19 April 2015

A new cool friend!

If any one of you visit Dallas (or live there) and are looking for a nice wine bar, do not forget to go to Mercy in Addison. And make sure you meet my new friend Mike there. He made the evening for us and my business company absolutely marvelous. We found out that we both have a lot in common – stand up comedy, mixology and being sharp as a whip. Okay, okay, agreed that I extended the truth on that bit about me being sharp. But still two out of three is not bad!

Also, when you go there, do not forget to try a wine called “Lunatic”!


19 April 2015

A stranger no more!!

Last weekend Sharmila’s friend Rupa had visited us from Dubai. On Sunday, I was dropping her at the airport and on the way we started talking about the concept of friendship – you know FB friends, school friends, work friends etc. At some point she talked about somebody called Sudeshna Das who now lives in Houston and that she was a friend of Rupa’s sister. The thought that went thru my mind immediately was that she must be then my sister’s friend (same batch). Anyways, after dropping Rupa at the airport, I made a couple of calls to friends in Houston to see if we could track down Sudeshna. As luck would have it, I was going to be in Houston within a couple of days for work.

As you can imagine, a little help from FB, friends and a few phone calls and I did get to meet a complete stranger – Sudeshna (frequently called Mou). Our common friend Subrata, his wife, Sharmistha and Sudeshna had dinner with me. We absolutely missed Tapan Das – Sudeshna’s husband who had to leave for Brazil that day.

The dinner started, innocuously enough, with two complete strangers meeting. By the time the evening was over, we found more intersections points than we could shake a stick at. I probably cannot remember all of them now but to cite a few – we already knew that she and my sister were classmates. Found out that her cousin – who has been very very close to her all her life – is a very close friend of my wife Sharmila. I knew Sharmila visited this particular lady every time we went to India – I just did not know the connection with Sudeshna at all. Then we found out Sudeshna married Tapan – who is a friend from college days of none other than Samaresh who I run with every Sunday morning here in Atlanta. Did I mention that Samaresh and I lived a stone’s throw away during our middle and high school days in India?

The conversation invariably went to our parents and their health. A little later when Sudeshna told me that her parents used to live in City Center ( an area in Durgapur), I became even more inquisitive. I asked her if she remembered any more details. She mentioned that she thought it was on Michael Faraday Road. I was like “Get out of here. Which house?”. She thought #20, but she was not sure. This was way too much coincidence. So, I asked her if she could call her mom in India. Which she did. And I took the phone away from her, introduced myself to her mom and asked her what was her exact house number when she lived in City Center. She confirmed that it was indeed 20. I asked her if she knew her next door neighbor. “Mamata Ghosh?”, she asked. “Absolutely”, I replied – “they are my inlaws. And they still live there!”. We were both very excited.

So, I asked her “Where do you live now”? I knew that they had moved to Kolkata since Sudeshna had mentioned this before. I did not know exactly where, though. Well, you are not going to believe this, they have moved right where my brother lives. In fact, you might have seen many pictures of me and my brother running on my blogsite right in front of their house!! As you can imagine, I made a promise to visit her and have tea with her next time when I am in Kolkata – which is a few weeks away. Reminded me of the trip to see Sanghamitra’s mom last time!

The evening started between two absolute strangers but in about an hour and half’s time, we realized that we had this huge network of connections in India and USA that tied us together. It was as if we have always known each other through these years.

We really really missed Tapan. I am sure I would find at least another set of connections. In fact, we never explored Sudeshna’s in-laws’ side at all!

That would be the agenda for the next trip to Houston!!! If Subrata and Sharmistha can deal with the boredom that is 🙂

Sudeshna Das

18 April 2015

“This is where we sing together”

Friday evening. Time to decompress.

This evening’s song was “Daanah Pah Daanah”. I would be extremely surprised if any of my Facebook friends recognized this song.

I come from a country that post-birthing-pangs of 1947 has considered everything Pakistan to be its enemy (you should see the emotion of both the countries when they play a simple game of cricket). I have adopted as my country that, post-2001, considers everything Pakistan as Bin Laden, “terrorism” and general backwardness.

While much of it can be factually backed up, what might get lost is some of the goodness – the pure humaneness – that exists there just like everywhere else. Akhtar Chanal Zahri – a 60+ year poet and singer from the area called Baluchistan represents a great example of that goodness. He focussed his entire life on writing songs about shepherds and sheep grazing on the vast grassland of Baluch area (his birthplace). “Daanah Paa Daanah” is a song he wrote in the local language “Brahui”.

In 2011, Coke Studio featured him. As was the practice of Coke Studio, they pulled a local talent from the field like Akhtar and matched him with a very well renowned (at least in Pakistan) actress-cum-singer like Komal Rizvi and gave them about 12 hours of time to practice together and then put them on the air.

The result was magic. Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3F7kcLrGvA

I am not going to translate the song in the hope that the music (tune) he gave is something that we can come together on. But notice what happens in the video at around 3:18. The discerning would realize that Akhtar had lost his cue. Komal, without missing a beat, keeps singing and looks at him with that “This is where we sing together” look. Akhtar, realizing this, smoothly joins in.

In most personal relationships as well the complex geopolitical ones, how many times do we look at each other and say “This is where we sing together” ?


17 April 2015

Another Hickey-gem!

Same trip in Texas this week. Same rental car. Same driver (me). Good old funny Bob in back seat and Mark in the front passenger seat.

Somewhere in Houston area, we come across a Toll booth. I checked behind the rear view mirror but could not find any contraption there – hence pulled to the “Cash only” booth. There were a few cars in front of me. And then suddenly I noticed a very thin strip on the left end of the dashboard which was the actual Toll transponder. And all the automatic booths were open.

A quick glance in the rearview mirror showed that the car behind was about two hundred yards away. So, I quickly shifted to reverse and backed the car out for a few yards so that I could swing by thru the automated booths.

Bob, who as I mentioned was sitting behind, rapidly realized that in case of a collision, he was likely to be the first casualty. He looked behind, saw the same car I saw and it had a far more pronounced hysterical effect on him than me 🙂

When I finally put the car in forward drive and drove away, a much relieved Bob declared “the life you may be saving is mine” – much to the guffaws of Mark and self 🙂

17 April 2015


Remember that very funny friend of mine – Bob Hickey?
Yesterday, I was speeding along Texas highway I-45, taking full advantage of the speed limit of 75 mph on Texas highways (some might even argue I took full advantage and then some). Bob was probably dozing off in the back seat. I could not figure out since he had those cool looking dark shades on.

At one point, I suddenly realized that there was a turtle trying to cross the road! On I-45!! How it made it to the middle of the first lane I will never understand. In any case, I had just enough time to take a sharp swerve and then pull back without losing control at any point of time. Fortunately, managed to save the turtle. Although, if I were a betting man, I would not wager on the turtle crossing the road that afternoon. There was a really heavy wind turbine blade coming to meet him soon 🙂

In any case, the thoroughly startled Bob asked “What happened?”
“There was a turtle on the road”, I replied.
He was much relieved to realize that nothing untoward had happened – for example, me sleeping off at the wheel!! You would expect Bob to be further relieved that I managed to save the turtle. But then, you would forget that this is Bob we are talking about. He was probably more piqued by he having to wake up. His next reaction was –
“Hey Rajib, next time you see the turtle on the road, feel free to run it over!!!”” 🙂

17 April 2015

Of blades and bolts!!

It was a long four hours drive from Houston to Dallas last evening. Fortunately, I was traveling with two of my very funny team mates – Bob Hickey and Mark Meade. Somewhere near Rice, Texas, we came across this humongous item that was being transported on I-45. To realize the size of the object, check out the size of the car near the head of the truck and then compare the size of the cars towards the end of the truck to the object. I had no idea what that monstrous item was.

“What is it?”, I asked. The ever-smart Mark lifted his eyes from his phone and nonchalantly replied “Oh! It is a blade of a wind turbine” – like he sees them every time he drives out on his street or something. When we see the wind turbines in the field (generating electricity from wind), we don’t get a good idea at all how humongous these blades are.

So, we took bets on guessing the size of the blade. I came at 100 feet. Bob at 150 feet. And Mark at 120 feet. And Mark was right (the standard ones are 120-125 feet tall; that is a twelve story building!). From that we went to think of all sorts of trivia about wind turbines and blades. The one that took us most time to figure out was – how many bolts would they use and what size the bolts are. After a long discussion, we turned to that one version of truth – Google! A few searches later, we found the answers. Nearly 25,000 bolts and some of the bolts are 6 cm in diameter!! We were trying to imagine how they would look. And eventually decided to change the topic. So, we looked outside – just in time to see that we were driving along another truck carrying the connectors with all the bolt patterns!! All we had to do was lift our noses from our iPhone Google searches and just look out!

I had already speeded up to pass the truck. Realizing that we should keep a picture of the bolt pattern, I took the nearest exit and a couple of deft U-turns later, managed to catch up with the truck again. And that is how we got the picture in the bottom!

By the way, at that size of the blade, even at a sedentary speed of three seconds to one rotation would mean that the tip of the blade is moving at the speed of nearly 175 miles per hour (300 kmph)!!!