They say men are from Mars and women from Venus. Usually in Hollywoodmovies, we find that the Martians are more technologically advanced from us. I may hereby not be wrong to generalize and infer that Men are more tech savvy and hence Gadget friendly, than their female counterparts. Gadgets are any sort of device, irrespective of sizes andfunctionality, which makes tedious jobs easier and are helpful to us. At times, they are play things and at other times they are plain showoff!! But never the less, I could not resist this topic for the Top 10 Gadgets, I would like to discuss about with my readers. Today we are surrounded by all sorts of gadgets ranging from Ultra books, Thumb Drives, Cars (Yeah they r Gadgets on Wheels), Smart phones, Smart HD TV, wrist watches that tell you your heart rate and blood pressure levels, micro music players, Split Jacks for multiple charge points and headphones, USB port extenders/ sorters, Emergency Battery Chargers, LED Torch Light and Swiss military Knives etc. But I prefer to bring to you only those which caught my eyeballs. Read through and leave back your comments.

Fuji Film X Pro 1:  Inter changeable Lenses Cameras are very sophisticated and usually preferred by professionals. This is supposedly, Fuji Films first attempt at ILC class of Cameras, expected to arrive by year end with 3 Lenses. 9 more lenses would be launched within the next 2 years. Leica Lenses Mount would make it more attractive, but what is the best this is the Aluminum Slab Body with synthetic leather and the precision milled knobs and dials are operated on feather light soft touch and are made of magnesium base. This is one kool Camera to carry around and show off if you are not into photography. But then as they say, every monkey with a Camera thinks himself to be a ace photographer 😉
Sharp’s Freestyle Aquos TV: Sharp has come out with a ultra thin and light carry anywhere 20”-60” (diagonally) range of TV which receives HD video over WiFi . The 20” TV has a handle and a battery self integrated for mobility and portability. With this one Gadget, you can carry your TV anywhere and put it according to your choice, with out worrying about wires and connections. Next time you have a fight with your wife just before the cricket match, you know what to grab along with a packet of chips and the usual pillow and blanket 🙂

  1. Dish Network’s Hopper:  This is a basic DVR/ Tuner set top box just like the others available in the market, but then it has 2TB internal drive, which means 2000 hours of recordings. Its attractive feature is the “Prime Time Anytime” app, which automatically records up to 4 major preset channels at the same time and stores it for 8 days. So, now with it hopefully, the fight for the remote would be lesser now. But the best feature in it is Zigbee , which is a wireless Remote Control finder. So next time, someone hides the remote from you or it is lost in the pillows and sheets, you know where and how to find it.

 Griffin 20:  It is basically for Boom Music Lovers on the move. Griffin’s 20 is a Streaming Audio Device with a 20 watt amplifier and a left and right output stereo and a Sub Woofer, with a kool lovely white Dail knob in the middle. All you need to do is to connect it to your I pod, I pad, Apple Airport express or your simple computer and laptop system and turn your dull hotel room into a happening mood swinging music bar. Traveling can then be so much better.

  1. Lenovo Yoga: One cannot complete a Gadget List without a system involved. Yoga is basically much like your traditional Desktop mode. But the fun begins thereafter. It’s all captive touch screen interface. Windows 8 is preloaded with this being Microsoft’s serious take on desktops after a long time.13” folding laptops and ultrabooks are with complete touch screen. Touch is the new way to go.

Tobii Gaze:  You think Touch is the new In?? Think again. Tobii has come up with a Eye Tracking technology which it claims will change the future. Financial analysts need no longer endure multiple clicks data search from multitude of data available on screen for them. Imagine Surgeons and Doctors, having access to various data without having to speak out for it, while their hands are busy operating the patient. This technology claims to be beyond touch. The user just has to target objects/files on screen just by-Hold your Breath- Looking at them.  Yes you read me right. Expected to arrive in the market by 2013.

Nokia Lumia 900:  Another masterpiece from one of the basic gadgets of these days. Nokia has finally arrivedwith Microsoft Windows Phone which is LTE compatible and 3G and 4G enabled. The 4.3 inch Gorilla glass (scratch resistant) screen phone also has a-1840mAH battery for looonger battery life in order to sustain 4G networking. Both front and back Cameras are superb with 28 mm f/2.2 lens in back for wide angle clicks and f/28 in front for live video calls. The touch aspect and the body finish are an Add-on to make it irresistible.

  1. Sony Network Media Player: After smart phones, its time for Smart TVs. Sony’s Network Media Player TV comes with full internet connectivity, and is powered by Google which streams online videos and content from preloaded sites like Netflix, HBO Go, etc. It can be controlled by iOS or even an Android Smart phone. Its just like the rest of the breed. But what caught my attention was its exclusive remote Control. It’s a full backlit QWERTY keypad enabled on back side for easier browsing and a normal traditional buttons with a sensor track pad on the front. Coming soon this summer, its time TV companies changed the way the TV is remote controlled

.OLPC XO3:  Marvell and OLPC have successfully collaborated to create this tablet, which unlike the rest is supposed to be far more cheaper than the ones available in the market. To be priced at $100, to fulfill One Laptop Per Child’s mission, it has a Linux Based OS, a Laptop processor and rugged design, which supports recharge
through its solar panel or a hand crank. This low end yet smooth operator has just one major glitch- an enthusiastic production support partner! With the features and the looks, it seems to be a great handy Tab made for everyone- with or without money! Yes, we in India and maybe in China we can get better priced tabs but the sustainability and solar recharge (no idea how much efficient it is), this seems to be able to beat the race.

PhotoJoJo: Interesting little pieces of Lens which comes in Trio and is real useful for people who consider lesser bag gages and lesser sophistication when it comes to photography. On a tour or a adventure trip, we usually carry our smart phone but find Large sophisticated cameras with bigger sensitive lens to be a pain. For amateur photography enthusiast, these Lenses snugly fit over your smart phones and mobiles to give it wider range of photo shoot options. At their sizes they are weightless baggage and mighty useful too. There is 2X telephoto lens, a 180 degree fish eye lens and a 0.68x Wide angle Lens which seems to complete all requirements of the handicapability of a smart phone being made into a camera on trips.

Hope I have not bored you enough to not come back for more.. Read on and revert back for more interesting updates.


Bucket List:

I am an Misguided Bucketful of Aspirations from Not Interested In Learning Management- Centre for Masti & Shararat,New Delhi during the year 2003-05.

People in the institute either don’t remember me or ask me a single question: “Did You Pass?? How??” That is because; I am hardly ever present in the class and never studied for the exams. Friends call me an escapist while I consider my self a realist. I could never get my self to study Accounts and Economics or Statistics for the matter. Never understood anything out of it. I knew I would fail, the next day. So why spend valuable time, trying to learn something at last moment, depriving your body of priceless sleep and creating mental imbalance and blood sugar disharmony. So, leaving all my mates with books and notes, I used to go to the recreation Common Room, with a Grilled extra cheese chicken sandwich and a bottle of Cola, and watch Movies on T.V. Those were the best time, when no one fights for the channels. One such night, I saw a movie- The Bucket List by Rob Reiner, about a couple of terminally ill men and their time spent together before they died.

A bucket List is a Pact made usually with friends, about your desires and ambitions. Something you say you are going to do in your lifetime. It is a list of things you wish to do before you “Kicked the Bucket”- before you die.

Everyone passed out and got jobs, and went ahead into the hardcore corporate world, with some staying in touch, while many are lost. In our race to climb to the very top, many got married and others became parents. Some gave up their career and others made it to the very top. In this melee, most forgot to dream.

Man which is supposedly a social being survives on dreams. For dreams are the base of aspirations, which give wings to hope and directions to aim for the ultimate achievement of goals. Last week I made a general survey, and asked my friends to tell me their bucket list, and surprisingly they could not go beyond 3-5 things and most of them were mundane and very materialistically possible in very near future. It made me realize, how little time people have these days to think about themselves and exploring their desires. Friends questioned me-It’s an automated life, where you have just 6 hrs to sleep, if your baby and biwi allow you to, while your body demands more. How can you fit in a dream? How does one get time to think ahead in time, when usually one is running hard to keep up with deadlines? They tell me to stop being a dreamer and get practical. Rather be realistic 😉

To this I say – I am sorry! Aisa hi hun main! This is me and I will always let my mind fly free beyond the four stone walls of work pressure, social life, financial and time constraints. This life is not worth living, if I can’t have some time for myself and my dreams. Dreamer I was and will be till I die. Not all dreams are necessarily to be converted into action.

Read on for my Bucket List. It has some things, which if I do not do before I die, my spirits will forever wander the earth 😉 So, friends read on and make it happen.

  1. Ride a Bike to Leh/ Ladakh: The choice of bike is left free- preferably a Bullet Enfield or Triumph or a Mountain Bicycle. Leh and Ladakh are the northern most colddesert ofJ&K,India with some of the most beautiful untouched terrains and rough climate. The steep mountain roads usually covered by caravans of defense personnel are the most treacherous ones.
  2. Write a Best Seller and a chart buster Script  : The choice is multiple. I could do a book or a script for a movie and either should be critically acclaimed as well as have commercial success. I want to give back the world, a taste of what it gave me.
  3. Watch Liverpool Versus Manchester United at Anfield: I am Red Koppite. Liverpool has an enviable history of creating many good players, but presently languishing at the 5-8th position in the EPL. But as they say, real fans and family are the ones who stand by you, during your rough times. Club Soccer inEngland involves locals Firms and hooliganism and is mighty dangerous. But then “ You Never Walk Alone”. At least at Anfield.
  4. Experiencing Zero and 4 Gs: This is fantasy. You know how and where one experiences Zero gravity and 4 or more than 4 mach. Space Tourism is costly yet thriving business inRussia. Who knows, If lady Luck someday may feel so bored that she may actually amuse herself by making me win a Lottery!!
  5. Drive and Ride :  I want to ride a Harley and drive a- Take your pick- Jaguar/ Porsche/  Mustang/Ferrari at breakneck speed in the openArizona orTexas road. This means, I need to visit US of A. Waise, wont mind doing it Down Under.
  6. Own a Football team:  I want to promote soccer in cricket crazy India and discover talents from the tribal and north east belt. We have got to learn from the Japs and the S Koreans, that height and physical assets do not matter over mind. I would feel rich and great like some Oil Sheikh ( Man City) or a Russian Oil Billionaire, even if my club may not be rich!! LoL!!
  7. Visit the Highs and Lows :  I would like to Scuba dive and check that the Nat Geo and Animal Planet, were actually showing us the true picture 😉 basically, want to experience Snorkeling,  Scuba Diving to experience under water sea life and at the same time I want to climb a mountain. It may not be necessarily be Himalayan or Everest. But if it’s a fantasy, why not Mt Everest? The reason is, I am afraid of climbing down. So I would scale and conquer a mountain from where I can be air lifted back to ground earth.
  8. Opening a Sucessful Food chain:  This is very much possible and hence can be labeled as a career dream and not exactly a Bucket list stuff.
  9. Open an Orphanage School :  Again a career goal, basically. I would like to have a business enterprise which would sustain a orphanage, esp Girl Child and school them into self sustaining successful women. Readers, Beware- I would attempt bug you for donations J
  10. Explore the world with friends:  I would like to explore all the continents with all my friends and more( ie their family and add ons). But there is a special list, as to who has to be where compulsorily.

a)      Africa & Ocenia:  Sandeep  Das and Sandip Barik. I would like to Bungee Jump in NZ, cycling the mountains, rafting and swimming the lakes. Running with the Kangaroo, Chased by the Ostrich to be pecked down for attempting to steal her Eggs. And may beBondiBeach, after all the mountain and hinterland trails. It’s a dream to quit work and lose ourselves Down Under. Just that I can’t take in Beer!! AndAfrica, .. well they have Sahara n Kalahari and so many national Parks/ reserves and Mountains. Of course, will egg Sandeep Dasto try and discover Solomon’s Mines.

b)     South America Special: i) Rahul Shankar inRio at Samba carnival.

ii) Kaushik Chatterjee caught in Bogota between the Drug Cartel and the Police.

iii) Kunal Pattnaik & Om Prakash appointed as Soccer Team coach of River Plates Winners or Jr. Santos team.

iv)                Anvesh Rajput as the special Guest of honour cum Judge at the Venezuelan National Beauty Contest.

v)            Sandeep Das and Me: lost in the Amazons and arguing if Jaguars or Puma or Cougars are present these days, when actually one is eyeing us for dinner!!

c)      Asia : Ride Bicycle on the Great walls of China, Ride camels in the Mongolian desert, Getting lost in Istanbul market, laying flat on Dead Sea, Visit Israel and getting stone pelted by young Palestine Kids, etc

d)     Antractica or the North Pole Sea:  No Idea, especially with whom I should go. May be with a single beautiful female guide. Then maybe I could write my book- Happier Feet!!

e)      Europe:  I wish love happens before I ever visit it.


There are more, but I gave you the top 10, which are followed by smaller goals which I am sure I will achieve by this year end. This may be fantasy and considered by many as a waste of time, but tell me- do you actually have a list of at least 10 things to do before you die??  If no, what life are you surviving?




Dear Reader, please feel free to take out time for your Bucket List. And if possible, try and post them here, so as to share our dreams. However stupid and fantastical it may seem. Go ahead Freak Out!!

Danda Nachha

Posted: April 6, 2012 in Pitter Patter Toddling Feet!!

At times I feel as if I have been punished and deported to this southern town of Odisha which I loving refer to “Be- Reham-Pur!’ All exploration expeditions into the bowels of this city leaves me feeling nakedly exposed to rustic Telugu culture, which even if interesting, mostly is non inclusive. Working in the grand old bank of the country, I am left with very few young minds, to indulge in after office nightlife, if it can be called a life at all.

Last week on 3rd April, every one was glued to their TV sets watching the IPL opening ceremony. I was just not interested and preferred to explore the old part of the town and eventually got struck up in an impossible jigsaw of real life puzzle of a human and vehicular traffic jam. Frustrated, I dragged my bike over to the dry drain and climbed on a empty terrace of a closed door but occupied house and sat there watching the human melee. This is another favourite pass-time of mine where I sit back and observe humans and try to play something of a Sherlock Holmes 😉

Suddenly I realised the reason of the jam, as I was joined by the owner of the house on the steps, who graciously enough accepted my presence, stating “better you than the dirty mongrel”. There passed the main posse of Danda Nachha group, with everyone trying to seek their blessings.

Dont be alarmed! even I did not know the history and reason behind this cult and ended up in a discussion with the enthusiastic owner. Read on to know more..
They say, Spring is the season of Love. It is the season of Joy- the perfect season for laziness and restful enjoyment. Strangely, it’s the season of testing human limits and endurance too in the southern and south –Western districts of Odisha.
Spring usually arrives in the season of March-April(Roman Calendar), which according to Indian Calendar (saka) is the month of Chaitra.It is usually a pleasant season, with abundant fruits and green fresh vegetables available at rock bottom prices. With the financial year ending, and Odia New Year beginning, it can’t be more pleasant season. But then it is also the time for deepest devotion. It is the time for “Danda Naacha”. It is a roboust show of devotion to Maa Kali and Lord Shiva.
Devotees or Bhakts who wish to appease the Lord, carry out a silent pact with their Gods. These vows or pledges are otherwise known as “manasika” or Shahami (mansik/mannat in Hindi/urdu).In return of fulfillment of their wishes they offer to carry out the penance course of 13 or 18 or 21 days. They indulge in the act of “Danda Naachha” The word Danda in Odia means Punishment. The mortal pleasure seeking body is punished by mere devotion and will power to cleanse the soul and appease deity. Usually, Maa Kali is worshipped, thus making Shiv Mandirs the centre of prayers. Lord Shiva is the Lord of Power and Life taking destructions. The ultimate end and hence the truth, for truth shall always Triumph( Satyameva Jayate). His consort Maa Parvati is worshipped in her Kaali Avatar. It is believed that, if the ritual I carried out meaningfully and to the fullest, their wishes will come true, blessed by God.
The pact/ Vow so made are to be silent, and not to be uttered and divulged (like the schoolmates secret). The Dandua or the devotee, is to move around barefooted, wearing usually white or yellow and saffron ( other pure colours in Hindu mythology). He will not touch or be touched by anyone else, especially females. He will have just one meager vegetarian meal a day and consume water after sundown. He cannot shave. And the most challenging- he cannot sleep during the night. Basically, they shun everything earthly and live a monastic life. And believe me, it is tough and not for the weak willed. The season ends with the Bishuba or Meru or popularly known Paana Sankranti. The devotees undergo a lot of pain and hardship to appease the Goddess and get their wishes fulfilled while others do it to show their gratitude for the fulfillment of their wishes, or manasikha.
The journey starts at the nearest Shiv mandir, in absence of Maa Kali/Tarini Mandir. A special room is reserved for these people called the Kamana Ghara or Danda Gahra,where they all arrive and after a Yagyna(holy bonfire lit Puja), they are given a sacred thread which binds them into a singular family “Tera Budhuta”, despite their caste and creed. Every dandua is then deemed pure and blessed. His blessings are sought.
A typical Danda is of 3 phases, namely Dhuli Danda, Pani Danda and Agni Danda. After the inagrual ceremony, these Danduas leave the temple with the beat of Jhamura(Cymbals), Dholas(Drums) mahuri ( Pipe / Shenai type instrument) and Sankhas(conches) carrying multihued(usually red and yellow) flags and pictures of deities ordained in peacock feathers, into the afternoon sun to perform Dhuli Danda, which literally means “Penance in the Sand”for about the whole afternoon. They roll long distances on hot sand and carry out different extreme vigorous dances in the Tandav Style known as Parabha (illumination) and usually are lead by the leader called Bada Patta Dandua/Bhukta. After the Dhuli Danda, they then head towards a water body, to next perform the Pani Danda or the Penance in Water. It is only after this, can a Tera Budhuta have water. Then comes the preparations for nocturnal performances- which includes walking barefooted on burning embers and fire dances and mostly night long enactment of mythological plays-“Chadherya” which is done so as to help the danduas keep awake. They move around to many distant places to perform at many households who had earlier contacted and requested them for their holy presence. On Meru Sankranti , they return to their village and perform these acts for the last time, only this time an extreme dangerous act is carried out. A young willing devotee is hung upside down till he bleeds from his nose
All the above acts are, enacted and carried out in the extreme tribal and hinterland parts of tribal Odisha, while the Danda Jatra in Ganjam and Gajapati District is quite fun with Tiger and Ramayana costumed actors and artists having a gay time on the streets. The Thakurani Jatra of Old city is the most famous in the town of Berhampur.
I donot endorse these extreme acts and forms of devotion but do not want to protest these acts either, coz I believe in “each one to his Own” n “ Live and Let Live”. As long no life is taken away forcibly, every free Indian has the right to is form of devotion.

Now, this is a question, we usually are ashamed of admitting in public. Replies like, “What?? Me?? I aint Scared of anything!” and “You gotta be kidding, I aint gonna admit anything!” are commonplace. Even if we coerce anyone to give us a list, we get stuff like Lizard, Cockroaches, Ghosts, snakes, etc, etc.

We are humans, from earth, not superhuman from Krypton, and are always threatened or we perceive threat- big and small, imaginary or real in our daily life, and the distressing negative emotion that runs through our spine (?), can be called Fear and though its Macho never to admit it, but even tough home boys have a few butterflies in their stomach just before some events. The level and degree varies and depends on each person, as to what distressing experiences he/she has had in the past, which made certain situations scary for them. Many people fear Dark. Batman feared Bats until he overcame his fear. Indiana Jones is scared of Snakes. SRK fears criticism ;). Among such illustrious name, I guess its ok to fear and get scared occasionally. Even though, I have done some scary challenges myself like visiting graveyard at midnight and riding bike with eyes closed for a minute and want to do Bungee Jumping and other adrenaline gushing stuff, but here are experiences put puts a tiny scare in me every time they happen. Hope you have a tummy splitting rollicking, falling off the chair time, reading my list of Top 10 fears/ Scares, in no particular order.

1. I, according to my parents, have been travelling in trains since I was an 8 months child. I still travel by Indian railways for almost all journeys. It is fun, looking and meeting different people from different background and approving or disapproving yet journeying with them. Travelling in AC compartments is safe and not so happening (unless one is perennially lucky like my Friend, Sandeep Das- who is always blessed by beautiful co passengers of opposite gender), but General or second Class are full of scares. My biggest scare, on train is not getting down and losing my baggage or getting pick pocketed or losing my tickets or the train leaving without me. But, a single simple yet special sound of a clap instills fear in me like none else. The eunuchs have made it a regular business route for themselves. And I have had the displeasure of certain distasteful experiences with people from not so straight community at various parts of India. I have been tried to be picked up by rich looking uncles in cars who promised me a good time if I show them New Delhi. One Benarasi on the Ganges Ghat after the beautiful Aarti Darshan, just hung on to me like I am his long lost lover. I swear, I never gave out any unintended wrong signals, but my bad luck!! So, whenever I hear anyone clapping (eunuch’s Trademark in India), even if it’s a kid clapping in glee inside the train, I turn around and make sure, who it is. Running away to toilets or shutting your eyes hard and act sleeping doesn’t help. I wish I could pay a token (ransom) of my respect for their community for an “All India Annual Pass” for a (Eunuch) trouble free passage.

2. I dream, and usually wake up not to remember anything. After a while, I got used to it, not remembering my dreams that I was just experiencing, till I woke up and remember nothing about it- is frustrating. But I firmly believe that dreams have a meaning and come true. There are certain incidents in my life, which I have a strange feeling of fore boding / knowing beforehand, would happen. There have been certain instances, when incidents are played out before my eyes like in slow motion and I feel I have been here before and experienced this particular incident earlier in my life. I just do not remember where and how. People call it “Déjà vu”. People call it freaky. I never admit my feelings for such cases. But, when such a incident starts happening, and you cannot remember the end, but have a very very bad feeling like something real bad is going to happen, its then, that feeling I fear the most. I am helpless, as I may exactly do the same mistake, which I had done in my dreams, and the result would be disastrous and scarily enough, I cannot remember what I did!! No Doubt, even God must have given up on me. Despite so many tips (dreams) from His end, I end up on my Bums and they hurt proper badly after all the scrapes of my life.

3. I am not scared of heights. Its just climbing down is a scary proposition. I believe, climbing Mt Everest should not be a problem for me ( ok..ok.. I cant bluff), but if it had chartered flights bringing passengers down. It so happened, that once in High School while climbing down a small hill, I had slipped and had ran down the whole hill in what I understood for the first time as Break Neck Speed!! It had put in enough experience in me to never try it again. This Fear is welcome to stay in my heart forever.

 4. The Baby in Your Arms who was smiling at you when you took it into your arms, suddenly wails out at non stop speed and full volume and the mother is no where nearby and all people look at you. What has this fella done? Has he done anything wrong with the baby? Has he hurt/scared the baby? Oh My, I feel like I could also become a baby like it, and wail out in symphony. I usually am scared $hit outta my wits! Gawd, How much I hate Cry Babies wailing full volume!! Especially in my arms.

5. After Babies, it’s another cute creature, which scares me a lot at times. Dogs. Usually, I come home late night and mostly I have to walk alone as there is no public Transportation willing to drop me off at my Auto-forsaken place. Most of the times, these dark streets are guarded by the blackest, mangiest and the meanest Canine species with the loudest bark. These fleas infected fellow night prowlers, who look so innocent and likeable in the morning, turn savage and make me forget my Hanuman Chalisha at times!! The Catch 22 is if u run, you are run down and if u turn statue, the fear gets the better of you. Trying to talk to them or shout back, may seem funny but at times work.

6. The next cutest thing I hate and am scared of is- now hold your breath- Girls! While conversing (I try to have intelligent talk but sadly they call it -flirting), I at times get a bad feeling about where the conversation is headed. That is especially when the girl in conversation turns naughty and dares me to go all the way, and prove myself! I turn Dodo and have always run away scared, with their sniggering taunts and laughs of “LoL! I was Just Joking.. You mean minded fella!!” I am scared of them- mean hearted gals who can anytime wail out anything anywhere at the drop of a hat!

7. Being a Foodie, I at times party very very late night and wake up to find a creaking full tummy ready to burst and the required restroom is occupied! You realize you are at your relatives and you cannot holler at the occupant yet you cannot sit down and smile at all. You fear the unwanted! To add to the perfect situation, the singular restroom is finally yours and once inside you realize, there are no toilet papers rolls or water!! Now fear turns a new colour!! “Sadda Belly Dilli Belly!!”

 8. Wind wheezes past the ears, trying hard to ruffle my hair as I windsurf on my bike at breakneck speed. The road is empty and a very pleasant day it is indeed. I try to hum a song. And suddenly, realize the street is filled with dumb idiots and animals! Someone or something comes in front, and I apply brakes, hard. The motion suddenly goes into nano seconds of unwanted reality. The brakes do not succeed in stopping us at a distance and the approaching victim stand shell-shocked right on the path of impeding doom. The emotions that wells up in my mind, mouth and heart at that particular moment just before the impact, is fear.

9. As a child, I was nicknamed Professor Calculus from “The Adventures of Tintin” as I was (and still am) forgetful, resulting in me getting lost. I had got lost at Fairs, and Durga Puja festival crowd at Kolkata and many places, with the best being at Kalighat. As it happened, I was a very young kid and had entered the temple with my mother. I bowed down to pray and left the Temple tugging at a similar looking saree nape of a mother of an unknown brother  When She finally realized that I am not her son, she howled like a hyena! As if I am responsible for her son, who forgot to hold on to her nape! I was scared to the worst degree, with the garrulous lady bleating down my neck, no where to run and hide, and as I did not know who her son was or how he looked to help her find him and interestingly, where was I? And funnily, where is my Mom with similar sari? With fear of rebuke and castigation of being a trouble monger, tears ready to jump out of my eyelids and the heaviest heart, I tried to retrace my steps and successfully got more lost (whatever that meant), and after a lot of effort, I guess about half hour later, with all tears dried up from my eyes, some one from my family finally found me. Man, I was so happy to be discovered in that melee, but the boxed ear told a differently red tale!! Those times as a child I got scared and feared a lot.

10. There are times of physical confrontation, when the opponent is scarily reputed and looks real mean. You want to get angry to psyche yourself up, but cant. Instead fear overtakes you and you feel the blood draining out of your legs, and suddenly, surprisingly you start hearing your heart beat! You want to act and sound strong, but your voice cracks and throat chokes. You fore see yourself being hit in the face/solar plexus, and suddenly the saliva in your mouth turn bitter. My friend, dear reader, its fear!!

I know this list is Bland, but genuine. I cannot help it, if I donot consider many other situations as scary and fear them. Hope you have a better list to share.

Life as a grown up can be very boring.

I am a Banker looking into advances, deposit mobilization, technological products and High Value Customer service in a Campus branch of India’s Oldest and biggest nationalized Bank. Yeah, one need not be a Tata Crucible Champ to know which bank I work for. And please be sympathetic enough not to abuse it here on this forum, as the laptop and internet connection is provided by the above referred organisation. 😉

It is the bank for the mass with some class. Every first week rush is seen to be believed, with people literally stampeding each other to get in grab a voucher and stand in line for withdrawing cash at the earliest. I wish I could video-graph one such morning and post it online. One new colleague once witness to such a un glorified morning, asked me surprised- “Why his rush? Money taken out 5 minutes later won’t harm anyone!” Poor fellow did not know that they are usually loaners who have availed loan and want to withdraw money before bank deducts the required EMI from the savings/ Salary Account.

And trying to force them to take an ATM card is even more frustrating-“ I heard, some one a Bank Manager lost his money  when someone else withdrew his cash..” and most opted for response is “ How much do you charge for this card? No Charge?  But why should I pay annual fees of Rs.100/-? Better I come to branch, meet old friends and pensioners and have some AC cooled environ.. Why give you money for using card which helps you reduce your workload? Ok.. but I do not know how to operate a card? Lastly, I am illiterate!”

Today-2nd April, was one such day. After the initial stampede where a middle aged woman fell down and was trodden over and a pensioner lost his walking stick and two fellows misplaced their slippers in the melee, things calmed down to a certain extent.  It is when I realized the serpentine line for 5 cash counters where extending outside the branch doors, thus blocking the entrance. Staff Movement was choked up and funnily, my Branch Manager was stranded outside. Now, how do I serve my VIP Customers in this scenario? Where from do they enter? God Bless Us all!

Towards the afternoon, it rained and the branch bore an empty look. I had no pending work, as all branch report for the auditors, were being taken care of by new Trainee Officers and I was basically free. Such days are rare. No new Loans to process on the first day of New Financial Year and no customer or HNI’s to look after.

Thunder crackled. The Frog inside me suddenly started croaking out loud. There was like a magnetic force pulling me outside. Stepping out of the door, looking out towards the dark clouds, I had this sudden urge to rush out on my bike and enjoy a rain ride, with drops lashing out on my face and body and wind rushing past my hair (or whatever is left of it). Suddenly, memories of me as a school kid packing my umbrella deep inside my bag in order to save books and get wet myself and trying to be the first one stomping on the largest puddle to splash water on friends, along with memories of the school football match between Rana Pratap and Ashoka House on the wet muddy school field bought back a sigh.After the match, we had mud inside our shorts from the mud sliding 😉 Long gone are those days.

Today, I am a grown up and supposedly a respectable person. I need to behave like a banker. Be a gentleman. I cannot get wet and be a child once again, during the banking hours. Life as a grown up is boring. Incidentally, and may be ironically, Just at that time, a happy go lucky mongrel came by and after rolling on the puddle of water, it stood up shook off the excess water and walked away to the shelter below an abandoned hawker trolley. I looked up skywards, to ensure if God was smiling, and may be the mild lightning that flashed in far distance, was the sparkle of His Teeth, when He smiled at poor me.

I went back in and tried to find someone on our internal Messenger Chat service. No Luck. Thought of calling someone, but then it wont be raining everywhere, hence no one would be free enough to chat with me during the working hours. Tried to browse Facebook on my Mobile, but nothing interesting there either. At last I pinged a few friends on Whatsapp- “I hereby Challenge You to name an animal for each alphabet of English Language without Googling and mind You it should be an animal only!”

I myself started typing the answer my self on a notepad, when I realized how mundane our life has become thanks to mono focused work type, where we hardly realize that gradually we are forgetting many words from our past. I turned around, to ask my colleague, how many Nursery Rhymes he can recite fully? He was taken aback when he realized that he could remember just ‘Jack and Jill’ completely and just a couple of lines from ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and something where “the mouse Ran up the Clock”.

{I suddenly had a sweet fleeting memory of V Jalan reciting with action some gem of Rhymes at India Habitat Centre with S. Das for company in 2006 to a similar challenge.}

The purpose of writing such a boring piece, is about seeking your views on a few things- Are we glad to give up simple and minor matters of life for the sweet taste of success of Rat Race of survival? Of course, for a fellow trying to meet his target and make his ends meet in metros like Mumbai and Delhi, who cares if one knows the names of animals and Nursery Rhymes, as long he remembers his bosses and his client names and knows how to sell. Agreed. But do you at times miss theses small things or am I just being stubbornly melodramatic?

P.S.- I got answers like A for Ant, J for Jellyfish and N for Narsimha. LoL!

P.P.S.- How many animals can you name? and how many nursery rhymes do you recall? 😉 I Challenge You.

Present Day-Today. It is the best of times; it is the worst of times.

In the days of 80’s, life was simple. Almost at a standstill, as compared to today. Middle class was into jobs which released them early to enjoy evenings with family. Fathers usually returned from offices by dusk and after a relaxing evening tuning in to the radio over cups of tea and Indian snacks, discussing events at office and daily life, politics and cricket with neighbors. This changed with the TV arriving in India. In those times the evening news was sacred and so were the cricket matches. For those who came in later, we had just one channel- the Govt sponsored- Doordarshan.

Serials and pieces were made to entertain with values and there was no craze for TRPs and ads. It was the time for Buniyaad, Hum Log, Ramayan, Chitrahaar and programmes in the early 90’s like Bharat ek Khoj, Malgudi Days, Waagle ki duniya, Neev etc. Those serials employed the best talents available, who are present day big shots and the production was usually Govt. funded and hence were based on values and culture. Home entertainment was in its infancy. This went a step further when ZEE and Sony put their foot on the door and took it to another level in the 90’s. Scenes of Bush bombarding Iraq and Kurds running for their lives while oil wells burned in Kuwait was there right in our drawing rooms. CNN and BBC were introduced to us while Mudroch’s Star prepared for the real assault.

With the economy being liberated by Shri P.V Narshima Rao , markets opened up to bring in more corporate jobs, which demanded people to put in longer hours at offices, and hence TV lost out on sizeable office going male viewers towards the late 90’s. The Colour Television with remote control was available for longer hour, especially the whole afternoon for gossip weary females at home. (Moreover, with more money coming into the house, maids were employed who saw to the house hold work.) Corporates, Brands, channels and production houses saw a brilliant opportunity for a virgin market. DD held fort till the mid decade, but finally when the revenues dipped, so did the quality and content. Serials like The Jungle Book, Stone Boy, Mahabharat, Chandrakanta, etc still had some value on content. But then the economy changed, and so did the TV sector. Newer talents were encouraged to try out TV as actors, script writers, and production units. Experimental serials like Shanti, A Mouthful of Sky, Swabhimaan were launched in the latter half of the decade and became instantaneous hits, thus paving way for independent production houses like Balaji Telefilms to make a mark.

The advertisement sector, which usually rested on its laurels by making just a couple of ads for a client in its countable list of limited clients, now had switched gears.  Entry of Pepsi and Coca Cola, started the newest cold war. “Nothing Official about it”, but ads and campaigns changed every quarter and bought in more revenue for the high TRP rated serials. Newer genres like horror, science–fiction, musicals, comedy and game shows were experimented with success. News still was not sold, had quality and was unbiased to some extent.

It was during this time the Gen X were growing up and completing their studies in the numerous upcoming Engineering schools and MBA Colleges. 2000 saw IT recruitments weaned away these people from home away to far off metros and made the remote control even more un-fought for. The limited viewers didn’t have any different occupation to engage them and watched TV serials to wile off time. They were literally helpless, option less and had nothing else to do. It was during this time they were bombarded with repeat noon slots of yester night’s still foaming soap, which had no repeat value and lots of ads.  Stories with content were somehow dying away. Soaps like Kyun Ki.. Kasauti..Kusum, KumKum, etc didn’t seem to have any ending. In show subtle advertisement started being in your face. Wardrobe and jewelry were sponsored by branded houses. An hour slot had 20-25 minutes for ad breaks. But who cared, when one has captive audience gone dumb, and the producers gone deaf with the rustle of big fat cheques.  During the later 2000’s it became worse. No doubt newer sector and avenues for employment opened up providing plethora of jobs to numerous cross sections of talents related to TV and motion production.

But the new story was based on Women’s Liberty. Strong women characters were especially developed. Vamps were a special breed and always on move with thousand schemes, which invariably failed before the good woman. This was lapped up by the office going but home early women folks and the bechari option less housewives, probably because it provided wings to their unrealized aspiration values. In these winners of good female modern corporate bosses yet managing homes nicely characters, people identified with their hidden unconscious aspirations. They too wanted to be liberated from the confines of their homes and breach the glass ceiling in their climb to the top of the corporate ladder. They too aspired unconsciously to succeed in managing office and Home with aplomb.

The hitherto vanished males returned in groups to catch up foreign productions and unrelated one off episodes of serials like- Friends, Sienfield, BattleStar Galactia, The Office, Lost, Star Trek, etc. Fan clubs were formed to take out time to follow F1 n EPL. Mujhe is Jungle se Bachao, Bigg Boss, Roadies, Emotional Atyachaar, etc too tasted differential level of success, as they tried to touch the rough side of life behind the cosmetic smiles. People, who now are so busy in life, wanted instant gratification- Test cricket gave way to T20. Consumerism predicted kids and teenage students and youth loved to see their stars and their façade ripped off in public. Sting Ops and scams were cooked up and exposed. Old diluted wine was re packaged and re repackaged and presented with new platter. It was no longer the days of creativity and content value, but salability of the entire package. Economics decided art. The simple theory of demand and supply ran riot, while content was thrown out of the window, and advertisers called the shots. Many even copied foreign concepts, like Kaun banega Crorepati( Who wants to be a Millionaire), Big Boss ( British Big Brother), A minute to win it, Biggest Losers. Interestingly, concepts like Twilight were Indianized in Pyaar Kii Yeh Ek Kahaani and Princess Diary in Dekha Ek Khwaab and bought the true idea of art without borders to rural India too. The well researched production houses now started making serials based on strong regional accent which have predominately Jat, Rajasthani, Gujrati flavor, to reign in their fan base.

The industry was growing at a rapid speed, with few real gems making the successful transition from serials to big screen and back successfully. SRK , Vidya Balan, Sekhar Suman, Gracy Singh, Rajiv Khandelwal, P Desai are a few names. Huge sums were spent on lavish sets, wardrobe, costume, jewellary, production and of course songs and dance in serials. Reality shows, became a launch pad for movie promotion and earned extra value and money. Present day, TV serves total commercial interest only. Its an Industry in its own right, with its own audience and fan base. The Pay was good as was the revenue and fame generated. TV had made hitherto unknown faces into household names. Babies were named after TV Series characters.

Today the most awaited and salable product of Sony Set Max is IPL. Nothing sells like cricket in India. Moolah raked in 2 months is instant and enormous. Followed by Dance India Dance and many reality Song Shows.

Everything seems to be in a fast forward mode today. Teenagers & males don’t agree to have watched soaps, and prefer to spend time on video and computer games. Females discuss soaps on Trains and busses. Everyone moans that serials are a waste of time and yet TRPs and Revenue tell a different tale. People still watch. Even spirituality is available at a flick of a button. To each his own Choice. Every channel has its followers. No Doubt Baba Ramdev is a brand & Brahma Kumaris a growing cult. People even watch India TV for comic Relief. Such is the state of affairs. But did we have time to sit back & look at the scenario from a different angle?

It wouldn’t be out place to say that we are the Idiots and are being governed by the box. News channels produce and sensationalize news to motivate and create hysteria while the soap ladies decide the latest fashion trends and lifestyle of the middle class. With blogging and social networking sites bearing proof that the modern audiences demand changes fast and is getting complex. Media and TV controls us and we are unconscious of it. May be because we are being led into believing what we are seeing.  Where to draw the line is the tough part but when it comes to the Indian Television Industry which is now a proper Industry is tough to stop. The blitzkrieg of new channels and their content is highly questionable. This is a time that we need to decide whether we want to see what we get or we choose wisely and caution the media to show what should be aired. The question needs to be answered fast. Are you listening?

A kid can be madly excited when his Family shows love in the form of the realization of dreams. I always dreamt of being accidentally locked up in a sweetmeat shop or getting lost in a Russian fairy tale type chocolate castle ( now do not raise your eyebrow-I told you i am a Foodie). It was  mid year 1989 in Kolkata when at home they prepared Chicken Egg Rolls at home. We were a joint family basically from Orissa, but settled in Howrah. When delicious street foods are served at home with no limit on the intake, I guess a glutton like me runs amok like a bull in a China shop. That evening, after early dinner, I left West Bengal for ever with my Father and my kid brother. It was in the train as it left the ever busy Howrah station, sitting by the window, I realized the pain of loss for the first time in my life. And also for the first time in my life, I practiced the art of crying silently and let go a few tears through an utterly choked throat and a suddenly running nose. Bhubaneswar  happened. Not by design but by destiny.

I laughed my way through the interview at Buxi Jagabandhu English Medium School, Bhubaneswar. Weird things happened. Coming from a strict Convent ICSE school, naturally I was good at English, but the medium and language used at school here was like Sanskrit to me-spoken and used by all –known to me but I dint know how to properly use or  write it. The fear for this singular language, which sadly is my mother tongue, gradually became a psychosis and till date I can read only the name of the newspaper but never attempt to read the rest of the content until I am threatened to look down the barrel of a loaded gun. I even passed my matriculation exams with poor scoring Hindi rather than better mark fetching Oriya.

I started the school on day one with a similarly fated skinny artist from Durgapur named Surya Kant Rout and a very bright jolly fellow named Abhishek Patnaik and a firebrand of a girl called Chinmayee Tripathy. We were the 4 new entrants in the class that year. My abhorrence of Oriya perhaps made me the only fellow who studied in every section of the class in the whole period of schooling. It was a blessing in disguise, actually. I made lots of friends for the lifetime. School was fun with football being the singular passion- which started at 5 in the morning and continued till 7 in the evening. How we passed the board exams is still a miraculous mystery.

It was afterwards, in college that I rediscovered and rekindled the hunter instinct in me. A student at Maharshi College in Sahid Nagar, we used to have the best Kachori Chat at Dam Maharaja in Satya Nagar and though the Gup Chup infront of Rama Devi College were popular because of the crowd, the best one were at Ravi Talkies and Market Building and Master Canteen. For deep fried snacks like bara, aluchop, vegetable chop and singada, I would suggest one to try out Bombay Snacks at Bapuji Nagar and most of the Gangurams. Khatta Meetha in Bapuji Nagar made the best of Chole Bhature while Mausima Chaks Patra Chat’s quantity beat Kalpana Square and Sahid Nagar’s quality. For a different taste, one should try out Bapuji Nagar’s Papdi chat too.The whole of Khurda district, which was famous for pickled Jhalmudi, soon found favour with AluDum Ghuguni Dahi Bara on bicycles too. They are nothing like the one at  Cuttack’s Barabati stadium centre, but a dona full of dahi (curd water) in the summer quenches the thirst like nothing. Omfed shops specialized in quality tea, with Sahid Nagar (near present day NM study centre) being the premium one. The khatti ambience there, will beat CCDs and Baristas any day anywhere. But what will beat everthing black and blue is Cuttack Professorpada’s singular single room food outlet run by 2 brothers who prepares only sold out before being made nonveg only items. The variety available there is eaten to be believed. Mati handi(earthen ware) mutton is good too, while Appetite and Food Bugs at Sahid Nagar drew in crowds too. But sales at Green Chillies on       Master Canteen beats all records. But if you have a heavy Non vegetarian intake capacity and are ready to forgo class and do not mind tipsy company, try out the Maa Tarini Dhaba at Rasulgarh. Unique and famous for its pioneering concept and presence is the Dalma. Though these days Sola anna odia and others have also come up with the authentic Odia food concept too.

When at Bapuji Nagar, one should also try out Bhaina’s Mutton curry and Biriyani, Venus Inn’s Veg items and Non Veg preparations at Tandoor Delight, located at the fag end of Bapuji Nagar. Though I would be missing Rajdhani Chak’s Dum Biriyani- one of the best that I have tasted. Also popular is Satuas Bhaina’s deep fired snacks infront of Panthanivas near BJB College Basketball Court. While at Market Building, the Ice Golas and Pav bhajji may not compete with the one at Mumbai and Delhi‘s India Gate and Kolkata‘s Victoria Memorial, but they are the bet available in Bhubaneswar. Also popular is the ghuguni at MB and piyaji at Unit IV.

Please do not feel bad and  suffocated by the mention of so much food. This is my humble attempt at a small crude food guide of Bhubaneswar for the new breed of food hunters. Though anyone who visits Orissa and especially Bhubaneswar knows that Bhaang Laced Chena Balls and boiled eggs are available at almost every street corner under the shady lamp post in the evenings. All these are small eat outs.

One also finds omnipresent- Chenapoda, aluchop (batata Vada/deep fired masala mashed potato dipped in besan), bara (plain salty doughnut looking type snack), ghuguni(pulse based thick gravy based curry), Singada (odia for Samosa), piyaji ( onion besan based deep-fried snack), and every Oriya outside Orissa admits to missing these non healthy oily but mouth watering snacks every evening.

But for class and continental, one has to visit Mainland China beside Vishals and Crown Hotel at Jaydev Vihar and Shanghai Express in front of Ram Mandir. In fact Shanghai Express has a smoking and liquor  section too. Hakka at Unit IV has mixed reviews while Embrosia at Gopabandhu Square has space constrain and is limited in its menu card, though its quality is good enough. There are a number of good hotels like Mayfair, Pal Heights, Swosti,Trident, Ginger and brands like Smokin Joe’s, Dominos, Pizza Hut and Cafe Coffee Day.

Lastly, Bapuji Nagar‘s Pratihari Mistaan Bhandar’s Rabidi, Nimapara Chena jhili, Bikalananda kar’s Rasogollas and Pahala’ sweets opened up franchise all over Bhubaneswar.But my personal Favourite remains Market Building Nirula’s Katthi Kulfi and Master CanteenVineet’s Kaju Barfi. Just like numerous lassi shops, of which Lingaraj lassi of Sahid Nagar boasted of fan followings.

Other than these, if you have come this far and not yet burped, I would end this hunt on a general note on an Odia’s love for Pakhal Bhata ( fermented water Rice with added flavours), Badhi chuna ( fine grounded badhi

laced with ginger and garlic), ambula rayi, chenchada, Alu baigan Bharta, Dalma ( No U dnt put Ma in Dal ;p), Sukua (salted dried Fish), santula (Dry Vegetable Stew with gravy),etc.

While one finds some interesting regionally famous items like Charu, Rasam, milk based Santula, ambula besara, and saddi (turmeric and Tamarind flavoured fried rice)and  ambila down south in Ganjam region, while mudi and desi chicken and mutton curry of Baripada is equally famous.

If now you feel nauseated by all these, please listen to my all time favourite lunch. Just visit any temple in the midday like the Maa Kali temple at Baramunda, and have a ghee based meal there. And if you are interested to feed me to the fullest, treat me to Ananta Vasudev Mandir or Puri Jagannath Mandir’s Abhada.

For readers forced by circumstance, to live outside Orissa, I do not mean to remind you of sweet good old days back home and make you nostalgic. For non Oriya s, do not puke here and please do not give me that exasperated annoying look, either. And for people in Orissa, I hope to help you in your hunt for good food.