Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A moment from school

Yeah, this is a bit nostalgic post. When were leaving the school we took a group photo. I studied in a govt. school (Purulia Zilla School) where the focus was always only on studies, extracurricular activities were not encouraged much, it was mostly upon individual to pull out a good show. So there was no culture of photo session for the school leaving batch, but my batch was a trend setter one, hence we started this. Suryashankar was instrumental in taking this picture and all of us knew were going to treasure this pic forever. After we left the school, carrier came as priority and most of us had forgot about the photograph, its a long gone story when I remembered about the photo, my family had shifted from Purulia and I had lost all contacts with Surya. The photo remained permanently in my memory, suddenly after a gap of 11 yrs almost, I got a chance to find Surya and all thanks to orkut. The whole memory refreshed and I desperately wanted the pic, thankfully Surya too kept the pic intact, so he scanned and sent the pics to me. It was a treasure for me, so good to see all my friends. I was happy that I could recollect most of them. We had a pretty infamous batch in school but most of my friends, though were bit casual, still were very talented. When I tried to locate all of them I could find they are spread across all continents and every corner of our country, well done mates, we will meet again at the same stairs someday and feel proud about our batch of 1997, cheers….

Apologies for the poor quality of pic :)

from right bottom: Ritwik, Arijit,Subhajit, Debdutta, Apurba,Amartya, Shantanu,Ujjawal, -,Rupesh,Me,

2nd row: Indrashis, Tuhin, -,-,-,Ghochu(Indrajit), Arup, Atin,Panna, Subhajit2,-, Subhasis 3rd row: Subhra, Sushil, -,-,Amit,-,-,Debjyoti, Pushpendu, Anjan,-, Rudra, Surya, Rajib

Standing: Mukul and Sunil

Our teachers: From left: Gorapada Dey, Ashok Mishra, Debbrata Goswami

From right: Late Kamalesh Dutta, BaridBaran Mishra, Maniklala Das

The unidentified characters are mostly because of the poor image quality :)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time changes here!

Last two months have been eventful, but before i stepped into this country of opportunity(!!) I had a much more eventful time, unfortunately i cant pen them down as that may cause some trouble for me. So i was so overwhelmed by those events, when i lost my expensive camera in Detroit, i considered it as extension of those events, but now since i am about to leave from lets write about few interesting events, lets write about the most recent one.
Its fall here, the colour of the leaves turn yellow, red and blue, one can notice them changing. Wind starts blowing from the north, the attire of the people changes (from almost nothing to fully clad!) and the time changes!!yes the standard time. The day light saving time starts from the first sunday of Nov and stays through the winter to April first sunday. So on last sunday, early moring i came out from my friends house in Broomfield to catch the Zipfree shuttle! it was 8:30 a.m in my watch, and as i calculated i shoud be at Boulder by 9:30 a.m. It was a cold windy morning, but there was no bus, since there was a chance that i could miss the bus to Boulder i started walking after 30 min and was cursing the people for the service delay, again after a 3-4 km walk i reached the stop on time and again there was no Bus, i was irritated, annoyed and frustrated too. The chill was penetrating the skin, after a while the Bus came from Denver and I angrily asked the pilot for the cause of delay, he simply apologized and gave a look to me, but i didn't care, my sunday was already spoilt, so i manage to reach home at 11 am, just i was about to tell my misfortune to Woki, my roomie, he blurted out in broken english "Do you know the time is 1 hr. late today?", i looked at him for a while and everything was explained, indeed i remembered the clock was running 1 hr. late. I just gave a smile to him and told "No! i just now experienced it..."

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

UFO over Kolkata!!!???

When I read the news, i was immediately reminded of the song by Anjan Dutta, "Haripada ekjon sadamata chhotokhato lok"! Well although i laughed after reading the news on Times of India, but for someone it was a serious business. Against the popular idea that these extraterrestial objects are visible for a very short period, this stayed on the sky for 3 hrs, in the late night sky over kolkata !!! Some person named Farhan Akhtar had caught a 2.30 hrs. video of this object and it seems he is not the only person who saw it, there were lot of people gathered at the EM Bypass that time to see that object. According to Mr. Akhtar it was visible even after dawn and after that it disappeared. Sounds strange right? well with time it may add to another mysterious story but for Kolkatans its the first occasion. Well I hope the ETs didn't take Haripada kerani along with them!!

here is a video put on the youtube, taken by a cell ph camera, see the changing colour of the objects, looks beautiful....

youtube clip

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Royal tigers: a response

Sometimes back i had a post on tiger sensus, and i expected someone will enrich my knowledge about it, i felt very happy to find this response to my post from the Author of the book Guidelines for Estimating Wild Tiger Population Using the Pugmark Technique Dr. L.A.K Singh, it carried some important information and i thought i should post it....thanks Dr. Sing for the information

I am glad to see your interest in tiger numbers. I have studied tigers and refined the pugmark technique during my 16+years tenure in Similipal Tiger Reserve, Orissa. The sincerity with which the staff conduct pugmark tracking and the type of data produced from pugmark tracking is unmatchable. No other method can surpass pugmark tracking. It is quick, it allows us to know the movement area of each tiger and leopard, their population structure- male, female, cub with pugmark sizes (hence, idea about age class too), links among cub-mothr, female-male; their spatial distribution map; it is economic, it employs local tribals who skill in animal tracking. A Guard, at the end of census is able to know, which exact tigers are in his territory and in his neighbouring territory. There is no statistical extrapolation, hence no mathematical tigers. Do you need a copy of the WWF guideline? send your e-mail address. ........

Book title:Singh, L. A. K. (2000):
Tracking Tigers : Guidelines for Estimating Wild Tiger Population Using the Pugmark Technique. (Revised Edition). WWF Tiger Conservation Programme, New Delhi.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So Here I am

It was night, quite late, Chicago O Hare Airport was deserted. It was Sunday so it was understandable. I was trying to make a cal, to let my family know that I have reached here safely. Whenever someone comes to US people back home gets worried for obvious reasons. So I wanted to let them know. I was trying hard to call home but didn’t know how to reach there using the AT&T coin telephone, already I had spent few quarters and was desperately looking for help, I saw an American gentleman in a big hurry went past me, seeing him in a hurry I didn’t stop him, but he stopped, he realized I need help so he came and asked me whether he can be of any help, so this man tried his best to make the call, unfortunately he too couldn’t make, so he picked up and called AT&T and asked why there is no instructions, and finally he made another call to get me the detail instructions, I was touched by this gesture, he apologitic and told me since he cant make the international calls from his cell so he couldn’t help me, I was really amazed didn’t expect the help, so I could finally make the calls. Before leaving he told me he knew about India and since he had to catch a flight in 15 min he couldn’t stay with me till I finished the cal….Welcome to America 1.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A fine balance: short review

I bought this book as lots of recommendations poured in, and finally yesterday I end up reading it, I has been a really depressing novel, I didn’t read such novel for quite sometime. Rohinton Mistry, as many says is an outstanding author and truly speaking “ A fine balance” has been written with similar craftsmanship, it was an extremely great one to read.
The novel is written with the emergency period at the backdrop (1975), so during the whole book, Rohinton did a great job in keeping the tension alive. There are many characters in this novel but the majority part is based on couple of Parsi families, although Rohinton didn’t get deep inside the Parsi culture but still he mentions a lot about them. There are many small stories which were finally streamlined to form the main one, but manly the novel was built around a woman called Mrs. Dina Dalal, very strong character by itself, will draw your attention all the time. Rohinton nicely described the misery, exploitation during the time of emergency, without being explicit. Social oppression on the “lower” caste has been depicted extremely vividly in the novel. Before I get distracted, let me sum
marize the story, Dina Schroff is a Parsi lady who after a painful stay with her brother gets a short lived freedom when she married a Parsi guy called Rustom Dalal, but Rustom passed away in an accident, Dina went alone to survive on her own, and during her professional search for tailors she came across couple of tailors: Ishvar and Omprakash, who were cobbler by their family profession and turned int tailors, had gone trough immense torture in the hands of Jamindars in the village and their misfortune pushed them to the City. Dina gets a paying guest who is a son of his friend, Maneck Kolah, from hills and again had a different set of fa├žade. The best part of the novel is the time when these 4 characters stays together and presents different philosophies towards life. Rohinton, although didn't mention much about the city, but it will surely remind you about Bombay, instead of Delhi. Altogether a gripping novel, with lots of painful truth inscribed.

The novel has a theme, and it was mentioned at least couple of times, “everything ends badly..”. Its an extremely depressing line which made this novel unbearable. None of the characters, who struggled all thorough the novel was spared. The identity of the characters were never lost, though the suffering remained, except the crooks everyone in the end was at a loss. It was on the struggle people did to survive, but the end was pretty dramatic and saddening. Another point that struck me was the backdrop of emergency was not removed even after the ordeal was over, Rohinton mentioned about the same hopeless situation which prevailed. Altogether the book is extremely good to read only if you can bear the depression.
There is a movie also coming on this book, I hope the movie will be good, but I don’t dare to watch it

Few links:


Readers group

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Wanna go for a treak :(

Today i dug out couple of pics from the PC. Feeling xtremely nostalgic wanna go for a trek before the last few left in our group disappear from Bangalore, these ones from our trek to Narsimhaparvata quite sometimes back, it was awesome place .....

here is another

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Royal Tigers: Can counting techniques save them?

This is a scientific technique I am gonna pen down, I have no expertise in this and don’t know the nuances of the issue also. It’s a simple effort to scribble the info available in the literature and books and online.

Its not only the media, concerns are all over India and world about steep decline in the tiger population in India. In general tigers are a species which is demographically distributed among 13 Asian countries. It is one of the rare royal species which is about to be extinct. In India there are 28 reserve forests for tigers and tiger census are carried out frequently. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, came with a shocking revelation recently. they published a census report for tigers in 16 of these forests (rest they are going to publish in December 2007). It was shocking because they had reported a decline in tiger population by 60% in Madhya Pradesh, 57% in Maharashtra and 40% in Rajasthan. This decline took place within few years and the concern is, it happened in spite of govt. action to safe guard India’s national animal. Steady decrease in the no. is attributed to poaching and decrease in the habitat area. These big cats are extinct because of their big size and carnivorous diet which force them to reside in low population area. They are easy and prize targets for the poachers and reduction in the food availability is forcing them to be extinct, but there is other side of the story too: Some people believe that previously published census data was erroneous. In Palamou reserve forest the number of big cats may vary from 7 to 37! This takes us back to the process of counting the tigers. There is couple of techniques I am concentrating on here

Pug mark counting technique

This is quite old technique for tiger census; it was first used by W. J. Nicholson of Imperial Forest Service in Palamau district, Bihar in 1934. Then on this technique has gone through many versions of reforms and is still it is a topic for research. In this technique pugmarks separated by long distances are considered as individual tigers; among these the hugely varied marks are discarded. Using a multiple group discrimination technique it is possible to identify the track of individual tigers. It was found that seven such carefully identified pug marks can give a more or less accurate no. By the way pug marks are the footprints, shape of which gives the info of the gender too, usually individual cats follow different tracks , hence once the track is identified its is easy to count the no of tigers in a forest. It’s a time taking but an inexpensive method

Photo trapping technique

It’s a brain child of Dr. Ullas K. karanth, who is now in Bangalore. Pugmark technique although is being followed for quite sometime, it’s not a visual counting technique and secretiveness can not be taken care of easily. In this photo trapping technique, cameras are fixed near the track, as it is said that the stripes on the tigers body is similar to human face, hence it is possible to distinguish the tigers from the pictures and identify them next occasion. Tiger densities are calculated using statistical methods. Line transect sampling is used to find the tiger density. It is quite an efficient technique although several issues are still debated.

Except these there is a waterhole technique which is used in counting the number of tigers, but the important issue here is: is this counting technique varies the census results? Interestingly WII has used the photo trapping technique during the current census whereas the previous censuses followed the pug marks. In addition, forest official not always try to publish the factual info, just to avoid the exhibition of the decline in the no. of the tigers. Hence it’s quite a difficult blame game, but truth is tigers are in declining no. whether it is Suderbans or Ranthambore, they are endangered. Someone says correctly: it’s a losing battle!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Book release: "Vikram Sarbhai-a life"

It’s a long time since I became a irregular to Centre for Contemporary Studies (CCS), mostly because the talks are more technical in their respective fields, but last week when I saw this notice, i was immediately interested in attending it. It was a book release function. Not an usual event to occur there. This book was on Vikram Sarabhai a name know to many of us. It is a rare event in India that people write biographies of someone whose name is not Gandhi, but Amrita Shah did a formidable job in writing her book called "Vikram Sarbhai- a life", this book is published by Penguin and costs around Rs. 425 ($10). Book release function was very much unlike an iisc event, media thronged the premises with flash bulb and high profile guests like Dr. Kasturirangan and Prof. Balram, it appeared a bigger event than the once i expected. after the release Prof. Kasturirangan talked a bit about his association with Prof. Sarabhai, the early flights of their dream to reach the space in RPL, in Ahmadabad. The Amrita Shah read out couple of chapter from her book. First one is about his association with IISc. How he fared in the institute and how his dreams were unfurled and how he became the pioneer for Indian Space dream. There was a question answer session which followed her book reading event as usual it was very amusing as someone Asked "How indigenous is our space program" well Prof. Kasturirangan came as a savior. There was some light hearted humours, Prof. Sarabhai came from a wealthy background, So someday when somebody raised the question "Why are you wasting 4 crores of taxpayers money behind the space program,?" Sarabhai answered politely "Please don't worry i was not wasting tax payers money, its me paying more tax that 4 crore".
There has been reviews on this book already, and its a talked bout book inside media too,but somebody rightly pointed out the book is slightly costly for us: the PhD students :)

Photo courtsey: CCS webpage

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Just Kiddin :)

….She is back, as silent as dew drop she came in, with all her glory and beauty personified. I am happy! My fingers are overjoyed; they are dancing in the tune by Pit Sigar. I can see her everywhere I look. Its just enough to wake me up from hibernation…Thanks dear :D

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Maximum City: from a readers desk

Maximum city;I encountered this name from one of Amitav Ghosh’s comment on the book. He was very liberal in praising it, I was curious about Bombay always, many of my close ones live there and they always talk about the city, hence i wanted to read this book by Suketu Mehta and finally read the best book I read last year, and the list includes book like “Hungry tide” too. What this book is about? The title said Bombay lost and found and the end it was for Suketu not for the city, the whole book brings out really breathtaking truths about the city, I would say its Bombay discovered. Salman Rushdies’ in praise for this book said the best description of the ruined metropolis. I was wondering why it is ruined? I was disappointed when I started reading the book, It appeared to me that only criticism is left for the city and after I read the first chapter my fear was confirmed. One may shelve the book if the read only the first chapter. To me Suketus’ home coming after 21 yrs. of stay in Newyork was more of emotion driven that need. Hence he sounded pretty frustrated over the situation in Bombay (he used the city name all through the book). At the end of first chapter I concluded this book is going to be a frustration of an US returned NRI who stayed here for only two and half years. I was so wrong!

“What does a man look like when he is on fire”? Well this was the way the second chapter started and after few lines I realized he is into serious business, I could not leave the book till I finished 584 pages. So what Suketu did? He took the decision to write this amazing book and started working on it with an eye of an anthropologist.

The first chapter he describes his drive towards Bombay, the drive many Mumbaikar can not avoid so easily, he comes back and the new Bombay called Mumbai and that was a revelation for him, he couldn’t identify the place he once belonged to. He was a foreigner in his own city, crisis for roof, water, bad weather, lack of a proper system to run the city and of course the crowd inflow in the city in this book. The high population density and steady inflow of people from outside the state was mentioned many a times in this thesis. He identified the people, who run the city, so he started with the Shiv Sena,

The second chapter is he talks about Hindu extremists. Suketu, though identified himself from hindu religious strata, strongly believed that the hindu extremist group Shiv Sena and their premier Bal Thakrey is pretty much responsible for the present state of the city. This chapter has a shocking description of a man when he was killed in fire and when it was from the killer himself it scares you. It’s a very moving chapter, the life of the people involved in the riot move around places like Jogeswari. The interesting part was his interview with Bal Thakrey himself, it is worth following.

Third long chapter is about cops in Mumbai, Suketu had really put down the vivid inside story goes around Mumbai cops, he gets in touch with a cop who was the key brain behind catching the 1993 Bombay blast accused. The whole chapter goes around the commissioner. His portray of the police department is really excellent, its almost not opinionated. He describes how the encounter specialist were born and the hypocrisies and underworld threat looms over Bombay police: “the second after Scotland yard”.

Without gangstars the city is incomplete hence Suketu gets himself inside the underworld, could bring out the stories about gang war and the lives of the shooters. Probably the most nonchalant way of describing the lives of these murderers, at times you may feel chill passing through you spine! His work never showed any dishonesty to the subject, to know how the big bosses think about themselves Suketu interviewed Chhota Sakeel, one of the most wanted gangster in India now lives in a neighboring country, the leader of the infamous D-Company. As I mentioned you feel chill when he describes about a murder in Bombay which shook the police department thoroughly as they didn’t knew the killers whom Suketu knew!

So his journey to find the lost Bombay doesn’t stop here, he wanted to go deep inside the gutter and discover how Bombay was lost. He met Monalisa a fictitious Bar girl, in a dance bar. It is through her eyes he brought out the painful story about these untouchables it the society. The best part of this section was that Suketu lived inside a story here and became one character, this part of the book I felt most touchy. The life of Honey the man who dances in the bar as a girl will surely leave an impact.

Then comes the Bombay where the new city lives, yes! The bollywood, inside the book, it came out many a time, that the city lives in a movie, starting from Bal Thakrey who according to Suketu gets philosophy from movies, even the ganstars think themselves a character in the movie, so how Suketu did there, well he wrote a script for a ‘hit’ movie called “Mishon Kashmir”! its imaginable how much inside he was in the industry. If you sometimes laugh during going through this book it is this section, its hilarious many times but really tragic. Whether its great Bachhans or Sharukh or Hritwik he came close to every one, he describes Sanjay Dutt’s life inside jail from his own version which media also did not have access to. He became a close friend of the renowned director Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Mahesh Bhatt. It was really interesting to know how people struggle inside the industry how the D-company clouds looms over them, and the extortionists and the sensor board the extremely sensitive crowd, it is an amazing description.

Does the story end here? No, so Suketu scripts a middle class family with aspirations inside, they move out from the slums to a small flat outskirt of Mumbai, as usual middle class stories don’t have excitements but you will feel the difference about Bombaities for sure. Their ambitions and needs are different from the others. How about the foothpath? Stats says 50% of the foot path in Mumbai is occupied by people, Suketu finds a poet in the street! The problems with Biharis in the city comes alive here. The young Bihari poet has been a representative of the dreamers inside the city.

The last chapter is the most violent without any decscription of bloodshed; he was talking about a Jain family who are becoming a monk. It is really beyond my imagination that how it will feel when the whole family stay together but without interacting and follow some rituals.

This book is a great example of the best kind of journalism. I would have tempted to say crime journalism, but he went beyond that. The lucid language of Suketu will really impress you. Many places his statement will surely leave more impact that the whole description. His writing was not opinionated at all. He praised the city dwellers at times, Mumbai is a safe city, much safer than the other cities in India, no mugging, people help out if you are in trouble. Girls can freely roam around 12 in the night, which is not imaginable in cities like Delhi. Maximum city really deserves credit, though there are criticisms about this book, but i should say hats off to Suketu!