25 February 2024

’12 May India

  1. Starting vacation May 24, 2012

    Okay, shut down my iPad. Officially on vacation. So looking forward to the trip to India to see my parents (I am always afraid this will be the last time I will see both of them). I have lined up about half a dozen folks from my past that I will be meeting after 30 or so years. Also looking forward to the long quiet runs with my brother, daily trips to a local place for wine with Sharmila without (unapproving) parents knowing about it, playing cricket with all the cousins of my kids, making all my relatives uncomfortable by walking around in shorts (I pack only shorts to India) but above all meeting my 96 year old great aunt after 20 years (without whose generosity, my grandmom would have no place to go to when she lost my grand dad; my dad was 2).

  2. New York! May 27, 2012

    Layover was long enough to make a dash to the Times Square….


  3. A380!! May 27, 2012

    First time I am seeing the A380s. They are humongous!!! Two of them facing each other – Emirates and Singapore Airlines. — at JFK terminal 4.


  4. We have our own minibar!! May 27, 2012

    Nikita and her own personal mini bar. In her seat!! The A380s are humongous!!! — at On a Plane.


  5. And we have a normal bar too! May 28, 2012

    Two young ladies – Sharmila and Nikita. At the bar lounge. IN THE PLANE!!!!


  6. The girls are different! May 28, 2012

    After the rather comfortable trip in the biggest commercial airplane, this is what the girls said…
    Tasha (14): “I feel guilty traveling like this at my age”
    Niki (8): “I think they should have a third TV in each seat. BTW, now onwards only Emirates for me”
    Sharmila: “I am NOT traveling coach class to India”
    At that point, I went back to responding to my office emails. I realized I need my job 🙂 My comment? Internet on international flights please!!! I have some emails to upload! 🙂

  7. Run with my brother… May 29, 2012

    Before the run….


  8. Run… but no Starbucks 🙁 May 29, 2012

    10K run with my brother in Kolkata. What with both of us monitoring our run – me in miles and he in kilometers, most of the run was spent revising the tables of 16 (with all that continuous multiplication and division by 1.6) 🙂 No Starbucks for me today 🙁 — at Kolkata.


  9. Another 10K run with my brother! May 30, 2012

    Another 10K run with my brother in the rural roads in Raichak by the river Ganges. It was really really humid. I almost sweated another river next to the Ganges!!! 🙂

  10. And yet another 10K!! May 31, 2012

    10K run. On the same rural route as the one my brother and I took last year. That was his first run of his life. (he now puts 30K runs on Saturdays). Golden rule of running on rural routes in India. Ignore the rule of running with your head up. Instead keep a tight watch on the ground. You will be amazed how many different dirty things you can step into! ’nuff said 🙂 — at Ffort Radisson Raichak.

  11. Swarupda!! Jun 1, 2012
    Swarupda!!!! My personal tutor in 1982!! Met after 30 years! One of the earliest influencers in my life! He is the reason why I fulfilled my dad’s first dream of me – bagging the National Talent Search award. I never went near his second dream – being an IAS officer! Not that I was too much into his first dream either, but I did master double differentials at the age of 15 due to this gentleman. If not anything else, I owe a lot of self confidence to him. 30 years later, we met under very circumstances…. But with our unbelievable respect for each other intact. 30 years back, who knew we will meet someday and talk about the effect of macro economic policies on our respective industries? — at Ffort Radisson Raichak.
  12. Rural version of date.com Jun 2, 2012

    Retail, rural version of Date.com!!! The guy just sits there in a dilapidated shanty with a paper roster. I have no idea how he creates or updates his database. He even claims in his signboard that he deals with all religions!!!!!


  13. Trip to my birthplace!!! Jun 3, 2012
  14. Trip to my birthplace…. Jun 3, 2012

    First tea stall stop after entering the village I was born in. Revisiting after 30 long years…


  15. Bullock carts! Jun 3, 2012

    How I am going to my village today meets how I used to go to my village 35 years back…


  16. The hut that I was born in!! Jun 3, 2012

    This is the hut!!! My birthplace… 45 years back!! Left the hut at the age of 5 when my dad gave up tilling the land and joined the labor force of a steel factory! Last visited 30 years back when my grandmom passed away. The hut has remained the same .. thatched straw roof, walls made of earth, no electricity … only I have changed so much!!!!


  17. My great aunt!!! Jun 3, 2012

    Promise fulfilled! Last year, during a phone call, I had promised to come and see her personally. This is the 96 year old great aunt of mine who had accepted my grandmom and her kids into her family when my dad lost his dad (he was 2 then). Without that and the sharing for the next 15 years, there is no telling what my dad would be today. Or I for that matter. We chatted for two hours. Best time of my life!!!


  18. Nikita’s questions!! Jun 4, 2012

    First train journey in India with Nikita alone. She has a million questions as she struggles to bridge two very different contexts – why are the people walking on tracks? Isn’t that dangerous? Why does India have so many golf courses? (they are paddy fields!). Why do all houses look dirty? Do they have pictures of when the houses were new? Why were those two boys sleeping in the station? Are their beds coming in the next train? Going to be an interesting ride….

  19. The frontside back cap… Jun 4, 2012

    Got down at Durgapur station fully prepared for the 110 degree day. I had my shorts on to infuriate my relatives, I had the loosest Hawaiian shirt on that my dad feels I can easily grow into only if I would stop running and my baseball cap on like some of those tennis players – to make sure I give my relatives some time to get used to my shaven head. My dad, had one look at me, chuckled and said “sokaley taratarir modhey tupi-ta ulto pora hoye gechhe” (translation “in your hurry in the morning, you mistakenly put your cap on frontside back”). I chuckled back knowingly…

  20. The grand conclusion on running!!! Jun 5, 2012

    Early morning. Dad and I are having tea sitting outside. Everything was going great till I pulled my running shoes out. So far it has been a 30 min lecture on the ill effects of running 🙂 His conclusion was hilarious – “Sutorang, jotoi dourou, hnaatu jedin jabar sedin jabe-i” (“therefore, howmuchever you run, your knee is going to give in someday anyways”) 🙂

  21. 10K run in Durgapur.. Jun 5, 2012

    Post 10K run tea with dad. You can see in his face his disapproval of a 10K run. There is a Bengali phrase that aptly describes his continuous muttering under his breath about his disapproval – it is called “gojgoj kora” 🙂


  22. It is HOTTTT !! Jun 5, 2012

    Nine people died last night in my town. Some more today. Hottest summer in a long time. Most people have little access to air conditioning…


  23. From blackberries to clothes.. Jun 5, 2012

    I knew RIM is in trouble. But selling clothes in India??? 🙂 — at Junction Mall, Durgapur.


  24. Our trips to Big Bazar Jun 6, 2012

    Second evening in Durgapur. Second trip to Big Bazar with Sharmila in the evening. If you are not aware of Big Bazar, think of it as a large departmental store. However, if you are aware of Big Bazar, it is really a code word Sharmila and I use to go to a local restaurant to drink some red wine. (my alcohol-disapproving parents have not quite figured out yet what do we buy everyday 🙂 )

  25. Raichak trip – 2012 Jun 7, 2012

    Videos from our Raichak trip in summer of 2012

    “Hath Thakte Mukhe Keno?” 🙂

    “Raichak Golf”

    “Ball Khela”

    “Nouka Paar”

    “Raichak Khao Daoa”

    “Doob De Mon Kali Boley”

    “Amader IPL”

  26. Second 10K run Jun 7, 2012

    10k run in Durgapur. Found something more dangerous than street dogs– all those people learning how to drive early in the morning in empty roads. When a dog approaches you, it is an easy “friend or foe” decision. You take evasive action by picking a stick or throwing a stone (both of which are in abundant supply by the roadside). But when you see the newbie driver clutching onto the steering wheel helplessly for dear life as the car slowly but steadily makes a beeline for you after deviating from its original straight line by an angle “theta”, I have no idea what the right reaction is. Clearly throwing the same stone that I had saved for the dog would set in motion a sequence of events that should be tried only after I have increased my speed by a few more miles per hour 🙂 — at Durgapur, Ashish Market.

  27. “Where the buffaloes roam” Jun 7, 2012

    “Where the buffaloes roam”. The contrast that is India. This is the biggest mall in my town. 400,000 square feet of foreign brands like Luis Phillipe, United colors of Benetton, Converse, Nike, Pepe Jeans and so on. And right at the entrance is two buffaloes grazing….. 🙂


  28. Watering plants… Jun 7, 2012

    A moment reflecting on the whole life. My dad teaching Niki how to water his flower plants. Unknowingly, he is nurturing a young life with nourishment and experience that only a grandparent can..


  29. Scooter with nine lives… Jun 8, 2012
    In an apt display of how the previous generations valued things (when money was tight), my dad has stuck with his first and only vehicle he ever bought. In 1977!!! The manufacturer does not exist any more!!! There is only one mechanic in town who is even willing to fix it. The value of the scooter literally doubles every time he fills in petrol 🙂 The ignition key, which comes out loose in all that rattle and ruckus during a ride is permanently chained to the scooter (see the photo carefully). Still, he refuses to give it up!!! I actually took it out for a ride today. Before that, I asked him “Eta ekhono choley?” (does it still work?). He thought for a few moments and then reluctantly admitted “Choley. Kintu ektu maardhor korey chalatey hoy”. [i need some help from Bengali FB friends for the transliteration to do justice to his sense of humor] — at Open Market, Durgapur.


  30. An old song… Jun 8, 2012
    Treasures from rummaging:
    Found my sister’s “gaaner khaata”. (notebook of songs) from 1976. She started learning how to sing. Me, how to play the tabla. The very first song we did together was “Sara Jibon Dilo Alo”. I remember because our dad made us perform during a Durga Puja programme in Debipur. (remember Debipur from my previous posts?) That was the first song she learnt.

    I found the notebook where her teacher had written the lyrics. I am carrying this with me and digitizing in Atlanta.
    She eventually sang in TV programmes and now teaches her daughter. I just play tabla by myself on Friday evenings in Atlanta.
    For the Bengalis of my age group, this was written on a notebook branded ” Bongo Lipi” if you remember!!! — atThe Peerless Inn – Durgapur.
  31. That eraser!!! Jun 8, 2012
    “Neighbor’s envy, owner’s pride”
    Another indelible memory dug up from the yesteryears from my old schoolbag. This used to be the premium eraser or as we called it in India – “rubber”. (I know, I know what you are thinking 🙂 Life was much simpler for us in school). This eraser commanded superior street cred compared to other erasers since it had a nice smell, was costlier and reputedly could erase pen marks (green part) as well pencil marks ( white part). It took me a lot of academic performance in 5th grade to convince my dad to give me one. I was so proud of it, as you see, I never used it in fear of losing its perfect rectangular shape 🙂
    — at Open Market, Durgapur.



  32. Hot! Hot! Hot! Jun 9, 2012

    Hot. Hot. Hot. Another day of hitting 105 degrees. Here is how hot it is in Durgapur this year – during my entire stay this time, my dad has not even once uttered those dreaded three words – “Thanda legey jaabey” (you will catch a cold) 🙂 🙂

  33. Full Fat! Jun 9, 2012

    Context Switch. In my adopted country, retailers market “fat free”, “no fat”, “low fat” products to woo customers. In my birth country, it appears that retailers are trying to reassure the consumers of the minimum amount of fat they are guaranteed of getting. (no upper limit though)


  34. Bye for now, Durgapur! Jun 9, 2012

    Auf Wiedersehen, Durgapur!!!
    Given my parents’ failing health, they are moving to Kalyani to be close to my sister. That would also mean this is the last time Niki and Tasha were with both their grandparents in Durgapur. This was taken at Durgapur station a few moments before we jumped onto our train and they said goodbye to their grandparents. Now starts another year of hope that I will get to see all four of them next time….


  35. Crisscross Applesauce Jun 10, 2012

    Niki and Tasha join their cousins for a true Indian style meal – sitting crisscross applesauce on the floor, eating with fingers a delicacy that is arguably South India’s biggest cultural export – dosas!!!


  36. Guava! Jun 11, 2012

    Guava!! In fact “dnaasa pyara”. After three decades!!
    One bite into it and it immediately brought back memories of the big guava tree we had in our first house in Durgapur. Summer vacation afternoons meant me and my siblings climbing up the guava tree (they have very strong branches) and perching ourselves on three limbs and imagine – a la Phineas and Ferb – that we are riding a plane!!! Little did we realize that riding a plane, in reality, would be as unromantic as being squeezed in a small space in a metal tube 31,000 feet up in the air with nothing to see and terrible food to eat. Especially since they do not serve guavas!!! 🙂

  37. “Trams” Jun 11, 2012

    Nothing says “good old Kolkata” as the grand old trams (streetcars)!!!!!


  38. Meeting my deskmate after 36 years!! Jun 11, 2012
    Subir Hore!!! After 36 long years! Last saw him in my fourth grade. Was absolutely magical catching up on how our lives diverged in Dec 1976, took their own meandering courses but crossed each other again today!!!
    Funnily enough, we discovered that our lives have taken such twists and turns that from benchmates, we have also become relatives. Very very distant though. Let me see if I can get this straight: my wife’s brother’s wife’s sister’s husband’s brother’s daughter’s husband is Subir!!! No kidding!!! And we were able to piece this together all due to three pieces of lost luggage by Air India!! Don’t even get me started 🙂 — with Subir Hore.
  39. Mehndi Jun 11, 2012

    “Touch of India”. The two sisters get their mehndi done at South City!! 


  40. Leaving India! Jun 13, 2012

    As we get ready to leave India, I asked Niki what three things will she remember the most from this trip. She said
    1. South City mall (biggest mall in Kolkata)
    2. Junction mall (biggest mall in Durgapur)
    3. Grandparents!!
    Oh! Boy!! Somebody is taking after her mother 🙂 🙂 

  41. No fighting!!! Jun 13, 2012

    As we land in Dubai, Nikita looked at Natasha sitting next to her and declared “It has been six hours since we fought. I think that is a record.” 🙂

  42. Jayita! Jun 13, 2012

    Jayita!!!! One more person I had the privilege of being in elementary school together. Met her (in Dubai) after 36 years (lost contact at the same time as Subir Hore). Last time I saw her, she was digging into a masala dosa with her sister at that dosa shop in Benachity. I had gone with my dad to the shoe shop next door -Nee Shing – to buy shoes for my new school!!! It is absolutely amazing to see how much my elementary school students have succeeded in life. I would like to believe that some of that has rubbed off on me too!!

  43. Starbucks!! Jun 14, 2012

    Splashdown!! To Terra Firma… or rather Terra USA. Straight into 4 cups of Starbucks coffee!!! No amount of immigration or custom checks confirm that we are back home as much as the first sip of Starbucks!!! — at John F Kennedy International Airport.


  44. My mark sheet! Jun 14, 2012

    While in India, dug up this gem – my first grade report card!! Note the teacher’s advise on improving my handwriting 🙂 Subsequently, thru the years, other teachers added a few more things for me to improve on… and then the wife came along and added a whole lot more to the list 🙂 but my handwriting never quite improved 🙂 The crowning ignominy was in eighth grade, when my teacher demanded that I practice one page of handwriting every day during summer vacation. I finished the whole assignment in the last two days of vacation. You can only imagine the output 🙂 Much later in life, inspired by my friend Aditya Garg, I picked up calligraphy and went back to fountain pens!! Oh! The irony!!! 🙂


  45. Home, sweet home! Jun 14, 2012

    Can you spell “Jetlagged”? 🙂 This is within two minutes of entering our home…