Desi Party @ Lake District

The Desis in the United Kingdom have been quite active recently. Desis mean us Indians who are scattered at different parts of the UK. There are many official and unofficial Indian communities here. Ours is a comparatively smaller one, but the group is increasing
exponentially. Our Desi community members are a mixture of students and professionals who mostly belong to the same profession- Audiology and have at one point or other time studied at the AIISH, Mysore. But we have been highly accommodative of other professions as well in the past.

Our Desi meetings started a few years back even before I joined the group. It started with the sole aim of having a common point of meeting for friends and enjoy Desi food and chatamchati. Group members have since successfully organized meetings at Edinburgh, Southampton, London, Swansea, Leicester, etc. So, all the Christmas, New Year, Easter and summer vacations in UK for the last two years were spent in true Desi style. We teasingly started to call those meetings as Desi Party. And the name stuck oddly.

Getting a membership in the group is easy as long as you abide by the most important rule- Not a single story of Desi Parties go out of the group. So photos are censored and videos never reach youtube. Those memorable times become fossils in our memories and are retained strictly for the entertainment of the Desi group members only. Other than these many implicit rules exist which I cannot disclose. I hope I am not breaching confidentiality by publishing this post here.

The last Desi party was arranged at the Lake District keeping Independence Day in mind. Not to forget that weekend Master Chundu was scoring the first quarter century of his life on Earth. Such achievement itself calls for a celebration. Group members agreed for a 3 days long weekend out of boredom at Lake District, North-East of England. All planning were made under three weeks time. Getting a holiday home for nine people at LD at 3 weeks notice is unimaginable, if not impossible. Efficient and one among the first few members of this group, Vinay and Srikanta made the impossible possible. Consequently, on the eve of Indepenence Day, desi group members congregated at Kendal.

Source: www.leaney.org

Next day morning we celebrated Independence Day in the backyard of the house. The tricolour (brought by Vinay) was hoisted duly followed by the National Anthem which was followed by having food sitting on the grass. Evening was spent in Windermere, where we took a trip on the cruise and wandered around the Lake. Next day morning the few energetic ones took a walk around the village while sluggish ones remained at the comfort of their room and took pleasure in more card games, DVDs, food and drinks.

Attempts for a berbeque in the evening was murdered by the famous English weather. All of Sriram's hard work went down the drain. Viji and Pratiksha had to swallow half cooked veg food, while the non-veg people recooked their meat in the oven. We hit the local pub late at night to celebrate Chundu’s birthday and more dancing and singing continued till early in the morning. The villagers in the pub could not resist joining in our celebration.

Next day morning we left Kendal and headed to our own directions. Parting is always difficult, but it always comes with the assurance for another party.

Many things change over the years. Venues for meetings change each time, members come and go, the house turns from impeccably clean to a messy shit. But the valedictory speech by Vinay at the end of the party never changes. It has been the same since the first "No more Desi Party". And we ignore as he will be the first one to propose the next.

Some acknowledgements are due:

Vinay and Chundu for coming up with the excellent idea for this party.
Vinay and Srikanta for doing the inhumane job and getting the house booked.
Vinay again for making the numerous numbers of trips transporting us and driving patiently while dodging all navigation suggestions by nosy passengers.
Venkat for his awesome Dosa and Chutney.
Sriram for being so funny.
Manas for his secret revelations.
Viji for being so sporty.
Pratiksha for adding that extra glitz in our otherwise customary Desi Party.

Thanks Buddies.


Serial Blasts in India

Diwali came early this year in India. But it did not bring any happiness. There were no celebrations. Because this Diwali was not for the masses, but only celebrated by few people who masterminded it. And they celebrated it not with fire crackers, but with bombs.

This July 25th Bengaluru saw seven serial bomb blasts killing three people and injuring several others.Next day Ahmedabad was traumatized with 16 serial blasts again injuring and killing several common people. The serial bomb blasts started early in May this year when people in Jaipur were shaken with fear when five bombs blasted serially in different parts of the city.

Since then news of bomb blasts is pouring in from different corners of the countries, fortunately not in such large scales as in Jaipur, Ahmendabad or Bengaluru. Eight lives were lost in Assam following a bomb blasting in a small village market. On August 9th, three children were injured in New Jalpaiguri when they tried to open a bottle. Police found three more bottle-bombs lying around at that place.

These scattered news make us common people little uncomfortable when we read it in the newspaper or see it in TV. When the news reached me, I too was uncomfortable. I made some hurried phone calls to friends and family in India, and once I was assured they were safe, I totally forgot the incident.

Probably this is our most common reactions to terrorism. We turn to the next page of the newspaper, or switch the TV channel to the next reality TV show. Terrorism matters to us only when one of our own people gets victimised. Till then we suffer nothing. Nothing can take us out of our false feeling of security. But how long can we ignore?

I can only half start to feel the pain of my friend Indrani and the anguish she and her family were going through. She lost her uncle in a similar accident in Kolkata. The sufferings of the family can be found here.

It is unfortunate enough and I sympathise with the families who lost their loved ones in such mindless killings and look forward to the day when these terrorisms come to an end. Till then we can only hope and pray to God to keep our loved ones safe.


Holly Inspirations

This is not a movie review.

The lists of Bollywood remakes of Hollywood movies are endless. Sometimes they are directly lifted from a Hollywood hit. Other times it gets its inspiration from another Hollywood movie (which means the plot is partially picked-up). But have you ever seen any Hollywood movie which is picked up from Indian movies? Well, here is one.

The release of the film “Wanted” created a lot of excitement among my friends. Some die-hard Jolie fans (mostly guys) would not let go any movie of hers. I hate any Angelina Jolie film. Or to say Aishwarya Rai films. They both look so abnormally beautiful. I guess Jolie looked much like a normal human being in “A Mighty Heart”. Keeping aside Ms Jolie, I became a fan of McAvoy’s eyes (after seeing “Atonement”) and loved his cute Irish accent in the film “Becoming Jane”.

I should admit that with a star cast of James McAvoy and Morgan Freeman the film “Wanted” looked promising. The trailer was also sizzling enough to drag us to Odeon. With mixed love-hate feelings in my heart, I gave into my friend’s desire and gave up a Friday evening for Wanted. The film started with a scene where a man leapt from one building to the terrace of Metropolitan Building which was approximately 1000 metres apart. I solaced myself that the producer/director might have read the epic “Ramayana” and is a fan of Hanuman. The movie carried on and Newton carried on turning in his grave.

Most of the action scenes are a direct pick up or (more appropriately) inspired by our Bollywood and Tamil movies. I have heard a story of a Mithun Chakraborty film here, where he was shot by a villain with a gun. The bullet passed Mithun Da’s ears and took away the life-threatening tumour away. Likewise, in the film Wanted, McAvoy’s wounds heal overnight in a wax-bed.

I specially liked the scene where Jolie and Freeman are training McAvoy to be an assassin and avenge his father’s death. They not only teach how to hold the gun, pull the trigger, and shoot the bullet, but also teach how to “bend it like Rajnikanth”. So, McAvoy targets the victim from the roof-top of a running train and the bullet bends in mid-air and shoots the target in pin-point precision. Wowww. By the time the film ended, I had forgotten I ever attended any Physics class. I was apprehending what Dr. Barin Kumar Dey would say about the film. Sure missed him a lot.

So, three cheers for our Indian superstars who are inspiring Hollywood movies. I am waiting for few more Hollywood remakes to come. Till then, let’s enjoy an SRK movie. Ta-Da!


Quarter Life Crisis III

Dear readers, if you have got bored at this moment, please jump the next three paragraphs. I cannot help but give some details of few of my other experiences with would-be grooms.

The next one was a guy who was studying in USA. His mother was in-charge of setting his alliances and was acting on his behalf. She called me several times during my work hours. Her demands were unique. I should promise her that I will clear my GRE, get an acceptance in the same University where her son was studying, and take an admission there before she solemnise the wedding. This time it was my mom’s turn to get shocked, and she intervened and put a stop (more appropriately a comma) to it.

The oasis in the desert was a guy from Canada, who wrote very nice emails. He genuinely or pretended to take interest in my likings and hobbies. But all his emails had a funny subject “Raj from Canada”. Probably he thought that the email would get lost if the return address was not written. Or probably he thought I will confuse him with the Raj from UK of DDLJ fame.

My harassment did not end at the hands of suitors only. Crisis crept to my personal life, which included home. My mom’s reactions started with simple distress - “All your friends are getting married”, to whimpering “I feel ashamed to go and attend wedding ceremonies now-a-days, everybody asks when is yours” to howling “Do you want us to live in this society?”

My crisis reached its peak when I got a job offer from USA and I started with my H1B. Then, the guys in India would not take me as I was leaving, and the guys in USA would delay the alliance process saying “age ashte dao” (let her come first). They could not believe that anybody can get a job in USA without a software professional degree.

At that point even I had a thought that probably I am going to die an old maid. I consulted my friends who were going through similar fate. And they had weirder stories to tell. One girl who was looking for alliances through the matrimony sites was asked to email two copies of her birth certificate, two copies of her janam kundali (astro profile), the latest degree certificate, with three recent photographs (close-up, sitting and standing). She replied back that she was looking for an alliance, and not a PA job.

My cousin sister working in ICICI made a standard for refusing guys. Whoever will ask her for taking home loans will be rejected. She is still rejecting.

Another close friend who was doing her MPhil told an amusing tale. She had to go through the process of patri dekha (guy’s family coming to see the girl). She was politely asked by the guy’s father to sign her name in a white paper (an old tradition to see that the girl is literate).

Seasons changed, and fate brought me to UK. That same year in Christmas, I happened to bump into the guy whom I knew for nine years whose previous advances for a date were refused blatantly. Well, fate had taken its own turn, and it was my turn to get bowled. Cupid’s arrow did not miss this time, and we got married this April putting and end to my parent’s mid-life crisis and my own quarter life crisis. I am enjoying wedded bliss for the time being till I am hit with some new crisis.

Quarter Life Crisis II

Life at Mysore was blissful again with no potential suitors and no parental pressure for wedding. Two years passed like a flick and I again found myself suffering from single-woman syndrome. Two weeks into my first job and my mom’s excellent network service had made a potential suitor call me at Mangalore. I was informed of the call beforehand, and was ready for a friendly chat. But I had no idea that it was going to be a marriage interview. (Well, I did not have an idea that such things exist).

Important excerpts from the interview.
- When did you pass your Masters?
- Which University?
- When did you pass your Bachelors?
- Which University?

At that point I thought of producing my degree certificates, but had to restrain as it was a telephonic interview. I was waiting when he will ask what I do for a living (a job as a lecturer which I was too proud of and too eager to boast), but he never asked. The interview continued…

PG- How many boyfriends did you have?
Me- Some crushes, no serious ones.
PG- Ok, do not try to lie to me. I know many people from your school, and can get the truth out in two days.
Me- (Shocked… gasped for breath, and them mumbled) Yes, whatever. (And under breath- I can produce references/clean conduct certificate, if you wish).
PG- How much importance do you give to money?

By that time I lost all interest in him and specially no interest in his money, and so mumbled something in reply. He concluded the interview stating that I was successful at that instance and was suitable for the position of a housewife. He forgot to ask if I was interested to take that position. He described in no uncertain terms his intentions of getting a decent wife with a professional qualification, and she should stay at home to look after the house. In short, he needed an educated kaamwali.

To be continued...

Quarter Life Crisis I

This post is applicable only if being on the fair (?) side of the age of thirty can be considered as the first quarter of my life.

I took a looong hiatus from blogging (and everything else). And (hopefully) for the right reasons. On April 17th, I tied the knot with my friend, Srikanta. No…no...this is not the crisis. But this was the end of the beginning of a long crisis.

It started in the summer of 2001. I came home to enjoy a 10 day’s vacation from college. My last UG exam was over and I was officially a graduate. Pursuing the idyllic life of an internee was heavenly which also meant having more money in pocket than I had ever seen together. But most importantly I just hit the hazardous age of 22. Any girl of 22 or who have already passed that age would understand the hazards related with that age.

The female relatives of the family became extremely uncomfortable (i.e. concerned with my age). So one afternoon my mom along with my aunts paid their (loyal) visit to the family astrologer who gave the verdict that the daughter of the house should get married before she is 23. And since that day, my life changed forever.

My mom’s network (family and friends and their family and their friends) wasted no time in hunting down potential grooms for me. And, I, the hapless victim remained a mute spectator of the mayhem (and could only pray for some miracle to happen). No miracle happened. When the first suitor arrived, I fled. I was traced down to my Aunt’s (pishi) kitchen savouring ilish maach bhaja. My poor pishi had no idea what was going on and believed that I had come to stay for the day (with my parent’s consent).

I was mercilessly dragged, pulled and shoved to home. And my mother asked me the age-old question every mother asks their daughter in such situation.
“Are you…..”

No… wait…stop guessing… because I know what you are thinking.

When I was telling the same story to my Estonian friend, she stopped me here, and told, “Well, when I broke up with my boyfriend, my mom asked me the same question- Are you a lesbian?”

No… my friends, my Mom did not ask me that question. I guess she did not have such creative ideas. She also did not bother to ask “Do yo have a boyfriend”. She was too confident in her understanding that I stand no chance with guys and could not have had one. She rather asked, “Do you want to get married at all?” Simple question… eh? But my simpler answer, “Yes…but not now” could not pacify her disappointment.

My friends who know me for the last decade already know how I escaped my mom’s marriage trap when my father intervened. My persuasion with him led to a negotiation. He came out with the simplest solution. If I continued with my studies, marriage would be postponed.

I do not want to elaborate here and bore my readers with details about how a non-academician like me had to do the donkey-work with books and journals for the next one month to clear the entrance exam for the Master’s course. Miracles do happen, and it did happen this time. That August Mysore saw me starting my Master’s course.

To be continued.....

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