Monday, January 30, 2012

Still killing your future?

Man to God: If you are a loving and merciful God, WHY didnt you send someone to cure cancer, or true leaders to govern us? What's your problem, GOD?

God to man: I DID!! You aborted them.

Judy and her "Two Fates"

On her website she says, "I wrote a book called Two Fates - The Story of my Divorce. Now I'm just waiting to sell movie rights so I can fight with Aamir Khan."

With so many wannabe authors all over FaceBook, its not easy to decide who you really want to read and who you don't. To be on the safe side, I have decided not to read any one of them. To people who know me, I find it traumatic to read most books by Indian authors published on this side of 2000. So, call me arrogant, but I categorically do not read new age authors and while I did read on Judy's FB posts that she is writing a book ... I didn't pay much attention to it.

Then one day, I read a post from her blog. And I loved what I read. Simple language, good and grammatically correct English, witty and with no pretence. I went on to read all the other blog posts. Yes, she knows how to captivate a snob like me! I made a mental note to read her book when it releases.

So I read it. Rather, I started reading it and couldn't stop! Before anyone blames me for promoting Judy or the book, let me be clear, I couldn't stop, not because the book was gripping, but because the language was simple, the flow of situations logical, the language good and clear, the characters could be identified with, and, the plot was hilarious. 

I am in a marriage of two states and I know how f****** difficult it is to make it work. Everyone around is just waiting for you to commit one mistake so that they can say, "We told you, it won't work!". Worse is, seriously, when the two families are in love with each other, and all you want to do is wring each other's neck. Lol ... its difficult, but not impossible. Love is a happy ending, only when we realise it and make it happen.

So, moving back to Judy's TWO FATES. When I read the prologue I wondered if it was another novel on the lines on Chetan Bhagat. But, it wasnt!! Ok, now I haven't read Two States <I don't read CB>, so Two Fates was a brand new story for me, instead of a continuation. Judy is funny, she is really funny. Some parts of the book are a little unbelievable at times, but they aren't far-fetched. Like being 75% divorced ... I don't think I will ever use this term if I was getting a divorce, but someone else might!

Instead of characters simply badmouthing the other's background and culture, incidents which were genuinely funny were brought up. Personally I feel the trip to Edinburgh was not required, but it being a part of the story, didn't hamper much. 

A sort of an in-flight book, its the kind you simply need to finish in one go, not that much because of the plot, but more because of the writer's style, wit and language. 

Being a cautious Virgo, I prefer to tread casually when reading new authors. But seriously, I am eagerly waiting for Judy's next.

Disclaimer: IF you are someone who didn't like the book, I know for sure, you will point a finger at me for promoting the book. So lets be clear, this is purely my personal and genuine view on TWO FATES. Try reading it sometime, its a fantastic leisure read!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I would have been a GIRL, if you had let me be born!!

Dear Indians,

A few days ago when the tribal women of Andaman were made to strip and dance for money, on camera, there was a mild uproar all over. Maybe not all over, but definitely on the news channels, facebook and twitter.

Just yesterday a 20-something woman was beaten up mercilessly by Punjab police, for selling liquor without license. My guess is that, she wouldn’t have been beaten up in public had she given him a bribe, in cash or kind. Again, an onlooker recorded this instead of helping her.

A few days ago a 19-year-old was gang raped in Odisha and today she has very little chance of recovering despite treatment.
The above mentioned women are unnamed. Also unnamed are the hundreds of female fetus that are aborted even before they begin to take human shape!

Today, we are celebrating National Girl Child Day. Did I see you raise an eyebrow? I know. Our country has started celebrating this day very recently. Yet, no one is really celebrating us.

Even if you are not a girl, you very well know being a girl is difficult. We need to fight for survival right from the time we are conceived. Once born, we bear, ignore and fight your stare, your touch and your abuses. As if that wasn’t enough, we bear menstrual cycles, child birth, and managing house and work <if you allow me to work>, keep you all happy and then, maybe breath a little.

Despite the onset of women’s liberation and many Indian women breaking grounds to outdo men in their fields of expertise, I remain submissive. Whatever my accomplishments are at work, I humbly cater to all your needs. I make sure my parents are always supported, my siblings always have a friend, my in laws are always taken care of, all of husband’s are needs taken to, and no one else around me is ever unhappy. To top it, I excel in all academics, I earn well and I give birth to more of you. I love you unconditionally as a mother, sister, friend, wife and daughter. My basic instinct is to keep you before me.

Why do you still think I am a burden and shouldn’t be born?

Why do you mutilate my body and mind from the time I am born?

Why do I have to compete extra hard against men, to accomplish something, only I should, solely ‘coz of my merit?

Why do the hijras never visit my parents’ house to demand money, on my birth?

Why do some men think they can use me sexually whenever they want, and some women support this thought?

Why am I not allowed to excel in fields I easily can?

 …. there are so many more why(s) in my mind, but the first one is, why did you kill me in my mother’s womb? Why did you not let me be born? Why did you not give me a chance to live?

-         An aborted female fetus
[January 24 is celebrated as National Girl Child Day in India]

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sankalp's oil free Rajma recipe!

To the clueless, Sankalp is my husband. This is us, from 2 years ago :)

Now the recipe.

Rajma (light brown colour and not the dark red ones) - 250 gms
Onions - 4 (medium sized)
Tomatoes - 4 (medium sized)
Garlic - 14-15 cloves
Ginger - 10-15 gms depending on how much you like the taste
Salt to taste

Masale -- Corriander powder, garam masala, haldi (optional) and slight red chilly powder, if you wish to

1. Make a paste of the tomatoes, onions, garlic, ginger, salt, corriander powder, chilly powder and slight water in the grinder.
2. Wash the rajmas well [DO NOT soak in water like is normally done!].
3. In a cooker, put the rajma along with the paste and a little water to mix. Add 2 tspn oil [this is totally optional, since oil is not the cooking medium here. You can completely chuck the oil and make it oil-less.]. 
4. Cook on low flame after covering the lid of the cooker for around 30 minutes.
5. Now take the lid off and let the rajma cook, untill all the water is dry and the masala starts to stick to the bottom of the cooker.
6. Add 2-3 tspn garam masala and stir for another 2-3 minutes.
7. Add water [depends on how much gravy you want].
8. Now put the lid on the cooker and cook on low flam for another 30 minutes. Then increase the flame, and wait till the cooker gives 3-4 whistles. Turn off the gas and let the rajma simmer inside the cooker on its own for a while.
9. Garnish with lemon juice and coriander leaves.

Best served with rice!

5-minutes gravy!

Oh well!! Dunno if it happens to you, but this definitely does happen to me ..

I start thinking about what to make for dinner at say, 3pm and suddenly its 9pm and uh-oh! Nothin's ready!!

Happened to me last night and finally I found a solution to it!! Am sure the solution was already around, well .... I found it by myself last night ! lol!

Dhaniya, Tomatoes, Garlic-Ginger Paste, Onions, Khada Garam Masala, and the regular spices like haldi, salt, dhaniya powder, jeera powder and garam masala powder are ALWAYS there in the fridge/kitchen, right?

So, Voila!!

Dump them ALL together in the grinder .... and grind to a thick paste!!!

Heat a pan with verrry little oil, use a non-stick preferably.

Pour the paste and let it cook for a while.

In this you can add, fried/boiled/steamed pieces of Vegetable, Paneer, Tofu, Chicken ... whatever! Flat 10 mins cooking time!!

What say? ;)

Some more t-shirt paintings ...

This was one of the two tees I had painted for my husband, Sankalp, on his 31st b'day in 2011:
This one was made for my sister's son on his 3rd b'day in May last year:
 This, was made for my friend Devyani's son Atin. He absolutely loved it, so I had made him two more. Will upload pix soon.
This was the other of the two tees I had painted for my husband, Sankalp, on his 31st b'day in 2011:

Live to eat? Or eat to live?

Neither am I a foodie, nor am I a cooking enthusiast. In fact, I cook very laboriously, though I have been told I am a 'natural cook'. I can't cook as per specifications. I have my own approximation and they are never the same twice. I am not an excellent cook, though I do cook moderately well. I don't live to eat. I eat to livem though most of the time I think I can survive only on chocolates!

I have been a hard core non-vegetarian all my life, until a couple of years ago, when I married a vegetarian. Lucky for me, the angel of my life has no qualms about what I eat, so much so, that he too has tried to dabble with what I eat. Can't say he loved it, but he 'adjusts' willingly' :)

Initially, life was smooth, thanks to our 8 months stay with my BIL and SIL. Never had to think about what to cook and when to cook. In the last 15 months that we have been staying away from family, its upon me to come up with what to cook, twice a day. Man! What a drag!!

Our kitchen is a typical East India meets Central India. Being a Bengali, cooking to me means elaborate procedures. On the flip-side, day to day food which my husband prefers is no rocket science. The same masalas, the few same vegetable, same recipes for dal tadka too. I noticed somehow there are very few vegetables that Sankalp, my husband eats.

Not good. Where is the nutrition? If I am cutting off the fish and the chicken from my diet, where do I get my proteins from? A Bengali firmly believes that you have 2 pieces of fish a day, and your daily nourishment has been taken care of. So, now what?

This is where this blog is coming into place. I am trying out some experiments, some permutations and combinations with spices and basic ingredients. I am also trying to learn to cook some Bengali vegetarian dishes which I love, but haven't cooked before. And I love to bartend ... which I do at home, from time to time.

This blog will be the culmination of recipes which I have tried and have been successful in our conflicted kitchen.

I have been told by my husband that I have cooked certain items better than my MIL <and she is a super-awesome cook, mind it!>. Can I ask for anything more? Hell, no! I am the best cook, ever. :P

Would love feedbacks and suggestions....

Mrs = Mistress?

By now, everyone who knows me, is well aware that I hate wrong usage of English Grammar. What I hate more are the people who do it confidently.

Recently, I went for a regular check-up to my endocrinologist. While waiting for my turn to come, I was sent to the assistant doctor/intern who usually does the basic like check the BP, weight, symptoms and put them down on the prescription sheet. Here is an excerpt from the conversation with this certain lady, the assistant, which I guarantee shall leave you in splits:

[Note: I shall refer to the assistant as Ass, since that is what she ends up being!]

Ass: Naam?
Me: Mrs Samarpita Sharma, file par likha hai
Ass: Age?
Me: 30
Ass: Aap married ho? [looking very very doubtful]
Me: Err…haan
Ass: Fir aapne Mis’ess kyun bola? aap toh mistress hain.
Me: Uhh…nahin Mrs ko Mis’ess bolte hain. Mistress is an offensive word.
Ass: aapko english nahin aati theek se. aap check kar lena!
Me: It is a contraction of Mistress, but when we refer to Mrs, it is for Mis’ess and not the other offensive word you just used.
Ass: Aap galat bol rahe ho. Mrs ko mistress hi bolte hain.
I laugh and leave it at that, deciding I shall take up this offensive [not as much coz she referred to me as mistress, but more coz i had to interact with her] with my doctor whom I know very well. When informed about this funny incident, he was flabbergasted…but in a country with so many dialects and regional languages, it IS very difficult to find qualified people who have the basic knowledge of the English language.
You may ask, so whats the big deal? English isnt even our national language!! Ho-hum! But its used more in any profession, compared to any other regional language! Deal with it!!
[To those who are still ignorant of facts:
“Mrs” originated as a contraction of the honorific “Mistress”, the feminine of “Mister” or “Master”, which was originally applied to both married and unmarried women. The split into “Mrs” for married women from “Ms” and “Miss” began during the 17th century.]

She ...

I had first written this on International Women’s Day 2011 and it was published on

Today is International Women’s Day.
I woke up this morning to have my mobile flooded with SMS(s) about how great a woman is and how lucky I am to be born as one. Well, I don’t need anyone telling me that…. But would Sahiba agree?
Sahiba and her misfortune were pushed to the farthest corner of my mind; until I sat down to write this. She was a 20-something Bangladeshi refugee I had met about 5 years ago. Here’s her story –
“Can I get some money in advance, please?” Sahiba, who worked in my aunt’s cottage in Mython, asked her. Her husband had got a job in Oman and while he would be earning well, his company had refused to pay for his flight.
My aunt gave her the money, which Sahiba promised to pay back in a month’s time.
Sahiba was excited. “He will earn three times of what he earns now,” she told me happily. I re-visited Mythion a few months ago and I found Sahiba to be a mere shadow of her former self. Her face looked pale and her eyes, bloodshot red, had deep hollows around them and her appetite had waned considerably.
I found her crying uncontrollably one day and when I asked her what the matter was, I learned that she and her husband had been legally wedded ten years ago by virtue of a Nikkah, but since her husband was completing his studies, and Sahiba was only twelve years old at the time, both families decided to delay the rukhsati. Ten years later, Fatima is working as a housemaid, a period during which her husband not only completed his studies, but had also found a job in Dhaka and then a better one in Dubai.
He had met someone else in Dhaka and married her. Now, very unceremoniously, he informed her that he cannot “maintain” her expenditure and the best way out would be divorce.
Once her utility was back to zilch, Sabiha’s husband dropped her like a hot potato and was never heard from again.
I wonder if Sabiha, back in Mython, even knows what today’s significance is? Does she know that the world is celebrating her existence? Would it matter to her, or scores of other women who are raped, beaten, left to die, not allowed to be educated…??
The whole world gets together this one day to celebrate woman and her existence, her sacrifices and her sufferings.
So, a question? Why does a woman need to justify herself. Why are the women the loudest in this day, screachin (yes, screaching) to any one who would like to wait and listen,
“If I have curves, I’m fat.. If I wear makeup, I’m fake.. If I dress up, I’m a Show off.. If I say what I think, I’m a bitch. If i say nothing i hv ‘attitude problem’, If I cry sometimes, I’m a drama queen.. If I have guy friends, I’m Fast. If I stand up for myself, I’m mouthy. Its like you can’t do anything nowadays without being labeled. So what? I give a damn!”
  • We need to wax every 15 days.
  • We have been and shall endure the horrors and pain of child birth, and we want to or not, we would still need to accept, “Child birth completes a woman”.
  • We would still be the weaker sex, physically.
  • We would still be beaten up, raped, mutilated and left to die.
  • Women would still be referred to with derogatory words and judged about everything they do….or don’t!
  • An outspoken and broadminded woman in a Corporate is regarded, subtly branded approachable right away.
  • Actresses, be it Television or Cinema, Personal Secretaries, Models, Air-Hostesses, Housekeeping staff, Hotel Management industry people, those working under many of the verticals that are a subset of mediaindustry and a lot more fields where the glamour plays a predominant role, the women are mostly Character Assassinated (CAed) by default and retrospectively classified.
  • Divorcees, spinsters and widows come under another larger section of women who are talked withandtalked about on such similar coveted lines.
  • Women drivers, however accomplished, would still be made fun of!
Yes, the woman of 2011 has come a long way from where was restricted to, in say, 1911. But is it really commendable, when we still need a day to stand on building tops and yell about how great we are? Is it worth to be treated like a queen on one day of the year and be pushed and kicked around the rest of the days? Is it really a victory for a woman who has a successful career, but gets tortured at home, for money? Do the wins over poker at kitty parties make up for having to sleep with your husband’s friends, in return for office tenders?
Let aside all tortures inflicted by men on women, is it justified when educated, apparently modern women refuse to see their daughter’s face … just because she is a daughter?
With Aruna Shanbagh and her misfortune so fresh in everyone’s memory, ever wondered – what today means to her? A 20-year-old, raped and abandoned by family and fiancée, who was choked with a leash and
raped after the oxygen supply was cut-off to her brain – how liberated does she feel today?

Disclaimer:  The above mentioned is my opinion documented randomly and any resemblance to something you have seen or heard of, is purely intentional!!

My interview in the 2010 annual report of United Nations Voluntary

Some old art work ...

Remembering "Chief Vasily"

I have always loved Russian tales, specially their folk tales. I loved the land of Ivans and Ivanhoes, the brave men who always got the better of the fire spitting dragons.
Remember MISHA, the magazine from Russia? No, not the men as well as the women around you, with the men Misha … yes, most of them were named after this magazine / or the mascot (Mischka) [if you check, their fathers would have visited Russia around the time they were born. I speak from personal experience of having known 5 Misha's...all with the same story :) ]
It must have been some 15 years since I read any Russian book (strictly, children’s book). While reminiscing, I remembered a translated book I had read, Chief Vasily. It was written by Tatyana Efimchenko-Evlakhova and till date, only one person I know has also read that book. I long to read it now, once again. Alas! I do not see any e-copy or any search result coming up through the mighty Google! :-/ The book is at mom’s place, so its gonna haunt me until I go there next and bring it back with me!!
Coming back to Chief Vasily, its a story of two friends, one of whom is Vasily. The other child, was a city boy, whose name, if I remember correctly was Peter. He was a ‘Moscowite’, which means he was from the big city of Moscow. I had read this story for the first time, when I was 8 and the word Moscowite has been a word of amusement since then. I love the way it sounds on my tongue!
Peter’s exams are over and his mother is taking him to the country. His father is an army man and wouldn’t be able to join them. Peter is upset and grudgingly accompanies his mother to the village. He is a snob and gets into a fight with the village boys, headed by Vasily the moment he gets off the boat. Over the time, he softened from being a snob to learning to share and care. My memory fails me, but I know this story was special … it was a well-woven story with a heavy dose of subtle moral education.
Unless my memory is completely failing me, I remember reading this phrase/adage/whatever in this book – ‘He who laughs last, laughs best’ and it made a huge impression on me when i was a kid and it got rolled in to my philosophy of life then and along with ‘every dog has its day’, it had the impact of making me nicer to others, or so I would like to think. :-) .
I’d given it a 5 stars back then, when I was 8. I still rate it the same!

My first try at t-shirt painting ...

... this was made for my husband's nephew Ryan on his 3rd b'day last May. Have painted many more tees since then, including two for hubby dearest :)

"Science nahin kiya kya?"

There was a time in the late 1990s when my friend Shruti and I had opted against science. Imagine how much the society hounded us!!

Shruti entertained statements like:
“Kyun kahin bhi science mein admission nahin mila kya?”
“Kya karogi commerce padhkar?”
“Accha CA/CS hi kar lo”
“Par future kya hoga”

Me…my condition was even worse. I had taken up Arts. Oh shit! My trauma went to another level altogether:
“Kya karogi fir…”
“Bhabhi, ab kya … iske liya ladka dekh lete hain”
“Your father had a BSC as well a B.Tech and Mtech and Phd …. and this is what you want to do?”
“Chalo koi nahin … school mein padha lena”
“Sacchi batao…marks aur kam aaye thhe kya?”

Now these are just mildest of the comments.

Reasons like “this is where my interest lies” didnt get thru people’s thick skulls. To this their replies where,
“Chalo BSc kar lo”. To one such person I said, “ab science mein aage kuchh karna hi nahin hai, fir kyun padhna. Economics interests me, I like it! neways, BSC woh karte hain jinko engg mein admission nahin milta.”
Result? “Tsk…tsk! Ladki haath se nikal gayi … she is wasting her time and her future.”

Why am I talking about all this more than a decade later? As 15-year-olds we fought with this stigma…majorly thanks to our families’ support and we had each other to console and motivate.

Now, when I hear people scream 100% cut off is not realistic … i feel sadistically peaceful from within?

Find out the reason before you judge me here :)

The cut-off is unrealistic … that’s all you will hear everyone screaming these days!! But tell me one thing, how many of these ppl, or their wards had even applied to SRCC this year? Did they even try and find out that the actual cut-off is 96 and quite manageable by many?

AND that this cut-off is for people moving in from other streams (read: sceince).

So…why not?

It ensures that the wannabes who took up science and then failed to perform, do not pollute the commerce and arts faculties.


Soon one day, it would be easier to get an admission in engg than these “regular streams”

Even today, people look down upon anyone who doesn’t sit for the PETs and PMTs and whatever else those exams are called, but forget that only the cream gets through … the rest resort to private engg/medical colleges with hefty donations/thru management quotas. Its for these people that I support the sooper high cut off. Kahin nahin mila toh chalo commerce karte hain is a pathetic attitude.

To avoid such pollution, I am glad SRCC took this step … more colleges need to join in.

Be the best in what you do …
… and the thinking that iska kahin nahi hota woh arts/commerce karta hai…needs to die!!

Shruti went on to get an MBA from a premier institute in Maharashtra and I proudly posses my bachelors as well as masters’ degree in Economics, along with a Diploma in Mass Communication (ohhh…and both of us have GNIIT diplomas as well, though never used that!). I have more than 200 published articles with a couple of them being used by the Ministry of Health (Govt. of India), for their awareness campaigns. There is more I can brag about myself, but seriously, you won’t be interested!

The “engineers” whom I grew up with, are mostly sitting in some shop, or are marketeers. That goes for my husband as well … he is a banker.

Yes, the cut off is unrealistic. So what? The higher the bar is raised, the better the kids will perform. And who said, sabko SRCC mein padhna hai?

Disclaimer: Science students, please don’t pounce on me for voicing my thoughts. No offence to any of you, seriously!
Serious blogging begins from today ....

#BookReview: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

On the jacket: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness  takes us on an intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent, from t...