Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Preliminaries, Stars and Pollution

Just had my preliminaries done yesterday. The last forty five days were spent at nothing than reading. Had put a hold on my social life, entertainment, research. Had stopped attending calls, stopped making calls. Now it’s Time to get back to those, return the calls, watch the Netflix shipping, deal with the revise and resubmits, write down the new concepts, make those editorial changes, find potential new outlets for rejected work, working on dissertation…

All these days I was preparing for the exam, I wished that I could spend some time with my work instead. But now that it’s over, all I can think is taking a day off from everything. It’s been a while since I stared at the stars at night. I happen to stay in a place that is quite far from the pollution that impedes us from seeing what is out there in the open. Having said that, I don’t remember the last time in Pullman, I actually looked up.

Some twenty five years back in Calcutta, my parents used to take me to the terrace of the building to show me the stars. The idea was make me ponder on something, while they stuff the food in my mouth. With years, the city became polluted to the extent that even on a clear sky all one can see is dust. Things are a bit different now. It’s the mind that had been dusty, stopping me to stare up and enjoy the beauty of the vastness, where every twinkle is like a drop of breath.
After I go home today, I would walk around stare at the emptiness and maybe talk with five year old Avi, who seems to have been lost all these years.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Strange tribute

“Hey what are you doing?....Avi and I have just started a lunch in Red Hot Chili Peppers…? Can the assignment wait…? I am just suggesting you to drop everything and join us? …No Excuse.

That was Debasish speaking to Saikat, while I was deeply engrossed with the Roasted Chilli Pork chops.

Debasish and Saikat are two of my oldest friends. After high school we went separate ways. Debasish went to study Engineering, Saikat to become a photographer and me a Market Analyst. After a long winded path Debasish and I landed back to our hometown, Calcutta. Saikat never left. It was more than eight years, since we were getting a chance to sit and cherish our past while sighing about the unknown future.

Saikat was in by 10 minutes. It was one of the most memorable lunch, I had. We promised each other that since we are in the city we must meet at least once a week. We realized that despite our ages, when we are together, we become not quite different from what we were as teen agers.

Little we knew that after two of three such meetings, we will be separated again. Debasish, traveling for several assignments across Europe for his firm, and me leaving everything that was dear to me to carve out an academic career starting with a PhD. Once during my high school days I spent nine months in Delhi. It was pre Internet days. Ever week I wrote to Saikat and Debasish. Fountain Pen and white paper. They wrote back. Today, despite the endless possibilities with advancement of Internet, cell phone, web 2.0, the email addresses or Saikat and Debashish are hardly typed, when I write anything. Strangely though I miss their company and distinctly remember every incident associated with our last few meetings.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mystic Past against Ruthless Present

Ever since I left India, there were several bits of moments I wanted to re-live. Moments that were inscribed in my mind as crystal droplets. Nothing great or magnificent, but very subtle things, such as sitting in my favorite coffee shop, drinking my favorite Americano on that chair where I spent countless hours; being with the friends, whose friendship has crossed two decades; and eating in some of my favorite restaurants; sitting on old sofa that has witnessed my growing weight over three decades.
Reaching home what did I find? The old sofa is replaced by a new one, that coffee shop has changed its layout and does not brew the same Americano, those friends are consumed by their family and the 9:00 AM through 10:00 PM office. I did not even try out the restaurants. I guess I would rather cherish the memories than see them dead.
Upon returning, I realized that I cannot relive those moments, as I am not relevant them, as they are to me.
Still wondering where can I find them, how can I relive them? Maybe I will at some point, maybe I won’t. Calcutta and Home were synonymous for these subtleties. I always want them to be intertwined as a Unidimensional construct, but I know better. But I prefer to be ignorant at this moment.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A rare Resource

Its 2:40 PM. My class for Structural Equation Modeling does not begin until 2:50. Never thought with my schedule I will get 10 minutes of free time. This is like a lottery of a few hundred dollars, when the economy hits recession. So I thought lets post this news and preserve this. THE DAY I GOT TEN MINUTES TO MYSELF.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Calcutta Trip-2008-009: to home and back

After sixteen months and twelve days, I came home to spend sometime. Three weeks passed like a weekend, and I am once again packed to return to Pullman. None of what I had planned on doing in Calcutta was actually being done. Despite that, my heart is content to make me feel poignant. This time I had to attend a social event where my presence was instrumental. From the day I arrived, I was put into a schedule that I almost had no idea of. The pre-event, the event and post event took the better part of fifteen days. In these days, I got closer to my family and its extension. The non-existent bonds became visible and the strong ones became stronger. Though I always found too many people as an encroachment to my privacy, I miss them in my house. For three days about sixty members of my family and friends had breakfast, lunch and dinner in our house and on the third day about five hundred more joined in. Yes, I will miss them. Because of the breadth of the program, I could not spend quality time with any of them. I believe I will make that up the next time I hit Calcutta.

When I was a resident of the city, I was a regular patron of Barista and Café Coffee Day (two of the better coffee shop chains). This time I could only go to a Café Coffee Day once. The menu had changed significantly. My favorite “caffeine kick” was missing from the menu and I was given a single shot instead of the ordered double. Not to mention that has been a forty percent hike in almost all the items. I guess my romance with coffee in Calcutta as explicated in and is reaching its end.

The remaining seven days I lay sick due to the resultant equilibrium between the ruling government and opposition party in regards to emission of pollution by autorickshaws (three wheeled vehicles used as a means of transport). While the government did nothing proactive to make transition from two strokes to four strokes and four strokes to CNG as per Supreme court orders, the opposition using the auto drivers as a vote bank called for strike. The result is continuation of pollution, which resulted in a gray sky which once used to be blue.

In my trip back to Pullman I have a twelve hour layover in JFK and a seventeen hour in Seattle. All of this because Delta delayed a flight from NY to Seattle by a hour and a half. The result is I am missing the last flight on 11th January from Seattle to Pullman. The next available one, with empty seats was at 2:45 PM, January 12th that goes to Pullman via Boise. Needless to say, I hate the words Flights, and Airports as of now.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My email to VODAFONE, India (bunch of thieves)

To whom it may concern,


I have had a Vodafone (formerly Hutch) connection 9830265234 since the year 2001. I have been in the United States for the past 15 months and before coming to the US, I made my connection into the lifetime connection by paying the requisite amount of money and was told that this number would remain mine irrespective of usage. Indeed, that’s what the word LIFETIME means. Some months ago when I tried calling this number from the US, the Vodafone automated voice message told me that my number was suspended temporarily. Upon contacting Vodafone I was told about some strange rule that I needed to recharge and use Rs. 200 of talktime every 6 months to be able to retain my number. Note that no such rule was pointed out to me when I made my connection a lifetime one. So I decided to take up matters with authorities upon my visit to India to reclaim my number. I even instructed one of my friends to recharge my connection via e-charge for Rs. 200.

Today when I called my own number again, to my dismay someone else picked up the phone and I realized my number had already been given away to someone else. Now my questions for Vodafone are:

1.      Is it fair business practice on the part of you guys to take away someone else’s connection which was made lifetime and duly paid for?

2.      What do I have to do to get my connection back?

3.      Is it Vodafone’s policy to swindle customers like this?

4.      Why was I not informed about my number being given away to someone else? Who takes responsibility if that number is misused by the current owner? What if that person is a terrorist? Do I have a guarantee that I won’t be involved in the fiasco that arises thereafter?

5.      What does a person have to do so that his number remains his even if he cannot regularly use the number?

6.      Does this mean that every time I visit India I need to take a new number? Don’t you guys find that ridiculous?

Now my demands:

1.      First, tender  an apology to me directly via email at

2.      Refund the recharge money that the connection had.

3.      FAILING OPTION 2, return my number to me with the money in it intact.

4.      Admit that your policies are made to cheat customers out of their money,

Failing any of the above, I will not hesitate to take this up with the consumer court. I will also put Vodafone’s shoddy policies and mismanagement on my blog site (, and make sure that every leading Calcutta newspaper carries the story about what you did. Trust me, I have the contacts to ensure this.


I hope, for a change, Vodafone will be responsible about owning up to its lack of customer allegiance and that you will be able to solve these issues. Don’t give me the usual nonsensical customer service replies such as “it is our policy” and similar stuff. I want concrete action to be taken. Either refund my money or return my connection plus write me an apology for the harassment caused. Or, get ready for some BAD  PUBLICITY.


Avimanyu  Datta

United States of America

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wet Sketches

I was sitting in my office. The client was happy with our strategic recommendations. This meant more business, more work, more consumption of coffee, more sleepless nights, more work on the weekends. But among all the negativities, there is a silver lining. The tie becomes silkier, the suites become shinier, the laptops become thinner, Nokia N-series get replace by the i-phone, and slowly Timex will transform to Rolex.

As soon as I loosed my neck tie, I saw people rushing towards the tinted windows. It was the first shower in Calcutta. The sky was deep grey, against which the trees looked greener than they were. I could see the people on the streets, reaching out for the nearest shade. Some however were enjoying the first shower. The street hawkers were packing up.

My eyes caught sight of a young boy. He was tightly holding a sketch book, protecting it from the rains. He was struggling. He suddenly looked up. For a second I thought he looked into my eyes. My phone rang….The VP of information communication technology practice congratulated me. I went back to the window. The sky was clearing up.

I returned home no earlier or later than usual, when most people are asleep. I switched on my room lights. One of the drawers was half open. I don’t remember when the last time I checked the contents. I opened it. Saw my sketch book. It was wet…