Sunday, August 01, 2021

Sunnyvale

It has been three and half years since I last went to Sunnyvale. I was there last time in January 2018. I was at Infinera at the time. I used to go on business trips to Sunnyvale a few times every year. I left Infinera in 2019 and since then I stopped going there.

Do I miss Sunnyvale? Sure I do. I miss the sun. Sunnyvale is true to its name. It is indeed a sunnyvale. I have not seen such bright sun anywhere, except maybe in Calgary. I miss the wonderful people there, Rajan, Mahidhar, Iftekhar, Biao, who are warm, friendly, and welcoming. I miss the drive along Route 101 at 80 mph in a nice big car that does not wobble at high speed. I miss the clean, organized first world living where everything is predictable and affordable.

What I do not miss. The horrible never ending flights to get there. In the plane I could not sleep, could not stay up, my knees used to hurt, my stomach was bloated up and my ears used to hurt. The trouble did not end even after the plane landed. Then I had to wait in a queue for immigration that seemed to stretch all the way to the bay! I do not miss the jet lag, staying up all night in my hotel room fearing what will come out of the bathroom (remember The Shining room 237). I do not miss the phony greetings of the hotel girls “Bye. Have a nice day.” I do not miss the horrid smell in the breakfast place. It was so disgusting that even though it was complementary, many mornings I gave it a miss and ate elsewhere.

I surely do not miss America. I spent about 5 years there. I do not have a single fond memory of that country.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Memories

I got this photo frame on my bike ride this morning. It was lying down on a heap of garbage by the side of the road. It was so touching, I could not leave it there. It is disturbing to think that someone could let go of such a precious memory.

I obviously do not know who these people are. I do not want to know. To me they just represent a story, a story of a man and woman in love. Such an eternal story.

From the black and white photo it seems that they must be old now. I wonder how their love story blossomed. I hope it bore beautiful fruits with many children. I hope life treated them kindly. I hope they are still alive and happy, surrounded by many, many grandchildren.

These two particular individuals will soon recede to oblivion. But the concept they embody will live forever.

A woman and a man, in love with each other.

Thursday, June 03, 2021

Leaving Kolkata

It has been almost 25 years since I left Kolkata, halfway through my life. A kid born by the time I left would be the same age as me when I left.

And what a life I left behind! Friends, fun, frolic. For what? To save my family from poverty? Or for the glamour of going abroad. For the lure of the unknown world out there. For sheer peer pressure. Everyone was going abroad. So I had to. I guess a little bit of all.

But whatever it was, it was unnecessary to accept that hardship for the little gain I got in return. Yes I saved some money, yes I saw the world, yes I learned to speak good English. But I could achieve all of these without leaving Kolkata permanently. Seven years I spent abroad was a waste. I do not have a single fond moment of those seven years. Only good thing that happened was I got a good education during my MSc and that experience really enriched my life. I would not be the same person had I not studied abroad.

I remember the Kolkata I left behind so vividly. The exciting years of pagers and cell phones and the first personal computers. Telephone booths everywhere. We had some disposable income to spend on us, a beautiful city that we could call home, a few devoted friends that were madly in love with each other. It was just the life to look for. The job was fun, the leisure even more fun. Weekdays passed by quickly absorbed in fun work. Weekends flew by even faster with food, drinks, movies and long walks with friends.

There were book fairs in Maidan and office tours to Maithon and weekend getaways in Bardhaman. There was love from Anjan, rebellion from Nachiketa and sadness from Suman. There were big eyed, baby faced, compliant girls like Shilpa Shetty and Urmila Matondkar. There were movies like Bombay, Raja and Rangeela. And we had our whole life ahead of us.

Did I live it well? I guess I tried.

No fear.

No guilt.

No remorse.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Diya's Diary Entry on CoronaVirus

I was browsing through my old photos last night and I came across this diary entry from my daughter’s scrap book, written last March at the beginning of the lockdown.

What an uplifting message from a seven year old.

Of course it is endearing to me because it was written by my daughter. But even disregarding that, it is very inspiring.

But it is also heart wrenching to think what these kids must have gone through in the last one year, cooped up in our two bedroom flat, not being able to go anywhere, not being able to play freely, constantly being on alert. The pandemic has robbed them of their childhood.

And this is nothing compared to what many others have gone through, people lost their loved one, not been able to be with them at their last moment, people lost their jobs, business, livelihood. So many successful businesses closed up, so many innovative startups died at infancy. It was just a litany of endless misery.

Some people tried to find a silver lining in all of these. “It was good for the environment, pollution has gone down, traffic has gone down, people are spending more time with themselves and their families”. I applaud their optimism. But I myself cannot find any solace in any of these. To me this pandemic is just unadulterated suffering, the worst calamity of my lifetime. There is nothing good that can be found in this endless misery.

I really, really hope that Diya will not have to endure anything like this again in her lifetime.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Weight Loss

In the above photo I am holding a 10 kg dumbbell. For my physique, it is heavy. I cannot hold it for more than a minute. What if I tell you that I was carrying this 24X7 for the last fifteen years. I used to walk with it, sit with it, go to bed with it, and go to the bathroom with it. I never kept it down even once. You are thinking where do I buy my pot from. But it is true. Since the age of 35 my weight hovered in the range of 71-72 kg. I am almost 62 kg now. I was carrying this 10 extra kilos for the last 15 years. I know people who carry two, three even four of these dumbbells. Imagine what this does to our back, joints, knees. How much does it reduce our mobility?

Let us look at it slightly differently. If I continue my lifestyle, I hope to attain a stable body weight of 60 kilos. That means that I was carrying 12 kilos of extra fat with me. This amount of fat would sustain me for two months without food. Essentially I was carrying two months of ration with me all the time! How absurd is this? Now there is a reason why our body stores extra food. When we humans lived in the wild as hunter gatherers, every meal was a chancy affair. It could be days even weeks between meals. So to survive, our body adapted to store extra food. But we do not live in the wild anymore. We can “Swiggy” our next meal in 15 minutes. Then why store two month’s provision in our body? I have heard that some of it is stored inside our blood vessels. Think about it. These arteries that carry essential nutrients and oxygen supplies to our vital organs like the heart or the brain, we are blocking them to store provision! I remember when the Total Mall opened on Outer Ring Road 10 years ago, we went there. It was jam packed. It is my habit that when I go to a crowded place, I first look for the fire exit. When I checked, I discovered that they have blocked the fire exit to store merchandise. I was horrified, I went to the store manager and started yelling, I called the fire department. In the end nothing happened and people just laughed at me, so I left. I was thinking these people have no idea what a fire accident looks like. But we are doing the same thing. We are blocking our arteries to store fat. We have no idea what a heart attack looks like. Now I don’t want to scare you. Our body is an amazingly resilient machine. It can take a tremendous amount of abuse and still keep going. If you are young, there is nothing to worry. But as we approach 50 and these organs pass their expiry date, we should not take risk, rather give our body a helping hand. If we block our arteries and increase cholesterol in our blood, one small clot and we lose one vital organ. Why take that chance? Who knew even Saurav Ganguly could get a heart attack.

Fortunately, it is not difficult to lose weight. You do not have to make any sacrifice. In fact your life will only improve. But you have to do it right. First you need to set the expectation right. So remember the two things.

  • You cannot starve your way out of fat. It does not work. At least for most people. You cannot function normally when you are hungry and hence you cannot go hungry for a prolonged period of time. So as soon as you start eating again, you will go back to your original weight.
  • Exercise does not have a significant impact on weight loss. Exercises are great. They make you happy, fit and motivated. But they don’t have much impact on body weight. To lose weight, you must change your diet.
So what to do? I will tell you one secret that will enable you to do this without giving away your pleasure of eating good food. Are you ready? Here it is, to lose weight, you do not have to stop eating anything (Almost. Some fine prints below). Instead you need to eat more. What you need to do is to eat 1000 grams of fruits and vegetables along with other stuff. You can even throw in 100 grams of dry roasted nuts with it if you like. Do this and I guarantee you will lose 10 kilos in six months. Surprised. Don’t be. There is no magic here. When you eat this amount of low calorie food, your desire for eating other high calorie food goes down. So instead of eating four slices of pizza, you will eat one slice. That’s the trick. Of course you should avoid some types of foods like the ones below.
  • Processed food - Avoid anything that comes out of a colorful plastic bag, Maggies, chips, oreos. They are not food. They are worse than cigarettes or pan masala. Make sure your shopping cart does not have any of these items.
  • Sugar and sugar based drinks like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. These are raw calories without any nutrients. Instead use jaggery. Jaggery is colorful, that means it has some minerals.
  • Maida - Avoid that bun in a burger, or the dough in the pizza. Again this is just raw calorie.
The best part about doing this is that this is not a crash diet program, but it is a lifestyle change. Once you adapt to it, your body will achieve its natural healthy weight. You do not have to panic if you go on a vacation to Kerala and eat a lot of seafood for a week and gain a couple of kilos. No worries, your body will lose them in a few weeks.

If you add exercise to your lifestyle, particularly the kind you enjoy doing like cycling or swimming or playing football, you will stay motivated and fit. This will change your life.

So stay healthy and have fun.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Journey of a Royal Painter

ln 336 BC, Alexander the great ascended the Throne of Macedonia after the demise of his father Philipe. The inheritance has followed by insatiable angst against the Persians and he vowed to finish them in their own land. He kept his promise in the battle of lssus. He won the battle but lost the fight to Abdul Rahman Zami, the most celebrated persian poet of fifteenth century. He immortalized Alexander‘s tale in Persian manuscript Khirodnama-i-Sikandari. The manuscript had its journey from generation generation when it passed on to the Mughal emperors Humayun, Akbar, Jahangir and Shahjahan and eventually reached to the Indian Museum.

How Indian Museum came into the possession of this manuscript, is also a story of great interest. The Museum authority received a registered letter from Mr. Debabrata Ghosh of Calcutta on 24th July 1976.The letter suggests that Mr. Ghosh is in possession of this manuscript. It was handed over to his family by his grandfather Haruchandra Ghosh who happened to be a great scholar of Persian language. Further research finds a statue of Haruchandra Ghost at the Old house of Small Causes Court on Bankshal Street. He was the ‘Dewan‘ of Naldanga. The manuscript was finally acquired by the Curator of Islamic Antiquities on 26‘” August, 1976. Mr. Ghosh has passed the legacy for the generation to come. Khirodnama-i~Siakandari (31cmx200m) is important for its historical value.

First two folios of this manuscript bear illustration of the Durbar hall. It is dated 963 Hijri or 1555 CE. Renowned Calligrapher and artist Mir Ali penned Khirodnama-l-Sikandari. Another copy of Usufwa Zuleikha was selected by Jahangir for his private library. According to ’ Tuzuk-l-Jahangiri, the official biography of Jahangir, Jahangir paid a thousand gold coins to acquire a copy of the manuscript for his library. Abul Fazal mentioned about Mir Ali in Ain-I-Akbari. it is described at the end of the manuscript Mir Ali copied this manuscript in 945 Hijri or 1538 CE at Bukhara.

If the Persian style painting delights us in hrst two folios, the illumination in the next page astonishes us. Two Badshahi stamps and handwriting of Jahangir and Shahjahan are depicted on it. Badshah Jahangir wrote: “Allahho-Akbar! The book is enlisted in the library of the person who is enthroned in the name of God in his coronation year. The writing in the first and third page of the manuscript was by Nuruddin Jahangir, son of badshah Akbar.” Next, Shahjahan wrote: in the name of a compassionate and kind God. The manuscript bears the evidence of beautiful writing of Mollah Mir Ali, and is enlisted in the library on 25‘“ day of the Bahman month of Akbari year in l307 Hijri when l ascended the throne. The writing is of Shihabuddin Muhammad Badshah, who is son of Jahangir and Jahangir is son of Akbar badshah Gazi." Beautiful decorations and illustrations found in every page of this Farsi nuscript. The manuscript tantalizes with its bright usage golden, peacock blue, and bright red colour. The elaborate capturing of the life of Sikandar now has been carefully kept for its further museum preservation.

Source: https://indianmuseumkolkata.org/

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

BJP



Unlike previous elections, this election provides voters with a clear choice. One side there is BJP (all the other corrupt NDA allies are gone. It is only BJP now. Much clearer that way). The other side there is the Mahamilawat of effectively the corrupt brigade. I try to summarize the choice below.



BJP Mahamilawat
Impeccable leaders Corrupt Brigade
Democracy Dynasty
Decisive Government Total chaos
Meritocracy Sycophancy
Wealth creation Poverty redistribution
Secularism Jihadi appeasement
Make strong allies Get beaten by every neighbor
Safety for our children Bomb explosion every week
Hope Despair
Performance Pedigree
Sushma Priyanka
Modi Rahul

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