Thursday, December 31, 2009

100th post on Butterfly

Time just flies...I still remember how my cousin( Woodsmoke) had first encouraged me to create my own blog. That was way back, in 2006. She was the one who had created my blog for me as I had sat with her, agreeing with whatever she had written in my profile and the blog template she had chosen. She had even suggested what I should write in my first post. I had been very excited although I had doubted how long my interest would last. But, my interest not only lasted, it increased with every passing week. I was a more regular blogger then and would post something or the other every week. During my first six months as blogger, no one would read my posts other than my cousin. Then, it was she again, who requested her fellow bloggers to read my blog. So, on my last post of 2006, I got many comments from many bloggers who gradually became great online friends of mine!

Naturally, my eagerness to blog increased. I would spent a lot of time reading my friends' blogs and updating my own one. Without my realization, blogging became an indispendsable part of my life. I would become restless if circumstances would prevent me from staying away from blogging for a very long time. I would become very curious about what comments I had received on my last post and what new posts my friends had written. Then, as I would surf all the posts, I would completely get lost in the blogging world...

This enthusiastic behaviour continued through 2007 and 2008 but sadly, 2009 was not such a great year for blogging...While my frequency of posting reduced because of pressure in studies, my friends' frequency of posting also reduced drastically. Many of them have even stopped writing. I know that they are all engaged in jobs now and are not students anymore, like some of them were when I started interacting with them. I know that they are really busy, probably beyond my imagination. Even then, its disappointing to see none of my fellow bloggers updating their blogs...So, I too, have lost much of my earlier interest in blogging. Blogging is not just about updating one's own blog. Its also about knowing others through their blogs. I strongly feel that one of these activities cannot work without the other, or cannot regularly work without the other. Thus, the blogging platform has just become a bit lonely for me.

But, I'll not stop posting because I still feel that blogging is the most important way for me to express some of my feelings, if not all. There are some things which, I guess, I can express only here. In this 100th post, I would like to request all my fellow bloggers to try and write, at least once, every month. I don't know whether they are all reading this post or not but this is my request to them all.

Finally, Happy belated Christmas and a very Happy New Year to all! :-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Three days of my life

The last three days have been like a whirlwind. But, the days were a bit different and a bit interesting as well.

My pre-board exam will be held next month, but our practicals and viva exams are getting over in this month itself. I had two such practicals, one today and the other yesterday. Besides these, today is also my parents' anniversary. Every year, I decide what to gift them, with just about four days in hand. First, I wrack my brains for a long time as I simply cannot understand what to give them. Finally, when I decide on something, I have around three days left for making my plan successful. Yes, three days is a lot of time. But, I prefer to present something which I myself have made. So, with my packed schedule and my intentions of totally surprising my parents with the gift, it becomes a bit difficult to make my mission successful. So, this year, I had decided to plan about the gift with a lot more time in hand. Strangely, whenever I would try to think about it, my mind would inexplicably divert to other thoughts! Thus, this year too, I found myself pondering over the present on Tuesday evening, with just two days to go! When I ultimately decided to make a glass painting for my parents, I also realized that it would be very difficult for me to finish it over a span of two days because during those two days only, I would have to study for the two practical exams, study for tests which would be taken at my tuitions during those two days and attend the tuitions, of course, which would automatically take up my time. Yet, I had made up my mind.

On Wednesday morning, I studied for around an hour and a half. Then, I went out to buy the glass. I was feeling extremely nervous carrying the glass in my hand. It was the peak hour in the morning and I was having a feeling that I would drop it any moment, what with all those people , cycles and rickshaws on the road. Back home though, I managed to make a good glass painting in a matter of two hours. It wasn't very elaborate...just some flowers and some writing. But, I was happy. Up next was an afternoon tuition. At 5.45 p.m., I returned home from there and studied very hurriedly for the evening tuition test. I actually got full marks in that test! Back home again at 9.30 , I started studying for the next day's practical exam. That exam, on Thursday morning, was very good. Another tuition test was waiting for me at 4.30 p.m. that evening. I studied for that and that went well too. Only after finishing my study for today's practical exam, could I breathe freely yesterday. And, today's exam had to be good because the date itself is very good! So, I'm really satisfied with myself today. I was feeling so happy to see the smiles on my parents' faces when they saw my gift.
One more reason for which these three days were different is that I got stuck in traffic jams. I'm very lucky to have a schedule which doesn't trap me in these jams. But, for some reason, having the same schedule and using the same route, I had to face these jams over the last three days. Whatever the reason, stranded in a traffic jam, all sorts of people can be observed. Impatient clicking of tongues will be heard and everyone will invariably criticize the driver even if it is not his fault! Some people will get down from buses and start walking to reach their destination. Again, to some people, nothing will matter. They'll go on enjoying a blissful sleep...I think that one can best spend this time by either studying(if that is so urgent) or sending messages from their cell phones!

Monday, November 30, 2009


Saw a really good movie after a long time...The movie is 'Kurbaan', starring Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and others.

First of all, for some reason or the other, I had been very eager to watch 'Kurbaan' long before its release. So, I went to watch it feeling glad and excited. I'm not saying that this is the best movie I have ever seen ,or that this is the best movie made this year. But, it is certainly one of the best. Most of you must already be knowing what the movie is all about. Its common knowledge by now that Saif plays the role of a terrorist in the movie and Kareena marries him without knowing that. Maybe, the element of terrorism in the movie is not something new. There have been other movies, even in the recent past, which have talked about terrorism. But, its the way in which 'Kurbaan' tells the story of terror that sets it apart from other films. Its not just about violence, gunshots and plans to bomb areas. Its also about the psychology of different people and the way in which they react in different situations. It also tells a heart-rending love, in the time of terror...

All through the movie, there is tension and excitement. Not a single moment allows the viewer to think about anything else and he/she is completely immersed in the movie. The film has some great performances, which I feel, should be the numero uno reason for everyone to watch it. Saif Ali Khan was exceptional and seemed to portray different emotions with equal ease. Kareena Kapoor was also great, specially in the last scene. Both of them were looking very good, individually as well as together. The supporting cast deserves special mention. Om Puri and Kirron Kher are just perfect in their roles as jehadis and I loved Vivek Oberoi in all the scenes, no matter what the newspaper reviews had to say about him( only looking good and giving an uneven performance, etc., etc.). Vivek was even better than Kareena in a few scenes. Plus, there was this guy playing the role of a suicide bomber and although he had no lines, he was brilliant in the few minutes of his screen time.

The film has just two or three loopholes, I guess, but they are not so noticeable. The good things will ultimately make the viewer forget them. I'll suggest to all those reading this post, to watch 'Kurbaan' soon. I'm sure they'll love it in one way or the other.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

All that glitters...

Recently, I had the opportunity to go to a gold jewellery shop and the experience was just boring. Yet, as I looked all around me, I saw people, specially women, buying different articles of jewellery having different designs. Some of them were even ordering jewellery, suggesting their own designs, not being satisfied with what was being shown to them. Seeing all the fuss, a series of questions gradually came to my mind.

First of all, I thought, why do people buy gold jewellery? That's because gold is an asset.
What is an asset? Well, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is a property having money value. But then, other things can also be assets. Even after that, why do people buy gold jewellery? Ah, it is required in weddings, to be gifted to the bride and bridegroom. As soon as I got this answer, I suddenly started hating this Indian custom of presenting gold in weddings. I slowly realized the demerits of this custom. No matter how much is gifted at the time of the wedding by the bride's parents, if the amount of gold is less, the bridegroom's family will be dissatisfied. Their dissatisfaction will be visible even if the dowry included a bed, an almirah, other expensive furniture, clothes for everyone in the bridegroom's family and so on, but there was just an article of gold less. I just don't understand the reasons behind this kind of attitude. The rest of the things given at the time of Indian weddings are assets as well. In spite of that, people in India just seem greedy for gold. In South India, there's even a custom of giving gold to the bridegroom's family equal to the weight of the bride! And, to think that we talk about our 'rich' culture!

So, I don't think that Indians are bothered about assets when they demand gold in weddings. Its just a tradition, which has become dirty and harmful over the years. If I had some sort of ultimate power, I would just ban it. The price of gold is rising every day and with the advent of costume jewellery, gold jewellery just remains securely in bank lockers. One fine day, when people find that they are too short of money and the last resort for them to keep on feeding themselves, is to sell the gold, they do it. They actually sell all those glittering articles they had once longed for. True, it brings them immediate money and helps them in one way but on how many occasions could they adorn themselves with the jewellery? That was the real purpose, wasn't it? Selling it all off some day couldn't have been the real purpose!

So, after writing so much, my main point is that gold jewellery has no utility in the long run and therefore, the custom of presenting gold in Indian marriages shouldn't continue. But, unfortunately, it will because there's no one to protest...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Its Rocking!

As the bus started moving, I waved my hands even more eagerly at my parents. They waved back at me. Then, slowly, they started disappearing from my view...From that moment, began my life's first out-of-station tour without my parents. Not being able to see them anymore from the bus windows that day, things seemed a bit uncertain to me. But, as I moved further and further away from home, I discovered a new kind of joy...

Every year, the Class XII students of only the Humanities stream of our school are taken for an excursion. This year, it was our turn. :-) The 25 odd students(20 girls and 5 boys) of our class were taken to Adra in Purulia distirct of West Bengal. There were five teachers with us. In the first paragraph above, I have described how I had felt when we had started off for the tour from our school in a bus. But, gradually, everything looked very bright. We all enjoyed our journey immensely. Some of my classmates were singing, some were enjoying the view outside while others were just gossiping. After some time, I felt that being among these people for the next three days, will mean a lot of fun. After all, a trip with one's school buddies, while being at school, comes hardly once in a lifetime!

I and my closest friends in this class, Shreyasi, Amrita and Rinita, had occupied seats at the back of the bus. In fact, quite a few seats were empty and so, we kept on changing our places.After a six-hour journey, we reached Adra past 3 p.m. There, we entered the community hall of the South Eastern Railways which would be our home there. It was late and we weren't even allowed to wash our hands properly so that we could have our lunch as soon as possible! The food was good and much better than our expectations. There was rice, dal, potato fries, fish curry and even chutney. Adjoining the community hall were a few dormitories and toilets. We entered the biggest, but stuffy dormitory ,which had been allotted to the girls and selected our beds. There were around twelve mattresses arranged on the floor with bedsheets and pillows. After resting for a short while, everyone again started getting ready to go to the place where tusser handloom works are made. Our teachers were pleased as we got ready on time. First, we had to walk through the town of Adra to reach the autorickshaw stand. Everyone(no exceptions here) in the town was staring at us as we walked as if they had never seen so many people(or girls) together before. At the stand, four autorickshaws were hired and we went to the tusser handloom shops. The autorickshaws there are also different and I, along with my three friends, occupied the back seat, which is almost like the back seat of a Tata Sumo car.

As it was evening already, the place where the tusser sarees and other clothes are made, was closed. But, a man at one of the shops selling the handlooms, offered to explain to us, the process by which the clothes are woven. It was an interesting session, at the end of which we returned to the community hall. The return journey was spooky as the road was completely dark, with thick outgrowths of bushes on either side and the occasional flashes of lightning gave brief glimpses of excellent hiding places for anything and anybody among those bushes...Later that evening, a few of my classmates sang to the music of one of our teacher's synthesizer. The songs that they chose were those sentimental ones that talk about friendship and everyone seemed to listen dreamily. But, after dinner( rice/chapati with egg curry), the dreams ended temporarily for me as I didn't get a wink of sleep at night because of various reasons. I tried hard but the circumstances didn't let me sleep even after the day's long journey...

We were supposed to start getting ready by 4.30 the next morning and I was among the first people to do so. Later on, I borrowed one of our teachers' cellphones and called my parents. I narrated the happenings of the previous night to my father but, as soon as I heard my mother's voice, I burst into tears. I still don't know why I did something so silly...Not having slept the night before, I was also feeling sick and decided to skip breakfast. Things began to look up again as I slept a bit in the bus on our way to Chittaranjan Locomotive Works, a two-hour ride from Adra. It was there that we worked on our project. We were shown around the Loco Fabrication and Assembly Shops by two guides. It was a unique experience and we saw how a complete engine is made after the assembling of its different parts and the construction of its body. Questions were also posed to the employees about the plant itself and about their own living conditions. Besides the plant,the Chittaranjan township itself is also huge and we had lunch at one of the restaurants there. That, according to me, was the worst meal we had during the whole tour. By that time, I had already shaken off the morning's disappointment and sickness because we had all worked together at Chittaranjan and the cooperation had lifted my mood again...

We returned to Adra in the early hours of the evening and afterwards, had a blast at the campfire. Everyone danced in a circle around the fire and there were individual performances also. Each and everyone was in great spirits and even the teachers joined in the dance! The dinner that night was also very good , considering that there was mutton. But, at night, with our teacher's permission, my three friends and I shifted to the stage in the hall for sleeping. We took our mattresses and pillows there and the place was surprisingly a lot cooler than our dormitory. We had to use blankets and didn't even need the fan after a while. We had a deep and good night's sleep.

On the third and final day, we bid goodbye to Adra and headed for Maithon. Maithon is a lovely place with grren hills and a calm river. We also saw the famous dam at Maithon and took lots of pictures. The lunch, again, was not so good but we had a good time in the park adjoining the hotel where we took our food. On the way back to Kolkata, the bus stopped at Shaktigarh. This time, we all bought the famous sweets of Shaktigarh for our parents. But, after leaving Shaktigarh and crossing Dankuni, another important place, we heard a massive sound and also saw a spark. Some people thought at first that Maoists had attacked the bus! Thankfully though, it was just a burst tyre. We were forced to get down from the bus and wait on the highway as the tyre was being replaced. But, even that was fun! I guess, that happened because there were so many of us together. Otherwise, being in a group of three or four and being forced to halt in the middle of a highway and watching daylight fade to give way to evening,definitely wouldn't have been a funny experience...

When the bus again entered the school premises at around 7.30 that evening, we saw our anxious parents waiting. I was delighted to see my parents again and enter my home again although I had been away from them for just three days. But, those three days had been entirely different from all other days of my life and had provided a rich and lively experience .In addition, it had also brought new thoughts to my mind; thoughts which have still not stopped intriguing me. Yet, one common feeling that all my classmates and I share about the excursion is that , 'Its Rocking!'

p.s. I couldn't upload pictures today because of some stupid error. Will try to upload them in the next post.:-)

Saturday, October 03, 2009

A different Puja

I spent a great Durga Puja with my parents this time. Its true that this year's Puja vacation wasn't as good as last year's one but it had its own share of surprises.

On the first Puja day, Shasthi, my parents and I decided to leave for Digha the next day. Digha is very near to Kolkata and it takes about four-and-a-half hours on bus to get to Digha. So, things took a new turn altogether and preparations were made as quickly as possible. At first, we hadn't expected to get rooms in any hotel but luckily, we could book one. We also thought that the best course would be to go straightaway to the bus stop the next morning with all our luggage. After all, many buses leave for Digha everyday and we would surely get three seats on any one of them...

But, a shock awaited us at the bus stop the next morning . After cutting the tickets, we were told that our bus hadn’t arrived yet.We and the other passengers were asked to wait as the bus was trapped in a traffic jam and would be late. But, even after two hours when the bus did not arrive and the people at the ticket counters were flooded with querries, out came the truth. A trailer had broken down on Kolaghat Bridge, a very important bridge on the way to Digha. It had blocked the entire bridge, thus stopping all vehicles from crossing the bridge. No steps had been taken to remove the trailer and the vehicles trapped there had caused a 12km long traffic jam. Hearing the news, we knew that we had no chance of going. Even if our bus arrived, we would get stuck in the jam on the bridge. So, we were feeling really dejected at that time. But, an elderly couple, who had also booked seats on our bus, told us that we should still try to catch a train to Digha because going home would be highly disappointing and would spoil the rest of the Puja days. Their enthusiasm raised our hopes again and we agreed to share a taxi with them on our way to the railway station. First, the five of us cut tickets to go to a place called Mecheda on a local train. Our experience while boarding the train was very bad because the crowds were constantly pushing and I had a tough time pulling our trolley suitcase. Looking back though, I realize that I had done a pretty neat job with the suitcase that day…

Anyway, a little more than two hours later, we reached Mecheda and then, hired a car to go to Digha. When we finally reached Digha at around 3.30 p.m., we were tired but very very happy. Some moments later, we were also forced to thank the bus authorities , whom we had been cursing till then, that our bus had not arrived. This is because we rang up one of my aunts, uncle and cousin who were also supposed to be coming to Digha that day and they told us that they were still trapped in the traffic snarl on the Kolaghat Bridge! They actually reached Digha later that night past 11 o’clock. If our bus would have arrived on time in the morning, one of our Puja days would have been totally spoilt. …We had been so lucky!

The stay in Digha was good and we took walks on the sea beach and also met my aunt. We visited some nearby places like Mandarmani, Talshari and Udaipur. They all had a common attraction and that was the sea. Personally, I thought Udaipur was the best. We also went to the place where the Subarnarekha river meets the sea. But, the good food, specially the breakfast, came as a huge relief.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Happy Durga Puja :-) :-)

Its been a long time since my last post on this blog. I have never been away from my blog for such a long period except when I have had exams. But, this time, there were neither exams nor any other engagement. In fact, life was very smooth and I had a good time going clothes shopping with my parents. But somehow, the eagerness to post something new was missing. On several occasions, I tried to convince myself to write something as there was no dearth of topics. Yet, even after thinking of writing something new, I just couldn't bring myself to do it at the end of the day.

But today, I want to write; I want to open my heart out. I am very happy today and so is the world around me. Its that time of the year again when Kolkata has geared up for the Durga Puja. Colourful pandals, lovely lights, good food and smiling faces....its a dream world altogether!
To get lost in this world of dreams, I went pandal hopping with my friends yesterday. :-) I had, even after being born and brought up in this city, gone and taken a grand tour of pandals a very few times. So, yesterday's experience was special. There were four of us- Amrita, Shreyasi, Sukanya and I, and we had decided to make best use of Amrita's car. Little did we know that travelling in her car would turn out to be our biggest drawback yesterday; a drawback, thanks to her driver, who would benefit the passenger community a lot by changing his occupation immediately. He didn't know any of the common routes and when we tried to direct him by taking directions from our parents through cellphones, he simply wouldn't listen.
After a while, we decided that the best course would be to take rickshaws or to walk after stopping at a particular pandal. And, that was when we enjoyed ourselves the most because we were on our own. We visited the nearby pandals by taking directions from local people. We took our lunch at a chinese restaurant past 4 o'clock. By 7 o'clock in the evening, we had visited 12 pandals in South Kolkata and Salt Lake and felt that the beginning to our Puja had been awesome.
Wish all of you a very Happy Durga Puja!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

First letter tricks

It actually felt good to be tagged after a long time. This time, its Subhadipda who's tagged me. You have to use the first letter of your name to answer the following questions and the answers must be real. If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers. You cannot use any word twice and cannot use your name for the boy/girl name question. So, this one proved to be a bit tricky because Subhadipda and I share the same first initial. On top of that, he already seemed to have chosen the easy answers!

1. What is your name: Sinjini

2. A four letter word: Slap

3. A boy's name: Seamus

4. A girl's name: Shreyasi

5. An occupation: Singing

6. A colour: Saffron

7. Something you wear: Skirt

8. A food: Sandesh( A sweet)

9. Something found in the bathroom: Soap

10. A place: Shillong

11. A reason for being late: Saving rickshaw fares and walking instead

12. Something you shout: Shouting is something which I never do! So, there's nothing that I shout.

13. A movie title: Shonar kella( A Bengali movie; the title means, 'golden fort')

14. Something you drink: Sprite

15. A musical group: Soundgarden

16. An animal: Shark

17. A street name: Shimla Street( the street in Kolkata on which Swami Vivekananda's house is situated)

18. A type of car: Skoda

19. Something scary: Snakes

20. Ice cream flavour: Strawberry and vanilla(two-in-one)

Sunday, August 16, 2009


A joyride...That is what I can collectively call the past three days .

It was time for a family gathering after all! My parents had planned to treat two of my cousins at our house after their great exam results. Along with them, their parents too were, obviously, invited. One of them, unfortunately, had to leave for New Delhi before this party because his new academic session there has already begun. But, when the others ultimately turned up for the party at our place, no one seemed to remember the reason for which it had originally been planned. For all of us, it was just a gathering after a long, long time.

From Friday evening, my parents and I began the preparations for the party. My mother cooked two of the dishes that evening and her cooking continued throughout Saturday morning. Meanwhile, we had to get up very early on Saturday morning because I had to go to school for the flag hoisting ceremony(it was 15th August). When I returned from school at around 9 a.m., a real surprise greeted me. My maternal uncle and aunt who stay in Gurgaon, had come to Kolkata the night before and they would be coming over to our place in the evening too, along with my three paternal aunts and uncles and cousins who had already been invited!Then, my happiness and excitement knew no bounds. The three of us at once finished a hasty breakfast and quickly thought about the amendments that would have to be made to the menu that evening because of the arrival of two more people. Then, while my mother prepared the dishes, my father and I went out to buy a few things. We, specially my mother, had to work a lot, but, we enjoyed ourselves very much. After an even hastier lunch, we cleaned up our rooms and got ready just in time to receive the guests. They started coming from 5.30 p.m. At the party, puja gifts were exchanged and it was fun to see how everyone seemed to scrutinize all the gifts. Then, there was this crazy phtograph session when my maternal uncle and I strived to take the best photographs possible. I particularly insisted on taking a group photograph which would include me too and would be taken with the help of the self-timer on my camera. No one seemed to think that it would be pssible but my father made them all sit/stand in a very good order and I arranged the camera and finally, the picture was taken! :-) My mother's cooking went down extremely well with everyone, more so because she had cooked so many items all by herself. There was plain rice, dal, fried bori( I couldn't find an english word for this), paneer, mourola fish, hilsa fish wrapped in banana leaves, chicken manchurian, mutton curry and mixed fruit chutney.

And, there were laughters piercing the air! Everyone was very happy. It made me realize that no matter how frequently we talk over the phone with all our relatives who were present at the party, there is nothing like meeting up and having fun. It felt good to be a part of a gathering where different people seemed to be rediscovering their love for their family.

Today also, we had lots of fun and this time, it was a different kind of family gathering. We (myself, my parents, my maternal uncle and aunt and maternal grandparents) went to Vedic Village, Spa and Resort, located in a very remote part of North 24 Parganas distirct. Its a very pretty, cool and quiet place and we had a really nice time and a delicious lunch. After returning from there, my uncle showed us loads of pictures which he had taken during his recent American tour. Thanks to my uncle's brilliant sense of humour and mu aunt's giggling style, which is very contagious, we had quite a few laughs today also.

So, this Independence Day and weekend was simply a joyride, just as last year's Independence Day and weekend had been!

That's the group photo about which I was talking. :-)The people standing at the back are( left to right) one of my cousins and my paternal uncles. The middle row includes (left to right) my father, one of my paternal aunts, my maternal aunt, my mother and my other paternal aunts. Sitting below them are my maternal uncle, my other cousin, myself and another paternal uncle.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Quick updates

There seems to be too many reality shows on television these days and some of them are so irritating. And people actually watch such things! The worst of the lot is probably 'Rakhi ka swayamvar' , aired on some channel. I was stunned to hear about the concept of the show from some of my classmates who waste their precious time to watch the show and I was even more stunned to see their enthusiasm about the show! How can people tolerate such programmes? Have people become so dull these days?

The Durga Puja is in the last week of September this year, which means the fun is going to be less, for different reasons. :-(

I went for an eye check-up today and was extremely relieved when the doctor said that I don't have any eye problems. Although I have not been facing problems with my eyes, I was almost certain that there would some hidden problem, major or minor because eye troubles are very common in my family.

I recently donated some money for the Cyclone Aila victims. This donation programme had been organized by our school and each of our students donated something, grudgingly or willingly. So, I was pretty happy because a month back,I myself had promised someone that I would send some money for the donation purpose, but before I could talk to my father about the money, some unexpected problems had cropped up. I had not been feeling too good about the whole thing, but I now I feel happy again. :-) Many students of our school are saying that the money collected by us will never reach the victims and will fill the school's coffers but I am not worried about that. I don't know what will ultimately happen to the money but by contributing, I did my duty and that itself is satisfying. At least, I will always know that I tried to help the cyclone victims...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Pottermania yet again

For the last one week, Pottermania has been at its peak in my house, thanks to me, of course. I was extremely excited about going to watch a Harry Potter movie after two years. And, 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' has not been a disappointment...

Firstly, the movie is better than its predecessor, 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'. While some important parts had been eliminated from that film, all significant(and insignificant) incidents from the original story have been included in this film. There's just one event which has been totally altered, probably to add to the adventure, but I must say, it hasn't worked too well. It seemed a bit like our Hindi movies! But, this fault has been completely overshadowed by the brilliant cave sequence towards the end of the movie. Harry Potter and Dumbledore visit a dark and very dangerous cave in order to find something really important( won't mention what it is; will have to give away half of the story if I do) and everything in that sequence has been portrayed wonderfully. It seemed as though it had been copy-pasted from the book. Both Sir Michael Gambon(as Dumbledore) and Daniel Radcliffe(as Harry Potter) have performed exceptionally well during that sequence. Throughout the movie also, Sir Gambon's performance was much better than what it had been in the previous movies. And, no matter how Daniel is criticized for not being able to portray Harry's feelings and spirit well, I still believe that no one else could have been a better on-screen Harry Potter. I still feel that he has acted very nicely even in this movie...

The opening scenes of the movie have been brilliantly shot and as for the other actors, Tom Felton deserves special mention. Tom Felton plays the role of Draco Malfoy. He has been superb in showing to the audience just how much Draco feels helpless and scared and at the same time, just how bravely and determinedly he behaves. Rupert Grint, playing the role of Ron Weasley, has impressed with his great comic timing. Emma Watson as Hermione Granger and Bonnie Wright as Ginny Weasley were perfect and have also added a kind of charm to the movie.

As a whole, the movie is a must-watch. Its been two and a half hours since the movie ended but I'm still absorbed in it. I enjoyed the movie a lot , more so because the wait for it has been very long. Now, as I finish writing this post, I slowly return to the world of Muggles ( that's the world of non-magic folk) and realize that my exams begin from Monday , the day after tomorrow and so, the coming week, starting from tomorrow, isn't going to be so magical after all!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A day's feelings

Had to go to Durgapur(225 kms from Kolkata in Burdwan district) yesterday after the demise of one of our relatives. The person in question, had actually passed away last week but the most convenient day to go to her house in Durgapur turned out to be yesterday. She was my maternal grandmother's elder sister. My parents had decided that they would surely go and condole her children because they are of the opinion that even if one cannot manage to attend a person's birthday party or marriage or any other happy occasion, one should be present with the person after the his/her kin passes away. They immediately plannned to book a car for the journey to Durgapur and it was also decided that one of my maternal aunts would be going with us too. But, the most difficult part was convincing my maternal grandparents to go. Over a span of six days, starting from last Sunday to this Friday, they, specially my grandmother, changed their decision thrice! Our sweetest words came flowing out only to ensure that they agreed to go with us because we knew that the person who had been the most grieved by the death, had been my grandmother. We knew that she would feel good if she went and met her sister's children. But, old age is like a second childhood! And, just like children, my grandparents finally agreed to go only after they got a good scolding from my maternal uncle who lives in New Delhi.

I had interacted with my grandmother's sister hardly twice and was not emotionally attached to her and neither am I emotionally attached to her children, who are my aunts and uncles. Among all our relatives, these people somehow got included in a group with whom I never got a chance to interact and so, no such bond was formed between me and them. So, yesterday was the first time when I met them properly and they really liked me! After meeting them, my grandmother became very sentimental and talked a lot about her childhood and how her relationship with her sister was very important in her life. Throughout the day, I got to hear the names of loads of people both at our relatives' house and during the journey, owing to the non-stop chat between the elders. I once wondered how they remember the names of so many people, some of whom they have not seen since years, and the details of so many incidents , some of which had happened many moons ago.

The best part of yesterday was definitely the journey. Occupying my permanent place on the back seat of the Tata Sumo, I spent the journey hours either listening intently to the elders' conversation when it sounded interesting or listening to the FM on my cell phone when their conversation sounded boring. The road, that is, the Durgapur Expressway is very beautiful and I would suggest people to visit Durgapur by road, just to enjoy the long drive. Personally, I really like long journeys like those by cars or buses or trains....The other great part about yesterday was that my grandparents were very happy. The smiles that you can see on their faces in the photograph below matter to us a lot and are worth a million dollars....

Friday, May 29, 2009

In the land of Lord Jagannath

The view of the sea from our hotel room on the first day.
On my first evening on the beach at Puri, with my flying umbrella.

That's one of the sand-built structures, the figure of a woman, which some people make on the beach everyday.

A sign on Swargodwar beach prohibits people from bathing there without a 'noliya's' help. And, Swargodwar is the place where people ignore this sign the most without any sort of hesitation!

A portion of the 'Natmandir' wall of the Sun Temple at Konark, showing the dance postures.

My parents and I in front of one of the wheels of the temple.

Raja Narashingha Deb, who had taken the initiative to build the Sun Temple, can be seen here with his queen.

One of the carvings at Konark shows Shravana carrying his blind old parents.

The slab at Konark showing that to preserve the structure, the interior was filled in by the order of the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal in 1903 AD.

The sea at Chandrabhaga

That's supposed to be Lord Jagannath's paternal aunt's house. Anyway, whoever lives there sure has a lovely place to live in. Who doesn't want to have such a nice house?

My parents on 'New Marine Drive', the continuation of the Swargodwar beach.

A camel on the beach at Puri

Last Saturday, I went to Puri with my parents. We had decided that we would visit Puri once my mother’s work would be over and my summer vacation would begin. So, our train berths and hotel room had been reserved a lot earlier because loads of people go to Puri during this time of the year and it would have been very difficult to get places on the train and also in a hotel without advance reservations. Thus, according to our plans, we reached Puri on Sunday morning after catching the Saturday night Puri Express from Howrah Station. I had never been to Puri before and so, was very excited. I had been told that the kind of waves of the sea at Puri cannot be seen anywhere else in India. They are huge and majestic. Well, I first saw those waves this time and I have to admit that they really are more beautiful than those of the water bodies in other places. But, as it was raining when we reached Puri, I first saw the sea of Puri in its tumultuous form. It was only drizzling but that drizzle was enough to raise the waves higher than usual. And, the sea was beautiful!Our hotel was situated on ‘Swargodwar’, the beach road of Puri. So, the location was obviously fantastic and we were very lucky to get a sea-facing room. That helped us because we did not venture out on the first day owing to the rain and yet, we could watch the sea sitting in our room! I just went for a short walk along the beach with my father that evening and we had to hold on to our umbrellas tightly to prevent them from being blown away by the wind!
Next morning, we first paid a visit to the Jagannath Temple, which apart from the deity’s presence, is a pretty horrible place. Yet, my parents said that it had been twice more horrible when they had visited it some twenty years ago. According to them, the pandas at the temple had been more authoritative then. Well, whatever might have been the situation then, the situation now isn’t exactly pleasant. The pandas just wait there to trap you and make money.I thought that the weirdest of all the pandas was this one. Now, he was standing with two sticks in his hand ,beating everyone on the head with those sticks as they were leaving the temple and then, demanding money from them! Later on in the day, we took a bath in the sea. J It was a wonderful experience. The waves came splashing and washed us over and over again. All around us, people were shouting with delight . But, contrary to what I had heard, no one was taking the help of the ‘noliyas’ or guards to take a bath. People were confidently standing or sitting or lying down or performing all sorts of aerobatics as the waves were crashing in and submerging them completely. There are three watch-towers on the beach but it didn’t seem as though the three policemen were watching over anybody .They were simply sitting there all day. Poor fellows, their job must be boring!
During our five-day trip, we also visited the famous Sun Temple at Konark. An hour-and-a-half’s drive from Puri takes you to Konark. The temple boasts of great art and architecture, seeing which one must utter the word, ‘Wow’. The main structure consists of the temple, which is actually a chariot, all carved out of sandstone. The chariot has twenty four big wheels and on the spokes of each wheel, different stages of different activities of those times had been carved . The temple has three idols of the Sun God, representing childhood, youth and old age respectively. Other than the wheels, there are numerous carvings on the walls of the temple, the chariot and a hundred and twenty eight dance postures on the walls of the ‘Natmandir’. The Natmandir and the Conference Hall are separate structures, located just beside the temple. On the way to Konark, the sea disappears but reappears for a short distance at Chandrabhaga. The sea there is just like that at Puri, but the colour might just be a tad bit different and more like a river’s colour.
In the evening, Swargodwar becomes extremely lively with all types of stalls that are set up on the beach. They all use very bright lights and sell everything . Tea, sweets, chat, clothes, pearls, idols, conch shells, bags and what not! People also opt for rides on camels and ponies and there are merry-go-rounds for children. Besides these, there are some very talented people who build beautiful structures out of the sand on the beach. All these activities go on all over the long and sprawling beach.
But, the food at Puri was a huge disappointment. We tried different restaurants and different menus, but the quality of the food is just not upto the mark. The chicken is too spicy, they can’t cook the vegetables properly, they have only one type of curry for all fishes, the ‘puri-bhajji’ is always served cold and its best to not even talk about the idli-vada. Yes, we tried everything but were not satisfied. One can’t expect the food to be like that of ‘Mainland China’ everywhere but there has to be a minimum standard, which is terribly lacking at Puri.
We were lucky that Puri was not affected by Cyclone Aila. The rain of the first two days cleared up on the third day and the weather became quite pleasant, specially in the evening.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rabindra Jayanti celebrations

Last week, I was busy with the birthday celebration of that great, great man; the one and only Rabindranath Tagore. A function was held in our school yesterday on the occasion of his 149th birthday and some students from Class XII, including me, performed the 'Pancharghya', which consisted of three poems and five songs from five of Tagore's stages, namely Puja, Swadesh, Prem, Prakriti and Bichitro. So, from last Monday to Friday, we rehearsed a lot and tried to make sure that everything was perfect. After the first stage rehearsal on Thursday though, we were criticized like anything by three teachers for giving such a 'dull' performance. We were told that our singing quality was very very poor and that we would have to increase the pace of each song because we were taking up too much time. Earlier, when we had made them listen to our poem recitations and songs, they had not pointed out our mistakes. But, that day, with just a day to go for the function, they said that we would not be allowed to perform on Saturday if our condition did not improve. We obviously were very upset and very angry but we are from the seniormost class. This was the last time when we could have performed for our school. So, with a lot more determination, we corrected ourselves the next day and were successful. The same teachers could not point out any mistake anymore! What's more, we took only ten minutes for our performance. Its true that we could sing only the first two stanzas of each song and recite only two stanzas from only three poems instead of five, but we were happy.

And on Saturday,that is,the day of the function, we simply rocked on stage. Yes, the other performances by the junior classes were also good, but we were undoubtedly the best. From Class XII, we had Sukanya and Souvik to say a few words about each of the stages before we recited a poem or sang a song from them. We sat down on the stage in the form of a semi-circle, with Sukanya and Souvik forming one end of the semi-circle. Next to them, sat Debjyoti, Debasish, Asmita and Debarati, who recited the poems and after that sat Basav, playing the tabla. Basav thus divided the students who recited, from those who sang, that is, me, Samprita, Arpita, Sreshtha, Archisman and Arittra. We were praised a lot by the other teachers for our superb coordination, our performance and also our looks. Yes, our looks because all the girls had to wear saris on the occasion while the boys had to don kurtas and pyajamas. I was a bit nervous; no extremely nervous, after wearing the sari. It was probably the second or third time that I wore a sari yesterday. But, considering that, I managed my sari quite well although I had to do it only for a couple of hours.

I have never received formal singing lessons. But, I still agreed to sing yesterday because if I try, I can manage to sing certain Rabindrasangeets pretty neatly and in tune. The second and more important reason was, of course, the last opportunity to perform for the school. That was the reason which united us and a unique spirit of friendship prevailed. The memories associated with this function will be one of the sweetest of my school life. Among ourselves, there was an unsaid sense of cooperation right from the first day of the rehearsals. It didn't seem then that we study in different sections of Class XII or that we come from differerent schools and have known one another for just a year or so since our admission to Class XI. There was always this feeling that no matter what else we are, we are the seniormost students of this school, we are friends and we have to perform together; we have to give our best.

That's the 'Pancharghya' team in action on stage(left)
(above left to right): Basav, Arittra, Archisman, Souvik

(left, from left to right): Asmita, Sreshtha and Arpita

(above) Me and my mother :-)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Life sucks

There are some good reasons behind the above title. I have started feeling the pressure of Class XII even before a month has passed since the beginning of the new session. Its not that I am not studying, but no matter how much I try to convince myself that my studies are getting on quite well and there is still ample time left, every evening, the pressure seems to mount a bit more. I have no idea as to why this is happening, but I just can't seem to be perfectly satisfied with my efforts.

Then again, I feel that this irritating , extreme heat is responsible for making me tired. After school gets over at 1.45 p.m. , when the sun is at its cruellest, I have to rush to my tuitions. The worst part of it is that I have to take my lunch in between and nothing is as difficult as eating in that afternoon heat in front of the school church. So, when I finally return home at around 4.30 p.m. , I can't concentrate on my studies beyond 9 o' clock and start feeling sleepy! But, the routine is going to turn worse from tomorrow. Our dear, dear , generous principal has fixed new school timings and the new school hours are from 7.35 a.m. in the morning to 12 noon. What an idea sirjee! As if there is no sun in the sky at 12 noon! For me, the more detestable part is that I have to get up earlier in the morning. The school gates will close at 7.20 a.m. To think that previously, I used to sleep till 7.10 or 7.15 in the morning! At least, the mornings would be comfortable and I would get ready easily in twenty minutes to reach school by 8 a.m.

And these elections and the Election Commision and their thousand and eighty seven rules are making my mother's life miserable. There is nothing new about her being busy during the elections but she has this crazy boss this time, who started making the entire staff work round the clock two months prior to the election. So now, they are all tired and of course, this heat is making them all feel worse. In a five phase election, elections in this city and North and South 24 Parganas had to be held in the last phase. Why could they not have been in the first or second phase? At least, my mother's troubles would be over soon.

So, in short, my life really sucks at present...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The sea is 'lovely, dark and deep'

This is also a hand and mouse drawing , but I somehow think that my previous works were better. But, of course, that is for all of you to decide. :-)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two people who mean a lot to me

And, those two people are my maternal grandparents(picture above). This March, I have not been reading books only although my previous two posts suggest so. I have also been visiting my dear grandparents regularly.
My grandmother is, without doubt, a very good cook and the dish which she is preparing in this picture is, specially, for me.:-)

My grandfather before lunch

My grandmother has a lovely garden and in this picture, you can see her caring for her pumpkin plant. For her, every job , no matter how big or small, has to be perfect with a capital P.

The picture above shows a pumpkin on my grandmother's pumpkin plant. She is very proud of her pumpkins now-a-days!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The tiger, The duality, The waves, The murder

This March, I am determined to finish reading seven books, having nothing else, or almost nothing else to do!

So, after reading 'The Kite Runner', I began with 'The White Tiger', written by Aravind Adiga and winner of last year's Man Booker Prize. Its about how Balram Halwai, a rickshaw-puller's son from a remote village of India, climbs the ladder of success. But,this success is not the kind of one which we watch in most movies or what we dream of. This success is entirely propelled by corruption, both of the Indian political system as well as of Balram himself. In fact, its the miserable political situation around Balram that makes him corrupted. Balram narrates his story in a letter to a Chinese Premier , who is supposed to be visiting India shortly. He tells the Premier that whatever information about India's democracy will be given to him by the Indian Prime Minister by means of a booklet during his visit, is not true. The ways in which certain magazines tell us how to become an entrepreneur in seven days, are actually not going to bring success.Balram knows India's "democracy" and he also knows how to become an entrepreneur in seven days, but through totally different means. So, over a period of seven nights, Balram tells the Premier how he became an entrepreneur in Bangalore. With every passing night, we slowly proceed from Balram's backward village life to his life as a driver in the village to his life as a driver in the capital city of Delhi and finally as an entrepreneur in the technological hub of Bangalore. The idea of the author to present him as a driver is very good because that's how Balram easily gets to know all the places where his employer goes and the kind of people he meets. He observes the city and its people very well and gets to know more from the other old drivers.

The way the author presents the story is , I think , his greatest achievement .A lot can be written about Inida's corruption and the futility of democracy if the people are illiterate.Among such writings, only those can be hailed as good which have something new in them. In the case of 'The White Tiger', that novelty lies in its presentation. But, its has its follies and of them is that the suspense of the story is lost at a much earlier stage because of Balram's confession of what he did eight months later. As he confessed his crime so early during those seven nights, the drama leading up to his crime didn't seem so interesting and the things depicting his inner conflict became bland. But, this crime is the most important incident of the novel and because of a fault in its narration, I did doubt whether the novel was worthy of the Booker Prize or not.

The other stories which I finished reading during the past week are 'The Strange case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde' and 'The Merry Men' by R.L.Stevenson. The first one is, of course, brilliant and the second one is not bad either. Everyone knows all about the first one. The second one deals with the adventures of a man on a dangerous islet while trying to find a treasure which had been present inside a ship that had been wrecked by the sea waves near the islet. These destructive sea waves are themselves 'the Merry Men' and they can rise to a height of fifty metres. Though the story is mostly dominated by long descriptions of the islet,the waves and the situation around each time the man goes to find the treasure, its pretty engaging.

Besides these, I also read 'Murder on the Orient Express' by Agatha Christie . Now, this is only the first time that I read one of Christie's works and I am afraid I didn't like it much. The story was very good and everything was in order but the ending was so poor. It lacked that final magical touch of a Sherlock Holmes story where all the clues and all the facts fit so wonderfully into one another. Somehow, Hercule Poirot didn't impress me as much as Sherlock Holmes.But, I am sure that Christie's other works are better than this , otherwise she would not have been such a popular author. So, I intend to read more of her books in future.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Kite Runner

'The Kite Runner', written by Khaled Hosseini, is a novel based on Afghanistan, describing the plight of the Afghans over a quarter of a century. The readers see that plight through the eyes of Amir, the narrator. Amir is the son of a rich and very respected man of Kabul in the 1970s. But, as Amir grows up, he doesn't live up to the expectations of his father. It becomes clear that he has not inherited any of his father's talents and interests but is completely like his mother, who had died while giving birth to him. On the other hand, there is Hassan, their servant's boy who had not got the joy of seeing his mother either. Hassan's father had served Amir's family for forty years. Hassan was mainly Amir's playmate and did Amir's chores. Although Amir and Hassan were the best of friends, Amir noticed that Hassan was more courageous than him, too loyal to describe in words and was somehow loved by his father greatly, probably even more than his father loved him. So, Amir was desperate to win the local kite-fighting tournament in the winter of 1975 to prove a point to his father, to prove that he was worthy of being his father's son.

A kite runner , by the way, is someone who tries to run and gather the kites that fall from the sky after being snapped. Running along with many other boys and beating them all in the chase for the fallen kites and finally holding the kite triumphantly, also happens to be a very important part of the tournament. The one who gets the last kite to have fallen at the end of the kite-fighting, is considered to be almost equal to the one who wins the kite-fighting tournament. Now, Amir won the tournament and as the last kite fell, Hassan ran through the streets of Kabul to fetch it for Amir so that would get the double honour of both winning as well as possessing the last fallen kite. But, what happened to Hassan on that day is the event around which the entire novel revolves. He was sexually assaulted by three other boys. Although Amir went looking for Hassan and finally found him completely cornered by those three boys and on the verge of facing some painful, humiliating moments, Amir did not protest. He just runs away like a coward, being too scared of the other boys. But, when Hassan came home that night, the kite was still with him and he handed it over to Amir...

After that, Amir and his father were forced to flee to America when the Russians invaded Afghanistan. We see how Amir completes his studies there, gets married and gradually manages to bury his guilt about Hassan in the peaceful life that he leads there. But, what he does not get there is redemption. And,so, when Rahim Khan, their old and very close family friend calls him up to say that he is dying in Peshawar, Amir goes to Peshawar to see him. It is then that a whole lot of secrets about Hassan and his life after the Russian invasion are revealed to Amir and it is then that Amir decides to search for Sohrab, Hassan's now orphan kid. I will not give away the end of the story here, in case some of you have not read it. But, the story is so purely beautiful. I don't remember having liked a story so much after reading the Harry Potter books. And, now, this one is right up there with Harry Potter, being my most favourite book. It describes the relationship between two people, one belonging to the Pashtun tribe of the Afghans and the other to the Hazara tribe, one the cowardly master and the other , the ever-loyal servant and friend. As the story nears its end though, one does not find Amir a coward anymore. The Amir-Hassan persona seems to mingle in the end , with the words, " For you a thousand times over", being spoken by Amir just as they had been uttered by Hassan on that winter day when he had run that kite for Amir and the ending could not have been more perfect in this heart-wrenching tale.

Speaking of heart-wrenching, the novel also has another aspect. The readers learn about Amir, Hassan and Sohrab through the years when Afghanistan passes from one ruling hand to another. When Amir describes his and his father's journey to Pakistan in a fuel tank while fleeing from Afghanistan, the suffocation, the sufferings of the people crowded in the tank, the pitch blackness, I just felt that I could not read any more of that. Amir's American life, is , of course, way better and at one point, I didn't feel as though I was reading the same book. It was as though I had suddenly shifted to some other book. Yes, it becomes a bit boring also with the narrations about Amir's falling in love, every detail about his marriage, details of his wife's past life, about their not having children and about deciding not to adopt any children. But, when Amir again enters Pakistan and then, Afghanistan, I feel that the author was probably trying to keep the readers relaxed so that they would be able to overcome the shock of reading about Russian-invaded Afghanistan and fully absorb the bigger shock of reading about Taliban ruled Afghanistan. How can someone be so brutal and inflict such suffering on fellow humans and on those little children? Their terror becomes clear when the author says that although there are lots of children in Afghanistan, there is no childhood. Fathers are a rare commodity there. There are many more such heart-wrenching sentences in the book , describing a nation completely devastated, with the worst sufferers being the children. So, I feel that we are all very lucky. We get three good meals every day, have sufficient clothing and a concrete roof above our heads. Besides these, we have plenty of other things and yet, we waste everything. We have experienced all the joys of childhood while millions of Afghan children haven't and yet, we complain about the most minor things. After reading the novel, this situation seems very unfair and justice doesn't seem to be even-handed at all...

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Of millionaires and books

With a lot of hope and expectation, I finally caught the morning show of 'Slumdog Millionaire' yesterday. It was certainly worth a watch, primarily because of the performances. The supporting child cast was even better than the adult actors. The boy who played the role of the teenaged Salim, the protagonist's brother, was awesome. In fact, the character of Salim was what kept me so engrossed and I thought that Salim was responsible for carrying the story forward. Although Dev Patel ,who plays role of the protagonist ,could have acted better, I did not care because his looks and smile bowled me over. I specially liked him when he smiled widely on seeing the final question.

I don't know whether the movie should win an Oscar or not but I definitely don't want A.R. Rahman to win an Oscar for this one. He has composed better music before. Besides, the ending of the movie was like any other Hindi movie. After arresting him, when the protagonist narrated how he had answered the questions, how did the police know that he was speaking the truth? Why did they let him off so easily in the end after even giving him electric shocks? But, I don't think that anybody has commited a grave mistake by portraying India's poverty because it is the harsh truth. Each of the things shown in the movie exist in this country. The country's people should not expect foreign film makers to ignore them sweetly, specially when those film makers know what sort of profits they can derive by making a movie which deals with India's miserable condition.

On a different and more cheerful note, I also went to the Kolkata Book Fair yesterday. I totally got lost in the world of books and for myself, I got a collection of all short stories written by Guy De Maupassant. The book includes more than 150 stories! I also got a collection of stories by R.L.Stevenson and 'The White Tiger' by Aravind Adiga. Besides, my parents bought books for themselves and after spending nearly four hours at the fair, they realized that they had just enough money left to pay the taxi fare. They realized that just in time though, because we were thinking of looking around a bit more for some other books!

Friday, January 23, 2009

One of hand and mouse paintings again...Couldn't think of an appropriate title for this lady though.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

9 things which will never happen in 2009

  • The year passing by without any terrorist attack in any part of the nation or world
  • The two halves of the year without road, rail or air accidents
  • The four quarters of the year without that running inflation
  • 12 months of industrial progress for West Bengal
  • 52 weeks without natural disasters
  • 365 days without those stupid strikes which rob hundreds of their daily wages
  • 8760 hours of prevention of pollution
  • 52600 minutes of complete literacy in India
  • 3153600 seconds of love, peace and prosperity all around