Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Nancy has tagged me, and so has Mystic Margarita. In the true spirit of a teacher and dealer in questions and answers, I take up my tag-tasks:

Nancy’s tag, which, she says, got started at http://annagain66.blogspot.com/ is like a class test. Short, probing but pithy.

1. Where were you 10 years ago?
A decade back, I was a carefree, yet-to-be-a-year-old-blushing-bride, working in a swank bank in Kolkata.
2. What's on your to-do list today?
The usual – rush to work, rush back to kids, cook, teach, feed, clean. And chat with my mom (she’s on her annual month-long trip to my place) and the spouse (when we manage to sit for the 30-minutes post-dinner talk, post-the-kids’-bedtime). Very mundane, very me.
3. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Travel round the world, get a liposuction, save for later, buy a house in Bandra (but that would take up my billion, I guess, with the sky-busting property prices in Mumbai).
4. Name five places you've lived.
Barrackpore, Kolkata (Kaikhali, Jodhpur Park and Jadavpur), Mumbai (all in India).
5. Name three bad habits of yours.
I forget things; I argue a bit too much, I’m a control freak.
6. What's your favorite snack?
I am trying to diet, so I’ll be pious and say “fruits”. (Snickers bars and jeera/kokum/hing/imli golis, actually).
7. Who will you tag next?

Margarita’s tag is longer, like a Honours Paper. It grills me extensively on various emotional why-s and fantastic what-ifs. My time starts now.

The rules for the tag are:RULE #1 People who have been tagged must write their answers on their blogs and replace any question that they dislike with a new question formulated by themselves.RULE #2 Tag 6 people to do this quiz and those who are tagged cannot refuse. These people must state who they were tagged by and cannot tag the person whom they were tagged by continue this game by sending it to other people.

1. If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?

Tears, idle tears. I’m a leaky tap when heartbroken.
2. If you can have a dream come true, what would it be?

To see myself and my loved ones safe, sane and happy (and rich and famous and slim, is possible).
3. Whose butt would you like to kick?

Anybody who blocks my way when I’m in a hurry.

4. What would you do with a billion dollars?

Though I’ve already done this, let me add, I’d splurge half and save half.
5. Will you fall in love with your best friend?

I did, although he sometimes feels it’s like sleeping with the enemy.
6. Which is more blessed: loving someone or being loved by someone?

I’m greedy, I wanna have both.

7. How long would you wait for someone you loved?

If he loves me back, he’ll come to me ASAP.

8. If the person you secretly like is attached, what will you do?

Mope and move. Triangles are stressful, pointy, troublesome things to be trapped in.

9. If you could root for one social cause, what would it be?

Population control - the snowball effects of overpopulation freak me out.

10. What takes you down the fastest?

Lack of logic.
11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

I don’t really want to take the fun out of my future by limiting it.
12. What’s your fear?

Losing those I love.

13. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

A lovely person – very capable mom, very readable writer, and a really sweet long distance blog-friend.
14. Would you rather be single and rich or married and poor?

Since I’m already the second, I’d rather not wonder about the greener grass on the other side of the matrimonial fence.
15. What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Wish I could sleep for a few hours more.
16. If you fall in love with two people simultaneously who will you pick?

That’s a ‘loaded’ question!
17. Would you give all in a relationship?

I already have. I also get back a lot, which makes it all worthwhile.
18. Would you forgive and forget someone no matter how horrible a thing he has done?
Forgive perhaps, but not forget.
19. Do you prefer being single or in a relationship?

I love my emotional crutches.
20. List of 6 people to tag:

Sidhubaba, Sukku, Koel, Scatterbrain, Jaquanda Rae, Gappa.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Hey, I'm so thrilled it took me 3 attempts to type this out.

Mystic Margarita has so, so graciously given me an award for being a BRILLIANT WEBLOG (I've always thought so, he-he, but I had my doubts). Well, doubt no more shall I because, as Shah Rukh Khan so immodestly sang, "I'm the best, I'm the best, I'm the be-ee-sst" (along with a host of others, but then, it's a lovely feeling, nonetheless.

But with this great reward comes great responsibility.
Here are the rules for this award: This award is for blogs whose content and/or design are brilliant as well as creative. The purpose of the prize is to promote as many blogs as possible in the blogosphere.

1. When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back

2. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs (or even more) that you find brilliant in their content or design.

3. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Brilliant Weblog’

4. Show a picture of those who awarded you and those you give the prize (optional).

5. And then we pass it on!

And, this award goes...to...(DRUMROLL)...to...(AGONY OF SUSPENSE STRETCH---ED) ...to... (AFTER A BREAK FOR A ZILLION ADS)...

Sidhubaba - wit and wisdom, a heady cocktail.

Gappa - wit, wisdom, warmth and a woman, another heady cocktail.

Scatterbrain - she writes straight from the heart.

Paul's Daily Postcard - wordsmith with fabulous, fictional ideas.

Jaquanda Rae - skintingling, mindblowing poetry, and great prose, too.

Fleur de Aleta - a lovely warm person and a lovely slice-of-life blog.

Nancy - An afficianado of good food, wine and books - it can't get any better than this.

Sukku - amazing energy, globe-trotting repertoire.

So, let's roll the red carpet and pop the bubbly! Wheee....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


A week or so to go, and the end of this term is in sight. Being a person of minuscule-Marathi and with my Hindi-full-of-holes, every year I face a new batch with some amount of trepidation. Yes, I know I teach Business Communication, which is supposed to be taught in English, but by public demand I have to teach bilingually, once in English which the students write down laboriously but incomprehensibly, and once again in Hindi with a lot of examples culled from movies and television which they enjoy and understand (hopefully). Wading through the syllabus with my feet in bi-lingual boats, I sometimes flounder if the batch of fish/students is too unruly/noisy/unresponsive.

This year, I am pleasantly surprised as I seem to have bonded really well with all four divisions of my students (usually I have a jinx with students of ‘B division’, as they call themselves). Of course, there are the rowdy back-benchers who sometimes hoot and hiss when my back is turned. But I’ve managed not to get ruffled even once this year.

This year, I’ve enjoyed teaching (like I enjoyed teaching Literature back in Kolkata) to a section of students who are interested (they even wait till the final lecture for my classes) and responsive (they answer, and correctly, when I quiz them). Even a handful of such students make a world of difference to a teacher, and this year has been wonderfully different so far.

It’s nearing term-end now and it’s been a term well-spent. Thank you, students. I'll cross my fingers and hope for a repeat next term.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


To find a Bengali, one just has to find the nearest fish-market. The fish-stalls, or the non-veg section of supermarkets selling fish, are converging points for Bengalis. You can identify them (the Bengalis, that is) by the over-loud debating voices, just like you can identify the fish-stall by the smell (so dear to us, so detested by non-fish-lovers).

A Bengali without fish is like a fish without water. It is essential to his innate sense of well-being. The intricate springs and coils of the fabled Bengali brain run smoothly only when they are adquately fish-oiled (Omega 3 and all that are very good, but it has to be blended with pure mustard oil).

Bengalis will congregate over fish and debate endlessly on the virtues of rui over katla, peti (oilier portions from around the stomach) over gada (bonier portions from the back of the fish), galda over bagda (lobsters over tiger-prawns), anything over anything-else. The fish-sellers and their assistants (who are also, often, Bengali) chip in with their bits of advice, usually supporting the Bengali with the heavier wallet.

But there are two immutable, uncontestable truths :
1. The sweet Bengali river-fish is the only edible fish in whole wide world (a grudging exception is made for pomfret, because the less-bony easily-fry-able fish is an inexplicable favourite with children). Any Bengali worth his mustard oil will turn up his nose at the salty sea-fish like bangda (found in shiny silver abundance in Mumbai) as an inferior sub-genre, not fit to be called fish.
2. Hilsa is the KING (or to be politically-correct, the QUEEN) of fishes. And all bespectacled-Bengalis will glare you down if you dare to suggest otherwise.

Other people are unperturbed by their choice of fish. My maid (who is from Maharashtra) happily cooks surmai/halwa/anything else with the same onion-garlic-chilli-coconut-tomato-coriander masala combination. But we Bengalis are thrown into a tizzy by our choice of fish. The other day I was extremely amused to overhear a phone conversation where the hapless husband was getting severely scolded by his wife because he had purchased rui when she had apparently made a mustard-coconut paste ready to cook prawns. Of course, rui with this same paste would be a blasphemously-unBengali concoction. So the poor husband was summarily ordered to buy some degenerate frozen shrimps to salvage the masala, and a tub of yogurt to grace the rui-curry.

I am a shame on bona fide Bengalis, I guess. I love fish, but am completely undiscriminating when it comes to choosing between betki and rawas, bombil and pabda. I don't even care if the oil is mustard or sunflower. As long it is fish, I love it. More of a Piscean and less of a Bengali, I guess.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


It's visarjan (immersion) time for the lovable elephant-god. As his annual sojourn ends, suddenly eco-friendly Mumbaikars are busy taking out processions carrying their favourite deity to his watery bed - from where he will ascend to his true home, the Heavens - with much pomp and revelry.

This revelry is one of my favourite sights of the festival, because it still delights and amazes me to see women, of all ages, apparel and girth, taking part energetically in the farewell procession - dancing away uninhibitedly. Visarjan dancing is the joyous, free-spirited dance-as-you-like which cheers the dancer and the bystander alike.

In culture-conscious Kolkata, dancing is frowned upon as a slightly delinquent pastime (unless it is the attenuated, affected, discipline-bound formal dances). Dancing at festivals and weddings is the prerogative of youths, inevitably male and usually drunk. To break this male bastion, a woman has to risk ogling stares, whistling catcalls and bottom-pinching pests.

But here in egalitarian Mumbai, my heart thrills everytime I watch a group where women are dancing freely and happily, with enthusiasm and without fear. My shoulders twitch and my feet tap out the drum-rhythms as my daughters clap and dance-as-they-like, shouting full-throated, whole-hearted and free-soled, "Ganpati Bappa Mourya!!!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Well, once again it’s Ganpati-season in Mumbai. Festive notes waft briskly (is that an oxymoron?) in the air, both the musical kind and the monetary kind, because most Indian religious festivals are all about display. And then, Ganesha is THE GOD OF ENTERPRISE, be it FINANCIAL (ALL CAPS AND IN BOLD PLEASE, WE’RE IN MUMBAI – COMMERCE CAPITAL OF INDIA) or otherwise (fine print only, please, for those foolish enough to have non-financial ideals and enterprises…or should that be enter-prices?).
Back in Kolkata, the main festival is the four-day Durga Puja, which means a four-day long holiday. No work (except to eat, talk, roam and dress up to your heart’s content), and all play (in all its different connotations, including the flower-fragrance-redolent, goddess-blessed, drumbeats-in-the-backdrop pandal-flirtations).
But in rushed-and-ready brisk-and-busy Mumbai, though Ganesha visits us for over ten days, we have a measly two-days off. I guess that’s how it should be, because the portly deity is a shrewd business-fellow, and would perhaps only bless the industrious. So it’s work as usual, with a holiday at each end, fitting in a hectic twirl of mandal-hopping in the evenings between frantic-work-day and exhausted-night-sleep.
So different from indolent, lotus-eating (and currently Singur-shamed) Kolkata! Where there are potbellies (and potholes) galore (well, that is also the case in Mumbai), but which seems to have been sadly neglected by the otherwise-benign Gajanana and his devotees.