One of those Phases..

I been reading the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy lately and somehow for some insane reason I have picked up the Space Lingo. Space Lingo you say? Well for example I go into a bar and ask for a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster now a days. Obviously no one knows what I am talking about, myself included!!. Embarrassed I walk away monologuing to myself "Don't Panic"!! Looking back I seem to recall I have had many episodes like this about things I got too involved with(mainly books or movies that I get obsessed about).My mother coined this condition for me aptly. She called it " One of those Phases.."

Well, I have had many a "One of those Phases..!!".

For example : When I was still a part of the corporate slavery group I use to have vivid day dreams where I would cast a Harry Potters "Incarcerous" spell (Spell Description: Ties someone or something up with ropes) frequently on my boss so that he wouldn't walk up to my desk and give me more work to do. And once to my utter surprise while I was casting the spell in my dream for the hundredth time that day I distinctly heard my boss say " Diffindo"(Spell Description: Cuts or rips objects.) I obviously realized my folly of not dreaming and casting my spells out loud , but to add serious insult to my lack of dreaming, my boss had the last line. He said " You are not the only Harry Potter addict you know!!" Well lets just say I stopped reading Harry Potter over and over again for a while then.

And then there was my brief, very very brief obsession with W.H, Auden, it stopped when I recited his following poem:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come...etc etc etc

at somebody's 81'st birthday party!! I still recite the poem but only when I am alone at home and all the windows are shut.

And then to top of all the phases (and this phrase is something I still haven't gotten over ) I was asked in an interview what are the languages I speak and I quote from jesss " I speak three languages fluently: Smartass, Sarcasm, and Profanity!!", needless to say that I am still umemployed

Far from the maddening crowd

I must profess that for me city life is monotony in passing, it is fast yet tedious. It has the charm of technological splendor, man-made architectural marvels, and the definite feeling of days blurring into one another, but above all it has a steady character of pragmatism.However, as charming a life in the city maybe, often the urge to run away from it descends on me and that is precisely how I find myself vacationing (NB: incase vacationing is not a word , kindly take it as my contribution to the english language)
The nature of the vacation depends upon the person concerned. Some prefer to rejuvenate themselves by lavishly spending time in therapeutic relaxation, some try to soothe their distraught nerves by visiting metrosexual cities, others try adrenaline adventures, SB and I try to loose ourselves in the animal planet(no no not the channel in reality!!). Normally we spend two or three days amidst forest splendor or animal rehabilitation marvels and let nature sooth our city melancholia, once our heads and hearts have healed we come back and jump into the city life with vigor.

So naturally when we answered the call of the wild (Wild being Sabah-East Malaysia) with our steady insect repellent, this time, we didn’t expect to leave a part of our hearts behind.
Sabah is not unexplored; it is explored (obvious for me means stating it!) and well adapted for tourists who like the wild in safe measures (like me!). However, since we have come back our usual enthusiasm towards city life has diminished considerably, we are now trying to delude ourselves into accepting this situation, bidding the time when we can return and claim ourselves to be a part of the enchanting Sabah...

Our journey to the enchanting lands of Borneo began on 30th May, 2010. Our excitement had doubled because we had two wonderful friends traveling with us this time (Asthana and his wife Sweta). We traveled by air from Kuala Lumpur (Thanks to Air Asia for the cheap tickets).

Journey into Borneo:
We reached our first destination Sandakan Airport at 8.50pm. The airport was small and quaint with a lighthouse to ensure safe landing for the chariots in the air. The yellow lights emanating from the airport created a surreal image of a ghost buster movie. We collected our luggage and moved out of the airport to secure a taxi which would take us to our hotel. Ironically our hotel’s name was London...I never figured London would be in Sabah but then I am geographically challenged. As the taxi drove through the dimly lit wide streets, and darkened surroundings, our foremost thoughts were on deriving a solution for the hunger pangs which evidenced the fact we were among the living in a ghostly surrounding. A brewing discussion on where to find food at this late hour (late hour?? It was only 9.30 pm) was promptly quelled by sudden brightly lit restaurants coming into view. Our cabbie stopped in front of a dilapidated building opposite a garbage truck letting us know we had arrived. My sensitive nose pinched as a faint stench reached it, but apparently I was the only one getting it. With trepidation we reached for the door under the sign “HOTEL LONDON”. The door opened up to a series of steps rather like a stairway to heaven. Half way up the steps to heaven a small reception area opened up. Huffing and puffing with the suitcases in hand we all trooped in. We were in a small but clean reception room, the owner of the hotel checked for our bookings, and then gave us two rooms. Our rooms would not be called luxurious, but it was clean (had towels, soaps, and toilet paper, air condition and cig holes in the bed), the sheets on the bed were fresh, the toilet flushed; you get the drift? For 55MYR (Rs. 748) I think the place was a steal!! Anyway we freshened up and met each other after ten min, in a quest to find food. Our receptionist told us to find a sea food restaurant called Bistro CafĂ©. And we eventually landed up there. Now if you are a food aficionado Malaysia is the place to be, but hands down for the sea food in Sabah. We gorged on fish (steamed), crabs, prawns, chicken and rice and the view of the open sea...

Next day (that’s 31.05.2010) we were dressed and ready to depart for the Turtle Island Park in Selingan by 9 am. After a breakfast of bread, lukewarm tea, banana and unrequited wish of eggs we met our chatty guide Bakar Bin Lurintee (we had our mouthful with his name!!) from Megah Travels at the London lobby. Thanks to his thoughtful nature, or maybe his distaste of mispronunciations he said we could call him Mr. Baker!!

Selingan Islands first view from the jetty

After the initial introductions were completed (Bakar later confessed he didn’t remember our names!!), Mr. Baker drove us to the Crystal Quest Jetty, for another round of transportation. After awaiting for a few mins ( it seemed like hours, days, months to me!!) say about 15 mins we boarded our streamer and off we went into the sea!( I felt like Jack Sparrow in a skirt !!)

Selingan: We were told it will take around 2 hours to reach Selingan but the agility of the streamer, the wind on our backs and the drivers skills enabled us to reach there in one and a half hours (10.30am we were there!). I was quite content to see the surrounding islands, but the view of Selingan from the streamer took my breath away. Picturesque is the word that comes to mind when you look at Selingan .

Selingan Islands first view from the jetty

White sand island surrounded by clear blue sea (Sulu Sea), Selingan is the 3rd largest marine Park in Sabah and it is the only one among three islands in Turtle Island Park (Bakungan Kecil, Gulisan are the other two incase you are interested) which has the capacity to house tourists like us!

Selingan Islands first view from the jetty

As we jumped from the streamer onto the island, and walked towards the reception (a beautiful wooden chalet), we were greeted by a monitor lizard. Ah! What a beauty it is to see its majestic gait as it walked across the resort yard in its checkered skin and sniffing tongue!!


While Sb found out about the sleeping arrangements, the rest of us snacked on some ice cream,in front of the turtle sanctuary, listening to the history of this Sanctuary from Mr. Baker. With the ease of a practiced tongue he said “The Park is famous for its green turtles and hawksbill turtles which lay their eggs on the beaches of the islands. The Park covers an area of 17.4 km². The name Turtle Islands, however, refers to 10 islands, 3 of which are part of Turtle Islands National Park of Malaysia, and 7 which belong to the Municipality of Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi, Philippines.” (Too much information.. where are the turtles??). Noting my impatience, he gave me a quelling look and carried on with his history lesson “The turtles come ashore nightly, not only during certain seasons and thus one is virtually guaranteed to see those ancient mariners. During the peak season (October) up to 80 turtles come ashore to lay eggs.”(He sounded like the wikipedia...Or did the wikipedia sound like him??) Looking directly at me he said “However, park rules and regulations are strictly enforced and visitors are not allowed on the beach from sunset to sunrise so as not to disturb the turtles.” I squirmed a bit under his accusing glare mentally revising my earlier plan of a walk in the beach at night!! Before he could go further with his warning, we were saved by Sb dangling our room keys and Mr. Baked..Oops sorry Mr. Bakar noting his polite dismissal told us lunch would be served at 12.30 showed us the island map and snorkeling area, giving us free reign for the afternoon.


Our rooms where beautifully crafted wooden chalets (room number:d1/d2) . Typical Malaysian design, however the turtle-step printed curtains stole my admiration (I know, I know, vanity..).

Dumping our luggage, we went to fortify ourselves with snorkeling gear. After 4 pairs of masks and snorkels, 2 pairs of fins, 1 beach mat, 2 towels, 4 life jackets we were more or less ready to win a war..I mean hit the sea. We were going where the sun shines brightly, we were going where the sea is blue, we have seen it in the movies and we know that it was all true!!

The entrance to the beach was covered with long and bushy trees, me thinks it was done purposefully to have a jaw dropping effect once you actually reach the beach. The blazing sun on white sand has a mind numbing effect against the blue sea, I actually pinched myself (dreams are often more beautiful than reality!!). I need not have bothered pinching; the hot sand beneath my naked feet would be enough to jar anyone if they were sleeping. Skipping through the scalding sand, and a long trek (grumph!!) we found a shaded tree on the farthest end of the beach (in this case jaw-dropping scenic beauty came with calloused feet!!). We posed for photographs so that we could prove that my tendency for exaggeration had met its end..

Not waiting for the others I impatiently jumped into the sea, and was immediately transported into the world of “The Little Mermaid”.. clown fish bobed up and down, while brown corals of different shapes and size breathed through the sea water, schools of fish passed me by, with naught a care, small jelly fish floated eerily through the water. And I thought so this is what “Nemo” missed when he was caught! If I could have grown gills and lived on sea food diet (well “gills” would be the main thing, “Seafood” normally in my case is “See” food diet) I would have left behind the human world in a flash, alas the growling in my stomach put a stop to if’s and but’s. Feeling a little guilty for not bothering about the others for nearly an hour I took my head out of the water to look for them, and to my amusement I saw all of them on the beach sitting, awaiting me patiently. Asthana and Sweta were both relatively new to snorkeling so had a tough time as the sea currents were very strong. We endeavored to come back after lunch, the food; we agreed would give us the strength to fight the currents.

Lunch was simple yet delicious, veggies and eggs (my unrequited eggs at breakfast finally came during lunch!) and rice, with fruits for desert. After lunch I was informed of the need for rejuvenating sleep by the gang, before braving the strong currents. So while the others snoozed, I went prowling around the island for our Monitor (lizard) friend, met him too, but he was busy munching on a poor four legged creature, so I did not stop for a friendly chat. By the time I got back everyone was up and about all ready to go snorkeling. So we once again lost ourselves to the wonders of the underwater. This time the sea obliged us by being calm and we ended up seeing a whole lot of more marine life than before. While all of us were busy with our own appreciation of the underwater world seeing their unperturbed life as an observer from the snorkeling mask, a black checkered fish was swimming directly beneath me gazing intently at my out stretched hand. It seemed to play a game of “I- Spy” with me, darting among the corals as though it was an amateur sleuth following me around, when my wandering attention was set on a school of multicolored fish , my pursuer ( the black and white attention now!!) stealthily swam up to my hand to investigate further. Involuntarily my fingers flexed and it dashed away either because it realized the indignity of it all, or I just plain bored it … I really do not think I frightened it (at least I hope I did not, I swear I did not open my mouth!!) After three or four hours of uninterrupted view of the amazing sea-world, we were shooed out of the sea by the coast guard.
We reluctantly got out of the sea. All four of us were proudly flaunting our sun-burnt skin and discussing with mile-wide smiles about what we had seen , after that we went to freshen up and then to await at the reception chalet for our main visitors - the turtles!!


The reception chalet doubles up as the restaurant and as a visitor’s centre to give an idea about the Green and Hawksbill Turtles that populate these parts of the ocean. Let me state the obvious, a sanctuary is created for endangered species and this was a turtle sanctuary hence...will let you draw the conclusion.


It was around 6.30pm in the evening, the dying sun was struggling with its last few rays, as we walked towards the reception. We were taken through the gallery and then a video about the endangered turtles. The unknown voice of the orator (in the video) explained to us about the two types of turtles “Locals know them as Penyu Karah or Penyu Sisik but hawksbills are so named because of their narrow pointed beak reminiscent of a bird of prey. The endangered Green turtle, or Penyu Agar to the locals, is actually black-brown or greenish yellow but is so called because of the greenish color of their cartilage and fat deposits.” We looked on intently, trying to figure out this docile, yet surviving marine creatures. As we went through the turtle life cycle and habitats, we wondered how these docile vegetarians survived. And then the video took a turn for the worst. It went on to describe how these non-violent ancient creatures were fast becoming extinct. Apart from the predators who relish uncooked turtle eggs such as monitor lizards, crabs, and ants, there are the birds, crabs and host of other more seasoned hunters who crave for the young flesh of the hatchlings. (I am over dramatic sometimes!) But the worst villains in the turtle’s life are sadly the homo-snake-ian’s (oops.. I mean homo sapiens). We kill them for their meat (which is a delicacy now as it is banned), harvest their eggs for our palates, and poach them for their shells to ornate ourselves. For those of us who claim to be of purest of heart, swearing they have not caused the turtles any bodily harm might pause to rethink their gallant gestures. Thousands of sea turtles die from eating or becoming entangled in rubbish each year. Rubbish, particularly plastic bags thrown overboard from boats or dumped near beaches are swept out to sea; turtles cannot distinguish these and jelly fish (which is their principal diet). So when turtles gorge on plastic bags thinking they are jelly fish, they are actually having hemlock instead of wine. I can go on and on about how insensitive we are by expounding on facts like thousands of turtles die each year by becoming entangled in discarded fishing nets in the sea but lets just say it is high time we humans learn to clean up after ourselves and stop causing distress to other beings by looking beyond our individual worlds. (Sorry I got a little carried away, back to the topic on hand now..)

After the informative documentary and early dinner, we sat down with some medicinal tonics (beer of course) to while away time and wait for the turtles. At around 12 am, just when sleep was about to make its check mate, we were informed by the rangers that we could see the turtles laying their eggs.Selingan
Dutifully forming a queue we trudged up the beach under the moonlit sky to a place (on dry sand) where a female green turtle had dug a huge hole to lay her eggs, in the chamber of sand.


She had already started laying her eggs by the time we reached .Two or three eggs dropped out at a time, with mucus being secreted throughout the egg laying process (it is not as squeamish as it sounds!).
Because the eggs were flexible, they did not break as they fell into the chamber. She laid 73 eggs in total, as we looked on in hushed awe and no flash on cameras! I noticed that she was crying as though in excruciating pain, but the ranger explained that nesting sea turtles appear to shed tears, but in actuality they are just getting rid of the excess salt that accumulated in her body (And there you have it you silly silly boy's;we females, dont cry we just shed excess salt in our bodies !!)


The eggs were swiftly collected in a basket by an experienced ranger, without her knowledge. Once she was done, unaware of us, she began to bury her non-existent eggs, we were asked to leave her in peace then. Apparently it would take her 2 hours to bury the chamber, before she crawled through the beach back to her sea home. (For some reason, I envisioned a turtle-lawyer all suited and booted sueing man-kind for theft, and malpractise for duping these innocent mother-turtles !!).


The ranger quickly took the eggs into the sanctuary and reburied them with protection around the buried ground, and wrote down the records for future reference.

We then proceeded for release of hatchlings into the sea.



The ranger collected one batch of hatchlings which had just emerged from their eggs.(They say that these cuties need to be released immediately after hatching or their survival instincts in the water diminish ,leading to death)


Once the hatchlings were released, some of them followed their natural course by heading straight for the water. A lot of them however were experimental and exploring in nature. These wayward hatchlings made a mad dash for the sand instead of the sea!! They went in all directions,thus rendering onlookers like me frozen in fear of trampling them.After adjusting to their shapes and movement,we picked a few off the beach to cajole them gently into the sea.There were a few rebel hatchlings who steadfastly refused to go into the water.The ranger collected them and took them back to the sanctuary, to acclamatize them in their own little hatchling's water pool, before they would be released again. By the time we were done and trudging back through the beach, we saw few fully grown turtles gently crawling towards the Sulu Sea.

All in all it was an eventful night, and we were all too excited to go to sleep.
After animated conversation about how, what, when etc, we decided to retire for the night.
We left the next morning for more adventures, with lovely memories and more respect for the giant mariners!!...

Cooking Skills....

Blistering blue barnacles!! I said once I realized the eggs which were suppose to look like sunny side up were looking like thunderstorms with no sunny any where in the picture…again!!
My cooking skills are sadly something which won’t get me the Oscars, however my dramatic pouts would at least get me nominations...Of course my knight in shining armor miraculously rescued them from what seemed to me a “burned up” death. And so began my humorous attempt in trying to do what all women are naturally inclined to excel in …cooking!!
Before I go forth and reveal how challenged I am at using pots and pans, I feel I must provide excellent reason for being the way I am.
I am the youngest of a family where food is considered a constant provider of thought provoking statements, and where “cooking” is a natural skill which everyone in the family is born with (except for me: therefore me the black sheep…blah blah!!). My parents can create culinary wonders just by looking at the raw materials, my aunt is the greatest chef incarnate and I am a pampered brat. So naturally I had never been near a pan , unless it was to taste something and comment on the salt !! In the formative years I was too busy playing the tom boy to ever enter the kitchen and later on my work life didn’t let me ( I did not consider to take time off for it either) .Lo and behold! how lives change.After my marriage I relocated countries , and due to the divine intervention of not getting busy with work life I had endless time in my hand , initially I would let SB (my better half where cooking was concerned) to do the dinner!! Which left me to survive for lunch, but after a while I realized how unfair I was being, what with me sitting at home, idling and reading, while he going to work and cooking, I decided out of guilt conscience to take on the cooking project. And thus creating some of the most memorable episodes for family get together jokes!!
I got the grasp of making tea and coffee which was a short consolation since it would not fill an empty stomach, so then I moved on to bigger projects ..

1st Project : Eggs : Now eggs were tricky but after a couple of days of burnt sunny side ups and lots of rescuing from the other half , I did manage to get the scrambled ones in order.. Now I am proficient in managing to provide, boiled eggs, burnt eggs, scrambled eggs, unscrambled eggs...get the drift??

2nd Project : Chicken: Now chicken is my specialty , only if someone else, cleans, cuts and marinates it for me.. I love having it and hence I put in the weeks of endless perspiration behind it and I survived, and now I can provide edible forms of chicken (cooked of course not sausages!! What were you thinking..??) . During the initial days of trial and tribulations about my faith in my skills ,I took my mom’s and Sb’s advice when they said experiment while cooking and it will enhance your non- existent skills . I think I took them too seriously , judging that my DNA cannot possibly betray me , I decided to try my hand in experimental cooking My fatal mistake however was trying to cook chicken in Coca Cola .. let me tell you , DO NOT TRY IT AT HOME, it has to be cooked by experts(me) and eaten only by those who either have no taste, are too far gone in their hunger pangs to actually care about what they are eating!! or by encouraging audiences (poor SB!) There has been other instances of my deviating from the norm like trying to cook chicken in tamarind sauce , which was considerably a smaller disaster than the Coca Cola Chicken .. After all it is ‘ The cola chicken’ which is one of the favorite topics for after dinner banter in my family. However, do not let me frighten you, I have improved a lot, now I serve chicken which is edible even by me…

My next effort will be on veggies and the likes. I have not given up on my DNA ‘s amnesia for the moment, I know that the traits are there for me to become a wondrous chef . But the dinner alas is still done by SB. He does provide sound judgment when he says that dinner done by him is more of an answer to survival than my lack of providing edible meals!! Will update you on results I achieve. Till then your encouragement and fortified pallet is all I need .

From Kuala Lumpur to Kolkata

An inexplicable feeling enveloped me as we booked tickets for our annual visit back to India. My first time visit to my in-laws place , my journey through 3 cities before I reached back kolkata..all of them made me indecisive about going back. Yet the euphoria of going back home bubbled up inside me. So tickets in hand, bags packed we set out to the airport for our visit back to the motherland. We were travelling in two seperate airlines ( trust me there is a reason for this but its too long an explanation , which if anyone is interested will explain personally) . We timed it the best we could, so Subhashish would be landing about 30mins after me. We were due to visit Hyderabad first. As always with us , major events and decisions, pass smoothly, its the minor, memorable moments that get goofed up..So my plane was 5 mins early and his was 60 mins late!! The moment I took my first steps off the plane a cool wind blew across my face. It was a warm welcoming feeling , and had I not all the restraint of an Englishwoman, I would have bent down there ,right on the airport stretch and kissed the soil. But being inately self consious and restrained I killed that urge, plasted a smile and walked towards the exit to face the gruesome waiting in the airport immigration. Lo! and behold there was no waiting I landed at 12 and was out of the airport by 12.10!! The first feeling of disbelieve set in I in India? I was instantly elated about the service in Hyderabad airport, not only was the airport at par with any international airport but the service was stupendous, they even had my luggage all neatly kept aside from the conveyer belt because it had a Fragile Sticker on it. So taking my trolley bag I set out to get the smell of Hyderabad . I was merrily heading onto the airport parking lot loving the slight chill in the air, as bits and pieces of various indian language drifted around me when I saw our friends going up the stairs to recieve us. They called out my name, Deepanwita not some mangled version of it. It was the final feeling of homecoming that yes I was back in India where people no matter of caste, creed ,state, knew how to pronounce an Indian name!! I was not Dee, Sen , or "you" here, I was Deepanwita Sen bengali, Indian!! I was happy to be back. We chatted, caught up on times as we waited for the latecomer to arrive!! Finally Subhashish's offendingly late plane landed and we were on our way back to stay at a friend's place. (friends name : Asthana) .

I was visitng Hyderabad after four long years, and how the city had changed. The welcoming sight of the boulders had been replaced with halfbaked construction sites , the city was filled with concrete and at first I could not relate to the city where I used to live, used to work, where I fell in love. There were overhead bridges, buildings sprawling up all over the place. It reeked of growth, prosperity and I felt dissapointed about the lost charm. We made our way back to Asthana's place through streets vaguely fimiliar and somewhat unknown. Once we were at his flat, we quickly freshned up and then sat down with some good old Glen and Bikanir!! We reminisced about life, love, we talked about future, about growth.. caught up. Next day we were given the grand tour. The Largest shopping Mall in India has been made in Durgam Chervu, and the beautiful lake there which was surrounded by boulders had been lost. I guess that meant "Save the Rocks" society was not a success story after all. The lake however was still there, but the charming beauty was either lost or hidden. I had some beautiful memories there but alas now they are nothing but memories for me to visit at ungaurded moments. We toasted to prosperity later in the night with the famous grilled chicken of Hyderabad. Next day we bid our adieu's , onwards to Bangalore..
Bangalore Airport was another wonder, it was huge , it was fast and it was efficient ! The time travel between the airport and the city however is long and expensive by Indian standards.
Bangalore however had not changed much, it was the same . The weather was pleasant, the roads crowded, the people inquisitive. We were staying with family, so we didnt go out too much, spent time catching up with them. It was a wonderful relaxed feeling.

Delhi and Agra:
Delhi as a city is consistently inconsistent. It had significantly changed from the last time I saw it and this change somehow added to the beauty of the city. The entire place was networked by the metro, which for travellers like us was quick and easy. Gurgaon was a wonder with wide spaced clean roads . However, the december/jan weather was not for faint hearted people like me..We were staying with Family here as well. My in laws stay in a place called Bahadurgarh. An hour from Delhi , the place has a rustic charm, laid back and languid . There was nothing to do there but soak in the sun, eat and sleep. The house was set across a park and by eight everything shuts down. But I loved the peace and tranquility. We relaxed and lounged about , chatting with my dad-in-law and mom-in-law. We passed days by playing 29 late into the night, eating some really awesome food (my dad-in-law is a fantastic cook) . What was pertinent about Delhi/Gurgaon is that even though it is a progressive city, it still has a historical charm. The ancient architechture along with modern march along side-by-side, and people give due attention to both.
As we entered the city, I was transported back to the Mughalian era. Taj was after all the edifice of love and what better way to get a look at it than with people you love. It was a sight to behold. White Marble with ornate designs on it. Exquisite Mughalian art. It was as they say a sight to behold and remember. The white marble against the red bricks around and behind it is truely one of the worlds most gorgeous architechture. There is a humbling feeling as you walk around it and feel the cool marble floor under your feet. It was worth the visit, just to get a glimpse of this enormous love edifice dedicated to a life of memories built together.
After the blurr of 4 cities , I reached Kolkata. What can I say about the soul of India??
It is what it always was.. a heady brew of life’s contradictions and extremities – massive wealth next to heart-breaking poverty, teeming slums not far from five star hotels. Her beauty has not diminished at all, keeping aside the Political Stigma she is famous for her people have not lost their warmth, friendliness, helpful nature. And ofcourse her cuisines are as mouthwatering .
Kolkata is home, the comfortable shoes, the heady sense of belonging, it is where mom and dad is . It was everything I hoped to get and more. She was what I was looking forward to , and she didnt dissappoint me!!


All of this started as an adventure and now it was not an adventure any longer, it has passed from a stage of disgust and loathing to a dangerous placidity and indifference. If I stay I would never be free of this , I would get warped and distorted like an insect in a spiders web. I have to get out , and get out quickly . I remember walking out suddenly out of the house and walking up the narrow streets of China Town and up the slope in Bangsar and then out on to the the space below the Mall and sitting with my chin in my hands beside a group of tourists and a lot of screaming little boys . I did not hear them , but I sat looking over KL shivering in the middle of sweat dripping humidity, watching the evening sun set away in the distance beyond the KL twin towers and it was a grey all of a sudden.
Thats when I knew I could not go on living as I did .I am not built that way. I do not have any strength or resistance so I had to acknowledge to myself that this time I am beaten. There was a little weak spirit that kept whispering and hammering at me saying "its not my fault, its not my fault and I listened with half a smile and a shrug of shoulders. It went on to tell me this life is not my life, that it was useless to fight. The voice told me it was heredity , enviroment, upbringing, misunderstanding, all these clashing against each other making me what I hoped not to be. The voice went on and on and I listened wearily nodding my head and snatched the comfort that it gave to me, saying that now it was enough. I have fought and I must give in ; it was not surrender, it was giving into understanding and strength. The arguments of that voice were soft and easy to hear , it taught me the trick of making pictures. So I saw myself sitting on my office desk, immersed in papers, I saw myself looking into other faces while they answered my questions. And I realised like the sudden flash of the last sunray for the day..all of it was gone to soon...lets hope I still gather the courage to resist and not give the struggling ant!

DNA = Bengali!

So here I am in Kuala Lumpur far from homeland and I am reading The Mistress of Spice , and obviously I have to get the craving to have muri with sorsher tel with kuchono piyaaj.
Hunt begins.
Objective: To find Bangali tel moshla..
Clue: None forthcoming
Avenues taken: Google Search, Orkut posts, Face book Posts, telephone to friends..and then friends of friends and of course last resort..ask on the road look alike Bangali's ..even our poor watchman is not spared!!
(BTW: Our watchman is Nepali..I tend to make such mistakes when I have an agenda)
Result : Nothing
As my craving reached an octave higher than the sopranos and somewhere in between a full scale opera , I decide that this will not do.
So I pack my bags and buy a plane ticket determined to have my sorshel tel and muri . For desperate times you need desperates measures. You cant blame me..its in my DNA. I can explain. As per the DNAHANDBOOK for idiots there is something called a Mitochondrial DNA.
I know it sounds a little off the track trying to explain Jhal Muri cravings with DNA compositions but I am trying to establish the link..all you have to do is take a deep breath and read on..

So there is this Mitochondria which generates energy through adenosine triphosphate which in turn is again related somewhere to metabolic pathways and everyone knows that for a Bengali Shorsher tel is the only metabolic pathway...there is , there was and there ever will be.
So here I am trying to restore my metabolic pathway in faraway Malaysia and yet I am not getting any breakthrough. Now I know what Newton went through before the apple fell on his head.
My ticket in hand I head for the airport and suddenly my anticipation turns into trepidation...I mean here I am all geared for sudden restoration of my being and there I am thinking what will I tell my father when I suddenly land up on 64 Santoshpur. Baba shorsher tel ar muri khabo?? My sudden victory seems to dwindle and fade. Alas, Watson we have to do it the hard way, which is to put it mildly not have jhal muri.
I stop the “Teksi” half way , and get down . The grumbling driver mumbles on about indecisive female passengers, does a speed u turn and drives on leaving me behind in a locality I have never ever bothered to venture on my own.
I stand stupefied and wonder what I should do , after all if I went back home I would be a disgraced soul with no solution to the craving that manifested itself into a obsession. In the midst of such inner turmoil, I subconsciously walk into a grocery store . And there it was , the object of my restoration, the one and the only Shorsher tel! Ah, all is well with the world again and I can now stand tall with my head held high among proud Bangali’s and proclaim myself to be one among the many who struggled and survived.
Pure delight passes through me and I turn around in wonder. And my non existent culinary sense goes into an overdrive as I find POSTO..Holud, Muri, Chire , Tejpata, Kaacha lanka, IODEX and I bless the paperwala for once cause he woke me up that day!
I buy all that my eyes see and I make a note of the location, the store , all the while muttering Thank You Paperwala, Thank You Tekshi Driver .
I come home and display my treasures on the kitchen shelf. It looks like a true Bangali Kitchen, I make myself the jhal muri restoring my frayed Bangali DNA and I get my happy ending.
That was three weeks ago. The Holud is still there, the posto still stares at me from the un-opened packet, however the Shorsher tel and the muri is about to end.
I know where to get it, after all I have DNA-Bangali and it is a homing beacon to Shorsher Tel and Muri….

Some Coffee and some reminiscing

I sit on a roadside cafe , having Kopi in Kuala Lumpur and I think :

I am glad that I belong to Kolkata. I wondered about it at first , but after three days of living in Kuala Lumpur I was certain. It is impossible to be really lonely in Kolkata. There is no conceivable comparison between Kolkata and Kuala Lumpur. There is something in the warm dusty air in Kolkata. It intoxicates you and it is easy to forget yourself ,your demons because of a little tattered book in a collection of books on the side of a quay in College Street, because of an ancient man with a long white beard and balding head , because of Hoogly Bridge with its network of cables standing out starkly against the sunset, with one white cloud in a pink sky; and then gathering these things to me and walking away in any direction , rubbing shoulders with people who smiled, coming to a roadside cafe where the thick sheet of black rubber sheet just about covers the owner's head and there would not be an inch of room on the pavement to stand , yet order the inevitable "cha". The smell of burnt milk and Wills cigarettes and the sombere eyes of a college goer and his speech about injustices the Govt is making.

It seems to me that there is no finality to these pictures ; they were little flashs of life that broke in upon the line of vision and were etched in my memory as the sights and sounds of my home land. I sit here in this cafe blocked by a hum of voices and a hundred eager waving hands and I say to myself " I wish I was home". Yet, I want to share this enthusiasm here and loose my self , in some belief, no matte what it should be, only for the zest and the fire of the believing. I want to be blindly interested in the glimpses of life that comes in my way here, I want to build little pictures that people in Kuala Lumpur give of themselves and mirror them in my mind. I want to do an impressionistic study , patches of colour and flashes of gloom , so that in some strange way I am dragged into the picture , caught up in it and carried along with no time for reflexion , no time for being entirely alone in a room and thinking.

As i was saying the Kopi here is hot and strong and brings about emotions one is not equipped to handle....however the sound of kolkata took me away from the silence of my life in kuala lumpur..only till the coffee lasted.

Questions echo in my glassed mind

It reverberates pushing me out of a stupor I have condemned myself to live.
What is it? Why is it haunting me like some far-fetched plot I can’t seem to foresee?
I know not what Alice felt in wonderland but I think I feel the same way .
The worst part is that every thing just meshes into this one huge gigantic time frame, individual days seem to blur into one.
I get the feeling that there is nothing new that could come my way, old and jaded at 25 years wonder why people want to live for long?
If this is all there is to life then I can say that I have seen it, done it, lived it …now what? Pessimism suits me , sarcasm compliments that pessimism after all how do optimists see every day as a new day, a new beginning ???
I rather be the damning Rhett than the confused lost Scarlett.
I rather say “Frankly dear I don’t give a damn” than say “ oh well tomorrow is another new day!"
life is a cynics world and an optimists hell.

About Me

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Singapore, Singapore
Im just a dreamer, I dream my life away, Im just a dreamer, who dreams of better days