Saturday, May 24, 2014

Rendezvous with IPL players



Yesterday’s 9.55am flight (Indigo) from Kolkata to Bangalore had a pleasant surprise for its passengers’ in store. That’s because we had the IPL team of Royal Challengers Bangalore as our co-passengers. 



Starting from international star players like Yuvraj Singh and Muttiah Muralitharan to Parthiv Patel, Ashok Dinda, Mitchell Starc and Varun Aaron, I spotted quite a few of them. 



Most of the passengers went crazy, clicking selfies and pictures of their wives and kids (who were made to stand beside the celebrity passengers). Some even abandoned the basic etiquette of requesting and taking permission from the cricketers before clicking with gay abandon. 



I, for one, got autographs of 5 players (it surely did help to have Varun Aaron seated next to me, whom I asked and who agreed to get autographs of his and some of his teammates seated in the next two rows, for me). The images were clicked by another of my co-passengers on my request (I felt too shy to click myself, thinking I may irritate the players, most of whom looked tired and wanted just to have a good sleep on board the 2.5hrs flight).  



 Though I don’t follow the IPL, it was indeed an experience watching these guys from such close quarters, listening to their cricketing talks and being privy to some fun moments (one player disturbing the other’s sleep trying to tickle the nostrils with a piece of paper, a humorous discussion of the difference between a tiger and liger, etc). 


Despite the frenzy surrounding them and complete loss of privacy, these cricketers smiled and allowed almost everyone to click pictures/selfies and get autographs. I had been to Eden Gardens for a few times in the past but never did I have the chance to witness such a close company of those, whom we called our “Cricketing Gods”.

Phew! What an amazing experience I had!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Unexplored Travel destinations: The Indian Middle Class guide to a fun-filled vacation

In a  diverse country like India, choosing unexplored travel destinations isn’t much of a problem, especially if you want to give the crowds a miss and look forward to a fun-filled vacation in the lap of nature to beat the blues. However, for the Indian middle-class, a fun-filled vacation means where he can have loads of things to see and do, and yet not break the bank while paying for accommodation and dining.  So, here are 3 destinations that can give the middle-class Indian his money’s worth:

·         Nawalgarh (Rajasthan): If you have planned a trip to Rajasthan and yet want to head straight to a place that lets you get a glimpse of the old world hawelis without the crowd and din of big cities, Nawalgarh is your ideal bet. Drawing its name from its founder - Thakur Nawal Singh, Nawalgarh is often dubbed as an "open air art gallery" and the "land of havelis" that draws tourists by hordes - families, couples, singles et all.



During your trip to this city, take in the beauty and old-world charm of the various havelis – both big and small, dotting the place. Some notable ones that should feature on your travel itinerary include the Roop Niwas Palace, Hira Lal Sarowgi Haveli, and the Aath Havelis. You should also set a date with the Nawalgarh Fort, the south eastern part of which displays some of the finest frescos belonging to the Shekhawati region. You can reach here from Delhi and other cities of Rajasthan (Bikaner, Jaipur, Kota, Ajmer, and Jodhpur) by bus. For accommodation, you can choose from http://www.heritagethikana.com/ and http://www.touristpension.com/. Lodging would cost anywhere between INR 1200-1500 per night (a family of 2 adults+1 kid), and 3 meals a day (per person) would set you back by around INR 900-1000. 

·         Kolad (Maharashtra): This small village in Maharashtra’s Raigad district is your best bet if you are eyeing an action packed vacation. Kolad’s key attraction is enjoying whitewater rafting at Kundalika River. Friends, families, singles – everyone can get a chance to enjoy a wide variety of other activities as well like river crossing, trekking, and kayaking during your Kolad trip. For nature lovers, the splendid marshlands and valleys, against the backdrop of the magnificent Sahyadris, which would enthrall the sore eyes and refresh battered souls, are a treat for sure!

You can reach Kolad from Pune (157 kms) by road in about 2 hrs and 10 minutes. Though there are many budget lodging options, the one rated as the best is http://www.kundalikarafting.in/. A 2 Night/3 days package would cost anywhere between INR 2100 to 4500 per day per person depending on the time of your visit (weekday or weekend) and how many persons are in a group (rate varies as per double occupancy/triple or quadruple sharing basis).

·         Masinagudi (Tamil Nadu): If a vacation in the jungle where you get a chance to see the wildlife of that area from close quarters, excites you, this is the place to be. Starting from van safaris into unspoilt sanctuary areas, and bird watching, to taking a tour of the elephant camp, and a trip to the local tea/ pepper/coffee plantation, you can enjoy all these and more during your Masinagudi sojourn. You may even plan a full day excursion through the twin sanctuaries of Mudumalai and Bandipur, along with a visit to Gopalswami Betta, which is a hill whose peak plays host to a historic temple. Families, elders, couples, singles – everyone will have something or the other to look forward to once they reach Masinagudi.



From Coimbatore Airport, about 123 Kms from Masinagudi, you can reach here easily via road. Ooty - 28 kms away, though, is the nearest city from Masinagudi. There are many accommodation options at this place to suit your budget.  You can stay at Glen View Resorts (rates vary between INR 2115 and 5828 for 2-4 persons), or Bamboo Banks Farm Guest House (rates 4000+ for couples and families per night), both of which are highly rated on TripAdvisor. Another good place to stay at is http://www.masinagudi.com/. At Masinagudi, 3 meals a day (per person) would cost you anywhere between INR 900-1000.

India has many more of such hidden gems that offer tourists an uninterrupted, leisurely and calm experience, which most popular tourist destinations these days can’t. So, plan tours to these unexplored destinations and we’ll return soon with another set of attractions that are still not battered by stream of tourists and let you enjoy your own slice of paradise!

Photo courtesy:


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Mom: RIP My Hero

Life, as I knew it, would never be the same again without my mother. Maa, mommy, mom…she had many names with which I addressed her…. And when silver stripes of hair (which, quite magically, were very few even at the age of 60+) started making a peek-a-boo on her head full of black hair, I even joked often calling her budiya and told that she should get a bob cut to spare her increasingly thin choti….

Amazing how I get a rush of so many memories the moment I think of her….It all seems so surreal even after a fortnight of her demise…



Seeking refuge in Geeta

vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
navani grhnati naro parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
anyani samyati navani dehi 

This verse of Geeta tells: Just as a person changes clothes, the atman (soul) too gives up an old body to accept a new one.

We all know that death is the ultimate truth but it still hurts to lose a loved one, especially if the person you are forced to bid adieu is the one in whose womb you had spent 9 months, who taught you your first words; who cared for you when you were so vulnerable and young; who was your best friend and confidante until you built your own world with your work, friends, husband et all; YES, it is your mother who shields you throughout your life from every tempest, with whom you are likely to have your fair share of fights and yet love her so much that nothing in this world or any other would match it….



Perhaps you wonder why put all these thoughts on a blog when it’s such a personal loss that should be coped up with in loneliness? Well, the answer lies in the fact that my way of coping is via what I do best - write. Being a content writer by profession, I have been keying-in hundreds and thousands of words for years’ now, for my clients’ projects, but this time, it’s a trip down memory lane to remember the lady who did such a marvelous job of bringing us up (me and my two sisters), and making the household run like a well oiled machine...so much so that we never spared a thought of the herculean task she did….until now. 



My unsung hero, this is how I remember you, Maa….

Childhood incidents

  • ·         I wasn’t a very naughty child but often had some quirky ideas. One day, I decided to test if my parents, especially my mom, loved me, and if she did, how much. I did a quick survey of my mother in the kitchen, went to the neighbor’s house facing our front door (the two doors used to remain open throughout the day as we kids would hop in and out of the houses), came back and promptly slid under the divan. The divan, covered with a bed sheet that almost touched the floor, concealed me without any problem, though the cobwebs under it were giving me creeps. I don’t know for how long I lay there without making any sound when I heard a commotion….Voila! I was finally missed and everyone was running here and there, calling my name, while I was crouching under the divan, acting as the silent spectator of the hullabaloo. I don’t know whose fertile head had the idea of checking under the divan, but when I was discovered in such a state – harmless and smiling, my mother finally heaved a sigh of relief. Gosh, she loves me - I uttered under my breath to myself…  




  • ·         The movie Khubsoorat (With Rekha in the lead) was a rage in the 1980s. Though I was just 4 years then, I loved the song sun sun sun didi tere liye ek rishta aaya hai….and used to dance with it….most often, my steps started on the bed, from where I jumped on the floor, danced some more, and used to rush to the bathroom or kitchen, only to come back to the room to finish off the song-and-dance routine. One day, in my enthusiasm, I rushed to the kitchen, where the angithi (a portable, traditional heater that’s loaded with lighted coals, and used for cooking) was placed, and almost collided with it. The slight brush I had with the burning coals burnt my skin on the thigh and leg badly, and then it was all upon my mother to patiently treat my wounds with some home-made medications (given by the neighboring aunt) that finally healed the wounds and let the scars fade.   

   

  • ·         I was fortunate to grow up at a time when neighboring aunts and uncles were nothing short of an extended family. Perhaps that we were all Bengalis and lived outside West Bengal strengthened the bond. Well, one fine afternoon, after getting down from my school truck under the watchful eyes of Tumpa Didi (she – the daughter of a Bengali couple staying close to our house, was my self-appointed guardian), I had this sudden urge to taste delicious egg curry cooked by her mother (which Tumpa Didi had told me during our journey back home). So, I merrily went to her home, washed up my feet and hands and gorged on the food, forgetting all along what my mother might have been going through when I failed to return on time. I wasn’t beaten when I returned home (or was rather rescued once again, somewhat, as I was presumed to have been lost) but the tongue-lashing that I got from my mother and then my father made me realize what a silly thing I did -  all for the sake of egg curry (It was tasty as hell though)!    

   
  • ·         I was in class IV/V. We had a routine of playing hide-and-seek during our lunch hours at school, and during one such routine, I was running without a care to hide and avoid being spotted by a friend, when I slammed into a pillar, and then for a few seconds, I literally saw stars in the day. My friends came rushing and took me to the Principal’s office. By then, I was crying and saw that my white shirt was dotted with blood marks oozing from my forehead. I was seated then on the back seat of an office peon’s cycle, who took me to the doctor’s chamber. The doctor sewed my forehead up but never gave me any sedatives. So, I cried and shouted my lungs out. I was given a few medicines, and taken back to school. I was adamant not to return home early (I was afraid about facing my mother in such a messed up condition) and so attended classes till the end. When I finally came back, my mother was shocked and just consoled me about my injuries. I, though in pain, was happy for not being scolded.


  • ·         Maths and Mom were poles apart. At least, my mother made me think so. My father was in charge of my mathematics education, but I always felt a bit uneasy whenever he was out of town (which was quite often, as he had to tour the country on factory deputations). Though I managed well, doing the homeworks on my own sometimes and copying them from friends when I couldn’t, there was one day when I was sulking as too may sums were given as homework and I wanted to get them all done at home. My mother, seeing my plight, asked for the maths book and a rough copy to have a go at the sums. I was thrilled and a bit apprehensive, all at the same time, but when the answers matched with those given at the end of the book, I was overjoyed. Why do you pretend that you can’t do maths, maa? - I had asked my mother that day. She said nothing and smiled sweetly. That day taught me not to underestimate my mother any more.


All roses and no thorns?

After reading my childhood memoirs, if you thought that my relationship with my mother was all roses, think again. Like most of you, I too had my fair share of angst, fights, and misunderstandings with her, the major one being about my marriage. I never wanted to wed and she was hell bent on getting me married. Thankfully and quite funnily though, I found Dhiman, with whom I thought I could share the rest of my life, and my mother was perhaps the happiest person the day I declared that I was going to get married, finally!!!

Will the feeling of losing her ever sink in?

More than a fortnight has passed and I still couldn’t believe it all, let alone allowing the feeling to sink in. But I guess that an elderly aunt was right. When I told her how I was afraid of living with this void that’s now a lifelong companion of mine, she told:

The void her passing has created in your heart will ease with time, as all your memories of her become alive and fill that void, and she will continue to live in your memories for the rest of your life….  


Rest in peace, my dear Maa.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Izzat at stake for women and girls in India


My blog has been sitting idle for long and so I thought that this New Year, it’s the right time to revive it with some thoughts.

The most disturbing and scaring thought that has been nudging me lately is how girls, and women are at the mercy of few idiots and sick minds. What surprises me is how the rest of the public gets busy organizing candle protests and shouting slogans being surrounded by the crowds, but those same persons sit like blind dolls when someone is pawing a women on a bus, throwing expletives, or trying to molest a woman in broad daylight.

I even shudder to think when I read reports of how infant girls are raped and then left bleeding in some obscure corners or open field. Amidst all the hoopla surrounding what’s the best punishment for rapists and those inflicting such inhuman acts, my vote goes to public humiliation and flogging as death sentence would be hard to come by, especially with our impaired legal system, which snores and proceeds at a pace that would even shame a snail!!!!

Meanwhile, I think parents of girls should encourage their kids to learn self defence tactics. For those like me who are burdened by their love handles and bundles of fat, the best remedy is to get equipped with safety pins, screwdrivers, pepper sprays, and anything and everything that can inflict pain on an approaching person having a malicious intent, before stepping out on the roads.

But the million dollar question is - will such incidents stop? Only time will answer.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Paypal sucks

If you still don't know, here's why this post. Paypal has suddenly stopped payments to and from India, without any notification or any responsibility to answer our queries, who have been struck by this sudden development out of the blue!!!

I don't know where to take my rage but it's pretty disgusting to have payments reversed all of a sudden, and sitting in the middle of nowhere thinking hard when I am going to get my hard earned money. Paypal not only reversed 4 of my transactions but even sent back the money that I had transferred to my bank account-!!!

You suck PayPal for sure!

Thumbs down to you....

As an afterthought-was curious what Paypal thinks about this crazy idea of making life hell only for Indians??? Any idea???

Read a related post at http://techie-buzz.com/annoyances/paypal-sucks.html - I agree totally with Keith, and a thumbs up to all the well suited profanities too....

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Durga Puja-Chaltabagan Lohapatty




The pandal is a replica of a South Indian temple. This Puja was declared the Puja that cares by CESC and The Telegraph under True Spirit Puja

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Durga Puja image-4

Pandal and Idol of Salt Lake AG Block. This pandal showcased the various stages of the makling of these idols at Kumartuli. The theme is clearly described in one of the images.