Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Kolkata- Really the City of Joy!

Kolkata will never fail to delight. My last trip to Kolkata between the 22nd of Jan and 28th of Jan 2010 was delightful in more than one ways. Here was an "almost holiday" as I would like to term it, since my work lasted just one day and the rest of the days were simply a part of a paid holiday. It was a time for major reunions. I was meeting students whom I had taught 17 years ago and what was absolutely delightful was the fact that they remembered details of my class with them till date! I was meeting up with long lost aunts, all my ma's friends and relatives, may be trying to find a bit of her in everyone she once was associated with.
The major delight of the city was in its langurous winter, the chill was much more than anticipated, it chilled my bones too, but thoroughly enjoyed the 'Khuri te Cha' at a road side stall selling gorom kochuri too, all at a price that was unbelievable! The variety of food available on the road side takes one by surprise. The simple jhal muri, the phuchka, the alu chops that are available at every roadside are delectable in taste. The huge variety of rolls, kobiraji cutlets, moglai porota remind one of the lasting impact left behind by the muslim rule theat dominated Kolkata for years. A lunch at the Tolly club and dinner at the Bengal club brought back memories of the British rule in both the behaviour of the waiters and the menu that they serve in these places.
There were fairs all over, handicrafts fair, book fair, and name it fair. One wonders at all times at the sheer creativity of the bongs, be it in the wares they sell. the music they make, the poetry they write or the clothes they wear. Had an overdose of the Bong ethnecity at all the fairs I visited. The terra cota most facinated me besides ther oh so gorgeous tassar silks with the most innovative motifs in eye catching colors! A shoppers paradise-thats what I call kolkata.
Time flew, it was time to be back home with a heartful of memories to cherish in solitude.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guwahati- a memorable experience!

Dont know why, but for some reason had been looking forward to this trip to Guwahati for a long time. Could it be the Ma's pull, was very keen to visit the Kamakhya temple and wished for nothing more,but little did I know that the quaint little town would have so much to offer in terms of warmth!
The Guwahati Airport is truly non-discript. Bigger than the Dibrugarh airport, the only other that I had been to in Assam,one comes out into the taxi stand almost as soon as one is out of the airport, right into a waiting taxi that took us to Kamakhya enroute to hotel Blue Moon in Uzanbazar. The winding hilly roads to the temple was exciting as the cool sharp winds that tingled my nerves.
The panda's at the temple were a bother, but fortunately for me, i had been booked by one of my students mother with a panditji of repute to be guided through the rituals of the puja at the feet of the diety. The high security at the temple initially made me wonder if my student's mom was really as influential to make security arrangements for me aswell until I reached inside and was awed by the celebrity visitor- Kiran Bedi! The prayer offering at the feet of the God left me deeply satisfied and I left the temple with a sense of supreme accomplishment.
Hotel Blue Moon was a major let down, the dark blue curtains and bed spread made the room look small and uncomfortable, and I truly looked around for the remote possibility of the three star treatment they boasted of!
The Pan bazar and the Fancy Bazar were more or less similar, the pan bazar had loads of book shops catering to students, intersperesed with other shops aswell. The Fancy Bazar is more commercial, some shpos sell typical Mumbai stuff too! Thanks to Jonali who told me about Kalpataru, I was able to find an assam silk after my heart the very first day!
During the 2 day MBA Fair, I interacted with a lot of students, the general impression that I was able to gather was that they wanted to move out of their land to greener pastures else where, but I could also note in their voice the great pride for their own land and its culture.
The serene Bramhaputra river as I saw it yields huge amounts of fish that is the livestock of the fisher men there. My early morning jaunt into the river side showed me the most amazing suuply chain management that well versed MBA students would envy! Right from the river into the noisy market, the fish would move in a huge basket like relay race. From one hand to the other, the basket would move from the boat to the market where high bidding for the bhoreli fish happens. I was most amazed to watch the alacrity of the carriers as they moved the fishes deftly towards the market. The evening ferry ride to the little island which housed the Uma-Nandan Mandir was delightful. The temple which shows us the union of Parvati and Shiv as mythology would have us belive. The setting sun in the backdrop of the huge river was something my little cam could do no justice to. It was awesome!
My meeting with Dr. Bharati Sharma, the vice Principal of The Cotton college was memorable. A very warm person, after our little official talk was willing to help me in all ways to take back home a slice of the ethnic North East. She directed me to the most wonderful shop for quick shoppers,The River People in the Barawari Bazar. They had ethnic handlooms and craft from all over the North East. Slightly high priced, nonetheless, a lovely shop for the ethnic in me!
I woke up to my birthday in thsi strange city and packed to leave for the airport, eager to spend the special day with my son back home in Mumbai, nevertheless disinclined to leave this beautiful city which had much more to offer in terms of warmth and love.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Relationship Management

There was this very interesting speaker on Customer Relationship Management who caught my attention. He started of with disowning the word Relationship and Management coming together at all. His explanation was very simple, if relationships had to be managed, it would mean 'business'and therfore it could not be called a relationship at all! Loved that funda for its simplicity, true enough, a relationship of any sort cannot be business. I say this maybe because I am not a busimness woman! His theory included Customer Happiness an offshoot of Heroic Marketing,a concept that I loved. He says that man takes his decisions guided by his mind and his intellect. He used simple examples to show the mind to be like the child that could be as whimsical as ever, and the intellect like the parent that would reprimand the mind when it sulks, tell the mind what is wrong and right. Impulse buys he says are made when the mind over powers the intellect or when the mind and the intellect are in tandem. He says that cult products are the order of the day. For example when Nike says "just do it!" its not cajoling the customer by asking "can u do it?", nor is it making a suggestion of"maybe you should do it". It simply commands the respect it thinks it deserves. A customer is bound to be happy with a product that carries you away in its tide.
I am not a marketing person, I was driven by the sheer power of the Gentleman's presentation. The point I am trying to make is that a speaker has the power to pull his audience like a magnet. I got drawn into the topic without realizing how and have not been able to get out of the truth of all that he said

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Shakespeare's "Seven Ages of Man" came alive with my interactions with ma during the last 2 months of her life. By then she was an invalid, paralysed on the right side, but with a full zest for life. She found if difficult to swallow and so had to be on a liquid diet, but dreamt all the time of eating Pullav and maacher kalia, and having rajbhog to finish of her meal!She loved to be pampred and the more I pampered her, the more she would make a demand for it.As long as she was able to communicate, she would have a non verbal communication with me. She would admire my junk jewelry or my new dress, on days she was in less pain. She knew the time of my arrival even without being able to look at the watch. Michael Jackson passed away when ma lay paralysed, the news saddened her greatly. Her speech then was badly affected by her right brain being dysfunctional, but all her difficulties she would try to tell all who visited her, her shock and disbelief at the death of MJ. I smiled through my tears at her predicament, I thought soon ma would be keeping with the company of the likes of MJ in a world unknown to us. The doc's had given up on her life, what they were unaware of was her zest for life. She lived life to the fullest. She would make faces like a baby, she would be moody at times and ilogical and I would cajole her to listen to me. She became my precious toy. all my free time was spent with her, feeding her, changing her nappy and dressing her bed sores. The last four days before her final call, ma fell very silent, she barely woke up from what appeared like a deep sleep. she would respond only to my call, it gave me great thrill to holler "mommy" and see a slight movementin her frail body. On the last evening that I spent with her she shuddered inwardly when I called her. Little did I realise it was her non verbal gesture of a good bye. I kissed her eyes and her chin as I left her fast asleep. Early next morning she passed away, a few minutes befor I could reach her place.
The rest would be a normal story of sorrow at the loss of a parent around whom my world revolved. But thats not what I want to say, I want to tell all who read this blog that I am happy to have had the opportunity to serve ma to the best of my ability, in some small way mabe even returned a bit to the ocen of her contribution to my life. I stand tall and proud today for how she moulded me, in many ways realised her dreams through me. I owe her my very existence. My joy lies in the fact that I could be with her in her most trying and lonely moments and bring a lot of cheer to her life. I thank the almighty for having given me this rare opportunity that will give me momories to fill an entire life time and more!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Amazing video that got me thinking

A moving video clip from National geograpic got me really thinking...It was the usual chase and kill of the survival of the fittest. It always makes me unhappy to watch the unequal power fight where the vanquished has to give up only because God has not made us all equal. This one was a little different, the protagonaist was a female leopard out on a very successful hunt, where she had managed to catch a female baboon. Only half way through the gory act of hunting does she realize that the baboon was fully pregnant, and the pain of her death at the hand of the loepard naturally made her to deliver the little one. The loepard too realized a little late that she had killed a vulnerable mom, beating the thores of the delivery pain and thus limply submitting to the onslaught. The change in the leopards behaviour was what got me mesmerized. Here was no play-acting. The leopard too soon forgot her kill as her eye caught sight of the just born baboon. Here she became a mother to the hilt. Gone was her ferocity, They say an animal kills only when hungry. She forgot her hunger and her prime focus was to look after the motherless baby. the care and love she showered on it was to be seen to be believed. The little monkey, true to its breed, tried all the monkey tricks to break free from the leopard. The latter remained persistent in her effort to comfort the little one until both tired from their individual endevours drifted into sleep, not before putting a comforting paw over the little one.
Such is the role of a mother,very protective, very caring...so often we tell about people who misbehave that they possess animal like qualities. Human beigns could take a note from their animal counterparts on various instances like the one mentioned above...how often we read od a half eaten new born in a dustbin, or another new born found in a gutter or abandoned on a foot path?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

change is the order of the day...be it with tangibles or intangibles..

Change of room again! That was my reaction when I got shifted from the cubicles we sat in on the fourth to the single cabin down in the basement, the same basement that used to be our haunt earlier when I had just joined ITM. Nishi and I shared a cabin in those days and were so reluctant to go up to the cubicles. We concocted all the possible reasons to come back to "our' basement as we termed it. It fell on the deaf ears of the management. Appraisals done, the management then saw reason to shift me back to the basement. By this time I had got throughly adjusted to the cubicles and didnt want to come down. But we inferior mortals in a system can very rarely have our say in management matters. So back I was to a cabin in the basement. I would make a cursory visit to the fourth floor to meet up my old room mates. vain as I may sound as I write this, but its true, the place had lost its charm, it has become so academic in its atmosphere, everyone busy at their work stations, making notes reading journals, creating PPT's. My jokes and laughtter would liven them up everytime I stepped in there."Mam please come in more often, we need to laugh sometimes!", they would say. The Dean of the college must have had a purpose in sending me into solitary confinement in the basement! Archana my dear colleague would ask between laughs as to how I manage to sit by myself for one whole day all by myself in my cabin below. She knows me for a little over 6 months but she has already made a good analysis of me. She knows I love people and interpersonal skills is my main forte. Being with people makes me come alive.
I have lost a lot of people in the journey through life. Some have died leaving me all lonesome, but there are others who have just distanced themselves for reasons best known to them. I create a bond of my own with people who come into my life and stuggle hard to keep each relationship alive, for each is special in its own way. When people move away from my life, I try my level best to bring them back to where they belonged, my heart. since my childhood, gaining the love of my friends and relatives has always been my prime motive. I take it as a rejection when friends move ahead in life and dont have the time or inclination for me. But there is precious little I could do to alter their intent. Adn so I go on with life, missing the people who have left me behind, nevertheless going ahead...for that is life...
I am moving out of the basement cabin too, today is my last day here...I have been assigned a bigger cabin with more facilities. My dear room, I am not leaving you out of choice, but out of compulsion...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Ma dated 23 jan 2009

Ma is old now, the wrinkles on her cheeks stand testimony to the years gone by...the stuggles that she has faced...she was definitely not God,s chosen one. She grew up motherless, her mother having died when she was an infant...she grew up beautiful...proud..upright, very blunt at all times. She was very talkative and had an infectious smile. She married baba when she was 20, baba, not so handsome as she describes him in his young days,I found him to be dashing, he grew handsome with age, like old wine, I have taken after him, hahhahaa...
Ma spent many a years without baba, work took him away and she had us brats to look after, didi, Gopal and I. Gopal was her favourite, she would breathe Gopal, thought him to be an incarnation of the God she prayed to, she was blind to his faults. When baba died she came to live with us in Mumbai, our roots with chennai dried up with baba's demise.
And then her favourite, Gopal too died. She is inconsolable to this day. She is lonely. We all have our life to live, our struggles, our toils,our tears and joys...and we in the process become so selfish that we fail to see her sentiments at times. She is like a child today, needs all the care and attention. her frail frame is bent with age but her indefatigable spirit undenied.

Postscript- I had composed this much before her death way back in the begining of the year, left it just as it is without any editing, this is the ma my companion as I saw her, she dependant on me for everything and me dependant on her for her sheer presence in my life that feels os incomplete without her now!