ANANDA SANGBAD A Periodical Newsletter Published By ANANDA MANDIR (A Tax-Exempt, Non-Profit Organization) 269 Cedar Grove Lane Somerset, NJ 08873 Ph: 732-873-9821 Website: www.anandamandir.org Publications of Ananda Mandir Editorial Board : Chairperson:
Pronoy Chatterjee, email@example.com Assistant Chairperson:
Debajyoti Chatterji, firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-in-Chief:
Pronoy Chatterjee, email@example.com
Amitabha Bagchi, firstname.lastname@example.org Co-Editors:
Subrata Bhaumik, email@example.com Debajyoti Chatterji, firstname.lastname@example.org Sushmita Dutta, email@example.com Kamal Raychaudhuri, firstname.lastname@example.org Members-at-large:
Bhaswati Bhadra Santosh Mukherjee Ashok Rakhit All queries, articles, news reports and letters should be directed to the Editorial Board: Phone/Fax : 732-651-8802, E-mail: email@example.com. For general information, please contact the following executives of Ananda Mandir: Dipak Sarkar,
President Jaiprakash Biswas, Vice President
A Massive Election and a Fascinating Leader The National Election in the largest democracy of the world was just completed peacefully, as expected, as the world watched. According to published reports, of the country’s 815 million registered voters, 537 million people turned out to cast their ballot in nine phases of the world’s biggest election held between April 7 and May 12. All 543 seats of Lok Sabha, the governing house of the Parliament, were at stake. There were almost one million polling stations throughout the country, stretching from the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir to the southern islands in the Bay of Bengal. The planning of it and carrying out the process in a free and fair way is just mindboggling. Approximately 50 political parties, some national, many local, took part in the
election. In the end, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stood as the winner with 282 seats as the single majority party. Narendra Modi, leader of the BJP was sworn in as the Prime Minister of India, the most powerful post in the largest democracy of the world. President Obama, leader of the world’s second biggest democracy, said India had “set an example for the world” as he hailed the contest as “a vibrant demonstration of our shared values of diversity and freedom”. He also phoned Prime Minister Modi inviting him to visit Washington. So, what now? Modi’s campaign promises were to jump-start the economy, create jobs and revive stalled infrastructure projects. He constantly pointed out his achievements at Gujarat as the
shining model for what India would become under his command. That growth, he promised, will be shared by all, the young and the old, the rural and the urban, and specially the poor. Here are a few things that people have become fed up about: brazen corruption, lack of respect for law and order, bureaucracy in government, unavailability of basic needs like drinking water, electricity and healthcare in the rural areas, etc. Much of the rural India consisting of 70% of the Indian population has missed out on the benefits of emergence of India as the third largest economy of the world. Then there are Muslims who need to be convinced that they too can be beneficiaries of the promised high growth era. Last but not
least, the delicate balancing act of maintaining good relations with our neighbors while at the same time protecting our borders is a challenging task that needs to be faced. The people of India have given Narendra Modi an unexpected mandate with the single party majority. This will allow him to lead the country, free of any shackles from having to compromise with coalition parties. All eyes will be on him to look at his actions, not just to evaluate him, but also to wish him all the success to put India into a path of exceptional growth, at the same level as China’s. The Ananda Mandir community joins the Indian people everywhere to hope for a flourishing India. Guru Chakravarty Editor, Ananda Sangbad
A Letter to the Editor of Ananda Sangbad
Editor, Ananda Sangbad:
Guru Chakravarty, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Editor, The article in your April issue entitled “Is hosting an Olympics a sprint towards financial ruin?” piqued my curiosity. It does address an interesting issue that is being debated in the circles of the Olympics or World Cup games across the world, but doesn’t really come together as a cohesive analysis. It proposes a solution to a problem that’s not clearly defined in the article, while presenting an unoptimized business case in support of a suggested solution, the fixed venue model, which sounds less than convincing. Here is a quick rundown of a few issues that appear to be a bit conflicting and confusing. The article sends mixed signals about the shortcomings of the current model rotating of host countries. The case history presented is sprinkled with both
financially disastrous (Canada and Greece) and economically beneficial (Japan, South Korea, USA, and Spain) Olympic games. It also lists many positive paradigm shifts in technology and lifestyle, in yet another set of host countries (India, China, and other), that were either initiated by or the byproducts of the current model. In the context of the analysis presented the number and the impacts of cases that experienced improved overall well-being, economic and otherwise, is significantly higher than the cases where the Olympics failed to produce the desired benefits and turned into a drag on the host country’s economy. It seems that, as in most human endeavors, the problems associated with the cited economic failures lie in execution of the model, not in
any structural deficiencies inherent in it. Also, some of the arguments presented against the existing model sound less factual and more anecdotal. For example, the statement about Athens Olympics being the final squander of Greek treasury pulling the country down to her recent financial crisis, is very difficult to validate, and appears to be a sweeping statement. Yes, the Greek Olympics were not a financial success, but the reasons for Greece’s recent economic disaster lie in the country’s profligate behavior over a long period of time combined with simple and reckless self-deception – a much maligned pattern of actions associated with the country. Again, it’s the mismanagement and the execution that seem to be source of the economic
woes of the Hellenic Olympic venture vis-à-vis the deficiencies of the existing model that seeks to promote global economic exchanges and understandings. With the Greek example taken out the sample, the Canadian case may very well be a statistical outlier, so to speak. Furthermore, the fixed venue model touted as the recipe for financial success only takes into account the immediate economic benefits that emanate from such global events within the geographical confines of the privileged countries chosen to be the locations. It completely ignores the impacts of social benefits and the opportunity costs associated with the existing model. Note that the social benefits from higher level of global understanding that result Turn to page 12
Acknowledgement The Board of Trustees expresses its deep appreciation to Suprasad and Rita Baidyaroy for their continued financial support to the publication of Ananadalipi.
Vice President Chanu Das,
Treasurer Arun Bhowmik,
The Board of Trustees expresses its deep appreciation to Santosh and Ambalika Mukherjee for their financial support to the publication of the July issue of Ananda Sangbad.
WAVES AND OUR SENSES By Basab Dasgupta Having been a physics student I was exposed early on to the concept of wave and its associated characteristics (frequency, wavelength, amplitude, phase, etc.) in a mathematical sense. The two most common examples of waves we studied were sound waves and light waves; in a sound wave, vibrations of particles in a medium vary periodically as a function of time and space, whereas in a light wave electric and magnetic fields undergo similar variations. These two types of waves also affect perhaps the two most important ones of our senses – hearing and vision. We hear sound when sound waves induce vibrations in our eardrums, and see colors when light waves excite the cells called ‘cones’ in our retina. When you think about them, these two waves also share some similarities: i) light of any color can be produced by mixing light of “pure” wavelengths and any sound can be considered as a superposition of sounds of pure frequencies; ii) our eyes cannot see colors and our ears cannot hear sounds beyond certain ranges of frequencies – the socalled “visible spectrum” and “audible range”; iii) all objects have a certain number of “natural” frequencies of vibration and emit characteristic sounds while vibrating with those frequencies and all elements emit light with characteristic wavelengths when properly excited; iv) mixing of color and mixing of sound have led to the development and practice of two most important art cultures in the history of mankind: painting and music; v) since we have two eyes and two ears, we get a “surrounding” or “panoramic” effect if we use both, even though we can listen to any sound with one ear and look at any visual with one eye. When we examine these two types of art in more scientific terms, some rather subtle differences emerge. Music is basically a superposition of a (typically finite) number of different frequencies. Listening to a musical piece is basically following the envelope of this superposed set of waves as a function of time with our ear fixed at a specific point in space. Appreciating a painting, on the other hand, is following the mixture of different colors (wavelengths), not in one dimension but along a twodimensional surface of a canvas at a given instant. We cannot just listen to one note and recognize the song; we have to listen to it for a while over a
certain time-span. Similarly, although we can see and appreciate a painting just by looking at it for a fraction of a second, we cannot just look at one small area of the painting and appreciate it. It is fascinating to contemplate that painting and music are basically the same output in an Einsteinian space-time continuum. In fact, if we follow the history of evolution of these two art forms, they are very similar. Milestones in the evolution of paintings from the pictorial depictions of Biblical episodes of the Renaissance era to Rembrandt to Van Gogh to Picasso to the modern abstract paintings of Kandinski happened following approximately the same time line as those in the evolution of music from religious church music to classical music of Bach and Beethoven to jazz and eventually rock and modern techno-flavored music. It is also not surprising that a person who has interest in paintings would also have interest in music. Since I like to paint unusual subjects using my physics/ mathematics backgrounds, I often thought about painting a song. My idea was to simply translate the temporal variations of the amplitude of the sound waves in a song into a spatial variation of intensity of different colors by first establishing some one-to-one correlation between sound frequencies and color wavelengths; for example, by representing high frequencies by blue/purple and low frequencies by reddish color. Of course, one cannot simply superimpose a bunch of paints along a straight line (representing the time axis of the song) because that would yield a dark line. However, one can take advantage of the second spatial direction to show the different colors that are being superimposed, not one on top of another, but in a slightly spread out way along the second spatial direction. In fact, some time ago, I painted, in a very preliminary and “crude” manner, Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” in this way; the colors start in this painting from the left in a smooth periodic way, then get all jumbled up and finally emerging again in a more periodic way. Many of Zeppelin’s songs have this pattern. This also raises one question: since there are three space coordinates, why aren’t there three-dimensional paintings? As examples of three-dimensional paintings, many people would immediately point out paintings on three-dimensional objects or paintings/collages on a canvas where the artist creates a three-
dimensional effect by piling up paints or small objects at various parts of the painting. The first type is really a two-dimensional painting done on a curved surface. I will also not call the second type a true threedimensional painting; it is more like a 3D modeling where the visible painted surface is always two-dimensional. In my thinking, a true 3D painting would involve a 3D canvas (say, a large cube formed from a transparent semi-liquid substance) and then inject/ guide paints in all three directions using needles as brushes (that is why it has to be a semi-liquid) and finally freezing the whole pattern in space. Perhaps such art works exist, but I have not seen them! While it is fascinating to observe this connection between our two key senses and the most common wave-forms in physics, one may now wonder about other senses – smelling, tasting and touching. Simply from a layman’s perspective, it seems that there should be some “primary” smells and “primary” tastes, very similar to primary sound frequencies and primary color wavelengths. Let me make a distinction here between the words “pure” and “primary”. A “pure” color is a color of a fixed wavelength (physicists call it “monochromatic”); a primary color (such as red), on the other hand, has a range of wavelengths, but they all affect a particular “cone” in the eye. Similarly, the sound of a tuning fork has a pure frequency but the “primary sounds” that constitute music (e.g., notes of musical instruments) are admixtures of multiple frequencies. Examples of primary smells could be smells of some flowers (rose, jasmine), gasoline, sulfur dioxide, coffee because they seem to be unique and universally recognizable as such. Similarly, tastes of salt, sugar, hot pepper, lime, quinine are rather basic. One can go even further and say that, in the case of taste, one can come up with almost any taste by mixing some of these basic tastes. Interestingly enough, this has also led to a different kind of art form, the culinary art! In the case of smell, although it is not quite an art, but I am sure that the industries dealing with perfumes, soaps, air-fresheners and deodorizers spend a lot of time and money in researching how to mix some basic aromas in order to produce an acceptable, if not a very attractive fragrance. Can these concepts be rolled into
a quantitative scheme involving wave theory and frequencies/ wavelengths? Apparently there are two dominant theories of Olfaction: the so-called “Shape theory” and “Vibration theory” . Vibration theory of smell proposes that a molecule’s smell character is due to its vibration frequencies in the infrared range! The shape theory, on the other hand, states that a molecule’s particular smell is due to a “lock and key” mechanism by which a scent molecule (depending on its shape) fits into olfactory receptors in the nasal epithelium. Although the vibration theory was superseded by the shape theory, a scientist named Luca Turin revived the vibration theory as follows: The odorant molecule must first fit in the receptor’s binding site. Then it must have a vibrational energy mode compatible with the difference in energies between two energy levels on the receptor, so electrons can travel through the molecule via inelastic electron tunneling, triggering the signal transduction pathway ; I was pleasantly surprised to learn that even the physicists got involved in some of the aspects of this theory, resulting in a paper in Physical Review Letters in 2006! However, it seems that neither one of these two theories has yet been accepted as the ultimate answer, mainly because of many inconsistencies in each theory. I have not found anything on a theory relating the taste of a given substance and the physical characteristics of its molecules. Instead, different tastes of different substances are attributed to different chemical reactions between the molecules of the substance and our taste buds. I should emphasize that I am focusing only on the external stimuli that affect our senses and not on the physiological mechanisms within our body which give rise to specific sensations in our brain resulting from these stimuli. There is a wealth of literature on this latter subject. Finally, it seems that there is a periodicity that affects our sense of touch. Although I have not seen any scientific paper, just common sense tells me that smoothness or roughness of a surface, as felt by any part of our body can be related to the repetition rate of some feature in the texture of that surface. If the “wavelength” of this repetition is very small, of the order of a fraction of a millimeter, surface would appear very comfortably smooth. If the wave-
length increases it would gradually feel more and more rough. If the profile is not periodic and has “holes” or “spikes” or other random variations, then the surface could even be liable to cause injury on contact with our body. Mathematically speaking, a Fourier analysis of the mechanical profile of the surface along the direction of touch could determine its “smoothness”. One may even be able to define some “primary” touch sensations, such as touches of a silky surface, a coarse surface (like a sand paper), a “prickly” surface, a surface full of small holes and a surface which is very sharp (like the edge of a knife). At a right wavelength, a periodic feature in a texture could even give rise to a massaging like effect. This is the sensation we feel when we brush our scalp or back with a hairbrush or a fine-toothed comb. In summary, it seems that all of our five senses, except perhaps taste, respond to stimuli with a periodicity: sound and smell to temporal periodicity (vibrations) and vision and touch to spatial periodicity. Even in the case of taste, I would not be surprised, if someday in future, one discovers that the vibrational aspects of the energy bands of the molecule reacting with our taste buds somehow enter into the chemical reaction. I would speculate that these observations are just some everyday manifestations of a much more profound and generalized truth about our body. Perhaps our body is simply a giant vibrator or resonator which resonates (and senses) when certain periodicities “click” with it. When one considers the fact that a living being has a beating heart at some specific rate, it would not be a surprise at all to realize that a human body can emit and selectively absorb all kinds of frequencies originating from that heart-beat, depending on its physical and emotional conditions. The widely-accepted concept of emanation of “aura” is one example. I would further speculate that in social interactions between human beings, these natural frequencies of our body (which perhaps can be extracted from an analysis of our aura) play a key role. When we say that two persons “hit it off” or “clicked”, perhaps it means that some of their aural frequencies overlapped and resonated!! Then it is no wonder that they would like similar music, similar visuals, similar food and similar smells and they would like each other’s touch!
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Hajarduari VII. The Unknown Nawabs of Bengal and Murshidabad I took a quick side trip with my wife and Mexican friend from Santiniketan to Murshidabad -the erstwhile capital of Bengal before the British rule. This was my first visit to this historic city of many memories -- from its founder and first Nawab, Murshid Quli Khan, to the last independent Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daulah, and his betrayer and nemesis, Mir Jafar. In another example of unconventional conveyance (after the elephant of Jaipur and the camels of Jaisalmer), we rode on a horse-drawn flatbed cart on a short tour to look at the many historic spots on the east side of the Bhagirathi. (We did not have time to explore the western bank of the river, where apparently stand Siraj's palace and his tomb.) We saw from a distance the tomb of Murshid Quli Khan and his daughter, the estates of Jagat Seth and other nobles of the period, and the palace and burial ground of the family of Mir Jafar. The gates of the latter property are closed to the public; the family does not appreciate having slurs and epithets hurled at them by the visitors. The tour ended at the gate of the Hajarduari and Imambara compound. When I entered the compound and laid eyes on the Hajarduari (“Thousand Door”) palace, my jaw literally dropped. Here was an enormous, wholly European palace in the heart of Mughal Bengal! On our tour of north India, we had seen so many palaces that they had begun to merge and blur into one another. But they all had in common certain design aesthetics – of elaborately curved arches on doors, decorative paintings on walls, lattice work on windows and balconies, etc. – that can be identified as Indo-Islamic architecture. Here though, in the middle of the Late Mughal capital of Bengal, stood a majestic building which was
entirely rectilinear – spare and magnificently elegant -- with massive Greek columns and wide steps in front. The very incongruity of it blew my mind and demanded an explanation. Some explanation was available, thanks to information provided by the Archeological Survey of India, which is responsible for the building's management and upkeep. Construction of the palace began in 1829 and was completed in 1837. The architect was Colonel Duncan Macleod of the Bengal Corps of Engineers. The time period was the heyday of the East India Company's rule of Bengal; that, and the British architect, easily explained the European look of the palace. But the building was commissioned by Nazim Humayun Jah – a name I had never heard before. Who was this Humayun Jah? Subsequent investigation helped fill a gap in my knowledge of Bengal's history. I knew that the Company, after defeating Siraj at the Battle of Plassey, first installed Mir Jafar and then his son-in-law, Mir Qasim, to be the pliant Nawabs of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. After Mir Qasim tried to assert his independence and
was routed at the Battle of Buxar, Mir Jafar was reinstated on the throne. What I simply did not know is that, after Mir Jafar's death in 1765, the British ran a system of “Dual Government” for a while, with a puppet Nawab of Bengal in Murshidabad. The system was abolished in 1772 and the British started to rule Bengal directly by moving the capital to Calcutta, but the Nawab of Bengal remained as the fictitious governor of the land until 1793, when that fiction was dispensed with and the titular Nawab became a mere pensioner of the East India Company without any territory to rule. Nawab Nazim Humayun Jah, who commissioned the building of Hajarduari, was in the line of such Nawabs, and he reigned from 1824 to 1838. The title Nawab of Bengal was abolished in 1880 in favor of the title Nawab of Murshidabad, and the dynasty of titular Nawabs continued for a while even after India's independence in 1947. Mir Jafar's successors – to me at least -- were the “unknown”: Nawabs of Bengal! VIII. Final Reflections: Kolkata Traffic On our India trip, my friend and I traveled through a wide swath of north and east India – visiting big cities and small towns, bustling markets and sleepy villages. If he ever saw “extreme poverty” and was “shocked” by the sight, he did not share it with me, perhaps out of politeness. What he did mention, however, is that the tour gave him a fresh perspective to look at villages (and presumably poverty) in Mexico. I saw many positives on the tour: the Yamuna Expressway, for example, and the construction boom everywhere that attested to India's recent economic growth. Modest attempts have been made in
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Kolkata to improve its appearance. Aside from fences painted blue-and-white and new trident-shaped lights on many streets, there seemed to be more sweepers and garbage haulers in evidence, and sidewalks looked cleaner than in the past. That had the unfortunate effect of revealing other eyesores – strangely uneven footpaths that are frequently dug up and never properly repaired, construction detritus like heaps of sand and broken bricks, and so on. One area where Kolkata has improved greatly over the years is in traffic control. Cars and buses at large road crossings now stop well shy of the intersection, leaving ample space for pedestrians. The same cannot be said, however, of traffic etiquette, and the lack thereof once landed me in a very awkward and embarrassing situation. I was traveling by taxi and it moved left to the curb and stopped to let me alight. As I opened the door, it bumped into a speeding motorcyclist who was hoping to pass in an instant between the car and the curb. The little nudge was enough for him to lose balance; the man and the machine tumbled and crashed against the edge of the curb. As the biker lay sprawled, I was stunned and speechless. I could barely mumble an apology in spite of my wife (seated next to me) repeatedly urging me to do so. Fortunately, the driver was helmeted and suffered only minor cuts and a wrist sprain. He was angry for sure but knew he was in the wrong. When I finally stepped out and started walking, he came after me but instead of striking me (as I half feared) he called me “Uncle” and demanded that I said sorry. I did that profusely and with evident sincerity, which at least calmed him down. Hyper anxious and feet-on-pedal drivers stopped at traffic lights are indeed a bane of pedestrians trying to cross busy streets in Kolkata. The “Walk” signal at an intersection turns green infrequently and stays green for the briefest of period. The pedestrian has to make a judgment about how long the signal for vehicular traffic would stay red and step into the intersection on that basis. Frequently they are caught in mid-street with signals changing and assorted vehicles coming at them. It happened to my friend once when he was nearly run over by a motorcycle on Chowringhee Road near Grand Hotel. He saw the lights change, but looked instinctively in the wrong direction for expected traffic and had to do a painful
contortion to avoid being hit. The incident was both frightening and comical: I was anticipating a horrible accident and mentally picturing a visit to a hospital emergency room while silently reproaching myself for reflexive schadenfreude. But I learnt my own lesson just days before leaving India. I began to cross Shyamaprasad Mukherjee Road near Rash Behari Crossing at a time when there were at least five rows (or “lanes”) of vehicles facing in one direction that had stopped at the red light. I had barely crossed two rows when the signal turned green and the vehicles started to move. I had a choice of running, but chose to freeze at the spot. Cars, buses and motorcycles whizzed past me, like water rushing around an obstacle. Outwardly calm, but with my heart beating fast, I thought of myself as a city cop (sans their uniform) wading into traffic to control it. Suddenly I heard a taxi driver scream at me to move over so that he could take a left turn. Leaving myself to fate, I crossed one more row of traffic. I felt nervous and ridiculous, and thought my situation was a metaphor for life itself, especially in India. You try to survive in the eddies as crowds of people swirl around and past you. From people sleeping on footpaths to people eating lunch from sidewalk kitchens or going about their everyday humdrum business, life simply goes on.
Spring Cleaning at Ananda Mandir Continued from page 1
accomplished well by the collective efforts and with everyone's help and support to each other. They all seemed to have enjoyed the work, taking it as an outdoor fun and recreation. They laughed, they talked and joked while continuing to move the logs or chop the trees and branches and clear the bushes and vines. A love for the organization and a love for working together for a cause must have fueled the energy they needed to accomplish that laborious job. The Board of Trustees of Ananda Mandir thanks the volunteers, Rita Bhowmik, Surya Dutta, Biswajyoti Nayak, Arun Bhowmik, Jaiprakash Biswas, Chanu Das, Sourav Ghosh, Ujjal Sanyal, Suprasad Baidyaroy and Pronoy Chatterjee, who participated in the first spring cleaning session of Ananda Mandir this year. We may start another session this year with more participants and more fun. Please stay tuned for the announcement.
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Lawn Mowing By Guru Chakravarty The agony starts when I get the lawn tractor out of my garage and wince at the two and a half acres of uncut grass facing me. The ecstasy comes after I finish the cutting in three and a half hours and stand back to look at the beautiful green carpet with a satisfied feeling. Well, this is a pretty routine work that many home owners have to do every week during the summer, but many things can happen along the way to make the work sometimes painful and at other times enjoyable. The lawn mowing offers the opportunity to meet your neighbor and to establish a friendly relationship. In a society where you barely get to see your neighbor, let alone make friends, that is not a small matter. So, if we both are cutting lawn at the same time, which happens not so infrequently, sooner or later, we are close enough to talk, which kind of forces us to stop the machines and do a little chit-chat. “Hey Ron, what’s happening?” “Nothing much. Got to cut the stupid lawn.” “Yeah, I know. Yankees and Red Sox are on TV right now.” “Oh man, I was there at the stadium in last night’s game. That old guy, Ortiz killed the Yankees with two homers. Unbelievable.” “Yeah, I saw that on the TV. Well, got to go, otherwise I won’t be able to finish. Nice talking with you.” The other good thing that happens is that this is one time you can listen to your choice of music undisturbed, with head phones. But even better things happen when you enter home at the end of cutting. Here you have to do some play acting with your wife. “Oh, what a hot and humid day. I am dying of thirst.” I plop myself next to the kitchen table. “Here, have a lassi,” She is prepared for the moment with a caring smile on her face. “And, I made some fish fries for you.” It works every time. There would be no more of “Oh, you didn’t do this”, or “You forgot again”, from her today. But when you have a bad neighbor, what do you do? Here is what happened. We are in a new development. The lot borders were not clearly marked when we and our other neighbor moved in. One day, I found that he cleared a very large area in the backyard. I had a suspicion that it belonged to my lot, and he was deliberately
trying to expand his border. He even went further and started to plant trees in my area. Now, I had to do something. I called the builder and asked him to put in a couple of stakes to mark the border. That done, it was clear that the neighbor had intruded into my area. So, I approached him. “You know, you have planted in my area. Did you see the border markers?” “Yeah, I have seen those, but I don’t believe who put them in.” “They were put in by the builder.” I said meekly. “I still don’t believe them. When we bought the house, the builder clearly told us that the mound over there was in our lot”, he vaguely pointed to an area. “I am sorry, but you have to go by the survey map.” I protested. “I am not moving my plants. You do whatever you have to do.” He brusquely went away. For the next few days, I pondered my options. Going to a lawyer to resolve this would be costly. Although there was a home owners’ association, they won’t have any power to resolve this. I decided to call up the township and surprisingly, they were pretty willing to take action. They said they would set up a hearing at the township court. In a few days, I got a hearing date. At the hearing, it was only me and Hansa, my unfriendly neighbor, at the courthouse. The magistrate looked at the report that the clerk had prepared. He looked at both of us and asked: “Did you know each other in India?” “No Sir, we didn’t”, both of us replied, wondering why he would ask that question. “Seems like you have been carrying a grudge against each other for a long time”, he elaborated. “Anyhow, this is something that you should be able to resolve amongst yourselves.” “Would you kindly ask my neighbor to obey the border markings?” I meekly suggested. It worked. “Mr. Hansa, would you?” “Yes, Your Honor, I will.” Well, that was a big win. I rejoiced back at home, feeling like a hero. The Hansas did back down and moved the plants to within their border. Unfortunately, as expected, we lost that neighbor forever, in regard to any neighborliness. My lot is rather large in a rural area, with a few mounds here and there. A few weasels have
made their home in those spots by burrowing into the ground. I can see them once in a while when they are out looking for small prey for their food. There are deep holes in the mounds, where they reside. To feel good about my righteousness on ecology, I have not disturbed their housing. Once I did try to run my tractor over the mound to level the ground somewhat, which would still leave them unharmed, when the wheels got stuck in the holes. So, now I needed a neighbor to help me pull out the tractor. Fortunately, I have a very dependable friend living in the neighborhood. He happens to be a physician, the chairman of the Pathology department in the university, no less, and surprisingly is a pretty good handyman for fixing things. Anup came in quite a few times to help me out — on that occasion and some others. Here is a guy who is thoroughly brainwashed by the Home Depot mantra of “Do It Yourself”. Then there are times when the tractor breaks down. When that happens, it poses a multitude of problems. First you have to schedule a pick up of the tractor by the repair shop, which unsurprisingly is quite busy during the summer season. It would take a few days for them to schedule a pick up, and then several more days to bring it back after repair. In the meanwhile, the grass is growing at a furious pace and you have got to cut it before it become an eyesore to the community. Now, I have to find a professional lawn mowing service. It is not always easy to find a lawn mowing serviceman during the season, because they are all busy. So, here comes Anup, the pathologist, to rescue me. He is prepared to drive his tractor on the road for a quarter of a mile to bring it to me. Fortunately, there aren’t too many cars being driven in the neighborhood. So, why do I keep cutting my lawn myself, instead of contracting it out to a professional grass cutter, when a majority of home owners in the area does just that? Because it gives a feeling of satisfaction of doing it by myself. No matter it snatches away a significant amount of time every weekend, and gives agony whenever the tractor breaks down in the middle of mowing, it is a price worth paying. And then there is a priceless bonus! When the little seven-year-old grandson drops by, the most important thing he is looking for is a ride in the lawn tractor with me. The look on his face is indeed priceless and that is just super ecstasy!
BOMBAY MAIL TO BOEING By Amrita Kangle ‘The Eiffel Tower is very happy where it is and I am very happy where I am, so why should I make the effort to go and see it? The meeting will only inconvenience me and not make any difference to the Eiffel Tower!’ ‘The whole world goes on vacations and your father wants only his laboratory and his tennis and his chicken stew at night. As if there is nothing else in life.’ This was an oft-heard argument in our house when we were growing up. And may I add that this was one of the few from which my father emerged victorious. We lived in Bombay, as it was known in the good old days, and our vacations were limited to the annual trip to Calcutta where all our relatives lived or Allahabad where my maternal grandparents lived. Not that it mattered to us. We were perfectly happy and looked forward to spending the entire two months with the cousins and an assortment of aunts, uncles, dadus and didas whose only aim in life was to spoil us silly. Childhood was indeed bliss. Given this kind of an upbringing, you will understand if I tell you that we did not grow up to be the fearfully adventurous kinds who would think nothing of tearing off to climb the Himalayas. Or go diving with the sharks, go canyoning through ravines & waterfalls and go swimming with the dolphins in the Azores. I would never dream of going hiking in the Balkans or cycling in the Czech Republic. Though, the Czech Republic did beckon me because I had read that beyond Prague’s maze like suburbs of the Soviet era, lie stunning sun-warmed valleys speckled with pastel-colored Bohemian villages. I wanted to go there and paint, not cycle! So every summer vacation would find us traveling to Calcutta or Allahabad. The sameness of the destinations never troubled me and I looked forward enthusiastically to the last paper of my exams. Every time I thought about the vacation, I would have that funny feeling inside my stomach.....you know the kind that gives you joy of the pure, unadulterated kind and brings goosebumps all over! Packing our bags was the first exciting step. ‘Traveling Light’ was not a concept that my mother approved of. For a vacation that was to last two months, fourteen pieces of luggage was the bare minimum that she would even think of traveling with. If you think that my father’s protests were a
hindrance, then you are very wrong. And I am talking about the times when bags were not merely suitcases or backpacks, but they were trunks. And the bedding had to be carried in bedding rolls. I still remember our food basket. It was a humungous affair made of cane and easily accommodated two large stainless steel multi potted tiffin-carriers, places for bread, butter, jam and an assortment of cutlery and crockery and starched napkins. Those were not the days of disposable paper products. Thus packing was a very elaborate affair and was every bit as exciting as the vacation itself. We traveled by train and the journey from Bombay to Calcutta by Bombay Mail took thirty five hours. But for all this to make sense to you let’s start at the very beginning. Which, as the famous song goes, is a very good place to start. Our household has always been a very disciplined one. There was a time and a place for everything and everything had to be in its place. Routine was the mantra and woe betide us if we ever, even for a single day, ever thought of breaking that routine. Transgressing that routine was an idea that was not even allowed to enter our subconscious minds. Where nutrition and the well-being of his offspring were concerned, my father had very definite ideas about what was good for us and what was not and he could not be budged even a millimeter from his position. So, train journey or no train journey, our routine had to remain in place. We boarded the train at night. And after the fourteen pieces of luggage had been appropriately and adequately stowed away and the porters having gone away looking visibly relieved, we began our life over the next thirty-five hours in our ‘home away from home’. My father changed into his starched kurta pajamas and I can still see him folding his sleeves just so in my mind’s eye. Dinner was spread out.....and I mean just that. Spread out. Delicious soft maida luchis, Begun-bhaja, Salad, Aloo Phoolkopir shaada chhenchki and Chicken dry curry. Finished off with a Mishti or two. Generally two! Dinner done, plates, etc washed with detergent brought specially for that purpose, the beds were made. Starched sheets, covers all laid out to pristine perfection. Off to a deep slumber made even deeper by the Turn to page 10
Television Through The Years:
Me and My Mustang By Amitabha Bagchi
The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the New York World’s Fair. There were many articles in the local Press reminiscing about the event. Some of them recalled that 1964 was also the year when the Ford Motor Company introduced the Mustang. In fact, Ford created a splash by unveiling the automobile on the 86th floor observation deck of the Empire State Building to coincide with the World’s Fair. This year, on the Mustang’s 50th anniversary, Ford decided to replicate the feat by bringing up the component parts of a 2015 Mustang Convertible and reassembling it on the same observation deck (see picture). All this hoopla reminded me of the period in the early 1970s when I was the proud owner of a Mustang. First a bit of the background. My interest in a sports car, or perhaps a “sporty” car, began with love for the shapely curves
of my friend Harry’s Jaguar XKE circa 1964. He and I were fellow graduate students, and I was in the beginning without a car of my own. Harry would occasionally give me a ride in his Jaguar from the UC San Diego campus down to my apartment near the ocean beach in La Jolla. What I most remember of those trips is the five minutes or more that Harry took to warm up the engine before putting it into gear. I longed to drive a similar curvaceous beauty of my own, but could not afford it on my graduate student salary. When the time came for me to buy my own vehicle, economic considerations led me to a 1960 VW Beetle – that ‘waterless wonder” with engine in the rear and trunk in front – which had no fuel gauge (only a lever to kick in to access an extra gallon of reserve gas), no trip meter, and no side mirror on the passenger side. On the plus side, it forced me to learn how to
drive a stick shift – and that too on the hilly roads of the California coast. I graduated in 1970 and moved to the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Now was the first time I was earning a “real salary” as a post-doc, and I needed to buy a car to suit my image of myself as a young man. What I really wanted was a Jag or a Corvette, but soon figured out they were out of my financial reach. I brought my sight down to three sporty cars: Chevy Camaro, Mercury Cougar and Ford Mustang. Cougar had the greatest appeal for me, but cost considerations finally led me to settle on the Mustang. Although I did not recognize it at that time, Mustang was already beginning to have a cult following of sorts, especially because it kept showing up in Bond movies, beginning with Goldfinger (1964). There was this immortal exchange in Thunderball (1965) after Fiona Volpe drove James Bond to tatters on a wild ride in a Mustang Convertible and our hero looked visibly shaken: Fiona: Some men just don’t like to be driven. Bond: No, some men don’t like to be taken for a ride. And who can forget the Las Vegas chase scene in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), the highlight of which has Tiffany Chase’s Ford Mustang Mach 1 balancing on two wheels and careening through a narrow alley? Unlike me, however, my graduate student friends at U of I were better attuned to the current Turn to page 11
COLOR, PROJECTION, HD – NOW… 3D!
By Kamal Raychaudhuri We bought our first color television, a 19-inch Sony Trinitron, after I got my first “job” as a post-doc in the late seventies. It was a thing of beauty and boasted a remote control, which was a novelty in those days. Our intellectual friend-who happened to be Bengali like us-let on that his neighbor, when apprised of this obscene homage to indolence, had remarked, “What kind of lazy idiots are they that cannot get up and change the channels on the TV?” (Secretly, I believed that this attribution to the neighbor was some sort of inverted vicariousness, that ’twas our friend himself who regarded a remote control as a vulgar artefact, but what the heck— let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.) My wife and I, however, were thrilled with our new toy, and the bin-n-n-ng sound it made when you pushed the ON button on the remote, and the electric crackle it emanated when you turned it off, and everything else in between. We were TV junkies, and the step up from our venerable blackand-white RCA of more than a decade to a state-of-the-art “One-Gun One-Lens” technological wonder represented a quantum shift in status and living. As for our friend, I told him to hang on to his hat, the day would come when he would not be able to buy a TV sans remote control.
Over the years, our Trinitron yielded pride of place to a rear projection behemoth—a 40-inch triple-tube Pioneer with a largeas-life picture that, bundled with surround sound pumped out by a multi-channel audio processing system, put us smack-dab in the epicenter of the concert performance, sports event, movie, or other miscellaneous mind-fodder that the network and cable programming chefs had served up to newlyenthused couch-potatoes everywhere. Television had broken the size barrier of 35 inches, the limit of direct view single-tube systems-and digital audio processing technology, not to be outdone, had ingeniously augmented timehonored two-channel stereo with surround channels to deliver amphitheatrical sound. Well, many years—indeed, a few decades—have passed since those days when pleasures were simple. Now, those erstwhile electronic marvels have found their final repose in the recycle yard or are lying around relegated to a corner, gathering dust. In their place have materialized jaw-dropping twodimensional wall-hugging rectangular monstrosities— popularly referred to as “flatscreens”—like so many giant picture frames, with images so detailed that they keep studio make-up personnel frantically busy camouflaging the
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Views and Reflection By Pronoy Chatterjee The editor of Ananda Sangbad, Guru Chakravarty, keeps on urging the community to write their true stories for this newsletter. However, many in our community wonder how and what to write. Part of this short deliberation is to address the issue on how to compose an attractive story and the other part is my reflection on a subtle experience while visiting India in March of this year. Talking about the first part, it is not really a typical “How to” article, where one could get a prescribed cookbook formula on developing writing skills. It’s just a rambling discussion on how to overcome our mental jam in producing something on paper that others will enjoy. It could be a serious historical, philosophical or scientific article, a report on a local event, a humor or simply a collection of nonsensical thoughts. I am sure something of our own experience or our own abstract thinking which may have sparked our interest in writing would also be of interest to some others too, at least to some extent. It could be of interest to one or two persons only, but that’s OK. We don’t have to have scores of people interested. I wouldn’t even worry about the comments of some pundits who might say that the sentence composition is not right or the choice of words is poor or might remark that the writer never learned the language properly. What does it matter to me, if my profession is not writing and I am not depending my living on writing, as long as I can forgo my ego. So, my fellow readers of Ananda Sangbad and reluctant writers, I know that you and I can really share a wealth of experience through this newsletter and our another publication, Anandalipi, without worrying on anything criticism or outright rejection. At the end of a few trial submissions, we may discover our hidden talent that we or anyone else never knew before. The writings do not have to be always on serious matters, but it must come from your heart. Composition and grammar are secondary, which I hope, could be corrected by our dedicated editorial team. It’s the essence of your experience, which would be the jewel of your creation and we all have those jewels to offer to our readers. You can write your life experience, good or bad memories, sad or happy emotions and sensitive feelings and share them with friends around you and that’s the way
we as a community will grow stronger. The editorial group of Ananda Sangbad is eager to know your experience in life which would enrich the life of others. With this in mind, I now would like to share a subtle experience that I had while I was visiting India recently. It wasn’t on any exotic revelation of any uncovered truth, nor any miraculous event or a spectacular sightseeing, but the struggle of an individual to remain afloat in a tide of misery. I had seen Shyamali always engaged in cooking in the kitchen at my nephew’s house in Howrah, West Bengal, every time I visited there, once a year during the last fourteen years. She is a healthy, vibrant woman with a pair of bright expressive eyes, in her late forties. She always dressed elegantly, wearing a printed sari tightly hugged against her body, wrapping one end of the sari around the waist and tucking it at the end. She cooks not just in one house but in multiple houses, one after another, five, ten or maybe more, all in the morning hours and throughout the major part of the day. I saw her talking and laughing while cooking, without shifting her attention from the aluminum or stainless steel cooking pot delicately balanced on the top of a gas burner. She would hold the pot with a pair of tongs in one hand while stirring the simmering vegetables in the pot, incessantly moving her other hand back and forth with a big flat spoon. She always looked happy and energetic. This year again I met her and there was no difference. She came promptly at 8:30 AM, finished the cooking at 10 and was ready to leave when I saw her and greeted her as I always did. She did pranam to me and I asked about her well being. She simply nodded her head and quickly left. I could understand her rush, because she had to finish cooking all the places in the span of a few hours in the morning. Two days later, I asked her again how she was doing. This time she stood before me and said that everything was fine, lowering her eyes down to the floor. I noticed that drops of tears fell on the ground. I asked her again what was it that was bothering her. Now she broke down to sobbing and said that her twenty years old daughter, who herself had a child of four, was going through dialysis, three times a week.
I asked her how much it cost and she said, one thousand rupees each time plus five hundred rupees daily for medicines. I asked, who pays for this and she said, she partly pays from her earning from the cooking and “the rest comes from ———.” She paused for few seconds and then continued, “ from ——,“ but didn’t finish it. She tried to tell me something but couldn’t. She quickly wiped her tearful eyes with the back of her hand. I gave her some money, but didn’t ask her anything further that she kept from me. For a few moments, I stared at the dishes she prepared, standing outside the kitchen and toying with her unspoken words, shuffling and reshuffling them to come up with a rational meaning. That night, I tossed around the bed, again and again, arranging and rearranging her unspoken words. I covered my ears with my palms so that the words cannot get in to assemble and compose, revealing the truth that I didn’t hear from her and that she tried to avoid. I have only seen Shyamali and learned her harsh reality, but there are hundreds and thousands of women like Shyamali who are constantly struggling to meet their ends. But how? That they may answer somewhat vaguely with spoken words and the rest remains unspoken. They cannot beg, because they have self-esteem, they cannot borrow, because they don’t have any asset and they cannot find any decent job that would pay enough to meet their essential needs. They just struggle throughout the life till the end. They are widely spread in the country, but neglected and are deliberately bypassed from the fruits of the glowing affluence of the modern India that glitters on the media screen. They deserve our attention and social recognition. I send my wishes to Shyamali for having the courage to fight with her daughter’s disease that require such an expensive treatment, without any health insurance or social or governmental support. I give her credit to go through this immense struggle to make her ends meet and to keep the family survived while maintaining calmness and composure in her manner. I don’t have to know her other source of income or how she is meeting her obligation to a massive medical expense. I can only express my compassion and admire her courage and determination.
Escape to Elephantine Island By Mandira Chattopadhyay By the turn of the nineteenth century the southern tip of Elephantine Island in Aswan had been pretty much abandoned. Aswan was a sleepy town of perhaps only about 3000 people in 1898. When the British decided to build a dam just south of the town, this dam, the old Aswan Dam was completed in 1902. The old dam was not large or strong enough to eliminate the annual flood of the Nile; its purpose was to create a smaller reservoir that could hold back some of flood waters to release later in the year for irrigation purposes. Today the town of Aswan has a population of over 100,000. In the past two decades, a host of developments and industrial projects associated with the completion of a new high dam have caused a rapid expansion. The high dam is located about 5 km south of the old Aswan Dam which it dwarfs in size and scale. The high dam is essentially an enormous and immensely complex dam that completely blocks the Nile. The decision to build it was taken by the Nasser regime in 1953; construction began in 1959; and the dam was completed in 1971. Behind the high dam lies Lake Nasser, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world. I will never forget my cruise around the Nile with members of the Arabic Language Institute of the American University in Cairo. During that trip I was fortunate to get a glimpse of this heavenly island since I frequently visited the landmarks of Egypt with this group. At that time I was a graduate student in the “Teaching English as a Second Language” program at the University where my husband taught. Aswan is a special place; here the desert comes down all the way to the banks of the Nile. On our way to Elephantine Island, we got out of the ship and strolled around the Nubian village, a land with its own unique heritage and culture. People were very friendly and the houses were often quite colorful. Their language is quite
different from Arabic and ancient Egyptian. The “souk market” of Aswan is by far the most interesting outside of Cairo, for it is the place where both Nubian and Egyptian artifacts can be found. I remember how I started to browse around in the market to get a pharaonic outfit for the upcoming fancy dress contest in the cruise. The tombs of the Elephantine’s pharaonic nobility have always attracted people from all over the world. As we got back to the ship, I looked forward for the historic Elephantine Island. Much of Aswan’s present prosperity is based upon its standing as a resort area. We had to take a ferry to get to the island, where the Nubians in their white robes were strumming their music. Beautiful gardens were all around and I was awestruck to see the gorgeous fish of assorted colors swimming in the emerald-looking water. In the late nineteenth century Aswan became a popular winter resort for wealthy Europeans and several grand hotels were built to receive them. The most famous of these hotels is the “Old Cataract” built at the turn of the century. While on the ferry I noticed the hotel where Agatha Christie wrote the thriller, “Death on the Nile.” The book features the Belgian detective solving a murder mystery taking place mostly on the Nile. Aswan continues to receive many visitors as it did in the past; one of the notable ones being the late Aga Khan. I was mesmerized as I looked at the graveyard of Aga Khan in the luscious garden of Aswan. The legend goes that Aga Khan was so enchanted with Aswan that he chose to be buried there. He died in 1957, and lies today beneath the simple yet impressive domed tomb that sits on the west bank of the river overlooking Elephantine Island and Plantation Island, covered with plants and trees. Steeped in Egyptian history, Elephantine Island is truly an escape.
Sapta Tirtha By Sushmita Dutta
Author's Note:A special series of reports on seven holy places prescribed in Hindu scriptures
Ujjain: The abode of Lord Shiva
Among Sapta Tirthas, seven holy pilgrimage centers in India, where Hindus believe Gods live as avatars and a must visit in one’s lifetime to attain salvation (moksha), we have covered four of the “tirthas” so far Mathura, Varanasi, Dwarka and Ayodhya in Ananda Sangbad. Out of the remaining three, Ujjain is covered in this issue, and the other two- Kanchipuram and Haridwar will be covered in the following issues. In these articles, we deliver as much spiritual information possible to our readers and also include travel directions, lodging and boarding tips. Ujjain is located in Madhya Pradesh, in the heart of “Incredible India”. The capital of the state is Bhopal and Ujjain is a popular tourist place mentioned in Mahabharat as the capital of Avanti Puram – kingdoms of Vedic era in India ranging from 1200 BC to 6 th century BC. Highlights of the place: Ujjain is one of the prominent cities of ancient India that dates back to scriptures on Aryan settlers and then in the 6 th century BC mentioned in Buddhist literature as one of the four great places in India along with Vatsa, Kosala and Magadha. In Hindu scriptures, Ujjain is also named as Ujjayini, Avanti, Avantika and Avantikapuri. Historically the place is known as one of the four learning centers in India along with Takshashila, Nalanda and Kashi. Renowned scholars Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya lived here. Kalidas, the noted literary figure and poet belonged to this place. The first meridian of longitude passes through Ujjain and hence, India’s first ever observatory was constructed here between 1725 and 1730. To promote Ujjain as a prominent center of learning,
the state government of Madhya Pradesh founded Vikram University in 1957. And, several education and learning programs supported by the government promote modern education in arts, sciences and technologies. Historical background: For its glories, Ujjain was invaded several times doing some good and some damage to the city. Early Muslim invasions like Iltumish, Bazbahadur damaged some of the then existing set-ups and unique constructions of Ujjain. They caused destructions of temples and sculptures causing constant threats to the city’s peace and tranquilty. Emperor Akbar then constructed a wall around Ujjain to protect the city from further invasions and Ujjain thrived in reconstruction during the Mughal era. Around 17th century, Ujjain was conquered by the Marathas, rulers of the state of Maharashtra in Western India. The Marathas constructed many temples in Ujjain and introduced various arts and paintings and wood carvings to beautify buildings which became famous in the Maratha era. In 1750, the Scindias took over Ujjain and ruled until 1810, shifting the state’s capital to Gwalior. However, Ujjain continued to thrive as the pivot of trade and business connecting North, South, East and West India and attracting tourists from all over the world for Sapta Tirtha, Kumbha Mela and Dwadash Jyotirlinga pilgrimage. Religious Highlights: Located on the banks of Shipra river, Ujjain is mentioned on the lists of both on Sapta Tirthas and Dwadash Jyotirlingas (12 most sacred abodes of Lord Shiva). The Shiva lingam here is called “Swayambhu”- “selfmanifested”. Ujjain is also
famous for being one of the four locations in India that holds “Kumbha Mela” where about 100 million people gather from all over the world to bathe in sacred water of where the “Kumbha Mela” is held. Every third year this holy event is held at one of the four locations in India: Haridwar, Allahabd, Nashik and Ujjain filling the air with vibrant mantra chanting and ritualistic sounds as if embracing good vibes from the entire universe for health, wealth, prosperity, wisdom and spiritualism. A fifth place, named Chataradham or Prachin Haridwar in Eastern Nepal also holds Kumbha Mela. The term Kumbha means pitcher and Mela designates fair. Hindus believe that while Gods were carrying nectar in a “kumbha” (pitcher) after “Samudra Manthan” (sea churned for nectar), drops of nectar fell at these geographic locations where Kumbha Melas are held. Mythology has it that the city of Ujjain was beautiful having a spiritual ambiance. The ruler of Ujjain, Chandrasena, was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. One day a farmer’s son Shrikhar heard King Chandrasena chanting Lord Shiva’s names. Shrikhar also began chanting Lord Shiva’s names and around that time King Ripudamana and King Singhaditya of the neighboring kingdoms attacked Ujjain for treasures. Seeking Lord Shiva’s help Shrikhar along with a priest named Vridhi began praying to Lord Shiva on the banks of Shipra River. To help his devotees, Lord Shiva appeared in his Mahakala form and destroyed the enemies of King Chandrasena. Shrikhar and Vridhi pleaded that Lord Shiva remained in Ujjain. The Lord agreed and since then he has been the chief deity of Ujjain Turn to page 10
Highlights of Recent Puja Activities Reported
By Krishna Dutta Roy, Chair, Puja Committee
Dol Yatra Utsav, also popularly known as “HOLI”, was celebrated on 16th of March 2014. The day’s celebrations started with Dr. Manisha Chakravarty’s devotional songs and stories about Radha Krishna’s playing with colors with Gopis in Brindaban. As customary, devotees offered “Abir” (colored powder) at the feet of Radha and Krishna before putting on colors upon each other. At that time, some people, young ladies in particular, become playfully frenzied in applying color to whoever is in sight, irrespective of any costly saris they may be wearing. The frantic yet smiling faces of people covered in multicolored powders represent the enjoyment of Holi at Ananda Mandir. Since the Dol Utsav ushers in spring season, Ananda Mandir volunteers group organized musical presentations with appropriate Rabindra Sangeets. Devotees chanted Lord Krishna’s Ashtottar shatanam (108 names). This was a Purnima (Full Moon) day, and in keeping with our puja schedule, Satyanarayan Puja was performed in the evening. The fun-filled day ended with Pushpanjali, Arati and plenty of prasad prepared by the food committee volunteers. Our monthly Shyama Puja was held on 30th March, the Amavasya (New Moon) day. April puja and rituals started with the annual Basanti Puja. It is celebrated much the same way as Durga Puja, for 5 days, from Sashthi on 5th April to Dashami on 9th, except in a much smaller scale. It is essentially Durga Puja, but called Basanti Puja because it is celebrated in spring season (Basanta Kal in Bengali). The puja rituals are the same including the Sondhi puja which is celebrated at the juncture (the moment called Shubha Muhurta ) of Ashtami and Nabami. Many people stay in fasting until pushpanjali is offered to the Mother, in each of the puja days. Our priest Biswabhai always keeps a close watch on the time so that the devotees do not miss out on the “shubha muhurta” to offer the devotionfilled pushpanjali to Goddess Mother Durga. Considering that Basanti Puja is nowhere near Durga Puja in popularity, yet there was a considerable number of devotees in each of the puja days. Prasad was prepared every day by selfless volunteers so that everyone got enough food at the end of puja.
Our monthly Satyanarayan puja and Nil Yatra were scheduled on Sunday, 13th April. The Bengali New Year ( Pahela Baisakh ) started on Tuesday, 15th April. The temple was kept open from 9:00am to 9:00 pm. Devotees stopped by throughout the day to offer prayers because of the auspicious nature of the day. People like to start the year with a good karma like meditation and puja. Monthly Shyama Puja was performed on Amavasya, Monday, 28th April, in presence of the regular devotees. The May puja activities started with Akshya Tritia on Friday, 2nd May. It is believed by devoted Hindus that any good deed performed on this day will remain in his record forever, will one day be blessed by God. Puja was performed from 9 am to 12 noon. Sri Sri Ram Thakur Utsav was held on May 4th from 4:30 to 9:00pm. There is a pretty large group of devotees of Sri Sri Ram Thakur among Bengalis. A Kirtania group was invited from New York to perform Kirtan on this occasion at Ananda Mandir. Monthly Satyanarayan Puja was held on Sunday, 11th May. The big event of the month was Phalaharini Kali puja, celebrated on Wednesday, 28th May. This puja is very important to many devotees because they offer the results of their karma at the feet of Mother Kali. Phalaharini literally means the Mother who unburdens her devotees. About 100 devotees came in to participate in the puja, hear Biswabhai’s enchanting Chandipath and offer their heartfelt devotion with pushpanjali. The big event in June is the “Jagannath Mahaprabhur Snan Yatra”. The decorated chariot with Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra in it is pulled by enthusiastic devotees around the premises of Ananda Mandir. It is an inspiring event, participated by young and the old, men and women that teaches cultural heritage to our next generation. Please visit our website www.anandamandir.org and read Ananda Sangbad for information on all puja and cultural events. All puja events are so enjoyable at Ananda Mandir, only because of dedicated support from the puja committee volunteers. To join the team, just call Krishna at 732-390-8069.
Ananda Mandir Expansion – An update
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Reported by Ashok Rakhit, Chair, Construction Project
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and Kali Puja this year, all construction work will be restricted in that period. Immediately after Kali Puja, we plan to break the wall of the temple facing the expanded area and build a new temporary wall in its place. This is to allow the new and current temple buildings to be connected structurally and to share all utilities. We will have to perform puja ceremonies in a smaller Turn to page 10
DURGA PUJA CALENDAR - 2014 Debir Noukai Agomon – O- Dolai Gomon Mahishasura Mardini / Ananda Prabhat:
Nominations Invited From All Over Age Of 18
4:30 am Sunday, September 21
Maha Soshthi Puja
5:30 pm – 8:00 pm Tuesday, September 30
(Amantron O Adhibas) Maha Saptami
7:00 am – 9:00 am
Wednesday, October 1
Pushpanjali, 9:30 am – 10:15 am Stuti & Sandhya Arati, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm Maha Ashtomi
Puja, 6:00 am – 8:00 am
Puja, 8:00 am – 8:53 am
Thursday, October 2
Pushpanjali, 9:00 am – 9:20 am Maha Nabomi Puja, 9:30 am – 11:00 am Pushpanjali, 11:15 am – 12:00 pm Stuti & Sandhya Arati, 8:00 pm Maha Dashami
Puja, 10 am – 11:30 am
Friday, October 3
Sindoor Khela & Sandhya Arati, 7:00 pm
Lakshmi Puja & Satyanarayan Puja, 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
GAYATRI GAMARSH MEMORIAL AWARDS FOR LITERARY EXCELLENCE
The Gayatri Memorial Awards were established in 2010 by Jerry GaMarsh to honor his late wife, Gayatri GaMarsh. The program is administered through the Awards & Recognition Committee of Ananda Mandir, 269 Cedar Grove Lane, Somerset, NJ. Two cash awards are usually given each year to recognize outstanding works published in North America-based literary magazines. One award is given to an author of Bengali works, and another is given to an author in English. Each award consists of $500 in cash and a commendation plaque. Under certain situations, co-winners may be selected for an award category. An author may nominate himself/herself — or may be nominated by third parties. Nominated author must be 18 years or older. For nomination rules and requirements (and for the Nomination Form). Please visit our website, www.AnandaMandir.org and look under “Gayatri Memorial Awards”. Deadline for nominations (with supporting documents) for the 2014 awards is July 31, 2014. Awards will be announced and presented in the Fall of 2014. Please send nominations (with supporting documents) to : Debajyoti Chatterji 77 Mackenzie Lane South Denville, NJ 07834 In case of questions, please email Debajyoti Chatterji (email@example.com) or Guru Chakravarty (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ujjain: The abode of Lord Shiva
BOMBAY MAIL TO BOEING
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who protects his devotees against their enemies and resides in the form of light in the Mahakaleshwar Lingam. Ujjain beholds one of the most famous Shiva temples in India housing the presiding deity of time – Mahakaleshwar – The Lord of Mahakal. The Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple beside Rudra Sagar Lake is located in a large courtyard surrounded by massive walls. The temple is built in five levels, one being underground where brass lamps light the way to the altar. The self-manifested (Swayambhu) lingam at this temple is one of the 12 rare jyothirlinga shrines where Lord Shiva appeared as a “Stambha” or pillar without a beginning and end which symbolizes the infinite existance of Lord Shiva. In one of the 108 names of Lord Shiva, he is adored as “Om Shukshma Tanave Namah”, meaning the lord who is a minute body. And, in contrast he is worshipped as “Om Jagat Vyapine Namah”, meaning one who prevails all over the world. So, from the minutest form to inifinity, Lord Shiva prevails everywhere. Reciting Lord Shiva’s panchakshar mantra “Om Namah Shivay” makes us adore and worship the finer-most and also the infinite elements of nature where Lord Shiva prevails. The sound energy of “Om Namah Shivay” cleanses the particles within us and also impacts all particles around us creating an aura of pure, positive energy that helps sustenance. The idol of Mahakaleshwar temple is called “Dakshinamurti” for being south facing which is a unique feature. Together with Mahakaleshwar, the Shiva idol of Omkareshwar also resides in this temple altar. In the west, north and east of the altar, Lord Ganesh, Goddess Parvati and Lord Kartika are seated and Shiva Vahan (carrier) Nandi resides in the south of the alter. On the auspicious day of Nag Panchami, the idol of Nagchandreshwar residing on the third floor of the temple is made open to public for darshan (viewing) and puja. On Mahashivaratri, people throng around Ujjain to worship Lord Shiva through the night and a fair is held near the temple vibrating the joyous celebration of Lord Shiva and Goddess Partvati’s union. To Bengalis who are predominantly “Shakti” (feminine symbols of nature) worshipers, it will be good to know that the Mahakaleshwar temple is also considered one of the 51 Maha Shakti Peeths which are treasured with body parts of Goddess Sati. Each of the 51 Maha Shakti peeths are accompanied by Lord Shiva. At the Mahakaleshar temple the
Lord resides where the upper lip of Goddess Sati is believed to have fallen and is called Mahakali. It is believed that Lord Shiva declared that people who would worship Him in his Mahakaleshwar form would be under his protection and freed from the fear of death and diseases and would also be blessed with worldly treasures. The temple is open for darshan and puja on regular days from morning 7 am to closing at 11pm. Plan your trip to Ujjain and to that, let’s chant “Om Namah Shivay!” Travel Tips: From all international airports flights are available to major cities in India – Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Madras. From any of these major Indian airports, flights are available to Indore which is 52 Km away from Ujjain. I love to travel by road or train when in India to get mingled with the soil and its people. From all major cities in India you can avail a train to Ujjain. Some convenient trains are: Avantika Express and Pune-Indore Express from Mumbai. Hazarat Nizamuddin Intercity Express from New Delhi. Jaipur Mysore Express from Bangalore. Roads to Ujjain from all major towns around are nice and drivable with small villages adding scenic beauty. Fresh guavas and corn sold on the road sides are simply fun to eat while travelling. Two hotel information in Ujjain may be helpful: (1) Shipra Residency, costing about Rs.2500 AC Room to Rs. 5290 AC Suite. Tel: (0734) 2551495-96 / 3269000 / 2552402. Email: email@example.com. (2) Hotel Avantika, costing about Rs.1290 to Rs.1590. Tel: (0734) 2511398. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Before I conclude this special write-up on Sapta Tirtha, here is a quick note: The root word in Sanskrit “Tirtha” is “Tri” which means to get rid of all sins to attain “moksha” or salvation from the cycle of birth and death. Hindus, therefore, are firm believers of visits to prescribed Tirthas like Sapta Tirtha and Char Dham. We are glad that we have been able to deliver to Ananda Sangbad readers significant tirthas like Dwadash (12) jyotirlingas and Sapta (7) Tirthas. We will conclude the series on Sapta Tirtha in the next two issues of Ananda Sangbad, covering Kanchipuram dedicated to Mother Goddess and famous for Kamakshi Amman temple, and in the final article on this series we will cover the most coveted Haridwar - the sacred place of shrines of both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva and the emergence of holy river Ganga. So, stay tuned and stay blessed.
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accompanying rhythm of the turning wheels and the whoosh of countryside racing past. With not a care in the world! Why has that kind of sleep eluded me ever since? Breakfast had to have the mandatory glass of milk, the mandatory corn flakes, the mandatory boiled egg, the mandatory slices of bread slathered with butter and jam, and the mandatory portions of fruit. Yes Sir! And how do you get a glass of fresh boiled buffalo milk in a running locomotive traveling at a speed of 60 km per hour average? Well, you don’t. But what you do is carry a tin of Amul milk powder, a stirrer, hot boiling water in a stainless steel vacuum flask and chocolate powder. It is as simple as that. Not drinking milk twice a day was an option that was not even considered for it to be discarded. And I forgot to add sugar but that was a very tiny item compared to the other heavy weights. You may add it. After the breakfast, yes? Did I hear someone ask whether bought food could not be had? Of course it could, but I would like to inform you, as was informed to us, that only very very pedestrian kinds of people ever ate station food. And certainly not any ten year olds. And certainly not anyone who wanted to stay in our house. If they did not agree, they could go out and look for another house to live in. We always ate healthy home cooked food. Now, if you would kindly allow me to continue, without trying to stem my literary flow. Thank you very much! After breakfast, we had to have our baths. Because for the two nights that had to be spent on the journey, the train had been transformed into a home. The only thing my mother did not carry with her to give it the final finishing touches, was a flower vase filled with fresh cut flowers. So, along with the trunks and the bedding we also carried our bucket and a mug and rubber slippers to wear to the washroom while having our baths. And those Continued from page 9
were the days when we were good children and did exactly what we were told. So a little bottle filled with coconut oil for the head was an accessory, as was talcum powder, to keep smelling fresh. Need I add that after we were done, the next people who used the restroom found it spanking clean since my mother did what she would do at home......she cleaned up the place! You have to admit that fourteen pieces of luggage is not really such a ridiculous number, given the number of activities that had to be carried out! Oh, I almost forgot to add that my father needed his ‘side pillow’ or ‘Paash balish’ to be able to get a good night’s rest. My mother always said he had been spoilt rotten by his parents, my grandparents and he really should have been the Nawab of some kingdom, not a scientist. Having been used to such royal modes of travel, when I fly these days, the journeys seem so tame. Boring! With none of the excitement preceding it. You are allowed a suitcase which cannot weigh over 23 kgs. Gone are the days of royal looking trunks with padlocks which any self respecting thief would think twice before even thinking of pitting his strength against. Though of course such trunks should ideally have been filled to the brim with gold and jewels. Doesn’t that picture fill your mind’s eye when you hear ‘Trunk’? You are made to sit straight on an uncomfortable seat. Carry a ‘Paash Balish’? ‘Sir, that object does not fit in with the dimensions allowed for an accompanying hand luggage.’ Can you imagine a Paash Balish (PB) being put into one of those metal contraptions which is the yardstick for a piece of luggage to be accepted as a carry-on? Poor PB has absolutely no chance of emerging the winner. Gone are the days of soft fluffy luchis. You have to eat what the airlines dishes out and what they loosely call ‘food.’ I wish someone would one day sit and explain to the airlines people
what requirements must be satisfied before an object can get elevated to being termed ‘food.’ The first would be that it should be edible and secondly, it should have a modicum of taste. Well, times change and so must we. I cannot think of traveling to New Jersey from Mumbai by train. The aircraft can never become my second home. Nor can I dream of bringing a guava tree here from Allahabad accompanied by small rocks and pebbles and its surrounding soil covering a radius of 5 feet so that it would feel totally at home and decide to bless us all with its bounty. Oh! Didn’t I tell you that I had done exactly that with a guava tree when I was returning from Allahabad to Bombay with my brand new husband of six months? To say that he had been shocked out of his wits would be an understatement, but I must admit that he had taken it in his stride. Yes, even the two huge bags of Allahabad soil, which I insisted upon just so that my ‘guest plant’ should not feel uprooted. It is not such a difficult thing once you set your mind to it. I am after all, my mother’s daughter. Even today, I try to push the allowable boundaries to their extreme outside limits. Much as I admire those slim svelte ladies who travel so elegantly with nary a hair out of place, striding confidently on their 4-inch stilettos and easily dragging a piece of luggage as if it carries nothing more than a few ounces of air, I have sadly come to the conclusion that that particular avatar is not for me to don. So vacation, here I come, with my suitcase bursting at the seams and my tote purse threatening to spill its contents all over the airport floor. They do not weigh purses, you know! The only thing that has remained unchanged amidst the sea of changes is my state of mind. I still get my goosebumps and my gurgles in the stomach at the mention of the word ‘vacation.’ Eiffel Tower, here I come!
Ananda Mandir Expansion
temple area for a few months. Once the expanded area of the temple is completed inside, we plan to move the altar to that area and then finish construction of the old (current) temple area. We are still set on our goal of opening the new Temple and Community Center in the fall of 2015, before Durga Puja. We will update you regularly on the timeline. Construction of this size and especially complexity of temple expansion while continuing puja activities is a major technical challenge and may face delays. We will do our best to stay focused and complete the project in time for 2015 Durga Puja, Regarding financials, our spending to date is in line with the original budget. We were able to raise the necessary funds to meet our obligation of matching funds for the bank. Now comes the need to raise additional funds for internal décor in both buildings. We are having our Annual Fund Raising Luncheon this year on Sunday, June 29th. We are looking forward to show you the progress of construction during luncheon. Please help us with whatever amount you can to build our heritage center that will serve the community for generations to come. Your help, support and encouragement would go a long way to ease all the painstaking work in the months ahead. May Ma bless you and your family.
Recent Sahitya O Alochana Sessions at Ananda Mandir Reported by Subrata Bhaumik Sahitya O Alochana is a monthly literary and topical discussion forum under the aegis of Ananda Mandir. It completed its 6th anniversary in February of 2014, and in June 2014 will reach the milestone of organizing seventy sessions on wide ranging topics including literature, theater and movie, history, philosophy and religion, science and mathematics, economics and business, social issues, sports, and current affairs. These sessions normally feature exciting and illuminating discussions on diverse subjects.
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social trends. One of them took me to a small village called Rantoul, where car prices were rumored to be lower than in Urbana, and took vicarious satisfaction in negotiating with the car dealer on my behalf and talked me into buying a bright maroon (some called it burgundy) Mustang. Oddly enough, the 1971 Mustang had a re-designed exterior and looked somewhat different from its older peers. It did not have the pronounced indentations and stripes on the sides. Instead it had a more rounded, aerodynamic look with a long protruding line running on each side from the front to a little beyond the end of the door. I was slightly disappointed by the change, but the car was otherwise nice. People eyed it with interest, but if smartly dressed young girls were eager to hitch a ride in it with me, I was too naive to notice the sparkle in their eyes. I used the car for more mundane activities; I drove it with my friend and his wife, for example, to the first full-blown Durga Puja in Chicago. Then came winter; and my problems with the car started. Early in 1971, I drove my Pakistani friend to Chicago to get some travel papers. Abdulla was getting ready to defend his thesis for the Ph.D. degree and then return home. The day in the city was uneventful, except that the weather forecaster kept mentioning freezing rain in a somber tone. Having driven mostly in California, I was unfamiliar with the term and thought it was cute. I took no heed of the forecast. We started on our return trip in late afternoon under cloudy skies. Pretty soon it started to rain, and the raindrops kept sticking as ice drops to the car. I was unfazed and asked Abdulla if he had ever been in a car which had skidded on a highway. He answered in the affirmative and started telling me his story when voila! – I started
And the March – May period was no exception with topics, which are very eclectic in nature, including a major South Asian movie personality, an eminent international playwright, and the evolution of one of the oldest artistic forms. March This session featured a discussion on the legendary Indian movie actress Suchitra Sen and sought to evaluate her place and contribution to Indian Cinema. It was a timely tribute to the memory of the diva who passed away in January of this
year. A recipient of Padma Shri, and a winner of Dada Saheb Phalke award that she refused to accept, she was also the first Indian actress to receive an international award (best actress) in Moscow. Often dubbed as the Greta Garbo of India due to her reclusive lifestyle following her early retirement from acting, Suchitra Sen was an exception and a class by herself in an industry where heroines are largely used for their glamour quotient. She presented a different kind of beauty that combined luster
and a perfect portrayal of the innate character and the inner strength of the roles she played. Clips from some of her highly acclaimed films were shown, and the discussion also included an evaluation of her contribution to the movie industry relative to that of some of the other Indian movie divas of her time and stature including actresses from both Bollywood and Tollywood. Sushmita Dutt, a veteran member of our Alochana group led the discussion.
April The April session featured something very unique: a wonderfully intense and informative discussion entitled “Art of Storytelling” that generated animated exchange of views amongst the attendees. The presentation has likely inspired some of the attendees to find “the storyteller” in them. Through audio/video presentation and discussion the session sought to explore the Turn to page 14
Me and My Mustang skidding myself. It was an eerie feeling – going at over 50 miles per hour on I57 with zero traction on the road. The particular stretch was straight, and I felt I was skating as the car kept hurtling forward without any control on my part. I was briefly disoriented by this new experience, but recovered quickly as the car started to veer to a side. Recalling my education on how to cope with skids from DMV handbooks on driving, I steered toward the skid. Much to my surprise, the car straightened out, but then started veering in the opposite direction. I must have gone with the skid a bit too far. Again I went with the skid, this time in the opposite direction. The car dutifully straightened and then started turning the other way. Pretty soon, my car and I were making a sinuous pattern of ever increasing amplitude on the Interstate! This went on for what seemed like an interminable period – my prayers for the wheels gaining traction clearly falling on divine deafness – when I noticed the car was lurching toward a mile marker on the right and aiming for a ditch. I panicked and did the unpardonable: I steered away from the skid! What happened next is a blur. The car swung frictionless across two lanes on the highway, dove straight into snow that had accumulated from the previous day on the median, and was brought to a stop by the anklehigh, packed powdery stuff. I looked around, shaken after the jolting stop, and found that both Abdulla and I were unhurt. We avoided a crash through sheer dumb luck because there were too few cars on the road. But when I stepped out of the vehicle, I slid on the glass-like grass and had to hang on to the door for support. Pretty soon, a Good Samaritan appeared on the scene, parked his pick-up truck, and the three of us (slipping and sliding) had enough
brawn to disentangle the car from the “ice field.” Tense and quiet, I drove the car slowly and cautiously back to Urbana. The lesson I learnt, from this and many less scary incidents over the next two winters in Chicago, was that my Mustang was virtually uncontrollable on icy roads. Its very power and lack of weight in the rear made it extraordinarily skid-prone. After a few fender benders in Chicago, I thought my best approach to a skid was to relax and pray. Once the car straightened up after a turn by sideswiping another car; this being South Chicago, nobody bothered. Another time, I came close to crashing into a police vehicle. My knowledgeable friends advised me to put heavy sacks of sand in the trunk, but I never got around to doing that. I was in Chicago from the fall of 1971 to the fall of 1973. My Mustang came in handy in many ways. Most of my friends were married Bengali graduate students without cars at the University of Chicago. I would give them rides for shopping, especially to the up and coming Little India area, and would be invited to dinner in return. This, I thought, was fair trade indeed! One occasion I remember with special fondness is when I gave rides to a friend’s wife to and from Billings Hospital for the delivery of her first child. During this period though, a second problem surfaced that added to my auto-related headache. The car battery had a habit of draining in cold weather. This forced me on several occasions to walk across many blocks in the University of Chicago area in the dead of night, fighting off the twin dreads of mugging and hypothermia. The car had to be left parked at wherever I had taken it that evening, to be retrieved the next day with friends’ cars and jumper cables. This experience has made me something of an expert at jump
starting cars with dead batteries. The most painful episode was the time I went to see a movie in downtown Chicago on a frigid night. When I came out of the theater, the temperature was in the single digits and the Mustang would not start. I had to call a cab to get back home. Next morning, when I went with a friend to recover the car, I found a hefty parking ticket on the windshield. I had parked the car at a meter which became operative in the morning! From Chicago I moved to Columbus, Ohio and the problems with my Mustang continued. Chicago had mostly snow that melted and refroze into ice; Columbus, on the other hand, was frequently visited by freezing rain. During one such weather condition, I had my second skid on an Interstate. This time, I thought I was driving slowly and with caution; nevertheless I lost control on the left lane, bumped against the concrete divider in the middle, and in a surprise twist that I can hardly recall, came to a halt with the Mustang facing the oncoming traffic. I stepped out of the car and saw a car coming toward me in what I thought was a rescue mission, only to realize moments later that the driver (a young woman) was herself skidding and was saved by the concrete wall. I realized how vulnerable I was, standing outside, to skidding cars and stepped back into the relative safety of my stalled vehicle. Even with all this excitement, the final one was yet to come. This time, my Mustang was not at fault, but it paid dearly for someone else’s. It happened in Columbus the day before I was to leave for India to get married. I was driving merrily on the left lane (always the fast lane?) of a wide 6-lane city road (not an Interstate) when I saw a car approach me from a cross-street on the right. As that car crossed lanes, I blithely assumed that he
would slow down and let me pass until bang! – he crashed hard on the (unoccupied) passenger side of the Mustang. As my car spun, I felt as if I was in a weird way in free fall. I have never felt closer to certain death as I thought of my mother, and a jumble of life’s images flashed before my mental eye. When the spinning stopped, I found that I was unhurt and unscathed. Clearly the other drivers had seen what was coming and hit their brakes. The fellow who had hit me (“broadside on,” I kept thinking mechanically) was also unhurt. He was clearly looking at the oncoming traffic on his right and completely missed me and my car on his left. His words to me afterwards were unforgettable, and I paraphrase: “Everyone goes through one bad [driving] accident in their lives. Let’s hope this is ours!” I was drained of all emotions. I felt nothing, as if survival was so precious that anger, hatred and any other emotion had become secondary or irrelevant. I spoke little as I waited for the police to arrive. My Mustang was totaled; I knew there would be no recovery. I flew to India to get married, with my Mustang in a junkyard. Did I have a lemon of a car, or was the 1971 version of Mustang a failed model and a costly aberration by Ford? I am not sure. It seems to me that Ford lost a lot of ground to competitors in the early 1970s in the sporty car marketplace until they came up with Mustang II (or the second generation Ford Mustang) in 1973. My wife never laid eyes on the Mustang I had; she had to content herself with photographs. I also signaled a change in my status and impending domesticity by buying a Plymouth Duster in its stead. Maybe my driving had improved, or Duster was inherently a more stable car, but I have never had a skid on an Interstate since.
TELEVISION THROUGH THE YEARS Continued from page 6
of hapless camera subjects – blemishes now plainly visible for everyone to see, like craters in moonscape shots from the Lunar Orbiter. The new era defined by these flat-screens is the era of HD, or high-definition. Whereas previous TV displays had a resolution of approximately five hundred pixels (“dots”) in either direction, HD TVs have escalated that to around twice that number, and rising. The display had also gone wider—“letterbox format” like the movies. And the sizes! Oh, the sizes! Back in the day, 30-inch TVs had been the status symbol of the privileged class while the rest of us had to do with 13 inches today if your TV is an inch below 40, then you slink away from parlor conversations in quiet ignominy, and try to blend with the background. With HD moving to Ultra HD, sizes are getting ever bigger. Our 50-inch Panasonic Viera is beginning to look like a postage stamp, and our son, who is getting a 70-inch Sharp Aquos for his living room, worries if it will be big enough. OK, that’s where we are at, right now. How do we one-up all that? Well, here’s a crazy idea-how about making the picture jump off the screen right into your face? Yes, I’m talking 3D. Turns out it’s not so crazy after all! 3D movies are quite old, and there have even been 3D programs on television for ten… twenty… close to thirty years! However, these have been sporadic, and relatively primitive withal-they did not trigger the groundswell of demand necessary to usher in the 3D wave. And now let’s take small sidetour on 3D technology for those that may not be up on the “how”—the cognoscenti may skip forward: The way you perceive depth in a scene (that is, are able to distinguish near from far) is to rely on the slightly different views of a scene seen by the right and left eyes, with the brain’s visual cortex performing the magic of fusing the two into a 3D image. So, to present a scene in 3D to a viewer you need to (1) Record the scene with a stereoscopic camera (a camera with two lenses—simulating two eyes—separated by 2.5 inches, the standard intra-ocular, or between-the-eyes, distance; and having separate image capture for each lens) (2) Display the two captured views—one as seen by the left eye, another as seen by the right—of the scene simultaneously (or close enough in time so as to be perceived as simultaneous due to human persistence of vision). “Well,” I hear you mumbling to yourself, “how can each eye see the view meant for it exclusively, and not see the other?” That’s
where 3D glasses come in, interested reader! Each lens of the 3D glasses has a filter that allows only its intended image to pass through, and blocks the image meant for the other eye, et voila!—we have 3D! In the past, the two lenses of the stereoscopic camera had red and cyan filters, and the 3D glasses had corresponding red and cyan lenses. (This method goes by the name of anaglyph 3D.) The resultant picture would appear a bit of a hodge-podge if viewed without the glasses, as if you were experiencing doublevision, with chromatic aberration to boot; however, don the glasses and presto! Gone are the aberrations, and the picture leaps off the screen! However, because chromatic filters were used, the color tones would tend to be skewed across the entire spectrum, and the overall color purity of a scene would be compromised. Understandably, this method did not catch fire. Another method, one that does not rely on the use of chromatic filters, uses a physical property of light called polarization1. Just as the red filter of anaglyph 3D will pass red and block cyan, similarly a “polarizing” filter will exhibit the same behavior, except with polarizations instead of colors. So now, instead of colored lenses, our 3D glasses will have lenses that are “crossed” polarizers (one vertical, the other horizontal), and the picture on the screen will consist of two overlapping images of orthogonal polarizations, each mapped to its intended image. The above two methods are known as “passive” because they use glasses that do not use power. A third method of presenting an independent image to each eye is by simply alternating left-eye and right-eye views at a rapid rate (typically 120 per second) and using 3D glasses that electronically shutter each eye alternately, in synchrony with the views that are being displayed on the screen. This is known as “active 3D.” Understandably, active 3D glasses are more expensive than passive 3D glasses, since they require electronics, and this can be a turnoff to a prospective buyer. Is 3D to be? Well, unfortunately, we are not in slam dunk territory… yet. There are very few channels that broadcast in 3D, and the incremental price for 3D capability in TVs is still perceived by many to be high enough to warrant a little soul-searching before pulling the trigger. The technologies (active vs. passive) have not settled down and there is no clear mandate. With passive glasses, each eye is presented its intended view on every frame, but consisting of every other row of pixels; with active glasses, each eye is presented its intended view on
every other frame, but consisting of every row of pixels. With active glasses each eye sees a full image (all lines) on alternate frames; with passive glasses, each eye sees alternate lines on every frame. Which method is better? I’ve seen discussion on the pros and cons, but it seems to me to be more psychological than physiological. With one exception: there is no gainsaying the fact that 3D glasses can sit heavy on your face, especially the active ones, and this can be legitimately regarded as a nuisance. In fact, there are new technologies (autostereoscopic 3D) that dispense with glasses altogether2, and though the jury is still out on these, I am sure their day will come. Being an inveterate technophile, let me present some arguments why one should end the brinkmanship and take the plunge. For sports buffs, I absolutely do not understand why they would find a ball’s flight in the plane of the screen (left?right, up?down) interesting, yet be indifferent to the motion of the ball perpendicular to the screen (front?back)—golf tee shot? Hello? For movie lovers, 3D programming is becoming increasingly available on recorded media, so the lack of broadcast 3D may not be a limitation. (For those that have a TV to listen to the news and weather only, they should get a radio instead.) Finally, the price differential for TVs with 3D capability is decreasing, and it is expected that soon it will be insignificant or non-existent, maybe in a year or two. Thus, before you know it, just as in the case of the remote control, one will no more be able to buy a TV sans 3D than he will a unicorn. Now, if you will excuse me, I must phone my friend to find out what his neighbor thinks. 1
It is not the author’s intent to give a dissertation on polarization, but suffice it that the topic, while fascinating, is more complicated than presented here. Light consists of electromagnetic waves vibrating transverse to the direction of travel of the waves. Physicists represent the vibrating waves by electric and magnetic “vectors”, with the former being germane to the phenomenon of polarization. The direction of the electric vector is referred to as the polarization direction, and “vertically polarized” means that the electric vector is vertical (and likewise for “horizontally polarized”) 2
Here the screen shows the left and right images to the respective eye through the mechanism of electronic “blinders”, which may be the subject of a future articlewho knows?
A Letter to the Editor Continued from page 2
from the Olympics or other global events accrue not only to the hosting country, but also to the associated regions and the participating countries as well from across the globe at large. They take the form of higher level of international trade and investments, and coordinated efforts to avoid war and promote peace – all opportunity savings. All of these percolate through the economic machine to produce financial benefits for everyone involved. Finally, the framework of the fixed venue model presented amounts to an almost
economic conundrum: a private enterprise, an economic entity with profit making as its lone and core driving force, without a level playing field, the market that is. And as a result, it is likely to trade the higher level of long-term economic benefits stemming out of enhanced global exchange and national pride (as in the member country hosting model) for immediate financial gains. And as a result, the net benefit to the global society would, in theory, tend to be much more limited in the fixed venue model. Don’t fix if it ain’t broke! Yours Truly, Subrata Bhaumik
“More Pictures from Spring Cleaning”
KISHALOY Kishaloy is a monthly wall magazine for the youth. When you come to Ananda Mandir, you will see it hanging on the wall in the community building. Any youth member of Ananda Mandir can submit poetry, short stories, scientific article, artwork, and photographs for the magazine. The youth group of Ananda Mandir meets generally on Sunday afternoons. An email list of the youth group volunteers will be published shortly. All youth group volunteers will receive official certificates from Ananda Mandir for their volunteer services. For more information, contact Dipak Sarkar at email: sarkar@AESOP.Rutgers.edu; Phone: 609.651.1023
A New Teacher’s Experiences By Paroma Sengupta When I started teaching, I prepared for it. Prepared for the chaos of a primary school classroom, prepared to deal with multiple toilet break requests, with dirty noses, grading and shoes on the wrong feet. I was prepared to have hands covered in ketchup carrying my brand new bag. But I wasn’t prepared to deal with the rollercoaster of emotions that would come my way. My emotions. I taught for two years in a small, highly dynamic, inclusive private school in Kolkata, where students studied from kindergarten to the 10th grade. Apart from the regular ICSE syllabus (a course commonly followed in schools in India), the school also offers three other courses which a student could choose, depending on his or her ability. Each class had an inclusive structure within which each child is given the support that is needed. Students with special needs would often go on to complete high school, train in a vocation or join college. I was lucky to be surrounded by colleagues who accepted challenges with smiles, pushed themselves to the limits of creativity and who gave me the opportunity to experiment, helped me learn and test my own ability to think on my feet and out of the box. While most of them were from Kolkata, they brought with them teaching experience from all over
the world. With students and teachers from different backgrounds, the school had a multicultural and diverse atmosphere. Teaching special needs students in an inclusive school was challenging, to say the least. Very rarely did my day start out as planned, and if it did, it almost never ended as planned. I have broken down in the teacher’s washroom because of the sheer frustration of not being able to teach a child how to tie her shoelaces. I have had countless tiffins offered to me because my students were convinced I wasn’t eating right. I have played more games of basketball than I ever played when I was in school myself, and I have been hugged more times than I can count in those two years. When a child left the school, I said goodbye and then sat in the lobby crying my eyes out because I felt a hole in my heart. I would spend hours talking with my mother (also a teacher) about what I could do, and how I could do it better. I planned and discussed, and tried and failed. I took deep breaths, lost my temper and dealt with a wobbly voice (my wobbly voice) during a parent teacher meeting. There were days when I would want to stay at home, unable to face the tumult that would greet me. Those were the very same days that I would get up and get ready because I wasn’t
sure about how I would possibly make it through the day without seeing my kids (another thing I wasn’t prepared for- every one of my students became my “kids”). “It must be so rewarding.” I can’t count how many times I have heard that statement. And how many times I have wanted to answer “and so very tiring”! Yet, over and above that tiredness, there was a deep, deep sense of joy. The joy I saw on one child’s face when she wrote a sentence within the lines I had drawn for her. The joy emanating from one of my students when every one of her classmates wished her on her birthday. The joy I felt when a non-verbal student managed to convey to me that he did not like me sitting on a table (it was against school rules…I was duly chastised). The days when I came home feeling like a Superhero. Knowing that you can overcome obstacles, every time you want to give up and don’t. I owe plenty to my kids. I learnt classroom management, I learnt how to admit my own ignorance gracefully and I learnt how to be stern without yelling. I learnt that the world was a beautiful and interesting place and every emotion, even the desperate feeling of helplessness is at the end of the day, something that you can learn from.
Seniors Forum Good Food, Good Company and Good Discussions:
Ingredients for Seniors Forum’s Success By Debajyoti Chatterji
Ananda Mandir Seniors Forum keeps finding new formulas for success. After organizing highly successful field trips to two interesting locales in New Jersey (Gardens for Sculpture in Hamilton and Northlandz in Flemington), Seniors Forum tried a new approach: Stay home but bring good food, good company and good discussions together to Ananda Mandir’s Community Center building. On Thursday, April 24, the Seniors Forum celebrated Bengali New Year (“Baishakhi”) with a sumptuous “pot luck” lunch prepared by a team of volunteers. Over 25 people joyfully participated in the event and enjoyed each other’s company. Following several rounds of all-vegetarian appetizers, the group relished a multi-course, homecooked meal. The group then assembled in the Board Room to engage in an animated discussion on “Impressions from Recent Visits to India”. Amitabha and Dhriti Bagchi kicked off the discussions with their recent experiences in Delhi, Rajasthan and West Bengal. Since a large percentage of the audience also had just returned from their own winter vacations in India, they happily pitched in with their own impressions of the changes and challenges facing India in general, and Kolkata and West Bengal in particular. Volunteers who deserve special recognition for their lovingly prepared dishes are Chhanda Aditya, Dhriti Bagchi, Suprasad Baidyaroy, Swapna Chatterjee, Koeli Chatterjee, Sreeparna Chakraborty, Sikha Chatterji, Haimonti Chaudhuri, Roma Das, Reeta De, Anjana Dutta, Surya Dutta, Krishna Dutta Roy, Suparna Guha, Prativa Hore, Arun Paul and Utpal Sengupta. The same formula for success was used on Thursday, May 29, with equally gratifying results. This time the get-together involved midafternoon snacks, not mid-day lunch. The attendees loved this change in format. A team of volunteers brought delicious homecooked appetizers and snacks to be shared by all. Following a long social hour, the 25-strong group assembled in the Board Room to hear presentations by two invited speakers, Ram and Janaki Ramachandran, world travelers par excellence, on their odysseys to Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands. They spent 23 days on their Antarctic expedition with National Geographic and had taken numerous professional quality photographs of the Antarctic wildlife and scenery. In the Galapagos, they had also gone on a National Geographic expedition for over a week to gain an up-close-andpersonal understanding of the Galapagos flora and fauna. Ram and Janaki also shared many interesting factoids about these exotic destinations to the utter amazement of the audience. The speakers promised to return to the Seniors Forum to share their experiences from their upcoming expedition to the Arctic Circle. Volunteers who brought the appetizers and snacks were Jaba Bagchi, Haimonti Chaudhuri, Roma Das, Anjana Dutta, Prativa Hore, Uma Roychowdhury, Shubhra Paul, Reba Sarkar, Nandita Sarkar and Utpal Sengupta.
Ananda Mandir Seniors Forum (“Seniors Helping Seniors”) Invites retirees and near-retirees to participate actively in Forum meetings and activities. Seniors Forum usually meets on the third Sunday of every month at 1:00 PM. However, the date may change because of conflict with other Ananda Mandir events. Please contact Debajyoti Chatterji (Cell: 908-507-9640) for latest updates on the meeting dates.
NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
Double (or Triple) Your Donation To Ananda Mandir
KKR – The IPL Champion
Through Your Company’s “Matching Gift Program” ! Many companies in the US match their employee’s (even their retirees’) contributions to non-profit organizations on a 1-to-1 basis, effectively doubling the amount of the donation. Some companies even give two dollars for every dollar given by an employee to a non-profit organization, thus tripling the size of the donation. Each company has its own set of rules for this “matching gift” program. Some restrict the matching donations only to educational institutions while others match donations made to cultural and humanitarian organizations as well. ANANDA MANDIR, a registered non-profit organization, actively pursues educational, cultural and humanitarian programs in addition to performing religious services for the Indian-American community. We hold Bengali language classes, offer dance lessons, publish literary magazine and newsletter, award prizes for literary excellence, give grants for community service projects, organize blood drives, and collect donations for local food banks. Because of such activities, we have received “matching gifts” from many companies such as BASF, Chubb Insurance, Doris Duke Foundation, Naples Marketing, Pfizer, Microsoft, Ericsson, Exxon Mobil, United Way of New York, Unity Bank, Merck, Rockville Bank, etc. Please ask your HR department if your company has a “matching gift” program, and if it does, what procedure you need to follow to double (or triple) your donation to ANANDA MANDIR. Or you may want to visit the website http://www.matchinggifts.com/ search/planusa_iframe to get information on your company’s program. — Usually the company will require you to complete a simple form and submit it, with your donation, to ANANDA MANDIR. We will then certify that we have received your donation and return the form to the company for the matching donation. It is a simple win-win process for you and the non-profit organization you support like ANANDA MANDIR. PLEASE increase the value of your donation though your company’s “matching gift” program if your employer offers one. If you have any question, please call Surya Dutta (908-227-7298) or Debajyoti Chatterji (909-507-9640)
Ananda Mandir Is pleased to announce the program to
AWARD FINANCIAL GRANTS to support Community Service Projects aimed at helping the South Asian community in the Greater New Jersey area Project Proposals Are Welcome From Organizations and Individuals Please visit www.anandamandir.org for program details and application requirements or Contact: Pronoy Chatterjee (email@example.com) or Debajyoti Chatterji (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Even those who are not cricket followers, the news of a Kolkata team becoming a champion of India in any sport would be greeted with great enthusiasm in our community. Kolkata Knight Riders (200/7) defeated Kings XI Punjab (199/4) by three wickets to win the 2014 Pepsi Indian Premier League, their second IPL title in the team’s history. KKR became only the second IPL team after Chennai Super Kings to win the tournament twice. “Two times in three years. Can’t feel better!” the captain Gautam Gambhir said. “I don’t think any other state or country in the world has this kind of support for their sporting heroes. Many many thanks to all of you. Thank you Kolkata for supporting us for our second win,” KKR co-owner Shah Rukh Khan said at the team’s felicitation at the Eden Gardens, organized by the state government and CAB. Source - Internet
Do you buy from Amazon.com or Dell.com? If so, you could help Ananda Mandir receive some funds! Please visit Ananda Mandir’s website (www.anandamandir.org) and click on Amazon.com or Dell.com links shown at the bottom of the Home Page. You will be taken to your desired page. When you purchase from one of these sites, Ananda Mandir will receive some funds from the company. Although each purchase may generate small amounts of money, purchases by many over time can add up to significant amounts. Please help Ananda Mandir generate additional (and much needed!) funds this way!
Recent Sahitya O Alochana Continued from page 11
evolution of storytelling, which could potentially be the oldest form of art. Ever since the early human beings felt the need to share and communicate emotions and experiences, which extend beyond physical necessities, storytelling came into existence. Almost everyone tells stories in daily life. Whether we consider ourselves storytellers or not, we tell people what happened to us – be it over a long phone conversation or in a Facebook “status” update. A story can only be told at a particular place and time, with someone telling and the other(s) listening. Even if the process has been repeated countlessly since the beginning of time, the storyteller must still be balancing the demands of the story, his/her emotional needs and perceptions, and that of the audience. Since each situation is unique, there is no recipe for telling stories. This Alochana session, examined the craft of storytelling, which “fulfills a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living— not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.” Clips and videos on the history of the art; work/presentations of eminent storytellers (news journalists, authors, movie makers) including Jay O Callahan, Matt Denzico, Charlie Chaplin, Gabriel Garcia Marquez; various
forms of storytelling including old oral tradition, print, movie, animation; and the future of storytelling were viewed and/ or discussed in the session. Subhodev Das a veteran of our alochana community and a frequent speaker at the forum, led the session. May Now the May session! Drama and Dramatic Arts continue to be an important item in the ever widening repertoire of Alochana discussion topics. And we continually strive to organize at least one such discussion every year. In the past, we organized sessions on Bengali drama and major international playwrights including Harold Pinter. In keeping with that tradition, the May session featured a discussion on Edward Albee, a much famed American playwright, who is a three times Pulitzer Prize winner, and the Broadway versions of whose works have been awarded the venerable Tony Award. He is regarded as one of the leading lights of the changing landscape of American Drama in the 60s and onwards, and is hailed as the successor to such heavyweights as Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, and Eugene O’Neil. Some of his famous works include “Who is Afraid of Virginia Wolf,” “The Zoo Story,” “Three Tall Women,” “A Delicate Balance” etc. His works
are a curious mixture of real and surreal, and oftentimes present a harsh examination of the reality under the peachy-keen cover of the American Society. He is also credited with being the leader of the “Absurdist” drama in America, and is compared with the stalwarts of this school in Europe including Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter. Sudipta Bhawmik, a local playwright and producer/ director of standing led the session, which included a discussion about Albee’s plays, video replays of some of his interviews, his own readings of his works, and replay of a short speech by Mel Gussow, a writer at New York Times cum renowned theater critic and Albee’s biographer. Future sessions – Quite a few interesting sessions are in the pipeline for the next few months including one memorial session on Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a discussion on Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison, and a session on Narendra Modi, the newly elected Prime Minister of India. The organizers and the friends of Sahitya O Alochana would like to thank Ananda Mandir for its continued support for the forum’s contribution to the cultural enrichment of the local Bengali and Indian community.
COMMUNITY NEWS Kallol Corner
Reported By Arijit Chatterjee
Reported By Soumyendra Seal
To start with, 2014 marked the year of a new chapter as a new executive committee was unanimously elected by the members on March 31, led by Raj Majumdar as the President. The new Committee has taken oath to embody Kallol’s historical pedigree, and abide by the following core principles:
The Indian Community Center of Garden State (ICC) welcomed the arrival of spring, by celebrating the 2014 Baishakhi on April 27th at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in Flanders, NJ. This annual event provides the members and more importantly, their children with a platform to expose their talent in the fine arts – one of the critical missions of the organization. This year, to encourage local talents to be involved in the Indian cultural heritage, ICC opened the podium to children who are not members. The event started around 3:00pm with a snack of Bengali ‘muri’ and ‘cha’ as the attendees comingled and engaged in ‘Adda’, while the volunteers prepared the stage and the auditorium. At the onset, the children were invited to participate in a drawing competition – divided into two age groups. Sangrami Lahiri and Moushumi Chakrabarti presided over this event. Aditya Saha and Titas Mukherjee were the winners in the junior category, while Kunal Deb and Portia Sarkar won in the senior. General Secretary, Arpita Gupta, welcomed the assembled gathering and ushered the start of the cultural program. This began with the presentation of a Nazrul Geeti sung by Sourin Seal and then Gulzar’s ‘Humko Man ki Shati’ sung by Ankita Sharma. This was followed by various Dance, Poetry, Songs, Drama and Instrumental music recitals, performed by the little stars of ICC - Sumantra Chattopadhay, Toto Chaudhuri, Kunal Deb, Rajdeep Lahiri, Titas Mukherjee, Monisha Nath, Harit Nandy, Ahana Nandy, Shrishti Nandy, Nitant and Unmukt Gupta, Sameer Saha, Aditya Saha, Prithivir and Portia Sarkar, Sameer Saha and Sourav Seal. Shobha Basu, Sheena and Deb Bhattacharya, Soma Chaudhuri, Nanda Chakraborty, and Rituparna Das presented a medley of Rabindra Sangeet, Hindi and Bengali popular songs. The entire program was beautifully conducted by the Master of Ceremony – Arpita Gupta, who was ably supported by Sanchita Deb. Baruna Haldar officiated the distribution of the Certificates and prizes to each of the participants. Sougato Chatterjee once again provided and manned his excellent sound system. A light dinner was served at the end of the program. The next event will be the Annual Picnic to be held on July 20th followed by the 2014 Durga Puja to be held in the weekend of September 27th. The Executive Committee continues to look for other occasions where the ICC members and their children get an opportunity to present and practice their Indian heritage. Please stay tuned for announcements for upcoming events at our website www.icc-gs.org
Bridging Generations Pioneering Kallol’s Values of: o Trust o Respect o Community Service o Accountability • Reposition Kallol’s leadership in Cultural Activities • Expand Charitable Activities in close coordination with Kallol Women’s Forum • Foster Literary Publications and Education in Bengali, partner with Leading Organizations • Expand Recreational, Sporting and Fitness Initiatives for Community Members ~ Youth and Adults To execute the above, the new committee has been working diligently to set up several subcommittees, and lately reached out to other community organizations (Ananda Mandir being the first and foremost) to come and participate at a ‘Kallol event’ with no strings attached. On the 12th of July, “an Evening with Kallol – Summer Event” will mark the start of such an initiative which will essentially bind, collaborate, and bring the community closer than ever. Anupam Roy and Nipabithi Ghosh from Kolkata will be performing. Several Local community organizations will participate as well. In addition to the summer cultural event, Kallol plans to host quite a few events in the upcoming months: • A Drama workshop - Jul / Aug • Summer Picnic – Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 • Kallol Youth day - September • 38th New Jersey Durga Puja – Oct 3-5, 2014 • Kojagori Lakshmi Puja – Sunday, Oct 12, 2014 • New Year Eve Party Amidst all of these encouraging news and initiatives, Kallol has also lost a few beloved members. We have lost Mukti De(founding member), and two of our senior and revered members - Ashok Das and Rashbehari Roy in the recent past. We pray to god that may their souls rest in peace! Kallol takes pride in being at the forefront in facing the future of Bengali diaspora. Join us.
NJPA Corner Reported By Kankana Sengupta NJPA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on April 26th this year at East Brunswick Public Library. In addition to the statutory obligations, the nomination of the new Executive Committee, the AGM as usual provided a forum for members to meet and network. Many new ideas were encouraged. Congratulations to the new Committee - NJPA looks forward to its amazing talent and commitment. As one of the oldest Indian Associations in USA, NJPA has been a melting pot for Bengalis in vibrant NJ, and has provided a platform where people of the most dynamic state in India meet, socialize, exchange notes and celebrate occasions all under one roof. A home away from home, NJPA has successfully connected Bengalis with one another while sharing the spirit of Bengal. NJPA is always buzzing with activities. In August, we will be having our annual picnic. This is one of the high-points on our calendar of events, giving multiple generations the occasion to enjoy the great outdoors and, of course, fire up the charcoal and do some serious grilling. Kali puja will be held at the end of October, date, venue and details of both events will be announced soon. Your support, whether by participating in or volunteering your time in our activities is greatly appreciated and will assist us in achieving our goals. As the Bengali population from the Indian subcontinent grows, the role NJPA plays will continue to be of great importance. Our success as an organization will be measured in your success as a continuing member. We ask for and welcome your active participation. So please keep your ideas, suggestions and comments flowing. For further information please check our website NJPA.net or connect with us on Facebook on NJPA Parivar.
Arvin Ghosh publishes his 17th book Arvin Ghosh is a prolific author having written seventeen books. His new book, “Yugacharya Shri Shri Pranavananda”, was published at Kolkata in January 2014. The book, written in Bengali, covers the life of Swami Pranavanandaji Maharaj, the founder of Bharat Sevashram Sangha. From his birth in a remote village called Bajitpur in the then East Bengal, the book provides detailed description of his strong religious faith as a youth, and his ability to lead others in the path of simple living (tyag), avoidance of material attraction (sangjam), truth (satya) and control of senses (brahmacharya). The book gives year by year
details of his work, the birth of Bharat Sevashram Sangha and the plantation of seed to make the Sangha what it is today. This book is part of a trilogy- the life stories of three great leaders of our times. The first book “Mother Teresa” is already published; this is the second book; and the third on “Prabhupad” is being written. Another book “Mahatmar Janma” (birth of a great soul) dealing with early life of Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat, England and South Africa made the bestseller list in “Desh”. Arvin Ghosh is a life member of Ananda Mandir. He can be reached at email@example.com
“Ballad Divine”: A New Book by Dev Bhattacharyya Dev (Devashish) Bhattacharyya (Sparta, NJ), a member of the Ananda Mandir community, has published “Ballad Divine”, a translation/interpretation of Bhagvad Gita. The book brings Gita to the readers in an easy to read and understand composition. It is organized around the mainstays of Shri Krishna’s doctrines of philosophy, action, discipline, concentration, knowledge, meditation, devotion and surrender. The book is presented mostly as a ballad in eighteen different chapters. The book is available in paperback and Kindle editions from Amazon.com and from the author (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Baishakhi at GSCA Reported by Geetali Basu The Garden State Cultural Association of New Jersey celebrated ‘Baishakhi’ on May 17th, at the Franklin Township Senior Center, in Somerset, NJ. Many community organizations, including youth groups, were represented. It was a welcome relief and a joyful event after the winter doldrums. There was a kaleidoscope of events from music to dances to theater. One of the top New Jersey drama groups, “EKTA” presented the light comedy ‘Grihapalito’ written by Sudipta Bhowmik and directed by Aparajita Das. Mr. Bhowmik, well known in NJ for his exceptional talent in theater direction and acting, presented a contemporary play with lots of comic relief. ‘Bongo America’ was a medley of Tagore songs performed by a youth group known as the “CEYLA BAND.” It is a fusion band formed by
some enterprising teenagers. They really did a marvelous rendition. A dance drama ‘Meghdoot’, based on the lyrical poem by Kalidasa, was performed by the students of the well-established dance school Kalamandir headed by Malabika Guha. The children’s dance drama “Ali Baba O Challish Chor” was presented by Sreeshti, a nonprofit organization set to “promote Bengali artistic activities” in New Jersey. The children with their vibrant costumes in different roles in this epic story kept the audience entertained. Talented children of GSCA members staged a performance of instrumental music and melodious songs. Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening both for the participants and the attendees. GSCA also set up a collection box for donations of canned/boxed food items to be delivered to the Salvation Army.