Happy Days

Gentle breeze, soft sun, a few John Denver song, extra layer of clothing, laziness, friends, family, a few plans, cakes, coffee, good food - this has to be the best time of the year in Kolkata.

Merry Christmas and a very happy new year.

What's Totto?

If you go ahead and search "Bengali Marriage Rituals", you will get a bunch of sites dedicated to the subject. But those that I have seen does not cover one essential practise: Totto.

Totto is essentially items that are required in other rituals. One small set is sent by the groom's family to the bride on the morning of the marriage. The other set of gifts, which is much bigger, is sent by the bride's family to the groom after the marriage, usually after a day. Please note that there is no pressure on any family from the other family for dowry or anything- not at least in urban Bengal. So, it's the happy families sending happy gifts to happify others. Now, I can't possibly stop others from carrying on and thus encourage this apparently nice part of marriage. But I have my reasons to promise myself not to allow this if (that's a big if) I ever get married. Of course, I am the loser. Here's why:

I won't get to see my relatives shop, pack, unpack, dishevel my house, and repack for several weeks before the actual marriage. Of course, I will miss out on their encyclopedic knowledge of marriage rituals. It is really interesting to see people debate over what is followed in the bangal (East Bengal) way as opposed to ghoti (West Bengal) way, which unfortunately I will have to pass. I will miss remarks like "We only sent 72 trays of gift? At your cousin's marriage, we sent 101", which, btw, happened 17 years ago. I didn't realize we were still playing that game.

In case you are interested in things that I will NOT get, here's a few: shoelace to things to wash your face; suits to boots; shaving cream to gadgets that trim; powder puff to handcuff (oops, disregard that - that's just the sadistic poet in me), savory to lingerie, furniture to fruit hamper. It's demeaning, as if the groom is a beachcomber.

So, my future in-laws, please don't let your relatives pressurize you, or pressurize yourself to show off, by gifting these things: I use them anyway. And if I don't have something, I probably don't need it. I know as a Bengali you are proud that these days there is no dowry, but if you are anyway going to spend lakhs of rupees on useless / perishable things, what's wrong with dowry?

Strange but true

Observations from the latest few days of my life:
  • I went to a party of mostly second and third cousins, some once or twice removed. I actually enjoyed the party!
  • At the same party, I heard two young girls discussing Bajaj Pulsar 220 vs. Hero Honda Karizma!
  • Some people want India to attack Pakistan, though there are countless problems, including terrorism not sponsored by Pakistani elements, within our country.
  • We still don't know how to handle people. If only you saw what happened when Maradona was in town, you would know what I am talking about. Hundreds of people on the stadium ground, with otherwise no business to be there, trying to get close to him, or get a snap, or get an autograph.
  • Just when I was giving up on my old laptop, it started working on it's own.
  • My pen-drive went through a wash and spin cycle in the washing machine along with my pair of jeans. And it still works! Transcend rocks!
  • It's a quarter month gone in December, and it's still warm here.

Rebuild India Mission

One of the interesting projects that I have seen post the Mumbai terror attack is the Rebuild India Mission. There are a lot of positive discussions and actions (which is more important) going on in the mission: I request all of you to go through their website and share your views.

If you want to show your support by adding a linked logo (widget) on your blog:

India Crying: Politicians face the people

One sentiment coming out clearly from the Mumbai terror attacks is the lack of credibility of politicians in India.

Be it Mr. Hemant Karkare's family refusing the one crore offered by the Gujrat CM Narendra Modi, or Major Unnikrishnan's family refusing to let Kerala CM, V S Achuthanandan inside their house, the mood seems to be unanimous. BTW, only if all the philanthropies came a little earlier, maybe our soldiers would have better equipment / protection and not lose their lives so cheaply. If only the sniffer dogs sent to sniff out bombs in the late Major's house (so that the CM can be safe there) were deployed elsewhere, maybe the terrorists would be caught earlier.

Sobhaa De's angry reaction on television to the attack was "Remove security cover for these politicians. Only then will they act". I totally agree with this. What's the point of giving highly trained NSG commandos the duty to protect politicians, when it takes hours to deploy them in a crisis situation like Mumbai?

I have even heard of conspiracy theories about Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Desmukh being involved in this attack to get him out of the MNS / Marathi Manoos row! Though far fetched, if people can even think that the CM of a state may be involved, it shows what respect they have for him. The less said about his deputy, R. R. Patil, the better. Times of India, today, on the first page called him a joker. If he says one more sentence like the one he said earlier: "Small incidents happen in big cities", devil help him from mob fury.

Several SMSes are doing the rounds asking where MNS chief Raj Thackeray is, and why he didn't tackle this problem of non-Mumbaikars attacking iconic landmarks in the capital of his beloved Maharashtra?

I didn't see the Home Minister, now ex Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, giving any statement, or reaction even after couple of days of the attack. Instead, the foreign minister gave most of the statements. What is the use of a home minister, if he can't stand up during times of crisis and lead the operations?

Several people I know, and some eminent personalities are asking the common people to refrain from voting, and electing scumbags. The only meek response to this seems to be "What will happen to our democracy?". No one is saying that voting allows the right people to run our country. Seems everyone is sure there is no right person to run the country! I would have endorsed this boycott votes too, but I, like many people, do not know the answer to: What's the alternative?

Politicians: Please show us some sign that you have the desire and will to lead this country.