Reboot

"I heard you write."
"Used to"
"What happened then?"
"Life"
"Waa? That's the shittiest excuse I have ever heard. Thank heavens you stopped writing!" said my well meaning friend. But something in my brain kicked me hard. What really happened to me? As I sat down for a quick recap of the past couple of years when I have been so 'unproductive' so as to say, the flashback images amazed me with the sheer enormity of what all happened!

So I moved to a new city, which I have still not embraced as my own, set out to live on my own for the first time ever, excelled in a dream job, met crazy bunch of colleagues who became thick friends, learnt to scream profanities at random people on road when they did not meet my driving standards, had a big fat bengali wedding, got my passport (ah well that has been an ever lasting struggle), built my, err our, own abode and now in a few days will complete a year of sharing my life with my best friend!

In the last couple of years I have laughed & screamed, danced and fought, smiled and smirked, hugged and cried, walked and flown and transitioned through numerous emotions. I have learnt to live in a refreshing new way, had experiences which helped me grow and have learnt to look beyond my cocooned world.

And yet, and yet... words have not come to me. Ah, or may be I did not summon them?

That little kick came at a time when I was on a brink of a reboot. Getting too comfortable in my own skin was making me queasy. The kick helped me take another leap. And here I am, at stage 1 of life reboot, with a promise to return to this page more often now :) 

Sneak Peak

Note: I had written this for an internal event at my company. The write-up, written in form of an press release was a huge hit then. Sharing it (after suitably masking my employer and boss's names) on my blog here, as the first step to revive this dead page. Hope going forward I would not be as lazy and shall write fresh posts regularly :)

MM Inc. Corporate Communication launches a never before offer of – a sneak peek into the mysterious world of PR!
  • Who we are?  
  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
New Delhi, June 21, 2011: MM Inc., a leading global cartoon company, today announced the launch of once in a life time offer – rendezvous with the mavericks handling the mysterious function of public relations. Surely these men and women posses’ secret super powers to be handling the second most stressful job in the world with such √©lan!

Corporate Communication encompasses the universe…err handling the within, the without and the beyond could easily be called so! So External Public Relations (without), Internal Communication (within) and Online Reputation Management (ORM) form the whole gamut of roles these professionals easily change into, with chameleon speed.

 
Speaking on the intricacies of a job which she handles and oversees with her acute controlling powers - a la Professor Xavier - Daisy Duck, Head Corporate Communication at MM Inc. says “It is our role of weave the web of positive image of the company both in the minds of consumers and employees. We touch everyone’s lives, some see it, others merely feel it. But we are there, quietly maneuvering the energies of the cosmos to deliver what you experience as the MM Inc brand promise!”

 
As she wields her wand of illusion to ensure the ‘well feeling’ of the masses (read MM Inc. population), her team of superheroes, proudly united under the banner of ‘D Company’, follow their joint mission to make the world get a better MM experience. With each one possessing a unique cosmic power, they reach out to the stakeholders present in any physical or virtual space, and evaporate in thin air as soon as the job is done...something akin to the Shadow Cat!
 
With the flexibility of a the Elastic Girl and the agility of Batman, the Corp Comm professionals slip in and out of various avatars seamlessly. So one day you might find them helping you organize an event like a skilled event manager, the next day they would be busy filing a story with a newspaper, with the same thorough analysis of a journalist. On one hand they would be firefighting social activist, on the other designing interesting mailers for all.
 
The team has its web spread across the continent. Any corner you need any communication help – they are there! Trust the supersonic age for their lightening presence, or is it teleporting? Only the Superheroes have the answer.
 
So go ahead, seek all you want and you shall get instant solutions!

Spirit God!

"When was the last time you updated your blog?"
"Umm, maybe a month back..no, I guess two months...why?"
"Why are you so irregular?"
"Umm, you see I have to really inspire my creative juices to put down something readable, which happens to be quite an effort..."
"...I am listening"
"...and of late I am suffering from a writer's block!"
"....."
"....."
"Girl, you never cease to amaze me at the length you go to defend your sheer laziness"

Thus went the conversation, which was intended to be a kick to my lethargy by this well meaning friend... Was he successful? Of course not, that would be so not me. Am typing this post about 20 days after I had the above conversation! So, I win. (am grinning ear to ear in my sadistic pleasure). But what really triggered my sudden spark? Ah, well one passion which really never tires me...CARS!


I began really modest you see, as a kid any bright cute looking car could distract me from the greatest pleasure of my life (or as the observers would like to put it). I loved my hot wheels more than the boys could ever do and every time I visited Kolkata, I would tell my cousin that the cab I took to his place was no match to my own little miniature yellow Ambi. With age my ambitions grew, and so did the size of my dream cars, till the day I got to know the existence of a beauty called limousine! I checked the length of the car and then grabbed my measuring tape to measure our driveway, till my brother gently reminded me that in our town we don't have roads wide enough for the car to take a turn. Heartbroken, I went back to my den, only to jump back towards more hot pursuits!


So, coming back to the trigger of this post - today as I was trying hard to look the 'ah so smart executive', in my crisp grey suit and shiny black ballerinas, a 'Ghost' took my breath away! After a successful meeting with a bunch of much older guys, whom I managed to impress upon as a no nonsense professional (never miss any compliment thrown at me ;), I was smartly walking across the office lobby towards the exit, with my nose in an elevated mode of pride. And then my eyes settled on the porch where the dashing handsome Ghost had parked itself. All my so called poise and aloofness just evaporated in seconds, the same way as water evaporates from a hot plate. My mouth fell open, eyes got dilated towards the surroundings and my feet suddenly developed a mind of their own...then suddenly I found myself being quickly collected in mid air by an elderly gentleman who looked as astonished as someone seeing an alien! 

In my fascination to immerse every detail of the Rolls Royce beauty, I had completely overlooked the glass door restricting my passage out to the porch. I had banged my nose on the glass and the impact accounted to my reverse mid air swing and the kind man's heroic rescue! Still dazed, I quickly straightened myself up and looked back...the Chauffeur had opened the door and was waiting for the owner to grace his presence. Enters the scene a hideous (pardon my bias, but I have no other words to describe my disgust) looking oldie, pinking his ears. I could feel my heart twisting inside me on the injustice. And then the dream machine drove away, leaving a divine emptiness around me.


"Mohua, are you ok? You look unwell!" asked my concerned savior. I slowly turned my attention towards him and realized I had just fallen into the arms of one big shot in the company whom I had been chasing for sometime for getting some necessary approvals, and who had not been sparing a single minute! For a second I was cursing the moment I fell into the spell of the 'Ghost', for by now I realised I had made a fool of myself in front of the people I couldn't afford to...soon to realise however that this was God's larger game plan, as the gentleman was now leading me to his room for he thought I was seriously hurt! 


At the end, it was a perfect win win situation. My insane passion somewhere helped me in my professional life, however dramatic it may have been. Mr. Savior not only spared his precious time fussing over me, but also cleared my work backlog! Not to mention the brownie points I earned in front of my boss :D


Dear Rolls Royce Ghost...as royal as you look, you surely were a majestic treat to me!


...and am back to my weird pursuits :)

Well...Men!

Ah, time and again I keep getting those chain mails on the 'what men want'. All the guys in my mailing list very kindly oblige me with this favor. Numerous literary volumes have been dedicated on this profound (?) discussion (or is this a debate?) and many learned intellectuals have torn off their hair from those already balding heads, yet the topic continues to hog the major consciousness of both the sexes.


Why on earth am I interested in this? Simple, I am clearly a member of the 'fairer sex', who often wonders why is it that the other side is not popularly called the 'darker sex'? Now, my friends from the other side of the fence would be already nodding their heads in dismay, thinking 'oh here starts the feminist again'. But relax guys, am not going to launch into one of my lectures which so torments your souls. Not here, because my blog space is not about frowns but smiles :)


So what do men want according to me? No, I will not fall into the philosophical premise which many of my gender sisters would begin with - 'well, men are very simple to dissect'. No they are not. They are as complex as  women, their minds having as many layers and folds as women claim theirs to contain. 


I have grown up among boys, my chaddi friends are all boys, I have more men in my contact list than women and all my major gossip sessions are with Men...there is more to the list...but I hear a cough, and detect a frown somewhere...ahem, did she just say 'Gossip'...oh yes sir, I did say gossip. This is one of my gravest observations - Men not only indulge in hard core gossip, they relish their bitching sessions too! And oh, how they enjoy it. Only the other day, I overheard this off hand comment by a lady to her reportee 'Oh man, you are such a bitch' and he flashed a glowing smile at this unexpected comment. Really! All my gossip sources in office are men, some of them even peached on the high and mighty chairs of hierarchy. It is these Men who have taught me how they use these apparently harmless gossip to their benefit amidst the blood bath of office politics. Woa, one down!


My second observation - Men think they are amazing on road, they know their cars and they need no directions to reach anywhere in the universe. I admit, a majority of them are right. They definitely drive much better than the ladies (sorry dears, but even I keep a safe distance from my own gender when behind the wheels). You will hardly ever find a man driving with this hand brake still pulled up, his dress half hanging from the door, pushing the accelerator with all might and expecting it to reach 100 in the second gear itself, or reversing without consulting the rear view or side view mirrors and bumping into a pole which happens to be 10 feet away from the parking spot. Men also know and understand their (and other's) cars very well. They know the difference between the GS and GLS models and do not prefer a car because 'oh it looks so cute' but because it runs just awesome on the road. And Men know their directions. They just have an amazing (for the ladies) road sense. But here I stop and want to add 'Dude, sometimes its easier to ask for directions than showing your false machismo by pretending you know all the roads in the world!' And that not all your gender brothers know all about driving and the machines. I have encountered numerous men on road who take it as insult if a girl zooms past them, much in control of her machine and maneuvering it with greater skills than them. Yes there are women like that. Acknowledge it! I have known men who drive like idiots and are nuisance to the roads. I also know men who do not quite understand how a tallboy is different from a normal hatchback. And I have known girls who are walking talking encyclopedias of everything about cars, from the make to the engine specifications and seen the men's eyes pop-out while hearing them. 


The same applies to men and gadgets. They know it all. So it's either my bro or one of my chaddi friends who dictate when I decide to indulge myself with a new gadget. When these go kaput, I turn back to them. Men understand the hammers and the wires, the coding and the specifications better. They are simply designed that way. So the sooner we girls accept this, the better. Of course there are aberration to rules here too. A dear (girl) friend is a Tech writer and she reviews all the new gadgets in town with elan, thus needless to mention that my so called 'gadgets dudes' also turn to her more frequently than not for opinion and yes 'advise' for their (or others) next cool buy!


Men are usually color blind. They understand the basic colours like red, blue, green etc if you go the specifics like mauve, peach, aqua etc etc, you are most likely to meet a confused look and a reply like 'looks yellow/blue to me, what did I say wrong?'. This however does not apply for all men, just majority of them. I have the good luck of knowing men who know more shades of colours than girls can even imagine! They will floor you prostrate by the sheer range of their hues...I mean knowledge.


Emotions is another area where girls claim to score higher than men. Men are said to be not affected by emotions or that they can keep emotions far away from business. They don't shed tears at the drop of the hat and definitely don't sob away while watching a sad scene of that oh so emotional drama. But I would say, men are highly emotional beings. They just have more control over their expressions and hence one usually does not catch them break down publicly. They feel as much as a woman does, if not more. They get equally shattered when their heart breaks. And yes they too cry when if hurts. They just don't believe in making a public display of their feelings. Close pals have cried over my shoulder when they felt down, I have lent my hankie and wiped their tears while watching highly emotional movies with them and cursed the girlfriends who could walk over their hearts. Men want someone as understanding in a relationship, as women desire. Girls, they have a tender heart too!


Oh my list could go on. The usual facts like sex being top of their mind, they not understanding and taking hints which women drop, them being better at finance, being mama's boys, not remembering birthdays/anniversaries, them wanting their own time with their (boy)friends and beer, sports, they being habitually slobs, their untiring habit of flirting (most of them are bad at it though!) and eyeing other girls, their obsession with hair and news, their impatience (remember how many times they ring the bell before you can make it to the door), shopping! etc etc etc. Goods and bads of everything exists. More goods than the girls would believe and more bads than the boys would admit.


Here my feminist craves are churning back in my stomach and before I start screaming on top of my voice against the chauvinist pigs (Com'on guys, I have said more good things about you than I would ever admit in front of u ;-), so take this with a pinch of salt!), I should apply my brakes. 


But, my dear 'boy' friends...I love you all, for what you are...Men!!


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Name Game

According to Shakespeare "What's in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet." So, then a name is 'just' a name. But ask people who have names others cant pronounce/understand/think to be funny etc etc and they will narrate their plight. As a Bengali child, born in Maharashtra and brought up in all parts of the country but Bengal, I have been a victim to this unfortunate condition.

Since time immortal, my dad had one wish - to be blessed with a girl child whom he will name 'Mohua' (a very typical and common Bengali name) and as all Bengalis, she has to have a 'dak naam', which will be 'Mou'. So the second I arrived on this earth, I had an identity waiting to embrace me! By my sheer good luck, the initial few years of my life (spent in Maharashtra) were smooth owing to my pet name 'Mou' which happened to sound similar to Marathi 'Mau', meaning soft. So, people simply called me Mau. So far so good.

It was in the beginning of my schooling days (in Bhopal) that I faced my first real 'weirdly named' hurdle. Try as I might, my class teacher could not get my name and finally decided to call me by my surname. I felt irritated and more insulted, as all the other 29 kids in the class were known and identified by their own names. To add to my misery, my classmates too decided to call me by various made up versions of my name. Someone rhymed - Mauwa Kauwa!

Then the doom's day arrived. We were studying the flora and fauna of a particular region called Chota Nagpur belt. A prominent tree found there is called 'Mohua' which is famous for its sweet smelling flower and fruit, and is fermented by the locals to prepare country liquor. All the 29 pairs of eyes turned and stared at me. Then the 30th pair looked me up and said "Oh Mandal, but your first name is Mohua right?". I wanted to scream "yes you jerk, you are right, and this you recognise now, after teaching the same subject for god knows how many years?". But my imaginary screams were buried under the huge roar of laughter that filled the class - "liquor eh?"... That was it, I knew I cannot live with this name any longer.

Teary eyed, I jumped on my dad that evening. He listened to me highly amused. Both mom dad referred to many probasi bangalis who had suffered worst. Like this girl named 'Shraboni' was called 'Sharabi' by her collegemates and even her professors; 'Soumya' and 'Suman' were laughed at for having girl's name when they were boys; 'Amlan' was rechristened as 'Amla - the fruit', 'Mousumi' became 'Musambi' and 'Sourjo Das' was often called the decendent of 'Surdas'. By the time they finished the list, my tears had turned into laughter. And then my father told me why I should be proud of my name - it reflected my identity and made me distinct from the crowd... - and that I should live up to the essence of my name! He gave me a new perspective and I grabbed it with both hands. That day I learnt to be comfortable in my own skin.

Over the years I have lived through many many many versions of my name. The most comic being 'Tharra' - country liquor in the Cow Belt's local dialect. I have met people who laughed at my name and people who marveled at its beauty. And I have met people who took extra pains to learn the right pronunciation of the same.

But hey, I love my name, it makes me who I am...and yes gives enough fodder to write a blog post!

Yours Truly

"HEY"
She turned back with a confused look on her face...I smiled...she said "Hi", still very confused.
I looked at her, with a grin pasted on my face, but I knew I had made a faux pas, I did not know this girl I just greeted so warmly! Undaunted though, I went ahead and grabbed the empty seat next to her and initiated a conversation.


It was the first day of college, all the first year students were invited for the Orientation program on a rainy afternoon. In spite of carrying an umbrella, I was drenched and was shivering in the cold blast of air-conditioning inside the large auditorium. Adding to my discomfiture was the fact that being new in the city, I felt like an alien the crowd of unknown faces. I was searching desperately for someone I could acquaint myself with, when I spotted  her. She was sitting on the aisle seat of a middle row. Her orange dress seemed to exude a certain warmth which soothed my hyper nerves. Something in her mannerism communicated a familiarity which none in this human sea seem to radiate. I felt I knew her, how and from where was a question which could be dealt with later. At that moment the only thing that mattered was - I knew this girl, soon to detect the contrary!


After a few curious exchanges, we discovered that not only we were to join the same class, but also shared the same ailment - the feeling of being an outsider. I had left behind my parents, then posted in Jabalpur and she came from Allahabad. As she would later comment, we both were from the 'cow belt', and felt more belonged there than in Calcutta, which happens to be the abode of our extended families. I could not believe my sheer good luck of meeting her. Through the show we found so much about each other and yet so little. We left college together that day with a silent promise of seeing each other the next day, the first day of our class.


By the next morning, I had completely forgotten her name! I was late for college, and was rushing through the human traffic of Park Street. I raced from the entry gate, through the front courtyard, to the main entrance of the college building. And there, on the stairs, was she, waiting for me - her first friend in college, as she told the others whom she had met by then. She flashed me her endearing smile, and I knew I had found 'my friend'. From that day Soma and me have been inseparable in college and beyond. We shared the same bench for all three years. She was a go getter and I was a little subdued, she was a typical tomboy and I was experimenting on being girly, she was a poetess and I was learning poetry, she wore her identity on her sleeves and I was still confused about who I am. But we stuck through. We had enormous fights and misunderstandings, we hated each other many a times, but we were tied together with this extraordinarily strong bond which would not break however hard it was hit. 


After college we headed to fulfill our destinies. Soma became the journalist she always wanted to be, battling social issues and raising voices against all that goes wrong in this country. I joined the corporate bandwagon to live the mechanical experience falsely glorified as a high flying job. I moved to Delhi while she remained in her beloved Calcutta. But that invisible bond remains.


All my life I have never ever initiated conversations with strangers. To an observer I can appear to be a very cold and arrogant human being. This continues to be a characteristic trait of mine. But that fateful day I am glad I broke my own rule. I not only went against my nature to approach Soma but even took the first step for beginning a conversation which smoothened our transition to a connection greater than friendship - we call each other soul sisters. We don't have to be in constant touch to know what's up in other's life. We call each other after ages and easily pick up threads from nowhere to be in tune. We just know.


People say you are lucky to have found a true friend. I say (touch wood) I am luckier than them to have met Soma.

Calcaneofibular ligament

If those fat question marks are making a halo over your head, then relax. You are not a loner in your species to be so confused. There are many more of your tribe, me included! Even after being a biology student in my senior school years and being generally acknowledged to be good in human anatomy (once upon a time, I was even on the path of becoming a doctor. I know I know, I agree with all your sentiments that 'Thank God I didn't), my first reaction to this phrase was 'huh?' and to discover that its a 'name' and not a 'phrase' added further angle to my already arched Zygomaticus minor muscle.

Now now, before I someone cracks up my Neurocranium or decides to create major imbalance to my Splanchnocranium, let me quickly clarify my motive! 'Calcaneofibular ligament' is one of the ligaments of ankle which attach to the 'fibula' or the calf bone. And why did I so suddenly became interested in all this? Well, I have a history of falling down at the most unexpected places and further hurting myself in the most peculiar fashion. So here is the story of another fall, which happened while stepping down a pavement. Numerous people are already trying very hard to figure out how and why of this, so I leave it to them to answer the same. So to further the story, after the fall, naturally the next course of action was meeting the doctor as I has managed to hurt both my legs (yep both together! I told u peculiar :-/) and no amount of coaxing could get me standing on my ballooned up ankles. While I was eying him suspiciously, the dear doctor examined my feet calmly and pronounced 'no fracture' and I could hear the loud collective sigh behind me. His next statement, "however, there is sever damage in the soft tissues and on the right leg there might be a tear in the Calcaneofibular....", and went on to prescribe the treatment. I looked around. Someone was busy pushing my wheelchair, someone was trying to console me that this gives me an opportunity to rest at home, another said, its a good break from office and then let us get you your ankle brace and meds..etc etc. But hey, what was this Calcaneofibular?? I mean obviously it has something to do with my ankle but what, where, why? Alas, no one was interested...

In a world, where my attention span on anything lasts no more than few minutes, this too passed, till my next visit to the doctor. One look at him and immediately the optic nerve collected the impulses from my retina and sent it to the brain (I stop at the details here, too complicated for my limited capacity of processing information). In its reflex action, my brain send back a negative response - no information found! So I surrendered to the mightiest modern gods, Google devta (ki jai ho!) and within fraction of second I had my answer. Impressed, I turned to share my excitement...one minute, where did everyone go? Clearly no one was interested :(

And so here I am, sharing my bit of information (or forcing it on...whatever!) back to the know all world wide web..and people will read it by THEIR choice :D :D. There is no end to how sadist I can get!

So, Calcaneofibular ligament adds on to the list of the numerous deformed parts of my body. (Worst case of course is that part of my central nervous system that is located within the cranium (skull), aka my Brain).

P. S - Oh if you were wondering, Zygomaticus minor muscle is a facial muscle responsible for making sad expressions, Neurocranium or braincase is the back part of the skull and houses the brain, and Splanchnocranium is the facial skeleton.