Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Journey Home

So I did make it back home after an arduous train journey. Why arduous? I had a side upper berth (for those familiar with Indian trains) which is anyway smaller than the berths in the main section of the compartment. On top of that, I realized that my housekeeper had forgotten to put the chain with which one can tie one's luggage to the bottom of the seat (to protect against thefts) inside my bag. So I had to sleep with my bag next to me & anyone who's travelled by Indian trains knows how uncomfortable that can be. I cannot tell you how mad I was at her!!

The retarded attendant decided to keep the air-con on full blast all thru' the night & I became frozen mangsho (that's Bong for 'meat')!!!! On top of it all, the train reached Patna 5 hrs late. There's a reason I don't like travelling by train these days.

But it's been bliss since I've come home. I've been eating, sleeping, chatting with my parents & generally milling about the house doing nothing. Ah...bliss....

Ciao for now. More to come later...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Diwali!!!!!

So finally, it seems I’m on my way home for Diwali.

Actually, I shouldn’t really call Patna ‘home’ b/c I’ve been away from the place for soooooooo long (more than ten years now!) that I feel disconnected from the place. In fact, I used to feel more at home in Bombay & would yearn to get back as soon as I could whenever I used to travel. Except when I was going to Delhi where I have friends, friends & more friends that I have an absolute blast with!! What keeps me going back to Patna, apart from the fact that my parents live there, is the thought of being taken care of & chilling out for a few days without having a zillion things to do, places to be at etc.

Anyway, coming back to the context of this post….I had planned to take a train from Calcutta to Patna & fly on my wayback. Unfortunately, two days before my departure (tonight) students in Bihar went on a rampage to protest the violence against North Indians perpetrated by Raj Thackerey & his release from jail. For some inexplicable reason, they started burning trains en route to Patna, so all trains to & from Patna were cancelled over the past two days. Thankfully, just in time for my trip home, the trains have resumed.

The thought of not being able to make it back home for Diwali had depressed me a bit. Festivals are the times when I miss family the most. Not that we have extravagant celebrations on Diwali (the Hum Aapke Hain Kaun kinds….God, they were so over-the-top & fake!!), but I like to be with my family on the occasion. We light diyas/candles, cook good food & just generally meander about the house. Everyone around you is with family during Diwali & is so happy that it sucks if you’re not happy too!

Coming to the issue of Raj Thackerey, I cannot believe the man has caused such unrest in the country (yes, it’s not limited to Maharashtra alone anymore) and still keeps getting let-off from prison!! What I want to ask is: who gave him the right to take law in his hands & go around beating people up? Why is he such a hypocrite? Like there are no Maharashtrians living & working outside Maharashtra & outside India? Take Gujrat & Madhya Pradesh for example. These two states share their borders with Maharashtra & are teeming with Maharashtraisn. Going by his logic, they too are snatching away employment opportunities from locals & should be beaten up & sent back to Maharashtra!! How would he react then??

For one, I have always taken exception to the ‘Jai Maharashtra’ slogan that politicians & celebrities keep chanting at rallies & award functions. Since when has Maharashtra – or any state for that matter – has become bigger & more important than India? No wonder that it’s been 60+ years since independence & we’re still walking on crutches on our way to development. Development cannot and will not take place till we leave our narrow-mindedness behind and stop letting ‘self-proclaimed’ leaders divide us on the basis of ethnic lines.

Why is the government not able to keep him behind bars for good? Are they even interested? How can one individual get so much bigger than the law and the principles of democracy & freedom that this entire country is founded upon?? Even Mumbaikars are scared to go to out on the streets thinking of the rioting MNS supporters. Since when has it become acceptable that one man can cripple an entire city by fear, holding millions of people to ransom?

Hopefully, things will be better after Diwali. Not that I expect some miracle to happen…but we could all surely use some lovin’.

Happy Diwali everyone

Friday, October 17, 2008

Life is Miscellaneous

Status message of a fellow blogger on Facebook : Drona – Where Priyanka Chopra fights the villains armed with nothing but her cleavage

I found it hilarious & told the guy (you know who you are! ;-) that he should NEVER underestimate the power of cleavage!!


So, I need some help. I need to get initiated into the world of PINK FLOYD.

I haven’t heard much of Pink Floyd so naturally, I’m not a big fan. But everyone else around me seems to be. Friends, ex-boyfriend, people at work…Everyone. And they find it outlandish (used on purpose : notice the dictionary meaning “freakishly or grotesquely strange or odd, remote from civilized areas" : this is exactly what they think!!) that I’m not a Pink Floyd fan too. In fact, one of the girls in my team worships David Gilmore. She knows everything there is to know about him, probably even how many strands of hair he has on his chest if he has bothered to count them!!

Besides, I’ve always been more of a U2, Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band person so Pink Floyd never really caught my radar. Now I need help on where to start…which of their songs should I listen to first? Any ideas?


There’s a new breakfast place that has opened up in Calcutta….a pancakes, waffles, crepes kind of place. Very nice dark wood interiors et al. It had the potential to be an awesome breakfast jaunt BUT….the owners just HAD to ruin it so…they’ve made it VEGETARIAN!!!!! No prizes for guessing who the owners would be. Definitely not Bongs or Punjabis.

What is this with Hollywood celebrities? Why are they so WEIRD?? I read somewhere today (I’m not going to disclose where b/c you guys will call me a trashy tabloid reader) that:
  1. David Duchovney (Fox Mulder, people!!) went to rehab for s*x addiction. Man! I wonder how one become a s*x addict? I mean, I know some things are addictive…like drugs, alcohol, Rock ‘n’ Roll…but how can addiction to a good thing be perceived to be bad to the extent that it requires rehab? Besides, what do they tell you when you’re in rehab for being a s*x addict?? “You should not think of s*x all the time. You should have less s*x.” What??
  2. Colin Firth took a playboy model to court because she threatened to leak a sex tape featuring the two of them. He got scared that his mother might see the tape & say that he reminds her of his father from certain angles!! What a thing to be worried about!!!!!
  3. Amy Winehouse, whose singing career was speculated to have crash-landed prematurely thanks to a drug addiction, blames the DEVIL for her drug habit!! So all ye folks who ever have/do fall prey to drugs, just blame the Devil for it. It’s never your fault :-)
  4. On another note, I feel kinda bad for Guy Ritchie (Madonna’s husband). The couple is getting divorced & out of their joint wealth of £300mn, only £20-30mn belong to him. The rest belongs to Madonna!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Of The Great Debacle & Other Things

I had always lived with roommates before moving to Calcutta. Through college and my stint in Bombay. And both times I was lucky to have roommates who were from neighboring towns so they would go back home every weekend or at least every other weekend, so I could have the place to myself for at least two days every fortnight. It worked wonderfully well…I would get my space at regular intervals, and would be ready for company again by the time Monday rolled by & it was time for them to return.

At times, I used to think how nice it would be to live alone! To have the entire house to myself all the time, to not have to co-ordinate my shower time with that of my roommate in the mornings (which you can’t avoid in Bombay where you pay a bomb to live in shoebox apartments with one tiny bathroom), to be able to watch whatever program I wished to watch on television, to be able to sleep whenever I wanted to etc.

So when I moved to Calcutta I was all excited about living on my own. I got myself a pretty house with mind-blowingly well ventilated rooms, plenty of sunlight, quiet surroundings, a nice balcony & lots of trees outside my bedroom window!! It helps that the building is new and the house was freshly painted in a happy shade of pink before I moved in!!

However, five months of living alone and I’ve already had enough of it. I’ve realized that I’m not made of stuff that can handle - leave alone enjoy - living alone. I need people around me. I need people to talk to. I need someone home in the evenings.

I have come to believe that people who enjoy living alone and those who don't are inherently very different. They have a totally different set of characteristics. I just can’t fathom how some people can live alone, out of choice. And they seem to have a blast doing it too!!


On another note, I’m reading Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan’s book ‘You Are Here’. For the uninitiated, she’s the author of the “popular” blog ‘The Compulsive Confessor’, and also writes a column in Mumbai Mirror called ‘Ms Adventures’. Sadly, her adventures are limited to drunken org*s at Zenzi, mishaps with her bra straps, being single, dating a guy, being dumped and being single again.

(Disclaimer : If there are any fans of her blog/column reading this blog, I’m sorry if I am hurting your sentiments, but I’m invoking my Fundamental Right of 'Freedom of Speech' granted to me by the Constitution of India)

Anyway, back to the book…IT IS UTTER CRAP. The material is no different from her blog - s*x, bra straps, being boy crazy, being cheated on, being dumped etc. The language is immature and straight out of high-school! The book is in first person, and though the protagonist is supposed to be a twenty-five year old, she talks like a ten-year old!! Now, I’m not a sucker for ornate, fancy-schmancy language and I’m all for authors who write in a colloquial manner, but I do expect a certain level of maturity in the writing, which is acutely missing in her book.

Which brings me to Ms Reddy Madhavan herself. I think she needs to simply take a break from trying so hard to be perceived as cool & modern. That’s the problem with her – she tries too hard. There are plenty of liberated, emancipated women in India today. One doesn’t need to be talking about one’s s*x life & dusfunctional bra straps on a public forum to be liberated. Being cool, modern & liberated is an attitude, not something brought about through words. Someone needs to tell her that. To me she comes across as someone who is trying desperately to prove a point where there is none to prove, to people who really don’t care!!

The latest update on her blog is that she's single again. Surprise, surprise...I wonder why!! Afterall, don't guys just love it when their girlfriends splash the details of their love lives & stories of how psychotic they were before they met the guy, on the web for the whole world to read!!

Anyway, on to other things…


Winter is finally approaching in Calcutta! YAY!! All of a sudden, the weather changed yesterday. There was just that slight bit of nip in the air the night before, the morning was cooler than usual, and on my way to work - at around 10am - I noticed that the sun had to make an effort to shine!!

Can’t tell you how excited I am!! I love winters!! Not that I get all excited about sub-zero temperature & all, but I can handle cold much better than I can handle heat. Besides I love the feeling of being warm & fuzzy inside my home when it’s freezing outside! I love the winter sun! And I love wearing sweaters and socks and gloves and woollen caps and scarves and all that jazz when it's cold….what fun!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Puja Hangover

The Pujas are finally over. A pall of gloom has descended over Calcutta as people have just finished bidding adieu to their favorite Goddess and pandals are being razed to the ground ruthlessly. No wonder the craftsmen who erected the pandals choose to stay away while they're being demolished.

This was my first Durga Puja in Calcutta. When people told me Pujo in Calcutta is crazy, I did not quite know what they meant. Now I do.

The past one week has been a whirlwind of activity. Hanging out till 4 in the morning every single day, sleepless mornings thanks to the 'dhaak' (drum) that is beaten at pandals during aarti, gallivanting in the sun all day, messed up meal times, gorging on street food etc. have left me with a strained foot, an upset stomach and temperature from all that over-exertion. Phew!!

Having spent 5 years in Mumbai, I can’t help but compare Durga Puja with Ganpati. They are drastically different. In Mumbai, there is only one section of society that is enthusiastic about Ganpati. The rest limit themselves to darshan. Durga Puja however, is the favorite festival of Bengalis. It is to Bongs what Diwali is to Mumbai. The festival is preceded by one month of shopping for family, friends & relatives. People must have at least 5 new outfits, one for every day of the Pujo. They spend lavishly & they love to eat! They just don’t tire of it!! People swarm the street like ants & you just can't understand where they came from!!

Hopefully, I’ll be able to recover over the weekend. Y’all have a good weekend!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Festival of Calcutta

I am not the most religious person you will meet but when religious festivals are celebrated with such fervor as Durga Puja in Calcutta and Ganpati in Bombay, I cannot help but get swept in the tide.

Durga Puja has begun in Calcutta. One of the many joyful things it has brought with itself is one whole week of holidays from work!! How can one not love a festival that can compel even cold-blooded capitalist companies to submit to its stature?

There are pandals (tent-like structures inside which Goddess Durga’s idols are placed) or pujas all over the city. The idols are beautiful and awe-inspiring to say the least. The entire city is lit, not only areas where there are pujas. The big pujas are surrounded by food and games stalls. The big parks in the city also have rides such as the giant wheel, the pirate ship etc. that not only the kids but even the adults enjoy. The malls and theatres are empty, instead everyone is out revelling on the streets, irrespective of which community and social strata they belong to. It’s clean fun…no rowdy men throwing colors at you or groping you.

Durga Puja in Calcutta is all about food and people roaming the streets all dressed up and having fun. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some pics of Durga idols. So until the next post, Happy Pujo everyone!!