9 February 2019

How much do we spend on insomnia?

I was reading this book last night – Wisdom 2.0 – and came across a data that caught me by surprise. It is the amount Americans spend on fighting sleeplessness. To follow up, did some snooping around this morning to get some more data. Turns out we are spending somewhere around $50B on drugs and medicine every year to stave off insomnia. Consumer Reports has some informative articles on this.

To get a perspective on that number – that is $150 per year per man, woman and child in this country! Enough to make me lose sleep right now!!

On the other hand, maybe that is where we should take $5B from and give it to Trump to build the wall. Maybe we should stay sleepless. We are the ones who elected him, right? 🙂

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8 February 2019

Throwback to mid seventies

It was December. The exact year escapes me. But it was mid seventies. Dad had taken the whole family to visit my mom’s elder sister. I remember getting off the train in a nondescript station called Mankundu and then taking a rickshaw to my aunt’s place in Chandannagar. That evening, uncle showed off his newly acquired gramaphone player (those LP players with vinyl discs). I remember being absolutely fascinated by the player.

This is the first song I ever heard in a gramophone player.

“Dagor dagor chokhey keno kajol diley
Amon dagor dagor chokhey keno kajol diley
Kalo oi chokhta thekeo kajol kalo ki
Bolo kalo oi chokhta thekeo kajol kalo ki?
Dekhatam o mukh haatey aayna peley

Jekhaney polash koli saara bochhor phhotey
laabh ki rong laagie omon raanga thhotey
palash-er- koli-r cheye-o o rong raanga ki?
Bolo palash-er- koli-r cheye-o o rong raanga ki?
Dekhatam o mukh haatey aayna peley”

To understand the lyrics, we need to know that “polash” is a very bright red flower found in the area where I come from in India (Bengal) and “kajol” is collyrium – also called “kohl” that is usually applied under the eyes by girls where I come from as a beauty thing.

Roughly translated…

Why did you put “kohl” on those wide eyes
Oh! Why did you put “kohl” on those wide eyes
Is kohl really any deeper than your dark eyes
Tell me, is kohl really any deeper than your dark eyes?
I would have shown you myself, had I had a mirror with me.

Where “polash” blooms all year around
What is the point in putting red color in those lips
Is the red of an young “polash” bud any deeper than that of your lips
Tell me, is the red of an young “polash” bud any deeper than that of your lips?
I would have shown you myself, had I had a mirror with me.

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3 February 2019

The silence of the dark night…

… the crackling of the fire…
… the memories of a life…
… with mezcal as the company.

“Para todo mal, mezcal!
Para todo bien, tambien!!”

Here is a perfect translation from my friend Somshekhar Bakshi..
“For everything bad… mezcal!
For everything good… likewise!!”

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1 February 2019

Friday evening relaxation

Every Bengali kid that grew up in the 70s and 80s in Bengal would have grown up on a healthy diet of folk songs. Folk songs – irrespective of country – tend to have catchy tunes and is usually about some down to earth topic. Tonight’s song of the evening was “Amar Gosai Re Ni Dekhcho Khajur Gachhtalay” by the unforgettable Amar Pal. Took me back to the days of elementary school when All India Radio Kolkata used to carry 2 folks songs everyday between 6:50am and 7:00am. I used to listen to them invariably while packing up my school bag or tying my shoelaces. Moment the folks songs got over, I had to run for the school bus that would show up at 7:10am.

This song is a somewhat funny take on the life of a normal street cat.

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7 January 2019

What I find fascinating about India…

… it has the most impatient folks I have ever seen in the whole world. The plane barely touched the ground and everybody got up to get their stuff from the bins when the plane was still moving. The plane was yet to start boarding and everybody had crowded out the gate. A mere ten minute delay in the flight and everybody was trashing the airlines.

That is the not the fascinating part.

The fascinating part is that it is also the country that has given us yoga, breathing techniques, meditation and all those stuff designed to manage stress 🙂

1 January 2019

“I wish you enough”

Keeping up with my tradition of starting the year by “wishing you enough”. A message worth repeating every year. Also acknowledging Larry Mason who had originally wished me enough…

It would never be the start of a new year for me if I did not send my “I wish you enough” message like every year. Again, credits are to Larry who had “wished me enough” for the first time many years back.

“I wish you enough!”
By Bob Perks
———————–
I never really thought that I’d spend as much time in airports as I do. I don’t know why. I always wanted to be famous and that would mean lots of travel. But I’m not famous, yet I do see more than my share of airports.

I love them and I hate them. I love them because of the people I get to watch. But they are also the same reason why I hate airports. It all comes down to “hello” and “goodbye.”I must have mentioned this a few times while writing my stories for you.

I have great difficulties with saying goodbye. Even as I write this I am experiencing that pounding sensation in my heart. If I am watching such a scene in a movie I am affected so much that I need to sit up and take a few deep breaths. So when faced with a challenge in my life I have been known to go to our local airport and watch people say goodbye. I figure nothing that is happening to me at the time could be as bad as having to say goodbye.

Watching people cling to each other, crying, and holding each other in that last embrace makes me appreciate what I have even more. Seeing them finally pull apart, extending their arms until the tips of their fingers are the last to let go, is an image that stays forefront in my mind throughout the day.

On one of my recent business trips, when I arrived at the counter to check in, the woman said, “How are you today?” I replied, “I am missing my wife already and I haven’t even said goodbye.”
She then looked at my ticket and began to ask, “How long will you…Oh, my God. You will only be gone three days!” We all laughed. My problem was I still had to say goodbye.

But I learn from goodbye moments, too.

Recently I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, “I love you. I wish you enough.” She in turn said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Daddy.”

They kissed and she left. He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say goodbye to someone knowing it would be forever?”

“Yes, I have,” I replied. Saying that brought back memories I had of expressing my love and appreciation for all my Dad had done for me. Recognizing that his days were limited, I took the time to tell him face to face how much he meant to me.

So I knew what this man experiencing.

“Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever goodbye?” I asked.
“I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral,” he said.

“When you were saying goodbye I heard you say, “I wish you enough.” May I ask what that means?”
He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled even more.”When we said ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them,” he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.

“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Goodbye.”
He then began to sob and walked away.

My friends, I wish you enough!

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22 December 2018

Friday unwinding.

“Jokhon neshay amar rasta toley
Keu amake maatal bole
Omni soja chole jai dekhiye
Bhabchho jaa ta noito ami
Jokhon tumi amay matal bolo
Dhonno je hoy she maatlami
Dhonno ami dhonno he
Matal tomar jonno je”

Under the influence, when I stagger
And somebody calls me out as a drunkard
I start walking the straight line
To prove them that they are wrong.
But when you call me a drunkard
Blessed becomes my inebriation
Blessed I be, virtuous I be,
Drunkard, all due to you!

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17 November 2018

Weekend relaxation

‘Aashiqi sabr-talab aur tamanna betaab
Dil ka kyaa rang karoon khoon-e jigar hone tak.”
– Ghalib

Roughly translated (by somebody else)…
“Love demands patience but lust is relentless,
What to do with the heart till it bleeds to death!”

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