parallel parks?: Driving simulation.
Topic 8. Learning to live: basic differences between mother and wife : Online class and role playing.
Topic 9. How to be the ideal shopping companion: Relaxation exercises, meditation and breathing techniques.
Topic 10. How to fight cerebral atrophy: remembering birthdays, anniversaries, other important dates and calling when you're going to be late : Cerebral shock therapy sessions

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Highs & Lows in the Life of a 15-Days' Old School Teacher


The chocolates and toffees that accompany my students' b'days. Most of which I pass on to weight-oblivious family members.

The authority to order people about and inform them that you are the law.

Eating lunch on time, just like the students.

The permission to give free advice without being considered didactic.

The liberty to dress up in and consider looking good part of your daily responsibility :-)

Saying something as inane as " I presume you have only one father, then why on earth are you not writing 'dad' or 'father' with a capital letter at the beginning of the word in your letter-writing classwork ?" and getting away with it. (Although the students did look suitably scandalised. And for a minute, I myself was like " Shit, I'll be fired.")

Being praised profusely for your creativity in something as trivial as the cover of your lesson-plan file.

Getting to read all the poems and stories and plays you loved in college all over again. And interpreting them anew.

Students giving up their rickshaw for you, although they were before you in the queue.

Being able to quail a human being just by glaring at him/her long enough ;-)


Losing my voice every weekend. Hoping to regain it by two days of silence and the absence of the species called students anywhere within a 10 mile radius.

Losing sleep over the preparation of lesson plans of 3 classes for the whole year.

Having to scold the tiny creatures of classes IV over trifles such as
"Miss, he is beating."
"Miss, she is kicking."
"Miss, he is spitting."
"Miss, he is laughing (at me)."
"Miss, he is saying/writing bad things."
"Miss, they have changed their places (without your permission)."

Bringing home piles of unchecked exercise books (a la dirty laundry).

Losing sleep over the pathetic state of their grammar, syntax and bizarre spellings.

Being allotted a specific chair and position in the staffroom, which you are not at liberty to change.

Not being able to wear just what your mood dictates to work (in my case, usually jeans and a T-shirt).

Checking the tendencies of young teenagers to flirt with their preferred 'other', while in class.

Using my precious voice to answer the same silly questions everyday as in :
"Miss, may I drink water ?"
"Miss, may I go to (the) toilet ?"
"Miss, may I share the book (having forgotten to bring mine, as usual) ?"

Missing out on my daily quota of maachh-bhaat and afternoon nap because of the school timings.

NOTE : This is a fun post. Not meant to trivialise school teachers or the teaching profession in any way.

Monday, April 26, 2010


"The thirsty earth soaks up the rain and drinks and gapes for drink again..."
---- Abraham Cowley

The first kaalboishakhi of the season has just been here...and how !
I didn't know what to do...the scent of the wet earth after the first rain, the sight of the trees dancing with careless abandon on the dusty horizon, the sight of sheets of blessed water quenching the thirst of the parched heart was in a state of ecstasy so hard to describe, so good to experience...and here's the first photo I took from the balcony, before consideration for my camera lens send me scurrying indoors ;-)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beauty and Beyond

From my window

I had gone out this morning to exchange some T-shirts I'd bought at an unbelievable discount (but had forgotten to check whether they fit, so very me) this morning. I got down from the auto and was walking the last bit home when I had a strange emotional experience.

It started with this purple-and-lavender painted house I was glancing at as I passed by. It looked so cool and fresh to the eyes in the middle of the floating waves of white hot heat all around. Then within a couple of minutes, I came across this blue-and-navy painted house, equally soft on the eyes. Yes, I am a bit eccentric that way ; I don't mind spending all my leisure hours ambling along the streets of Salt Lake, thinking and feeling and considering houses. They are as individualistic to me as human beings, maybe more so. When I see a house that really pleases my senses, I feel a strange sense of contentment, as if I had created a masterpiece myself. The right colours, the sense of symmetry, the pattern of the grille, the shape of the doors and windows, the positioning of the gates, the lazy climb of the bougainvillea along the balcony pillars, all these things give me an immense sense of bliss. Strangely enough, 9 out of 10 people wouldn't think of me as materialistic in the usual sense. I'm not too picky about my food or clothes. All my friends gift me books (yes, all of them) on my bithday each year. And yet, I am particular to the point of obsession when it comes to colours of walls, shades of tiles and hues of accessories like curtain fabrics or bedspreads or cushion covers. I can't function in a room painted in a colour I abhor or take too seriously a person who wears colour-uncoordinated clothes. Strange, isn't it ?

And yet, even as I was living the beauty of these houses, I was also thinking of how lucky I was to be able to have eyes that could appreciate the beauty of things around me, to have the time to stand and stare amidst a life full of care, to be able to afford an umbrella over my head to shade me from the merciless sun. And then, I looked at the woman fast asleep on the footpath in the heat of summer and I realised with a strange keenness how life, beauty and happiness are shortlived and essentially transitory in nature. Sobered and checked, I felt like giving it all up and giving all I had away and seeking sanctuary somewhere permanent, with someone omniscient.

Sometimes, life has more meaning than I can make sense of.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Looks and Lessons

Ma and me ;-)

Mitu the model :-)

Me :-)

My friend Sohini's back in town. And this time with an unexpected gift : a little baby boy, Soham :-)

Juieen and I are still debating whether the little fellow looks like his mother or whether that is something we shouldn't be losing sleep over so early in the day; after all children's faces change so much as they grow. Me for instance. When I was young, most people would observe me carefully and then almost unanimously declare that I had inherited Baba's looks. Let me tell you, that seriously dampened my spirits. My father, I was aware of even at that tender age, was not good-looking, even by the wildest stretch of imagination. I reacted to the former observations with prolonged fits of sulking. My looks kept on changing over the years but big awkward glasses, domestic haircuts and a severe inferiority complex in terms of physiognomy contributed much in retarding any possible progress in the confidence sector. It was only when I went for a radical revamping of my image in college with contact lenses, a real haircut and a wardrobe subdued in colour but smart in cuts that I felt I was finally at par with my peers. And yes, when I went to my mamar baadi (mother's parents' place) during my summer holidays sometime around that period, everyone finally decided that I was a xerox copy of Ma. That was one helluva compliment since my mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, well at least in my eyes (see photo above). I still recall Pooja asking me why Ma had not joined the Bengali film industry when she was young ; it seemed a big shame that her looks had never drawn public attention in the way it deserved to. I didn't have a reply of course. Ma just smiled when I repeated Pooja's words to her. Anyway, Mitu, my younger sibling, is modelling big-time nowadays (photo above) and I think Ma derives some sort of satisfaction, however vicarious, from that.

As for me, I'm just happy the way I am nowadays. I 've learned not to overdo it. One celebrity in the family is enough ;-) No make up for me, no loud colours or flashy cuts. No brands, no coloured hair, no fairness creams...nothing that makes me look into the mirror and stare silently at a stranger. I prefer to keep myself low-maintenance and recognisable.

Returning to where it all started out from : I just hope little Soham grows up to be as good as he can be in his own eyes. The rest doesn't matter. Really.
But you have to grow up a lot to believe in the truth about brains scoring over beauty. That's the sad part.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Paradise Lost

Last night, I dreamed of someone I had loved and lost. Someone who my near-thirty years of innocence and desire had slowly, steadily moulded into life... and then, destroyed. Someone who was the climax of my older, younger ardour, the crystallisation of my spartan, monotheist faith. Someone who I dreamed into life, lived into religion, religiously summoned from the sphere of souls to love, cherish and protect. Someone who made me want to believe in the existence of a being who answers your prayers, provided there is enough power and patience in them.

That someone is no more. One day, I woke up and he had disappeared. He had died, I think.

With him, had died all the love I had breathed , so much of it that it had made me wonder.

With him had died all my elations and my illusions.

With his death, I now know how to feel when you love and lose. But better that than never having loved at all.

It's only that enlightenment has come at a cost : I'm alone with myself again. And the dreams are no more.

But yes, I now know that that being is there.

Be careful who you wish for. It might just be answered.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ad Noise-eum

I was proud and pleased to spot the following ad (please click to enlarge) in the 'Metro' supplement of today's 'The Telegraph, Kolkata'. Having freelanced for the newspaper for about 5 years now, anything worth eulogising in its pages always helps make my day. Besides, it struck a chord with me because of a previous post I had made recently on somewhat similar lines.

It's nice to see the media doing its duty. Now, if only we would follow suit.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


We all need wings to fly. But what happens when the wings become vestigial and our torpor makes us forget the sky and its infinite solace ?

It is then time we wake up and weigh ourselves and find what is wanting. Realise that just living for others has no reward, sometimes we need to live for our own dreams. For the others may leave you to lead their own lives but your self remains, always to inspire you to the noblest grain of your character or to intermittently sound that wary note of time flowing by and so much work yet to be done.

For life is so much more than just family and money and partying. There is so much ignorance and illness about us, so much sorrow and weariness of heart. We forget the greater world around us and get immersed in our own narcissistic misery once in a while. But nature is a good teacher : with enough time and peace of mind at our disposal, she enlightens us to the wisdom that centuries of quest have distilled for us. That we are here to serve interests much greater than our own. To heal all the wounds that selfishness has ever sown. That our lives are one of millions and no one is here to stay. That the road to salvation is calling us and we must surrender our selves and remorselessly, come away.

So be it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pilgrimage of the Soul


He did not harbour regrets :
A scapegoat would do the job.
Memories were just pretty leaflets
One could sweep indoors and turn the knob.

Departing for the sake of worth and value
All that stoked the fire in her soul,
She nursed the past with a halo...
Autumn leaves that echoed in her bowl.

He travelled in the heat of summer
To lands shrouded by the age of trees ;
Unseeing of the silent star who would glimmer,
Crafting light and summoning the breeze.

She would strive in secret splendour,
Living lives doomed never to be whole ;
He would drive on and on, beyond her,
Stopping only to pay some obscure toll.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wonder to Wisdom


Sometimes, love just isn't enough.

When windows light up the city sky
But darkness dawns on my eyes,
It's time to draw the curtains
To mourn the need to arise.

For he lies drunk in slumber
Having done his good deed of the day ;
But I must stand, silent and sombre,
Sober mistakes rankling bloody and grey.

We travelled a morning misty but magical
Flowers smiling our way to a home...
Now their corpses rot out of rainbows
Bitter yesterdays serenade their tome.

Doom descends on the departing horizon
As I stare truth into these dead hands :
He crushed the blossom and tore out their scent
While I wept witness to the war in our lands.

------------- GARGI MANDAL

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

From 'Shirley', Part I, Chapter 7

"A lover masculine so disappointed can speak and urge explanation, a lover feminine can say nothing; if she did, the result would be shame and anguish, inward remorse for self-treachery. Nature would brand such demonstration as a rebellion against her instincts, and would vindictively repay it afterwards by the thunderbolt of self-contempt smiting suddenly in secret. Take the matter as you find it ask no questions, utter no remonstrances; it is your best wisdom. You expected bread and you have got a stone: break your teeth on it, and don't shriek because the nerves are martyrised; do not doubt that your mental stomach - if you have such a thing - is strong as an ostrich's; the stone will digest. You held out your hand for an egg, and fate put into it a scorpion. Show no consternation; close your fingers firmly upon the gift; let it sting through your palm. Never mind; in time, after your hand and arm have swelled and quivered long with torture, the squeezed scorpion will die, and you will have learned the great lesson how to endure without a sob. For the whole remnant of your life, if you survive the test - some, it is said, die under it - you will be stronger, wiser, less sensitive. This you are not aware of, perhaps, at the time, and so cannot borrow courage of that hope. Nature, however, as has been intimated, is an excellent friend in such cases, sealing the lips, interdicting utterance, commanding a placid dissimulation - a dissimulation often wearing an easy and gay mien at first, settling down to sorrow and paleness in time, then passing away, and leaving a convenient stoicism, not the less fortifying because it is half-bitter.

Half-bitter! Is that wrong? No; it should be bitter: bitterness is strength - it is a tonic. Sweet, mild force following acute suffering you find nowhere; to talk of it is delusion. There may be apathetic exhaustion after the rack. If energy remains, it will be rather a dangerous energy - deadly when confronted with injustice."


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Death in the Family

Dimma (my maternal grandma) died around 5.10 pm on Sunday morning. Ma called me up early in the morning. Having received news that Dimma had lapsed into a coma, she said she'd be leaving within a couple of hours for Panagarh (of the military base fame) where Dimma had been staying with my mejomashi (my middle aunt) for the last few years. Because of my back problem , I needn't go over and stay at Salt Lake. My parents-in-law were away in North Bengal, so I couldn't have shirked my responsibilities here in any case. All I needed to do was check from time to time whether everything was ok with Mitu (my sibling) since Ma doesn't have much faith in my father's sense of responsibility when it comes to family (he's a doctor, so you get the drift). She said she didn't expect Dimma to live beyond that day or at the most, the day after. I called her again around 2 pm, and she said that she'd just reached mashi's place. Dimma, too weak and physically incapacitated, couldn't possibly be removed to a hospital, so a doctor had been called over. Other relatives had come over and there was a tangible sense of impending gloom. I said I'd check on her again later, in that case.

We were supposed to go over that evening to Salt Lake to my parents' place. Baba was attending a seminar at the Hyatt and there was a cocktail dinner at the Rowing Club to round it off that night. Mitu would probably not feel like attending the event if we guys weren't around, so I persuaded K, explaining the logic . (We had had Rashi and Saugata sleeping over the previous night and had had a whole lot of rich food in this sultry weather, so he didn't really feel like partaking of some more of the former at the invitation in question.) We had just taken a nap and I was sitting on the bed, contemplating whether to make tea first or decide what to wear when Ma called.

Some intuition told me that Ma's calling at that particular point of time did not augur good news. I remember K's puzzled look when I kept on staring at the mobile screen and then turning to him and telling him in a lame, lost way that it was Ma calling. Eventually, I must have answered the call for I could distinctly hear Ma's voice sounding strangely and unnaturally clear, telling me that Dimma had 'just' passed away. Her matter-of-fact voice injected stupor into me, for I can't remember anything of what she told me after that. There was already wetness on my cheeks and along the sides of my nose and somehow, in between all of this, I was lying down, turning my face away from K because I was conscious of this being a moment of personal loss, something he could not possibly understand, empathise or sympathise with. It was something that was intensely personal, a bereavement that would mean different things to different people but somehow, none of our emotions would be the same. There would always be a difference, because I was mourning at the shrine of my own personal existence, grieving for one whose birth had inevitably predestined mine. I was reliving family, blood ties, shared memories. Somehow, in those few moments, I felt like Ma was no longer just a mother, I was no longer just her daughter. We had been promoted by an entire generation.

But we could have done without it.

Dimma, I'll miss not having you around. Memories are not a very good substitute for the physical presence of a person, are they ?

Friday, March 12, 2010


I was reading an interview of Nandita Das a couple of days ago in 'The Telegraph'. It ended with an interesting rhetorical. I can't recall her exact words, but summed up, they more or less ran as follows :

Why on earth would we do something in life unless it was something we really really wanted to do ?

She has a point. Why indeed ?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

To Mother or Not to Mother

Several of my friends have become new mothers recently. At most get-togethers where we nowadays come across them, I feel like an outsider. The conversation mostly centres around the needs, eccentricities, trials & tribulations and the daily routine of the mother-and-child. The conversations are by themselves rather interesting and often give unexpected angles into the way a woman's life is transformed overnight when she becomes a mother. After sexual initiation, this is probably the second stage of life when you feel physically fulfilled as a woman. But me not being a mother, how do these conversations make me feel ?

To be honest, isolated would be the first emotion that comes to mind. I get the feeling that this is one of those Phi Beta kind of sororities where even the conversation is coded and elite. Well, of course it's not half as dramatic. But I do get that feeling and it's odd.

The next would be fear. The routine of a new mother sounds terribly intimidating. It makes me feel that I wouldn't be a good mother myself because I seem to lack the patience, the will to put up with n number of sleepless nights, the courage to brave the agony of being unable to pacify a bawling infant owing to not having been able to figure out what the current 'lack/need' is, the indefinite period of sacrifice of other pursuits that are dreadfully dear to my heart in general, the ability to overlook my own indispositions to focus on a being whose needs are more instinctive and sensitive than mine...the list is long and what's more, scary.

Then comes the terrible sense of a personal loss of freedom. The freedom to go anywhere, do anything at anytime, any which way I'd ike to. Marriage does bring its own natural restraints, but that seems nothing compared to what motherhood would demand. The thought of my wanting to just be by myself for a whole day without anyone tugging at my heart-strings and demanding constant care would just be a wistful lotus-eaters' dream once I plunged wholeheartedly into the cactus path to motherhood. I'm a loner by nature and the notion of not allowed to be one seems to endanger my sanity the very moment I start thinking about it.

Then there's the weight gain. Ever since my MA days, I've been struggling to keep my weight under strict surveillance, since my hypothyroidism problem demands that of me in order that I stay fit and fine. I'm not a celebrity like Malaika Arora who can work out with a trainer immediately after delivery and get back into shape at the snap of a finger. My gynaecologist has categorically advised me to lose weight for certain specific reasons. The sense of having to lose weight, gain it again in pregnancy and then begin the struggle to fight the flab all over again exhausts me mentally right now.

And with that finally comes the enormous burden of duty, responsibility and culpability. These are all spontaneous and I suppose would someday come to me as naturally as they have to generations of mothers. I'm secretly proud that I've always been wo(man) enough to stand up bravely and be answerable for my own flaws, lacks, offences or misdeeds in life. But what about taking the blame for mistakes my child might make, often knowing that I was involved all along in the very process of making them ? It menaces me, looms over me like a nightmare that is destined to be fulfilled.

There is one good thing that however stands out star-bright, in this senseless saga of formless fears. I finally realise what it means to be a mother. Maybe that itself heralds a positive, more meaningful, futuristic note. My frequent disagreements with my mother might lessen as life strives to school me in the language of motherhood, a legacy that must be passed on. A dream that must be realised, even if it must go through the painful metamorphosis of the glorious vision into a checkered reality.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Women's Night Out ?!

I just read this article. The link was provided by my JU classmate Romila on Facebook. Read it for yourself, blogolleagues. I'd be interested in what you guys have to say about this.

Btw, this was my friend's reaction, in case you are interested :

"small moan" from yourself indeed ! let her also register her objection with a small blow with the nearest hairbrush...

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Green Nooks

There's not too much of nature to go ga ga over here in our neighbourhood, which is one of the relatively new localities along the E.M.Bypass. In fact, it's still in a state of considerable concretisation, which recently made me succumb to an allergy attack that came and went like a child's smile, only not half as welcome. Now what does one do when one is as used to greenery as I have been since my early childhood, be it in Wales or Salt Lake ? One creates one's own little green patch, of course !

Now let me warn you in advance (in case you begin to harbour great expectations of my ecological entrepreneurship) that my gardening genes are by no means original. I embarked on the process of green-ing my home, inspired by two worthy predecessors, Ma in Salt Lake and Mamoni, here. Ma, as a matter of fact, doesn't know too much about gardening and her excessive enthusiasm once proved to be quite uncongenial for the chrysanthemums concerned when, advised to add a manure of shorsher khol to the budding plants, she overdid the amount of khol in the mixture, rendering the manure too strong for horticultural purposes. Her remorse was genuine and acute, but it didn't help to resurrect the plants. That, however, happened to be an isolated occasion. Ma does have a real passion for gardening and the numerous delicious papayas, guavas and lemons in our back garden are the fruit of hours of planning, judicious care and earnest instructions to often well-meaning but rather ignorant gardening personnel. The latter category included our former driver, Hori Da, whose sporadic sorties into Ma's beloved garden depended mostly on his benevolent moods and eccentric labour. However, that never deterred Ma from buying numerous potted plants, flowering or leafy, arranging them along the ledges of our spacious verandahs and taking care of them more than her own children (yes, Mitu did often level such a complaint against her desensitised person).

The result was that I grew up, with considerable botanical ardor, often having fallen asleep in the afternoon ensconced in my reading chair amidst a curtain of greens, creating a perfect Elysium in my own house. My interest in plants seeped into my journalistic assignments, where I did the rounds of a few front, rooftop and terraced gardens in Salt Lake, finding particular delight in hearing experienced gardeners air their views and proudly display their gardens to the public. (It was a totally unexpected matter that I even landed what sounded like a marriage proposal on one such assignment). Recently, I even did a couple of articles for The Telegraph on the East Kolkata wetlands, the latter endangered by illegal urban encroachment and pollution.

The point is that my love for greenery remains, although a trifle subdued by the air of Kalikapur, which seems to be heavy with dust, dirt and pollen most of the time, rendered even more intolerable by the pungent carbon monoxide that the tea-stall just below our apartment insists on belching into the clean morning air each day. In fact, I requested K to take me out yesterday (our anniversary having been on 28th Feb) to some spot where there would be nothing except greenery all around me for a couple of hours. This would explain the august presence of two silly young adults on the sun-baked, winding pathways of the Botanical Gardens at Shibpur, yesterday at about noon. To be fair to ourselves, there were several other silly young adults all around us. The only difference being, of course, that they were heading for the nearest source of shade they could find/ were evidently blindly in love and therefore not behaving rationally/ they were armed with umbrellas, full sleeved attire and a proper lunch inside them. None of which applied to us. Although we sported nonchalant expressions and took some wonderful photos at the place, half-an-hour of March sun making its best efforts to bore into your skull and suck your grey matter dry isn't really conducive to any sort of comfort, however ardent about flora you might be. All the arrows leading to the garden cafetaria seemed to be as misleading as a mirage. We didn't manage to trace the building and assuage the pangs of hunger assailing us at that point. Exhausted and ravenous, we took a quick route back to Park Street, where cheilo kebab, pineapple blossom and beer worked wonders to improve our temper and reconcile us to the vagaries of our recent experience.

I realised one thing at the end of the day : like art, the appreciation of nature too is conditioned by the state of one's mind.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blaring Horns

Why is it that I feel like seeking sanctuary at the Osho ashram in Pune everytime I'm out on the roads of Kolkata ?

Is it because I seem to hear nothing but car horns honking all the time : a cacophony that penetrates into my eardrums and threatens to deprive me of my sanity for good...a noise that I've been used to since school-going days and which I still can't suffer without feeling my blood beginning to boil and my senses reel from the almost tangible assault on my ears, my mind, my consciousness, my being ?

Is it because I feel like doing what many there were allowed to do (I wonder whether it's valid even now) : get into one particular sound proof room and scream their guts out like Preity Zinta's character in The Last Lear ?

Would that help ? Would it help get all that anger, frustration, annoyance, disgust, agony, angst, stress out of my system once and for all ?

Would it ?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Re : updates & a Birthday

It seems like ages since I've last posted. And indeed, so much has happened in between !

Bapi turned 60. For the first time, all the members of our apartment celebrated Saraswati Pujo together, as one big family. K and I participated in the Republic day annual sports at my baaper baarir para (the locality my parents reside in) and didn't fare as miserably as we thought we would. One particular Sunday, we survived a whole night of dirty abuse, brick and glass pelting precipitated by our attempt to get rid of some rowdy neighbourhood mischiefmakers and had TV channels and the police put us all under literal house arrest as they seemingly took action against the anti-social activities of the former. Our ancient (the style, I mean) windows are about to be replaced by aluminium sliding glass ones and the entire house painted. I'm back in academics, doing an evening course on Editing & Publishing at Jadavpur University. Rashi and I visited the Kolkata Book Fair after several years and found it as poorly managed as ever, probably just a wee bit less dusty. Yes, there's a lot that you guys have missed and which I hope to be able to update you about (well, not at one sitting perhaps, but soon).

Let's get started. Bapi turned 60 and we decided to host a party at our flat. It was on a relatively large scale, considering our flat isn't big enough to comfortably contain 30 plus people at any given moment. We decided to save ourselves from overexerting ourselves and so outsourced the food. The menu consisted of crispy chicken and vegetable pakoras from our local favourite GOCS, as starters, while dinner comprised chicken biriyani and chicken chnaap from Shiraz or veg pulao, dal makhani and matar paneer, home-made raita and payesh and store-bought nolen gurer (molasses) rosogolla. The highlight of the party, I personally think, were the cake itself and the decorations (the latter courtesy me). Each experience has its bitter side, though, and this was no exception. Some invitees showed their utter lack of social etiquette by trying to be forcibly didactic in the kitchen (which already contained too many kitchen paraphernalia and four very hard-working people, two of them by nature extremely antagonistic to any unwelcome intrusions). One (gentle)man unabashedly announced that chicken biriyani with chicken chnaap was a silly combination (we should have considered asking him to sponsor the event). Another (lady) behaved as if our kitchen was a public hotel,placing random demands for onions etc to the concerned staff. A few people claimed they were ill and yet, continued to talk into their cellphones nonstop, as if there was nothing called society to take into consideration. Somewhat miraculously, all these histrionics - besides my cutting my fingers on some shards of glass while cleaning our bathroom and taking a painful tetanus injection that very evening - did not result in impairing my mostly stoic appearance. Titai (my sister-in-law) was a revelation though, managing to manoeuvre all the tortuous challenges of entertaining with consummate and disarming ease. I must say that I was very glad when the rigmarole ended though. One can only put up with a circus for a limited amount of time.

The cake :

The gathering :

Dinner :

Adda :

Nicotine and alcohol :

I hope to be able to update you all about the other events too in equal detail. Next day ! :-)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Baby Banerjee

My friend D just had a caesarean. She was supposed to be operated on around late February, but due to complications (which involved a sudden and sharp decrease in the amniotic fluid, triggering breathing trouble in the baby), the entire process of delivery was precipitated much earlier than it would have been otherwise. Her hubby, B, a close friend of ours, called us the day before the procedure took place to inform us about this unexpected development. So, one the next day, we reached the Bhagirathi Neotia nursing home (supposedly the best in maternity and child care right now in Kolkata) and narrowly missed seeing our friend being wheeled into the OT. There was a period of anxiety, excitement and feverish anticipation as I waited downstairs in the lobby in the company of both sets of parents, D's elder brother (who insists on addressing me as a senior each time we meet for reasons best known to him), B's maternal aunt and uncle and a colleague of B. I proved to be an unexpected moderator for the smalltalk that was evidently a strained effort to conceal the concern underlying the apparent composure on everyone's faces. K informed me later that he and his friend were extremely jittery as they sat upstairs, just outside the OT, wondering whether the operation would go off uneventfully or...

Fortunately, everything turned out fine. Debarati gave birth to a bonnie (if slightly premature) boy of 2.7 kg weight at around 11.45 am on Sat, 6th Feb 2010. Everyone immediately embarked on frantic efforts to trace similarities between the facial features of the parents and that of the newborn, much to our mirth. The only assertion that one could possibly and justifiably make at that point of time was that Baby Banerjee sported a fine growth of hair already on his baby head. The proud mama (maternal uncle) insisted on treating us each to Rs 8 worth of gooey, high-cal gulab jamun at the T-Junction stall within the premises of the clinic. We went home, a happy couple, calling up friends and relatives on the way to give them this good news and assuring them that we'd provide concrete follow-ups on the former by way of photos on orkut or via email.

The entire incident succeeded in creating one serious point of contention between K and me : if I insisted on being Mashi (maternal aunt) to the baby and K insisted on being Kaku (paternal uncle); how exactly would bystanders interpret our own relationship ?

Friday, January 15, 2010


For all those of you who have been wondering why on earth I've gone into hibernation - I'm here, alive and in perfect health. The LCD of our laptop had gone so white that it was not possible to read anything on its surface without giving it a makeover. It came back with a new display attached. But soon after, the screen began to flicker intermittently and there was a problem with the brightness of the LCD. So it was sent to hospital once again ;-)

But it's back today. And(un)fortunately for you, so am I :-D


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