Wednesday, October 27, 2004

The Namesake

By the time i finished reading The Namesake, i had a heavy heart, a feeling that i can't really describe - maybe because i felt so much for and like the characters of this beautiful story. The author has amazing sensitivity towards people trying to find meaning in their lives in situations, circumstances and surroundings that are alien to them.

It started with my insatiable apetite for all things tabloid and bollywood. I was intrigued by the announcement of Mira Nair's next production based on Jhumpa Lahiri's book - The Namesake. I had heard about the author but had never read any of her books. I decided to read this one and i'm glad that i did.

This is the story of Indians who have uprooted themselves from their native land and are trying to adjust to new ways of surviving in an alien country. It's also the story of the second generation of the immigrants which struggles to find a balance between two radically different cultures, conflicting values and ways of living.

Ashoke and Ashima find themselves holding onto their roots, their only way of asserting their identity and be in touch with their past in far away streets of Calcutta. Their children Gogol and Sonia are caught between the world at home which is steeped in the Bengali culture and the world outside which is radically different. Gogol hates his name which he thinks is absurd-stupid-inconsequential so much so that he changes it as soon as he gets the opportunity. He has no clue about how much this name means to his father.

Lahiri knows her protagonists and their emotional and cultural complexities like the back of her hands...and this is what touches me the most personally. I relate to the characters so much that i can almost visualise my parents, me and my brother instead of the characters in the book.

Having been brought up as a Probashi Bengali (Bengalis living away from their homeland), i have lived and breathed that same zealous attempt at holding onto the bengali culture. The absolute loyalty to all things bengali (bordering on snobbishness sometimes i thought). I was so accustomed to the Bong-Bandwagon that i could imagine without difficulty the get-togethers described in the book, mashis and meshos together playing cards-singing-eating over batches, the kids in one room watching television, mutton curry and luchi, maacher-jhol bhaat, gossping on dinner table untill our hands were dry and yellow...rabindra sangeet, poetry recitation. My parents insistence on my learning to read-write Bangla - and my reluctance towards the same (the last thing i wanted to do was study during my school vacations! but of course i had no other choice!). My mother not wearing anything other than saris (wearing salwaar-kameez would be considered rebellious by our relatives in Calcutta!It's very different for this generation of course!) - a fatalistic approach to life - don't drive too fast, Calcutta this Calcutta that...there is so much more that i can point out that i could relate to! It was as if i was reading out my own story. While i was growing up i sometimes resented this clutching onto bengaliness (an exception being the pujo that i looked forward to every year). I had many arguments with my parents on this issue..tried to show them other ways of thinking and living without any success...What impressed me most was that the author is sensitive enough to describe even the most mundane scenarios...things that we take for granted and never notice but things that are important nevertheless...There were many instances in the story when i would go - oh shit! this is so true! this is what usually happens!

The strange thing is that the same things that i had started detesting or rebelling against when i was younger, i try to hold onto now - but of course never with the same fanatical zeal! I consider myself a very adaptive person - as in i can live without indian food-indian clothes etc etc for days on end without complaining and i am not paranoid about holding onto the bengaliness as the previous generation. Having said that i have also noticed that i appreciate certain aspects of my culture and it will not be far-fetched to say that acceptance of my culture gives me a sense of identity which is becoming increasingly important to me.

Read the review of this book at

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Colour me Rainbow!

Today im feeling bright orange - a hint of hope, dirty light pink bordering on pastel - bring out the softer me, bright pink, bright orange put together - i want to feel the rush of being in love, lime green and i want to roam around in open greens barefoot-rain drops on my face...but then for a split second i feel black - what if its an illusion - the black streaks percolate my colourful canvas!!

I don't see colours i feel them...i feel their brightness, i feel their energy when we put together greens and blues and yellows and pinks.

I can see sparkling crystals floating in a sea of colours...they float in front of my eyes and then i feel their pulse within me, surging through me. I want to be surrounded by colours for as long as i live.

Have you ever been conscious of the effects colours have on us? I immediately feel invigorated when i come across bright energetic colors (bright not garish). Greys always sober me down so does white...i feel very peaceful and graceful with makes me feel mysterious, strong, elegant, smart, sexy, and at times doubtfull, dark...

Ma Baba

Today was Bijoya. Called up Ma-Baba to wish them. This time around i missed them more than ever. I try to put up an unemotional, non-sentimental version of myself everytime i hear some sentimental mush from them....try to tell them not to get so senti. Tell them its not imperative that their daughter has to stay near them so that they can meet her often enough.There are scores of people who live away from their families, different cities, different countries-continents!

But the fact is that i do miss them. And this time around when i called, they seemed to have grown so much older. Of course they are getting old like everyone else...but for some reason it hit me hard this time.

Ma informed that baba had taken part in a race for above 60s generation. She also took a dig on him saying he was reluctant to join the race and gave various excuses, because he didn't want to admit to the ladies around him that he was over 60!! I couldnt stop dad hates any mention of him ageing, i don't think he will ever!

I can't stop thinking about the innumerable times i have taken them for granted. Taken for granted the time, affection, money they spent on me and my brother for us to be comfortable. I hope that i'm able to show the same selfless love to my kids when/if i have any.

I want to make them feel special for the rest of their days, even if i'm not phyisically near them, i'm going to make sure that i let them know how special they are.

Saturday, October 23, 2004


Sometimes i wonder what kind of lives we are living. What is the purpose of our lives? What are we doing everyday slogging it out...aiming for the next promotion, next raise, next bonus, job insecurities, trying to meet the expectation of a severely competitive world...parents expecting their kids to join the best of Business Schools, land the best best best...

For some of us our life ends up being work and work engulfs our we ever take a breath - stop-and figure out what we actually want in our lives or are we just living our lives based on benchmarks made by others...but then we do enjoy the high of being successful..that posh apartment, the latest car to hit the market, that cannon digi-cam, toshiba laptop, nokia mobile phone, the latest tell the truth i will be lying if i say that all these things dont matter because they do...and thats the dilemma of my life...i dont want to end up in this vicious cycle but hey i enjoy it!

I wonder if it was easier for our previous generation. Easier because they were more settled in life, they knew what was expected of them. They were not in a mad rush. Grow up, get married, have kids-complete the family, take care of parents when they are old, have people to fall back on when you hit the rought patch...

I am amazed at how secure my mother is. She has been a homemaker all her life, is a fabulous woman, has immense confidence in herself, is far-sighted - in fact some of the best financial decisions in the family were taken by my mother!

I have been a career woman, but why is it that i still don't feel settled...why is this constant urge to reach out to something better, new, why is it that i get the jitters when i'm not working or not dreaming and i have seen women who are so content with whatever life offers them! why cant i just chill out and not worry?!!...

Does it mean i will never be happy?!! i hope not! Its like the feelings of insecurity and uncertainity creeping through me, clawing its tentacles inside...clutching at my heart! ahh there i go again...i'm in a bad mood! or just getting old or well i can blame it on PMS!

Absolutely Awesome!

Yann Arthus-Bertrand

Came across this site. Was blown over by the amazing photographs. Check out the 'Earth from Above' section under 'Photographs'. This is one well made site (layout-flash execution).

How i wish i could take pictures like this!! I do get inspired and carried away by looking at these awesome collections...ahhh...dreams and more dreams... But then the one who doesnt dream is a dead soul!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Memoirs of Geisha

I just finished reading this book - Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, and i have been overwhelmed by it's lyricism and fluidity in narration. It certainly has become one of my favourites not just because it's a work of art, also because there are so many things i could learn from this book.

It gives an insight into the world of a geisha (in this case a very popular one and one of the best geishas ever). A world which has always carried a tag of the exotic and mysterious with it has been laid bare and so beautifully, as it deserves. What makes this book unique is the fact that this is not a documentary or a third-person view of this closely gaurded world, it's an insight into the geishas world told by a geisha.

It's like going deep-sea diving and coming across this beautiful and colourful treasure hidden from the rest of the world.

Memoirs... traces the story of Nitta Sayuri from her childhood, from her tipsy little house on a cliff to the streets of Gion in Kyoto to the bustling excitement of NewYork.

It is lyrical, fluid, seamless, and makes you feel so much for this little girl who is sold by her parents into something much bigger than she can ever imagine, something that is going to change her life forever.

It also gave me such a different perspective into the geisha world. I realised what all being a Geisha entails. One has to know the art of entertaining (in fact the world geisha means artisan); know the art of conversation, seduction and persuation, diplomacy and of course mind-games! No wonder geishas have such control over men and their patrons. But despite having so much control over the men in their life, they end up being totally dependent on them.

One also gets to take a peep into this mysterious world as an insider. Things like geishas being so superstitious that they don't do anything without consulting their almanac! Or that they have to let their hair remain unwashed for days on end because of the elaborate hairstyles (and there are different hairstyles and kimonos for different levels of geishas). Speaking of kimonos, i had no idea that wearing it is such a task that geishas always have a dresser for assisting in wearing one and also that all kimonos are of the same length no matter who wears them!

There is a lot of humour and pathos in the narrative as well as beautiful metaphors. I could imagine Sayuri with her Shamisen or Sayuri dancing with a beautiful fan in one hand while her other arm gracefully makes a sweeping gesture. There are innumerable such instances which makes this book such a masterpiece! I have been overwhelmed by this book and will be thinking of Sayuri, the okia, and geishas for a long time to come.

Read the reviews on this book at

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Poojo is in the air

It's that time of the year again! Poojo is in the air...literally...i remember when i was younger, there used to be such excitement in the air in the days preceding poojo.

There are a few things that i associate with poojo - the fragrance of shiuli, the sounds of dhaak, dhunuchi, blowing of conch shell...

We had a shiuli tree in our garden and every morning there would be a flower bed beneath the tree....and the air would be laden with the sweet fragrance.

And i loved the sounds of dhak..the familiar sounds and beats energised me like nothing else!

Poojo also meant -

Listening to Mahalaya in the morning - baba would switch on the tv early in the morning to listen to Mahalaya (it was very irritating back then!!)

It meant new clothes...invariably ended-up buying jeans and salwar kameez (which i used for regular wear) and wear my mother's saris (which were not new at all!)

It meant ma taking out her jewellery from locker (the not so heavy ones but showy enough to make an impression).

It meant baba hunting for sponsors for the local pujo-bari, it also meant some politics! people complaining about the reigning poojo-committee and trying to nit-pick. Long discussions/debates (some of them quite loud) on how to make our pujo stand out from the neighbouring one over never-ending supply of tea.

It meant dressing up in the finest of saris and admire oneself...trying to figure out if i look better than my oh-so-glamorous cousin (who always came back with tales of the most handsome guys in the pandal checking her out and wondering how much of it was exaggeration!) and of course checking out guys (only the most handsome ones!).

Doing rounds of all pujo-baris (CRPark and Delhi Kalibari were a must) and trying to figure out which durga murti was the most beautiful one.

It meant never cooking at home - bhog during the day - at night seekh kabab, chicken tikka, and so much more!

It meant night outs, watching plays enacted by local drama groups, music shows by bollywood singers/modern bengali singers - some of them horrendous, some pretty good.

It also meant ma dishing out mouth watering nimkis and nadus for bijoya.

All this seems so far away now. It has been 3 years since i have been back home during poojo.
Ma baba get especially senti during this time of the year and go on a we-wish-you-were-here mode. Ma called-up and told me they celebrate poojo in HK (apparently she is more informed!). But don't think i will's won't be the same. Attended last years pujo in singapore at Ramakrishna was nice...but wasn't the same....Hopefully next years poojo will be in Delhi!

For those of you who have no idea what i'm talking about (Durga puja), check this site for more information:

Monday, October 11, 2004

Of moralities and happiness

The Vine of Desire

I recently finished the book 'The Vine of Desire' by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. Easy read. It's about relationships, complex feelings bordering on what society may brand as wrong or immoral. Although not incredibly deep, it tries to read the pshyche of the characters without being judgemental. The author's ability to accept the grey shades of her characters lends the narrative an empathetic bent.

It's a story of two women - cousins Anju and Sudha and a personal tragedy that brings them together, which acts as a catalyst to a string of events that will change their lives forever.

Anju recently had a miscarriage and is devastated. The thin and frayed thread that holds her marriage together is strained and is on it's way to snapping. At this point her cousin Sudha who has has gone through a personal tragedy of her own walks into Anju and her husband Sunil's life and changes their life forever.

Sudha is this beautiful woman who has had a bad deal from life, but she yeilds amazing power over men (no second guesses for the reason!). All her life she has been desired by men. Ashok has waited for her for a decade. Lalit with all his wit and polish and intelligence can't help but feel magnetically drawn to her. But it's Sunil who changes her life forever - her sister's husband Sunil.

Sunil is trying to make his life in an alien land, far away from his native country and is trying to realise his version of the American dream. He is a good husband and loves his wife Anju or is at least trying to. But he has this secret buried deep inside him which he cannot share with anyone, least of all Anju - that he loves her cousin Sudha - deeply, passionately and has never been able to get over her ever since he saw her one afternoon in Calcutta. By then it was too late because he was already engaged to Anju and Sudha was to be married to someone else.

Anju oblivious of these feelings on her husband's part (or was she??), invites Sudha over to America for her to start-over again and also because she thought they could heal each other from their recent tragedies.

One thing leads to another and the inevitable happens. Sunil leaves Anju because he doesnt love her anymore...not when the object of his desire is living in the same house, sharing his life. The book doesnt try to judge Sunil. He is as human as anyone else.

And it set me thinking what should be the pursuit of one's life? to do what is right? or to be happy. What should one do when one's quest for happiness clashes with what is right/immoral according to the society and sometimes ones own conscience? How strong this man's desire and love for this woman must be for him to leave the security of his family, the cushion that the values he has been brought up with provide him?

Sudha seeks total freedom and realises that she needs to be on her own to be truly independent. Anju on her part comes out a stronger person from the pain when her husband leaves her - she is not afraid to turn a new leaf in an alien country, on her own. As for Sunil he is trying to pick up the peices of his life, writes to Anju once-in-a-while and hopes for forgiveness.

All in all a nice and easy read.

Checkout the review:

Sunday, October 10, 2004

I'm such a chicken!

A few days back, I had a chat with a friend. And this chat-session made me realise... i'm such a chicken!

Well it so happens that this friend of mine is taking a major decision...a decision which can work or fall flat, but she's still going ahead with it. And it is a major decision, not something like what do i have to cook for dinner! She could have continued with the status quo...but is going ahead with walking the unknown path because she wants to and feels strongly about it.

And i kept wondering what would i have done in her shoes, why am i so content with treading the safe path. Will i ever have the courage to break free from this love for security? Do i have it in me to take risks? Can i ever take a detour in life? There's one part of me that craves for something out of the ordinary and there's this other part which holds me back because i feel so secure by being cautious, so comfortable with security. Am i missing out on something bigger because i don't take risks? I don't know...

But i do have a lot of admiration for people who take risks in their life and are nonchalant about it.

Speaking of risks, i was watching this programe on tv the other day. It was about free cimbers (unlike rock climbers or moutaineers they do not use any climbing gears! Remember Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2?). I mean can you come across bigger risk takers?? They are risking their lives!!And its a passion for them, some kind of adrenaline driven rush.

It's not like bungee-jumping or sky-diving or rope-jumping where you have a harness or something that's going to ensure that you are safe (unless of course you are damn unlucky and its your time and your parachute malfunctions or the elastic or rope snaps!). So all you have is your hands and your feet, no safety harness, no airbags or safety nets awaiting you when you make a wrong move and fall flat onto the ground several hundered/thousand feet below - and i doubt if any kind of safety-net will even work in such a case!

I mean who does that stuff?? Don't these people love their life? What goes on in their heads when they take such risks?? Sometimes when they have to jump from one place to the other on vertical rock surfaces, they are suspended into thin air for several seconds! One wrong move and its THE END!!!

Phew!! And my belief that i'm such a chicken gets reinforced, but then it takes all kinds to make the world!

For those of you who want to know more about climbing, checkout this site

Thursday, October 7, 2004

Fresh Lime & Fine Wine!

Bought 2 DVDs from HMV! That too on discount, thanks to the tenth(?) anniv celebrations of HK HMV!

Have been thinking of building up a collection of good movies, so went ahead and bought 'Amelie from Montmartre' & 'In the Mood for Love'. In fact want to have a few of Wong Kar Wai's movies - Chung King Express (next time!). Was pleased with myself at the end of it :) money well spent.


Amelie From Montmartre

This is one of my favourites. Its fresh, romantic, breezy, quirky....won awards for Best Cinematographer, Best Director, Best Film at the 2001 European Film Awards....just love watching this movie...

Amelie is this sweet, queer, imaginative do-gooder. She is a dreamer, shy and curious. And while she is not amusing herself with silly questions like how many couples had an orgasm on a particular day (and she counts 15!), she manages to play match maker to loney hearts, teaches the shop owner a lesson for being such a bully, devices ways to make her father step out of his cooped-up world!! But she is also looking for love and the meaning of life and then she comes across this mysterious Photomation-image collector, and her life changes forever.

This movie is a must watch! Its original, funny, leaves you with a light and nice feeling aftwewards. Love the story-telling...everything flows with ease...fluid at times, breezy and enrgetic at times...beautiful cinematography!!

Audrey Tautou essays Amelie's character, while Mathieu Kassovitz plays the Photomation-image collector (btw he had a small role in the movie - 5th Element - was the goofy young apprentice to the priest! - he looks so much better in this movie, quite handsome indeed!)

In the Mood for Love

Won the Best actor and the Grand Prix Technique awards at Cannes 2000. A beautiful, stylish movie. Like all Wong Kar Wai movies, its extremely moody. Everything adds to the mood - the way the camera moves, the way the shots are framed, lighting, colour, silence, raindrops...its a visual treat!

It's the 1960s HongKong. Chow Mo Wan (Tony Leung) moves into a building with his wife at around the same time Su Li Zhen (Maggie Cheung) moves in with her husband. They have a cordial relationship (the usual neighbourly politeness), but soon discover the love affair between their spouses. Needless to say this shatters them, but what is more perplexing is the growing passion between themselves. Maggie Cheung looks amazing with her figure hugging cheongsams, graceful, svelte, with a beautiful face and acting to match! Toney Leung is superb - understated, yet brings forth the complexities of his feeling towards maggie's character...

There is so much romance and underlying passion between these two characters whenever they share the screen, yet there are no intimate scenes! Its about abridged relationships and regrets...does she regret not leaving her husband when Chow Mo Wan asks her to come with him to Singapore...and what secrets does he whisper into the walls of the temple?...

When the movie ends you can't help feeling sad for the two protagonists, it's not a happy ending. But then it woudn't be the same with a happy ending (lovers end up being together for life - living a mundane life fighting over mundane things). This way they have carved their own place in each others lives... for life!

Personally i wud have liked them to reunite, get married and have a bunch of kids! :P

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

what personality type are you?

What personality type are you?

check this out:

I'm an ENFP!

"The Champions"
Extraverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving

ENFPs are both "idea"-people and "people"-people, who see everyone and everything as part of an often bizarre cosmic whole. They want to both help (at least, their own definition of "help") and be liked and admired by other people, on both an individual and a humanitarian level. They are interested in new ideas on principle, but ultimately discard most of them for one reason or another.


Have put up some photographs that i took in HongKong, Singapore and Macau. I have aquired this sudden interest in photography ( I was always interested in photographs, but never really got down to taking pictures as a hobby).

And thanks to this new interest, I notice things which I normally never would!

Check out the pics at


I have been mulling over this for ages! i.e. thinking of creating my own own space - where I can say watever is on my mind (but then will i really do tht?? lets see)...

Am not much of a writer, never was but then words do fascinate me ( just like movies and music!) and books are my constant companion...but when it comes to expressing myself with words...well am not very good at that!

Nevertheless after much pondering decided to create my blog - will write about mundane stuff..mostly thoughts about travelling, movies, music, anything that grabs my attention etc etc...basically anything that I feel like...

So here we go!