Friday, December 26, 2008

One person parties

How come there are all these "one person party"s mushrooming all over
India like the roadside temples ? The English word "party" means a
group of more than one person. Contradiction ab initio.

I would like to focus mainly on the one-woman parties but I cannot
really blame the women; they are following the men leaders. Yet, there
is a difference. Like it or not, political movement in India is male
dominated. Maybe it is like this in other countries too.

Wait there, I didn't say male centric. South Asian countrymen (or
citizens, to be politically correct) like the idea of a woman at the
center. "Nari jaati", "Nari shakti" etc. attract middle class
intellectuals and have-not poor folks at the same time. For different
reasons though. I have 27 seconds to explain this. Keep reading.

For the would-be intellectuals, having a woman at the center is a
glorious way to flaunt the tag of world's largest democracy. It speaks
volumes of our open political system, underlines the principles of
equal opportunity and reminds everyone else that we are different.
Well, I think we are differently chauvinist, but keep that aside for

For the have-nots, it is a chance for them to be heard. Men can go and
earn the bread they eat for dinner. And women, who are pretty good in
managing households of these men, can go and manage an even larger
household of men. She has a natural talent for that. They can discuss
next day strategies over dinner.

There are leaders who are likable for different reasons. A woman is by
nature kind, gentle and serene; this makes them extremely approachable
- a desirable mention in the CV of any aspiring politician. I would
like to talk to a woman instead of a cunning, rough and corrupt man
any day of the year. Women can be corrupt too ... but hey, their
number is insignificant compared to the male counterparts.

Hence, we have numerous one-woman parties. These parties end up having
a few other important leaders but still all the decisions are taken by
their leaders. To me this feels like a small scale dictatorship and a
milder one.

There is nothing against the rules to ban these parties. There should
not be one. History shows us how ideas from a single man or woman can
change the society. It is ok for a single person to take forward an
idea. That's how revolution starts. But it is foolish to blindly
follow this person without following the idea. Sadly, that is the
state of the Indian voters these days; they are mesmerized by the
wowness of their women leaders.

I am not an usual male chauvinist who scoffs a women in power. I only
blame when blames are due.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My first ballet

Ballet is a dance performance with elaborate sets and matching orchestra in the background. That is how Steve described it to me. He was right, but the words carry more meaning than they might sound.

I decided to spend the afternoon before Christmas Eve watching The Nutcracker (artistic designer:
MIKKO NISSINEN). I have never been inside any opera house before, let alone see any live opera. So this was supposed to be a memorable experience. It was, for all the right reasons. The performance was at the Boston Opera House in the theatre district of Boston. The opera house was magnificent, with decorated walls and ceilings and beautiful chandeliers providing just the perfect lighting. For some reason there was a strong smell of alcohol where I was seated but that might just be some exquisite perfume (or an already tipsy opera fan). Oh, I got a $20 student rush ticket but got a seat in the 6th row from the stage so I was pretty fortunate that way.

Anything I say about the actual performance would fall short of its actual beauty. I have been to a few Bangla theatres and watch a lot of movies onscreen. I am also a big fan of classical Indian dance performances. But this turned out to be a completely different visual experience. Simply put visually stunning. The set and the promps were just magic. The dances were just in tune with the orchestra music, which was also wonderful. I wonder if I can buy the score somewhere. The dancers were graceful, the direction was perfect with the required amount of humour needed to keep the kids in their seats and the the whole experience was very very colourful.

Simply put, I am very impressed. I am glad I decided to watch one ballet performance by our own Boston Ballet. I really am.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bostonians are not rude but ...

I find the people of Boston extremely friendly and cordial. But I have also been told that there is a lot of racism here, especially among native Boston people. Maybe I have only seen the good side of Boston because I usually interact with the people in academia. Academia is the last place to foster racism; so, that might explain my biased opinion about Boston. I still believed what I saw ... until ...

Someone (from Arlington, I believe) posted an ad on Craigslist about
Queen IKEA platform bed. Delivery possible - $80 (Arlington)
One of the interested customers, who happened to be an Indian, emailed him an oft-asked question:
Is it still available. is mattress included in the price? Pls send
your contact details.
Thanks & Regards
This somehow angered the seller and here is his email that I wish I never saw:
This is the IKEA website of the platorm bed. (RETAIL $180)

Quoted from that page:
Slatted bed base, mattress and bedlinens are sold separately.

The slats are $40 extra for a queen bed size.
The cheapest [indian] mattress is $70.

Do you really think Id sell a $300 bed for $80?

> Hi
> Is it still available.
IF IT WAS, why woudnt you include your phone number like the other 9 people?
Do I really want to spend 5 days emailing back and forth when a 10minute call would suffice?

> is mattress included in the price?
Did you bother to do ANY research on the bed? The other 9 people did.
They realized that $80 for a $180 bed was a good deal.. I even added the slats ($40) to the deal.
$220 value for $80?!!! Any smart person would jump at the offer...9 people saw the value and sent their phone numbers in the email YOU DIDNT.

> Pls send your contact details.
Why? So I can listen to the the world's most annoying accent
INDIAN/PAKY try to tell me that I should sell it for less? DISCOUNT? DISCOUNT? Then be told to deliver it wayyyyyy out in some shit town - because indians are too cheap to live in the boston area.
You'd want me to deliver it during traffic time or during the snow storm because DOT DOT DOT Indians are self centered, inconsiderate assholes.

Then I get to your house, it smells of curry and body odor and the heat is at 90*.
Your husband cant lift (INDIANS ARE WEAK) and youre no help. Your children are ugly and in the way. Then after all that, you, AS INDIANS, would want to re-negociate to an even lower price.

I didnt put my phone number on the posting because I didnt want to have annoying indians calling me at 1130pm like it was 2pm.
I dont deal with indans anymore. I just say NO and hang up.

This is the IKEA website of the platorm bed. (RETAIL $180)

Quoted from that page:
Slatted bed base, mattress and bedlinens are sold separately.

The slats are $40 extra for a queen bed size.
The cheapest [indian] mattress is $70.

Do you really think Id sell a $300 bed for $80?

FUCK INDIANS (DOTS not feathers)

Thanks & Regards
The interested buyer was extremely annoyed due to the abusive language against Indians in general and had to post this email to a list from where I came to know about this incident. But please please tell me, that this is an exception. Boston is a fantastic city. I love Boston.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Miss you India!

Nandini said this to me recently,
The world sometimes feels so big.
I feel so small.
At 5'4" I feel very overwhelmed in this country.
But its not the same in India!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Indian chivalry ?

This article appeared about 4 weeks ago in The Telegraph, Kolkata.
There’s a shortage of both loose change and good manners in the city. If your
taxi fare comes to Rs 57 and you give the cabbie Rs 60, nine out of 10 times,
you won’t get the balance back. In some stretches, it’s mandatory to declare
your “loose change status” before jumping into an autorickshaw.

Recently, when a Metro commuter realised she only had 100 rupee notes in her
wallet, she panicked. At the counter, she sheepishly fished out Rs 100. The
man raised his head, scowled and barked: “Ki, change nei?” (Don’t you have
any change?) She could only shake her head sadly. “Here, take your ticket and
change,” he said. As she was thankfully collecting the notes and coins, he
added: “Chhele holey ditam na!” (Had you been a man, I wouldn’t have given
you the change). Chivalry or gender discrimination?

I asked two women I know about their feelings. Quoting Nandini,
As for the article, it seems plain obvious to me that it was
charity/chivalry rather than discrimination. It indeed is ironic
that in a male dominated world such acts of kinds even take place, wherein
it is the males who are sort of being discriminated against. However, I
personally don't think that such acts of chivalry/charity will increase the
level of respect/alter the general male attitude towards women in general.
It's sadly only a temporary passing phase.
Quoting Bhavana,
I don't think an issue such as this should be viewed in the context of gender discrimination at all. It is just an amusing reflection of an Indian male's perception of chivalry and should be taken in a lighter vein.
I have to agree with both of them ... this is not gender discrimination at all. Rulebooks for men of our society have clear instructions for going out of the way for women and elderly. It is not always the same chivalrous attitude present in the European civilisations. Its some kind of a rule which is followed without understand. Hence, sometimes the male ego comes out in defiance and tries to prove the fact that he is smart enough to set his own preferences. “Chhele holey ditam na!"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It Does Not Die / ন হন্যতে

I am reading this book right now. I am reading the English version, translated by the author herself. What I find fascinating is the way she is able to paint her thoughts with a pen and walk me through the same journey of life that she went through.

I came across the following letter halfway across the book. I do not intend to capture the essence of the book in this letter; so do not read between the lines.

This is a letter that the potential husband wrote to the author sometime before the actual marriage ceremony. Do note that the events are taking place in 1930s and she never met her husband before the wedding.
Understanding that you are going to choose a partner in life I beg to offer myself as a candidate for the vacancy. As regards my qualifications, I am neither married nor am I a widower; I am in fact the genuine article - a bachelor, being one of long standing. I should in fairness refer also to my disqualifications. I frankly confess that I am quite to the new job and I cannot boast of any previous experience in this line, never having had occasion before to enter into such partership with anyone. My want of experience is likely, I am afraid, to be regarded as a handicap and disqualification. May I point out however that though "want of experience" is a disqualification in other avenues of life, this particular line is the only one where it is desirable in every way. A more serious handicap is the fact that I am an old bachelor with confirmed bachelor habits. For further particulars I beg you to approach your mother who studied me the other day with an amount of curiousity and interest that would have done credit even to an egyptologist examining a rare mummy. In fine, permit to assure you that it will be my constant endeavour to give you every satisfaction. I have the honour to be, mademoiselle,
Your most obedient servant ...

There is nothing in the above that I can personally relate to, but its so downright witty and funny that I thought I have to share this with all of you.

অজ নিত্য শাশ্বতোয়ং পুরান ন হন্যতে হন্যমানে শরীরে

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Someone recommended me to watch the 2004 Paul Haggis movie Crash. Desparation got the better of me and Youtube pointed to the easy exit. So I just finished watching the movie. Thanks Sujata, it was indeed a fine movie, at least thats what a part of me keeping telling me. I say so because the other part kept thinking I am watching a well made documentary, an extremely well made one.

A good documentary is almost like a movie; in fact I am not even sure if there is a sharp line separating them. Possibly I was less moved than expected while the movie because I am so used to seeing around me all those that was shown in the movie. A sensitive person should crash while watching the vignettes of discrimination, mostly racial in nature. I have seen those in so many forms and feathers that they didn't affect me as much.

A poet once said "Where the mind is without fear, where the head is held high...". It needs a lot of courage to be able to do that in today's world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sesh Proshno

No excuse is enough for not blogging for a year and then resuming with some copied content. I will not even try to give one.

While returning from India, I brought 3 volumes of a collection of novels by the famous Bengali novelist Kathasahityik Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay with me for (Dr.) Saikat (Guha). I recommended him the novel "Shes Proshno" (the ultimate question). Here is how he summarised it later.

The story revolves around a set of prabasi Bengalis in Agra, when a wealthy elderly widower Ashubabu moves into the city with his only daughter Manorama. In spite of being very rich, Ashubabu gains instant popularity amidst the Bengali community because of his extremely
down-to-earth/sociable/helpful demeanor. Ashubabu frequently visits other families, and invites people to his home (a huge house) for meals, music gatherings, and adda. Shibnath is an excellent musician, but a very lose character person, who Ashubabu meets with and starts inviting to his home regularly because of his excellent musical talent. One evening, at a dinner with several others and Shibnath at his home, it gets revealed that Shibnath had left his first wife because of her persistent ill health and had married a daughter of a Dasi in his house. Shibnath gets unpopular and loses respect in the community but still maintains his demand due to his music and his charming and open personality. The appearance in the story of this stunningly beautiful second wife of Shibnath, called Kamal, arouses a tremendous surge of a mixture of rage, respect, and curiosity in the Bengali community. Kamal was brought up in a tea bagan in north bengal and was born to a European man and a Hindu dasi. Kamal is a very strong character and is not influenced a bit by insult and societal negligence due to her caste and her beliefs. In spite of being an outcast, (and later in the story been dumped by Shibnath), she continues to influence the community by her fearless philosophy that revolves around the betterment of humanity as a whole, and not clinging to the age-old Hindu traditions to be the saviors of our souls. The remainder of the story revolves around Kamal, Ashubabu (who immensely likes Kamal and almost sees her as his daughter, but doesn't agree on a single thing with her ever), Ashubabu's foreign-return (supposedly) hobu Jamai Ajit, Manorama, and a few other very interesting, albeit different characters.

Sounds interesting? The plot itself speaks of a silence revolution in a society far far away in space and time. Yet I am sure you will find small bubbles of revolting characters, some even similar to Kamal from the novel, in any society anywhere. To get the full flavour of the novel,
you should definitely read the novel in Saratchandra's words... the dialogue deliveries and the character sketches are remarkable, and in spite of the story being set in pre-independence days, has an incredible amount of relevance to today's society.

I personally read the novel during my mid-teens. One of the advantages of studying away from home is to get access to all kinds of literature, good bad or ugly (ahem! no raised eyebrows please). Anyway, I read it later once more but do not remember much about the story. What I remember is that when I read it, it was unlike any other Sarat Chattopadhyay's novels. Most of his novels center around women and somewhat feminist. This was the same yet different. In short, highly recommended if you can stand complex arguments and long winding discussions about social issues.

Well, this is an opportunity to learn Bangla (one of the top 10 most spoken languages in the world). However, if you are impatient, you may be able to use the English translation (review).