11 January 2018

“Pen, pen, pen… Pilot pen”…

I have completely lost the moral platform to lecture the girls on all the shopping of clothes they have been doing this trip. I had found out about this place in Kolkata – “Pen Hospital” a few months back. Almost a hundred years old, it is a very small shop in a very crowded Esplanade corner in Kolkata. The owner specializes in fixing fountain pens and has a stack of vintage and new fountain pens. Both used and new.

After dad and mom went off to sleep, I managed to convince my brother to hit the road again and go back to Kolkata to check out the shop. An insane amount of traffic later, I finally hit pay dirt when I found the shop. It is not often that I come across somebody who really knows a thing or two about old fountain pens and their history.

Picked up a few pens – which are incredibly inexpensive by US standards. The crowning glory was the Pilot 51 (mistakenly called Pilot – should have been called Parker). A few days back, when my father in law and I had gone to the other pen shop, he had mentioned about the Pilot 51 pen. That was an iconic pen in his days. It was somewhat of a folklore when we were growing up. In fact many Bengalis might even remember our old rhyme “Pen, Pen, Pen / Pilot Pen / Siri thekey nemey elen / Suchitra Sen”!!!

My mom used to have one of the non-classical versions of Pilot pens that her teacher colleagues had gifted her in 1972.

The Pilot 51 is an all time classic. One of the few pens with vacuum system for filling ink, it has a very unique nib too. It is a pity that these pens used to be made in USA and I cannot find them in USA any more!! The best part of the pen that I got? The nib is an original 1946 vintage!!!

10 January 2018

“The child is the father of man”

In a somewhat different twist to the age old Shakespearean quote… here is a classic role reversal. The child helping the father take baby steps and learn how to walk by himself!!!

When my brother and I reached home, the first thing dad wanted to do is try practicing some more walking!

When we are out for a week, apparently he tried again walking by himself when everybody was sleeping and had yet another fall. Fortunately, he again escaped easy – with a bump on his forehead. (Last time he had stitches).

As worried as I am that he is being too impatient, full points for not giving up on the urge to walk around again in spite of the falls…

10 January 2018

Curious minds want to know…

I am all for “Swachch Bharat” (Clean India), but I do have a question for the authorities…

Are they seriously under the impression that the people who are forced to relieve themselves outside – the poor who barely have a roof over their head, let alone running water and bathroom facilities – they can actually understand words like “defecation”? 🙂

I am sympathetic to the fact that trying to convey the message thru pictures might be too gross 🙂

9 January 2018

Scored 100 percentile???

All the Indian newspapers are touting the results of CAT exams. Most are running headlines about how 20 students including women and non-engineers have “scored 100 percentile”. See the picture as an example.

Here is my question – as somebody who had to pass CAT long time back – how the heck do you score 100 percentile? I can understand 100 percent. But percentile?

Wasn’t the definition of nth percentile score that n% of the population was lower than the score? (It was strictly less than and not less than or equal to). Which is why I thought we were always taught that you can be 99 percentile… 99.9 percentile… but you can never be 100 percentile (by definition, you could not have scored less than yourself).

So, what gives?

8 January 2018

Ubud: Small Village. Mega Intersection!!!

This is one of those mega intersections that has so many people and so many connections involved that I may not be able to keep everything on the up and up. It involves Atlanta, Durgapur, California, Illinois, Panang Malaysia, Dubai and of all places – Ubud (a small village in Bali).

Let’s start with the picture on the top as the initial point. That is Natasha and Nayanika. They became friends over a summer when they were doing a summer program at North Western in Evanston, Illinois. The day I had gone to pick her up to come back home, the university had arranged for a free things – including a lunch for the students and the parents. I found myself randomly sitting in a table with mostly young kids either crying or talking excitedly promising to keep in touch with each other. Also at the table was the gentleman second from one end in the lowest picture.

Not knowing anything better (and frankly not able to help myself), I struck up a conversation with him. Realized that he – Gaurav – is a very successful, entrepreneur in the Bay Area. So, those were three strikes against me – I am neither successful, nor an entrepreneur and certainly cannot afford to live in the Bay Area. But I persisted. And hit pay dirt!!! In a few minutes, we realized that we are married to classmates. His wife – Anupama – was Sharmila’s classmate in primary school. What’s more – his mother in law was Sharmila’s teacher for a year!

Back to Bali.

Natasha had mentioned that Nayanika and her parents would be in Nusa Dua too. Except that by the time we reached Nusa Dua, they had already left. (I chalk it up to higher level of intelligence 🙂 Must be the water in Bay Area 🙂 ). Not to give up easily, I found out that they were in Ubud and promised Natasha that one way or the other, I will make sure she got to see Nayanika.

After visiting a few villages, we landed up in Ubud for lunch. Where the Sharan family swung by!!! That marked the meeting of two classmates. In fact, two sets of them!! That explains the second picture from the top – Sharmila and Anupama.

“I do not recognize your face. I like your hairstyle though. I wonder why!! ”, I had to humbly admit to Amit – the gentleman in white shirt who had come with Anupama.
“I am Amit – Anupama’s brother”, he replied, laughing.
“Oh! I remember your name. You were one year junior to me in school”.

And we talked a lot about our school teachers. Then finally, I asked
“Where did you go to college?”
“RE College, Durgapur”
“Day scholar?”
“Which department?”
“Hmmm… That is interesting”
“Do you know a Soumya Kanti Ghosh?”
Seeing him deep dig into his memory… I helped further – “You might remember him as Apu. He was a day scholar too”.
“Oh! Apu. Soumya. He was our class topper”
“How do you know him?”
“Funny you should mention that. You see that lady?”, I asked him pointing to Sharmila.
“She is his sister. He is my brother in law”.
“No way”
“Yes way”

Was that cool or was that cool?

Three Sharan families had come from Bay Area, California, Panang, Malaysia and Dubai, UAE. The Roys had come from Atlanta, Georgia. We had the opportunity to meet in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. The whole thing happened because one Roy girl and one Sharan girl went to a program together in Evanston, Illinois. To realize that their mothers were classmates!! And so were their maternal uncles!!!

What is the chance of that?