Category Archives: Indian and Bengali

My Durga

Thursday had dawned like any other Thursday with the beep-beep alarm going off on the cell phone. A sickly dawn spread across the dark sky outside and the city paled across the river preparing for another day same as the last one. Continue reading My Durga

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Becoming Indian: Memories of Graduate Student Life in the US

This is the first apartment complex I stayed at. It's changed its name and management now.
This is the first apartment complex I stayed at. It has changed its name and management since my time.

It was all there. The little bits and pieces of India that had managed to pass through strict inspection. For some of us, it was in the form of three or four bottles of the leading brand of coconut oil, enough to last two years of our serious, nothing but scholarly existence in this well-populated university town in Florida. Enough to oil our heads and necks and the pages of our complicated advanced level cheaper Indian reprints of textbooks that had traveled with us through endless labyrinthine chutes of airport security.

Continue reading Becoming Indian: Memories of Graduate Student Life in the US

On global Indians and old friends in digital spaces

I’m remembering an unusually dark and very quiet night in Davis, California three years  ago.

It’s silent outside the house but my life is full of the busy humdrum of life. I’m sitting under the yellow glow of a table lamp at my laptop and looking at an old photograph I uploaded to Facebook earlier that day. Although the photograph is almost two decades old, it has acquired a life of its own like it has never been used to before in its plastic-wrapped life in various drawers for years in its travels through many countries until it has reached this very spot—the place-which-is-not-a-place and yet the place that so many of us “global” Indians have begun to inhabit in our daily lives.

This is the  real world of Facebook.
Continue reading On global Indians and old friends in digital spaces

Durga Puja, Fall, Kashful and the city

বাংলা: কাশফুল
Kashphool. The real deal. via Zemanta. বাংলা: কাশফুল (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I got out of my apartment building yesterday and there they were. A bunch of dried, white grass flowers framed by concrete next to a stern sign that read : “Private. Do not trespass.”

Kashful. Or its distant cousin has bloomed in Jersey City. Fall has touched even the concrete.

Kashphool
Kashphool in Jersey City? The World Trade Center is across the river. Photo credit: Bottledworder

Kashphool? Or Kashful? How do you approximate from Bengali? Wikipedia tells me it’s called Kans grass in English, a grass native to South Asia. (“Kans grass”! Sounds strange. Not much better than Saccharum spontaneum, apparently its scientific name.)

This Kashphool in Jersey City is different from the ones at home in India.
Continue reading Durga Puja, Fall, Kashful and the city

Facebook, old photographs and memories

Throughout the history of time there’s been Facebook. At first, in ancient societies, photographs were used in human social networking only to identify people. But evidence has been found that many denizens of those older cultures preferred other markers in the space for profile pictures to identify themselves  as a flower, a celebrity or a cartoon character that they thought represented them.

In the initial days of Facebook, people were scared of revealing themselves.

And then, a time came when everybody started sharing pictures. Those inhibitions started receding slowly, much like the slow ebbing of a wave on the beach.  Perhaps teenagers who are on Facebook nowadays can’t even remember those days.

But I can. I can remember that day on the beach.

That’s because an old photograph has resurfaced on Facebook.
Continue reading Facebook, old photographs and memories