Author Archives: rajibroy

One good turn deserved another…

I ran a 5K race after a long time this morning. To make sure that I did not wait for that long a time for the next one, I went ahead and ran a second one this evening. Morning one was on a flat surface and I was able to post 8:13 min/mile. The evening one was on punishing hills and I had to slow down to 8:41 min/mile. But there was wine at the end of it 🙂

Nikita and our dog Jay Jay came to cheer me up. (Sharmila is visiting Natasha in New York).

Your probably remember some of the inspiring pictures of kids running in the morning. The evening one was no different. The evening run was to raise money for differently abled kids who are financially disadvantaged. There was one kid who clearly was differently abled who showed up (for the shorter version of the race) to raise money for his brethren.

I was touched by him enough to hang around till he showed up at the finishing line. I was completely humbled by the fact that somebody who can barely walk properly would show up for a race just to raise money for kids like him but in a different financial situation.

What blew my mind was the sight of his mom walking step for step with him all the way. What sacrifices must she have made to raise her son all her life!

Every time the next hill in my run threatened to take my breath away, all I had to do was remind myself of what I had just seen. The world was very even after that.

Let the records indicate that for all the divisiveness we have pushed ourselves to in the garb of so called knowledge and intelligence, our basic instinct of just being humane is often still intact!!!

Race to beat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s syndrome)

It was extremely heartening to see so many people come out to run to raise money for research and cure of ALS. Quite a few of my friends have one or the other parent affected by this and some, unfortunately, have eventually lost the battle.

There were some very cute kids who came for the Fun Run. The youngest one divided her time between taking a few steps and focusing on her pacifier!! It was very encouraging to see the sense of camaraderie among all the young participants.

In the 5K run itself, there were kids around 10 years old on one hand and there were septuagenarians on the other. There were a few who finished it in their wheelchairs – and one of them is currently afflicted by ALS. There were people sprinting, people jogging and people walking. Regardless of their capability, they came out to show solidarity in the fight against ALS. A few dogs, not to be outdone, ran the whole race with us!

If medical technology cannot find a cure soon, I am sure the human spirit will.

Amitesh ran after a long time and posted one of his career best times. I ran a 5K race after a long time too (these days, I focus on the long distance runs instead of the fast ones). Mine was good enough to get the 3rd prize in my age category.

Anniversary special – from the poetry of Saghar Siddiqui

(This was famously sung by Asha Bhonsle in the 1983 album Meeraj-E-Ghazal. The music was composed by none other than the famous Ghulam Ali)

“Roodaad-e-mohabbat kya kahiye,
Kuchh yaad rahi kuchh bhool gaye
Do din ki masarrat kya kahiye
Kuchh yaad rahi kuchh bhool gaye

Jab jaam diya tha saaqi ne
Jab daur chala tha mehfil mein
Wo hosh ke saathi kya kahiye
Kuchh yaad rahi kuchh bhool gaye

Ehsaas ke maikhaane mein kahaan
Ab fikr-o-nazar ki kandiilen
Aalaam ki shiddat kya kahiye
Kuchh yaad rahi kuchh bhool gaye”

Roughly translated,

“The story of my love… what can I say?
I remember some of it… but I forget some more
Those fleeting moments of blissfulness… what can I say?
I remember some it… but I forget some more

When she poured wine in my glass
And the drunken party whirled around me
She was all I was conscious about, what can I say?
I remember some it… but I forget some more

In those inebriated feelings,
There was no thought, no prayer
There was just an intensity of agony, what can I say?
I remember some it… but I forget some more”

24 years of sticking with the one thing we agreed on…

One of us stakes the claim to be right….
The other one gets to call himself the husband…

For the ones who have avidly followed my posts on how she has unfailingly forgotten our anniversary date every year, this year, she put reminders on her iPhone for today and yesterday and day before yesterday….

Last night, after I came back from the West Coast late, before she went to bed, she wished me. I reminded her that it was still 11:55. She reminded me that she might not remember the next day.

Fair enough!

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #9: FEW

FEW is an American Style Gin. If you have followed all my Gin research by now, you probably realize that Genever was the original drink from the Belgium/Netherlands area. Then came Tom Gin and finally London Dry style (which is not aged in a barrel at all). American style Gin is a very recent phenomenon and they tend to be (not always) less junipery and a little more citrus forward.

That said, this Gin is very different. To begin with, there is a distinct wood-y nose. Which is surprising for a gin not aged in a barrel till you realize that the base of this gin is not the traditional neutral grain but more akin to white whiskey. The warm toasty malty nose comes from the base of barley, corn and whiskey used.

In terms of the botanicals, other than the standard juniper, citrus, orange peels, lemon and cassia, you have the interesting twists of vanilla (Tahitian vanilla), grains of paradise and home grown hops.

If you are into brown alcohols and want to try gins, you will like this. If you are not too much into barrel aged alcohols, do not take this straight up or with tonic water. Your best way to try this might be with something that compensates for the woody-ness — perhaps a cocktail like Negroni or a Martini.

FEW is made in an interesting place – Evanston – about 30 miles north of Chicago and very close to the Northwestern University. The real interesting part of this area is that this was one of the areas that inspired the Prohibition area!! The distillery is rather new – only about 6 years in existence.

I would also put this gin on the higher end of price – although nothing like Monkey 47.

Hickey-gem … again…

In the past, you probably have read about my team mate Bob Hickey and his really, really funny comebacks. He is a guy with an incredible sense of humor and presence of mind.

Early this morning, I called him up from the West Coast and went..
Me: “Was it your anniversary yesterday?”
He: “Yes”.
Me: “How many years?”
He: “32 long years”.
Me: “I did not realize that our anniveraries are so close. Mine is tomorrow”.
He: “Oh! How many years for you?”
Me: “Not as long as you. 24.”
Perhaps touched to the quick on that “not as long as you”, in about half a jiffy, he came back with…
“Hey! Rajib, only if my wife agreed, I would be more than happy to step aside and let you catch up to me”.

Again, all you could hear is both of us guffawing on either side of the phone!!!

See… this is why I foxtrot to office everyday…

After three days of coast to coast meetings, finally dragged myself to the Portland airport (with no help from United Airlines, if you needed to know 🙂 ). After checking in, went thru security and dropped down in a chair at the Delta Skyclub. There was one more hour long video meeting to be done before I could walk into my flight.

Somewhere during the meeting, as my team mate Anand Iyer explained something that has been a practice for quite some time in our company, I asked, rather impatiently – “But that makes no logical sense, right? Why would anybody do it?”.

Anand, much smarter than I – and who obviously agreed with my premise, instead decided to answer the core thesis behind my question. “There have four Nobel prizes given in recent times to people who have proven that we all behave irrationally”.

I had to take a time out for a few seconds to laugh my heart out.

“Well played, Sir, well played!!”

Sometimes I wonder why do I foxtrot to office every morning – is it because I am surrounded by very smart people or is it because I am surrounded by very funny people…

She is officially the earliest teacher in my life that I got in touch with!!

The day was Jan 15, 1973. I was a tiny tot – all of six years old – when I got down from a strange looking bus – it was more of a re-purposed police van really – to a very foreign environment. I got out of the bus and stared with somewhat trepidation at my new school. That was my first day of being a first grader in Benachity Junior High School.

I trudged along the school entrance path and unlike other smart students, took some time to find my class. I was one of the last ones to arrive and found myself a spot in the very last row of benches. I was pretty nervous. Not really sure who talked to who first that day, but I did strike up an awkward conversation with the boy next to me. Turns out his name was Ansuman Mitra. Actually it still is. And we are still friends and see each other about once a year! “I have a new blue tiffin box”, I remember telling him. That, clearly, was the only thing I could talk thru my awkwardness. Probably, also the only thing that I was looking forward to that whole day.

Presently, a teacher came and announced that the class we were sitting in is 1B. Apparently, 1A still had a few benches unoccupied. And some of us got randomly picked and shooed away to the class next door. That is how I landed up in class 1A. And my somewhat budding friendship with Ansuman was cut short prematurely. In reality though, I sought him out during tiffin (recess) period to show my tiffin box 🙂

Well, it was that random choice that got me in front of my class teacher – Miss George as we called her then. I have but only a few memories of those days. Miss George teaching us English was one of the highlights. There was a red book and a yellow book. I remember some of the contents inside but most of it has faded off. I suppose they were filled with the letters of the alphabet and a lot of pictures.

One of the lasting memories I have about Miss George was that during one of those tiffin periods, I had fallen down (don’t worry, I was not athletic ever; it was not like I had a grand fall while trying to kick the soccer ball or something – it was indeed an ignominious case of me slipping on a stair right next to where they used to ring the big dong announcing that a period was over) and had bruised myself. Miss George had somebody get some medicine (Boroline?) from head teacher’s office and applied it on my knee and put me to ease.

Much later in life – around the mid eighties, somebody told me that Miss George lived somewhere near Aurobindo Avenue (I think that was the street name) and that she wanted to see me. I was such an idiot – and also a confirmed awkward – that I never took that opportunity to find her out and meet her.

Well, that particular memory has gnawed me for a long time. Ever since, I have approached many a people from my past with the “Do you know a Miss George from Benachity Junior High School?” At some point of time, I learned that she had left Durgapur and was in Kerala.

That long search of mine was put to rest last week when Mrs. Bose helped me get her number. It was with great consternation, I called that number. How do you approach a person who taught you forty four years back and somebody you never have talked after that?

“Is this Mrs. Lily George?”
And all that awkwardness came over me again! “Errr… You will not recognize me but you were my class teacher in first grade in 1973”.

I recognized that I needed to back up my point a little more. So, I told her about the school, the other teachers and my recollection of how she looked and most importantly that picture she took with us after gathering all the classmates during a Christmas get together.

The conversation, from then on flowed very fluidly. I got to know about her kids who are both live outside India. I got to know about how she has settled down in Ernakulam. But I was most disheartened to hear how she is having a tough time with her knees. And this is in spite of the fact she already had one surgery.

She took down my contacts. And as I spelt my name – something seemed to stir in her memory. “Rajib Roy. Wait a minute. Were you not the first boy in class? In fact you were the first boy all throughout school, right? I remember you very well. I had heard that you did very well in high school too”.

Well, that was really awkward and embarrassing. First, me doing well in studies had more to do with my relentless parents. I was an unwilling participant. But there were other first boys and girls too (We had many sections). So, I was not sure that was my calling card. But most of all, I was afraid that she might say “Hey! Later on I actually wanted to meet you once. Did you ever get the message?”.

Once I kept the phone down after promising to keep in touch with her, a flood of memories of my classmates from those days started floating thru my mind. Suddenly, I remembered something. I went upstairs, opened up the computer and after some search brought out a picture from that Christmas party of Miss George and all my classmates together. From Dec, 1973. I had digitized it and kept it thinking someday it might come come in handy.

My next mission is to get that picture to her somehow. You never know. My awkwardness knows no bounds. One of the India trips, I might just show up at Ernakulam and give her a printed copy of the picture and let her know that her teachings and guidance is going forty four years strong. With no apparent sign of abating!

What a great feeling it was to actually talk to somebody who is till date, my earliest teacher that I have been able to track!!!

[I am the kid with a squint in the left eye standing in the last row, third from the right of the picture]