Anandabazar Patrika is Bengali’s most favorite daily newspaper. However, until recently reading Anandabazaar Patrika online was severely restricted due the technology it used to render the Bangla fonts. Only Internet Explorer supported the technology, but that too crashed frequently. But recently Anandabazar is available in Unicode and can be enjoyed in any Unicode compliant browser. Just click on the following link:
Few minutes ago an old friend of mine called to wish me for the upcoming Durga Puja festivals. He said, “It’s Mahasasthi in Kolkata today!” I wished him back, but it occurred to me that it’s Mahasashti everywhere, not only in Kolkata. When I reminded him, he laughed and said, “Yes indeed. But our Sasthi starts on coming Friday!” And he is absolutely right. Our Pujo in New Jersey (I am referring to the Kallol Durga Pujo which we both attend), starts on October 15th, Friday evening and that’s our Mahasasthi. The thought does give me some consolation that Pujo is yet to start and we have few more days to look forward too. But my friends and family in Kolkata have started enjoying their Pujo. They have started posting photos of their favorite idols on Facebook and Orkut, sending Pujo greetings through emails and expressing their joy and merriment. ETV Bangla is taking us through the streets of Kolkata and the online newspapers and magazines giving us day by day commentary of the Pujo happenings. And we cannot deny that this does cause a bit of a tinge in our hearts. Continue reading
The time of the year is here again. The sky is blue with patches of white clouds floating lazily and the weather is cooling down. Durga Puja is here again in New Jersey. The local Bengali associations are gearing up to welcome Ma Durga with the usual pomp and cultural extravaganza, and let me share with you some information about the festivities that has come to my notice.
Like previous years, Durga Puja festival in New Jersey will be heralded in by the live Mahishashura Mardini (Mahalaya) performance at the Ananda Mandir on October 10th at 5.00am in the morning. I have been a regular attendee at this event, and I can promise you that if you can take that bold step of getting up from bed that early and drive down to Ananda Mandir, you’ll have an experience that you will never regret. Continue reading
Since 1989 I have been involved with Bangla Theater in USA. Over the years I have worked with several groups, several associations and have been involved with several theater productions. My theater journey in this country started with the theater group Sansaptak with their production “Sabda Moho Bandhane”. The play was directed by Sakti Sengupta. Being involved with theater since my childhood, I was a bit skeptic about the theater scenario in USA when I first arrived in this country. But my first experience was not only a pleasant surprise but an extremely enjoyable one. All the stereo typical notions of expatriate Bengali theater were shattered with that production. Sakti-da took us through a complete production development process of a new play. The script was developed based on Shirshendu Mukherjee’s short stories, Sunil Ganguly and Sakti Chattopadhyay’s poems. It was not a simple narrative, but rather a complex collage of character’s, their relationships, their dreams and disillusionment. Continue reading
Want to write in Bengali? Google now offers transliteration service from several Indian languages including Bengali. Visit http://google.com/transliterate and set up the language to Bengali using the drop down menu on the upper left corner. Then start typing in Bangla using your roman keyboard. For example, type in “manush” and hit space button and the transliteration software will convert it to its corresponding Bangla in a unicode compliant font. To switch from Bangle to English (or vice versa), just press Ctrl+G (in Windows) or Cmd+G (in Mac OS). If the transliteration engine does not generate the word you want, just press the “back” or “delete” button, and it will provide you with multiple choices. The tool also offers you a dictionary that can provide you Bangla word equivalents for most English words. You can select the correct word and insert in the document.
However, this system is still in its infancy and has several limitations. For example, you cannot save the documents you create using this system. Currently Google transliteration is offered only in Gmail, Blogger, Knol and Bookmarklet. Even Google docs is not supported, let alone Microsoft Word or any other word processor. Choice of fonts is also limited. I hope Google is working on these issues and make transliteration a truly useful system. Till then we’ll have to work within these limitations.
NJPA cordially invites you to celebrate Kali Puja on October 10th at CrossRoads Middle School.Puja will start at 3:00 PM which will be followed by Prasad and Dinner. Nirmalya Roy of Zee-TV, Tara TV, ETV, Saregama fame will present semi-calssical and ghazals and Moumita Chatterjee of Calcutta Door Darshan, ETV, Tara Music and aAkash Bangla Fame and will present variety songs,. For more information, please visit http://njpa.net.
Finally the annual Durga Puja celebrations are over. I was mostly present at the Kallol pujo but also paid (no pun intended) short visits at the Bharat Sevashram Sangha and Anandamandir. Kallol, just like the previous year, had a full house and had to turn away several people. In one of my previous blogs I had requested, rather wished, that Kallol provide a daily ticket for people who would like to come in for a day. However, for whatever reasons, Kallol decided on the contrary and the result was that I had to listen to complaints from several disappointed friends and family. Well, rules are rules – that’s what I said.
This year I did something which I never did before. I dropped in on Thursday evening – and it was real fun. There was no pressure of showing the badge, no parking tags, no stress about reserving seats with shawls and jackets and no celebrities on stage to pay attention to. While the volunteers were busy setting up the idol and the kids busy rehearsing on the stage, I had a good time chatting with friends. For once, after a long time, I had the pleasure of pure Pujo adda – completly unadultered fun. I think we should, at least informally, start the festivities from Thursday – just to prolong the enjoyment for few more hours. Continue reading
In New Jersey, Durga Puja is a special time when the festive mood brings with it a flurry of entertainment and cultural programs across the state. This year too the line up looks very promising although the spirits have dampened a bit due to the tough economic times and with the rejection of visas of few of the performers. Still the combination of local talents and professionals from India is bound to enthrall the Puja attendees on the coming weekends.
I’ll try to briefly summarize the lineup this year, although the organizers have in many cases conveniently omitted the details about the local performers from their web sites. I tried to collect as much information I could manage. If any of you have more information, then please feel free to add them to this post as comments. Continue reading
ETV Bangla has changed its broadcast schedule in USA. They claim that the schedule is now follows the current Kolkata broadcast schedule only with the time shifted. In other words a show at 8.00pm in Kolkata will be broadcast at 8.00pm Eastern in USA. Although, now we have the privilge of watching the current shows instead of a huge lag, the popular serials have now fast forwarded quite a bit with lot of story being lost in the process. The scheduling also doesn’t seem to be stabilzed – we often have to experience erratic programming.
The second issue is that the advertisements seem to have increased quite a bit. A short segment of broadcast is followed by a prolonged advertisement most of which are irrelevant for US market (I don’t think we are interested in Baygon Spray or Glucon-D).
The third issue is that ETV does not bother to update their listings with Direct-TV database and hence it makes DVR (aka Tivo, PVR) recording a major problem. I had once sent an email to ETV, and they did update it once. But that’s it.
Let’s hope ETV gets their act together soon and make our subscription worth it.