Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Endearing Tale of Maadhoo

Recently, I had the good fortune of visiting Maldives for a couple of days. I think the pristine blue water, the white sand, the web of islands and the friendly people will be etched in my memory forever. However, this post is not about ’The 10 best things to do in Maldives’ or ‘The Awesome Maldives vacation’. It is a small story of my visit to one of the local islands. A story that has bothered me since the time I got back from there.

On the second last day of our trip, our hotel had organised a lovely day-long barbecue picnic with a bunch of tourists from across the world. It was a bright, sunny day and after almost an hour’s journey via a ship, we reached the beautiful island of Maadhoo. The sight of the island was a mesmerising one – crystal blue water surrounding a green covered, white sand island called Maadhoo. On arrival, we were informed that we had the whole day to laze around, swim and explore the island. The only other vital information shared was lunch at 1pm and departure at 5pm.

Now, Maadhoo is an uninhabited island, also known as the Picnic Island since the hotels and resorts in the neighbourhood vicinity frequently organise day trips with tourists. You could walk for kilometres just chasing little crabs, lie along the beach and take a bath without being bothered about any prying eyes or any vendor trying to sell you knick-knacks. Sigh! It was like a little world of our own for a few hours. We even covered the entire island walking from one tip to another. It was that small and beautiful.

The beach is extremely clean and despite being a tourist spot, without any trace of rubbish or tourist remnants. I was actually thinking how the uninhabited island managed to remain so clean. Also, cursing the deplorable and dirty conditions of our beaches back home in India. While walking on the beach at one of the tips, I and my husband were chatting away in Bengali. Suddenly, we noticed that a guy was cleaning the shores – throwing away algae and stuff. Listening to our chit-chat, he approached us and started a conversation in Bengali informing us that he was from Bangladesh. For a moment, I thought ‘There is no respite from Bongs in any part of the world we go. Is it?’ Then on further enquiry, he informed us that he stayed in that little uninhabited island along with six other men. Six of them are Bangladeshis and one local guy. My first reaction was ‘Isn’t the island uninhabited? So what do you do here? Is there electricity? Where do you stay?’ He answered that he had come to the island almost two years back in search of employment and had not managed to go back since it was too expensive an affair to head home. He had spent more than a lakh Taka to come to Maldives in search of a job. His job is to keep the island clean, clear rubbish, tourist remnants etc. He sends his salary back home every month and dreams of visiting Bangladesh soon.

Now, we encountered a lot of Bangladeshis during our stay in Maldives but this man’s story touched a chord somewhere. Imagine, staying in an uninhabited island with limited electricity, three meals a day and a meagre salary in the hope of returning home someday! Imagine, not being able to escape the monotony of the sun, sand, trees and water day after day! Imagine, hoping against hope that your destiny will change some day! The sadness in his eyes while narrating the story cannot be explained in words.

Often after coming back, while trying to sleep after a tough day, I wonder ‘What would those seven guys be looking forward to day after day? How do they sleep in that secluded island surrounded by water all around? Do they ever fear of an upcoming Tsunami or the fact that they may not be able to go home for the next few years? Do they ever think of running away from that island?’

The thought just makes me appreciate my life better. It was quite a humbling experience and that point in the island from where you could see water and only water all around will stay with me forever.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

LOVE UNLIMITED

A romantic once fell in love with a cynic,
Sparks flew left, right and centre.

He longingly stared at the shining moon,
She could only see the ugly, dark patch.
He had already imagined the rosy life ahead,
She was bothered by the thorns of the past.

He knew sky was the limit for both,
She feared that her sky might get limited.
He found romance in the wafting clouds,
She feared the thunderstorm and torrential rains.

He envisioned his dreams come true in Technicolour,
She found comfort in boring, mundane colours.
He wanted to roam around the whole world,
She was afraid of getting lost in the vastness.

He wanted to shower her with promises galore,
She believed promises were meant to be broken.
He found music in her laughter,
She resisted being swayed by his rhythm.

He waited,
She pondered.
And finally love struck,
Together they saw the world as never before.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

TEN DAY YOU CHALLENGE. POST10: ONE PICTURE

Finally, this blog experiment comes to an end with the last and final post. This was great fun and though somewhere in the middle I felt this was a narcissist challenge where I have given away too much to too many people. Nevertheless it was a good nostalgic journey. Made me ponder over a lot of aspects of my own life and reminded me of a lot of forgotten items. Glad I could finish this one.

Below is one of my favourite pictures. This was taken almost 4 years back in Goa at my first company offsite to Taj Fort Aguada. This pic has an innocently happy feel to it - the happiness of heading to Goa straight after joining your first job from college. Evident, isn’t it? ;) And of course I love the setting.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

TEN DAY YOU CHALLENGE. POST9: TWO SONGS

I truly believe in the saying - Music is what feelings sound like. Music makes it so easy to express the most complex of situations. Music is an integral part of my life. Most of the days, I wake up with a song playing in my mind on loop and that sets the pace of my day. On grumpy days, it is just Altaf Raja playing in my auto :P People categorise music into genres - be it classical, pop, rock, jazz etc and a lot of other jargon but to be honest I do not care for quoting the 'correct' group or genre…for me the criteria is simple - I like music that I can hum and stays with me elevating my mood :) as simple as that. But I must confess that I am greatly inclined towards soppy, emotional, heavy worded songs.

So, here go two of my most hummable songs:

  1. Ajeeb dastan hai ye – I have been listening to this song since childhood and love the music, the pain, the singer and the setting. It has a soothing and calming effect on me. This song is a strange concoction of serenity, pain, happiness and celebration. Having heard the song a zillion times I should have memorized the lyrics but while my heart knows it, the brain just does not transmit the signals properly :P


  2. Iktara – This song from Wake Up Sid is an all time favourite. I love the lyrics and just like several other songs it makes me feel that the lyricist has penned down the words just for me. This song has mood uplifting qualities for me and just makes me happy at any point of time. I like the male version of the song as well. Packs in slightly more emotions and feelings. Check out in case you have not heard.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

TEN DAY YOU CHALLENGE. POST8: THREE MOVIES

Movies – my perfect getaway from mundane reality and entry to the fantasy land. My love for cinema has given me sleepless nights, endless conversation points, fabulous ideas, memorable dialogues, lingering music and at times just a 2-3 hour break into oblivion. I am greatly influenced by movies...case point just before penning this post down I was thinking ‘Itni movies aur bas 3 option, bahaut na-insaafi hai re..' :P So, you now must get my obsession levels. I like to watch all kinds of movies irrespective of the genre, language, actors, country, director etc etc. I am grateful to my laptop and many of my friends for sharing their great collection and recommendations. My obsession owes each one of you and the great internet movie friend (who shall not be named here) a GREAT BIG FAT THANK YOU!

So here go the chosen three and in no way do these represent my favourites, they will act more like recommendations of sorts as they may not be that popular....

  1. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – One of the most underrated war movies. This movie is among the rare ones where the brutalities of war are portrayed in the most subtle and figurative manner. The story unfolds through the innocent eyes of an eight year old German boy who is oblivious of his father’s role, the adjacent Nazi concentration camp or the holocaust that awaits him. Brilliant acting, plot and the setting makes this a must watch movie. The ending is absolutely remarkable and comes packed with a punch. Caution: Can leave you with a lump in the throat or a few tears trickling down.
  2. In the Mood for Love – Recommended by my dear friend, this can easily top my favourite romantic movie list. Highly impressed by the cinematography, story-line and subtle expressions. Post this movie, I became a great fan of the Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai and have watched many of his other movies like My Blueberry Nights and Chunking Express but In the Mood for Love remains my favorite. The movie is a lesson in love, infidelity and doing the wrong for the right reasons or vice-versa. Loved the ending – unexpected, sad and moving. Also, the soundtrack of the movie along with the visualization is absolutely brilliant.
  3. Children of Heaven – This simple story of two siblings and a pair of lost shoes leaves you with such a warm and happy feeling. One of the simplest tales told with a sweet message of love and faith is a must watch and does not require much critical analysis. Watch it just to remind yourself that life is all about the simple joys and how underrated they are!

Shawshank Redemption, The Prestige, Memento, Forrest Gump, Inception, The Departed, Amelie, Revolutionary Road, Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Rashomon, 12 Angry Men, An Education, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, 500 Days of Summer, August Rush are some of my other favourite movies which I would really like to recommend others to watch. Phewww! The list is just endless and I am sure I have missed many of the good ones that I cannot recollect at the moment :-/

PS: This post does not mention any Indian or animated movies since these will require another post altogether as I am a complete Bollywood and fantasy movie freak

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

TEN DAY YOU CHALLENGE. POST7: FOUR BOOKS

What would I do without books? I’m so glad that I was such a bookworm growing up and equally unhappy about the fact that I have turned into such a snail speed reader off late. There was a time when I used to read comics and then novels hidden inside textbooks and I have never regretted doing that. I am utterly and totally grateful to Enid Blyton, Charles Dickens, Agatha Christie, Nancy Drew, Rabindranath Tagore, O Henry, Roald Dahl and many other great authors for making my childhood and growing up years so wonderfully colourful. I have enjoyed every bit of those summer vacations spent in a fantasy world of some silly but a fantastic European make-believe world where I could be a spy, a hostel boarder, a detective...whatever I wished to be. The best part was that it opened gates of my imagination!! I used to look forward to my bi-annual trips to Calcutta and the high point of the train journey used to be the stopover at the railway Wheeler bookstore. I would religiously buy books on every trip and also finish them in decent readable time window. Sigh! Those were the days. And I always used to think when I start earning I will invest loads and loads of money and buy all the books my heart desires. But, the sad part is, that now when I can afford to buy as many books as I want, I hardly have any time to read them. I do blame the internet and my diminishing concentration levels for the same. There is always so much to do!!!

There are so many books I would like to list down but cutting them down to four for the sake of this post. The ones listed here are for sheer nostalgia and the fact that these books made a big impact on me, they gave me perspective, helped me grow up and well taught me a lot. So here they are:

  1. To Sir With Love – This book was given to me by one of my favourite English teachers and almost like a challenge to finish it in a week. I loved the book and finished it in much less than a week. The smooth and simple portrayal of the complex social and racial issues in a school by E R Braithwaite left a deep impression on the school going teenager that I was.
  2. Wuthering Heights – And this was my introduction to romance in teenage. I loved the plot and can still vividly recall the description of the hero Heathcliff. Thanks a lot for the lovely introduction to romance Ms. Bronte. A confession here is that I have hardly read any Mills and Boon. My introduction to this trash romantic literature was during my PG days and that too one book and I was done with it. I feel proud of the fact that I never grew up on those lofty novels in the name of romance. (Apologies to all the M&B fans)
  3. The Shadow Lines – I fell in love with Mr. Ghosh with this book. One of my favourite novels and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from first to last page. I clearly remember the night I finished this book, I sat in my room pondering over the fact that what a genius of an author to pen down such complex issues of partition, belonging and home in such a simple lucid manner. Post this book I have read many other Amitav Ghosh novels and the love/respect for the author has just grown. Have often thought about writing to the author but recently when I met him in person, awestruck I did not know what to ask him :-/
  4. Only one slot left and I have so many more books to list. But I think I will list the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez with two exceptionally great books 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' and 'Love in the Time of Cholera'. Love in the time of Cholera scores slightly more over the other, I loved the narrative and the plot. The book left me with an entirely new meaning of love, infatuation, patience and passion.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

TEN DAY YOU CHALLENGE. POST6: FIVE FOODS

Food – I live, breathe and dream about good food besides eating of course :P Foodie to the core, I feel there are few joys that match up to the joy of having a delicious meal with good company. People bond over smoke, drinks or other weird things but I feel the bonding over good food is unparalleled. Also, it is an absolute pleasure to prepare a meal that is enjoyed by the people cooked for.

Extremely difficult to shrink and limit my favourite food items into a list of just five, here go the lucky panch tatva:

  1. Hardcore non-vegetarian, I enjoy my meat and as a policy do not prefer eating vegetarian food outside home. Ghar ka khana is mostly simple vegetarian food. My favourite non-veg food item is Mutton Kosha (Bengali dish where the mutton is cooked in thick gravy). I like it with pulao, parantha, luchi, roti and just like that. This dish conjures up memories of many Sundays where as a child I would just wait this dish to be cooked by Ma. The funny or out of character part is the potato used in this dish - but please don't think I do not like my veggies, this aloo(potato) happens to be my favourite as well.
  2. I love Thai curry both green and red. Green Thai curry with steamed rice is absolutely drool-worthy. I can never have enough of it and the discovery of the Thai cuisine has been a delight for the foodie in me. Sadly, there are only select few places in Delhi which serve decent Thai food. Among the Asian cuisine, I’m also very fond of the Burmese Khao Suey.
  3. Another very popular and staple Bengali food – Luchi (puffed, fried maida mini rotis) Alur Dom (Potato cooked Dum style) or Chholar Dal (Chick Pea Lentil) is very close to my heart and stomach. This again is the perfect Saturday/Sunday breakfast item. I crave for this food item staying away from home since I have not yet mastered the art of cooking luchi or alu dum or chholar dal.
  4. I love desserts and all kinds but my most favourite dessert is the Mississippi Mudpie. This dessert’s deliciousness is directly proportional to its exotic name. In case you are a chocolate fanatic like me, do give this dessert a try at Big Chill. It is a huge brick of frozen chocolate and I can finish it in one go after a full meal :)
  5. Also, I am fonder of Indian sweets than the foreign desserts. Coming from the land of sweets, it comes as no big surprise. The list of my favourite sweets can fill up the entire post :P Rasgulla, gulab jamun, rabri, kheer, gajjar halwa, cham cham, sohan halwa, kaju barfi, moong dal halwa, jalebi, kalakand, malpua – I love them all besides many more. But my ultimate favourite sweet dish is mishit doi (sweetened curd) that you get in any roadside shop in Bengal in earthen pots. Recently, Mother Dairy has introduced a variant of Mishti Doi which comes very close to the original. Do try the same in case you are fond of Indian sweets.

Ok finally I’m done and now hungry after writing this post. Let me food lust for the time being since I am not getting any of the mentioned items right now :-/