Vacation responder

Taking the rest of February off. Going to Sikkim.

See you in March.

Life is not all that bad....

Last evening, my friend, Milan and I got caught up with some work which detained us a few hours beyond our normal office hours. meanwhile the other office in the building also shut down for the day. Not going in to the details of who / why / how, the security person locked the main gates and the outer gate and left.

Imagine the two of us, eager to go home, happy that the testing went well, glad that the internet connection didn't betray us like it was doing for the last few days, and suddenly we find ourselves locked in.

We called our colleagues, got the office man-for-all-jobs promise to come ASAP with the keys, and started thinking about our situation. The worst case was if no one came! But then we had biscuits, jams, pickles, sauce, and Hajmola to eat; we have good music to listen to; few movie DVDs to watch; internet to chat / browse; roof to ourselves (to stargaze); and phone to talk to our near and dear ones. We even started singing. Well, I sang "Masakali" in rap beats... and Milan sang a self written devotional song, which roughly translates to "Either you (Goddess Kali) come, or keys come". Life is not all that bad, if you know how to look at it.

Well, after a few minutes, our man came with the main gate keys, but without the outer gate keys. But, then, we were only too glad to climb the five ft. wall and the gate over to freedom.

Affair: Book fair

The last time I went to the Kolkata book fair was 10 years ago. Since then, I have stayed outside Kolkata, and each year I would come to Kolkata in December, and find it impossible to manage leaves in late January / early February (when Book fair is held each year). Last year, I was here in the city, but circumstances were gloomy this time last year. So, this year, I had to go. After all it's a Kolkatan tradition!

Now, if you don't know already, Kolkata book fair used to be held in the central open area of Kolkata, known as Maidan. But due to environmental reasons, it has been shifted to a new location, which most of us consider as outskirts and 'odd'. But once inside, I don't think the spirit is any different from what it used to be.

It's still full of passionate people moving from one kiosk to another stall, with loads of pamphlets in hand. Still, bunch of college kids hang out together there, tired from all the walking, looking for a place to sit and a sip of water. The 'intellectual' Bong (in Bengali, we call them 'Antel') searching for one particular book in every stall. The small publishers employing someone outside their stall to get people to visit their stall. The odd romeo, with no inclination towards books, but just happy to see all the pretty ladies. The odd announcement for 'little Ruma' who got lost in the fair, and whose parents are waiting outside the official kiosk. The rare foreigner, trying to soak in all the chaos and frenzy. The grumpy parent scolding the disgruntled kid to stop asking for more books. The sketch artist, oblivious to surrounding onlookers, replicating a face on paper. The young jobless lamenting the lack of money to buy all the books he wanted. It's still the same old Kolkata book fair.

It is ironic that the same old Maidan ground was used for a political rally on the last day of book fair; and cooking, eating, littering and all associated acts were performed liberally there. One bus even got smoldered by a gas cylinder burst. Why was the Book fair shifted, again?

Anyway, I bought a few books, and can't wait to read them. Thank heavens, there's such a wonderful tradition here.

Who wants to be a reporter?

On 4th February, 2009, Kounteya Sinha in Times of India reported this: 'Indian cooking oils unfit'. Gyst of the story: A study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found all cooking oil brands in India to contain unhealthy trans fat, many times above the recommended level. Interestingly, the study found Amul butter to be the least harmful of the lot. As a result, choosing a lesser evil, the popular sun flower oil that we have been using was thrown down the drain and all cooking at my home was done with butter that day (naah, just kidding).

On 5th February, 2009, the same Kounteya Sinha in Times of India reports this: 'Indian refined oils safe for cooking'. Gyst of the story: A study by CSE has found refined Vegetable oils in India have negligible trans fat hence are safe.

For a pack of Amul butter, here is your question: Which report is correct?

a) Report saying all oils are bad
b) Report saying all oils are safe
c) Both the reports
d) None of the reports

The only reason I am writing it here is because a few months ago there was this article in TOI (Kolkata) about a a few bikers reaching Everest base camp in Khardungla!!! I wrote a scathing comment to the editor (online), but it was not published. I wrote a comment on this article too, but I don't know if this is going to be published!

Brushing up on my Hindu Mythology

Reading all the headlines and breaking news about what happened in Mangalore recently, a thought hit me: Shri Ram's Sena (army) during the attack on Ravana / Lanka was comprised, almost exclusively, of monkeys. Wasn't it?