Saturday, 21 June 2008

Tagged by the Mystic ...

Yes, I’ve been tagged by Mystic Margarita (aptly called Mystic since I read this one penned by her) to play the book game.

The rules of this game are as follows:

Pick up the nearest book.

Open to page 123.

Find the fifth sentence.

Post the next three sentences.

Tag five people, and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

Recently, I just finished re-reading R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days. The author of course needs no introduction & as many of us growing up in the 80s will remember, there was a very popular television series by the same name being aired at that time. S always tells me that the fictional place of Malgudi is actually loosely framed around a place called Malleswaram in Bangalore … a place where I spent the first few years of my marriage. Frankly, today there is no similarity between Narayan’s Malgudi & Malleswaram. To quote Narayan himself …

I am often asked “Where is Malgudi ?” All I can say is, it is imaginary & not to be found on any map. If I explain that Malgudi is a small town in South India, I shall only be expressing a half-truth, for the characteristics of Malgudi seem to me universal. I can detect Malgudi characters even in New York: for instance, West Twenty-third Street, … possess every element of Malgudi.

This novel that I just finished is a collection of short stories based in Malgudi. And by the rules of the game, page 123 contains the 2nd page of a short story titled A Shadow which is the story of a just-deceased actor’s son (Sambhu) who feels like he is interacting with his father every time he watches his father’s latest release in the theatre. Sambhu's mother, on the other hand, completely abhors watching the man, whom she knows is no more & will never come back, looking so alive on the screen. Just a short 4-page story, it pulls at the heart-strings and brings out the anguish of both mother & son.

So here goes lines 6, 7, & 8 from A Shadow

My father used to read the story to us every night. It’s a very interesting story. He wrote the whole story himself.

Three short lines that don’t tell much about the story but I guess I’ve given that to you.

So now it’s time for me to tag 5 bloggers & I tag Sucharita, Blogpourri, Sayani, Deep and returning the favor to Mystic. :-)

Monday, 16 June 2008

Happy Father’s Day, Dear Mom

Last Saturday, when kids were wishing their Dads a Happy Father’s Day, I wished the same to my Ma (Mom) and rightly so since she has been both a Mom & a Dad to me since Dad passed away when I was just 5. It must’ve been tough for her to play both parents to a son of 12+ & a daughter of 5 but she did it, all the while exhibiting tremendous strength of character, love and belief in her kids.

For me at least, Ma made up for the void that Baba (Dad) had left. Of course there were times when I missed Baba. I always felt a pang in my heart when I saw the special relationship that most of my friends shared with their Dads. I was fearful of people who asked me, “Do you remember your father?” because I never knew what the truthful answer was. “Duh, he was my Dad. Surely I remember him” or is it “I was only 5. How can I remember him?” ? The truth is I have snatches of memory from the past when I can clearly visualize Baba but I am not really sure whether those have been conjured up by my mind from hearing the countless stories about him or whether they are the real thing. Anyway, Baba has lived in my memory through the anecdotes told & re-told by Ma & Dada (elder brother) and countless others who knew, loved & respected him. Whereas, Ma has always been & still is beside me through the ups & downs of my life … sharing my joys & sorrows, bolstering my courage when I’m at a loss, correcting my mistakes when required and just being there whenever I need her.

Although Ma never had a career herself, she instilled in me the importance of being independent and did not harass me to get married till I was ready to, although at every family get-together that she went she was harassed about it … everyone asking her when her close-to-30 (read over-the-hill) daughter intended to get married !!! There was never a topic which was taboo for discussion at our home. Ma always encouraged us to speak our minds though there were plenty of times when we didn’t agree with each others’ view points. :-) Despite having had our share of misunderstandings, we have always been friends and today, I am her lifeline as she is mine.

A gutsy and very independent (edging on stubbornness, at times :-) )lady, she lives by herself in our old apartment in Calcutta where she stepped in the day she got married & enjoys life to the hilt ... socializing with friends and relatives. She is my idol ... the perfect Woman of Substance !!!

Happy Father’s Day, Dear Ma.

P.S.: Not only Ma but Dada too, took the rough-edges out of life for me after Baba passed away. I know that he knows, but I wish that there was a special day to tell him too how much I love him & how much he means to me.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

I feel old when…

… on seeing the rainy / cloudy skies from my office window, instead of feeling mushy & romantic inside, I catch myself worrying about the clothes hanging out to dry at home getting wet. :-)

… on coming out of the office, I spend a few seconds wondering where I parked my car in the morning.

… I watch the ever-increasing strands of grey in my hair (altho’ I pacify myself by remembering a friend who used to have a head full of grey hairs in college itself).

… I see the grown-up kids of some of my friends.

… when all & sundry, even the 1 foot taller college-going guy/gal in the building, calls me aunty.

… when I wake up some mornings with aches & pains in different parts of the body.

Addendum 1: A friend of mine who read this post & the next one told me that I should also feel old when my maid calls me "Amma". But staying in Bangalore for almost 5 years has made me realize that to the Kannadigas calling a lady Amma (mother) is the same as calling a lady Didi (older sister) is for a Bengali ... it is merely a show of respect. So that's granted. :-) However, be warned: when in Bengal, you should absolutely object to being called Boudi (bhabhi, sister-in-law) or Mashima (aunty). :-)

Addendum 2 (6th Jan, 2015): I know I am old when after returning from a trip, no matter how exotic the location or if it was my childhood home, I feel glad to be on my own turf. Home sweet home , indeed !!! Wish I could have it on wheels ...SIGH ... :-)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Our personal aviary

Reading about Sucharita’s window zoo reminded me of the aviary that I seem to have started in my balcony … much to my dismay, I might add. So, instead of hogging her comments space, I decided to devote a blog on it.

Since March, 2007, the ever-fertile pigeons seem to have adopted our balconies as their foster home. Yes, it’s balconies in the plural because every time we shoo them away from one, they make themselves comfortable in another. Going so far as to try & build a nest on the top of the book-shelf in the balcony attached to our bedroom which S uses as a study corner.

Last March when one pigeon couple decided to settle on an unused flower pot kept in one corner of the balcony attached to our drawing room as their home, I finally gave in & decided that they could stay. Within days, the lady had laid not one but two eggs !!! I was a little worried that they might get over-protective & try to claw our eyes out if we approached their nest, like crows usually do. However, my maid (Amma, as we mutually call each other) reassured me that pigeons being much gentler creatures than crows will not prove very troublesome … and yes, she was right. As the eggs hatched & the scrawny babies came out, this small aviary turned out to be a major tourist attraction. All guests to our home, especially kids, were fascinated by the pigeon family. We too went so far as to shoot their activities on our handycam. :-) S and I also fed the parents with grains & pulses which they happily devoured after the first few days of wariness. However, the travails of that family ended rather abruptly & sadly when a ruffian crow, who had been flying around since the day before & had been shoo-ed away by me a couple of times, killed the babies early one morning. By the time we woke up, the ruffian’s deed was already done & there was blood & gore (feathers, actually)all over the balcony. Not only were the parents, who kept cooing all day & a few days afterwards on our balcony, heartbroken but so were S and I & we promised ourselves not to attach ourselves to anymore pigeon families.

Only a few days later, another (or perhaps the same) pigeon couple tried occupying some space in the balcony to build their home. I tried to make a small shelter for them by using old sari boxes but they seemed to be threatened by it. Since then our balconies have been the favorite mating-grounds of the pigeons though most of the time we shoo-ed them away.

Then again in March, 2008 Amma discovered a happy pigeon mother with two eggs tucked beneath her sitting behind the washing machine in our kitchen balcony !!! After some discussion about how their home would affect the operation of our washing machine, we decided to let them stay there. This time, since they were away from the prying eyes of other creatures, the babies survived & as I write this, they have flown their nest & are flying all around. So far, we have been able to keep away other amorous pigeon couples off our balconies but for how long … I don’t know. SIGH !!! :-)

Friday, 18 April 2008

These are a few of my favourite things ...

Well, MM tagged me to do a blog on "Things that make me Happy" and here’s delivering on MM's tag … happily …

· Watching a nice movie at home curled up on the couch
· Getting drenched in the rain … when I’m on my way home, not when I’m going to work.
· A great meal … preferably cooked by my Mom
· Snuggling in bed (preferably below a quilt) with an engrossing book … reading it from start to finish at a go
· The twinkle in S’s eyes when I’ve managed to trick him using one of the tricks from his book
· Teasing & being teased by S
· Traveling to lovely places
· Catching up with old friends
· A girls night out
· Frolicking in the pool
· Shopping & window-shopping with like-minded people
· Walking along College Street (Calcutta)... also known as boi para (book locality) browsing through books
· When the weighing scale tells me that I’ve lost weight
· Having chicken roll in the streets of Calcutta
· The thought of a joke played on a friend or on me that happened a long long time ago

… Ohhh … the list is never-ending. There are soooo many things that make me happy. :-) I’m sure that I’ve forgotten quite a few, so Friends, keep watching this place for updates.
P.S.: The above list is not in any particular order. All these things give me equal happiness, ALWAYS. :-) :-)

Update 1 : Like I said there are loads of things that make me happy & here's my 1st addendum...

  • When a friend says that she'll be visiting me
  • When I have a good-hair day
  • Chocolates & ice-creams ... preferably chocolate flavoured :)

Monday, 24 March 2008

Different strokes for different folks...

The first thing I do every evening when I return home from work, after switching on the lights, is to open the door to the balcony off the hall. So imagine my astonishment & sheer terror when on doing the same last Thursday, I was greeted with the picture of a beehive hanging from the ceiling of our balcony. You might ask … “Why terror?” … well, being born and brought up in the concrete jungle of Kolkata, I am unused to being so close to nature. And, I’m not only scared of things that sting (like these bees) but also scared of the most innocuous insect which buzzes and / or flies, including things as harmless as moths or even butterflies.

To continue where I left … all doors and windows to all balconies were kept closed throughout the evening on Thursday and Friday morning saw us making frantic calls to people asking for help to get rid of these bees. One of these people reassured us that since the bees had been there only for a day so far, they had not really created the hive & would be easy to get rid of. This same good Samaritan suggested that we could get rid of the bees by creating a lot of smoke by burning saambhrani (or sambirani) dhoop over hot coal. So far, I had heard of the saambhrani being put to a totally different use. However, the fragrant saambhrani worked very well for us too and we were able to shift the hive from our balcony to a concrete overhanging slightly removed from it. That’s why I say … different strokes for different folks. :-)

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Divine Devbagh ... Kaptivating Karwar

Our trip to Karwar was in the first week of December, 2007. Karwar is a small town in North-coastal Karnataka, about 300 kms from Mangalore & about 100 kms from Goa. To reach Karwar from Bangalore, we travelled by the Rani Chennamma Express and got down at Hubli. From Hubli you can hire a car or take the bus to go to Karwar. We had booked ourselves a place at the Devbagh Island Beach resort (a Jungle Lodges & Resorts property). After reaching Karwar, we reported at the forest office & they took us to the boat jetty from where we were taken to this island resort by a motorboat. On reaching the island we were taken by eco-friendly cars to the reception which is basically a loghut. We had booked a loghut for ourselves at the resort, to which we were taken soon after we checked in.

The view of the place that we got by the time we checked in was just great & our hearts pulled us towards the sea. But we were told that we had to go for lunch soon and then there were some water sports. So we freshened up and after a really sumptuous lunch, I lolled around on the hammock (oh yes, every hut has it’s personal hammock) with a P.J. Wodehouse in hand… read some, dreamed some – with eyes open & closed, while S went for a walk by the sea & played badminton with some other guests at the resort. :-)

3.30 p.m. we went for the water sports. There are quite a few options like kayaking, water-biking, motor boating and then there’s the banana boat. The banana boat looked like a lot of fun & a little scary too. It is basically a huge banana-shaped float on top of which people are made to sit. Then this float is pulled by a motor boat to some way down into the sea & the riders are dumped into the waters … of course, with their safety suits on. They are then helped back onto the float & brought back to shore. No, we didn’t go for a banana-boat ride but we did do some kayaking … which was really tough work, I tell you & then headed to the beach for a swim. We also planned to go snorkeling, along with another couple (A&M) who were also interested in snorkeling, the next morning (provided the sea & weather conditions were good, we were told).

After a dip in the sea, it was time to freshen up & get ready for a barbecue by the beach. It was extremely relaxing to just sit by the sea with a nice cool wind blowing, eating barbecued fish & chatting with A&M. A&M are very interesting people. We came to know that A was getting transferred out of the country. So they packed up at his last posting (which was Delhi), sent the kids ahead to their hometown (somewhere in Kerala) & were taking the road down from Delhi to Kerala & stopping at whichever place took their fancy. S suggested that they should go to Gokarna too & we learnt later from M, by e-mail, that they loved the beach at Gokarna too, though Karwar really was their favourite.

Next morning there was a planned nature walk at 7.00 a.m. It turned out that everyone was tired after the festivities the night before & only S & I turned up for the nature walk. But it was really worth it !!! Our nature guide took us around the island showing us the different flora & some fauna on the island. We also went to the point where the Kali river meets the Arabian Sea. After an hour long walk, we returned for breakfast, and also got to know from A&M that are snorkeling plans had been cancelled since the sea was very choppy. That was really sad but safety first & all that, so… We said goodbye to A&M & after breakfast went for a ride into the sea to see Dolphins. Well, yes it seems that the sea here has Dolphins too !!! And we did get to see a few, albeit fins only.

Now it was time for us to leave Devbagh Island & we did so with a longing to return. However our Karwar trip was hardly over. We went back to Karwar by boat where we visited the famous Rabindranath Tagore beach. It seems that when Tagore visited this place, he was so captivated by it that he wrote a poem dedicated to the place. Well, I would too, if I could … but Alas, I can’t write poetry. Karwar is also famous for its huge naval base & right on the Rabindranath Tagore beach is a War ship museum with a real ship kept on display. Sadly though, it was closed when we visited. So we took the bus back to Hubli from where we were scheduled to catch our train for Bangalore.

I can honestly say that this was my best and most relaxing holiday till date !!! Three cheers to Karwar & Devbagh Island Beach Resort.

  • When hiring a car from Hubli be careful about the rates that the driver is offering you. They just “forget” to mention that they will charge you for the roundtrip although you will be travelling just one-way.
  • The route from Hubli to Karwar, till the diversion towards Mangalore is also the route for trucks going towards Mangalore. So the trip takes longer than you might think.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Down memory lane ...

As the train chugged into the station at 4 a.m. on that cold December night, I got my first glimpse of Jamnagar. This was the place where I got my first job after completing my studies at Kolkata, a bustling city more than 2000 kms from Jamnagar. Jamnagar in comparison was just like a small town. For those of you who don’t know … Jamnagar is a small city in the Kutch region of Gujarat. I stayed & worked here for 3 years. I have many fond memories of Jamnagar … the company I worked with, the people I met there (at office & outside) and the food. :-) So, before I forget all about these things, I thought that I should put them down somewhere.

As I got out of the station, I found a driver waiting for me to take me to my apartment. I was taken to a two bedroom apartment which I had to share with another girl who was also on her training. Well, yes, as a GET or Graduate Engineer Trainee at this company (let me call it SR), we were provided quite comfortable accommodation. And when it’s your first job, I can assure you that such treatment makes one feel quite special. When I told a family friend about these arrangements, he commented “Are you joining as a GM of the company?” I don’t think that he quite believed me. :-)


Jamnagar had quite a few specialties when it came to the culinary department, like the home-made ice cream at Teenbatti in a shop called Ram Mandir (as far as I remember). The ice cream there was mmmmmeltilicious (melt-in-your-mouth-delicious) and extremely cheap too !!! Then there was the unlimited gujarati thali at the Brahmaniya. If any of you have ever tried an unlimited Gujarati thali then you would surely agree with me when I say that the Gujaratis stretch the “unlimited” to its limits. In fact your stomach is ready to burst after the first helping itself because of the immense variety of such a meal. And we also did enjoy the large variety of “snakes” (I mean, snacks) in offer like the khakhra, thepla, dhokla, khandvi and many more very delicious stuff. But of course, when in Jamnagar stick to authentic Gujarati food & don’t try to explore & never-ever try a Pizza there. When we felt like eating Pizzas, we used to make a weekend trip to Ahmedabad which is about 300 kms from Jamnagar.


Gujaratis in general are very amiable people, at least the ones I met in Jamnagar. The atmosphere at office was also very much like a big family, probably because we were in the project stage and the number of employees was not too large. My immediate superior, MP (M-bhai, we used to call him in the true Gujarati style) was a very nice man from whom I learnt quite a few important lessons both personally & professionally. VNS, our boss was a very mild mannered Malayali who was not just extremely accomplished technically but also a very nice person. When I was leaving Jamnagar, VNS drove me to the station himself & saw to it that I got a coolie who would put all my stuff on the train for me. See that’s what I mean by saying that we were like a family. I’ve not seen such personal care by superiors anywhere else that I’ve worked since.

The head of our department was an angry not-so-young man. You could call him Tiger because he would usually growl at people, whether in person or on the phone. His way of showing displeasure with someone was to throw down his spectacles on the table. People all over SR were scared of him even if he had no interaction with them. But he would be quite a different man outside the office … well, not really amiable, but nice. :-) I remember once during an office party, we were playing passing-the-parcel. He and his wife were the last two players & we (the ones controlling the music) cheated a little & made his wife win the game. It was fun to make him lose … at least once.

And then, of course, there were friends. We were a group of 40 who had joined the company at almost the same time, so there were loooots of friends. The movie, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam released when I was in Jamnagar & about 20 (or perhaps more) of us went to watch it together. I developed a few long lasting friendships during those years. I’m still in touch with them & so glad to be able to call them my friends.


Gujarat is a colorful place & nothing can portray it better than the variety of colors in their bandhni (tie-and-dye) dresses and sarees. If you are a fan of the cotton fabric like me, then there’s no better place to be than Gujarat & the shops at Jamnagar are not to be belittled at all in this aspect.

I had the fortune of visiting a lot of places in Gujarat & Rajasthan while I was in Jamnagar. One of the first places that we friends went to was Diu, a very beautiful sea beach. While in Jamnagar, I also visited the temples of Dwarka & Somnath, the Gir forest and of course, Ahmedabad where we used to mostly go for shopping and to eat Pizza. :-) My friend, Sh & I visited the beautiful hill station of Mt. Abu in Rajasthan on the day that Gujarat was struck by the earthquake in 2001. While in Jamnagar, I also made trips to the beautiful palace city of Udaipur & the forts at Chittorgarh in Rajasthan. The memory of these beautiful places I still carry with me in my heart & in photo albums.


I left Jamnagar for Mumbai in Dec 2001 for a new job. I wouldn’t be truthful if I said that I was sad to leave Jamnagar. I was in fact glad to leave because most of my friends there had, by that time, moved to greener pastures elsewhere. Also after 3 years in Jamnagar, I was looking forward to the hustle-bustle of a huge metropolis like Mumbai. But I surely do carry with me many fond memories of Jamnagar.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

A tribute to Kolkata ... a pic blog

The pied-piper of Kolkata...

The serene Belur Math from across the Hooghly river...

O majhi re...