Sunday, September 24, 2006

The 2006 Pujo for Me

So it is that time of the year again, when every alternate email or scrapbook entry in Orkut I get asks me about my Pujo plans. And if that is not bad enough, once I reply that Pujo does not really mean anything here, they start making funny noises like how a Bengali can live without a Pujo holiday.

Now I am not exactly right about Pujo here. The Benagli Associations in most big cities do organize Pujo's, albeit often just for a day on a convenient weekend. Our Gainesville is just a small college town, but we do get to go to the Pujo's in Orlando or Tampa and those are just a couple of hours drive. I must appreciate the tremendous effort put in my the organizers at all these places, after all it is no trivial thing to put together the events. However, its just not possible under the given constraints to make it feel like the Pujo's back home and none even pretends that they are.

These are more like a social get together to most people here, where they meet up, discuss about their kid's achievement and show off their latest acquired saree or jewellery, while letting their kids recite Bengali poems with a hugely American Bengali accent. Nothing wrong with that per se, except that I don't really enjoy it as a Pujo. Rather it is kind of like a day out for me with semi-authentic Bengali food and long drives with saree clad Bengali girls! (Too bad, rarely any of them to "look at" in the Pujo venue, that robs half the charm of Pujo!)

Anyway here is some moments of the Pujo at Tampa yesterday.

However, all said and done, I do miss Pujo back home. But I do take issues with people suggesting that I should leave everything I am doing and rush back to Kolkata during Pujo to reinforce my Bengali credentials. Apart from Kolkata, nowhere in the world Pujo is a holiday and for those of us outside Kolkata, there is realistically a very little chance of landing up there during these days. And when when you are actually away from Pujo-land, you do not miss Pujo unless you are reminded everyday!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Not the nicest post!

A few weeks back, among those inane forwards, I received this heart wrenching story.


As the dream of most parents I had acquired a degree in Software Engineerand joined a company based in USA, the land of braves and opportunity. When I arrived in the USA, it was as if a dream had come true.
Here at last I was in the place where I want to be. I decided I would bestaying in this country for about Five years in which time I would haveearned enough money to settle down in India.
My father was a government employee and after his retirement, the onlyasset he could acquire was a decent one bedroom flat.
I wanted to do some thing more than him. I started feeling homesick andlonely as the time passed. I used to call home and speak to my parents every week using cheap international phone cards. Two years passed, twoyears of Burgers at McDonald's and pizzas and discos and 2 years watchingthe foreign exchange rate getting happy whenever the Rupee value went down.
Finally I decided to get married. Told my parents that I have only 10 daysof holidays and everything must be done within these 10 days. I got myticket booked in the cheapest flight. Was jubilant and was actually enjoying hopping for gifts for all my friends back home. If I miss anyonethen there will be talks. After reaching home I spent home one week goingthrough all the photographs of girls and as the time was getting shorter I was forced to select one candidate.
In-laws told me, to my surprise, that I would have to get married in 2-3days, as I will not get anymore holidays. After the marriage, it was timeto return to USA, after giving some money to my parents and telling the neighbors to look after them, we returned to USA.
My wife enjoyed this country for about two months and then she startedfeeling lonely. The frequency of calling India increased to twice in a weeksometimes 3 times a week. Our savings started diminishing. After two more years we started to have kids. Two lovely kids, a boy and a girl, weregifted to us by the almighty. Every time I spoke to my parents, they askedme to come to India so that they can see their grand-children.
Every year I decide to go to India. But part work part monetary conditionsprevented it. Years went by and visiting India was a distant dream. Thensuddenly one day I got a message that my parents were seriously sick. I tried but I couldn't get any holidays and thus could not go to India. Thenext message I got was my parents had passed away and as there was no oneto do the last rights the society members had done whatever they could. I was depressed. My parents had passed away without seeing their grandchildren.
After couple more years passed away, much to my children's dislike and mywife's joy we returned to India to settle down. I started to look for a suitable property, but to my dismay my savings were short and the propertyprices had gone up during all these years. I had to return to the USA.
My wife refused to come back with me and my children refused to stay in India. My 2 children and I returned to USA after promising my wifeI would be back for good after two years.
Time passed by, my daughter decided to get married to an American and myson was happy living in USA. I decided that had enough and wound-up every thing and returned to India. I had just enough money to buy a decent 2bedroom flat in a well-developed locality.
Now I am 60 years old and the only time I go out of the flat is for theroutine visit to the nearby temple. My faithful wife has also left me and gone to the holy abode.
Sometimes I wondered was it worth all this? My father, even after stayingin India, had a house to his name and I too have the same nothing more.
I lost my parents and children for just ONE EXTRA BEDROOM.
Looking out from the window I see a lot of children dancing. This damnedcable TV has spoiled our new generation and these children are losing theirvalues and culture because of it. I get occasional cards from my children asking I am alright. Well at least they remember me.
Now perhaps after I die it will be the neighbors again who will beperforming my last rights, God Bless them. But the question still remains'was all this worth it?'
I am still searching for an answer................!!!!

One is not supposed to reply to these emails, these are for forwarding and trying to make people feel guilty for no reason.

But as someone in "US of A", I could not help but make some observations.

When you are coming to an alien land to live, you have to have a life. Sharing an apartment with 5 other deshis, having no social life other than occasional deshi parties at home (which are no different from the gatherings one used to have back "home") might save you a bunch of money - but that's hardly a life. Unless you get to know the country and enjoy the American way of life, which includes but not limited to having a drink on Friday,watching football on Saturday, eating turkey on Thanksgiving and traveling on long weekends, you are not "living" in here.
That is the basic problem these software people have.They come here physically, but mentally they are still in India. They detest everything American, except the color green. They would send truckloads of those green stuff back home, to invest in property or to tuck away in a bank,robbing themselves pleasures of life. And then would marry a girl their parents would choose and would ship her here to do the cooking and cleaning. And then their kids would go to school here and contrary to "our" portrayal of them as "ABCD", wont at all be confused. They would be Americans in all sense of the term and their heart wont exactly be where the "home" is.

And then the protagonist would think if it was worth it! Buddy, you brought it onto yourself.

P.S - Birthday wishes for Saswati (8th September) and Debashree (20th September).

Sunday, September 17, 2006

What's going on since summer?

Nothing really. Immensely predictable life of a graduate student. Only silver lining is I'll get to eat Kolkata food for a month in winter. After two years, got myself an India ticket. And a pretty good deal too on Al Italia. That's the good news, The bad new is I have to do a hell lot of work before I take off.

Summer in Fermilab was really up and was a tough learning experience to start off with, but in the later stages as we started taking real data, thing became somewhat exciting. Then spent a drove up to Detroit, flew to Baltimore, ate great seafood, caught up with old friends in Philadelphia, Delaware and NYC. The drive back to Florida was through St.Louis, Memphis and Alabama. All the pictures are in here -

I must have been missing Florida beaches, so after coming back travelled around a bit. The photos are in and in

Next post coming soon!