Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Ghorar Dim

Dear Blog

I am writing this in Bengali because I want to. Sorry to people not understanding Bengali. 

['Ghorar Dim' means 'Horses Eggs'.]

Accha bhaabte paaro? Ekta restaurant-e shudhu dim pawa jaaya... aar shetaai khub popular ekta restaurant? Maane India-te rastaar dhaare tumi nischoy oi stall gulo dekhecho je gulo-te omelette, egg-maggi ityaadi pawa jeto. Je rokom amra kharagpur-e Anil Da'r dokaan-e khetaam.

Kintu eikhaane, ei MAARKIN JUKTORASHTRE-y, shetaakei era 'Diner' bole chalaay. Aaj raatrei ami je bhojon kore elaam, ekta besh upmarket dim bhojon / bhokkhon-er dokaan-e khelam.

Ki khelam? Accha shono - ekta double dim-er poach - opor aar neech du dik-i bhaaja - so 'runny' eggs byapaar-taa nei. Ekhane etaake bole 'over-hard' Taa hole bujhtei paarcho 'over-soft', 'over-medium' jodi keu bole, taa hole ki bojhaabe. Amaar moto bhyabachaka hote hobe naa.

Accha dim-er sathe chilo aalu bhaaja. Paatla kore kaata aalu, halka kore bhaja. Etaa-ke ekhane bole 'hash brown'.

Aar chilo duto bacon-er strip. Naa hoy eta bongodesh-e tumi naa-o dekhe thaakte paaro.

Accha ei shob gulo'r pore aar ekta jinish chilo. Pancakes. Etaar-o kono exact bharotiyo juri neii. 

Kintu jaai hok, pancakes to mishti jinish. Actual khabar taa ta hole ki daraalo? Dim aar alu bhaja. Eta khete tumi restaurant-e jaabe, kokhono bhabte paarcho? Maane kono chance aache? Nei, ami jaani. Kintu ei desh-taai e rokom. Alaada. 

To ekhane surprised hoyo naa, jodi kauke shey restaurant-e ki khelo jigesh korle, shey bole: "dim-er poach aar aalu bhaja".

Jaai boli, puro byapaar-ta kintu bhalo kore serve korey. Aar pancakes gulo ghyama banaay maairi ekhaane. Sheta pore aar-o bistrito bornon kore likhbo aar ek din.

Cholo bhalo theko.

What's up Blog!

Hey Blog

How you doin'?

Well as you know I am now in SFO - spending a 3 month period of my life here. Well I did tell you a bit about all that in my last post to you, but this time - wanted to share some statistics with you. 

The following one, I looked up on Sept. 11 this year.
  • About 3000 people died in the September 11 attacks on World Trade Center, New York ^
  • About 40,000 people live in Blacksburg, USA (that's where Virginia Tech is located) ^
  • About 230,000 people died in the Haiti earthquake, early 2010 ^
[Imagine 70 WTC towers collapsing simultaneously within 2 minutes. Or 6 towns like Blacksburg wiped out. That was the Haiti earthquake.]

OK, next one is not so grim. It is related to my love for Botanical Gardens. Loved it as a kid. Still love it. Found this one out after my visit to Golden Gate Park, SFO.
  • About 250 acres: Area of Botanical Gardens, Kolkata ^
  • About 1000 acres: Area of Golden Gate Park, San Francisco ^

  • About 5 million: Population of Kolkata ^
  • About 1 million: Population of San Francisco ^

[That means Kolkata has 5 times more people but it's biggest recreational area is 4 times smaller.]

Am curious to know if this post will reach you properly. Am sending it to you via email.

Take care. 

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Chapter 2

A lot of things going on recently. I traveled to Chicago to attend a truly international conference. Then came to California to do an internship. Experiencing new places, new people, new foods, new experiences. Office. Commute to office. California. Chicago. Long distance relationship. So many changes - so many things to write about. For a start, here some of my recent reflections/ observations/ experiences:
  • Walking at night on the roads of USA, you see many cars passing by but no people.
  • California food is good. Very good. Also Mexicans make curry very much like our mutton curry and rice pudding very much like our payesh.
  • Some people (read 'I') unwind by talking/being with their loved ones. Not having them nearby can be tough. Different time zones can make this even more difficult. 
  • Writing comes naturally in these times.
  • In the real world (as compared to grad school), money is a big motivator. Commute-time to work is equally important.
  • The engine of a BMW is very powerful.
  • Driving a stick-shift is slightly more work but more fun.
  • Some people do not like being given directions by the GPS.
  • In Chicago, I had to search for places where I liked the food. In California, I have not yet found a place where I did not like the food.
  • A Mexican burrito can be very different from the one we eat at Moe's.
  • You might meet most of the first authors on the Reference list of your publication by going to an international conference.
  • Blue Moon beer tastes good.
  • It is great fun to sing along with someone playing the guitar to 'Hotel California' - even if you are reading the lyrics off the internet.
  • If you get lost in USA but have a laptop, check available Wireless connections. You might get an unsecured Wireless connection.
  • One night, in Chicago - I took a ferry ride on Lake Michigan to get a good view of the city lights. After a while, I realized that I was more attracted by a view directly opposite the city lights - the sight of the lake at night, and the dark wavy waters spreading out into a dark horizon.
  • You got to stay at the beach if you want to enjoy the ocean. A few hours just does not cut.
  • It is difficult to take good photographs on a rocking boat at night.
  • Chicago (and lot of central USA) is flat. Really flat.
  • Some people are not scared of looking down from the 110th floor of a building.
  • Yesterday, I walked for 45 minutes along busy roads but did not get within 20ft of another individual (except for those who were in cars whizzing by).
    [Point made earlier but felt like noting it again.]
  • The Macbook has a clamshell mode. Fortunately.
  • TV has its attractions - after watching something on a large TV screen, difficult to go back to a small laptop screen.
  • Some good TV shows  I found - Bourdain, Man vs. Food.
More later. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Oye! Get in line.

The time is 1:50pm. 10 more minutes till school is out. As a school prefect, I have to excuse myself from class for dispersal duty.

Let me explain what dispersal duty is. When the school bell rings at 2, everyone is bound to make a mad rush to exit the school premises. This can be dangerous - so the dispersal must be done in an orderly fashion. Junior classes 6 and 7 leave first, then class 8 and so on. Dispersal duty prefects man important locations along the dispersal path - from corridors to stairways to exit door - and make sure the dispersal is carried out on in a disciplined fashion.

At almost all points, two lines come down the stairs, one from the left wing and one from the right. The prefects are usually at the middle of the two lines. To make sure that the lines remain separate and that there is not a mad scramble down the staircase - is the primary challenges.

I am in Class 8. I invariably am posted at one of the important locations. First the rush of Classes 6 and 7 come in. They come like a wave of foamy bubbles. With my height, I tower over most of them - and I easily pack these kids into proper lines. They try to escape but it is easy to push then back - seniority helps.

Then come my batchmates. They know me and even if I want to act tough - they will not let me. Some of them are pure villain - they want to piss me off intentionally. Some hoist the sentimentality flag - "Kriti, let me go yaar. You know how important it is that I get the first seat in the schoolbus". Some do not care whichever way - 5 minutes here and there do not matter.

By this time, the human wave is swelling. The height and average weight of the 'dispersees' has increased. I am pushed around. But I come back to my position and keep pushing people back into their lines. On my watch, not many people can break rules - it is an unpopular job but someone has got to do it.

And then come the seniors - classes 9 and 10. Some understand the need for maintaining lines (kudos to these compassionate souls). But for most, it is ridiculous that they have to obey orders from a Junior. They wear full trousers and Class 8 students have to wear shorts. The distinction is too much. The human wave knows no barrier now - the prefect is tossed and turned around. Seniors usually warn of extreme retaliation later on if we do not give in to them now. Some of the Class 8 prefects give in and just let the stampede pass. But many like me are stubborn. We resurface to face the challenge. It is a lost cause but nevertheless we do not give up.

After a few minutes of this frenzy, the wave subsides. What remains is just a trickle of lingerers - those who do not care when they get out of school. Then there are some who do not care whether they get out of school at all. We force these people out, and make sure the classrooms are empty.

The whole exercise works up quite an appetite. I wish my fellow prefects goodbye, and head back home for lunch.

----- o -------

A few days back, I suddenly happened to remember this. If I painted the picture right, you will realize that this daily routine was quite an ordeal. But 15 years later, it is now just another wonderful memory from my school-days.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Hill Station called Blacksburg

I never thought I would fall in love with the mountains.

When I was a kid, my family would make a trip about once a year. The first such trip was to Digha - a sea-beach. The trip was short - 2 days - but I was enraptured by the sea. There was something about the sea that immediately got me hooked. Moreover I was the only kid in the group - and I could get away from the elders and feel free when I was in the sea.

But we used to go to hills very often. I did not enjoy going to hills. Oh yes - it was beautiful and all that. But we would end up sitting in the car all day traveling - stay at a place with a beautiful view for a night - and then travel again next day to another beautiful sight. There were brief occasions when I could actually wander around in the mountains - never too far from the watchful eyes of accompanying parent or relative - but still I enjoyed those brief moments. The accompanying elder would take the well trodded trail while I would head into little more adventurous terrain. Alas! These moments were too short and far apart - and all in all, I did not enjoy the mountains as much as I enjoyed the sea.

And then three years ago, I came to Virginia. More precisely - Blacksburg, Virginia. Bang in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mountains everywhere. East - West - North - South - mountains on all sides. But for most of my first one and a half years here, these mountains remained out of reach - my travels were limited to the campus, grocery store etc. Trips out of Blacksburg were mostly taken by Interstate 81. And when on these Interstates, I never got the true feel of the mountains. These roads do not wind around mountains like true mountain roads do - they just bulldoze through them.

But these mountains kept calling out to me. I remember that while taking breaks from work, I used to enjoy a particularly good view of the mountains from one end of my office building in Torgersen Hall. Over the year, I saw the hills changing color - the Greens of Summer and Spring, to the Reds and Oranges of Autumns, to the Greys of Winter - I kept on staring at the wonderful mountains. Alas - from afar!

And then things started changing. I bought a bike. Started going out into the countryside. I started exploring trails. Soon after, I got a car. Now the world opened up rapidly. Random drives led me to the most wonderful of places. One particularly memorable day was when I spotted a trailhead while driving - and ended up exploring that trail by foot for around two hours.

I realized I was hooked. I now had full access to the mountains. What I had experienced as a child was not the proper way to enjoy the beauty of the mountains. To enjoy mountains one does not (I believe) need to go to a famous point and see a beautiful sight. Rather one should get lost in the vast expanses of the mountains - and then he will begin to truly feel their true beauty.