16 April 2021

Puzzle to get the weekend started

There is a large tray with red, blue and green marbles in it. In fact, there are 20 red marbles, 30 blue marbles and 40 green marbles. In that tray, the marbles are continuously moving around in Brownian (random) motion – often hitting each other.

If two marbles of same color hit each other, they just bounce off and continue. However, if two marbles of different color hit each other, then, both change to the third color and then bounce off and continue. All such hits are always between two marbles only. (no simultaneous three or more marbles hitting each other).

So a red and blue marble hitting each other will make both of them turn green and so on….

Is it ever possible for all the marbles in the tray to become of one color? If so, which color will it be?

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16 April 2021

Mahanayak-er gaan

To my parents, there was none – nor would there be ever – a better actor than Uttam Kumar. The one time they came to the US, Sharmila would get them Uttam Kumar movies from an Indian story nearby and they would spend whole day seeing the same movie over and over again.

Got a vinyl record from Kolkata with some of the songs from their favorite Uttam Kumar movies. Cleaned it up today and listened to it.

The first song was particularly melancholic…

“Boshe aachhi patha cheye
Faguner-o gaan geye
Joto bhabi bhuley jaabo
Mono maaney na”

I sit here awaiting you
Songs of spring humming in my mind
Much as I try to keep you off my mind
The heart defiantly refuses to comply.

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16 April 2021

From the bartender’s corner – Spicy Mangorita

Found a unique ingredient – Spicy Tamarind Vodka!! Made by Smirnoff. I am sure my friends from India would love it. Made the first cocktail from a suggestion in Smirnoff’s website – Spicy Mangorita!

Used Tajin salt to rim the glass and 5 ounces of mango juice, quarter of lime juice and one and a half ounces of spicy tamarind vodka for the drink. Came out fairly well!!

15 April 2021

Happy New Year!

In case you are wondering why I am three and a half months late… well, today is the New Year’s Day in West Bengal (the state I come from in India). It is the year 1428 for us.

And if you are wondering why we celebrate three and a half months late… this might help…
(adapted from a post from seven years back)

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Today is New Year’s Day for us – the Bengalis. If you were not aware, we, the Bengalis originate from a small state in the Eastern part of India intuitively called “West Bengal”.

You might be wondering why do we celebrate New Year’s in the middle of April. To understand that, you have to have a deep appreciation for who we are.

First, and foremost, we hate cold weather. “Thanda legey jaabey” (“Thou shalt catch a cold”) is the most commonly uttered full Bengali sentence. (I believe closely followed by “Ombol hoyechhe” – that is a story for another day). The mercury has to hover somewhere around 80 degrees Fahrenheit and we promptly adorn our heads with monkey caps (a prehistoric version of the ski mask). With a pompom on the top, to boot!

Most of January we are under our “lep toshok” (quilts) – and that one pair of socks we seem to have a love affair with. Way too deep to come out and even remotely consider celebrating New Year’s. Mid April, on the other hand is nice and toasty in the high 80s. Which, is the perfect weather to come out and celebrate. A “half sweater” (sleeveless vest) goes just about fine with that weather and celebrations.

Second, we are a little overwhelmed by the concept of New Year’s resolutions made on January 1st. Especially, since almost all such resolutions somehow need us to go to the gym. Gyms and us get along as well as the Kardashians and the concept of staying married. We simply don’t understand the unholy haste to sweat ourselves to death in the gym. We get enough practice in our crowded buses and trying to chase the crows away from the food on our balconies. We are doing just fine with our rice and “rosogollas”, thank you very much!

And third, we need our regular festivals and the associated one week “casual leave” from work every month. When it comes to actually working and the work hours, the French have nothing on us. We scoff at the concept that they waste their parliament’s valuable time passing laws limiting work to only 20 hours a week. On that front, we are very self reliant. We do that ourselves without needing any stupid laws to help us.

For every month we have our earmarked festival – New Year’s in January (Oh! the irony!!), “Saraswati Pujo” in February, “Dol” in March, “Pochise Boisakh” in May and so on and so forth. April is the only month we had nothing. And lo and behold!- we chose April for our New Year’s! And to be fair to the bordering months, we chose bang in the middle of the month of April to celebrate our New Year’s!

Plus it is always a great sport to debate over which saree or “kurta” to wear while our American brethren toil the midnight oil to file their taxes!!

There! You have it now!!

14 April 2021

This is what I am going to miss if we all start working from home forever

Came to office in Chicago this week. Walked into my cubicle and was immediately met with a good humored prank from a colleague. (The needle of suspicion points to Chris or Deval 🙂 ).

Loved it. Does the bear not look like somebody who is not happy with our recently concluded annual appraisal? 🙂

This is the kind of fun I am going to miss if everybody starts working from home forever.

Recently, in a CEO forum, I saw something that resonated strongly with me. The CEO’s quote was:

“What is the human side of work? How do you maintain a culture? That’s what we want. The Number One source of happiness in this world is having a good job, working with good people, doing good work that you enjoy. Is that going to mean sitting at your computer in the bedroom with your cat jumping on you?”