Dec 19, 2012

We never learn

Temptation, it happens to everyone.
Temptation, wipe that smile off your face.

We never learn. We're supposed to pick up where we left off and NOT err again. It's like a flow chart in front of you giving you a clear path. And yet, to spice things up or just to be the fuckers that we are, we pick the road less travelled. There's no realization that it's the scarier path to walk on. But we still do it.

Stop kidding yourself. He does not look at you, does not show any sort of feelings to be with you, conveniently ignores messages that reveal how attracted you are to him. But just accept that he's not that into you. He may have been telling himself that he is, that poor delusional fellow.

Grow the fuck up. Stop kidding yourself.

Nothing is ever finished.

Nov 17, 2012

A lot of you may not know this but I have another blog, Project 366. I started it on January 1st, 2012. It's been 322 days of writing a blog post a day. Best. Decision. EVER!

Go check it out if you have time. Some of the writing can get a little weird. Don't mind that.

Ta da! PROJECT 366 

Jun 22, 2012

Music Education in India

In recent years, there has been a heightened awareness and interest taken in the music industry. For those who believe that being 'in the industry' means being a performer or a sound engineer, they are blissfully unaware. The industry opens up a plethora of career opportunities ranging from being an artist/band manager to a music journalist; from a songwriter and composer to a music therapist! The scope is vast and there is no dearth of career possibilities, with even unheard of professions like musicologists to be taken up.

In India, especially, the music scene has considerably changed its face over the last decade. The well known bands are no longer only Kolkata's Cactus or Delhi's Indian Ocean, a few among the entrepreneurs in the independent music scene in the country. "Younger people are finally willing to take the plunge and try out other stuff with their lives," says Amit Kilam, the drummer of Indian Ocean. "The avenues have opened up like never before and the Indian youth is willing to leave the tried and tested behind and find a newer type of living."

Today, people still appreciate the music of the bands and artists that have been around for a while. But the list of new kids on the block is too long to start naming. With the social media revolution and the emergence of MySpace, Facebook Pages, Twitter, and other phenomena, the platform for upcoming artists who need an audience comes readymade.

The youth culture has also changed, and while struggling to strike that perfect balance between career and education, they choose to follow their passions and let the rest figure itself out. "I've decided to go all out and try to be a performing artist full time," says Tejas Menon, a young Pune-based singer-songwriter. "If that doesnt work out, I just want to be involved with music-whether it is working in radio or events. Just being a part of that community will be satisfying enough for me. Academically, I have finished my Bachelors in Economics, and next is a Post Graduation in Media." Contrary to public belief, a musician does not forget the value of a degree and Tejas is one such example of that!

Varun Murali, the guitarist of Bangalore-based folk rock band, Swarathma adds "I started playing guitar when I was studying my Pre-University and everything that mattered to me was living my dream and making things work rather than worrying about the downside of it. No matter what, follow your dreams and don't let go of it." Who said music is all about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll?

(This article remained unpublished during my internship with Indian Express, Kolkata in May, 2011.)

The local Aam-dani of Kolkata

After the bumper harvest of mangoes in 2010, the market prediction in Kolkata for the mango crop this year does not indicate a bounty again, suggesting a yield of only 1.75-2 lakh tonnes.

In 2009, the produce was as low as 1 lakh tonnes because of flooding due to bad weather, but was replaced by 2010's 2.75 lakh tonnes yield. The number of mango sellers at the Mahatma Gandhi Road Fruit Market this season are also lesser than they were last year, with competing higher yields of bananas, lime, and apples.

Mohammad Kaisar, a fruits vendor in the M.G.Road Fruit Mandi says "Last year, the lowest quality mangoes sold for Rs 40 a kg whereas this year, we are charging Rs 70 a kg. This year, the higher range mangoes like Alphonsos cost as much as Rs 600 a kg, but surprisingly, the market demand has not fallen." According to him, the mangoes that sell in the Kolkata market are mainly Gulabkhas and Hemsagar, but the best crop so far has been of the Madras and Srupnagar varieties. He added that this year, West Bengal is expecting a late crop closer to the end of the mango season around end June or some time in July.

The business model used in this market is quite unique-the mangoes can be sold at reasonable prices to the general public because the cost of production of the mangoes is kept minimal. This is because, according to the claim of most of the mango sellers, their crop is completely natural and the need for buying and using chemical fertilisers and pesticides do not arise. "We do not receive any form of subsidy from the government since each mandi acts as an autonomous public undertaking. The mangoes are grown on taxpayers' land but the mango sellers in the market are not taxed for this activity," says mango seller Mohammad Azmat.

Another interesting feature of this market is the mango open auctions, held daily during the mango season except on Sundays.  Mango cartons with close to 15 kgs of mango each are auctioned to local fruit sellers, who then sell it on a per kg basis to customers who come to the market. "Truckloads of 500 or more cartons of mangoes are sent from Andhra Pradesh, with different types of mangoes grown there like Gulabkhas, Totapari, and Begunbhuli. The cartons are opened in front of the public and whoever bids highest for a particular carton gets to buy it. The price of a carton can range from anything between Rs 200 to Rs 450," says M.D. Parwez Alam, a purchaser at the market auction.

In this set up, the transaction can be directly between the auctioneer at the mandi and the farmer, or middlemen may also be involved. This market uses a middleman setup, where the truck driver is paid approximately Rs 50 as transport charges on each carton by the farmer. In West Bengal, however, the local farmers directly send cartons of locally grown Hemsagar, Alphonsos, and Gulabkhas to the College Street Mandi, allowing the local farmers to profit more from the transaction.

(This article remained unpublished during my internship with Indian Express, Kolkata in May, 2011.)

The wrong turn after the right

When we had happened, it was too new and hopeless for believe it to be bad. It seems your philosophies even changed as time passed and you widened your belief systems. But it broke down, eventually, little by little. And we just saw it happen. Two silent spectators on two sides of the bridge with the widening crack in the middle.

We drifted apart and you were happy. I tried to be. Things do not always work how we want them to, but one day, you found me again. I'd been lost and wandering and finally found my way back home. To the familiarity of you and your being there in my life. A strangeness might have carried over, for time does change a lot. But in those strong enough arms of yours, I felt happy again.

I could not and would not fall for you again, or so it seemed I had conditioned myself to believe. You would never have worked on 'us' again. I might have been able to. But I knew I shouldn't have to. And open wounds evidently do take much longer to heal. Even the finest of stitches can tear...

I found the warmth in those arms once again and after that, it was gone as quickly as it had come. Eventually, we parted ways. It was one of the hardest things I had to do. Every single goodbye till now had made me feel stronger about what we shared. This was a collapse of the accumulated strength.

Standing there alone in your balcony just made me want to have unsaid certain things, acted differently sometimes and be more yours than I felt standing there. I wished you could come back slightly but you would not. I just wore your warm jacket, caught the whiff of your cologne from it, and lit a smoke. I remember the shade of the sky that evening:a dark shade of purple - the serene field of memories, just like your overused blanket.

10-15 litres of water per person per day says PHE

When I was interning for Indian Express, Kolkata last summer, I had gone to the Town Hall & done my first ever 'City' beat story. However, there was some communication gap & the article never got printed. While the players have changed considerably, the core issue is still the same. Publishing it here so that at least I don't feel like my reporting went to waste:

10-15 litres of water per person per day says PHE

Monday afternoon at Town Hall was a call for celebration and debate as Mayor Sovan Chatterjee was congratulated by the various chairmen of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) on his win by majority as Mayor of Kolkata.

After the initial mood of celebration, Public Health Engineering (PHE) minister Subrata Mukherjee spoke about the water supply issue in West Bengal. He added that 4 hours into taking the oath as the new CM, Mamata Banerjee declared that clean water must be supplied to each area in the state.

The target is that each citizen of the state receives 10-15 litres of drinking water a day. Research has been carried out as to which area has how much consumable water, based on which work will be carried out. Areas with nearby water sources will tap the water by constructing dams and canals. For areas without nearby water sources, outsourcing will be done from the nearest rivers using pipelines after the water is refined.

"This is a challenging job but it is not impossible," said Subrata Mukherjee of PHE. "Puruliya and Bankura which have very little water and are our focus areas," he adds.

Questioning the feasibility of water supply work in Bankura, Shampa Dariya, Bankura Municipal Chairperson says "We have started a water augmentation programme already but the project is being declared unviable because of unscientific methods used. The KMC should send a technical team and clarify if it is usable water or not because 5 crore has already been spent and we don't have money to waste further."

The main problem with implemnting any water related projects is not getting the fund but rather, getting the 'matching grants' from the Centre. Saugata Roy, Union Minister of State for Urban Development said "Last year, the Centre gave 5000 crore towards water supply. Unless we get the matching grants for the figures sent this year and receive the money in hand, no work can be done in this field."

Water supply for all, 10-15 litres of drinking water each day per head, no water tax levied and no metering processes, proper disimbursement of funds, minority development, and public relation wherein people can go to the Writers' Building with their woes and meet the concerned minister are some of the intended changes that the Mayor, Soham Chaterjee declared would take place.

Firhad Hakim, the new Public Works Department(PWD) as well as Municipal Affairs and Urban Development minister was also present. He concluded the meeting with a moving speech saying "We are the representatives of the municipality and we are aware of the problems. But we must have faith in Mamata Banerjee as our CM. When there is a will, there is a way. And we will find that way!"

Jun 6, 2012

My Evil Guide Plan

Evil Guide Plan

Congratulations on being the creator of a new Evil Plan (tm)!

Your objective is simple: world domination.
Your motive is a little bit more complex: madness

Stage One

To begin your plan, you must first devour a wealthy heiress. This will cause the world to slaughter a sacred calf to appease the gods, amazed by your arrival. Who is this Demented Madman? Where did they come from? And why do they look so good as a Brain in a Jar?

Stage Two

Next, you must vaporize the Moon (ooh, tides!). This will all be done from a space station, a mysterious place of unrivaled dark glory. Upon seeing this, the world will fall into catatonic trances, as countless hordes of winged monkeys hasten to do your every bidding.

Stage Three

Finally, you must let loose your needlessly big weather machine, bringing about an End to Sanity. Your name shall become synonymous with fuzzy bunnies, and no man will ever again dare make you clean your room. Everyone will bow before your Mystical Abilities, and the world will have no choice but to pray to you for enlightenment.

Generate your evil plan here.

Mar 26, 2012

The Big Problem

Kolkata. ‘The city of Joy’. Despite the title it has been given, there is a lot lacking on the part of the state government to make it hold true. To focus on one problem, I would like to say that our main problem in this city is the non-alignment of the human systems to the natural systems. All the problems like populations and expansion, poverty, deforestation, overconsumption, etc actually come down to this. When you see these problems in totality, there’s a vitality in that, which does not come through when you see them as individual problems. These problems connect by cause and effect and these connections need to be understood. For example, there are excellent child health care projects as well as separate family planning projects put forth by the government. But, those two should be put together because the minute the parents see that their children will help them in their old age, they will have smaller families.

Another example of the non-alignment is of the cutting of trees in Kolkata in order to create more space for roads and hence, to expand the size of the roads. This is probably one of the worst mistakes on the part of the government because it overlooks the fact that more road space in turn means more pollution and congestion.

Industry, promoted by the government for taxes that they can get from big companies, must be used sustainably and not over-exploited. It can be made eco-friendly using alternate technology like solar power, hydroelectricity, CNG, biodiesel, renewable energy sources, etc. 

An overall solution to the problem is a complete lifestyle switch by a majority of the people. But this seems to be difficult to implement since people are unwilling to make compromises on their comforts-they do not want to use buckets of water instead of showers, they do not want to take out time to differentiate the garbage into renewable and non-renewable, they do not want to go vegetarian.

Another solution is to enable a mass realisation of the damage that is being caused to the environment NOW, which could have serious implications on our future generations, thereby moving towards sustainable development. Keep in mind: When you hurt nature, you’re hurting yourself! We can be paralysed by the magnitude of this problem, but we must resist it and actually try and immediately reduce our environmental footprints.

Yet another possible solution which could work is to put a lot of pressure on the government. We have to find ways to do this once mass awareness on the issue has been created. People can write to the President, the Prime Minister, newspapers, United Nations agencies, etc in the form of letters and petitions and get them to act upon the issue. We must write to governments of other countries too, especially the richer countries who get richer by putting more CO2 into the atmosphere and make them aware of the implications of their actions to developing countries like India. But we must still keep in mind that though the government has responsibilities to solve these problems, but as individuals, we can still make a difference!

As the great philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurthy said, “We are in great conflict with each other. There is crisis after crisis, war after war: there is starvation, misery: There are the rich, clothed in respectability, and there are the poor. To solve these problems, what is necessary is not a new system of thought, not an economic revolution, but to understand what the discontent is, the constant probing of what is-which will bring about a revolution that is more far-reaching than the revolution of ideas.

(This post is my entry for the Time to Change contest on IndiBlogger.)

Feb 25, 2012

The Music Scene psychoanalytical test

This is a psychoanalytical test I want to do using this video with anyone willing to give it a try. Play the Blockhead video. Understand it under the influence of _ (shhh) and look to the right of screen or maybe, down. In an ideal situation, whatever the brain understands will be tapped by a machine connected to the brain that writes out what you think. I wish some brilliant person invents such a machine someday that understands the syntax of the human mind with relation to English and gradually, other languages as well. This experiment would be the basis of a psychological method of understanding how each person's brain perception of different parts of a whole. This video looks to have a different storyline if you see it from each corner separately. Hence, if you could tap in on how the brain reacts to it by seeing it from the 4 directions, there would be matter in hand in the form of text as to what our mind is thinking at every corner.

Since there's no such machine for me to carry on this experiment. Do the activity & comment on this blog post and let me try and come to some conclusions of this test using that information.

Feb 19, 2012

A traveler's tales to tell

You know how people sometimes say Let the music do the talking? That is what I experienced at Shantiniketan, the beautiful village 3 hours away from Calcutta where Rabindranath Tagore wrote many of the songs sitting under the tall trees. There is a two-sided communication being made when you listen to a tradition Baul singer of Bengal perform in front of you. But what you do not realize is that he is not performing for you. You are an insignificant addition to the environment around him when he is in the trance-like state when the music has captured him and his soul. All I could do was sit in front of him with my mouth wide open, amazed by the beauty of the melody that I thought I understood, while the depth of his lyrics were lost to the overpowering oblivion.
The answer is Baul-ing in the wind
There was another stranger I met on one of my travels. Well, it wasn't really a meeting but more of an exchange of looks that said enough. Or perhaps that was just my heart messing around with my mind. I have no recollection of how the holiday got planned out but somehow, I was in Venice on a motor boat that went under the Rialto Bridge that I had read about in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice while growing up. I was standing alone at the back of the boat because I'd fought with my family members. I was grumpy but still in awe of the architecture of the entire city and its waterways. It was just such a beautiful place! Right then, my eyes met that of a young, good looking male Venetian. He waved at me. I looked behind me to see if there was someone else he might have waved that but I was on a river and I had to scratch that option out. So I just smiled and waved back. I made sure that the movement was not too emphatic or my family members up front might have noticed. But it was some warm, funny feeling in my stomach knowing that I had just spoken to a gorgeous boy without having said a word. I still wonder what his voice might sound like.

The whack job I met at 12,000 feet
Number 3 is the girl in the picture above: Raj, as I like to call her. A mad nutcase I met on a flight I was taking to Bangalore. It was quite an interesting situation, actually. I had the aisle seat, she had the window seat and a boy our age was in the middle. I was trying to study from a big, fat economic text book while she had taken out her laptop and started watching A Walk to Remember, the chick flick every girl loved at that age. I couldn't help myself from saying the dialogues under my breath though her earphones made her the chosen one to actually hear them. When she realized I was blatantly stalking, she smiled at me, removed the earphones and introduced herself. Even the creepy boy in the middle joined in the conversation. though he gave up trying to keep up with our girl talk. We were two strangers getting to know each other more openly than we could fathom why and somehow, we giggled the flight away. She even trusted me with her luggage once we landed while she went to the loo. We haven't met since that flight though we keep making plans to. I'm just grateful to something called the Internet for letting us continue the surprisingly close friendship that started at 12,000 ft above sea level.

(This post is my entry for the Around The World with Expedia IndiBlogger contest.)

The Reality of Reality

For many humans in the world today, being a cynic seems like a respectable enough occupation. It is all but a farce that never seems to get real. I can't even look at myself in the mirror today and say that I'm not at all a cynic because I honestly have my doubts. The only thing that saves me is remembering that I have gone through days when it all seemed too real to let go of.

I studied in Calcutta till I was 13. Towards the end of class 8, I decided I want to go to a boarding school for some odd reason. The two options were Woodstock School (Mussoorie) which my father had attended or Rishi Valley School (Andhra Pradesh) because a lot of my cousins had gone there and only spoke wonderful things about the place. I ended up seeing the latter during a winter holiday to Bangalore. The moment I stepped into the 300 acre premise, I knew I was home.

It was just a matter of time before the faces of strangers in my class became the familiar faces I was walking to the dining hall for meals with, before the compulsory long runs during morning P.T became a reason to wake up every morning, before the sunsets inspired me to pick up a pen and jot down whatever words came to my mind at those moments that you knew changed you though you weren't sure how. It was the beginning of the rebirth of the person I was, buried down by societal norms that I had to comply with because I was in a place that was not Rishi Valley. The school did have its own set of rules I had to oblige by but I did so gladly.

It was a world away from the real world because the nearest city was Bangalore, which was more than 3 hours away. And yet, it was as real as my perception of reality could be.

My economics teacher, whom we all fondly called Rajan (that was his last name), was one of the best teachers I have ever had in my entire education. He just knew how to make you listen to him going on about the intricacies of world economics and the South East Asian financial crisis of the 90s and the philosophies of John Maynard Keynes...Plus, he had quite a good sense of humor, which made the classes thoroughly enjoyable.

It was the time before Sports Day when everyone was practicing for the events of the big day. I was doing my rounds around the field in preparation for the 5 km run I intended to participate in. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my head and I turned around to see a panting Rajan join me. He too, at the age of 50-something, decided to take part in the run. And thus began our wonderful friendship. Even on the main day, I cheered him on and motivated him to complete the run since he'd already started it. Yes, we both managed to complete the run in decent time though frankly, the only thing I remember after that is chugging glasses after glasses of nimbu paani to regain composure. That day, it struck me that he was not an aging man accomplishing something. Nor was he just my teacher or a fellow sportsman. He was a human being, as is everyone else around us.

We build walls around ourselves and don't communicate in an open manner with people because they're not of the same age or gender or race as us. Society has made us narrow-minded and judge ourselves for wanting to listen to the stories of people it deems unfit for us to know. Instead, if we just take each new day as a day we want to explore something new and grab the chance to go on an adventure, life would just make so much sense. As I write this, the reality of the situation so many of us have been designed to run away from is beginning to sink in. Such a pity.

This is my entry for the Kissan 100% Real Blogger IndiBlogger contest

Jan 31, 2012

Squishy Squish!

The phrase Squishy Squish sounds so round. Say it and wiggle your ass and it'll actually seem to be a perfect fit. I'm going to do a thesis on how the sound of hearing certain phrases has shapes to them.

On another train of thought, Squishy squish also sounds like the Housie announcement for Eight Eight as Two Fat Ladies 88.

Happy Birthday, Nila!

The child climbed up to the 21st step,
With a little push from her mother.
Her fears had all been thrown aside,
The love received, only deeper.

She learned to walk a step at a time,
She was a potty-trained pro.
But the one thing she could never learn
Was how to cross the road.

My baby will not forget me,
A most beautiful world have we made:
Of memories, smiles and talks of sex,
We'll be together through old age.
I love you, my baby =D

Jan 1, 2012

New blog for a 366-day project! :)

I've decided to stop letting myself believe that I am capable of having a writer's block every few weeks. So, as an attempt to get more regular at writing and understand my writing style a little better, I am attempting this 366 day project. One blog post a day come what may. Prose, poetry or a photograph I clicked on that day (The third option because I feel like a shutterbug on some days). Here'e the link: