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Showing posts from January, 2009

Mumbai uncooperative housing society

I remember reading about the cooperative societies of Mumbai as a kid in social studies. The concept was evolved, apparently, to help middle class folks get affordable housing.

I did not really encounter this epidemic called cooperative housing societies in my initial years at Mumbai. I first stayed as a paying guest with this aunty at NutanNagar, Bandra. Her matronly digs were just right for me - home food (even if veg), clothes washed, ironed and put tidily into the cupboard.

I then rented a place at Khar just before we got married. We were there for two years. Again no housing society woes.

We first encountered the mafia when we decided to buy a tiny place at PaliNaka, Bandra. We came across an evil and unhelpful cretin while buying the house. He and his cronies really hassled the gentleman who was selling the house to us. The transaction got delayed. Our first bank loan application fell through and the bank kept back the ten thousand Rupees we had paid as application fees. Money we c…

Reality Check: Danny Boyle style

There's been a lot of chest beating over Slumdog Millionaire.

"Oh they have shown slums and not our malls", "oh they have shown shit and not our granite five star loos", "oh they have shown begging as a profession and not our software coders", "oh they have shown riots", "of they have shown hookers", "oh they chose a has been and not our super stars", "oh the West loves to mock us".

My question is, is there anything shown which is not true? And who will remind us of this reality? We will even forget that the streets of India exist left to the KaranJohars and Yah Raj's of the world. Forget the reality of Indian streets.

Someone had to wake us up. Sadly enough it had to be an Irish man.

We can exult saying that we are the next super power. By saying China beware.

But somewhere we need to get real. Our politicians, our roads, our public transport, our concern for others, our concern for the environment... the list …

Daddy got it wrong

My father passed away when I was nine. There were a few things which I learnt from him in that short time.

These included:
never hit/ hurt a womandon't identify people by their religion (this when we were dropping a classmate home and i told my father that my friend was Muslim)respect education and teachers (my mother was a teacher, plus Saraswatipuja was the one puja which used to happen in my father's family in a big way. She is the Goddess of learning. And education is the sole force which enabled people like my parents and grandparents, non Brahmins, to move up in life)not to taunt people basis their identity - I think I was once imitating my friends and calling some street kids Biharis or something like that when my Dad called me in and gave me an earfulThese learning have remained in my sub conscious over the last 25 years or so even though he isn't around. I thought that this was part of our heritage, our culture. Recent events suggest that I might have been wrong. We…

Side effects

Surprise surprise but I do occasionally think of things beyond food.

And at times it is difficult to fit these into my food and travel blogs.

So I thought I will start a new blog where I plan to hold forth on anything under the sun. After all that’s what we Bengalis do. Did I say ‘do’? Well we do talk! That’s one thing people can’t take away from us. And we are not known to be modest. So an anonymous blog won’t work for us!

Our addas (chats) over endless cups of tea and tele bhaaja (vegetable fritters) are what we lived on. Till Blogs were invented at least.

I named this Coffee House after the famed Coffee House of College Street. This was the hot spot of endless debates and discussions involving students, unemployed youths, politicians, film makers, writers, poets and philosophers. The scene had shifted to our college canteen by the time I joined Presidency College in 1992. Still Coffee House was the stuff legends were made off.

And why Mumbai? Mumbai’s been my home for the last ten year.…

Not a perfect ten...but who's complaining

I completed ten years in Mumbai today. I still can’t believe it. Not the easiest of cities to live in. But like a good marriage – is maddening, but heady.

I do feel a bit proud of this ‘achievement’ (?). There were quite a few of us who had shifted in to Mumbai at that time. I can think of just about one other person who has stayed back. The rest moved back to their home towns or to foreign shores.

What do I have to show after ten years? About 15 kilos more than before, an amazing wife, three job changes, a lot of interesting experiences, met some wonderful human beings, my blogs, a sought after Bandra address - passport photo sized and very recently, the ultimate Mumbai dream, a spare room!

I spent about twenty years at Calcutta before shifting to Mumbai. It’s quite obvious to me that my years in Calcutta have had a strong influence on my thinking, to my world view, to my interests.

But Mumbai is very clearly the city where I crossed the rites of passage to adult hood. I came to Mumbai s…