Posts Tagged ‘India’

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.

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!!

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?

Apes evolved into early Neanderthals who evolved into modern day human beings. During this time, man became social and stayed together to mutually protect themselves and the males usually went out to gather food and hunt animals. They became hunters by nature while the females stayed back to take care of the children and their house in general. Jungles of trees gradually got replaced by concrete jungles and modern city life came into being. I am a resident of the modern times but the old hunter instinct has stayed with me. I still hunt for food. For good food the hunter has to be skilled in tracking, attacking and capturing the prey and for that they require perseverance, guts and strength. The modern day Hunter too requires the same set of skills. Firstly s/he has to persistently keep on exploring the city and interacting with different set of people to know the whereabouts of a good food joint. His tracking skills will take him there through many dangerous areas at times. If unguided or on new grounds, he has to dare venture into a new unknown food joint or hotel n restaurant with cash and card, both. Once there he will require depending solely on his skills, on which item to try out and which to avoid. He can take the help of all available signs and cues from next tables and waiters for better food guidance. On such hunting grounds, one should never feel shy to avoid being hunted themselves. They should also avoid attacking food with fancy names on the menu card if not understood or not recommended.  Once ordered for they also require plenty of guts to attack the food served and later on if the foraged food turns out to be too wild, our hunter has to draw on all his reserve strength to over come the internal struggle to digest the consumed food item. I am such a hunter.

I was born in Howrah, and learned to have  sensually developed food buds with proper training from my late paternal Uncle, who took us kids to far away nooks and corners of Kolkata for the best food. Good Food takes time and one should be patiently perseverant in their quest for the best food. As a 10 year old , with a broken heart I had to bid adeiu to Kolkata to arrive in Bhubaneswar for further studies, but the romance with Kolkata continues till date. It may be flooded with dirty water in the monsoon and populated by Aa-Bhadraloks at places, but when it comes to food, these people are the best. They are artists when it comes to anything with fish and food. A Fish fry is just a piece of freshly cut fish marinated in turmeric and salt and deep fried in Oil. But it attains heavenly taste when done by an experienced hand. The rich varieties in fish curry hinges on imagination, with the people of East Bengal descendants who call themselves to be from Bangaal, stealing a march over their counterparts elsewhere. The popular variety ranges from the Mustard or the plain masala variety to the finely chopped onions and  tomatoes toss fried with Pomfret.

The quality of fish, especially the Pabda or Hilsa of Padma River is most sought after. Another plain jane yet “forced down the throat or else” dish is the Sukto- basically a oil & spice-less mix of vegetable in boiled and cooked in dry format, though not quite the stew. But remains my all time favourite more by fragrance than by flavour is the ‘Iilish Macher Jhol’- a simple steamed piece of a popular kind of salt water fish put to boil in turmeric and salt added water with minimal spices. It is in kitchens in Kolkata, where every day, someone is trying to perfect a great dish.Another Popular household useful food item is ‘Muri” pronounced as ‘Mudi”, basically hot sand stirred puffed rice taken usually during the evenings with the popular Indian snacks-Mixture and mustard oil. It can be  flavoured with cut coconuts and pickle oil to make it Jhal Muri or vegetables and sauces to make it Bhel Puri.

Nostalgic memories of Kolkata flood me especially on Saraswati and Ganesh Pujas early morning, when bathed, combed and shining in neat pressed new clothes, we arrive at Schools to offer puspanjalis and then be fed a sumptuous breakfast by senior school girls in twin plaits and red bordered white sarees. We get Luchi( a deep refine oil fried small round piece of pressed rolled dough made from flour) and Alu Dum. Lunch was always the delicious Khichdi, Kobi Tarkari, Chatney of mashed tomatoes and dates, and Begun Bhajja. These simple things have a definitive different flavour, which make it so endearing  and is hardly found any non Bengali kitchens. Evenings during the Soptomi-Asthomi and Naubomi of Durga Pujas are a riot. Elder are sought after to seek their blessings which usually are handed out in hard cash to spend in the evenings. Street food to choose from will leave you flabbergasted with options ranging from the simple- Chatpati, Puchka, Manso Ghuguni, Rolls, Cutlets, Mughlai Paranthas, Chicken Lollypop, Prawn Chops and the usual north Indian Chaat, samosa, alu chop and many bastardized Indian Version of Chinese chow-min and Manchurian, etc. On such days, I get reminded of Hangover-the Movie, if it ever dealt with food instead of Drinks. But of all the popular street food, I miss Phuluri and Sutthi Kadaiir Kochuri the most. At times known as Radha bhollibi, I guess.These items are hardly been ever attempted to be replicated else where in non Bengali kitchens. There is also something my brother discovered and named-“Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghaam!!” a item guaranteed to remind you of Delhi Belly!! But the Nizaam’s and Amenia’s Biriyani and Punjabi and Iranian restaurants scattered over many places are to be self discovered and relished through out the year.

Lastly, one cannot commit blasphemy, by not mentioning desserts. The Kulfis are the most awesome and comparable to anywhere in India. Rosogollas are native here (and very good especially when hot) along with Kheer Kadam and Kheer Sagar. But if there is ever Nectar to be tasted on earth, then try the local Sweet Curd or Misti Doi. Also native here are the varieties of deep fried sweets like Langcha, PantuaGulab Jamun etc. The Sandesh can and should be Geographically IPR patented like the Basmati. They are unlike the rest of India mostly made from Gur- a sugar cane or date palm extract, which gives it a brown hue and a celestial taste. Often made from different toy shaped casts like apples, guava, ducks elephants,etc  for popular demand among the children,it remain to be seen and is the reason I call these people who are passionate about their food- as Artists!!

Nostalgic memories are miserably sweet and especially when it causes a small rumble gradually grow into a grumble in the nearest corner of my ever empty feeling stomach. So its time I don my Hunter cap and go out in search of food. So till my next piece, everyone go out to  love and enjoy Bengali Food!!