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.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
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:
- 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
- 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
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
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....
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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:
- 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.
- 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)
- 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 :-/
- 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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 :)
- 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 :-/
Saturday, July 16, 2011
- Calcutta – Yes, that is how I still like to call the city and will always remain so. I was born here, it means family and friends to me, and hence have a special connection with it. Though I have never really lived here, I just adore the aura of the city. The beautiful blend of old world charm and new age thoughts makes the city stand apart. I owe all fun filled vacations and three glorious years of forging lifelong friends and coming of age to this city. This is to me truly 'the city of joy' and every time I land up here, it lights up my soul. Some of my favourite places in the city are – Nandan, Victoria Memorial, College Street, Shyambazar, Rabindra Sadan, Park Street, Esplanade and the numerous affordable, delectable eating joints. What I dislike, is the new mall culture - they are shadowing the charm and also the laidback work attitude - which does not paint a good picture in eyes of rest of the world. Everything else I love – the talkative & happy people, the finger licking food, the culture, the austerity and so many, many, many more things. Calcutta, you mean home to me and will always be so!
- Delhi – I love you! And that’s a confession. After almost half a decade of dillagi with Dilli that is what I feel. From a point where I arrived in the city with a bagful of prejudices and weird notions to a point now where I shudder at the thought of shifting base, our love story has come a long way. Yes, it was not love at first sight but a slow and gradual one. Thank you for all the great lessons, good times and awesome people. Five years back when I came here, I was fascinated by the look of India Gate and the AIIMS flyover. Nothing much has changed now, I am still amazed at the beautiful juxtaposition of the city with history and how people living here have scant regard for the same. I love the infrastructure, the right pace of life (neither as fast as Mumbai nor as slow as Kolkata), the wide roads, the greenery (at least in South & Central Delhi), and the historical monuments around the city. Some of my favourite places – Raja Agrasen Ki Baawdi, Humayun’s Tomb, Chandni Chowk, Hauz Khas Village, Dilli Haat, CP, JNU, IHC...alas! The list is endless.
- Ok this place may not even feature in the map of India but means a lot to me. I grew up in this small quaint steel township called Ghatotand aka West Bokaro in Jharkhand. I have fond memories of the place and even the mention of this place transports me to a different world. There is nothing in this place worth mentioning about other than the people and my school. Every other person knew everyone else and all communities lived happily together. It was a large scale mohalla and I loved growing up in that protective, cozy and nosy environment.
- Delhi has given me the opportunity to explore the hillsides. My favourite place among hills is this small town called Mukteshwar (50 km above Nainital). I had a serene experience just lazing around on the Chaulli ki Jaali, this is where rocks jut out from the hill face at a bizarre angle. What a spectacular view! I could just sit here and day dream for hours.
- Goa and Gokarna - both have to feature in this list. Among all the beaches that I have been to till date, these two are special. Goa was my first office offsite and though I did not travel much outside the Taj Fort Aguada resort but I loved whatever little I saw of the place. Gokarna was a recent trip and I loved the less populated, clean beaches. One of my most memorable moments of life would be swimming in the Arabian Sea upside down. The pleasure of watching the clear blue sky while floating in the sea cannot be described in words.
- Ok the last and most special place is somewhere I have never been in reality but have visited often while day-dreaming. The place is Capri in Italy and there is a slightly long-ish short story by W Somerset Maugham called ‘The Lotus Eater’ that has etched the beauty of this place so impeccably in my mind that I do not need to Google the images for a view. I fell in love with this place while reading this story and the affair continues. Do read it, if you are remotely interested in knowing about this place. Hope I get to visit Capri sometime soon else there may not be any salvation for my soul J
Friday, July 15, 2011
Wants, wishes, desires - can they be limited to seven? Nahhh. This is a very difficult task. The list of my wants and desires is updated constantly on a daily or hourly basis. I like to dream, imagine and make silly, random wishes relentlessly. Staunch believer in air castles, wish horses, fairy tales and genie here goes my edited list of seven wants:
- DREAM JOB!!! A job that requires me to travel around the world and document or talk about the same . The thought of visiting new locations, experiencing local cuisine , culture and landscape and getting paid for it is the ultimate desire.
- And another of my top wants will be to eat my favourite food items in unlimited quantity without thinking about the repercussions or after-effects. Well to be honest I actually practice this. With food I really do not care about the consequences and eat to my heart’s content. But unlimited quantity may need a scientific/biological/genealogical intervention therefore I call on all mad scientists to experiment and help me get this done :D
- One of my secret desires is to become a movie critic. With my limited knowledge of cinema, I am far from even being a commentator on the subject but the world of movies excites me immensely and the greatest joy would be to share my views and experience with a larger audience. There’s a long way to go for that. Taking up a film course to begin with may not be a bad idea.
- A road trip to Leh Ladakh is part of the bucket list as well. This has been on my mind for quite some time now. Hope the plan materializes soon.
- I want to learn a foreign language. This again has been a long pending plan. I am greatly fascinated by languages and feel they are the gateway to a particular culture and region. I want to begin with Spanish. I love the accent and may be Penelope Cruz has a great role in making the language sound so sensual.
- A date with ALL of these three men – Amitav Ghosh, Aamir Khan AND George Clooney. Random options but these are three men I would give anything to meet in a lifetime. I met Amitav Ghosh recently and it was an amazing experience. Such a humble and friendly author. Would love to just sit and hear them talk. For a change I promise to keep quiet :P
- The last and final would be a month long trip to Europe. Would love to roam around the places I have till date read about and fantasized often via novels, stories and movies. A long Euro trip without the hassles of work and deadlines will be the grand gift that I look forward to.
PS: In case any of you find my Genie roaming around aimlessly, just send him back. His bottle awaits him.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Fear is a term I do not relate to. At the first instant, it seemed that I may not have anything substantial to share but when I started jotting down, it did not seem that difficult. We all have fears and it is just about coming to terms with them and accepting them.
- My biggest fear would be losing a near and dear one. Well, this is the most common fear most human beings possess. I have lost quite a few close ones in the cruel hands of the inevitable and hope against hope not to go through the same anytime soon. Also, I dislike saying goodbye to friends, family and loved ones. That denotes loss in some way as well. I cry as easily as I laugh. Most goodbyes are met with tears and I just dislike them.
- Off late I have developed a very strange fear – the fear of losing my child like excitement or curiosity with time and age. It might sound weird to most but yes with ageing that is one of my greatest concern areas. My hyper active soul loves to question, explore, giggle and indulge in impromptu plans. I just hope I stay the same even with the passage of time, age and senility. Hope my love for travelling, talking, laughing, books, movies, music and the small joys of life only multiply and not diminish.
- Failure – That is a fear of the typical middle class mind. Though I have never been even close to failure academically but the entire thought of failing in a project, work or any aspect of life scares me. This I feel is a potent cause of my inability to learn cycling. I always feared falling down and hurting myself. Recently, I have realised that great success is only accompanied by grand failures in life. This realization has me slightly sad. There goes my chance to be rich, famous and successful. Though I have been looking out for opportunities to fail but I know it is difficult for a safe player like me.
- I fear boredom. Yes that can be a fear as well. Loneliness does not scare me much but the thought of not having anything to do or a blank mind scares me. I enjoy hyper activity and also inactivity at times but a blank mind or the nothing to do feeling I feel is the worst. Well, I hardly face such moments, hence the fear.
- Crossing a busy road frightens me like no one’s business. I stand, I wait, I look right & then left, I ponder, I evaluate the speed and the vehicle size and then make my move. Phewww! The process gets easier if someone just pulls me along. This has to do with the fact that I grew up in a quaint little town where there were not much traffic issues. Also, I do not fear travelling alone in a public vehicle in a city like Delhi but what I fear is using an empty underground passage at night. The few times I have had to do this, the phone has been of great support.
- Another important fear is the fear of not living up to the expectations of my family, friends and most importantly me. In school, college it used to be teachers. Now in work life it is my bosses and client. I shudder at the thought of my family or friends telling me that I failed them in any aspect. Also, the biggest fear is the day I fail my own expectations. Yes, I have high expectations from myself.
- Ok this has been my most recurrent fear since childhood. I hate, loathe, despise lizards or for that matter most reptiles. I can’t describe in words how much those dirty little creatures skating across the walls freak me out. I have had nightmares of being surrounded by those ugly creatures. Till a few years back I wouldn't enter the bathroom without doing a Lizard proof check. I have become slightly tolerant to them but it is still difficult for me to concentrate if they are visible anywhere close to my vicinity. One of the grossest sights possible for me is watching a lizard attack and then devour a cockroach. Absolute horror scene material for my eyes.
- My latest developed fear is the fear of losing wallets & ATM cards. With a great track record of losing four ATM cards and one wallet, this is my most materialistic fear. The whole process of ‘losing, tracking, slapping myself mentally, frantic calls, listening to the automated bank customer care messages, repeating the same message to multiple CC executives due to call drops and waiting patiently for the card to arrive in a week’s time’ is too much for me to handle now. Also, informing the rest about the development especially my mother is a herculean task. The fallout is that off late I have been double or triple checking my wallet & card. Can this be called an OCD? Sigh!
Saturday, July 2, 2011
1. Ah! This is easy – Ma. I love, respect and dote on my mother, and I simply adore my grannies. These three ladies are my topmost loved people and I know for a fact I mean the world to them. Ma and I share a 19 year old gap (yes she was married early and I was born in time) and I often get to hear from people ‘Is she your elder sister?’ I hate it and love it both. More than mother she is a friend and there are hardly any bits of my life that I do not share with her - right from my daily meals to my friends to my outings. Yes, everyday despite the 1500km distance. Aamma (my paternal granny) is one fun lady and she is one person who has more faith on me than myself. Dida (maternal granny) does not stay with us but is close family and the most magnanimous person I have ever known.
2. I hate to admit it but I love my kid brother. He is everything that I am not, and that may be something that makes me love him even more. Introvert, geeky, hates to interact with people at large and specializes in wisecracks. He is not the regular epitome of the young generation, he is different and I cherish that about him. And then of course my dear cousins who have donned various roles of siblings, friends, and partners in crime are again top on my love circle.
3. *F.r.i.e.n.d.s *….YUP, where would I be without them. I had once read - if count of your friends exceeds your fingers or toes, you are lucky. Oops in that case, I need additional 10 hands and legs!! Well and I love them ALL. They do define me and have made the journey called life so much more fun, and did I mention they help me keep sane? So, school friends, college friends, Post Grad friends, work friends and friends across my stay in three cities have been the love of my life. Wish I could put one collage of my group of friends but there are way too many loved, valued friends and I just fear missing out on any one of them. Even if you have spent a moment of happiness or sorrow or misery with me, trust me it has meant a lot and you are a friend for life.
4. My lifeline - movies, books and music…they make an addict! I think and breathe them 365*24*7. I watch A LOT of movies, there is always a book by my bedside (just don’t ask me about my reading speed) and music is a constant companion.
5. I love to travel and the mere thought of exploring a new place makes me ecstatic. I’m struck with this constant wanderlust and often browse through travel portals and magazines to be transported to a wonder land. I try to plan as many trips as possible in the limited means of resources and most importantly availability of holidays.
6. SEA. I never realized how much I liked and then loved it. Took me quite a few trips to realize how much I love listening to the waves crashing on the shore, witnessing the sunrise and sunset by the waterside, swimming in the sea and just taking a stroll on the beach. My favorite activity remains picking sea shells on the sea shore.
7. Loquacious. Babbler. Talkative. (etc*)…yup that is me. AND I love it. Did I mention I love laughing too?! In my happy or normal mood and with my set of friends, I can go on and on any given topic. And about my laughter, I would rather not say much. In my office, there is a recorded laughter of mine which can pass of as a non-stop 5 minute laughter track. One of my colleagues recently told me he uses it to scare his daughter. :-/
8. This one might sound silly but I love my profession and you know what? It is a perfect blend of my loves 3, 4, 5, 7 :D (yeah that is a smug smile) and given an option to reconsider my career choice, would any day choose Public Relations as a profession. I love my job and my office and they mean a lot to me.
9. Last and kindly note in NO WAY the LEAST...this clearly defines me…my love for food and anything sweet! I am a complete foodie at heart and even the mere mention of good food is enough to give me the kicks. Many people have told me that it is a pleasure to eat with me as there are very few people who enjoy food the way I do. The item that accelerates my excitement levels to manifold times would be sweets. Friends have given me interesting names on this: Chinti (ant), Cake annihilator and the latest being Sweeto (on the lines of Magneto in X-men)To sum it up: I love life and believe in enjoying every moment of it.