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.

Commonwealth Opening Ceremony

Contradicting my negative comments about organising of the Commonwealth Games in my last post, the opening ceremony was indeed a nice, professional show. I was watching it live at an eatery, and everyone there felt proud that such a beautiful show has been put up by India for the world to see. Hope the events are as professionally managed as well.

India is the third most powerful country in the world

Yet, on one hand we are dealing with Kashmir and making a mess of it, hardly dealing with the Maoists and getting in to a bloody mess. Millions in our country are still below poverty line. Corruption is rampant. We can't even organise a Commonwealth games properly, although the expenditures would suggest this is the best games ever! I could go on and on, but what's the point - we all know what the issues are, don't we?

In three days from now, the entire country would be in total chaos once again, because some politicians felt, and still feel, that fighting over a small piece of land and structure is much more important than all the other issues that we have in our country today.

Incredible India, indeed!

India is the third most powerful country in the world: As per "Global Governance 2025" jointly issued by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) of the US and the European Union's Institute for Security Studies (EUISS)

Need a reason to join a gym?

Aro: I need to go back and join a gym.
Me: You? Gym!?!
Aro: Yeahhh... I need to...
Me: Why???
Aro: I have to buy new trousers otherwise. The neighborhood gym is offering two months package at Rs. 500/- If I buy trousers, they will cost me more... so that's why I am joining a gym!
Me: Makes sense.

Part of the conversation between Aro and me, when he was in town recently. One evening full of non-sense conversations like the one above makes me believe my last post.

P.S: If I know Aro, he has either not joined the Gym or has already quit. Make hay, trouser makers!

The pursuit to break the shackles of busyness

There are many friends, who I would like to keep in touch, and I believe, they want to keep in touch too. However, inspite of all the social networking sites and cell phones, we fail to do so. This Saturday, I left a status message saying I am connecting with friends and asked my friends to leave me messages. I received several replies, including some from friends with whom I was connecting after several years. The same afternoon, I was accompanying a friend to a bank, and while stepping out of the car, a voice called my school nickname from across the road. It was a friend from school, and we met after a couple of years. Makes me believe that if your intentions are right, life throws pleasant surprises at you.

My sister, and I have been working in the same part of the city for over a year now. Her office building is a mere 400 odd metres away from my office building. In fact, my office has a branch at her office building too. In this one year plus, I have met her a couple of times while passing by. Strange, but true, that we have never had lunch (or even coffee) together. Sad, but that's how busy we are! We only meet at home when she visits us (since her marriage). However, yesterday, on the occassion of Rakhi, we decided to meet up and have lunch together. She tied the Rakhi and we ate heartily, despite both of us being on a diet.

As part of the re-connecting phase, I am hoping there would be some old fellow bloggers who would leave a comment, or send me an email after reading this post.

Loan for Finance Minister

Last week, India's Finance Minister was in the Parliament attending a meeting with leader's of our country, when his cell phone rang. He took the call, and supposedly said, "No, no, not now, I am in a meeting". It was a telemarketing call, offering Mr. Mukherjee a loan. Since then, people are having a good laugh about it. But, it has also made the Telecom Ministry to sit up and take steps to stop unsolicited telemarketing calls. Now, that's the good thing about top ministers facing the common man's problem. They face one problem, and the concerned ministry takes steps. Maybe it's time to revoke some of the priviledges they receive - like the police clearing the road for their motorcade to pass. Let them face traffic congestion for a few days, maybe they would think of something that would benefit the common man.

Coming back to the telemarketing calls, there is a easy way to reduce those calls. There is a National Do Not Call (NDNC) registry where you can register. To register to the National Do Not Call Registry, please dial 1909, or SMS "START DND" to 1909.More details are here:

Of Chinese Monkeys and Russian Witches

I was born and brought up in a state run by a left front government. One of the few advantages of that was that in the days of the cold war, a lot of Indi-Chini and Indo-Soviet cultural activities used to happen here. I used to read Chinese and Russian fairy tales (translated in Bangla / English), and watch Chinese movies. One of the movies that I immensely enjoyed was "Bubbling Spring". I still have comic books about a Chinese Monkey King, Sun Wukong and his compatriots' adventorous journey to India. Russian fairy tales of Bogatyrs (Knights), and Baba Yaga (a witch) were regular holiday staple. There was also this series on a young boy named Anatoly (I may be wrong about the name).

These stories not only fueled my fantasies, they also gave me great insight about the countries where they were set. I think it's a very good idea for children to be exposed to multiple cultures at a young age.

I wonder if these books (or similar) books are available for children these days. I also wonder if other children of my generation from other parts of the country read the books / saw similar movies that I mentioned here.

The Real "Gyan"

Real reason for Asamoah Gyan's penalty miss against Uruguay in the last minute of extra time:

You see an Indian tricolor just behind the Uruguay goal! Asamoah Gyan must have been confused (or inspired) by that!

This photo is a screenshot taken from a video (1min 52 sec in the video).

Two things that FIFA should immediately do

1. Make sure the match balls to be used at the World Cup are the same as that used in the previous year's Confederations Cup and all international tournaments in between. The outer print / design can be different, but why should a completely new ball manufactured with new material / technology be used for the first time in a World Cup?

2. Introduce video referal system. When we have someone watching the match on high definition television with super slow-mo reviews from different angles, and we have the referee / assistant referees on the field, running and judging with thousands of vuvuzelas buzzing around them, you know who will get the decisions right!
2a. In all cases where the players are sure the referee has got a decision wrong, they should get a chance to challenge that. It is there in Tennis, Cricket, etc and there is no reason why it can't be there in Football. There is no reason for a player wrongly given a red card to sit out one / two matches, just because the referee got the decision wrong. In a tournament like World Cup, that incidence can be a differentiator.

Value of life

There is a huge uproar going on in Kolkata over the suicide of a 13 year old school boy. The suicide happened after the boy was caned by his teachers at school. Everyone is after the school administration for practicing corporal punishments.

Call me insensitive, but, I would like to look at this incidence from a different angle. It is not corporal punishment which bothers me. Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of this practice as I don't think it creates a positive learning environment. All I am saying is that it is not a deal big enough to die for.

I know it is a punishment that has been practiced for decades. The first paragraph of "Swami and Friends" by R. K. Narayan mentions the headmaster with his cane! When we were in school only few years ago, we have been caned at school. I know a friend who took transfer of school because of caning. But never would anyone of us think about taking our own lives for things like these!

What has changed that had not changed from R. K. Narayan's time through our time in school that has suddenly changed for the kids today? Are the kids these days too soft? Kids commit suicide because they flunked their exams. As a nation, are we raising our kids too pampered? Have we stopped teaching our kids to appreciate the value of their lives? If people can attempt suicide because of such trivial issues, then I am sorry to say, they probably deserve to die. And as a nation we would continue to be physical and mental weaklings.

Brazil... la la la, la la, la la la....

I started writing the last post thinking I would write about Football World Cup and my support for the Brazilian team. Instead, I started thinking about my father and wrote what I wrote. So, here's another football themed post...

I am a Brazil fan because my father was! He was a big fan of Garrincha and wore the number 9 shirt after Garrincha. Of course, Pele is one player who everyone knows, but my father always maintained that Pele was Pele because he had players like Didi, Vava, Garrincha, etc around him. When I started watching football, the Brazil hero was Socrates and Zico. I can never forget the 1986 World Cup quarter final between Brazil and France, where another hero of mine, Michel Platini was playing. Over the years, during every World Cup, Brazil has produced more than one hero, be it Romario, Bebeto, Ronaldo, Dunga, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, or Roberto Carlos. This year, I am hoping that Kaka would play to dazzle the world!

This year's team seems to be defensively the best in a long long time. Their goal-keeper Caeser is considered the best in the world today. They had not conceded an international goal since last October till yesterday (when they conceded a goal against Tanzania). The midfield is both creative as well as physically very strong. The weakest link of the team seems to be the lack of a prolofic striker like Ronaldo or Romario. However, they do have the talented Fabiano and Robinho in their squad. Another trivia will illustrate why the Brazil team is so feared. In their squad of 23, barring the three goal-keepers, there is only one player who has not scored in an international match. That means 19 players in the squad with experience of scoring in international matches. Rivals, stay scared!

Is it just Football?

It's that time again. Time when a bunch of blokes would form a team, and run a green ground trying to get one single ball to a specific area of the other side of the ground. And the whole world will go crazy about it! That is the magic of Football World Cup. My father, who was a football player himself, introduced me to this magic, and Football and World Cups were a big part of my growing up!

My first memories of watching international football on television is the Mexico World Cup in 1986, when we first got television at home. My father would explain the finer aspects of the game to me - what off-the-ball-movement was, how the goal scorer got in to a position to score, how a defender anticipates the trajectory of the ball. After a couple of World Cups, I was in a position to discuss those aspects, and would sometimes suggest him the matches to watch (he would only watch one match each night). Every four years, those 30 days would be a time of special bonding between us - it was our time, at times when we would collectively get scolded for watching too much football by my mother, times when we would set our alarm clocks so that we could get up at 3 a.m. and watch a match! Even at times, when I was not in Kolkata during the World Cups, I would call my father up and discuss teams, and get his opinion on players.

This year, I will watch the matches, but for the first time, I would not have anyone to discuss the matches with. I am not sure I will enjoy this World Cup as much as before!

Mad May

Been too busy to write anything lately. First, there was this Table Tennis tournament I was organising at work. I also played in the tournament and lost in the Singles Quarter Finals. Also lost the Doubles Final match. People say it was the "Knight Rider" jersey we were wearing for the finals that did us in!

Got an award from our client for an initiative of creating an application. That made it two trophies in two days. Incidentally the application I built for a specific activity, became defunct that very day I got the award, since the activity itself was stopped that day!

I also took to a stricter diet last week. I was all health food and good habits for two days, when suddenly the food gods started showering parties and lunch offers. Since then, I have been on a diet of junk food, fried finger food, Biryani and soft drinks. I am extremely un-proud of my bloated self. I promise to refrain from overeating till weekend strikes.

Everything has two sides

There's always a bright side

My house in Kolkata is sandwiched between two other buildings with only the regulated minimum distance maintained. This means my apartment gets only a glimpse of sunlight any given day. But that also means that the apartment remains cool even in the harshest summer day.

And there's always a dark side

My mother-in-law resides in a house which doesn't have a building for at least 40 ft on either side. This means the house gets a lot of sunlight. It also means the house becomes a furnace during the peak summer (which is now).

Slice of Sikkim

Last year when I went to Sikkim, I had a funny mis-adventure where I took a very long detour to reach an easy destination. This time, I was back in Sikkim, and as luck would have it, I was in a slightly serious misadventure. Before you start worrying about it, I assure you that it all went well in the end.

This time the plan was to reach Yuksom in West Sikkim, stay there for a couple of days, and then trek up to Dzongri, part of the famous Goechala trek. Trekkers normally do this trek in four days, however, since my wife Smita and my friend Soma were doing a trek for the first time, we planned to do this in five days. The porter was contacted and provisions picked the previous night. Our rucksacks were to be carried by Ponies, instead of the more popular Yaks. We started at 8:30 in the morning (quite late for a trek), and soon left the village and were ambling up and down the trail. The trail itself was well marked, however, it was quite steep at times and had alternating ascending and descending stretches. It took us about four and half hours to reach our stopover for the day. All of us were tired by the time we reached the Trekker's hut, and the simple lunch prepared by the group of guides and porters was quickly devoured. It soon started to rain, and we were confined to the hut. The evening was spent in playing cards. By the time dinner was served, Smita complained of a shooting pain in her left knee. It got worse with time, and she was unable to walk properly. We gave her medicine, applied ointment, and bandaged her knee, and decided to wait till the next morning for further course of action.

The next morning, Smita was better, but still not fully fit. We decided to leave the group and go back to Yuksom. We left early since we were not sure how much time it would take for us to return. To increase our problem, I had to carry my own heavy sack. Further, we were on our own - without a guide. For the first one and half hour, we did not meet a single person. However, our pace was not bad, and Smita seemed to be doing well. We were also encouraged by sightings of two breeds of mountain goats, giant squirrels, and many birds which we had never seen before. We also found an injured Yak right in the middle of the trail. We took several breaks to adjust the bandage, my bag, or generally enjoy the view. Unfortunately, the camera battery was drained and we could not take too many photographs. We finally reached Yuksom at one p.m.

We were just glad that we could reach Yuksom safely. After the long trek back, we didn't mind the hot water bath, hot lunch and other "luxuries" at all. We soon started planning things we could do in the extra days that we had with us. We finally went and stayed at Ravangla (South Sikkim) and Gangtok (East Sikkim) for a couple of days each.

Frontpage news

Maoist incident at Dantewada happened on 6th April 2010. Sania Mirza & Shoaib Malik drama was going on at around that time, and was given full national importance even after their marriage on 12th April 2010. In the mean time, Lalit Modi / Sashi Tharoor / Sunanda Pushkar / IPL took centrestage.

Is that how it's going to be? It will take only a few days to remove an incident like Dantewada from public eyes by replacing them with gossips and money laundering + glamor + power abuse news? Wonder if 84 people were killed (that's the last count of Dantewada that I got) by foreign terrorists, what the reaction of the media (and public) would have been!

Times when I wanted to blog in the last few months

I wanted to write every time I have traveled - been to Andhra Pradesh in December; then went to Sunderbans (again, but this time purely for leisure) during Holi. Next week, we are off to a trek in Sikkim - hope to write a report as soon as we are back.

Wanted to vent out, whenever I have felt that India is too large and diverse a country to be managed as a unit. With all it's history of never being managed by a single ruler / dynasty for a long time, and the recent affairs of home grown insurgencies, I seriously feel India as a country is probably not feasible in the long run. More of it when I have the time.

Every time I felt low at work. That's not too many times, considering I only feel low at work when someone tries to back stab me, and when people are ungrateful. Like recently, when a person I personally groomed for a future position for over a month got the promotion, and then left the organization within four months - such a bad investment. Anyway, I also wanted to write when things were good - when each person I groom gets the promotion, when ideas we act on gets implemented and appreciated, when my team does something that gets the recognition - you know, the intangible rewards of doing things well.

More later... let me enjoy a rare off at home - today is the Bengali New Year and I wish everyone Subho Nabo Borsho!

Never say never

First things first... Happy Diwali, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Chinese New Year, Happy Valentine's day, Happy Fool's day, and happy everything that I missed to wish all of you. Any more yapping about happy, and I would be called "Happy Singh"!

Second things second... I missed writing this blog immensely. Although a new work place (where internet is restricted, and work pressure restricts the time) and a newly married life (with everyone I know or should know invites me to eat with them) is not conducive to maintaining a blog, I realised that I can still write a few things every week / month.

Another important reason why I thought I can't stop writing here is because it gave me immense pleasure and pride to help people affected by Aila last May through this blog. I thought it would be criminal to quit the blog within a few months of such a wonderful contribution by this blog.

So, bottom line, I am writing again. Watch out for more Bohemian Rhapsody. Happy Poila Boisakh / Bengali New Year.