Time magazine chose Mark Zuckerberg as the 2010 person of the year. A film on the life of Mark Zuckerberg is a strong contender for Oscars next February. He is twenty six years old and is worth 7 billion dollars. He drives an Acura TSX and rents a house. And he is the creator of the phenomenon called “Facebook”.
Yes, Facebook is no longer a website, it is a phenomenon. Social networking sites are nothing new. People on the internet started to commune together since the early days through bulletin boards, news groups etc., long before MySpace, LinkedIn, Orkut and Facebook came into existence. Newsgroups were there (remember soc.cult.etc.etc?) even before web browsers and web servers were invented. People have always tried to use the internet to connect and to share. Social networking sites like Facebook has given the people the ideal vehicle to connect and share. And of all the social networking sites, Facebook has become the most popular platform primarily because of its ability to evolve continuously. People have been able to connect with their friends after ages, they share their thoughts, their likes and dislikes, their photos and memories. It allows many to get their moments of fame and recognition from their friends and peers that was never possible before. It has become such a powerful attraction to many that some psychiatrists are considering Facebook addition as a diagnosable ailment. Continue reading →
The count down to NABC 2010 has started. In little more than seven months from now, Bengalis from all over USA and abroad will converge upon Atlantic City in New Jersey. Kallol of New Jersey, the host organization of NABC 2010, is working at a hectic pace to make it a great event. Most of the performers have been lined up, registrations pouring in and the committee members are busy working on the final details like scheduling and fund raising. On January 8th, 2010, a kickoff meeting/press-conference will be held in Kolkata in the presence of most of the artists and performers.
Lets take a look at some of the foreign performers who will grace the Atlantic City convention center stage. I’ll not be able to cover all of them in this article and plan to continue in future posts. At the 2010 NABC Kallol will be presenting some performers who are relatively unknown to the Bengali crowd in USA. One such group is Sapphire Creations Dance Workshop who will be performing at the opening ceremony. Sapphire Creations is a premier experimental dance company based in Kolkata and the only one of its kind in Eastern India performing regularly and popularly in festivals and arts events in India and abroad. Their objective is to integrate in its dance an awareness of tradition, a dimension of experimentation, an urge to entertain and a purpose to provoke consciousness to inspire us to reach brighter horizons. Continue reading →
I have been an ardent reader of “Desh”, the premier Bengali literary magazine since my childhood days. As I moved to the US, I continued my subscription through the “House of Ananda”, a New York based agency of ABP (Ananda Bazar Publications). I could pay my subscription dues using a credit card or via Paypal through their website. I used to get the magazine regularly and in time. However, recently due to some mysterious reasons, the US based distribution ceased to exist and the magazine is now mailed directly from Kolkata. This resulted in two issues. First, the magazine delivery became irregular and I missed few issues which I guess was lost in the mail. The delivery is also delayed. Secondly, the subscription process has become really complicated and ABP now demands the payment to be sent to their Kolkata office in the form of DD. This is totally unacceptable in current times. Technology has evolved and the days of demand drafts and money orders are long gone in the global market. I recently purchased a book from an Indian distributor who accepted credit card payment through their website and mailed me the book in less than two weeks. Why can’t a huge publication house like ABP do this? Bengalis now live all over the world, and publishers and book sellers like ABP should cater to their international clientele using modern technology. An email sent to the ABP office had no positive effect. Publishers like ABP should learn a lesson or two from their international counter parts. Magazine publishers in USA use all kinds of methods to hold on to their subscribers. They try to make the subscription renewal process as painless as possible. Where as, publishers like ABP seem to be happy to lose a few customers. To manage the loss of readership, all they can do is reduce the frequency of publication to monthly and then maybe to quarterly. That’s what they did when the reduced the frequency from weekly to fortnightly.
I hope, ABP comes to their senses and reinstates their foreign distribution centers and try to expand their business to the Bengalis living abroad.
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 →
I’d like to express my sincere thanks to all those of you who came to watch our play “Banaprastha” (The Retirement). We had full houses on all the four days and it was a testament to the fact that New Jersey Bengalis like to watch quality theatre if we can offer them. However, it was not only Jerseyans who came to our show, people came from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York city and even Buffalo New York. The overall feedback has been extremely positive, and people are asking for more shows. Such encouragement is what makes all this hard work worth it and drives us to our next venture. We hope that with your good wishes, we’ll be able to keep up with your expectations and put New Jersey on the map of serious and quality Bengali theatre for time to come.
ECTA’s latest production “Banaprastha” premiered at the Edison Valley Playhouse on May 16th in front of a full house. The play was very well received by the audience as you can see in the accompanying video. The second show was held on May 17th. Besides the video comments, here are some of the comments sent over the email.
“We thoroughly enjoyed Banaprasta. This is a very timely production. I wish this drama can be viewed by millions Indians in India in view of the fact that India is crazy about Bollywood. Once again congratulations for presenting a great drama.” – Aurobindo Mukherjee
I kind of like Gregory House, MD. And who doesn’t? House is one of the most popular TV shows that has catapulted Fox network to lead the popularity ratings (along with 24 and other shows). The quirky, obnoxious and ill mannered medical genius has become everybody’s dream doctor. We the New Jersey viewers specially feel his absence in real life since Gregory House works in this fictitious “Princeton-Plainsboro” hospital and to whom people come crossing the rough seas risking their lives (no pun intended) to get treated. How lucky we would have been to have such a doctor in real life. And a hospital like “Princeton-Plainsboro” where doctors do everything – they serve not only as doctors and surgeons, but they draw blood, they set up IV lines, they give the patients their pills, they feed them, they operate the MRI, CT Scan and other diagnostic machines. There are hardly any nurses or technicians. In real life hospitals, I have seen the doctors come in to visit their patient only with one objective – how soon they can leave. They spend more time in front of the computer screens looking at the charts and filling up their billing codes than with the patient. But in Princeton-Plainsboro, Dr. House’s team is like Scotland Yard, deeply engaged in finding the culprit – in this case the cause of the disease. Continue reading →