Tuesday, 29 January, 2008

Facts from India: Part 3 "Condition of Women"

You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
However much a mother may love her children, it is all but impossible for her to provide high-quality child care if she herself is poor and oppressed, illiterate and uninformed, anaemic and unhealthy, has five or six other children, lives in a slum or shanty, has neither clean water nor safe sanitation, and if she is without the necessary support either from health services, or from her society, or from the father of her childen.
Vulimiri Ramalingaswami, "The Asian Enigma"

India is the world’s largest democracy and the second most populous country after China. India has a total population of 1.1 billion (UN, 2005), which is 16 percent of the world’s population. But India has only 2.4 percent of its land, resulting in great pressures on its natural resources. Over 70 percent of India’s population currently derives their livelihood from land resources, which includes 84 percent of the economically active women. Out of this 48.1% are women.120 million are women who live in poverty in India. The sex ratio in India is 933 women to 1000 men.
India has a long history of activism for women’s welfare and rights. Since the independence of India in 1947 a lot of progress has been made with respect to the development of the condition of women. The Preamble, Part IV consisting of the Fundamental Rights and Part V consisting of Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution enshrines the principles of equality. The Indian Constitution has empowered the state to adopt measures of positive discrimination – in favour of women.
From the fifth five-year plan (1974-78) onwards, approach to women’s issues has shifted from welfare to development. The National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1990 to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women.
The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments have provided for the reservation of seats in the local bodies like panchayats[1] and municipalities. In 1993 India ratified Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations against Women (CEDAW) to secure equal rights of women. In 2001 the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women was adopted for socio-economic development of Indian women.
Even though the Indian constitution grants women equal rights with men, reality is otherwise. Strong patriarchal traditions persist, shaping women’s lives by customs that are centuries old. In most Indian families, a daughter is viewed as a liability, and she is conditioned to believe that she is inferior and subordinate to men. Sons are idolized and celebrated.

The list below gives a comprehensive view on the condition of women in India

  • Life expectancy: females as a % of males, 2005---105

  • Adult literacy rate: females as a % of males, 2000-2004*---66

  • Enrolment ratios: females as a % of males, primary school 2000-2005*, gross---93

  • Enrolment ratios: females as a % of males, primary school 2000-2005*, net---95

  • Enrolment ratios: females as a % of males, secondary school 2000-2005*, gross--80

  • Enrolment ratios: females as a % of males, secondary school 2000-2005*, net -

  • Contraceptive prevalence (%), 1997-2005*---47

  • Antenatal care coverage (%), 1997-2005*---60

  • Skilled attendant at delivery (%), 1997-2005*---43

  • Maternal mortality ratioĆ¢€, 1990-2005*, reported---540

  • Maternal mortality ratioĆ¢€, 2000, adjusted---540

  • Lifetime risk of maternal death---1 in 48

Source: UNICEF available at the web page http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/india_india_statistics.html

[1] Panchayat—is a village’s body of elected representatives who take decisions on the village’s social, political and cultural life.

Monday, 28 January, 2008

On a lighter note: My roomies and me

Ok off late I have been doing just what I promised myself I wont do when I started this blog. I have again ventured into the serious mode and I do tend to write essays. My work makes me involved with these serious issues all day. Once in a while I need a breather hence my dabbling with silly staff.
The other day someone was talking about roommates/flatmates or as I call them roomies. While talking I realised that over the years I have had my share of roomies—good, bad, funny, sweet you name them I have had them.
If I want to talk about my roomies I think I should start with my poor brother. For about 10 years my brother and me, we shared a room. Now let me tell you I talk in my sleep, at times I even used to scream [we meaning my parents, my brother and me, never discovered the reason for my night time aggression] and my poor brother [god bless him] had to go through all that. He had to tolerate the light switched on till very late almost very night since I couldnt put down whichever book I was reading at that point and go to sleep at a decent hour. But if I was sleepy I would never allow him to keep the light switched on. I know big bully sisters. I am sure he must have thanked God when we finally got our own rooms.

I can vouch when I started to share room with others I tried to be a model roomie! When I went to JNU my first allotted roommate turned out to a kleptomaniac. It took me sometime to realise that and by that time she had snipped off some money (one thousand or so, quiet a lot in student days), some pairs of earrings (now who ever knows me knows just how precious ear rings are to me). Matters came to such a crisis that all my stuff was under lock and key and still I used to feel like she was reaping me off. Everytime I returned to my room I used to be in mortal fear that she must have taken something. Ever since I have become rather suspicious by nature. Hostels do teach you a thing or two about life.
Then I moved in with my friend Angira. Friends warned us not to move in together because shared space has resulted in breaking many a strong friendship. But fortunately for us room number 18 of Ganga Hostel in JNU campus was a very happy place where there were more all night chat sessions (adda) than studies. We divided the chores according to our skill areas. I had the heavy duty of decorating out room, cook food (if and when) while she was in charge of cleaning our room, which she did very diligently. Even though there were just two of us in the room, at any given point of time 3 to 4 more friends could be found there. We had our first booze party there and what a drama that was! That was the end of my JNU roomies, after that I was allotted a single room.
Then in Toronto I used to share the apartment with 4 girls-- one French, one Philipina,
one Russian and the last but not the least was a Canadian. Though all the girls were great I struck a great friendship with the Philipina called Beth. She was my guide on how to live and survive in Canada. She taught me how to do grocery shopping in Canada, how not to ram the huge grocery carts into the person standing in front of you (I did quiet a bit of that initially), where to get the best deals, how not to shop from Dominos (because they are expensive), how to pick up shampoos from Shoppers when they have the discount on…I don’t want to go on and on and bore you about the things Beth taught me, but the list is actually numerous. Miss you Beth!
Back in India I lived for sometime with my old JNU friend Anasua. Now both of us are big foodies and at night after going to bed invariably our discussion used to turn to food and alcohol. And then after a full dinner we used to crave for whatever food we would be discussing. Anasua used to crave for alcohol every night but we never managed to have any of it. Miss those night conversations Anasua.
At present I live with two girls one full Maharastrian and the other half. Courtesy the pure Maharastrian I have started to have vegetarian dinners and follow bits and parts of Marathi. Way to go Indian diversity.

South Asian Women's Day for Peace, Justice, Human Rights & Democracy

I landed up in the South Asian Women’s day only because our coordinator for Women’s Justice Initiative (WJI) was away in some meeting in Mumbai. So it fell on me to take a small delegation to this programme which was being held in Connaught Place’s newly opened Central Park. We started off from office a motley bunch of lawyers, social activists and interns. We were carrying our WJI material to be distributed. When we landed up there around 5 in the evening, there were some women’s groups standing there displaying posters protesting again domestic violence, sex selective abortion and other such inhuman practices. After showing our solidarity with them we proceeded a bit further where the bands were playing. The same venue was also holding SAARC Band Festival. When we reached there was a band from Bangladesh playing called the Bangla. Their lead singer Anusheh has a tremendously powerful voice. The band played alternative rock - folk and baul songs with western instrumentization. Nikhil Chinappa from MTV was hosting the show. The crowd was huge but very welbehaved and it seemed just like a college festival with mostly college crowd hanging around. Later in the evening there was a silent candle light protest by women's groups.
South Asian Women's Day was celebrated on the 30th of November but the cultural band festival went on for 3 days and Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy, Strings and Stigmata from India, Abhaya and Steam Injuns from Nepal, Bangla Fusion Band from Bangladesh, Zero Degree Atoll from Maldives and the Aryan Band from Afghanistan to name some performed there.
I attended only the 30th evening. It was a great event with good music, great environment and best of all it was all free!


Vijay Tendulkar's Kanyadaan
Directed by:Lillete Dubey
Cast: Rajendra Gupta,Lillete Dubey,Joy Sen Gupta,Radhika Apte and Raghaav Chanana

I went to see this play almost by fluke. It was shown in Delhi’s Kamani Auditorium as part of the 10th Delhi theatre utsav (Bharat rang Mahotsav) on the 15th of January 2008. By the strength of the crowd who had gathered outside Kamani waiting patiently for passes to come from God knows where, it seemed that this play is pretty popular. The play opened almost to a full house. It started off pretty well. Set in the early 1980s about a politician father, an activist mother and two siblings-- brother and sister who seemed to be sharing a good rapport. Things were going ok with good racy dialogues till the girl announces that she has fallen in love with a dalit boy whom she wants to marry. The dalit boy is from a poor background, new to the glittering lights of Pune, not used to the confines of brick and cement houses, a poet, a drunk and an abuser to boot. The girl realises that the man is abusive but she decides to marry him. Her parents and her brother also are aware of his character. The father eggs her on in the name of being true to what he preaches that is social integration with low castes. The mother and the brother are deeply apprehensive and they try to warn the girl and also the father on the grounds that she was brought up in a different sort of atmosphere and that she cannot adjust with this guy or his family or their mud hut in some remote village. Though they made sure to clarify that their problem was not certainly the cast of this guy.
The characters in this play are very stereotype—the mother even though she is a feminist and a social activist bows down to the father at every stage be it during her daughter’s marriage or when the daughter had enough of her drunk abusive husband and wanted to return to her parent’s house, the brother has not much role expect to serve tea and console the mother and the girl is merely foolish and obstinate which she conveniently blames on her father’s ideals and upbringing and the father who among the lot was the only progressive one is shown at the end to bow down to his principles and admit defeat when his own interests are at stake. The dalit boy’s character is shown to be a contradiction, someone who is a poet and a wife beater, he doesn’t hesitate to kick his pregnant wife or use his father-in-law’s name for his benefit and he is always drunk. The excuse for all these shortcomings in his character is his being a poor dalit of scavenger parents who while growing up saw his father beating his mother. At a time when India is grappling with caste issues with caste becoming a political factor like never before and the Indian youth being divided along caste lines this kind of theatre hurts the cause of the dalits more than anything else. I don’t have a problem with the dalit boy’s character expect that central to it was his dalit-ness. Had it been just a boy from an unspecified caste then maybe it would have been more successful in portraying the wife abuser. But sadly the character was all dalit and everything else was because of that. Aren’t upper caste men wife abusers or drunks or manipulative? Are all the above-mentioned vices low caste specific? Isn’t it time we stopped kidding ourselves?
The sad part was that the play was full of anti dalit dialogues and the audience was all claps. At one point I got confused thinking was I missing some underlying thread, which everyone else seems to have got.
The play is also very anti- feminist. It actually sends out a message that women are supposed to stay in abusive relationships because their father’s taught them not to run away from any situation in life. Now isn’t there a whole lot of difference between being irresponsible and accepting abuse?
I am surprised that eminent personalities are doing such plays. If dalit writers have attacked Tendulkar for anti dalit writings I fully understand and support them. I read some of the critics of this play. Most have said that even though this play is set in the 80s it is still relevant now. If by that they mean the play’s portrayal of the upper caste mentality towards the dalits then surely it is relevant.
Superb acting and stagecraft lost in a bad cause.

Sunday, 27 January, 2008

Facts from India: Part 1 "Rio Earth Summit and Indian Dupliucity"

Of all the places I found this peice of very interesting information in the preface of a detective story!
At the Rio Earth Summit Conference, May 1992, the Indian Minister for the Environment, Kamal Nath announced that India was the only country in the world to have increased its area of forestation. This claim was based on satellite photographs which showed that India had boosted its forest cover from nine percent of available landmass to nineteen percent in a single year. On this basis and the understanding that satellite pictures cannot lie the World Bank paid the Indian government $500 million for development rights to all Indian forest resources. Apparently nobody at the World Bank knew that the figure nineteen percent was provided by satellite pictures taken just before the national sugarcane harvest. Mature sugarcane reaches heights of fifteen to sixteen feet and to a satellite camera looks like forest. Once the sugarcane was harvested the true area of forestation fell back to nine percent.
It was a bad deal and expensive lesson for the World Bank. In India it was business as usual.

Paul Mann—The Burning Ghats

oh kolkata!

I got this in a forward mail and lo and behold it is about my city Calcutta now called Kolkata. I read, agreed and deiced to add a bit more and put in some of my personal experiences and put it up for all of you who like/dislike, love/ hate, passionately love/passionately hate Kolkata. Also this could be an effective guide when you visit the city. Read and have fun…

Guide to Kolkata—The City Of Joy---
Bridges—The first thing that you see when you are entering Kolkata in a train is the Howrah Bridge. This bridge has been immortalized in every way possible and has a very strong symbolic presence in Bengali memory—from pride to nostalgia!
The new (well not so new anymore) second Hoogly Bridge. Even tough they took twenty years to build it, it has come to represent Bengal’s journey to a modern developed one.
Sahid Minar: Built along Kutub Minar's style.

Food: Kolkata is the mecca of food, all kinds from salty to sweet. Here is some of my favourites... the list is pretty long so sit back maybe with a cup of tea Kolkata style..
Phulkopir Shingara: samosas don't stand a chance against these.
Phuchka: gol-gappas aren't a patch on phuchkas. Try BengalLamp, Dakshinapan and Basantadebi College.
Karaishutir Kochuri: a seasonal favourite, have it with "alur dam".
Luchi: puri and phulkas - no comparison.
Alurdom: the world's best. Try the offering at Vivekananda Park.
Jhalmuri: a unique concoction, with nothing to equal it, well maybe the bhel, just sometimes!
Telebhaaja: these and jhalmuri are like 'made for each other'.
Chanachur: many have tried unsuccesfully to steal the formula, MNCs included!
Alukabli: where will you get something like this?
Ghugni: with chunky coconut pieces and dhonepata...again, chana is not the same at all
Radhaballavi: try it with alurdom or cholar daal.
Chanmp: even Pakistani cricketers have sampled these, in Chitpur and close sources say they were in love with it. Not that their [Pakistani cricketers] not liking it would have made the slightest difference to me.
Rezala: out of this world, just out of this world!
Biriyani: Best in the world, yes I am saying this after sampling other famous biriyanis. My favourite is Bedouine but there are other places like Shiraz, Amenia to name a few. And yes I lone Kolkata biriyani more cos of the potato and the egg that comes with it.
Paradise er Sharbat: there is one which is green, and another, pink. No college student from Presidency or the University has failed to sample these! Ah love and yummy sharbat sitting inside Paraside's cool interior with its stone topped tables...
Lere Biscut: needed to make the batter for chop-katlet. Can break your teeth but gotta dip it in bhar er cha and have it, ummmm.
Chicken Kabiraji: an unbelievable variation on the chicken cutlet. Try the fish one, it is even better. My mom loves it.
Moton Afghani: an equally innovative presentation of the mutton cutlet. And by mutton I mean goat and not lamb.
Dimer Devil: again, where do you get something like this? And imagine having a devil for a snack!
Kasha mangsho: it has become an institution now. Visit Gol Bari in Shyambazar's paanchmatha ar moore.
Roll: the ubiquitous mutton, chicken or egg roll. Unquestionably superior to any variants (Frankies for that matter) in any other city of the world. Even Delhi kati rolls for that matter and all roll wallahs in Delhi have been imported from Kolkata!
Tangra Chinese: Best Indian Chinese you get anywhere in the world.
Chinese breakfast: If you are one of the early risers this treat should not be missed.
Bharer chaa: on the Maidan, from shining brass vessels on a rainy day.
Pan unmatched, even in Benaras or Lucknow or Delhi’s Jamma Masjid where one freaking pan costs Rs 22, god knows why and is not even that good, and I am not even going into Priya or other costly hep places. Honestly!
On the sweeter side--------
Roshomalai: a creamy, mouth-watering delight!
Jilipi: smaller than the jalebis and tastes quite different. Should have it with shingara and kochuri for breakfast and from some North Calcutta shop like I used to in my mamarbari (maternal uncle's house) when I was a kid. Ah the taste is unforgatebale!
Lal/misti doi (sweetened yogurt): is an experience by itself! and please dont forget to eat doi er matha...literally translated head of the yogurt but what it means is the top layer!
Sada Doi/ Unsweetened Yogurt: have it @ the shop, "Mithai" or any other misthi ir dokan...
Kamala bhog: a pale yellow orb, delicately sweetened.
Notun gurer sondesh: a winter speciality available in no other city. Have it in Girish in Bhowanipur. That shop makes the most amazing notun gurer sondesh.
Rosogolla: simply needs no introduction. Way better than the tinned ones ones the small ones found in Delhi. Try it fresh and hot from neighbourhood sweetshop.
Natun gurer Rosogolla: the innovation just before they moved onto chocolate rosogolla. This is the yummiest thing possible. Have it in Shailendra or Girish (both in Bhowanipur). You have to keep going back to Calcutta for this only I bet.
Shitabhog: pure white with little pievces of pantua, sweetened to just the right extent.
Mihi Dana: golden yellow, saffron scented. Try Sen Mahasai's, much better than what you would get in Bardhaman the city of mihidanas and sitabhogs.
Maalpoa: rich brown pancakes, dripping in sugar syrup, but you have to get your grandmother or aunt to make it, because the home made ones are by far the best. My dimma (grandma) makes the yummiest ones.
Ranga alur pithey: another traditional favorite in winter. My mom makes this amazingly.

Up the fashion street
Fashions keep changing. But the dhuti-panjabi and tangail look never goes out-dated. Dhuti with extra broad borders: the finest and most elegant available here. Dhutis in red or black or any other colour that men can brave themselves to be seen in! should go to Maddox square during pujos to check out these modern kartiks in multicoloured dhotis! The latest sensation in Calcutta. Giley kara Panjabi: those with the improbably crinkled sleeves.
Tangail Sari: the best in these all-time favourites can be found here.and the other marks of distinction are...40.. Bidy asagari choti: you still get them here. Kabuli Chappal: another old favourite. Garader Sari: ideal with pujo bari, shankher awaaj.
Batik: get a silk batik sari or a scarf.
Murshidabad silk: Gives a run to Chinese silk
Katha ar stich: Created a niche of its own among the fashionable
Terracotta jwellery: Cheap but pieces of art

Sights and sounds: One wakes up in the morning and hears their voices drifting through the air. So typically do they say their bit...that it is difficult to forget....and even more so ...to imitate...
Shil katowala: they chip the stone slabs which grind masalas.
Chhuri Kanchhi Shaanwala: sharpens knives, scissors and anything with an edge.
Lep Shelaiwala: they make those cotton quilts which warm you up in winter.
And early in the morning, before Durga Pujo, who can forget the strains of Mahalayar mahishashuromardini.
Bhashans: Any puja be it durga or saraswati the bhashan is a very important part and you should listen to the music that accompanies these bhashan processions.

Kolkata unique institutions which have become part of Kolkata's life...
Coffee House:Do you know Coffee House is also known as Albert hall? Too much has already been said about this institution. Still a lot more can be said. Now they have revamped and redesigned this place but I am told that the adda and intellectual atmosphere is still the same.
Rabindra Sadan, Nandan and Academy of Fine Arts: Hub of Kolkata's culture, go there any evening and you would find the place filled with poets, intellectuals, journalists, students and what nots engaged in serious decisions (intellectual addas) while Charminars or Gold Flake ciggarates hang from their mouths and cha er bhaar in their hands.
Natok: Theatre is serious business in Kolkata, must see one of the groups while you are there whether in Academy, Shishir Mancha or Madhusadan Macha.
Bangla Rock: A recent well just 10/15 year old innovation. Each student in Kolkata has some fond memory of jiving while the bands play in college festivals.
Metro Rail: spick and span, and the trains are dot on time and the Bongs are not so argumentative in the train. Though men sure were pissed off when seats were reserved for women. And it is much older than Delhi metro...
Park Street: This is the street where all the great food places, confectionaries like Flury's and now T3 are situated as well as book shops, if you want to feel the Anglo side of Kolkata you have to take a walk down here. No Christmas or New Year celebration is complete without a trip to Park Street.
Victoria Memorial: Brits created it in honour of Queen Victoria, Kolkatans enjoy it irrespective.
Kalitghat/Belur/Dakhisneswar/Adyapith/St Paul's Cathedral: You visit these irrespective of your faith because they are places of beauty and superb archietecture.
Maidan: the ideal p lace to be on a sleepy, winter morning. or if you are a football fan, have you ever palyed football in maidan in a muddy monsoon day? If not, try it!
College Streeter Boipara: bookworms buzz around this place morning, noon and night.
Kolkata Markets: Gariahat, New Market, Shyambazar gives a run to all the new malls a run for their money any day. I am totally anti brands and anti malls...I dont want my Indian bazars and thriving markets to die down and be replaced by these monstrous, antispectic malls which all look the same...join me in my crusade...
Lake/Hedua: Water bodies with parks where couples, kids, elderly, friends all hand out.
Kolkata Cinema Halls: Lighthouse/ Globe/ New Empire/Basushree/Priya/Menoka long live.
All Night Music Conference: you won't find a minute to yawn.
Circular Rail: see the river all along as you travel on the train. It is always empty and pretty eerie, so a bit careful.
Ganga te nouko biha (actually it is Hoogly and not Ganga, when I was in class 4, our school gave us this question in GK test and tortured us all): either in a country boat or a steamer or on hover craft!
Dolphins in the Ganga: if it's your lucky day, you might catch a glimpse of a frolicking shoal ( I have never seen or heard of this but hey this is about Calcutta, so a little boasting would not hurt at all).
East Calcutta Wetlands: our very own eco-system regulator - just on the outskirts.
Travel in style--Rickshaw: still the preferred form of transportation for some, especially children and the elderly.
School van: it's to be seen to be believed how 10/15 kids can be squeezed in such tiny space.
Tram: if you have time on hand, you can see the city glide by.

Calcutta's passion--
Roker adda: Calcuttans are an adda baaj lot.
Mohan Bagan & EastBengal: prices of ilish (Hilsa) or chingri (prawns and shrimps) go up, depending on who wins the day. If East Bengal wins wham goes Hilsa price...they eat a whole lot of fish all the time.
Nobles prizes and Kolkatans: Just to impress—did you know Plato and Asristotle loved a good argument and had all their ideas flowing from there? No wonder we get all the Noble prizes in India!
Jatra: who says it is all melodrama? These could give Ekta Kapoor a run for her money.
Durga pujo: the pomp and pageantry, reserved each year for the 'mother of all festivals'. Kolkatans from all over the world try to flock back home during these four days.
Pujo Awards: Awards given by companies like Asian Paints to the best pujo in Kolkata has become an institution in itself.
Little magazine: you still find devotees of this publishing wonder.
Book Fair: when the fair is on, you are there - whether you love books or not. Just go to eat those savoury fish fries from Benfish stall.
Cricket match at the Eden: cricketers and cricket lovers theworld over treasure the experience.

City's own and one of its kind--
Hydrant: there's a move by the CMC to revive the practice of washing the streets with Ganga water from the hydrant
Italian Saloon: road side barber joints, where you sit on a piece of brick (it).
Chinese dry cleaners: do a very clean job, indeed.
Darjees of Metiabruz: are a cut above the rest. Even if they cut corners at times!

And I dont think I have covered all of it.

Now, Tell Me Is There Any Other Place Better Than Kolkata On Earth?

Friday, 25 January, 2008

ode to all my friends

an ode to all the beautiful friends i have in my life and also those friends with whom i am no longer in regular touch due to varrying factors. you all have really enriched my life and made it better for me. thanks for being my friend.
please click on this link--

Thursday, 24 January, 2008

Till there was you...

Found this poem while googling one day and really liked it...

There were bells on a hill,
But I never heard them ringing.
No I never heard them at all

Till there was you.
There were birds in the sky,
But I never saw them winging.

No I never saw them at all
Till there was you.
Then there was music,
and wonderful roses
They tell me,
in sweet fragrant meadows
of dawn,
and you.

There was love all around,
But I never heard it singing.
No I never heard it at all
Till there was you.
Photograph found in Google. Titled "evening enamoured" by Hatusya 2007

Wednesday, 23 January, 2008

netaji's birthday

today is the 23rd of january...i started my day much like every other day till i saw the date on my cell...today is netaji's birthday...ever since in school it has been a special day for me...firstly we used to get the day off in memory of the great hero...seconly my dad used to make it a point to take me and my brother to netaji's house in elgin road whenever he could...i still remember going there to watch the function with my father. then later invariably one of the television channels used to show a movie made on netaji's life.
my father is a great sotry teller and he used to tell us stories of how netaji escaped from his elgin road house defying the british gaurds...how he had gone to japan to make allies to fight the brits!
as a citizen of india i pay my respect to one of the bravest son of india

for more information http://www.calcuttaweb.com/people/netaji.shtml

my childhood crushes!

for confidentiality purposes i am keeping the names of all my ex loves secret.....
i was all of one and a half years...mind you very cute....i was taken to the zoo and there i saw this baby monkey....according to all witnesses (my father, mother, aunt, uncle and of course cousins) both the baby moneky and me....we were stuck....liking, attraction, chemistry and instant love at first sight...my mom could not drag me away from that cage nor could his mom......ah the monkey my first love....never met him after that..........but still havent been able to forget him.......
second love.....three year old, another zoo trip.....searched for my first love, couldnt find him anywhere...i was rather sad and forlon and then i saw HIM......he was standing next to his mom and oh! my! my! my breath stopped for a second..........he was sooooooooo cute...............he was the first baby elephant i saw and i fell in love with him instantly...again dragged home by parents.............dushman zamana!!!
throughout my childhood my dad and grandfather, both were browbeaten by me into telling me stories...........my dad had made up this story about a tiger escaping from the zoo and how he manages to come to our house and then what we do with him.....now i used to hear this story every night, sometimes twice till i was 5/6 years old.....that tiger was my constant childhood crush...........ok already devulged three of my crushes....rest some other time.....
one last one........i saw the animated movie frog prince when i was in class 1 or 2....still waiting for my frog who is going to turn to a prince and even now whenever i see a frog my heart goes dhak dhak.....................................
ok before u guys think i am totally 'nooje' character [courtesy dipankar dey in bancharam er bagan].......lemme stop..............................................................

Saturday, 19 January, 2008

who do i blog for?

now that i have taken to blogging so obsessively...i have been thinking whom exactly do i write in this blog for? do i write for myself? i have always written a diary on an on and off basis depending on my mood...but this is the first time i have made it public...
so do i write for my readers? does anyone even ever read my stuff? well i got three feedbacks from 3 friends who said that they had checked out my blog due to the tag in my gtalk and liked it... one of them was even pretty suprised that i can write!..so that was quiet a nice feedback...
ever since i made this blog of mine public i have been checking to see if i have recieved any comments! this is actually what got me thinking why am i actually writing this blog? when i see that i havent got any comment it does feel a bit disappointing!
so my new resolution is not to let my blog be bogged down by comments...but just keep writing!
but you know what i have modified the comments setting so that people can comment without much hassle!

Friday, 18 January, 2008

Life in JNU Part 1

Disclaimer: This is just a funny piece of writing and not meant to be derogatory or mean nor is the purpose to insult someone!

I wrote 'Life in JNU' in a series of emails to my friends while I was studying and staying in JNU. These writings are pretty funny so I am putting them up here.
This particular piece talks about UPSC examination craze which inflicts 99.9% of the students in the campus.

With the summer break starting half the campus has gone home, the other half left are almost all UPSC candidates, or people like me doing projects or senior research fellows whose guides give them strange looks if they hear these people are going home.
UPSC/ Civil Services is a major thing in JNU. Almost all the North and South Indians come to JNU with the big dream of becoming an IAS, IPS etc. Many times people suspend their regular career for the dream of cracking this examination. And mostly all aspiritants stake their personal lives. Cracking this examination is a major obsession not only among the JNU students but there are pockets all over Delhi like Jia Sarai just next IIT Delhi campus where students from all over India come to prepare for UPSC. Even though I have never been to Delhi University (yes even after staying 5 years in Delhi!) I am told it is a major obsession there also and there are specific areas like the Mukherjee Nagar where students cluster and prepare.
There are students who keep giving this examination for the maximum number of times they are allowed. Some make it, mostly majority do not. And again there are people who simply keep on repeating the examination for the sake of improving their ranks until they become the “IAS”. I know of many who on first try got 200 something, on 2nd try 150s, then on 3rd 100 and at last 30s/40s. Just imagine giving this tough exam (I think it is the toughest in the world) four times! just to improve your rank! I certainly cant!
First you have to clear your preliminary examination among 12/13lakh contestants, of whom they choose about 2/3 thousand who go on to give the main examination, out of them 500 qualify for the interview, finally 200 something qualify. The syllabus is like everything under the sun for general studies irrespective of whether you are science or arts student, 2 languages, two optional subjects where you have to be masters in both. And the worst part is that many people get chucked out in the interviews and then they have to start all over again from the preliminary examination. It is a bit like the 'snakes and ladder' game we used to play as kids. Even after bypassing all the hissing snakes you reach 99 and then you are hit by a snake and bham you go down right to 1 and dash goes all your dreams of reaching 100!
I have looked at the preliminary examination syllabus. I know I’ll never make it in a 100 yrs. Actually Bengalis do not sit for this exam much, on the whole preferring to go abroad for their Phds. Now a days Beharis crack this examination a lot, or at least they used to when I was in JNU. And the effort they make for this examination is worth seeing! They study like mad and really know how to work hard. There is a common saying in JNU “ behari jaisa par sakte ho to upsc laag jayega” (if you can study like a Bihari then you can crack UPSC). From what I saw people who crack UPSC are not brilliant just smart and hard working. Many give their final interviews in Hindi.
An immediate senior of mine in M.Phil cracked UPSC and became a celebrity overnight in the campus. She was from some rural village where female education was an unheard thing. Her school teacher father went against the entire village and educated her. She came to JNU for her masters got sucked into the UPSC mania. The first time she sat for this examination she got 231st rank, on her 2nd try came 31st. Since she is an OBC finally went up to 20th. She was telling me that the final interview is the toughest, with people waiting all being very nervous. The interviews all go on rather haphazardly with someone being interviewed for 20 minutes while another person 1.30 hours. She was saying at one point the tension becomes so unbearable that people start throwing up, some even faint and the atmosphere crakles with tension.
Soon after I joined JNU my mother and my uncle started to egg me to give this horrifying examination. I refused outright on the ground that I don’t have any capacity for hard work, my sincerity is dubious, my motivational level keeps going up and down and hardly steady, i do not any any tenacity ect etc.
One of the amusing stories doing rounds in the campus is that one aspirant got so agitated studying hard that instead of sitting in a chair, he istarted sitting on his table to study because someone advised him that is a better vastu position. Another one is running all around his room and studying! I don’t know how far all this is true but with so much at stake if they go a little mad, no one can blame them!
The preliminary examination is held very year in the stifling heat of May on a Sunday. JNU students union arranges for transportation so that students dont have to worry about reaching their examination halls.
Well here is wishing all the best for all the brave hearts who plan to sit for this examination in future!

Tuesday, 15 January, 2008

friends and me

i am another one of the millions of friends fan all over the world. i dont remember when exactly i started to watch this serial but i guess for the last 7/8 years friends have been an integral part of my life. i cant tell you how many times i have seen the reruns of each episode!
even now some tv channel lacking fresh programme airs this serial. or maybe they do it for people like me whom they know would be watching it even if it is the hundred and eleventh rerun!
a lot has been said about this serial and the people who acted in them. i dont want to go into that. rather let me share how this serial impacted me. when i was in india i used to watch it just like i used to watch some serials, maybe i liked it a bit more than others!
then i went to live abroad for about a year. the whole day i used to be busy in school, but come evening i used to dread going home. i could never figure out what to do once i am home. no i think i hated opening the door and entering an empty house alone even more than spending the vening alone.then i discovered that one of the channels air this serial from 7 or 7.30 p.m. so every evening i used to go home and switch on the television for an episode of friends. these actors so well known to me appeared every evening without fail and include me in their warmth. reruns felt like friends sharing some old story which everyone knows yet something which people cant resist talking and sharing! once i saw friends i stopped feeling so lonely and could go about doing my own work. then the evening didnt seem like never ending and school work claimed all my attention.
even now i watch friends reruns every evening thanks to star world. it is like a welcome back to my home for me and my room mate. we just let the television play while we potter around the house or work in the kitchen. at times we dont even watch it, just the familiar music makes us feel good!
i know many people dont like friends, many think it is slapstick...but it has helped me a lot in my life especially at times when i was alone...

when u hit "30"

dear friend,

"welcome to the 30's club. dont get disillusioned by everything bad you hear about reaching 30. it is actually not that bad, take it from me, someone who has become 30 three months back. once you reach 30 you kind of reach the middle of your life, you can look back and see all of your past--the good times, the bad times, the right decisions, the mistakes, brave moments, silly moments...list goes on...and you also can see your future stretched out in front of you like a shining sea waiting to be explored...you are young enough to face all the storms and seek adventures while old and wise enough not to let your boat sink!!! so have a great day and get ready for a great life from today onwards!!!"

remember that friends episode when rachel turned 30 and all her friends were with her trying to cheer her up and basically make her feel that she has not reached the end of her life etc etc...i have often seen that episode...(i have seen all episodes of friends over and over again...so that is not a big deal) to get back, while watching this episode i often used to wonder now what is actually so big about hitting the '30'?
i remember as a teenager my confusion when people used to talk about turning 16. all those adjectives sweet 16 and all-- they never made any sense to me...i turned 16, sour and akward like any teenager and then i turned 17... never realising what all the hullaboo was all about...maybe there was something wrong about my understanding... my curiousity about sweet 16 continues...
now i am again at this kind of age...'the 30'...an age which has been so talked about and discussed...but this time i must say i am more prepared...this time round i am not confused and clueless trying to understand the essence of my age and its significance in my life...this time i know i am 30 and know what are the things that are supposed to make me sad and depressed!

i know society regards 30 as the ‘age’. At this age you are supposed to have settled down and made your life. Now what does it mean? Well as far as I can understand this settling down means having a great job which gives you immense satisfaction as well pays great, so much so that you can actually pay a stackful of tax; have a devoted, handsome and rich husband someone who is better and smarter than you, who earns more than you, is ready to share it but not have any superiority complexes about it…someone who respects you and treats you very well and gives due attention to you and understands and plots for your career…in a nutshell not a man but a superman;...a good house…maybe whose down payment is already done and taken care of;…money to shop as and when you want;…travel as much for work as for pleasure…

I am 30… and i wouldnt like to analyse my situation vis a vis my age…. cos my life lacks all the things that i mentioned above...so the options open to me are--

i) be a sad and depressed 30 year old...

ii) be an optimistic 30 year old who often doubts all the optimism...

iii) be a happy 30 year old inspite of everything...
now which one do i be?

p.s. i have a question...is 30 equally important for men?

Friday, 11 January, 2008

new year's resolution

ok, first things first...it is already the second week of january and i havent yet come up with this year's resolution list!

ok here goes my list...
1.become a chain smoker and not smoke once in a while like i used to till now;
2. eat chips and junk food everyday;
3. drink every day;
4. be shameless;
5. cut down on work;
6. stop reading;
7. shop even if i have to borrow money and become bankrupt in the process;

ok this might be the longest list of resolutions that i have ever made and they look the thoughest to maintain. but i hereby make a solemn pledge that i will try not only to maintain them but also improve on them!

Thursday, 10 January, 2008

nagaland trip, december 07

december of 2007 saw me going to nagaland on an office tour. now i usually go to rather boring places for my office tours so i was really excited about this trip. three people went from delhi. first we had to get inland permit from resident commissioner in delhi for this travel...
before going to nagaland i didnt know much about the place except briefly about naga politics. so the first thing i did was to read up about nagaland from the internet.
we travelled from delhi to kolkata and from kolkata to dimapur...there are one or two flights from kolkata, some from guwahati and none from delhi!!!
dimapur is a dusty, not so interesting place...one of those non descript small towns of india...with lots of fumes and dirt...
kohima, the capital of nagaland is beautiful...dimapur is in the plains while kohima is located much higher up...dimapur to kohima is about 3 hrs drive up the hill...usually i dont get virtigo but this time round the drive up and especially the drive down was pretty bad....local oranges which were extremely sweet really helped.....the road is pretty bad at places but the view is terrific...it is a typical hilly drive...hills on one side covered with deep forests
and valley on the other....in the distance you can see the naga ranges...naga ranges look really picturesque...
while going we tried to be economical and shared the cab with veggetables...tomatoes were rolling all over my feet, cauliflowers were popping up at times! in regular intervals there are fruit and vegetable stalls run by local women's organizations! there were stall after stall of pineapples...i have never seen so many pineapples in one place ever before in my life...
...sadly i never got the chance to go around kohima, not even the war cemetry which is the main tourist attraction of kohima...
...because christmas was just round the corner....there was festive mood all over the place...all the shops were lighted up and people were shopping like mad...which i could not do at all because i was with two men who were least interested...when i used to leave for meetings in the mornings i used to see all these shops on my way and then by the time we used to get back to our bunglow the streets were desserted and empty...
it was peaceful, i was expecting heavy army and police presence...there were army patrols but in the highway not in the cities...the autodrivers told me that while things are peaceful they can change within a second and army comes down and there is a lot of violence and then curfew is imposed....... shops and everything close with sundown which is around 5/5.30...then the whole place looks deserted and forlon...
in dimapur we stayed in hotel saramati which is the government run hotel there...in kohima we stayed in a heritage naga bunglow which was a beautiful wooden structure called the razhu pru... this is a new place, run by a young woman, spic and span and beautifully done with traditional naga artefacts and local cane and bamboo furniture... it even had some paintings by local artists for sale...every evening there used to be a roaring fire in the sitting room where we used to warm ourselves...each room in that bunglow was named after a naga village and my room was named 'jotsoma' and while comming down from kohima to dimapur i saw a sign board for jotsoma village and i felt like i already know this village...
naga soceity at least superficially looks very westernised...majority of the population are christians...naga women look beautiful and i cant praise them enough! people are very friendly and nice...
all in all it was a good trip and we got some good work done. maybe next time i will go as a tourist and just discover the place!