Thursday, October 31, 2019

Good for laughs

Laugh One:

25% of the women in this country are on medication for mental illness. That's scary. It means 75% are running around untreated!

Laugh Two:

"And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the earth".
Then He made the earth round and He laughed and laughed and laughed.

Thanks for those, Lavona. And thank God we have grown to be old enough to enjoy them without thinking about whether we are men or women, and whether or not we should therefore be offended!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019


I have been neglecting this poor blog for a long time. My bad, as they say who cannot speak English. Actually I haven't been feeling funny lately. And Bengal's annual madness is coming again: never fails to give me the heebie-jeebies. Thank God I'll be far away.

A thought: it would be nice if my readers were to send me links to things that have caught their eye lately, things that deserve a good laugh over. I can then at least draw attention to them on this blog: that would be a good way to keep it alive.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Terrific hailstorm again!

I wrote a post here in April 2013 titled Nature's violent beauty which a lot of people have read. Well, the day before yesterday there was a terrific thunderstorm all over the district (it's April again!), and though there wasn't much of a hail shower in Durgapur, some nearby places looked as if there had been heavy snowfall. Click here for a photograph (from my newspaper dated April 22).

Thursday, March 14, 2019

'Hi, Rahul'?

Rahul Gandhi asked a gaggle of college girls to address him as 'Rahul' rather than 'Sir'. 

I have no quarrel with his personal preferences - maybe, as one commentator has suggested, pushing 50, he enjoys teenagers dealing with him more like a peer than an uncleji - and democracy is all very well, but is that how an aspiring prime minister should behave? Does it not take away much of the gravitas which has always been considered essential to the position? Should a president or PM aim at being a passing celebrity with overgrown children like a cricketer or pop star?

Even in the US, where they are very informal about most things, they habitually say 'Mr. President' or 'Sir' when addressing the Chief Executive. Are we trying to become more Yankee than the Yankees?

I am a mere small-town private tutor. But thank God no current or ex-pupil, or their parents, unless they are much older and close to the family, would dream of addressing me as 'Suvro'!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

A certain winning slogan for Didi

My daughter and I were discussing the madness of vegetarians/vegans (my suggestion is just send them to Siberia and let them find out how many days they can survive), when it occurred to me that Mamata Banerjee needs only a one-line brahmastra to annihilate the BJP in this state at least during the coming Lok Sabha polls. She should just tell all Bengalis that if the BJP came to power it would try its damnedest to prevent them from feasting on fish and meat... if the alarm spread, I doubt whether any BJP candidate would get more than one vote: his or her own.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Right royal mess

Prince Philip has just had what could have been a very nasty accident on the road, and escaped without a scratch, though seriously shocked and shaken. See this.

The old fellow was driving his own car. A very heavy vehicle, an upmarket SUV, so how he managed to overturn it is beyond me, especially considering he was merely getting out from a by-road on to a highway, so his speed would have been barely above zero.

The point is, the man is past 97. He is still driving! Makes you wonder. I am only 55 - a babe beside him - and I take a driver with me on every long drive... yet I used to love driving so, once upon a time!

But then, if I had been Prince Philip - his country, his health, his social position, his kind of car - I might have behaved very differently too, now if not at 97.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

More absurd abuse of English

The faster people get 'smart' without an adequate education, the stupider their discourse becomes - and nowhere is this degeneration more noticeable than in the way they mangle a great language. I have remarked on this again and again on this blog and the other one: see, for instance, this post

Some of the latest abuses are as follows. I just read on a newfangled news website that it is the 'ask' of many shareholders whether the errant CEO will be punished or not. The ask, not the question or query. Likewise, people send one another 'invites' these days,  not invitations, and football teams have great 'wins', not victories: far too many people have forgotten, or have never been taught, that 'win'  and 'invite' and 'ask' are verbs, not nouns. When morons serve as schoolteachers, this is the type of 'educated' adults you get...

The government of India, in its zeal to create a lot of jobs, has helped to create (or at least popularize) another such wretched new pseudo-word: skilling. They are setting up institutions galore to 'skill' young Indians and make them job- (or business-) worthy. Not teach them skills, mind you, but 'skill' them. Say it aloud - 'I am going to skill you'. If it doesn't sound weird and sick, you are part of the stupid smart set.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Pujo idea

Pujo is around the corner. This time our chief minister has been personally going around inaugurating the 'festival season' more than a week in advance - and I am sure that the vast majority of the residents of the state, as voters, are perfectly happy about it.

How I feel about this season I wrote in detail ten years ago. There has been no reason to change a line in that blogpost. But this year I had a thought: since much about the pujo 'fun' is about monstrous crowds thronging all the pandals around town, and every pujo committee has to worry about squeezing local residents for funds - their budgets ballooning with every passing year - what about charging an entry fee at every public pujo venue? They boast of vast numbers of visitors, don't they, three lakhs, five lakhs at the really big and famous pujos? Well, then, charging the very modest sum of ten rupees per visitor should solve the problem of funds once and for all! As a bonus, the crowds might thin down ever so little, and make pandal-hopping very slightly less of a nightmare for those who do it for the sake of having fun?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

In your face policemen

I wish our cops could wear that sort of shirt in public, especially before their political bosses.

Thanks for the picture, Lavona.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Supercars, RIP

A tycoon whose family got rich selling bathroom fittings (and by other means, certainly - I refuse to believe that faucets, showers and wc-s are that profitable!) has died in Kolkata while racing his Rs. 3 crore-plus Ferrari. Well, his family says, he was actually always a very careful driver though mad about cars, and he wasn't racing - I am sure people like that normally drive luxury sports cars below 60 kmph. See the report here.

I have become such a callous man that I cannot feel the slightest twinge of pity or sorrow. I am merely glad he didn't kill some innocent pedestrian or his son who was beside him. And I wish the media would pause for a moment to think whether they would have been half as excited if the dead man had been driving a common Maruti. Also, whether they might write as stridently about careless driving and poorly-enforced traffic rules as they do about the evils of smoking and misbehaviour with women on the roads.

If you are wondering why I am so unsympathetic towards people like this, read this and this and this.

And here's an obituary for supercars. Once upon a time Prince Philip and James Bond drove cars like that; now potty-sellers do. If I ever had the slightest fascination for such machines, it's long dead. Even if I had a billion dollars, I wouldn't be caught dead in a Ferrari now. I know what sort of people would be 'impressed', and I wouldn't like the thought.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Cricket bizarre

I found this satire on IPL in today's edition of my newspaper so hilarious that I had to put up the link, here.

Besides, it feels wonderful to see that there are still a few people around who can write Bengali of this vintage with such effortless elan.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

CM angry with red tape!

This news item in the newspaper today made me guffaw, and I couldn't help putting it up. Much irritated by the tardiness of bureaucrats pushing files around, which are badly slowing down her favourite schemes designed to make voters happy, our Chief Minister herself took to task some babus at a public meeting, asking (and that is how the headline reads in Bangla) 'How long are you going to keep things tied up in red tape?'

Isn't that what millions of long-suffering common citizens ask, looking up only to God for succour?

But think, do you imagine that it is only the bureaucracy's bad habits that are to blame? Isn't it a fact that lots and lots of people make a living (or at least a better living than their official salaries allow) only because the files move so slowly unless greased with speed money? Try getting something as humble as a driving licence renewed without engaging a tout! Now all those tens of thousands of touts are citizens as much as you and me, and they have aspirations just as we do, with no more honest and straightforward way to fulfill the same. So isn't it a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Patriotism, well understood

Translated, that reads Getting shot at on the border is not the only kind of service to the nation. Stop spitting everywhere while you are chewing tobacco: that will be a big enough favour to her. 

Notice pasted on a roadside wall on the way to the Ramjhula bridge from the Geeta Ashram. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Indian values coming, beware!

There is a news item in my paper today that says the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has drawn up a new model curriculum for engineering and management courses that makes it compulsory to learn a smattering of Indian/Vedic values. That set me thinking, and several rather disquieting thoughts came into my mind.

First, teach ‘values’ to people in college, when, as any psychologist will tell you, their values have already set hard for life? Don’t you teach values in very early life, and that too more by example than by precept, if they are to be any use at all?

Second, anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock knows what kind of values children who grow up fixated on engineering and/or management school later in life are being taught at home, isn’t it? That one gets an education only, repeat only, to get a job; that engineering and management is the quickest and safest way to at least a moderately paying job, that to get into those colleges all you need to learn is a bit of physics, chemistry and math (not much of that either, if daddy is ready to shell out a goodly sum of money!) – everything else is useless, language, literature, history, geography, economics, civics, leave alone something so esoteric and impractical as ‘values’? Don’t they also learn among values that it is fine to cheat through exams all one’s educational life, just as long as one doesn’t get caught, and naturally carry on living by those values for the rest of their lives? Don’t they learn that it is fine to forget everything one has crammed before exams afterwards, because knowledge is useless, only the exam scores matter? Don’t most of them condone, or at least quietly go along with the disgusting practice of ‘ragging’? Don’t they habitually use dirty language? Such kids will suddenly start learning values like honesty, hard work, thrift, cooperation, courtesy, punctuality, cleanliness, kindness etc etc in college? Why on earth should they? How can they be made to? What sort of fools expect them to?

And what exactly are Indian/vedic values? If values are worth the name, aren’t they supposed to be universal? Are Indian values all very healthy and worth teaching – extreme forms of patriarchy and casteism, for instance, open defecation, blind worship of the old, deliberate confusion of myth and history, mindless cruelty to animals, the tradition of kowtowing to people in power to their faces and constantly plotting to stab them when their backs are turned, arranging big fat weddings to show off one’s ‘success’…? (the ‘authorities’ quoted have said that our epics are great sources of good values. Look up my essay on the Mahabharata in this context. The Ramayana I won’t even deign to discuss, and the Arthashastra, another of these people’s supposed gold mines, recommends that the king spy on everybody all the time, including his own family members. How’s that for a good ‘value’?) And what kind of rubbish is a sentence like this – ‘Indian culture is largely focusing (sic) on collectivism where family and work group goals dominate over individualistic needs and desires’, and that, feel the authorities, is not only missing in conventional management literature but sorely needed by our budding engineers and managers. Well, as any semi-conscious Indian could tell you, as countless writers from Saratchandra Chatterjee to Arvind Adiga (who in The White Tiger has famously called the traditional Indian family an asphyxiating, soul-destroying chicken coop) have shown, the above assertion is pure bunkum: Indians typically neglect and treat the weak in their families, children, women, the old and the handicapped, with monstrous cruelty while paying lip service to family love and mutual obligations, and westerners, who mouth far fewer pious platitudes far less often, actually show far more collectivism and concern for the common weal: witness everything from how they keep their surroundings clean, insist on stern laws to prevent abuse of the weak, and provide social security to those who cannot fend for themselves. Whom are we trying to fool?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Guilty consciences!

I wrote a post called Hospitals and banks, the way things work in the other blog a while ago. Very recently I saw a billboard at City Centre whose photograph is pasted below.

Why do you think hospitals are feeling the need to advertize like this?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Freudian slip?

I hadn't posted anything on this blog for some time. Under the circumstances, there wasn't much to post. My father passed away four days ago after a long and painful illness.

My daughter asked today whether I had taken a dose of Milk of Amnesia. I thought that deserved a blogpost.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ho ho ho

Here's someone who is either very wise or super-stupid; he's drawn up a list of five widely used things (such as cash) that are sure to vanish by 2021. 

I have a long memory, and so, I hope, do some of my readers, at least. We shall check, shall we?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Eat your pencil?

Lots of people have become serendipitous inventors, and if and when their brainwaves have found big markets, they have sometimes become suddenly and enormously rich. I refuse to believe that all of them deserve particular admiration for being talented - think of the inventors of chewing gum and cellotape and hair dye. 

Not everyone has the inclination for it, either. I have had brainwaves over and over again, but never bothered to run to the Patent Office. Here's one such for public consumption. Watching my pupils chewing or sucking away at their pencils and pens, it has struck me that someone could make a killing by manufacturing edible writing instruments. They could come in a variety of flavours, too. I have seen pencils with scented erasers stuck to their behinds, I have seen pen-pencil combos, but I haven't seen ones that can be eaten. Has any reader come across such things? If not, and if someone does manage to make a big hit by launching such a line, s/he might remember that it was my idea, and at least acknowledge the debt. I wouldn't mind if I got paid, either :)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

High five for Babul Supriyo

When a politician says something both true and important, I try to applaud without regard to his political colour. So here is Babul Supriyo, BJP MP from Asansol, complaining that the public come to him (and politicos in general) by and large with requests for out of turn or even absolutely illegal favours – get me off the hook in this police case, get my undeserving son a job, get my daughter with hopeless examination scores into a good college, get me a flat though I didn’t make it through the lottery. He went so far as to observe ruefully that the very same people walk out and then condemn the same politicians for being ‘corrupt’. All I can say is ‘Hear, hear!’

I have always maintained that in this country the man in the street has no right to call politicians names without taking a good hard look at himself first. As I see it, we call a politician corrupt if he gives undue favours to someone I don’t know or dislike. Also, if I take bribes in hundreds or thousands, I am honest, but he takes them in millions, so he is corrupt.