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  Home » Melange » Feature
Letter to my Beloved Daughter
By Paromita Bardoloi

(This is the first in a series of letters from a mother to her imaginary daughter)
Dear Daughter,
One of the gifts that I have ever asked from God is to be a mother of a daughter and a son. I want a home that has both of you. I hope someday I am your Maa. This is a letter, I know you would read when you have grown up a few years; may be in your late teens. But this is a wealth I leave to you. There are certain things that you might agree, others you might just throw away. Even if you refuse to ever read it or value it, I shall still be a proud mother. You are not entitled to pick everything I leave to you. I shall always respect your choice. Here are a few things I picked from life and I want to talk it out with you.
1. Gender is not an ideology: In this world, there are men and there are women. But beta, by no means is being a woman superior or inferior to being a man. Men are different. That's all, in all its reality. However, when you walk outside your home, you will find this terrible thing called, 'gender discrimination.' According to which men and women are supposed to choose and act differently. Never buy that. It has been invented to add to the egos and age-old ideologies. Confront it and face it. But never buy it and make it yours.
2. Your body: We live in a consumer culture. People are either buying or selling. Our society unfortunately is designed to enhance lifestyle, yet it devalues life. It shall constantly tell you what it is that you should be. They will say that a skin that is darker is not wanted or a body that has a few more pounds to it is undesirable. To sum it up, they will constantly tell you to be the perfect doll they want. But beloved, never buy that. Firstly, there is nothing called perfection (they are just selling their products) and secondly all skin colors and bodies are beautiful. Listen to anyone who talks about a healthy skin and a body. Make healthy body choices, that is enough.
3. A lie is a lie: When I was younger, I used to lie a lot. I am not sure how and why I started, but it was my best defense mechanism. Do you know what it did to me? It robbed me off my conviction as a person. Every lie that I spoke to others was a lie I spoke to myself. My life became littered with lies here and there. I started to lie to myself, about my feelings. I manipulated myself and finally I stopped trusting myself. That is what lies do to you, either small or big. It robs you off your self-conviction.
4. Relationships: When you grow up, you will learn that everything in life is a relationship, from your school to your classmates. There are nice people and there are not very nice people. You have to deal with them. It comes as a part of the territory. But you always have the power of choice. You can choose to walk away at any point in time or hold on for a little longer. Honey, if any relationship needs you to sacrifice who you are, your friends and your dignity, know for sure you are in a toxic relationship. Toxic people have that intense need to change, control and criticize who you are. They are like small pecks on your soul, each time they happily take away a piece of you, they will steal your beauty to make themselves feel better. If you ever meet someone like this, run away the fastest you can. Emotionally healthy people do not break others, crazy people come with broken pieces and they will make sure they insert those pieces in your soul. Don't be anyone's dumping ground of toxic emotions - that is the greatest injustice you will ever do to yourself. It is like murdering yourself each day. 
5. Never be the other: Never be a secret in anyone's life. If someone cannot accept your presence publicly, always refuse to be with them. When someone keeps you in the dark, somewhere they are ashamed of you. And that will invariably create immense guilt within you. Know that you are worth being loved and acknowledged in the light. Darkness is not your place. If someone treats you otherwise and you accept it, that darkness itself will penetrate within you bit by bit, shame by shame and guilt by guilt. It is like slow poison. It invites the death of your soul, your beauty, your emotional being ounce by ounce. Good human beings when they love you, they will walk by you and not hide you in a dark cold storage. No matter what they say, refuse to be the other. You are your best choice. Choose yourself first. Always! 
6. Love yourself: This is fundamental to every living human being. We are all imperfect and that is how we have to love ourselves. The greatest gift you can ever gift yourself is that, "feel good feeling," of being alive today. Trust me; I have lived long enough to know for sure that no one can make you feel happier, but you yourself. Do not self-reject. Self-love is the key to self worth and self respect and dignity is the by-product of it. Remember Beta no one messes with a woman who knows who she is. Period.
7. Suffering is not a virtue: No matter how many songs and poetries are written to romanticize pain, no one likes suffering. The suffering woman in our culture is given the pedestal. Do not buy that. If you ever do, every time you have good things in life, you will always carry the guilt of having more. I did it and it did me no good.
8. Maa and Daddy are not perfect: Being parents I understand that we will have a tremendous effect on you. But always remember we are not perfect. We do go wrong. We are ordinary human beings trying to give you their best. 
9. Do not belong to any hate club: There are people who hate men or women, some hate a particular religion, others a culture and so on. Hatred at its best messes your system. There might be a time a man might break your heart. But do not enter the hate club. Life always offers a lot better than what we have left behind. I found treasures in the road. You will too. Such is life.
10. Life is beautiful: No matter what the naysayer says, life is beautiful. It is a roller-coaster ride, but worth taking. Love life, it will always pay rich dividends. Life is beautiful because you chose to see its beauty and acted with kindness and generosity. You are the star of your own life. Give it your best shot
On this autumn afternoon this is what I leave for you. I know we will learn so much more together. I will also grow so much. I know parenting comes with its own nudges. But it is a choice I will make. And you know what; my children will be my most beautiful choice. Nothing can take that away from me.
You are beautiful, wherever you are now. And forever be.
Love,
Maa
(Paromita Bardoloi loves rains and sleep and in between she tries to be a writer. She describes herself as a proud Assamese woman, based out of Delhi.)

Career Options related to Climate Change
By Ranjan K Baruah
We have been talking about climate change and protection of the planet. In recent years, the rise of global temperatures has been a concern for many around the world. It has turned out to be a major concern for the scientist community as well because climate change is posing forth more questions than answers. 
From the year 1880 to 2012, the average global temperature has increased by 0.85°C. To put this into perspective, for each degree of increase in temperature, grain yields decline by about 5 per cent. Maize, wheat and other major crops have experienced significant yield reductions between 1981 and 2002 due to a warmer climate.
The impact of climate change may be in the form of floods, rising sea levels, drought and intense summer heat which would be a challenge for all us. Violent storms and other extreme weather events could also result from the increased energy stored in our warming atmosphere. Oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished and sea level has risen. From 1901 to 2010, the global average sea level rose by 19 cm as oceans expanded due to the melting of ice. 
The entire world is talking about combating climate change and taking steps for its adaptation and mitigation. However, this has also brought along with it a lot of career opportunities. Career options in the field of climate change range from business, energy and engineering to research and activism. One may also choose to study engineering, environmental sciences, architecture, commerce, life sciences, etc and later pursue jobs or opportunities related to climate change. 
Climate Change Researchers/ Analyst: This is one of the most popular terms when it comes to climate change. A climate change analyst evaluates climate data, research and patterns to determine how specific climate changes will affect people, economies, ecosystems and the environment as a whole. These analysts must also have a strong background in computer and environmental sciences. These analysts may specialize in scientific research, public policy, education, etc.
Environmental Scientists: The demand for environmental scientists working in academic institutions, research institutes, labs and offices has witnessed an upward trend. As we continue to tackle complex issues like climate change, toxic chemical cleanup and water conservation, the workforce will need an ever-growing staff of environmental scientists to lead the way.
Environmental Engineers: Environmental engineering is the branch of engineering concerned with the application of scientific and engineering principles for protection of human populations from the effects of adverse environmental factors; protection of environments, both local and global, from potentially deleterious effects of natural and human activities; and improvement of environmental quality. Environmental engineering can also be described as a branch of applied science and technology that addresses the issues of energy preservation, protection of assets and control of waste from human and animal activities. They use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in efforts to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control.
Corporate Social Responsibility/Sustainability Professionals: CSR is a popular term nowadays across the entire world, and is also widely used in India. In India, corporate houses are supposed to work for social welfare activities under their CSR schemes. Experts can be part of this field and work as Sustainability Professionals.
Green/Sustainable Building Professionals: Sustainable architecture is architecture that seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy and development space and the ecosystem at large. The idea of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations. In simple words, they can be also termed as green building professionals. There are tremendous opportunities in this regard as our region is changing rapidly and lots of construction is going on at present. 
Agriculture and Food Scientists: Agricultural and food scientists are needed to develop eco-friendly farming practices and technologies that can sustainably feed growing world populations, as well as to find plant-based energy sources and help farms and fisheries adapt to climate change and rising sea levels. Agricultural scientists are also focusing on climate resilient crops which can adapt to climatic conditions. 
These are some of the options related to climate change. We shall publish more options like green jobs, green entrepreneurship, climate change, media, climate change education and activism in our forthcoming editions. 
(Ranjan K Baruah is a career mentor who has conducted career awareness programme in different parts of Assam and Northeast India and can be reached at bkranjan@gmail.com  or 98640 55558 for any career related queries.)


UPDATES:
National Girl Child Secondary Education Scholarship 2017-18: The National Girl Child Secondary Education Scholarship 2017-18, a scheme of the Government of India, invites applications from girl students studying in class 9 and belonging to SC/ST communities. The objective of this scheme is to establish an enabling environment to reduce school drop-outs and to promote the enrolment of girl children in schools. The selected students will receive INR 3000 along with interest after passing class 10 and attaining the age of 18 years. Deadline for application is September 30, 2017.
Educational Crisis Scholarship Support: With the aim of empowering individuals who are economically and socially disadvantaged, the HDFC bank has initiated various projects in the field of education and livelihood training. The 'Educational Crisis Scholarship Support' (ECSS) programme is envisaged to provide interim support for children facing a personal/economic exigency. ECSS aims to cover students from recognized Private or Government aided schools between standards 6 and 12 and students studying in undergraduate and post-graduate courses (full-time/part-time degree/diploma/ courses), who, due to personal/family crises, are unable to bear the cost of education and are at risk of dropping out of school/college/university. This situation would be defined as bereavement/death/ terminal illness/permanent disability and loss of job of the breadwinner due to accident or any such extreme circumstances that have put a strain on the family resources. Last date is August 15, 2017. 
Colgate Scholarship 2017: The Colgate Scholarship 2017 is an initiative launched by Colgate-Palmolive (India) Limited offering families a chance to win scholarships of up to Rs 1 lakh. The scholarship is provided for the higher education of individuals. Last date for application is July 31, 2017. 
KVPY: The Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY) is an on-going National Program of Fellowship in Basic Sciences, initiated and funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, to attract exceptionally highly motivated students for pursuing basic science courses and research careers in science. The objective of the program is to identify students with talent and aptitude for research; help them realize their academic potential; encourage them to take up research careers in Science, and ensure the growth of the best scientific minds for research and development in the country. Last date for application is August 23, 2017. 
Grooming & Accessories:
By Manjit Kashyap

Leica Sofort
Leica is getting into the affordable camera game. Well, not really. But its newest camera comes with a price tag that's more often associated with low-end compact cameras than elite German photography machines. The only catch is that, it's an instant camera; just like a Fujifilm camera. Yes, you heard me right!
The Leica Sofort, was launched last year in November and it uses Fujifilm's Instax film to produce prints immediately after you snap the shutter. It has a variety of automatic modes, including standard auto, party, people, sport, action, and macro. It also has the ability to do multiple exposures and a dedicated mode for selfies (or "self-portraits", in Leica parlance). The Sofort even has a mirror on the front to help with selfie framing.
Leica has offered both color and black and white film packs for the Sofort, as well as a range of accessories. The camera comes in three colors: white, orange, or mint green, which is almost, but not quite, the color of money. It will cost you $299, which is more than triple the price of its Fujifilm counterpart. The only thing that justifies the price is that, "It's a Leica!"
Old Spice Hydro Wash
Earlier this year, Old Spice announced the introduction of its new Hydro Wash body wash. Offering superior hydration with over 20% hydro-moisturizing complex, new Hydro Wash features a thicker and richer lather that delivers unparalleled performance for guys that demand more from their grooming products.
“We're proud to support guys on their journey to legendary freshness with the launch of new Old Spice Hydro Wash body wash," Procter & Gamble Old Spice brand director Janine Miletic said. "This new shower innovation combines ultra-superior hydration with our long-lasting, masculine Old Spice scents. Guys, you're smellcome."
New Hydro Wash features Old Spice's proprietary "dual stream" formula, keeping moisturizers and cleansers separate so that the moisturizers don't wash away with the lather before hydrating the skin. Hydro Wash's thicker and richer lather means less product down the drain, resulting in a better overall shower experience that leaves skin feeling hydrated and clean. It will cost you a reasonable $5.97 for a 500ml pack.
‘History of Flight’ Air Jordan 13
After much anticipation, Jordan Brand will finally released the "History of Flight" Air Jordan 13s on 22nd July, 2017, for the retail price of $190.
Detailed images of the new "History of Flight" Air Jordan 13 showcase the clean, white leather upper, red accents and black laces, just as they appeared on display a few years ago. For the uninitiated, Jordan Brand first unveiled the full "History of Flight" collection at the World Basketball Festival in Chicago back in 2009, to celebrate the line's 25th anniversary. All of the Air Jordan signatures were on display and each were decked out in white accompanied by red accents and black laces, as a tribute to Chicago.
None of those kicks have every released, but that's set to change this weekend. 
The "History Of Flight" Air Jordan 13s will be available, in sizes for the whole fam, at all major retailers and on selective online platforms.
Air Jordan is a brand of basketball footwear and athletic clothing produced by Nike and endorsed and created for Chicago Bulls basketball player Michael Jordan.

Making Parking Delightful
By Indrani Medhi
Bangalore Diaries:
As we look around ourselves, we find plenty of things to complain about without noticing that there are plenty to be proud of too! Assamese entrepreneurs everywhere continue to execute new proven formulae for success through new and exciting innovative endeavours. The Assamese diaspora in Bangalore is brimming with new ideas and innovations that are making the rest of the world take notice.
Need for Digitalizing the Parking System
Parking problems in India is no news to the masses. The indefinite clumsiness of roads, highly congested old spots which continue to be the hotspot for shopping and business, improper urban planning are few of the parameters responsible for the everlasting traffic and parking issue. While thousands of vehicles are being added to Indian roads every day, cities have seen a steady increase in the number of vehicles every year, but without sufficient parking spaces. Not only do inefficient parking systems result in traffic congestion and increased carbon emissions, but it also wastes commuters' time and lead to hassles. If even a single car on the road slows down to search for an available parking spot, the entire traffic behind it slows down. At any moment, over 10% of vehicles on road are actually searching for parking spots causing multiple effects on the overall traffic speed. But we are lucky to have a flying friend - a flying 'rhino' hovering over the traffic ahead of us today with wings outstretched, finding us an apt parking spot for our vehicle. It lands in a flourish of winged glory and reserves the spot for us until we secure our car or motorbike.
Parking App to the Rescue of Parking Blues
An innovative mobile application developed by two Assamese engineers is revolutionizing the vehicle parking management in select metros of the country. 'Parking Rhino', a Bangalore-based start-up helps people book parking spots through a mobile application. 'Parking Rhino' is the brainchild of two engineers from AEC (Assam Engineering College), Tridib Konwar and Mriganka Deka, who launched this never-before venture in 2015 with special mentorship of Google Launchpad. The introduction of Parking Rhino and the subsequent digitization of the parking industry are making life a lot easier in metro cities with the mobile application offering search, navigation and parking in real time.
The Concept
Parking Rhino is a map-based Geo-navigation mobile app with two solutions for parking providers and parking users. It offers information like parking space and capacity, hours of operation and services like a car wash and valet. Currently, the app users are from metro cities and aims to cover India's smart cities as well as reach the global market. Post its launch, this digitization of the parking industry is making life a lot easier and faster in metro cities with the platform offering search, navigation and parking in real time. Drivers using Parking Rhino can log in and search for verified parking spaces around their destination. Vehicle owners can use the Parking Rhino app for prior booking of an available parking space - paid and free - within a city. Parking Rhino also offers a separate app to manage valet parking. For underground parking garages and other dead zones, Parking Rhino is developing a system that would use a 'beep' sound to track cars entering and exiting the parking lot.
Plenty to be proud of
Parking Rhino at present enjoys one million verified parking spaces across Bangalore, Delhi (NCP), Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai, Pune and would soon bring Guwahati and other cities under its umbrella. A lot depends on how we define the success of the Assamese diaspora living in a multi-cultural and multi-dimensional society like Bangalore. Their entrepreneurial success has come out of big dreams and challenges. With the Assamese diaspora taking recourse to new innovative practices, their efforts are yielding the much desired positive changes in society. Due to such new efforts of the Assamese in Bangalore, there is plenty to be proud of, what we, the people of Assam continue to accomplish.
Assamese culture takes centre-stage in design awards
By Pallabi Sharma

In recent times, a lot of new vistas have been opened in the realm of fashion designing. While fashion shows are being held at numerous intervals in different parts of the region, it is encouraging to note that young minds, having a keen interest in the nuances of fashion designing and  technology, are being groomed to appreciate the vast ethos of Assamese culture at their disposal.
Recently, the Final Year students of JD Institute of Fashion Technology in Guwahati put on their thinking caps and came up with 23 collections, offering a glimpse of the rich Assamese culture at the 12th JD Excellence in Design Awards held earlier this month at Vivanta by Taj.
Each of the collections displayed were very creative and unique and was immensely appreciated by the judges and the audiences present at the show. It should be noted here that the JD Excellence in Design Awards provides a platform to all the aspiring student designers to exhibit their one-of-a-kind designs to the industry. 
This is an enormous opportunity for the graduating students to showcase their design ideas in front of eminent professionals from the industry, which also, at the same time, helps them enhance their career prospects. Like each year, this year too, the students of the institute were given a unique theme to work around and challenge their creative minds. The theme for this year was Assamese cultural ethos and was termed as 'The Differents'
While interior designing and photography exhibitions were lined up across the two-day fiesta, the main event was a fashion show, based on ethos of Assamese culture and textiles, put together by the young fashion designers and students from the jewellery department. And to make the show a grand success, Femina Miss India World 2016 Priyadarshini Chatterjee  walked the ramp in the grand finale as the show -stopper.

Cinemas of Guwahati: A Walk Down Memory Lane
By Ambar Chatterjee

The year was 1993. I was studying in preparatory school but the memory of that majestic show is still fresh in my mind. My elder brother had taken me to watch a movie at the Udeshna cinema hall located in the Down Town area of Guwahati. While the film with all its violent scenes was hardly a watch befitting a kid, what captured my imagination more than the film was the theatre itself.
A vibrantly-coloured cinema hall, it was an exhilarating experience to watch the bright red curtains get rolled up before the start of every show. The curtains were complimented with flashing lights if the beautifully decorated ceiling was not enough to amuse you. Sitting in the balcony as the upper class was called in those days, it was a surreal experience for a kid of my age.
The cinemas of the 90s were just as colorful as the cinema halls that showed them. I was hooked. I can clearly remember the cinemas running at that point of time in Guwahati. Following is a list of the cinema halls of that time.
Udeshna cinema hall - Dispur
Urvashi - Fancy Bazar
Rupayan - Fancy Bazar
Rupashree - Tokobari
Kelvin - Tokobari
Bijulee - Fancy Bazar
Mayur Krishna - Fatasil Ambari
Pragjyoti - Maligaon
Anupama - Maligaon
Anuradha - Bamunimaidam
Apsara - Paltan Bazar
Aruna - Maligaon
Neptune - Basistha Chariali
Meghdoot - Nepali Mandir
Choudhury - Athgaon
Vandana - Noonmati
All of these cinemas screened the regular Bollywood releases coinciding with the release of the films. However they did follow a pattern. While Apsara, Anuradha, Udeshna, Urvashi, Vandana, Pragjyoti and Meghdoot were the forerunner in screening new films, there was a clear demarcation of films between the halls when two or more biggies released together. 
I still vividly rememb that films like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun!, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Dil To Pagal Hai released exclusively in Apsara where they ran for months. Udeshna, Urvashi and Meghdoot, on the other hand, got films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Raja Hindustani and Baazi which got them good business. The other halls like Rupayan, Bijulee, Rupashree and Kelvin always got the films once they were at least a week old. The Bollywood stuff played second change at these theaters. Kelvin sometimes got in the new film. Screening of Hollywood movies was restricted to Apsara, Anuradha and Vandana. I remember watching films like Braveheart, Water World and Species at Apsara. 
The cinemas of Guwahati had another sparkling aspect to them. The hand drawn cutout posters which have become a collector's item today were put up in atleast four of the cinemas regularly. I can still visualize the huge hand-drawn poster of the film Species in Apsara cinema which showed the half woman-half alien heroine of the film. Another poster which really captured my imagination was that of the Sunny Deol-starerJeet. It had an aggressive Sunny Deol almost tearing out of the poster with his outstretched hands pointing towards the viewers. The poster made as much of a splash as the film itself.
The cinemas were doing rollicking business and the audience was hooked. Even low-budget films like Yaar, Gaddar, Suraj and Gunda did decent business. The ticket prices ranged between Rs. 8 to Rs 30. I remember my brother paying Rs 200 to watch Karan Arjun at Udeshna for a ticket which otherwise cost Rs 12. Such was the craze. 
The Assamese film industry did release films from time to time and they got mostly Udeshna, Apsara and Anuradha to screen their fare. But growing up in Guwahati, I never saw any craze for regional films here. A film like 'Xagoroloi Bahu Door' by JahnuBarua, which also happens to be one of my favorite Assamese films till date, came and went without making any splash or ringing the cash registers. At about the same time, a film called Coolie No. 1 made a lot of money and it also enjoyed the maximum number of screens in the city.
Time passed and then came the 2000s. The people were just warming up to the concept of plush cinemas. No longer were cinemas like Rupayan, Rupashree, Anupama getting the sort of footfalls that it used to get. These cinemas slowly drifted into showing B-grade stuff to get the ogglers in but that too didn't work as the whooping cost of maintaining these cinemas took its toll. Rupayan was converted into a shopping mall. Udeshna was the next victim and that too of a strange predicament. The hall decided to show only regional films following the diktat of a militant organization. With only a niche audience to cater to, Udeshna gradually dowsed its lights and with it a slice of my childhood fantasy was lost right in front of my eyes. Kelvin has been converted to a multi-level parking lot while Mayur Krishna is in ruins. Bijulee survives but screens only B-grade movies. It's ironic to note that it is Assam's oldest and first cinema hall and by now should have become a State property but instead it has become home to cheap cinema. Of those that survive, Anuradha has got a facelift and now provides you with a multiplex ambiance in a single screen theater. It is the only hall which still does that curtain trick. Urvashi still shows all new Hindi movies and hasn't increased its ticket prices from Rs. 17. Yes, you read it right! I have seen Dhoom 3 for just Rs. 17 when the rest of the city was going crazy paying Rs. 200-500 for a single ticket!
There has been a lot of discussion about cinema halls being reluctant to screen Assamese films. I just have a single question in this regard. Has there been any regional cinema good enough to drawn audience to the theatres in hordes? If we have regional films playing in all the screens of the city, can we even expect a single houseful when compared to a SRK starrer, or even a Sunny Leone-starrer for that matter? I can ask this because I have seen every regional film in the theater and have been disappointed time and again. The only two films which I care to remember from recent times is Jahnu Barua's Bandhon and Rajni Basumatary's Raag. We have to realize that the theater owners are actually running a business and all they want to make is profit. So if regional cinema is to find a taker, it has to up its ante. They have to make entertaining cinema which will appeal to the senses. Intellectual mucks will get them nowhere. The films also have to be polished and technically sound. A crude film like Local Kung Fu found huge taker primarily because of its content and heart. Why can't we have more like this? The problem isn't with the cinema halls but with the cinema that we are making.
The onset of multiplexes and the fact that at least 12 new screens are coming up in the city might finally end the rein of the single screens here in Assam. Chances are that the single screens will either get converted to multiplexes or close their shutters permanently. Whatever might be the case, the single screens will always hold a cherished place in my mind. They were like a dream world to me and I will always remain in awe of their power. May be that is the reason which takes me back to the dirty and dilapidated Urvashi and Neptune cinema halls while I can jolly well afford the plush luxuries of a multiplex.

The Journey
By Bhaskar Thakuria

Fiction:
Weightless Samar was floating amidst flowers, twinkling stars and rainbows. Silky silvery clouds started penetrating his skin and flowed through his muscles. The magnificence of the rainbow sprouted out into thousands of known and unknown colors and began to dance along with him to the beats of unknown songs and rhythms.
'Convulsion!' The shrill voice of the nurse had struck the danger bell inside the ICU and within an instant the emergency staff was around him. 
"Phenytoin, quick!' shouted the doctor-on-duty looking at the monitor. Two pairs of hands held him, while another nurse fought hard to keep the tongue from falling back with a mouth-gag so as to maintain the airway. One of the junior doctors started to suck out the froth coming out of his mouth with the help of the suction machine.
'Get the intubation trolley beside him, we might need it!'
Everyone in the ICU was desperately trying to save his life. After about half an hour of exhausting struggle, his fits had been controlled. The oxygen level, heart beats, electrocardiograph, etc. came to a normal level. People relaxed with a sigh of relief for the time being.
Samar lay there like a log of wood.
The precision of the fine line between the elixirs of the divine voyage just a while ago, and the dramatic situation right now was very vague to him. The physician, dressed in a green gown, specs, mask and cap, like an alien from outer space focused a flashlight into his eyes. The cilliary cavern of his eye started constricting and dilating. He wanted to think about where and how he was flying a little while earlier, but he felt as if his thinking channels were controlled from some outside station.
The hi-tech ICU looked almost like a spaceship to Samar with many known and unknown gadgets, wires and computers. He had no clue as to what those people in spacesuit like dresses were doing; he wondered whether he was in an atomic research unit or inside a spaceship. He just lay there silently amidst the shadows and lights with intermittent sounds of beeping gadgets. At any moment he was flying through the world of feelings with or without his will.
Once he overheard someone whispering, 'It's been seven days, but his condition is still the same.' But for him day, night or time didn't have any meaning. People came and went, many doctors examined him and changed prescriptions, the nurse changed his dressings and applied dusting powders at intervals, the sweeper cleaned up his excreta, but he was oblivious to everything around him. An unknown power took him through a misty world voyage through images and scenes from his past, some from his present reality and others from unknown timeless cumulative feelings…
Lying on the paddy fields, he saw the sky above, filled with twinkling stars just as he used to in his childhood. With his fingers, he drew imaginary shapes forming trees, elephants out of the stars by joining one to the other. Except for the fireflies twinkling all around, it was pitch black. He was lost in his thoughts thus, while others were busy forming the bhelaghar. At one point in time, he danced along with the stars, fireflies and the trees and elephants he created to the rhythm of the crickets and toads in the pond. He did not realize at which moment he dozed off....
Whether he returned to the same ICU that night through twirls of cigarette smoke, or to a similar place like that, he never knew. His postmodern thought process didn't have a permissible program for all such "occurrences"… 
And his visits took him from that very bed - Into the bokul tree with the overpowering aroma, into the infinite pleasure of picnics or into the uncontrollable palpitations he experienced in the past. Sometimes he returned to his bed in slithering reptilian moves…, Samar tried to think coherently. On looking at the tense faces in gowns and masks all around, he saw everyone apparently busy, the electronic monitors and beepers going off, more drugs passing through the cannula in his veins… then things becoming still. 
But his journeys were never mundane affairs. He had never traveled through the calculated drudgery of the bitter daily life of his workplace situated thousands of miles away from home. Not for once had he been into the cash books, ledgers, credits' balance and never ending numerical of vouchers; nor did he meet his colleagues or the inebriated evenings with two thousand watt music of the pubs blaring in the background. 
'Samar, Hey Samar....'  Something was mumbled in his ear. He woke up on being pressed on his forehead. He couldn't recognize the creatures resembling extraterrestrials of some Hollywood flick, staring at him.
He felt an immense pain in his hip, chest, the broken ribs rubbing over one another making sounds with each breath. A dull clunk was what people heard. Samar, on other hand, could hear the buzz the people made around him. Gradually the faces zoomed back into focus just like in an SLR camera. Except for one, the people were not familiar to him. Who could be that girl with pink cheeks and tear filmed eyes, looking at him attentively from the back of the gathering? 'Did he know her?' Those watery eyes, the face behind the mask and the tinge of the newlywed bride's vermilion looked very familiar to him.
'SA-GA-RI-KA'! 
He muttered, though his syllables were incomprehensive. Sagarika was his old colleague, one of his first friends in this unknown weird metro.
'Coma scale is showing slight improvement, but he is not out of danger yet. There are multiple fractures along with the head injury, so nothing can be said for certain,' Sagarika left the room before the doctor finished his sentence.
'Why is she here? Where am I, anyway?'
In his two years of staying in this city, there was nothing in his life except the accountancy job, the calculations, the deadlines set by his boss. Every day started with the shrill sound of the alarm clock kicking off his humdrum activities, till his return, late in the night just to sleep. It was not that he was getting a handsome salary or that he liked the job he was doing. He was following the routine just for the sake of it. Even if he were to leave this job, other jobs were also very much similar, so he stopped thinking along those lines after sometime…
Without openly saying it, he considered the time spent with Sagarika as his capital investment. Their conversations were about flowers-daffodils, tulips, sunflowers, roses. Over endless cups of coffee and pastries in the cafeteria, they talked about what their ideal colors should be, the art of pruning, the bonsai procedure, their experience and the ideas they could experiment with. 
The flowers of his native place which Samar had great fondness for, like bokul, tagar were not discussed though, as Sagarika's knowledge of them was pretty poor. Time flew as both of them shared their thoughts on flowers, and they always ended up discussing tuberose flowers. They were enchanted by the aroma, beauty, and softness, in fact everything about the tube-rose. Theirs was a flowery relationship, not exactly love, nor could one call it friendship. After some time, Sagarika got married to one of their executives named Pravjyot Singh. Surprisingly, he was never interested in flowers or anything remotely close. A self styled fitness freak, Pravjyot knew nothing besides the gymnasium, treadmill, diet and the office. Pravjyot had proposed one fine day and Sagarika accepted it without any hesitation.
After her marriage, Samar's life became a relentless routine without any purpose, without even the pleasant flowery interlude, however fleeting it may have been…Weekends were spent visiting pubs or discos, getting drunk and taking part in 'road rash bike/car races on the highway or off city limits with his colleagues. Not that he was interested in all these activities, but he was doing them as he had to kill time in the company of his friends.
Once, he went to his home in his native village during the vacation, but it hardly resembled the place he knew. His parents already had moved out to a town, which was new to him. The village of his childhood was no more… His friends had also left the village for their livelihood, the paddy field he knew, the village pond, the Namghar and the playground in which they played football with shaddock fruit all looked lifeless and strange…
On returning, he immersed himself in his work, room and pubs. Though at times, he did come across Sagarika, neither of them had the time to discuss about chrysanthemums or tube-roses. To meet the deadline of pending work, he had to work late most of the time. All the problems of the company were the employees' too, but their personal problems remain as such for them alone. To Samar, breathing was also becoming a mechanical inevitable of the routine called life. Even the 'crazy' weekends were a joyless exercise.
That weekend was no different from any others. Tinted rays from the dance floor reflected from everyone in the discotheque they were in. The disc jockey was incorporating some raggae and bhangra beats into a fragmented old melody and presenting it through thousand watt sound boxes. Samar's colleagues had gone to the dance-floor to shake a leg. He was sitting on a barstool, beer can in hand and losing the last remnants of patience he had. He went out of the discotheque, annoyed with the machinery of life that refuses to shut down even if one wants to.
As the engine of his car revved up, his thoughts raced. He thought….about his village, about the small house his father built in the town, his office building, his rented room and nowhere could he discover himself. This transitional world of Sikhandi  is completely void of the thing called life!
'Life is elsewhere!' 
He murmured, pressing over the accelerator. Probably the car moved forward.
The speedometer touched a hundred, hundred and twenty, hundred and forty an hour... though it was two a.m., there were a few vehicles in the road. Suddenly the headlights of a huge truck flashed hard against his eyes.
Then….
Samar didn't remember what happened after that!   
He returned after his weightless voyage through the flowers, the stars and the rainbows only to see the tense faces surrounding him in that I.C.U.
He opened his eyes as the crushing pain from the broken ribs radiated to his whole body, at that time nobody was near him. As the CFL lighted the room all around, he couldn't make out whether it was day or night. The physician and the nurse present were busy inserting some kind of tube into the food pipe through the nostril of another patient. He resisted it as the process was distressing. The patient on the other side was sleeping comfortably with an oxygen mask on. The nurse was busy checking the drug schedule of the patients. He tried to get up in order to move around. No, he couldn't even move a finger. With a lot of effort he was only able to open his eyes. Everything looked cloudy and distorted; as if he was looking through the mist at an out of focus object. The machines, the patients next to him and the nurse with the trolley of drugs, everything was fuzzy and blurred…
Along with the strange feeling, he moved out of his body and started floating through technicolor waves. In the midst of the colors and the inexplicable experience, he saw his office - everyone was working out there in the usual manner. In the cafeteria, Pravjyot and Sagarika were having their cup of coffee, and Pravjyot was giving her the good news of starting a few new workouts to build the latissimus and triceps. His discothèque loving friends were dancing in a disco with beer cans in their hands. He swam forward through the waves of colors with closed eyes. This time, he saw the sky of his village, the flowering mustard fields up to the hills far away in the horizons, the village lake filled with swans, fishes and water lilies. Out of the body and flowing with the stream, Samar passed through the ten inch wall to return to the high tech ICU from where he started. This time, everyone was very busy. Everyone looked animated and busy with one patient; two physicians were giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation by pressing over the patient's chest repeatedly. The graph in the cardiac monitor was flattening and it was making some abnormal sounds, the levels in the pulse oxymeter were also oscillating.
The physician took out the defibrillator, connected it to his chest and pressed the trigger, there was a vigorous jerk from the patient in response, everyone looked at the cardiac monitor - No, and the curve is still flat. One of them looked for the pulse: 'Absent'.
One threw the light from a flashlight into the pupil.
'Dilated…
…and fixed'
 Nothing could be done now. One by one they started moving away. One started to write down the findings in the death certificate. Samar looked at the dead patient. His calm eyes were looking at the infinity in exactitude… He took a closer look...Yes! He was the beholder of that body till a few minutes ago.
The stretcher took away his body making clanging sounds. Anxious faces made way for the body and moved along with it, but as the speed of the stretcher increased gradually, he moved away from them.
He saw Sagarika among the fading faces. She had a bunch of tube-roses in her hand. The nectarous smell of the flower engulfed him like a cold reptile…….         
Translated from the original in Assamese by the author and Dr. Kingshuk Lahon

BASEMENT CAFE

Eating Out
The cafe culture is slowly picking up in Guwahati and a number of cafes have sprung up all over the city within a very short span of time. A number of theme-based cafes are being launched on different themes so as to cater to the demands of the new generation. The café culture can be said to be presently trending amongst the youth of the city and Basement Café is one of the hotspots to be added to this trend.
Located in the busy Commerce College point, Basement Café, as the name suggests, is a sports-themed café located in the basement of a building. Its proximity with Commerce College point, which is one of the most popular gathering point of the youths of the city, make this place highly popular amongst the youth and sports lovers. But not just the youth, once you locate it, it is a world of its own, perfect for one to relax and unwind over a cup of coffee or meal of his choice.
The first thing that strikes one as he or she enters the place is the interiors. The interiors of the café have been designed on the theme of sports, especially football. While posters of popular sporting legends adorn the wall, flags of football clubs are also seen hanging from the roof. A faux basketball court, which has been designed as a part of the interiors, further enhances the sports look of the café. The layout of the interiors is nice and one gets a very positive feeling right from the moment he or she enters. 
From the outside, one does not expect the interiors of the cafe to be so trendy and contemporary. So while the trendy interiors lift one's mood right from the moment he or she enters, the courteous behaviour of the staff and the wonderful quality of the food makes dining here a pleasant experience.
Coming to the food, this is the kind of food that has become popular in the city only in recent times. While the menu is very similar to those one finds in a cafe nowadays, it is still a very nicely selected menu, offering an eclectic range of dishes. But the spaghetti and shakes are some of the most sought after dishes here.
A customer Priya Basumatary opined, "The quantity is very, very satisfying and totally worth the money they charge. Since we ordered a lot of food I don't remember all of it except for spaghetti with meatballs which was unfortunately very disappointing. I did complain about it to the staff and they were very responsive towards the complaint. The place is ideal for birthday treats, and not for the peace lovers. The amount may appear to be a bit high but it's totally worth it."
Another customer Anindya Bikas Dutta said, "I have been to this café four times and I always return satisfied. Entering the Café gives you a real 'lift' of moods and for sports-lovers like my friends, this can be real bliss. They have even UNO and small board games and papers to keep you occupied! We ordered Spaghetti with Meatballs, TCO Pizza, Basement Café Rich Fried Rice and Mojito Mint. Spaghetti with Meatballs is a strong recommendation for anyone visiting the place. The TCO Pizza could have been better and the Fried Rice was rich but not unique".
While the aesthetic design of the cafe and courteous behaviour of the staff already creates a desirable ambience, the quality of the food served here is superb. Most of the customers who returned found the food to be quite delicious and well served.

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