Monday, December 17, 2012

Converse Original Band Hunt 2012 Winners are Ganesh Talkies from Kolkata!

 The Ganesh Talkies performing at the Bandra Fort

The Ganesh Talkies Mad Hatters - Nabarun Bose, keyboards and Ronodeep Bose, guitar

YES! The winners of the Converse Original Band Hunt 2012 is Ganesh Talkies.

The event, held at Bandra Fort, Mumbai, on the 16th of Dec 2012 night, and judged by prominent names like Parikrama, Luke Kenny and Monica Sharma Dogra , the event saw bands entering the contest from all over the country, with the final 4 winners being chosen from the 4 zones and coming together for a grand evening of performance and cheering at the Bandra Fort.

As Ganesh Talkies came up on the stage, it was evident from their costume what their theme was - DISCO! Dressed in blingy dazzlers of gold and silver, the band, the only one that had a female in it by the way, gyrated and danced and sang and rocked to some interesting beats and tunes and lyrics, ensuring the audience had a gala time!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Rice grains on my kitchen floor

My little rice bowl in the rice bucket

 The beauties - glistening rice grains

As a bengali, almost all my food fantasies have had one constant throughout the years - rice. Yes, it's true that I used to take immense offense when anyone used the term 'bheto baangali' to refer to those bongs who always crave rice, whether it was applied to me directly or not. I somehow never wanted to accept the fact that yes, I did have a rice tooth, actually, an entire rice tummy - just a tooth wont do!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Voice That Always Returns

The first time I heard the voice was when my cousin accidentally shared it on a social networking site. I didn't understand much of what it sang the first few times, but there was something in the voice and the music that made me stop and listen again.

I had no clue what movie this was, I didn't know who the singer was, but I did listen to it back on loop mode. I didn't know it then, but the voice would be powerful enough to pull me all the way to Kolkata, just like that, just to experience this magic in person, to see if it would still be as magical and haunting as it sounded to my ears so many miles away.


- Debolina Raja Gupta

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Hand Rickshaw

image courtesy

For those of you living in Kolkata, this may be a regular, every day image. If you're a reader who doesn't live in Kolkata, does this image mean anything to you? To me, it instantly brings up words like An Evening In The Streets, A cosy day with books, nostalgia, many cups of ginger tea, old-world charm, crowded streets, footpaths, bargain, old age.....will add more words here as they come to mind.

 Isn't this just gorgeous? Though I completely condemn the practice, I found this hand-rickshaw parked outside my guest house when I was staying in Kolkata, India, a few months back.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, November 2, 2012

Beginning of Winter: The Aaloo Kopi Way!

Winter is slowly creeping in, and there's one very very special fragrance that I have always associated with winters, and I guess always will.

When I was living in Delhi, every time the winters would start drifting in, ma would cook a cabbage dish (as this was my absolute favourite) and this would be the season when the vegetable would be the freshest in the market. It was a really simple preparation, hardly any spices or masala, the only special touch being the extra-than-usual adding of peas, and the one ingredient that is almost a must in every bengali household - aaloo (potato).

I made this yesterday (you can see the cabbage, tomatoes, peas, potato and bay leaf) and my hubby and daughter loved it too. It wasn't as delicious as ma makes it, but it did bring back to me my memories of my years spent in ma's kitchen, and also the fragrance of the beginning of this year's winter.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pujo Sankhya Books 2012 ` Bengali Durga Puja Books

So Durga Puja is over and I did get my little share of the annual Puja special magazines and books. Though I was astounded to realise that the main books (in fact all editions and titles except one!!!!) were sold out in Mumbai on the first day itself. That was quite a disappointment to me and many others who have no other place to buy any Bengali language books (even though it may take us years to properly read ONE page of bangla!!!)

But book stall and I come out without buying anything? Hahaha..thats something my dear friends that can never ever happen, not even if I come out with a case of losing my mind! So of course I did buy something.....Here's what:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Durga Puja The Mumbai Way

Durga Thakur at the Vashi Kali Bari Pujo

Yes, jaani, Bengalis in Kolkata will swear by the Durga Puja in Kolkata. But I must say here, that I have never really seen the Kolkata Durga Pujas, except one year when it didn't go well (will get back on that later).

Born and brought up in Delhi, I've always associated Pujo with Delhi, New Delhi Kali Bari, C R Park, Gole Market, Kashmiri Gate, Minto Road - these have all been Pujos I have grown up with and identify myself with. It's become part of who I am.

Now in Mumbai for the last almost 7 years, I have begun calling Mumbai home, and the Durga Puja in this Kali Bari is a place I have learnt to cherish and look forward to. I had a great time this Durga Puja. Enjoyed with so many other Bengalis who live here, who look forward to these 5 days of celebrations and excitement for the entire year, and who don't leave any opportunity to suddenly transform into 'typcial baangali' for these 5 days! I was one of them too :-)

Had a great time, enjoyed the typical Baangali khaabaar that we don't otherwise get here, enjoyed the bhog, loved the 'aaroti' the heart-warming fragrance of the 'dhunuchi' and loved the single book stall that stocked up on so many bangla books, especially the pujo specials - but can you believe it, the pujo specials were over by shoptomi and I could only find a single pujo copy of Shanonda!!!! Sooo disappointed!

Anyways, Im sure you've all had a fabulous Durga Pujo and are already waiting for the next year's celebrations...I am! Khoob moja korechho nischoi, aamaake bolo....

Aar hain, Shubho Bijoya tomader shobaaike!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

When In Bengal, Speak Bengali With Me Plsssss

Okay, let me clarify at the beginning that this is not something I am talking about people who do not speak the language, or even if they do, don't want to. I am talking about my own experience in Kolkata each time I've been visiting. And honestly, I do give myself a little more credit on being a Bangali than the Kolkata Bengalis do.....

 (* found the above sign quite cute, so had to click and share) :-)

Even though I've been born and brought up way away from Bengal all my life and continue to live outside, my parents always spoke to me in our native tongue. Which is why I do know the language (can speak, write and read Bangla, though I must admit it takes me agesssss to read a single page in a bangla book!) Okay, there may be a slight accent to the way I speak Bangla, but that doesn't affect me from trying and speaking it as well as I can.

And I like to flaunt my skills especially when Im in Kolkata. Which is where the locals do the exact opposite the moment I come in contact with them.

Each time I visit a store and try to talk to the people in Bengali, suddenly everyone begins speaking hindi with me! Initially, I thought they were probably mistaken that I couldn't speak the language, and would try and speak in Bangla again...but no...that didn't help much, did it? On and on the cute hindi would go, and I would smile and try and keep up my side of the Bengali chatter.

So there was this store I went to at South City Mall this time I was in Kolkata and this guy just didn't know hindi, but still, that did not deter his enthusiasm in talking to me in Hindi....(am not making fun here, just trying to express the fact that I CAN speak in bangla and will keep trying ;-) )
madam...shundor kaapdaa sale, you want madam?
sale madam.....all product sale madam...achchhaa shundor maal hai madam.
Hmm...aami jaani. Thank you.
madam, membership card madam? take madam..bhaalo aachhey madam
Thank you bhaiya, aami bangla jaani. to tumi please bangla te bolte paaro.
okay madam
madam, aapka baangla achhchha madam
At this stage I just ended up smiling and laughing!
bangla achhchha to bangla te bolo na...
hehe madam....okay madam...

I made the purchase and as I was heading out, the guy waved out to me:
phir aashben madam....
sure....phir aashbo :-)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Anupam Roy - Music, Mania and Butterflies

It was exactly 5pm when I closed the door and put the key in my bag. It was a humid evening in Kolkata, but I wasn’t perspiring from the hide-n-seek of the rain. As I walked down the now-familiar path from the local guest house where I love to stay sometimes, hiding away from the crowd and the faces, I hailed the yellow cab and headed to that so-looked-forward spot, and that oh-so-dreading now place! As the Kolkata buildings and streets started to whizz past, I could feel the butterflies in my tummy…oh no..why was I doing this? Could I still run back?

It was the Anupam Roy concert at Rabindra Sadan in Kolkata and I had travelled all the way from Mumbai only for this one evening. I had arrived alone after a 32-hour train journey to the city, and after the concert, was due to fly out the next morning. A cross-country journey, alone, to first time see that man perform live, whose music happened to change my life so significantly – was I being silly?
If anything else, I was sure this was all worth it.

As I entered the green room I was nervous. Of course it wasn’t green, but a wooden feel space with the typical light-bulbs around the mirrors that we’ve seen so many times in movies. Trust me, it gives quite a feel! 
I immediately scanned the room and could see that Anupam was still not there. Instead, there was a live current going on, pre-concert. The entire gang comprising the Anupam Roy band was there - Nabarun Bose (keyboards and background vocals), Sandipan Parial (drums), Roheet Mukherjee and Ronodeep Bose (guitar) and Rana Singharoy and Raja, who manage and look after the entire smooth functioning of the band. Just a few minutes and we were off chatting and singing and fooling around. But my mind was really quite elsewhere. 
How does it feel when you are standing right there where you are about to meet that voice that you’ve been listening to for so long? The voice that told you so many things your heart always kind of knew, but really couldn’t say. Exciting, scary, nervous, confused, shy, tongue-tied, ready to run out the door – just a few feelings that were racing through my entire ‘nervous’ system.
And then……………………….
(* with Anupam Roy and the gang after the performance)
The door opened and a tall fair guy with black-and-red-rimmed glasses, dressed in a black silk kurta and cream corduroys entered. Greetings and chatting and talking about what’s been done, what’s to be done and the usual camaraderie where a lot of young and creative minds are involved. After a smile and a hi, I of course crept to the farthest corner I could without looking too obviously rude. Of course my tongue had decided to get tied at that very moment, and I was trying to come up with a dozen excuses of somehow getting out of there.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Acoustic Version Bechey Thakar Gaan By Anupam Roy: Album Durbine Chokh Rakhbona

Yes, I know the last post I had shared here was that on Anupam Roy (and it was quite a long time ago and I've been guilty of not coming back to my Kolkata blog sooner...I do plead guilty!)

As much as I wanted to write about a lot of things that bring up Kolkata for me, things that, even while I haven't considered myself much of a baangali all these years, are suddenly making me love 'my' culture and 'my' people more (at the cost of sounding regionalistic!), Im just running a bit short on time and need a little more of it to sit down and share those memories and experiences better with you.

Like you already know by now, Im a big fan of Anupam Roy's brand of singing and lyrics....though much of it still manages to make sense to me as I don't understand what it means!! :-(

So here I am right now, sitting by a window that looks out to the sea, and its raining here in Mumbai, monsoon at its full peak, and the cool breeze flowing in through the open window blowing through my hair...and what's playing in my ears???? The amazing acoustic version of one of my most favourite songs ever - Beche Thakar Gaan....and yes, I love this version much much more than the one used in the movie sung by Rupam? (I hope I got the name correct!)

I only recently heard this acoustic version and its been playing on repeat mode ever since, as was obvious....So sing along, as I share the lyrics here with you....I can't do a translate here as Im not good at understanding it myself....please excuse me on that..I'll definitely try to work some magic, understand all of this and come back with the translations...

And Anupam, if this ever reaches your eyes...A BIIIG THANKS for making the kind of music that you do and making me and millions of other bengalis and even non-bong or 'probaashi' bongs smile and bring back some cherished memories....a big hug ;-)

Sing Along:

Jodi pheley ditey boley ghola joley kola tuli
Jeno aami kuriye nebo taa
Jodi khuley nitey boley du paaye baandhaa ghungur
Jeno aami khultey debo na

Jodi pheley.......

Aar aami aami jaani jaani choraabaali kotokhaani gilechhey aamader roj
Aar aami aami jaani jaani proti raatey hoyeraani haaraano shobder khonj

Aar ebhabei norom baalishe
Tomaar oi chokher naalishe
Bechey thaak raat porider snaan 
Thontey niye beche thhaakar gaan
Aar ebhaabei mukher chaadore
Porichito haather aadore
Shukhey thhaak raat porider snaan
Thonte niye baachiye raakhaar gaan

Jodi kere nitey boley kobita thhasha khaata 
Jeno kere nite debo na
Jodi thheme jete boley piano baashi guitar
Jeno aami thhamte debo na

Aar aami aami jaani jaani....... can you be so good at what you do???!!! And Im still hoping in this lifetime I manage to catch you at one of your performances!!! I wish....

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, June 8, 2012

Anupam Roy: Breaking The Norm With A Song And A Strum

(* Above pic courtesy Anupam Roy official website)

(* Above pic courtesy Google Images. I took the liberty of editing the pic a bit, please don't mind Anupam)

It was just another regular day when one of my cousins happened to share a link on the public daily diary of so many of us - yes, I guess you got it already, Im talking about FaceBook - I clicked it and was mesmerised by what I heard.

You see, it had been many years that I had watched a Bangla movie, or heard a song from a bengali film or music album or band. So I had definitely missed the sudden taking-by-storm of Bengal by this amazing bomb of a talent. As I clicked on that link and saw a sepia-tinted story-line unfold in front of my eyes, what haunted me most was the soundtrack. Here, have a look:

The moment I heard the background score and that voice, I knew I was going to watch this movie. The credits said the singer was one 'Anupam Roy.' Soon after that I watched the movie, and got the songs on my phone, which stores all my favourite music. For many days after that, the songs played on loop mode and I was almost a 'paaka baangali', humming to the tunes and singing the lyrics along with Anupam. 'Amake Amar Moto Thakte Dao' had almost become an anthem for me by then.

I began sharing these songs on FaceBook, wanting to share these amazing melodies and lyrics with other friends, and suddenly, I realised I was not the only one who was kept out of this sudden coming-of-age of Bangla music. There were many like me, living outside Bengal, who had not had as many opportunities to keep an update on the latest Bengali movies and songs. On the other hand, I realised that Anupam Roy was a very big name, not only in Bengal, but among those bengalis who live outside and were connected to Kolkata in some way or the other. Whatever the case, I soon realised that this voice, which was soon becoming a legend, had already invaded my home, my senses, and the somewhat singable chords that I possessed.

Of course once I had a taste of 'Amake Amar Moto Thakte Dao' there was no going back. I began tracking Bengali movies and started keeping a track of the many albums and separate tracks that were being released. It also helps that my nephew happens to be a part of the Anupam Roy Band, so I do get the benefit of doubt. Whenever I lag behind in my homework, I get to know what these guys are up to. And hence get to experience many more wonderful tracks and melodies.

(*Above pic courtesy The Anupam Roy Band Official Page)
The Anupam Roy Band: 
Vocals: Anupam Roy
Guitar: Subhodip Banerjee
Bass: Roheet Mukherjee
Keyboards: Nabarun Bose
Drums: Sandipan Parial

(*Above pic courtesy Google Images, I took the liberty of editing it a bit, hope no one minds)

There are the regular favourites that I am already humming these days. The best part about Anupam's music is that you don't need to know the language, even if you don't understand the lyrics, the melody will take you to a different plane altogether. And if you happen to be a bengali and understand what he is talking about, you must consider yourself lucky that you got a chance to experience this yourself. For me, I'll be honest I don't understand each and every lyric, as my bengali is still a little imperfect. But I can sing along to almost all his songs, and I do first try and get a translation of his songs to understand them better or ask my bengali friends about it. And the best part is that my 05-year-old daughter, who is half-Bengali and half-North-Indian, also knows almost all of Anupam Roy's songs and loves to sing along. They are already on her 'fravrt' list! And as for my husband who is a North-Indian and understands a little of the normal Bangla and none of the Bengali lyrics, he is a die-hard fan and listens to these tracks even while driving!

(*Above pic courtesy Google Images, I took the liberty of editing it a bit, hope no one minds)

So here are a few links to some of Anupam Roy's most amazing songs that we really really love and just cant stop singing along:

Amake Amar Moto Thakte Dao (Movie Autograph)
Aami Aami Jaani Jaani (Live rendition by Anupam Roy)
Jaani Dekha Hobe Reprise
Ekbar Bol Nei Tor Keu Nei (Movie Baishe Shrabon)
Baariye Daao Tomar Haath (Movie Chalo Paltai)
Tomaar Shohore (Music Video)

Tistaan (from Anupam Roy's Album Durbine Chokh Rakhbo Na)
Gobheere Jaao (performed live by Anupam Roy)
Tomaar Bhetor Theke (album)

(*Above pic I shared from Google Images. Copyright to whoever is the rightful owner, I have no claims on this. I took the liberty of making some edits on this one)
So what is so special about this voice that I suddenly became such a huge fan? I, of all people, who never ever listened to any Bangla music or watched any Bangla movies? The first thing that knocked the wind out of me when I heard Anupam Roy's voice was the level of yearning in it. And to imagine that this young man was actually working as an engineer in Bangalore for 07 years! Phew! He gave all that up and shifted base to Kolkata, India, where he was born and brought up, and has written and composed more than 150 Bengali songs. What a relief to the music industry indeed that he chose to do what his heart wanted. Thanks Anupam ;-)

Anupam Roy's voice immediately takes you to that faraway place, it touches you like a whiff of memories that lie hidden somewhere in the depth of your heart, it stirs up pictures and makes you nostalgic, reminiscing of the times that are gone, of places where you have been, of stories you once created and that now remain etched within the frame of your heart. Anupam Roy's voice has the magic to transport you to a different era, a different life altogether. It is that yearning in his voice that I find so amazing. Its not a sad voice, no, never will you feel sad when you listen to an Anupam Roy song. You may feel a longing, a yearning, a pull, but never that typical sadness. You may even be moved to tears on some occasions, but it's not that depressing sadness, it's a longing, something your heart feels but you just can't explain. Its the feeling of being alone, on your own, but not lonely.  

I can't talk enough about Anupam Roy's songs. I am biased, really, and so will you be once you hear his voice and his compositions. I have been badgering my nephew to check if there are performances scheduled when I am visiting Kolkata. But looks like it isn't on the cards yet, as each time I visit Kolkata, either Anupam Roy has just performed, or is scheduled to perform right after I leave. I think I'm going to plan my trip around his performance now.

But in any case Anupam, Mumbai is really really really waiting for you now. We are really looking forward to see you perform here. And don't think you have no followers here. There are many many fans in Mumbai who are waiting for you to come to this city and perform once. You'll get plenty of love from your fans here, I can assure you that.

Thanks for making such amazing music, and for singing the way you do. We love you Anupam!

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blog Hop With Blogaholic Social Network

Here's the April Blog Hop from Blogaholic Social Network. On from the 24th of April till the 01st of May 2012, this fun Blog Hop at BSN is a wonderful way to meet new and interesting bloggers and make more friends on the way.

If you want to participate in the same, here's what you need to do:
1. Follow my blog (by joining the member list on the side panel)
2. Leave a comment in the post here. Please mention your website link so that I can visit and follow you back.
3. Check out the BSN April Shower Blog Hop page by clicking here
4. Grab the BSN Blog Hop code and paste it on your post in your blog to let others know that you're participating.
This month link up to any post!

Once you add your blog, stop by a few other blogs on the list to follow and leave a comment, let them know you are stopping by from BSN so they know you are a new friend and can connect with you on the community as well!

Feel free to:
  • Share this blog hop on Twitter
  • Post about this blog hop on Facebook
  • Place the link up on your own blog! Just grab the code for your blog (the code is located below the linky list) a great way to fill up a post for a day! If you add it to your blog please copy the full post so others know the rules.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Princep Ghat

* Above pic courtesy Google Images
My first glimpse of this majestic structure was (I must admit rather shamefully) in the movie Parineeta. Yes, till then I was unaware of this beautiful piece of grandeur on the scenic Hooghly Ghat. Well, to be very honest, I had seen the Vidyasagar Setu, but I never knew there lay such beauty on its shore.

* pic courtesy Google Images

Who doesn't remember the lovely Vidya Balan, resplendent in all her Bengal finery, and the suave and classy Saif Ali Khan, singing and moving along to 'Piyu Boley' in the movie Parineeta? Well, if you have seen the song and enjoyed the scenery, it was shot at the Princep Ghat, one of the many beautiful Ghats along the bank of the river Hooghly.

*pic courtesy Google Images
As I felt more and more entranced by the picturesque location, I decided to check around a bit. Speaking to a few friends from Kolkata and doing a little Googl-ing, I soon found out that this is one popular spot for the locals of Kolkata.

* Above pic courtesy Google Images
Built in the year 1841, this monument is named  after James Prinsep (thats why you will find it spelled as Prinsep Ghat in many places). James Prinsep was an extraordinarily brilliant researcher and architect, who also served as the honorable Secretary of the Asiatic Society. He was the seventh son of John Prinsep, a wealthy East Indian merchant and Member of Parliament.

 *Above pic courtesy Google Images

When it was decided to build the new Hooghly Bridge (also known as Vidyasagar Setu) at Princep Ghat, it was decided that the bridge be located just south of the monument, maintaining the past as well as creating efficiency for the future. This conscious choice made sure that the historical monument was preserved in its entirety.

*Above pics courtesy Google Images (the lovely boats at the Princep Ghat)

*An Evening At The Ghat:
One of my Kolkata friends told me about these beautiful scenic evenings one can spend at the Ghat. I do envy the locals I must say. If you want to spend a quiet evening with your close one(s), what better than letting yourself free in the tranquility of the calm shore water. Seeing the evening sun dip in the ghat and taking a ride in the golden water is just the right prescription if you're looking to have that 'perfect' evening. You can choose to sit at the shore and stare out at the vast expanse of water, while the Howrah Bridge and the Vidyasagar Setu form a backdrop that is sure to pull you back to the Ghat at least a couple of times more.

Boat Rides At The Princep Ghat:
Boat rides are easily available along the shores. A boat ride at the Princep Ghat is an experience anyone living in Kolkata will swear by. It's an experience one must indulge in.

How To Reach Princep Ghat:
You can easily reach the Princep Ghat from any part of the city using any (or combination) of the following: local bus, mini bus, cabs, metro rail (underground rail).

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bengali Fish Curry With Mustard

*Pic courtesy Google Images

Though I am a biological bong (I'll explain this term later), I was never a fish-lover (yes, I know, I am a Bong and I am supposed to LOVE fish, but as a child I never ever liked fish and always tried to avoid eating it as much as I could). As a typical baangaali ma, my mother would enlighten me with the benefits of eating fish - it will improve your eyesight (maybe that's why now I have a reading glass), it will give you nice shiny hair (maybe thats why I now suffer from hair loss) and make you intelligent (I never wanted to have a fishy brain, if thats what it would mean, and I still make myself happy by living in the bubble that I am a little intelligent) - so these are the pitfalls of not loving and eating fish and hence my taking the trouble of sharing this recipe with you ;-)

Jokes apart, being away from my mother's cooking and staying out of Kolkata forever, I have somehow now begun loving fish. Especially as my daughter shows a huge liking for the same and her taste buds are never satiated unless she gets a fishy-dish at regular intervals.

Here's the recipe for the traditional Bengali Fish Curry With Mustard, a favourite of mine, even in those years when I did not like fish at all, I still did have a bite of this one. Hope you guys will enjoy too.

Bengali Fish Curry With Mustard And Potato:  (yes, we love aaloo in all our dishes mostly)
rui maachh (rohu fish) I am suggesting this particular fish as I love it a lot. You can also substitute this with kaatla maachh (which is very similar to rohu but more juicier) or any other fish of your choice. 

2 cups chopped onions
potato slices already fried golden brown in mustard oil
1 tbsp red chilli powder (optional, used mainly to give colour)
4 red whole chillies
4-5 green chillies slit (more or less depending on your spice preference)
1 tsp mustard paste
1 tsp turmeric paste
2 tbsp coriander powder
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 bay leaf (tej paataa)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp kalonji
2 tbsp lemon juice
mustard oil
salt to taste
The Cooking:
1. Properly clean the fish pieces, making sure you have removed all the scales. Remove any excess water.
2. Marinate the fish pieces with lemon juice, salt and turmeric powder and leave for half an hour to an hour.
3. In a heated pan (kadai), pour mustard oil and let it heat properly. When you hear the crackle and can feel the oil heat up, put in the fish pieces slowly, and fry till both sides are golden-brown.
4. Once the fish is fried, remove from oil and keep on a napkin to remove excess oil.
5. In the hot mustard oil, put the mustard seeds, kalonji, whole dry red chillies, a few green chilli slits, red chilli powder (optional), bay leaf. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
6. Once the mustard seeds start to crackle, mix in the ginger paste and the garlic paste and stir for a few minutes.
7. Now mix in the chopped onions and fry till golden brown.
8. Put the mustard paste, coriander powder, turmeric powder. Put in the already-fried potatoes. Stir fry till oil begins to separate from the spices.
9. Pour water depending on how much curry you want. Add salt as needed. Bring to boil.  
10.Now add the fried fish pieces. Keep cooking on a low flame till the oil starts to separate from the gravy.
11.Take off gas.
12.Garnish with slit green chillies and coriander leaves.

Goes best with hot steamed white rice. 

- Debolina Raaj Gupta

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Haath-Rickshaw, Hand-Drawn Rickshaw in Kolkata

A hand-drawn rickshaw is parked outside the guest-house where I was staying in Southern Avenue. This is a recent pic, taken April 2012. Incidentally, the West Bengal Government had decided to take these off the Kolkata roads by 2005-2006, as this is an extremely inhuman practice! 

I clicked the above pic because I have always been fascinated by these hand-richshaws of Kolkata. That being said, I completely abhor this 'inhuman' practice, and have never sat in one.

While I used to visit Kolkata in my younger days as a child, the one thing that always managed to make me look out in awe were the hand-drawn rickshaws. Even as I would be sitting in a car, a taxi, or maybe a bus, I would see them everywhere, almost always being pulled by wiry-thin, scrawny, rib-cage jutting out men, young, barely adults and very old. There was never an age limit to the person who would be seen running along the roads, most times bare-foot, running through rush-hour traffic, as the passengers would almost always be in a rush, urging the puller to pull fast, run fast, reach fast......and as I discovered recently, not much has changed even today.

While hand-pulled rickshaws are now a thing of the past in most parts of the world (they do have them in a few places mainly as a fun tourist thing and not as a practice), Kolkata, India, still continues to 'move along' with this practice everyday.

This photograph above (courtesy Google Images) is taken during the native Indian days, when India was still being ruled by outsiders. Here, the passengers are being ferried in the hand-drawn rickshaws. Not much of a change in conditions, the only thing that has changed today is perhaps the dress code, that too of only the passengers, as the haath-rickshaw pullers still continue in a vest and lungi.

On 15th August 2005, the-then West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had confirmed to reporters that hand-pulled rickshaws had long been considered 'inhuman' and that the practice did not exist anywhere else. He was quoted as saying 'We have taken a policy decision to take the hand-drawn rickshaws off the roads of Kolkata on humanitarian grounds. Nowhere else does this practice exist and we think it should cease to exist in Kolkata.' Well, it's 2012 now, 'only' 07 years after Mr. Bhattacharjee made this promise...and the practice still very much continues.

*Pic courtesy Google Images

When I spoke to those who live in Kolkata, the response to my query was varied. While some had never given a thought to these poor guys who pull these rickshaws, some did have concerns. Many considered this a regular practice, citing explanations that these men are 'used to this, they do this everyday so its not a bother for them. You are an outsider, you see this sometimes, so you feel bad.' Some said they did find it sad to sit in these 'hand-drawn rickshaws', but soon justified it saying 'if we don't sit in these, how will these poor guys earn their living?' Point!

I understand that these men who pull these rickshaws come from extremely poor backgrounds, something you and I can never even imagine, no matter how much we claim to 'understand' their plight - the reality is we dont! Most of you might continue to argue that this provides them with their daily food (whatever little bites they can manage to earn like this for their families and themselves.) But the point is, isn't there a possibility that these people can be rehabilitated? Why can't the government replace these hand-drawn rickshaws and instead, replace them with regular cycle-rickshaws? Something that now definitely belongs in a museum should be sent there, and these living souls should be treated with a little more dignity. Incidentally, this is what Mr. Buddadeb Bhattacharjee was also quoted as saying in 2005: 'We are thinking of alternative modes of transport so that the transition does not affect either the pullers or its riders. It takes money and time. Yes, we do understand it takes money and time, but...ummm....07 years is a little too much time, isnt it?

*pic courtesy Google Images. A very common site on the Kolkata roads. The only place for these men to rest, take a nap, and take shelter from the burning sun and the torrential downpour is their hand-drawn rickshaws. 

A few places around the world where hand-drawn rickshaws were used:
1. In Madagascar, Africa, they are a common form of transport.
2. Durban, South Africa, is famous for its iconic Zulu rickshaw pullers. Only 25 hand-drawn rickshaws are left to cater to tourists today.
3. Bangladesh still continues the practice while various unions try to improve their conditions and highlights their plights to the world.
4. Hong Kong has stopped all licenses for rickshaws since 1975. As of date, it is reported that only one rickshaw is available for a ride at The Peak, mainly for tourists.
5. Malaysia replaced its hand-drawn rickshaws with cycle rickshaws.

- Debolina Raja Gupta

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lyrics: Je Kota Din Tumi Chhile Paashe From The Movie Baaishey Shraabon

A beautiful song that I've only recently discovered and have since been playing a lot lot lot. Can't stop humming this all the time...

So here's the video starring the gorgeous Raima Sen and the talented Parombroto Chatterjee. Watch the video and sing along with the lyrics jotted here:

Je kota din tumi chhile paashey (all those days that you were by my side)
ketechhilo noukaar paaley chokh rekhey (were spent staring out at the sail boats)
aamaar chhokhey thonte gaaley tumi legey aachho (your touch is there on my eyes, lips, cheeks)

Jetuko rod chhilo lukono megh (the little sunshine that was hiding in the clouds)
diye buni tomaar shaal'e bhaalobaasha (I used that to weave love in your shawl)
aamaar aangul haathey kaandhey tumi legey aachho (your touch is there on my fingers, hands, shoulders)

Tomaar nokhey dogaaye teebro premer maaney (the tip of your nails hold the meaning of a raw love)
aamio golpo shaajaai tomaar kaaney kaaney (I take the chance to whisper new stories in your ear)
taakiye thhaki haajaar porda ora bikel (I stare out at those many evenings when the wind blows through the curtains)
shohor dumrey muchrey thhaak onno dikey (as the city lays crumpled and wrinkled on another side)
traffic'er ei cacaphony aamaader shopno chushey khaaye (the cacaphony of the traffic sucks in all our dreams)

Je bhaabe joldi haath mekhechhey bhaat (the way our fingers mix the rice)
Notun aalor khosha aar ei bhaalobaasha (with the skin on the new potatoes and the love all mixed together)
aamaar deyaal ghorir kaantaaye tumi legey aachho (your touch is there in the hands of my wall-clock)

Jemon joriye chhiley ghoom ghoom boroph paashey (the way you were wrapped around me in my sleep)
aamio khunji tomaaye aamaar aashey paashey (I too search for you all around me)
aabaar shondhe belaaye phirey jawa jaahaaj baanshi (again the evenings take away the ships the sails the flutes)
bukey paathor raakhaa mukhey raakhaa haanshi (a boulder in my heart, a smile on my lips)
je jaar nijer deshey aamraa shrot kurotey jaai (as we head towards our own directions, our destinations, in search of the eternal waves)

Je bhaabe joldi haath mekhechhey bhaat (the way our fingers mix the rice)
Notun aalor khosha aar ei bhaalobaasha (with the skin on the new potatoes and the love all mixed together)
aamaar deyaal ghorir kaantaaye tumi legey aachho (your touch is there in the hands of my wall-clock)

Je kota din tumi chhile paashey (all those days that you were by my side)

ketechhilo noukaar paaley chokh rekhey (were spent staring out at the sail boats)
aamaar chhokhey thonte gaaley tumi legey aachho (your touch is there on my eyes, lips, cheeks)
aamaar aangul haathey kaandhey tumi legey aachho (your touch is there on my fingers, hands, shoulders)

Tomaar chokhey thonte gaaley aami legey aachhi (i am there in your eyes lips cheeks)
tomaar aangul haathey kaandhey aami legey aachhi (i am there in your fingers hands shoulders)
aamaar chhokhey thonte gaaley tumi legey aachho (your touch is there on my eyes, lips, cheeks)
aamaar aangul haathey kaandhey tumi legey aachho (your touch is there on my fingers, hands, shoulders)

- Debolina Raja Gupta

From The Eyes of A Probashi (Non-Resident Baangali)

Aaahhh the beautiful city of joy - our very own Kokata (finally, the world will now call her that instead of Calcutta)

Well, if you aren't from India, or if you haven't seen the movie by the same name, based on the book 'City of Joy' by Dominique Lapierre and starring Patrick Swayze and Om Puri, let me tell you that the City of Joy is our very own Kolkata, previously Calcutta, India.

My association with Kolkata has been a long affair. Born to baangali parents who are originally from Kolkata, I have been born and brought up in northern India, all my life. Not a surprise then, that till now, I was more of a Dilli-waali than a baangali, barring those annual Durga Puja days when the baangaali in me would suddenly wake up with a roar and thunder!

Its not that I haven't visited Kolkata. I have. But each time that I visited the city, I would be engulfed in a deluge of relatives and festivities, and almost all memories I have of this city from my earlier days are about moving from one relative's house to another, and almost always tables piled high with all kinds of mouth-watering delicacies, things that I did not value much as a kid, but do understand and long for now. I remember the numerous varieties of fish that were on display in various kinds of curries and pastes, fried crispy golden, or steamed with special marinades, or swimming in tangy spicy curries. There were always multiple kinds of vegetable dishes to choose from, not to mention varieties of daal and other delectable fares that I had no idea of. Plus the all-time favourite spread of aaloo bhaajaa, begun bhaajaa, beguni, potol bhaaja, karela bhaaja...uff...yum yum yum! And sweets !!! I have never been a fan of sweets, even as a kid, but I remember just HOW MANY different kinds of sweets would be arranged for me as if by magic. If I refused one, there would be another, if I didn't want that, there would be another.......there was no escaping!

For many years while I was growing up, I have seen Kolkata from the eyes of one who has always been an outsider, one who has never had a chance to feel the pulse of the city, to feel its soul and begin to fall in love with it.

Its only of late that I have started to understand this city the way one should. And as I begin this journey of exploring my roots, I know I am already falling in love....each passing moment !!!

- Debolina Raja Gupta
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...