The last of the ...

It's been more than four months since the evening a pop up came through the Times of India app on my mobile, informing me that all old 500 and 1000 rupees currency notes are banned. The next couple of days were enough to convert the notes that I had. We could also take out enough cash from Banks / ATMs to suffice our upcoming family travel planned just four days later. During the travel, I did not even try to take out cash, but did not face any crunch whatsoever. The biggest challenge proved to be December, when the ATMs and Banks had limits / long queues / lacked cash to disburse.

Now, all this while, I had an apprehension that I might have kept a note or two somewhere stashed as a rainy day fund - well, not really a raining rainy day, but one of those days when you have ordered for food and you don't have enough cash and feeling too lazy to go out. This is something I keep in all my wallets / passport holders / card holders. Imagine my state of mind when just yesterday, while searching for a passport sized photograph, peeped out a bright and crisp 1000 rupee note!

Wonder if I should go to RBI and get it changed before 31st March 2017 or just keep it as a souvenir.

Happy International Women's Day

I am not a big fan of celebrating these "days"... Mother's Day, Father's Day, Brother's Day... these are relationships which should not need a special day a year to celebrate and rather be celebrated every day. Similarly, on a similar note, Women should not need a "Women's Day" to celebrate in an ideal world.

Having said that, it is not an ideal world, and though we have progressed a lot in terms of gender equality and rights, there is still a lot of progress to be made. So here's to all the wonderful ladies out there, following your dreams, breaking the so called glass barrier, making the world a better place to live in, achieving success.

Here's also to all the struggling ladies, working hard to make ends meet, fighting to earn respect and dignity, and staying strong even after hurdles after hurdles - because this celebration is of you, and to a better future where you don't have to struggle so much, you don't have to think about safety every time you step out, and you get to choose what to wear and what to do

The Che(s) closer home

Every now and then, I come across the rebel minded, wearing t-shirts with the famous photograph of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. I am not sure if the popularity of Che is due to his legendary motorcycle journey (and the book), or is it because of his contribution to the revolution in Cuba. In any case, the fascination of the young with Che even today forces me to think if we tend to forget legends closer home and look for inspiration elsewhere?

I am no expert on this subject but I am listing down a few names I have come across who lead extraordinary lives not too dissimilar to Che's. Some of them, I am sure, you were not aware of!

Sarat Chandra Das (1849 - 1917): This dude was both an explorer and a scholar. He explored Tibet extensively sometimes posing as a Lama, and documented his journeys and the culture of Tibet in his books from late 1800s. He spied for the British and fed them with information on the region. He also published the first Tibetan-English dictionary. If you interested to read more, I have his book "Journey to Lhasa and Central Tibet" which I can lend.

Manabendra Nath Roy (1887 - 1954): Trivia question: where was the first Communist Party established outside Russia? Mexico. Who established this? This guy! He plotted armed revolution against the British, escaped from India, and while the British were hunting for him, he managed to travel sometimes with false passport and as stowaway aboard a ship across the world and finally reached USA. After establishing the Communist Party in Mexico, he was invited to Moscow, where he met Lenin and Stalin. On his return to India after 16 years abroad with so many accomplishments, he was immediately arrested and jailed without a proper trial.

Lt. Col. Suresh Biswas (1861 - 1905): Spurred by adventure, he traveled to Britain and worked several jobs including as an animal trainer in a circus. He traveled to Brazil and enlisted in the army there - was later promoted as a Captain in the Brazilian army. His name is referred in one of Satyajit Ray's fiction - "Chinnomastar Abhishap".

I am not mentioning the already well documented extra-ordinary life of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose on purpose. I am sure there are plenty more who should have been glorified more. I hope we find them and their work and celebrate them as well.

Highlights of 2016

  • Celebrated my daughter’s first birthday. The joy that she brings to our family cannot be explained in words.
  • Bought a bicycle. With gears (which my bicycle from 90s lacked). Biggest apprehension was that it will be relegated to becoming a very expensive clothesline; fortunately that has not happened yet. I manage about 4-5 rides of 10 km average per week. Been to work 12.5 kms away a few times riding on the cycle.
  • Reconciled with a close family member. We didn’t speak for years – this year we both matured and started conversing: this has not only released the tension between us; others around us are also much happy.
  • Took my Mom for a vacation for the first time in 11 years. The long gap is primarily due to the care that my Aunt needs at home – one of us need to be there for her. Fortunately, my niece has grown up and she took care of everything brilliantly allowing my Mom and me to travel without any hassles.
  • Ran a 10K. I am not a runner at all, but still enrolled for the 10K. Despite the lack of practice and stamina, finished in 1 hr 18 minutes.
  • Finally, I am pretending as if I never stopped writing on this blog. I am pretty sure, no one is going to read this, but still felt the urge to write after all these years.

Since gaining those inches...

Worked really crazy at work.
Met old friends - and enjoyed their company immensely.
Went to new places to eat and enjoyed most of them.
Saw wonderful movies - "Julie and Julia" and Harry Potter 7.1 being amongst them.

Oh yes, forgot to mention - though not in record breaking time, but still reduced those inches!

Reduce 2 inches in 4 days!

Having you ever seen advertisement from gyms / slimming centers like that? Well, having gained at least 2 inches in the last 4 days, I need their contact details!

Over the last few days, we were celebrating Durga Puja here. And each of those days, I gorged on food in a manner that would suggest Winter is coming and I need to go on hybernation soon! One night, after unsuccessfully visiting several restaurants willing to waive off the usual waiting period of over one hour, we even ate our dinner at 2 a.m. Breakfasts were the only healthy meal of those days.

I hereby swear, that I would eat healthy food, and nothing but healthy food, for the next few days.

Quizzing, revisited

These days, my mom and I enjoy a fun Bangla Quiz show hosted by Saurav Ganguly called "Dadagiri". I had been an avid quizzer in my school and college, even winning a few local quizes. I would also watch Quiz shows like "Bournevita Quiz Contest" regularly. But slowly, over a period of time, my quizzing reflexes have gone down. I realized this a few years ago, when I represented my office in a quiz, and most of the questions were buzzerred (and answered) by other teams before I could remember / work out the answer. It was a horrible feeling!

Thanks to this relatively easy quiz hosted by a very smart Saurav Ganguly, I can sit back and answer quiz questions again. Between my mom and me, we are able to answer most of the questions. She sometimes amazes me by her knowledge about things that I would not expect her to know - like the other day, from a visual clue, she correctly identified a dance form as "B-boying", where I could only guess it was "Hip-hop". She said, "There are benefits of watching dance reality shows, after all". That's the beauty of Quizzing - you never know where you get the knowledge from.