Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Off to a foreign land

For the first time in the 21 years of my lifetime, I went sight-seeing to a foreign country without parental guidance and surprisingly everything went smoothly as well. 'Surprisingly' I say because when it comes to doing something independently, I in simple words 'suck'. Of course, the trip was not taken alone. My best friend, Shiwangi was with me and she's the smart one when it comes to the 'travelling on your own' business. It was one the most incredible trips that I have ever taken.

We flew from Kuala Lumpur (LCCT) to Changi International Airport, Singapore; got our currencies exchanged to Singaporean Dollars and reached the hotel in the van Luxury Tours and Travels had arranged to receive us. The view during landing was so spectacular (with the view of various islands in the middle of the sea-green Singapore Strait) that we hardly paid attention to the outside world on the way to the hotel, Hotel RELC International. Besides, we were extremely hungry. After reaching hotel, we went out to look for food and swiftly entered the first restaurant in site since we were starving. The food was excellent but we spent a whooping 20dollars per head for a meal and ended up feeling guilty about it and searching for restaurants with a fairly decent range of prices. With that excuse, we did some window-shopping on Orchard Road as well. The afternoon passed and we went back to the hotel. We had just enough time to lay our heads in bed for two minutes, when it was time to get ready for the night safari. When we reached the lobby, the receptionist scolded us for not being punctual and that our vehicle had left, though we had reached there 10 minutes prior to the pick-up time. Realising that he was highly mistaken, we ignored him and got on to our vehicle which took us to the main Luxury office from where we changed buses and travelled to the Night Zoo with a lady named 'Dawn' as our guide.

The tram ride in the night zoo was extraordinary. Though everything was staged, with the animals probably being trained to stand in their designated places, I got to see various creatures that I've never seen before such as the Malayan Tahr, the bongo and several other bovine animals and predators and numerous known fauna such as lions, tigers, elephants, foxes, deer, hyenas, etc. When the tram ride came to an end, it started pouring, so the fire show by the aborigines was cancelled. Highly dissapointed, with the dinner coupon in hand, we went for dinner. After dinner, when we reached the venue for the fire show, the rain had stopped and the 10minute show had already almost ended. Soon it was time for us to leave. We were the last ones to be dropped off to our hotel. All in all, it was not a very good day. We were chided at, disappointed and exhausted. We went off to bed, hoping that "tomorrow will be a better day".
Our wishes came true, not only for the next day, but for two days in a row. The next day the half day city tour covered the Merlion at Marina Bay, Singapore Chocolate Gallery, Mount Faber Park, Thian Hock Keng Chinese Temple, Jewellery Gallery and a trip past the Istana and various Cathedrals, Chinese and Hindu temples and through Raffles Quay, Suntec City and Orchard Road. Our guide Chin was very friendly and energetic, unlike our previous guide Dawn. We had a one hor lunch break and then the Sentosa Twilight tour commenced, with again Chin as our guide but different co-passengers. This tour included reaching Sentosa Islands by cable car, which was 'magnifique' with the view of the ocean below and the ships and islands in between(The cheaper way to reach Sentosa Islands is by bus or taxi or of course, walking and Sentosa is derived from the hindi word Santosh which means tranquillity), underwater world along with the sea-lion and pink and grey dolphin show, butterfly and insect park, 'Pirates of the Caribbean' 4D Show,'Images of Singapore' museum tour, Merlion Walk which let us view the Merlion in Sentosa Islands in closer proximity and the Laser Show which was the best part of the tour and Singapore as a whole.
The following day too was lovely as we spent it in the Universal Studios. Though it was not as grand as I had speculated it to be, some of the rides such as Revenge of The Mummy and Battleship Galactica literally took my breath away. We couldn't take the newly opened Transformers- The Ride due to the unending queue and I had not expected us to make it either. Slightly upset about it, we buckled up for the other shows which were pretty good, too. With that, our trip ended on a bitter-sweet note and I realised that though the people of Singapore are fake and everything we had come to 'sight-see' was artificial, whatever we saw even though sugar-coated was attractive or entertaining and that's what we had come for- to have fun and to be entertained. The following day was our flight back to K.L. We bid a final goodbye to Singapore and flew back home, with no further disappointment, difficulty or discomfort.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I cherish the time when I first met you,
You seemed benign, amiable and sweet.
I cherish the time we became friends,
You were one of the best I ever would meet.
I cherish the long gone days,
When we laughed till we cried,
Gossiped till we were tired.
I cherish the time when we first fought,
We were but an idiot lot.
I cherish that we were not just comrades,
We were closer than sisters ever will be.
I cherish you, dear friend-turned-nothing,
I cherish the memories that you've left behind,
What I don't cherish is the melancholy that you left with it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life without chicken is death!!

Oxygen and chicken are the exact same thing for a non-vegetarian. They are both indispensable and life without both are impossible. The idea of killing bird after bird for someone's evening snack might sound crude for the vegans. But I guess tasting is the new 'believing'. My best friend's family is strictly vegetarian or so she claims. But when she first tasted chicken upon my insisting, she flew straight to cloud9. Since then she has never looked back. Though consuming chicken only in my company, she doesn't seem to mind the eating at all. Chicken in any form is sheer bliss- whether it's cooked in Chinese, Indian or Continental style; whether its main course or an appetiser; whether its boiled for a stew or shredded for a sandwich; as long as it's cooked, it ethereal. I ate chicken in many forms for lunch yesterday after a long time and it made my day. :D

Thursday, September 22, 2011


The earthquake rocked the most pristine place in the country on 18.09.2011 and ruined its placidity in seconds. It filled the minds of millions with trepidation. It killed, crippled, disrupted and demolished. Hundreds were injured and several faced the death penalty. It was probably the most horrifying experience in my life. The main tremor started at 6:15PM, lasting for about 45 seconds and shook several parts of the country - Sikkim, Bihar, West Bengal, Delhi, Rajasthan and even Nepal, since the epicentre was in Sikkim-Nepal border, just few hundred kilometres from our college; followed by several minor aftershocks continuing up to the next day. It affected around 100,000 buildings. Water supply and electricity was at standstill and still so in many regions. The quake also brought with it several landslides which caused roadblocks on both the North Sikkim highway and the Gangtok-Siliguri stretch of the NH-31.

Back in our college, the roof of the boys' hostel collapsed. Tiles, bricks, lights, walls broke everywhere. Quite a number of individuals were injured, luckily none were serious(even though a helicopter flew into our college the next day and took away few who needed medical attention and everyone was fascinated for obvious reasons). These are just the physical effects it brought. The amount of mental dilemma and nervousness is several times as much. We hardly slept that night, pledged to spend the night on the open ground, it was raining unfortunately. Due to congestion in the mobile network, we were unreachable by our family. The next morning, those friends and family who never usually called, called. There was no bound to everyone's tension.

Nowadays, every time I go to bed, my heart beats faster than ever in fear of a bigger tremor. Rumours, false alarms, fake predictions add to the stress. A minor earthquake hit Sikkim again yesterday. Tourism is down the drain as Sikkim will be the last choice among the list of general public's holiday hotspots. Software companies for placement of jobs are hesitating to visit our college, anticipating future tremors. North Sikkim, a region known for its scenic beauty, will now be known for the hard-hitting damages by the quake. Daily life has been hampered. Students and workers from other states are desperate to flee the state. It's going to take quite a while to bring back everything to normalcy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Big Brother

Who is an elder brother, exactly?

He is the one whose discarded clothes you get to wear, irrespective of your gender. He's the one whose thrashings are more fatal than ten escape convicts put together. He's the one whose condescending behaviour gets on each nerve of your body, well, most of the time. He is also the one for whom you spend considerable time searching for the perfect bride and he rejects them all in a second. He's despicable, he's despise-able, your problems are none of his concerns, but life without a big brother isn't worth living as:

He is the one who'll hug you and almost break your ribs. He's the one who'll buy you all the unnecessary gadgets you'd like to show off to your friends.He's the one with similar taste in food and will take you to the right places to 'hog'.

He's the one to tell you, 'Studying is not a piece of cake, but it isn't as difficult as reading Salman Rushdie's books either.;)' Above all, he's the one who exactly understands your feelings when Mom or Dad scolds you. All in all, He's you, just older and wiser.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Meat Lasagna


6 pasta sheets
1 small brinjal
3 tbsp butter
1/2 cup grated cheddar/mozarella cheese
Salt to taste

For the meat mix:
250 gram minced mutton
3 medium tomatoes
2 tsp tomato ketchup
1 finely chopped onion
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sugar
chopped parsley leaves
salt and chilly flakes to taste

For the white sauce:
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste


Place the pasta sheets individually in boiling water and simmer till soft. Heat 2 tbsp butter and add the brinjal in the pan. Sprinkle salt and fry till half-cooked. For the white sauce, mix molten butter and flour and mix well so that no lump are formed. Place it on the flame and add the milk. Stir continuously and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook till it comes to a boil.
For the meat mix, heat olive oil and the the chopped onion to it. Fry till it becomes translucent. Add the minced meat and cook for a while. Pour the tomato puree made out of the three tomatoes. Add salt, chilly flakes, sugar and tomato ketchup. Cook for 20 minutes. Add parsley leaves in the end.
Preheat the oven for ten minutes. Grease the baking dish with olive oil. Place 2 pasta sheets at the base of dish. Cover partially with meat mix, brinjal, white sauce and at last with cheese. Repeat the process twice and place it in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Serve hot.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Everybody loves Gaga

My theory is that- everybody either already has or eventually will fall in love with Stefani "Lady Gaga" Germanotta. Lady Gaga known for her unconventionality, has horrendous fashion sense (Lady Gaga wearing her famous meat dress is stark evidence) and her music videos are plain outrageous. Also, she has been in the limelight for quite some time because of the controversial themes of her singles. Despite all this, she has been the apple of every young individual's eyes and just at 25, she's become more popular than Madonna or JLo. I guess, it's her bizarreness that make people go nutty as a fruitcake for her.

Since her very first single 'Poker Face', Gaga has been invincible. And though she's in second place among the most popular music artists on Facebook (Rihanna's on first), I like her more. All her songs have a very strong theme and many can relate to them. For example: 'Bad Romance' talks about her failed relationships. 'Just Dance' is a very happy song and is the ideal one to be played when you're having a hard day. 'Judas' hints about Lady Gaga being in love with someone who is/has been unfaithful to her, taking Judas, Jesus's disloyal disciple as reference.

My personal favorite is 'Born this way' because of the lyrics (Lady Gaga supposedly designs her clothes by herself and writes her lyrics on her own). It encourages everyone to be confident in who they are irrespective of their religion, race, physical appearance or orientation. I especially love the following lines:

"There's nothing' wrong with loving' who you are
She said, 'cause He made you perfect, babe
So hold your head up, girl and you'll go far
Listen to me when I say

I'm beautiful in my way
'Cause God makes no mistakes
I'm on the right track, baby
I was born this way!"

I don't know about others but I love Gaga!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Should Euthanasia be legalised?

Funny thing- In the past, when I wasn't aware of the term 'Euthanasia', I used to wonder why mercy killing is called 'Youth in Asia'. Funnier thing- I have observed that this phenomenon is most common among 'youth in Asia', so in a way, I was never really wrong. On a more serious note, should Euthanasia or mercy-killing be legalised?

On medical terms, euthanasia has been defined as the deliberate intervention undertaken with the express intention of ending a life, to relieve intractable suffering. So my verdict is that- only voluntary euthanasia should be decriminalised ie. only those individuals who themselves want to end their life should have the right to carry out such abnegation. E.g. A paralysed man who has lost all hopes of moving any part of his body except his head or a cancer patient with malignant carcinoma which is nowhere near recovery or an AIDs patient who has been condemned by the society and both pains-physical and mental, is unbearable, would rather prefer to die than to live.

Currently Euthanasia is considered as criminal homicide. It may be so for cases of non-voluntary euthanasia, namely child euthanasia or honour killing when two individuals in love are killed by their own family members if they are of different castes or same gotra of the same sub-caste. But for cases like those mentioned above, most certainly not!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tarquin Hall just became one of my favorite authors

Tarquin Hall, a British-American writer and journalist is now one of my favorite authors. He is not 'world-famous' nor has he received accolades and critical acclaim for any of his works, but he manages to glue the readers' eyeballs to his books. He is after all the creator of India's Most Private Investigator, Vish Puri (also known as the Indian Sherlock Holmes). Currently dividing his time between Delhi and London, he has traveled across U.S.,U.K.,India,Turkey,Kenya, Pakistan, middle-east and south Asia and has based his writings on these countries and is married to Indian-born BBC-reporter Anu Anand.
The first book I read was To The Elephant Graveyard, a true story about a mentally-ill rogue elephant who goes on a killing spree, trampling to death more than forty individuals in and around the Kaziranga National Park in the state of Assam, India. The elephant is originally a Kunki (a domestic elephant under a mahout) but becomes crazy after ill-treatment by a previous owner. The book describes how Tarquin Hall, travels from Guwahati with a professional shooter into the deep forests of Assam and tracks down the elephant who is later shot by the shooter, Dinesh Choudhary. Adventurous and thrilling, though the book is supposed to be a serious read, some depictions are so hilarious that they make you laugh for several minutes.
The second one was the Case of The Missing Servant, the first book among the Vish Puri Murder Mysteries. A young maid servant in the household of a well-known lawyer in Jaipur goes missing and he is blamed for her murder. Vish Puri, stereo-typically Punjabi and obese, residing in Delhi, takes up the case and travels as far as the Jadugoda mines of Jharkhand, to prove the lawyer's innocence. Both funny and mysterious, this book is a good read.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pasta with cilantro-basil pesto

1 n half cup fusilli/farfelle/macaroni pasta
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup cilantro or coriander leaves
2 tbsp walnuts
1/4 cup grated cheese
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
1 n 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
1 small tomato
salt, sugar and pepper to taste

1. Add the basil and cilantro leaves, walnuts, olive oil, cheese, 1/4 tsp salt and garlic into the grinder and grind into a rough paste. The pesto is ready.
2. Boil the pasta in salt water and let it cool.
3. Heat butter in a vessel and fry the finely chopped onion till translucent. Add the milk and the pesto and mix well. Let it simmer for a while and add the pasta, chopped tomato, salt, sugar, pepper to taste.
4. Mix and cook for 2-3minutes.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Me, then and now

I have no idea how this amelioration took place in me after I came to college. But the beginning of college life definitely suddenly meant the end of rebelliousness and pugnacity. It suddenly transformed me into a very "Sidha Bachchaa", I don't know how!! I used to be funnier, 'ridiculous-er' and naughtier, during my school days. Enter college and I became a relatively serious, more mature and less fun-loving individual.

Back at school, my environmental science teacher used to call me 'a major source of noise pollution', while teaching, well, noise pollution. Being thrown out of class when I was in the 10th grade was a daily regime. Being asked to keep quiet or being scolded was every day's story. Trips to the principal's office were not that often, but when the time came to visit the office, the scoldings were not in scanty either. During my school days, I have been called many names by the teachers such as 'thick-skinned', 'naughty', 'useless' and downright 'outrageous'. But these were no implication that I stop the madness I had been creating in class or the school corridors; because I knew the teachers loved me. When I left school, I heard from other students that my teachers were full of praise for me. I got fairly good grades, so that helped a lot, I guess. My accomplices, on the other hand, didn't obtain such praiseworthy comments from the teachers, unfortunately, being average in both behavior and marks.

Whereas in college, I've seldom been lectured about my demeanor, always have submitted assignments on time, never been caught eating in class(in school, it was quite the opposite! :P) and maintained a decent CGPA. I have only once been thrown out of class as my teacher most probably overheard that I said that he has a 'piggish' face, and that too, on the first day of the Bengali new year. Otherwise, my etiquette has been close to perfect for the past 2years. Wonder how this drastic change could ever be possible? :O

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Bharta


500g chicken
1n1/2 cup tomato puree
200g chopped onions
3 black cardamom
3 green cardamom
3 bay leaves
3 to 4 cloves
5tsp white oil
3tsp ginger garlic paste
1tsp red chilly powder
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp turmeric powder
1tsp coriander powder
3tsp cashew paste
1/4 cup curd
1tsp butter
2tsp fresh cream
1 boiled egg
salt to taste


Add the cloves, cardamom and bay leaves along with the chicken and boil. Separate chicken from bones. Add oil in a pan and fry the onions till golden brown. Make a smooth paste of ginger garlic paste, red chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder and water. Add this paste into the pan and stir well. Add the tomato puree, cashew paste and chicken and mix well. Strain the broth obtained by boiling the chicken into the pan. Add curd, salt and butter to the pan and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cream, boiled egg and coriander leaves. Serve hot.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Brahminy kites

Our apartment on the 13th floor in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia overlooks an enormous golf course where two Brahminy Kites(in picture) hover at exactly 5P.M. everyday. Not a day has been there when the two love birds (we presume) have not been seen flying in the sky, nestling in a particular tree for around 10minutes and finally landing on a lamp post of the golf course.
The Brahminy kite or the Red-backed sea eagle is a medium-sized bird of prey found in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia & Australia. Adults have a reddish brown plumage and a contrasting white head and breast which make them easy to distinguish from other birds of prey. It is primarily a scavenger, feeding mainly on dead fish and crabs, especially in wetlands and marshland but occasionally hunts live prey such as hares and bats. They may also indulge in kleptoparasitism and attempt to steal prey from other birds.
Young birds may indulge in play behaviour, dropping leaves and attempting to catch them in the air (observed by us). They roost communally on large and isolated trees and as many as 600 have been seen at just one location. They may mob larger raptors such as the Aquila eagles. In some incidents where Brahminy Kites mobbed Steppe Eagles, they were attacked and injured or killed. A number of ectoparasitic bird lice in them have been reported.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A matter of honour


Honour killings are blight to the society. Innocent young couples are slaughtered in the name of honour, their only fault being that they fell in love with someone who unfortunately hailed from a different caste or the same gotras of the same caste as theirs. Honour killings are usually carried out under the guidance of a Khap Panchayat to pay the price for assaulting the society by inter-caste or intra-gotra marriage.
We have demonstrated the damage caused by this menace in a short play named “A matter of honour” where a Sarpanch of a village panchayat who initially shares the beliefs of Khap Panchayat and honour killings but undergoes a change towards the end. It starts off in this way.
Suresh, a young man is in love with Ashwini, who alas belongs to the same “gotra” as his, and this happens in a society, where such kind of matrimony purports a nuptial bond between a brother and a sister. Here, we have Suresh conversing with Naren, his friend.
Suresh: They will never accept our relationship, and the only solution is to run away.
Naren: But, why do you need to run away?
Suresh: We belong to the same gotra. Do you know what that even means? That makes us brother and sister in front of the society!
Naren: Is the risk worth it? I’m really worried.
[They walk out of the room. But, Suresh’s sister Geeti overhears them.]
Geeti(to herself): Oh my god! What is my brother up to? I must tell Ma and Baba right now!
[Without taking a breath, she rushes to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Chaurasia.]

Geeti: Ma! Baba! Bhaiyya is planning to run away with a girl of our gotra!!
Mr. Chaurasia: What? You must be mistaken.
Geeti: No Baba, I heard it with my own ears. We have to stop him right now.
Mrs. Chaurasia: My son! He can never do such a thing. He has always been high on his values.
Mr. Chaurasia : Whatever it is, we cannot let our son spoil our reputation.
Geeti: Baba, let’s hurry up.
[They rush to the next room to find their son packing his bags.]
Mr. Chaurasia: So it is true! You ARE running away! How dare you put your family to shame?
Mrs. Chaurasia: Beta, didn’t it hurt your conscience even once? Think about us and your little sister!
Suresh: Ma, Baba! I did not mean to hurt you, but she’s a very decent girl and most importantly I love her.
Mr. Chaurasia: Enough is enough! How do u even have the nerve to argue with us? Now only the Khap Panchayat can give us justice.
Suresh: No Baba.....Please listen....
[They confine him to a room and head off to the Khap Panchayat.]
Mrs. Chaurasia: A great misfortune has befallen upon us. Our family’s name is at stake.
Sarpanch: What’s wrong? Tell me!!
Mr. Chaurasia: How to begin? I’m so ashamed of my son’s deeds.
(They tell the Sarpanch what their son has been planning to do.)
Sarpanch: This has never happened in this village and as long as I am alive, I will not let it happen.
Villager 1: They should be banished from the village itself.
Villager 2: Technically, they are brother and sister, the girl should be made to tie a rakhi to the boy.
(Everybody nod in unison.)
Sarpanch: There is only one solution to this disgrace. They should be killed so that nobody dares to take such a heinous step again and defy the society.
Mr. & Mrs. Chaurasia: But we don’t even know who the girl is!
(Narrator: The Sarpanch sends policemen to find out the whereabouts of the girl in question.)

Policeman 1 (beating up Suresh): Who is the girl? Tell us.
Policeman 2: Or we’ll crack every bone in your bone in your body.
Suresh: I’ll die but won’t tell you who she is!
Policeman 1 to policeman 2: Search this place. We might find something.
(Narrator: After searching down Suresh’s room, they finally find a photograph of the girl and the boy but have a hard time believing their eyes.)

(The policemen rush to the Sarpanch’s house. The Sarpanch is having a good chat with his only daughter who is none other than Ashwini, Suresh’s lover.)
Policeman: We found the girl, Suresh’s lover, Sarpanchji. She is.... er.... she is........
Sarpanch: She is?
Policeman: She’s your daughter Sarpanchji.
Ashwini: Suresh, what has happened to him? Is he all right?
Sarpanch(shocked) : Ashwini!! How could you betray your father? Is that what I have taught you all these years?
Ashwini: Baba, I didn’t want to.... I just don’t know how....(cries)...
Sarpanch: Get out of my sight!
Ashwini: Baba I really love him! I can xplain....
Sarpanch: OUT!! NOW!!
(Narrator: The Sarpanch is in a dilemma. We all realise the intensity of some misfortune happening to somebody only if we are at the receiving end. Ashwini, being the Sarpanch’s only daughter whom he has raised singlehandedly, after her mother’s demise, she means the world to him. On the other hand, he cannot be a hypocrite in front of the society. But is his self-proclaimed ethics worth his little girl. It is now that he recognises the plght of others who have been through the same. It is now that he decides that the menace of honour killing should be curbed. He goes to his daughter who has been packing to leave the house.)
Sarpanch: Beti, I have committed a huge blunder by letting my emotions get the better of me. But now I realise how wrong I am.
Ashwini: Baba, I too am sorry for keeping things from you. I really love you and never wanted to hurt you. But Suresh is a decent guy and we are confident about our future together.
(Narrator: This is what had happened in a small village where the Sarpanch got rid of one the biggest current social evils. Hope this serves as a message to many.)