Friday, November 27, 2009

Holiday Shopping!!

With holiday season round the corner and Christmas about to ring its bells, holiday gift is the talk of the town. Now for those of you to whom this time of year is the full moon night of wish fulfillment and heartwarming gifts, they need not worry, but for those of us, who are awarded with useless souvenirs and tchothkes, the holiday season is nothing short of a scary Halloween party. Close your eyes and luxuriate in the grim memories of age old chocolates, expired gift cards, customized pj's. Aren’t they a delight to reminisce? Ah…Not so much, you might say. So buckle up butter cups and bring worldly order to your gift ideas. Here are some tips for choosing the perfect gifts for someone special.
1. Grandparents hate skydiving gift certificates and children hate those Christmas socks and lunch boxes. So keep in mind the age of the person while choosing gifts.

2. Even an inexpensive gift look good if wrapped well. So wrap it up gals, use your imagination, get vibrant wrapping papers and include a small note of how much you care about the person you are giving the gift to.

3. With recession in its full swing take full opportunity of the holiday sale and buy your gifts early. You may get a great gift for some one special at a mind-boggling low price.

4. Check online for store deals and get those coupons printed before you hit the shop. Internet shopping is good too.

5. Do not repeat last year's gifts. You can give your old gifts to somebody provided it is well wrapped and well kept and unused.

6. Never wrap anything you find at home. Remember a map of New York is a lousy gift to give.

7. Investing on a pair of sexy hot pink underwear for your adorable boyfriend is complete no-no.

8. Every person has some interests and hobbies. Think about the interests of the person before choosing gifts for him/her. Remember your wife will hate a microwave oven or a Good Housekeeping Guide DVD. Instead give her a perfume, a book by her favorite author or a Macy's gift card.

9. Chocolates, flowers, wine, jewelry and books are evergreen gifts.

10. Give some local love. Choose local and seasonal gifts that are en vogue for your friends and loved ones.

Lastly, choose your gifts judiciously. Be prudent and not extravagant. Don’t forget that gifts are the tokens of love; be sure that you choose the right tokens for your loved ones. Happy shopping!!

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Trash Superpower!

Doesn’t it feel just fabulous to know that we can win the Nobel Prize? So what if the prize comes for filth and grime. As long we get the award, it doesn’t really matter on what subject it has been awarded. Everything is fair in Nobel and War! Shouldn’t we be proud that we, the citizens of India, have successfully polluted our country to such an extent that even Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had to curtsy to our success and say that “I think our cities have the dubious distinction of being the dirtiest cities in the world. There is no doubt about it. But if there is a Nobel Prize for dirt and filth, India will win it.”

It seems that our minister-ji is a good-Joe who knows it all, and like the rest of the country, brushes off any responsibility by merely saying that everything bad can happen in India. Let us delve deep into the problem ourselves and see how India became pollution and grime superpower. Well, Indians are merciless martinets about the cleanliness of their interiors. But then why are our cities so unclean and dirty? The reason is our basic character. Over the years we have learned to care more about ourselves and less about our society. The healths of our families are more important than the well being of our neighborhoods. Moreover, the neighborhood is our neighbor’s place and we derive great enjoyment in polluting it. Desecrating the neighborhood by spitting on it, throwing the smelly plastic bags at it or simply micturating on the roads can be elaborate entertainments for many. We all look at the unclean neighborhood and complain about its untidiness without realizing that it is us who pollute it. We blame the government for its lackadaisical attitude regarding pollution control and the government blames us that we, the people of India, cannot keep our society clean. And since India is a democracy, the citizens cannot be forced to accept the regulations for cleanliness which the government might create. A great deal of importance is given to the conscience of the people who ‘might’ one day wake up and realize the importance of creating a Green-India. But when India is on the verge of a population explosion and its cities are becoming dumping grounds, isn’t it time for the Environment Minister to wake up and do something instead of calumniating the citizens?

It is time that we wake up and take responsibility for the mess that we have created. As citizens we should all pledge to stop using plastics and dispose garbage properly. Recycling is indispensable to both the natural environment and us; it is the first step to clean India. Eradicating poverty and increasing the affordability rate so that a basic standard of living is set for the whole country are important steps. We don’t want to see an image of dirty, spitting, dumpster like India portrayed in the canvas of the world. It’s time to say Jago India!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Henry or Aunry!


I chose to greet you all with a French term since it seems that Bengalis have become French fanatics these days. Last week I was reading a sports report in Anandabazaar Patrika, our very own Bengali daily, and I was struck by the report on Thierry Daniel Henry, the French footballer. Anandabazaar insists that we call him: 'Aunry' and not ‘Henry’ (the normal way we say it like H-E-N-R-Y). But what I don’t understand is why Frenchisize Bengali? I mean is there any reason to do that? Keeping in mind the fact that people who ‘eat water’ (jol khae) and interact daily with Bengalis and not French, ought to care less about a metamorphosis of their language. But Anandabazaar knows it all, and perhaps thinks that to reach an elite class of Bengali people, they need to experiment with the jargon of the hoi polloi, and when there aren’t any legible ways to do that, why not introduce Spanish, French, Russian etc words in the Bengali daily and voilà—there you have it, a posh Bengali language, oft using foreign phrases (without understanding). But excusez-moi isn’t a French-Bengali combo a little unappetizing to the ears? Well, it may be to you, but not to all. In fact, the intellectual midwifery that is going on in Kolkata thrives in most cases on the use of such baseless superficiality. But if Bengalis need to speak French everyday they should better twist their tongues. I wonder how that auto driver or a cab driver or someone representing the lower middle class would pronounce 'Aunry'. I wish I could ask Anandabazaar the question.

Modernization of a culture and modernization of a language are two different things. If you have a closer look at the Bengali culture in Kolkata you will understand the dichotomy better. A great number of people in Kolkata live on pennies, a chunk of its youth population thinks that shopping malls and not libraries are the ultimate destination of life, a part of its middle class considers more the innovative ways of accruing wealth and turns a blind eye to knowledge. To them a modernization of language would mean nothing, I doubt if they would ever appreciate Anandabazaar’s bold effort of introducing a French word in Bengali lexicon. Then why do it for people who couldn’t care less about your effort and might dismiss it as a misprint? You might say that I am being parochial, but put on your thinking caps and you might also come to the same deduction that Bengalis need a modernization of their lives. They need a clean metropolitan, a less avaricious government, and eradication of signs of poverty much more than a put on superficial language at this moment. Anandabazaar should better try and find novel ways of encouraging the people to be good and responsible citizens and provide more though provoking articles in future instead of transmuting the Bengali language.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A translation of Rabindranath Tagore's song "Ache Dukho, ache Mrittu" by Barnali Saha

At the heart of pain, death and the inferno of desire

There still lie peace, pleasure and unbounded bliss.

Everyday life meanders in its usual course

The smiling Sun, moon and stars

Fill the blue with eternal bliss

Spring unfurls its beauteous shades

Waves rise to fall back

Flowers depart this life to live again

There is no loss, no end, and no exhaustion in this world

So my soul seeks to dwell at the feel of this profuse delight.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Publications

Muse India:

Long Story Short:

BellaOnline Literary Review:


Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Indian Experience

I have always felt that there is a wall, a barrier perhaps, between me and the outside world, and that barrier appears to be impenetrable at times. Many a times I have wished to tear down this wall, but each time, I have failed. I cannot deny the fact that in many ways I am afraid of the scathing real world; it is so different from my own glass house of comfort and warmth and however much I try to be a citizen of this other world I know I would be unsuccessful. The dichotomy between the real and the unreal became evident during my last India trip. I was surprised to see the new India (after three long years)—polished, brand conscious, bragging, rich and hostile and the old India—poor, emaciated, crying and broken. One who has an eye can catch these images very easily and store them or delete them from his mind. I chose to delete them temporarily and I cannot deny that I was kind of relieved to see no signs of poverty or desperation after I had disembarked in Nashville. In my one and half month tour of India I have often felt inhuman because there was nothing I could do to erase the terrible signs of pain and desperation. I tried to be philanthropic but when I thought that my one philanthropic act wouldn’t change the whole scenario, I felt helpless. What struck me most is that the canaille who are perpetually trying to act, live and pretend like the super-rich upper middle class and middle class people are successfully drowning into the false glory of excessive superficiality. In fact the whole country at one point seemed a superficial globe of unthinking people who only care about themselves. I know I sound harsh, but this is what I have felt. On many occasions I have seen signs of poverty raging in the city pavements, street children, crying beggars, specter thin child labors trying hard to survive for one more day while the unthinking, roll eating, food wasting crowd walking past them without even casting one glance. I cannot deny that modern India with its sky-scraping malls is a model of advancement, but I have to say that advancement hasn’t reached the nooks and corners of the country. Underneath the facade of avant garde gadgets and posh shopping malls, people still gloat in the darkness of caste system and racial discrimination. Women still now are the second class citizens of the patriarchal land, and however much a woman tries to explore her innate super abilities, she cannot be equal to the male members of her household. A group of women are even proud being subservient to the will of the male members. People often say that I am cynical, but I feel if one only sees good the evils of the world would go unnoticed and if that happens, there will be no opportunity for the evil to change its color. I think the quality of people in India has declined terribly. In the streets I found people yearning to find an opportunity to fight with each other and insult each other. Like the city traffic that does not care about the walkers, the city people too have learned to care less about their neighbors. I was wrong in expecting courteous behavior outside the aegis of my family. Overall, my India trip was an eclectic experience where in one hand I spent lovely time with friends and family and on the other hand it was a blow to my sensitive soul seeing the ugly part of India that no body cares about. India needs to grow up in spirit; mall culture and brand consciousness will do no good to the country until the citizens learn to respect and care about each other. Respecting women is an important thing and judging them by their attire is wrong. Growth and development come first into one's mind and as a country India needs to broaden the horizon of her mind and create generous and loving people in future. I wish that the next time I visit India the ugly scars of poverty, pain and disrespect would be eradicated from the face of my country.