Friday, November 20, 2009

Telephonic Craper

Yesterday at work over a phone call after thirty minutes of fumbling

SR: Anwesha, why have you mentioned XXX in your document? Clearly, it should have been YYYY
Me: Er...because we thought that maybe we wanted to do XXX and not YYYY
SR: It does not make sense to me. Please discuss this with your team before calling us to a meeting. You are wasting our valuable time.
Me: Er...TM actually knows what this is supposed to be, but she is on vacation
SR: Then we'll probably have to wait for her to come back. What you are saying makes no sense

A day later. TM has been recalled from vacation

TM: Before leaving for vacation, I explained very clearly to Anwesha what was required
Me: (unmuting the phone) And I explained to SR whatever I understood
TM: okay, let's go over it again. Now SR, we want XXX and not YYYY because we want to do XXX and not YYYY. Does that make sense?
SR: (long silent pause) Yes.
Me: (having forgotten to mute the phone) WHAAAAAT? that's exactly what I told him yesterday!


I mute my phone


I glance over my shoulder. J is giggling. Obviously his phone is muted


I am oh so embarrased

SR: TM, your team members were NOT able to explain what they wanted. Now that you have explained it, I understand perfectly
TM: Oh SR! We have been working together for so long and somehow you always understand what I need. Giggle giggle smile smile
SR: Yes TM. I am glad that you are back!
Me: (phone muted) &^&%@#$!#@@#!@#@$">%^&^&%@#$!#@@#!@#@$

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Today, I spilled cough syrup over my dress in the morning. Most of the bottle was empty by the time I realized.

Later, I spilled super glue over my hand. The glue dried over and I had white scalds on my fingers for the better part of the day.

In the afternoon, I accidentally struck my favourite coffee mug against the sink and chipped off a portion of it.

In the evening, the pencil heel of my sandals came off while I was walking.

What's wrong with today?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Lettuce See

Is there anyway that I can differentiate lettuce from cabbage just by looking at it? May I avoid the ordeal of cooking a lettuce like a cabbage only to discover that the blasted object does not mellow like cabbage and is therefore not a cabbage? Yesterday, I spent 30 minutes trying to make a cabbage curry out of this lettuce. Lettuce stubbornly refused to get cooked. I am pretty sure that I picked this thing up from the section labeled "Cabbage" in the grocery store. Proves that even the folks who stock cabbages and lettuces everyday, cannot differentiate, leave alone lesser human beings like myself.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Shade Lighter

My bad habit of leaning over the bath tub to apply nail polish on my toes got the better of me yesterday. The bottle of nail polish slipped from my hands and fell over creating a visual imagery of modern art on the snow white bathtub. I was aghast, but I did not despair, for I was armed with the greatest weapon known to womankind – the nail polish remover. Slowly and steadily I cleaned all traces of nail polish with the reliable bottle of acetone. Anybody who has benefitted thus and in many more ways from the nail polish remover will surely agree with me that its inventor deserves an award. Not just any award. Since, we are in the realm of inventions that have conferred the greatest benefit on womankind; I will stop short of nothing but the Nobel Prizes. According to me, the inventor of the nail polish deserves the following Nobel Prizes:

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Whoever thought that acetone could remove polish, clean dusty tape recorders and what not, must be applauded for this great discovery. This is nothing short of miraculous. A dire warning to those people who are still looking for ways to remove turmeric stains from cotton clothes, chocolate stains from the carpet and petrol stains from jeans. Perform or you shall perish!

Nobel Prize in Physics

What a simple application of Newton’s third law. For every action of scrubbing the nails, the polish wears off. How straightforward and sublime. At the same time, acetone is precious – it vanishes into thin air if not given due respect. Cover the bottle and it remains, discover it only to see it vamoose. Perhaps it is time that we went beyond the laws of gravity and relativity and graduated to exploring the laws of respectability.

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Imagine the uncle who cleaned his ancient tape recorder, the sour girl friend that changed her nail polish to brighten her mood and you have the elixir to happiness. Forget about the brain cell researches that will never finish, the path to happiness is the joy of applying nail polish remover.

Nobel Prize in Literature

Poets with happy mistresses and novelists with clean bathtubs will be inspired to compose their best when tranquility reigns supreme. And if there is anybody who should get the credit for this, it should be the muse, the great one who invented the nail polish remover.

Nobel Prize in Economics

This should be easy. If I hadn’t been able to remove the stains from my bathtub, I would have to resurface it. And resurfacing hurts my pocket and the environment (don’t ask me how). The nail polish remover will eradicate poverty among the teeming masses of people who will apply nail polish when they do not have food to eat and keep themselves distracted. Water scarcity will no longer affect us. A coat of water proof nail polish over a bucket of water will ensure that the water will never evaporate. The world’s welfare will lie in the hands of the humble nail polish remover

Nobel Prize in Peace

Judging by the high standards of the people who have been winning this prize in recent times, this is going to be a difficult decision for the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Consider this, your wife does not like the colour of her nails, she buys a shade of nail polish. She applies it and does not like this color either. If there was no nail polish what would she do? Hell hath no fury as a woman enraged. The war in Ramayana was fought because Ravana enticed Sita with an exotic shade of nail polish but could not supply her with acetone in Ashokvan when she got tired of the shade. In the light of these startling revelations, we should award the Peace Prize not because nail polish remover has actually prevented any wars, but because it has the potential to prevent wars that may occur in the future.


Monday, October 05, 2009

Can anybody help me create a map please?

What I want is a map showing directions from location A to location B. I want the street names close to location A to be clearly visible, but the map should not be zoomed to such an extent that the highways/main roads close to A and B are out of view. I do not want any additional text in the map. The image should be self explanatory.

I am rather poor at drawing maps and pathetic with tools like MS Paint. I do not have Adobe Photo Shop and I cannot use 3D Max. So, is Google Maps the answer?

Apparently not. I tried to draw directions from the bus stop on the main road at location A to location B. I placed a pin icon over location B too. But the map is incomprehensible to a generation that has grown up with clumsy straight line maps drawn by amateurs like me. The main obstacle to understanding the map is the presence of too many unnecessary roads. Nobody wants to know whether these exist. They are a clutter. I only want to see the main roads and the streets leading to B. If this map is printed on paper, it will be visual gibberish to all but myself. Is there any other software that can help me?

Monday, September 07, 2009

More gloom

Please read the previous post.

Another call, this time at a well-appointed time, when both parties are in their senses.

Video enabled voice chat - marvel of technology. Delight and boon for the parents, bane for me.

Ma: So, I got the zardosi saree. Look (saree draped over the mater's shoulder). Isn't it a beautiful color?
AC: It looks ugly blue.
Ma: No, its Cadbury blue with golden and silver embroidery. Just like you wanted!
AC: Cadbury blue? Chocolate or Dairy Milk paper cover?
Ma: Yes, Dairy Milk paper color.
AC: You very well know, that with that particular shade of blue and embroidered silver thread, I will look like a piece of chocolate wrapped in yards of punctured paper revealing the inner silver foil.
Ma: Do you know how expensive it is?
AC: Can you please return it?
Ma: I cannot. I have got it hemmed at the ends.
AC: !!!!!!!!!! when you called me up at 6 AM the other day, you had already bought the saree and hemmed it? And still you wanted my opinion????
Ma: Do you have an opinion?
AC: Yes, I will wear only a burnt orange colored saree.
Ma: What is that color? Never heard of it. You will wear Cadbury.
AC: I give up!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Impending Gloom

Phone call from the mother at 6AM in the morning:

AC: Yawn..Heluuuu
Ma: Are you still sleeping???
AC: No, I got up an hour ago, went for a morning jog and did some yoga. Now I am taking a break. So tell me.
Ma: Okay, good. Do you like zardosi work?
AC: Whaat?
Ma: Would you like to wear a saree that has zardosi work?
AC: Yes, whatever that is.
Ma: Do you even know what zardosi is?
AC: Ofcourse, its those things where they use dollops of gold and silver coloured threads to embroider the saree, making it look like a circus tent.
Ma: And still you want to wear it???
AC: Yes, I'm going to be in the center of a circus - might as well get noticed.
Ma: Has your taste changed in the last one month? You always liked drab and dull colours!
AC: You were the one to call me up at 6AM in the morning to ask.
Ma: I only wanted to make sure.
Ma: You have changed so much.

Click on the other side. Line goes dead.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I have been delightfully lazy and deliciously lax about posting on this blog. However, life has not exactly been uneventful.

The mouse incident tormented us for almost a month. Like their human counterparts, American rats are extremely persevering and clever. So much so, that my rat (yes! I have become possessive about it!) evaded rat traps, consumed my biscuits but avoided the rat poison. When it did not find any food in the kitchen, it vented its anger by chewing the insulation in my oven and made my kitchen very very messy. Like a true jungle animal, the rat also marked it territory by leaving its droppings around a section of the living room. Ugh! Why am I discussing this? I finally exploded and spoke to the apartment manager. I do not know what he did, but within a week’s time, there was no trace of the rat and my food was safe once more. Moreover, he even called me up to inform that the rat had been captured. Say, it takes an American mind to catch an American mouse.


Meanwhile, I have been trying to lose weight without any success. The parents and I have been visiting all sorts of places and the part of travelling which scares me is taking photographs. My face resembles a carved pumpkin in all the photographs and the losing weight may show a 'Ray' of hope. So, armed with a TV channel guide, I have selected a time when ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ is aired and visit the gym to burn a few calories while gaping at Ray Romano and his extended family. Working out takes a back seat but I enjoy my thirty minutes to mind refreshing comedy.


“Pardesi pardesi jana nahi. Mujhe chhod ke…” – only these days I sing the same song substituting the word ‘Pardesi’ with ‘Desi’. I have posted ads all over the Internet looking for a “female” flat-mate. I am not racially prejudiced, but I would prefer an Indian female, because of the cultural familiarity. Unfortunately all the responses were from “male” desis and even a few “pardesi” males. None of them had any issues rooming with me and for a while it seemed as if I was being very fussy, considering that I was faced with a plethora of choices. I finally managed to attract an Indian family who wanted the entire apartment, or so I thought. Just when I made all arrangements to move out to a different accommodation, they backed out of their plan. Sigh sob. Is there anyone out there???


Pesky, irritating office colleagues are getting increasingly curious about my personal life and where I see myself a month from now, three months from now, one year from now and for eternity. I believe this is a clear indication that a) they do not have enough work to occupy their time b) they have exhausted all their curiosity about the rest of the lambs in office and have finally turned to me c) they don’t think I am capable of carrying a conversation about any topic which may be of general interest. That does not augur too well for me, so I have decided to make the best $33 investment of my life. I am joining a speaking club, so that I can learn the art of talking back to the curious gawkers and nosy parkers who want to know what size clothes my teddy bears wear. I shall be quick to answer and my witty sarcasms shall be the byword of the office. Beware!

More on pesky colleagues, but this time he has made life unbearable for me even without speaking to me. A certain gentleman who sits in the cubicle across the aisle speaks English with an accent that is simultaneously horrible and fake. What’s more, he speaks very loudly over the phone and he seems to be on the phone all day. He claims to be a DBA (database administrator) but I have never seen or heard him do anything remotely related to work. To my embarrassment, I discovered that he speaks my mother tongue Bengali and I can follow every word of his conversation. I have let it be known that I speak and understand Bengali, but I don’t think he cares. So, by now I know everything about the ongoing divorce of a friend of his. I know how he and his wife feel about it. I also know that he thinks he is the soul of a party because every Thursday he calls up every Bengali denizen in town and plans a get-together with them. Sometimes I wish I could gag him up and leave him in the janitor’s room where he would be discovered after a day.

Life is not good to a girl…….

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Undiscovered - Part 1

When Douglas Adams claimed that rats were the most intelligent of all species and that humans were mere subjects of a massively big experiment to find the answer (42) to the ultimate question (no one still knows what it is) he was absolutely right. Rats are a menace. They are cunning, scheming, opportunists and they never forget. I have lived in wooded areas all my life and have had to deal with rats, mice, moles and their cousins gatecrashing into our house everyday. Whenever I am asked to recall the most horrifying scene of my life, I always talk about the huge mole that darted across my study room just as I was about to go for dinner. My father once called a few men to help clean the house. They brought down the TV carton from the loft. I was ten years old then and was watching them as they opened the carton. One mouse after the other kept popping out of the carton. Illegal immigrants, living without visas, they took little time to run away. My uncle-the fearless was once bitten on his foot by a rat in a hotel sometimes in the Garwal district of Uttaranchal, while he was on an office visit. He refuses to go there anymore. My mother vividly recalls that a rat ran across the bed one morning, stopping to check if her toe smelt of food. In short, we have lived most of our lives in mortal fear of recessions, bombs, religious riots, power-cuts, water scarcity and rats.

Some time ago, when I moved to a place half-way across the world. I thought the rats would carry on their nefarious activities at any place in the world but this. After all, immigration laws are really stricts and no one can escape from taxes. I heaved a sigh of relief and slept well at night. Until last night. Shifting noises from the kitchen closet and unusual sounds made me nervous and doubtful. I decided to indulge in guerilla warfare and hid in my bedroom all night, having made sure that I was locked safely in. This morning, as I checked cautiously, I realized that the enemy had left behind his marks. The room was infested with droppings. Things were lying upside down and the sack of rice..oh grief! The kitchen closet is well, a small room with a washing machine and a dryer. The closet however is generously endowed with lofts and storage areas. In one of these lofts, my parents came up with the brilliant idea of establishing a mini-temple. And who should live in the temple but Lord Ganesha! Ma and Baba have energetically argued that when Ganesha is around can a mouse be far behind? I have tried to point out the 20lb sack of rice that has been strategically placed near Ganesha and bears cut marks now, but my words have fallen on deaf ears. A search is on for a brave heart who will bell the rat. The fear has come back to haunt us.

To be continued....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tryst with Destiny

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the lunch hour, when the inattentive cashier at the cheap restaurant takes the wrong order, Anwesha will awake to difference between the taste of beef and chicken. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, fail to differentiate between beef and chicken by merely looking, when an age ends, when we taste beef and wonder why the chicken seems to strange today, and when the soul of a poor God-fearing beef-ignorant Hindu, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the cause of the cow and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.

Hum Bill De Chuke Sanam

For the tiny spoke that I am in the mighty wheel of outsourcing, to bill or not to bill is the question. Through the recession and slack times, the customer wants me to work more and bill less while my employer wants me to work more and bill even more. And to chain in this tug-of-war with time, the customer decided to outsource the time-entry software to a third party. We started by entering time at the end of every week. Extra hours were automatically recorded as over-time (OT) hours much to the delight of my employer and the bane of my customer. Then, the customer decided to introduce a two way matching system and introduced an in-house time entry system where we recorded the same hours every Monday. This software being an in-house effort, required manual intervention to record extra hours in over-time. Most of us forgot to do that. In fact, nearly all of us started receiving mails for invoice mismatches. In order to correct 25 hours from regular to OT, I added 25 extra hours and a week later I started receiving mails of invoice mismatches to the effect of 50 hours. Another colleague who was trapped in this infinite loop of cumulatively increasing mismatched hours now has a total of 345 mismatched hours in his kitty. In the meantime, not to be outdone, the employer insisted on a three way invoice match by introducing the company's time entry system into competition. Again, this software does not recognize extra hours worked, because in the Indian software industry there is no such thing as OT. So, extra hours were treated as regular hours for us employees, while the company billed the customer for those additional hours. Things were getting muddier because of this dual treatment of extra hours and the employer demanded to have hours reported by project. That's when the project leader introduced spreadsheets where we had to enter the same information all over again every weekend. So, these days, I spend every Monday and Friday entering time in four different applications, all of which are slow to respond and record.

We then proposed to record the time we were spending on time-sheet entries and other 'project management' activities. This created confusion, because project management is not strictly a customer function, and so we were not supposed to bill the customer for such activities. However, we could not work during office hours and record the time as non-billable. Yet, nobody wanted to work on these activities outside customer hours because we did not have access to these software applications from home and staying in office beyond office hours would be akin to charging over-time to the customer for using the customer's resources to do work which er..the customer did not commission.

Next arose, the issue of vacations and leaves, all of which were recorded differently in different systems. The customer's outsourced system recorded leaves as 0 hours worked, while the in-house system recorded leaves as 8 hours worked on any particular day of leave but in a different cost center. The employer's time-entry system recorded leaves as billable to the company but not to the customer and the project leader's spreadsheet had no provision for leave whatsoever. When I took an hour off work last week to see a doctor, I was in a dilemma. The customer's system would allow me to bill by the hour. But the employer's time entry system mandated that I could take a minimum of half-a-day's leave or no leave at all. Had I taken a half day's leave and still billed the customer for half day minus an hour, there would have been an invoice mismatch in the multi-way multi-confusing, multi-redundant matching system.

To dig my way out of this complexity, I do not take leaves, and when I have to go for that blow-out sale, I don't inform anybody. I comfort my conscience by coming back and making up for the lost hours. Tips to keep in mind, always call-forward your desk phone to your cell phone and make sure you always appear online on instant messenger. With half the world working remotely, you could be very busy in a meeting that your project leader (who does not have a clue about what work you do in office) will consider and relent. And it always helps to have a trusted ally who will over up for you when the customer, project leader, team mates all decide at the same time that you are the (wo)man of the hour and start barging you with emails, phone calls and IMs.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Lights out please!!!

To people such as myself who were born and brought up in India, a load shedding/power cut may not represent so much a vote for Mother Earth as much as a daily occurrence, but for most people living in the first world, where a power cut entails a 911 call or living a night without the ac is an act of supreme sacrifice, Earth Hour beckons.

Please switch off your lights between 8:30 - 9:30 pm on 28th March 2009. This is meant to protest against global warming. First world countries please note that you are the biggest culprits in this cause, hence please make it a point not to microwave/bake/wash in the darkness. Please remember that you burn holes in the ozone layer with your excessive dependence on electronic gadgets. While we prefer to let our clothes dry in the sun, even from the balconies of our tiny apartments, you prefer to dry them in a machine because your balcony looks prettier that way. We prefer fans even the heat, or use coolers, you cannot imagine life without the ac. We switch off all our lights when shops close at night. You have so much electricity that you leave them on for fear of burglary.

Petrol (or gas, if you prefer) costs a fraction in your country. You buy in gallons, while we buy in fractions of litres. We cannot buy shrimps, Basmati rice or Alphonso mangoes - products of our country - at an affordable price because they are exported to your country. You are the largest disposer's of effluent waste, but you want China and India to cut down wastes. You even have the authority to print your currency without denominating it against gold. All because it is the reserve currency of the world.

Against all this tirade about equitable distribution of wealth and natural resources, there is one melting pot where all are equal: concern for our Mother Earth. So, please do switch off the lights tomorrow and show you care!

Earth Hour 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

To my famous birthday-sake Osama Bin Laden,

You and I just completed another trip around the universe with the Earth. While I am very sure that my humble life has not been as adventurous as yours, yet I consider myself lucky because I sleep well at night. Us Pisceans are always laden with doubts and queries. And you addressed yours on a grand scale. While you wanted to know whether planes could fly through buildings in the same way as we drive swords and knives into ghosts in the movies, I made samosas using wanton wrappers. No, the plane crashed into the building and people still prefer crab meat to potatoes in their wantons. Point proven.

We are both living away from home. Surviving a harsh terrain. We both yearn to return but are constrained. So, do you change houses as often as I change apartments? Do you have friends who bring chocolate cakes and laugh and make merry on your birthday or send gifts from afar? Do you know how it feels when everyone of your friends remembers your birthday and makes you feel so special? I said I am lucky. I know, perhaps they will never print my photograph on the front page of the NY Times, but I made it to the student supplement of the Statesman and my 15 seconds of fame can pull me through a lifetime. I don't want innocent people to die, I love peace. And being ordinary is a small price to pay for it.

These are tough times. Markets are crashing. I don't really understand all that, but I know that my friends are losing their jobs and it hurts. Can you kill unemployment and poverty? Can you throttle the fear in our hearts and terrorise the insecurities that we are going through? I wish you could. I'd tell everyone proudly that OBL was born on the same day as I was!!!

Many happy returns.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Like a committed lover, my electricity bill remains unchanged, unflinching and unmoved. Even if I stay 15 days of the month in my apartment, he understands. Whether I keep the ac or heater switched off, it maketh no difference, his love only grows stronger. Ofcourse, this affection is not shared mutually and lately it is growing beyond my means of endurance. I now plan to use, misuse and manipulate him. I shall keep all the lights, fans and heaters on all the time and watch how he fares in the test. If the bill remains the same, hallelujah, I shall continue with the practice. If more, I shall soon threaten the electric company with dire consequences.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life of a DBA

It was a dark and stormy night
The winds rampaged asunder;
To the world was born a DBA
It was a miracle, a wonder!

As he grew up, a thoughtful child
He recorded every session,
Of life, of love, of moments true,
Every guilt and confession.

His parents spotted his charming habit
Of cloning instances;
For he had the temper of his father
And the face of his mother
With minor version changes.

Every sysdate of his early life
Was spent in performance tuning,
His superior user environment parameters
Had the women swooning.

For he was handsome, charming and nice
And his pockets were full of money.
His cost based optimizer ensured
That his days were always sunny.

Then once day his calling came
And he leaped to join the forces,
Of the exalted men and women who make
Tables, indexes and sequences.

He copied data from schema to schema
And cleared the buffer cache.
His queries never had full table scans
His joins were always hash.

Thus progressed the perfect life
Till he was sent onsite,
The world proclaimed the mighty DBA
Had finally arrived.

This is where our DBA
Was laptoped and anointed
He was on call for a week each month,
His slumber was to be disappointed.

For every time he dozed off at night
The environment would act on its whim;
His troubleshooting skills were tested
SLA's were second nature to him.

Loading data, procedures and packages
Synonymns triggers and indexes,
He partitioned the diskspace and granted privileges
The watermark levels were never in excess.

Thus our DBA labored on
With only his work in sight,
He never noticed the pretty programmer
Seated to his right.

They never met, they never spoke
Though one cube did they infest
For when she turned to him, he was just a number:
Issue, Remedy or Change Request.

Then one day, our DBA
Set his eyes on her and rested his case,
Love fluttered like a silent beast
And filled up his tablespace.

He queried after her alright
He committed with autosave,
In his heart's rowid
Her name did he engrave.

But she implored him to rollback
For she was besotted to another,
He dealt with pointers, methods and classes
A Sun certified Java Developer.

In grief, he tried to kill v$session
And delete the audit trails,
Meanwhile he prepared to format the hard drive
For they say it never fails.

Our story ends here so far
For when database there was no more,
Our DBA's contract was terminated
They sent him packing back offshore.

PS - As if life was not getting shunted behind the computer, here's further proof that the effect is spilling over to the blog. Yesterday, when posting the above, I made the cardinal sin of using technical TLAs (Three Letter Acronymns). So, a DBA is a database administrator. They are the men and women (usually men, we women are more colourful than that) who make sure that when you go online to check your bank account, the records show that you have the booty alright. They are however, NOT the hidden hand behind the reason why sometimes that phone costs Rs2000 even after a discount of Rs100 on a base price of Rs1500. That happens due to enlightened people called programmers (such as myself) who believe in equality. So most DBA's I know are nice, harmless, soporific people who are busy trying to catch sleep between cloning databases. And when they are not on call, they like a cup of coffee and a good chat. Quite a species I tell ya!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A mid-winter night's dream

The army of Alexander the Great rushed down the mudded waters of the Yamuna charging into the landscape of Delhi. Nearby, a train passed on the Metro rail over the river and the passengers screamed with fright at the sight of the army. The Yamuna has been silting for years and now the army reached the other side - the Promised Land in no time. Across the land, they were in for a surprise. It was vast, barren, empty, and lonely except for a sole eighteenth century Englishman who stood there nonchalantly with a bar of Cadbury Bournville dark chocolate in his hand. He demanded to speak to none but Alexander the Great. As the great conqueror approached, the Englishman asked, "Have you truly earned this chocolate?" Enraged, Alexander drew his sword and charged at the Englishman with his horse. Just as he swooped down to behead his enemy and grab the chocolate bar, the Englishman disappeared. Dejected and shocked, Alexander looked hither and thither and ordered his army men to look for the enemy. In confusion, his army started fighting with each other.

In the meantime, having nothing better to do, Alexander dismounted from his horse and started to explore the land. A street lay ahead and as he crossed the street a Starbucks coffee shop beckoned. Alexander the Great remembered how thirsty he was and walked in and ordered a cup of Tazo tea. To his great surprise the Englishman was also in Starbucks enjoying a cup of coffee. Tired as he was, Alexander was in no mood to fight and settled on a comfortable sofa by a window. It was a Saturday and as usual a band was playing in Starbucks. Only this time it was the renowned tabla artist Zakhir Hussain. As the barista served tea to Alexander, he took a sip. Zakhir finished his performance and everyone said 'Waah Ustaad Waah!' Alexander closed his eyes and remarked in chaste Urdu, “Arrey Huzoor Waah Tazo Kahiye!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tired out and Tried out.

In hibernating for almost a month and not posting anything at all in this blog, I have nobody to blame but myself. I have traveled across the seven seas and have come back to the land of the insane, wiser and fatter. In the short span of time, that I was at home, I have been subject to a treacherous schedule of boiled vegetables in the morning to build my appetite, followed by sinfully rich chingri maacher malai curry during lunch, samosas fried in ghee in the evening and chicken chowmein for dinner. The cycle has been repeated with small variations during the stay. I have been woken at 6 A.M in the morning to watch the spiritual programs on ETV Bangla and had to practice the daily new Yoga shown at exactly 6:40 AM Monday to Saturday on DD Bangla. I was made to visit all kinds of temples and ashrams, holy men and aged relatives. The last mentioned fed me with beguni, roshogolla and love. It was too much to digest. I was not allowed to hang out with my friends, because time was precious and they were dispensable while relatives are most definitely not.

When along with my stomach I cried for mercy, I had a day's rest and I finally caught some sleep. In the meantime, I visited the bank to make sure that the little money I had was safe, visited tailors because despite the freezing temperatures an Indian girl must always wear her salwar kameez, went shopping but could not buy anything and even made a futile attempt to take out my folks for lunch to a nice restaurant.

Much of my ranting here would have lessened if time had let me relax and heal the exhaustion both mental and physical. My time has been divided between dropping relatives at airports and teaching my parents to use the webcam to communicate with me. My mother now puts it to optimal use. She positions the webcam in front of the 'thakur ghor' - the prayer room and makes me say my daily prayers even though its 10:30 at night when I usually speak to her. My maid servant was astonished to see me disappear in such a short span without any 'bakshish' (as if!!!) and now demands to know whether I have a maid who does dishes for me. When my mother informed her that I use a dish washer, she said she could come over and wash my dishes for real cheap!

My whirlwind tour has come to an end. I am not even sure whether I am glad to be back or whether it would been better never to come back at all. To contemplate on that, I need to catch up on my forty winks!