Posts Tagged ‘indrani singha blog’


Tobby was hopping from one spot to another nervously in an attempt to escape those prying eyes. Perhaps he had overstayed on the generous bits of bread crumbs. Being surrounded with so many people, in a way that he was meant to perform, was not his thing.  Tobby, my accidental balcony-visitor pigeon, injured his leg a month ago. After applying antibiotic ointment and bandaging the injured area loosely, I called the security guard to take and hearten him for doing what he does best- fly! It was more than 2 days but he was still not able to take the plunge. Every morning when I crossed the parking lot I could see his struggle, twitching from one corner to another and perching himself besides the morsels of bread.  The fight was real.

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What made it worst was the assumption of callous overgrown kids that he will launch into the air with constant “Shooooo’s”. His strident cry was clearing stating that it was not pleasant to be reminded that, now, he is incapable of something which is supposed to be his only talent. Of course he was trying, but every time he was missing the dart.  The next day, two more pigeons followed him and this made him flutter aggressively. May be the pigeon buddies were trying to up his morale but it alarmed him more. That was it. I brought him back, housed him in the balcony with enough food and left him on his own. No pestering. No clapping. No prying eyes. And definitely no shooooooo’s.

Next morning he woke up different. He glanced at the balcony edges, slithered himself across the old bean bag and started moving his legs in unison. Look at him! I shrieked in excitement. Next thing I see is he confidently clamped on the balcony railing waiting for the ultimate moment of freedom.

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Tobby was done with trying to fulfill everybody’s expectations; he was done with seeking validation from others; he was done with being exposed to judgments that were dime a dozen. He realized that mob has no face, just unidentified screaming heads who do not wish well for anyone. He didn’t want to figure out anything more. He just wanted to be happy and embark on a journey whose pace was determined by him, and only him. He rose to his feet, started flapping wings and finally gained the thrust for his maiden undogmatic and enjoyable flight.

Possibly Tobby’s story is the inspiration somebody with broken wings needs to hear today.

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P.S: All pictures are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.

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Has it ever happened to you that you feel completely out of place in an outing or a party? Did you deduce ideas in your head to make an exit quietly but feared that someone would sense the awkwardness? Did you ever find something forceful but continued anyway just to tag along with others? Congratulations, you are perfectly normal. We all have been there at some point in our lives. Having been in the corporate sector for nearly 7 years now, I myself have been part of those “movie outings”, “pub hopping “or “widespread lunches” that are supposed to be fun. But, not always they turn out to be as expected. This is when your mental clock starts ticking. Tick Tock. Tick Tock; looking desperately to make that exit in no time without hurting anyone’s sentiments.

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You nod along, order one more beer, fake a smile and steal a glance to your watch. Yes, we all do. You have to, because since childhood we are made to believe that these cultural hobnobbing is an essential part of our existence. Anything less than that would be inadequate. Worse, you would be tagged as an introvert who has nothing to contribute. Lets address the beast first- the larger than life functions. Despite not having anything common to talk about, you strike a conversation, ask them what are their plans ahead, and there you go, the uncomfortable silence incarcerates the environment again. I am not saying that you would never hit it off with anyone, but this article is specifically for people who run out of words after 15 seconds of eye contact.  And then, after a strenuous night, you come back thinking there is something wrong with you.

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I will tell you where the basic dilemma lies. You are not one of those who pine for shallow talks; or artificial laughter’s; or forceful acquaintances. Anything that is quickly forgotten doesn’t excite you. You look for soulful connections and conversations that have some depth to them. There you go! Did it sound complicated to you now? I am sure no. The theory is simple; don’t tag along masquerading as a people-pleaser if you don’t want to. Just look confident and then you will be able to pull off anything. Don’t wait for those forceful attempts which start as “you are wearing a nice dress” and then go completely downhill after 30 seconds. There is nothing to talk, nothing to share. As a grown up, you need to learn how to make that exit without offending anyone! Whether it is breaking away looking for your glass refill or showing your wit and walking away casually- you need to cover the hesitation in your eyes cleverly.

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That said, the same goes for your life as well. Cultivate a circle where nothing seems forceful. Choose people who choose you. And whenever a friendship or relationship seems going downhill after the “30 seconds” familiarity, where there is nothing to talk and nothing to share anymore, you understand this is the time to make the exit confidently and gracefully. Understanding that you don’t belong there is the most important entity. This is how we grow, this is how we evolve.  This morning I was reading something that it made perfect sense to me.

“It took me an incredibly long time to realize there was too much water under a bridge that had burned years ago; that I was, in fact, drowning in it. There is a beautiful peace that comes with letting go…either you fall, or you fly. You life, or you die. Either way, at last you are finally free.” – Anonymous

Next time, when you feel out of place, don’t feel bad.

You are different. You are healing.

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P.S: All images are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.


“It has been with me for ten years now.”

“So?”

“Umm.. its been very long. It’s a part of my identity now. Well, kind of.”

“How can it be your part? Why can’t you get rid of it?”

“Well…I don’t know..Let’s just say, I am emotionally attached to it. I can’t let it go.”

This was me trying to explain my reasoning of sticking onto dual SIM cards, one of which –now on national roaming–was older than a decade now. Sobha, my unusual friend at work place, was tossing questions at me with full pace. The reason I call our friendship unusual is because we were poles apart from day 1; we belong to two different generations, our idea of relationships, food preferences, temperament, working style, lifestyle choices are as different as between a mom and daughter. Yet, oddly, we bonded like no one else did. She is like a Ballad and I am a grating item number. Sobha is nearing her 50 and I am about to hit 30 so naturally there are loads of conflict of interest, but once in a while I get to taste the old world when I am made to stand in her court room. In her words it’s called discussion about ‘life’. Today was one such day.

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“Repeat what you said.” She asked. I was jolted out of my thoughts.

“I said, I am emotionally attached to it.”

Her eyes became wider. “That’s it! This is what I wanted to hear. Emotional attachments! This is the only reason you have held onto a number that is of no use to you. Otherwise there is no logic to it. Good you understood.”

Trying to defend my standpoint I responded, “Of course there is logic as well. Tomorrow if any of my old friend or acquaintance tries to reach me, it should be easy enough for them.”

She laughed. “So you mean, you call even those people friends who you have not spoken to for years or vice versa! Okay, chalo lets assume hypothetically that they want to connect to you, even then you think they would need your ten years old number to reach you in this era of Facebook, Emails and common friends.”

I stared down for a while in discomfort. “You do not understand!!  Not necessarily a friend, but I may need it someday. Who knows what situation I will be in tomorrow and I need to contact them or someone wants to contact me on this very number”, came the reply from me.

“Fine. Yesterday she –pointing out at one of our teammates– forgot her phone at her desk and went for lunch to Pizza Hut with you guys. I was the only one near to her desk at that time. She wanted to call and ask me to keep the phone with me for safety. What she did?”

“She took my phone and called you.” I said.

“Yes. She badly wanted to reach out to me and she found a way to that, through you. At least the message reached to me. Likewise, if anybody needs to reconnect with you they will do that whether after 5 years or 50 years. And in case you are wondering that what if you need the help of 2000th person stored in this SIM, consider another situation, what if you need the help of 2001th person whose number you don’t have anymore? In that case, you will find him/ her out anyhow, just like she reached out to me yesterday.”

Twiddling fingers on my head I replied in restlessness, “I don’t know. It’s all very complicated.”

“Life is never complicated. We make it. We refuse to see what is very obvious. Just like a tree sheds its leaves and gets festooned with new leaves, we too keep moving on in life. Those who are important to us emotionally or spiritually or by whatever means, we take them along. Similarly, we are picked up by people who deem us important. It’s as simple as that. The day your generation will understand this they won’t need to carry dual SIM or triple SIM. Or at least they should just start accepting that it is purely for emotional reasons.”

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She was right. Most of us carry the baggage of past expectations and memories for a significant time and conceal it under the name of sentiment, need or emotions. What Sobha wanted to make me understand was not the usage limitation of my phone numbers, but showing me a mirror that somewhere we all are living with a baggage, if not SIM card then something else. Happiness is the basic pulse of the universe. But, the underlying happiness of the soul gets covered up with ambiguity and paradoxes. Faded jeans, old diaries, chocolate wrappers, torn shoes are all a part of it. I still have an empty perfume bottle at my dressing table because the smell still reminds me of my first international holiday and I refuse to let it go.

If we all could master the art of living baggage-free then life would have been so simple indeed. Just embrace whatever comes in your way, care for people who still are with you, forgive those who are not, show genuine warmth and chart a path that is cheery.  Strangely, its only when we are striving for something badly falls into dust, we feel liberated to fill up the vacuum again with good spirits of joy, something that is a fundamental display of human ability. This conversation was one that kept me awake for long. Having said that, I still have many of my old stuffs intact, including the SIM card. Not sure if I can ever muster the courage to get rid of them, but at least I have identified the reason for now—a baggage 🙂

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P.S: All pictures are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.

 

 

 


The place that I am going to write about today already has massive worshipers. In fact, it is touted as one of the best destinations for travelers. Nightlife, amusement park, tranquil sea sides, desert safari, shopping, exemplary man-made structures…it has everything. You name it, you have it. Dubai is one place to reckon with. It’s almost mind-boggling that how this sprawling desert has urbanized so much in the past few decades, and yet has held onto its novelty. But, don’t worry this is not going to be one of those travel blogs guiding you about places to see in Dubai. This is one place where most of us must have heard a lot of, if not visited till now. Thanks to Google, we already know the iconic landmarks of city.

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Sunset cruise- check; Burj Khalifa- check; Fountain Show- check; Gold souk- check; Desert Safari- check; Sheikh Zayed mosque- check; Yas Island –check; Ferrari World- check.

So, what’s new to write about this fabulous city?

You know your vacation is a success when on the last of the trip you suddenly start wishing if there were few days more…at least few hours.  As I sit down to write this I am experiencing massive toothache because of my erupting wisdom tooth. Even then, my spirit for writing about this city was not letting me sleep. Yes, that’s the word- Spirit. This is what makes a desirable destination different from others.

Travelling is my passion and I had sworn to myself that I will never visit a place more than once. Only because there are many more countries to cover and there isn’t much time. But, this city changed my viewpoint. It made me obsessed to its spirit. Apart from pouncing on the scrumptious and widely-liked Dubai chocolates and loosening my purse strings for gold and perfumes, I was phenomenally refreshed to meet some new people and breaking out of the monotony that we often get trapped to.

I happened to once share cab with a mother-daughter trio. They were originally from Egypt but are now settled in London from a significant time. They too were on a vacation. I befriended them during my trip and, as expected, our first topic of interaction was Bollywood and Shahrukh Khan.  They couldn’t stop praising Dangal and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, the 2016 blockbusters. They wanted to visit India only for Taj Mahal, but I made them understand that India is much more than that. I introduced them to the gamut of soul-pleasing places here and was feeling very proud and content at the same time.  I believe I made some good acquaintances and would like to keep in touch with them.

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Next, I met a very chirpy and frivolous man during my desert safari.  He was driving the Land Cruiser that was accountable for giving us the lifetime experiencing of dunes bashing. Prepared for a unique adrenaline-pumping adventure in the colossal orange-red dunes, we started with our journey. God bless his sense of humour, because his opening line was “Do you have life insurance madam as it is going to be my first attempt.”

I almost underwent a heart in mouth situation in those few seconds. I gulped my fear and voiced my concern timidly, “What do you mean?” He started laughing and didn’t reply. I didn’t know how to react until my husband whispered, “Don’t worry. He is joking.” “Are you sure?” I snapped immediately. “Let’s hope for the best.” I don’t know what that meant, but we started seeing the vivid orange dunes reluctantly. In the next 5 minutes I was sure that he was joking in order to keep us on our toes because he was exceptionally skilled and had expertise in what he was doing. The roller coaster ride in the desert was exhilarating. We were sliding down the slopes; sometimes egging him to stop, sometimes gasping and most of the times giggling. The beautiful desert shimmering like gold is a marvel to capture. As the evening stretched to night, we were guided to enthralling belly dancing and fire show. Later that night, on our way to the hotel, he introduced himself as Mohammad. Apparently he had enacted a negative role in a Tamil movie long ago. But, now it’s been more than 10 years he has been rendering dunes bashing pleasure to all tourists and also giving training to all amateur aspiring drivers.

He kept joking about having multiple girlfriends and how his increasing weight is scary or what would happen if I start driving his car. God knows, when was the last time I met a fun-loving chap like him!

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The conversation that followed that night once again opened my eyes to appreciate the gift of life. Sure, the heart is pumping blood inside but that is not enough to keep you alive. We are not born to lead uneventful and mundane lives. We are work in progress and the only way to keep growing is meeting new people, becoming better each day, inspiring others, taking things lightly, defining yourself and in the process get enriched with a feeling of purpose and happiness. He waived me goodbye saying “Never take life seriously and always be happy. Carry your binoculars along.”

Today I was going through my old e-mails where I had drafted one with the subject 20 things I want to do before I die. It was the year 2013. Interestingly, the 20th point clearly stated ‘Visit Burj Khalifa’.  I didn’t even remember that I made a list like that or I should strike that off now. But, what remained with me is the expression of leap of faith. Nobody knows whether what we dream today may come true or not, but sometimes leaping off the edge will let go the fear of falling. Whenever you start feeling comfortable anywhere, start questioning yourself is this the time to break the pattern. Who knows you may end up soaring high like never before. Just like desert has a dual trait of being hot at daylight and piercingly cold at night, life too is waiting to show you its many faces. You just need to be ready with your binoculars.

UAE, thank you for such a lovely time! I felt affectionately welcomed, with a sense of coming back to you again and again.

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Constant preaching on women empowerment and safety has now lost all its credibility. Sharing Facebook posts and voicing opinion on gender equality has now become a gag probably for many of us. Gag because, we know nothing is going to change! The Bangalore mass molestation didn’t surprise me at all. Clearly, nothing has changed in the past few years. To be honest, we read or hear felonies on the same radar almost every hour now. Till few years back, I was under the impression that writing about it frantically would bring a change of ‘awareness’. I was oblivious to the verity that it is almost impossible to rattle the intrinsic evil in our men.

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So, what is really wrong with them? Or with us? Are men here really that much sexually deprived? I often wondered how a forceful touching or groping for fraction of seconds could render such level of pleasure. We all are perhaps still figuring that out. While we attribute misogyny and patriarchy to the root cause of this– thank god to the abundant newshour debates and newspaper articles for that–we tend to overlook the urgent need to address some issues from our end as well. And no, I am not going to talk about girls being more careful with their dressing, and other similar shit.

The Bangalore molestation case will die down soon and other breaking news will take over, but let me bring out some pointers where the onus falls on us too as a society.

  • When the news of a sexual assault comes out, you focus more on sex, and less on an inexcusable grave crime. More than the punishment for the accused, you show pity that the life of the victim has gone for a toss. Her ‘izzat’ (honour) is now compromised and she can spend rest of her life (if she is left alive) in giving interviews to news channels as a blurred face. End result: Nobody remembers the accused or what happened to them after that, but the ‘changed’ name and blurred face of the victim is etched in the memory of all of us.
  • You are out for your morning walk and see a man passing lewd comments on a woman. She is sweaty and panting after a run in the Joggers Park, just like you. You choose to ignore it. You go home, talk bath and get ready for your office. End result: Your willful ignorance instilled a confidence in the other man that he can go ahead with his acts and perhaps take it further someday.
  • You go to school/ college / office meet your female friends and make fun of their weight, height, and other physical attributes; sometimes on their face (as a fun banter) and most often on their back. End result: You effectively and ‘humorously’ establish that women of any age—even in today’s time—are nothing more than their mammary glands or waist.
  • You pass out from a reputed college, start working in a multinational company, earn good money, but when your family starts looking for a prospective bride for you or for your sibling, you emphasis on bringing home a girl who is educated but not willing to pursue a career so that your parents and future kids can be taken care of. End result: You are not leaving any role model for your son, younger brother or for any other men in your contact. You indirectly instill in their minds that only ‘homely’ girls are ‘good’ girls.
  • You have made a good name in your organization with your work, but when a slight rumour of two colleagues of opposite gender going out for lunch comes, you waste no time in aggravating the floating rumour. Worst, if the girl gets a promotion then it is by default assumed that she is advancing her reach to the boss by ‘other means’. End result: You become a major part of the obnoxious stares and wagging tongues that compels friendly and dynamic women to tone themselves down and think before talking.
  • Your son’s teacher calls to complain that he misbehaved with a girl. You tactfully discard that saying ‘he was just being funny’. End result: Congratulations! You carved the golden path for a future rapist.
  • Your daughter dares to give her opinion in a serious family discussion and in a minute she is shown the door to kitchen saying she doesn’t need to be part of all this. End result: You not only shake her confidence for many more years to come, her brother gets a vivid picture how he will treat his future wife and all other women he gets to interact with.

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I am sure there are many more every day instances where we are contributing to the toxic society in which we are breathing today. Be it multitasking or financial independence, women have been successful in outperforming men at many levels now. If not outperforming, women are at par with men. But, the thought of dominance and supremacy takes over, and bam in few minutes, we do things to women that has the potential to scar them for life.

This New Year, no more futile discussions, posts or writing! Let us first acknowledge that something is wrong with each one of us. There is something that we all have been doing wrong all these years. Try to figure that out and take baby steps. I believe we all can reach there and proudly label ourselves as good human being. But, first profound introspection is needed.

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P.S: All images are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.


 

Let’s get the record straight, yes we are experiencing a hurricane right now in the country with the onset of high-value currency demonetization. A lot has been said about it; the problems, long queues, hidden agendas, currency circulation, cash crunch, bankers as our new hero…and many other things. We have been filling our head with innumerable information, thanks to television and social media. Some are with the government while others not.

It’s time for a breather. Isn’t it?

Let’s give our relentlessly working mind a break and, for a change, look at things just the way they are. No political spin, please! I have been reading all the stories that have been going rounds from past couple of days. Having experienced the cash crunch myself I know one thing– that it is not an easy phase. However, this stage of adversity made me realize one basic thing. We Indians are not that complicated or apathetic as one would portray us to be.

If there are retired bankers who are offering to extend their helpful hands to wind up the work faster, there are also young bankers who don’t mind sacrificing their weekends and sitting daily till 10 at night. If there are restaurant chains like Pizza Hut offering free food to people standing in inexhaustible queues resembling 100 feet long anaconda, there are also shopping malls that have made their parking charge free for the entire week. If there are some local vendors who are delivering groceries at credit, there are also people who are voluntarily serving tea and water to people sweating in scorching heat just to get hold of the new currency at banks.

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Of course, there have been many inadequacies and I am sure we all are ranting about it. The entire country has toppled over, but honestly, can you guarantee that if there had been some other country things would have been better? Far from our image of a poor or a law-breaking country, there has not been a single incident of violence, hostility, ransacking or loot.

My father had to wait for four long hours at the esteemed PNB bank to get his old currency notes exchanged. Honestly, I was worried because growing age usually brings along many jigsaw puzzles. To my surprise, he came back with a beautiful story to narrate. There were few chairs in the bank lobby, and it was unanimously decided that the senior citizens and ladies will take turns to sit there and rest, while their place in the queue was being taken care by the person subsequent to them in the line. My father got his share of resting time. Not only that, he was also greeted with generosity- in the form of snacks- offered by strangers who had now become friends.

I am sure there must have been several other incidents as well, some inspiring, some depressing. The point is, let’s start looking at things in a transparent fashion, without being influenced by what is being said or written. Figure out your experience and then pass a judgment. We may not be the perfect law-abiding citizens, but we are not that bad as well. Some part of us still continues to be the caring, compassionate and refined one.

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P.S: All pictures are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.


Another honor killing case is staring right at us and perhaps smiling sheepishly and saying that keep empowering as many women you want, they will be silenced one by one. Qandeel Baloch, the Pakistani social media star, was strangled to death by her own brother for “family honour”. The sad part of the story is when her brother, Waseem Azeem, was presented before media, he proudly confessed to be killing her because she was bringing shame to her family by posting her bold images on social media.

Certainly she was not “normal” as per her family. Basically, what is normalcy? How do you define normalcy? And is it necessary that your idea of normalcy should align with mine? We will keep debating and mourning about this issue for few weeks and eventually forget about it. Qandeel Baloch is not alone; there are many like her. I can’t do much to bring justice to her, but here is a tribute from a writer to countless girls like her who are beheaded every year on the name of normalcy.

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With her heart thudding in her ear, she unlocked her phone and stared at the screen. Finally! It was his message.

“Sorry Anjali I can’t do what you are asking me to do. I love you from the day I first saw you. I cannot regret all my life thinking that I let you go for such a stupid reason. Sorry.”

It is not stupid Parag. Anjali thought to herself. She dabbed tears from her eyes, picked her bag and got up to go out of the house.

Eating, laughing, talking, thinking, sleeping…….these things didn’t cross the mind of Anjali Ghosh nowadays. A software engineer by profession and a painter in spare time, Anjali had chiseled all her roles in life with care. Blatantly honest and following her passion with a raging fire would be the best words to describe her. However, of late she was completely overtaken by a sense of void; a void that knew no bounds; a void that was preventing her from becoming a wholesome person; a void that put a fire in her belly every day and night; a void which only Chaya could fulfill.

She took out her phone and opened her speed dial list. Chaya was the first name on it. Number dialed.

“I need to meet you right now….I don’t care …I don’t care if your husband would be coming back home for lunch. I just need to see you.?”

Whenever Anjali lost her temper in front of Chaya she knew deep within that the work would be done. The world knew they were inseparable, but their affection had many layers within, and opening that would have meant removing the lid from the Pandora box.

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Anjali’s phone beeped.

Meet me at Mani Square in half an hour. I have to leave early so don’t be late.

While sitting in cab clinching her handbag and phone, the visuals of Parag and his message sent in the morning started clouding her mind. Parag Paul was his elder brother’s ex-colleague who worked in Capegemini. With a salary package that screamed extravagance and two on-site visits to Houston and Dallas in the last 3 years, he was that one prospective matrimony website guy any parent would pounce on. No wonder he was the first choice for Anjali’s parents as well. Finally, they found the peace they longed for when Parag’s parents gave the nod to come to Ghosh house for an official meeting.

It was the typical boy’s family visiting the would-be daughter in law’s house. Parag was all dressed up in suit and his face exuding happiness that refused to hide. After the initial family-getting-to-know-each-other fixation, the girl and boy were left alone in the drawing-room for some time, while Anwesha’s parents took Parag’s parents to have a look around the house. Parag looked confused for couple of seconds and then seeing everyone disappear from the sight slowly whispered. “You know this is awkward. Leaving us alone and all. But, I would like to be upfront about it. We both are the so-called “gen X” people so let’s not say yes or no to each other right away. We need to meet more and talk more. Basically the courtship time we see in movies. This is what I feel. Tell me your views.”

Anjali felt a lump in her throat. She gulped a glass of water before answering. “Parag I don’t know why but I am not getting a good feeling about this. I mean you are good but it’s too early.”

Parag waved his hand dramatically. “Exactly. That is what I am saying. Let’s keep talking and meeting each other more. And hopefully we will come to a conclusion soon.”
Parag couldn’t come to a conclusion for the next 9 months or perhaps he didn’t want to face the situation that had a possibility of rebuff. Whenever he brought up the topic of togetherness, it was stashed with the latest-movie talks or anything else in the same lines. He couldn’t fathom why Anjali didn’t reciprocate beyond a caring friend.

Three days before, in a state of aggravation, Parag pestered her to reply with a final answer alongside a definite reasoning. Not all women are same but they all have one thing in common. They are all volcano material-who remain dormant for mostly all their lives until they are triggered by some inexplicable factor. That day Anjali escaped the drudgery of being patient.

“I am in love with a woman Parag. I have always been. Even before I understood the term gay or lesbian! I can’t think of anyone else. I cannot fathom how it feels making love to a man. It is not possible for me. Please say no to this marriage and make way for my peaceful existence.”

Anjali screeched at one breath. She seemed restless but also victorious because she was able to uphold her individuality in front of another person. Parag, on the other hand, stood lifeless wondering the malice that life just hurled at him. The girl he was in love with for past few months just now rejected him for another GIRL. For him, getting rejected was not that a big matter as being rejected for a GIRL. His man ego suffered a huge dent.

Is she crazy? Such a hot woman pining for another woman? What different have they got to offer each other!! It is STUPID. Just STUPID.

Parag was bursting out of the rim of rationality. He shook himself out of the stupor and said, “Thanks for being honest. I will think and let you know.” And with that he left hurriedly as if standing there for another minute would rip him off his manhood.
For three days there was absolutely no communication between them. It was akin to the kind of silence that prevails before a tempest. Finally, he mustered courage to declare what he did this morning—that he will not let a girl defeat him.

Anjali was feeling emotionally disintegrated after his message. She was blinded by the passionate love she had for Chaya. They didn’t care about the future except for the fact that they wanted it to continue as long as they can. They took admission in the same college, searched job in the company and stayed in the same city—everything together. However, with female child there is one basic hurdle. They grow up to marriageable age very fast. 23 is not the age for guys to marry, but for a girl she needs to get married as soon as possible in order to attain ‘moksha’. A year before the Parag episode Chaya was blackmailed into marriage stating her father’s frail health. Something inside Anjali died since that day. The thought of someone else looking at her love as an object of lust was unbearable. Albeit few intimate meetings continued between them, it lacked the sense of belonging. This was because now Anjali was the ‘other’ person between Chaya and her husband. Many sleepless months followed during which she crossed path with Parag at a party and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, once again there was a society to answer and then there was an inquisitive soul to answer. Both of them demanded to be satiated. Amidst all the puzzling thoughts she reached her destination- Mani Square. Chaya was already waiting for her.

“I am all fucked up Chaya. Despite telling about us he still wants to get married to me. I am losing my mind.”

Chaya was quiet. For the first time Anjali was seeing the lowest level of solidarity from Chaya’s end. Finally she asked, “What happened?”

“I am pregnant….. I am pregnant Anjali.” There was stillness in Chaya’s eyes.

Anjali didn’t know how to react. Whether to be happy for her partner’s fertility or to howl for the symbol that screamed Chaya and her husband’s intimate moments, which usually she tries not to think of! She was in a fix.

“Ohh…so what have you thought?” Anjali asked stoically.

“I never wanted this but now since a life has inhabited my body I don’t want to ruin it. Anjali we need to move ahead in life because no one will understand us. At the end, what we are doing is not normal. Let’s get back to normalcy.” Chaya was choking and dabbing her tears as she said this.

Anjali’s emotions automatically found a vent through her moist eyes. “Tell me the reason that you want to have a baby. Tell me the reason that you like your husband. Tell me the reason that you do not have the guts to fight the society. But don’t give me the reason that we feel is not normal. Loving someone, getting lost in praying for someone, craving for someone, getting the urge to be loyal to that one person, wanting to touch someone…wanting to kiss someone….is not abnormal. It’s just not in sync with the society. It’s not something our families and society expect us from. I am fine with it. But never call it abnormal.” Anjali broke down completely and stood up to come out of that place which gave her a reality check. Somewhere deep inside she was confident that Chaya would stop her. This time she didn’t.

Anjali had seen a new facet of life today. Her love for Chaya had turned carnivorous, which was feeding on her flesh and soul. That evening she went to see Parag as he had requested a lot to meet one last time before taking any major decision. He had asked her to come at one of his friends vacant flat. The reason being—he wanted her to understand his decision better. Being broken from inside, today she didn’t mind sharing few drinks with him. After couple of drinks, he advanced his hands towards her waist. She protested. It didn’t help. He empowered her with strength and in few minutes he was inside her. He kept repeating the same lines as a lunatic, “You haven’t really experienced what a man can give you. I will give you that and then you will never go to a woman again. You just need some brainwashing. Abnormal thinking is what spoiling our culture. Ssshhhhh…..”

In the next ten days, Anjali said yes to Parag for marriage in front of both the families. Perhaps Parag actually succeeded in making her normal—in his own way. On the day of her marriage Anjali messaged Chaya.

You were right. We are not normal. Normalcy is forcing someone to get married. Normalcy is making someone pregnant without her wish. Normalcy is raping someone to marriage. Normalcy is this. I am getting married Chaya. Hope we never meet in this normal world again.

And then she broke down her sim card for good!

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It was only yesterday when I celebrated my silver jubilee with great elan. Or at least it seems so now. Its been 3 years to that. I was about to turn 28 and contemplating whether it is really the time to sluggishly crawl into that “mature” age group. Suddenly it occurred, why not flag off my late 20’s at a place that is embodiment of youthfulness, fun and unending entertainment. So, yes I started my journey for Thailand.

The only apprehension was that Bangkok and Pattaya are mostly associated with adultery and no strings fun. By any stretch of imagination I didn’t know what I was embarking into. But, who cares! I only knew one thing. The best memories of life come from leisured conversation with a stranger, feeling the wind on your face, dipping the toe in sea, getting lost in the distant roar of ocean, and holding the hand of your loved one.

It took me just a week to realize that Thailand is much more than adultery. Picture this, a place to get soaked in nature, strolling wearing your flip flops to beach cafes, sea walking and para gliding in clear blue seas, unspooling your body with a traditional Thai massage, holding a tiger in your hand during wild life safari, and posing reluctantly with your favourite celebrity in Madam Tussaud. And if you have time left after all this then it doesn’t harm to opt for a pole dancing show as well.

Walking Street, Pattaya

On our first day we went to the famous Walking Street at Pattaya. If the craving of grooving to discotheques keeps you awake at night then this is the place for you. Famous primarily for the neon lighting night life, you will find plethora of live music venues, discothèques, go-go bars, and of course nightclubs in this long stretch. Frankly, I was awestruck with the accessibility of so many things at one place. Regularly you will be approached by marketeers with menu card (its actually like a restaurant menu card) that has options of different types of adult sex shows going whole night. You can have your pick or else you can politely say no and enjoy the night at a bar.

I had a gala night. More so, because my birthday was just couple of hours away now. I dropped my guard and danced until we got drenched completely in sweat. This was one night I am never going to forget.

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Noong Nooch, Pattaya

Nong Nooch Garden is landscaped park that is the biggest botanical garden in Southeast Asia. It can easily fall in your all day trip. This 2.4sq.km. area is a theme park that gives you a peak into Thai cultural shows, elephant shows and you even get to sit besides a royal tiger. Taking a nonchalant stroll in this park will remind you of French garden and European Renaissance garden. My soul and spirit got significantly uplifted with the presence of orchid nurseries and topiary garden.

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Traditional Thai Massage

You go to Thailand, and not have a full body massage, is that possible? Me and my husband resigned ourselves to this 2 hours long full body traditional Thai massage. Howbeit, beware when you think of going to any random spa or massage parlour there because most of them adhere to the concept of providing adult services along with massage. Nothing wrong in that, but if that is not your interest area then you have to be careful in picking your destination. We had our hotel receptionist guiding us to one of the most trusted and popular parlours practicing ancient art of Thai massage. The gentle massage had a magical healing effect on our mind and body. It calmed my nervous system and displayed a meditative quality that I am failing to describe in words. Its a thing that has to be experienced, not explained. Do include this in your to-do list whenever you are in Thailand

Underwater World

You do not want to get wet and yet want to get a glimpse of thousand varieties of marine species? No problem; Underwater World in south Pattaya bring you an exclusive slice of marine life. It is one of the largest ocean aquarium in Asia. Stroll around this 100m long underwater tunnel and enjoy the panoramic view of marine life. From shark, starfish, turtle, Guitarfish to Butterfly Fish you will see everything here. If you are willing to shell out some money and have a diving certificate, then you can even go inside the tank and feed the sea creatures with your own hand. The natural light is ideal for having a clear view of species and also for clicking pictures. This is one experience worth all the money!

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Gems Gallery, Pattaya

Girls pay attention. This one is clearly for you. Visit the world’s biggest jewelry store, the Gems Gallery. Before you dismiss this as yet another jewelry store then make sure that you know that the experience here begins by taking you on a toy train ride wherein a computerized system gives you a 3D effect of bursting of a volcano into lava, making of mineral rocks and finally the cut precious stones. Once the toy ride is over, you can proceed to the store and shop till the day ends.

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Madam Tussads, Bangkok

Well, what to say on this. The name itself is self-explanatory. The photography fanatics can let themselves loose and get themselves clicked with each and every famous personality in the world. You name it, you see it! As expected, even I didn’t give my camera a rest even for a second till the time I was inside.

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Pole Dancing, Nana Street, Bangkok

We were extremely fidgety on experiencing the night life in Bangkok, particularly going to a strip club for pole dancing. Two individuals from India to an unknown city exploring a world that is denied in our country seemed fear-inducing. But then something happened. Now there is a flash back story on this. On our first day, we were waiting in the queue for visa on arrival when my husband pointed out that a celebrity couple was exactly behind us. I shunned him saying he was hallucinating. The couple must be in their 50s. They started talking to us about their itinerary and asked about ours. It was a casual half an hour talk. We waved goodbyes and headed to our respective hotels. Turns out, the couple was actually a known face in Kolkata. The woman was 90’s Doordashan news reader, now a successful dancer with her own dance troop performing all over the world. While her husband owns a production house in Kolkata. My husband was unable to recall their name, but then while scrolling down his Facebook account he saw one of his friends had liked a post from the woman. From her account, we got to know his husband’s name. My husband sent a friend request to him and in couple of minutes there was a message from him. “Hey where are you today?” Lets meet up. You decide the place and let me know.”

Honestly I was not keen for this meet. I tried to justify my reluctance with points like generation gap and dissimilar interests. But, my husband insisted. We decided to meet at Nana Plaza, which is like the Walking Street of Pattaya. After the formal greeting, the couple immediately sprang up. “C’mon why are we wasting time here! Lets go for pole dancing. It’s not that we are here all our lives.” I was choked for a moment to listen that from a man who was my father’s age. But, frankly, I was happy too that finally I got the nudge that I was waiting for.

We entered into AngelWitch Club and within minutes were engulfed into this world of pole dancing. One good thing about these places are that no one is a rambler here. People know what you are here for and they give you that- Entertainment. We went club hopping the whole night. My legs gave away after midnight but the other couple displayed a level of energy that we failed to match up.

Inquisitive enough by now I asked, “Aren’t you tired?” The reply cemented my faith on the saying, age is just a number. “Tired? Guys you are in your 20s. I have a son of your age and my age doesn’t stop me from living life-like a big party. There is no monopoly on feeling young. It is just a state of mind. Its been 25 years we are married and we still feel the mad passion we had for each other. We have next Krabi Island and Kashmir in our list. You are still too young.”

Believe me, I never felt that young and energetic ever in my life. Next day the couple excitingly took us to the Baiyoke sky hotel, the tallest building in Thailand. I was in awe of their child like vehemence. We enjoyed our cocktails at the 84th Floor and had the whole city laid in front of our eyes like house of cards. This night completely nullified my fear for heights. Directly or indirectly, this couple injected a new dose of power in me.

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At the end of every trip my husband has a habit of promising something. Last time, he promised that he will ring in my 28th birthday in the most happening place of Thailand. Today was our last evening at Bangkok. I asked him, “ so what are you promising this time.”

“That I am going to be your best friend always and no matter what numbers tell us, we are never going to be old,” was his reply.

And we burst out laughing. No body knows how your life would pan out so no point living in the fear of doomsday. Thus, the idea of sluggishly moving into the “mature” age group has taken a backseat for now and I came back humming the lyrics of a popular song.

“Let’s go crazy, crazy, crazy ’til we see the sun
I know we only met but let’s pretend it’s love
And never, never, never stop for anyone
Tonight let’s get some and live while we’re young”

🙂

 


“Heart break is an inaccurate term I feel. It is your soul that splinters. It is up to you how you pick up your torn pieces again and ultimately negate all wrong moves that stymied your journey towards happiness.”

It was the year 2013 and I was imparting my usual spurts of divine counseling to a friend who just had a bitter breakup. It seemed the be all and end all factor. It seemed I knew all the general ethos of heartbreak industry. Well….at least till now. A Facebook notification was waiting for me. Rashmita Gupta had pinged me nearly 2 years after we passed out from our batch of Journalism and Mass Communication. I was little puzzled at first but then chose to go along with the conversation.

“Hey Cutie. How are you? Married?” She asked.

“Hey I am good. Nah…no trace of being married and I am enjoying my single-hood to the fullest. What about you? In Kolkata?”

“No..I am in Delhi”. She responded.

“Great. Doing job there?” I thought the conversation is going to head towards that boring zone of how much you have achieved—and how much I have achieved.

“I am here for my treatment”

“Treatment?” My yawn was interrupted midway.

“Yes.. I am suffering from blood cancer so here at AIIMS since last 6 months.”

“What? You are kidding right?

“No dear. Why will I joke about something like this?”

And my mind went numb just like an ECG reading going flat.

I was already battling my mom’s relapse of breast cancer at that time. With this news, again, my peace of mind was precariously eroded and it precipitated to an impending breakdown.

I typed like a fanatic. “Ohh shucks. How is that possible? I am feeling out of breath on learning this.”

“Chemo is going on and it will continue for next 2 years. I am a bald girl now. Hahahaha”

I was enormously impressed that despite discussing such a critical situation she still had her finger on the pulse of humour. Just like the old Rashmita we knew.

“Hey don’t say like that. Being bald is not that important. Important is that you should come out of this perfectly. Even my mom underwent chemotherapy so I am fairly accustomed to the process. The bottom line is that you should fight like a tigress and you will I know.”

Our chat continued for another 30 minutes and we signed off. But that was just the start of our occasional online nudging of each other’s well being. She notified me of the number of chemotherapies she was undergoing. 95 was the number when last time we spoke.

 

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Yesterday was again one such day. I was talking to my mom on phone and she was confiding how the regular doctor visits to hospital are getting more painful with each passing day. It was churning up my sanity to the extent that I was not able to think of anything else. Later in evening, my husband and I were having a philosophical talk on life and the nauseating hardships that comes along with it. Suddenly I saw a post from Rashmita that said “Watch me on Zee Bangla today on Dadagiri.” For all my non-bengali friends, Dadagiri is a game show hosted by none other than our dada Saurav Ganguly. I am always unmindful of TV shows in general, but something inside today told that I have to see her.

I called my husband and we both started watching the show reveling in the pleasure that there is someone known in television today, completely unaware of the fact that this will be more than a game show.

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She came and conquered not just the fellow participants and the host, but each and every person who get bogged down with little adversities of life. I once told her that fight like a tigress and she truly did.

The way she put a brave front on the show while talking about the day she got to know about her medical condition; how doctors told her that she has only 20% life expectancy; how she went for painful bone marrow test 4 times; how she took 160 chemotherapies in the tenure of 2 and half years; how some of her close people stopped coming to their house thinking that it is some contagious infection; how a firm rejected her on knowing that she has blood cancer, but hanged Yuvraaj Singh’s and Manisha Koirala’s picture outside their conference room with the tag line WE ARE PROUD OF YOU; how she kept repeating that she is a conqueror and will emerge strong out of it……It was so surreal……..and finally she won the game show.

She was so phenomenal that even Saurav Ganguly was forced to come at her place and shake hands to remove the stigma that cancer is contagious. It was bloody applause worthy. Pardon my language but I can’t control my soaring heart and gasping breath even while writing it. The show ended with her holding the trophy in hand and we having tears in our eyes. An hour before, we were discussing that how life can bring burden of prejudice and loathing at times, without having an iota of contemplation that life gives extreme highs and lows to everyone. It is up to us how we fight our torn reflection and see ourselves in the mirror every single day with the same zeal.

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We sat in front of the television as the end credits rolled and my mom called me.

“ I saw your friend today on Zee Bangla. If she can take 160 chemotherapies and refuse to give up, I will not let 8 chemotherapies breed fear and helplessness in me anymore.”

Many knotty issues got straightened out today. There are so many perspectives to ponder upon with that one hour episode and one phone call from my mother. Rashmita Gupta is an inspiration. And no matter how much I write it will always be less. My tank of angst is empty today.

Thank You Rashmita!


On 15 May 2008 two innocent lives were lost in House No. L-32 of Noida. One of the deceased was 45 years old Hemraj, and the other one was a bubbly, vivacious 14 year girl Aarushi. A promising life lay ahead of her. Unfortunately, it was cut short abruptly because of someone’s sudden impulse. Who was that someone? The Noida police, media channels and two distinguished teams of CBI left no stone unturned to bring the ‘truth’ to the surface. What we were left with was the character assassination of both parents and child, Narco test of three suspected domestic helps, CBI closure, divided opinions of public, and finally sentencing of life imprisonment to the parents for the charge of double murder in 2013.

What we didn’t know was that many more layers were also entailed in this tale of brutal slaughtering. Meghna Gulzar’s Talvar is that attempt to bring to forefront almost all the imperative investigation and case details meticulously and condense them to a two and half hours motion picture. First things first, it takes spine of a steel to take up a subject that is controversial enough to be regarded as one of the most high-profile and mysterious murder cases of the country till date. Writer Vishal Bhardawaj and director Meghna Gulzar, in spite of the possibility and leeway of over dramatization and incursion of songs in a Hindi movie, stuck only to the facts. It is shot completely in a documentary style, leaving the audience with an open end just like the Rashomon style (a form derived from a Japanese film in which there are different versions of the same incident). So, Talvar doesn’t tell you who was the killer that night; rather it focuses more on the botched up investigation process, helping the viewers to draw their own conclusions.

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Having followed the Aarushi-Hemraj murder case fervently since past 7 years, Talvar gave me many points to ponder upon. It’s intense. It’s gripping. It’s disturbing. It’s hard-hitting. Irfan Khan and Neeraj Kabi as the cinematic version of Arun Kumar and Rajesh Talwar respectively, are powerful. Seeing Konkana Sen Sharma on screen after such a long gap was satisfactory. Your heart would ache every time the teenage girl’s throat is slit on that fateful night. Talvar deserves to be seen by each one of us because it is a reflection of our system, our society and our media. If this movie is also sidelined by some leave-your-brain-at-home kind of movie then something is really wrong with the choices we as movie goers are making. Next time, we would not be in a position to anticipate Masaan, Maanjhi and Talvar.

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Who was the actual killer that night? Well, I am as clueless as you all. It can either be the parents or the domestic helps. What really matters is …… On 15 May 2008 two innocent lives were lost in House No. L-32 of Noida. One of the deceased was 45 years old Hemraj, and the other one was a bubbly, vivacious 14 year girl Aarushi. A promising life lay ahead of her. Unfortunately, it was cut short abruptly because of someone’s sudden impulse………

Rest in Peace Aarushi. You definitely deserved better.

P.S: All pictures are result of Google search and I have no copy right over them.

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So, here it is! The dream that was engraved in heart since childhood is nearing a winsome conclusion. It was hard to realize that while providing readers an insight into my mind almost every week through my blogs, soon I would be penning down a full-fledged book.

Writing a blog/article and being a story-teller are entirely two different things. To retain the storyteller within while writing was an exhausting as well as a rewarding experience on many levels. There were many days when I was at a loss of words, and there were also many days when I just sat down for hours just writing…and writing. I don’t intend to be any literary god. I just want to share a story that struck me while traveling in local trains of Kolkata.

My baby—The Paradox of Vantage Point—would be out very soon.

Stay glued to this space for the upcoming teaser that gives you a peak into the premises of the book.

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Keep the blessings and wishes coming in!!! 🙂


While the whole country was busy in peeping into controversies of LaMo (Lalit Modi) and striking some innovative Yoga poses, a gentle and compassionate soul associated with Missionaries of Charity—that runs various leprosy centers, soup kitchens and home for women across 134 countries–breathed her last.

Nirmala Joshi, recognized worldwide as Sister Nirmala, who in 1997 succeeded Nobel Prize winner Mother Teresa as superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, passed away yesterday i.e. 23 June 2015 in Kolkata.

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Serving humanity selflessly with the aid of Missionaries of Charity was her only goal in life. Being chosen to fill in the shoes of Mother Teresa could have been highly intimidating for anyone. However, if someone is passionate about the realm of responsibility they are getting into, nothing can pin them down.

No wonder when she was questioned about carrying forward the legacy of Mother Teresa, she was quick to respond, “I never try to fill her shoes. I have to wear my own small shoes. I don’t have to be Mother Teresa, just Sister Nirmala, and being Sister Nirmala isn’t so difficult. If I had to be Mother Teresa, I would have collapsed.” Such was her level of willpower and fortitude when she sunk her teeth into this challenge. In the year 2009, she was awarded the second highest civilian award—Padma Vibhushan—for her immense contribution and devotion to underprivileged people.

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The legacy of superior general position of the Missionaries of Charity will continue like always. However, the act of serving humanity is not just restricted to a position. Her legacy can be continued by each one of us. How? Practice kindness and compassion to the best of your capacity. Look around and see if there is anyone who needs your help. Patronize people who show the impetus to break out of the confines of stereotypes. Raise your voice against wrongdoers and above all try to be a better human being. Sounding little theoretical? Well, benevolence is more like a volcano; it remains dormant unless a ghastly situation tries to trigger and shows you the mirror. Are you willing to wait for that?

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Her loss can only be replenished by accepting and following her true virtues. For her painstaking efforts, true free spirit, and altruistic body of work, my appreciation for Sister Nirmala knows no bounds.

“We don’t know who we are until we see what we can do.” – Martha Grimes

P.S: All pictures are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them.


It was an unfussy Monday morning where getting reading and reaching timely on office was the main agenda of the day. Until my phone rang; it was my father on the other end. “You try to come by today or tomorrow. Your mom has suffered hyponatremia, it’s something related to very low sodium level in blood, due to which she is in ICU and unable to recognize anyone.” Can you imagine the throttle when someone tries to stuff pile of cotton down your throat? Yes, it was exactly the same sensation that I felt after putting down the phone call. We knew that she was unwell, but a call like this from an optimistic man like my dad was totally uncalled for.

I rushed to the other room where Ratul, my husband, was occupied in selecting the ideal Monday blues shirt for him. “I need to leave right now for Kolkata. Please book the tickets for me. Mom is not responding well.” I fumbled in despair.

“What? Okay, wait I am doing right away.” And as he switched on his laptop to book the tickets, he continued “I will also go with you. I will not leave you alone.”

A drop of tear trickled down my eyes as I said, “But, you are not left with much leaves. You already took more than 20 holidays for our wedding.”I could sense the determination in his voice and see the commitment in his eyes when he said, “It doesn’t matter. I will see what can be done”.

The 2 hours run from Vapi to Mumbai airport on that fateful Monday morning is something that transferred me — now I feel– to the world of farthest trance. On one hand, my devil side was having negative thoughts that what if I fail to make it on time, while the sanguine side kept praying endlessly on a loop. It was the most genuine, sincere and longest prayer to god in my life. Your mind tends to bring to table all possible awful consequences in situations like this. And I, just like any ordinary person, was terrified that my phone, when switched back to normal mode from flight mode, will act as a harbinger of bad news.

It was nearly 5:15 when we landed in Kolkata. I was told that the visiting hour in Apollo Hospital ICU is from 5 pm-6pm. The distance from airport to hospital was almost 15 kilometers. On an average day, it would have taken good 40 minutes in Kolkata’s infamous traffic. Reaching hospital at or after 6 would have meant waiting for another 12-15 hours to see my mother, who was on a totally slippery slope. It was a battle against time in every sense. Ratul kept requesting the taxi driver to accelerate like it was his last drive, while I kept gazing outside the window tight-lipped. Finally at 5:45 I entered the Apollo gate and saw all my relatives, brother and father standing and waiting for us. Without looking at my eyes directly, my father handed me the ICU visiting card and told meekly, “Its 2nd floor. Bed No. 230.” Only one person is allowed at a time to visit ICU so naturally no one would accompany to help you search that chaotic, confused place in a big hospital, or no would be there to hold your hand when you slowly walk towards the place of resurrection.

I had just 10 minutes in my hand now. Overlooking the ever-waiting lift, I stomped up the stairs as fast as possible. With every passing second, my mouth was getting drier and mind was getting burdened with illusion of self-pity. Finally I saw bed no. 230. My heart refused to believe it was her; her face had become considerably darker, whole body was swollen, hair was mucked, lips had black and blue patches and saline drips attached to two places. Worst, her hands were tied to bed and she was struggling to get them released. According to the nurse, her constant attempts to remove all her drips last night made them do this visibly callous thing.

“Ma, aami eshe gechi.” (Ma, I have come).

“Ma…Ma”

I kept calling her until she looked at me. At first she failed to recognize me. No matter how strong you are, when your own creator looks through you, all your reservoir of confidence dries up instantaneously. My eyes welled up, but I tried not to make it apparent.

“Aamar hath e batha. Malish kore de.” (My hand is paining. Massage it). She kept repeating these lines constantly. Later that night, I came to know that she was saying this same and the only thing to everyone.

It was a horrifying first-hand experience when you could see that your life was descending into pits and yet could not show any movement. Amidst all the genuine concerns, prayers, some worry-coated gossips, we strolled in the hospital lobby for hours. The situation was such that you could not even show your tears since it will make your old father more weak and frail. There was a roaring lion inside who was waiting to come out and fly into a rage; as an alternative, I decided to stay calm and make the situation light with smooth talks.

From Tuesday onwards our lives had changed. Eating properly, taking bath like your usual self, sleeping till 8 in the morning, going home, checking facebook and responding on whats app took a back seat. It seemed my father, my brother, Ratul and I had rented a small place permanently in the hospital lobby where we took turns to sit in the two seats available (sometimes not even that). Whole day we were roaming with the luggage that came with us from Vapi. We didn’t even have time to go home and leave our luggage at home. A guest house near the hospital was our new habitat for sleeping.

Tuesday was scariest of all days; she didn’t wake up the whole day. All we could hear was her loud, shrill snoring, which was unusual because she doesn’t snore in normal days. My brother started with some Google search about low sodium level and blurted that it can even lead to coma in severe situations. The last nail in coffin was when the doctor said that the condition is so critical that even they can’t comment anything concrete anything at this stage. I would have sunk deep had Ratul didn’t held my heart gently on that day. Some circumstances are difficult to put down into words.

Wednesday started with usual coming of relatives and lined up ICU visits. Suddenly I noticed that my dad was wearing the same shirt since last two days as he didn’t go back home after Monday. Ratul took charge of bringing a new shirt from nearby shop and without any hullabaloo he did what was need of the hour. As clock struck 5, the ICU visits commenced. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but keeping all the apprehensions aside, I walked inside again. Today, I knew she recognized me as she smiled at my glimpse. Today her hands were not tied. It felt as if someone pumped oxygen into me.

“Kemon acho” (How are you?). That’s the only thing that came out of my mouth at that instant.

In an unclear and stammering way she replied, “Energy nei.” (No energy). Those two words were feast for my spirit because at least it meant she was back to her senses. I rejoiced and said, “Tumi bhalo hoe jabe, chinta koro na.” (You will be alright. Don’t worry). She just kept staring at me for a while and then said, “Ekhane kobe obdi rakhbe? Thakur rokkha koro aamake”. (For how long they will keep me? God save me.) “You are fine Ma”. I said. And with that two security guards came to take me down as the visiting time had ended.

Suddenly, I saw people rushing with camera in their hands from one corner to other. I could not fathom what was going on. A scene like that in a hospital area was bizarre. One of the patient relatives looked at my puzzled expression and yelled, “Arey Raima Sen shooting korche”. (Hey Raima Sen is shooting here). For a second, I got flabbergasted when I saw Raima Sen right in front of me. She was enacting a scene wherein she was there to visit a close person and thus was very sad. It was a surreal experience as what I was going through in real life she was performing out there through her gloomy expressions. We usually say that movies are a reflection of our real life, but today I felt it very closely. The scene required her to walk down the stairs sullenly, while I did something similar in lift. This was perhaps the epic example of fiction meets reality.

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Thursday arrived and we were anxious to know whether the treatment and medications were working as expected. My vigor reached a crescendo when her latest morning report stated that her sodium level is now gradually increasing—though still far from the normal range, but she was coming back to track at least. The usual lobby-waiting sequence continued till evening. Suddenly, my father was called by the doctor upstairs. Alarming!!!! I started sweating. He handed me the bottle of water and ran hastily. Every word fell sharply on my ear at that moment. Before I could dig more deep into pessimism, my dad called to inform that the doctors are planning to shift her from ICU to general ward as she was out of danger.

This was Room no. 515. Ecstasy and seventh heaven would be an understatement to describe that moment. We were allowed to meet her now anytime. In another 3 hours she was shifted to the general ward. We wasted no time in going and talking to her, this time at 5th floor and room no 515.

Tora kothae thakish? Aamake chere jabina. Ekhane thakbi aajke.” (Where you all go away? Don’t leave me and go. Today you live here.) As soon as we entered the room she said in an irritated voice. Even her impatience and anger seemed adorable and amusing now. Four of us surrounded her and the week-long buried emotions and conversations started flowing.

I came out of the room, then the corridor, then the lobby…..to breathe the whiff of fresh air at last. However, it was interrupted by unruly mob. Yes, again some shooting. This time it was the Sarathi Rana of the movie Kahaani (Pramabrata Chatterjee).

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My phone beeped. It was my colleague. Apparently I had won the Employee of the month award for May 2015. I looked at the hospital building, the luggage on one hand and Ratul’s hand clinching my other hand….our eyes met and we smiled. My mother got discharged 2 days after that i.e 13 June 2015. I hugged one of the aunts with whom I had a bitter relationship and didn’t talk for years. I got closer to many of my cousins during this tough time. Most importantly, after five months of marriage, I fell AGAIN in love with Ratul.

I don’t know if it is true that everything that happens is for a reason, but I came back feeling a lot more light and affirmative than before. Tough situations are your ammunition because they are designed to make you a better person and propagate compassion. There is no point in sulking in grudges because you may never know when the opportunity of evoking hearty laughs comes to an abrupt end. Every day now when I wake up my only agenda is to be more considerate and kind than yesterday. Writing is my only way of catharsis and today, after putting down the journey from Room no. 230 to 515 on paper, I feel a weight is lifted off my shoulder!

Dylan Thomas was right in saying………..

“Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”

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Its not even a week when Ireland became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage through popular votes. A constitution that allows the same-sex couples to walk the aisle together was indeed a historic event wherein today Ireland is seen as the torchbearer of human equality on all grounds. Cut to 27 May 2015, couple of days after the profound victory, you open the newspaper and see that India has also put a step forward towards a more acceptable and evolved world. Defying all the “standard” norm of a civilized society, Krishnanagar Women’s College in West Bengal paved way for the world’s first transgender principal- Manabi Bandopadhyay.

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This bold move, taken by the College Service Commission, has propagated a strong social message that a successful professional career is only based on your talent as opposed to sexual orientation, caste or colour. Despite all the suffering and societal intimidation, Manabi worked hard, earned first class degree and became a Bengali lecturer in Jhargram College. Today, after becoming the first ever transgender principal, she is nothing less than a sough-after celebrity. However, this journey was never an easy one for her.

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Manabi, born as Somnath Banerjee, was fascinated with classical dance and music since childhood. Somnath’s inner soul always howled that probably he needs to deviate from what is expected out of him; he wanted to break free and get soaked in the joy of being a woman. Alas, Somnath was taunted ruthlessly by his father and forced to visit psychiatrist regularly where he was given sleeping pills. Even after attaining a doctorate degree, he was called a Hijra and asked to vacant the professor quarters. After getting support from West Bengal Human Rights Commission, a Bengali transsexuals group was established by him and a notice was sent to the college. She also penned down the national bestseller Endless Bondage that talks about the condition of transgenders.

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In 2003, after many years of discrimination, Somnath underwent a sex change operation and liberated his soul from the forever enslavement–she was now Manabi. To her delight, she could wear a saree and savour her feminism like every woman.

Soon she fell in love with a businessman and married him. However, her husband was forced to leave when they were recurrently attacked by the people who were against this “unnatural” marriage. The court case that followed recognized her as a minor since she was only 3 years old as a WOMAN when the incident took place. (delusional, isn’t it?) Apart from being accused of child abuse and witchcraft, she was once beaten up by group of eunuchs at a rally. Still nothing could tame the ever-growing quench of empowerment and equality within her.

 

 

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Leaving behind all days of misery, Manabi Bandopadhyay has today become a name to reckon with. Because of her will-power to move away from the prototype, her feet is no longer chained to the door that was keeping away her from happiness. Assigning her as the principal of an esteemed college wisely establishes that caliber should always be kept above social expectations.

While the whole country is battling the issue of feminism and rape- physical rape to be precise, the struggle story of Manabi -and several others like her- makes me wonder that still a lot has to be done to prevent the emotional rape that LGBT section is subjected to on a daily basis. It’s high time that we understand that the self-respect of an individual should not be injured because of frantic pretensions. Because putting chaos over credibility will only lead to suppressing of individuality. For now, kudos to Krishnanagar Women’s College for passing on the baton of goodwill ahead.

As someone has rightly said, “’To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly”

P.S: All pictures are a result of Google search and I have no copyright over them