Why I Love Test Cricket

As you leave the pavilion and walk on to the vast plain spread of bright green that lays in front of you, you suddenly feel the rush of anticipation and excitement that surrounds the minutes before the commencement of a 5 day-long sporting event. You put away your half sweater or jacket to warm up before the game, you do your best to condition yourself somewhere between feeling the sting of a chilly Sunday's morning air and the warmth of the early morning's sun, creeping in through the disappearing mist. As you close the gate behind you and go over the thick white rope that acts as the restrictive boundary of the game, you can't help but start wondering about the various conditions that will covertly govern the rest of the game.

Is there a hint of breeze? Which direction is it blowing? Is there an early humidity? Will the sun choose to play little to no effect due to an impending cloud cover thus affecting the red sphere of leather differently than a blazing southern sun in a spotlessly clean blue sky? There have been many who think they can beat this aspect of the game and go blazing through the overs smashing runs after runs. But how many of them actually appear in the long list of legends of this format of the game?

Then there's also the pitch. The 22 yards of turf perhaps play the most important role in the game, as every captain has agreed in all formats of the game. Is there moisture in the pitch? If so, how long will it take the moisture to dry out and render an unpredictability of sorts? Is it 'green'? Are the grass-cuttings rolled over? How will a new ball move and how and when will the old ball start turning?

And it is nothing short of an epic scene from a Hollywood flick where as you've settled yourself in the middle, looking over to the small crowd around you that has gathered to watch the game, you look over the pavilion and notice the sun shine through the dispersing mist and clouds over the two individuals who, in all their 'armor' and elegant sporting gear, are stepping in to the field to face your offensive challenge. You pass the leather ball around, flex your arms around and warm up as they arrive in the middle, inspect the pitch and take their stance. Should the bowler inaugurate the offense with a 145 kph bouncer or use the moving-ball conditions and try swinging the ball from the start?

Either way, it's game on.

'A God to Die for, A God to Kill for'

Yesterday I heard him say my God doesn't exist.
Who does he think he is? How dare he?
I didn't talk to him yesterday.
I walked right past him. He was dead to me.

Yesterday he said my God is fake.
I stared at him angrily, while he hissed.
He ought to be taught a lesson.
I threw a stone at him. By inches, it missed.

Yesterday I saw him spit at the name of my God.
I lured away his dog.
His owner has crossed a line!
Till it were dead, I beat him with a log.

Yesterday he refused to pray to my God.
I burned down his house.
Enough has been sought by talks.
I kidnapped and raped his spouse.

When Science Meets Movies - Interstellar, a Review

BE ADVISED,

CONTAINS SPOILERS. CRAZY BAT SHIT OF THEM!


You can tell I was super excited when I learnt that Christopher Nolan has picked up on the idea of black holes and wormholes in his next venture. Unfortunately, he made Inception earlier and ruined everything for me.

While Inception was a huge leap in science fiction, it raised the bar for the kind of movies the duo of Christopher and Jonathan Nolan can achieve. Inception was worthy of all the hype it has ever got, because not only was it a brilliant movie, it was also a refreshingly cerebral idea. It was something new.

With Inception having set the stage to welcome Interstellar to the movie theatre, it was the sense of expectation that undid everything. To list a few scientific inaccuracies (or shall we say) inconsistencies that I personally found with the movie, I would have to start somewhere here:

All Work and No Play

These days, I find myself providing strange and quirky examples to elucidate certain concepts in molecular biology to a classroom of 50 sleep-induced, hungover and relatively withdrawn young minds.

"Imagine you want to murder someone.. and you want to do it with a knife. Why a knife? Well, because knives are slow and painful and you can see the fear in your enemy's eyes as life slowly drains away.." (Here I paused, to give theatrics a chance) "..but then I go and hide all your knives away! You come into the room to face the person you want to kill. But suddenly you can't kill him - or her, not to sound sexist - because I took away the only weapon you ever had!" I paused, to let them try to figure it out a little by themselves before I give away the final conclusion of the elaborate example - "that's what EDTA does. It takes away the cation cofactors that the nuclease needs, in order to cleave the DNA. Get it? Get it?"

Sometimes, I believe, I'm being a little too hopeful while I teach. Not too different than the girl who walks in every single class, with her first few questions being "How long is this lab?" "Do we have to stay the whole while?" and "I have this party at my sorority after.." and that's when I phase out, like clockwork. Another one of my students, after listening to the whole example with rapt attention, raised his hand. He was now wide awake and was not doing a good job of hiding that sense of obvious alarm off his face.

"Can we not kill with guns?"
"No" said I, "Haven't you watched Dark Knight?"
"What? Why?" he persisted with his line of enquiry.
"Because they aren't cool.. And you HAVEN'T watched The Dark Knight??!"
"Umm.. I just think you have a wacky sense of humor.."
I squinted, and changed the topic quickly.

A Very Floridian Durga Puja!

It must've been Phoebe, who woke me up a wee bit earlier than I expected to get up yesterday morning. In all fairness, I had fallen asleep late the night before.

It was only after I had my dinner, did I start watching the 'Nick Nite' marathon of the never-gets-old TV series that, as I realize only now, is actually a typing nightmare! If you consider the full stops in between each of the unique capitalized letters from the English language... F.R.I.E.N.D.S! While I was doing that, I heard the neighbors drive in late in the night. It was a Friday, so it's only normal. I spied on them for a while from the gaps in the blinds. When they had moved inside their house, I noticed two extra cars parked on the parkway in front of my house. As if the repeatedly rhythmic sound of the bed springs from upstairs wasn't enough to tell me that both my roommates had had their 'better halves' come over after a long time. One of them had brought along her dog, named Phoebe. I sighed and got back to my TV, only to get bored of it and climb up the stairs to retire myself to bed.

Few minutes later, as the bed springs stopped squeaking, I heard the bath-tap turn on. I looked around my room and considered my contemporary state of loneliness for a while. As I heard Phoebe from the room next to mine, I thought of asking Patricia to lend her dog to me for that one night. For only her warm company, strictly speaking, would prevent me from crying out loud. I went on YouTube and listened to a creepy woman whisper things in my ear to finally fall back to sleep.

So, I woke up in the morning of Saturday and shifted my curtains slightly aside. It was an overcast, chilly and windy morning. Not exactly the kind of morning to be celebrating the annual curtain-raiser of all Indian festivities - the Durga Puja!

"Oh Captains, My Captains!"

I shamelessly agree that I watch a LOT of movies. And that I cry every time a Danny Archer calls a Maddy Bowen to say 'Wish you were here Maddy..' before he dies or the moment when Marley is put to a permanent sleep with a shaking John beside him, whispering in his ears 'You're a great dog Marley.. you're a great dog!' or whenever Mufasa is thrown off the cliff by his brother Scar, after he whispers 'Long. Live. The King.' on his horrified face or when Forrest Gump meets his son for the first time and asks 'Is he.. Is he smart?' or when Ellie gets fatally ill as Carl gets ready for their 'dream adventure' to the Paradise Falls in the movie Up.

Sniff. I've been moved, repeatedly, by movies and movie scenes and by the fictional characters and personalities that govern the directions they usually go.

So when Robin Williams died a couple of weeks back, I shut the door for my room upstairs, climbed up the chair and silently whispered 'Oh captain, my captain' into the air. Just before I drowned my face into the pillow and slept off, depressed. But that depression was nothing in comparison to the one that Williams must have felt.

Robin Williams has been a big inspiration to me through his movie Dead Poets Society. I think the timing of my watching the movie was perfect. I was 19 years old and in my first year at the university in Vellore. I saw the Dead Poets Society illegally, on the internet, as is the general trend in India. I'm not proud of it now. The film – directed by Peter Weir – depicted a world very similar to mine. It was set in Vermont in 1959 at an elite private boys school named Welton Academy – which reminded me repeatedly of the middle and the high school I attended.

Independence Day, Remembered..

It's that time of the year when I wake up and find the dorm chummy walk into the room with a laddoo in his hand. Before you brace yourself, his geeky face that otherwise has a permanent creepy smile on it, opens up to shout a 'Vande Mataram!' (a senseless 'Inquilab Zindabad!' if he's a communist) on your unsuspecting face. You turn the other way around and try to go back to sleep again. What's the point? You don't get any laddoos now anyway!

Happy Independence Day guys. Yes, today's the day you get those 'Mere des ki dharti sona ugle, ugle heere-moti' feels. Are you done posting your patriotic update on Facebook yet? Go on now, don't let me delay you. Do it and come back to read me.

Independence Day has only one memory for me. Okay, two.
Stew and Silver Linings.

...

It had rained the previous night, so the grounds were water-logged. I wondered, as we walked into the mess, of what will happen to the parade if the grounds were too wet to do it. Maybe now they'll use the concrete road in front of the auditorium as a replacement. All these thoughts, views and concerns were to evaporate however, as I see the breakfast menu at the mess.

"Stew?" I asked the mess manager, defiantly.
"Yes, stew.. put forward your plate and pass on quickly!"
"I'm not eating that.." I stomped my foot.


I'm Shamelessly Going Places

Last few weeks have been such a whirlwind that I've been all like Whaaa-?! Okay, so I really dunno and I'm also kind of clueless about what to fill you guys in with.. except.. that suddenly one day I decided to pack up my things back in Kolkata, and shove everything to the back of that giant thing they call an aeroplane (and hop in to like 4 of them - connecting flights) to travel halfway around the globe to this place named Tallahassee, in Florida. Unlike back home in India, where a state-capital city is like a big bustling, marginally chaotic city (usually the biggest in the state), the quiet and slow college-town of Tallahassee is the state capital of Florida.

Not Miami, as you'd have perhaps thought. Don't worry, same mistake was made there!

Nothing could've prepared me for that REALLY LONG journey than perhaps the craziness of American college football (which you get only here, so there goes that plan)! It was something like this: Kolkata to Delhi (2:30 hours), transit at Delhi (5 hours - or a little bit more perhaps, because it was that one exceptional time when my plane decided to break the usual rules and reach early), Delhi to London (9:30 hours - yawn), transit at London (4 hours - God save the Queen), London to Miami (9:30 hours - yawn, but interesting American Airlines in-flight entertainment), transit-immigration-and-customs stop at Miami (4 hours), followed lastly by this 1:30 hours' flight from Miami to Tallahassee.

I met some really interesting people on the flight.

How to Get Thrown Out of a Gym - Part 2

(Continued from How to be a Workout Nazi...)


"I also remember a guy during those initial days of gym. He used to go Ryan Gosling from Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011) on us in the locker room. Although not fully nude, he would strip down to his bare minimum and do some free-hand exercises that would require lots of bending and twisting. Things, you don't want to see on your first day at gym. So, trust me when I say I braved it out there in those initial period. Trying to gel in, I stripped down myself to those shorts showing some skinny legs, lest they think I was homophobic!"

The biweekly weight check and diet counselling was carried out by a professional who sits in an office at the ladies' gym. Not so surprisingly, everyone at the men's gym wants to get their weights checked all the time. After 4 weeks of working out (and two discarded, outgrown t-shirts later), I was asked to get my weight checked at the office. Little did I know, that the professional might've been the real life inspiration for the protagonist in the movie Bheja fry (2007) or Le dîner de cons (1998).

Why this pretentious French analogy? You'll see!

To be a Workout Nazi - Part 1

Apart from the fact that I almost fainted on the very first day of it, working out at the gym has rather been a unique experience. I've met some peculiar people there, have encountered some eccentric work-out routines and have come across some distinctive personalities not directly associated with the particular form of 'healthcare'.

Sometimes, your whole life boils down to that one insane experience to write a blogpost about.
In two parts, in this case.

After being cajoled into obtaining a membership at the local gym, I remember to have regretted it immediately afterwards. I mean what was I thinking? Were my 'club-sandwich-for-breakfast' and 'chicken-wings-for-snacks' days over? Was I really going to commit to such self-inflicted atrocity? It certainly seemed like that at the moment. And quite unfortunately, now I had an entire family in support of my decision! Now although you'd think my physique always needed a facelift, I assure you it was just my ambitious tummy that singlehandedly forced me into it.

And also perhaps a glimpse into the future - of days to come - of me being surrounded by bikini-clad tanned undergrads at the golden beaches of the sunshine county.

Back on earth, after the membership at the gym, I rested for a day. I passed a filthy eateria at the corner of the street that evening and pledged myself off it's menu. I bought a new pair of Umbro running shoes and 'test-ran' in them for a few rounds on the terrace. They were so perfectly comfortable that I almost cried.

'Musings'


This will be an extremely personal post, so don't go reading into it too much if you don't particularly like the sorts. Remember I warned you!
__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

There are times when you feel utterly hopeless. Like whatever you have done, or are doing, would ultimately amount to nothing. That in the whole seventy plus years you've lived or would perhaps live, and all the work that you've done or would do, they would simply not matter in the end. That you would not matter. Your life wouldn't matter, like so many everyday. Your name wouldn't be remembered. You wouldn't be remembered. That however much you've tried doing things against that, you've ended up achieving nothing.

How can anyone live knowing that?

Yesterday I went to the market to get some eggs, 'Dada, I'll buy the entire tray. We'll be having guests tonight!' I added, with a smile, 'Mum is thinking Biryani!' The shopkeeper smiled and separated an entire tray from the pack, as he devised ways to pack the eggs within safely. Just then, a puny little dark-coloured boy approached and asked meekly from behind me, 'Do you have broken eggs?'

I turned around and saw that he held another precariously broken egg in the other hand. I looked at his face and trust me if I say that his is the most innocent face I've seen in a really long while. With soiled, curly hair, a dirty half-shirt belonging to a discarded school uniform and shorts that were a little too short, this four foot tall kid maintained a distance from the shop and me. Compared to his otherwise dull demeanor, his gaze was strikingly sharp. And it was towards the one broken egg that the shopkeeper had kept separately.

'Do you have broken eggs?' he asked again.

The Marble Palace - a well-kept secret of Calcutta

Everytime I go to the northern parts of the city of Calcutta, I feel like I have gone back in time on a time machine. Not that I go much. Had I known that I just had to wait for the budding art enthusiastic friend to come back home from her grad studies in New Jersey in order to be rediscovering some forgotten history of my own city, I would have had something to look forward to in the summer!

The northern part of Kolkata, oops.. sorry.. of Calcutta, is that old part of the city where people from south seldom visit. Many among the youngsters today, do not know that this city was once called the 'City of Palaces' (now used, rather in reference to Mexico city) - you can see for yourself the dilapidated palaces and their decaying columns from Victorian times on your way to the Howrah station. But you've got to visit North Kolkata in order to truly establish this expression.

Just a few steps north from the M.G. Road metro station, further away from the Calcutta Medical College side on a lane to the left, lies a secret that the city has carefully preserved over the ages.

The Marble Palace is a nineteenth century mansion built by Raja Rajendra Mullick, a wealthy merchant and a renowned zamindar in 1835. The palace is maintained privately by the Mullick family, which to me is a mind-blowing fact for reasons I'll soon mention. And that is also the reason why photography is prohibited. Restricted entry is allowed for free, provided one obtains a permit from the West Bengal Tourism Information Bureau, a day prior to the visit.

What strikes you first, as you enter the grounds through the wrought iron gate, is an old gatekeeper holding a rusty spear welcoming you cautiously into the grounds. From the very entrance, you can see a large oval lawn with marble statues of lions in various positions of sleeping, sitting, prowling, yawning spread across the place. The perimeter of the lawn is an old unpaved track for horse-driven carriage of a gone-by era, that leads to the house on the front.

The Freudian Slumdog-Soothsayer

The art of Begging.

To thee, I must confess, this weird interest of mine has just become an obsession. I have asked people around me for help. But they only seem to say 'Boy, you're a sadist!' or 'That's so cruel!' or 'Kaam-dhanda nai hai terku?' - that last one is a Hyderabadi friend, so the accent is perhaps understandable. But no one seems to pay enough interest to the various beggars around the country and the different styles they adopt.

Most of the beggars in the country are poor, as it usually goes with the formula 'I don't have money, so I will browbeat you to give me some money until you break down with guilt.' But that doesn't seem to work in our country anymore. Being irreversibly poor just doesn't qualify. You have to have that extra 'thing' to score big money. Confused? Let me share how.


Yesterday I was walking down the Theatre Road, on my way back from the US consulate. I was happy, as I just got my visa and passport back. I was finally going to start my graduate studies! I was feeling very happy about it and so I dreamily put on my earphones. While I've stopped listening to music on-the-go with earphones on (which was such a rage in high school), I wished to listen to some triumphant music while I walk down the road at this joyous moment.

To feed my pretentious ambitions, I put on the famous Space Odyssey soundtrack waltz piece - The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II - and stuffed the earphones into my ear. I have music ranging from 'Munni badnam hui' to 'While my guitar gently weeps' and Beethoven to Hugh Laurie. One for all seasons, but only this piece of music seemed to serve the purpose at hand. But at the very first crescendo, I was stopped mid way by a very happy Sikh guy.

'Hello my friend!'

Why I Support England At The World Cup... Always!

Honestly, I'm a stranger to Kolkata's football culture. Right in front of my house, the giant flag of a certain country that eats, breathes, sleeps and lives football, even though a cricket ball seems to be in it's center, flutters in the breeze. And down the street, the Argentinian flag is flying higher than the Indian flag on top of the local police station. Someone somewhere has put up a statue of Messi looking down upon the adjacent statue of Dr. BC Roy as well.

And after last night's match, certain idol-makers from the famous alleys of Kumartuli, have started carving their idols for Durga Puja. Goddess Durga, looking much like a feminized Robin van Persie is slaying the demon king who resembles the Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas, quite eerily.

Welcome to the football World Cup season in Kolkata. The people here, don't get to follow the Euro Cup as it doesn't incorporate the playmaking styles of the abovementioned two latin American teams. So essentially they keep waiting for the FIFA World Cup every four years. And much like a desperate person's perverted schemes of escapism, every four years later, the people paint the city with colours of their favorite teams.

Is it a Crime - Obesity, Monsters and Being Single?

I have few of the finest childhood memories associated with certain movies. Movies like the 1998 Hollywood-made Godzilla, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and a couple more associate themselves to the times of when I was a lonely kid living in a Dickensian hostel. These movies had released in the time when I was that starry-eyed little guy out to discover science fiction and some damn good animation in contemporary movies.

Notice how I make it sound a little too intense?

Well, so ever since I saw the trailer of the 2014 redoing of Godzilla, I've sworn upon myself to watch it within the first week of it's release. It wasn't about the stars (Brian Cranston was always supposed to do justice), or the mayhem, or the artistic improvements (Mothra became M.U.T.O. and we thank God for that), or the original interpretations dating back to the Japanese origins of Gojira either. It was for the very reason that made this financially abysmal production into a cult classic - there's a 'something' there, I can't get a handle on.

Just a few days before the movie released in the halls in and around Kolkata, I started searching for people who'd go with me. For movies that'll require lots of thinking, such as Inception, Inside Lleywin Davis and Interstellar, I'd rather go to watch it all alone. But for movies that have a proclivity to bomb on logic, I need some company to successfully achieve a sense of redemption by lambasting the movie cooperatively. And with the increasing number of movies that raise our expectations with their trailer and disappointing us entirely when released, I'd better keep to the safer side.

'Ei, Godzilla dekhte jaabi?' Oi, want to watch Godzilla? I asked.

7 Types of Indian Voters - A Post-Poll Analysis

So the greatest show on earth is over. The timing of this post is to make sure that you don't herald the ongoing Indian Premier League or the IPL as the greatest show on earth, even by mistake! And no, I'm not referring to the wedding reception of the octogenarian Congress leader ND Tiwari either.

This year was, in no doubt, the most 'fun' and 'crazy' election India ever had. There were ample amount of drama this year with crazy gambles (we had a brand new party in AAP), a nerve-wracking climax (the 49 days of ruling Delhi) and some titular characters - a seasoned villain, a working class hero, a sidekick with presumably no allegiances and lots of comic relief. Made for Bollywood, requiring no further script-writing whatsoever. Mr. Prakash Jha, you listening? Oh sorry, the socio-political filmmaker turned JDU candidate from the West Champaran Lok Sabha constituency of Bihar must be feeling a whole lot down having lost his chances this election.

But it is only the people of India who promote this spectacle to the grand scale. The electorate - you, me and the adolescent young minds of India who only want to put up a selfie (rather 'velfie' as they've begun calling it now) sooner than the other neighbourhood kids.

Here are the 7 types of Indian voters, found typically among the youth of the country:

From Howrah to Bangalore - Just Another Train Travel

All my train travels being interesting, I decided to do the extreme this time.

Its a screaming 42 degree celsius in Kolkata, and I decided to travel to Bangalore on a sleeper class ticket on the Indian Railways. Yes, I was the original inspiration behind movies like 'Bheja Fry'. The only sane logic in all this was that wherever I would go, the temperature could only dip. I stuffed my rucksack with everything I did not need and a handful of things that I absolutely required. Then I latched a dozen water-bottles to my hand before I embarked on the journey.

Immediately, I made acquaintance with an uncle, who asked me what I do. Making no sense of telling him that 'Dear uncle, I am a jobless globetrotter currently, and still so for another 3 months', I fast-forwarded my story to a couple of months later and told him that I'm pursuing doctoral studies in the field of cell cycle and cancer. He jumped off his seat and introduced his unmarried daughter to me.

A Private Discovery of Central India

Last time I wrote a blog post on visiting the capital, I ended it up with the epilogue that I will get back to you about the rest of the trip. The part which took me on a wild-goose chase of discovering the elusive 'Indianness' in it's history and places, brought me back to a larger realization that the thing I was looking for was only to be found in it's people.

By the way, did you guys catch 2 States in the movie hall yet? The main character - Krissh - seemed to be living in the Hauz Khas area - the one place I described very well in the first part of this two-post travel series. Also, finally I'm glad that Bollywood cleared the air about the people living in Tamil Nadu after the image they usually portrayed of them in movies like Singham and Chennai Express! All the locations in this movie were either my favourite or the most memorable of all places I've ever lived in! Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai.. aah nostalgia! This movie was already written in the form of a script, so there was nothing that could've gone wrong with the movie. Thank you 2 States, for reinstating the love for masala Bollywood movies all over again! Don't miss this, if you still haven't seen it in the theatres.

Anyway, enough stalling. Let's pick it up from where I left.

What's In A Name?!

I have come to realize that my parents must've had some really bad confidant during the time I was born. Otherwise why on earth would they give a go ahead for me to be named Arindam at the age of only a couple of days? Do I, or did I ever look like an Arindam?

Ughh. Arindam!

So I have a problem. And before you say anything that falls along the lines of 'I told you so' please let me clarify. I've come to realize that my name wasn't always what it is now known as, to everyone. At some point of time, my parents had casually listened to some relative and had me named Arindam. Ughh. Arindam! What comes to your mind when you think of someone with the name Arindam? What indeed?

Delhi Haat and the Hauz Khas Village @ Delhi

While I had gone into a self-inflicted exile from blogging and major online activities in the past one month, I was roaming around the north-central parts of India. My journey started at New Delhi - the very seat of governance and strategic urbanization - and went on to rediscover the earthy Indian-ness in the obscure towns and villages of Uttar and Madhya Pradesh subsequently.

Barely an hour after stepping down onto the capital city of the country, I could at least tick off one thing from the to-do list that I made prior to landing - a midnight 150 kmph bike ride with my cousin brother tearing into the ice-cold air, racing down the highway with heavy rain chasing our butts! While I was primarily engaged to the India Today Conclave commitment, I made some time to catch up with old friends living in the city. My childhood friend Tanushree took me for shopping at the Dilli Haat and the nouveau-riche locality of the Hauz Khas village. I returned the favour by treating her at the Amici Cafe there. So generous of me!

Report: India Today Conclave 2014

I have always tried to keep myself aware of the world around me. Take a peek into my life, and you'll find me spending quite a lot of my time on all kinds of news feed on my HTC device. Apart from science, I take interest in politics, sports, current affairs - national and international - literature, entertainment and in so many other fields. So when everyone I met in New Delhi asked me what I do, I found myself disappointing them again and again.

"How does a PhD in Molecular Biology aspirant find his way to the 13th India Today Conclave?" They couldn't believe me further when I told them of my invitation as the official blogger for the event. Take a careful note, ladies and gentlemen. Take a careful note of the kind of social apathy a gap-toothed, bespectacled science student has to face everyday in his life!

Girls, Laalipop And Friday Night Jagrata

Ever since the arrival of two new neighbours, return of an exiled habit, proof of lives in the 6 rooms that face my balcony and a family of sparrows to nest under our air conditioning system, life in my neighbourhood has been different, to say the least.

Freud will tell you that people tend to resist change. That they'll almost always react badly to it. But by a twist of natural law, my neighbourhood seems to have welcomed it. There is harmony, cohesion, gossip at the local 'jagrata' club and random acts of rather unusual behavior seem to have made a comeback with a reinvigorated sense of purpose. All this in a matter of months. Mum says this is normal for our neighbourhood. And that all I needed to realize this, was to spend just a little more time at home. I'm guessing she's right! Like always.

After fighting a legal battle for ages, the ownership of the land lying right in front of my house was awarded to the local college for women. They were supposed to make something out of it. And although I thought a statue could accentuate the false upper-class charm of the locality, they chose to build a girls' hostel instead. That was a weird choice, as colleges in this city don't often entertain the idea of a hostel. I was annoyed. But soon I had begun to wonder whether they'll put airy balconies and large windows on the side of the building facing mine.

Winning... Still The Only Option!

Every time I would be watching a match on the television, there'll be people behind my back stopping time and again to inquire about the game. 'What's the score?' they'll ask. Even my mother, who may not quite follow any particular sport, ends up asking 'Who's winning?' after some time.

There's something about 'winning' that attracts everybody all around us.

Countless are the inspirational speakers who have made quite a lot of money by quoting Vince Lombardi alone. Their success rate at inspiring even one member from the audience is however, dubitable. Countless still, are the inspirational non-fiction books in the shelves of a bookstore. Some of them even best-sellers! They all seem to promise the ultimate 'winning mantra' to their readers. And yet their contribution in influencing readers is something we can only guess at. Countless again, are the people who roam around pointlessly being part of the 'herd', oblivious to the fact that the only difference between them and that of a winner, is perhaps their own attitude.

How Not To Apply For A Driving Licence

I have come to realize that I belong to that unfortunate category of people who cannot get any of their official work done without a couple of hiccups. The last time it was the passport office, about which I have written earlier, this time it was the Public Vehicles Department office at Kolkata.

While I know how to drive a four wheeler, I have not yet procured a licence to drive on Indian roads legally. So I restricted myself to drive on lanes instead, trying to avoid hitting anybody on the road. Only once did I brought someone's door down to it's knees (so what, no one was hurt... and it was a long time ago). Being a nomadic soul (because it sounds so awesome instead of 'transfer ho gaya'), I have never really been in one particular place for long, and so I never realized the need to get a licence there. But now I do. I need to get it done as soon as possible, as I have some spare time now and prospective reasons, such as road trips and weekend escapades!

'Scientia potentia est' - Studying in the UK

The last two years of every undergraduate student's academic life are riddled with some tough choices, hard facts and prominent decisions. It is the time of life when every student faces the dilemma of choosing either higher studies or finding a suitable job. Whichever decision they choose to pursue, it changes their lives in more ways than they would have themselves prepared for.

Ask me, I have been through this terrific phase only recently. It has really been a tiring last few months for me - searching for courses, contacting the faculty, sorting universities made up nearly the whole of it. During the last few days in college, we had picked up on an anthem of sorts - assorted few lines from songs (such as the one below; selected few lines from 'What If' by Coldplay) and movies that reflected of the difficult quandary we suddenly found ourselves in. This quandary is only supposed to be the parts and parcel of the growing-up phase, the prospect of which we always have seemed to loathe.


    'Every step that you take,
    could be your biggest mistake.
    
    It could bend or it could break,
    that's the risk that you take..'


I personally believe that the path of higher studies is more promising than to pursue a line of work right after one's collegiate education. Albeit it requires an investment of a couple more years that many are not willing to risk. But then again, it is also not too far-fetched if one plans well in advance - where to study, what to study and why?

My Travel Diaries - Varanasi, Chunar and Sarnath

Blame it on Benaras, if I get even wee bit spiritual and lest my thoughts wander like a Bohemian septuagenarian, high on marijuana.

The dimly lit ghats, the serene flow of the river Ganga, the calls of 'har-har Mahadev' throughout the city, the high and mighty cows and their cow-dungs and the foreigners smoking pot here, there and everywhere make Varanasi, the most vibrant and timeless city of India. I also heard a man burp and follow it up with 'Jai Sri Ram!'. A city, as old as history itself, Varanasi is witness to the migration of and subsequent settlement of Aryans in India. A city, that is regarded as the holiest of all the cities in the world. A city, where if you die, you qualify for all the shortcuts that take you to the heavens.

And that, was the most ancient form of reservation, ladies and gentlemen. People who die in Varanasi get the first 10 seats on the Airbus, for a direct trip to heaven (wherein they'll be roasted and fried in boiling oil, but that comes later).

The Bygone Year 'A Retrospection' - Part 2

Its only natural, given the current state of affairs, that I promise to finish writing this post before ushering this New Year in and watch myself fail miserably. For the delay, I beg your pardon and show the middle finger to the judgmental ones among you all the same.

Christmas is long over and a change is in the air. Scientifically speaking, the day is getting longer than the night, which is a bad thing to happen to people like me! No, I'm not an Orc. Just an insomniac blogger with a self-proclamatory good taste in music. Well, where am I going with this anyway? Oh yes, change. The whole second half of last year was about welcoming 'change' and adapting to it. Lets start with a change in the playlist, shall we?

'Daughters' by John Mayer, now!