Barack Obama: Son-in-Law

by AMITAVA SEN

Barack ObamaIt is hard to be in a party these days without entering in to a conversation about the presidential election. My Bengali friends are frenzied and crazed about the prospect of Barack Obama getting elected our president. They are incredulous about the fact that they are living in the same planet and at the same age as The One. It’s like the second comings of Jesus Christ, Gautama Budhha and Lord Krishna, all combined together. Throw in Elvis Presley and a sprinkle of Karl Marx in the mixture. Barack Obama, we are sure is going to set every thing right on January 21, 2009 and in the process make us all millionaires with his tax cut. Talk about world peace? We are going to dinner with Iran, Al Qaeda and Taliban, our buddies and we will all live happily ever after in peace. Dow is going to touch 20,000 in weeks, our 401(K) reverting to its full glory and all those crooks in Wall Street will be sent to gallows. Continue reading

Cartoon of the Week 10: The Power of Salt

Namak Harami Korbo Naa.In the famous Bengali play “Alibaba” by Khirodprasad Bidyabinod, when the righteous dacoit chief came as a guest to Alibaba’s home – he mentioned about one diet restriction that he had – he doesn’t eat salt. Obviously his salt restriction was not because of hypertension or any other nephrological disease that he might have had (the playwright did not give any clues except that he was quite hot tempered). He didn’t want Alibaba to serve him any salty food because then he would have had to pay for his salt indebtedness. He would no longer be able to kill Alibaba and his family and loot back his wealth. He could never be a “Namak Haram”! Such is the power of salt. This mythological power of salt has been used as a test of ones righteousness. If you ever ingest salt served by somebody, you should always sing his praise – in Bengali we say “Noon khai jaar – Goon gai taar!” But these days we hardly obey such silly dictum. Continue reading

Chandrayaan-1 Lifts Off


Last night (Tuesday Oct 21, 9.52pm US Eastern time) I watched with awe when the giant PSLV rocket blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space center in Shriharikota, India, carrying with it India’s pride – the Chadrayaan-1 unmanned lunar mission. Largely ignored by the US media, the Chandrayaan-1 mission may not be of much interest to the US population but it is a giant step for India to prove to the world that India can do whatever it puts its mind to. With the success of this mission, India will join the select group of countries who have made lunar missions. Many are asking for the economic justification of such an expensive adventure. When the majority of Indians are lacking the basic necessities of life, scientific extravaganza like a “Lunar mission” is seen as nothing but sheer luxury. The nuclear exercise at least had some tangible benefits in the defense and energy sector. What benefits are we expecting by sending a box full of instruments to the moon? Are we sending a space craft to the moon only because “it is there”? Or is it because we want to stake a claim on a new frontier by planting the tri-color just as we did in Antartica? Continue reading

Cartoon of the Week 9: Are we Missing Something?

Pujor SaariFrom the recent comments and postings on this and other blogs and from the “addas” at various Bijoya Sammilani parties, I keep on getting a constant message – maybe we are missing the good old style Durga Puja as it used to happen in this part of the world. We all can agree on one thing that back home, the Bijoya Dashami was one of the saddest day of the year. No amount of “Naru”, “Laddu” or “Ghugni” could sweep away the sadness. But when we came to this country, we discovered that Durga Puja does not have to end on one specific day. Continue reading

Raag-Rang Presents Steve Gorn

On 16th November, at 3-30 p.m.

Raag- Rang presents a magical evening of

Hindustani classical music, featuring the master of sound magic Steve Gorn on bamboo flute.

Concert will start with two short vocal presentation by Anand Arikarevula

and Smt Girija Iyer accompanied by Shree Amod Dandawate on tabla and Smt

Indrani Chakrabarty Khare on harmonium.

Venue: Universal Unitarian Congragation Of Princeton.

50 Cherry Hill Road, Princeton 08540.

Admission: non-members: $20.00(kids between 5-10 years $10.00).

Members: $15.00 (kids between 5 to 10 years $7.00).

Contact : (732)-241-7063, (609)-890-4890, (908)-240-8289 or

Email bhawmikm@gmail.com, mayuresh.khare@gmail.com,

dhu92@optonline.net

Twitter – The Latest Craze in Micro-blogging

In today’s world of minuscule attention span, writing and reading long blog articles are sure to lose popularity. After all the “text messaging” generation does not want to spend hours reading long drawn blog essays. Hence “micro-blogging” is the rave of the day and undoubtedly, the king of micro blogging is “Twitter”. The world blog comes from “Web Logs”, which implies that blogs are essentially online logs of the blogger ramblings, sort of like a diary or online journal. Twitter does just that, it allows users to write snippets (140 characters or less) of any message that you want to share with your friends of the world, and they get logged onto your home page. But the story does not end here. If you have a bunch of friends who are interested in you, who want to know what you are up to, who would like to “follow you”, they can link up with your “Tweets” and receive an update whenever you post something through tweeter. Check out my tweeter page http://twitter.com/bhawmik to figure out what I am talking about. For example, if you’d like to follow me, just click the link “follow”. You will of course have to sign up with Twitter before you can follow somebody. People who are familiar with Orkut scrapping or Facebook wall writing or status update should get the idea, except on Twitter you are doing a one-to-many messaging, rather than one-on-one with global access.
Continue reading

Kali Puja

NJPA cordially invites you with your family and friends to celebrate Kali Puja on October 25th, 2008.
Puja : 3:00 P.M. to be performed by Swami Bikramananda of Bharat Sevasram
Dinner : 5:30 P.M. to 7:00 P.M.
Cultural Program : 7:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. Special attraction Shamit Tyagi of Sony Fame Gurukul
Venue : Crossroads South Middle School
195 Major Road, Monmouth Junction, NJ, 08852

Are you still Relevant?

by Amitava Sen
He was standing there outside the Puja hall wearing a pained look, like he has been left on the wayside by the world and ignored. I knew the man well, not intimately but well enough over three decades. I have seen him in most of the Pujas since 1976. Part of his misery was the October chill in which he was made to wait. I empathized and asked him what’s going on. It appeared that he could not produce the computer print-out confirming his registration which he claimed to have made on line. Later, one of the officials relented and finally produced his entry badge. It all ended well, so I thought.
But the man remained nonplussed. I asked him not to take it too hard. Doesn’t he realize that he is passé and he is irrelevant now? The Puja officials are quite within their rights. His mistake was to expect a 1976 style congenial familiarity. Too bad that the changing of the guards has passed him by, un-noticed, again his mistake. Continue reading

Neel Kashkari to Oversee $700bn Bailout

Neel KashkariNeel Kashkari, a 35 year old son of immigrant parents Chaman and Sheila Kashkari from Jammu and Kashmir, has been appointed by the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to oversee and manage the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. This brings Neel directly under the global spotlight as to how he manages this huge and controversial issue that affects millions of people not only in USA, but also all around the globe. The other day, when an NPR radio commentator mentioned that “a rocket scientist” has been invited to rescue the Wall Street, he was not joking. Neel did work as an R&D engineer at TRW in California where he helped in the development of space technology for NASA, like the James Webb Space Telescope scheduled to be launched in 2013 to replace the aging Hubble Telescope. Neel received his engineering training from the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, and later an MBA in finance from Wharton School of Univ. of Pennsylvania.
The media is now buzz with this new comer and his name has already been a source of many puns and wise cracks – “Cash Carry” to handle the cash debacle? Isn’t he too young and inexperienced to handle such a grave economic situation?
But many are pinning their hopes on this bright young Indian American. His youth, his creative and out of the box thinking, as well as his engineering background to craft innovative solutions to tough problems, can prove to be an asset in resolving this crisis. We all look forward to Neel to get us out of this black hole.

Another Successful Durga Puja by Kallol of NJ

Dhunuchi danceAfter three days of hectic scrambling, managing thousands of registrants, the blaring music from the entertainers and the long dinner lines, Kallol Pujo celebrations have finally come to an end. Although many skeptics were not sure about how the Pujo would fare out, especially when many people were not happy when Kallol had announced the closure of their registration due to full capacity, overall the people who attended were quite happy. The crowd was well managed and as far as I know, nobody was turned back due to their failure to register early. The new full sized idol of Maa Durga and her entourage was something that attracted many to stand for few extra minutes before the Goddess than before. The simple styling of the idol reminded many of us of our local Puja’s back home. The ample “adda” space all around was also utilized very well. The vendor stalls were quite crowded (except not many seemed to open up new accounts with BoA), especially the food vendor made a killing with $2.00 mini veg chops. The community dinner served in the tents was as predictable as ever, however the lines moved quite fast on all evenings. Continue reading

Cartoon of the Week 8: Puja Prasad

Holy Food, PrasadFinally, the Durga Puja festival is upon us. After all the registration/pre-registration dust settles, we’ll all assemble in front of Maa Durga and pray to give us a good life. We may be at different puja celebrations, but in some way, we all will be connected by the single thread of joy, hope and happiness that this festival has been bringing to us over the years.
One of the most enjoyable things at the Durga Puja festivals is the community dinner. Sitting together and having a nice meal with the rest of the community gives a great feeling of solidarity. But these dinners are also a source of major logistical issues. Continue reading

GSCA Registration still open!!!

Here is a note I received from Subal Sarkar, Vice Chair, GSCA Board of Trustees.

GSCA pre-registration will remain open till midnight October 1 , and 2. GSCA Puja is held in a much larger facility than Kallol and will have plenty of room to accommodate registration at the gate on first-come first-in basis until the capacity is reached.