Monday, December 29, 2008

Coming back to life

It takes time to get used to the fact that I have landed in India. Reality seeps in slowly. I was getting cues at various levels, right from the beginning of the flight, which got slightly delayed because of some un-put-downable passengers; then the messy arrival lounge - after one month of Mumbai massacre, Mumbai international airport still looks so casual! It is now under renovation. Dimly illuminated, shabby arrival lounge is sure not going to make any positive impression on anyone and this is one of the main, if not the the busiest, port of entries to India! Cues continued - experiencing the driver's respect for traffic signals on my short journey through Mumbai traffic between international and domestic airports; semi-dark, dirty, water-logged rest room of Kolkata airport, and then everyone talking in Bengali ... I sure am back in India. The moment I joined the airport leaving traffic in Kolkata, I realized why New York City seemed so familiar after coming from the tranquil State College. Cars honking at each other, jumping signals, pedestrians crossing the roads like the acrobat maneuvering on the trapeze, hawkers shouting at the sidewalk ... life in a metropolitan city is basically same everywhere, be it New York or Kolkata. I was a bit scared to cross the road even at the zebra crossing as cars continued to rush in even on red light! Distance between two cars were hardly two meters - drivers have a very strong sense of proportion, visual measurement skill and sense of size of the car they are driving, otherwise it is impossible to drive in roads here.

But with all its apparent haphazardness, chaos or disorder, there lies an amazing current of vitality and vigor. Life in a city like Kolkata needs an enormous amount of life-force. Life in cities like State College seems so clockwork, so boring now. Being in Kolkata forces me to be alive, awake!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fly away home

Everyone has already boarded the flight. Luggages are also loaded. Everything is just on scheduled time. Still the flight is far from starting. It is a Newark - Mumbai flight on Christmas eve. I had an window seat. five minutes past the scheduled departure time, I looked through the window at the distant status display. It read,
Time : + 00:05:43
Definitely it meant something else, but to me it made sense in a different way. The ground crew was unable to figure out why the flight hasn't even started its APUs even after closing all the doors and locking the luggages. So they put up a WHY on the status display!
Inside the flight people are walking down the isle, chatting to friends, who have got seats far away because of insensitive check-in procedure! Most of them are trying to settle a negotiation with their co-passengers to develop a new optimized seating arrangement for family and friends. The captain, fade up at losing their on-time statistics, finally started announcing,
Please settle down on your current seats. Once we settle on our course, you can move around and exchange seats as per you convenience!

How could ground crew ever imagine why the flight is getting delayed!

The flight was full of passengers returning to their home on Christmas vacation. So they had plenty of gifts in their luggages bordering on the upper limit of the baggage allowances. It was a hard time to fit all luggages in the overhead compartments. It was another optimization problem. How can you cram maximum number of your bags in overhead compartments close to your seat. Now consider each such compartment has three seats below them and each passenger on these seats has two bags of maximum allowable size. Each compartment supposedly, but not necessarily, can fit two of the maximum sized bags. But since the maximum size is defined by total dimension, some of the bags are too wide and some of them are too high to fit in with other bags in the compartment. If you have hard time in imagining, close you eyes and imagine a group of blind-folded people trying to fit in an assortment on square and round rubber pegs in few round holes. So it was a nice time pass watching the passengers and crew pulling down their carry-on luggages from overhead bin and trying to fit them in again in a different orientation!

Anyway, after all the seating and luggage optimization the flight took off half an hour after the scheduled time. And suddenly it occurred to me, tonight is Christmas eve. They might have some surprise gift for the passengers. Unlimited free glasses of Champagne with meals? Half of the ticket price refunded back? Or at least all the air-host and hostesses moving around with Santa hat ...
Well, yes, there was a surprise gift. 51 bonus miles instead of 3 for each on flight shopping ... urgh!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


I haven't been to their site and was suddenly feeling little urge for Christmas shopping, so I typed in in the address bar ... and wow! Their site is totally revamped, and ... what is this ... the Auteurs ...?
Wow! Now criterion screens movies online ... and some of them are free to watch via the Auteurs.
This Christmas will be fun!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why ... ?

... it hurts, it saddens ...
Malayesh was getting married next month, was ...
He was a nice guy, like many others.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Snow white State College

“A clear, frosty night. Unusual brilliance and perfection of everything visible. Earth, sky, moon, and stars, all seem cemented, riveted together by the frost. Shadows of trees lie across the paths, so sharp that they seem carved in relief. You keep thinking you see dark figures endlessly cross the road at various places. Big stars hang in the woods between branches like blue lanterns. Small ones are strewn all over the sky like daisies in a summer field.
“We go on discussing Pushkin. The other night we talked about the early poems he wrote as a schoolboy...”

Was it coincidence that I felt like finishing the rest of 'Dr. Zivago' tonight and stumbled on this?

Well, not Pushkin, I was thinking of Elliot while walking my way back amidst the vast snow-white field. The yellow street lights, half covered foot steps on snow, deserted roads ... all felt like a déjà vu from childhood. Weird!

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Its been almost a month, I couldn't find enough time to put together a train of coherent thought to post. I kept on making bookmarks for interesting piece of information, I thought worthy of writing about. But couldn't write...
So let me clear the backlogs by just posting the links here:
India loses four children every minute ...
Greedy Chinese companies tainting the babyfood ...
If there were not McCain, there would not have been Blackberry ...
Daily routine for a grad student ...
Studying is a stressful and frustrating work ...


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

End of the world ...

God was pissed off and so he brought forth a catastrophic flood to eliminate mankind and start over.
Equally pissed off was Brahma, and then he did the same thing.
So was every God in every culture

Archeologists and historians say, not everything is myth. Deluge had swept the world and changed the course of history and evolution.

Apparently, be it Gods or be it Nature, flooding is the easiest way of getting rid of a rotten civilization. Just like washing a bowl of rotten curry. No wonder "righteous" men, sorry, persons in every decade had been foreseeing Doomsday deluges to wash away all the sins of mankind in the then near future. And the people around the world has already began preparations for latest Doomsday!
Now lets think what's happening around the world now. Catastrophic flood in India, UK and US (well, not flood in US but a series of hurricanes and flood in Haiti). So disaster has struck all part of the world at the same time. Don't you get the feeling that the Doomsday is nearing? Not yet?
OK, so let me tell you one more thing. Some "guys" are trying to simulate the creation of world. They are trying to play God. So why God won't be pissed off again?
The days of our lives are over ...

There are never a dearth of skeptics. I came across this piece of old news while reading an article on CERN's ground-breaking experiment, the largest physics experiment of the century, may be the most important, too. The lawsuit is probably a very good example of what and how an idle brain works!

An interesting comic strip from user friendly on April 01 is below.

The interesting discussion here reminded me of the old Kingston Trio song "Merry Minuet".

Friday, September 05, 2008

Google again

Just couple of months ago when that privacy law suit against Google was underway, the official Google blog had this post, explaining why Google prefers to be lean and why it doesn't hesitate to drop their name from their front page to accommodate the privacy link without increasing the word count. So much for lean and thin. Now they have nine extra words there to promote Chrome, which was "open source and free" browser with Google having virtual royalty-free full access on every damn thing built on it!

No harm done!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Cause and effect ...

“since Britney [Spears] started wearing clothes, [and now that] Paris is out of town and not bothering anybody any more, thank God, and evidently Lindsay Lohan has gone gay, we don't seem to have much of an issue”.
- William Bratton, the LA chief of police, refuting the necessity of the recent law to curb paparazzi activities.

You can't do anything about it. Its all business. And how you market yourself. Being a celebrity is a form of selling yourself to the public. For some of the "celebrities" this sale is the main force that keeps them afloat in the celebrity zone; for a small faction of other celebrities, this market dynamics is beyond their control (say, Lady Diana) and for the rest somehow there is not enough motivations for paparazzi! As a British photographer said,

"Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson — you never see paparazzi pictures of these people. Guess why: because they're not stumbling out of a nightclub at 2am without their boxer shorts on."

The heat of the market is so high that sacrifices are not rare. Sometimes mishap like Lady Diana's accidents do happen partly due to this. Probably majority of the problem can be avoided by treating it from root as Bratton has indicated. But that doesn't remove the necessity of paparazzi curbing law. There should be limit to mob's invasion to someone's private life however tempting it may be. This is hard because gossips and scandals are the most delicious dishes for public.

Bratton's argument momentarily reminded me the chauvinistic argument given in favor of eve-teasers in India - the scantily dressed ladies provoke the hormone-raging youth in this very restrictive social structure so much that sometimes they cannot control themselves.

How fur can you go to prove your perversion?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

India blasts ...

I was talking to Kalyan the other day and the news of bombing at Bangalore and Ahmedabad came up. He commented that given the security and intelligence scenario in India, number of terrorist attacks are unbelievably less. Well, he was true in some sense. Security measures are never adequate in India. Our security agencies have so many problems to attend - so many politicians to cover, so many terrorist groups to look out for, so many Maoists to take care of, and so on. And believe me, everyone of them, politician, terrorists, Maoists - everyone has a "motive" to "blast" a city! There can be plenty of motives for someone to kill a person; money, jealousy, love, power, authority, or insanity. But what can be motives of bombing randomly in a city? Well, sometime to create a riot, or to prove how powerful they are, or to send a message to the bourgeois Government about the oppression of unprivileged. And we have too many messages to send to appropriate authorities. Apparently the best way to get attention is by killing innocent bystanders.
The sad thing is that just after the massacre, the city goes back to normal state in a jiffy; within a day or two, entire nation except the suffered family forgets something bad happened. We don't really care about anything till it happens to us. And we even play with this sentiment. Last night someone sent a hoax mail to some TV channels stating Kolkata is going to be blown away at several places. By the way, even if we think our security agencies incapable, they did save Surat by diffusing a number of bombs.
Its all so confusing and saddening ... I forgot what I wanted to write ...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rain rain go away ...

It was drizzling thoughout the day just like back in India ...

Friday, July 18, 2008


If you are somewhere in between into serious amateur photography, you probably heard about the community of photographers at They recently had a survey on their members their members. There is nothing exceptional about the statistics. Considering the fact that this is a community of mainly serious-amateur to pro photographers, the results are kind of expected.
Ladies are in general more confident in posing in front of the lens than going behind it. That commemorates with the fact that male human beings are more sensitive to visual pleasures. And probably at the begining of second half of life most of us become little lost and then try to hold on to old hobbies. That may explain the high number of middle-aged photographers. (I don't think they have to spent half of their lifetime to get into the stage of serious amateur). The fact that Canon is the front-runner in camera brand is not surprising as they were the early birds in dishing out cost-effective semi-pro DSLRs. As expected, Nikon is also at the same level. But surprisingly Pentax has a staggeringly low share, even if they are supposedly at the same level, if not better, in the film camera sector (which is still almost half of the entire photo sector). Interestingly even in the community of serious amateurs the point-and-shoot digital cameras are edging out the film SLRs. Indeed immediate feedback and virtually no recurring cost are two of the major factors that turn one into a serious amateur from a casual photographer. Survey Reults members are: 87% Male 13% Female

-By age:
17 or under: 1%
18-24: 5%
25-34: 18%
35-44: 23%
45-54: 32%
55-64: 15%
65 or over: 6%

-20% are professional photographers in some fashion, 66% are serious amateurs, and 14% say they are "just getting started in photography."

-Cameras used:
Digital SLR camera: 84%
35 mm film camera: 44%
Point-and-shoot digital camera: 41%
Camera phone: 1%
Medium format camera: 19%
Large format camera: 5%
Rangefinder: 12%
Other: 4%

-Brands used:
Canon: 50%
Fuji: 7%
Kodak: 4%
Leica: 6%
Nikon: 42%
Olympus: 12%
Panasonic: 4%
Pentax: 12%
Sony: 9%
Other: 31%

-Lenses and memory cards were the most common items purchased in the previous 12 months and were also the most likely to be purchased in the following 12 months.

-Many different computer applications were used for digital adjustment of images, but Photoshop and Photoshop Elements was the most common by a significant margin.

Courtesy -

Having said all these, I love my Vivitar because it has a Pentax K mount and K mount is amazingly backword compatible making it easy to find damn cheap used good manual lenses on ebay!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Wandering off

This movie can spin off a movie like "The Guy Who Kills His Fathers"! Its like a FPS video game with a fake story line. Assuming people want to see things they fantasize about in movies and considering that this is a hit, why people love killing others? So much of violence, mindless violence. Video game-ish. I wonder why did I ever go to watch this 'Fruit of the Loom' (credits Benny) movie. I wish I hadn't 'Wanted' it. Violence reminds me, they say Japan had a very high rate of youth violence. Its decreasing now. But still there are urban camouflages being sold in Japan (by the way, read the comments here, funny and thought provoking). And that piece of news is picked by NYT in such a manner that it seems a regular trend in Japan. This is not just a stray case of filthy reporting. Take look here. I used to think that only our Bengali regional newspaper spins story of a mountain out of a mole as they used to write things like how last night's kabab affected Ganguly's play today! But making a story seems to be a universal reporting trend. Well why not? After all with so many companies in news business and so much of competition, news makers are really in demand. And for no reason that reminds me an old chinses verse ...
Most men, bringing up sons, wish for them intellect;
But I by my intellect have had a life-time of fauilure.
I would only desire that my child should be simple and dull,
That with no ill-fortune and no troubles he may attain to highest office.
The Washing of the Infant - Su Shih
Trans. by Robert Kotewall and Norman L. Smith

Have you ever stopped and wandered?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Fisher King in me

Half of the year passed by.
I planned to do so many things ... Nothing has been achieved yet, nothing has been seeded. A sense of getting old and incapable of creating anything new grows day by day. The days pass by doing mundane works. All quiet on all fronts. No new light, no new shine, no new hope.
Is it summer that makes me sad? Its summer with occasional surprising rain, reminds me
"Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour." ...
Am I like the Fisher King in his Waste Land - impotent yet hopeful of contributing and proudly protecting futile legends?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

... and Broadway

This trip to NYC was not about sightseeing, but just to catch up with friends. And Broadway. Or to be more precise, RENT. This was my opportunity to experience the phenomenon before it closes on September this year. So we booked a Sunday afternoon show at Nederlander Theatre.
And Broadway is literally a just a broad way connecting two ends of the New York City. The theatrical district is just a small part of it. The good thing about all American cities is the well laid out plans and streetways. You just need to know the nearest intersection of roads. And in places like NYC where all the streets are numbered in a systematic way (Streets running East-West with increasing number towards North and Avenues run North-South with increasing number towards East), its hard to get lost. Still we managed to make walk in large circles just to reach to the next block! And the subway map is really complicated. So many routes... I wonder if A.J. Deutsch were to write the famous sci-fi now, he would've written it about NYC MTA not about Boston MTA! Coming back to Broadway, we just had a short walk down 7th Ave from 34th St to 44th St to reach the junction of Broadway and 44th St at the famous Times Square (which, eventually, is a triangular junction) and again traced back along the Broadway just to find the we were actually hardly a hundred feet away from our destination from where we started! You know actually we were not paying attention to the street and avenue numbers as we had plenty of time to kill. We were just drifting with the crowd which being mainly tourists had obvious destination of Times Square.
And then the Nederlander Theatre. A shabby, old building in a narrow lane. Who thought that a theatre with more than 1200 seats will be there. Its hardly distinguishable from other buildings. On the other side of lane there is another old almost-derelict building with old stairwell hanging outside. That is the Amsterdam Theatre playing "Mary Poppins". The entrance to the Nederlander Theatre was 'guarded' by parked cars on the road and a big tourist bus covered the entire facade of the building (which was nothing but a series of posters of Rent on an old wall with wide doors!
Inside the theatre, things are as they should for a play whose premise is shady areas of mid-nineties New York! And with a lot of deliberation I had bou,ght four tickets of orchestra seating in fourth row with the idea that its gotta be a big hall to accommodate 1200+ people. And soon we realize, its apparently not that big and from our place we can touch the stage if we try hard! But the real problem was that we were little too close to the loudspeakers; nonetheless that didn't prevent us from enjoying the show. And that was a thrilling experience, but that story is somewhere else.
And back to Broadway again. That place - the place cordoned by Broadway, 7th Ave and 40th to 46th St is simply ... what should I say ... awesome, at least to me! Which way I turn my head I see a theater hall playing something. And not only something, they are playing plays like 'Rent', 'Boeing Boeing', 'Grease', 'Gypsy', 'South Pacific', 'Sunday in the Park with George' and what not! Its like a treasure trove! Theater is something I cherish and Musicals are something I love. I know some theatricians might not get that excited about Broadway because its not really a playground of experimental theater. Broadway is the capital of mainstream theater and hence the main interface with the crowd and the theatrician. I respect this community for having such a conglomerate of theaters here and making them a social outing place. Its like making theater more and more common-man-friendly. But there is a concern, too. Now-a-days just like any other popular media, Broadway is losing its originality. It is getting overshadowed by Hollywood. If you just go by the current shows at Broadway, how many of them are new and original? Not much. Mostly are wither revival (Boeing-Boeing, Sunday in Park..., South Pacific, Grease, Gypsy, etc.), or continuing old play (Mama Mia!, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Lion King, etc.) or adapted froma hit movie (Lion King, Little Mermaid, Young Frankenstine, Xanadu, Hairspray, etc.) Earlier the trend was opposite, there were Broadway productions first then there were movies based upon that. Think about shows like 'Hair', 'Sound of Music', 'Fiddler on the Roof', 'West Side Story', 'Oklahoma!', 'Miracle Worker' and lots more. Now its opposite. There are movies like 'Legally Blonde', 'Hairspray', 'Cry-baby' which are the sources of new theater of Broadway. This is saddening. Theater used to be so much live, so much fresh, so much original...

But I have had my experience on Broadway, at last. And that too with Rent!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


So I was there this weekend. The city that never sleeps! After living here in a small university town for almost a year, this was my first real visit to a big city (not just passing through or spending a night), and my first impression was, 'Wow!'
Living in this small university town made me taking disciplined, organized, friendly crowd, clean streets, no-nuisance neighbourhood for granted. And New York reminded me how wrong I was. It reminded me of another big city.
Dirty subway trains, dirty platforms, commuters leaning on door just beside the warning of not to lean on door, and incomprehensible announcements about upcoming station greeted me on my way to NYC. I was getting more and more comfortable, homely. Then I came out of the subway station at 34th Street, and 'Wow!'. So many people rushing about, street is all crowded, yellow taxis, hawkers yelling and selling things on the sideways, smalltime sellers selling used books and cds on the pavement, people shouting and bargaining, beggars asking for pennies, taxis honking, double decker buses, old torn movie poster on shabby walls, stinking dumpsters just beside a restaurant. I never felt so homely! It is just like Kolkata just little bit scaled up!
In fact Kolkata metro is probably little cleaner than NY subway but its much much smaller in volume, too. Kolkata doesn't have so many skyscrapers. Kolkata has tram, NYC doesn't and Kolkata has a distinctive betel spit decoration that sets her apart. There are some more minor differences such as cops don't pose in fron of their car with tourists in front of Victoria Memorial in Kolkata like they do in Times Square, you can hardly find an open manhole in NYC and things like that. Strikingly its the same life force jostles down the streets of NYC like it does in Kolkata. I guess this is the charecteristics of all the big cities.
And I read this inside the subway ...
"There are roughly three New Yorks.
First, there is the New York of the man or woman who was born there - who takes it for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter - the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out at each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion." - E B White

Isn't it true for Kolkata, too?

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Dyuti sent me link to this video.

Umqombothi is an African beer. And Yvone, the singer is one of the most famous African artist. She's often called princess of Africa. African music are very rich in percussions and the rhythm is simply amazingly vibrant. Apparently this song was used in opening sequence of Hotel Rwanda. It seems this is one of the biggest hit songs of Africa.

The funny part will reveal is when you listen to this video:

Its a Bengali band - Chandrabindoo performing a Bengali nonsence-rock.
I have no qualms with someone "copying" someone else's music, It is hard to differentiate between copying and getting inspired! Inspirations are always welcome, if you acknowledge your inspirations very good; if you don't, well, you are insecure and scared of your own capabilities! Anyway, this is not about copying someone's music.
I appreciate Chandrabindoo for their urban, satirical and nonsensical lyrics. But this time the first line of their song phonetically matches first line Umqombothi in an uncanny way! I mean, being a Bengali if I listen to Umqombothi, I'll hear the first lines of the song as "Brahma Janen, Gopon Kammo ti" ... and this is such a weird Bengali line, it can spun a beutiful nonsense poem in the hands of a good lyricist. I wonder if that's how this song worked for Chandrabindoo!
We MaDlamini

Uph'umqombothi (3x)

I work hard every day
To make my beer
Wake up early every morning
To please my people with African beer
I make sure the fire burns
To make my beer
My special beer Umqombothi
Is African beer


Monday, May 12, 2008

Is Comrade Napoleon Scared?

So there was this Panchayat Election in Nandigram, West Bengal, - the recent hotspot of political debates.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) was employed there to maintain peace and fearless polling. Alok Raj, the Deputy Inspector General of the CRPF is doing his job well. So he gets this phone call.

Arijit has given a short background of the scenario. He forwarded some news clips. As I read through the news clips, I felt that Mr. Seth is actually very scared and feeling insecure! That is why he is trying to blame the CRPF, trying to frame fake charges against Aloke Raj. All these proves only one fact, he is not an intelligent politician. Had he been so, he should have kept quiet because these Panchayat election holds little significance for him. The State Government is there backing him. If they think this is good for Nandigram, that must be true! The plans will eventually be implemented, because there is actually no one to protest. Opposition parties? Trinamool (Congress or BJP do not have a strong presence there)? They themselves don't know what they want to do, have no direction at all and always misguided, confused and disorganized! Even if they protest, that will not be for the people of Nandigram, that will ultimately be for garnering favor of media and their national political alliance.
The tragedy of the "communist" ruling in West Bengal is that over the years there have been number of laments and protests but no alternative to the current rulers has born out of the people of West Bengal. That is what essentially "communism" does in the long run - worshiping of mediocrity, total dependence on the authority and losing the urge/ motivation of rebellion against the authority even if they are unjust. So probably in a Orwellian sense West Bengal is a successful example of outcome of successful communist ruling.

The moral of the story, Laksham Seth is unnecessarily scared. He will be the winner in the long run.

"No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?" - Animal Farm

Am I too pessimistic?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Random reflections on rice, recession, rumor ...

So there is a global food crisis, huh?

Its really hard for people like me to feel what a food crisis is, because we or our immediate acquaintances, honestly, never faced it. We read about about old stories of famine, starvation and hunger. How does it feel when you have money to buy but still starving? Probably situation will not be like it used to be in old days. Food price will sore high but we, the middle class, again will not be starving. There will be deaths ... but how's that gonna affect us! More so when you are here in US. Famine in US, huh ...
Arijit forwarded this news-piece. Its almost known fact that average rate of obesity is much higher comapred to world standard among US citizen. So if major grain producing countries stop export average US citizen is going to be healthier.
I stumbled upon these news flashes (Gmail Webclip is good!) on the same day ... India is expecting rise in food production whereas the global food crisis is pulling the price up. Isn't that good for Indian economy? Vicky was telling, "we don't care, if everything goes bad in America, we won't be looser, we can always go back to India". At least in India we won't have any rice shortage. Indeed!
The other day, Anamika came and informed that someone has informed her that Sam's Club is stockpiling rice and won't allow anyone to buy more than four bags of rice. Weis and Walmart has also started rationing rice. Sam's Club is usually the place we buy rice from. I informed Subhashis and Prashant. They might have already informed others. So now everyone is running to Sam's Club. No wonder there will soon be a shortage of rice, not only because of stockpiling by Sam's Club, but mainly because of overstocking by us! Eventually even before actual crisis of rice is started, State College is gong to suffer from it. That is how the dynamics of essential commodities work. Its major driving force is the un-put-downable rumor. By the way, we haven't yet gone to Sam's Club to buy our four bags!

And then there is recession. Couple of months ago there was huge debate whether US is already hit by recession or is going to be hit. How does it matter for commoners? They are already suffering ... prices of food has gone up drastically from last year. Every month thousands of people are getting sacked from their job, banks are merging ... it doesn't matter whether its officially recession or not. Still the presidential candidates are getting millions of dollar as donation from who-knows-whom for their campaign. The lawyers and financial advisers seem to be little busy as they are advertising more and more with promises to help reduce debt. I don't know how can one avoid their debt so easily, but apparently there are lots pf people who need them. This economy runs on credit. And oil. Every morning starts off with the breaking news of oil price reaching record high. But at least in State College I don't feel any decrease of number of cars running. The summer has set in, I expected a rise in number of bicycles with this oil price hike, but not really. In fact I see more sports car and gas-guzzlers more as the semester nears the end!
The recession - it is not so hard for us, but still it hurts. Amit was lamenting that day, when he came to US he had to pay Rs. 48 for each dollar and now when he sends money home, he only gets Rs. 38 in return. Well, Indian economy is doing good. But shall we feel good about it or be sad that we are actually being able to save less than we had hoped to? The world is too complicated.

Only good thing is that the semester is over and, and ... and I don't know what!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Honk for ...

Sometime around Apr 20, when Hillary visited PSU campus, I was walking to department and saw few girls at a busy corner of downtown with placards saying "Honk for Hillary". I heard three to four honks as I passed by.

Yesterday I had to spent sometime on downtown waiting for someone. As I sat at the Dunkin Donuts shop opposite in the busiest part of downtown I noticed some elderly persons standing near the main gate of PSU with placards for peace, 'stop the war', 'stop developing weapons' and 'Honk for Peace'. Cars passed by fast. And as I spent almost fifteen minutes there I heard four to five honks.

Guess American president takes priority than peace.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mid-life crisis!

You start with an honest eagerness to learn and contribute. When you are just halfway through it, suddenly the world seems so flat, so boring, all the talks starts to fade away, you start to loose your grip on reality. You look at the time and find that you are just only half-way through. You feel sometimes frustrated on your failure to cope up like the rest out there. You doubt your competency. You just get blank, empty. You don't understand a single thing. It seems a long time but when you again look at the watch only few seconds have passed. You try to think about good times, but your thoughts become confused. You feel like dropping out of this boredom, doing something interesting than this, but at the same time you feel guilt. Then at a time the strong urge to do something interesting overcomes your guilt. You discard the reality and delve into your own world. You don't care for the others anymore and let your dreams come true. But as time passes by and nears the end, you suddenly snap out of your state and realize time is up and you can not go back! You have wasted the entire middle third of your and probably others' time. You repent, at least sometimes.

But the class is already over and you have slept through it like always. You wonder why, at all, you have taken this course. I know you don't want to sleep through it, but can't help dozing off as the class nears the halfway just like some can't help their self doubt as they enter mid-life crisis!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sunshine on my shoulder ...

It was a long cold winter.

Its so easy to blame on the weather, as if I didn't blog because weather ruined my mood!
Yes, true that there were plenty of dull days when I woke up under a cludy sky with chilly wind or occasional drizzles and felt so spiritless that wished if I could sleep again. But there were some good sunny not so windy days, too. Its great to see the bright sunlight in the morning. Had I not experienced day after day of overcast weather, I could nto possibly realize the warmth sunrays carry!
Officially spring has begun couple of week ago. But today I felt the spring. Its been keeping sunny for last couple of days, but today was different. I don't know why. I skipped the class, walked my way to the lab smelling hitherto unsmelt fragrance of spring coming out of dry green grass. Its a different smell. Just as the smell of first rain has a different flavour, so has the smell of first spring day. Everything was bright and colorful and cheering.
I sang a tagore song to my way to the lab ... 'Who will take me out, breaking locks of my captivity...'
My lab is a closed room, not a single window. Lets get out of this room, at least for today's sake ...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How lazy I've become

The sun'll come out
Bet your bottom dollar
That tomorrow
There'll be sun!

Just thinkin' about
Clears away the cobwebs,
And the sorrow
'Til there's none!

When I'm stuck a day
That's gray,
And lonely,
I just stick out my chin
And Grin,
And Say,

The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may
Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
I love ya Tomorrow!
You're always
A day
A way!

But I'm optimistic.

Friday, February 01, 2008

To be or not to be ...

For last five-six year, each year there's a rumour the Kolkata International Book Fair will shift its venue from Maidan due to the environmental issues. But it never changed, until last year, when it shifted to a stadium, Jubabharati Kringan. Then this year when the authorities decided to hold the fair at Park Circus Maidan, a place at the center of the city, a new row of disputs were generated and finally, on 28th January, when all the preparation for international inauguration of the book fair on 30th January was almost complete at the Park Circus Maidan, Kolkata High Court ruled that the huge fair can not be held at Park Circus Maidan. With no backup at their hand the authorities announced, the 33rd Kolkata International Book Fair stands cancelled.
These are the facts. I haven't been in Kolkata for last coupl of years, I've heard these from some newspaper, friends, etc. I am just quoting from memory, there are some more facts.
The authorities responsible for holding the book fair, the Publishers and Booksellers Guild, were served notices almost five-six years ago for shifting their venue. The reason was environment. The Maidan is the biggest source of fresh air in the city. And ten days of fair (Asia's largest book fair) was not fair on Maidan's health. It left a huge amount of pollutants in the neighbouring area destroying the gree grass shields on the ground of Maidan, this damage takes almost half a year to recover. Added to that was the poulltion caused by dust in the air to the local people and the morning-walkers. Finally one environmentalist, Subhas Dutta lodged a Public Interest Litigation for change of venue to protect the green heart of the city. And after a fierce legal battle the environmentalists won. The Guild was told to choose another venue for the fair. The Govt. promised guild another venue as it was planning to build a permanent fair ground at one side of the city. Days passed, notjing happened and as the next year came, the book fair came. Guild started to build stalls at Maidan, the environmentalists and the Army, who are the legal owner of that ground, took offence and again went to court. Guild pleaded that they were out of time, so couldn't locate a proper venue. The court graciously granted Guild to hold the fair at Maidan for the last time. The book fair was over and everyone forgot about promises. Came the 2007, Guild again started to build stalls on Maidan, the oppositioners again went to court and this time court showed no mercy. The Court ordered Guild to shift it fair and repair the damage caused by its installations. Guild, again out of time, was in hurry to find a better place. Finally they shifted to Salt Lake Stadium. Supporters of book fair at Maidan raised a hue and cry for problems of traffic and space. They said that there are so many polluting issues in the city, why only to take a toll on book fair, which is at its best only at Maidan, becuase it is Maidan! But reportedly 2007 book fair recorded maximum number of visitors. Then came 2008. Guild had already selected Park Circus Maidan for its venue. But the moment they selected Park Circus, there was protests. Park Circus is one of the most crowded part of the city. The traffic is horriblly sloweven in weekends, leave alone weekdays. Traffic jams are regular. Its a highly populated and congested area. Everyone was afraid what will happen if the largest book fair of asia is held here? How will traffic move and how will the local residents live! All these were sometime in the mid-2007. Guild answered to all questions saying, its the duty of police and civic authorities to maintain discipline in that place during the fair. They have nothing to do with it. So came another PIL. And the ruling I have already mentioned came out two days prior to the opening.
There are two fronts of people in Kolkata now. A big chunk of the intellectuals, writers, publishers and book-lovers are against the court ruling from the begining. Because Maidan is the best venue for a fair of such grandeur. So much of open space, so easy traffic and most of all, its been the venue for last 30 odd years! How can you think of any other venue when a venue becomes synonimous to the occasion! Pollution? Well, agreed that it causes a lot of pollution but, is it the only event that cuases pollution? Then why don't curb down other events first and let this great intellectual pride of Bengalis be in its place for awhile. Damn with you environmentalists, you can't control other events that is why you are so revengeful on book fair.
The other front are mainly the environmentalists and some of the commoners. They say, well, we are telling the authorities to shift the venue from quite a long time. They should've arranged for a different permanent with all the facilitites of Maidan venue by now, and the migration from Maidan could have been smoother and hassle-free. The fair, as the statistics show, is indeed on of the biggest source of pollution in the city in that locality. Why should we let it go, when you have been given other choices? Just because it is about books?
And then there is the Govt., the head of which is an intellectual, a writer (eventually his office is in Writer's Building!). They promised of a permanent fair ground near the Salt Lake long ago. I don't know how far has that gone. But surely that is still not yet ready for book fair. So it seems their agenda is more on to arrange make-shift venues for the book fair instead of giving a permanent home to it.
So that is the situation, as I see it. Even with all the warnings and notices, Guild did not even think of a backup venue. They shifted from Salt Lake stadium to the heart of the city without any backup. And when they are served with the ruling they just back off saying, enough is enough, we are not doing book fair! In this scenario I do not know who to blame! But blaming the environmentalists is just escapism. I consider myself a book lover. Though I'm out of Kolkata for last couple of year, I miss the book fair very much. Those little magazine pavilions, selling our little magazine, literary gossiping, gettign up and close with readers and authors, I miss all those. That is the reason I don't want to get the book fair go down. But it seems for the authorities some intellectuals the venue is of more importance the the fair itself! They stick to their emotion of having book fair at its old venue in spite of difficulties. I know, if book fair is not in Maidan, it might loose some its charm for sure. But that isn't enough to sacrifice the book fair itself. I belief there is game of ego and politics underlying here. And as usual a group of intellectuals who are of typical bengali talk-much-do-nothing type are supporting these egoistic stance of having book fair only in Maidan, and no where else. Some of the intellectuals are selling books at Maidan under some temporary tents, marking a protest against the demonic ruling of the court (not against the egoistic approach of not having the book fair itself, I guess). But honestly having or not having book fair is not a matter of life and death for them, its a passtime, may be a passionate pass-time
But think about a whole industry who survive on this book fair. I'm talikng about the printing and binding houses and small scale publications. They make their earning for the whole year in this ten days. There are a bunch of literary enthusiasts who wait for this ten days to get an exposure of the literary world, to meet old friends and to hear first hand reaction of their creations in some small time publication. They will definitely miss Maidan but not as much as the book fair itself.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Grave of the Fireflies

"It is the most profoundly human animated film I've ever seen" ... 

Monday, January 07, 2008

One Dream per Child

There is a non-profit organisation named One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) steered by MIT Media Lab faculties and many more educationists and technologist with a dream of making laptops affordable to every children across the world for constructionist learning. A noble dream. I read abouit them almost a year ago. They have been supported by several industries like AMD, Brightstar, Google, RedHat, etc has supported them in terms of investment and technology. I was just going through some news and noticed a news regarding it. Intel had joined the the group sometime in 2007 and now it is leaving the group becuase it was conflicitng with their own program of Classmate PC! The news quotes OLPC President Wlater Bender as he mentions about 'half hearted' effort of Intel. I don't know th real story, but if the claims made by Bender ar true then it is really unfortunate to see a technology giant like Intel to do this! May be there are business conflicts, still from a humanitarian point of view, Intel could've never joined the group if it was to make this kind of effort. I don't know; may I'm being sentimental.
Actually the vision of the project is so very positive ... just thinking about it I can dream of a better future. Information can bring revolution, and in a very small quantity many projects have been undertaken to demonstrate the positive effects of computer in general in a child's perspective. I loosely remeber there was an article long ago on a NGO-based project done at Delhi, where the authoroties installed some computer in an open space under shelter in a slum to monitor the effect on the children of the slum. And as far as I rememeber, the children of the slum learned the usage of the computer without any assistance in astonishingly fast pace and their general knowledge and confidence also increased as well. Now if every such child gets a laptop of his/her own ... won't it be a great learning tool? I heard Ministry of HRD, Govt. of India is on its way of making laptops or simputers at $47! That'll be really great. Btw, India is not participating in OLPC as MHRD believes they'll be able to make these cheaper ones very soon.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Here's the short film made by us.
It was shot almost a year ago by Shubhadeep, Rupak and Nirjhar. I was only in editing and post production.
We call ourselves Reelers!

New Year!

Another year passed by!
Like always nothing-has-been-done feeling engulfed on the new year eve; usual new year resolutions, which are soon forgotten!