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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Calendared Moodswings

Hate is a strong word. I don’t use it often. But in this context I am using it … or rather my heart compels me to do so….
No, not a person nor an object nor any food. I hate something abstract.. I hate a certain period of time. I hate three months in a year….for their bleakness, for their uneventfulness, for their all-work-and-no-play nature. I hate the months of May, June, July! And my hatred has almost reached a crescendo as I sit here, almost on the threshold of my days of sorrow……
Our country is a land of diversities in everything one lays one’s eyes on. From languages to rituals, colours of its people’s skin to cuisines, traditions to local costumes, everything is in multitudes! So when it comes to holidays, it’s an assortment of the various religious, social, cultural celebrations, anniversaries and national days of pride thrown in, in full measure. The whole year or for that matter a major part of the year is sprinkled by generous servings of holidays! A saying in Bengali aptly describes this state of affairs Baaro Maashe Tyaro Parbon whose literal translation would be - Thirteen festivities in twelve months.

And that’s where my heartburn comes into the picture….amidst a plethora of holidays round the year, why didn’t the months of May, June, July get at least one or two! Why are the poor months stark, unwelcome, barren periods devoid of happiness ..ahem…holidays! Unfair, biased, deprived heart screams out!

Every year, during January, when the holiday calendar is first displayed, I take my first peek ...with anticipation and excitement….the first look would always be at September-October, to check up when Pujo would be and which day of the week the Dussehra/Bijoya Dashami falls. That triggers my mental holiday planner and from the first of January, my plans for the Pujo vacation starts taking shape. This is closely followed by the cheerful winter months and the summery fiesta.

In my personal context, the 'bright & cheerful' season begins in August! That’s when my very own happy days begin… when there’s a spring in my step, dreaming of the upcoming festivities, and of course, the patriotism induced glee (!). In September – October, my joy knows no bounds and again October – November, arent bad either, what with Diwali, Id, Guru Nanak Jayanti all tumbling around in the calendar, bumping into one another. And December, with birthdays (OK no holidays, but still cause for celebration!!), Christmas, New Years and of course the wonderful holiday-mood-inducing-weather, is a joyous month indeed! January isn’t bad either and in February, it being our organization’s birthmonth, we are privileged to have an exclusive holiday!!! March also has its share of colourful mirth and my foster-state’s new year’s etc etc! and April is just about tolerable with a day of holiday thrown in!

And then tragedy strikes!!! Gloom descends. And along with the sweltering heat and thereafter downcast skies, my mood also oscillates between grouchy irritability to utmost melancholy. There’s not a day to look forward to….stark barrenness stares me in the face making me dejected ….making me wish away the three months from the calendar…making me crave for the light at the end of the tunnel - the auspicious August when Vignavidhaata arrives to remove all obstacles in the path of my mental peace and gives me FREEDOM from depression & deprivation!

Statutory Warning : May you all not BURN in envy reading the list of holidays during my nine HAPPY months!

I continue to be, as informed earlier, an underpaid and overworked employee. But the red spots on the calendar do give me immense pleasure. And whenever SD & AD enjoy their holidays (which are many more than my measly numbers), I dont hesitate in indulging in a Casual Leave or two....joining in the fun!!!!
For your peace of mind, let me reiterate.....My Holiday Count, unfortunately, continues to be a depressing 10 per year! sob sob sob....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Democratic Rights....

The world's largest democary goes to the polls today onwards renew its tryst with destiny, to reinculcate its faith in the power of its people, to shape its destiny, to give it leaders who will dare to think, to implement and empower a nation where its intrinsic diversity shapes its unity!

When an astounding 750 million voters are eligible to exercise this right of democracy, an evolved infrastructure and fool-proof system need to be in place. The voting machines we use are indeed an evolution from the days of manual vote counting..but are they enough?

As the city which has been my home for the past year or so goes to vote today, here I am sitting in front of my computer 'enjoying' a holiday...a passive participant in a dynamic process! I am not alone....there are thousands like me, who are unable to vote due to their frequently changing co-ordinates! Who are away from the city where they are registered in the electoral rolls! So dont people like us have the right to vote and be a part of the elaborate exercise of choosing the mandate?

In a country touted as a software superpower, churning out lakhs of engineers every year, cant we expect introduction and implementation of a new technology to address this handicap of a nation of mobile citizens?

If money transfer, bill payments, and many other exercises in which unique identity is not only crucial, but also essential, through mobiles and internet can become part and parcel of our lives, why cant the voting system be made online? An unique identity number or smart card (containing relevant details about a particular citizen) generated by the Office of the Electoral Commission can be used to cast our votes through SMS or the internet.

True, I'm simpilfying a complicated and a mammoth process involving years of micro and macro tasking. But with our giant force of technocrats, highly qualified technical experts, world reknowned and reputed software giants and a comfortable gap of five years between two consecutive elections, is it really an impossible task?

I doubt..... though such a system should have been in place during this year's much publicised, much maligned and much hyped General Elections, I sincerely hope, the forthcoming government will put this system in place in 2014 in joint collaboration with the best brains in the world!
So that wherever I am, I can exercise my democratic rights! Am I asking for too much too soon??

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Shubho Naboborsho!

Shubho Naboborshe shokolke janai priti o shubhechha!

Today being Bengali New Year's Day, I wish you all


Picture :

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Woes & Midweek Ecstacy

Every Saturday morning I am in a horrendous mood to put it very mildly!

While I wake up in the normal ungodly hour and drag myself into the drudgery of everyday existence, SD and AD are blissfully asleep. Believe me, all kinds of nasty thoughts flit through my mind ... thoughts of how to shake from their slumberous stupor into complete wakefulness!! But the honourable wife and mother that I am (or attempt at being), however tempting the prospect may be, I desist from letting the devil in me take control and let my better and more noble self prevail.
But every Saturday, it is indeed sheer torture to go to office while the father-daughter duo indulge in their long lazy weekend activities....and my anguish reaches almost unbearable levels when a holiday on a Friday or a Monday (which I, the overworked and underpaid, am almost always deprived on Easter...sob sob sob!!) add to their weekend ecstacy.

But this time, matters are a trifle different! I have been bestowed with a midweek holiday which neither SD nor AD have...the sadistic devil within me was ecstatic for a second or two before gloom descended....
what's the fun of a holiday in an empty home....
the spice of life lies in AD's mischief and mirth (which more often than not drives me nuts),
in SD's holiday-mood-induced-sloppy presence and quiet, deadpan, humour (which predictably almost always make me lose my temper, as it is intended to),
in the topsy-turvy, untidy mess the house turns into, everytime the father-daughter are at home (which again makes me shout out, in my most disciplinarian intonation, to retain orderliness and is ALWAYS ignored!) .

The laughter, the noise, the fights, the squabble, the medley of scattered toys-paints-crayons-newspaper-laptops, the special aroma from the 'holiday' kitchen are what our holidays are all about!

So on a midweek holiday, in an empty, orderly, silent house, what am I supposed to do?
Let's see.....maybe indulge in some me-time, pamper myself silly at a fancy parlour, or have a girls' day out with some friends, or JUST spend time sleeping late and lazing around!!!!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Summer Holidays

"Everybody has a summer holiday
Doing things they always wanted to"..... crooned Cliff Richard half a century ago.

And I couldnt agree more.....Summer Holidays or Goromer Chhuti were indeed the favourite and longest of all vacations during our growing up years. An almost two month long break from school, studies and schedule. Cousins coming over from different parts of the country. Lazy afternoons filled with games and gossip.
-Hide and seeks in the nooks and crannies of the attic and staircases, under the beds and behind the giant almirahs;
-climbing guava trees and scraping knees;
-listening to the radio in warm summer afternoons, all heads jostling for space right in front of the radio;
-recording our voices on the blank cassettes inserted into the coveted tape recorder;
-buying ice cream sticks from the ice-cream vendor who would take a break from his cart pushing right in front of our gate and call out "K..W...O....O...L....I...T...Y" repeatedly till we kids compelled our mothers to let us out and buy the orange or chocolate fudge sticks from him;
-sitting on the terrace oblivious to the blazing hot sun, gorging on the 'stolen' homemade mango/tamarind pickles, which had been put out on the terrace for the sun to give it a finishing touch;
-the Poila Boishaakh (Bengali New Years celebration on 14th/15th of April) celebrations and get-togethers....
Memories of summer holidays are full of fun, frolic and laughter. Days spent at cousins' or 'best' friends' places, family reunions and sometimes a family vacation.
Of course, the fights and squabbles, teasing and taunting, anger and making up were also there in all its glory...but that's what gave summer holidays its multihued tinge!
As I see my little AD growing up in a nuclear world so different from the one I grew up in, without her extended family to pamper and indulge her, I feel a trifle sad that she's missing out on the companionship and camaraderie with cousins and siblings that we took for granted. Her Summer Holidays too, are poles apart from our summer holidays.

In her world, routine is not abandoned for a month or two. The scheduled life goes on....The long and relaxed, fun-filled vacations are replaced by choc-a-block activity filled summer camps. Not camps in the true sense of the word, but planned, 'scientifically' chalked out programmes to keep kids busy in a host of creative lessons and activities. A continuation of her playschool sans the academics....I wonder whether they are half as much fun as the impromptu and myriad activities we indulged in during our prolonged vacations, eons ago....I hope so.

Times have changed. We parents are busy. And corporate jobs do not give us the luxury of long vacations. And living in a city with no family and equally busy friends as our social network, with cousins and extended families scattered all over the globe, summer holidays of yore have become an almost extinct phenomenon.
So the much advertised, exhorbitantly priced summer camps are not an option but more a necessity!

Last week as I went on a short trip to attend the last rites of my Mamu, AD met some of her cousins for the first time...Dadas (elder brother), didis (elder sister), bon and bhai (sister and brother). They played, they fought, they squabbled over a box of crayons or a teddy or just fought for the sake of fighting. They made up and played fight all over again.....
I was glad ... to give her a slice of life as it was when we were kids. To cherish the companionship, the unadulterated love, the complex rivalry, the bowing down to say sorry, to resume normalcy and let bygones be bygones...

I hope every year, if not a long leisurely one, at least a fun filled brief holiday with cousins is what I can gift my that she grows up with her own handycam stored memories of summer holidays in contrast to our album filled with sepia tinged snapshots.....

"We're all going on a summer holiday.
No more working for a week or two.
Fun and laughter on a summer holiday...."