Wednesday, January 31, 2001

Intellectual Voyeurism over Notun Gurer Payesh

Had the "Videshis" over for what I call - a "hair down and feet-up" dinner at home.There were :Helen & Andrew, Collin with his wife Lisa and Mom, who is visiting, Brigid and Rosemary. Sameer, Buddha & Geeta and us provided the asian counter-point. Rosemary's husband, Daniel, had been pulled away to Bhuj for reporting alongwith the over 20 strong BBC crew gathered from all over the world. He was supposed to go to B'lore to do research for his book but was called off for this assignment. Cudn't agree more with her that, there is a lot of 'over-reporting' happening out there - journalistic "voyeurism" as she called it. I think it's particularly true of some of the Indian channels like Zee and even to some extent Star. But, what Andrew said was frightening. Apparently - Kathmandu comes on the same seismic fault line as Gujrat - both part of that pre-historic coast line , along which the continental plates had collided. So, if it wasn't Gujrat this time it could well have been Kathmandu. It seems that, before the last major quake in Nepal ( in 1934 ? ) there was a similar quake in Gujrat just 2 months before that. An earthquake is a great "leveller" literally - must circulate the stuff I received over e-mail tomorrow. otherwise, it was a nice quiet evening - totally realxed and informal, as it was meant to be. Nina had turned out a home-cooked traditional Bengali meal - Karai-shootir Kachuri, Alur Dam, Cholar Daal and Shorshe Maach, which everybody seemed to enjoy. Rounded it off with a double-barrel dessert - combination of Channar Payesh from Trishna and Notun Gurer Payesh. There can never be too much of a "sweet thing" in a Bong party.

Weather Forecasts & Testosterone

The accuracy of the 'Hindu' calendars is amazing - come Sri Panchami and the winter has already started receding. Pity they can't predict Earthquakes. It seems the secret of a trim physique and a flat belly is higher Testosterone count in the system - but, beware don't try artificial stimulants. This is particularly relevant to all those who have crossed the f(orty) zone recently,cause after that, like "combable hair" those vital ingredients silently start waning. Among the natural ways to keep the Testosterone levels up in the system are morning sex ( repeated afternoon, evening and night ), low protein high carbohydrate diets (isn't that what we Bongs eat ?), frequent snacking (don't keep the stomach empty or everything else will fall flat as well ). It seems nuts ( high on mono-unsaturates) are also good for the nuts. But, then you also have the option of practising Vipassana - when nothing else will matter anymore. If you still have trouble - write to 'my coach' - 'Sethmeera' (short for 'Set Me Right'), who'll convince you that it is simply a part of your process of "evolution". Got it !

Tuesday, January 30, 2001

Tush and Aakar - The Hip Patels

Just received a letter from Tushita ( Patel nee Mitra ), excerpts:
i (and aakar too) have been completely overwoked with the earthquake. this morning they said the latest death toll is up to a lakh.
This is probably india's first midle class disaster... i know people who just bought apartments in fancy buildings in ahmedabad where
they will never be able to live again. their entire life's savings gone in a few seconds. anyway, i am a bit of fatalist and beleive that
this is nature's way of doing checks and balances.

ma has sent me some patali gur and i am feasting on it. aakar is a bit of a philistine and can't quite make out the difference, apart
from payesh, so once in a while i make some after coming back from work. i am also learning to eat the bombay fish -- the other
day i went and bought kane, rawas and of course pomfret and cooked it in the east indian style. my landlords are east indian and
happily gave me green and red curry recipes. quite yum. .......... aakar has just bought the 100 volumes of collected works of mahatma gandhi. while the
entire thing cost Rs 2,500, the bookshelf cost double of that.......i went there ( to the jindals ) in 97. it was quite good. i used to walk about 14 km a day and stayed on liquids for
nine days. plus they massage you and give u mudbaths and enemas and renal irrigation etc... it's worth trying. however, even after
14 days of this, i lost only 3 kilos, but people said i was looking great and glowing.

why dont u learn to make gotasheddho? come to mauritius and i'll make some (thakur will send me the receipe). i have asked him
to courier me his brilliant mulor porota and phul kopir porota... they are fabulous. he makes them thin and crisp, not the heavy
punjabi way. blissful. i miss home because of him.

i am getting used to bombay. can't say i love it, but it's ok... wish i didnt have to travel so much.

Love you all very much, Tush

Monday, January 29, 2001

Saraswati Puja, sans Gota Sheddho and Kuler Ambal

Today was Saraswati Puja - Sri Panchami. Like many other festivals it is celebrated in Nepal on the same day as in Bengal, with equal fervour and austerity. So much so, one sees community puja pandals in different localities ( to that extent it is different from the other festivals like Dassain and Tihar , which are celebrated more at home ). It was interesting to hear, the concept of "Bagdevi Aradhana' being explained on FM this morning. I don't think they would do that in Calcutta. In the evening, Nina took Jaya to a Puja nearby - dressing her up in a red Saree and Ghagra. Jaya didn't agree tho' to Sandip's suggestion that the colour to be worn on Saraswati Puja Day is yellow ( Basanti ) - but, then Red ( Rato ) is also the favourite colour in Nepal. Nina missed her Kuler Ambal ( which, no doubt, Ma will make up for in the next consignment of goodies from Cal ) and Sandip his "Gota Sheddho" ( a kind of cereal-less khicuri with bolied whole vegetables ) - for which he used to 'religiously' go to the Math ( Ramakrishna Mission ) at Mumbai on Saraswati Puja. As he always maintained, his connection with the Mission has been more gastronomical than spiritual.

Sunday, January 28, 2001

Gandhi, Marx and Ram

As a Bengali I terribly disappoint my friends at not being able to spout either Marx or Tagore. So in a belated attempt to make amends, reading Ramachandra Guha's latest book - collection of his Essays - An Anthropologist among the Marxists - but, must admit, enjoying it thoroughly. He is surely one of the finest Indian mind of our generation ( now, now .. that's not Bong chauvinism - 'cause, he is not a Bengali but a Tamilian - the surname is Guhan, someone decided to drop the 'n' along the way ). His central thesis, as the blurb says, is: 'Inside every thinking Indian there is a Gandhian and a Marxist struggling for supremacy'. He writes about Gandhians, pseudo-Gandhians, Marxists, anti Marxists and, of all things, Cricketers. Tho' it was even funnier reading the Ram vs Ram ( N. Ram vs Ram Guha ) battle on the pages of the Frontline....over what else but a woman, in this case Arundhati Roy ( 'God of Small Things' fame ). N. Ram didn't take kindly to Ram Guha ticking her off on writing about environmental issues ( Narmada Dam ) commenting that, she should stick to writing fiction ( apparently - he said something to the effect of, I am told that she has written a good novel' pretending that he hasn't read or heard about her book ). As someone else remarked the other day, Roy's tirade against him definitely sounds like love spurned or jilted at some stage. It seems before that, N. Ram had written something equally stupid about Tibet, defending the Chinese occupation, which Guha had criticised in his column. So, the polemical feud carries on.

Quake After-shocks

The Gujrat toll continues to mount. The latest tally has crossed 20,000. Managed to get news about Arindam and other friends in Ahmedabad. They are all safe. The HLL Exports Factory at Kandla has suffered some damages ( exact extent not known ) but there are no casualties reported. DCW Dhrangadhara has been untouched but 30 kms away Surendra Nagar is in shambles. GHCL at Veraval, Tatachem at Jamnagar, Sauchem at Porbander are all shut. Workers understandably are paranoid and not reporting for work. I believe Ahmedabad experienced some mild after-shocks even this morning. Spoke to Swami Vagishananda, President - of the Mumbai Ramakrishna Mission The buildings at the Rajkot Ashram have developed cracks, the Limdi centre has had minor damages. But, the Porbander - house where Swamiji ( Vivekakanada ) had stayed has remained miraculously unaffected. This morning the Sadhus from Rajkot have reached Bhuj to begin relief work - tho' they realise that their contribution would be like a drop in an ocean. But, every drop would count now. The scenes on TV are absolutely heart rendering.The Mumbai Math has started colecting Contributions from the public for the quake-affected. Donations can be sent to the following address:
c/ o The President, Ramakrishna Mission
12th Road, Khar ( West ) Mumbai 400 052. Cheques / DDs can be drawn in favour of Ramakrishna Mission - Mumbai ( Phone: 649-4760)

Saturday, January 27, 2001

More on Gujrat Quake

The death toll in Ahmedabad has crossed 1000, as was - perhaps - to be expected. It's frightening to see pictures of buildings collapsed like toy houses. What is surprising is that, many of these appear to be new constructions, which should have been designed to withstand - at least - earthquakes of moderate intensity. One shudders to think what would have happened if such a quake had hit Kathmandu. Would like to call up Arindam ( Mitra ) especially - to check they are ok, also Jand ( now with Nirma ) and VK Singh ( back to GHCL). But, I don't have their numbers handy at home.

Friday, January 26, 2001

Chinese Dinner & Naturopathy

Dinner was at the Chinese Restaurant of the Everest at the invitation of the Ghais ( Ila and Anil ). The food was not exceptional - tho' it was a special menu for the Chinese New Year created by a new Chef flown in from China. Sandip was feeling a bit down because of the cold and slight temperature - but, felt much better after generous doses of the hot-lemon-honey-ginger drink and loads of Jasmine Tea. The Wadhwas ( Shalini & Rakesh ) were also there with some other guests - this is the 3rd time during the day we bumped into each other. Anil is planning to follow Rakesh's eg and go for a naturopathy treatment to the Jindals in Bangalore. May be we should try it too - Ameet and Madhavi ( Harianis ) were full of praise for the programme - which seem to have done them a world of good.

Republic Day

The 51st Indian Republic Day function at the Indian Embassy was more sombre than usual, even the turn-out was noticeably less.Not many people knew about the earthquake and the news of the devastations in India had not yet circulated. The smaller crowd, probably, had more to do with the aftermath of the December problems. Security at the function was tight - some may have feared disturbances and decided to stay away. I don't subscribe to the view expresssed by some that people didn't come as a mark of protest about the Embassy's role ( or rather the lack of it ) during the riots. Didn't quite understand the reference to Ayub Khan's system of indirect represantation in the President's speech. Not sure if it had something to do with Kashmir ( Later learnt - it was apropos some discussion in the Constitution Review Committee of the Parliament. Wonder why this President continues to take such regular pot-shots at the government through his public speeches. To that extent some of the criticism of him by the BJP seems justified that he is toeing the Congress line. Surprising that it comes from an ex-Foreign Service Officer ). The Ambassador's Speech was short and pithy - making a telling point about the recent violence. The evening's reception at the India House had the usual crowd of politicians, bureucrats and the Kats cocktail circuit regulars. Nina went for the Odisee Recital by Madhavi Mudgal and was very impressed. Now she has changed her mind about teaching Jaya Kathak and wants to enlist her for Odisee instead. Tho' Jaya herself remains a great fan of the other Mudgal - Shobha having fallen in love ( like her Dad ) with her latest album Maan Ke Manjire, to which she sings along quite well.

When the Sub-continent Rocked

Today morning, a little after 9, as were getting ready to leave for work, we felt the tremors. Sandip was having a bath and couldn't make it out - but, the rest of us in the house at once knew it was an earth-quake. The window-panes were rattling and the Tibetan Lamp in the ground-floor hall-way was swaying vigorously. In Kats, we live in perpetual fear of the grand "shake-up". Apparently, the city lies right on the Central Asia fault line and geolists have been predicting a major quake anytime, when it would be reduced to rubbles due to totally unsuitable construction. Western Embassies keep issuing warnings to its citizens to be prepared and we keep hearing stories of how some of the affluent locals go to sleep with their jewellery, monies, food-packets and water bottles as a precaution for any eventuality. But, little did we realise that the severity of the quake in parts of India - especially Gujrat - was much more serious. Over 500 people have been reported dead - but the toll could go up much higher as the full extent of damage comes to be known. Although, the intensity of the tremor was only 6.9 ( measured at a point higher by seismologists in China and France ) the devastation could be disproportionate due to the poor, non-earthquake proof constructions in this part of the world.

About Us and this site

Hey, this is the new family site of Jaya, Nina and Sandip Ghose. Come here to see our regular updates from Kathmandu