Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Case of the Reckless Bus Driver

And so D*, you really thought I was unaffected by the terrorist attacks in Mumbai? No Sir... I WAS affected.

However I found that my thoughts were not aligned with the popular sentiments going around then, just in the aftermath of the attacks. The common emotions that I saw in people were fear, anxiety, rage, and an overwhelming feeling that "something must be done". My reactions were not on the same lines and probably that is why you thought that I was 'unaffected'. I was, so to say, differently affected.

One thing I did feel strongly was this: after the initial hullabaloo, we would ultimately forget. I found similar sentiments echoed elsewhere (I am quoting from Moushumi Palit's piece "Enough is Enough"):
All we care about is how does this impact me? So we continue to make tut-tuting noises about the spirit of Mumbai, nod our heads diligently to the “enough is enough” phrase that pops up each time, and just move on unconcerned, uncaring; each time, sinking back into the sea of apathy within hours of the tragedy, just glad it’s not us or our family members or friends…

..., I wonder why issues that really affect our life, our families, our safety like floods each year or recurring bomb blasts and the incompetence of the govt in dealing with these don’t make us angry. Why do we adjust to these? And worse, how long will we continue to do so?

Yes there are so many issues to which we turn a blind eye. Let us take up for example, the issue of rash bus driving in Kolkata. It would be an understatement to say that buses speed on the roads. In fact, buses actually race on the roads of Kolkata.

Say, we have a bus on route 221 which starts off from its' depot in Golpark at 2:10pm. For the first 15-20 minutes, the driver drives very very slowly. The drivers take all the time in the world to pick up people - regardless of whether they are standing at the bus stop or not. Someone from amongst the passengers regularly raises a voice - "Dada driver ki ghumiye porlo naaki? (Hey, is the driver asleep or what?)" To this, the bus conductors turn a deaf ear, an art that they have honed to perfection. This goes on for a while until the conductor gives the driver the signal they have been waiting for - the bus which left the depot 10 minutes after them has been spotted some distance behind them. And with this signal, the race begins.

The driver suddenly begins to drive like someone possessed. Overtaking from left and right, all horns blaring, the bus muscles its' way through traffic. During this race, the earlier concern shown for passengers boarding the bus (and now, also those alighting) is forgotten, putting those people in grave risk. Sometimes, the two buses catch up and go neck to neck for some time. In that moment, the drivers and the conductors curse at each other. And then one of the buses takes the lead and the race goes on.

It is during these mad races that many accidents have occurred - fatal in most cases. The news of the boy studying in Class 7, or the office-goer being mowed down by a bus while trying to cross the road, has become a regular feature of newspapers. No Mumbai type media coverage here. No being hooked to the TV for 2 days straight. These acts of violence happen in small dosages - the way to deal with these snippets of bad news is simple: first, feel sorry for the poor victims, next curse the authorities and finally, turn to the sports or comic page.

I wonder - why is it that a bus full of passengers are unable to control the behaviour of 1 reckless driver and his 1 or 2 equally irresponsible compatriots. Usually one of the passengers takes the initiative but he/she is never backed up by the others. The conductors usually silence the lone protester by use of arrogant and rough language and a great deal of confident arrogance. They seem to believe that what they are doing is right, and not having to face much retaliation, carry on doing so.

Why do not the authorities bring these people to book? One particular theory is that the bus drivers' union is allied with certain political parties, and this 'connection' renders them to be above the law.

Finally, for all those people who regularly say that "something needs to be done" - here is one issue which has remained unsolved for some time now. High time we get a solution, eh?

Image Credits: Maran

PS: While searching for the above image, I came across some interesting articles on the topic.
1. An incident where the public actually took some action
2. Fines proposed, but may not be effective

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Going Hungry at the Tailgate

My appetite for attending an American football game had been sated after watching a couple of games at Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium. But there was something else linked with American football, that I wanted to experience and which one literally had to have an appetite for. I am talking about the Tailgate party. A tailgate is a cook-out, family get-together, friend's re-union, cocktail party rolled into one. And I got a chance to experience it very recently.

I knew that people arranged barbecues and brought food to Tailgates. I also imagined that if I were to roam around aimlessly at the Tailgate arena with an amiable expression on my face, I would surely be invited by some Tailgaters to sample their fare. It was with this hope, an empty stomach and the Grad student's well-known affinity to free food that I decided to venture into this great American mela.

And believe me, there was good food. And there were great smells. And God was witness to the extremely amiable expression on the face of a certain aimless wanderer. However that wanderer was to find out, much to his disappointment, that the American people intended to carry on chomping their food and guzzling their beer without any help from outsiders. In all decency I tried my best not to curse the chompers and the guzzlers, but if some people in that lot suffered from indigestion on the following day, then I would not blame myself too much.

Reflecting on that day's incident with a saner mind and a relatively less-empty stomach, the American people's behavior may be easily explained. Imagine Indian people out on a picnic at Botanical Gardens, Kolkata. Every group usually arranges for their own food. Considering that on one such picnic, I was busy tucking into some Tandoori chicken and Egg-Fried Rice from my lunch box, and I saw a well-dressed Chinese person roaming around clicking pictures, I would not think of offering that person my food. Instead I would be more intent on checking which of my cousins was not eating the Pantua so that I could stake first claim on it.


I realize that the Tailgate is quite an American festival. It is one of the traditions that are quite endearing and I did know of before I came here. Being curious, I read up about Tailgates and found the following interesting trivia from here:
  1. The first Tailgate occurred when people came to watch the Battle of Bull Run. Yes, a real war (Not particularly endearing, this particular trivia).
  2. 30% of Tailgaters never attend the football game (I would do that).

A must see: this slide-show on Tailgates put up by Time magazine.


Cycle wheels are usually equipped with small pieces of translucent plastic which act as reflectors. At night, when car headlights fall on these, they reflect the light and thus drivers become aware of cyclists on the road. In the daytime, if the sun's rays fall at the correct angle on these, they look like bright pieces of stained glass. I named them as sun-catchers for the context of this piece.

I noticed the beauty of sun-catchers one Saturday afternoon. I was returning home after a hearty lunch. There was not much work to be done that weekend so I had all the time in my hands. I had just missed the bus and the next bus was due in half an hour. To while away the time, I leaned on something and started admiring the beauty of nature. The weather was that of a perfectly lazy summer afternoon. I could have stayed there forever.

It was then that I saw someone riding a bike and it was on that bike that I noticed the sun-catchers.

The sun's rays happened to be at the most appropriate angle. And as the wheels of the cycle turned, the two sun-catchers captured my attention. My gaze was drawn to them and other visible features in my field of view (the rims and spokes of the wheels, the cyclist, the background) faded away. And the bright pieces of plastic seemed to be moving like Siamese twins - conjoined by some invisible force. They rolled along ever so slowly - it was as if they too felt the lull of the lazy summer afternoon.

I felt elated to observe this harmonious motion. Unfortunately such elation is not found everyday - probably the conditions for being able to find beauty in the simplest of things are very stringent.

Image Credits: anataman

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Turn Turn Turn

It was raining leaves today.

The wind picked up leaves
From the bough of almost naked trees
And strew these leaves around
According to its' many whims.

I was in the car
And the wind never touched me.
What struck me instead
Was the sight of a faraway tree
And the leaves floating towards me.

As if the magic spell of a lovely fairy
Was casting its' spell on me.


Later in the day
I was outside
Dipping my feet in rivers running below.

The wind was still up
And by this time
Most of the leaves were down below.

The wind was in no mood
To let the leaves rest.
A relentless architect - the wind.

And the leaves
Performed cartwheels
Appearing like gears turning round and round -
Naughty frolicsome energized.

In their combined entirety,
They formed gushing streams, torrents
Gullies, rivers
And flowed down alleys
And roads and walkways
Under the feet of men
And into the hearts of those who noticed.


The title was inspired by the following song (definitely recommended):

Youtube search link.


If you liked this, you will like:
And The Leaves That are Green
The Butterflies

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

There was something in that moment...

That day, I saw two spectacular sights. Sometime before, I had recounted the first one. Now let me tell you about the second sight I saw that day.

I saw a girl looking out of the window and talking on the phone.

Yes let me repeat - I saw a girl talking on the phone while looking out of the window. And that's what I saw. That's exactly what I saw.

Now what the hell is earth-shattering time-halting spectacular about that, you might ask.

So to defend my statement, let me tell you what I really saw.

They say a painting tells a hundred stories. In a window in the building opposite my house, it was a painting that was formed that day. Who was the artist that day? God? Life? Whoever the painter was, the painting was really good.

Firstly, for benefit of painting the picture in the reader's mind, the physical setting of this scene must be well described. This window in the building opposite my house is rectangular and fairly large. A field whose length is neither too less nor too large separates these two buildings. Thus the sight that I saw was not too distant from me, and yet I remained an unobtrusive spectator.

The time of the day was important - the sun was setting and the bright yet soft light of approaching dusk bathed the window from the west. The blinds were drawn up almost completely at this window, and their contribution to the painting were a few white lines across the top. The visible back of a book-case filled up the right corner of the painting. And the back of a book-case, however nice the collection of books arranged in the front may be, is just plain wood or card-board.

These were the prosaic parts of the painting. And then in the left side of the frame, there was the girl . The girl was pretty - which was a fortunate thing. And yet, it was not the main thing. The important part was the story that her eyes told. (And this is like saying that a movie was great and that the heroine was very beautiful. The two things are independent, and if they co-exist together, that's just a great thing.)

Of course, I could not see her eyes up close. Yet, there was something in the way in which she stared out into the horizon, that said a lot. The girl was talking to someone on the phone - and at that instant, she was probably listening. Her look was one of absolute peace and calmness. Maybe I imagined things but I was sure she was talking to her beloved. There was love in that stare; the eyes, as they gazed out through the window, were hopeful of a bright and happy future. And in that moment, the sun's glorious presence seemed to be a fitting tribute to the moment. Possibly the sun's rays carried a message from her lover.

I saw the painting for a fleeting instant. Yet it got etched into my memory. I remember it with the fondness with which I remember seeing other spectacles of nature, other creations of God. Why? Because what I witnessed that day was nothing else but Man's greatest creation, a creation more primal and important than window-blinds or book-cases or cell-phones, - Love.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Creating Notes with Silence

I was sitting in the balcony with the laptop on my lap,
thoughts in my mind forming words on the screen.
The time was evening,
and while us "unnatural" beings
turned on lights and tubes,
the rest of the natural order was ending the day.

This town of mine, this town where I live,
is kind.
People live here, but the sounds of nature can still be heard.
And silence, when presented, is not disturbed.

That day, it was the silence that screamed out to me.
A faint hum, though -
that of birds chirping,
emanated from far corners,
and merged with the silence.

Suddenly ,
the canvas of the sky
was painted with the passage of a flock of birds.
I saw them -
every soldier steady and firm,
every motion synchronized,
every path identical.

As they weaved their magical path,
astounding onlookers but attracting none -
not a single sound escaped their regiment.
And the tranquility of the moment was not broken.

the greatest silent orchestra was performed that day.

PS: This poem describes one of the two sights that I saw that day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Here's my addition to this list of those moments of life that make life what it is... Beautiful.

Sitting on the grass - Dejected
Then spotting a squirrel playing nearby.

Waking up to a beautiful dream.

Beautiful weather - a splendid day
A spring in your step
And for some reason
Yet incoherent in your mind,
You are on top of the world
And suddenly
The song on the shuffle
Mirrors your exact sentiments.

Chance meeting with girl
Whose thoughts makes your heart skip a beat.

And she smiles at you.

Cycling downhill
Down down down...
Wind places people time
Rush past.
And you are unstoppable -
You are born free.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Blowing in the Wind

The fatigue seeps in
As the journey goes on
And the cool breeze of a rainy day
Sweeps in through the window
To ruffle my hair.

I despair -
I came home to sleep
In my mother's lap
And let her weave dreams
While caressing my hair.

And yet I find myself
Beckoned to actions
Of no visible joy.

And then,
To derive solace
I adopt the following belief -
Those are Mom's blessings
Which are blowing in the wind.

[Written while traveling. During my Kolkata trip, June 2008]

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Correct Mood for Writing

According to Old Chinese proverb, there is a correct mood for the art of writing. “Now then”…According to other Old Chinese proverbs, there are in fact correct moods for every pleasurable activity possible to man. For drinking tea. For listening to music. For conversation among friends. And so on.

But we are here to talk about the art of writing. And let us not digress from that.

If we were to dissect the procedure of writing a piece into its’ various constituent parts, we would end up with some of the following –
Event 1: Idea ‘creeps into/overwhelms faculties of’ the writer’s mind.
Event 2: The idea crawls out of mental confines into tangible reality of words.
Event 3: Slash-slash, Cut-cut, Swish and swoosh… Editing.
Event 4: Writer makes someone read it.

Now the question is: Which one of these parts is the most important part of the writing procedure?

Of course, I have absolutely no answer to that question. So why the long premise, one might ask. Well, recently, I experienced a good-writing-mood day. And to best explain the dynamics of this writer’s mind at that time, a sequential dissection of the writing procedure was essential.

On that opportune day, I was in the middle of enacting ‘Act 2’ (or lamely, ‘Event 2’) of the writing procedure. What was the mood in which I was doing that?
(1.) Tired… Extremely so.
(2.) Lonely… Having rejected an offer of going out with some friends.
(3.) Looking for something worthwhile to do.

As it turns out, it wasn’t a good mood that I was in. Yet turned out to be a wise choice to keep writing at that time.

And what was the location of the enactment? Balcony facing South. Sitting on Plastic chair. Looking up to wide expanse of sky to East and West (i.e. when not writing).

Hence the writing continued. Words were being strung together to exhibit an idea whose advent in my mind had occurred previously. Words having the power of uplifting one’s spirit – I felt the meter of my soul rising Up… Up…Up.

And that was the moment when ideas kept coming to my mind. Subjects for future writing, usually so elusive to find, kept presenting themselves. I looked up once and was presented with a sight of immense beauty. A mental note followed – “Must write about this.” Then, a few moments later… another sight. Would I, on another day, and in another mood, have given thought to it? No. But that day I did.

I realized that this was the mood for creation – for the first Act of the great theater of writing. When one’s mood is uplifted, only then, one can appreciate the true beauty of life – of the life that is presented to us on a platter – every day, and at every moment. One but has to know how to spot it.

And what were the two sights, you might ask? Dear friend, let that be reserved for another occasion.

[Image Credits].

PS: [9/22/08] Have managed to pen down one of them. Here.
[10/11/08] The second one is penned down here

Monday, August 25, 2008

And The Leaves That are Green...

Different things strike different people differently. An obvious statement, eh? Yet the tidings of an idle Saturday afternoon compel me to spend my energies in the current relevance of this trite and commonplace remark.

The event was a single occurrence – the completion of one year at Blacksburg. One year of Ph.D… Ah! How much we harp about our own affairs. As if a Ph.D. is the greatest thing on earth.

But I am deviating from the topic. Let me return. One year got over. And there were many things that reminded me of this.

Firstly, the date. 4th August 2008. Exactly one year ago, A and I had landed at Blacksburg. Exactly one year ago, I had lost sleep fearing the loss of my passport. Exactly one year ago, I had made a phone-call back home from a roadside payphone. One year henceforth, memories kept peeping in. Yet life went on as usual on this year's date. The day’s events had their toll and memories remained more-or-less dormant.

Another day... The trickle of new students. Soon turning into high tide. Maps in hand. Keen faces. Joie-de-vivre. Greetings at bus stops. Making plans to play. Invitations for dinner. Meeting seniors. But the seniors have gone through it all. They smile knowingly… “Been there done that”. Life goes on… some people are always starting afresh at a given point of time. At the same time, others think they are stuck in a rut.

Then another day… Registering for classes for the new semester. Going through old notes. Old mails. Old books. Old plans. Newcomers searching for room 2040. Those who searched classrooms once observe patiently, to help if asked. It’s time for them to make new plans.

But all the above occurrences faintly whispered into my mind. Speaking the same thing – “Year ended. Year begins.” At best, some of these were at the decibel level of polite conversations i.e. they were not loud; they were civil, beginning and ending with the permission of both parties involved – the occurrences and my mind in this case. And then one day, the loud blaring announcement ensued. So sudden that I was caught unawares – left speechless for a moment.

I was on the phone talking with my parents. I had stepped out of the building and was sitting on a ledge. Though I was talking with my parents, I confessed to them that my mind was elsewhere. There were so many people outside and I kept watching them. This was so unlike the summer days when one felt like being the solitary researcher on campus. It was a big change and my eyes were taking time getting used to this. But it was an expected change.

And then it happened… While my eyes wandered here and there, they hit upon a sight so totally unexpected that all my senses stopped there for a moment. One single tree amongst the hundreds of trees in my field of view had changed colors. Completely. And almost overnight. I had not noticed it previously. I was forced to nod my head in disbelief – “Yes. The year was actually over.” I had to tell my friends about this – I was sure they would not believe me. I felt like being the first person to notice this phenomenal transformation. Other occurrences could be brushed aside but this was staring you in the face – one could not ignore it.

Later while writing this piece, I am reminded of the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Time hurries on… And the leaves that are green turn to brown.”

Youtube search for the same song.

PS: Here are some interesting pics for Autumn: 1, 2 and the following is a pic of roughly the same area which I saw that day. This pic was taken by my room-mate A. More of his pictures are at

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bon Appetit

When you take in your daily spoonful
Of milk, cereal, care and worry
Do you remember the people
Who do not worry while eating -
They worry about it.

When having dinner
With egos, quarrels and tiffs
Sitting around you
Do you remember the people
Locked in prison cells
For someone's fault or theirs.
They too have dinner
But with walls for company.

While music to the ears
Pleases some people no more,
Artillery and gunshots
Abuse and injustice
Wails and stifled cries
Are all that some others get.


This image is very relevant to the poem. Please do visit.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for permission from the artist to add his/her image on my blog.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Separated... United

The following came up in two totally different moods. Yet I am publishing them together.


How good it feels
To hold you tight
And fall asleep.


Everything that can go wrong
Is going wrong.
Aah! Murphy's Law.
That means there is hope.


PS: While thinking about a title for this post, I remembered the phrase "Two of a Kind". It turned out that my understanding was incorrect.

The definition is:
Very similar individuals or things, as in Patrice and John are two of a kind--they're true hiking enthusiasts.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

How To Read a Book in Ten Days

No... this post is not about speed-reading. It just talks about the different speeds at which different people read books.

Many of my friends often tell me that when they pick up a book, they cannot put it down before completing it. I however am not able to do that. Because of that, I finish much fewer books. And sometimes, that makes me feel at a disadvantage to these "pick-up-and-finish-it-off " kind of readers.

Recently, I completed reading "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. I read that book over about 3 months - during which time I completed another book, gave my end-semester exams, traveled to Washington DC, traveled to India... To cut the list short, it would suffice to say that I put the book down many a times. In fact, there definitely were times when I did not feel like picking the book again.

So that was my style of reading the book. However I fail to see any other suitable way of reading it.

During all the time when I was not literally "reading" the book, but was still reading the book (as in when answering the question, "What book are you reading these days?"), I used to live with the characters of the book. Unlike many bestsellers, this book did not have a racy plot to keep one hooked as to what the next event would be. But the characters were strong - so strong that I could feel their presence in my daily life. Many a times, I wondered how Hank Rearden would have reacted to the situations I faced. Or another time, was I being like Jim Taggart when I did something despicable. There were moments when I would feel down and then half an hour of reading the book would turn my emotional "wheel of fortune" by 180 degrees. The same happened in the other direction too.

In sumary, I cannot think of a way by which I could have felt these feelings if I had read this book in one go.

Presently I am reading "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie. Saleem Sinai - another beautifully sketched character. And the many others who happen to be in his life. None of them are spectacular people - each of them are riddled by great defects of character or spirit. But that makes them lifelike. These days, I return to Saleem's world when I am alone. Every time, I spend very little time with them. Yet it feels like time well spent.

One of my friends gets surprised that I have still not finished the book. But I think that finishing the book would mean bidding farewell to these people. And probably that's why I do not hurry the affair.


1. While writing the post, two books came to my mind which were the complete antitheses of my above stated idea. One which I actually finished in 2 days. But I do not find the Hero of the book, whatwashisname, returning to my life at any time. The book - Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code.

Another book, an autobiography(?), after going through the first few pages of which, I wondered how the person writing it was only having righteous thoughts in his mind from the day he was born. Or was he downright lying by not stating everything on his mind. An injustice for an autobiography I thought and hence I did not finish the book. The book - A P J Abdul Kalam's "Wings of Fire"

2. In the interim period (i.e between the initiation of this post and its' final publication), I chanced upon a post by a fellow blogger. I cannot tell you how happy I felt to find my sentiments mirrored by another.

Caption: "Immersed"

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Recently, two dialogues from two different movies struck me as inspiring. Quoting them here.

1>> The last line in the trailer of "Flash of Genius" goes as follows

"Makes you wonder what makes a man succesful?

Brains? Talent?

Maybe it's some other thing."

The trailer:

Flash of Genius

2>> From the movie "Kung Fu Panda":

"Yesterday is history
Tomorrow is a mystery
But today is a gift

That is why it is called present."

Who says you can't talk sense and be funny at the same time?

The British are the way they are...

Here's a hilariously written article that I chanced upon recently. It's about how Londoners welcome the summer after a cold spell of winter. And how they get crazy if the summer gets too oppressive (which is something we Indians are regularly used to.)

I'll quote the lines which were highlighted in the original article - they'll give you an idea about the article. A good two lines surely - at least they made me read the article.

"The British are the way they are because our climate is damp, dour and undemonstrative"

"If we consistently had summers like they have in Rio, we wouldn't just grow bananas, we'd go bananas"

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

On the Look Out

I always maintained that watching English movie trailers is a fantastic way to pass your time. Regardless of whether the movie is good or not, trailers are always 100% entertainment. The Apple Trailers website is a cool place to get to see a lot of trailers. Posted on my entertainment blog are a few which caught my eye when I visited the site for the first time yesterday.

Sunday, July 13, 2008



Smiles back at me

Aloo chaat in hand

Watching cars pass by.

Inhaling fumes all day

As he dishes out his fare

To hungry wayfarers.

His smile is real

But his life is not.

(written during my Kolkata trip in June 2008)

The Need To Live





‘She is bedridden for a year.’

‘But it is good that he did not suffer too much.’

‘Which hospital?’

‘Visiting hours?’

‘Her eyes were completely blank.

She didn’t even notice that we were there.’
In a city of ten million people,

Death is a daily occurrence.

But every so often,

A child is born.

And all one needs

To restore the will to live

Is to stare with wonder

At the smile of a child.

(written 24th June 2008, during my Kolkata trip)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Here are two samples of Haiku that I came up with - the first one is inspired by a prayer book that I read.


Bring me to that moment
where I am at peace.
And let me remain there.

I found the secret of living -
In one go,
let it all go.


The sight of the twisted toothpaste at my friend’s place reminded me of my mom. By habit, I always follow instructions while squeezing paste out of a tube – "squeeze from bottom upwards". This results in the tube always having a uniform shape. However, back when I was in school and had just started having my own room and toilet, there were days when my mom would use my tube of paste. And on those days, the effect on the toothpaste tube would be devastatingly different. It would look stricken by some disease, with many contortions here and there. In one day, my mom would distort all my efforts at uniformity.

I tried to bear with my mom’s habit at first. But later, I took a strict stand – if she was to use my paste, she would have to use it my way. After repeated reminders, my mom finally learned to use toothpaste in my fashion.

That was years ago. I now wonder how my mom would have felt when her little child, who she had taught to walk, eat, talk, even brush, started scolding her about the proper usage of a toothpaste.

PS: This pic came up in Google Images when I searched for "toothpaste". I just had to post it. I thought that the following caption would create a nice connection with the above post:
"With its' twists and turns, life goes on..."

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Memories Pops Out of Nowhere

On my visit to Kolkata,
Memories pop out of nowhere.

One day,
Car stuck at random intersection.
Tap at car window -
Hawker selling fare,
Sweet fruit called 'Aash Phol'.

As kids, we would spend afternoons
Devising ingeneous strategies
To bring these fruits
Down to earth.
'Fruits' of our labour,
Of another summer holiday
Long gone past.

Another day,
An expert driver
Takes us through
The winding roads
Of a short-cut.

I read the signs
And I notice
The name of the road -

A friend lived there,
A friend with similar tastes
In music and life.
He would always invite me home
But I never went
Giving one excuse or the other.

That day
I crossed his street
For the first time.
But our paths do not cross anymore
And probably never will -
But who knows?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Stumbling upon some Haiku

A book put up on the exhibit section at our library caught my attention. So I picked it up and read the blurb at the back. It was as follows:

Natsume Soseki’s Kusamakura follows its nameless young artist-narrator on a meandering walking tour of the mountains. At the inn at a hot spring resort, he has a series of mysterious encounters with Nami, the lovely young daughter of the establishment. Nami, or “beauty,” is the center of this elegant novel, the still point around which the artist moves and the enigmatic subject of Soseki’s word painting. In the author’s words, Kusamakura is “a haiku-style novel, that lives through beauty.” Written at a time when Japan was opening its doors to the rest of the world, Kusamakura turns inward, to the pristine mountain idyll and the taciturn lyricism of its courtship scenes, enshrining the essence of old Japan in a work of enchanting literary nostalgia.
It seemed interesting, so I flipped through to see if I could find some interesting Haiku.

I found the following:

Shaking down the stars
out of the spring night, she wears
them bright in her hair.

New-washed hair, perhaps
dampened by moisture from the clouds
of this night of spring.

Poem upon poem
wandering here and there
in the spring moonlight.

Now at last the spring
draws swiftly to its finish.
How alone I am.
.. and this poem, which struck a different note.
As the autumn's dew
that lies a moment on the tips
of the seeding grass,
so do I know that I too must
fade and be gone from this brief world.
( - attributed to poet other than author of the book)

I found the poems appealing and decided to share them. Then I looked at the book-cover and felt that it did justice to the book - poetry is but natural when one sees beauty.

PS: If anyone is interested, here's a book review.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mathematical Biologist

While going through a book for my research, I found the following worth sharing. (From the section on Mathematical Biology, from "Virus Dynamics" - Nowak and May, Oxford University Press)

There is a shepherd and a flock of sheep. A man comes by and asks, 'If I guess the correct number of sheep in your flock can I have one?' The shephard says, 'Please try.' The man says '83.' The shepherd is amazed; it is the correct number. The man picks up a sheep and walks away. The shepherd shouts, 'Hang on. If I guess your profession, can I have my sheep back?' The man says, 'Please try.' The shepherd says, 'Mathematical biologist.' The man is amazed, 'How did you know?' 'Because you picked up my dog.'

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Joys of Living Alone

So this is what it feels like -

Finally, I am alone at home.
And yes,
I was looking forward to it.

They say,
Change is good,
And that's what I want out of this,
- this solitary, home-alone phase of mine.

Phone lines are open.
And for once,
so are chat lines.
But these are not habits of mine.
Time to form new habits, eh?

The pen beckons
and this is created...
but this,
- it lacks the joy,
the frustration,
the repetition,
the spontaneity,
the reality and
the all-sense-pervading feeling
of dealing with a person in real-life.

Is it just me
that I feel like this?

Or maybe I am just too impatient with the pen.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tribute to a Fellow Blogger

DD started blogging sometime after I started my blog. I have been following his blog ever since. Being a musician, he writes about music on several occasions. Frankly I do not enjoy those posts much.

But sometimes, DD writes candidly about his life, his feelings and his emotions. In many of those, I have found that he has voiced sentiments similar to mine. I however, have never gone on to voice my feelings so openly on my blog. Maybe that's why I identify so much with his writings.

Keep writing DD... Salutations to you.

Here are some excerpts from posts that really "struck a chord".

... grad school matures oneself at least by a decade. May be a decade is an exaggeration, but it does transform you. With thoughts only concentrating on problems, especially algorithms and learning problems in our case, our minds are pure, getting purer.

February 2008
"My life has suddenly become empty for a few reasons. Since at times the void is getting unbearable, I am trying to spend most of my time at work, with friends or at least near people. I never estimated that living alone can get this painful"....
"Think much before you decide to do a PhD friends, it is a huge sacrifice to make for the prime years of your youth." ... "Not many can endure these long years of excruciating pain. You either do it for yourself, for someone else or pretend that you are doing it for someone else. For me, it has now become the first, and it is becoming harder every day."

But the best part is the discussion held through the comments. At the end of a dialogue between people who faced similar problems, some solutions come out.

"I was up till morning struggling on my bed, turning from one side to another praying to the gods to bless me with some sleep. Because my prayers come in most selfish occasions, they don't pay me any heed...."

A Few Good Movies

Over the past few months, I got the chance to watch a few good movies. In these movies, some particular scenes were particularly memorable. I'll relate a few of them here.

#1. Shall We Dance

The small monologue by Susan Sarandon (Mrs Clark) about "witness to our lives" towards the end of the following conversation appealed to me, as it did to others. For sake of putting context to the conversation, you may assume that this is a conversation between two friends - a man and a woman, where both of them are facing crises in their married/romantic lives, and where none have known each other for too long. Also, I shall have to concede that reading the script is nowhere near Sarandon speaking those lines in the movie.

I got the transcript of the conversation at this website, albeit after much Google searching.

Mrs Clark : are u a married man, Mr. Devine?

Mr. Devine : i was

Mrs Clark : oh what happened?

Mr. Devine : unfaithful

Mrs Clark : she hired a detective?

Mr. Devine : no no no ... when she found out. i was too far gone, so..

Mrs Clark : you are on a strange journey to redemption, Mr. Devine

Mr. Devine : and a very long one, Mrs Clark

Mrs Clark : all the promises that we make and we break
why is it, do you think, that people get married?

Mr. Devine : passion

Mrs Clark : no

Mr. Devine : that's interesting. because i would've taken you for a romantic...
why, then?

Mrs Clark : because we need a witness to our lives. there's a billion people on the
planet. i mean, what does any one life really mean? but in a marriage,
you are promising to care about everything. the good things, the bad
things the terrible things, the mundane things.. all of it, all the time,every day.

you're saying, "your life will not go unnoticed, because i will notice it."
"your life will not go unwitnessed, because i will be your witness."

you can quote me on that, if you like.

Mr. Devine : sure, i will.

#2. A Few Good Men

A military drill at the beginning of the movie was awesome. You can watch it below. Overall, the movie is great and served as a source of inspiration to me when I was badly needing it.

#3. Dead Man Walking

No particular scene from the movie. But I have to give it to them for handling such a depressing subject (portraying the feelings and fears of a man on death row), and still being able to show a ray of hope at the end.

Later, when I remembered another favourite movie of mine (Shawshank Redemption), I was forced to draw some parallels between the two movies.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Life is Unfair

It's unfair how well i cook sometimes.

The other day, i was studying for my exams at home. I decided that I should cook something for lunch. Now I had recently improvised a very easy-to-cook recipe for rajma. So that's what I decided to prepare.

As it happened, when the time to eat it came, I was the only one hungry. So I decided to dig in alone. Initial tasting showed that the fare needed additional spicing. Sergeant pepper always comes in handy at these moments. And then I added something which proved to be the magic ingredient - Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato Sauce.

After that... Well, I have no words to describe the moments that ensued.


On a previous occasion, while eating burgers, P had mentioned that eating is best enjoyed when the mouth is completely full. According to him, the feeling of having all of one's taste buds activated simultaneously leads to pure gastronomic bliss.

On the day of the world's best rajma, I too tried this method of ingestion. I have to concur that P was correct.


That day, at the end of the meal, I had a feeling that usually occurred on the rare occasions of having good food in the hostel mess. On those good-food days, I kept thinking how great it would be if I could eat like a camel. That way, I would be able to eat unlimited portions of food and stock up so as to avoid the "detestable" fare dished out on other days.

But alas! Life was unfair then.

And so it is till now.



PS: The recipe for rajma is originally from here. However, there are few major modifications that I use:-
  • Instead of taking uncooked rajma, soaking it overnight and boiling it, I buy tinned "Kidney Beans" which are immmediately ready for use. Also since the rajma is almost pre-boiled, no need to use the pressure cooker.
  • Instead of taking the trouble of chopping onions, I add a whole packet of frozen "Onions and Peppers Mix". The peppers (of the green pepper kind) also add to the taste and crunch of the dish.
  • ... continuing in the same tradition, tinned "Diced Tomatoes" instead of tomato puree.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A day of Song and Video

My lab-mate A introduced me to the following song, which I promptly fell in love with. I have been listening to it for some time now.

So I searched it's video on YouTube to see whether the video was as good as the song. Which it was not. However YouTube threw up the following parody of the song, which I thought was absolutely fantastic. Enjoy:

Then again, while searching on YouTube, I found some videos which were as good as their songs. So enjoy them too.
  1. Closer by Travis. (unfortunately this does not allow embedding of the video)
  2. New Shoes by Paolo Nutini

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


There was a poetry submission contest for Virginia Tech's grad handbook. They specifically stated that "ideal poems would be haikus, 3 lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables."

I found out a little about Haikus and read some at

Then I went on to write my first three Haikus.

Simple tea
with friend by side
smells better.

Words clash.
Then eyes meet.
Smile wins.

My new friends
meet old friend.
River and ocean.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Song Picks

Here are two highly recommended Harry Belafonte songs -
  1. "There's a Hole in My Bucket" is slow, sweet and really makes one laugh.
  2. "Jamaica Farewell" is a classic. Added on Dad's request.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

PS: Those subscribed by RSS might not get to see the embedded Seeqpod player above. Visit the blog to access the media.

Demanded With Love

I had the following conversation recently. In it, I received an unusual request. Actually it was more of a demand.

Initially, I was taken aback by the request. But I understood that only a person who really loved you could make such a request.

Read the conversation to find out.

NOTE: The conversation was in Bengali so I am firstly reproducing it verbatim in the mother-tongue. On request, my father translated it into English too. You will find the English version below.


me: recently shorir ta khub ekta bhalo thakche naa

didi: chi chi chi.. baaje desh. ekebaare baaje desh. sustho shobol chele-ke niye rugno kore dicche. ami bolchi kriti... tumi ekkhoni phire esho.

me: hee-hee-hee

d: naa shotyi kotha.... by the way, jaano ekhon ami 72.

me: (ami mone mone bhabi je 72-er ulto hocche amar boyesh... kintu naa, amar boyesh to 27-o naa)

didi: (continuing) oboshyo ami not the least bit sad about that. haan ei komor-e byatha, paaye byatha ei gulo beshi holey tokhon kharaap laage.

m: ki je bolo didi.. tumi 72 hotei paaro naa... onek onek kom... anyways amaar khobor shunecho ki? june-e india aschi... tokhon dekha korbo tomar sathe..

d: haan shei khobor taa peyechi tomaar maa'r kaache... maa khub excited hoben. ekmatro chele bole kotha... amader barite ele tomaake alu-bhaat-e khawaabo... jeta tumi eto gorbito hoye tomar okhaner shob bondhuder kaalkei khaiyeccho.. shotyi kriti, tumi odbhut chele botey.. lok dekey alu-bhaate khawaao...

me and d: ha ha ha

d: accha shono to kriti.. ami bhabchi tumi june maash-e koyek din-er jonno ashbe.. ek du baar amaader sathe dekhao korbe.. abaar jei ke shei... abar shei phone-er opekkha... aar dekha petey gele ek bochor wait kora...

naa... tumi ebaar eshe amar sathe dekha koro naa...

me: maane?

d: naa tumi amar sathe dekha koro naa. ei tumi chole jawaar pore amar prothom-e khub dukkho hoyechilo.. keno kriti chole gelo USA-te. o ekdom theek kore nii... tarpor ekhon aste aste obhyesh hoye geche..

aar abar tumi dekha kore USA pherot choley jaabe... abar shei shuru theke obhyesh korte hobe..

naa tumi amar sathe ebaar dekha korbe naa..

me: accha theek ache korbo naa

d: naa koro naa.. taai bhalo... accha kriti, tumi jodi phire porashona shesh kore India pherot asho jeta ami 100% sure je tumi phirbe naa, tumi aar koto bochor-e phirbe?

me: aar-o 4.5 theke 5 bochor...

d: paaaanch bochor? ho ho ho.. taa holey to totodin-e tomaar didi chobi hoye jaabe..

me: ha ha ha

d: naa eta ami sure. tomar dada oboshyo eeya boro ekta frame kore amar bhalo chobi lagaben... jokhon taar bou shundori chilo

me and d: ho ho ho ho



me: didi, I am not keeping all that well lately.

didi: Tsk...Tsk...Tsk...I am not at all surprised. Simply awful country you have decided to go and do your Ph.D. in, simply awful. Look they are making a healthy person sick. I am telling you again. Come back as soon as you can, when you still have a chance.

me: hee...hee...hee

didi: don't snigger like that; I have given you a very good piece of advice. By the way, you know I am running 72?

me: (I mentally calculate that if I interchange the digits of her age, I get my age... 27... Oops... I am not even 27.)

didi: (continuing) ...except when I get the occasional joint aches and pains, that’s when I do feel a bit down in the dumps.

me: Come on, didi, you cannot be 72. you are years younger. Anyway, I am coming to India, when we can meet, just like old times.

didi: I have got the good news from your mother, who is naturally very excited about it. I have decided that when you come, I shall treat you to parboiled rice and mashed potatoes, just like you seem to entertain your guests with in the USA. You really are the limit, Kriti, and the funny thing is that your friends seem to like the stuff, according to you. I really can’t understand it at all.

me and didi: ha ha ha

d: now, seriously, though, Kriti... I know that when you will come for your short trip in June you will probably visit us a few times, we will more than likely relive the old times, then you will have to go back to the states...back to square one ...the same old yahoo/Google talk routine...and then wait another 12 months or so before we meet again, I am beginning to think that we better not meet when you come home...

me: what do you mean didi?

d: we will have grown accustomed to your presence during your stay in June/July... suddenly, you will have to pack up and go back to the USA...then we in Cal will have to again start living without you being in our don’t meet me this time when you come home.

me: OK, if that’s the way feel, I shall make it a point not to meet you in June.

d: No, please don’t... that will be far better...but tell me Kriti ,if you do come back to India after completing your course – I am of course 100% sure that you won’t come back to settle in India -how many years will that be?

me: another 4.5 to 5 years

d: fiiiive more years... ho ho ho... By then your didi will be a photograph on the wall

me: ha ha ha...

d: No I am dead sure... Of course your dada will put up a photo from much younger days, when his wife was far better looking than now... You can’t blame him, poor thing...

d and me: ho ho ho ho


PS: If anyone wants some short pieces in Bengali/Hindi translated into English, contact me. I'll request my father to do the translation. And he usually enjoys it quite a lot.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


At this moment, I am hoping that this will inspire me...Hobbes: Do you have an idea for your story yet?
Calvin: No, I'm waiting for inspiration.
C: You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
H: What mood is that?
C: Last-minute panic.

(Bill Watterson: The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Seeq and Ye Shall Find (The Beatles)

Listening to music on Seeqpod, a recent favourite pastime of mine.

"I'll listen to the Beatles today."

I search on Seeqpod, add to playlist, add, add, add...
Many songs heard before, many new... Good! Good!
I listen while working. Arranging papers etc. Standing up.

"Hey what's this song? Doesn't seem Beatles...

But it's peppy. I listen listen..."

Advisory: You listen with good headphone or stereo system.

Me tapping feet, jiving body. "Oye. Take care, this = workplace.
But what the heck...
Hey this is good.
Never heard it before."
I tap tap. Jive. Jive. (Decently)

"Hey lyrics meaningful too...
Search Search. Wiki. Wiki.
Oh! this (Within You Without You) is Beatles music."
I search more.

Lyrics meaningful too. You read. Read. While listening.

ARTIST: The Beatles
TITLE: Within You Without You

We were talking
About the space between us all
And the people
Who hide themselves behind a wall
Of illusion
Never glimpse the truth
Then it's far too late
When they pass away

We were talking
About the love we all could share
When we find it
To try our best to hold it there
With our love, with our love
We could save the world, if they only knew

Try to realize it's all within yourself
No one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small
And life flows on within you and without you

We were talking
About the love that's gone so cold
And the people
Who gain the world and lose their soul
They don't know
They can't see
Are you one of them

When you've seen beyond yourself
Then you may find, peace of mind is waiting there
And the time will come when you see we're all one
And life flows on within you and without you
I read more.

"Mashup of the song created later by famous artist.
What's mashup - some sort of remix?"
I search search. Wiki. Wiki.

"Mashup = music of one song mixed with lyrics (a capella) of another...
But the version I am liking = by ATOM. Who's that?
Google search: Website containing more remixes by ATOM.
May be good listen for later and for dance nights."

Original song (very slow):

Video of Mashup (for Blog decoration):

PS: Wonder whether my Boss at previous workplace has listened to this. And what he has to say about the remix.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Growing Up Again

“You think you got into the team because of your abilities? Think again. The list was made by us and sent to the Gymkhana.”

“I always told you that this guy (referring to me) was not up to it. We should never have put his name on the list.”

“You cannot leave the post just because you want to. The Hall gave you the post... and you better live up to the name of the Hall.”

“We don’t tolerate any attitude. If we say so, not a single person in the Hall will talk to you. How would you like that?”

“If you can’t do it, quit. People will curse you for a few days and then they will forget it.”

“Your first priority is academics, you say? Then why the hell did you take up the post? I had warned you earlier...”

“Kid, I believe in you. You can do it.”


The first year in the Senior Hostel was a confusing and trying one. My extra-curricular ambitions had overlapped with the political ambitions of the Hall. And both of these bulldozed any academics ambitions that I might have had.

I had to make some choices then – the one between academics and extra-curricular being of foremost importance.

Yet, I was not ready to make a choice. I was too afraid and tried to keep one foot in each boat.

My seniors, like all seniors, tried to help me. They counselled, they advised; when they saw it was no use being soft, they were tough and unforgiving.

Unfortunately, I did not know whose advice to listen to. I wanted to win everyone’s heart with my actions and behaviour. I was always reminded of my years at junior school, where all the teachers adored me. But however much I tried, I could not find that loving care and guidance in my seniors’ behaviour towards me.


It took me some time to realize that I would need to earn that love.

I learnt that I needed to prioritize – not just for my own good, but for others too. My choices would affect the ambitions the others; and for this alone, I needed to act responsibly.

I learnt a lot of life from my seniors. The learning was tough but it was a part of growing up that was necessary for me. That time, I was afraid to discuss such stuff with too many people. But now, a good many years have passed. On my side, a sense of love and respect lingers on for my seniors. They too will have overlooked (or will overlook, in the future) my many flaws.

So now is a good time to write about the problems I used to face then. But the main reason why I write about those times is that currently I am in another phase of learning – another necessary learning curve. As some of you might have guessed, right now is not the correct time to dwell on the details. And to those of you who know, and are helping me on the way, I just have one thing to say – thanks.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Fellow Human-Being

Due to my work in the field of Biomedical Engineering, I need to read up a lot of Biology from time to time. In the past two weeks, while reviewing 2 different topics - Plaque Assay and PCR (both extremely common and routine procedures followed in Biology labs worldwide), I was surprised to find that the inventors of both of these had won Nobel Prizes. I came to the conclusion that "Biology is full of Nobel Prizes" and that I should not be so surprised the next time I stumbled upon a Nobel Prize winning achievement.

I went on to find out a little more about the inventors and I was rewarded by a speech by the inventor of PCR - Kary B. Mullis. Such speeches by such "great" people are usually motivational; this one is too. But as I went through the speech, I realized that even such "greats-s" go through the same emotions and share the same insecurities as most ordinary people. Unlike some people whose autobiographies I started reading recently and had decided not to finish, here was a person who seemed to be just one of us. (In both A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's "Wings of Fire" and Paramhansa Yogananda's "Autobiography of a Yogi", I did not find anything which I could identify with from my own life. Of course, I read only the first 20 pages of the latter.)

The full speech is at I highly recommend reading it. It might not be anything earth-shaking in that it just gives a glimpse into the mind of a fellow human-being - but is not that great enough!

(I have also extracted some of my favourite parts below.)

"The books of the great scientists," he said, "are gathering dust on the shelves of learned libraries. And rightly so. The scientist addresses an infinitesimal audience of fellow composers. His message is not devoid of universality but it's universality is disembodied and anonymous. While the artist's communication is linked forever with it's original form, that of the scientist is modified, amplified, fused with the ideas and results of others, and melts into the stream of knowledge and ideas which forms our culture. The scientist has in common with the artist only this: that he can find no better retreat from the world than his work and also no stronger link with his world than his work."

In one of our last experiments before we became so interested in the maturing young women around us that we would not think deeply about rocket fuels for another ten years, we blasted a frog a mile into the air and got him back alive.

The conundrum which lingered throughout the week-end and created an unprecedented desire in me to return to work early was compelling.

I wasn't sure about the law, but I was pretty happy working at Cetus and assumed innocently that if the reaction worked big time I would be amply rewarded by my employer.

Anyhow, my problems with Jennifer were not getting any better. That night was no exception to the trend. I drove home alone feeling sad and unsettled, not in the mood for leaving my job, or any big change in what was left of stability in my life. PCR seemed distantand very small compared to our very empty house.

For three months I did sporadic experiments while my life at home and in the lab with
Jennifer was crumbling. It was slow going.

The first successful experiment happened on December 16th. I remember the date. It was the birthday of Cynthia, my former wife from Kansas City, who had encouraged me to write fiction and bore us two fine sons. I had strayed from Cynthia eventually to spend two tumultuous years with Jennifer. When I was sad for any other reason, I would also grieve for Cynthia. There is a general place in your brain, I think, reserved for "melancholy of relationships past." It grows and prospers as life progresses, forcing you finally, against your grain, to listen to country music.

And now as December threatened Christmas, Jennifer, that crazy, wonderful woman chemist, had dramatically left our house, the lab, headed to New York and her mother, for reasons that seemed to have everything to do with me but which I couldn't fathom. I was beginning to learn tragedy. It differs a great deal from pathos, which you can learn from books. Tragedy is personal. It would add strength to my character and depth someday to my writing. Just right then, I would have preferred a warm friend to cook with. Hold the tragedy lessons. December is a rotten month to be studying your love life from a distance.

As he had learned all the biochemistry he knew directly from me he wasn't certain whether or not to believe me when I informed him that we had just changed the rules in molecular biology. "Okay, Doc, if you say so." He knew I was more concerned with my life than with those cute littlepurple-topped tubes.

In Berkeley it drizzles in the winter. Avocados ripen at odd times and the tree in Fred's front yard was wet and sagging from a load of fruit. I was sagging as I walked out to my little silver Honda Civic, which never failed to start. Neither Fred, empty Becks bottles, nor the sweet smell of the dawn of the age of PCR could replace Jenny. I was lonesome.