They say Purple is the new Black, when it comes to fashion. And when it comes to safety of women, "KOLKATA" is surely the new "DELHI." Kolkata, used to be considered one of the safest havens, when it came to women travelling across the span of the city. Now it is surely the worst nightmare for any woman and her family. The brutal murder of Barasat boy Rajib Das, is surely the deadliest example of the real situation at ground zero. Sixteen year old Rajib was mercilessly murdered when he tried to save his sister from being molested. And all this happened in the close vicinity of the homes of the district's top law and order sustainers, yet the cops decided to not pay a heed. Its appalling how the bonechilling entire episode was even sought to be downplayed by the authorities, and now the Dirty Politics which surrounds this incident, leaves all of us spell bound.

It might sound a bit far fetched for me to write about the safety of women in Kolkata, when I am miles apart, in a different country and a different continent. But this is something, I feel which touches the chords of our heart even when we are far away from our homeland. Every newsreel about Kolkata gets even more personal for us, those who now stay away. We all want a slice of our favorite city, but the slice just keeps getting bitter for us. The mudslinging which follows is what it makes it even worse.

Having stayed in the city for quite a few years as well as Delhi, and worked for odd hours, courtesy my television journalism days, Delhi seems safer to me. Rajib's murder, and the plight of his sister just convince me all the more. Its just not this one single case which has happened to shake the city and its peace, its the numerous cases which are still going unreported. The administration and its skewed attitude towards the safety of women are not making the picture any prettier.

Why is the safe haven suddenly been transformed into such a bottomless pit? This is not a political platform, neither do I consider myself to be overtly political, but yet I wonder, whether the winds of change in the political arena of the state, are responsible for this. I am not ashamed to say that I am scared to imagine the state of affairs if the winds of change initiate a significant political makeover in West Bengal.

Its not that I am racking my brains and scribbling away after reading a few reports on the safety of women in the state, being miles away from it. It is after all easier to value judge. Hence I will not resort to value judgements. My visit to my city, Kolkata, last Summer, had just proven to be the tip of the iceberg. I dreaded what would follow. Lewd comments in a departmental store by a group of drunken men, in a posh mall in Salt Lake, just saw me and my friend picking up a fight and then almost fleeing from the scene, as the rest of the store remained silent at our plight. Public transport had always been my preferred mode of transport in the City of Joy, but after my last visit, I have decided that it is not so good an option any more. These incidents are nothing when compared to whats happening now to all those families in the city and its outskirts. But if I could get affected with these incidents which happened to Me, maybe I cannot fathom the real pain which the affected have faced.

EMBARRASED is what I am. It is my city, and even I have a younger brother, and this is something which could have happened to me as well. I am embarrassed that my own city has become a place where I do not feel secure any more.


Reflections on our state of being

A paper I had presented on International Women's Day 2006: The days of active feminism and days of being inspired by Ulrich Beck's Risk Society: Cheers to those days:

We talk of discrimination of the girl child, complain about the sexual harassment at the workplace, celebrate International Women's Day with great fervour, but we somehow become very resilient when it comes to initiating changes in our lives, in terms of gender justice. In most cases, our feelings are relegated to thoughts alone and our actions are often a compromise with our surrounding situations.

This "so-called hypocritical" stance which, we, the women of a risk society, like Kolkata , adopt, is due to the prevalent idea that a woman's life is all about risks.

Discrimination of the girl child has been rampant over the ages. However at today's time, discrimination dons a completely new garb. It is neither education nor opportunities, where she is discriminated against, it is "fear" .Parents are more scared about the well being of their female child in her day to day activities. Specific time limits are often set by society, within which a woman is said to be safer from the risk of sexual harassment than the rest. For example, often parents strictly instruct their daughters to be home by 9p.m. However, what is not realized is that sexual harassment has nothing to do with time. It can happen in broad daylight with equal probability as at 8.55p.m or at 9.01 pm or at 12 noon.

Moreover, the dressing sense/ choice of a girl is often sought to be strictly monitored by the parents or boyfriends or husbands. This is so, for it is still believed that women who wear western clothes or "so-called" revealing clothes, project themselves as objects of lust and are therefore at greater risk of being sexually harassed.

However, sexual harassment has nothing to do with the clothes worn by a woman, for if it was so, then women of a particular social strata, observing a particular dress code, would be at risk, which is not what happens in reality. Sexual harassment is more of an expression of the power relationship between man and woman, rather than as a satisfaction of sexual urges as patriarchal institutions and values want everybody to believe. The sexuality of the woman is as if a "toy" in the hands of the males, by which they can establish their stronghold in society.

However it is not that we are only at risk with regard to our dress code or the time at which we return home. In the real sense, we are not safe anywhere, in whatever endeavour of ours.

The risk is often not so blatant, as dressing sense or time. The subtlety with which , the risk, hits us, makes it all the more dangerous for us. Speaking in terms of risks , our educational institutions, whether schools, colleges, or universities, are not very safe, however safe they may appear to be. Often normal classes are laced with sexual innuendos, which are very objectionable. Sexual harassment is not restricted to physical touching only. Communication with sexual references are a very severe form of sexual harassment, where often the woman cannot retort back, as the man in question, refers to sexual innuendos. Often we are harassed in the guise of praise. Often male teachers start praising us and that praise is just the premise they build for the verbal sexual harassment which awaits us. More often than not , these incidents remain hushed up, and even if the girl confesses of the incident she can often do very little against the accused, owing to his superior power position. So in spite of our knowledge about what is sexual harassment, and even our will to save ourselves, we can often do nothing, other than feeling helpless and disturbed.

In my case , things have been slightly different. I was in my final year of graduation, in the most renowned college in the city, which recently got its autonomy. We had a guest lecturer, who was a big shot in my subject, and who was one of the framers of the syllabus that we followed. The professor concerned, resorted to rampant verbal sexual harassment , with great ease. After tolerating all this harassment for some time, myself and a friend of mine , who is currently a correspondent with The Times Of India, decided that we had had enough. We explained to our friends that what they were hearing in class, was a form of sexual harassment. It was not an easy task, but we succeeded in the end. We gave a petition to our Vice-Principal, and after a lot of trouble, he was shown the door. But we were still at risk, as he was one of the paper checkers of our final exams. But we stuck to our ground without thinking of the consequences. This same person also teaches at the university, where I study now, and continues the same thing over here, although he does not take my classes. However I do not see any of his current students objecting against this, all though some of them come to me and state that they feel uncomfortable. Not everyone can be as radical as I am , but we all should try to make some difference, in whatever way we can

Verbal sexual harassment has also found a new form in this sms age Often working women receive sms jokes with explicit sexual content, from their male colleagues. Often when the women complain about the same, their male colleagues say that jokes are after all jokes, and they should not over react. However this is very objectionable, where often the women cannot do anything, other than feeling extremely uncomfortable This is the present state , where we are aware of the risks, but can often do nothing , other than feeling angry that nothing could be done, or very depressed that we are always interpreted in terms of our sexuality.

There is another risk we face, where we are always interpreted in terms of our sexuality. No matter what we do , it is always our sexuality which is of concern to all. For instance, when I took up a particular special paper, I was told by a teacher that I was somewhat unsuitable for the subject, as I was very fair complexioned, and had coloured hair and dressed in a particular way So my physical appearance was more important than my capabilities, for success in the subject. Moreover when I first joined the university, I had to hear comments that I was only about good looks, and branded clothes and overt feminism and students should sit with "good" girls at the other corner of the class.

So our sexuality is as is if the only asset we have , for the people around us. And anyone can take advantage of it .However, in a film called Jism , which was touted as the press as a sexual thriller, showed in a sequence a woman who tried to strike a difference in this male chauvinist world. There is a stereotype that women who wear western clothes are loose, moreover if the woman goes to a pub then she is interpreted as a woman who is inviting trouble, and if anything happens to the women then the men are not at fault, as the women invited it and even enjoyed it. Such is the belief on which society thrives. But this film, Jism showed a woman , who wore a revealing western outfit, and went to a pub alone, when her husband was out of town But this woman slapped a man as he tried to make a pass at her and stated that she maybe wearing what she is comfortable in, and no one has a right to make a pass just because she has come to the pub alone. This I feel was quite a statement, but unfortunately it was lost in the eroticism of the rest of the film.

There is another risk we face, our opposition to sexual harassment , often, paves the way for further trouble for us. It is as if a section of women are teaching the others to oppose such behavior, so they should be punished in some way. Feminists are seen as corrupting the minds of other women against the order of nature. This is so pathetic, that sexual harassment of women is as is if what is destined by nature. This is the reason for which my parents often tell me not to react to lewd comments on the road and just avoid them, as if I did not hear them at all. So we hear objectionable things and remain quiet, as opposition maybe dangerous for us.

The risks which await us are innumerable, and we are still very helpless in spite of our awareness. Beck spoke in terms of manufactured risks, and we can speak of risks manufactured to subjugate the women all the more she strives for her liberation.

Socialized with the "risk" of such "risks pervading all around us" , we suffer from a great sense of fear. For example, in my case, I may be speaking for the rights of women, protesting against cases of sexual harassment against students, be a non- conformist, I feel safer when my boyfriend is with me, when I return home at night. Moreover I dress up in a different way when I know that my boyfriend will drop me home, then when I would be coming alone. The world may say that I am "hypocritical", but compromising with my surroundings to some extent is the only solution I have, when I know that I have to travel across the city, [from Birati to Alipore ]in public transport, and often return late alone.

So we, the women of today are trying to make a difference, but in this endeavour we are falling prey to the clutches of the patriarchal set-up, where we often have to depend on another male---- our boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers, friends, for saving or protecting us from the "risk of other men."



The mind plays the biggest games with us, as it wanders so fast. Often the wanderings of our mind keep us awake on perfectly peaceful nights, and also they bring a smile to our faces in a crowded room, when we are feeling o so lonely. Some brand us as being over imaginative, some feel we turn our normal lives into a news reel.

I wonder what is it that goes on in those minds who brand us so easily. Well, these are people who are surely the rock stars in life. People who can waltz from one stage to another, smoothly giving royal performances, winning accolades, while the audience(read us) are left awestruck at the smoothness of these operators.

I have finished cooking dinner tonight, and there is nothing good in television now, but somehow my mind is wandering too fast to write. So here I am scribbling away, trying to fathom where my fleeting mind will take me next.

We all face blows in our lives, but yes, we all move on. Just like we drool over the sweetness, to just learn to gulp down the bitter, with no spoonful of sugar though. The mind wanders and wanders. Fears grip us, when repetitive flaws keep spiraling in our lives. Do we imagine it all? Are our fears justified? Do we not have the liberty to even feel for ourselves? Get scared, as we have been bruised. Someone who has escaped from a burning house, feels scared when they see the redness in the sky at dusk. Why do the same trends repeat themselves? Why cant life just change for good for a change, without having to see the same trends unfolding in front our eyes, with just changing faces. Sometimes a wannabe make up artist, sometimes a HR graduate, or sometimes a software professional, everything starts with the same trends, its only that different labels are given for every changing face. Sometimes its JUST a casual comment, sometimes its JUST remembering one's past with passion and fondness, and sometimes its JUST a joke, the labels just get newer and newer. And yet, we are the ones who are imagining? Are we?

Is it possible for all pains to be imagined? If all pains and fears are imagined, then we are all living the Inception life, but I just cant see the top spinning anymore. If I am truly living the Inception life, then did my life inspire the film's screenplay? After all being branded as imaginative, maybe the Nolans were inspired by the wanderings of an imaginative mind.

But yes, we just have to smile. Everyone is more often than not waiting for that elusive smile. Smiling, and savouring the few good moments life throws at us. And trying to remember those moments when we are misty eyed, when again we get scared. And maybe again waiting to get branded as imagining our fears. Did anyone see the top spinning around? I am yet to find the spinning top around me, and the search is still on for that spinning top.

Roasted Cornish Hen with Homestyle Garlic Bread


Having had to cut down on our reds big time, we have had to settle with the whites. The blandness of the whites are in no way any match to the full bodied reds, but we are left with no choice. So we raise all our toasts to the whites. Now we have had to think which wines to pair with the whites. Well, I was not talking of wines for so long, if any of you thought I was. We love our meat, needless to say. And with having to cut down our red meat, I was talking of our adjustment with the birds now.

Chicken is something which is cooked in so many different ways in the Dasgupta household, and as Deb says, one can never go wrong with chicken. From curries to grilling, from fries to roasts, name it , and we have almost made it at home. I remember after an early dinner outside,sometime early last year, we were hungry around midnight. So my Iron Chef, impromptu got the grill going, and we were munching away to glory on some succulent white meat. All this in the middle of night.

After having a whole lot of healthy veggie meals, Deb picked up a couple of Cornish hens, and roasted them just perfect. I never knew white meat tasted so well, till I dug into the lil birdies.

Deb's Roasted Cornish Hen with Homestyle Garlic Bread:


Cornish Hens: 2
Shrimp: 10
Bell pepper: 1/2
Pearl Onions: 10
Olive oil
Italian seasoning
Sugar: 2 tbsp
Lemon'n' pepper seasoning
Rotisserie chicken seasoning
Colby Jack cheese cubes
Butter: 2 tbsp
White Bread slices: 4-5
Garlic cloves: 2-3


Make a mixture of salt, sugar and Italian seasoning with enough water to immerse the birds.
Brine the hens in this solution around half an hour.
Get the birds out of the water,and dab them with kitchen tissue. Use a hair dryer to dry out the moisture off the birds.
Rub olive oil generously on the birds, and then rub lemon'n' pepper and rotisserie chicken seasonings, and salt. If you do not have rotisserie chicken seasoning, then use any poultry seasoning you have at home.
Season the cleaned prawns with salt and lemon pepper seasoning.
Clean the pearl onions, and chop the bell pepper.
Stuff the hens with the seasoned shrimps, chopped bell pepper and pearl onions, b
utter and cheese cubes.
Pre heat the oven to 400 F.
Place the birds on a big baking dish allowing space in between the birds, so as to cook well.
Cook the birds for an hour or till they are done, or till the juices run clear.
Get the baking dish out of the oven and lightly tent it with foil, allowing it to rest for around for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, season the bread slices with a dash of olive oil, salt and Italian seasoning and toast according to preference. Cut a garlic clove in half and rub it on the toasted bread well.

Simply enjoy white meat roasted to perfection with super tasty garlic bread. Home food does rock, doesn't it.


Nargisi Kofta

Deb's culinary expertise:

Mughlai food is something very close to our heart,and we have a long connect to it as a couple. I still remember that my now husband, then a college kid, had promised a teenage schoolgirl(read me), that he would meet her at a somewhat well known Mughlai food joint in Central Kolkata, more than a decade back. And he never turned up himself. I had grown a distaste for that particular restaurant, after that incident, yet my heart longed for Mughlai food. I guess to make up for all that, he took me for a hearty meal to the very same restaurant, the day we had served our notice to get legally married.

Mughlai food is available at quite a few joints here in Kansas City, but somehow they lack that punch, which we are so used to, fro our Kolkata and Delhi days. The biriyanis here, lack the zing, the tandoori chicken is somewhat dry, and somewhat the kebabs are not that juicy. I know, I crib and complain so much, guess the side effect of my journalism days. So with all this cribbing around him, Deb decided to create a Mughlai dish for dinner. and it was no ordinary Mughlai fare, it was something not easily available at all Mughlai eating joints. He whipped up Nargisi Koftas. I had only heard about them, but never ever tasted them so the excitement was almost touching the ceiling of my apartment. Here goes the secret to Deb's Nargisi Koftas:



For the Kofta:

Eggs: 8
Minced lamb/Minced chicken: 500 gms
Onion: 1 large(chopped)
Garlic: chopped 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Red Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Flour: 1/2 cup
Canola oil: for deep frying koftas

For the Gravy:

Ginger: paste 1 tbsp
Garlic: paste 1 tbsp
Tomatoes: 3 (ground to a paste in a blender)
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder: 1 tsp
Yoghurt: 8-10 tbsp
Canola oil: 3-4 tbsp
Salt to taste
Cilantro for garinishing


Hard boil 6 of the eggs and peel them.
Mix the dry spices of the koftas, with one egg,with salt and the minced meat in a large bowl.
Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions.
By taking one egg, encase it in the meat mixture. Smoothen it out with your hands to give
it a smooth casing. The meat should be in a way wrapped around the hard boiled egg. Repeat it with the rest of the hardboiled eggs.
Roll the meat encased eggs in flour and keep them on a plate.
Beat the remaining egg in a bowl.
Dip the flour covered koftas in the whisked egg before deep frying them.
Deep fry the koftas to a golden brown colour
Drain the fried koftas on a paper towel, to soak out excess oil.

Fry the chopped onions in hot oil in a pan till light golden brown.
Add in the ginger garlic paste and fry for another 4 minutes or so.
Add the dry spices and the tomato paste, and cook till the oil separates from the masala.
Add the yoghurt and 1/2 cup of water to the roasted masala for another 3-4 minutes. Mix well.
When the gravy has a nice consistency, add the prepared koftas, and carefully coat them with the gravy in the pan.
Cook for around 5-6 minutes.
Turn off the heat.
Carefully horizontally cut the koftas and garnish the, with chopped cilantro.
it goes well with both steamed rice and parathas.

Well, needles to say, the dish was super hit. It was one of those soul food items, that one craves for, being far away from one's homeland. The Indian restaurants in Kansas City should surely learn the tricks from my very own Iron Chef. Its well known that imitation is the best form of flattery. As before I could pen down the post, the dish was replicated by a guest we had home for dinner that night. Now that's a big compliment for the chef don't you think?!