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The ordeal that comes on an yearly basis …

I had been outside home for last 3 years to spare me the shopping experience that is associated before the start of the Durga Puja. Having to stay 100 miles away from shopping malls for so many years, I was expecting that this time, there will be no sparing of the so-called wonderful experience that is named Puja Shopping. Frantic negotiations started few weeks ago – the ask was for 3-4 complete days and my initial position was no such visit at all. Finally, it was mutually agreed (didn’t have the documented proof though) that at least an afternoon is the ordeal that I need to go through.

So here was I telling bye bye to the coveted post-lunch siesta on 2nd October as I started the car in the afternoon. The incentive that I managed to coax out of the last minute adjustments was dinner at home from Oudh 1590 with the classic mutton biryani. That was not approved – but was under consideration if I participated in good spirits during this expedition. The greed was substantial from my side and hence I decided to try my best in the most difficult probation period in my life.

Entered the shopping mall at City Center with the biggest yawn – which unfortunately got noticed. Smelt immediate danger, the angry glances just increased the risk level by an exponential curve. The objective of the trip was also decided very clear in black and white terms. Did not allow any speck of grey – thanks to my professional experience – though it resulted me a loss of great amount of fluids through profuse sweating. Objective was buying of 2-3 items for me and that was presented with the clause “see, everything it is for you, nothing for me”. I feebly tried the tactic “I don’t need anything, so let’s forget this trip” – but that just went down the drain. So, after that big yawn, went into the Men’s section and tried to focus upon the job in hand. Within 5 minutes, I finalised a shirt. But that was perceived as a tactic of closing down the ordeal fast to my advantage. So, in spite of finalising the one in few minutes, had to look at 20+ shirts with running commentary from the salesman why that cotton quality was so great, why this one is such a value added buy, etc. Irritation finally overcame me and I had to cut short the salesmen saying “thanks for the advice, if you can instead get me additional 30% discount, I will be more happy”.

Finally went to the jeans section. I thought that just holding the jeans in front of me and taking a judgement call of good fitment will be good enough. Instantly turned down quite vehemently. Trial is a must and the trials should be in the ratio of 1:3; which basically means that if the target is 1, you need to trial at least 3 pieces. So, had to finalise on 3 and went to the trial room. Never realised that there can be such a big queue in front of the trial room – making innocent face did not help as no one could identify the pains within me to allow me to break the queue. Agreed on the lucky piece and now was the turn to pay.

Suddenly another twist –  if the total sales is more than x, then you will get Rs 500 discount voucher which can be encashed only when you do next shopping of Rs 2500+. Basically, the trick was that for Rs 4500/- money spent, you just get a Rs 500 discount. But the word “discount” was too tempting for some – so had to scamper around to buy something that added up the total which will enable to cross the threshold. Another 20 minutes to buy that “add on” and another 20 minutes extra in front of the payment queue. What an irony – here you spend your own hard earned money and yet you need to wait for 20 minutes without even thinking of losing your patience and temper. After all this was Puja Shopping.

I thought after the payment was done, this is all over. What a naïve innocent person I am ! Wearing not anything ethnic is supposedly a dastardly act that Ma Durga may not be able to tolerate. So, again had to change shop and went to FabIndia shop. The name has a “Fab” built in – Fab must be standing for Fabulous. No doubt – all items are Fabulously pricey indeed !! By that time, I was dragging my feet like a child. Colours, design were all meaningless to me by then. So I took refuge on a small tool, which was meant for the Security Guard. He probably also felt the pain as I was sitting there with my face down, looking at the design of the floor. But then my sixth sense felt that there is a fiery thing hitting my left cheek – I turned my head and saw someone staring at me with piercing eyes. Realised that I still have reflexes alive as I sprang up into attention position and went running again to the trial room. The ratio still was 1:3.

Finally, payment was made and then even the most timid person like me said with conviction “enough is enough!”. That moment I did realise that revolts and revolutions can happen en-masse; so there is still hope to all Marxists that one day “biplob” will run across the streets of Kolkata. And without even waiting for a reaction, I started walking towards the car. Desperation can drive people to daring acts and that I did achieve. Better senses prevailed as someone realised that slavery might be good, but slavery leading to revolution is dangerous.

That’s how I enjoyed the ordeal with a wish that next year, hope something comes up with a real strong excuse to be excused from this exercise once again. And the world still has some people who keeps their word – I did enjoy the great Oudh biryani in the night; even after India lost to South Africa in the first T20 match !

We want a mature, patient, civilised world …. not to be ‘trigger-happy’


We live in a so-called civilised world driven by the power of law, which has been formed by thoughtful groups and lots of common sense. One definition of ‘civilised’ means to have a high state of culture and development bound by basic virtues. We have found lots of ‘unions’ which gives us a platform to resolve issues at the highest levels, in case disputes are hard to solve at lower levels. We have vowed for following the rules, the ‘unions’, the ‘bodies’ we have formed across the world.
We call ourselves ‘mature’ – which has an inherent meaning of looking at a broader picture, taking lessons learnt into account  and then take decision based on facts, based on debates and consult these ‘unions’ & ‘bodies’ to come up to a decision that will be respected by all. When decisions are taken, it is normal that all parties who participated in the decision-making debates may not come to a unanimous consensus – but when a majority decision is taken, even the parties who had been advocating for the reverse, respects that. These all come under ‘maturity’.

We call ourselves ‘patient’ and that is linked to ‘maturity’. By patience, we imply that a decision will be taken by weighing different options, by hearing all sides of the story and then coming to a meaningful conclusion which we believe has been taken after much deliberation and to the best of our efforts. For that, respecting other’s opinions, understanding the context and the implications of the decision is key.

However, still why do we have the most ‘powerful’ and most ‘matured’ persons takes huge decisions in a trigger-happy manner without even deliberating with a broader forum ? Maybe that is the correct decision – but why do we have to behave like a ‘know-it-all’ person without any ‘patience’ and declare that the rest of the ‘unions’ and ‘bodies’ are of practical no-use, simply because we fear that those ‘unions’ & ‘bodies’ may come up with more logical & mature thinking that may result in a different decision ?

I hope we all can really behave as a civilised, mature and patient way resulting in uniting the world to collectively take a decision (and not just by myself) that will benefit in the long run ….

State security or human rights violation?


photograph taken from the internet as available in public domain

Mr. Snowden has brought up the dilemma of the notion of state security vs human rights violation quite strongly. This issue is nothing specific to one country, but probably applies to any major nation. It is true that the incident of 9/11 has changed the definition of security and fundamentally the definition of human trust. This is definitely very unfortunate, but again very true.

On one side the logic of national security lies very strong. Till the time a person is caught in crime, major or minor, that person is an ordinary citizen of a country. Hence, how on earth the intelligence of a country can actually detect any ill motives which can lead to mass destruction or killing of innocent civilians. Waking up after the horse has already bolted cannot be accepted by the citizens when it comes to safety of the people. The situation had become more challenging because of the power of the internet, the easy access of smart phones and the ease of communication between people, across localities, across cities, across countries… all in a real time mode.

On the other hand lies the sensitive topic of human rights violation, the infringement of unauthorized access of very personal communication. This brings in the sense of “big brother” is watching everyone over the shoulder. Hence comes in lot of frustration from common people when they feel suddenly betrayed by no other person, but from the government who is the guardian of all people. So the other view point will be the voice of common people asking the question “who gave you the right to monitor our personal conversations, without even asking me ?”

Probably the answer lies in the middle. In cases of national security, as the government is the guardian of the people, they probably should have the right to monitor things as they are doing so to maintain good amongst the people. Because in a family where you may have errant kids, the father actually monitors the activity of those kids, isn’t it ?

However, the main distrust comes because people do not believe that the governments actually monitor things just because of national security. Who guarantees that the government are actually telling the truth? Because in the recent past, wars have been triggered off based on pure lies or because of the intention of capturing important resources and exploiting the situations at a later date….

This trust deficit between ordinary citizens and the country governments is growing across the world and unless there is more transparency from the powers-to-be, these issues will be like thorns which will tend to grow and grow…. and the situation might turn explosive enough to trigger mass protests which the same powerful people will find tough to control.

Unbiased Reporting

Unbiased reporting to me is a utopian concept – something which you can dream of in an ideal world, but if you believe in that in the real world, you may land up in some major dis-belief after some days. I am not a reporter, nor a writer and hence do not have the inner conscience to recollect on some personal vows someone might have taken before they embarked upon on their careers. So, here I am writing controversy right now …

When I am a reporter writing on a piece of news or an interesting subject, in all probability, within my mind, I have already formed an opinion on that topic when I am doing some pre-research before I dive on the topic. Opinions will tend to be whether this person was a tyrant or not, whether this topic is a ‘right’ thing or a ‘wrong’ thing in my opinion, and so on. And that will dictate my questions in a future interview, dictate my nature of follow-ups …

Very often, we get influenced by the definition of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ by simple values of life learnt during the formative years. And who defines the definition of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – well, famous people, history who have come up with that definition based on THEIR interpretation of good or bad that point of time.

Let me try to provide an example – we all will agree that murder of people is an unforgivable crime, no doubt on that. So, when news comes that X has killed Y, the culprit is already identified and crucified in our judgement. But what if murder arose because of self-defence ? We normally don’t think of this at all when we read the news for the first time – isn’t it ?

Now, let’s see if some actions of great leaders of various countries lead to similar situations. We all know the cold-blooded murders caused during World War II and do know from the history books who is responsible for those incidents. Now, what happens that because of certain political / economic decisions in a different nation, common people have been affected indirectly and have died in hundreds. Is that not a murder as well ? And for that, have we crucified those famous leaders and marked them as ‘murderers’ ? No … simply because the history was written by the victors, history was written by people who had been influenced by their definition of right or wrong. We can put on trial dictators who have put his own people to tortures and killings, but we do not even jail leaders who can start a bloody war based on their ‘perception’ of threat without any facts (people call that ‘war started based on false allegations) … why ? because when we report or take decisions, we only consider one point of view and in that process become biased in our thoughts.

So, I do believe unbiased reporting, unbiased ‘history’ is something we all can strive for, but never see that in reality.

Social Media, Communication vs Governments

I would imagine that most of the readers are not only aware of social media and internet communications but are also heavy users of Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Gtalk, Blackberry Messenger, Facebook Messenger, etc etc. What a fantastic technological breakthrough which literally makes the entire world real-time, user friendly and connected via this huge thing called internet. With affordable smart phones, it has now become more easier to keep in touch on a real time basis, irrespective of whether you want an urgent information from a friend sitting at Auckland while you are physically located at London. Technology has no doubt made the world a global village with no effective boundaries to cross for communication across the world, across languages, etc.

Now information can spread rapidly multiplying by GP rather than simple additions. It can not only go across localities, but across regions, across cities, across countries, across continents. While this is a great boon to most of the people, this has also resulted in headaches for authorities and governments. The UK rioting that happened across cities in 2010 spread rapidly because of huge use of Blackberry Messenger where precise time and locations for arson and looting were apparently shared amongst closed groups. Facebook played a pivotal role in the Egypt uprising of people. And before the authorities had even any clues of the next imminent ‘danger’, the same were executed with massive and precise execution. It is now a common headache for governments to try and intercept terrorist ‘chatter’ through the internet where the source detection becomes that much difficult. That results in the often tussle between governments and these service providers to open up ‘encryption’ codes so that any message can be intercepted — which leads to the endless debate of individual privacy vs security and safety.

Recent incidents in India (one in Bengal and other in Maharasthtra) have again raised the questions of “freedom of internet” for voicing individual’s thought. Sharing of cartoons highlighting ministers led to arrests; sharing of anger against a popular leader of an area led to again arrests of teenager.

Therefore, as governments go up the maturity curve to handle such situations along with the citizens of a country, I have a feeling that this freedom of opinion through these means will be curtailed in the future and sometimes even blocked (as already there in countries like China). In the long term, probably an unofficial “code of conduct” will evolve naturally which will allow co-existence between conflicting views and opinions, specially against not-so-tolerant or not-so-patient administrations and governments.

Till that evolves, probably it is best to be “careful” while living a virtual life in the internet. And the degree of “carefullness” will be always open to interpretation

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

Of dictators and oppression ….

Very recently one of the leading newspapers screamed in its headlines “The Last Dictator is dead” and rightfully so as the world celebrated the death of Gaddafi amongst a turmoil burning in the streets of Libya. These incidents are often described as the win of the good over the evil and hence supported by most sane people over the world. I also fall amongst the same category – but this incident forced me to think a little beyond the apparent dictatorship and the oppression of the common people, who look for a decent and happy life with his / her loved ones.

Whenever we think of oppression, the obvious picture that haunts us a ruthless dictator stealing away fundamental rights, freedom and stalls the voice of dissent or difference in opinion with a strong hand, resulting in deaths without trials and extreme violation of basic human rights. However, if the same or similar incidents happen with a democratically elected body or a country’s government or even a philosophy followed by thousands, do we react in the similar manner ? Is it that actions against oppression happens only when we have certain individuals implementing those acts and not when groups or governments do the same ? Is it that military action is successfully carried out when the world tries to remove dictators like Hitler, Saddam Hussain, Gaddafi, but the same world remains not to carry out aggression against groups or governments carrying out similar acts ?

Let me ask some questions that come across my mind and leave to you to define whether this is oppression :

  • When freedom of speech is stopped by a certain sect of political philosophy and currently ruling big nations in the world, is this not oppression ?
  • When certain policies of democratically elected governments take away the daily livings of common people without much options given to them, is this not oppression ?
  • When certain foreign policies of powerful countries goes “all out” against some weak but strategical nations rich with natural resources, is this not oppression ?
  • When certain corporations neglect safety measures that lead to disasters which are termed as “accidents” resulting in death of hundreds of innocent people, is this not oppression ?
  • When corporate greed leads to unethical practices resulting in crisis across the world resulting in erosion of hard-earned money of commoners leading simple lives, is this not oppression ?
  • When deadly weapons of mass destruction are invented and stored by any country for the purpose of saying “just listen to me or you might be in trouble”, is this not oppression ?

The questions are too many and my mind says that the answer is quite simple and obvious.

If this is so, then where are the world forums and others going “all out” to finish off these kind of oppression ? Where are the tough talks from various leaders threatening of more actions including military actions to eliminate these elements ? Haven’t seen much so far and I doubt whether I will have the privilege of witnessing in my lifetime …

Last question before I end – why is that we don’t see ‘actions’ to eliminate these kinds of oppression ? Why is that we see only selective ‘actions’ when the evil is removed for the sake of the good ? Is it that behind these actions (and lack of actions), there are bigger motives of self-prosperity and economic dominance from the powers of the world ?

Well, nobody answers these questions and frankly speaking, I do not expect any explanations – while the world will wake up after few months or years to find many more dictators and eliminate them all for the good of the people ….

Freedom now !

The journey from 1947 to 2011 has been long and steady, fulfilling promises and aspirations and yet troubled at parts. And I am sure that this road will go on and on for many more years to come – because, we and our country have fundamentally that patience, respect of other’s views to survive the onslaught of time.  But still as a free Indian, I want Freedom NOW from some important aspects of my simple life.

First is the embarrassment of subjugation & defeat of our beloved cricket team. We can lose matches – that’s not the point. But we cannot be literally toyed by our opponents in all departments of the game, match after match – and that too when we were supposed to be the World Number 1 in the same version of the game ! Come on, it becomes difficult for me to speak to my English or Australian friends – always have to change the discussion topic to UK riots or Australian sledging to save my back. I want freedom from cricket embarrassment !

The next one is also related to sports – for a very localised rivalry that many of my friends might not be knowing as well. We cannot have a scenario when East Bengal loses to Mohan Bagan – naahhhhhhh, not acceptable. The players, the coaches, the officials must understand that after each match, I have to go home, have to go to office, have to meet my friends – hence, they will understand the amount of tension, the amount of mental harassment I have to go through after each match. Good that we are still 20+ better in our head-to-head records, but who knows what lies in the future. If we cannot win, we should always settle in a draw – at least I can then say “okay, this time we have let you guys pass through” ……

Many people like roller coaster rides – I DO NOT ! If you ask me the reason, then I should say honestly that I don’t know – but the end of the day, I do not like such rides. But recently, I am forced to have two such rides on a daily basis … this is too much ! If you are wondering that I am on a great big holiday, well, you are mistaken. I am referring to the roller-coaster ride I am forced to have while going to office and coming back. Haven’t understood yet ? I am referring to a road popularly called “Bypass” – whose condition is in an ideal condition for a true bypass operation. That’s why I hate to go to office – don’t know what reason I will give if the road condition is improved ….

Do we all eat to live or live to eat ? Well, I am a strong believer of the latter and hence, like any true Bengali, I look for any occasion, small or big, to feast on to something delicious. But for that, I want freedom from all the pathological centers situated all over the city who claim to carry out cholesterol, sugar tests – but actually acts like a contract-killer. They systematically drive a person insane by showing high levels of certain invisible things residing inside the human body but has the potential to do harm … remember the word “potential” – no one can guarantee that, but everyone uses that word “potential”

I love to lead a straight and simple life and hence go by straight and honest predictions. That is why, I want freedom from the meteorological department who specialises in predicting weather. They do have that subject matter expertise on weather prediction to such an extent that their wives carry out the opposite behaviour based on their prediction. Generally, I want freedom from that entire community.

Since Bengal and Bengali’s have a strong cultural background and comes from the land of Rabindranath, Nazrul, Atulprasad, Rajanikanta, etc, everybody feels that every Bengali can sing very well. I want freedom from people making that assumption – as this will help me survive some toughest moments in my life – much severe than my ragging during the engineering days.

Finally, I want freedom from taking any pledges on Independence Day knowing very well that I will forget that the very next day. I am an honest man and hence cannot take a pledge which will have a life span of less than 24 hours !

So, while I proudly sing (silently, just because my singing can bring the best chorus from the dogs in my locality) our national anthem with you all, I am hoping that I will be soon free from the above aspects of my life !


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