Sunday, December 10, 2017

Stand up comedy

Ron was happy to be back in his city during the season of festivities. As he navigated through the now infamous Traffic Jam, old memories started to show up at every turns.
It was not too long ago that he was that angry young man who at times felt like a rebel without a cause. He was going through a difficult time trying to keep up with the whims and fancies of the rebel within him and that upset him even more.
Usually fellow students avoid such characters, more due to stern instructions from doting parents than by choice of their own. But Ron had a different shade too, he had the capability to bring comic relief to serious situations. In addition to being annoying, he could recite, sing and pull out a fast one on almost anyone. The folks knew he would flip a sad moment into a celebration even before the tallest hand could make a trip around the face of the clock.
Path leading to a career of choice was not one adorned with rose. On the contrary it was a challenge. Once at the dinner table, he mentioned matter-of-factly that he would like to be a stand-up comedian. Dad’s reaction was quick with the signature sarcasm,
“Splendid idea! I shall definitely cherish being called the joker’s father”. No one came to his rescue nor was in a mood to listen to his argument.
Next morning he took it up with Ann hoping to find support or sympathy. “Complete your engineering and then pursue stand-up comedy.” His girlfriend promised “Baby! No matter where I would be, I shall pack my suitcase and come running to attend your first show. I am aware that Jerry Seinfeld had made it big but it takes many a failures to get one Jerry.”
The car stopped at the signal and he contemplated how difficult it was to motivate a person who was as disillusioned as him. He remembered the words of his favorite teacher. “Ronbir”, she had once said “get good enough with anything and someone will pay you to do it”.
He looked up that the billboard right in front of him and said… “How true she was!”

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Monday, November 20, 2017

Handwriting Fun Project

We form a cusp generation, as we started treading the cyber path after we graduated from a teenager. Not too late, but it was not too early either.
Long distance calls were exorbitantly expensive and the known way of communication was through letters. Phones were meant to be used in case of emergency or to deliver short messages like … “I reached hostel safely.”
Message was not the only interesting aspect of letters, it was the entire Jing bang. The pen pals, the paper, ink color, handwriting and not to forget the precious little things on the cover… the coveted postage stamps. I enjoyed every aspect of this process and it’s not only stamps I collected, I also treasured many a letter.
An artist friend managed to remain untouched by computers creating an opportunity to communicate through lengthy personal letters. Not frequent, but immensely satisfactory feeling, nevertheless. An email announcing the receipt of my letter last year brought down the last bastion of letter writing.
On a train to London in December, we witnessed travelers writing festive cards like our olden times. Like London city, many traditions remained preserved, I explained to my daughter.
We decided to send our personalized cards around the world. A first time experience for our daughter to buy stamps, affix those before dropping them off.

No one chose to send back a card. But undeterred, I shall trying again to revive this old tradition. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Rothko – what makes the art market tick

A painting sold for a stupendous price of $72.84 million at an auction at the Sotheby, New York on May 16, 2007. I was introduced to this bit of information while watching an old Documentary.  We generally accept that art can be very expensive but this work by Rothko baffled me completely.

Name of the Artwork: White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)
Dimensions: 6’- 9” X 4’ – 8”
Painted in: 1950
Style: Color field – Abstract Expressionism
Name of Artist: Mark Rothko (Markus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz) An American painter of Russian Jewish descent. 25 September 1903 to 25 February 1970.

I gathered these information but miserably failed to equate the product with its price tag and decided to dig deeper.

Expressionism was an artistic movement of the mid-twentieth century where the artists were at the liberty to convey attitudes and emotions through nontraditional and usually non representation means (Merriam Webster). Tate org further elaborates that this new forms of abstract art was developed by American painters such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning during the 1940s & 1950s. It is often characterized by gestural brush-strokes or mark-making and the impression of spontaneity. They were inspired by the surrealist idea that art should come from the unconscious mind and by the automatism of artist. 

They were broadly classified into two groups:

Action painter – they attacked their canvases with expressive brush strokes. (Jackson Pollock & Willem Kooning.)

Color field painters – filled their canvases with large areas of a single color. (Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman & Clyfford Still)

Now I have a description for our painting. A "color field abstract expressionism" with “superposed color bands of uneven size with blurry edges”.

But I still had my puzzle unresolved. After more deliberation, I found an answer that was somewhat acceptable. 

“Value is not the only link to quality” and there are other factors that influences the value.

In this market where high value art are traded, name of its former owner is as important as the artist and his/her piece of work. The provenance is important.

This particular work of art has been glamorized by its provenance. It was part of the collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller. Part of one of the most powerful family if not the most powerful family in the history of the United States.

The bottom line therefore is "billionaires love to own property of fellow billionaires".

Since then, there were two more similar works by Rothko sold in auctions. Both could be attributed to the "color field - Abstract Expressionism" school.

Orange, Red, Yellow
Sold at Christie on 8 May 2012 for $ 86.88 million
Painting No 1 (Royal Red and Blue)
Sold at Sotheby on November 2012 for $ 75.1 million

 All images has been downloaded from Wikipedia. In case your are interested to glance at the list of Most Expensive Paintings please click the link.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Somenath, Friends, Hostel 16, Campus life, Et al.

It was 11th May 2015 and I was sitting on an airplane traveling to Kolkata to meet Somenath’s family. Memories of the past 20 years came rushing to my mind like a giant waterfall the realization that life is a one way traffic got me thinking. Somenath was one of my closest friends and has now left us forever on the 9th. Kolkata, I knew will never be the same place again. I argued with myself “wouldn’t it be a great way to remember a friend by sharing some of those golden moments with rest of the world.”  The opportunity to re-live those moments once again got me tempted to this narration. I knew the word processor would help me bring back incidents from deep inside my memory lanes.

Our college experience would have been half as interesting had it not for Somenath. With him around there were hardly a dull moment and fortunately for us, he was always around. No matter how grave the situation was, it was never serious enough to be serious. For those who do not know, he was perhaps one of the most enterprising entrepreneur that our alma mater has ever seen. But he has paid a stiff price for this phenomenal success.
We joined hostel 16 of B. E. College, Shibpur, young, vulnerable and most of us coming out of our home for the very first time. We needed hands to hold. We also wanted to break out of the stereotype of departmental friendship and formed a group with enough diversity to set an example. Ten close friends settled in adjacent rooms in one of the wing.
What we did made little sense and at times those were so blatantly stupid that we could have given the three stooges a run for their money. As time passed, likeminded students from new batches got indoctrinated and the tribe increased and our legacy continued even after we left. To put it in an expression of Majrooh sultanpuri ….
“Hum akela hi chala tha jaanib-e-manzil; magar log sath aate gae aur karwan banta gaya... “
Colleges and hostels, all around the world, have been fertile grounds for lifelong friendship. So many friends tied in a single string like us probably is not as common. They say university builds our wings so that someday we can fly away and live independently. We were became the birds of same feather who continued to flock together even since. Staring out at the clouds outside the window, I promised that even death would not do us apart.
Our time together
Political parties during those days played a significant role in the campus and often ended in dangerous confrontation. We did not shy away from openly expressing our political affiliation or participating in political activities. But politics never came between our friendships. Three amongst our ten close friends fiercely fought the college elections representing the two most dominating political parties of our time, CP (Congress) and SFI (Left Front).  This could easily have qualified as one of the seven wonders of BE College.
Creativity may come in many forms and shades but Nicknames has its own place in the history. I have not seen another maestro like Somenath, with such versatility when it came to assigning creative names that instantly caught up with the general public.
 Madness in boy’s hostel is not a myth and I got the first taste of it quite early in my first year. A senior student was nicknamed khyapa for his eccentricity and he carefully cultured it as if to live up to his reputation. One night after dinner, we got called up to participate in a daring mission impossible…. so to say. We were excited and proud to be considered worthy of being part of that yet to be disclosed mission. Later that night he led us to a crazy mission to fox with mosquito nets. To the amusement of anyone who was still awake at that late hours, we ended up roaming the campus holding the four corners of mosquito nets desperately looking for a fox to trap. We were constantly encouraged by repeatedly swearing and description successful past missions. But over the years, we realized that those jackals whom we heard growling from our rooms never came anywhere near the students, leave alone getting wrapped in a mosquito net.
A year later, another such late night mission to steal sugarcane ended up in switching off the main power of other hostels and getting into unnecessary troubles.
Our campus was engulfed with thick smoke one night and we panicked remembering Bhopal gas leak. One of the professors advised us to run to the botanical gardens as it was an open area with plenty of trees. While that decision was questionable during that night, we proceeded in that direction. We ran out of the campus in our pajamas and bathroom slippers eager to save our precious lives.
Soon we were joined by a couple of batch mates wearing trousers with shirts tucked, shoes and the whole nine yards. They cleared our astonishment stating that it was not about being stylish. There was a fair chance that the girls from the ladies hostels were also going to join us too and a few more minutes to dress up properly was a risk worth taking.
Golden Heart:
We all were compassionate to others but he was special. Not because he was one of my roommate and the closest friend but because he was a person with a golden heart. He was always there to help others and everyone used to love him for that. During the time when we used to count our pennies to manage our finances, he used to pick up the canteen bills of hostel mates coming from difficult background spending money he used to earn providing private tuitions to school students.
RIP Somenath, we shall always miss you!

 ‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 
08 August 2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017

E-commerce for Dummies

“Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe....We shall overcome, someday”
Generations of Indians sang this song every morning in their school assemblies or while cheering teams later in the life. We are able to derive greater inner strength from this anthem. 
We successfully overcome numerous obstacles “day in and day out” as we navigate through the challenges of life. Unfortunately, we do not consider this mantra while chasing dreams close to the heart.

Leaving the few entrepreneurs, we conveniently shy off from grabbing the bull by its horns when it comes to setting up our own businesses or self-employment. This is particularly true for trained professionals like engineers in-spite being better equipped for it. They remain within the comfort zone of remunerations, oblivious of the fact that the same effort could generate more satisfaction, appreciation and higher revenue.

A myth we heard during our younger days was that money flew in Kolkata streets. It could be mistaken for a black humor today, but this could well be true then. A place where money flies today is unarguable the internet and one need to find a way to harvest it.

Every time we browse the net or use an application on the smart phone, we realize someone somewhere is reaping the benefits of the internet. I have spent countless hours finding answers to “how-what-when” of starting a revenue stream using internet technology. Unfortunately no clear path has evolved from the labyrinth of my unorganized thoughts mixed with dreams and fantasies.

I strongly believe that it’s only a matter of time till we lesser mortals catch up and we shall overcome this mental block one day very soon. Going forward, I have shortlisted a few viable e-commerce options worth exploring. Let’s call it e-commerce for dummies:

  • Promote and sell your artwork of Paintings Online. There are many websites that will host the artworks for a sales commission.
  • Identify your core strength on any subject and you can start offering online tuition or training. Another good way to earn money online is by offering to help students with their projects, research or thesis.
  • Generate revenue by offering photos for sale on portals like Getty images, shutterstock, istockphoto, etc.
  • One can earn money online through content sharing about your interest and passion through blogs, guest blogs, feature writer etc.
  • Create interesting videos and upload those on sites like YouTube, Dailymotion etc. The more views it receives the more money it generates.
  • A more business minded individual could procure products in bulk directly from manufacturers sell those through their own website or offer those to e-commerce sites like Flipkart, ebay, amazon etc.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Thursday, May 11, 2017

I Channel - I share with the world that my eyes see

During the August of 2015, Varshika participated for #ColgateMagicalStories  competition hosted by indiblogger. Buoyed by the encouragement received from that effort, she continued to face the camera unscripted and is introducing her world to the outer world.  

As part of constructive parenting I am supporting her with post production and with the camera. She have completed quite a few videos for her YouTube channel. Its called I Channel and she invites all to find some time and visit her channel.

Different But Unique

20 May 2017

Each child coming to this world is Awesome, Unique, Talented, Impressive, Special and definitely they are all Marvelous creations of God. Some of them are categorized under….. AUTISM.

Autism or “autism spectrum disorder” represents a wide range of mental conditions that develops in early childhood and the term “spectrum” reflects its variety. Different combinations of genetic and environmental influences as we know, causes autism while creating unique strengths and differences in the affected individuals.

I would argue there are more than one ways of doing things correctly in our world and if a child cannot learn the way most others does then we need to learn new techniques.  We therefore need to accept the fact that when it comes to a child, there cannot be normal or abnormal because each of them are unique.

I was introduced to a personality albeit a feature article in the local newspaper and his name is Stephen Wiltshire. His website describe him as an artist who draws and paints detailed cityscapes. 

This Londoner, as a child, was mute being unable to relate to other people. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of three (3) could only learn to speak fully at the age of nine (9).  By that time he was already an established artist. His ability to reproduce city landscapes and cars with intimate details was unparalleled.

In 2006, he received the MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his services to the art world at the age of 32.

Slow learner, Different learner, Unusual learner or the Usual learner …… no need to sweat over the nomenclature…….. Each are Unique.
Please give everyone an opportunity to come out of the cocoon and spread their own colorful wings.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Baby Names in India & Current Trends - A Guest Post

Parents are particular about selecting a perfect name for their new born but often caught in between keeping it unique or to follow the latest trends. However, the trends of Hindu baby names in India are continuously changing with time. For finding the best name, it is important for parents also to check if it is meaningful and easy to pronounce. Before picking a name, always keep in mind that you will be calling your kid with that name for the entire life.
Lets see what are the recent trends of Baby Names in India

Sanskrit Names

According to the Hindu beliefs, a name builds the personality of a person.  Sanskrit names are unique and have strong meanings and mainly inspired by Hindu Goddess. Hence, people are keen to get a Sanskrit name instead of selecting the usual Hindi names. 
Here are some examples of Sanskrit names-

·         Adhrit
·         Nirav
·         Adya
·         Shivansh
·         Yuvan

       Greek Gods and Goddess Names

Greek Goddess names are new in India though it’s trending and hence, parents find them suitable for baby girls. So, if you want to select a Greek goddess name then research well. 
Here are some Greek Goddess names-

·         Zoe
·         Athena
·         Hestia
·         Gaea

3       Arabic Names

Arabic names are also quite popular across India, Names which are meaningful in Sanskrit as well as Arabic are very popular. 
Here are a few unique Arabic names-

·         Abir
·         Adira
·         Rehaan
·         Areta
·         Dabir

       Celebrity Names

Last but not the least; highly opted names are celebrity names. People think it is cool to have a name after a celebrity as they are popular. Recently, it is becoming a trend in India to choose a celebrity name for newborn babies. 
Here are some examples-

·         Aarav- Name of Akshay and Twinkle's son
·         Aryan & Abram- Sons of Shahrukh Khan
·         Jahnavi & Khushi- Daughter’s Sridevi
·         Aaradhya- Daughter of Aishwarya Rai

There are many more ways by which you can pick a name for your little one. Like, Indians also follow the Hindi Vedic astrology to find a baby name. Naming baby following the Rashi and Nakshtra is tradition. Most of Hindu families select 2 names for the newborns. (One name is according to Rashi and another is of their choice which is the real name of the baby.)

Conclusion-The trends of baby names in India is continuously changing from Hindu Vedic astrology to Greek Goddess and Princesses names.

Author: Sapana is a parenting blogger and WAHM of 2 kids. She likes to write about motherhood and baby care. Visit her blog:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Kleptoparasite

This week I got introduced to a new phrase. That is kleptoparasite. This was part of a scientific article that reported the discovery of a previously unknown species of beetle in the Costa Rican jungle. These are tiny creatures that hitchhiked the fighter ants while travelling frequently as part of moving their homes.
They are stowaways who hide themselves in the bottom of those ants so well that their body textures and odor mimics that of those ants. So much so, that the ants are unable to detect the intruders even while touching with their feelers.
There is a certain advantage when one travels with a large group of army ants. But protection or free rides are not the only objectives for these tiny parasites. These creatures also steal from the food stores of the ants.
While there are others small creatures that has similar stealing habits, I find these beetles particularly shameless. They exploit the ants to the maximum.
Ironically, there are so many human beings spread all modus operandi. They come in different shapes, sizes, color or creed but ride on the support and kindness of ordinary people. In return they steal from us to amass their own wealth. But unlike those ants they are extra greedy and do not hesitate to harm their benefactor.
over our societies, who uses the same
Any similarities with people living and dead involved in the field of businesses or politics is not coincidental.

I rest my case here. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Is there a good word

How responsible are we with our words when we report about those mindless massacres by various terrorist organizations.
A few days back there was a devastating blast in a shrine in Sehwan claiming many innocent lives. I read a report the following day on this deadly attack. It read somewhat like this: “Over 100 people died when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the shrine in Sehwan in the outskirts of Hyderabad city in Sindh. ISIS has taken credit for the attack that prompted the new Army chief to swear revenge”.

Finding a news article on a fresh Violent incident has become too routine an affair and it no longer leave a lasting impact in the conscious mind, even though it goes on to instill another dose of fear in our subconscious mind.

But I was quite annoyed to read that “ISIS has taken CREDIT for this heinous act. Credit since my early days has been associated with “praise, approval, or honor”.

“She got her due credit for the invention or her boss took the credit instead” were the usual lines that we were taught in the early years. Incidentally the dictionary says the same thing even today.

Then why our journalists connect a terror organization and one of their dastardly act with the word “CREDIT”!!!
But is there a good word to describe such an act?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Republic Day of a Grown Up Nation

Being clean is a sign of goodness and spiritual purity and we need to make our country clean. I believe that the cleanliness drive should start by cleansing our mind and heart before following it through to our surrounding and environment.
But before we proceed, let decide to do one another thing .. draw a line. On one side of the line we place our way of life, perception of right or wrong and on the other side our political belief, politics, stubbornness and the likes. Those who fail to have a positive mindset should not be allowed to hold back rest of us from moving in the right direction.
One such right direction is the ambitious “Clean India Mission” (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) launched by the Prime Minister in October 2014. The goal of drastically improving the country by 2019, the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
It is disgusting to see some citizens including few so called leaders ridiculing this mission because they don’t agree with the ideology of the party that the Prime Minister represents. I am tired of hearing comments such as shelter for the homeless is more important than toilets or this money would be better spent on education rather than toilets... so on and so forth.
Difference in ideology doesn’t necessarily mean that one has to oppose everything that the PM says or does.After 68 long years of being a republic, we are not toddlers anymore who can pooh anywhere. People of India should demonstrate more rational in their thought and action. It’s a time when a nation is mature enough to have more than one thing are in the list of priorities.
Come on guys! defecating in the open is neither hygienic nor a heritage which the future generations would badly miss.
BBC reported how tidying up is a ritual in a village and everyone – from tiny toddlers to toothless grannies – takes very seriously. This small, place is renowned as the cleanest village in India and not only that, it is clean enough to give the clean cities of Asia … a run for their money. If the people of Mawlynnong, a small  village in eastern India’s Maghalaya state can do it WE ALL CAN DO IT. It's easy! all we need to do is contribute our bit.

This Republic day lets pledge to clean our mind, our heart and the places where we live. Let us revive and relive the old dictum … Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Are you preparing for your 100th Birthday

One of these days while browsing a magazine, this small news clipping caught my attention. I made a note of it with my phone cam.

Few days later I heard a radio program while in the car that spoke about the same subject. Arguably, one has to win jackpot with the right set of genes to live long. It also suggested that one’s lifestyle and geographical location plays equal vital roles.
The information available from various sources differed but what I discovered about the world of centenarians is simply amazing.An article published on 12 July 2011 reported that the highest number of centenarians of the world resides in the US. Japan does not have as many centenarians but it has a higher proportion of its population aged 100 years or more. Japan’s average life expectancy of 82.9 years is the longest lifespan among  the OECD countries as illustrated below.
On 11 September 2015, Japan Times quoted  Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimating the number of centenarians in Japan at 61568, hitting a record high for the 45th straight year.
Italy might not feature in the list of countries with high number of centenarians, but people living in a remote town in the western coast of southern Italy are subject of study. Independent of UK recently reported that the town of Acciaroli has a disproportionately high number of centenarians in its population of about 2,000.Researchers have shortlisted 4 cities where the "fountain of youth" seems to flow freely as narrated in a feature in the Huffington Post.

Okinawa, Japan: It appears that people there eat more vegetables and did not abandon the earlier food habits under pressure of fast foods reports another post. The top Longevity Foods from Okinawa are Bitter melons, Tofu, Sweet potatoes, Turmeric, Brown rice, Shiitake mushrooms and Seaweeds (kombu & wakame)

Loma Linda, California: Find faith appears to the secret of their longevity as the Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda don’t smoke, drink alcohol or consume caffeine and some of them are on vegetarian diet like Okinawa. The trade off is eight to ten years longer than the average American, that is.Like the people of Okinawa, some (but not all) Seventh-day Adventists of Loma Linda consume a mostly vegetarian diet.

Ikaria, Greece: The fountain of youth flows here and this place is dubbed the “island where people forget to die.” Centenarians here enjoy long lives without fear of dementia and other age-related chronic diseases. Their Mediterranean-mountain lifestyle of laughing and playing often up until the wee hours of morning kept them well even in their 90s. Their diet is mostly fruits, vegetables, beans and olive oil.

Nicoya, Costa Rica: The Nicoyans follow two principles in life. They have a clear sense of purpose in life and and sense of belonging with a strong community and family ties. Like people of Okinawa, they also age slowly than their compatriots.

....if you are leading the right lifestyle in the right place, better start preparing for the guest list for the 100th Birthday Celebrations. If you are lucky, most of your friends will be around to give you the bumps!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Red Carpet: Why you need a face Lift

We have grown up seeing red carpets rolled out for VIPs and celebrities at every occasions. But, is the Red carpet red enough or it’s time for a change? I went about digging its past to propose a new future.
The earliest known reference in literature according to Wikipedia is found in the play Agamemnon by Aeschylus, written in 458 BC. Clytemnestra, the vengeful wife of  Agamemnon offered a red path to walk upon his return from Troy. Agamemnon, was wary of disrespecting Zeus and his fellow deities by walking on such luxury and responded:
"I am a mortal, a man; I cannot trample upon these tinted splendors without fear thrown in my path."
In 1821, President James Monroe was honored in South Carolina with a red carpet laid out to the river. Red as a color has long been associated with prestige, royalty and aristocracy and royalty with the passage of time gave way to film royalty. Walking the red carpet became most glorified when the movie stars and singers started to walk on it during awards ceremonies, particularly Oscars, Academy and Grammy. Unfortunately much of its exclusivity and lustre has been lost since stars from mediocre television programs started their own versions for their fans and paparazzi.
But what made red so exclusive? BBC quoted Sonnet Stanfill, senior curator at the Victoria & Albert Museum told BBC saying “Scarlet was among the most prized dyes as it was the most difficult to make and the most expensive.” Cochineal dye is made from the cochineal scale insect and this process could be traced back to the 15th Century when the Aztec and Maya people from north and central America used this for coloring fabrics.
Gone are days when Queen Elizabeth could forbid anyone except close members of the royal family from wearing scarlet, red or purple. On the contrary, with industrial progress, expensive materials of yesterdays are affordable to everyone today leaving virtually nothing for exclusivity.
While I am convinced that something should replace the Red carpet, I still could not figure out what it ought to be.