Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some Anecdotes…

28th May, 2007

Myriad experiences await us in our daily life, be it in our school, college or office. Each of us come across some strange situations, some weird people during the course of our lives, and the strangest or the most arresting of such situations deserve to be shared…

So, I bring to you today some experiences from my real life! All these incidents occurred somewhere between April and May 2007, so they are mainly related to office life.

Anecdote 1:
In Kolkata, traveling to office during peak hours can be quite a headache – much like the locals of Mumbai and the buses of Delhi, public transportation vehicles become overcrowded, and passengers nearly hang on to the vehicles for dear lives. One very common mode of traveling here is the auto rickshaw. Legally, an auto rickshaw is supposed to transport only three passengers at one go. Typically, they transport at least four commuters, and at times the number rises to six! While three people sit in the backseat, the extras are accommodated in the front seat beside the driver. It can be imagined what the situation looks like!

However, this being the common story, no one really minds, and guys and gals sit in the front seat alike without being too fussy about it.

One day, when I was coming back from office, two guys and I were sitting in the back seat of an auto. Along came a “damsel in distress”… not getting an option of choosing a comfortable back seat, she promptly asked one of the guys to shift over to the front seat!!!

Now, I happen to have a very expressive face! If I’m not carefully guarding it, my face reflects exactly what I am thinking or feeling – and this woman’s behaviour shocked me! I must have gaped at her with as much disgust as I could muster, coz the guy, before obligingly shifting over to the front seat, gave me a half-smile – as if to say, “yes, lady, such women still do exist!”

I could not help but pierce the “damsel” with an extremely sarcastic look, silently telling her, “I’m so ashamed of you”. She too must have read my expression well enough, coz the look of indignation on her face could not have been triggered by anything else!

Once upon a time, such behaviour would be condonable and in fact be deemed a common occurrence. But no working woman does it today. I have seen women in sarees sit in the front sit without batting an eyelid, because that is the order of the day, the need of the hour.

In today’s world, when Kolkata is one of the leading metros to proclaim equality between men and women, such things are indeed shameful, esp. when it comes from a woman herself. If we women cannot stop asking for such special favours, we will never be able to achieve the goal we are looking at, and men will be quite justified in saying “And then they say they are our equals…!!!”

Anecdote 2:
I always thought motherhood brings the ultimate maturity to a woman. However, this incident showed me that it’s not always true!

On my way back from office yet another evening, we were stuck in a usual traffic jam near Ultadanga. Standing right beside our auto rickshaw was a Tata Sumo, which appeared to be working as a shuttle. One of the occupants of the car was a young woman aged about 30, with her kid (he’d be two year old, at max).

The woman was comfortably sitting near the window, and she’d sandwiched the kid in between her and another commuter beside her. Quite predictably, the kid was too bothered by the heat and humidity (the car did not have the AC running) and was howling pitifully… Sitting in the auto rickshaw, I, being a bystander with no particular experience of rearing kids, was wise enough to realize that the kid should be placed near the window, so that he’d get some fresh air… His mother, however, either could not understand that, or was too selfishly reluctant to give up her own comfortable window seat.

It was, however, her next action that totally dumbfounded me. In order to pacify her son, she took out a cell phone from her purse, dialed her husband’s number, and held the phone to the poor kid’s ears, asking him to speak to his “Papa”!!!

The fellow commuter sitting beside her commented upon the same thing as I was wondering – is luring the kid with a cell phone the answer to his discomfiture? Or would it have been much better to take his fancy clothes off, and take care of his woes by simply putting him next to the window?

Anecdote 3:
A colleague of mine recently related his own sad story of heartbreak and personal loss… He’d got an opportunity of studying in a premiere institution (the same as mine, actually – that’s why he related the story!) but for taking that up, he’d have to leave Kolkata and go stay in Pune for five years.

When his then girlfriend got to know about his plans, she told him not to go away because she’d be left alone here; and upon hearing this, my colleague cancelled his plans, tore off his tickets and changed all his plans!

I was used to such stories in films and fictions… When I heard about this real incident in the life of a real person, I just could not help blurting out, “how stupid can you get?”

People might think I’m against compromises of any kind, and many of you might tell me that adjustments are necessary in all relationships. But I beg to differ. I totally agree to the first part – every relationship is based on some compromise or the other. But where this compromise comes willingly, more often than not the compromising party does not mind or regret making such a compromise. But when one party asks the other to make a compromise, in my opinion it reveals pure selfishness. The party making the compromise in such a situation, more often than not, feels deprived and neglected. He/she feels that he/she is the only one making compromises in the relationship; and when such a feeling creeps into the mind, the relationship almost always fails.

As did my colleague’s. He is not with the girl any longer.

Today, as he looks back upon those days, I’m sure he stops awhile and thinks, “what did I gain by such a compromise?”

Saturday, May 26, 2007

“A Tribute to Koushambi Layek”?!

26th May, 2007

The murder of the young TCS engineer from Dumka, Ms. Koushambi Layek, is by now known to almost all who access the net in India. But going through certain sites and reading some people’s reactions about the incident has convinced me that a lot of people around really don’t know how exactly a close friend or family member of a such a victim feels after such a devastating incident.

I think we should get our facts right first, which evidently, loads of people don’t bother to do.
a) Koushambi met Manish on a train.
b) They used Orkut only as a means of keeping in touch, as do so many others for whom the internet is much more convenient than land phones / cellular devices / letters.
c) Though Koushambi developed a relationship with Manish, she did so without knowing that he was married.
d) Once she did get to know that, she tried to break off with him, but Manish threatened her and coerced her into continuing.
e) Distraught over the way things were going, Koushambi took her family into confidence, and they too tried to talk Manish out of the thing, but to no avail.

Why Koushambi had gone to that hotel in Mumbai with Manish was a question that was shrouded in mystery for long, but reading the above, I think it appears more likely that the reason was to try and talk a way out of the relationship.

Manish has now concurred with the above, and has also confessed to killing her in her sleep, by shooting her through a pillow.

From the numerous sites that are trying to sensationalize the news unnecessarily I grasped a few things:
a) some people have absolutely no clue about what they are talking about, and why
b) some people are really muddled (or addled) in their brains, and talk absolute crap
c) some people are just talking because they don’t know how and when to keep shut
d) some people are simply using the gruesome incident as their trump card to cheap publicity, and this is the worst of all.

For example, thousands of visitors have been sending their condolence messages through Koushambi’s Orkut profile. The regular “R. I. P.” and “God bless your poor soul” type of messages apart, there are plenty of visitors who are simply making fun of the ill-fated girl and her untimely death. Do take a look at this:
hello!! how r u.... hpe u r fine .... howzz u knw who is sleepin next to uu.... pls get me his adress,,,, reply is must”

Does the guy have any humanity left in him?

And then there is this strange character who writes:
u shudn have had a relationship with a married man who has kids.. doesn speak of ur innocence.. doesn matter if ur dead or alive.. u have commited a sin too..his child will suffer more than u two…”

And to which another strange character replies:
Maheshwar. u are true. How many girls will spend a night in a hotel room who is not married to her. She too is not all that innocent. And also had multiple affairs. Its murkier. I dont have sympathy for Manish but i am sure there must be a very strong reason behind taking such a drastic step.
also they both first met in a train (face to face). Orkut just happened to be a mode of staying in touch. Dunno why Orkut is so much in news when it ws not responsible for their meeting each other.”

Those were just a few out of hundreds of such comments on her scrapbook.

Let us for a moment assume that Koushambi was indeed a girl with loose morals (though I personally don’t subscribe to that view – as per the official reports, she did not know that the guy was married when she got into the relationship, and when she finally got to know of it she tried to break off. Doesn’t show much of loose morals, does it?) Let’s assume that she was indeed sleeping around with a man married to someone else. Does that mean that if a client murders a prostitute, or a man murders his mistress, it is no crime? Does that mean that a prostitute / concubine does not have the right to live?

It appears from such comments that we have lost all humane touch in us. We’ve forgotten that what matters is that a person lost her life, and whatever be her actions, she did not deserve to die. A man has no right whatsoever to murder his concubine/prostitute too. And Koushambi was, by his own admissions, Manish’s girlfriend – not a prostitute, not a mistress, not a concubine.

Koushambi is not known to me personally. But I feel for her. And her family and close friends. I remember being in a helpless situation years ago, when a friend of mine was raped, and my roommates went on to say very emphatically that the poor girl must have had some relations / set up with the rapist! I could not do much to stop them, apart from telling them that they were sick perverts.

I know how it feels when the character of a poor victim of circumstances is mercilessly assassinated, for no fault of hers. I know how it feels to hear things like that about a victim, who’s close to you. But evidently, a large sect of the human race does not realize that.

And so they go on to assassinate the character of the girl, sensationalize it and use it for their own selfish ends. Like this woman who’s the owner of a community on Orkut which supposedly pays tribute to Koushambi and seeks to keep the news of her merciless murder alive in the minds of the public till the killer is dealt with. By her own admission, she does it all for publicity:

“I even created a community for the deceased TCS staffer Koushambi Layek. I know that is wrong, but i wan to be famous.:)”

And then there are these weird people, who don’t have any clue what they are talking about. They just don’t know what to say and how, and when to keep their mouths shut. Murders, rapes, premarital and extramarital affairs, intoxicants… they blame it on “westernization”, whatever it is! Can somebody please tell such dunderheads that even our epics, like Ramayana, Mahabharata, etc. talk about these “vices”? Or was there “too much westernization” even at the time when these were written? Honestly, I didn’t know whether to laugh or be exasperated when I read this:

are we western-ising too much... i may seem totally dweebish but is having relationships wid the opposite sex b4 marriage even in our culture...the culture that’s been going strong for 3K years is getting westernised.....though im not against westernisation.....the vices of westernisation may bring us down....drinks, cigarettes, drugs an all...and its already taking a expectin, if any, negative replies for this...but is worth talking about”

If there is any small consolation, then the above was very aptly and smartly replied to by another Orkut user:

simi (voice:
@ sunil!!!!!!!the very fact dat u r talking in english.. isnt dat westernization???? wat on earth is dis concept of westernization and dat europe or the US teaches us to booze, have premarital sex and all the stuff that we 'culturally rich' indians don’t do?????? my maid's husband comes and beats her up and has an affair with another woman..... is he westernized, or has he watched too many hollywood movies?? mr sunil, grow up!!!!! its completely and totally a person's mentality to do whatever he / she does!!! premarital sex, extramarital sex, cocaine, ganja. murder, rape...blah blah blah blah!! it does not matter if he comes from texas or taiwan!! what is so difficult in understanding that????”

Koushambi is dead. Manish cold-bloodedly murdered her, that too in her sleep, only because she refused to continue the relationship with him any longer. He shot her mercilessly, first in the neck through a pillow, to muffle the sound of the gunshot, and then again through her temple. And here we are, publicizing and sensationalizing the news unnecessarily, and causing even more distress to the poor girl’s soul by assassinating her character.

What have we come to? Where have our humanity, our morals disappeared? And why on earth are we even for a moment trying to justify Manish’s heinous crime? He not only lied to the poor girl and lured her into a relationship, he also murdered her when she found out about the truth and tried to call it off… and we are trying to support that? On what grounds?

The answer definitely eludes me…

Life After College!!

It has been a long, long time since I’ve given time to my blogging passions… Not that I did not have anything to write about – quite the contrary, really… what I did not have was the time for it. Interpreted simply and truthfully, I don’t have the time to spend on myself any longer, quite like I’d expected while leaving my Pune days behind.

Life has taken its expected turn… it has made me “the busy corporate lady” that most of us aspire to become these days… but nothing comes without a price tag these days – and I’ve paid for it with my own personal time.

I have noticed something – ever since I got placed in December ’06, my ambition has been charting the course of my life, rather than me charting the course of my ambitions… Today, I have decided to break free for once.

Right now, I have two options… a) to sit and complete my office work that would urgently be needed tomorrow, or b) to sit and do what I feel like doing right now. After ages, I chose the latter path…

Now that the introductions are over, I don’t know where to start!!! Such a lot has happened since the last time I wrote here… I have of course joined my new office, met new people there, spent some great times at home and outside with my kid bro, had a few fabulous outings with my close family members, explored a whole new city as part of my first official trip, and more or less managed to sail through even the busiest stretches of office hours!

Phew… that’s quite a lot!!

Let me deal with one thing at a time. Starting with my office – since that is the newest thing in my life as of now!

Being with India’s No. 1 real estate company does feel good, I must say – and the credit especially goes to the kind of work I’m doing! I never imagined I could enjoy myself so much with Land Laws! Apart from the work (which leaves precious little scope for anything else anyway!) there are my colleagues. Nice people! My bumpy rides in office are pretty much smoothed out thanks to a fat lot of help from them! Honestly, had it not been for them, office might not have been half as enjoyable…

My first official trip… ah! This was something I was eagerly waiting for! When I was offered a position with this company, the prime attraction of the job for me had been the fact that it was not just a desk job – I would have to go on official tours in and around the state! And boy, the first such trip came my way sooner than expected!
The Lingaraja Temple - The only place of tourist interest
that I managed to visit!!
Admittedly, Bhubaneshwar is not a new place to me – but I’d only visited the place as a tourist before this. And I believe you can’t really know a city unless you stay there as a localite – tourist attractions will always be just that, an attraction that will hold you mesmerized! But to get the real feel of a city, you need to stay there for a while, among the local people, in the local atmosphere… which is exactly what this trip provided me with! Bhubaneshwar came across to me as quite a friendly, neat and clean, albeit small, city. Did not really find much of a specialty in the city, but somehow, ended up liking it!

One time I’d remember forever in that entire trip was my last evening in the city. A colleague of mine had invited me over to his place for dinner and drinks. It was a memorable evening with him, his adorable little daughter, Sania, all of two years, and his amazing wife!

Once I got back here from Bhubaneswar, there was a very important thing that I needed to do – something I’d been neglecting ever since I’d come back home from Pune… To spend time with my loved ones!

My sweet li’l cousin bro (I call him Bhaitu) had been eagerly awaiting my homecoming so that he could spend some time with me – and a treat was definitely due to him… so I’d promised to myself that at the first opportunity I got, he would get his dues. So, an amazing outing with him and another cousin sister of mine happened! The three of us caught up with Spiderman III at Inox, and had a ball of a time there!

Next in line were his parents, my Mamu (not to be interpreted in the same sense as the one mentioned in Munna Bhai…!) and Maima – my maternal Uncle and Aunt… so the next weekend was spent having a grand family outing with Mom, Mamu, Maima, Bhaitu and Monica!

A Pic of the Sunset We Watched

We went to the Millenium Park first… I was pretty excited since this was my first visit to the Park. Ever since it had been pressed into operations, I’d wanted to go there, but predictably enough, I had no time to do so! At the Park, we witnessed a lovely sundown… the kind that holds you rapt and mesmerized, and the kind that you generally don’t get to see in the hustly-bustly jungle of concrete sky scrapers in metros…

An Illuminated Ship Silhoutted against the Evening Sky

The Floatel - First Floating Hotel of India!

Then, we moved on to the Floatel. This was my first visit to this place too... It is India's first ever floating hotel, and I must say I was quite impressed with what I saw!! The place does live up to the promise it makes, and I felt very much at “sea” there!!! And of course, the Floatel renewed my belief in the old, old saying: "What Bengal thinks today, India thinks tomorrow!"

What with the feeling of being in a ship with Cabin Crew elegantly dressed in the typical white uniforms, and the shimmering waves of water beneath us, the Floatel definitely was a hit with us!

Well, that was precisely what I’d been upto for so long… and now that I’ve penned it down, it does feel great to get back into the groove of blogging!!!