Wednesday, March 6, 2019

The Heart of the Hatia

-Can you give me one kilo of those onions?
-You should take one and half, these are really good.
-But you have priced them very high!
-Let me give you one and a half, you won't find them next week. 

-Little snippets of conversation from my local hatia.

The hatia had been such an integral part of my growing up in Bokaro. The hatia or haat is a biweekly market, mainly selling fresh vegetables and fruits, but almost selling everything you can think of for your everyday use- from seeds and clothes to brooms and utensils. 



It was only after I came to Delhi, since I was also used to daily markets in Kolkata that I realized Hatias are not as normal as I had assumed them to be. And that it was perfectly normal to buy vegetables in the supermarket. 

I remember coming back to Bokaro after about a couple of years in Delhi and going to the Hatia with my dad. And being shocked at the level of camaraderie between the buyer and seller. It was very very normal to have conversations such as "Are you insane for charging 16 rupees a kilo? I won't pay anything more than 13." or "Look at how fresh these  beans are, you have to take atleast 1 kilo to do it justice". I remember being indignant when they were bargaining between 16 rupees and 13 rupees, but my dad explains there is a rhyme to it, and people actually enjoy it. At some places, the sellers said there was no way they could reduce the prices, in some shops we got more vegetables than we would need, and in some other we got little discounts of 2-3 rupees. All accompanied by a lot of banter. 



We would also meet random other people from the city, with one-liners such as, 'the brinjals being sold at the end of this lane are really fresh' or 'they don't have any good fish today'. There would be cows walking among the people, and trying to steal a cabbage or some other leaves for dinner, and people constantly shooing them away. There would be younger boys selling all kinds of leaves- from spinach to coriander, and older women with seasonal vegetables. Many would come from Purulia, and other nearby parts of West Bengal to sell their produce. 


All in all, it was a lively half an hour to a quarter of an hour, every Wednesdays and Saturday, all throughout my childhood. And I never knew what special vegetables or fish would bought, since it all depended on the quality and the price of that day's hatia. 

And this February when I visited the Hatia after maybe 3 years, I could still see familiar faces, and one of the regular potato sellers asked me where I was and what I was doing nowadays. I said I was in Spain. He asked if it was in America. And I said it was closer to England. And we shared smiles without exchanging names or formal niceties. 

And this made me remember of all the times in Barcelona when I would visit the Pakistani or the Bangladeshi owned green groceries stores, and would get free chilies or coriander or ginger, over discussing how many years have we not been in our respective countries. 

I realized I had tried to unconsciously find the heart of Hatia, and fleetingly found it in the heart of Barcelona, in the little streets of Raval, in the corner shops of Sant Antoni, and the late night  department stores selling samosas at 3am in the morning.  

And I was leaving the hatia, I was almost reminiscing this oft-familiar quote on the price of chili which I couldn't hear anymore. And I was consoling myself thinking it has been so many years, maybe the chilies are not that cheap anymore, till I heard-

मिर्चा में भारी गिरावट !

And left with a smile on my face, happy that some things never change. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

तीन साल बाद

My last post was published on February 5, 2016 and ended with " I think I am going to strive to make more of my morning super awesome everyday!" It was during my Delhi days when I was in a phase of following blogging contests and writing about some pre-determined topics. 

Fast forward three years, I neither live in Delhi, nor follow blogging contests. But what I do is miss blogging from time to time. 

And like countless times before, I got inspired by Anubhuti's new blog to document her PhD journey, and made the decision to return to blogging! (Full Disclosure- I often make these decisions at the starting of a year, and then discontinue soon after)

I am still not sure what it will be this time around, maybe travels, maybe 3 am musings, maybe dark thoughts that sometimes like to escape into words, who knows! What I do know is that I want to bring the blog (and the followers if any) up to speed about my life!

Starting backwards, a couple of week ago, I came back home to Bokaro after being away from India for more than 13 months. Months which had been intense, challenging, rewarding and a whole lot of fun! From editing an issue of a Spanish magazine to talking about the said issue in the Chiapas, from travelling around Europe for a month to witnessing snowfall on my way to the university in Barcelona, it has been a bundle of new experiences.

With Ecologia Politica, very close to the Guatemala border. 
Here are some snapshots of what I have been upto, to get this blog restarted-

Spring 2016-
Convocation of the masters at TERI and sharing some quality time with my Delhi family! I was already looking for ways to continue studying, and these months were spent in a lot of uncertainty.


Summer 2016- Summer School, Climate Camps, Conference and Europe travels, and the first taste of the city which is my current home.


Autumn 2016- Living and trying to leave Delhi's polluted air. Treks to the mountains for mini-respites. Saying goodbyes in Delhi, and hesitant hellos to the new life!


Winter 2016- Paperwork, and more paperwork to fly away! And finally celebrations after getting the visa. I will write about my visa woes one day in details, but I have to thank all the people who stood by me while I was completely losing my nerves over the delays and the amount of paperwork required!

Spring 2017- Settling in the new city in a new continent. Making friends, making memories, and falling in love with the sea!

Summer 2017- Fiestas and a terrorist attack, and lots and lots of travels within Europe!


Autumn 2017- Homewards Bound! Three months of bliss!

Winter 2017- Back to Barcelona, and witnessing snowfall on the way to the university for the first time. This was also a time of realization on how I am just not suited for the winter in Barcelona. 

Spring 2018- Mostly spent at the university, attending lectures and seminars, and working from the office there!



Summer 2018- Visiting distant lands, and having friends visit me. Not to mention summer schools and conferences which took me places as well. 

Autumn 2018- Among other things, it was five weeks of Mexico! It was a lot of fun and joy, and new experiences that I would cherish forever.


Winter 2018- Coming back home after more than thirteen months away!

And now that we are up to speed, this is where this entry ends! 

Friday, February 5, 2016

What Turns My Morning Golden- Striving for #Colgate360GoldMornings

To be very honest, I am not a morning person. I do not enjoy waking up at the break of the dawn. And more often than not, I have to run to catch my ride to office, because I end up waking late.
Yet, there are certain mornings which transform into something way better than the other, and I think it is a bunch of reasons that result in that. So in this post, I am going to list a few instances/events which invariably turn my mornings golden-

·         Travel Plans
When the “travel bug” bites you, there is nothing you can do! And fortunately, I was bitten a long time ago. Cheesy I know, but it is the truth! And so, whenever I am travelling, and it can be anything from just catching an early morning train to my home, or going on international conferences, but my mornings when I know I am going to be travelling are always, always amazing!
I firmly believe that I learn more while travelling than I do in an entire semester. And the main reason behind that is that I really enjoy doing it. Thus, waking up feeling happy and looking forward to the day makes the mornings golden.



·         Birthdays
I am one of those people who love celebrating birthdays. And by that I don’t just mean mine! I love elaborating planning birthdays of all the important people in my life. So, whenever someone who is close to me has their special day, I wake up early peppy to prepare for a fantastic day for them. So, starting from creating a smoke-screen so that the friend doesn’t know what we are doing, to getting the perfect cake, to giving a surprise, it is a lot of effort, and a lot of fun!

·         Sleep-Overs
Although the norm of sleepovers is that you generally sleep in late the next morning, I love to get up early and have an entire day of fun (which usually involves an amazing breakfast followed by some travel plans) mapped out. I like to wake up happy, and super-early when I am hosting friends over, and surprising turn into a morning person.

·         Festivals
You know what they say about festivals in India! It is a never ending series of celebrations. And in my households, festivals, especially those involving pujas at the house always means waking up early, taking a quick bath, wearing new clothes, and assembling all the things required in a Hindu household puja. Not only were these little tasks like washing and cutting fruits, picking up flowers etc. fun, we also did it together with a bunch of cousins, and the work started super early! And these really made my mornings golden.




The more I think, the more I remember all the wonderful morning spent at home, with family and friends, when I would be super active right from the start of the days. I think my childhood has many, many golden mornings. But the more you grow old, and become boggled with careers and pointless, materialistic pursuits, something as simple as being happy when you wake up starts to be a challenge too.



So, since it’s just been a month into the New Year and the wonderful #Colgate360GoldMornings has made me miss all the wonderful memories, I think I am going to strive to make more of my morning super awesome everyday!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Have you ever really had a teacher?

"Have you ever really had a teacher? The one who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back. Sometimes it’s only in your head. Sometimes it is right alongside their bed.”
-Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
I have been blessed to have found amazing teachers and mentors throughout my school and college life. Starting from my Class 4 House Warden who allowed me to supervise Nursery students for 10-15 minutes in the morning which made me fall in love with the idea of being a teacher, to the HOD of my undergrad college who was extremely supportive and never lost confidence in me while I was going through a particularly rough patch. I owe a large part of who I am today to my teachers. They taught me so much more that just what was given in the textbooks!
To fully understand the impact of this undeniable #madeofgreat person in my life, I will have to back up a little and discuss about my undergraduate days, and that rough patch I just mentioned.
I was pursuing my bachelors in Economics, and thoroughly hating it! The teachers were good, the classmates not so bad either, and I was living in the city of joy, Kolkata, so it took me a long time to figure out what was so wrong that I consistently under-performed in my exams. In fact, I finished my Bachelors, enrolled in a Masters programme in a new city (because I really needed a change of scenario), and was already halfway through my Masters that I realized what was wrong.


I was starting the third semester of my M.Sc. course, and could choose electives based on my interest areas. One of the courses being offered was "Key Concepts of Ecological Economics" by a Professor who had done his PhD from Barcelona and post-doc from Harvard. And not only were his credentials amazing, I was already interested in Environmental Economics and wanted to learn about this new field too. And so, what started as a need to learn more about the ecological and environmental scope of my field soon turned into me finding what I think is my true calling. And I owe it all to the professor- Dr. J. F. Gerber.
Not only did he make me realize what went wrong with me during my undergrad coursework, which is simple terms, was my inherent objection to valuing everything monetarily. I didn't know anything about the incommensurability of values, the different languages of valuations that are being used in the different parts of the world, and the increasing need to search for alternatives to the growth theory, and yet I could not accept the theories and models I was being taught. Dr. Gerber taught me about these basic concepts which made all the sense to me. And it is not very often that someone, without any deliberate effort, makes you realize all the doubts and confusions you had were for a reason, and opens a whole new world for you. These people, who change the whole way you think come once in a while, and always stay with you, whether you actually stay in touch or not.
But lucky for me, I was so inspired I picked an ecological economics theme, and had the honor of writing my thesis under his supervision. And during that time, whenever I had any problems, doubts or difficulties, he always made sure to solve them for me, motivating me when I couldn't analyse the figures, or found hurdles in catching hold of people for interviews. What made him so amazing was his genuine concern to make sure that I stay motivated and get aid anytime I faced any difficulties.


And although today, due to my continued involvement in the field, I know a lot of other Ecological Economics scholars, he will always not just be the person who introduced me to the subject, but also the mentor whose comments will matter the most. 

To know more about the new collaboration between Tata Motors, and football legend Lionel Messi, another once in a lifetime alliance, check out http://madeofgreat.tatamotors.com/

Monday, August 24, 2015

WHAT MAKES BNLF AWESOME?

So, I have said it before and I will repeat again, I love lists. It might just stem from an education system which encouraged us to list down important points for answers. Remember questions like- write 5 properties of igneous rocks, or list 5 disadvantages of deforestation? Well, I am getting a little off track here. This article isn’t about why I love lists. It’s why I think BNLF is awesome, and what better way to illustration that than by, you got it, listing down all the cool things about it.
So, here it goes-


What’s In a Name- Well, apparently a lot! The name pretty much sets the pace of the entire package! And BNLF is pretty much awesome! Think of all the conferences that you have been to- the International Blah Blah Blah Conference on La di Dadada, remember? Well, ever been to conference without the word “conference” or “Symposium” in it? Ever even heard of one before? I haven’t! And Blog Now, Live Forever gets brownie points for being narcissistic in the sweetest way possible! If you don’t love blogging enough to believe it has the power to make you immortal, you might as well not register for it at all!


Every Note is a Keynote- Another amazing USP! I finished my M.Sc. a couple of months ago, and let me assure you that I have been to my fair share of conference. One uniform feature of most of them is that the keynote seems to be the more interesting, and the rest, well, not so much! The keynote speakers are also one of the most eminent personalities, and so most people turn up to talk to hear them speak. But at BNLF all the speakers are keynote, which essentially means, everyone is at par. And if you just look at the line-up, you would know exactly what I mean. Which brings me to my third point in the list-



THE Speakers- These people are some of the best in the field! I have admired Anshul for years now for what he does not only with Youth Ki Awaaz, but also for the awesome campaigns that he is associated with, and his advocacy of youth journalism. I could go on and on about most of the speakers who are scheduled for this seminar, and then some more!


The Venue-The Lalit, Mumbai. Enough said.
If you don’t believe me, look at the picture below, and you would know what I am talking about.

Source The Lalit

The Date
- Although I am sure there are quite a few of us who would have loved to bunk work (or school/college) to attend BNLF, for the majority of us, skipping work seems to be a bit of a trouble. Fret not! Indiblogger has us covered there too.


For the Bloggers, by the Bloggers, of the Bloggers- The second day of the conference is exclusively for people who have been stalwarts of blogging. Not only does that mean you get to hear about real, get your hands dirty approach to blogging, but also the fact the wonderful people who have spent years honing their knowledge of creating content and blogging are acknowledged in an international platform. And that is a feat in itself.


If you want to know more, go have a look at their page.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mona Lisa Smile

3 A.M. Musings

I am just finishing up with my post graduate. Well, technically, I have a little more than 2 weeks of being a student of M.Sc. yet. And tonight, while going through the hard disk of a fellow movie buff, I came across Mona Lisa Smile. I had seen this movie a long time ago. And more than a couple of times, to be honest.

I remember the good ol' days when Star Movies did not have compulsory subtitles, and they played such awesome movies in the afternoon, and I would either delay lunch or beg my mother to let me eat in front of the television, instead of in the dining hall just to watch these amazing movies.

And every single I watched this movie I would wonder how awesome it would be to have a teacher who compels you to change the way you think and open your eyes to look at things a different way.

So, tonight, when I found the movie I thought I would just go through a few of my favorite scenes and then call it a day. That was 2 hours ago. I finished the entire movie, and surprisingly, this time around I didn't wonder how awesome it would be to have a professor like Miss Watson. This time around, I realized I was fortunate enough to have such a radical teacher who introduced me to the concepts of ecological economics and degrowth theory.

I do not wish to go into the technical aspects of the theories and ideas that inspired me, but what it was is exactly what Mona Lisa Smile showed- a new way to look at things by challenging what we have known to be right for so long.

And it is not everyday that you watch a movie and realize that you have been through it in your life, and when it does happen it is an amazing feeling.

I am too brain tired right now to think of other examples, but I will try to think of more movies that I can relate to very soon.

Also, watch Mona Lisa Smile. And Julia Roberts is the ultimate thing. Period. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

The New My Airtel App

We are a tech savvy lot. Everything needs to be in our fingertips nowadays. It wasn't too long ago that we had to frequent neighborhood shops to buy recharge vouchers, which we then scratched with a coin, messaged a 16 digit number and got new talk time. Soon that changed into the shopkeeper using his phone to directly send money into our phones, which eventually turned into us being able to do it from the comforts of our homes using our personal computers.

The latest in the field of easy recharging are the mobile applications. All you need is a credit/debit card and an internet connection, and you are good to go.

The new My Airtel App is one such fascinating application, which can be downloaded in both the Android as well as Windows phone, and comes with a range of cool features.

Mentioned below are three of the features I like best about this app-

1. The One-Stop-Shop for all your Airtel goodies

So, of late, Airtel has its fingers in too many pies, which means everything from your phone bill, both mobile and landline, to broadband connection to your digital TV is more likely than not managed by Airtel. Now, I am a self professed mall fan, because you get everything you need under one roof!
The New Airtel App does exactly the same thing for all your airtel products. It smartly manages your prepaid as well as postpaid mobile connections, your landline phone, your broadband services along with your digital TV subscription.
Not only can you manage and recharge them here, you are also given regular reminders and can look up the history of recharges including past favorite discounts at the press of a button, err touchscreen.

2. Airtel Money

Another amazing feature to dig is the airtel money that allows me to shop online and buy tickets among other things, without having to remember specific credit/debit card details. I always find the whole process of feeding in the card details while shopping very tedious, and this cool feature of the app completely solves it!

3. Showering Offers

All you have to do is shake that phone, and you will get awesome offers which will spoil you for choice, be it food, movie, clothing or accessories. There is an unending list to choose from and there is always something that is just right for you!
Not just that, you also have amazing offers in terms of recharges and talk-times for all your phone connections, as well as television and internet services. I find the discounts to be really useful for a person living off a student budget! Offers on full talk time as well as a range of validity to choose from is super cool too.

All in all, if you love to have everything organized in your smartphone and do not wish to be bothered about paying bills via a bunch of different avenues, and at the same time get great discounts and special deals exclusively for you, this is the go-to app for you.

So, what are you waiting for? Check it out yourselves at http://www.airtel.in/myairtel and have fun exploring!



The Heart of the Hatia

-Can you give me one kilo of those onions? -You should take one and half, these are really good. -But you have priced them very high! ...