31 October 2017

Some new… some not so new…

Sometimes journeys are memorable due to the newness of things – new places seen, new people met, new experiences undergone. And sometimes journeys are memorable due to the constancy of a few things. It is like those are the things you actually look forward to for every such trip.

My trips to India have a few similar things that repeat that I absolutely wait for. In fact, they often define what my trips are all about… being with parents, sitting out with my dad in the morning, having drinks and “namkeens” with the siblings late evening, “golgappas” with the nephews and niece in the late afternoon, taking my inlaws out for a lunch or dinner one day …

Not to forget hitting the road with my brother. Every trip entails meeting some new people after a few decades. And that means driving to new cities and towns and testing the limits of Google maps in the Indian context (it does amazingly well, by the way). My brother insists on driving always and we spend quite some time together on the roads. We have some incredible experiences on the road.

Which brings me to one more of those “constant things” – having tea with him at various tea stalls along all the highways and village roads. We usually choose those tea stalls that do not have a lot of customers – which allows us to make friends with the tea stall owner and find out more about the neighborhood.

This particular one was taken somewhere on Durgapur Expressway near Saktigarh (for the ones familiar with the area – this is NOT one of those thousands of places selling “langchas”).

31 October 2017

That was an uncommon name in the list…

Upon entering Delhi airport last night, I was glancing thru the list of flights on the boards to see where I was supposed to go and finish my check in for the Lufthansa flights. Somehow, among all those flights listed in three big boards, my eyes got arrested on one line.

“Durgapur”!!! My small old town has flights going from Delhi!! I was aware of a new airport and I think there are very limited number of flights going there (one? two?) but I had never seen Durgapur’s name up their on those flight boards.

That was a random moment from this trip – but one of somehow great satisfaction. Not sure why?

Maybe a throw back to those good old days when we – the three siblings- were all below 10 and used to play imaginary airplane games in our backyard?

Like I said – felt good though!!

31 October 2017

That is nuts. Errr… I mean coconuts…

Walked up to the empty Lufthansa counter to check in for my flight back and did my usual small talk with the young lady at the counter – you know “How long have you been with Lufthansa?”, “Are you from Delhi” and all that. And in the middle of that I yelled “Whoa!”.

She looked at me inquisitively.

I was still staring at the memo listing the stuff I cannot have in my checked in luggage!! After glancing thru the usual list of dangerous things, I came to a screeching halt when I saw the picture of a coconut!

Coconut??

Coconut?????

Why is the coconut in the list?

What did the poor coconut do? When is the last time a terrorist threatened national security with a errrrr…. coconut?

On an aside, WHO is carrying coconuts in their carry on luggage?

P.S. I am no expert, but I assume the shape of a grenade and the water inside has something to do with triggering the alarm system? But why ban even the half-coconut? (Look at the picture). Again, I do not know why anybody would want to carry half coconuts in their checked in luggage either…

30 October 2017

These goodbyes are not getting any easier….

Every three months for the last five years, we have gone thru the same routine. He would have sadness writ all over his face but mom would still brave a smile as they waved me good bye from the gate downstairs and I headed out to the airport to my family in Atlanta. As routine as it was, it never ceased to give me a lump in my throat. My brother (always the chauffeur) would keep quiet for 10 minutes and give me the space to get used to the moment.

Then my dad lost ability to move much. But he would come downstairs and sit in a chair way ahead of time and wait for me so as to not lose a chance to wave me goodbye. I would again choke up.

Next, he stopped coming down. (The last trip was that way to) He would simply lie in his bed and nod his head. Holding back tears was incredibly tough. I knew he wanted to come down but physically he could not. I used to squeeze his hand just to let him know that I understood.

Now, we are in the phase, where he has no idea that I already left. He got up for ten minutes in the morning, spoke to me incoherently and then went back to sleep. I took a lot of pictures of him. All of them look exactly the same. At the back of my mind, I am aware that this might well be the last time and I wanted to capture ever micro second if I could. Even if they are repeats.

First time ever, my mom is not smiling as she bade adieu all by herself.

A new era is dawning upon us…

30 October 2017

Is there such a word? What do you think?

Back in 1977, Kelvin Donegan was our English teacher. With his blonde hair, fair skin, smart dress, sharp goatee and a motorcycle to boot – we, the fifth graders, were in awe of him.

When he said something, we listened. And remembered.

One day that year, one of my classmates (I forget who it was) had used the phrase “bus stoppage” in one of those “make sentence” exercises. “Bus stoppage” was (and I suspect still is) very commonly used in Bengal. Not sure of outside Bengal.

In any case, Sir Donegan had firmly told us that there was no such thing as “Bus Stoppage”. That is a made up word by Bengalis. Ever since, I got used to saying and writing “Bus Stop”.

While being driven to the airport a couple of days back, I noticed this sign along EM Bypass (these have been put up for the FIFA Under 17 World Cup being held in Kolkata).

I realized that “Bus Stoppage” is still alive and kicking in Bengal.

Just to be sure, quickly checked Google. Apparently, “stoppage” is a perfectly good word. But looks like “Bus Stoppage” may not be.

Any opinions out there?

30 October 2017

Very successful year in meeting my old class (home room) teachers

This year, I have been able to locate and visit 9 out of 10 of my home room teachers. They are strewn all over India. Each search was very satisfying (of course after the frustration of numerous false leads). In the end, being able to say “Thank you” to each and every one of them face to face has been an unforgettable experience! As I have maintained before, they were crucial influences in my formative years. I have no doubt that without their combined influence, I would not be who I am.

I am left with only one teacher from seventh grade – Mrs. Srinivasan. This one is going to be very tough. She was there only for a very short duration. I remember many of the events from her class. But so far, I have found only two persons (both teachers) who even remember that there was such a person. Will keep searching…

Meanwhile, time to move on to the subject teachers then!!