Mahabharata and importance of number 18

The one thing that fascinates me the most is Mahabharata. I am still in search of the question if everything mentioned in the great epic happened in reality. But, for now, until I have an answer, I would settle down believing that the occurrences mentioned in the book stand true.
Mahabharata is a daily part of my life. Perhaps I have never been so obsessed with anything in life as much I am with Mahabharata. It is an encyclopedia of ethics, knowledge, politics, religion, philosophy, science and Dharma. It is a way of life showing us the right and wrong, ethical and unprincipled, righteous and dishonorable.
Mahabharata has several interesting short tales and facts. But one of the most interesting things about Mahabharata is the predominant presence of the number 18.
Here is how 18 is so significant in the epic:
  1. There are 18 chapters in Bhagawat Geeta
  2. Lord Krishna defines his concept of the ideal Man in 18 stanzas towards the end of the 2nd chapter and there are again 18 traits which go to constitute the ideal man
  3. Mahabharata war lasted for 18 Days 
  4. There are 18 Parvas in Mahabharata
  5. There are 18 Maha Puranas
  6. Total 18 warriors survived after Mahabharata war
  7. Total 18 Akshauhini armies fought the war
  8. Each Akshauhini army consisted of 21870 chariot force, 21870 elephant force, 65610 horse force and 109350 soldiers where each number sums up to 18
  9. 36 years Pandavas rules Hastinapur which is double of 18
  10. Bhisma survived the war for 9 days which is half of 18
  11. Lord Krishna killed Kansa at the age of 18
  12. Jarasandha attacked Mathura and the Yadavas 18 times
  13. Jarasandha attacked them for 18 years
  14. Sishupala was killed when he was 54 (54 divided by 3 equals 18)
  15. The original name given to the epic by Vyasa was Jaya and not Mahabharata. Jaya means victory and the numerical value of the Sanskrit word Jaya is 18
  16. Ved Vyasa is also composed 18 other Puranas besides this great Epic
  17. Mahabharata has 1.8 million or 18 lakh words
  18. Mahabharata was written by Lord Ganesha who is associated with the number 9. This is symbolized by the shape of his trunk which looks like number 9 which is half of 18

Tea, Music, Adda and More… Launch of Inspirations, a Pankaj Mullick Music & Art Foundation Initiative

We Bongs have the habit of living in nostalgia. If two Bongs are sitting together, and you lend your ears to listen, in every probability you would find them discussing the past at one point. This is why, we, the Bangalees keep our Tagore, Retro Music, and the Black & White Cinema so close to our heart. We talk of our past, for it makes it happy. It takes us to the golden period of unmatched creativity and pure knowledge.

One of the very integral parts of any Bengali is their Adda Culture, which has liberated from parar rok to posh cafes and restaurants. But, what has remained unchanged, if the very essence of Adda – intellectual and creative discussions. To relive a slice of our past and have an unadulterated Adda session, we gathered at the Mystic Yoga Cafe on Purnadas Road on Saturday evening. Although, many think that Adda for a Bengali is nothing more than agendaless discussions, but, we surely met with a strong agenda in mind – to launch Inspirations – a Pankaj Mullick Music & Art Foundation initiative.


Rajib Gupta and Jhinuk Gupta at the launch of Inspirations

For little over two hours, we were drowned in nostalgia as Rajib Gupta and Jhinuk Gupta (grandson and granddaughter in law of Pankaj Mullick) took us down the memory lane through stories and music of the Maestro. As Rajib da shared precious memories of Pankaj Mullick, detailing with how he first put a tune to Tagore’s poem to how he refused Raj Kapoor to leave Bengal for Bombay and work and  how he conceptualized and set music to the immortal ‘Mahishasuramardini’, a programme that has become synonymous with Bengali culture and Durga Puja, Jhinuk di crooned the very melodious tunes of the distinguished and versatile musician who introduced playback singing to Indian cinema.


Aninda talking about Anant Education Initiative and Jagriti Dham

The show was hosted by MJ Arvind. He always serves something new on the plate. While Arvind urged us to take an oath to protect the environment, Aninda reminded us of our duty toward our younger and older generations. The event was supported by Infinity Group, Anant Education Initiative, Jagriti Dham and Aspex Care Wing, 

As the name suggests the browny points were added by the lovely venue – Mystic Yoga Cafe. Fine tea, walnut cakes, retro music, amid a very peaceful environment – what more can one ask for. An evening well spent.

Another day passes by…..

Another day passes by, at top speed, down the freeway, overlooking the setting sun, the rising moon, the stars that form shapes to tell stories of the lost ones.

Another day passes by, no remnants of joy or anguish, feelings have to wait, the day takes your time up and leaves you with no time, no solace, nor hope nor happiness.

Another day, another moment of your life, spent in just analyzing for others, accounting for others’ profits, calculating the benefits that millions are going to reap.

Another day, full of adventure that was never experienced a cup of coffee whose aroma was never smelled, a cozy room used but for only a meeting, the rain outside but just an alibi to not smoke. a day that brought no hope nor love, just accountable for money – that it got you lots of; a day spent in neck breaking speed putting things in order, for others to enjoy. And i call it living life my way – enjoying every second of it, achieving success, reaping dividends, earning money.

It is living life my way, i chose it, i enjoy it, i get inspiration out of it for in every moment i am challenged, i fear loss, and I can see shadows of failure that I must conquer. Who am i fooling? Do I love the life that i’d hate to live? Or is it that i am living a life i don’t love at all?

Confusion, the mind doesn’t work. it has been a busy day. a busy day does not permit the wandering mind to rest and think. Consumed by countless conferences and cups of coffee and cigarettes, the mind turns into no more than just a brain. A brain that does the science of thinking, not the art of it! A brain that doesn’t find beauty in numbers and counts because it has to! The brain becomes its own slave, and the tyranny of the trained brain ties the meek mind in shackles of mediocrity.

The weapon loses its sharpness, the metal decays in crude negligence, and the brain starts becoming more mind-less. It is in one of these sad moments when the mind becomes a rebel. a rebel – a mind who says no. a mind plagiarized by the inefficient yet triumphant brain that currently controls the keyboard being used to type this very essay. a paradox? a rebellion? Or just another passing moment to be washed away with another steaming cup of coffee? Another elusive answer being seeked, another reason to believe in miracles, this was just another day that passed me by.

2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,000 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 17 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

shobuj neel dhushor gheere thake amake…

ei gaan ta amar khub bhalo laage….saradin dhore shunechhi kaal…aajo shunchhi…ekta odbhut onubhuti hoye gaan ta shunle….ekta bishonnotaa gheere thake charidik-e….mone hoye jeno ekta bhison meghla deen e thanda hawa r modhye shobuj ghashe bhora mather bhetor soru raasta diye hete cholechhi….ashepashe keu nei….abar poro muhurte mone hoe ekta khorkhori r janla diye baire bishonno meghachhono akaash ta-ke dekhchhi…shamne dhankheter opor humri khye poreche kaalo ghono megh…jhir jhire brishti…chokhe mukhe chhaat eshe lagche….ekta neel ronger jama pore ulto dik er barandaye boshe ke jeno chhobi ankchhe ek mon-e….tar neel rong ta meghla din-e aaro neel hoe utheche…ek haathe tuli…arr ek haate jolonto cigarette… eka ekai jole jachhe…she j anmona…amio….chhai ta lomba hote hote tup kore jhore porlo….brishti r chhaat e bhije jachhe tar nil rong-er tuli-r tan…… du chokh mele takie ami oi dhushor akaasher dik e… ek drishte…ki jeno khuji….na peye bishonno hoi…onek kobita mon-e bheer kore ashe kintu lekha-e hoe na…shobuj neel dhushor gheere thake amake…

Bapai, Your Birthday is Special

We have not got a cake or candles for you today. We have not brought any presents for you to open. We are not posting a funny video for you to laugh your heart out. We are not demanding a treat over a drink from you. No balloons, no music, no birthday bumps.

There is just love that we can offer you my friend. We can only hope today, that you can see us from somewhere and know that we remember you. And then if you wonder, why we still care, we can only tell you that there is a part of you that still exists among us… that you live in our heart… that you will always be remembered.

We have not lost you, we have only lost the fun times, the emotional bonding, the trust, confidence and love you shared with each one us.

Where ever you are, stay safe, keep sharing the sheer amount of joys you ever shared with us. You, as a friend, was a gift to each one of us who ever knew you.

The Taki connection that we shared will only grow stronger by each passing year. No matter how emotional this may sound, Jhapai (as I lovingly called you), I didn’t forget you, I still miss you, I miss your jokes, I miss all those long chats discussing life, travel, career… you will remain as a special memory of a very special friend.

Your life was short, yet memories of you will remain eternal… wishing you a very happy birthday Bapai….

The World is a Stage today on their Birth and Death Anniversaries 

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite”

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare quoted it rightly – “Some are born great, some achieve greatness”… Remembering two legends today – both born great and achieved greatness in their respective lives.

It’s the 450th birth anniversary of the greatest writer of English language – “Bard of Avon” – William Shakespeare. And when it comes to wishing the most noteworthy, sophisticated, elegant, significant, funny, astute, prudent and human writer ever to use the English language in the best possible way, it really gets difficult somewhere as I fall short of words.

Although he was baptised on April 26, 1564, many believe his actual birthday is on April 23, 1564. Like most of his work, his birthday remains mysterious and open to explanation and interpretation to individual theories.

At the tender age of 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, a woman eight years older to him, who remained one of the biggest inspirations of his life. Not much is known about how he earned his living for several years after his marriage. Some say, he worked briefly as a school teacher before moving to London in 1954, when he joined the Lord Chamberlain’s company of actors.

Between 1593 and 1601, Shakespeare was composing sonnets and poetries. Much later a compiled work consisting 154 sonnets, written in the form of three quatrains and a couplet was published. This style is now regarded as Shakespearean.

William Shakespeare at Work

William Shakespeare at Work

Shakespeare penned more than 30 plays. During the early days of playwriting, he primarily wrote comedies and histories such as Henry VI and The Comedy of Errors. In 1596, soon after he wrote Romeo and Juliet, his second tragedy, he was much appreciated for the style. In the next one decade time and again he returned to the form composing, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra. During his final years, the playwright persisted to romantic plays with Cymbeline, A Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest.

Thousands of English words were invented by Shakespeare through his poems and plays. He often combined words from Latin, French and native roots. According to Oxford English Dictionary, some of the words that were invented by William Shakespeare, and are very commonly used today are: arch-villain, birthplace, bloodsucking, courtship, dewdrop, downstairs, fanged, heartsore, hunchbacked, leapfrog, misquote, pageantry, radiance, schoolboy, stillborn, watchdog, and zany.

Ironically the day also marks the 400th death anniversary of this most excellent creative genius.

Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray

22 years ago, on this day, Bengal and India, as a whole, lost its most talented filmmaker – the man who changed the face of Indian cinema forever – the man who can be best described as an artist, ad designer, author, film-maker, musician, painter and thinker – Father of Indian Cinema, Satyajit Ray.

Ray was born on May 2, 1921 in a Bengali family, which gained distinctive eminence for their contributions to art, literature, music, physics and printing technology. He spent his most pivotal years in Shantiniketan, under the guidance of Rabindranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose and Benod Behari Mukherjee.

In 1943, Ray began working as a junior visualizer and graphic artist at the British advertising agency D.J. Keymer. During this time he also worked with Signet Press several book covers like Aam Aatir Bhepu (by Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay), Man-Eaters of Kumaon (by Jim Corbett) and The Discovery of India (by Jawahar Lal Nehru).

Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray

Soon Ray got an opportunity to travel to London on an assignment. Here he happened to meet several stalwarts of World Cinema. Among the many films he watched in London was Neorealist Vittorio De Sica’s Ladri di biciclette or Bicycle Thieves (1948). Ray, in many interviews have said that this film created a profound impact on him and drove him to film making.

With Pather Panchali, his first release in 1955, Ray changed the concept of filmmaking. Later he made Aparajito and Apur Sansar to form the Apu trilogy that earned phenomenal critical acclaim.

Ray directed 36 films including several documentaries and short films that received numerous awards for cinematic brilliance. His work primarily explores and captures copious facets of human sentiments and society. The kaleidoscopic view of the characters that Ray created, have today become a subject of study among film aficionados.

Ray’s work gave him a successful entry into the international film scene, where he shared hallowed ranks of cinematic greats like Jean Renoir, Francois Truffaut, Akira Kurosawa and many others.

Satyajit Ray

Satyajit Ray

Ray is also a celebrated writer. He is regarded as one of the most profound originator of detective and science fiction in Bengali literature. The sharp private investigator Feluda, and the eccentric genius Shonku are two of his most widely read creations. Ray regularly wrote for Sandesh, a famous Bengali children’s magazine, first published by Upendrakishore Raychowdhury (Ray’s grandfather) in 1913. He has also published several works on film criticism.

Satyajit Ray was conferred with Padmashree in 1958, Padmabhushan in 1965, D. Litt., Royal College of Arts, London in 1974, Padma Vibhushan in 1976, D. Litt., Oxford University in 1978, Homage à Satyajit Ray at Cannes Film Festival in 1982, Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1985, Fellowship of Sangeet Natak Academy in 1986, Légion d’Honneur in 1987, and Bharatratna in 1992. He received 32 National awards for him multiple works. Among the various international awards Ray received Golden Lion and Silver Bear, regarded as one of the most prestigious awards in the universe. In 1992 Ray was felicitated with the Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement, when he was lying on his death bed.

These two legends have left behind them a heritage of words, poetry, music, movies, humour, classics… Their creative legacies had and will give us the power to think, reinvent ourselves today and in days to come… they will never age for me, nor fade, nor die….

Earth Hour Pledge of a Foundryman

Support Earth Hour & Save Energy

Support Earth Hour & Save Energy

“I help you to grow crops and make clothes. I help you to purify and supply water. I help you to mine coal, metals, minerals and oil. I help you to build thousands of miles of highways and railroads, and manufacture locomotives, trucks and automobiles. I help you to manufacture airplanes and ships.

I help you to make arms and ammunitions to protect nations. I help you to make tools to carry out work. I helped you in your space missions sending you safely to moon and Mars. I helped you to dive into the depths of oceans and climb the highest peaks.

You use my products in hospitals, banks, airports, railway stations, post offices, schools, supermarkets and even morgue. I recycle waste and present a healthier environment.

Throughout my life I better your living standards. And to help me do all these, you need to stop wasting energy.

Save Energy… Support Earth Hour by Switching off Power from 8:30 PM – 9:30 PM on Saturday, March 29” – Pledge of a Foundryman. The Institute of Indian Foundrymen- IIF

SoLo Changers – The Social Local Changers of Bengal 1st meet-up

We often discuss social and economic issues, challenges of startup ecosystems and various other serious problems that are gradually taking a toll on our minds, our society, our very own surrounding.  But, what if, for a change we no more discuss issues, and try to hunt for a solution?

You just cannot hack your way to a social change. So what can be done about it?

You need to take a plunge, dive into the pool of talented people, create an army of changers and together make a better world.

We have a lot of talented people around us – people whose work impact others in many magnitude. But we have no idea of what their niche interest areas are, where lie their domain knowledge, whom to connect with when the right time comes? So, why can’t we bring together all these talented people (as many as we can) and build a community of changers – the “SoLo Changers”.

Thus evolved the idea of forming “SoLo Changers” – a brainchild of Aninda Das, B. Arvind, Surmi Roy and Myself – an initiative to bring together all those who are Social Local Changers.

The first meet-up of “SoLo Changers” took place at Wise Owl with 14 Changers (on a special invitation basis) on March 1, 2014.  Aninda, the moderator of the session, explained “SoLo Changers” through a welcome note. The format of the session was planned keeping in mind Kolkata’s very own ‘adda’ culture.

SoLo Changers 1st Meet-up

SoLo Changers 1st Meet-up

Aninda began with asking the youngest member, Arpan Kumar Mukherjee, a 3rd year engineering student, about his journey and challenges. Arpan talked about some of the most common challenge faced by engineering students. Placement is a big concern and often the students struggle to even connect with the right companies.

As Arpan mentioned that it is very important to become an Engineer in order to be successful in life, the focus shifted to young and talented Pankaj Kumar, who is a college dropout, has no formal IT training, yet runs an IT company offering employment to around 10 people for the past 5 years. Pankaj talked about his struggle to make ends meet when he came to Kolkata for the first time in search of a job. There were days, when he had to survive on a single piece of bread, but he never lost hope. A self-learner, Pankaj, believes it is more important to have a will to go with your passion than getting a formal degree.

What is most important to become a change agent? Vijaya Das, a graphics designer by profession gave her vote to talent and skills. She, like almost every other kid, would someday want to be a superhero and a hip-hop star some other day. Pressure from the home made her sit for engineering entrance exams, although she hardly had any interest in it. It was one day she saw an advertisement of a design school and was determined to become a graphics designer. Her passion for painting since her childhood helped her to learn quicker than the rest. Today, this young talented lady runs her own design company.

A child prodigy, the young and talented Samantak Sinha is much loved by the Bengali music lovers. He was sensational for the young with “Bandh Bhenge Dao”, his very first playback in popular TV serial Gaaner Opare. His “not-an-usual-voice-for-Rabindrasangeet” has made him a household name.  Like every other kid, Samantak too would live in his own fantasy world. One day, he shared, he saw a band party in his neighborhood hired to some wedding. Their fully ornamented clothes, and the rhythmic music the band played, attracted him so much that he wanted to grew up and have his own band. He would whine much the next pujo to have a band party attire. Today his dream to form a band has come true with “Samantak and Mates”. It was not an easy journey for him. Finding a suitable rehearsal space, visiting recording studios, keeping all night awake to get that perfect tune to a new song he wrote…all were a part of his daily routine. The struggle towards perfection is endless the singer believes. Learning and improvement is a continuous process.

Picking a queue from Samantak, Aninda introduced Anirban Saha, a Tagore enthusiast. Like many other Bengalis he would quote Tagore while chatting with friends or on Facebook wall. He would find many (surprisingly the “many” also included many Bengalis) would ask him to define it in simpler words or translate those poetic creations in English. This drove the passion young Anirban to build and launch “Tagore Quotes”, an application that translates the verses of Tagore. Anirban, besides being a software developer from TCS, is also known for being a fantastic photographer, blogger and social media reputation management speaker.

The conversation gradually panned towards Sheikh Sadaquat Hossain – a very enthusiastic fellow completely driven by his passion. What do you do, when you are in England, graduating from an elite college, yet do not feel motivated? You simply follow your heart, like Sadaquat, and do what you really want to do. Sadaquat came back to India from England to start his own venture, Stylish Yarn – a lifestyle designer brand. One must follow his dreams and never stop exploring, is the secret mantra shared by his young entrepreneur.

Although Tanay Ghoshal runs an IT company, I prefer calling him a social entrepreneur.  Tanay is always brimming with ideas – ideas that can bring a benefit to the society. Unlike most of the IT startups, Tanay does not only hunt for foreign clients and dollar earnings. He keeps developing web and mobile based social apps. Currently Tanay is closely working with Kolkata Police to develop a mobile app to report accident cases.

A PhD dropout, voracious reader, gifted writer, first from India to reach 1lac tweets….all these and more is Agnivo Niogi. People know him for his extraordinary write-ups on Bengal. His job takes him to places and gives him an opportunity to connect with the grass root people. Agnivo believes it is for his deep and intangible roots in Bengal that give life to his write-ups. Be it Bengali food or music Agnivo is always immersed in anything that is even remotely connected with Bengal. He rightly says, it is easy to criticize from a distance, but when you are into the system, you know what the real things are. And the fact is that a lot of progressive work is taking place in rural Bengal.

A social communicator, an RJ and above all a retro music curator. That’s what defines Arvind the best. A Tamil Brahmin, born and brought up in Kolkata, he generated a love for music since a very young age. Bengal has music in the air, Arvind would say. He is an ocean of knowledge when it comes to the Indian retro music. The scintillating cabarets, the light fitted jackets, glamorous ladies, and charming men defines Bollywood’s retro era. But, it all sounds pale without a mention of Pancham da and Kishore Da, adds Arvind.

It is not difficult to find talents in Bengal. If you have a musician sitting on your left, you may very likely find a reciter to your right. Surmi Roy, a PhD student, specializing in Liver Cancer, is a reciter too. She, along with two other girls, have formed a recitation band. When asked – why a recitation troupe during an era of music bands, Surmi said, it all starts with poetry. You first write a poetry and then fill it with music, so it becomes a song. Surmi, not only finds time out for poetry, but also for a number of social service starting from organizing blood donation camps to sit and draw competitions. She also gives free tuition to a few kids over the weekend.

The last one to talk on the day was Steve Capell, an American learning Bengali for the past 9 years. While learning the language, he was faced with difficulty in not just understanding several words but also pronouncing many many more. A PhD in Computer Science, Steve then decided to make a tool to make Bangla learning easier for others. His initiative Bangla Tangla is a result of this.

It was mind refreshing, great learning and above all an extremely motivating experience for all. Thanks to Tanay, CEO and Founder of  Honcho Commercial Pvt. Ltd. for sponsoring coffees and snacks for all of us.

SoLo Changers aims to meet newer people and let the community grow. Our next meet-up will be announced soon.

The Confused Case of Aluminium Vs Aluminum

I would always remain confused about the right spelling of the Earth’s Most Abundant Metallic Element – Aluminium or Aluminum. What is the difference? Is it only the Brit Vs American way of writing or is there anything more science to it? I looked into the periodic table to seek an answer but did not manage to find an answer. The question kept brewing in my head: Why do the Americans use one “i” and the British two for this word?

I finally googled to find a satisfactory answer and this is what I came across:

In 1808 Sir Humphry Davy, the British chemist who discovered the metal, named it “alumium.” With just one “i” and an “ium” ending, it straddled the two competing versions we have today.

Four years later, however, Davy changed his mind and gave the metal the name “aluminum” (yup, the one-”i” American version). In his book Elements of Chemical Philosophy, published in 1812, Davy wrote, “As yet Aluminum has not been obtained in a perfectly free state. “

But later that same year other scientists decided “aluminum” didn’t sound sufficiently Latin, so they began calling it “aluminium.” Here’s a quote from the Quarterly Review: “Aluminium, for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound.”

At any rate, throughout the 19th century, both “aluminum” and “aluminium” could be found in the US as well as in Britain, though the “ium” ending was predominant in British English.

This was such a rare metal in the 1800s, though, that we’re not talking about a common household word; it was mainly known among scientists.

Only at the turn of the century, when production on a large scale became practical, did the name of the metal start becoming a familiar word. And that’s when Americans – after some to-ing and fro-ing, of course – began to clearly prefer the simpler “aluminum” (which had been favored, incidentally, by Noah Webster).

Eventually “aluminum” became the standard name for the metal in North America and was officially adopted in the 1920s by the American Chemical Society.

Elsewhere, though, scientists generally use “aluminium.” The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry uses “aluminium” as the standard international spelling but also recognizes “aluminum” as a variant.

62nd Indian Foundry Congress of IIF

To know more about Earth’s Most Abundant Metallic Element – Aluminium pay a visit to the 62nd Indian Foundry Congress.