Sunday, December 19, 2010

Back in Calcutta

So I am in Calcutta. I arrived in a Taxi quietly as my city slept in the early hours of the morning yesterday. Quite a few things have changed since I left for Madras half a year back. My parents have moved out of the house I have grown up in and they have put up in a rented house on the bypass nearer to Garia. They are making a new house and they want to stay closer to the plot of land so it's easier to look after the work.

This house is rather nice and quite in the lap of nature. There are birds right out of the window that one only reads about in Jibananada's poetry. The mornings smell different from the afternoons, or the evenings. It's colder too. It's quiet. Though it gets tiring after a point. Thankfully, I can take a metro straight to the centre of the city when I want.

There are a lot of walks planned out. Lot of places to eat at. Lot of friends to meet. Calcutta is so much more beautiful than other cities that it hurts. It is cleaner. (yes! Yes! YES! Stop looking like that!) It is better. It is just so full of things that really matter. And you know what? I am glad that the medieval communists fucked up and did not let this city turn into an IT hub.

I mean, seriously. IT is bullshit. Anyone who works in IT knows it. People in Calcutta have far better things to do than set up hideously huge offices in glass and steel that all look like each other  and work on god-knows-what. Most people in IT are half-dead. People who are not remotely interested in technology (and no, just having an Android or an iPhone does not make you technically inclined). I have met so many people in my company who carry an Android but don't know anything about it. My friends who have studied history know more about technology than they can dream of doing. I am very happy that Calcutta is not a tech-hub or a commercial capital.  Even if it means staying away from Calcutta for me. For the time being, at the least.

People in Calcutta are nicer. They get angry. They get moved by things they see. They comment on things even (and especially when) they know that nothing will come out of it. They invest their faculty on so many things that won't ever give them any returns. They do things for the sake of doing things, knowing that it won't matter - that nothing really matters in the end. For example, no one in Calcutta has asked me why I take photographs. Specially if I am not selling them. No one here tells me I should try to sell my photos just so I don't end up pursuing something 'pointlessly'. Apparently, if you are good (or even mediocre) at something, you should try to make money out of it. Well. I am not saying it is bad. But why would the act of interest in itself be enough? Why will it be  imperative to, why, almost unimaginable not to attach every interest with some goal?

Anyway. I want to meet everyone. Please meet me.


Thursday, December 16, 2010


There will, of course, be parties. But this is the end of an era.

Here's to Shattolah. To the best times of our lives. To bawra mann, nishitho rater badol dhara.  To Pola. To the definite refuge, the mother of all havens in times when everything seemed screwed. To an apartment that couldn't have been more aptly named.

Here is to Laddu and 7E.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Madras Mail: Part 2

I have never felt this scattered in my life. In the past six months I have lived in three corners of the country, changed five beds (and sometimes with no bed at all), basically  living out of a suitcase. Madras has been more difficult than I apprehended. I have tried not to react, jump to conclusions, but it is a difficult city to live and set up a house in if you have no one you know. The common people, and by common people I mean shop keepers, auto drivers, bus conductors, pedestrians, co- passengers, the teeming hundreds you see around you are quite hostile to anyone who is not a local. The hostility is not very evident in the beginning. Over time you will start noticing it. Initially I had mistaken it to be the general nature of the language. People came across as rude even when they were not. But now I have realised that they generally have very little patience with anyone who does not understand their tongue - to an extent that they may not even want or care for your business. There is, of course, another class of people - the cooler English speaking, goatee/French-cut bearing upper class who you will find quite rarely unless you happen to move in those circles. However, there is somehow a scarily large chunk of people who are completely bereft of manners or general niceness, who are frankly uncivilised and scornful in away that shows a deep contempt for everyone who is somewhat better off.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

In the middle of the COBOL lines in fluorescent green for some reason I remembered the walk down Southern Avenue. My heart stopped. I could not breathe for a few seconds. I am a bad friend But I miss you all. All the time.

By the way, for those of you who have never seen a Mainframe (very very old computers, lets say, in layman terms) here is how a screen may look like:

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sorry Bob

Your workplace inspires you. It does and you know it. This is about a boy and the shirts he wears to office.

'How many times must a man wear a shirt
And pretend that it just doesn't stink?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind.'

I said sorry.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Eating well in Madras: Bin Laden Burger: Pupil at Besant Nagar beach

There are times you just want to gorge without caring much for fineries or refinements. Next time this happens and you happen to be in Madras just take an auto to Besant Nagar Beach. (If you are coming from Thiruvanmiyur, just get a bus right up to Adyar bus stand. Then take another bus or auto to Besant Nagar.)

Ask someone where Pupil is. Anyone will show you. Otherwise ask where Arun's ice cream shop is. Pupil is just a couple of shops away from Arun's Ice Cream Parlour. It is round a corner where there are a lot of good food shops along with a Dhaba, a cafeteria, and a continental restaurant. They run the shop from a small kitchen with chairs and tables laid out outside. A typical restaurant by the sea with food that includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, momos, soups, french fries, etc.

View Larger Map

What they are famous for is the George Bin Laden Burger. It is a huge burger which comes with a choice of two meat patties cushioned between three layers of sesame laced white-bread and a choice of sauce. Here are your options:


You can take two patties of either beef or chicken. (as in both beef or both chicken or one beef one chicken, although I would very strongly recommend the beef patty. Let me rephrase that. I will shoot you if I find you ordering the chicken patty.) 


You can choose between a mayonnaise or a barbecue sauce. The mayo sauce is a personal favourite.

Plus there will be pickled vegetables and cheese between the patty and the bread and some french fry on the side. Be warned. Don't be too happy about the free french fry. It is quite meagre in quantity. But I bet you won't notice because you, dear reader/drooler will be busy finding ways to take a bite out of this HUGE burger while  making sure you don't drop the yummy mayo sauce on your shirt.

The George Bin Laden Burger costs 106 rupees (roughly 2 dollars).

I will try to put in some photos of the burger sometime. I also plan to write about one of the finest chicken roasts I have eaten from a shop a stones throw away from Pupil. I will also tell you about the Continental Restaurant by the same owner (as Pupil) that is rumoured to sell a better version of the Bin Laden burger and also very good steaks and sizzlers. Next week may be.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Madras Mail

I have been living in Madras for the past two weeks now. The city reminds me of Calcutta in more ways than one. The colonial architecture. The narrow bus routes that run through bustling bazars. The humid sloth in the air. The prolific public transport system with plenty of buses, share-autos, trains, etc.

But I am yet to find a city as forgiving as my Calcutta. Madras sees you fall and laughs. Then when he sees you are hurt he will probably help you get up. Probably. He is ruthless and retort-ful. Yes. Madras is a man. A caring man at best.

The sea is never far from you in Madras. Which is a wonderful thing. I had never imagined I would live by the sea. Now that I do I cannot believe my luck. I have seen the sea on a bright sunny day. On a rainy evening. In pitch darkness. The sea soothes. It takes away all your troubles for a while. Then returns it to you just as you are about to leave. 'Excuse me sir. I think these would be your troubles. Sorry'.

Office has been generally good. I have a good project and a small team of five people. My office is the most forgiving of the things in Madras in fact. Don't believe what people say. TCS is a good company to work for.

Madras has fantastic food. What was all the rumour I heard of food cooked in coconut oil and curry leaves in everything they make? I have had everything from stir fried rabbit to chilly beef to brilliant chicken roasts! Madras is the first place where I find beef is almost as mainstream as chicken. I was walking along a stretch of Perangudi that day and it is lined with small fast food shops that had stuff like beef chowmein, beef fried rice, chilly beef sharing the same board as chicken fried rice, chowmein.

My hunt for a 1 or 2 BHK house continues. I had almost started living in a 2 BHK but I vacated it only yesterday when I realised that there were a couple of serious flaws that could not be ignored specially considering the amount of money I was paying for it. Finding accommodation in Madras is a pain, I tell you. And brokers are very dangerous creatures to handle. I am so tired of them. And of looking for houses. Please find me a nice house :(

Monday, June 07, 2010

It rains in Gujarat

Was woken up five in the morning by the roomie. It was raining heavily. Thunder and all. Stood by the window looking out wondering if I should go down and do a rain dance. This was the first rain of the season.

 It is completely dark here till six in these parts of the country. The raindrops glittered in the streetlight. Pearls of joy. Suddenly I saw a Sagar the great Ipte running out in the rain - still sleepy and groggy and jumping around, splashing water. I ran downstairs. Into the rain. So we jumped together. Such fun. The red soil formed red-soil coloured puddles all around. The wind was cold and I was shivering. Came upstairs.

Took a warm bath. Made myself some Earl Grey from the pack Dibyo had given me. Sipped tea as I sat by the window looking at the pouring rain. Called the Poo who was only too happy to be woken up by such news of merriment. Thankfully I had, before my ritualistic rain dance, managed to click a picture that I will so graciously post for your viewing pleasure.

You will notice that it does look quite a bit like the rain in Calcutta, doesn't it? Now if that is not a coincidence, I don't know what is. The Obvious is but a perfectly good Coincidence taken for granted.

So there goes my monday morning blues. Out of the window. What better way to start a week?

Oh and I found this post from earlier on in life.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blues is a Woman

Music, my love I miss you. For me there is no feeling greater than making music. Nothing gives me more adrenalin rush than playing on stage. The music pulsating through your nerves, your blood through your band's collective body. You play. You listen. You learn to feel musical signals. You learn to be spontaneous. To give in. Today, in this land so far away from my music, and people I made music with, it is easy to forget those moments of ecstasy. But it comes back to you at times. And it overwhelms you to tears.

I miss my piano. I hallucinate about playing it in the middle of a boring session. Or at night when I'm half asleep. I miss Subhayu, Soumyadeep da, Andy da, Shreya di, and Shinjan da. I miss you Nevermind. I miss the Blues.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Random Acts of Madness

What would happen if I had not bunked a Mechanical Workshop class one afternoon on a whim and gone on a limb to a desolate mall along the bypass with a guy I had just got to know? Cool chap. Crazy about music. I was terribly depressed about something I cannot recall clearly. He was heartbroken about something else. Bothered by what seemed to be grave matters at that time we set out aimlessly. 

A pointless impulsive act of randomness changes your life more than the the really important stuff. Most of the things that really makes me who I am today are not things I planned or decided to do. Strangely what matters in the end are things I never really actively decided. Many of the plans I had about life did work out. But I cannot think of one decision that involved a lot of thought and planning that brought half the memories as the impulsive ones did. None of the things in life that I would guard with my life are things I thought would be of any consequence when I came across them first. Because I was busy looking at things that matter. I was worried about my own designs on life.

I might be worried about a lot of things right now but I know that none of the things I am worried about will actually cause me trouble. May be there will be no trouble at all. Even if there is any, they will be because of things I have not taken into account. I love the way life works. I totally do.

Madness matters. More than method, in fact.

[To the techies, do let me know what you feel about the cardinality of the class relationship?]

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I see You, You see me: The Magic Numbers

I have made my peace with this place. It is fine. I have met some people who are nice. I have my group. I won't think about you. You who can crawl to Chayer Dokan after a day at work. You. And You. I love the food here. I love how there are no mosquitoes here. How I have wide footpaths. Pruned shrubs all along the way and archways of more pruned shrubs to change lanes while walking. I love the Tangri Kebab at Punjab King. It is a two minute walk away from the ATM which is a two minutes walk from my room. Asma I don't think of you any more. I don't think of you Spider Man, you who are dusty from hanging on to a pole in front of a dying New Empire and a flourishing KFC. I only read the Calcutta pages on The Telegraph and TOI everyday. I know you are alright. With every passing day I hear rumours that grow dense with despair. It becomes increasingly clear that I won't be returning soon. Anyway. Not that it matters. Not that I would let it.

At night I close my eyes and I am walking on Park Street. How are you?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Reporting from Ahmedabad Part-1

You take a flight to a manicured infocity and start liking the comforts of clean air, plenty of greenery, embarrassingly wide footpath- not a hawker to block your way, or make you offers of questionable thingummies. Your office is a leisurely three minutes' walk away. You can stay in your room and watch a Bergman or listen to music or read on Reader and there's no mother to keep bugging you to go to sleep in time.

But there are little things that suddenly catch you unawares. An otherwise boring HR video that has a shot of the Governor House or the Victoria Memorial chokes you in the middle of a session. The city sounds when someone from the city calls you make you loath the soothing calm of a planned town. Sometimes when the poo will walk down from Chandni towards Park Circus along the main road while talking to me on the phone I can tell how far she's reached from the sounds on the road. 

'Don't cross the road now. Please wait for your turn. Abhi rasta paar na karein kripya pratiksha karein....'

And I know she is at the Park Street crossing. You know what that feels like, don't you?

I am not saying I don't like this place. The people are blunt and it's impossible to have conversations with them. Everyday when I come back home from office I feel a strange emptiness inside me. I think of how hard I have been trying to talk to people. I genuinely try to like them. But I cannot. They have not heard of The Beatles and they don't know who Norah Jones is. They listen to 'soft romantic numbers' and their past time is 'watching or playing cricket and watching tv and orkuting'. They think Indian Classical is boring. The other day someone walked into my room while I was watching Summer With Monika. He stared at the screen for sometime and said don't you have some better movies? Non black and white? What do I say? I paused the movie and made polite conversations with him, apologizing for my clearly inadequate collection of movies.

All the people here are tech-retards. They know less about the internet or technology than any humanities people I know. They do not know what a browser is (well, many of them) or what a URL is for that matter. They can't differentiate between the internet and an intranet and have never heard about phishing or keyloggers. 

They are shocked to see that I know how to differentiate a single-breasted suit from a double breasted or that I use keyboard shortcuts for most things. I regularly hear taunts about how I must have prepared for almost every subject being taught here ahead and how lame that is. I smile awkwardly, not knowing how to react. I guess there are better engineers than these. It's just that I am stuck for two months with the lamest of the bunch. I know things will be somewhat different once I am out of the ILP. At least I won't have to stay with them 24x7.

And that will be the end of my rant for now.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Farewell Post

There are too many people I wanted to meet before I leave. Too many things I wanted to say. But with the maddening running around I had to do to get the documents and provisions together (to be packed in a bag) I had very little time to. Then I thought I would write a mail each to people who matter, and there are quite a few, to tell them that they will be missed when I am gone. But I run out of words. I woke up unusually early today. About 6.30 in the morning. Could not sleep longer. I sat down at the piano. And I found what I was looking for - Robi Thakur. While I was playing I remembered this one poem:

"Jaha kichhu boli aaji shob britha hoi
Mon bole matha nari- e noi e noi  :)
Je kothaye hridoy amar poripurnotomo
She kotha phote na keno e binaye momo
She shudhu bhoriya uthi osrur abege
Hridoy akash ghire ghono ghor meghe"

I realised there's one song that's been sung so long and so much that would say all that there is to say. And here it is.

PS: I am leaving tomorrow, Saturday morning. Will reach Ahmedabad in roughly two and a half hours.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

All my bags are packed.

How do you go away? From a city that made you? From the halogen lit streets you walked in the rain? From the  songs you sung together so many times that you exactly know where who will sing what? And how? You know where Poulami will break into that harmony. You know where Bimbabati will start nodding her head with a smile and say Ooof! What do you do when you have your own anthems? Where you can tell what song is up next even before Laddu keeps down his glass of Old Monk and picks up his beloved guitar. Where every evening is like a million other. The same songs, the same people, the same Shaat Tollah, the same city lights that send out the same strange transmissions to the grey Calcutta skies and the city sounds far away.

"What novelty is worth that sweet monotony where everything is known and loved because it is known?"

 I have attended so many farewell parties. Sung the same songs of togetherness and parting. Come home, shed a tear or two. I remember the day Subhayu left. I cried when I came home. Then suddenly this evening I am seated in the same room, singing the same songs when it all comes back to me and I realise that this time, it is me the songs are for. It's my farewell day.

How do you hold back your tears when Daniel starts playing Leaving on a jet plane? What do you do?

My parents never tire of reminding me time and again that I could have done much better- that I spent my college years doing very little that was 'fruitful'. But today I have come to a point in my life where I can say that I regret not one thing I did in these 5 years. I have lived everyday. I have lived like I have never lived. I have loved. I have made memories. I can remember more days from these past 5 years than I can from the rest of my life.

People often talk about how the only true friends you make are in school - in your childhood. But somehow I met the best people of my life after school. They have molded me in so many ways that it is difficult to tell how I would have been like had it not been for them. I love you all. For your madness and the sanity you bring to my life. And that includes the chayer dokan people, Dhruva, Kaichu and last but not the least Anuj.

And then there is the Poo. I love her. There is no one like her. She is an exceptional woman. She is incredible.  I learn from her everyday. It is not often that I will say it on a blog but let me say this tonight - I love you.

Now when I look back at all that I feel terrible about leaving behind, I cannot but feel happy for how much I have lived. For how much I have loved. For how much I am loved. But then they will start playing that strain from Hazaron Khwahishen Aisi and it will fill the dark rooms of Shat Tollah and I will not feel like going anywhere anymore. But what do I do?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Learning to Die

And suddenly at this hour, I find a girl who liked Bob Marley, and The Beatles, and Ritwik Ghatak. Who drew graffiti on FB and complained about her mother's midlife crisis. Suddenly death doesn't seem all that far away.

May be this is it. May be death is just a (missed) status update.

Facebook asks: 'What's on your mind?' You quip, 'Mind my arse! I just died. '

Her Facebook test said her life was 70% perfect.

And I hate people who will come up to say that such deaths happen everyday in India and terrorism is the least of our concerns.I am not terrified by terrorism. And I can't feel sad about everyone. I feel sad about things I connect to. I dislike people who try to dictate what I should feel bad about and what not.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Geek Google and Helvetica

And such are the after effects of Helvetica. Had to get it out of my system.

[Click to see the original larger version (80 Kb)]

Saturday, January 02, 2010

One score Ten

A Happy New Year... begin with in case my computer conks off before I can write anymore. Yes we all say we hate them. But we all know you will read through the list I am about to make now. So here is a list of the things that I have loved about 2009:

1. The winters. January and December. All of it was spent eating, cooking and meeting people. (The cooking and the eating concern food, not the people I met). There were some amazing walks, with a loved one, yes. And although we walk all the time anyway, there is something about Calcutta winters that make them unforgettable. Oh and somehow, I always associate Calcutta winters with the song Autumn in New York. 'It's good to be living again.'

2. I loved working. I met some good people and I learned some important lessons. Plus, I made some money which is not too bad either.

3. The loved one started staying on her own. So there was this entire excitement and tension of finding an apartment (or an establishment, if you like). Then putting an entire household together. The almirah, the curtain, the fan, the spatula, the doormat... you get the drift. Although I have always credited myself to be pretty aware of the requirements of a household I was quite shocked at just how much effort it takes to actually make it happen. It was a huge learning experience. And totally worth it in the end.

4. I cook better! Yes. I have never actually cooked in such quantities so many different kinds of food for so many people in my life. Knowing how to do it is one thing. But the execution is something else. So I learned some of that too. If there is one thing I have really done this year, it is cooking. And big thank you goes out to Panu, Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsay.

5. I love how neat and organized the loved one is! It is incredible. I am extremely happy at how well she manages everything. Frankly I don't think I could ever do it this well. I am happiest however about the fact that she has learned to cook really well and eats healthy homemade food as much as she can.

6. I am very glad I quit my job. Not only because I did what I felt was right, but because I got a lot of time to myself which I spent doing what I like doing.

7. I am happy about Google Wave and about how well Chrome has turned out. With the extensions (like add ons in Firefox) in the current Beta, I can safely say that it is the best browser around. I love it. Muahs to Google. Oh and if you are planning to make your own website/blog at any point please consider joining
this campaign.

8. I read a lot more on web marketing, social media now and design and UI now. A lot more on food. I cannot imagine how I would read the number of websites/blogs I do without Google Reader. It is something I recommend to everyone.

9. I started reading books after a hiatus of about a half a year. I did read quite a few good books. I specially loved Sea of Poppies and
Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River. The last one I will recommend to anyone interested in history and anthropology in general.

10. I got a Grand Effing Piano in my house and one that is from the 19th century. It's lovely.

11. The best find of the year was How I Met Your Mother and more precisely Barney Stinson. It is one series that I can safely call my Bible. It's legen-wait for it-dary.

What I could have done without:

1. Perennial fights with parents.

2. The hypocrisy at office over the article I had written but was intentionally credited to the boss's brother.

3. A friend who wasn't a friend, after all.

What I am looking forward to in 2010:

1. The Google Phone named Nexus One which is Android based. I heard this rumour today that it could be release as early as January 5th. At least an announcement on the part of Google is expected.

2. The Chrome OS which is visionary. It is not something that will change the world now. But it will redefine the concept of an operating system and set goals for everyone else to follow.

3. Working in TCS. I hope that will happen by March, touch wood.

4. I want to stay on my own even if I am in Calcutta. I need to.

5. A computer that just works. I want one.

Well, that's all. A happy new year to you all. Oh and luckily my computer survived long enough to bring this to you!