Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Give Him Some Sunshine

You fell in love with this dark when
Your lamp ran out of oil decades ago,
So now you hate this petite candle?
Come on, insecure dark knight,
Adjust your rigid eyes to its light-
Nourish the tomorrow’s torch bearer;
Can’t you hear the weeping flame,
“Please don’t dumb me down”?

Think yourself Sir, if Issac Newton had simply eaten the apple like Tom Sawyer after it fell from the tree, without thinking “Why did it fall down? Why didn’t it go up?”, then still today we could remain ignorant of ‘Gravity’ happily like mountain goats… no rocket to send to space… no eerie numerical in school physics books to bug up young minds… eh? (Un)fortunately, Newton’s father didn’t chose to dumb him down and the consequence is before the whole world! Noh, not for God’s sake, but for the sake of a better/developed tomorrow, whenever your kid pops up with an ‘apparently silly’ sounding question like, “Why the sun rises in the east?”, even if you don’t know the ‘to the point’ answer, simply discuss with him the basic model of solar system, directions etc… help him to reflect, comprehend and master all ugly/beautiful truths of this universe … let him quench his thirst… Don’t dumb him down!

You’ve taught roses are beautiful
Whereas bougainvilleas are dull,
Black cat is sign of malevolence
And we must fear the God!
Lord created him in His own image
But, now you want to amend?
Hush… listen to the rebel’s voice
“Time to break the mould”!

Sir, kindly Stop being the fanatic designer of your kid’s mental circuit. He has got this ‘one and only’ life, just like you, to explore all ‘What’, ‘Why’ and ‘How’s in this universe, and give an unique shape to his mind. His mental map should be exclusively his, not a photocopy of yours! Please show him the rose and the bougainvillea and let him decide which one is more beautiful. Question yourself, why the black cat is ominous? If you have a satisfactory answer then only pass on your word of caution to your offspring (yes, off course with a proper justification). It doesn’t matter what you were forced to accept or what you couldn’t achieve… respect his life… respect his mind… help him grow but don’t add inches to it. Have patience to encourage healthy arguments… rather than keeping him in a mould, help him to un-box his mind… motivate him to explore, dream and discover!

There sleeps the volcano
There pours the rain
Time and tide stand still there
From there begins the route
To heaven as well as the hell!
If you try to hold the infinite
You’ll perish my friend;
So, just witness its sacred flow…

Thoughts bear a sweet relationship with God… Like God, they’re shapeless, invisible and invincible! Sir, try to read your child’s mind and identify his/her thoughts, dreams, desires and fantasies. Like, Judas and Jesus dwells in the same mind, all thoughts can’t be good. Filter out the foreseeable evil ones… it doesn’t mean that, if your son wants to be a chef you’ll try anything from beer to barrel, to make him a doctor/solicitor. Inspire him to identify his hidden virtues. Your role should be like that of an unbiased tea-taster… just, acquaint him with the actual flavour. Be a good gardener, not a genetic engineer obsessed with making hybrid plants. If you don’t let his mind flow freely right from childhood you’ll probably do three permanent damages- When your kid grows up he may be a handicap of thought living a mechanical life… he may turn a couch potato, shifting all the reasons of his failure onto you… or, become another ‘mistakenly over-caring’ guardian to kill the prospective foetus of an another Picasso, Wordsworth or Einstein. Don’t be scared if he wants to follow an unconventional path… after all, all great men did the same… Give colour to his imaginations, wings to his fantasies and bullet to his obstacles!

This article is inspired by the ideas of Shree Bose, winner of Google's first ever Global Science Fair. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bangriposi - A great Weekend Destination

[This is the first guest post to be published in iMakeMyTrip, about Bangriposi, a great weekend destination near Kolkata, written by Mrs Sutapa Sarkar, a hardcore traveller.]

Bangriposi– the name bears a sweet sounding. I loved to utter it repeatedly so many times after we fixed the plan. The journey was by train in two steps – one from Howrah to Balasore, then from Balasore to Bangriposi.

Departing time of Dhouli from Howrah is 06.00. So it was dark when we left home. No traffic jam, no waiting at signal, and no queuing ...... we reached Howrah well ahead.

As the sun started kissing the sky, the lights in Howrah station started feeling end of their duties, morning lazy station started turning into busy one ....... we started our journey towards Bangriposi- the beautiful daughter of hills. 

We, like many more times, were in a big-fat group. So the train compartment turned into our drawing room within minutes after start. Well, I had my camera ready and managed to click several times- both inside and outside of the train.

But after Kharagpur, it became a local train. . . . Lots of passengers without reservation entered into and tried pushing us to have a seat. We just guarded our kids and baggage . . . Going toilet was almost impossible. That's the hazard non AC booking often offers . . . Mostly in day time.

Trespassers who stood around us became so active and cheerful when we reached Balasore . . . 

And we felt relieved . . . 

Yes, the train reached in time and we had half an hour only to have tickets for Bangriposi and to find the DEMU [train no.78013 from Balasore to Baripada (D-10.05; A-11.40) and same train with different No.78015 Baripada to Bangriposi (D- 11.43; A-12.30)] and to board in.

I went to the counter and a lady talking in her mobile assured me (in sign language) that the train was good and comfortable . . . So I asked for 21 tickets. Instantly she put down her phone and ASKED 'how much?'

I'm familiar with such astonishing expression . . . . So smiled and convinced her . . . .

I thought of this funnily numbered two-in-one train so many times before our journey!!!! I feared of a hectic delay journey in a crowded local train . . . . But it was just opposite. We enjoyed the journey really. Small sized coach, clean and airy. Very few passengers and the journey was really enjoyable.

Sometimes it went amidst small village hamlets- village people were busy with their daily work, some liked to look at us and kids happily waved their hands. Sometimes we ran through green jungles, sometimes having a broad road running parallel. But most of the times, the land on both side were grey (paddy fields were emptied recently by taking away ripe crops). Cattles were there on that left out paddy field to find their food.

Time passed out unnoticed. We reached Bangriposi station. Over phone, Khairi resort people told me earlier that auto were available . . . . So was it. We booked 3 and within 15 minutes reached the resort.

The resort consists three separate buildings - one has four 2-bed rooms, other one dormitory and two 2-bed rooms and the third one is their office, kitchen and dining. All are well maintained (renovated recently), spacious, airy and clean. Wide balcony with railing and a portico give it a nice finishing. Cots are a bit small, other furniture are old but useful. Bathrooms and adjacent small anti-rooms were also clean and proper. No cot is there in dormitory (they supplied 'gadda'/mattress, bed cover, pillow and blanket) and only one toilet is there!!!! Plenty of water. Electricity often goes off but they have generators. Kitchen and dining display old and cheap furniture but, I must say- clean. 

Dining room was clean also but their cooking was not very tasty. We found nobody to clean rooms or change bed sheets too. 

But the resort was lovely - simply lovely. An aged old Banyan tree on left side of the complex, the round shaped seating places, the small garden and the wide path ...... all made it picturesque. You must love to live there for some days. Only the highway in front was the negative – but you can ignore it once stepping inside the boundary.

The afternoon was fixed for Buribalam visit. yes, when we hear the name of Buribalam river, instantly we recall of great freedom fighter 'Bagha Jatin' - Jatindranath Mukherjee fought against a tiger (‘bagh’ in Bengali- hence the title ‘bagha’) bare handed near village Koya by the side of Buribalam. Since then he is called so. Since then Buribalam engraved her name too in our heart.

Reaching river side was also a memorable one – by a goods carriage !!!!! We found no good alternative. Kids as well as mothers were so pleased to get the chance of such adventurous ride, that they afterwards demanded the same vehicle too.

It took us up to a downward unpaved way to riverside where local people used to cross by foot. [Though people told us several times, that the river is too deep, don't get down there] The vicinity was beautiful no doubt, but locals use the place as 'morning clearing' spot.... so guess the smell.

Soon we walked away a far and explored the place around. Found an irrigation system running from the river, saw peanut's field and then again found another ghat being used by local peoples. That very place was used as some ritual purpose. I found a stone they worshiped, lots of cut down (human) hairs and feathers of hens/cocks- one stone made oven too. 

Read the continuation of Sutapa's travel story by clicking the links below:-

* Bangriposi - A great Weekend Destination (Part 2)

* Bangriposi - A great Weekend Destination (Part 3)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Maverick Heart Between love and life - the Book Review

The cover page looked quite unimpressive and the blurb although spoke of profound word like ‘resonance’ (guys dealing with Physics would certainly love it), yet, in a nutshell it turned out to be another book based on the lives of three IIT graduates. Yes, you must be thinking of an eerie resemblance with Chetan Bhagat’s “Five Point Someone”… I also got the same hiccup when I was offered to review Ravindra Shukla’s new novel “A Maverick Heart: Between love and life”. But, after some casual web-search when I found that most of the readers were more or less satisfied with Ravindra’s work, I agreed to review the book.

As the title suggests, “A Maverick Heart: Between love and life” is a tale of love and life only, nothing more or no less. Now, if you’re looking for Bollywoodish love and candy sex in a tale of love then I’m afraid my friend, you’ll be utterly disappointed. By tale of life if you can only fantasise slum-dog millionaire then also your high hopes would be shattered! “A Maverick Heart: Between love and life” is actually a realistic decade long journey of three friends who hold different priorities in their lives but coincidentally share one feature, ‘maverick heart’. Our ‘genius but emotional’ socialistic  protagonist Rahul, an ex-air-force pilot’s son, after prestigious graduation from IIT Bombay decides not to part with his homeland unlike other cream minds and do his part to cure the polluted socio-eco-political scenario of India. He fell in love with good-looking Richita, a politically influential professor’s daughter, more importantly an orthodox father’s obedient daughter! So, it’s not surprising to find some heartbreaking pragmatic melodrama when Richita relocates to US for a high paying job. Noh, don’t expect me to tell you the ultimate fate of their love story, you got to read the book for that. The third friend, Neerav, who hails from an affluent business background, sees things, rather prefers to execute things more practically in the conventional way. But his goal-oriented mindset or goggles of capitalism doesn’t stop him from turning up for his best friend Rahul when he needed his support. By now you must have understood that I’m not going to spoil your craving with a spoiler for this almost 400-page book, but I’ll finish this plot-talk with the reminder that, the story revolves around these three main characters encompassing their college days, interactions, moments, transition phase and professional lives in most non-dramatic settings and non-surreal angles!

Ravindra Shukla was smart enough not to miss out the ‘hotdog’ keywords of the hour like US corporate life, recession and young India movement (thinking of Revolution 2020?). The real essence of this book lies in the conversations among its characters which are highly nutritious cookies for thought. They’ll professionally tease your judgement, reasoning and philosophical centres of brain – e.g. “Ignoring somebody’s mistake in life from a powerful position makes you a saint, but the same act, if carried out from a weak position, will make you a coward or helpless”, or, “Beauty lies in one’s heart and sex lies in one’s mind. It all depends on where your belief lies.” I could conspicuously feel the author’s craftsmanship in rendering distinct silhouette, correlation and connotation to his characters’ lives, decisions and fates!

Though I acknowledge Ravindra’s consistency of ideas and principles throughout this book, at times, I must admit, I got bugged up by redundant details which could be very easily avoided. Frankly speaking, taking up a ‘383 Pages’ new read itself is a challenging thought and I’m not yet ready to take the pain of swallowing IIT campus life, predictable romance, family interference, Silicon Valley Vs Wall Street, lots of American folklore and at last purification of Indian socio-political dilapidated infrastructure. Yet, if you have patience and spirit to taste this ‘slightly different’ work I’ll recommend you to try “A Maverick Heart: Between love and life”.

My rating for this book: - 6/10

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Homing Pigeons - the Book Review

Generally I try to refrain from accepting free books for reviewing and there are two simple reasons behind it. Once I acknowledge the free review copy I’m forced to read the whole book even if I find it dull (as it happened few months back and I wish I could mention the title of that pathetic book!) and secondly, I’m given a timeframe within which I’ve to submit my review notes which is highly against my free lifestyle. But, when Nimi proposed me of reviewing “The Homing Pigeons” by Sid Bahri with her relaxed deadline, I got inclined towards her offer. Finally, when I read the title tagline from internet “Not all love stories are perfect, but then, neither are people” along with the convincing blurb that promised me not to present a conventional cheesy love story, I agreed to review Sid Bahri’s debut novel “The Homing Pigeons”.

If you’re a man, imagine (God forbids in real life) that you’ve lost your high profile job and thriving on your uncompassionate wife Jasleen’s earnings in an expensive city like Chandigarh. One day you meet a sexy lady Divya in a bar when your wallet has already denied fulfilling your thirst. She offers you drinks and pulls you to the hotel room for her private luxury. Well, by now you may find my words offensive if I keep the story rolling on your shoulder. So, I must reveal I was talking of the insolvent guy Aditya, the protagonist of “The Homing Pigeons”. Aditya is offered money for the love he made under the hex of alcohol, homelessness and acute frustration. Soon, events culminate in an unforeseeable manner and Aditya finds salvation in turning a male escort! On the other side of the curtain, a 32 years old solvent widow Radhika gains freedom in her life after her step daughter gets married. But she finds herself in a cube of emptiness as she is left with unfulfilled dreams, watery memories and aimless future. It’s interesting to know that Aditya and Radhika, who’re not in touch with each other presently, had a sweet bond of love once upon a time when they were too young to handle it (it reminds me of the 1981’s movie ‘Endless Love’). Incidentally, Aditya and Radhika relocate to Delhi and that’s how their paths get a chance to intersect. Noh, I won’t tell you the whole story… it’s just an attempt to give you a rough idea dude.

The novelty of “The Homing Pigeons” lies in Sid Bahri’s unblemished effort in running parallel narrations on alternate chapters by two main characters Aditya and Radhika. It succeeds in engaging its readers in a ‘not so interesting’ storyline. We tainted mortals can identify ourselves with the characters as they’re perfectly imperfect, just like us! Sid has been bold enough to touch all real but controversial social aspects with his exquisite flow and liberal usage of words. You may complain of the lack of characterisation in most other characters but that won’t impede you from getting instinctively sorrowful when Aditya laments that he can’t tap his feet with his love to the old tunes or he can’t ever be that teenager boy again! After all, all of us relish/mourn on such feelings sometimes or the other… right?

Although you foresee a happy ending with two lovers right from the blurb but the greyness that sandwiches the book right from the beginning contradicts your belief and keeps you actually curious as if to crosscheck! I don’t have the slightest hitch to recommend you “The Homing Pigeons” for a leisurely read to encounter some aromatic subjects like love to abhorrent contemporary aspects. I’ve heard that a soundtrack on the theme has been released too but I somehow can’t take coffee and bear with the same mug, so I’ll remain happy with Sid’s hardcopy version of “The Homing Pigeons” and wish to read more from him.

My rating for this book:- 7/10