6 December 2019

Do these things happen only to me?

Last night, Natasha dropped some broad hints about her Christmas gift list. Something to the effect that she would not be particularly upset if she were to receive some Glossier stuff this year. After reassuring her that we would not take it personally if she got upset :-), I had to ask myself the inevitable question any 53 year dad would legitimately ask – “What the heck is Glossier?”.

I know she is into Journalism and all that. Maybe she is looking for a Glossary??? That made no sense. So I Googled it up and had one of those “Okay boomer” moments. And then I remembered something else.

A few days back, I had seen a news item where somebody who I knew from my past had just joined as the CTO of a company called Glossier. I had been meaning to call Pawan up to congratulate her (and also find out what Glossier was). I had figured she would be too busy for me right now – so I noted it down as a new year action item.

I had a chance to work with Pawan way back in the mid 90s. A fresh graduate from UT Austin, she was an amazing professional. Over the years, she has built a sterling career spanning two different continents. Undoubtedly one of the smartest persons I know of (but not smart enough to avoid working in the same team as I 🙂 ) , she was fairly close to Sharmila and me when we worked together. Recently she has moved from being one of top executives in Amazon to Glossier.

I let Natasha know that I know the CTO of Glossier. Her text messages back opened up a sliver of a chance that she might have finally found something about her dad not to be embarrassed about.

“Actually, you know her too”, I texted her.
“NO WAY!! HOW COME NOBODY TELLS ME THESE THINGS?”, came the response in disbelief. All caps, no less!

I reminded her of a couple of times that she has met Pawan in the past (she was too young though). This morning I remembered something else. On my flight back home, I dug thru old pictures and managed to retrieve the picture below and sent it to her. With the message that..

“Believe it or not, Natasha, this picture is from when you were six months old. That dress you are wearing in this picture was gifted to you. By the same lady who is now the CTO of the company that you want your gift from this year!!”

What is the chance of that?

Life is such an incredible tapestry of rich memories and even richer relationships!!

3 November 2019

One last surprise for this trip!

It used to be the case that the first sight of these two young gentlemen reminded me that I had alighted in Kolkata airport. That, and the oppressive heat and humidity.

These days, a far more oppressive thing called education with it daily tests, projects, private tutors and heavier-than-the-kid backpacks has taken away that luxury from my itinerary.

Met my nephews for a couple of hours before catching my flight back to Atlanta. They had no clue that I was in Kolkata!

And that would be the final surprise I had in store for this trip.

2 November 2019

Moments I wait for…

Every trip to India is all about my parents and inlaws. And then the siblings. And then all those intersection points with folks who I had crossed paths with long time back…their parents… their kids and so on.

One of the most rewarding moments for me is to relax with my brother over a glass of wine. My sister lives downstairs from my parents. She bears the brunt of the day to day challenges with my parents. My brother lives in the big city nearby. He does most of the heavy lifting on the medical and financial front. And in all those high risk situations my parents get into health wise every other year.

Folks like me who live very far can probably understand the sense of helplessness I have just because of the inability to do something. And realizing that the siblings are carrying more than their share of the duty.

I have found very few ways – if any – to say thanks to them for all this.

Sitting down with my brother over a bottle of wine on a roof top terrace of the Westin hotel for four hours just to talk to him without anybody else nearby was a great opportunity for me to to remind him of my gratitude.

We are very close. We talk every single day of our lives. Still, just being physically there – just the two of us… In fact, I mentioned the first day I saw him – brought back from the hospital fresh out of a bout of jaundice after being born and almost written off… we have come a long ways together!

31 October 2019

A funny thing happened!

I was visiting my mother in law. Turns out she had returned from her native village just an hour before. She had been out for a few days. The problem she had was that there was no food to offer me – you know those sweets, savories, egg preparations that Bengali moms will shower you with anytime you show up at a Bengali house. Much less your in-laws’ place.

In fact, every time I visit her, she and I have this constant fight. I keep asking her to sit down so I can talk and she would keep asking what I wanted to eat and head towards the kitchen.

Not this time. There was no food to offer. Which suited me very fine. For once, after a long time, I actually got a chance to sit down and talk with her. Our topic meandered into my father-in-law (who we lost last year). She told me a lot of stories about him and his daily routine. Then she mentioned about her favorite picture of him. It was a picture of him at a much younger age holding a gun. My father-in-law’s family was famous in their village for having a licensed gun.

For the understandably worried, my father in law had a gun way before I started dating Sharmila.

In any case, we started ferreting thru the old albums and I finally located the photo she was talking about. She looked at it for quite some time. I asked her if I could take it to the US and bring it back the next time Sharmila or I am visit. (I want to scan it and keep it for posterity – not knowing when she might misplace her stuff). She readily agreed.

On another upside, I found out some other old pictures too! See if you can recognize the person poking her finger into her brother’s ear in this picture?

6 October 2019

Quintessential Bengali Puja lunch

This diet is not for the faint of the heart.

Luchi mangsho bhaja-bhuji bnodey and pantooa

(Deep fried bread, chicken curry, fritters and other fried vegetables, two different sweet meats – both of which require deep frying)

Nothing has caught a Bengali’s eye that eventually did not land up getting fried. Bengali Puja lunches are nothing if not elaborate cholesterol doling our ceremonies.