Monday, December 22, 2008

Slumdog Millionaire

“Brimming with humor and heartbreak, Slumdog Millionaire meets at the border of art and commerce and lets one flow into the other as if that were the natural order of things. Sweet.” – Rolling Stone

I couldn’t agree more. Undoubtedly the best movie of the year! The film is a visual wonder, thanks to Anthony Dod Mantel’s exquisite cinematography and Danny Boyle’s brilliant direction. And how could I not mention A.R. Rahman. It comes as no surprise that the soundtrack is an absolute explosion of genres, cultures, and sounds.

Before I watched the movie, I had read several reviews and as I had expected I did run into a few Indian writers who found Boyle to be obsessed with capturing the ‘real India’ and thought he lit every tail on fire to make it work for his primary audiences in the West. I have to admit some scenes were over-dramatized for effect – but at the end of the day it IS a commercial movie and not a documentary, so get over it. And I do not know if any of these critiques have ever actually visited or spent any time in the slums – I know I haven’t, so I’m not judging. Being an Indian I cannot deny any of the events take place just because it makes me think that India is being shown in a bad light to the rest of the world. In fact Indians are always defensive in this same manner whenever a foreign director approaches to make any movie related to India that is somewhat close to real. Well, if that really bothers you, get your ass off that snug couch of yours and go do something about it apart from criticizing the rest of the world for making India look bad. I wonder when these people read the newspapers with ‘real stories’ of attacks, murders, rapes, prostitution, police and political corruption, child labor and girl child abortion, do they usually go ‘Oh my God, what if some Westerner reads today’s paper? What will they think of India? Or even as a matter of fact when they watch any Bollywood movie which focuses on ‘real India’, are they concerned about what the world will think or are they at peace knowing it will only be seen by the Indian population. I guess the foreign directors should be focusing more on costume changes and snowy alps for a song and dance sequence rather than entering our slums to make a movie on India.

I have no qualms recommending this movie to my non-Indian friends and I don’t feel any less Indian for that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ho Ho and Huh?

We don’t usually celebrate Christmas at home but since I love the holiday, I rely heavily on my workplace to get me into the spirit. With my last two companies, the holiday season was a big deal - trees, decorations, parties, music, bonuses, gifts and copious amounts of food.

Come this year, with economy down in the dumps, companies are cutting down on the parties and bonuses. Understandable. But at my new workplace things are worse, not because of the economy, but the total lack of spirit in everyone. When I walk into our side of the building I do not see a trace of holidays apart from maybe a couple tiny snowmen sitting on one of the desks. Only one vendor showed up with a cookie basket that was devoured in a few seconds and now we are left with nothing. But this morning just sucked the last straw out of me.

Before I tell you what happened, I need to describe in short, the way our office is set up. All the account executives and their teams are in one end of the building and the accountants and designers in the other. Now why would someone pair up graphic designers with accountants – God only knows. In a gist, our side is BORING.

So this morning as I walk into our side of the building I notice gifts on everyone’s desk. I am excited (who wouldn’t be?). But as I enter our corner I realize that the three graphic designer desks are void of such pleasantries. It means that only the boring accountants received presents from Santa. And of course we had to bear the squeals of delight as those presents were being opened. I tell ya - if Santa doesn’t arrive at the designer desks pretty soon I will be merrily PISSED!

That being said, this holiday season SUCKS! I miss my ex-coworkers and all the fun that we had. Ironically this has been my most creative job with the least creative workspace.

I need many a more mango martinis to make me go…


Friday, December 12, 2008

I should've…

Changed before going on a long walk. Now I’m sitting in my sweaty t-shirt at work.

Packed my salad in a larger Tupperware. I just made a huge mess on my desk while tossing it with dressing.

Uploaded my own play list into the Shuffle that I am borrowing from hubby. Wouldn’t have had to listen to Himesh Reshammiya. I doubt if Shomeek has ever listened to his Hindi play list. I also doubt whether Himesh has ever heard himself singing.

Avoided talking about Himesh. That way I would've NEVER Googled him

Skipped reading this post on India Uncut. Now I cannot stop myself from reading random sexual dilemmas and laugh out loud for which I need to come up with an excuse real quick.

Happy Friday folks!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lost Love

Caller: I would like to request a sentimental song from any SRK movie
RJ: Is there anyone you would like to dedicate this song to?
Caller: Yes, I would like to dedicate this song to my ex-girlfriend who I did not marry since it would make my parents unhappy. But she still remains close to my heart and I am very happy for her in her new life.


You know what? I think this guy is NOT happy. I’m sure his ex-girlfriend is doing real well in her career and love life while he is stuck with a bride his parents picked for him, who does nothing productive, but pick his brain in return. I hate guys like this. I think I even knew one at a point in time. YIKES!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Who's the retard here?

Just after I posted the retard picture in my previous post, I received this photo from Evani's daycare. Of course I had some fun at my daughter's expense. I would love to share this with her when she's older. :)

Click on the image to read the bubbles.

Just for laughs

Thanks to Mattu who sent this and a very happy Friday to all my retarded friends!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I hardly ever write about my work or related topics on this blog. From hereon I would like to do that more often. I am lucky enough to do what I really love for a living. I know a lot of friends or family who cannot say that for themselves.

That being said I would like to share some inspiring type treatments from iLT

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Just nothings

New look. Old me. Literally old me. I was told by one of my co-workers that I wasn’t losing any weight due to my age. So now I am old AND fat – thank you very much! Just the motivation I need to run an extra mile at the gym. Running has been really hard lately. I think it IS the age. She was right! Having the hardest time losing any weight. Is that making me frustrated? I think I should eat now.

I think I would lose weight if:
• Someone paid me enormous amounts of money for it
• I had a personal chef, maybe a personal trainer would help too
• A new finding suggested that mashed potato and ice-cream can help shed some pounds

White space still persists in my new look. I need more of it in real life. There are so many things I want to achieve and so little time. Days are getting crammed and I end up with nothing done.

That does not stop me from dreaming. I can get enough of that done at work since it is so quiet here. Today is not an exception. It is like this all the time. I am not used to such silence. I miss my loud and noisy ex-colleagues. Thanks to Dubai Radio City 101.6 FM. It makes me want to dance. Their Desi Mix is the best, especially on Thursdays.

TDC has a performance coming up end of Jan. I have NO idea on content. I think it will be a dedication to the Mumbai attacks. That is ALL I can do now. It is frustrating. Maybe I should eat now. This way I will never lose weight. Someone needs to pay me big bucks. Maybe some of those idiots who drove the country into recession and made crazy dough for themselves. Maybe those guys are old and fat. Maybe it’s not me.

Please feel free to follow my blog and make me feel important. Become a follower TODAY!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Media: The REAL terror?

According to me, the terrorists always win when they get EXTENSIVE media coverage after every attack and I won’t be surprised if we see a movie released next year on the recent Mumbai attacks. Instead of converting news to drama, they really need to take a step back and let the police and army do their jobs.

I was more shocked at the media frenzy than I was with the Mumbai attacks. Don’t get me wrong. I am equally hurt, angry and horrified with what happened. But as I said, I sat in disbelief watching NDTV live and how their reporters dramatized every single thing. In one instance they interviewed this lady who had just been rescued from the Taj hotel. She seemed totally in control of herself and mentioned how their wing had been safe all along and how cooperative the hotel staff had been. However when one of the NDTV reporters later reiterated what she had said – it came out as she was horrified and how she would never be the same again and that’s how everyone inside felt. Well, she did not for once mention or imply any of that. The worst was how one of the cameras captured a reporter trying to tug at a man’s hands, who was injured and bleeding from the open round of firing from a police jeep that was taken over by the terrorists, so that he could get a better shot of his injuries. No one showed any inclination to take that man to the darned hospital.

Terrorists are sick people to begin with. What is the point in giving them so much media coverage? Creating more terror in people than what already exists? Isn’t that what they want? Shouldn’t they JUST be shot? Why is it so hard?

Media really needs to stick to ‘news’. There was a time I considered Indian news channels to be the best, especially after coming to this country and being introduced to its lousy news channels and coverage. Currently Indian media (most part of it) is doing exactly what I hate the US media for – replacing news with entertainment and drama.

I have purposefully not written about the Mumbai attacks for so long just because I was busy taking everything in and also in a loss for words what to write when so much has already been written across different medias. In the blog world there are a few posts that I thought better than the rest and if interested you can check these out. I have pasted some excerpts from those blogs as well.

Ramesh Srivats
“Commandos are landing on the Nariman Building. They seem to be tip-toeing down. They are communicating to each other through hand signals. Secrecy & surprise are paramount. And NDTV is showing this live!!! With informative commentary on how many commandos have landed and so on. Perhaps NDTV's research has shown that terrorists only watch cartoon network during missions.”

Amit Varma
“Deepak Chopra was also on the show, speculating that the attacks had taken place because terrorists were worried about Barack Obama’s friendly overtures to Muslims. (I know: WTF?) That sounded pretty ridiculous to me, but such theories are a consequence of our tendency as a species to want to give gyan. A media pundit, especially, feels compelled to have a narrative for everything. Everything must be explicable, and television expects instant analysis.”

“Usually an attack of such a magnitude in India is usually given about 30 seconds of TV time on network TV typically before news of Lindsay Lohan going into rehab. But this time, our Jihadi friends have explicitly targeted “Western” peoples thus signaling their intention to be “heard” at the top of the hour.”

Pet for Paul’s

Some facts when it comes to pets for the Paul family:
Mala = not a pet person.
Shomeek = LOVES pets (especially dogs).
Evani = scared of every living creature that is not human and sometimes scared of that too.

So when Evani showed the slightest excitement towards a fish tank at a friends place, Shomeek jumped at the opportunity and decided we should get a fish tank. So this Thanksgiving Evani got her fish tank and was SUPER excited with her ‘Fishy’. We got three Guppy’s and three Micky Mouse fish and quite honestly I like to watch Evani’s excitement at them swimming around. My contribution to the whole endeavor was picking out the interiors for the tank. We still need a stand for the tank. As of now it is sitting on our dining table – so that is my excuse for not entertaining this holiday season.

And I'm secretly thankful that Evani is scared of dogs, or else we would have ended up with a puppy instead of the fish.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Goddess Kali visits the U.S.

Awesome costume detail by Heidi Klum at her Halloween bash this year. Now why didn't I think of this? My source:Jabberwock

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NO is the new YES

Well, at least that’s what I would like to believe, NO being the prevalent word in Evani’s vocabulary these days. Here is how it usually goes in the evening -

Parents: “Evani, let’s eat dinner”
Evani: “NO!”

Parents: “Evani, lets go take a shower”
Evani: “NO!”

Evani: “potty”
Parents: “you want to go potty?”
Evani: “NO!”

So, as I said, I would like to believe she actually means ‘yes’.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You know your hubby is consistent when…

He buys the exact same b’day card for you as last year’s for your b’day this year again, and doesn’t believe it till I have to pull out last year’s card to prove my point. I don’t know why he wouldn’t’ believe in the first place – after all these years doesn’t he still know that I’m ALWAYS right? I seriously am.

Let’s see what else funny happened on my special day today. I decided to give myself a treat for lunch – Mc Donald’s French Fries. Not much of a treat exactly, but it was something I wanted to do for myself anyways. The closest McD to my work is inside the Folsom Walmart. So I go there only to be flabbergasted on being charged extra for some mayo with my fries. I usually get a packet of mayo instead of ketchup and this is the first time I was charged for it. I mean I know our economy is down in the dumps but when McD starts charging for mayo it starts getting a bit scary or maybe the lady in the counter was just possessive about the condiments. She even refused to give another customer an extra packet of bbq sauce.

Despite all the evil karma from the McD lady, I’ve been reminiscing about my birthdays when I was little and how different yet special they were. Since we had to wear school uniforms to school unlike schools out here, it was customary for the birthday girl to come to school in ‘color-dress’ (regular clothes) on her birthday and distribute candy while the rest of the class sang ‘happy birthday’. Everyone looked forward to that special day in their lives since only on that day the b’day girl was the focus of attention of the entire school in her special outfit. I always wanted to be that girl but unfortunately never got to go to school in a ‘color-dress’ due to the fact my birthday was always during our month long Puja Vacation. That really saddened me. However the bright side was that my birthday was always a holiday and I got to spend it with my family. My cousins would come home and my grandmother would cook special goat curry and rice for that day. My dad would usually buy me a new dress and that was about it. Yet, those birthdays were so enjoyable and all us cousins would spend the day chatting or playing games. As I grew older and started going to college, my birthdays were spent with a group of very close friends going out for lunch. We always remembered each other’s birthdays and spent hours buying a birthday card that had the most appropriate verbiage to express what we felt for each other.

Those were glorious years and I miss them. I hope the Sushi tonight makes up for all of that! ☺

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I looked into her eyes and knew she had secrets, the kind that if exposed could definitely ruin reputations of a lot of people in that crowded room. Not for once did I catch her attention though. Her gaze was fixed upon the ice cubes in her glass as if they held the window to the whole wide world and if only she could escape this darned party she would be getting herself lost in one of its wonders. She was beautiful and successful. Exactly the kind of lady I would like to be one day.

That day was long ago. I don’t even know where Neepa aunty is anymore. Once I had read about her in a magazine. I think she had recorded an album. I remembered her having a remarkable voice and Nazrulgeeti’s always suited her better than Rabindra sangeets. They were my favorite too. And today here I am, neither beautiful nor successful but with only one thing in common – the urge to get away from this crowd into the wilderness of that unknown world of wonders.

I have secrets too. Secrets that have nothing to do with others but myself. About things I’ve done, people I’ve loved, things I’ve witnessed and felt, things I’ve written. And I want to sing too - about all those things unsaid. But instead, I smile at known and unknown faces alike and ask the bartender to pour me another whiskey, this time on the rocks and comply with my host’s request to sing a ghazal.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Picture Perfect

Finally a family photo I LOVE.

For some reason I do not like going to a photo studio for pictures. It was only once that my dad forced me to get an 'arranged marriage' photo taken at a studio back in Kolkata whose caption read 'ek chobitei biye' (transaltion: a single photograph of yours will get you married) and that was enough to keep me away from any future posing at a studio. So unlike most of my friends out here and back at home, we do not have any family portraits that I can hang on walls.

Thus my excitement about this particular photo taken by a professional photographer at a friends wedding a few weeks ago. I love it because it is no natural.

And of course I had to share this one too :)

Friday, October 03, 2008

Its about time!

I finally accepted a job offer and start working at Association Resource Center in Folsom on Oct 13th. The company specializes in association and conference/trade show marketing and management services to state, national and international associations and organizations.

I did realize that it is really hard to get back into the job scene once you've taken a long break. In my case it is a year and the timings couldn't have been worse. There is an absolute scarcity of graphic design jobs in the area. Thanks to my friend Marcy, I got to know about this opening. She has been really supportive and helpful throughout this dry spell and I cannot thank her enough.

I am definitely looking forward to some adult time during my days. Now starts the process of finding a suitable daycare for Evani and having to deal with leaving her every morning in the prime of her separation anxiety phase. That I am NOT looking forward to.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Feast for the Brahmins

I have always refrained from writing about my mother-in-law in this blog. But this time I cannot resist myself as what took place last night is a prime example of how backward most of us Indians are till this day and age. For those of you who don't know, my mother-in-law lives in Sacramento and has been here for nearly 20 years now. So last night she invited the sons of her close friend for dinner who will be leaving for college soon. We were also asked to join. I had just washed my hands in preparation to chop some veggies for a salad, when she requested me to taste the mashed potatoes. I scooped some of the potatoes with my finger , tasted it and told her it needed more salt with no intention of digging my finger back into the bowl. Now she must have misunderstood me and thought I would go for a second round of tasting with that same finger but even then what she said next came to me as a shock.
"Don't touch the mashed potatoes. There are Brahmins who will be eating this food!"

Did I hear that right??? Was I just taken back to the Indian caste system and told that I couldn't touch the food because I was from a lower caste? This was my initial reaction. I was mad and felt insulted on so many different levels not to mention the very basic that she assumed I didn't have manners and also because it might be okay to double dip some else's food if they were not Brahmins. I don't really know what it was but last night as I lay in bed trying to forget what had just happened, I realized that most Indians are this way (please note, I did not say 'all').

This is also the reason why our country finds it so hard to move ahead. Most of it I understand is due to lack of a better education and understanding of our religion. But what about those Indians who are educated, have respectable jobs, traveled around the globe living comfortable lives which do not bog them down with the atrocities of some heinous religious practices like in old days - people like my mother-in-law? I have met so many of them here in the U.S. It amazes me how they are still centuries behind irrespective of how modern their lifestyles might me. I am not saying for a second that being religious is a bad thing. But blindly practicing rituals in the name of religion and condemning others, is not what makes a person religious.

For most people who are acquainted with me might think I'm not religious. I am. Just not in the same way. Thanks to my father, I was never forced into any particular religion. I have always heard him mention the Bible and Quran as he did the Gita. To me, Karma is my dharma. I went to a school founded by one of the pioneers of Brahmo Samaj. Back in those years they fought for the abolition of sati and the caste and dowry systems. They gave great importance to enlightenment and education versus idol worship. They moved us ahead and it seems like now we are moving back again. The educated and affluent Indians are more caught up in donating huge sums of money to build bigger and better temples, gurdwaras and mosques in an age where our country is still plagued with poverty and death.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympic Fever

Everyone in the stadium held their breath as she faced the challenge of the obstacle course. It was reported a few weeks ago that she had injured both her knees from a fall during training. But she is the favorite contender this year. Will she win gold and bring glory to her family who have relentlessly supported her in this entire journey? NBC of course refused to cover this event since it did not include four scantily clad women in the beach playing volleyball, but here is an exclusive coverage for the ardent readers of this blog~

She actually got up there and said 'Potty'. That alone won her the gold. She was awarded the most points for immaculate timings. The proud mother later told us in an exclusive interview that her daughter had made the entire family and country proud and all that training in the park had finally paid off. She will definitely be returning in 2012. In between she will be focusing on training even harder. She also bagged an endorsement deal from Huggies Pull-Ups - so you will be seeing a lot more of her in the potty training commercials. Finally, here is a glimpse of the medal ceremony and an example of how Americans are so famous for screwing up names ~

Friday, June 13, 2008

Evani update

Its been a while since I last posted an update on Evani. So for all my friends and family who haven't seen her in a while and I know you read my blog but you're just too lazy to comment (you're related/aquainted to me after all), here goes:

She is able to repeat plenty of words after me and can point to fish, tree, igloo, house and camel on her Ikea play mat. I was personally impressed with igloo and camel. She loves playing with cars. She is addicted to her bottle and I am scared she's going to take the longest time weaning out of it. She has learned to hug and kiss which totally melts my heart when she does it without being asked. However, the clever little thing that she is, she sometimes uses that tactic when she doesn't want to go to sleep. She has been climbing up the stairs for a while and has recently learned to crawl down. She calls both Shomeek and me 'baba' which actually means dad. For a 15 month old who can say camel, you would think she would be able to call me 'mamma'. She loves splashing around in the bathtub but hates the process of being changed. She carries my purse around the house saying 'ta ta' and loves being out and about. The cute things set aside, one fine day she woke up and turned into this temper tantrum throwing alien. She definitely lets you know when she doesn't like something or maybe wants to get hold of the keys or remote. Bathroom doors need to be kept close at all times since one day I did catch her in the act of dipping my cell phone into the toilet bowl and then licking it. She thrives on being independent and wants to do everything on her own. Meal times end up with more food on her entire body and floor than in her tummy.

Here is a clip of the calm right before the storm ~

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Secret

I don't think I've ever been this happy to know anyone's secret as much as I've been knowing Victoria's of late. Ladies, I'm talking about Victoria's Secret and even though I cannot justify bras being that expensive - they have truly made a difference to my post baby body. For all the guys reading my blog, it is a good piece of information to have for current or future gift ideas and please let that be a gift card since I'm sure whatever you bring will be a size too small. You keep forgetting that we are not the woman in your fantasies. So for all my married girlfriends who've always thought like me:(a)what's the point in spending so much money on something that no one's ever going to see except hubby and at this point he's just glad that you are a creature with breasts and (b)I'd rather spend that money eating something criminal or getting a babysitter, I'd like to tell you I was wrong and the shaping demi's are worth every penny, and no, this time there will be no pictures posted. ;)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Blistering Barnacles!

Its funny how randomly Captain Haddock came to mind after I inflicted more pain on myself this Saturday. When temperatures soared to 105 degrees around 3pm on the 17th, a few of us insane dancers rocked the amphitheater at the Rancho Cordova International Festival. The result: blistered feet, dehydration and some terrible photographs of us dancers squinting and trying real hard to cover the pain. The concrete we danced on was close to boiling point, I'm sure, and I think I can now say I know what walking on hot coal feels like. At the end of it what came out was however, true team spirit and professionalism and an awe struck audience. The pain quickly dissolved when everyone came up to congratulate us for a fabulous performance and many said it was the best Indian Fusion they had ever witnessed. Go TDC!

And yes, I'm able to walk again! :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mamma Day and much More

Despite suggestions from one of my fellow blogger to (a) piss off another blogger or (b) add some sexual content in order to have someone/anyone read my blog, which none of you have been doing lately, I decided to stick with my own jabberings. And in order to boost my self esteem, I did something really wild this mothers day - I got my nose pierced! Since this was such a spur of the moment thing and having not done too much research on the subject matter, I learned a few things that I need to share.

1. You really need to have a pretty nose in order to make that a focal point on your face by adding a little shiny thing.

2. Having a parrot nose does not enhance your look in any way. In fact, sometime due to the funny shape of your nose, the piercing might not be visible at all depending which angle you are looking at the face.

3. Picking your nose/tickling your brain does not seem to be an option.

4. Planning the piercing so that you get it done close to home seems to be a better option than having to drive far away if anything were to go wrong and you needed to go back to get it fixed. This also is relevant to timing it in such a way so that in case your nose was to swell up, you do not have a social commitment, or even better, a performance, a week after the piercing.

5. Sneezing hurts.

6. Inflicting pain to oneself on occasion of mothers day might not seem to be a great idea after all.

7. You might be blackmailed by your spouse that if you don't listen to him, he will punch your nose.

That being said, here is the new me ~

After the night of piercing, Mothers Day was spent at Napa Valley. Okay, this had nothing to do with getting drunk to ease off the pain. I had a friend visiting and we took her for a tour. The weather was gorgeous and the wine made me feel better in a lot of ways, especially since the pricey lunch left me only half full. All in all, I realized how lucky I am to have such a beautiful daughter and being her 'mamma' is the best thing to have happened to me.

As usual Shomeek captures the moment as is ~

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A is for Abbles...

B is for Ba(ll) and C is for Cowwwwwww. Evani's vocabulary keeps increasing with lightening speed. In fact I thought I heard her repeat 'airplane' after me today, it was more like 'aibay' though.

Its high time I posted an update on what's going on at my end and here it is:

Let's start with corporate America taking over our lives there for a while. A part of Intel's flash division got spun off into a new company called Numonyx and that very clearly spelled LAYOFFS. We found ourselves doing the whole routine all over again, frantic job searching, stress, lack of sleep. Shomeek left no stones unturned in getting interviews lined up. We got mentally prepared to relocate to wherever Shomeek would find a job and finally he landed one right here itself. He starts at HP on Monday as Product Manager.

On another note, our very close friend and my dance partner at TranceFusion is relocating to Seattle this June as her husband takes up a position at Microsoft (no, you may not call him when your computer starts to stop...;). I'm still not sure how I'm going to deal with her move...but I'm trying to convince myself that everything happens for a reason and that change is the only constant.

Which brings me of course to TranceFusion Dance company and its future. We are growing and performing quite a bit now and although Soma will still be at the heart of its functioning, I'm having this feeling that its not going to be the same. Once again, I'm trying to think positive. TDC is our baby and we are going to give it our all to keep it nourished. BTW, while I'm on this topic I would like to mention that we have been invited to perform at the Rancho Cordova International Festival on May 17th - so all you local readers of my blog are invited to come watch us at the Amphitheater at Capital Village in Zinfandel (right behind the new Chevy's there).

Another major change in my life has been the baby-sitting role that I've taken for a friend's 4 month old daughter. Before you shriek, I had a very valid reason to do it. Since Evani stays at home with me all day, she has become very clingy and used to undivided attention. Since we don't plan to have a second (there, now its in writing!), I figured it would be great to have another kid at home. It has been a week now and has been going great. Evani loves having 'baby' around (yes, she can say 'baby' too) but it still having a hard time getting used to me carrying Wren. I think it will be really good for her...a lot of work for me though! Oh what parents do for their kids - now I know what our parents meant when they said that...;)

Last weekend we went on an impromptu trip to Seattle and guess what - we were lucky enough to see the sun. Surprisingly it was not raining and we had a blast while I fell in love with the city. Here we are being tourists at Space Needle.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Bong Connection

Nope, I am not daring to write a review on Anjan Dutta's movie titled the same - it is finally the vacation post you have all been so eagerly waiting for - ya right! As I savor the stillness around the house with Evani napping and me not engaged in the vicious cycle of loading and unloading the dishwasher, I finally descend upon my journey to start blogging again. What I enjoy most is however my throat giving me a break from the life wrenching coughing spasms that I've been living with for the past week. My voice still seems to not have found me.

As I lay in bed last night with the eternal feeling of something being stuck to my throat, I craved the sour taste of the tamarind water that goes oh so well with 'puchka' or 'golgappa' or 'panipuri' as all you non-bongs would like to call it. There is however a distinct difference between 'puchka' and 'golgappa'. puchka tastes way better than the non-bong golgappa. There I've said it. Last time I had asked the puchkawallah at the Victoria grounds, while devouring his puchkas like there was no tomorrow, whether the water he used came from the neighboring container from which the ponies were quenching their thirst after having tugged along the very healthy uncles, aunties and their healthier Chotus or Pappus from the Marwari clan of Kolkata sightseers. I had gotten no answers. That did not stop me then and it definitely did not make me the 'Bisleri water in my puchka eating in stainless steel plates at an air-conditioned joint' kind of puchka faker. This time however, I went to my favorite puchka and chaat joint at Vivekananda Park to devour a greater number of puchkas after a 2 year break. Now you see, I am the true puchka connoisseur. I like mine from street vendors, who use their 'who knows where they've been' hands to mash the potatoes and chole. I think THAT is what brings out the flavor. For those who know me, know very well the spice level I can handle - which is like none at all. So, I like a little sweet chutney along with the regular puchka water and my puchka escapades always end with a round of 'churmur'..ummmm....This time my pseudo-umrican hubby was bold enough to join me on this venture. His request for a spicy filling had him visiting the bathroom more often that he would have liked. I on the other hand was really impressed that U.S.A. had still not played havoc with my immune system.

The immune system part did not hold true overall. I had a severe allergy attack which lasted me my entire Kolkata trip. I seemed to have lost control over my itchy and watering eyes and nose and I had to do something that I used to loathe every NRI (Non Resident Indian) for - cover my nose and mouth when out on the streets. Now my friends can finally mock me as being one of 'them.'

Vacationing back home is all about friends and family and being stuffed with food till you're ready to burst or literally throw up, is the typical Bong custom of love and affection. It always amazes me on how much things change between our trips. Sometimes I do not even recognize my nieces or nephews as they've grown so much. Its always a treat catching up with everyones lives. There is one thing in common between all though - they all seem to think we have better lives than them based on our location and vice versa. How I crave to have someone cook, clean and drive me everywhere. My friends crib about how it is so hard on them when their maids have conflicting schedules - the audacity I say!

And it is not only people, but the place in general that has changed so much. Kolkata is no longer the place where I was born and grew up in. I'm sure it is the case with all major Indian cities these days due to the economic boom that's taking place there. But my overall study of Kolkata proved quite disheartening. On taking a closer look I realized the majority of Kolkata's economic growth was coming from call centers and not from real industries. In fact the infrastructure in Kolkata does not encourage big companies to open their offices there. Road conditions are still bad. Even the new ones are crumbling down. Law and order is actually chaos and the pollution has reached new levels. Civic sense is remote. The new upper-end housing developments that are coming up are already stained with 'paan' residue. The talk of development has all Calcuttans pointing towards the glitz of the malls or nightclubs. On visiting a few of both, I wondered what percentage of the real Bengal population could really afford that stuff. The IT sector of Kolakta, Salt Lake, is piling up with call centers which has become recent hubs for sex and drugs. People find it hard to remain healthy with ongoing night shifts and education takes a back seat.

On the brighter side, Kolkata is still the cultural capital of India hosting the pioneers of creative arts. Fine and performing arts have reached a new peak and Kolkata continues on its trend to encourage both traditional and contemporary artists from all over. I was honored to spend some time with Sutapa Talukdar, the famous Odissi dancer and Sudarshan Chakravorty of Sapphire Dance Creations. At the latter meeting, my path also crossed that of one of India's leading fashion photographers, Ranjit Sinha. I'm glad I had taken Shomeek along with me. Both Ranjit and Shomeek spent most of their time talking about cameras while I enjoyed the sun and rhythm watching Sudarshan teach his new dance class geared towards stay-home moms.

This trip was special for many reasons. It was of course our first trip back home with Evani. But it was also kind of a first trip together for both me and Shomeek. During our stay there I hooked Shomeek up with a photographer friend of mine, who is now a photographer for Times of India and Shomeek did something he had always longed for. He went out with his new-found friend, once during the wee hours of morning and the other into the darkness of the night to capture some special heart-felt moments of the city. At the end, one of his morning shots got published in Times of India and and the ecstasy on Shomeek's face made my trip worthwhile.

What moved Evani however was totally different. Windows that looked out into the streets which in turn were filled with people, cars, rickshaws and of course cows. Evani would hold on to the window 'grill' and shout out 'bhow bhow' and/or 'kaak' at the crows dominating the smog filled sky. She loved the taste of fish which in turn filled my Bong heart with joy and bonded very well with our maid Manju.

And I come to the other special part of Cal. Its people, especially the ones that form the core. Not the snooty upper middle class, so called educated and wanna be 'goras' like us. Manju di has been our maid for the longest time. She had started off with being an 'aaya'/nurse taking care of my grandfather when he fell very ill. She stayed on long after he passed away to make sure my dad was taken care of. She takes care of everything for us there - the cooking, cleaning, laundry and almost everything as I mentioned. She was also the best friend my daughter had during her stay there. Manju di left no stones unturned to take care of Evani allowing for me to enjoy my vacation any way I pleased. She not only took care of Evani but made sure all family members needs got met. The best part however is she did all of this out of love more than money. That reason however stems from my dad and how he looks after her family in times of need. Baba has placed all her children in careers and given them a roof above their heads. He continues to guide them through every aspect of life just like he would do for me and my brother. I will admit sometimes it makes me feel jealous. But when I look back, I haven't done half as much for him as they do. In that respect, 'Kite Runner'. will always be a very special book as I'm sure all of us would relate to it in some way.

Having said all and so much more left unsaid, Kolkata/Calcutta remains to have a special place in my heart. Its every nook and cranny has some sort of memory that has made me what I am today.

This post ends with Shomeek's eye of the city which I feel really captures the heart and soul of the City of Joy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring is in the air

Okay, this is more of a disclaimer than a real post for people who are wondering whether I ever came back from my vacation. My two nephews, a 9 yr old and 5 yr old are spending their spring break with me this week. So, I hardly get time to be in front of a computer or do anything with 'me' time in it. And once they are gone I will take couple more weeks just to get back into the normal groove of things - so please bear with me. In the mean time we are all having lots of fun, enjoying the gorgeous outdoors and eating lots of yummy food.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Calcutta - here we come!

I am so excited to be going back home after two years. This will also be Evani's first trip there and she gets to celebrate her first birthday with family. We leave on Monday , Feb 11th and return March 2nd. I hope not to be blogging while I'm gone - but if I can't resist sharing pictures with you, I might log in. :)


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And then there was LIGHT!

Or maybe it was 'aight'. I any case, officially it is Evani's first word...yoohooooo!!!

Friday, January 25, 2008

A peek into Evani's world

Below are a few clips of Evani that pretty much covers the major part of her daily activities.

Here is Evani trying to feed herself from the bottle right after I changed her diaper. Her expression when she loses grip of the bottle is classic and cracks me up each time I watch it.

It has always been Shomeek's dream that his daughter will be a soccer player (I have no idea why!) and it seems he doesn't want to waste any time in the process. So, when Shomeek spotted the soccer ball at Ikea, he had to pick it up. Soccer training has officially kicked off. Beware my dear friend Conor - you will be needed pretty soon. (Conor is a very good friend/ex-colleague who is also a soccer coach:). Btw, here is a little secret: Shomeek likes playing with the soccer ball more than Evani does.

Evani is drawn to the remote like a magnet. However much I try to put a variety of toys out for her, she will automatically get drawn to the remote on the couch and ignore the fact that we spend money to buy her toys and that she should be putting them to use.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Cheap Entertainment

It did involve a big screen and lots of unknown people, yet it had nothing to do with cable or internet. It was the monitor at SF international airport that allows you a viewing of the arriving passengers right before they actually get out into the arrivals lobby. The intention of that might be for you to get ready to receive, whoever you are there to receive, with a broad grin or something of that sort, but for us Pauls it was better than comedy night on NBC.

The best part is that most passengers do not know that they are being watched by herds of unknown people. So, their actions and emotions are absolutely genuine, and for some, pretty embarrassing if they ever found out that they were being displayed on a huge screen. I wonder if their friends or family ever let them in on the amusement.

We were there on Saturday to receive my mother-in-law, who was returning from her vacation in India. As usual her luggage was amongst the last to arrive and hence we had a pretty long wait out there. With Evani keeping herself entertained in her stroller, we resorted to observing strangers around us, especially on the screen. It was a Cathay Pacific flight that had just arrived from Hong Kong. It was intriguing to watch all the passengers. We started weaving stories on their lives based on how they were dressed for such a long flight, the luggage they carried, their facial expressions. It was fun to watch the first timers arriving in SFO trying real hard to suppress their excitement before coming out of the gates. There were the occasional nose pickers as well oblivious to the fact that they were on camera. The stilettos and freshly applied makeup of a few after the 14 or 15 hour flight put me to shame and reminded me how shabby I looked after the early morning (which is 8 am, btw) 2 hour drive from Sacramento.

The one who most caught our attention however was a guy who was at the receiving end. An Indian guy sporting a formal jacket over jeans - seemingly not an ABCD (American Born Confused Desi), who clutched a laptop with his dear life waiting for someone to arrive. The reason he had a laptop was the object of curiosity for us. He must have had a very reasonable cause for it but the fun lay in the conclusions we came up with:
1. His newly-wed wife must be arriving to the U.S. for the first time and he carried the laptop to impress her
2. He was a geeky software engineer who felt insecure without his laptop
3. He was meeting a client for business and had to start working immediately upon their arrival at the airport - nah! (this was ruled out by Shomeek)
After much discussion on him we named him 'laptop da' ('da' being colloquial for 'dada' which means 'elder brother' in Bengali) and was eager to catch a glimpse of the person who he was there for. However, amidst all the other strangers who were entertaining us, we missed that most important moment and he was gone. It reminded me of the power cuts that were bound to happen in the middle of our most favorite shows back home and so the mystery remains forever.

You writers can be on strike for as long as you want - we don't need you or your characters to keep us entertained!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Welcome '08

Happy New Year!

I know...I first post in the new year has long been due. Initially I had thought that the holidays would be more of us just chilling out at home but eventually it ended up being pretty hectic. The highlight was our Tahoe trip. It was Evani's first snow experience and she seemed to enjoy every bit of it.

The holidays being over, I find myself back into the daily groove of things. 2007 was a very special year with the birth of Evani, Wacker Design Group and TranceFusion Dance Company. These all came with a huge responsibility as well. I just hope this year I am able to balance every aspect of my life.

2008 started off with Wacker Design moving into an office space in Roseville, thanks to some wonderful friends - YAY! We're not fully functional there yet, but that's not too far away.
TDC has been invited to perform on Jan 26th at a fundraiser for the cyclone victims of Bangladesh. We have also set ourselves in full gear for offering classes to adults and children.
I am continuing to knock on doors to find someone in India who can help Dr. Ernie Bodai introduce the Breast Cancer Stamp there. All efforts in this regard is seeming futile, but I will keep trying as long as I can.

On the home front, Evani has been growing rapidly. She is a burst of energy and is trying to take a few steps if you hold her. We will finally be making our trip to India with her mid Feb. Cleaning poopy diapers is just getting worse by the day due to the stench. I seem to smell poop everywhere. Shomeek's huge nose is finally coming in handy - he seems to identify that Evani has pooped from miles away. I continue to watch crappy movies that Shomeek gets from Blockbuster as that seems to be the only form of entertainment for us. We have been trying hard to control our urge to eat out, which results in the fact that I am having to cook regularly...uurrghhhh!!! From the onset of '08 I have been craving chocolate brownies with vanilla ice-cream. The craziest thing I did however was meet in person a friend I made online (I have not heard the end of this from my other friends). Thankfully he didn't turn out to be a criminal or a weirdo. In fact I am really glad I met him. He seems to be a wonderful and talented person and he has become a very good friend (okay, you know who you are, I deserve to be treated for saying such wonderful things about you on my blog:).

All in all, 2008 has started off pretty well. Lots of things to do and greater heights to be achieved. Thanks to all family and friends for being around and supporting me in every endeavor of mine. I hope to spend some more time with all of you this year.