Thursday, March 18, 2010


The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams

How does it feel to fly?

Well, I can give a one sentence answer to this and end the blog; and then hope to see my name beautifully crafted in the next issue of the Guinness Book of World Records, for creating world’s smallest blog! But I think destiny has something else for me and for you too, my beloved readers!!! ; ) So, here goes the anatomy of fly-feeling……………..

It’s 11 at night. By this time, my mom usually sleeps off. But it was a special day. She has called me up for the seventh time and her latest advice is something like this – “Give me the ticket number. I’ll ask your brother to cancel it. It’s not that urgent for you to come. Don’t feel so homesick, my dear. Tomorrow morning itself I’ll book a Tatkal ticket and will go there and see you.” It was the day before my first flight-journey and the ticket fare was Rs. 6000/-, non-refundable!


Wright brothers have invented airplane centuries ago – everyday, lakhs of people fly around the world – every year 2-3 Bollywood movies release with at least one of their characters working as a pilot/flight steward/air hostess – 1-2 novels/magazines are written every year with a pilot-air hostess love story; but my fantasy about my first flight journey was pretty oblivious to all these earthy facts!!! There I was….one happy soul (it’s really tough to be happy after spending Rs. 6000/- at one go; but I tried my best :| )……..lost in wild imagination about a plane ride……..

First of all, how does a full size aero plane look like? I mean, how big is it? How are the windows? Can I really open it and stretch my arms out? (there was one comedy movie where a would-be father-in-law advises his would-be son-in-law not to keep his hands out of the window; who was going to travel abroad for a business purpose. I got this doubt after watching this movie! So, don’t laugh at me…) Then, how to fasten a seat-belt? In movies I’ve seen, a girl, flying for the first time, is struggling with the belt. Then a guy, tall-dashing-handsome, seating next to her, helped her out. They started talking to each other, kept talking throughout the journey; gradually fall in love…..etc. etc. Will this happen to me also? My God! What if the guy is not from our caste? How’ll I marry him? How’ll I convince my parents and relatives!!!! Oh no! I should have thought about all these risks before booking the ticket! Trouble!!!

I was not very sure what to carry and what not to carry in a flight. When you don’t know something and ask people for help, advices galore. I was receiving overdose of advices and at the end, got totally confused…. Frustrated, I decided, enough is enough. I’ll carry whatever I feel I’ll need and then, if the checkers suspect me as a terrorist, they should resign from their job.

My flight was at 9 o’clock in the morning. The fastest and cheapest way to reach the airport from my house was via train. So, I took the train. Over-crowded with students and office-goers, the train was a menace! Somehow I managed and arrived at the airport just in time. Now, the airport itself was an undiscovered island to me. It was so huge! People moving around in all directions with travel bags and trolleys. I couldn’t understand where to go to get the ticket. Thankfully, there was a friendly fellow who guided me and I collected my ticket.

I was waiting in the lounge for the flight to come. The mob around was quite different from that in a railway station. Here it is a bit sophisticated, well dressed, carrying laptops, speaking English…. I was actually expecting to notice someone in the Tata-Birla category any moment!

The airport was two-storied. For some flights, passengers were asked to go to the first floor to board the plane. I was wondering how it is possible. Two alternate options came to my mind. One, those flights might have an extra sliding door on the top. The door would open and the passengers would be asked to jump inside! Or, there might be a make-shift staircase to climb down. Passengers would toss their luggage down and the air hostesses and flight-stewards would be catching them! But the idea appeared to be too local bus or local train-like and people here were coming in own private cars! So, in an afterthought, I chucked the idea. The second option was more realistic. I thought the plane might come and stand close to an open balcony in the first floor and the passengers would directly walk inside. Believe me, till my second flight journey, I was in complete faith to this idea! I got to know the actual reality only when I boarded a flight from first floor…

After waiting for almost 15 minutes, my flight came and with a heart full of mixed feelings, I started walking towards it. We were taken near to the plane by a bus. The plane was quite large, with two doors – one at the front, one at the back. I entered through the front door. A pretty air hostess bearing a fake smile greeted me. I mirrored back and took my seat by the window. A while later, time came to fasten the seat belt. I tried once and I succeeded! Disheartened, I looked up to see the guy sitting next to me. :( He was…….well, not like what I had imagined. So, my parents and relatives have nothing to worry, I thought. But no! there he was! Tall-dashing-handsome! He was one of the flight stewards. But….but…….does he worth a fight with parents and relatives? After all, he didn’t even help me in fastening the seat-belt……..confusing!!!!!!! :|

The flight started moving toward the runway with the speed of a bus stuck in pick-hour traffic. It came to complete halt after reaching the runway. My local bus experience told me the plane is gone and we’d soon be asked to empty it. Then we’d be put into the next flight and would have to travel all the way standing! But, even standing in the middle of the sky is not a bad experience! So, I was not complaining. But to my utter surprise, suddenly the engine roared and the plane started running as if it has been chased by a dinosaur! Within seconds, it left the runway and started rising up in the air. Reaching a certain height, the plane started bending left…….almost in right angle! I was about to scream thinking the pilot has lost control; but people around me were surprisingly calm! The plane bended to the right then, again in right angle almost and finally it became steady. I sighed in relief!

When in midair, it’s quite dull inside the plane. You can’t even feel that you are flying. Only one constant murmur of the engine, or the AC; couldn’t figure out what actually it was but it was quite annoying. I was getting bored. I tried experimenting with the window for a while; I wanted to see whether it actually opens or not. The guy sitting next to me was trying to sleep; my research activity disturbed him and he gave me an annoying look. So, for the sake of public interest I had to abandon my activity…moreover, the window was also not opening!! :(

Outside the window clouds were passing by one after another. Sometimes the plane was flying through the clouds….piercing them into pieces!!! The cities, the villages, the roads, the rivers down under were looking so tiny… in cartoon films! But my eyes were searching for something else. In Ramayana, Mahabharata and in many other such serials telecasted, I have seen Gods, wearing expensive ornaments, moving around in clouds. I wanted to see them. I wanted to see one of those God vs Demon wars live!!

After two and a half hours floating in the air, the plane made a safe landing………again ran madly till it went out of reach of the unseen dinosaur and then finally stopped, drawing the curtains to my first flight journey without much fuss........ I couldn’t open the window, didn’t start any love story up in the air and most of all, couldn’t even see the Gods!!!! :( But why didn’t I see them? Might be the pilot has taken some other route. He didn’t want to let me see all at the very first visit. It’s all business……….

In the sky also!!!!!!!! :O

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question

Sneha: Are you sure?
Satabdi: off-course am! I clearly remember, I had turned off the light before going out.
Sneha: Then how come its on?
Satabdi: Donno. How’ll I know? Something’s wrong here……..
Sneha: Hey stupid! Don’t scare me! Am not gonna sleep in this room tonight….am going to their room. You? Coming?
Satabdi: No. I want to enjoy a night alone with an unknown ghost in this room!

So, a few minutes later, we heard a knock at our door and the two musketeers were standing there with their respective pillows and quilts. What happened later? Well, next morning when the hotel-boy came to serve bed-tea, he found three beds joined together and instead of three, he served total five cups of tea!

We were on an excursion from the university to the defense labs of DRDO in Dehradun. Ten brave-hearts, if you don’t mind! We five girls and five boys, all classmates and one of our professors. I don’t remember the actual date, but it might be sometime around pre-puja, i.e. during september-october. One breezy night, we boarded the Himachal Express from Howrah station and reached Saharanpur the day after next day. The first ever visit to the mountains in my life! I was excited way beyond expression!! :)

Saharanpur is a small town at the foot of the Himalayas. We hired two private cars and started towards Dehradun. For first few hours it was the usual small town scenery – two/three storied buildings, shops, vehicles, office-crowd……. I was not very sure what’ll be in store for me.

A few yards later, a monkey showed up on the road-side. Unusual? Well, yeah, little bit. After all, you won’t see monkeys roaming around on Kolkata roads! Gradually, city-crowd started to thin out and what emerged in front of us was a road usually frequented by fairy-tale princesses! It’s actually just another highway….. but am not exaggerating a bit. A narrow, slender road, bordered by tall, mountain-trees on both sides; their branches making a never-ending arch overhead! I was feeling like stepping out of the car and taking a stroll – like a princess walking down the backyard of her castle – lost in her own world of sweet dreams!!!

A little while after, we started climbing up. Rocky mountains, covered with lash greenery started peeking up roadsides. We were crossing past u-turns in full speed – rocks on right and a dried-up mountain-river bed on the left, lying several feet down the road! I was sitting by the door on the left; closing my eyes every time the car taking a turn; fearing what if the door is not properly locked! I’d be thrown out of the car like a villain punched off by Sunny Deol or Rajni Kanth and would fall down the depth……..

Thankfully that didn’t happen and I survived to share my feelings with you! :)There’re some feelings which worth a meticulous memoir……and this trip is surely one among them. Till today, whenever I look back to my university days, I live every moment of the trip! It feels like just a matter of yesterday…..even after three eventful years!!!!

……….At that very first night, we were attacked by the unknown ghost and for the rest of our days in Dehradun, we five squeezed ourselves in three beds and were jostling with each other for space until we got tired and fed up and ultimately gave up and slept off!

Daytimes were booked by visits to various labs of DRDO. We had only the evenings to explore places and we utilized them to the extreme. Once we went to the heart of the town and walked back to our den covering 8 miles! Next morning I woke up with legs weighing like 2 kg sacks! Once we went to a temple [sorry, don’t remember the name :( ]; the entrance was cave-like; we had to actually crawl to enter! It seems, you should not go to the God with your head held high; it should be bent down in respect. How many among the visitors do have that respect I don’t know; but the idea’s great! Even world’s greatest atheist can’t disrespect the God, if he/she wants to see the idol!

Luckily we got a full day off from our busy schedule just a day before our last day at Dehradun. And that day came out to be the most remarkable day of the trip! We went to Mussoorie. Mussoorie is about a few hours journey uphill from Dehradun. We started early in the morning and by the time we reached Mussoorie mall, it was already lunch time. Mussoorie mall is a small place; a few variety shops and hotels, restaurants, car parking. And not to forget the horse-riding! First time in my life I rode a horse and it was so amazing! For a body used to struggle with hard, uncomfortable seats of public transport, the horseback appeared too soft and delicate – as soft as a feather! While boarding the horse, I became so conscious thinking that I might end up hurting the poor creature, that the man-in-charge of the horse told me, “if you hesitate so much to ride a horse, how’ll you hold your new-born?” :P

There’s a hilltop at about 1km distance from the mall, named ‘Gun Hill Point’. Sounds a little scary, is it? Like, the (in)famous ‘Suicide Point!!’ :P I was actually thinking it might be a historical place where disobedient people used to be shot at point blank range during the British Raj! Or max to max it’d be a war-memorial sort-of; with a rifle headed up, sheltered by an army-cap. I still don’t know the significance of the name of that place, but one thing I can assure you of – there’s more than what meets the eye in that place; or to be more specific, more than what your mind can imagine. The way upwards was a little steep; we were halting and grasping for breath in every 10-15 minutes. Almost half an hour later, we reached the top. And what did we see there? I don’t know how to express that feeling in words. I stood there awestruck for almost 5 minutes! Lying in front of me was the magnificent Himalayas – stretching his arms as far as my eyes can reach……..the far away peaks smeared with white soft cloud!

Mostly when people come close to the nature, they become poetic. I had a different feeling though…a little out of place, you might think. But the truth is, the moment I saw the Himalayas, I felt protected, I felt secured – as I feel when my dad is with me! To every child, his/her dad is a know-it-all Superman. To me, he’s still the same. And the moment I saw it, the Himalayas reminded me of my dad. With its sky-touching height, rock-strong feature, never-ending stretches covered with soft greenery – the Himalayas was looking so much like my dad. So strong, yet so gentle; so powerful, yet so caring. I was feeling like screaming out loud, to tell my dad - “Daaaaaaad…..don’t worry dad. I’m safe here. You don’t know dad; but I can see you here. I can feel you. You’re with me dad. I fear nothing!!!!!”

You know one thing! Life is a collage of millions and millions of tiny moments. In the hustle of daily life, it appears smudged, as meaningless as a kid’s first stroke of sketch pen; but when you stop for a while and take a closer look, it soothes you like nothing else. My visit to the Gun Hill point is one such moment. To a regular traveler it might not appear so scenic. But for a first time viewer like me, it was simply beautiful. And to add to the richness of that moment, there was a cup of steaming coffee, overflowing with white bubbles! I don’t know how espresso or cappuccino tastes like; but I’ll love to remember the moment as am holding a hot cup of espresso/cappuccino lost in the comfort of the Himalayan majesty!

Our 10-day journey ended with a short tour to one of the seven most sacred places of India – the Hardwar. I’m not that religious-minded; but I’d request each of you to visit Har Ki Pouri ghat at least once in your life; if not for religion, just to inhale the essence – the essence of humanity. So many people, from so many different walks of life, all coming to take a holy dip in the sacred river of Ganges; hoping to be a better person in next life. It’s just so incredible!

Here ends my little travelogue. Hope you enjoy reading it. While writing down, I was actually living back those moments! I don’t know how much these words can fill the canvas of your imagination…..let me keep my fingers crossed! :)

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Love and Trust live together. If one is missing, there's no point having the other.

Hey folks!! Good day!!!! :)

Hope you all are doing good. How was your day yesterday? Good, bad, ok, nothing special – as usual? Well………whatever it is, keep it aside. Here, now, you are with me. So, today you are going to have kind a refreshment in your daily, mundane life……. :)

Those who don’t know but care to know, today is my first day in the world of blogging. Did I hear somebody asking, “So?” Well, so……… you know, the usual staff……. if I make a mistake or two (or most likely many), knowingly or unknowingly, here and there, please forgive me with your own highness………..etc. etc. :)

All said and done, like the warning in radio before the Tsunami, or, like the roll-call before a boring lecture of a Professor honoured by the most coveted title - the ‘Sleeping Capsule’, by those nasty little creatures called students – let’s begin the journey…………. [ Wanted to keep both the extremes as possible analogies; as I’ve no idea what am going to blab out here :)]

Charming Chennai – what’s so charming about Chennai? Many things, actually. Let me share my quota of findings:-

1. Teeth: What!? That’s your expression, right? Well, don’t be too shocked. Come out of the Chennai Central Railway Station with a travel bag on your shoulder and a suitcase in your hand – Shah Rukh Khan, Main Hyun Naa style; or a backpack on your back – Ranbir Kapoor, Bachna Ae Haseeeno style; and look around the city as if you have stepped on the Moon; you will realize. Walk a few steps left or right, east or west, you will discover a Dental Cinic – with a mighty tooth or an open mouth full of glorious teeth welcoming you. Spend a few months in Chennai, roam around the city in local transport and befriend with some local people, you will be astonished with the peculiar fascination of Chennaites towards teeth. You will find a dental college in every locality, a dentist or a would-be dentist in every family…….. And know what? I suppose, in Chennai, teeth plays a vital role in elections too! Just take a look at the roadside banners, posters, wall paintings of the political parties, you’ll know what I mean. Eminent, not-so-eminent, powerful, not-so-powerful – leaders and party-members – everybody are laughing – laughing as if they are watching a Tom & Jerry show – with their mouths wide open – showcasing their teeth of various shapes and sizes and colours – every set of teeth whiter than the other! As if they are trying to impress the voters with the whiteness of their teeth – a symbol of purity!!!!

2. Moustache: What’s the symbol of masculinity? If you are an inhibitant of a modern-age metro city, your answer probably be ‘rough-n-tough, lean-figured, clean-shaved…..etc. etc.’ But for a Chennai fellow – male or female, the answer is Moustache. Girls die for the proud owner of a well-maintained moustached man; boys vie to grow one! First time when I came to Chennai, I got scared to see men with big, fat moustaches moving around claded in their traditional half-sleeve shirts and lungis! No offence, but to the eyes grown up watching Hindi movies, they were looking like typical Hindi movie villains!!

3. White: Apart from well-grown moustache, Chennai men have one more fascination. And that is their love for the colour white. Men, mostly, older people, they are just crazy about white. White shirts, white lungis – on a bright sunny day, they look like reflectors! Or, as per Chetan Bhagat in his latest novel, ‘a model in Tide commercial’!

4. Flowers: If men are crazy about moustache and white, women are game for gold and flowers. Chennai female dress very simply; even in weddings they mostly turn up in formals or casuals; but they decorate themselves in gold like anything! And flowers! Usha Uththup is a very popular singer in my hometown Kolkata. We Kolkatans have always seen her putting a garland of flowers in her hair, whatever be the occasion. I used to think its her style statement, as many people have one of their own. But after coming to Chennai I’ve realized its not that at all. Putting flowers in hair is almost like a ritual here! If you don’t put flower, you are not a proper Tamilian! Sometimes, I tease my roomies on this. They don’t put flowers, although they are Tamilians. You might have heard that sometimes rituals reach a height where they look quite funny. Here, read this: fresh flowers put on hair in the morning after bath; its night now; flowers have turned into crunchy paper; still they are on hair!!!

5. Hair oil: This is one more fascination Chennai women have. They apply oil on hair like a soldier getting ready for the warfront; fully loaded with arms and ammunitions to wash off the enemy. Chennai women literally drench their hair in oil! When they come closer, you can smell two different scents from their body – one of the hair oil and the other of the deodorant!

6. Gents’ Beauty Parlour: No. Please don’t take this phrase in any wrong meaning. People who actually frequent these places, are very much normal and straight. But the fact is, Chennai doesn’t have any Ladies’ Beauty Parlour. All Beauty Parlours are for Gents only! Ladies are managing with only salons! :( Poor ladies! What to do? After all, we are residing in a male-dominated society!!!

So, here this is my unique six-pack collection of the charms of Chennai! Whoever wants to add to the cart, is very much welcome……… :)