Saturday, June 30, 2007


Though the heading may sound a bit pompous, it was quite bad. In fact, in hindsight, I do realize it was kinda fun as well!! So here goes an account of my adrenaline rush ...

Was sitting offshore on a rig, also popularly known as the Grand Museum of the North Sea (aka Britannia, Shitannia, Schraapnoeke and many others) , were 6 poor souls, 3 of whom were awaiting a chopper at 1:30 pm to visit dear old Amsterdam. We were enjoying a quiet little nap in the recreation room when a rude bang and a shake woke us up. With a series of such bangs following in quick succession, the first signs of panic hit in!! Only to add to it was the reassurances from the rig big bosses were phrases like "Don't worry, nothing's wrong ... we're gonna take care of it". If nothing's wrong, how come things need taking care of, remains an unsolved mystery though.

Thus spake the "rig oracle" and back we were to our lazing place (aka the smoking room). My colleague and I started discussing about the "shittiness rating" of the rig, which according to her wasn't as bad as we people usually described it as. A few hours later she'd be cursing she ever uttered those words!! :-)

13:00 A quick visit to my room revealed a broken cabinet door hanging on its hinges and a broken power panel door further down the corridors.

13:20 A couple of bangs and shakes more and a PA saying choppers have been delayed owing to a slight malfunction of the rig legs.

And now dawned light on the fog ... 54 knots of wind were more than enough to ensure the hydraulic jack up system on the rig legs started to give way and the leg had started sinking. In a vain effort to keep the hydraulic pressure up, the rig guys had started pumping, only to realize that one of the lines were leaking!! Strangely enough, this news spread over the rig like someone threw a light into a pool of oil!!

15:00 As all efforts of controlling the ever descending legs seemed in vain, it was time for panic. Emergency meetings convened and people ran around. 6 people still in the recreation room smoking or sleeping.

17:00 Plenty of phone calls back to town to send in live spice, all we heard were snickers and concerned laughs of our colleagues back in town and reassurances, nothing's going to happen!!

18:00 Rig alarms and PA-s ... "Prepare to abandon rig ... please leave behind everything you have except a bag with enough clothing for 24 hours and toilet items."

As I thankfully boarded the first of the three choppers at 18:30 back to shore, the last look back at a tilted rig with one leg down by almost 6m, strangely wasn't the most frightening vision I'd ever seen. Just confirms, death makes you stronger!! :-)

P.S> This was Tuesday 26th. I had to go back to the "fixed rig" on Thu 28th again. And now am back again on shore recovering from the wonderful adrenaline rush and the haunting images!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Apparently, yours truly bears some similarity to these faces !! Any help to explain in what aspects will be appreciated :)!!

Monday, May 28, 2007


This is an amazing video I found at random!! Oh so cute!!

Thursday, May 03, 2007


It sometimes amazes me how, being away from civilization and people you know, gives you so much extra time for your own self. A simple comparison would be a weekend in Amsterdam and the last 4 days offshore. Two full days never seem to be enough time to sit down and pen something worthwhile!! Its either calling up friends to make plans for exploring new places which might offer some more thrills of Amsterdam (very few left actually) or taking a quiet walk around the neighbourhood contemplating about future plans!! And yet here I am, sitting offshore, supposed to be on duty and work; only to have the time and tempo to sit down and type out an article.

Catching up with the last few months, namely February to April, life had been busy like never before till the end of March, so much so that everybody was on the point of losing it and mouthing the ultimatum!! But a trip to Italy and Greece, away from all the stress seemed to work miracles. Yet again, I feel indebted to my best chum for turning up beside me when I needed him most!!

April seemed to go by in a crazy rush as well ... audits at office, preparations for career growth et al and it was time for Queen's day already!! More importantly, it marked a year for me in Amsterdam, undoubtedly the wildest in my life!! And after all the crazy stuff I've seen n done over the past 12 months, guess its a welcome relief to see my parents and spend a quiet couple of months with them!!

22 Apr 06 - the day I landed in Schipol to 29 Apr 07 - I must admit has been an eye-opener of a year for me. The cultural difference that Amsterdam has to offer from any other place is in every sense unique and incomparable to what even the best authors can pen down!! After the initial partying till the end of last year, things indeed had quietened down among us a bit (not that the city had changed but more because all of us seemed to grow "older" :D). Add to that the transfer of two of our closest colleagues, re-bonding with a new team, with all the work, didnt just seem to work out!! I won't even try penning down more details of 2006-07, not just for censorship issues but also the sheer volume of trash I could fill this place up with !! :)

However, in spite of all the same things in life ... same work, same friends ... somewhere deep inside I feel an intrinsic change. Guess I haven't been able to give much time to what it wants me to do but a sense of weariness seems to be growing since I felt the change; there seems to be a willingness to accept more responsibility, to take pride in what you do ... dunno where i'm exactly headed for!! Strangely enough, it also gives a serene feeling to life - I spent my birthday on a wellsite working the whole day, spent Queen's Day offshore working as well even when it wasn't necessary; yet, I don't feel bad about either. Something tells me these are not as appealing as they are made out to be!! Life moves on irrespective of whether one cuts a cake or not, irrespective of whether one gets stoned and laid or not!!

Wonder what others in my position feel!! Or am I the only one??

Sunday, February 18, 2007


One of the greatest advantages of living far away from home sweet home is the enhanced ability to appreciate and yet have a laugh at our own culture. The Kolkata culture thats ingrained among us from birth manifests itself in all aspects of our life, whether we live in the cosmos of Bangalore/Gurgaon/Noida or in the far far away ("shaat shomudro paare") USA or more recently in UK or Germany!! Laugh as much as we may, this is far from being a source of ambarrasment, we actually pride ourselves on it!!

A recent effort led to the compilation of this dictionary about the ABC of Bengalis -

A: Aapish (more commonly called office). This is where the average Kolkattan spends a day hard(ly) at work. Of course, a Government "aapish" is more work given that everything goes by the clock, e.g. report in at 10, chill out till 11, tea break at 12, sign some files at 12:30, lunch break at 1 followed by a couple of "bidis" at 2, tea break at 3, snooze time at 4 and finally go home at 5!!

B: Bhision (more commonly called vision). For some reason the average Bong has very poor bhision. Proof ... the abundance of spectacle shops and their fat owners!!

C: Chappel. For Kolkatans, synonym for the devil, one might say the worst form of evil!!

D: Debashish. Whoever laid the rule that every fourth bengali child should be named so, kind of underestimated the Bong's reproductive abilities!! But trust us to be creative enough ... you have Deb, Debu, Deba with the odd Debjeet, Deboprotim and Debnath thrown in as well!!

E: Eeeessshhhh. The age old Bengali exclamation (other varieties are iiiissshhh) made more glamorous by Aishwarya Rai in Devdas. A survey showed the average Kolkatan uses this expression 10089 times a year!!

F: Feeshh (what else!!) Take a Bong to a fish market; with the abundance of stink around him, he will still be able to identify the good from the bad with just a whiff!! Of course the poor vendor may sometime have to bear the brunt of "Eeeesshh, what feeshh is theeshh!!"

G: Good name (the bong version is "bhalo naam"). Much has been documented about the poor Kolkata kid whose perfectly nice "good name" is marred by the nick of Chontu, Shona, Mona, Tuki, Dinku, Babai. Suffice to say, its unthinkable for a Kolkata household not to have 2 sets of names for their kids!!

H: Harmonium. The Kolkata equivalent of the lead guitar. Gather 4 Bongs and give them a couple of Harmoniums, presto, you have the Beatles!!

I: Again what else but "Ileeeshh". A fish with 1000 bones capable of killing any mortal trying to eat it but that, for a Bong is child's play!!

J: Jhola. A shapeless cloth bag which can accommodate an amazing no. of articles in it. Though becoming more synonymous of "aantelpona" (intellectualism), this still remains a dear possession of any middle aged self respecting Kolkatan.

K: Kee Kaando. Another of the Bong's famous exclamations. It used to run neck to neck with Eeesshh but the glamour factor of Ash seems to have stopped the K factor short in its track

L: Lungi. How Kolkatans manage to play cricket, football or any form of game with this is beyond comprehension. But we're still waiting for the day when a group of Kolkatans climb Mt. Everest in the same.

M: Minibus. As the name suggests a halph-bus. But again as always appearances can be deceptive. So what we dont have a F1 track, Kolkata roads are good enough for them to show their skills for the same.

N: Nangto. Nothing much can be written about it coz of censorship issues but it definitely qualifies as the most interesting word in the world meaning naked!!

O: Oil. Come winter and all rooftops in Kolkata will witness the whole family enjoying a nice self massage of "shorsher tel". In general though, oil can even cure common cold (oil in the nose), ear-aches (oil in the ear) and even piles (oil you know where!!).

P: Phootball. Needless to explain more about the phabourite passion of the Kolkatan. Its interesting to note every Bengali worth his salt is an expert at the game.

Q: Queen Bhictoria. The pride of Victoria Memorial among the city inhabitants seems to grow with every passing day. Who cares if some young couples scandalize this monument with their hormonal calls!!

R: Rabindranath Tagore. The guy won the Nobel Prize in 1913. Of course you can now understand why we look down upon the "uncultured" Mumbai-ites & Delhi-ites!!

S: Sardarjee. The best taxi drivers in the city, as goes the belief!! But one does get the feeling, the Kolkatan envies the Sardarjee ... why did he have the privilige to wear a half monkey cap all his life??

T: Tram. The inheritance from the British. Of course, in most cases its faster to walk to your destination than take a tram.

U: Ullu. Most people might not have heard of this term but its unthinkable to have a marriage ceremony in Bong-land without someone among the fairer sex, waggling her toungue and making this weird noise.

V: Violence (rather non-violence). A crime/accident scene is always swarming with people. They will abuse, scream and curse their hearts out but never will they indulge in violence. Police records state the last violent act was in 1979.

W: Water. The city remains under water for 3 months out of 12. It has been so for the last 200 years and yet the authorities seem to be caught by surprise every year!!

X: X-mas. One of Kolkata's biggest celebrations right after Durga pujo. If a Kolkatan were to visit Europe on Christmas, they would probably suffer a stroke comparing the lit up Park Street to the deserted European streets!!

Y: Yellow. No Bong dish is complete without a dash of turmeric (which imparts the yellow coloration to food). As if that wasn't proof enough, house walls should be painted yellow as well!!

Z: Couldn't find something quite to the heart but guess the Alipore Zoo should come close!!

Disclaimer - There were a number of close ones such as Durga Pujo with Debashish, Maddox with Minibus, but guess the author's discretion takes priority here!! :)

Cheers Kolkata ... indeed the City of Joy!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006


19:15, 12 Nov 2006 -
Landed in Edinburgh to the announcements of new security measures in European airports!! Not that it was necessary given the amount of pain and trouble all passengers were anyway going through learning it all out the hard way - no fluids, liquids or pastes in hand baggage!! A boring cab ride, followed by an equally insipid receptionist and there I was settled into my home for the next two weeks.

As I made my way down to meet the only familiar name among the list of colleagues due to attend the training course, the fun and laughter from Canada and more significantly, the Scottish of our instructor back then, echoed in my ears. Only I had no idea that the coming days would be far from nostalgic!!

To put it in very simple words, 15 nights went by in a haze of alcohol, punctuated by a weekend visit to Bath & Bristol!! I'll refrain from going into too much details of the 25 odd different types of beer/ale or the Scotch or the 6 different types of wine we tasted there; but suffice to say, at the end of the 2 weeks, there really weren't too many pubs or night clubs left in Edinburgh left to discover!! With a regular schedule of 7:30 hotel pickup, followed by classes from 8:30-17:30, back home by 19:00 and pubbing from 20:00 to 3:00, life did tend to become a little boring, only at times though!! Only that our conscience prevented us from abusing the phrase "Work hard, party harder" any worse!! :-)
For those interested in pics of the alcohol, check out my picassa album after 23rd of this month -

Guess it would be more prudent to dwell on the unique aspects of the Scottish culture on this post!!
To start with the Scots do pride themselves on having a distinct history & culture from the British. The pride goes to an extent where they blatantly boast of speaking in a perfectly incomprehensible accent of what remotely resembles English!! Long live the Queen's English.

They are even more proud of their national dress ... why any normal man would want to dress in a checked skirt is beyond human logic but again, they are Scots!! And speaking of dresses, God help someone wearing a t-shirt praising England remotely.

They prefer living in Gothic houses and apartments a lot but if you ever decided to search for one to share with a friend, you might as well not even start. The usual single bedroom apt is meant only for couples, no friends or brothers or sisters allowed!! Not to exaggerate, an acquaintance of mine studying in Scotland had to pretend to be a lesbian couple with her sister, with common friends swearing to their heart felt love, just to get an apartment!! How much more sick can you get!!!

Last but not the least, the weirdness reaches a crescendo when they brag about the nice weather they have all year round, the weather in case being rain, rain and rain all year long!! How one can enjoy shivering in wet clothes day in and day out, again is beyond my comprehension!! But all the same good luck to anyone trying to make a true-bred Scotsman understand the concept of seasons & the summer sun!!

19:15, 28 Nov 2006 -
So with rain drenched 15 days of drunken stupor later, as I boarded my flight back to another crazy city called Amsterdam (which incidentally also houses me), the final impression of Edinburgh's rich history and culture (however weird that might be) seemed to be more attractive than the countries I had been to hitherto!! CHEERS .... hic!!