Thursday, May 24, 2007

Happy Sad

A funeral is a place where one has to feel sad. But this time, for some reason, I felt a sense of happiness. I shall explain why that happened.

My grandmother's elder sister (boromashidida) had been suffering acutely for the last few months. When we got the news of her demise, it did not come as a surprise to us.

My parents and I had gone to her house to pay our last homage. Most of the ladies were crying. Boromashidida's husband was sitting on a chair outside the room in which the body was kept. Usually cheerful, I found that he had been stricken by grief. I felt sad for him - such a long and beautiful innings of over seventy years had finally come to an end. I went over to console him and held his hand.

It was his reaction which really surprised me. On seeing me, his expression changed to one of joy. He asked me when I had come to Kolkata. I had met him recently but he must have forgotten. So I reminded him that I was now working here. This pleased him even more. I could not help but feel a sense of satisfaction at the simple task I had been executing for the past two years – that of staying and working in Kolkata. It is common norm these days that boys and girls move out of Kolkata for work or education. This leaves very few people of my generation staying back in Kolkata, and available to attend these occasions.

This feeling of satisfaction, you can even call it pride, remained with me as I helped in carrying the hearse. As I did so, I could feel people’s gazes falling on me. They were probably saying, “Look at him. Such a nice boy. He has come back to stay with his parents.” I met many people that day after a long time. Many of them actually expressed such sentiments directly to me.

It also felt funny because there was something that these people did not know. That this “nice boy” was trying to go abroad for higher studies. And this was something that would take him away from his parents and his hometown for at least four years. You could say that the “nice boy” did not feel very nice about this at that time.

Anyway, I felt like sharing that day's of satisfaction with others. I am sure that there are many people staying abroad, who in their heart of hearts, pine to return to India. However, career decisions delay their return indefinitely. It is the aim of this writing to provide them a reason for their return. As the MasterCard advert goes, “There are some things that money can't buy...”


On a different note, here's another mention of a "Happy Sad" feeling:- (Click on the PLAY button to watch the scene.)

(Also, here are the dialogues of the scene. From the movie, Cheeni Kum)

Why are you sad-sad and not happy sad?
Why are we sad? Because our hearts are heavy-heavy!
When is heart heavy-heavy? When some one hurts our heart!
Who can hurt our hearts so much? The one who is very close to heart!
Who is very-very close to the heart? The one with whom the heart feels very-very happy!
You were very happy so you are sad aren’t you?
So every thing is Happy-sad not sad-sad!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Sights. Sounds. Thoughts. In Kolkata!

One day my friend Amitangshu had come home. He is now working in Delhi in an NGO. He works on wetland conservation - a noble cause!!! His work takes him to many places. Sometimes he also goes trekking. He was showing me pics of the places he had visited, especially of his so-called 'favourite' trek. Personally speaking, my job takes me as far as the restroom from my cubicle and that's about it. And I have had some occasional walks through the hills during my trips to the hill-stations. But my experiences are nothing to compare to his exploits. So I jealously listened on.

Anyways while showing the snaps, he stopped on this truly out-of-this-world sunset pic. He said that this sight greeted him after a particularly treacherous trek. He went on to emphasise how one's life becomes complete after viewing such a sunset.

I agreed with him. But does that mean my life does not have those moments of jubilation and discovery? Well, I shall relate one incident through which I tried to create such a moment right in the middle of this choking and claustrophobic city.

It was a Sunday, the holiday of the week. But when you are a person who wants to spend 'quality' time with parents, is one who has quite a few professional goals in life, is the sort of chap who wants to keep good relations with relatives, and regular contacts with friends - then Sunday does not remain a holiday anymore. That Sunday my list of odd jobs had taken me through the better part of the day, and it was early evening then. While walking back home from a necessary but unenjoyable activity, I realised that the cacophony of the blaring horns reflected the state of my mind. I decided that I needed to spend some 'quality' time on my own. I needed a nice and quiet walk to clear out my mind. And for that, I needed a stretch of land without the horns, fumes, people etc etc etc.

But when you live in an area like Minto Park, such a stretch of land at 6 in the evening is hard to get. I realised that I would need to take a bus to reach such a place.

The Kolkata Maidan could have been one option. However my last experience of Maidan in the evening had made me realise that it had already become prey to crass commercialisation. Maidan in the evening is like a once-peaceful and idyllic hill station gone totally wrong. So I decided to travel in the opposite direction.

I took a bus and got off at Lansdowne Puddapukur, turned right into a lane, and started walking. Initially, the din of cars and people followed me into the lane. But as I kept walking, I found the crowds and sounds thinning. This was good. I passed beautiful bungalows. I noticed an old wrinkled woman sitting alone on a porch... an artistic sight. Some sleek cars passed by me - this area was obviously quite posh. As I walked on, the streetlights grew dimmer and I could start hearing my thoughts once again. This lane, Lovelock Lane, connected Lansdowne with Ballygunge Circular Road. I recognised that I had come here twice to drop off a very close friend. But then I had come by a different route.

I passed 'her' house and approached a fork in the road. One lane turned left. I shall talk about the other lane a little later. I took the left turn and it twisted a little more to end at an old house. It probably was of the pre-Independence era. It was different from the more modern and utilitarian Non-Bengali structures in that area. (Non-Bengali by dint of the Ganeshas greeting you from different vantage points). It even had a lawn. The lawn had probably just been sprinkled with water and it was exhaling the beautiful smell of first rain. I was admiring the relic of older times when a group of boys came out of the house. Their conversation contained usual boy's talk - girls, sports and leg pulling. They had possibly come here to make best use of the lawn - a rare thing in most houses nowadays. I became conscious that I must be looking stupid standing there and walked back quickly.

Coming back to the fork in the road, I now had the option of returning home or exploring the other lane. Now this lane was pitch dark. And it was just enough for two persons to walk side by side. I contemplated that it might be risky, not knowing where this 'blind' alley might lead ('blind' because I could not see anything once I was inside, and also it might actually have been a blind alley). Finally throwing caution to the wind, I walked in. I felt my heart skipping a few beats. And if someone had popped out from the sides then, I would have given the run of my life. Soon however I saw light at the end of this 'tunnel', and breathed a sigh of relief.

After that I decided that I had had enough exploration for the day and returned home. I felt satisfied that I had been able to simulate a sense of exploration and discovery from this incident of “alley-trekking”.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Some Self Promotion

The product I am working on (LipTracker) is being developed for Pixel Instruments, Los Gatos. The product was displayed at NAB 2007, for which I travelled to US. It received the Broadcast Engineering NAB2007 Pick Hit award.

This was the third consecutive year that the product received an award. I have been with the product for the last two NAB-s.

Previous awards were
NAB 2006 - TV Technology STAR Award
NAB 2005 - Television Broadcast Top Innovation Awards

Here's a snapshot of the Pixel Instruments website (showing off the 3 awards together)