Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Of fun, food, festive flamboyance and oranges

The end of festive season is marked by the fantastically poignant Bhai Phonta (Bhai Dooj), the brother’s well being ceremony and some not so happy countenances. The white cotton clear culuminbinous clouds calling in the Mahalaya is followed by the 6 day long Durga Puja, the 9 day long Navratti, Dussehra – the 10th day, the immersion of Durga idol, the Laxmi Puja etc., and a wait of 364 days, a full cycle of life

Sooner than we plunge into the hollowness, left by the immersion of festive fervor, we usher in the festival of lights, hope and dream. Diwali and Kali Puja have a delightful charm that’s hard to beat. Two days of fun, frolic, food and rollick pass just like that and we finally reach the last leg of the festive flamboyance. Bhai Phonta or Bhai Dooj is celebrated for the well being of the brothers. It’s not just a ritual but a beautiful emotional belonging that the brothers and sisters cherish lifelong. 

 The passing of the Kali Puja brings in a much saddening sweet tone and with the eternal sibling love we come to the end of the Autumn bonanza. There is already a nip in the air and as I unpack the shrugs and the jackets, a typical dry fragrance reminds me of golden yellow sun, cold creams and oranges. Winter has just arrived.

Friday, October 12, 2012

In pursuit of congenial patient care and justifiable returns

The lady, frail and petite, was admitted amidst a lot of twists and turns. She was heavily investigated and diagnosed normal a few months ago. She wasn’t symptom free though. She was having shortness of breath all the while. The company, her son works with, sent the patient to our hospital – supposed to be one of the best in the town. So, there she was getting admitted in the hospital for coronary angiogram followed by double valve replacement.

The lady belonged to a remote village, and looking at her you would know how she was not familiar with the urbanity.  She was scared to death as she was wheeled to the ward. She cried out her lungs when the nurse made IV lines, she tore the hospital suit when she was asked to wear it. She was indescribably paranoid by the syringes, injections, pills and the white dresses. The son requested me to spend some time with her before the OT. So, I managed to take out time to be with her. She looked horridly paranoid. Her face was a question mark. She was pale, white and the petite figure diminished to an immovable body of flesh. However, as we talked she gradually got better. She folded and lifted her hands and asked for forgiveness for her behavior. A lumb in my throat restricted my vocal chord. I got emotional.

The next day was the D-day and as the lady was taken to the OT, she looked apparently composed. I came down to my office to catch up with the backlog. A while later I was surprised to meet the sister-in-charge in the out patient dept. She was supposed to be in the OT!  She walked up to me and told me that she came down to get herself the tetanus injection!

The lady got so fearful looking at the equipments around that she bit the sister! The patient was ridiculed and being laughed at. Later, I went to see the lady once before leaving for the day. She, with tears in her eyes held her hands up, gesturing apologies and asking for forgiveness. I returned home with a numbed heart.

This is not a singular incident. I completely empathize with the ordeal the lady went through. As a matter of fact, the hospital care we are rendering today is something we should not at all be proud of. Everyday we meet various people coming to the hospital for medical aid. They are sick, distressed, depressed and fearful. They are worried of the treatment, care, expenses and hospitality that they would receive. They are not sure if they would get the proper and desirable treatment, they are not sure if they would be ‘looted’ by the hospital, they do not know if they would be guided properly and rightly. The hospitals should not intimidate the patients but aim at all round congenial care-giving services.  In an endeavor to generate maximum revenues, hospitals should not be cruelly commercial and just an instrument of money making. The objective should be to render ‘happy and congenial’ health care to the patients through an organized infrastructure that justifies the returns. .

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rituparno Ghosh's ‘Chitrangada’ is a wish to choose your own life

Chitrangada’ is a story of a ‘crowning wish’. That’s how the director perceives and films the script. One of the finest film makers of the decade, National award winner film maker Rituparno Ghosh, who has given Bengal film industry a boost after Satyajit Ray and Mrinal Sen, plunges into another fa├žade of same sex relationship. With an edgy subject like this, the director could run into the risk of being obscene. However, he does it in style and with finesse. We have seen the director shaped into a fine actor with ‘Arekti Premer Golpo” and "Memories in March". You have to pick the thread from there and prepare yourself for the watch. Else ‘Chitrangada’ might become a challenging watch.  The subject is bold and intrepid and who else could have dealt with it than the like of Rituparno! The theme depicts individual’s wish and right to choose his own gender - a theme that would have many eye balls rolling. Initially, you will be little taken aback, especially,  if you have not watched the actor in ‘Arekti Premer Golpo'. You have to be also acquainted with the recent sociological orientation of the director turned actor. Over the years, Rituparno has metamorphosed into someone that he had wished to be. He has the conviction and integrity to speak and do his mind - something, which, chimes through the film.
The film starts with the staging of Rabindranath Thakur’s Chitrangada. Chitrangada being the only child of the King of Manipura dresses like a man and is heir to the throne. She sees Arjun in action and falls in love with him. Knowing Arjun will not love her in this form and he thinks her to be a man(Kurupa), she receives a boon from Madan Dev, Hindu god of love, and transforms herself into a beautiful feminine woman, Surupa. Arjun does fall in love with her and the two gets married.

The protagonist’s story runs parallel. Laced with interludes and preludes and series of dilemmas Rudra wishes to undergo sex change operation to adopt a child which he couldn’t have otherwise with a lover of the same gender. The gender change decision was not an easy one and it had to be done technically to satisfy the lover who is strongly inclined to have children. Rudra goes through emotional queries from parents and lot of physical pains and eventually agrees to undergo the process. But by the time Rudra metamorphoses through more than half of the procedure, the lover leaves him for a ' non-cosmetic, non-plastic' girl. Rudra, betrayed and pained, wanted time before the final leg of the operation. The illusionary counselor, in the end, helps him choose what he actually wants, and Rudra aborts the final operation of sex change. He takes off the implants, chooses to stay a man and goes back to his newly draped home to an ever loving mother and an anguished father who expresses himself much later but what a way!

The film is touching with moments that would stay with you. If and when you come with terms with the theme of same sex relationship, you will understand how sensitively challenging it was for the director to choose a tabooed script like ‘Chitrangada’. Rudra, the lover, the girl from the theatre group, the parents and the illusionary role of the counselor are all well thought of and well presented. Having said that, the film has technical flaws which can be overlooked f you are a Rituparno Ghosh admirer. The film may not have the class of Rituparno’s earlier films like Utsab, Badiwali, Doshor, Raincoat, Abohoman, Unishe April, Titli etc., but it touches out hearts for the subtle treatment of the daring theme that might have gotten all over the places if not have taken care of well.  The film is filled with beautiful shots. I loved every time the father, the mother and the son come into the frame. I loved the equation between the father and the son; I liked the part where Rudra gets jealous when his drug addict lover flirts with a wannabe photographer. The humorous interpretation of how Madan Dev is perceived as modern age cosmetic surgeon is quirky. I liked how the angst of a father eventually expressed in a never seen before love.

Dipankar Dey and Anushuta Majumder were natural and excellent. Jishu Sengupta plays the vagabond, drug addict lover with a never seen ease. Anjan Dutta stringed the film sequences into a beautiful garland. It seemed as if Rituparno as Rudra was just playing himself. I didn't find anything different and outstanding about the music. In bits the instruments were used nicely though. 'Chitrangada" is a story of life of a different kind of protagonist – a protagonist who is a man with womanish mannerisms, who truly loves a bisexual man. Looking beyond the gender bias, ‘Chitrangada’ is a story of hope, love, wish, wish fulfillment, heart breaks, pains, miseries, love lost, and a wish to chose your gender. ‘Chitrangada’ is a story of a crowning wish – wish to choose and tell your own story.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

When will India stop the candyfloss diplomacy with Pakistan?

A case of mistaken identity where Sabarjit Singh, alleged Indian spy on death row convicted of terrorism,  is being insensitively mistaken as Surjeet Singh, who inadvertently had crossed the border in 1982,  has left the nation spellbound. In a most dramatic ordeal of what I think most farcical goof ups of recent times, Pakistan plays with Indian sentiments blatantly, yet again. This is not the first time though. In a series of recently crafted sorrys Pakistan has made a farce of Indo-Pak relationship. When would Indian administrators stop the candy floss diplomacy with Pakistan. This is an international embarrassment for Pakistan, and for India yet another lesson, (will she learn from it?). It's time Pakistan stopped passing the buck and India adopted strong foothold on all diplomatic issues concerning both the countries. If not now then when?

CNN-IBN traces how the Sarabjit-Surjeet story developed through Tuesday evening right up to midnight. 

6:50 pm: Pakistani TV channels broke the news that Sarabjit Singh's death sentence has been commuted by President Asif Ali Zardari.

7:00 pm: The Indian media picked up the story.

7:20 pm: Pakistan's Presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar is asked by CNN-IBN about confirmation on Sarabjit's release.

7:20 pm: Farhatullah Babar talks about Surjeet Singh's release but does not clarify that the man to be released is not Sarabjit Singh.

7:22 pm: In the phone interview, Farhatullah Babar fails to recognise the difference between Surjeet and Sarabjit Singh.

8:00 pm: External Affairs Minister SM Krishna thanked Pakistan on the basis of media reports.
Pakistan government takes five hours to issue a clarification on the Sarabjit/Surjeet confusion.

12:00 midnight: Farhatullah Babar sends the media an SMS clarifying that the release is of Surjeet Singh and not Sarabjit Singh,

Credit: CNNIBN

The larger issue though is we are being distracted from the larger issue of the the arrest of Abu Jundal, aka Abu Hamza, a LeT terrorist and key handler of attackers who struck Mumbai in 26-11-2008.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Snack on with healthy and yummy aloo chat

One of my favorite lunch box food while in office is aloo chat or aloo kabli, as we Bengalis call it fondly. I just love it, so much so that it has become my favorite workplace snacks now. I have also managed to inspire my colleagues to snack on it as well and in no time one of my colleagues volunteered to take up the elaborate task of preparing aloo kabli in office. He is a pro now and I am so proud of him.  

Aloo kabli is a popular street food of Calcutta and the people of city love it all round the year. Enriched with vitamins, carbs, protein and vitamin C etc. it is a wonderful all time snacks and it is healthy too. The best part - it's so much fun when eaten together with friends and loved ones. I have tried to prepare aloo kabli at home, several times, and I have understood one simple fact. It's but impossible to make perfect aloo kabli like the aloo kabliwalas do. It's an art that's not taught in B schools but requires years of hands on experience, sometimes passed on from one gen to the next and so on. So, if you are still tempted to make a decently done aloo chat at home you will need some very common kitchen ingredients. These should be hand picked with much love (the most important ingredient). 

For aloo kabli you will need:

Cut boiled potatoes
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped onions
Chopped green chillis
Ginger julienne
Chopped coriander leaves
Fresh lime juice
Sprouted chana (chickpea) soaked overnight
Tamarind pulp
Salt to taste
Bhujia (optional)
Roasted peanuts

And then you will need a very special masala (spicemix) nicely roasted and ground:

Red chili

Toss all the ingredients together, very nicely, till the masala blends into the potatoes and you are done! For aloo chat you can also add variety of other stuffs like yogurt, pomegranates, sprouted green dal, grapes, muri (puffed rice) etc. I love aloo kabli more than aloo chat and it has to be only with potatoes, green chillis, coriander leaves, onion, tomatoes and chickpeas tossed with lot of tamarind water. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ethics and yogurt

Looking at the atrocious heat outside, the only thing I could think of is the cool untreated yogurt - fresh from the refrigerator. Extreme heat was not unexpected but my out of the card holiday today has left me with some hungry me-time and a few questions to ponder on. Not quite letting go of the thoughts, I took care of the gurgling tummy with some healthy snacks just in case that subsides the jittery thoughts too.

Was thinking a lot these days. about people, their duplicity, diplomacy, love of work and money, about the degrading work ethics and ethics in general and our role as healthcare personnels. The overall degradation in the work ethics has let down the handful of good people left today. They are now outcast with uncalled for hassles, misunderstandings and undeserved humility. Good people will be good everywhere, everytime, at home and workplace, all through their lives, bad will be bad no matter what ; and cool, virgin yogurt will continue to recharge you to get you along the persistent dilemma that will continue to bug you today, tomorrow and forever.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Prepare bengali fish curry in just a few steps

Bengali fish curry is distinctively delicious and an awe to many. It has typical bengali spices that are different from northern or southern Indian cuisines. The lovely aroma of the spices and the ingredients make bengali fish curry very special indeed.

The easiest way to start off with bengali fish curry is to get a few common ingredients in your kitchen. This includes:

Freshly done onion, garlic, ginger paste
Coriander, cumin, turmeric and red chili powder
Whole cumin seeds and garam masala dust
Freshly chopped parsley/ coriander leaves, green chilies
Oil, preferably mustard oil

These are the very basic ingredients rich in authentic bengali flavor and are of immense health benefits.

Clean and cut the fish (rohu, katla, boyal, tangra, pabda etc.)under running water. Season the fish with turmeric powder and salt and set aside. Fry the fish in mustard oil, keep aside. Add 1 tsp of cumin seeds for 1/2 sec and allow it to exude flavor. Quickly add the onion, garlic and ginger paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, little sugar and salt. Keep stirring till the blend starts to give out the oil. Sugar is for caramilization and color. Add the fish and add little water. Sprinkle 1 tsp of garam masala powder. Cook for 5-8 minutes and remove from the flame. Add fresh coriander leaves and green chilies for flavor and cover the lid again to retain the flavor.

Serve with steamed rice and fresh lime cuts and lots of love. Eat it slowly, appreciate, relish the authentic flavors of the bengali fish curry and love it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Less spicy, light mutton curry not just for sick times

Some days are just too drab and monotonous and some days are full of spices when you have had a lot of empty calories as in junk foods. You come back home - tired and not quite hungry yet want to eat something and not skip the dinner altogether. On such days settle for something like mutton stew - less spicy, with lot of broth and refreshing. Allow the meat to cook in whole onion, chopped garlic, ginger julienne, fresh pepper, red chili powder, little turmeric-coriander-cumin powder and garam masala powder. Add farm fresh potatoes nicely diced and salt, close the lid, put it on pressure and you are done with!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Anirudhha - much hyped, Srijit - smart and Rituparno Ghosh - class apart and above

It would be unfair to compare the likes of Rituparno Ghosh with the, so to speak, newcomers like Anirudhha Roy Chowdhury and Srijit Mukherjee of Bengali new wave cinema. Rituparno Ghosh with his inimitable sensitive genre and superlative techniques is 'the man' in Bengali and Indian film fraternity. If we compare the first few films of Rituparno Ghosh with those of the other two, I find significant differences. Rituparno is a class beyond, a class above and the last of the originals. He is an original story teller and a great social psychoanalyst who would never miss anything when it comes to human psyche.

Three film famous Anirudhha Roy Chowdhury is a copybook film maker who likes to go into elaborate detailing of things rather than the quintessential human thought patterns. Even the alignment of the curtains or books in a rack is taken care of with ad film making precision. The crisp and calculate shots go to show the genius of the Ad film maker, if not anything more. The cinematography is highly plausible and so is the film music. The three films have shown traces of good work, a sign of good film architect. However, in totality, with all those precision and eye for details his works failed me. Sometimes, chaos is more coveted than perfection. Little bit of imperfection is OK at times.

Srijit Mukherjee, young and dynamic, is a promising director. His films touch delicate nuances of the human psyche. Beautiful rendition of imagery reflects his smart education. I feel, he has more potential and just two film old Srijit certainly has a long way to go. Snippets of class fill his films and at the end of it you get to like his work. The method in madness style has seemed to work for him. Good ears for music, great sense of editing and the ability to learn from the surroundings have made his films substantially persistent.Rituparno Ghosh has a class hard to achieve. He is truly the last of the originals. An unbelievable story teller, Rituparno has redefined the method and madness in his own terms. He has been able to move his audience convincingly from frame to frame. We, Bengalees, not only love his way of dealing with the art of film making but also appreciate the exquisite candid terms by which he lives his life. He is truly a Renaissance man.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reward yourself with good shoes

Show me your shoes and I will tell you who you are. Of late I have developed a strange love for shoes. Flip flops, tiptoes, platforms, not so highs - you just name it. I love to reward myself with good shoes. Trust me, it's not just a lavish but a utility you would love to pamper yourself with.

Having shopping for the right kind of shoes, (this keeps changing with seasons and mood), I have realized one thing. Shoes are damn pricy and the ones that keep your eye balls rolling will keep your wallet upside down as well.

The fact that I wear most of them, most of the times in the workplace and that they should be comfortable on feet, I keep a few things on mind while shopping for the ideal ones.

Comfortable on toes and heel

I am lucky that I do not suffer from any physical problem, like heel spur, bunions etc., but for those who do it's advisable to buy shoes with cushioned and roomy bed. Go for the ones that you are comfortable in considering your body weight, work status and nature of work.

Chic and trendy or timeless

I usually go for timeless shoes that do not expire with seasons' fashions. I like flip flops that are always in vogue. However, it's just fine to have a few party pairs like stilettos and high heels in your collection.


Good shoes are expensive but most are long lasting. I prefer shoes belonging to brands of repute. I use them everyday, all the time, everywhere. I get the best deal from the good brands at the end of the day.

Have less, wear more often and buy often

Shoes tend to lose the sheen and wearibility if kept unused for long. Keep alternating and keep wearing the pairs regularly. Ransack your shoe rack for the ones that are not worn for long. Try to match your dress with them and keep them rolling. After having lost a lot of money, I am wiser now. I have a few pairs of good stuffs now and keep them rolling all through the week. This gives me a chance to go on shopping spree more often as well.

Recycle your shoes

If you think that shoes cannot be recycled, think twice. I give up on my shoes not because they are not wearable any longer but because I don't like them anymore. I give them away to house helps or to the nearest shoe shops.

One last word, shoes make you look and feel beautiful. Reward yourself with them more often.

Picture credit: wedmd

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Paranthas serve hungry souls just right!

I was hungry. Really hungry. And all I could think of are the calorie guilt foods that would help me procrastinate even more on my endeavor to eat less and eat right. This time though I kept my foot down. No more cookies, chips and finger foods. I was craving for tasty and substantial food that would keep me going for a few more hours.

I found nicely kneaded whole wheat flour stored in an air tight container. May be my mom has her plans after she returns from her evening stroll. But I was hungry and the guessing game irritated me.

I made a few round balls out of the kneaded flour in a jiffy. Rolled them into thin triangular shapes with little refined oil on them, semi toasted them on the flat wok. Brushing with little oil each time I turned the sides, I made them golden brown, crispy and beautifully appealing. We have variety of pickles at home, courtesy my mom. It was just a matter of spooning them out on my plate of paranthas.

I ate them and I ate them all like a hungry, mad dog and awaited the shocking look on my mom's face when she returns. It's going to be great fun!