College and Fraandship..

So, what was the first thing you noticed when you entered college? To me, it has to be the underground concept of trading a girl's phone number.

In the very 1st day of college, every fresher needs to have a new cellphone number - Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone, Idea making the most here, in VIT. And somehow along those process, the number, exclusively that of the girl's, always get transferred to the most comical people I've ever spoken to, or heard of, in my life.

The Barbarian Ravens from Hell...

Do you know anyone who'll kill for money?

Not an assassination. Neither its just a single person. Its more of a mass genocide - kind of Saddam-ish. I'll be a paying customer. And I know for sure that the act will be highly hailed and rewarded among masses.

It so happens that we have this sorry-excuse-for-a-shop, a sad namesake of the baker from The Godfather (who saved Michael Corleone when his pop got shot.. sob!) - it's called 'Enzo' in our men's hostel campus. The people there are rude, make pathetic coffee and worse, they don't even try to understand our language! They are crazy people, I'd say..

However, it doesn't stop me from chugging down bucketful of coffee everyday that I get from there. And neither they're the people I want to kill! (Wait a minute.. given a choice, I mean, given a guilt-free pass, I would definitely give it a moment of thought..)

All I want to kill are the damned CROWS that gather in front of that wretched place!!

By now, you all must be knowing (for if you don't, you're lonely! You need a life and a girlfriend..) that sparrows are getting extinct because of all the electromagnetic radiation in our atmosphere. That is sad, I love sparrows and they don't exactly pose any threat, neither do they make a terrible shriek of their bird-call.. They don't poop on your head, clothes, places.. In fact I've never ever, EVER seen them pooping!! Do they.. I mean.. poop at all?

I'm kidding (if you didn't get it, that is..) Of course, they poop! But you know what poops more? CROWS! They poop an entire mugful every time some random unpretending stranger walks down the street, in his best dress, below the tree it's sitting.. 'SPLOTCH!'

These crows, about hundreds of them, roam around surveying the scenery around the dustbins, waste-paper heaps and every single branch of the tree that lies around Enzo.. Its their territory now. They rule those lands, their badlands.

It started with patties and cakes initially. These crows would be subtle, quick and smooth as they swoop down from their high-perched heavens on their hungry, unassuming victims and snatch the food.. It was all being done in a flawless sense of convincing righteousness.

Who's your Daddy?

However, the rise of all civilizations depend on their ambition and foresight. The crows were no exception to this formula.. They're thriving now. And since I caught them stealing food from a poor freshman girl from within the Technology tower, far away inside the college campus, I can successfully say that their brood is 'going places' almost literally! Nowadays they don't give a damn on subtlety. And whoever mentioned being quiet and smooth! They're devil incarnate, a scratching, clawing, hitting, biting army of crazy guerrillas! These beak-bastards are even targeting the coffee-drinking population within VIT! And that's where my concern comes in.. What pleasure do they get by spilling fluids just to ruin someone's day, money and the carnal need-to-drink-coffee..

Ever since 6 years ago, a diarrheal-crow shit on my new Levi Strauss purchase just before I got out with my friends to watch the movie King Kong and got us 15 minutes late, I've held a grudge. They happen to be the fastest example of evolution, nature will ever view. The crows are now a well-known phenomenon. They're the talking point in our social circles, on the campus, social networking, Facebook, Google+ and in the darkest corner's of the mind of every VITian graduate's life..

It's time fellas, time to kill. Time to take the law in our own hands.

My Travel Diaries - Andaman Islands!

December of 2010. A year ago..

Dad has always surprised me, when it comes to going on a family-trip.. for the best of reasons, he just never tells me! Saves me the cut-throat anticipation, yet throws me, a 22 year old (an experienced child is what I'd call myself), off-my-ground when he opens up, declaring that we're going somewhere.. and thankfully its always a new place.

So last year on Christmas and for the New Years' eve, we decided to leave our worries back in Kolkata and Chennai to leave for the pristine beaches and uninhabited and unclaimed jungle islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.. and it happened to be my favorite family-trip, at least in terms of the number of scenery and photography..

Although I mildly dislike beaches and prefer mountains (comes from my hatred for water, especially salt water!).. this trip was GRAND! I even did my bit of snorkeling and scuba diving and swam among the brightest colored fishes I've ever seen in open waters..

Its a no-rush, untouched, pristine and the most picturesque place I've ever set foot on (thus tarnishing it in the process, I guess..) From the early morning Jet Airways flight, as soon as we were near the islands, it seemed from up there as if we've reached the Caribbean! The water was turquoise and we could see the widespread coral reef around the islands. Most of the islands seemed uncivilized and were full of greenery everywhere inside - not just coconut trees like I expected, but tropical vegetation. It was a heavenly site and I'm not ashamed to say that I had my mouth hung open in awe as was everyone else round me too (or maybe because most of them were Bengali, Noelle says we don't have shame anyway..)

Can't believe its been a year since the trip.. The trip itself - the islands, beaches, forests, limestone caves, corals, scuba diving, tribal communities away from civilization - it's all still vivid in my mind's eye..

Sometimes I think we should've left this place alone.. let it brew in itself, or else it'll end up being as corrupted as every other commercialized tourist places in this country.. The beaches of special importance were the Radhanagar beach at the Havelock Island, the numbered beaches of Neil Island, Corbyn's Cove, Wandoor beach, North Bay and so many more.. some neighboring islands were just unclaimed, with absolutely no sign of any kind of animated life in there.. spooky yet so primeval! Our guide at Havelock Island suggested that we can just go in and live like a Tarzan there..

The idea appealed to me so much that I think I didn't get the joke till it was a matter of weeks since I got back.

An amusing fact, for which I'll have to face another one of those 'I-told-you-so, Bengalis are everywhere!!' as claimed by some friends of mine is that more than 80% of the islands are inhabited by the Bengali communities (most families seemed to be refugees from Bangladesh, having lost everything in the Indo-Pak War of 70's, but only to gain a new home in these islands of Andaman). Then a part of the rest of the majority are Tamil, few speak Malayalam, rest are Anglo Indians.

The minority includes the  fast-diminishing populations of tribes such as the Nicobarese, Onge, Sentinelese, Shompen and the Jarawas. Few of them are hostile and attack with bows and arrows laced with natural toxins! We caught glimpses of a few naked and semi-naked Jarawas while speeding away through the forest road on the Baratang Island. Few of the tribes are reportedly cannibalistic!

That last information scared the hell out of me and definitely explained, at least to me, why the tourist convoy sped away, crazily, through the winding roads surrounded by dense forests on both sides.

Below are certain photos that I have taken in and around the Islands.. it's beaches and a few places of interests. Take a look! Whenever I see em, I get a strong urge to go there again..

You should too..

Radhanagar beach, Havlock Island, Andaman
A Hermit Crab, just before it hid itself inside its comforting shell
Turquoise sea at the Neil Island, Andaman
Wandoor Beach, Andaman
A Presbyterian Church ruin at the Ross Island, Andaman
Starfish vareity found lurking on the shallow beach in the early hours, Havelock Island, Andaman
Ferar beach at Ross Island, Andaman
The Cellular Jail, Port Blair, Andaman
Radhanagar beach, Havelock Island, Andaman
Sunset from the Radhanagar beach, Havelock Island, Andaman
North Bay from the Cellular Jail Tower, Port Blair, Andaman

My Dugga Pujo..

I've always missed the essence of simplicity, in the Durga Puja festival that is celebrated in Kolkata..

Maybe I'm biased, for I've almost always observed (read celebrated) Puja at my native place in Jhansi - a small encroachment of Uttar Pradesh into Madhya Pradesh - right at the Uttar-Madhya inter-space of India.. that is the heart of the country. People will always come across this place either in history books, or while preparing for the Railways and Armed Forces.. But I remember this place with Durga Puja being celebrated in my home! Its just huge - both in size, appeal and grandeur..

The idol in Jhansi would always be 'ek chali' that is single frame - the Devi herself and her sons (Ganesh and Kartik) and daughters (Saraswati adn Lakshmi) are on the same frame, with a background of patachitra and pith 'shola'. Patachitra are the series of paintings depicting various gods and goddesses in a semi-circular panel. These paintings depict the various deities of the pantheon, whose collective power gave birth to the goddess Durga, a feminine form created to destroy the evil demon Mahishashur. This panel goes as the backdrop behind the idol.

Traditionally silver and gold zari, and not sari, is what the goddess wears. The other option is white pith-dressing or shola. The idol at our Kali Bari in Jhansi is always dressed up in the traditional zari-worked clothing or what we call the daker shaaj. The complexion is always yellow, which always reminds me of the Simpsons.. thus (funnily enough) bringing me closer to, not just the festival as a whole, but also towards the very Devi for whom we celebrate..

The changing color of the Autumn sun in the faraway skyline is strumming the chords of nostalgia in the atmosphere around me. But something was surely missing here.. there is no para club culture here, no hustle-bustle preparing for the Puja, no urgency about the pushpanjali, no Kumhartuli, no Gariahat, no 21Palli.. However, I guess we'll just have to adapt according to what we keep up against us..

Durga Puja and autumn seem to reflect in each other. Crystal clear blue sky with thin, blue clouds, the smell of Sheuli phool in the air and the flowing-wavering Kaash phool on the field herald the beginning of the festive season in Bengal and the world.. Mother Nature is in full bloom with lush greenery all around..

However, its been 3 years that I haven't visited Bengal neither Jhansi.. my studies don't allow me to do so anymore! Vellore, where my university is (and my friends are..), has a small Bengali community who arrange Puja, in their own little yet fascinating way.. And like the last 3 years, we landed up there again this time..
And with exams beckoning from the next coming few days, I guess today was the day when I cut the full chase short.. a six days' extravaganza in a day..

It was finally the day to wear the thing my mum bought for me..

My friend Ronny..

Heylo kind readers! I'm back with a brand new story - this is the story of my friend Ronny, and his relationship with Anushka.

I know my friend Ronny from the sad old days of my school hostel life.. We had remained friends, for we were both survivors from our own little Vietnam.. Splitting our own ways after college, he remained in Bengal, while I came down south to Chennai.. kept in touch 'on' and 'off' which is how I came to know that he had got a girlfriend named Anushka sometime around December of 2007.. And he wanted me to meet her as soon as I could get back to Kolkata.. Show off!

My friend Ronny's girlfriend turned out to be a pretty one. And I could totally relate to why he liked to stick around close, most of the time.. She had a large, lumbering and square shoulder (why what else could you think?) and a sweet voice that told me she had years of Rabindra-Sangeet practice in the evenings of her childhood till she came up to her teen ages and rebelliously relieved herself from all the singing. Whenever she opened her mouth to squeak.. sorry, read speak.. I could almost imagine 10 beady eyed squirrels sitting on her head, chorusing harmoniously, much like the chipmunks in that movie I saw the other day..

My friend Ronny had remained religiously faithful to his girlfriend. I was happy for him though she struck to me as clingy and too.. too.. err, now whats the word.. umm.. oh yeah, a complete CONTROL FREAK?! Sorry for the 'labelled' description, but if you'd go hanging out with this couple, you'd probably get what I mean.. I once went on a double date with them, and the meeting certainly fed ideas in my date's brain..

In case you're wondering, that date didn't last long..

So one fine day when my friend Ronny calls to inform me that they broke up, ('Deep.. I have a sad news for you..') I didn't exactly ask 'why' which he definitely didn't let pass for the next half hour on the STD phone call. When I finally asked him, he took another hour to describe what I already had thought of.. 'So what do you think, old friend?'

I woke up from my slumber. Is he asking my opinion? Shit, OMG OMG! What do I do, what do I say? That's a tough one!!
'Well, whatever makes you happy Ron..' Safely played.
'I just don't know yet..'
The call had involved plenty of awkward silences, pregnant pauses and I-could-understand-he's-waiting-for-me-to-speak moments..

However, a month later he calls back to announce that he's back with her again.. ('Deep.. I have a good news for you!') I just knew the bastard was grinning on the other side.

But even The Almighty wouldn't have scripted, (the great and freaky) Nostradamus wouldn't have foreseen and certainly my friend Ronny wouldn't have thought what happened next.. They broke up 13 times! And patched up back on, 12 times.. It was all too intense for me. I started waiting for his phone call, full of anticipation.. Each time he'd call and tell 'I have a sad news, dude..' OR 'I have a good news, bro!' depending on the breaking/making up part.. It usually happened a week apart.

I think it was the 6th time when I asked him to omit 'good' or 'bad' from his statements.. they were getting redundant! Maybe he could just say 'I have a news' a practice, he actually adopted..

After the 13th time they fought and broke up, it took a while. The call never came for long.. I started pacing in front of the cellphone, going all bonkers off the thrilled expectancy. Or was it really the end? Finally?

The phone call however came a year later.

'Deep, I have a good news for ya brother!' shit! I thought..
I think I attempted a congratulatory remark, but only air bubbles came out this time initially.. However, when I was done with the phone call, I was definitely grinning.

My friend Ronny has scored!!

Thankfully a new girl this time.. But again, I'm dying of a similar anticipation.. I sat hours staring at the phone today! Sad.. though I'm happy for him..

True story!