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Friday, 23 December 2011

Expressions through Rhythm- A collaborative effort by American Center and Blossomy.org

With a wide grin and a spark in their eyes they flocked to the stage.  Each step which was slack in the past, was now replaced by a brisk stride, as they sported crisp white tees that read: “Drumming gives us a sense of freedom, dancing empowers us and acting allows self expression.”
 
Even in their self-disciplined manner they seemed content — their past lives left behind. The past week of their life standing out — as a beautiful memory. They were the 60 survivors of Human Trafficking aged between 11 and 18. They had all seen the dark, ugly side of the world, even before their life had reached the bright and colorful spring phase of existence.
 
The stage of their dreams was set on December 22, 6.30pm onwards at the Spine Area in City Center, New Town where Expression through Rhythm 2011 was hosted where they played the drums, sang, danced and put up a play. The performance worked as the flag bearer of their passionate dreams.
 
Laura Price an American social activist and Tanmoy Bose & Taal Tantra had organized a series of creative workshop on expressive art — Restoration of Innocence to introduce these young ones from seven different NGO's, Kolkata Sanved, Sanlaap, New Light, Apne Aap, Hamari Muskan, Save the Children, Iccha and All Bengal Woman’s Union to the brighter aspects of life. The American Center Kolkata supported this initiative.
 
“Some of them are better than regular school going children,” said Usha Ganguli, the famous face of the theatre world.  “I am doing my bit to improve the society we live in. “These little children deserve better lives and it makes me proud to make them smile for a week at least,” said Tanmoy Bose.
 
These young survivors against sex trafficking from participating city NGOs —took classes in drumming, dancing, acting and boxing. These classes were conducted by — table maestro Tanmoy Bose & Taal Tantra, veteran theatrician Usha Ganguli and India’s first woman boxing coach Razia Shabnam. Each expert in their own field interacted with the children as they shared their kaleidoscopic experiences, guiding them through the various activities. The joy of the teachers was akin to that of the learners — the former doing their bit to change the world and the latter, being the change.
 
It was indeed a vacation for the children as they ran to the location of the workshop every day. They went in each morning, with a spring in their step, running in with glee. Laura Price who is the soul behind this initiative and also founding member of Blossomy.org has been conducting this annual workshop for the past three years in the city to give these otherwise underprivileged children an opportunity to explore their creative talents. She believes, “This one week of their life should be their much awaited and most well deserved vacation.”
 
The result of the workshop was obvious as one power packed performance followed the other at City Centre New Town on the wintry evening of December 22.
 
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:  “Violence against women and girls is also an issue of international human rights and national security…We need everyone's involvement – boys and men, faith and community leaders, youth, and people at all levels of society are critical to solving such a widespread pandemic of violence. This message inspired me to write this piece. 

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Future leads the willing and drags the unwilling

About 5 months ago, I stepped out of my teens. And believe me, it wasn't as exciting as stepping into 'teen-hood'.
Nonetheless, something that happened today made me feel that after all, it's all about the way you live it.
In the one hour lunch break that our college allows us, we decided to grab a bite outside. We stepped foot on Russel Street and savoured a bowl of piping hot Cheese Maggi, and immediately thereafter, chilled lassi! Which "grown-up" does that? On retrospect I felt, we were practically inviting illness to come our way!
Sooner than later we were clicking pictures on our phone and laughing at our own madness. The shop whose entrance became the backdrop of our photoshoot didn't matter,the passersby who smirked didn't matter. We were in our own frenzy and did I enjoy it! 
The pictures led to crazy poses and even crazier conversations. We talked about the pictures being printed, then we planned how we'd make scrapbooks for each other at the end of college. And then- this is the high point of the trilogue- we concluded that we wouldn't make three different scrapbooks. "That'll make us very typical. Years on end we'll only be sitting with these books and saying I HAD a friend.....," said a friend, rather purposefully. So, in order to save our separate scrapbooks the trouble of our tears, she suggested that we make a single book.
There! Within minutes we had fast forwarded our lives and predicted the future. We made a serious promise, in a not-so serious manner, when we decided that there would now be only one scrapbook which would change hands every year on Friendship Day. The geographical distances would be made up by courier services.... And in more ways than one, we solved all other problems that might crop up. 
As spontaneously as we'd started talking about it, we drifted on to talking about all else that occupied our mind space. And then, we discovered the weird notion of Dimpla Kapadia marrying Anna! Only because when I said Khanna, it was misheard!
 
Such are the promises and pleasures of adulthood! 

Saturday, 10 December 2011

There's a place and time for everything.....

My newspaper vendor has an absurd habit of delaying the delivery of the paper when it's most awaited. When the city or coutry has suffered a catastrophe the previous day and early next morning, we eagerly wait for this lad to come knocking on our door, he seldom turns up before 9. Sometimes we are left thinking that probably he takes all his time to read the paper before he goes around delivering them!

 Saturday, the 10th of December, the day after the AMRI Massacre took place, was no different for this not so amusing habit. 
As soon as we got hands on the paper we found ourselves comparing the written articles with the information disseminated on the television broadcast. The death toll, casualty figures, timelines were compared at a glance. Expressions grew grim, eyes became wider in awe and heads nodded in from side-to-side, as if 'commenting' on our helplessness.
I noticed how the entertainment supplement was left untouched for quite a while. Instead, our heads were immersed in heaps of information reflected in charts and tables and graphics- all the tools used by the editors to make the details comprehensive.
Later in the day when I sat in my College library reading the articles beyond the headlines, I saw the contrasts that were rampant through out the newspaper.
On the left side of the centrespread was a blown-up picture of a lady being comforted by her relatives, and several other images lined it along the sides reflecting the different states at the point of action on the previous day. As your eyes moved along the spread, on the right side you'd spot a full page advertisement wherein a young boy claimed how "happy" he was about cracking a certain exam because he had attended a certain coaching centre! Now that's what you call the various colours of life! The conflicting images didn't end there. On another page, with similar heart breakig images, you could see a fairly big advertisement of a new mobile phone which was apparently 
"The Amazing Everyday" phone.
How amazing was this particular day for the 89 (or so we are told!) people who died? 
I'm not sure how this situation can be changed or the Editors do anything different on this note. But it certainly does not seem quite right. On one hand we criticize the short span of public memory and here we are - being fed advantages of an Internet pack,being informed about a film show and the list goes on! 
What do you think could serve as an alternative? Should the newspapers declare it a 'No Ads Day' on these occasions? But no, according to some people readership increases markedly after an incident of this sort. So, how can the opportunity be lost?
Are we losing all sense of morality or is there an underlying solution somewhere?     

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Jig to the jingle!

It's a wonder what a mob can collectively do. Create ruckus, instigate riots, express revolt or plainly de-stress; provide a break to the passersby and derive their own pleasure as well. 

Shonan Kothari, a working professional in Mumbai decided to do just that. A similar jig which she witnessed in London, inspired her. Since last week, Chatrapati Station in Mumbai has seen  much unusual activity. It started when this young girl of 23, began to dance to a popular A.R.Rahman number, and soon she had as many as 200 people following her footsteps! Literally so!

It's an ideal way to release stress and take a much needed break from the hustle bustle of daily life which includes the tiring train journeybin Mumbai. With reduced stress levels, there are reduced number of fights and argumets among the people. One smile spread to 200, and soon the whole lot moved on with their daily activity happily, with a SMILE.
That's the essence of a flash mob. People spontaneously take up some act, with or without a message and after the performance they carry on as if nothing happened. Besides the performance what does happen is, vibrations of positivity are passed on from one person to another and soon the whole crowd is in a jovial mood.
Hats off to her genuinely out-of-the-box thinking because even I've seen flashmobs when I've been travelling, clicked pictures, enjoyed the performances and moved on. Who ever thought of this? 
Open happiness!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The sporting spirit of Kolkata

This article was tweeted by Rajdeep Sardesai.
It's an amazing piece of work. The sporting spirit of Calcuttans has been elucidated wonderfully, and silent changes which are taking place have been brought to surface. An article which will bring a smile on every Calcuttan's face, a smile of acknowledgement and agreement.
It is a bit too long probably for leisure reading but if you get to the end, you will agree it's insightful!
Read on as you trace the loyalties of the people as the pendulum of their interests shift from Ganguly to Bhutia.


http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/542275.html

Thursday, 24 November 2011

This happens only in India!

All of a sudden this afternoon the news channels flashed that, Sharad Pawar was slapped by a man. It is amazing how people resort to absurd ways and means in trying to 'protest'.
Movies, commercials and write-ups finally succeeded to raise the country in awakening. But alas! no specific method was prescribed. 
For a man to step up to Pawar and slap him across his face, in public view; is awfully weird. 
What's worse is that a bigger question for the public figures is related to the degree of the safety provided by security personnel. 
And like the icing on a cake was the comment by Congress officials who initiated the blame game with BJP.
This truly happens only in India!  

Monday, 21 November 2011

Jewellery collections revisited- 'Mia' by Tanishq

In today's age when all business organisations thrive on innovative strategies, Tanishq launched its new jewellery line- 'Mia'. It is clearly the result of a creative think tank, and the streak of innovation is loud and clear. This jewellery collection is for the working women.Apparently, it showcases adornments that can be worn to work.

It provides a boost to the personality of the working ladies as they associate with this collection on a personal level.
Kudos to the people who thought of it! Almost all members of the fairer sex who have gradually become vital parts of the corporate world would agree that some amount of jewellery even in the office space, adds to their individuality. However, they have to carefully segregate the 'bling' party-wear embellishments and be choosy about what would win an edge over casual-wear but yet not be too glamorous.

While other companies in this field have advertised their products mainly from the bridal collections, I think this concept by Tanishq is a remarkable progress! It marks a change in ideology and also cashes in on the curiosity quotient.They have smartly made an effort to create a plan which is "out of the box" and thus might be able to capture the markets in this segment. It is likely to bring in more sales because this collection is surely the first of its kind in India.

Every husband, son, father and friend; would like to buy one of these pieces for that special lady in their lives, who balances her various roles wonderfully well!
The branding is marvelous and the tag line
"Loves to go to work" 
not only proves that its the reap of well nurtured grey cells, but also heightens the chances of brand recall.

Hats-off to the strategy makers for their tribute to the working woman!





 This is no advertisement of their products, just a lay-woman's appreciation of their work :)

Monday, 7 November 2011

Chillar Party!

The Chillar Party with their dog
Sitting lazily in front of the idiot box on a Sunday afternoon, I was flipping channels; trying to find an appropriate movie or program to watch.
I paused on a movie which was just about to begin. The beginning looked inviting and, when they announced 'Chillar Party' I knew it was a recent release and expected to be fun.Through the afternoon, I sat through the multiple ads that were not so pleasing, because they served as brakes in the flow of the film.

The movie revolved around a group of children, who were collectively called chillar party, by the adult group in  their colony. Each kid, was a star in his own right and they were fairly familiar ones who had shown face in some movies in the past, but most of them could be recognized by their presence in television commercials. 
Together they put up a brilliant performance. Each member of the group had a distinct character. While one little boy disliked wearing his undies, there was another who had a 'black' tongue because every line he uttered showed contrasting results. So when, this boy called Lucky said, " Aj hum zaroor match jeetenge.", they lost to their rival group in the neighborhood. In this manner, each little child's character was carefully cut out and the little ones did rather too well!
What started out as little children playing cricket in their colony and lazing around casually, took a serious turn when the group welcomed a child laborer in their colony, who was appointed to wash the cars. This little boy came with his pet  who was actually a stray dog. By a sequence of events, the political angle is added to the movie and a certain politician decides to do away with all stray dogs in the city.
They save their pet after a long drawn tussle with the minister, which included getting involved with the press and something they called chaddi  march but finally, the minister loses to their stubborn enthusiasm and the dog is allowed to stay in the colony.
The plot of the movie is wholesome because it captures the political troubles, touches on child labour issues, draws on media practices and highlights how children are sometimes driven by adults to give up some right and just cause.
The movie ends in a debate between the minister and the children, with the latter reading out lines from their Moral Science book to the former. Each of those lines were picked well and rendered the minister shamefaced and the happy ending followed!
As against, the lines of Rang de Basanti and that genre of films which empowered the youth, this one concentrated on an lower age bracket and showed how even they could take action and make their mark.



A still from their chaddi march



Kudos to the movie makers and to the undying spirit of cinema with an underlying message!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Diwali- Lights, Camera, Action!

Diwali, the festival of lights in India, was celebrated in much splendor and added to the list of paraphernalia- Television Commercials specifically for this festival.
It is interesting how some creative minds succeed in generating an idea of commercial returns, out of this festival which has emotional connotations for every Indian.

From some of the famous Agencies, and under the banner of some reputed Brands, the following TVC's were broadcast to en-cash on the sense of festivity.






What do you think about these ?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Diary Entries continued.....


26.09.2011

Sorry Master, I did not write yesterday because I was really tired and irritated with myself. I had brought home only 250 rupees. What could I have told you when I couldn’t show my face to Ma!
Anyway, yesterday has passed. You know something unusual happened today.
I earned only 500 rupees but there was something else that I brought back- respect from a kind man who hired me to go to Ruby Hospital. I think his daughter was admitted there for some reason and I was taking him to her from Minto Park. He looked very worried and was on the phone continuously talking to some doctors. The fair was 124 which he paid and left. But as I was driving back, looking for another passenger, I noticed he had left an envelope on the back seat!
With trembling hands, I reached for it and opened it to find bundles of notes. I haven’t seen so much money. Even when I go to Mishra da at the end of the day and he is counting money, I don’t see so much money! It was as if the man wearing the blue-shirt was a Ginnie who had given me the lump sum, as if God himself had directed him to stop my specific WB-02T-0908, amongst the hundred other taxis in the world!
As tears welled in my eyes, and my hands still shivered I noticed that the cars behind me were honking terribly by now because in my bewilderment I had stopped driving. As I drove over to the side, I realized how tough it was to drive! Years of experience and practice failed me at that moment and I just parked clumsily; trying to collect my thoughts and trying to grasp the recent upheaval of events in my life.
As Ma’s image floated in front of my eyes, my thoughts drifted from a self-owned car to blocks of ice-creams that Mahendra sells by the corner of the road, a house and the pictures of jewellery which are on those big boards by the road. I couldn’t get my mind off these things! I know Master you might think I was selfish or maybe mean to think of these things at that moment- when the ‘Ginnie’ man’s money was in my hands. When that Ginnie’s daughter was in the hospital, when that money was meant for her treatment, when that man was worried about losing his money at a point of crisis. But Master, these were also the moments when Ma was at home in an age- old saree, when she was alone because I can’t afford to marry, when I was driving Mishra da’s car, scared each minute that if something happens to the car I will have to pay the fine!
 I don’t think this is justification enough Master. But what I did with the money, maybe.

Master, I reversed the car and went back to the hospital, found the man and gave him the money which was his. I cannot tell you how relieved he was. When I saw him from a distance he looked frantic and with his hands on his head, he looked the way Ma did the day Baba died. When I walked up to him the envelope was hidden behind my back, he didn’t recognize me but with tearful eyes he looked at me with a quizzical look. As I handed him the familiar envelope, he jumped with joy! He hugged me tight, Master! The Ginnie man hugged me! But after that, he just took the money and went inside a room. I waited for half an hour but he didn’t come back. I left and came straight home. I came home really early today, because the half an hour outside the hospital really wore me down. I feel so tired. When I came home, I told Ma about the incident and she said she was proud of me. Period. Nothing else. I think she wanted me to bring some of the money home. Maybe not. Maybe she is just tired and growing old. Maybe she trusts her upbringing too much to expect anything else out of me. Maybe…..

I don’t know what Ma feels, Master but I have a confession to make. You know why I reversed the taxi to the hospital? I wanted to see my name in the newspaper. I remember Pratik and Pathak were talking about such a story which happened in Garia, last month. They said his name and photo had come in the newspaper and moreover, he had received 2000 rupees from his Ginnie man. He had got money and had also become famous. Which taxi driver gets that!
When I thought of the pictures of necklaces on the boards, I also recalled his picture in the newspaper and that was the thought which drew my hands to the gear and reverse, I went. Maybe, it’s not in my destiny. Neither fame not fortune.  The man didn’t give me money, nor did he take me to the Sir who writes the paper.
Maybe it’s not in my destiny.  
   
                                 

27.09.2011

Master, you won’t believe what happened today! A young boy stopped me near Park Circus and he wanted to go towards some place called ‘Highland Park’ (read: Hiland Park) I don’t know why they call it a park because in the whole stretch of 5 km, I saw no park at all! As I drove past Ruby Hospital again, my heart ached. Nevertheless, the boy got off at the entrance of some big place which was called ‘Metro.’ The board read something else also which began with C but I don’t remember what it was. I think it is some new metro station. But it is very big and not like any of the other stations. Maybe Mamata didi wants it like that, I think. I drove back and as I was crossing the hospital on my way back I saw my Ginnie again! Master, it was a miracle, how I could spot him in that crowded and busy crossing. He was waiting for a taxi. I stopped in front of him. But this time, I promise, there was nothing else on my mind except that if he wanted to go Minto Park again it meant at least 150 rupees during the office ending hour of the day. I didn’t think he would recognize me. As I asked him where he wanted to go, he screamed with joy on seeing me! This, like his hug, came as a pleasant surprise. He sat swiftly in my car and informed me that ‘her’ operation was successful. I assumed he meant his daughter’s operation, and just smiled. I asked him, as I steered the car, where he wanted to go. He replied instead, “Tumhare paas apni koi photo hai?” I didn’t know what he meant because at the time the newspaper story was far out of my mind. “Ghar pe hogi,” I said confusedly, to which he said “ghar chalo.”  I didn’t know whether he meant his house or mine, so I continued to stare at him.
And then, my Ginnie Man explained:

Bhaiya apko yad hai kal apne mere paise wapas diye the?”
“Yes,” I said.
Apko English ati hai?” he asked with a smile.
Yes, Sir. I can speak English.”
I don’t know why they think we shouldn’t know the language as if it were their own. But the quizzing went on.
“So, I want you to know that my name is Suraj Karmakar and I write for The Telegraph Times. I want to write about you, in my newspaper. I want people to know that people like you still exist. It was really very kind of you to return that money because otherwise my daughter would have died by now.”
I did not say anything in reply, Master. I drove at a speed of 120, and brought him home to Ma. He asked us a few questions, spoke to Ma and wrote down most of it. He also clicked our photo with his phone. And you know Master, he gave me 3500 rupees. I think it was all the money he had because when I went to drop him to Minto Park he pulled everything out of his pocket and gave it to me except some loose change. Three thousand five hundred rupees, Master! I earned more than the Garia taxi walla!
 I came home and gave the money to Ma, she took half of it and asked me to spend the rest as I would like. I have 1500 rupees! Tomorrow I will buy a phone, maybe a phone which has a camera. Tomorrow, my photo will come in the newspaper. Tomorrow I will drive the taxi with a smile!




The End.


Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Diary Entries of a Taxi Driver


23.09.2011

Dear Master,
It was a tiring day but I earned 700 rupees. I was half an hour late in leaving the house, and left around 5:30 instead. But by the time I came back home it was midnight and I was starving. I didn’t eat lunch today because the first half of the day brought me only 300, and I was not sure if luck would follow after sun-down. I picked up a passenger from Gariahat who wanted to go the airport, and back. And that trip did it all! I was so thrilled when the lady stopped me and said “airport.” Master, have you noticed people just say the name of the place now, and that becomes the question- “Airport jaiyega?”  I wonder why they’re so bent upon shortening things. How many additional seconds would be required to say an extra word? Anyway, as long as the amount of fare doesn’t get reduced, it’s alright.
The lady had gone to pick up her husband. I don’t know where he had come from, but he surely looked happy to see her. They looked newly married, and that reasoned as to why the wife was excited enough to surprise her husband at the airport. They were talking about Reliance. I think the man had got work in Reliance. They were very excited but they didn’t talk about phones. I wonder what work he will do; he might be the man who goes to people’s homes to fix the phones. But how can his wife afford a taxi and the man himself affords to travel in an airplane! She was talking about Mumbai repeatedly, so maybe they were shifting soon. I can’t understand why the man did not take a job in the Telephone Bhavan in Calcutta. It would’ve done him good if he is good with the wires.
As these thoughts played on my mind, I decided to let it pass. After all understanding every passenger’s life history is not in my capacity.
I hope that too many people don’t leave Calcutta. The more people that stay here, the better it will be for us. After all, the meter ticks the most in the traffic jams and signals in the over-crowded areas!
Ma has gone to sleep and I think I should go in too.
Dear God, Let tomorrow be a good day.



24.09.2011

Dear Master,
I could earn only 500 today. I don’t know why God is not fair. Ma was so upset when I gave her the money. She counted three times and at last, I had to say yes Ma, it’s only this much. She turned to put the money away for tomorrow’s food. I think tomorrow I will come late even if I get no passengers. That way, I’ll be able to tell her that I’ve eaten outside. If I don’t lie then she will have to eat less because of me. Why should she suffer if I couldn’t earn enough!
The man who wanted to go to New Market paid me five rupees less, he said he had no change and just left! These people need to realize that for them its ‘only’ five rupees but for me it meant lunch. I could’ve eaten muri outside the market, with that money.
I have not got much to say today, Master because everything seems so sad. I don’t know how long we will have to live so uncertainly. It is as if my mother’s appetite has to change with people’s moods to step out of their homes. If they step out in more numbers, only then can she get more food!
Good Night.





To be continued.......

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Taxis: An artery of the Calcutta Transport System






Taxis in Calcutta are a vital part of the transport system. Mumbai has its local trains; Delhi is known for its upcoming Metro Railway, Gujarat for its local autos.
In Calcutta- we have all of the above and what is most interesting is that all of these exist in almost affectionate co-relation. Autos, buses, local trains, underground railways, tram and of course, taxis- are all in synchronized operation in the City of Joy. Each of these stay within their own precincts, ply in their own areas, serve their own clich├ęd classes from the population.
The age-old yellow ambassador, with a year old embellishment- the blue horizontal line across its body, is popular in Calcutta. It is as if the passenger of a taxi privatizes a public mode of transport for a certain journey. It is a sort of a set-apart means of conveyance among all other vehicles of mass transport.
The ‘cabs’ in Calcutta have undergone a sea-change – from being black and yellow colored (in exact halves) to sporting an only-yellow look. From calculating fares on hand operated meters placed outside the windshield to digital ones placed on the inside. And then there is the new blue strip of paint that runs across the cab with the registration number painted in white. The most recent change is the Radio Cab, the Call- a – Cab service which hasn’t really caught up in the city yet, but is seen around in small numbers; as if making a mark even by scattered presence.
Thus, the taxis in this cosmopolitan city kept pace as the other aspects changed- slowly but steadily. It is interesting to observe the life of the man behind the wheel of this yellow car. How he has grown with the complexities of calculating the fair er, fare amount; with Inox replacing Elite as passenger favorite; with flyovers becoming another ‘floor’ on the road; with the changes in traffic rules and compliances; with the upsurge of one-ways and no-entries- the taxi walla  became the taxi driver and is now a ‘cabbie.’



Here’s an insight into the life of a Mr know-it-all of Calcutta. A man who’s knowledge about lanes and by lanes outdoes Google Maps. His love for the city is second to none- for as long as the city thrives he will continue to earn a living and as the population multiplies his earning will also double-up.


The following post will offer a sneak peek into the diary of Pramod Sahai, who is a taxi driver in Calcutta. He has received education up to Standard VIII and is thus well versed in English. But little do his passengers realize that their driver understands their conversation in ‘inglees’
Pramod drives a taxi owned by a man called Nandaram Mishra. He pays a daily commission to the man in lieu of the vehicle, and drives across the city, everyday of the week. Pramod’s only family is his mother and he stays with her in shanty off Sarat Bose Road. He writes his self notes regularly, addressing the inanimate diary as Master.
These notes are written by the street light, because by the time the 30-something year old man finds time for himself at the end of the day, his mother goes off to sleep. He spends his me-minutes, under a street light in an over-crowded slum. He writes to remember his education, he writes to remember his days, he writes to express his thoughts, he writes for himself.




Friday, 7 October 2011

Asche bochor aabar hobe!

The festivity has ended and we are slowly resorting to routine.
It is that time again when we all sing along, "Asche bochor abar hobe!" The celebration ends and the wait for the asche bochor  begins.
Now, there will be lines to pay utility bills and not to see pandals, the over stuffed shopping bags will be replaced by briefcases, the red colour of sindoor khela will reflect in the red traffic signal lights.
After a much needed, mid-year break, Calcutta resumes to routined activity.
The businessman returns to his schedule of 9:00-5:00 and the restaurant owner will wait for another year, until business will be brisk again. The newspaper offices worked through the festival, producing one special edition after another but finally, on Dashami even they had their day off and now return to regular copies once again.

Let us all wait for the asche bochor,  and as the wait prolongs, let's hope that all our prayers are answered.
Wishing everyone a very Happy Vijaya Dashami!

Monday, 3 October 2011

The Puja frenzy continues




Getting.......

Dressed up!

Ma Durga arrives in all her splendour! The city lives its busiest part of the year- a time of fun and frolic, celebration and rejuvenation.
It's funny how the same period in the calendar can be marked in several ways by people from different walks of life.
For those related to the world of finance, Durga Puja is a five day long holiday, if it is after the Closing of September 30th.
People in the hotel industry and all allied services CANNOT take a holiday during this period.It is the season of highest footfall, highest sales and highest profits. Therefore, highest requirement of fully trained workforce.
The media personnel continue to report and write. In fact, with a change in the regular routine of the people, their style of working also changes as there's much more to report on.
The shop owners, mall managers and others involved in such services gear up for the hyper activity that awaits at their doorstep!
The laborers who creatively design the pandals and idols, take pride in their work and step out with their family to enjoy the enigmatic creations.

No matter,which field you belong to, in Kolkata, Durga Puja always has a special, unique significance for everyone.It's a date-mark period in the calendar, right from the start of a new year.Enjoy this much awaited five day frenzy!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Clay turns creative!

If you're a Calcuttan, or even remotely related to the City of Joy, you know what Durga Puja means. Its a spirit of celebration that overshadows all other festivals! The whole city is in a mode of rejuvenation and rejoicing the homecoming of Goddess Durga. According to mythological studies, Ma Durga is said to descend to Earth during this time of the year, and she chooses her maternal home- Calcutta. She arrives with all her four children, and brings along merriment, joy, splendor, glamour and everything else that a festival can possibly bring to a region!
Two days ahead of this Bengali festival, here's unveiling the Run-up-for-Durga Puja. The Goddess in making- her eyes change expressively and animatedly through the process of the making of the idol, her worship and conclusively, just as she is immersed at the end of the festivity.
Trying to capture these splendidly divine moments in a memory-chip!

The magnificent eyes

The hand that shapes the hand

Minute details 

Tinctures and Colours!

Just clay

Her lion in making

Mahishasur- the devil.
Its fascinating how the same hands give shape to the Divine and the Devil

Half-way through

Her Children.

The hand,er, Face behind it all!

Heads in a row

Eyes are a brush stroke away!

Silver hair brings experience to excel with the Golden paint!


Friday, 16 September 2011

It's a Kodak Moment!

This was the tag-line for Kodak the banner under which some very excellent cameras were manufactured!
Kodak goes back to several years from now, probably since the time the camera became a compact object to click pictures with! The line caught up so well with people that almost every touching, heart warming and emotionally charged moment began to be called The Kodak Moment. Little notice was paid that down the years, as competition in the market reached its all-time high, sometimes a Canon or a Nikon was used to capture what was lovingly called Kodak Moment.
The phrase has some funny memories for some people as their near and dear ones use it in a mocking way, as if to pull someone's leg. Some people use it when their hearts are really overflowing with emotions. There are yet others who mouth this famous line when they're hanging around with their peers and a typically moment must be captured!
A fight over a serving of sizzling brownies,an hour of a cricket match and the nail-biting session that is ensued, a moment of pulling someone's leg, a minute before taking off on a trip,  a dazed look in class after a sleepless night, a second after clearing an interview, an expression while seeing your mark sheet,- these are the Kodak Moments of life. Big and Small.


Saturday, 10 September 2011

Why start at the start?

While browsing through the notebooks and diaries section in a bookstore, it struck to me as to why we have diaries which start either in the month of January or in the month of April.  As my mind juggled these thoughts, I added to the content as I pictured my School Diary in mind. Why is it that diaries beginning on any other month are not available on stands? Can someone start a new business, a new venture, a job, a manual, only in the beginning of- either the calendar, or the financial year? 
It is understandable that the diaries are not available from the start of every month, containing pages that make room for one complete year. This would cause losses because of poor sales. But other fields of life could be taken into consideration- like the school session begins in April( though there are diaries available of this period but those are tailored for the financial world and often students adjust with it) College sessions begin in July and even though a daily record of homework need not be maintained but is a diary meant for that alone?

Have any of you heard of diaries which do not start at the start?

Monday, 5 September 2011

Buttering it up!



While I was just idly "Googl-ing" images I came across an Amul Butter ad. 


It's an interesting copy. It says a lot in one-line. Coming across this particularly appealing ad, I did a little research on the ad-campaign and found out its been on for 46 years!.The campaign has even attained a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for "The longest running ad  Campaign in the world."
In India, Amul's ads of this kind have been very popular as they are witty and wise. They just perform the task of informing and that mere communication leaves an impact. This, according to me, is a better strategy rather than to bore the audience with the benefits and advantages of the  butter. Amul has its self-defined audience, and this works to their advantage as it allows them to go two steps beyond the ordinary.

I think DaCunha Associates, Amul's advertising agency struck the right chord and is sustaining it well.
It is a time tested approach and has guaranteed public response. What do you think about this kind of an advertising campaign?

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Click! - Portait or Passport?

A book by Nora Roberts has grabbed my attention and its really very gripping as you're waiting to see what comes next in the story. The book has pulled me away from my Julius Caesar text, which was lined up as home-work!
Visions in White, the page- turner I'm talking about portrays a marriage photographer as its central character. She's a photographer by profession and specializes in this genre because she partners a wedding planning agency with her friends. The story is set in U.S.A and highlights the concept of photography in the country. Its fascinating how they take the art so seriously and not just for requisite passport size photos!
How many of us in India think of visiting these professionals for our photographs for the defining moments of life. The most popular photographed event in an Indian's life is his/ her wedding. That too is usually done in a preset pattern.
Mackensie, the character etched by Nora, engages in observing the personalities of her clients, their likes and dislikes, their wavelengths and commonalities between those. She spends time with them and is allowed freedom of space to create the portraits. While many of us have such concepts here, we rarely hire a professional for it because a little bit of knowledge acquired via Google, a small camera and the subject of the photo seems to do the needful!
I don't mean to be critical of my own country but I think there's room for a change in this area. What do you think? After all, we have moved towards taking the help of Photo Studios to tweak, blow up and print our photos. So why not make room for some more finesse in the art of photo-making, er , clicking!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Personally impersonating

I was just surfing channels this afternoon and chanced upon a new show where a person is selected by a celebrity and he/she gets to experience the life of the star he adores. So its like the celebrity also gets a chance to encourage their fans. As the program progressed,  I drifted to thinking about the actors' work. They're supposed to shoot for a merry-making scene even if a near one is suffering an illness, supposed to cry(maybe sob) if they choose to work on their birthdays or anniversaries or just any special day! Their's no room for a mood swing, no allowance for a shift in emotions. They have to feel like the character they're impersonating, and lock their own personality in the vanity van!
How do they oscillate between such changes in mindsets- marrying in a movie, mourning in another, dying in this frame, dancing on that......and the list goes as long the list of verbs in a director's imagination! 
We as the "common" people, crib about a shift in mood or temper and some of us even lock ourselves up in rooms until the phase passes. But what about these not-so-common people! 
Its fascinating how their personalities change with their make-up, attire, scene and setting. What's more, is that their individuality is retained too.
Imagine how tiring it gets for us sometimes, to balance between our different relations, but for these STARS, it is a tough call to balance between "several" blood ties, each of different films and as many true blood ones!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Paschimbanga (read: Poshchimbowngo!)

As I was reading the newspaper this morning I paused at an article by a Guest Writer and it explained what the non-Bengali Calcuttans thought about this change in name. (Funny, we still call ourselves Calcuttans when the city is Kolkata!) This Bengali translation of West Bengal doesn't help at all. The so-called historical baggage is not done away with in any manner! The alphabetical progression which was another absurd reason for a name change is not well achieved either. We progress from W to P and the rationale, if any, sounds vague. What is the thought that plays on the minds of the Ministers in office that their indifference moves a state to change its name in a bid to gain sufficient attention! 
The suggested name reflects how the decision is consented by only a certain group of people because the other linguistic groups that co-exist cannot even pronounce it, let alone approve it! 
Yesterday the Ministers( including the PM) met the Industrialists of West Bengal (er, Pashchimbanga) at the Saha Institute of Physics. At the event, the Governor of West Bengal Shri M.K.Narayanan touched upon the proposed change by saying : "Smt Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal or Paschimbanga? Not very sure yet....."
His pronunciation of the new name brought into focus, how the re-christened name would be practically butchered by non-bengali speakers. The Respected Governor who hails from Kerala pronounced the name as it is spelt and alas! the third syllable became "banga"! 
Not the Governor's fault, but the point has come to surface and with strong proof! Bingo! oops, sorry the name is "Banga" , ummm or is it "Bowngo?"

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Funda behind Floss

The idea was weighed in various ways in my mind and I contemplated a lot over creating a blog. Several visits to the page of blogspots. Sometimes I even got as far as the step where my blog was a click away! Literally so, one click would make me feel I had created something. Some creation that brings excitement, responsibility, opportunities, avenues, and a lot more...... But unlike this time, every previous attempt ended with the cursor being pointed at the cross on the right hand corner and SHUT! 
I've finally made it! No apprehensions, no inhibitions and no fears.

Mental Floss- The name stands for something that's not for mandatory use like a toothbrush but its useful, all the same.The posts will hopefully provide food to the brain through written words or sometimes even pictures. My aim is to offer fodder to the curious grey cells and set the thinking worm to task! 

Inviting all people who like to think, observe, analyse, retrospect, introspect, contemplate and discuss.....
Here's to all thinking souls!