Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This Winter

If you are not wearing socks,
its either because
  • you are superhuman
  • you dont have a pair

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Training our HR Skills

A Team Building Programme initiated by the HR Dept had got all of us very excited, as it meant two days out of office, and great fun. We assembled early in the morning in the office premises before embarking an airconditioned bus that was to take us to Fort Ramgarh, Panchkula. The people selected for this trip were from different departments; who hardly knew each other. The first round of gelling started by people getting acquainted with each other’s names, departments, location of present residences and likewise. Some games rounds happened to keep up the banter.. because the age group was quite diverse as well.. before we stopped for breakfast, after which all of us dozed off.

The Fort turned out to be a complex alongside the highway, with its name recorded in the Limca Book of World Records for the tallest wooden door: a whopping 37 feet. Rooms were divided, keys handed over. We re-assembled for lunch after which we were ferried to a nearby complex consisting of 97% open area. A treasure hunt is on the cards. Divided into two teams, each one of us was handed a list of clues. We huddled together, and worked out strategies with each other, most of whom were complete strangers until a little while ago. We scurry around the ground like children, and announce merrily every time an object is found. Next task is to build a sand castle. Its strange, how some of us took charge, and guided others to work. A senior member scurrying up and down to fetch water. A middle aged member digging sand. The younger chaps helping in the ramming and cutting. By now, we had become comfortable, and were giggling and pulling each other’s legs. As dusk drooped on us, we were asked to play Volleyball, not with our hands but a sheet of cloth. There was a fairly high net, and it took effort from all of us to hurl the ball across.. and to catch it by running together as a system, holding the cloth. There was a session where we got to discuss Employee Issues, but that was something we were not keen on, so tired were all of us! We could barely have dinner before we went to sleep readily.

The next morning task was about standing on a blanket, when it was fully open, then folded into half and further into quarter. Huddling, lifting the lighter people, we managed to fit. Then, a four way tug of war. Divided in four teams, we exerted our weight on the poor ropes!! And finally, it was a game of cricket. The boys were doubtful about cricketing abilities of the girls, and hence posted us on the boundary lines. Most of us had to do nothing, as the ball would stop in the sandy outfield. I was the unfortunate one who had to grab a high catch, but it was easy, as the ball came slowly down to me. We returned to our Fort-turned into Hotel, had lunch and started on the way back. We were gifted a coffee mug each, which stands a constant reminder of the fun we had!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Amritsar in 36 hours

“What’s the use of a mid-week holiday?”, I remarked, as I glanced at the list of holidays that declared Wednesday, 17th November, 2010 as a holiday on account of Eid. “Had it been on a Friday, we could have got three days off in a row”.
Things started falling in place almost by magic. My brother-in-law’s convocation for his post graduate degree gets scheduled on Saturday. My father in law agreed to visit us for about a week. On the Sunday preceding the 17th, we are reflecting on possibilities of my father in law going to some nearby place and my husband, who is relatively free at present, to accompany him. Then the brainwave comes, “Why don’t you use your Wednesday-holiday?” The question is shot at my brother in law and myself, the office going people, who are normally bound by official duties on weekdays.
Where, where, where.. options start cropping up and get discarded due to shortage of time. The old man murmurs softly, “I would like to see the Golden Temple...”
So rare is the phenomenon when a parent expresses his wish, that there was no question of considering an alternative. Amritsar is finalized. Modes planned. We start Tuesday night, utilize the “Wednesday holiday” and return by Thursday morning.
There was a project located in Amritsar sometime back. Unfortunately, I was not part of the team assigned to it. I had been watching people going for site visits, surveys, data collection, meetings, what not. I had been hearing stories, seeing photographs, but never came the opportunity for me to experience Amritsar myself. And lo and behold, everything is planned in that one moment.
The trip was hectic but nice. Golden Temple, the prime attraction, is a place visited by thousands of people round the clock everyday, yet it is clean, serene, organized. So many people have food in the community lunch free of cost. Its all in the name of God. We loved our stay there, although I am quite an atheist. A dip in the holy pool. The cold water. The colourful fishes, fairly big. We also visited Jallianwala Bagh, that stands as a quiet testimony to the tyranny of the British during their rule in India. And finally, Wagah Border. A shiver runs down your spine when you see a gate, marking the Pakistan border right in front. Political boundaries suddenly come to life. Its strange that we can walk up to a certain limit, they can progress till another, and a land in between that is no one’s. One wrong step across would cause war. We watch the Retreat ceremony on the Indian side, where the flag is folded respectfully at the end of the day. We return to the urban core for evening snacks and dinner, and catch the train back.

Friday, October 29, 2010

To the "Anonymous"

I received a comment from an anonymous source in my blog today. Actually, I received the notifcation in my mail, and when I checked by blog, the comment isn't visible. This person acknowledged the fact that one of my posts helped him to complete his college assignment, and he would like to have further details through e-mail. But my friend, I do not have your mail id, neither do I have any idea of the kind of information you are looking for. Please put in a mail to me at, and I would try to help you as far as possible.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Afternoon Siesta

School Days: Tag

I think it is my responsibility to answer a tag if someone has taken the trouble to tag me. But, at the same time, I would not tag anyone in particular. Anyone is free to take the self interview..

1. What was your favorite back to school item to buy?
Well, nothing. During our "junior school" days, our school bus fellow would gather us together in a line, and into the bus straightaway. When in high school, I used to try some of the pickles, which were, incidentally, sold near the junior school building. Irony?

2. What was your favorite subject in school?
I was Jack of all trades, master of none. I was above average in most subjects, but not excellent. I did not exactly hate, but I can say that I did not like literature, history, geography and any other descriptive subject. I had always been a more analytical kind of person, so I liked applying my knowledge rather than learning pages by heart.

3. Did you ride the bus or get a ride from Mom/Carpool?
I have answered this in Q.1... a privately operated school bus used to ferry my brother and me from home to school and back during the earlier years. Later, the two of us would walk down from school, although Mom used to give us the tram fare everyday. We saved it as our pocket money.. spent it on pickles, and all the weird stuff my little brother could think of..

4.What is your favorite memory from your school days?
Lots!!!!..... here's some:
a) First crush
b) Part of School Rowing Team
c) Fainting on the school grounds
d) Bunking classes (strangely as we grew older, we became truant)
e) Our teachers, their styles of teaching, the way they walked.. and how reverent of them were we, even though we loved them (and vice versa..). Our school is in the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest number of students, yet our teachers can still recognize each other by name, face (even our aged faces), and can recall our antics..
f) My friends... no amount of writing is enough
g) The first 100/100 in Computers in Class VI
h) The first 36/100 in Maths in Class IV.. and the perfect 100/100 in Class X Boards (called Madhyamik)
i) The premises of the school...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Weekend Trip

We had planned a getaway to Nalagarh in Himachal Pradesh this weekend where Friday was also an off day. We wanted a tranquil place, free from numerous tourists or commercialism. The traveller’s guide and internet projected this little town as a paradise for honeymoon couples, a place for long walks and scenic beauty... just what we wanted!

What excited us all the more was no one seemed to know, or even have heard about the place. So off we went on Thursday night. About seven hours later, at about 4.40 AM, the bus dropped us at a deserted junction, “This IS Nalagarh”, the driver asserted.

We looked around doubtfully at whatever we could make out in the dark: a four armed fork shaped junction with a traffic police shelter in the middle. A dimly-lit clearing on the other side meant to be the bus stand. One arm of the junction was an obvious market street, with series of closed shops. A tea shop was open on another arm. That was perhaps the only sign of life that could be seen. We hung around the bus stand for about an hour as the town awoke to life. Auto rickshaws, shared automobiles, school buses, local buses, regional buses, trucks and lorries. Sipping tea, we studied the flow pattern to assess the directions of development and decide on our first plunge to Nalagarh. Our mission was mainly to find a hotel.
Few metres down the junction, we found one. Encouraged, we chose to delve further. It was a straight road with sparse development around. We came across a hotel called ‘Hotel River View’… “There must be a river around”, we inferred. We walked down the slope carrying our bags with us, finally reaching Chikni River, now just a rivulet used mainly for washing of trucks. There was a broken bridge, but the trucks had found a way to reach the water.. and the water was shallow enough to allow crossing. People were also crossing the river effortlessly, although the current was fairly strong. I had a try myself.
We came back to the bus stand and enquired around for Nalagarh fort, which was apparently the only tourist attraction. Well, no one seemed to know what we were talking about, except a policeman. We checked in a hotel, freshened up and caught up on some sleep. A few hours later, we had lunch and went on an excursion to find the fort. It was on the higher part of the city which we reached through a mix of roads sloping up and steep flights of steps. The Nalagarh Fort Complex entry stood in front of us after quite a climb. Inside, a sharp V shaped junction offered two choices of way, but no signage. We went down one, realized that was the wrong path, came back and ventured in the second.
The Fort has now been converted into a heritage hotel. Let us imagine it to be a big beautiful house, and not a fort. With due respects to anyone concerned, I am sorry to say that the flavor of a fort was totally gone. The renovation work seemed to be a confused mix of architectural styles as well as a mere plastering and painting kind of a job. You think of it as a bungalow and you will like the play of levels, use of various elements, planters, lights, etc. Both of us being architects, the feeling of disappointment perhaps had an additional multiplier.

Nalagarh thus turned out to be an industrial town which had the potential but lacked the interest in tourism.. the local people, taxi drivers inclusive, were hardly aware of what was there to see in there, and also the places one could go to. It is a place to drive to, so that you have a car (or any personalized motorized mode) to check out the surroundings as well. The natural landscape is beautiful and would have been great for long quiet walks only if there weren’t trucks and buses brushing past you as there is no footpath. There is no proper restaurant, just dhabas.. no markets other than those for daily needs, vegetables, medicines and likewise.
Next morning, we went to Chandigarh. As architects, this is a city we have studied about since our college days, its buildings, its spatial pattern, perpendicular system of roads, roundabouts… and somehow, neither of us have been there. This opportunity we grabbed, and checked out most of the city, the capitol complex designed by one of the greatest architects, Le Corbusier and the Rock Garden, a major tourist attraction.

I guess criticism was in our minds from the beginning. After Delhi, the luxurious width of roads and literally huge radii of roundabouts seemed to be such a waste. Even Le Corbusier’s designs, which we had attempted to copy as students, seemed as plastic, huge waste of concrete, little respect for land utilization. Rock Garden, spread over 12 acres, seemed to be another plastic effort. But slowly, we realized that the creator was a road inspector, who had an innovative idea to compile the industrial waste into a garden, and the sheer effort is worthy of appreciation. The element of surprise is also amazing. There are places to relax, and no restrictions on how long you spend inside. A gallery of aquariums, camel rides and a court with swings are some innovative inclusions.

We returned home from Chandigarh on Saturday night itself, recharged our batteries on Sunday to be able to join work from Monday with rejuvinated enthusiasm.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sick of Change

I am sick of change. I detest the idea of change, getting used to the change, and it happens again. I have started hating that.Maybe I am growing old now..

I do not want a change of home. So much so, I do not feel like going back to my hometown.

I do not need a job change anymore. No problem with poor increments or promotions. No interest in new opportunities. I am sure my present job has a lot to offer... much more than I have acquired.

Please leave my cell phone, life insurance policies, credit cards, e-mail ids, handbags, taste of cosmetics, etc unchanged. I am happy with what I have.

Even if Appollo, the Greek God, comes into my life, I would request to be left alone. I cannot start life afresh anymore.

It is a weird feeling... My approach is becoming lazy, "Let things be..."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Independence Day

August 14,2010
I needed to post few envelopes. In today’s world of e-mail and telephones, the post office has ceased to exist in our lives. When confronted with a situation wherein one needs to visit one, you have to ransack your memory to recall where you had last seen the nearest post office.

Anyways, there I was, in the local shopping complex near my home, scanning buildings – I knew there was a post office somewhere.. My line of sight was directed upwards, and the onus was on the people around to avoid banging into me.
My search was interrupted by a gush of wind caused by someone brushing past me at cyclonic speed. I caught a glimpse of the guy: it was one of my closest friends, walking in a world of his own. He turned as I involuntarily gasped out his name, smiled and joined me.
“Happy Independence Day in advance”, he wished.
I was a bit taken aback, didn’t wish him back. Instead, I asked him, “Are you wearing orange because of that?”, pointing to the saffron garment he had on him.
”No no”, he negated me, going on to explain that it was a mere coincidence.
Rewind two years back.

I was having lunch with a senior of mine from school. He mentioned how his wife went every year to a popular market place to buy tricoloured bangles every year on 15th August… With extreme difficulty, I could manage to refrain from the temptation to ask why a set cannot be re-worn every year… or what would one do with more than one set of exactly similar bangles..

Somehow, I cannot relate to greeting each other for a happy independence day… what are you exactly wishing for? A good day? It sounds like wishing someone a great year ahead on New Year’s Eve.

15th August, is a national holiday. And I was feeling bad to have not got a holiday as it was a Sunday this year. A series of greetings had started flowing in right from early morning. I answered each, and asked them the significance of this day to their individual selves, and forwarded the query to anyone I could think of.

“Power cut whole of last night. Care a damn for independence day” was the first reply.

“I am travelling for work,” was the second, complete with the query,”Any better way to celebrate Independence day?”

“Independence, in a corrupt nation?” jeered the third.

“Independence Day to me is remembering thousands of people with great sense of pride in their achievements. They laid down their very lives so that we could have independence of making our choices in life… such sacrifices are a source of inspiration”: Yes, this is something I would relate to.

“Watch out for my blog on this topic” – are you on an advertisement spree? I mean, you have all rights to write, but why create hype?

“Responsibility”: - One word. Crisp and clear.

“Let us try within our might to eradicate poverty and spread education in our country. Not just raise the flag and sing the National Anthem”: Yes, I am willing to go beyond, if required.

“Hope the day will come one day when there will be no killing, no unemployment, no illiteracy.. poverty could be fully eradicated and smile can be given to every Indian”…

"Mixed reactions...this day means a lot, but I am also said" and someone avoided the question totally,"Too much to share in a sms"..
How was this Sunday different? A day you thank your lucky stars that you were born in an independent nation... where people, especially women, can do whatever they want, have freedom of speech... thank those on the border who fight for us...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's in your bag? : Tag

Tagged Again... and tagged by Ms. Sushmita Sarkar (Shooting Star)...

She's done hers amazingly well.. with snaps of almost everything.. and here comes mine! A line or two to establish their usability(???). It was fun pulling out each item and clicking them... a sudden realization of what a lot I am carrying around...
My bag itself:
A huge, elongated box type concoction in pure leather, by Hi Design. Gifted to me during my marriage, I have used it extensively. The poor thing has endured all the "rough use". And when I am using it, I would not change it for occassions... I just love it.

My identity:
We dont need it for access in our office, so this lies there in my bag.
I wear it for out of office meetings.

My purse:
Bought from Palika Bazaar in 2007, a market for everything at most unreliable prices. Its front pouch is excellent, as it holds my cards and visiting cards.
Hair clips:
I carry them as a backup... Suppose I have left my hair open someday, and feel like tying the tresses later in the day... all I have to do is dig either of them out...
I generally carry both of them. The white one is rarely used, its just there as a backup, just in case I forget to insert the other one after cleaning it. I have done this often after weekends, after the weekly cleaning. The white one is cleaned when it gathers dirt.
Used rarely, when my skin starts looking oily. Carried around mainly for the mirror inside.
This little box has been with me since 2006.
Lip Cream: Boroline
My awfully dry lips have a tendency to chap even in summer. This cream has been handy in moisturising and minor injuries since our childhood. My Granny's favourite, even till date.

Handkerchief :
Very handy for hand-drying, adjusting facial makeup, camaflouging emotions...
My lipsticks:
I may carry three, but I use only one [the central one].... That too, when I feel like.
My perfumes:
Gifted items, very useful!!!
The actual contributors to the weight of my bag.
My eye liner:
This is perhaps the oldest and misused item on my person. This dates back to my childhood, when Lakme first launched this eye-liner. I cannot quote a date. This was the only bottle I have ever possessed in my entire life! I have only used it for the purpose of drawing a dot between my eyebrows (bindi)... I have never used it for eye-lining!
Box of Visiting Cards:
I carry quite a few cards in this spare box. Comes in real handy in meetings and workshops, when you need a number of cards at a time.

Measuring tape:
Useful when shopping for clothes. When in doubt whether a particular garment would fit you or not, and the shop keeper is damn sure it would, or the trial rooms are not free, you know how to check...
Safety pins:
Saves lot of embarassing situations!
Good for lending to someone too.
Phone and accessories:
The charger and the headphone.
And of course, the phone! [Phone camera has been used for these snaps, so no image of phone]
Dressing accessories:
Another one of the backup stuff, gets used when I drape a saree.

And mind you, this is perhaps a few items that are in my bag... you would find pens and pencils, some papers and a small notebook, some medical supplies, a needle and thread... the list is endless.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Missed Out!

I have not been counted in the Census of India that is under preparation.

I was out of station on leave, and the representatives could not get hold of any one of us at home.

I am sure we would not be accounted for when they go for headcounts in Calcutta, because we have been away for so long now.

So, when they publish a figure, please add 3 more persons to it.

Monday, May 24, 2010

New responsibility

I have chopped off my fangs.

This means I have trimmed my nails. But is that something to write about?

Well, I had to.. and cannot resist the temptation to publicize my excitement of having bought a new cell phone. Its being a totally touch screen model is no longer a unique feature in today’s world, completely revolutionized by technology. But for me, the upgradation has been tremendous. I had a sturdy set, perfect for rough use. Suddenly, the onus is on me to handle a delicate model, that too, for the kind of use that I have.

Friday, April 16, 2010

For you, birdie

"Thousands of birds are dying", informed a mail in my inbox, "because of the heat wave"... and also asked us to leave some water in our balconies for the birds to stop by.

The ambient temperature during the day is really that harsh. Ten minutes of exposure to the sun can drain all energy out of healthy individuals.

We complied to the appeal of the mail, and placed a fairly large vessel full of water in a secluded corner of our terrace. It was a Saturday, and I was home. I even put ice cubes in the afternoon so that the water remains cool for a longer time.

The first day, strangely, not a single bird ventured.

"These creatures must be blind", I almost thought when I saw a wasp splashing in the water. I wondered if it could communicate to the birds... from the next day, the number of visitors in our bird-bath has shot up significantly.

Every morning, I pour out the water to the plants in my so called garden [so as not to waste the water], and fill the vessel with clean water. Throughout the day, the birds chirp, tweet and make merry in their exclusive corner on my terrace.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Earth hour: almost

A few days back, media all round us urged us to participate in the Earth hour: switch off all electrical appliances for one hour one particular evening, as a gesture against global warming.

We are a cricket loving family. On the designated day, as it would happen, live telecast of a very interesting match was on television... such is our addiction to cricket, that we decided to participate in the mission 95%: put off everything, except the television. Lights off, a cool breeze blowing, watching cricket on a 21 inch screen, sipping some refreshingly cool drinks turned out to be a heavenly experience.

The tournament is still on, and the schedule is such that there is at least a match being telecast every day. We have opted to switch off the lights and enjoy the evenings watching the matches, thus contributing to the environmental cause as well.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dormant beauty

Six months back, my mother gave me few seeds to plant. Very typical of me, I forgot all about them. But I did plant them, after I accidentally chanced upon them amidst my luggage. I borrowed a pot from my landlady and would water the seeds diligently in the hope that some life would be left within. About a week down, two weak saplings germinated... one look at them I knew they were some other species, perhaps weeds. But I didnt stop watering them nevertheless.

This morning, I was greeted with a burst of beautiful flowers... spring is in!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Of Missed Calls

Well, I had been attending too many meetings of late. I finish one, go for another, get back and am required somewhere else... there has been too much scurrying around. I put my mobile phone on the silent mode with the vibrator on, so that I would know when anyone called or sent a message. Back home too, I wouldn't bother to change the settings. But the problem lies elsewhere. My phone and myself aren't constant companions on off days.

Sunday evening I just chanced upon the phone beneath a pillow. I had forgotten totally about it, and I had no clue to how it got there. I had as many as 17 missed calls.

I am sorry, my buddies,who called me that day. I hope I have got back to all of you. This is a sincere message of apology to you all. I do appreciate your attachment with me.

To all those who keep their phones silent often, please keep your eyes on the instrument...

Monday, January 25, 2010


I hate being alone.

I have friends who live alone by choice. Some are compelled to. My landlady has chosen to be alone even at 75+.

Inspiration is the last thing that I can draw from them. I hate being alone. Perhaps I am too used to family life. Even one hour of solitude seems to kill me. I hate returning to an empty home after work. I hate unlocking rooms to find the mess I had left behind. I hate lazing alone. I look up to the work that has to be done, but cannot move a limb. I do not feel like cooking for myself either. Sleep deserts my eyes, and so does my love for reading. My zombie mind does not find peace in talking on phone either.

What to do?

Saturday, January 02, 2010


It had been an uneventful year, I wondered to myself, as the clock struck twelve on the night of 31st December. But, time seemed to have flied. When did the year begin, and where did it go?

I remember the sleepy exchange of new year greetings with a long lost friend early morning in January. My mother in law's determination to reach Delhi from Calcutta when her train had got cancelled. The sudden all-vegeterian menu on Rajdhani express, because of bird flu. What happened to those hens, I wonder. Things came back to square one after the initial scare. Similar was the fate of the panic created by swine flu. People would come outdoors with noses and mouths covered initially and then I guess, they just got bored of it. Some hospitals and medical set-ups had made some money, yes.

Our completely unplanned getaway to the hills was a big rejuvinator. So was our trip to Calcutta during Durga Pujas. Dad's angioplasty. Mom's diabetes and never-cured cold. My helplessness of being miles away.

Completion of my brother's PhD. Great moments for us who share and bask in his glory, when he joined MIT for his post-doc.

Newly made friends, old friends... Some great movies, nice songs... some pathetic ones as well..

Remember the Tata Nano massacre in West Bengal? I would, because its my state. And the whimsical mind behind all this became the rail minister... and is actually doing reasonably well. Barrack Obama got a Nobel Prize... the first black American president, and now a nobel laureate too. Wow, that brings to my mind Abhinav Bindra's bright face, holding up his Gold medal. A completely unknown face suddenly became a youth icon.

We have all faced effects of recession in varying degrees, rising prices, changing governments... but we have come out of the storm with our heads held high. Maybe we are struggling still, but I am sure, we shall all emerge winners.

There had been sudden shaky moments, moments of loss and pain. You have got to tell yourself, be convinced of it, that whatever has happened is actually for the best.

I have carried fond memories across that retrospective minute... have you?