April 17, 2008

Momma I'm Coming Home

There is more than one reason why I love Calcutta. A large part of me will always be a North Calcuttan Bengali, however busy a traveller I might become.

A quick snippet onto the Band that made this song. The first ever Bong Band in the 70s, the glory days of Bengali cinema, music and politics. Called Mohiner Ghoraguli, they were shooed out of auditoriums as they were much ahead of their times. Rest of India were alien to band culture as well. Calcutta and Mumbai had their Jazz bands at that time. Their recognition came in the nineties when the Band culture of Calcutta began to take shape. This song is called Ghore Ferar Gaan or The Homecoming

Ami gai ghore ferar gaan
utola keno e pran
sudhu je dake fire amake
bidesh bivnue pore ache tobu chade na keno
chade na pichu taan

ami tai ekhono klanthin
cholechi ratri din

suni chomke

jai thomke

kotha hote jeno soor chena khub chena

mono majhe molin

firbo bolle fera jai naki periecho desh kal jano naki e somoy
ekhono samne poth hnata baki chai leo dite parbena fnaki nischoy[2]

aami chai fire jete sei gaaein
badhano boter chaaein

sei nodi tir
hawa jhir jhir

moner gobhire pore thaka

joto sriti bisriti

kokhono ki bhola jay

ami pray ekhono khuji sei desh
jani nei oboshesh`morichikay

sopno dekhay

soishobe ar fera jabenato

nei poth nei

hariye geche se desh

firbo bolle fera jay naki
periyecho deshkal janonaki eshomoy

ekhono samne poth hata baki

chaileo dite parbena faki dite nischoy

PS: I know most of my readers are non bongs and also do not like lyrics pasted on my blog, but the last few days music has resurfaced as a saviour :)

The Traveller on Foot

Genesis speaks about how the world was formed. However, whoever wrote the books forgot one important detail on how oil was formed. When oil was discovered and more importantly its scarcity and thus its importance came into our notice, we had come too far away from the God person to rewrite the story of creation. In fact with oil set to touch close to USD 110 any day, it would perhaps be apt to say that Oil is the new God.

Amusingly the Emirate of Dubai does not have a lot of oil reserves but like Singapore it built on its geographical advantage to be counted as one of the World’s greatest cities giving a select percentage of its residents the ultimate sense of luxury.

Like all cities, Dubai has a face for the world and another which faces itself when the city cares to look into the mirror. It has well marketed its known face to the world. But in the labour camps full of Asians who have come for the search of a better life in the burgeoning construction industry here, the well known face of Dubai has no significance. Not only does Dubai have the largest percentage of cranes used in the construction industry across the world, it is also home to the largest migrant population in the world today with close to 80% of the population being non-nationals, most of them hailing from South Asia and the Philippines.

My window in my living room gives me a view of the Sheikh Zayad Road, a straight road leading directly to Abu Dhabi and even late into the night, the traffic never ceases on it. With a lack of well connected and reliable public transport system, you either depend on your own driving skills or hire a taxi who are typically difficult to be found. You can of course call them up. For people like me, who like to hop from one place to another it becomes a pain. Also pedestrian walks are almost non existent. As a result, the traffic is killing near the main city centres.

Interestingly, I have seen South Asian unity at all places outside South Asia. I guess we are not so different after all. Bangladeshi cabbies and cafeteria owners have been ecstatic on hearing me speak in Bengali to them. Pakistani cabbies have given me lots of fundaes on Hazrat Ali and Urdu while my good old Indian cabbies have suggested food places I must visit for vegetarian food.

Being an Indian has the typecasts that one must live with. We were perhaps once the land of the snake charmers, but today Indian IT proficiency makes almost everyone envy us. Well, sort of. Roughly every other day I get to hear, “Wow, you guys are so great with this stuff.” by doing almost nothing that can be called an extraordinary task. Like for example, running a virus scan.

Dubai has been fun. So in this last post on Dubai for the time being, let me tell you about my favourite trip. Your trip should start at the Gold Souk. Post lunch, pick a cab and go around the place, get dazzled and then take a long walk down the creek to the Abra stations. Abras are small boats, just like launches or steamers in India, which ferry people across the creek, which I hate to admit is much cleaner than the Ganges. Once you are done seeing the creek and the sun beats down on you, head for the museum. Nice audio visuals will greet you and you’ll have an understanding of how history shaped Dubai, but beware; it is more show than substance. In fact, the only good thing in the museum is the souvenir shop where you’ll have an idea about what you can find in Dubai. Rest awhile here or move to the Ruler’s Court and take a turn and come back to the Creek. The sun would be setting soon and you’ll find lots of people coming in to feed the gulls. As the sun sets, the two temples begin to get active and if you are there on the weekend, you’ll find the Indian community in their best attire filling up the entire area. Of course, you’ll get to see budding love stories, hopeful college kids trying to see if they can find someone special, boys trying to act macho and girls giving them not even a cursory glance. Once done, walk down to Bur Dubai, see the shoppers go crazy, pick up a decent dinner and then catch a cab back home. On the way back you can of course ask the cabbie to drive around the Consulates. It’s a good ride.

Also yesterday I achieved one in the ‘things to do before I am 30’ list. I finally went to all four BITS Pilani centres across the world – Pilani, Goa, Hyd and now finally Dubai. My alma mater is a bit crazy in terms of location selection. BITS Dubai like BITS Pilani is almost in the middle of nowhere. But given the rate of construction activities in Dubai, I guess, it will not stay so for long though.

So long Dubai. Shukran. The traveller must now set forth for his next stop - A sleepy village somewhere in the northern parts of India. And if I do find an internet connection there, I’ll keep you updated.

April 16, 2008


Ma- Taare Zameen Par

Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa
Yun To Main,Dikhlata Nahin
Teri Parwaah Karta Hoon Main Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Hain Na Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata,,Meri Maa

Bheed Mein Yun Na Chodo Mujhe
Ghar Laut Ke Bhi Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Bhej Na Itna Door Mujkko Tu
Yaad Bhi Tujhko Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Kya Itna Bura Hoon Main Maa
Kya Itna Bura Meri Maa

Jab Bhi Kabhi Papa Mujhe
Jo Zor Se Jhoola Jhulate Hain Maa
Meri Nazar Dhoondhe Tujhe
Sochu Yahi Tu Aa Ke Thaamegi Maa

Unse Main Yeh Kehta Nahin
Par Main Seham Jaata Hoon Maa
Chehre Pe Aana Deta Nahin
Dil Hi Dil Mein Ghabraata Hoon Maa
Tujhe Sab Hai Pata Hai Naa Maa
Tujhe Sab Hai Pata Meri Maa

Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa
Yun To Main,Dikhlata Nahin
Teri Parwaah Karta Hoon Main Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Hain Na Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata,,Meri Maa


Ma- Taare Zameen Par

Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa
Yun To Main,Dikhlata Nahin
Teri Parwaah Karta Hoon Main Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Hain Na Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata,,Meri Maa

Bheed Mein Yun Na Chodo Mujhe
Ghar Laut Ke Bhi Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Bhej Na Itna Door Mujkko Tu
Yaad Bhi Tujhko Aa Naa Paoon Maa
Kya Itna Bura Hoon Main Maa
Kya Itna Bura Meri Maa

Jab Bhi Kabhi Papa Mujhe
Jo Zor Se Jhoola Jhulate Hain Maa
Meri Nazar Dhoondhe Tujhe
Sochu Yahi Tu Aa Ke Thaamegi Maa

Unse Main Yeh Kehta Nahin
Par Main Seham Jaata Hoon Maa
Chehre Pe Aana Deta Nahin
Dil Hi Dil Mein Ghabraata Hoon Maa
Tujhe Sab Hai Pata Hai Naa Maa
Tujhe Sab Hai Pata Meri Maa

Main Kabhi Batlata Nahin
Par Andhere Se Darta Hoon Main Maa
Yun To Main,Dikhlata Nahin
Teri Parwaah Karta Hoon Main Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata, Hain Na Maa
Tujhe Sab Hain Pata,,Meri Maa


Music that haunts


jaage hain deer tak
hamen kuch deer sone do
thodi se raat aur hain
subah to hone do
aadhe adhure khwaab jo
pure na ho sake
ek baar phir se neend mein
woh khwaab bone do

Rang De Basanti
kuchh kar guzarne ko khoon chala khoon chala
aankhon ke sheeshe mein utarne ko khoon chala
badan se tapak kar, zameen se lipatkar
galiyon se raston se ubharkar, umadkar
naye rang bhar ne ko khoon chala khoon chala

Is this how I will die? - I am the new Lennon

Your Deadly Sins

Pride: 60%

Envy: 40%

Wrath: 40%

Gluttony: 20%

Sloth: 20%

Greed: 0%

Lust: 0%

Chance You'll Go to Hell: 26%

You will become famous - and subsequently killed by a stalker.

The Shopping Paradise of the 90s

Being a typical Indian kid, brought up on a staple diet of Bollywood movies telecast in good old Doordarshan, Dubai was always the land of the rich and famous and of course the smugglers and their golden biscuits. In the Nineties however it became synonymous with shopping of the Bollywood stars and of course the political cat and mouse game.

Dubai still maintains its charms. With India arriving strongly on the maps of consumerism, we have all the global brands at our disposal. However, when we travel out we see the commoditization of most brands across categories, especially in categories like low end skin and personal care. The other fun part about shopping in Dubai is the variety of choices you get. If you decide to span the entire price chain, you’ll get something for everyone. This is a small shopping guide for all those who love window shopping and looking at people in the malls and would not mind picking up a few stuff here and there. After all, you buying stuff is what gives me my salary and a conviction that yeah I have a job.

Traditional markets in these parts of the world are called souks. In most residential areas, you’ll find a souk. The main ones (i.e. the ones that make Dubai famous) are the three souks that line the Dubai Creek. Let’s start with Gold. The traditional and still the best market for gold is the Gold Souk just beside the creek. With the passage of time and now there’s a New Gold Souk (a mall actually) and a Gold and Diamond park. Most big names have shops at all these places. However, the fun is in the Gold Souk. I felt that this place could very well challenge Fort Knox. It’s absolutely dazzling and all that’s glittering here is actually gold. Once you have finished lamenting that you’ll never have enough money to buy this place out (if you are a girl that is) you can make your way to the Spice Souk to take back home some good quality saffron or head to the perfume souk for some traditional aatars or branded fragrances.

I remember when I was a kid, it was absolutely necessary for anyone going abroad to bring in gifts for folks back home. So the typical Indian would buy a big suitcase first and fill it up with knick knacks to take back. As I had said earlier, with people going on holidays to Bangkok and every Brand worth its salt making a beeline for the Indian’s Share of Wallet, the gift bringing craziness has come down considerably. However, we all like to pick up a few things here and there. (As I had also said, the variety is just baffling). Before I tell you about the malls, let’s start with the big markets in Dubai.

The Biggest by far is Bur Dubai. In fact, this is the area Dubai grew out from. You have Big Brands as well as your 10-12 AED shops where you can go completely nuts. This is also the place where you can check out electronics prices apart from Carrefour. We saw the smartest little gadgets all around; of course everything was Made in China. Supposedly, you must bargain at every place. But then, I was never any good at that. Apart from Bur Dubai, you must also check out Karama. Satwa however, has not much of a choice in terms of shopping. That’s the place where you can dabble your finger in different cuisines. Apart from this, all these places have little antique shops where you can easily get Made in India merchandise. So be a bit careful. And yeah, don't forget the junk jewellery. Not much of a connoisseur am I, but the birds and the bees tell me Splash has a good collection at the malls apart from these shops.

Now about the malls. They are everywhere. You can’t escape them. But if you are suffering from time constraints you must make your picks. My pick would be the following.

Ibn Batuta Mall – My favourite mall till now. The architecture here is based on the travels of Ibn Batuta and you must visit this mall if only for its architectural splendour. A sprawling mall with separate styles for China, India, Persia and a few others, Ibn Batuta ensures that the entire day will whiz past without you ever knowing. And of course there’s a huge multiplex just like all other big malls. The souvenir shop here has a good variety of antiques that can be picked up.

Souk Madinat Jumeirah – Built like the traditional souks, this mall is situated near the Burj Al Arab and has breathtaking views all along. This is however not a place where you might want to do some shopping. Almost everything here is highly overpriced but then it’s an experience. The restaurants have good cuisines and even have live bands playing on specific nights. But if you really want to soak in the lifestyle, have a nice candle night dinner beside the canal.

Mall of the Emirates - is just like any Mall anywhere in the World with a Multiplex and a Carrefour. But what makes it special is Ski Dubai. A huge artificial snow park, here you’ll begin to believe that Aladdin and his Genie are for real. Ski Dubai is almost a Fantasy Dreamland. The ski slopes are steep and you need to get a license, starting at beginner’s level. But the skateboarding and the tube diving are fun enough. However, I could not help imagining how much power would be required to keep this running.

Deira City Centre – The original Mall of the Emirates. Once the biggest mall in Dubai, it has a steady clientele amongst the Asians. Being near the Creek, it’s a nice time pass.

Wafi Mall – The mall for the rich and the famous. It has all the best brands in the world and surprisingly is empty. Mall of the Emirates suffers from bringing everything under one roof. Wafi succeeds in keeping out the ordinary and the day to day. For someone like me, it was a blessing in disguise. There’s absolutely no rush, or as we would say in our local Mumbai trains, no gardi; which ensures that you soak in the atmosphere, the high streets of fashion and the shoppers who dresses speak in designer labels. Built around the Egyptian history, Wafi is not majestic in terms of architecture like Ibn Batuta, or size like mall of the Emirates, but what sets it apart is its grandeur and snobbishness. A must visit for feeling like “Ek din ka Sultan.” Also on the 3rd floor, is a great entertainment zone for kids aged between 20 to 30 and there The Tomb comes alive to scare the life out of you.

Shop till you drop then :) I shall leave you to your own exploration now and if you happen to have visited mercato Shopping mall which claims to be the only themed Renaissance shopping mall in the Middle East, drop me a mail.

April 15, 2008

Four Little Mice

Four little mice lived in the dockyard near Mumbai port. One day one mouse realized that its trash can had been shifted. It loved the other three mice but had to go after his trash can. His family lived in it. Now the other three mice decided to stay together and stick together with each other.

Then a cyclone hit the Mumbai port, there was mayhem everywhere. The mice were scared and shut their eyes shut. When they opened their eyes however, they saw they were on different ships sailing for different lands.

Sitting on the deck of their respective ships, each of them thought, “one day the ship will return”

A World without Boundaries

Panchi, Nadiyan, Pawan ke jhoken;

Koi Sarhad na Inhe Roke.

Have you ever stood on the shores of a land that is not your own and yet the breeze that caressed your cheeks reminded you of your mother’s palm on your forehead when you were down with fever? Have you ever wished to the seagulls to tell you what was happening back at your home? Have you ever felt like Alexander Selkirk in an island full of men? Have you ever seen the sea split into a riot of colours beneath the setting sun?

As my travels in Dubai were coming to an end, there was one last frontier left to conquer and literally it turned out one of those days that make a cliché come true. Save the best for the last indeed. The Sea at Jumeirah is beautiful to say the least. It is not scary, nor treacherous, rather it is a sea tamed by men who have defied nature to build The Palm and The World. The sun loves to play its tricks here. You can actually see three distinct colours on the same expanse of the sea and when you turn around the entire Dubai Skyline greets you.

I have been now to almost the two extremes of Asia and touched the sea there. And every single time I have tried to feel if the sand beneath my feet was like me- uprooted from the country I love. And those are the times I realize how futile the dream of a world without boundaries really is. We love our own boundaries. We love our own safety nets.

As the sun slowly set, I realized the symbolism of it all. Today we came to know about the passing away of Dr. (Mrs.) Meera Banerjee, a legendary professor of the Humanities Department at BITS. Legends, even though they fade away deserve one last bow and as the sun set over Asia, a legend finally came to rest within the hearts of all those who knew her.

April 14, 2008

A Thought for Food – The Hiker’s Dubai Food Guide

UAE is a great place for food fanatics, especially if you are the types who kill innocent animals for your own palette’s pleasures. If you have read a bit of Tim Harford and his paperback economics, you’ll perhaps know about the tourist traps – the costly and overpriced restaurants at the major tourist attractions around the World. Now Dubai has its fair share of them, like the ones on Burj Al Arab, Dubai Marina and Souk Madinat Jumeriah but overall you’ll be able to survive. That’s the other good thing about Dubai, Sharjah and even Abu Dhabi - you tend to get an extremely wide choice of price range. So you can have a really nice lunch for as less as 5 AEDs or spend perhaps your monthly salary at one shot. I figured out pretty early that going and searching for Caesar Salad in the up market restaurants is not worth spending my time and money on. So if you are hoping this post will help you find the best place for a camel roast, forget about it. My post is dedicated to all those herbivores who land up in a foreign land and forgo most of their meals in search of decent edible vegetarian food.

To be very frank, it isn’t so tough in Dubai if you know where to look. We start at the very bottom – the cafeterias. This segment has mallus everywhere. Almost 90% of the shops are run by them. Bangladeshis form the second largest group of hoteliers. Now these places might not serve you lunch, but will always have porothas and curries at your disposal and of course Lipton tea. If you are a bong, try finding a Bangladeshi one (mostly in Abu Dhabi) and you might actually get an excellent fish curry. Some restaurants are allowed to serve lunch and dinner and here you get your real value for money food. For example, if you are shopping in Bur Dubai, definitely go in to Highland Multi cuisine restaurant, near the Astoria Hotel. Really good food for souls tired from incessant shopping. In fact, while eating the Egg Bhurji there, I almost stood up and sang Jana Gana Mana after being subjected to scrambled eggs, Spanish omelette, cheese omelette and such bland ‘delicacies’ every morning at breakfast. Jai Hind. Seriously, I single handedly must have increased the pepper consumption of my hotel in these few weeks that I have been here.

Now if you are a little more status conscious, remember three names – Satwa, Karama and Bur Dubai. These are the Asian dominated areas in Dubai and thus of course are home to some great food. You have your Saravana Bhavans, Kamats, Mithais lined up in these places and the quality is really great. But what you must definitely try are Pakistani restaurants. (Most of them are concentrated in Sharjah. Yeah, no wonder we lost every time we played there) In fact, while I was having Vegetable Biriyani in Karachi Darbar at Karama, tears started flowing down my eyes, violins began to play in the background and I almost forgave our friendly neighbourhood country. It is undoubtedly the best Biriyani I have had in my life. Even, the Biriyani had during my school days at Zee-Shan in Calcutta by saving pennies from my already puny pocket money did not taste better. And of course order carefully if you are ordering parathas or roties. The Pakistani counterparts are perhaps double the diameter of our small but beautiful chapattis.

If you are however more patriotic and still want to have good North Indian Biriyani, do not worry – a mallu would have opened a Sindh Punjab or a Delhi Durbar Restaurant for you. But then you must go down to Satwa roundabout and sit on the roadside benches of Ravi Restaurant. Remember the violins in your ears? Here I am guaranteeing that they’ll become almost an orchestra, especially if you have survived on McDonalds or Burger Kings.

Speaking of fast food, things are pretty much the same like in Mumbai or Bangalore. You have your usual Subways, McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Burger King along with a few others. These are spread across the city, in petrol pumps and in Food Courts in the malls. As usual, they will typically have only one vegetarian variety, so ensure you do not visit the same chain without having a good interval between visits. In Dubai however, Burger King definitely tastes better than McDonalds. Your search for Indian chats will again take you back to Karama, where you will find yourself in Bombay Chowpatty.

For the more experimenting types, if you are from India, I’ll definitely recommend the Lebanese and Turkish restaurants. They are pretty much spread across the city. But try to take someone who’ll know what to order. A good idea would be to go ahead and walk down from Satwa Roundabout and look around for a restaurant you might want to explore. The other good cluster of food joints is near the Shangri-la Hotel at the Dubai Manhattan. From Nandos to Tony Romas, this place has a good variety for the Friday Nights. For those who want to cook, you’ll fall in love with the supermarkets which has fresh and canned food of every sort. The animals that have been killed for your eating pleasure, I hear, are also extremely succulent. In fact, even smaller outlets might have a great collection of fish for the bongs and the mallus. But you can make do without cooking if you are here for a short duration. In fact, my kitchenette will wish I had never tried making pasta. :)

Also, remember the Breakfast Buffet. Yes, it will get boring and repetitive and you’ll try searching for vegetarian food and end up with different versions of potatoes. You’d have made a perfect permutation combination of all types of bread available. But still if you get lost in the way, the heavy breakfast is what keeps you alive, trust me.

Here’s a song for food and lovers of good food. The mouse always knew it. Seeing this movie made me believe more in mice than H2G2 could :)

Dreams are to lovers as wine is to friends

Carried through lifetimes, (and) spilled now and then

I am driven by hunger, so saddened to be

Thieving in darkness; I know you're not pleased

But nothing worth eating is free

My hope is a banquet impatiently downed

Impossibly full, now I'll probably drown

Many thieves' lives are lonely with one mouth to feed

If giving means taking, I'll never succeed

For nothing worth stealing is...

Free at last; won't be undersold

Surviving isn't living; won't eat what I'm told

Let me free, I'll astonish you; I'm planning to fly

I won't let this party just pass me by

The banquet is now underway, so...

Bring out the bottles; a new tale has spun

In clearing this table, my new life's begun

I am nervous, excited; (oh) just read the marquee!

A lifetime of hiding; I'm suddenly free!

My dinner is waiting for me

A lifetime of hiding; I'm suddenly free!

My dinner is waiting for me

April 09, 2008

Randomness Again

One more post on arbit things that happen everyday. A few of us have a daily ritual. Every morning we say good morning to each other, crib about something or the other under the sun and then go on with our lives and excel sheets and data analysis. Yes, our data might be a little different. I might be looking at how many grams of tea a man needs. Someone else would try to figure out how sub prime mortgage crisis affects the GDP of Tanzania. But of the cribs I normally hear end up with “Dude I need a Lakshya:” Now this is one movie that should not have been made. It gave every confused guy an awesomely cool punch line.

So after one such conversation, I was going through Vivek’s blog and found this really funny piece.

When I was watching Die Hard 4, it certainly struck me, how useless MBAs really are. I mean, imagine New York is under siege, the last thing you are likely to hear around the streets are: “You are an MBA, do something!”

Yeah, so I am not actually doing something that will change the world, but at least my work involves getting into the minds of the people and figuring out what women and men want. I’d like to believe that my work helps you reading this blog with better choices and products. Yeah, I guess we MBAs from some of the toughest schools in the country add some value to lives and not just to GDPs.

In another update, people in this world are not getting PJs. We got this great Cowboy hat and posed with it in the middle of the desert. NOT ONE single person got the connection between Dubai and cowboy hats. And thus no one called us ‘camelboys’. And I thought it was a definite winner. Worse things happened. When Camelboy did not work I at least expected that people remember Indiana Jones. But kids these days… all they could think of was Brokeback Mountain. What’s the world coming to?


I promised someone that for a change I will try writing nice mushy love story. And till now I haven’t succeeded. But i'll keep on trying. In the meantime, I picked up this brilliant song from Bengali music. The original follows the translation. And for anyone who understands bong, here’s another nice song from the new band called Paras pathar. Couldn’t get the translation right so left it alone. And I shall continue to try.

Ei Ki Go Shesh Daan – Is this the last gift beloved?

Kazi Nazrul Islam

Is this the last gift

You gave me separation

So many things to say

So many things to say left unsaid

More love, more songs.

Is this the last gift beloved?

You gave me separation

Is this the last gift beloved?

The momentary garland

Why did you bring me then?

Why did it start

If it had to end?

Is this the last gift beloved?

You gave me separation

Is this the last gift beloved?

On the road you have traveled

On that road today alas,

Spring has left my life

For the times we have lost

Love still waits awake

In the eyes the pain

Of the heart can be seen

Is this the last gift beloved?

You gave me separation

Is this the last gift beloved?

Ei ki go shesh dan

biroho diye gele

mor aro kotha,

aro kotha chhilo baki

aro prem aro gaan

ei ki go shesh dan

biroho diye gele

ei ki go shesh dan

khoniker mala khani

tobe keno diyechhile ani

keno hoyechhilo shuru

hobey jodi oboshan

The momentary garland

ei ki go shesh dan

biroho diye gele

ei ki go shesh dan

je pothe giyachho tumi

aaj shei pothe hai

amaro bhubon hote

boshonto choley jai

harano dinero laagi

prem tobu rohe jaagi

noyone duliya uthhe

ridoyer obhiman

ei ki go shesh dan

biroho diye gele

ei ki go shesh dan

Bhalobasha – Paras Pathar

Bhalobasa mane dhoan chharar protistuti

bhalobasa mane elochul matoara

bhalobasa mane somoy thamar agey

bhalobasa tomar shuru amar shara

Bhalobasa mane Archies Gallery

bhalobasa mane gopon gopon khela

bhalobasa mane kanna bheja chokhe

bhalobasa mane nil khameder khela

Bhalobasa mane agam cholar shukh

bhalobasa mane obiram chola bhasha

bhalobasa mane ankhi kolorob chokhe

chinbe se tar sesh kabyik bhasha

Bhalobasa mane durobhas nischupe

sure fele onubhutir hashi

bhalobasa gaan gaowa nei jata-atey

bhalobasa mane chourashiar bashi.

April 06, 2008

Crossing Over

kyun.. khoye khoye chaand ki firaaq mein talaash mein udaas hai dil

kyun.. apane aap se khafa khafa zara zaraasa naaraaz hai dil.

I met you yesterday in my dreams. Did You? I guess not, but then it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we met. Do you remember your irritated room mate used to say that time and space loses its meaning when we meet? Suddenly, I realized that we were in Calcutta. It was New Year’s Eve, Park Street was lit up and smiling and there was a light chill in the air. Somehow I knew it was a dream, it could not be you. And yet, I wanted to hold on. I could even see my friends smiling at me when I tell them about this dream tomorrow. And yet, I held on for I was with you and nothing else mattered.

We walked the walk I have always wanted to walk with you, to take you to College Street and let you inhale the smell of literature. Did I ever tell you Literature has its won smell and it’s the strongest here? You bought “The Bridge Across for Ever” and gave it to me. I smiled. I had given you the same book many years ago. You remembered. I’ll treasure this book forever because you remembered.

Sahid Minar was beautifully lit up as usual. I could see the reflection on your ring. The light danced with the air, touching your face, ruffling up your hair. I offered you my jacket. You refused. You said that the chill felt nice.

We spoke. We spoke of the life that was, the life that could have been. You laughed. The laughter still rings in my ear. Yes, it was the same laughter. You have not changed, at least in my dreams.

Suddenly we were beside the Ganges and you wanted to call the ferryman. I was afraid, I was always afraid. I pleaded you to stay back. You pleaded me to come with you. I suddenly saw you on the boat. You had taken the step forward and I, had not even realized that you were not beside me.

You crossed over. I could see your retreating back, fading into the evening mist of the Ganges. No tears. I told myself. No tears. You didn’t turn back. You didn’t tarry a while. You never even said goodbye.

I slowly opened the book you had given me. It was the same book I had given you many years ago. My terrible hand writing had documented the date and the time. Somehow it had found its way to the second hand book shop. Maybe it was your mother. She must have the habit of selling off your books. Yes, it must have been your mother.

Another ferryman came along. He asked me if I wanted to cross over. Maybe, one day I will. But that day is not today. For if I cross over, I no longer meet you, not even in my dreams.

The Ultimate Competition

My lifestyle goes through dramatic changes every few months. 11 months ago, I was checking into a hotel in Muzaffarpur in Bihar, now I’m in a hotel suite on Sheikh Zayad road in Dubai. This is by the way, a road I call the Nile of Dubai. The entire city has decided to expand along the sides of this road. In fact, if you travel down the entire length of the road, you will pretty much have seen the new face of Dubai. The other night I went up to the swimming pool and from the rooftop I could see Dubai beneath my feet. It was almost a similar feeling 11 months ago, only then all the neighbourhood buildings were smaller when compared to mine. Here I could see Burj Dubai, the Tallest tower in the world by far, and growing raise its head almost as a gesture of pointing fingers to someone up there in the heavens. Anyway, as I was changing for the jacuzzzi, I couldn’t help but chuckle. It would be good fun to do a comparison. And so I did. Here are the results –

7:00 am – in Muzaffarpur you wake up to go into the bathroom, which typically is an Indian style one, unless of course you are a big shot regular, or perhaps the local politician or the local don (if they are different) or if you are a foreigner. Here normally they would have the western toilet. But wait. Here too, there’s a distinction. My guest bathroom is the ‘Indian’ one, with its water sprouter as well as its tissues. But my own bathroom has only tissues, no water jet and obviously no mugs. Now that’s the complete western if you might please call it so.

8:00 am – Sales has taught me the importance of breakfast. You almost never get to have a decent lunch when you are out in the markets. So whether I like it or not, I try not to skip breakfast. So 11 months ago, I forced extremely unhealthy puri bhaji made of pure ghee down my throat day after day and here being a vegetarian I push extremely healthy bowls of fruits and cereals down my throat. But whether healthy or unhealthy, if the menu remains the same almost every other day, you tend to make an effort to actually push it down.

Market Trips – 11 months ago, I would have a nice comfortable rickshaw taking me to every market worth its salt. Here normally, is the AC car. But there, I could actually put the salesman behind me and ride away to glory on his bicycle, here probably if I try to drive, I’ll get arrested.

Spa and Sauna – It’s tough for an Indian to appreciate Sauna or Spa. Why would someone in their right senses, living so close to the tropics want to go ahead and inflict torture upon himself or herself? But the good thing is that here while I have to climb up to the roof top for the spa, my room in Muzaffarpur had a natural spa. In the late nights of an Indian summer when the room was almost on fire, you perspire enough to make it feel like a natural spa. I tried not to use the cooler much there. I continue to try use the ACs in both my rooms as less as possible here.

Swimming pool – Villa Rotana Suites has a rooftop swimming pool. During the floods in Bihar, Hotel President had developed a puddle on the terrace. I could splash about there. I splash about here. There I could look into the skies for a speck of sunshine and hope that my boss remembered I existed. Here I look into the skies to wish spectacles were not needed while lounging in a unisex pool.

10:00 pm – 11 months ago, I used to go to bed knowing fully well that I might feel extremely tired next day morning as the bed is really uncomfortable. Today I am going to bed knowing fully well that I might feel extremely tired tomorrow morning as the bed is too comfortable.

But while the competition was neck to neck till now, guess how I decided the winner. A simple question was asked…

If the President of India visited either of these cities and decided not to stay in a government accommodation guess who’d have a greater chance of having a room beside the President?

That seals it.

April 03, 2008

Red Oleanders

"There was a time when, in the human world, most of our important dealings with our fellow-beings were personal dealings, and the professional element in society was never hugely disproportionate to the normal constitution of its life.

...Today another factor has made itself immensely evident in shaping and guiding human destiny. It is the spirit of organisation, which is not social in character, but utilitarian...

... But the personal man is not dead, only dominated by the organised man. The world has become the world of Jack and Giant the Giant who is not a gigantic man, but a multitude of men turned into a gigantic system."

Rabindranath Tagore, October 1925, in the Vishwabharati Quarterly.