Posts Tagged ‘indrani singha majumdar’


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.

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“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.


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!


I want to thank Readers Cosmo for coming up with an honest review for The Paradox of Vantage Point. Here is the link:

http://thereaderscosmos.blogspot.in/2015/12/the-paradox-of-vantage-point-by-indrani.html


This Diwali was special. It had to be for many reasons. First, it was my initial attempt to celebrate the biggest festival of my country as a married woman (Phewww that sounds like lot of pressure and hype!!) Second, it was my hubby’s much anticipated birthday. And most importantly I was on a vacation that screamed adventure from Day 1. It was the Diwali day– the festival of lights; our vacation was over and we were giving rest to our acutely worn-out legs at the Delhi airport, waiting uncomplainingly for our next flight. What I didn’t know that this festival would become doubly memorable in the next few hours.

The entire airport was given a larger-than-life appearance; from mammoth lanterns and diyas, LED lightings, idols of Peacock (national bird of India), staff dressed in traditional attires, to usage of national and international languages on Diwali greetings. From the look of it, it was a delight for every passenger regardless of their nationality.

All with one sole reason- reminding passengers of our rich culture! Appreciated!!!

Everything was going well until Ratul, my husband, saw a woman of foreign origin weeping profusely at the other end. He immediately sprang up from his seat.

“Something is wrong with her. We need to check.”

“She must have come to drop someone at the airport and feeling emotional. It would look stupid if we probe. Sit down.” I smirked.

“Yes, but if you go and ask it won’t invite much trouble. My going would seem like a desperate man trying to friends with a firang.” He had a point.

I tried to amuse him with talks so that the rest time for my legs get extended to few minutes more.

“Fine. Go ahead. I want to see how good you are at flirting.”

“Please don’t joke. Look she is crying more now.”

“Okay. What do I get in return if I go?” We both started laughing letting our imagination run wild.

“Don’t ask me such questions or I will start my cheesy talks again.”

Undoubtedly going to the crying woman seemed more suitable at that time. I brushed the indolent expression aside and donned a more considerate expression.

“Hey is everything alright? I mean, you seem little distressed. Can I help you with something?”

She looked away and started crying again. I didn’t know how to react. Before I could think of calling any policeman there, a girl in her early 20s walked in with a club sandwich in her hand and offered that to the woman.

“Excuse me…do you know her? Actually my husband and I saw her crying so got little worried. You know her?” I asked.

“No didi. I just saw her this morning, just like you guys. Her name is Chlo. I don’t know the full name but she is here since last night. She had a direct flight from Goa to Delhi, but at the last moment Air India changed that into a connecting flight via Mumbai and because of some delay she missed her Air Canada flight and now she is stuck here. The worst part is that her Visa is going to expire tomorrow. She has not eaten anything so I got this for her.” She pointed at the sandwich.

“Okay. But talking to Air India will solve the problem. That’s not an issue I guess.” I was brimming with self-confidence and pride that when you are at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) nothing can go wrong. After all, we are taught since childhood that Athiti Devo Bhava (guests are god). Even Aamir Khan says so!

I was getting wide-eyed with my confidence when she intervened. “You think so didi? I have been trying that since morning; ran from one official to another. She even spoke to Air India officials but no one is willing to extend a helping hand.”

“How is that possible? That sounds little weird. I mean…..”

“What happened?” I was interrupted with Ratul’s query. He couldn’t control and finally jumped in the conversation. In the next 10 minutes he was told the entire story. In a fraction of second he passed the trolley luggage to me and went straight to the police official at the entry of visitor’s gate. This was followed by few other security officials. While the three of us followed him in a baffled state.

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“By the way, I am Dyutima Sharma. I am an Mphil student at Calcutta University. Originally from Bhopal.”

And an impromptu chit chat followed to lighten the tense situation.

“Nice to meet you Dyutima. I am Indrani Majumdar. I am a writer by profession.”

“Oh woow. Writer. Sounds good. Have you written any book till now?

“Ummm…yes…will tell you more about it.”

Meanwhile, there were many pseudo-humans who came, listened to the complete anecdote, sympathized and walked out saying “dekh lo beta tum log”?(You guys manage). A fellow passenger, probably to gather some fun, arrived at the scene and started spilling suggestions. “Book a ticket and go. As simple as that.” He said.

“She obviously doesn’t have money. She is a nurse and came here for some social service. Moreover, it happened because of the chaos of the connecting flight, why would she pay?” Dyutima retorted. In return, he rendered a vicious assault in the form of his next comment. “Then get stuck here poor woman.” He chuckled, made fun with hand gestures and walked away.

And there we were again!!!! All the big talks of Athiti Devo Bhava lay bare in front of Chlo. No matter how much you clean the city and endorse respecting humanity in front of the whole world, truth has a way to come to the surface. We felt naked in front of a person who came India for work and probably now will have a bad experience to narrate to people of her country. Situations like this can gnaw at your heart for a considerably long time. It was shameful. “If you can’t give hope then at least shut up.” Dyutima shouted at the top of her voice. While the man gave offensive looks as if he was abused.

Ratul kept moving from one place to another but everywhere he was shown the door with a remark “Ab kya kar sakte hai!” (What can be done now!) This remark was a cue that nothing can be done–you go now–do your own work– let us do ours– this woman will find her own way. In another 20 minutes we were caught in this whirlpool of flawed management. But, when a person is determined all cues go for a miss. I saw a remarkable comprehension of humanity in Ratul and Dyutima. Both of them refused to believe that there was no way out.

Ratul went to the customer support desk of Air India and argued for some time. “Please don’t repeat saying that nothing can be done. Of course something could be done. I want the phone number of airport manager.” I sensed restlessness in him. At last some ray of hope was seen when we got the number of Air Canada office. Alas, even that hope was being trampled upon mercilessly when the officials said that there is no facility of ISD calling from there. We kept inquiring that how do we call then. One of the staff said rudely, “Apne number se kar lo na call agar itna hi hai to.” (Call from your own number if you are so concerned). It was not the time to get into further loud bearish arguments so Ratul requested politely to guide regarding the phone call. Finally, we were asked to go downstairs.

Ratul asked Dyutima and me to wait as it was getting problematic to roam around with luggage. Chlo handed over her luggage to me and went with Ratul. Dyutima and I found a place to sit and waited in bated breath.

“Your boarding will start in another 1 hour. Aren’t you worried that you may miss your flight” I asked Dyutima looking at my watch.

“Yes I am worried, but you know didi I just don’t want Chlo to leave with a feeling that all Indians are uncooperative and awkward. I know eventually she will go, but I just want to stay for as long as I can. Change will come if we all at an individual level begin to change. Even my father says the same thing.”

I was amazed at the level of thoughtfulness she had at such a relatively young age.

“So didi what is your book about?” She asked with gleaming eyes.

“Ummm…it’s about eunuchs…transgender you can say…Its called The Paradox of Vantage Point. I am just rooting for a society in which all of us can peacefully co-exist without any kind of prejudice, and basically my story is about that.”

“Eunuch? Great I learnt a new word today. Someday I can even do my project on this topic because my subject is clinical psychology.”

“Of course you can. This is a good topic to explore.”

We plunged into an hour-long meaningful dialogue during which we spoke only about the solemn hope of making the world a better place in our own way, which was highly unlikely, considering two girls in their 20s were involved. On a normal day, you don’t see young people ditching their Facebook and latest shopping talks. Time was running fast. Dyutima was getting late for her boarding and so were we. I called up Ratul.

“Indrani I don’t know what is happening. She has called Air Canada and they have kept her for hold and she has discussed her problem already with 3 representatives, repeating the same story again and again. Now she is crying.”

“Ratul, Dyutima has to leave and so does we…I am worried.”

“I know..I know…But we can’t leave her midway crying like this…At least somebody has to take her responsibility. Her visa would expire tomorrow. Wait….somebody has responded to her..let me call you back.” He disconnected the phone. I kept urging Dyutima to leave, but she insisted to stay for 10 more minutes.

Finally the jigsaw puzzle started falling in place when I saw Ratul and Chlo coming out. A picture of happiness slowly started revealing itself.

He said smiling ear-to-ear .“Air Canada agreed to book her a ticket for midnight but she has to pay a certain amount, at least slightly lesser than the original amount.” It was the first time in those two hours when Chlo was smiling and we had emotions speaking through our moist eyes.

“I hope you have a safe journey and take care about connecting flights next time.” I advised.

We had a group hug. She folded her hands said “Namaste” and walked out.

I didn’t waste time in capturing the moment in my phone.

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Ever heard that when there is a will, there is a way? Well, someone just did that in front of my eyes.

I whispered in Ratul’s ears, “From where do you draw strength for all this?”

“Just one thing—always place yourself in the shoes of the sufferer. What if we go to Canada someday and are mocked the same way in time of crisis. I don’t know whether Chlo had any fault in this, but at least a basic level of kindness and guidance could have helped that girl a lot.” He smiled.

We keep ranting about humanity and compassion all day on Facebook and Twitter. But, when it comes to practicing it in real life, very few Ratul and Dyutima come out in open. Very few show the grit to overcome the limitations of an ordinary conscience. The epidemic of apathy is slowly engulfing each one of us, and thus sadly we don’t have ‘time’ for anyone else. For me, I had seen two real people today who didn’t believe in diluting goodness. Thankfully I am living with one of them.

As we started walking towards our respective boarding gates Dyutima said, “I know why you clicked the picture. You are going to write about this. Right?”

“I am a writer. I am always in hunt of stories. But you two gave something more than story to me today.” I winked and signed off.


It gives me immense pleasure and pride in announcing that my book The Paradox of Vantage Point is now a verified product with Amazon India. Please follow the link and order to your heart’s content. Flipkart link shall follow soon. 😊

http://www.amazon.in/dp/9385247220

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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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The lid of discrimination and hatred that we open for  transgenders and eunuchs on a daily basis is not something alien. This time the axe has fallen on a 19-year-old transgender called Shivy who was a student at University of California till a few months ago until he (Shivy prefers to be referred as ‘he’) was hoodwinked to come to India on an urgency by his own parents. On coming here, his phone and laptop was confiscated and had to undergo verbal and physical abuse so that he transforms into a ‘proper girl’. The good news is that after all the ordeal now the Delhi High Court has granted him police protection. He still has to get hold of his passport and green card from his rigid parents so that he can return to US and pursue further studies.

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Couple of weeks back, a group of transgender appealed to Tamil Nadu government for Mercy Killing stating that despite getting the recognition of third gender last year they still struggle everyday to lead a dignified life. Just imagine what kind of extreme prejudice they were subjected to that made them experience these bouts of depression. Sure there are brave souls like Manabi Bandopadhyay and Laxmi Narayan Tripathi who dared to create a new world of equal opportunities. But, there are also thousands of eunuchs and transgenders who end up having a tragic end to their lives.

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You cannot blame a single person for the inadequacies prevailing; a tiny finger should be raised at each one us because we all are instrumental in encouraging those “stares”, “hijra jokes” and “comments” at some point while having harmless fun. But, at the end, who is taking the onus?

There has been many talks about peaceful coexistence till now. Howbeit, it seems, some cracks are irreparable. Time and again we have been told that transgender are as normal as us; they are not misfit–then why string together this tempestuous relationship between us?

I was once told by my dad that if you put an energy into the world then surely in someway it will come back to you. Lets try to put out an energy that brings aroma of equality and justness. My upcoming book ‘The Paradox of Vantage Point’ is a fictional tale which speaks volume about the treatment that is meted out to eunuchs by ‘normal’ people like us. It’s about that positive energy that we still need to release from within.

If you are yet to see the teaser, here it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BweBy7ugNM0

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“It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.” — John Steinbeck

P.S: All images are from the website Scoopwoop and I have no copyright over them.


For all those kind followers, who were waiting for the first teaser of my book, The Paradox of Vantage Point, the wait is over.

Get a peek into the premise of the book.


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!!! 🙂