Friday, 29 July 2011

Hello Zindagi!!

What is it with some people who have a compulsive habit of jumping the signal at every opportunity? The other day I was waiting at a crossroad for the signal to turn green and noticed that there were still a good 20 secs left. But this guy just vroomed ahead in his bike with total disregard for his life and of those around him. How far would he go by being ahead of others by plain 20 secs..I pondered. Was he running for his life? So, it seemed. I admit it’s a rat race out there and only the fittest survive. In this world of go getters, we need to be ahead of some rats at any given point of time in the race. But at what cost, is the question. And we can only get ahead of a certain number of rats in a lifetime. So, what do we do? Realise those rats, mark them out in our “target board” and start hitting them. That seems to be the answer, most applicable and correct, strategy-wise that people give me.
Sometimes, the rat you are trying to get ahead of will also be trying to get ahead of some other rats. In the process, if he succeeds you will be left with a new rat to deal with. So you must now adjust your gear, change the speed at which you move and begin the race anew. Phew, what a waste of time!
But hey, on one occasion you managed to get ahead of that one difficult rat. Now what? You still have some more to go. And so life goes on. Till one day, you are seating on a rocking chair by the window, reading a newspaper with your glasses on and trying hard to read the written word. The writing clearly says – You Have Lost...those precious moments when you could have greeted life with not just a hello, but could have asked her in and shared many a beautiful moments sipping coffee or tea and exchanging pleasantries.
Instead now you are left with a false set of teeth, a hearing aid and countable strands of hair on your balding head wondering what if….or wishing if only I had…But sadly, you would never know what could have been. My dear friends, zindagi na milegi jiyo life while you can. Go slow, enjoy the views and experience the moments that make it and remember, speed thrills but kills too!
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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Social Networking syndrome

I call it syndrome because it has gripped the nation's pulse even more than H1N1 virus could fathom. And then someone asks me, how can you be called even remotely social if you are not on at least one of the current breed of "social networks"? Point. And then there were some who took a step further to define/score you on your "social quotient"(IQ, EQ, HQs are passe) depending on how strong your presence is on those sites. Well, so much for being a part of the increasingly tech-enabled world. You socialize technically, not physically.

Personally, I was averse to these sites until some months back. I believed they do no better than to consume a sizable portion of one's real life and transform his existence into a virtual one, literally. I was missing out something they said. What it is, let me find out and so I networked my way into the Web world. And lo, what I behold!! Someone's getting a makeover, someone a car. Someone acquires new found freedom, someone relinquishes his. Someone changes his source of livelihood, someone's got into parenthood. Nothing's personal anymore but everything's public now. "Social" is the new buzz word. Celebrate your "socialhood"!!

This Zuckerberg's one clever man, I say. He excels in the art of getting the cat out of your bag while successfully managing to hide his own skeletons in his well-guarded personal cupboard. He tricks you into believing that he has given you a platform to express yourself, to bond with some faceless "virtual" friend or even express solidarity with a cause. If you could nurture friendships over networks or fight a cause by clicking "like", life would have so much easier and simpler for all of us. A nation could have been salvaged. No? But none the easier. Didn't you socialize before they existed? What good does telling others "I love my Mom" do, if you can't say those words to her yourself? Or have you been tricked already into believing that your social existence has found a new meaning or credence because you have oh, so many followers who indiscriminately click "like" on your posts/photos? Facebook anyone, oops..thoughts anyone?

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed here are explicitly of the author.
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Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The fear rhapsody

Of late, I have been reading a lot about fear and its physchosis. First in a leading daily and then in one of its supplements. Is it worth talking about? We will see. Fear is irrational, we all know. If not so, how else would you explain a 6 footer jumping onto a bench on sighting a frolicking squirrel inch towards him, in a public place like a park or some portly 30-something lady, screaming "cockroach, cockroach..." in the midst of a board room meeting? Pritish Nandy says his fears define him. Rightly so, for him. But then we all possess some, in some measure and varying degrees. Admit it or not.

The question then is, how phobic are you? As a child, I had phasmophobia...from reading Vikram Betaal stories and watching ghostly serials in Doordarshan on leisurely sunday evenings. When in bed, I imagined all kinds of winged creatures and vampires hovering over my head and eerily transporting me to no-man's land and usually ducked into the blanket, perspiring heavily. This fear didn't last long however. As I grew, my definition of fear continually changed. I for one, always seemed to fear the unknown. I also realised that I'm claustrophobic. One fear that I haven't been able to overcome yet is bdellophobia(fear of leeches) having once encountered a nasty one, several years back. They don't bite, they suck..ughh!!

Too many of my friends are acrophobic, by their own admission. Some suffer from thanatophobia or necrophobia, fear of death which is unreasonable. Some are needlessly agyrophobic and have to look at both sides even in a one-way street, while crossing.

But to gain some extra nods and approvals or even sympathy when in a group discussion, you need to be able to highlight what you have and others don't. So, how about suffering from some exotic fears like hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia(fear of the number 666) or phobophobia(fear of being fearful)? In recent times however, it would be more appropriate to suffer from something like "fear of scams", "fear of excess cricket(for Indians especially)", "fear of tele-marketers forcing all kinds of loans down your throat", "fear of commonwealth which is actually not so common but limited to a few like Kalmadi"or even "fear of being in social company(sociophobia)"? Highly recommended.
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Friday, 8 July 2011

My experiments with food

You are what you eat. So then, what do I eat? Naah, I'm not going to give you details of my gastronomical routine nor will I feed you spoonfuls of nutritional chow. I'll try and see that I leave you with some food for thought though.

Born to Bengali parents, I have been given to understand that we live to eat and not the other way round. During my growing up years I realized, the truth was not too far from it, in my case. I could easily distinguish what tickled my taste bud and what didn’t. And as you see, I have no doubt grown up to be a self-respecting woman of many words, lesser degrees and an impeccable taste for good food. It is then, but natural for me to rant and rave about food. No?

As a kid, I was fed on heavy doses of the boiled, humble tuber with generous dollops of butter or ghee(clarified butter), and the potato seemed to be a staple veggie in every Bong home. At one point, I had come to the conclusion that without potato there's no life for a Bengali. Aah, but you learn and unlearn as you grow..that's what life is. And so my various sojourns, travel-wise and book-wise have taught me that this tuber is essentially eaten and relished by many a Scandinavian countries as well as the Americans and English alike. What we call as "aloo sheddho", they eat it as mashed potatoes.

Having spent half of my worldly existence outside of home, I have been lucky to experiment from a broad spectrum of recipes ranging from Kashmiri pulao with pieces of pineapple peeping at me from between the rice granules, a version of the Tamil sambhar prepared by a colleague's mother in law and not Mrs Reddy; mind you, and then some khakhras shared by a Gujrati travelling companion to a complete Keralite meal, cooked in "cacanut" oil and served the traditional way in plantain leaves. And not to leave out my own Bengali "nalen gurer sandesh" when in Kolkata.

Food now, is a matter of taste for me. Anything that tastes good to my palate, is palatable to me. On one occasion I remember having carried "Ilish maach bhaja"(pieces of fried Hilsa) when travelling back to the city from a vacation. Anxiously having made my way through the security check, hoping the smell emanating from my backpack would not give me away. Luckily I was through.

Food for thought??

But we must realize that all good things come to an end. So, my happy days with food too came to an end when my father was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. Dramatic changes in my food style led by my new belief that the taste of things lie in the mind and not in the tongue, followed. Now what could seem a karela(bittergourd) to you, could be a cucumber to me. :)
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