Tag Archives: me

Learning yet another new skill

About 3 weeks ago when the autumn festival was in full swing, away from home, in Bangalore I made my way to a maker space nearby to spend a weekend learning something new. In addition to the thought of spending a lonely weekend doing something new, I was egged on by a wellness initiative at my workplace that encouraged us to find some space away from work. I signed up for a 2-day beginner’s carpentry workshop.


When I was little, I often saw my Daddy working on small pieces of wood with improvised carving tools to make little figurines or cigarette holders. The cigarette holders were lovely but they were given away many years ago, when he (thankfully) stopped smoking. Some of the little figurines are still around the house, and a few larger pieces made out of driftwood remain in the family home. However, I do not recall him making anything like a chair or a shelf that could be used around the house. In India, it is the norm to get such items made, but by the friendly neighborhood carpenter. Same goes for many other things like fixing leaking taps, or broken electrical switches, or painting a room. There is always someone with the requisite skills nearby who can be hired. As a result, many of us lack basic skills in these matters as opposed to people elsewhere in the world.


I did not expect to become an expert carpenter overnight, and hence went with hope that my carpentry skills would improve from 0 to maybe 2, on a scale of 100. The class had 3 other people – a student, a man working in a startup, and a doctor. The instructor had been an employee at a major Indian technology services company, and now had his own carpentry business and these classes. He had an assistant. The space was quite large (the entire ground floor of the building) and had the electronics lab and woodwork section.


We started off with an introduction to several types of soft and hardwood, and plywoods. Some of them were available in the lab as they were going to be used during the class, or were stored in the workshop. Rarer wood like mahogany, and teak  were displayed using small wooden blocks. We were going to use rubber wood, and some plywood for our projects. Next, we were introduced to some of the tools – with and without motors. We learnt to use the circular saw, table saw, drop sawjigsaw, power drill and wood router. Being more petite than usual and unaccustomed to such tools, the 400-600w saws were quite terrifying for me at the beginning.


The first thing I made was a wall clock shaped like the beloved deer – Bambi. On a 9”x 9” block of rubber wood, I first traced the shape. Then used a jigsaw to cut off the edges and make the shape. Then used the drill to make some holes and create the shapes for eyes and spots. The sander machine was eventually used to smoothen the edges. This clock is now proudly displayed on a wall at my Daddy’s home very much like my drawings from age 6.


shelfNext, we made a small shelf with dado joints that can be hung up on the wall. We started off with a block of rubber wood about 1’6’’ x 1’. The measurements for the various parts of this shelf was provided on a piece of paper and we had to cut the pieces using the table saw, set to the appropriate width and angle. The place where the shelves connected with the sides were chiseled out and smoothed with a wood router. The pieces were glued together and nailed. The plane and sander were used to round the edges.


The last project for the day was to prepare the base for a coffee table. The material was a block of  pinewood 2 inches thick and 2’ x  1’. We had to first cut these blocks from a bigger block, using the circular saw. Next, these were taken to the table saw to make 5 long strips of 2 inch width. 1 of these strips had about 1/2 inch from the edges narrowed down into square-ish pegs to fit into the legs of the table. The legs had some bits of the center hollowed out to be glued together into X shapes. These were left overnight to dry and next morning, with a hammer and chisel, the holes were made into which the pegs of the central bar could be connected. Finally, the drop saw was used to chop off the edges to make the table stand correctly. I was hoping to place a plywood on top of this base to use as a standing desk. However, it may need some more chopping to be made into the right height.


trayThe final project was an exercise for the participants to design and execute an item using a 2’ x 1’ piece of plywood. I chose to make a tray with straight edges using as much of the plywood I could. I used the table saw to cut the base and sides. The smaller sides were tapered down and handles shaped out with a drill and jigsaw. These were glued together and then nailed firmly in place.


By the end of the 2nd day, I felt I was more confident handling the terrifying, but surprisingly safe, pieces of machinery. Identifying different types of wood or making an informed decision when selecting wood may need more practise and learning. The biggest challenge that I think I will face if I had to do more of this, is of workspace. Like many other small families in urban India, I live in an apartment building high up the floors, with limited space. This means that setting up an isolated area for a carpentry workbench would not only take up space, but without an enclosure it will cause enough particle matter to float around a living area. For the near future, I expect to not acquire any motorized tools but get a few manual tools that can be used to make small items (like storage boxes) with relative ease and very little disruption.

Hate some, Love some

Sometimes unbridled hatred for people drives onwards to massive indifference. Thats probably called moksha in some kind of metaphysical level. Takes away a few smiles but then its not worth any bit of eventual scrap to salvage.

I started reading the first of the much hyped Clifton Chronicles and after a long time, read for nearly 12 straight hours (at night) to finish a book. Brought back good ‘ol memories of similar times, when my mother used to saunter over atleast 5 times during the night to holler, plead, threaten and then retreat with resignation after failing to get me to go to bed.

Valley of flowers – Part 1

Aeons ago when I was a gawky little skinny kid and ‘Desh Patrika’ (দেশ পত্রিকা) was still a revered magazine in gentle Bengali households, my Daddy had told me about a magical place hidden away high in the Himalayas. It was a place where few ventured in and when they did, they saw a carpet of colourful flowers in all direction. For a child who was not allowed to cross the front gate without parental supervision, this place was the epitome of the fairy-tale land far far away. The picture drawn from the story I had heard that day, imprinted itself firmly on my mind. Along with the unsurmountable urge to see it all for myself, which in all probability was a highly unlikely thing. The place is the legendary Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand. The valley was declared a National Park in 1982 and perhaps it was around that time that it was featured in the Desh and the subsequent story-telling session had happened.

Cut to present day, I started reading articles and posts about people trekking to the Valley of Flowers. With my hopes soaring high, I was on the lookout for an opportunity to embark on this journey myself. And so I did, on a tour that was organised by the group called ‘Women On Wanderlust’ or WOW. I had to meet the rest of the touring group at Delhi. Around 5 days ahead of my flight to Delhi, the heavens opened up in North India with massive flooding and reports of landslides pouring in. Given the levels of exaggeration on television news channels, Day 0 was spent making frantic calls trying to figure out the ground reality. Finally, it was an assured ‘Just Go’ from someone that put all doubts to rest.

Day 1

Sankarshan dropped me off at the airport and I was on my way to Delhi even before I was fully awake. I arrived at the swanky New Delhi airport around 9:00 hours and waited to meet the rest of the group. By 11:30hrs, all the 13 members of the tour party had assembled and after a quick round of introductions we boarded the bus and started our journey towards Haridwar. It was an eclectic mix of people. Some young, some older. We passed through Delhi, and the ourskirts of Ghaziabad, Noida, Muzzafarnagar and Meerut. Most of us had fallen asleep, but were very rudely awakened when we crossed into Uttar Pradesh and the bus started wobbling on the cauldron-sized holes in the road. We stopped for high-tea at a place called Khatauli, where for some reason the restaurant guys decided to unleash an avalanche of sandwiches at our table. Very soon we were back on the road and into the quaint little town of Roorkee. We reached Haridwar at around 7 in the evening and went straight to one the ghats. The Ganga was not very wide here, but the force of the water was visible. Towering above on the bank, was a massive statue of Lord Shiva. From what we figured, the evening aarti had concluded a while back but the priests on the riverside were pushing forth small packets of assorted flowers for people who wanted to perform a hurried puja and aarti. Most of the ladies went down the steps and did the puja, while Soumya and I decided to keep ourselves busy by clicking pictures. Amidst this confusion, there were these two guys (one with a comical tee saying ‘life is short, get a divorce’) who decided to follow us around for a while. To be honest, my first impression of Haridwar did not go down too well. We were staying at the Lahore House right next to the river. It was an old school Haveli which had its own ghat down a long set of stairs. (The gates to the ghat had been closed for a while now, given the rust on the lock.) The main building was used for the dining hall, office etc, while the lodgings were in luxury tents all over the compound. I was sharing a tent with a lovely lady from Hyderabad. About 15 feet away from the tent door was a wall and beyond it was the Ganga. After a wonderful dinner it was time to turn in for the night.

Day 2

Haridwar being much closer to Allahabad (and generally eastwards), sunrise was at an earlier than usual (for me) time. At around 5:30 hours, a couple of us ventured out around the courtyard near the river bank. A low mist was hanging over the river and unlike the chaos of the earlier evening, the morning was peaceful. Our travel guide Abhimanyu had joined us the earlier night from Dehradun. After breakfast we were back on the bus for our next destination Joshimath. While leaving Haridwar we passed a lot of temples and crossed the forest reserve corridor of Chilla-Motichur where the signboards announced that Elephants had the right of way. After about 45 minutes we were at Rishikesh, where we had to stop to get a permit. Right after that we were on the gorgeous mountain road that skirted the river. We spotted the famous ‘Laxman Jhula’ down below. The weather was beautiful and sunny. Not one bit of the much hyped rain had made an appearance. The road meandered and Abhimanyu warned us not to read as that could induce road-sickness. We stopped at Devprayag where the Bhagirathi and Alankananda meet. By this time we started getting information about land-slides further up ahead on the road and people stuck in traffic snarls. Lunch was at Srinagar (Uttarakhand), where we had the most mouth-watering palak-paneer and dal… EVER! Most of us also changed into sandals, because there was high probability that we may have to cross some parts of the slushy land slides further ahead on foot and board another bus on the other side. We had stop about 10kms before Rudraprayag, where traffic had piled up. We kept on inching forward from time to time and after about 1.5 hours we crossed the two massive landslides that had reduced the road by half. In another 30 minutes we were at Rudraprayag, where we spent another eventful 30-40 minutes (including an episode with a cop and another involving a vested guy in another bus) giving way to traffic. With all the delay on the road, we could not reach Joshimath and had to stop at a place called Gauchar. Emergency lodging arrangements had been made earlier and most of us collapsed in a heap right after dinner. Special mention needs to be made of the ketchup diluted salty tomato soup and the amazing gulab jamuns.

Day 3

This was D-day-1. And it started with an explosion. Literally! The storage geyser in our bathroom exploded when I was taking a shower and water started flowing all over the place. On hindsight, probably that was the omen for things to come later in the day. Around 7:00 hours we started onwards for Govindghat. We stopped for some breakfast of aloo-paranthas at a small shanty near the Garud Ganga temple. Later we crossed Joshimath and had to stop again for a permit. The road was beautiful with gorges on one side. We had turned off the water-dripping (thats another story) Aircon in the bus and enjoyed the fresh mountain breeze. It was misty at times, but mostly sunny. Finally, we reached Govindghat. The journey from here was on foot or by riding on mules. We could see the zig-zag trekking route at a distance. A few mules had been gathered who were to carry our luggage to the tents. After a brief visit to the market to gather a fews sticks, caps etc. we crossed a bridge and at 11:00 hours started the climb. It was a narrow path, but paved. Up and down hill traffic consisting of mules, people and the palenquin folks were jostling for space. Most of us started together but then maintained our own pace. There wasn’t any hurry and neither was the road going anywhere else but Ghangariya. Soon I was walking on my own, feasting on the beautiful scenery all around, clicking pictures and sucking on candy from time to time. This same route is taken by the pilgrims heading for the sacred Gurudwara at Shri Hemkund Saheb. All along, Sikh pilgrims of ages anywhere between 5 to 75 years were chanting the name of the Guru and climbing along. We were crossing each other regularly and at one point I was chatting with this little girl who told me that 30 people from her family had come on the pilgrimage to thank the Lord for blessing their family with a male heir (sic).

A few ladies in our group had decided to ride the mules for the initial few kilometers. The rest of us were walking and often stopping at the roadside stalls for tea/lemonade etc. By 13:30 hours we had crossed the first village of Phulna where we met our guide Shanti’s family for a few moments. The track had been a mixed bag of paved trails and rocky (thankfully on firm rocks) climbs. The annoying element was the smell of mule dung that seemed to over-shadow every other odour around. It had started to drizzle by then (similar to what we call as Pune-spray rain). A few of us had stopped for lunch at a shanty and were gobbling paranthas and maggi when the heavens literally opened up. Most of us were carrying phones, cameras, music players etc, all of which went straight into the plastic packets inside the bagpacks. Soumya and I decided to buy the shabby (but life-saving) plastic ponchos for Rs.15 that would cover our bagpacks as well. Wisened by past experience, I wore a cap underneath my jacket hood that kept my eyeglasses dry. We resumed our climb in pouring rain. Thankfully the track was not slippery. The cool temperature was a blessing and except for the general strain of continuous climb, it was not uncomfortable. I was soaked to the skin but thankfully counting the kilometers proved to be ample distraction to keep my mind off it. Some of the longer stretches were painful at times, but then I had not signed up for a walk in the park. The pony people had placed themselves at strategic locations to entice the trekkers to give up. Thankfully, words like “well done puttar, chaltey raho” from the elderly Sikh pilgrims helped maintain the spirit. After a particularly muddy patch with lots of wobbly stones, Soumya and I teamed together. We reached the next village of Bhyundar. The river flowing next to the path had gathered stream and was flowing furiously. At one place water was flowing across the path with great force. We held each other’s hand and slowly stepped through the cold water and crossed it. We asked a couple of folks how far we were from Ghangariya and the answer was ‘you have nearly reached’. For some reason, neither of us believed them and we kept on asking 4-5 more folks we met on the way. They kept repeating the same thing until one guy let it slip that we were nearly 5 kilometers away from our destination.

Groaning (and I with a leg cramp) we continued. Whatever we crossed so far was cakewalk compared to what awaited us. The last 3 kilometers were completely rocky and strenuously uphill. It did not help matters that exhaustion had set in. I caught up with Shalini and we continued our slow march ahead, pausing every 10 yards. Our tour buddy Malini had been climbing with us all this while and it was quite an inspiration for us. She however decided to call it a day in the last stretch. After about 45 more minutes, Shalini and I came onto a stretch of level path. Rows of colourful tents and a vast expanse of green with a helipad was visible. That was base camp. After 8 hours of climb. Grinning all over we both made our way, looking for our tents and room-mates who had reached earlier. Wet clothes were gotten rid off, hot water procured for a quick wash and off we went to bed after a hot dinner.

Day 4

The tents at Ghangariya were set up amidst mountains and a huge green meadow. The Laxman Ganga river flowed on one side down below through a gorge. We only got to hear its gushing flow. Further away, partially covered in mist was a peak with what looked like streaks of snow. The first time I’ve every seen any.

It was D-day and a very wet one as well. Jackets and shoes were still wet and there was no hope of them drying throughout the day. Breakfast was at the dining tent. The cold and all the exercise had induced a demonic appetite and I gobbled down puri after puri. By 8:30-9:00 hours we started off for the Valley. From the base camp, we had to first go into Ghangariya village which was another 0.5 kilometers uphill. It was dotted with a number of hotels and dharamshalas for the pilgrims. There was even a pony-stand! The village had a couple or two satellite phone booths, which was the only means of telephonic communication. We were joined by Chandrakant who was an expert about the valley.

At the entrance gate, the officials took down our names. There was a huge board with the do’s and don’ts that one has to strictly follow. Right from the start of the trail, little flowers dotted the path. The first biggie we spotted was a cobra lily. There were bushes of wild roses and other colourful flowers. We crossed a scary looking little tin bridge and got busy trekking onwards. The estimated distance was 3 kilometers. Thankfully, the mules were not allowed in the valley. However, it was still cloudy. Some of the members were walking with the tour guide and the rest of us were on our own. The trail was nice and quiet and I was walking alone by myself for quite a while. I spotted a coniferous tree with ridiculously (in a nice way) blue cones. The trail went down to the Pushpawati river and after crossing yet another bridge the path got steeper. I was joined by Jyothi and after that we started walking together. The path kept on getting steeper and more rocky. Some early birds who had ventured into the valley much earlier than us were already on their way back. The gruelling climb and a massive downpour that had started were a test in patience. The much awaited valley eluded us. The pushpawati river was flowing next to the trail and already a carpet of fine grass with pink and white flowers was spread across its banks. Finally we spotted the massive rock that is considered the entrance to the valley.

The valley stretches a further 8 kilometers. Besides the raging mass of flowers, there are meadows and even a glacier further down. I had gathered from travel books that the valley changes colour nearly every fortnight. There was a paved pathway through all the bushes. A jamboree of yellow, pink and white were the spread all around. The climb had been exhausting and with the mist spread out we could not see further down. Due to the heavy rains the flowers looked wilted. Cameras had been tucked away, but it would have been a shame not to capture the scenes around. I had gotten my umbrella along with me (no idea why), and we brought out the cameras guarding them under the brolly. Pretty little flowers of usual shapes and hues were dangling from the bushes. We started walking further down when a guy coming from the other side told us that it would be futile to go ahead because the flowers don’t change for another 5 kilometers and in the rain it was dangerous and not worth the trouble. He also suggested that we better turn back sometime around 12:30 hours.

The rest of the group had gathered beneath the huge rock and we tucked into aloo paranthas that had been brought from the camp. Soon after we started on the way back. We had crossed another bridge to reach the valley and while returning we saw a fresh pile of rocks had gathered around it. The trail had become slippery with mud at some places, but it wasn’t too bad. Water was flowing all over the wobbly little bridge near the start of the train. In 45 minutes we were back at Ghangariya. Amidst mule dung. We also spotted a cinema hall which was playing some kind of a Nepali blockbuster.

Back at basecamp, we changed into warm clothes but somehow the cold had crept into our bodies. Shivering all over, I went to Jyothi’s tent and we tucked ourselves under the quilt with hot-water bags. Some of the girls were planning on an impromtu visit to Hemkund and Soumya joined us to discuss the plans for the next day. We were chatting and slurping soup when suddenly there was a loud crackling noise. It kept on increasing and we all fell silent. The guessing game began – helicopter? bomb blast? Dude – LANDSLIDE!!! We ran out of the tent and saw boulders coming down in leaps and bounds from the top of the mountain across the river. Cameras were grabbed and videos taken. It was scary! Later we also heard the story about how Mini – writhing in pain until then – had jumped out of the bed ready to run for dear life at that sound. 🙂

Except for the chilling weather and intermittent sounds of a couple of more landslides, the night was mostly uneventful. Next morning, Mona told me how around midnight, when they had come out of the tent after the last landslide they had seen an amazing sight of stars in the sky, that had surprisingly cleared up by then.

Go hang your hat elsewhere

Everytime I have to write my personal bio (as opposed to professional) I mention that I am generally very particular about who I choose to be friends with and am fiercely loyal in maintaining those relationships. As a consequence, there are about a handful of friendships starting at various points from middle-school onwards to the present day that have survived through times . Given a choice I would have made a badge of honour with all the names and put it up for everyone to see. However, like any other precious personal belonging, these are not meant for sundry ears and eyes.

On the other hand, I find it extremely difficult to hide my loathing for some people. There are people I don’t react to in any noticeable manner and are the easiest to deal with. These people may even find me friendly and it would be a mutual feeling in most cases. But some folks simply bring out the devil in me. Diplomacy is hard for me to practise with a straight face and to suppress the urge to be rude is harder. The only reaction I have is to ignore them completely and never let them wander into my perimeter of vision or sound. And over the years, (without any intention) I have sort of chalked out a general profile of these people and it sometimes bewilders me how I instantly take a dislike the moment a person puts him/herself down one strike on any of these counts.

    The first of these are the people who lack basic social skills when interacting amongst a group. They try to wriggle in amongst a group of people already familiar with each other and push themselves forward with a cattle prod to plant themselves somewhere close to the middle. In the process, they’ll indulge in nudge-nudge wink-wink 1-1 secretive “insider jokes” that they think would help them gain acceptance. Or worse, just plain interrupt whatever conversations were underway and stop everything in the process.

    Next are the attention hungry individuals, who would swoon and sway and generally create situations where people would have to run out in their underpants to attend to them. Or atleast, thats what are the reactions that are expected from the general population within a radius of considerable distance.
    Overtly rowdy people. These people often lack the basic respect for things/people around them. They may be destructive in some way of other – like plucking flowers from gardens (thats a big deal for me), or display their lack of involvement in civil soceity by littering, pick up fights with attendants at restaurants, payment queues, parking lots, rickshaw/cab drivers whoever they consider are in a “less dignified occupation” than they are. (I particularly dislike it when address them as ‘Tu’ instead of ‘Aap’). Foul language is a given in most cases. There are also the likes of an inconsiderate room-mate who may be practising the lifestyle of a regal-offspring from a past life.
    Dishonest and ill-behaved grownups i.e. people who are sort of in a position to influence the behavioural patterns of children. My guess is that most of us have encountered these people at various public places like trains, cinema halls, restaurants, or even at work. The children unfortunately are trapped in a situation when they were dropped into this quagmire not of their choosing and will grow up with imprints of the older generation, completly unaware of alternatives that they could have otherwise taken.
    The crème de la crème in this series are what we in Bengali call ‘Nyaka’ (ন্যাকা) – the serpentine version of the human species, if one could use a measurement of voice/body modulations. Close synonyms would be ‘nautankibaaz’ or ‘drama-regal’ or perhaps ‘Kareena Kapoor in Kabhi Khusi Kabhi Gaam’, but its still not the real thing. A description may be required in this case. So a nyaka would have a massively drawlish voice, steeped in pathos of the kind when a ear-ring of choice is not available in the colour of preference. These are also the people who find pleasure in draping themselves like bedspreads over the people in their physical proximity. Pampered out of orbit either by others or by themselves. Overall, you may get the feeling of an arms flailing, slow shrieking ice sculpture willingly melting yet proclaiming otherwise and collecting in a tray at the floor when you meet these people. What I find unbearable about this lot, is the visible dumbing down of their capabilties and spinal column. And I have seen such behaviour permeate through various IQ levels. No prizes for guessing who makes it to the top.

I remember a friend from school wrote in her personal bio something to the tune of: If I like you, I’ll be nice to you. If I don’t like you, I’ll still be nice to you but you’d know that I don’t like you. In my case, the last line changes to, “Sorry, I won’t share breathing space with you”. Period.

P.S. Smug stupidity has not been included in this list, because due to its widespread practise it is the new normal,

It was titled ‘Home’

I stumbled across this (sort-of) post that was written atleast 8 years ago. I don’t even remember who the friend in question was. Give and take a few thoughts from what I feel about the matter now.

Sometime back I came across an old friend who told me that he was sick and tired of living in the city anymore. No employment, no discipline of life, chaotic traffic, pollution, population. In general all the vices et al. On my enquiry of his choice of utopia his answer was like many other young Indians, “America” (the US of A in more precise terms). He had everything chalked out–an IT job, a passport to USA and then plug his tent there for time enough to cleanse his body and soul of his present existence.

For a while when confessions like these are poured out, the painted picture does reflect a red and rosy ‘Big Apple’. Why afterall should we be deprived of respectable social necessities? Why shouldn’t our streets be clean and shiny? Why do we have to spend hours in the dark every evening to balance the power supply? Why aren’t rules diligently followed? And why is every place so very CROWDED. Well, seems like our lives are certainly doomed to the darkness .Yet there’s this little voice at the corner of my heart that always speaks loud and clear. It says–“this is your house. the only place where you belong to. Where words are spoken in your language and your face does not stand out in the crowd for its alien features”.

Living in India is by itself a lesson in diversity. Our states are not marked out in strict geometric patterns, but are based on linguistic demarcations. The ethnicity of one state is alien to the other and the people can be easily identified by their language and lifestyle. Cosmopolitan pockets are very few and scattered. This diversity often leads to ethnic tensions and violence. Yet, in every step that we take we are reminded of our colourful cocktail of cultures and the national mantra of “unity in diversity”. Whatever be the ethnic undercurrents of each region, people enjoy more or less the same rights throughout the country. The rules that bind them are the same and so are their rights.

This faceless entity called a nation is what that finally tugs at my heart when occasionally the faraway lands beckon with all their fantasies. The thoughts of being a second class citizen robs all the colours from the techni-colour dreams. Its like cozying into your own torn bed even when the world’s finest bed is at your disposal. What if our streets are littered and potholed, what if we are always jostling and pushing through a sea of humanity, what if our trains never run on time and our city traffic does not follow any clockwork precision. Its the only home that I have known, and its the only place I know where I’ll not be treated as a step child. maybe at times I’ll be ignored or disciplined or bullied but never told to take the backseat because of my origins.

An oft seen sight when leaders return home after a period of exile, is that they bend down on their knees and kiss the land that they so love. That land bears the essence of their very existence. In similar circumstances it would be the same for most of us. However sententious it may sound, but outside our homeland we shall always remain “guests”. And of course the little voice is always there that reminds me of my home where I don’t need to carry around a passport to establish that I truly belong here.

Janey Kya Baat hain – Chokhey Namey Bristhti

Two versions of the same song… one (hindi) about love that is all set to start and the other version (bengali) is ironically about love that’s lost. Equally poignant whichever you listen to. Personally I like the Bengali version more, mostly because of the lyrics.

Here is the first version, from the film Sunny:

Jaane Kya Baat Hai, Jaane Kya Baat Hai
Neend Nahin Aati, Badi Lambi Raat Hai

Saari Saari Raat Mujhe Isne Jagaya
Jaise Koi Sapna Jaise Koi Saaya
Koi Nahin Lagta Hai Koi Mere Saath Hai

Jaane Kya Baat Hai, Jaane Kya Baat Hai
Neend Nahin Aati, Badi Lambi Raat Hai

Dhakdhak Kabhi Se Jiya Dol Raha Hai
Ghungat Abhise Mera Khol Raha Hai
Door Abhi To Piya Ki Mulaqat Hai

Jaane Kya Baat Hai, Jaane Kya Baat Hai
Neend Nahin Aati, Badi Lambi Raat Hai

Jab Jab Dekhoon Main Yeh Chand Sitare
Aaisa Lagta Hai Mujhe Laaj Ke Mare
Jaise Koi Doli Jaise Baraat Hai

Jaane Kya Baat Hai, Jaane Kya Baat Hai
Neend Nahin Aati, Badi Lambi Raat Hai

And This is the second version:

চোখে নামে বৃষ্টি, বুকে ওঠে ঝড় যে
তুমি তো আমারই ছিলে, আজ কত পর যে

হাল ভাঙা খেয়া হয়ে খুঁজে ফিরি কুল তো
জলেরই লেখন তুমি, নেই তাতে ভুল তো
আমি যেন চোরাবালী, ধুঁধু বালুচর যে

চোখে নামে বৃষ্টি, বুকে ওঠে ঝড় যে
তুমি তো আমারই ছিলে, আজ কত পর যে

সময়ের যমুনাতে বয়ে যায় দিন তো
সব কিছু মুছে তবু রয়ে যায় ঋণ তো
ওপারের ছায়া ছাড়া নেই কোনো ঘর যে

চোখে নামে বৃষ্টি, বুকে ওঠে ঝড় যে
তুমি তো আমারই ছিলে, আজ কত পর যে

My First Ever Drum Circle

Earlier on most weekends we used to end up either catching up on sleep or shopping for groceries or aimlessly roaming around Camp. These days I have found new things to keep me occupied, thanks to multiple newsletters that land up with event information around Pune. Last Saturday, after a disastrous morning show of ‘Raajneeti’ and a number of chores down, Shreyank and I got to spend a fun evening at a Drum Circle. Essentially, it is a gathering of people who sit around to form a circle and play percussion instruments. The one we attended is held every Saturday at the Rewachand Bhojwani Academy right next to Bishop’s School in Camp and is conducted by Mr.Peter Vieges.

Both Shreyank and I had no idea about the location of the School, so we hired a rickshaw from around SGS Mall. Unfortunately, the rickshaw driver did not know the place either but he insisted that he would locate it for us. We passed it once, but later found it without much of a hassle. A few people were going in and we walked in too. Peter and a few others were setting the chairs and bringing out the drums. Everyone present seemed to know each other and we both were the newcomers. After some warm hellos we took our seats. Shreyank apparently had dabbled a bit with drums earlier, but I was a complete novice. I had no idea what I was supposed to do, but Peter told me to grab a drum and to join in nevertheless. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask the names of the instruments we played that day so for this post I’ll stick to ‘big drum’ and ‘small drum’. I got a ‘big drum’ for myself. The drum had a cord on its side and Peter showed us how to hold the drum between our legs and it had to face outside for a resonant sound. Me being vertically challenged nearly had it facing straight up. Next up, Peter showed us the basic hand movements and the beat to follow and we started playing. It wasn’t anything spectacular like one sees in starry concerts. But the sounds from a dozen drums started resonating to the beats. With smiles to match.

Next up we tried some variations in the beats and also in the way we were playing. Half of us played one beat and the others played another. Peter stepped up and led us by tapping his feet to give us a cue about when to play the bass (open palms on the face of the drum) and the tone (finger tips on the edge of the face of the drum). Each time we started slow and then the beats picked up speed to create ecstatic music that echoed around. Shreyank and I were both playing the ‘big drum’ earlier. He was hitting the edge a lot and his fingers started hurting after a while. He exchanged his ‘big drum’ with a ‘small’ one and looked happier. We even played a round of ping pong (1 beat for the person on your right to play and 2 beats for the person on your left) with the drums. The evening ended in a crescendo with a rumble.

Initially, we started with about 10 people, including children aged approximately between 4 to 14 years. A few more people joined in soon after. We had a round of introductions and turns out that like us nearly everyone had day-jobs (the grown-ups in this case) which had nothing to do with music. Some have been attending the circle for as long as a year. We played for nearly 90 minutes and a couple of other instruments were also brought out to accompany the percussions, including some lovely flute. The group was welcoming and at no point did Shreyank and I feel that we have intruded. Since I wanted a couple of pictures for my blog, everyone graciously smiled and sat down again with their drums for me to take photos. Phone numbers were exchanged and we helped in putting away the drums. Both of us are definitely going back. If you are in Pune, then do come and join the circle, which meets every Saturday at 7:00 PM at the Rewachand Bhojwani Academy near Bishop’s School in camp.

The rest of the photos are here

Home Town

Sometimes I double up as tech-support (from CDs not mounting to social networking crisis) for a few friends. The other day a friend could not figure out how she could set up her ‘hometown’ field in Facebook, since only the options in the drop down were being shown for selection. So I went ahead to simulate the bug and just when I was about to write mine I stopped short. I have been to many places over time and did not know what to write.

1. Shillong – I was born here and my first living memories are about this place. But I lived here with only my parents and the other members of the family lived in the family home at Guwahati. My aunts and uncles also maintained similar satellite units with motherships elsewhere. So technically, it did not qualify as the root of the chart.

2. Guwahati – This was the place with the massive family home. But I never ‘lived’ here as in living in the long term. Only during vacations and did not have any social associations whatsoever.

3. Kolkata – We moved here when I was 10 , restarted school and my growing up years were spent here. But since this was a place with which we did not have any historical connections at all, it was always considered a home-away-from-home in the back of my mind.

4. Pune – This is the coming-of-age city where I established a completely independent identity of my own. Although my family still lives in the house at Kolkata and I keep going back ‘home’ from time to time, but for reasons mentioned in Point #3, it is not ‘hometown’ either. Although Pune is the closest I can call as ‘home’ mostly because it is integral to my current identity, it still is not hometown because I moved in here from elsewhere.

For various reasons I am attached to all these cities, in different degrees of affection which makes it even more difficult to make a choice. So what exactly is my hometown??

The case of the missing bag

This weekend saw our home transform into a campsite, with folks from various corners of Pune, Mumbai and France. A separate blog post would follow later, for the people who could not make it.

As an aside, I had my own personal adventure of sorts on Saturday morning. I had to make a quick trip to the other side of town to run an errand. Mrugesh had brought along his Bullet from Mumbai and we decided to take a ride on it. I slung my bag and put on a red coloured helmet and was all set for the long ride. We took off and after about an uneventful 3 kilometers were approaching the crossing of Mundhwa, which recently turned into a full-fledged crossing from a T-junction. Yet another road is currently under construction and without any sort of Traffic signal or police monitoring, and street lights, it is going to be an adventure when this 5th road opens up. From this crossing, we had to take a right turn to move towards Kalyaninagar. Mrugesh spotted another bike rider making way from the left and started honking hard. The guy looked right, slowed down and just as we were about to cross him, inched forward a little more coming into our path. A collision was inevitable. I tried to move my body a little to the right, and turned my head away. Mrugesh had slowed down considerably by then, and I felt a small nudge on my left side, probably from the handle of the other bike. Thankfully, it did not pain, not then or later. We rode down another 50-60 meters and came to a halt. Both of us checked if either of us were hurt and after confirming that things were not serious enough we restarted our journey.

We rode down for another 2 kilometers or so, until we reached the traffic signal near the Westin Hotel. I took off my helmet since it was getting hot and we had to wait for about a minute at that signal. Thats when I realised that my bag pack with a purse full of cash was missing! I started howling frantically. It seemed idiotic that it took me so long to feel that the bag was not present. We turned and rushed back to the spot, checking on the road as we rode. Back at the junction, I got off the bike and asked a few folks around. One person told me, that a bag matching the description had been picked up by a biker and he had gone down the same way from where we had returned. It seemed like an impossible proposition to go after that person. Especially more, since Mrugesh was unfamiliar with the streets of Pune and it was getting difficult for me to give directions from the backseat. I called Sankarshan and told him to come over with our car. We sent Mrugesh back to our home and set off to complete the errand by ourselves. Sankarshan and I quickly started to recall the contents that could have gone missing with the bag and the purse. Thankfully, my credit cards were in a small pouch in my pocket and the only thing in the bag was the purse, which contained a good amount of cash, some loyalty cards, food coupons, receipts and an ID card. We decided, that on the way back we would drop by at the nearest police station at Koregaon Park to check if anyone had deposited a lost bag.

After we reached our destination, I had to make a few phone calls to locate the person I was scheduled to meet up. After hanging up I noticed a couple of missed call alerts from one number. I called back to check and got through to a gentleman named Yadav. He told me that he had found my bag from the junction and I could collect it from him. Since I had my visiting card in both my bag and my purse, I had been half-heartedly hoping that someone may call back. It seemed too good to be real. I told him, that I would contact him in another 30 mins and meet up with him. After completing our work, we drove back without any further delay and met Mr.Yadav near the State Bank of India at Mundhwa. He handed me back my bag, purse et al. and as a word of advice added that we should have slowed down further when approaching the junction. Apparently, it was his bike that we had collided with. We could not thank him enough for his gesture. He told me that if he had not been able to locate my phone number, he would have indeed dropped my bag off at the police station. We parted after both Sankarshan and I had profusely Thanked him. As I had been suspecting, the top part of the strap (a single strap) had torn and slid off my back. Since the bag and its contents were light, I could not realise its absence. Especially, since I was more absorbed in balancing the gigantic helmet on my head.

Although this is not a work related post, I decided to put it through onto the planets. Mr.Yadav reinstated some bit of my faith in the fact that, sometimes the world does still function in the way I have always learnt it to be. It was extremely kind of him to take time out to locate me. Often we see newspaper reports about similar incidents, where the ‘honesty’ of the person returning the valuables is tomtomed. Excuse me, but that is what it should have been in the first place – you find something that does not belong to you, you locate the owner youself or undertake the accepted practice (police/newspaper) to find him/her. In my opinion, media reports of this nature insinuate a ‘natural lack of honesty’ as the norm and anything other than that is a glorified gesture of goodwill. Well, given the times we live in, it may not be an aberration. Personally, I hope and wish that Mr.Yadav also encounters honest people like him in his dealings.

Additionally, I would also like to list in here some relatively simple steps of caution, which can come in handy in case of similar situations:

  1. Always keep a copy of a photo-id card and a visiting card or any other card with your contact details in your purses and bags.
  2. Keep photocopies of all your credit/debit cards at home in a place where you can easily locate them, with the emergency contact details of the issuing bank. (Instead of photocopying individually, copy all the cards together in one page and then make multiple copies of the page)
  3. Do not carry all your photo-ID cards with you. Keep something back at home, which you can use to establish your identity if the others are lost and you need to reclaim them.
  4. Spread out the money in pockets and purses, so that not all is lost if the purse goes missing.

Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badariya

I have always had a soft corner for songs themed around the rains, the most favourite being ‘Oh Sajana, Barkha Bahar Aayi’ (equally sweet Bengali version). I came across this lilting tune from the movie ‘Chote Nawab’ today and this has been looping since the past couple of hours.

Ghar Aaja Ghir Aaye Badariya

Ghar aaja, ghir aaye badara sanwariya
Mora jiya dhak dhak re, chamke bijuriya

Soona Soona ghar mohe, dasne ko aaye re
Khidki pe baithe baithe, saari raien jaaye re
Tap tip sunat-a main toh, bhaye re banwariya

Kasamaasaa jiyara kasak mori dooni re
Pyasi pyasi ankhiyon ki kaliyaan hai sooni re
Jaane mohe laagi kis bairan ki najariya
Ghar aaja, ghir aaye badara sanwariya
Mora jiya dhak dhak re, chamke bijuriya

Listen to it here