Crazy world... insane thoughts
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Tweeting with the Bengali Foodie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

So here I am - interviewing @_soumyasree_ on the bong food forum that she administers. Twitter ensures that the answers are short and tasty

The forum is located at 
Quick question on your food forum. What's the inspiration?
The demanding pallate of @csougata

One more quickie. What's the ultimate objective?
Not to let the traditional bengali recipes (and others if I can manage to fish out) get lost after our mothers & aunts retire. But there's a language drawback. Since I started it just as note to self, some recipes are in bengali. Of course. Just needs some time and patience. But I do it impromptu if someone asks for a particular recipe
Where do you plan to go with it in the near future ?
To organise it properly first. And to translate the recipes in bangla to english for wider comprehension
That's a great idea. Any plans for crowdsourcing of recipes?
As you might have noticed BiteByByte is a forum and Not a Blog. As such member participation has been key since inception

So what is the most discussed recipe on the blog? The one that people couldn't get enough of.
Meat and fish recipes generally get more attention.

I know bengalis prefer those meats. But there are some great vegan dishes out there. Any plans on promoting the veg palate?
Very much. More since my mom has turned vegetarian. Also, contrary to general belief, Bong kitchen offers variety of veg dishes

Any special dishes that you reccommend?
Veg #Recipe. Lentil Fritters in Spicy Sauce (Daal er Borar Jhaal)
That reads yummy. Trust it will taste even better.
Thanks. If anyone is interested to try it, I shall be happy to translate the recipe from Bangla to English.
But no forum works without some good administration. That's a known fact.
I agree. And also I have not approached it professionally ever. So it's a little scattered. And I admit that.
I would be happy if someone joins the administrative team to help. But never ask since there's no incentive involved.
Have you considered offline interactions with folks who've contributed on the forum? Something different and interactive.
Have interacted on Facebook Orkut. But since they are scattered across the globe, it's difficult to plan a meet.
Just reached office. Talk to ya in a bit
Sure. Have a nice day. And thanks again.
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Metro times

Wednesday, June 15, 2011
What's playing on the mind standing the 75 minute ride home is a collection of myriad musings.
What's with the weird looks they keep throwing my way? But then it isn't about me - not just about me. People are always looking around and something just fixes their gaze this ways. Must be the shine off the top of my baldness.

The metro journey makes for a good workout of the powers of observation. Not intended in a lecherous manner, though I wouldn't put that past me if the subject was deserving.
Case in question: people sitting and staring hard at the bum in from of them. I wonder why they do that. Are they looking to pull something out of the back facing ass or wishing theirs was as tight?

Mostly there is a lot of silence. People must talk, but the music blaring into my ears keeps me safe. I base my readings entirely on eyesight and body language.

Why does a woman in a knee length skirt merit such a large group of men around her? Move over guys, I want some NSP too. NSP- Nainsook prapti for the uninitiated is the term used to describe a feast for the eyes. Men will be boys and not vice versa.

I hate these jerks who are always looking for others to adjust. If the metro seating is for 7, I see no reason for 8 to be forcibly adjusted. So I refuse to adjust or if the guy next to me moves over, I refuse to budge and ensure that no.8 sirs at the edge, all set to fall over

Another quick observation today. Sitting next to the reserved ladies seat in the morning metro. The guy next to me got up when the pretty ones arrived. Now, instead of sitting there they asked me to shift into the ladies seat. I promptly refused having on an earlier occasion been hoodwinked into vacating that seat 5 mins later by another lady. She gave me a dirty look and she wasn't so pretty any more.

That's it for now. More metro musings as we encounter them.

PS: A quick update on the skirted lady - she actually stopped and talked to me as we de-boarded at Huda city centre. She had a query on the iPad which I was able to verbally resolve.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I did not come running to you for the wedding shoot assignment.  In fact I did not even know about you.

You came to me at what is technically the last minute - 1 month prior to the wedding.

You give me references of friends who are dear to me and so I was flexible in more ways than One.

Yes - I believed you and did not take any advance.. as a matter of faith - one human to another.

You did not keep in touch and when I followed up - all seemed to be well.

So when you get someone else to call me up a week before the shoot and tell me it's off - we hired someone else cos' your shoestring was too much for us - pardon me for NOT smiling. I'm sure you had your limitations - but that's really none of my business. I helped out when you asked me to to mitigate some of that as well.

So I am upset that you couldn't be woman enough to call me. Why get a man to do what women do best?

Now when I cancel the tickets - the voice on the sms tells me we can do a one day shoot. ha!

If I was not who I am - I'd have taken you up on it.

But then - me being me - just did what I'm good at - and wished you the very best of luck with the wedding.

Call it arrogance if you may. I'd rather take my loss than do a shoot that's forced upon someone by feelings of guilt and negativity. It just won't be the same. I take my photography, passion as it is, quite seriously and to heart. Just for my sake - I will remember this.

I'm not going to name you and badmouth the whole system. Lord knows there are some good people out there.  I've been lucky to meet them mostly.

.... and then again - life is a boomerang.

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The piano man

Tuesday, June 07, 2011
Sitting bored in the mall when we could be shopping for her gift. The lady is on an official call, so I'm sitting by the wayside observing the man in the centre of the atrium. He's playing a piano. Hence the name - piano man

He's playing a melody oblivious to the sea of humanity around him. No mean task as it is. His tunes run a plethora of melody with no fixed agenda as it is. He looks around hoping someone would make a request - but the crowd treats him like they would an invisible entity. There's pain in the back of his mind and heart. Nothing hurts an artiste more than invisibility. He never knew he'd end up like this playing the walking melody to thousands. His music had always been planned on the good graces of melody with people singing in chorus.
That things did not go as planned, well no surprise there. Circumstance might have been fortuitous had he been willing to bend over. Ever the true blooded artiste, he'd chosen the path less traveled.

Now the wait for the next fork in the road.

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011
The wheel weaves as the wheel wills. We are part of this great pattern that stretches from the moment of creation till coherence dies out. And then some more.
Not a profound thought emanating from the depths of my mind. But true, all the same.

We are threads winding one over the other, some thicker than the rest. There are those amongst us who claim to make their own destiny changing the lives of the ones around us. Some of us bind others around our thread knowingly or not making us the centre of that small universe for awhile. A microcosm of the universe at large. Some of us have experiences on human interaction that logic fails to explain. A passing face, a familiar exchange of words, and then sometimes, just a look. Some threads that were unwound a while ago come back to be bound stronger than the past. What the butterfly effect does is alter a part of that weave of the pattern.

I get this gut feeling many a time that I'm in the presence of people who are going to impact my life, now or later. Its just a feeling that comes and goes at it's choosing. Sometimes I'm able to identify the person indicated, mostly not. Some would say I read too much - but I've learned not to ignore Mr.Gut Feeling. Better safe than sorry later, I say.

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Pension Rations

Wednesday, May 11, 2011
The very real danger in pension investments is a gross miscalculation of requirements at the time of retirement. Thus you may actually end up investing less expecting returns which may be improbable at the time.
True, soothsaying ability would be helpful to see how things would be 20 years down the line. But that's limited to god himself.
It can be correctly expected that the buying power of the rupee will decline with the passage of time.

So we're stuck with a couple of problems here.
- The old may be getting older - but they're living it and increasing the cost on us.
- Also, the nuclear families in the current era reflect smaller family sizes. So a family of 2 kids supports an elder sample size of 4-6.
- Another trend is the lowering of the retirement age - call it the creative calling. So my 40+ years old banker retiring from active service joins the burden that we bear. He might have the investments to back his retirement. But he's moved from an active contributor to someone who is a pure consumer.
I haven't even started talking about government healthcare benefits.... That would require more learned discussion.

Now that we have some clarity on the nature of the beast, time we put a leash on him.

- Start saving more keeping estimations on returns on the lower end of the spectrum.
- Work longer, keeping at least 55% of estimated lifespan as working life. I'm talking about time spent earning a living, not school and college.
- Let's assume the theoretical lifespan is 80 years.
20 years - education etc
44 years - work like a man
16 years - enjoy retirement.

That's what I'm gonna do anyhow

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A life so fragile

Monday, April 11, 2011
A random thought that crossed my mind - lose a telephone exchange and you wouldn't be able to buy yourself any food. Yeah, come to think of it - no credit card, no internet and whamm!! Game over.

I love my technology - but this love has made me fragile. My personal ecosystem has become dependent on the flow of electrons to the extent that most of what I do (apart from the bodily functions) is electricity or internet dependent.

  • talk to my family / friends and stay connected to the world around me
  • check for email
  • search for help 
  • find an address
  • read the newspaper
  • buy & read books
  • buy petrol
  • cook food
  • get the wife a gift
  • take photographs
  • and the list goes on!!
The end of what we call a normal life, will come. And it never knocks before entering. 
So plan for it and strengthen your system.... that way you might just survive
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Only time will tell

Friday, April 08, 2011
It's not always the easiest of things - getting a suitable reaction from nonchalant folks that is. Anna seems to have done that with familiar ease. Call him a phenomenon or whatever is synonymous with it. He has appealed to the collective mindset and there's an outrage that makes one believe the paradigm may shift.

No doubt the nay Sayers are having a field day too. We are used to being skeptics and fear that good may one day come to pass.

The government is behaving along predictable lines and is all set to make a martyr. The question is - are they prepared to handle the consequences.

A question that only time will answer.

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The viewing angle

Wednesday, April 06, 2011
What's a few years plus or minus when you consider a lifetime as a point of measurement. However, we are trained to think in terms of the here and now rather than adopt a big picture view. It's always the planet versus the galaxy argument here.

I believe that it's vital to keep both - micro & macro vision in correct perspective when making a choice. Life is after all, a succession of choices viewed expertly in hindsight. Rearview vision is always 20/20. But we tend to go with tactical moves without demonstrating sufficient strategic intent. The successful ones tie one to the other.

So you want to be a photographer. A famous one at that, making greens by the load. It wont happen overnight unless the tooth fairy drops by and feels generous. You got to work at it. I'm in the process working 6 days on the regular job and skipping about here and there landing myself an assignment every now and then.
The first step was the toughest. I had more nervous nellies than I'd care to count.A very dear friend had me over shooting her nephews first birthday. I was too overwhelmed to ask for remuneration. She did her bit though. My only deal was that I'd shoot the images my way. Candid and natural. I got home with 485 images and was scared, still wondering if I could do justice to the post processing. Luckily, things turned out fine. Even today she sends assignments my way and still, I get Tongue tied asking for compensation.

But yeah, moving ahead of the first step, things slowed down. At first the high of the initial assignment kept me going. Then a lil despondence began to creep in as there were compliments on the photographs I posted on Facebook, but no assignments. A wait of 6 months ensued before I shot the next photograph, as a paid assignment. I questioned myself a lot in those 180 days and remained focussed on clicking for fun. It paid off in the end. Somewhere a young bride to be had seen my pics. She went out on a limb and we were on. Her Australian fiancé was a tad skeptical, but she tided over that. There's been no looking back ever since.

As a matter of principle, I take on only a couple of assignments a month. That ensures I can focus on both, the day job and my photography without being unfair to either.

I keep both the macro and micro pictures in my head all the time. Every step, no matter how small, brings me closer to my destination.

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Your story

Saturday, March 26, 2011
All of us tell stories. These stories define us.

How we tell our story makes all the difference in life. It makes a difference on the way people look at us and understand where we're coming from. A story is also the most effective method of running some helpful self analysis and sorting out the road ahead.

Getting the story elements right is critical to good reading. It is vital that the readers get involved and feel that they have a stake in your success.

There's always the protagonist - the hero, that's you.
Then there's the situation into which he has been thrust. A job for example.
Follow that up with the spice. The reason why he can't continue working as he always did. Call this guy the villain, could be the boss or maybe a set of changed Market conditions.
So what does the hero (you) do in this case. This forms the crux of your story. What did you do differently?
Results notwithstanding the reader must identify with you.

Now apply this to your resume. Many make the mistake of only putting in chronological events without the spice of the story- their accomplishments. So you didn't save a fair maiden. But you brought down costs. That works just as well. Substantiate that with your tenures and where it took you. Readers love that twist in the tale.

Focus on your audience. A business manager in the purchase department thinks differently from the CEO. Different strokes for different blokes. It's a Good idea to be able to add different hues to the same story.

Not every story is one of success. Tragedies sell too. The key element is creating a tale which is followed and identified with. Go on... Tell your tale.

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Why Skimp?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

As the word is aptly defined, “providing or consisting of less than is needed”. Of course, it’s important to put down the “needs” and the “wants” with equal alacrity. Indian weddings are not rally known for being skimpy, so why this?

I’ve been attending weddings for quite a while now. Sometimes as a guest, but mostly in my role as a wedding photographer. This does allow some insight into human psyche and the actions that result thereof. It is in my nature to be observant and records memories. As a wedding photographer, I am entrusted with a great responsibility - to ensure that you love what you see, 10 years down the line. The images may not be perfect - but they must reflect perfection. 
Now here’s the catch. The average Indian family spends more on flower arrangements than they would spend on a specialist photographer entrusted with the capturing of these moments (he/she also captures the flower arrangements for what it’s worth). Maybe it’s an old paradigm - but I believe that it’s time for a shift. We need to respect the work that the photographer puts in. It’s not just about being there with camera in hand. The amount of work the photographer puts in AFTER the wedding is almost (if not more) than the actual event itself. 
Wedding photography was never the most sought after profession. I don’t see things changing on that front, even though more people own DSLRs than they did 5 years ago. 
A camera in hand does not a photographer make. 
But it does give you a chance.

But why SKIMP on the one thing that you’re gonna be seeing for a long time hereafter? The images remain with you forever and on the internet for more than forever. 99.9% of the world didn’t attend your wedding. But they did see the images and guess what - they almost felt a part of it. You spent 125,000 on a wedding outfit, but couldn’t afford the right photographer to capture you in it. Apparently - the package deal didn’t work out. 
You preferred instead the regular studio guys who are always in your face, asking you to smile (even when they’re rude) and stepping on all your toes (all the time). You hate posing on stage with the “new” husband cos’ the traditional photog makes you do such filmy poses that you cringe; but hey it’s all part of the package. You’re dead tired, but you gotta give that last shot. Kinda feels like being in the movies - only difference is, you’re financing it.
The photographer is not just a chronicler of the special day(s) but is also your friend. So when you smile at your friends, give him a smile too. It makes his day just seeing those pearly whites come naturally on your beaming face.
So put those needs and wants down on paper(or MS Excel) and do a priority check. Most of us get married but once...... make the most of it and hold on to those memories.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Travelling the metro has become a daily routine now. Once the novelty wore off, I've just kinda got used to it. I try not to be one of the dour faced commuters executing the robotic function of going to work. 

People still look at me typing away on the iPad as some kind of novelty. If only we'd move ahead of that. 

For my part, I like to observe. A 3rd party view or gods eye view. Call it whatever. 

People watching can be a full time activity without appearing "nuts" .

There are the silent ones with purged up faces looking like they just had a lobotomy. 

Then the swingers who move with the metro coach. Every jolt is reflected in their posture. So these guys are never really standing straight. 

The chirpy ones with music in their ears are also special. Only as long as their volumes are on mute. 

Sleepyheads also abound. They sit , they sleep off. Miraculously, they awake just as their station arrives.  I was once in their category - travelling from Huda city centre in deep sleep, to be woken by a middle aged aunty the termination junction. 

One cannot forget the lovers. This category of couples searches for space in the area where the coaches interconnect. Not much in terms of privacy. But at least they can hold hands without being stared at from both sides. 

There is also a special category of "shameless" travellers who occupy the seats reserved for the old, handicapped and ladies. The less besharam ones pull a pigeon when one of the aforementioned approaches. The habitual offenders stare down their targets daring them to make a call and evict them. 

Public travel in India is famous for the one liner - kindly adjust. So this special class of commuters will look at you and request, "kindly adjust". Suddenly 8 people will be sitting in space meant for 7. If it's not the adjustment factor, there are always close friends and relatives who will want to share their seat and inconvenience the mango people around. 

But it is heartening to see women not being groped and dilliwallahs standing in a queue (once in a while) when they're in the metro. 

So very un-dilli-like

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The Mango Traveler

Monday, February 28, 2011
Time is money. Too much of it can induce boredom. Waiting for a flight announcement is quite the painful task. This time the airline folks have pulled of a Houdini. No one is around to face the ire of the disgruntled passenger.

My backpack weighs heavy on the shoulder but that's of no concern to Spicejet. That's when the iPad comes out and the language flows. The big question : is violence a solution here? Being mr.Gandhi is definitely not working.
Then there's an announcement and we make a beeline for the counter. Interestingly enough in this country, get 3 people to stand in a format resembling a queue and the rest assume there's a free giveaway - so they all get in line too.

I question them on the delay.. and they look askance. My watch must be out of sync with their little brains. These are characters straight out of a Dilbert cartoon strip. But then they never expect the Mango man to question their actions or inactions as the case may be. The other mango travelers with me raise their voices but who's listening. After a point in time - we just buffer these delays into any business planning.

The flight is nice but the landing is the bumpiest in recent times. Must be my law of flying averages catching up with me. Fingers crossed as we come to a hurried stop. Mumbai is here...

(penned last week, posted today)

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Sorry for the inconvenience

Monday, January 31, 2011
Monday mornings are it.
Mr. Murphy is on a roll. Everything seems to be acting up. There's this lovely curtain of White across the runway which has limited visibility to the immediate proximity. My flight scheduled for 0745 is being rescheduled constantly. The current estimated time of departure is 1015 hours. They still have an hour on hand to reschedule that particular time. I trust the fog will force their hand.
Still I'm better off than those poor folks on board their flights for the last 2.5 hours sitting like ducks on the Tarmac. I got a couple of calls from friends on their respective work trips sitting it out with no space to move around.
All around, flights are getting pushed back and the mango passengers are getting pushed around.

I was hoping to escape the morning chill - but here I am cooling my heels in sight of the exit. The inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.

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After a while

Sunday, January 30, 2011
So here's the deal. I'd given up on writing for sometime. It wasn't that the thinking process had stopped; rather the effort necessary was not forthcoming. One month into the new year, I realised the error in motivation and decided to rewind the tape.
That's just how I am.

We live in a freezing house. Her love warms it into a home. But we still freeze. The reason for this frigid temperature is the Delhi winter coupled with low or no sunlight. It does stay cool in the summers though. I'm currently huddled up in multiple layers of warm clothing with a mock fur cap (that keeps the bald top warm). It's the middle of the afternoon. She's taking in her Sunday nap by my side after a heavy pasta session. The idea of a nap seems alluring but I won't sleep well at night and that is important. An early morning flight to Hyderabad awaits my arrival. A long week no doubt; with lots of walking a fine line involved.
At least I have a long Valentines weekend to look forward to. She has made some plans but will not let me into them for the present. I know it involves some travel but the destination is unknown.
All her friends know it but won't risk her wrath by sharing the details with yours truly.

So I shall wait.... With bated breath.

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Arjuns Tryst with the camera's Fan Box


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