Tuesday, December 29, 2009


First of all, I was sweetly surprised to know about Akhil Bharat Vivekananda Yuva Mahamandal (ABVYM) website (http://abvym.org) from yahoo mail group run by Sri Shuvendu Sekhar Mahato. It is true that the majority of ABVYM members are from rural background but there are others ... and it was long overdue. The first day (26.12.2009), I visited the camp Benida (my mentor at Kharagpur unit of ABVYM) who was in bookstall at camp entrance took some time out and introduced me to Arunavada, the website designer. Arunavada is from Kalyani unit of ABVYM and works in a private firm in Kolkata. It is great to see how beautifully he manages his time and dedicates it to nation building activity. He has also started contributing articles in Vivek-Jivan, the mouthpiece of ABVYM. He is also a good orator, discussing how to start, conduct study circles in afternoon session of the camp. No wonder Nabanida (Nabaniharan Mukhopadhyaya, founder secretary) was in all praise of him.

On 26th up journey, I took the route via Balichak. This required an extra rail link. After that, I took the via Makrampur route. Kept cycle in Koushalya More, then 30 min. bus ride to Makrampur and then 45 minute trekker ride to Basantapur Jhareshwar Bani Bhaban, the camp site. The impressive infrastructure was built by a generous donation of a son of the soil who returned after serving in US.

The second day Ranjitda and others forced me to go to Nabanida's room. I was reluctant as he was taking rest after Q&A session. But not only he allowed me inside, kept conversing for more than two hours. I left when Birenda (Birendra Kumar Chakraborty, current secretary) and other senior camp officials entered his room to give them the opportunity to discuss camp issues. Nabanida asked me to give my address and other details. He wanted to keep that in his diary. At that time he kept it in his prayer book 'Stabkusumanjali'. He said many things. One I would like to mention here. He said, a person may have all the qualities but a little bit of ego disturbs everything.

After that, Arnavada introduced me to his deputy a young lad, a lovely boy who is now going to Chennai for an IT sector job. Met Bangalore unit's Raghunath. Swami Tanmayananda (earlier a Mahamndal member) had some desire to visit IITkgp campus but finally said 'No'.

The last day (Note the rejoinder at the end) I visited was yesterday. Ruhidas (a Kharagpur unit member now in Bankura, got a high school job) joined the camp then with prior permission from Birenda. Ruhidas has started one study circle near his school from where 4 are attending camp and has revived the Bankura town unit .. a great worker, nay leader indeed. He and Prabodhda (President, Kharagpur unit) shared some worry with me regarding Kharagpur unit. Salutation to Prabodhda for his great resolve and patience in guiding the young members when other seniors are, serving other units of the district or otherwise. A post annual camp discussion is planned on 17th Jan. as I shall be away to Vijaywada for attending a conference during 6-9th Jan.

Had some wonderful moments with Ranjitda (Balibhara unit), clicked a pic together with Dipakda with Ma Sarada in background. Sukhenduda (Bhogpur unit) was a great host..always eager to feed me something. Prabhatda (Khakurda unit) was too very accommodating. Jagadishda(Naryangarh unit) helped me to catch a bus in a return journey when there was no sight of a trekker and I was somewhat worried. And it was great to see those smiling faces who are putting up a great job year after year ... I wish I could take all the names. Sorely missed Shuvendu, my friend in the camp. Heard that he is in Bangalore, went to China for some job ... How could he miss the camp? This was the place where we used to meet once a year!

The final day took some pics. They can be found in http://picasaweb.google.com/gsaha.iitkgp/AVYMCamp2009#

I am not able to write post on NSSCamp2009 held a month back because I am yet to get pics/feedback from the students who immediately proceeded to vacation. We are going to have a dinner meet on 1st Jan. Shall take up the issue.

Yesterday, in our regular TUE study circle at F-127, Main Building I talked about the camp and today second half 13 of us visited the camp (3 of them faculty members) in two vehicles. It was a wonderful experience of all concerned, to see another side of India rising from the masses (so called ordinary people) without political noise, tv or newspaper coverage. Thirteen of us (3 of them faculty members) went in two vehicles. After visiting some of us opined that we little know about what is India. Often we underestimate so called ordinary people, dhoti clad, poorly dressed. A gathering of thirteen hundred young men for 6 days in a training camp to blossom one's life and dedicate the same to nation building .. is a wonderful sight. We talked to few people. It is astonishing to see the resolve, the disciplined nature, the compassion for fellow being. Almost everybody inquired us, the visitors if we had taken tiffin with the campers ... we had, it was simple but delicious. We saw people coming from different places, mostly villages, small town and from different parts of country. In the short time, met one from as far as Gujrat and he is not a Bengalee visiting home state. The ones we talked to belong to small study circles in respective places and depending on their capacity they take up philanthropic work. But the focus is on building oneself so that every act of one becomes a service and social service is not seen as a separate compartment.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


This I read in an investment magazine which in turn picked it up from somewhere. The message is thought provoking.
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of showing his son how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from the trip, the father asked his son, "How was the trip?"
"It was great, Dad".
"Did you see how poor people live?" the father asked.
"Oh yes", said the son.
"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.
The son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants to serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them."
The boy's father was speechless.
Then his son added, "Thanks, Dad for showing me how poor we are."
Isn't perspective a wonderful thing ?
Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fragrance of Independence

Salute to this spirit of independence! Shezad Ibrahimi, a PhD in Urdu from JNU runs a dhaba which on average caters to 100 students a day enjoys 'not having to report to anybody'. His independence reflect in the menu which changes everyday - "Main jo banata hoon, dilchaspi se banata hoon. If I’m not in the mood to make biryani, you’ll not get it here". The surprise does not end here. What one expects as the reaction of the family members for such an unorthodox approach?
His wife, Mona Gupta is on the verge of completing her PhD thesis. She helps Shezad between 'minding kids and research'. Shezad is in all praise of his wife's independent spirit - "Woh apne man ki rani hai, main apne man ka raja hoon".
They are really Royal dictating terms of their own lives. Hat's off to this couple!

A PhD from JNU, he runs a dhaba on campus now

Shreya Roy Chowdhury | TNN Dec. 23, 2009

Shehzad Ibrahimi runs a dhaba at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). He also has a PhD in Urdu from the same university. It is not quite the career he had in mind while writing his thesis on the concept of ‘hero’ in Qazi Abdur Sattar’s historical novels. But Shehzad has no regrets being the mamu of Mamu’s Dhaba. “I enjoy not having to report to anybody. Besides, I really enjoy cooking. I am doing fine,” says the 37-year-old from Bihar’s Sheikhpura district.
With lunch hour approaching, he darts about the small kitchen keeping up a lively conversation with his assistants. Shehzad honed his culinary skills at a Nalanda madrasa where he churned out dal-sabzi when the bawarchis took leave. Later, at college in Patna and in JNU, birthday parties became his responsibility as students

came to know of his skills.
Shehzad never had any particular career in mind. After completing his MPhil, he worked as news anchor with a Hyderabad-based Urdu TV channel for nearly two years, quitting when a transfer to Varanasi seemed imminent. By then, he was married with two kids. Thankfully, he had the skills and the confidence needed to run a food joint. Permitted to start a canteen at JNU’s School of Physical Sciences, he wrote his thesis
alongside, submitting it the same year, 2002.
It’s not much use now (“You don’t need a PhD to chop onions”); the Urdu background manifests itself only in the flourishes in his lettering, visible as the day’s menu on the whiteboard and in the tendency to suddenly break into poetry to illustrate a point. He is writing a book — a collection of recipes. “I have all the material,” he says, which means he has tried them out on his customers and they
have approved.
Now established, Shehzad can afford to be temperamental. His mood determines what is on offer. “Main jo banata hoon, dilchaspi se banata hoon. If I’m not in the mood to make biryani, you’ll not get it here,” he declares. The menu changes every day. His chicken bhujiya was a hit, but now the recipe has been archived and can’t be had at Mamu’s for love or money. His relationship with korma too blows hot and cold. The one constant is the Bihari thaali — bhaat, dal, tarkari, chokha and chutney
— for Rs 25.

A hundred people eat here every day, 180 on a good one. Shehzad promises wholesome fare. “It’s a family joint, never been any trouble here,” says Mamu, having earned the moniker when a friend’s nephew visiting JNU shouted ‘mamu-mamu’ from the audience as Shehzad sang on stage. “His classmates started calling me ‘mamu’ and then everyone,” he says. As a ‘senior’ to most of his clientele, he spices things up with easy banter, taking the liberty of yelling when they get impatient.
They also enquire after mami, Mona Gupta, on the verge of completing a thesis on Bali. Between minding the kids and research, Mona helps when she can. “Woh apne man ki rani hai, main apne man ka raja hoon,” he says. Mamu loves his dhaba but doesn’t plan to let JNU be the last stop on his road to culinary greatness. “My wish is to start a big restaurant,” he says.


Monday, December 21, 2009


Many posts are due. NSS camp 2009 had been another great experience. Shall come back with that. Today I found the following article in TOI which is worth noting. The resolve of these school students of age 16 and 17 to 'resist the lure of the log in' may be the beginning of a backlash....or it may be too early to say that. That it is an issue getting noted among the youth is a good sign. Rest is in the article.

Teens ‘defriend’ to deal with online obsession

Katie Hafner

Facebook, the popular networking site, has 350 million members worldwide who, collectively, spend 10 billion minutes there every day, checking in with friends, writing on people’s electronic walls, clicking through photos and generally keeping pace with the drift of their social world.
Make that 9.9 billion and
change. Recently, Halley Lamberson, 17, and Monica Reed, 16, juniors at San Francisco University High School, made a pact to help each other resist the lure of the login. Their status might as well now read, “I can’t be bothered.”
“We decided we spent way too much time obsessing over Facebook and it would be better if we took a break from it,” Halley said. By mutual agreement, the two friends
now allow themselves to log on to Facebook on the first Saturday of every month — and only on that day.
The two are among the many teenagers, especially girls, who are recognizing the huge distraction Facebook presents — the hours it consumes every day, to say noth
ing of the toll it takes during finals and college applications,
according to parents, teachers and the students
Some teenagers, like Monica and Halley, form a support group to enforce their Facebook hiatus. Others deactivate their accounts. Still others ask someone they trust to change their password
and keep control of it until they feel ready to have it back.
Facebook will not reveal how many users have deactivated service, but Kimberly Young, a psychologist who is the director of the Center for Internet Addiction Recovery in Bradford, Pennsylvania, said she had spoken with dozens of teenagers trying to break the Facebook habit. “It’s like any other addiction,” Young said. “It’s hard to wean yourself.” NYT NEWS SERVICE