14 February 2024

’14 Sep India

  1. And the long haul back commences… Sep 5, 2014

    First leg – stay over tonight in Washington DC to catch the flight to India early morning tomorrow. The inlaws are very impressed with the arrangements made by all airlines to help people who cannot walk easily…


  2. Four months long vacation. Life long discussions of the memories!! Sep 5, 2014

    They are busy discussing about all their experiences in US this time. He is remembering each and every new friend he made during this trip. She is remembering all the food she ate at different restaurants and friends’ houses!!!

    He is taking it pretty hard. Before getting into the car at home, as I was busy putting in the suitcases, he slowly walked to the car door with his walking stick and then, before getting in, took a long look at our yard and his favorite sitting spot and said “Bye, bye pool”. πŸ™


  3. For once, she is happy with me. And he is not!! Sep 5, 2014

    We were still on the ground. And the nice air hostess comes around asking if she could get us a drink before we got started. FIL immediately responded “some red wine, please”. I was, like “Whoa! Easy, Speedy Gonzalez”!!!

    So, I told the lady “He means he will have it when we are in the air. He is fine with his water for the time being “.

    He was not particularly happy with that interpretation. My MIL, on the other hand, totally approved!!! πŸ™‚


  4. Last day of sight seeing before leaving the US Sep 5, 2014

    Sitting by the Potomac. You can see the Washington Memorial and the Capitol in the distance on the other side.


  5. Going back to 9PM of April 2nd, 2013 Sep 6, 2014

    I was in India for one of my quarterly trips to India to check on my dad. Of the two or three days that I spend with him, one day – sometimes only a few hours – is dedicated to my inlaws. On April 2nd, 2013, following the pattern, I showed up at my inlaws’ house (they had no idea I was in India) with my brother and brother-in-law after about three hours of drive at about 7 PM and said – “Let’s go out for dinner”. After getting over all protestations from my mother in law that we should eat at her place, we landed up at Peerless Inn in Durgapur.

    Around 9PM, we were done with our dinner (actually, I remember having a lot of great appetizers that my friends in Peerless always make for us) and settled down with our wines (“we” means all of us minus my mother in law, as you can see in the picture in top). The topic went to the concept of mortality and why giving time is far more valuable than giving time. I think we were talking about grandparents and their leaving their wealth for their grandkids instead of their own kids. And I, predictably, pushed them to give time to the grandkids and quit worrying about giving money.

    It was then that I had dropped the question – “Why not visit us in Atlanta?”. There was less than zero chance of me succeeding. My father in law was pushing 80 (he is the oldest of my parents and in laws). My mother in law has enough physical challenges. And I did not think Sharmila would relish giving up her independence for a long time. (Indian parents visit for at least three months and I am never at home to give up my independence, anyways).

    I did not succeed, as predicted. But I did make a dent. Everytime I met them or talked to them, I encouraged them to think about the fact that the only thing finite is time.

    Well, eventually, they got their new passports done, their visas done and visited us – exactly one year later than what my original proposal was (which was summer last year).

    On this last night in US for them, as I tucked them in their bed in the DC hotel and went down for a nice gin and tonic, I started looking at the pictures I took of them during their stay (attached a couple in the bottom). There is a marked difference in their smiles

    And that was my whole goal. To make a difference. In a small way…


  6. FIL MIL Mehfil: What am I eating? Sep 6, 2014

    No sooner had we settled down in the Emirates Lounge in Washington DC airport, than my MIL went around milling where all the food and coffee was. I was sure she was hungry but her biggest constraint was to check out the food when nobody was around. (She has no ability to converse with all those folks trying to help her out due to the language issue).

    I could see she was surveying all the food and was trying to figure out what to have. And that is when one of those ever helpful Emirates employee showed up and started asking her in local English if she could help.

    It was a sight to watch. MIL did not want to be rude but she absolutely did not want to continue with any conversation. Normally, I would step in and explain to her what she was being told. This time, I just decided to let her be and get some experience in the fun of traveling. And this particular experience was certainly a lot of fun to me. All the statements from the helpful lady was met with vigorous headshaking by my MIL. She kept up with her firm smile though.

    Then she put in quite some food in her plate and came back to her chair. You could see it in her eyes that she was panicking. She finally settled down in the chair next to me, put her food down and asked me “Ki niye elam re”? (“What did I pick up in my plate?”) πŸ™‚

    I was not going to let her off the hook of having fun. So, I said “Kheye-i dekhun na” (“You wont know till you eat it”). You can see her struggling with her food in this picture πŸ™‚

    Reminded me of a very old but very funny Haggar The Horrible cartoon. The first picture showed Haggar’s domineering wife (Helga?) and certainly not the best cook putting some food in front of him and patronizing him about food wastage. “Waste not. Want not”. She said. The next picture showed Haggar trying the food. And the last picture showed him pushing the food away. “Want not”, was his memorable response πŸ™‚


  7. FILMIL Mehfil : I give up!!! Sep 6, 2014

    Sitting next to my MIL in the plane, I showed her this collage I had made some time back and asked her what was this all about. She took about three minutes and then said “One of those people, I recognize as myself”. I am like “Really, who are the others?”. She recognized two more as her daughter – Sharmila. She could not figure out who the rest were!!!

    I really wonder who has been doing all the drinking – my MIL or FIL πŸ™‚

    Needless to say, all of the pictures are of Sharmila. With her different hair styles over the last 15 years!!!


  8. FILMIL Mehfil : I give up!!! Sep 6, 2014

    Sitting next to my MIL in the plane, I showed her this collage I had made some time back and asked her what was this all about. She took about three minutes and then said “One of those people, I recognize as myself”. I am like “Really, who are the others?”. She recognized two more as her daughter – Sharmila. She could not figure out who the rest were!!!

    I really wonder who has been doing all the drinking – my MIL or FIL πŸ™‚

    Needless to say, all of the pictures are of Sharmila. With her different hair styles over the last 15 years!!!


  9. FILMIL Mehfil : I give up!!! Sep 6, 2014

    Sitting next to my MIL in the plane, I showed her this collage I had made some time back and asked her what was this all about. She took about three minutes and then said “One of those people, I recognize as myself”. I am like “Really, who are the others?”. She recognized two more as her daughter – Sharmila. She could not figure out who the rest were!!!

    I really wonder who has been doing all the drinking – my MIL or FIL πŸ™‚

    Needless to say, all of the pictures are of Sharmila. With her different hair styles over the last 15 years!!!


  10. You can spot a Bengali from as far as you can throw a “rosomalai” Sep 7, 2014

    Nothing can shrink my inlaws further in their airplane seats than the prospect of having to talk to the stewards and stewardesses regarding what would they want for their meal. My father in law, at least, puts up a spirited fight. Often, therefore, landing with stuff he had no idea that he had ordered. But he is a good sport – and he will try out a little of everything. My mother in law, on the other hand, pointedly refuses to deal with any of these stewards or stewardesses with anything but head shakes. Which, for any foreigner can be very confusing. Indians are famous for their head shakes. And my mother in law is famous for not getting to eat much in flights. Once in a while, she will recognize something that she knows – e.g. Tea and would order it with great anticipation. And then spit it out after the first sip – because she was expecting tea done exactly the Bengali way. “Era cha-tao bhalo banatey jaanena” (“these folks don’t know how to make a simple cup of tea!”)

    A stewardess came and asked them after the meal – “Some digestives?”. Not exactly the way I would have put it, but the packets in her tray clearly showed the picture of aniseed. The next two minutes was a sight. Both of them, totally flabbergasted, looked at the lady, at each other and then across the aisle, towards me. Not in a hurry to finish the fun, I just kept smiling back. Eventually, my father in law said “one” indicating he would try some. And as the lady moved on, I mentioned “Mouri chhilo” (“That was aniseed”) (a very common after meal mouth freshener cum digestive in India). Let me put it this way, my mother in law made me call the lady back so that she could grab a few packets!!!

    This being the state of affairs, you can only imagine their reaction when they found out that the last course of meal in their last meal in the last segment of flight (Dubai to Kolkata) was “rosomalai” (a delectable Bengali dessert). The entire inner Bengaliness of their last four month existence outside Bengal was channeled – vigorously, I might add – on that one course!! In the picture, you can see them devouring those hapless plates of rosomalai as if “dhorey praan elo”. Those rosomalais vanished in front of my eyes faster than I could say “Aar ektu mouri neben?” (“Want some more aniseed?”). πŸ™‚


  11. This part of our Antakshari brought to you by Absolut Citron πŸ™‚ Sep 8, 2014

    Made a couple of cocktails at my sister’s home today. Before long, the sum total of singing talent (or lack thereof) of my brother-in-law, brother and myself were brought to the fore by an engaging three hour Antakshari (it is a duel of songs where you have to start a song with the same letter as the last letter of the previous singer’s song’s first stanza).

    We would have continued with the rampage had it not been time for me to jump onto office calls with US…


  12. Two sadhu sanyasis on the run!! Sep 9, 2014

    Early morning run with my brother in a really humid Kalyani morning. Operating the touchscreen of my phone has become difficult – my finger tips are sweating so profusely!!!
    5K run in 26:30 mins.


  13. The best part of my trips to be with my dad… Sep 9, 2014

    The best part is undoubtedly sitting with dad early in the morning in the patio watching the dawn unfold with the birds waking up … Absolutely with no spoken words between us except pouring tea for each other.

    The second best is sitting in the evening with my siblings and brother in law with some cocktails made by yours truly. The photographer here is my niece and she had strict instructions on what our poses needed to be πŸ™‚


  14. This is the difference between a kid and a grandkid… Sep 9, 2014

    So, when I ask my parents to pose for a picture, they put up their stiff grim faces on. Today I taught my niece (their grand daughter, my sister’s daughter) how to operate the camera in my phone and asked her to go take some pictures of my parents.

    She had them eating out of her hands. Look at the picture. My dad has not a clue what he is doing but he is trying his best to copy the V sign his granddaughter taught him to flash when she took a picture of them!!! πŸ™‚

    And if I had tried that? “Dekh-ge ja”, he would have said. πŸ™‚


  15. Eighty four year old youngster Sep 10, 2014

    Every time I come to see my dad, I try to see if I can make some time to visit one more of my mom’s siblings (she has quite a few). Usually, all I have is some vague names of the villages and nearby localities, my GPS map on iPhone and a few phone numbers. So far, that has been enough to track down relatives that I had not seen for a long time.

    This time, I ventured out to find my mom’s eldest sister. It was a relatively easy search since my brother had a pretty good idea where they lived. As I walked into their house in a small place 60 km off Kolkata, completely unannounced, they had absolutely no idea how to react to a shaved head, shorts-wearing, sunglass wielding middle aged man barging into their home πŸ™‚

    I am really really glad I went there though. I would have missed out on a great conversation with my uncle (my mom’s sister’s husband – you can see him in the picture). 84 years of age, he is an absolute antithesis to my 75 year old dad (who is suffering physically and emotionally has lost all urge to live). The gentleman sat straight, had no visible fat and was free from any issues like sugar, pressure, arthritis, cholesterol … you name it.

    And mentally? As I struggled to remember (and I am someone who remembers past events vividly) when had I met him last, he let me know that it was in May 1987 when he had shown up at our house with the wedding invitation for his only son and I happened to be visiting home from my college that day. Wow! That was 27 years back and he could recall conversations from that day with no effort.

    I was obviously curious about how he has managed to keep himself this sharp at this age – which is an absolute rarity in India – certainly non-existent in my family. So, I asked him what are the three things (yeah! me and my three things) he would ask me to focus on at this age to stay healthy and happy. His thoughtful advice – after mulling it over for a few minutes:

    1. Try doing physical exercise and yoga everyday. He does not take any medicine – allopathy, homeopathy, ayurvedic whatever – other than in extreme cases. Instead he does Yoga everyday for sustained periods of time to keep his body healthy.

    2. Control the amount of food you intake. He does not believe that there any kinds of food to be avoided and any kinds of food to focus on. He despises the marketing fads. He believes the human body is too complex to be described in a few rules of logic. It can deal with a ton load of variations as long as it is not overstressed. So, the only thing he avoids is eating too much. At this age, he eats every kind of food offered – he just consciously controls the amount.

    3. Never lose control of time: At this point, my aunt was rolling her eyes. Evidently, he has a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian of time. He gets up at the same time, spends time consciously during the day on as many different variety of activities he can and then eats and sleeps at the same time. He hates people who are habitually late. Did I mention my aunt was rolling her eyes πŸ™‚

    Although I had asked him for three, he threw in one free – “Visit as many new places as you can”. He took me thru a few albums of pictures from amazing number of places he has visited – I did not know about 90% of those places. He said he did not either till he reached there in most of the cases!!!

    I was totally inspired by him. If I can be of his constitution and mental faculty when I am 84, I will be ahead of the game.

    Coming out, I made a mental note to spend a little more time with him in my future visits….


  16. “Jiski rachna itni sundar” Sep 10, 2014

    While I have great admiration for all the Bengalis in Atlanta, in due admission of their higher intelligence level, I have to believe that it is a one sided admiration. Certainly, it speaks to their sense of discretion at least.

    That said, there is a mutual admiration society between myself and one particular person from the aforementioned Bengali community in Atlanta. The reasons I marvel at Amitesh – that being his name – is his ability to listen actively (not exactly my strength), great sense of priorities in life (I still struggle at that) and his ability to “commit” himself – be it tennis, work or finer aspects of life like wine πŸ™‚

    In my eight years in Atlanta, I have learnt a lot from him. But I have always been intrigued by one question… to quote a couple of memorable lines from Jesu Das “Jiski rachna itni sundar, Woh kitna sundar hoga”… (“if he is such great a person, I wonder how great his Creator must be”).

    I am intrigued no more. I walked into his mom’s home in Salt Lake in Kolkata this evening. And proceeded to have an enchanted evening with a eighty seven year old!!! I was absolutely stunned by how well informed her points of views were. Later I learned how well educated and learned she is.

    Found out she was in University of Tennessee and Atlanta (where I live) to study way back in 1960. To put it in perspective, it took seven more years for me to be simply come to this world.

    I had one of the best evenings today. I am still amazed by the perspectives of this eighty seven year old lady…


  17. Starting the morning with a chuckle… Sep 11, 2014

    After being really hungry for an hour, the breakfast place at ITC Sonar hotel finally opened at 7am. Of course, that does not mean service started at 7. I got my coffee at 7:20. After that it picked up fast though. In fact, every time I needed attention, three waiters would crowd my table – one attending to me and the other two listening intently to what I had to say and then instructing each other what to do πŸ™‚

    I was whiling away my time glancing idly thru the local newspaper pages when I saw the attached headline. I am given to understand the two ladies mentioned in the headline are very successful and famous movie stars in Bollywood.

    Therefore, you will forgive me for immediately reacting “Call me a skeptic, young lady, but I do not think “finding” is going to be your exact problem. And if it is, you are doing it all wrong”.

    Fortunately my steaming hot coffee arrived at that point and I was able to throw the newspaper away and focus on more pointless activities – like writing this blog entry πŸ™‚


  18. After effects of World Cup Soccer Sep 11, 2014

    After a rather long car ride, I eventually reached my brother-in-law’s house in Kharagpur where my inlaws are now staying. I had gone completely unannounced. Needless to say, everybody was very surprised.

    None were, however, as surprised as the maid servant at their place. The poor lady had never seen a middle aged man in shorts and shining shaved head in front of her. Curious, she discreetly asked my sister-in-law “Uni ki Bombay thekey esechhen?”. Evidently, she had guessed that I have some connections with the movie world.

    She accurately guessed that she was way off. Her first hint was my sister-in-law’s uncontrollable laughter πŸ™‚ So, she promptly corrected herself “Oh! Football kheltey esechhen, na?”!!!! She thought I was part of a soccer team and had come to play in a local tournament!!!

    You can’t blame her. I am sure two months of World Cup soccer on TV is enough for anybody to associate shorts and shining pates to soccer players. The fact that I was wearing a two-tone panel shirt and old pair of running shoes did not help matters either πŸ™‚

  19. Every morning in Kalyani is a hysteresis curve for me Sep 12, 2014

    What the 6km run in 90%+ humidity and 90 degrees Fahrenheit giveth,
    The Luchi-aloor-dum-begun-bhaja-aloo-bhaja-makhamaara-sondesh breakfast promptly taketh away.

    If it is not deeply fried or dripping in sugar, we don’t serve it for breakfast at our house πŸ™‚

    The real irony? My dad thinks I should save my knees and stop running. This, from somebody who has had a heart attack and suffers from sugar and kidney issues!!!

  20. Bovine wisdom Sep 12, 2014

    “I really don’t care. Order something”. That was my lackadaisical response to my brother’s query “What do you want to eat?” as we started settling down at our table at Pan Asian restaurant at ITC Sonar hotel. And therefore, that is what he did. The usual Bengali favorites of hakka noodles, fried rice, manchurian gobi and so on. I was more focused on spending time with him than what I was going to eat that evening.

    Something curious happened in the next couple of minutes. Just as the waiter had started walking away, my brother called him back “Ektu salad diye jaaben?” (“Can you get us some salad?”). Very proud of my brother that he was eating his vegetables – and obviously caught in a location context warp as I realized later, I commended him for eating leaves and vegetables. Ever concerned of his health, I enquired about whether he was focusing on the proper dressing too (stay away from the creamy ones, you know).

    He stared at me blankly. “Maaney?” (“What are you talking about?”). It took me a couple of seconds to recognize what had happened. You see, in India, “salad” really means a plate of condiments – usually comprising of sliced cucumbers, onions and tomatoes and sometimes carrots and even green chillies with salt sprinkled all over. The sophisticated places might even give you beet-salt.

    Chuckling inside, I told him that he should try and eat green vegetables too.
    “Knacha ghaas paata khabo?”, he asked indignantly. (“You want me to eat raw leaves and grass?”). I replied in the affirmative explaining how our digestive systems cannot digest cellulose and therefore those leaves are great as fiber for roughage and bowel movements. Other than the obvious source of vitamins.

    Thoroughly unimpressed, he dismissed me saying “Amader deshe ogulo goru-tey khay”. (“Here in India, cows eat such stuff”).

    “The health benefits of leaves and vegetable salads are well documented”, I persisted.

    He gave it some consideration and then burst my balloon. “Toder deshe-r kota goru-r khub bhalo figure?”. (“How many cows in your country are proud of their figures?”).

    I gave up and started digging into the salted cucumber and tomato slices that had arrived at our table. Ooh! They were very tasty πŸ™‚

  21. With my sister… Sep 12, 2014

    Growing up as a child, my relationship with my sister evolved in a very different way from that of my brother. I spent time with them only till I was sixteen years of age and then I was packed off to a residential school. I would get to see them only during the holidays – a couple of times a year. Throughout those years though, my brother and I bonded very strongly. We were born five years apart, however, we have remained very close to each other. Even today, we talk to each other at least once a day. Some of them are simply pulse-checking calls asking “Everything ok?” and lasts no more than 15 seconds – but we make the call, anyways. Every time I am in India, he makes it a point to ensure we are together everyday – regardless of the location. And he will not allow me to rent a car. He has to accompany me and drive himself wherever we go.

    On the other hand, my sister and I – and we were born less than two years apart – never bonded that strongly. First, we fought over the same toys and then I hated her friends (because they were girls πŸ™‚ ) In school, I was always awkward with girls (yeah, I know, it is difficult to believe that today) and everytime her friends would come to our house, I would drag my brother out of our house from the backdoor and start playing outside. There has always been that awkward distance between us.

    However, there was one thing that always brought us together – our love for music. My brother was never musically inclined. That was my moment with my sister. Three to four times a week we would sit down for an hour together and practice music. That, of course, fell by the wayside when we left home to pursue studies.

    For the last couple of years, we have tried to reconnect to those days by sitting down to practice music whenever I come to India.

    This time was no exception.


  22. One more road trip Sep 13, 2014

    Once more my brother and I hit the road… Today’s goal includes finding a classmate of mine from tenth grade in a town that I have never been to as well as visiting a four year old nephew of mine in another town who just returned from the hospital after having his gall bladder removed…


  23. Only nephew. No gall !! Sep 13, 2014

    For somebody – especially a four year old – who walked out of a hospital minus the gall bladder a few days back, my nephew was surprisingly full of energy and mirth…


  24. Forty one years later… Sep 13, 2014

    One more of my intersection points from the long past!! It was way back in 1973. I had just joined a new school in my first grade. And that was where I met Aditi Mustafi (now Guha). She was an incredibly bright student and actually was a year junior to us – but she was “double promoted” to our class. Although we started in the same “home room”, our school did a reshuffling of students in our second month and I was packed off to another home room – or “section” as we called those days, at least in India.

    And then after the first grade, she left to join another school. And I never saw her for another ten years or so. In 1984, I ran into her during Saraswati Pujo in Bidhan School – where I had gone with a couple of my friends who studied there. (I did not study in that school). And then I lost complete touch with her.

    Finally, last year, another friend from first grade – Subir Hore (about whom there is a previous blog entry) got me in touch with her. And this year, when I called her to wish her a happy birthday, we realized that we might have a chance to see each other during my travels in a week’s time.

    And we almost did not make it. A very successful executive in one of the premium newspapers here in India, she was called away for an engagement that would have clashed with the timeframe that we had fixed to meet at. Fortunately, she was able to swing by in between her commitments. We had a great hour and a half catching up on old friends and teachers.

    I am really impressed at how she has managed life at multiple fronts and balanced them and succeeded. She is taking care of her mother and mother-in-law at home (that was another common thread of our existence – it appears they are going thru the same phase as my dad and mom), having a great career at work and also raising her son – with whom, I apparently share a lot of traits – not the least of which was our penchant for fountain pens!! One great thread of discussion – the importance of parents NOT goading their kids into “standard” streams of education and instead letting them find out who they are…

    I am really glad that she could make the time for me and I certainly am very thankful to Subir for putting us in touch with each other…


  25. Sweating it out… Sep 14, 2014

    In the middle of a sweltering hot morning and oppressive humidity (high nineties), my brother and I asked ourselves during a 5K run – “what might give us some relief?”. Putting our combined infinite wisdom together, we settled down for some tongue-scalding tea from a street side vendor!!

    It is true that when extremely dehydrated, the brain seems not to work πŸ™‚


  26. The mixologist from Kolkata Sep 14, 2014

    India means all about reconnecting and creating more intersection points. Between that and spending time with my ailing dad and mom, the couple of days that I stay everytime go off very fast. Once in a while, I also get to meet completely new strangers and make new friends and hopefully start new arcs of relationships that might intersect much later in life.

    Such an opportunity presented itself one evening when I stayed at the ITC Sonar hotel. My brother and I were done with all our meetings and food and had some time to ourselves. We went down to the bar for a couple of drinks before going off to sleep.

    Being deeply involved with mixology means you cannot help checking out the inventory at a bar – the different kinds of gins, rums, vodka, liquers, the flavors and so on. It also meant that I could not help showing off some of my knowledge to my brother – which is razor thin to begin with, but I took full advantage of the fact my brother has no idea any of those stuff other than wine and beer πŸ™‚

    Made a few new friends there – Mathew and Anjel – both of whom are from the part of the country that my sister actually used to live in. In fact, my sister adopted their daughter from Mother Teresa’s orphanage from Mathew’s hometown!!

    Speaking of mixology and making new friends, my new find this trip was Ranjan Roy – the mixologist at the bar. I tested him by asking for two special cocktails – that were not on the menu and I was quite sure not too many customers in this part of the world ever ask for those (which he confirmed later). To my delight, he nailed both the cocktails with perfect ingredients, proportions and timing. I was truly impressed that he knew the different forms of ice to be used in the two drinks. Unfortunately, my dear old brother, with no respect for decorum towards cocktails simply took out the crushed ice from one of the drinks using his spoon – “Boddo thanda hoye jachche”!!! Apparently, he liked the taste, but it was getting too cold for him πŸ™‚

    Eventually, I let Ranjan experiment on me. I asked him to suprise me with a good dessert drink. He came up with something himself – he probably should christen it with his own name. But it was actually a mix of a dessert dish and a drink Β (crepes in irish creme carefully caramelized with the heat from Cointreu orange liquer set afire). You can see him in this picture with his pyrotechnics!!!


  27. Meeting an old friends’ parents Sep 15, 2014

    Last time I was in India, I had a chance meeting with an old classmate from nearly thirty years back. I said chance meeting because a completely fortuitous phone call revealed that we were literally a mile or so apart at that point of time. We rearranged our schedules to have lunch together that day. You might remember Sibapriya from an old blog article. Among various other topics that day, we discussed my parents’ health condition and realized that his dad and mom were not keeping well either. And he was going thru the same phase in life that I went thru a couple of years back where I had to push my parents very hard to move out of the house they lived in and get closer to a place where they could get a lot of support. In my case, we moved them close to my sister and in his case, he was trying to move his parents to his house. And he was meeting with as much agreement and cooperation as did I with my parents πŸ™‚

    In any case, I had contemplated at that point to visit his parents next time I got a chance. I got half a chance this time and capitalized on it. As I mentioned before, I had gone to my brother-in-law’s house in Kharagpur, after a rather long car ride, to check on my father-in-law’s progress for one last time. After I said good bye, called up Sibapriya in Midnapore – which was about another forty five minutes’ ride away – and arranged to come and see his ailing parents and himself.

    Meeting his parents’ in his house was a very powerful moment. For one, sitting with his mom and talking to her reminded me of those early days of childhood where I used to visit my friends’ houses and their parents would welcome us, sit with us and chat with us for long times. Admittedly, a lot of that was about studies – which probably my friends and I wanted to avoid at all cost πŸ™‚ Β His dad, unfortunately, was not in a physical or mental position to hold down a conversation with me.

    These days, I have started making a point to visit elderly parents of my friends, relatives etc – just to make sure I get to see them at least one more time before I am robbed of that possibility. Β I am not sure whether it is a generational gap or it is just me. I will assume it is just me, at this point of time. But there is a natural, spontaneous hospitality I find in pretty much all my friends’ parents that I don’t find in myself. I cannot remember when is it that I saw Sibapriya’s mom last, I certainly had not seen Amitesh’s mother ever before (see a previous blog article from a few days back) and I saw my uncle after 27 years (see another blog article from a few days back). There is a level of heart felt caring and openness in these conversations that always makes me feel like I have known them all my life and am meeting them after a month or so. I know I am not capable of that .

    Finally, I took a lot of pictures of uncle and aunt. I was so excited to take their pictures and keep them for posterity, that I completely forgot to take Sibapriya’s pictures!!!! I still can’t believe that I walked away without taking any of his pictures!!!


  28. Two for one!!! Sep 15, 2014

    Early September, I called up Atanu to wish him a very happy birthday!! After 1983, I had neither seen him nor talked to him much. A few years back, I got his phone number from another friend and called him up. And jotted down his birthday. Ever since, at least once a year, I get to talk to him and not much more. Except, this year when we talked, we wondered if it would be possible to see each other after so many years.

    Atanu was one of our “bhalo chhele” – which in Bengalispeak is, a meritorious student. After school, he went on to pursue his higher education in medical science and is now an eminent doctor in my birth state specializing in pediatrics. Anyways, I was excited at the possibility of meeting him – although I was not sure logistically I could fit it in. My best shot was to go to Asansol – a town I have never been to – about forty five minutes away from Durgapur after I met my gall-bladder-less nephew. (see a blog from a couple of days back).

    Eventually, my brother and I did show up at Atanu’s bungalow inside ESI hospital. Again, he looked exactly the way I remembered him from 1983!! I could have easily picked him out in a crowd. Since he, my brother and myself were from the same middle school, we spent some time remembering our old teachers and school.Β 

    And then we got introduced to his wife. What I did not know till then is that his wife was our batchmate too. And that she and I had studied in the same school – twice – but not in overlapping timeframes. However, we immediately found common friends from the past. The most exciting moment was when she started talking about her best friend from Bidhan School (eleventh and twelfth grade) that she had not been able to track her down for some time. Want to guess who she was? The same Aditi that I met after forty one years just a couple of days back!! What is the chance of that? I was immediately able to put them together thru the phone lines.

    Ah! The joys of networking!!!

    This was amply rewarding in itself. However, the bonus came when Atanu mentioned that another friend of ours from school days – Suranjit was also in town. I think I knew he was in Asansol but I never put two and two together. A few phone calls later, we had Suranjit and his wife at Atanu’s house. Suranjit was, and continues to be an absolute hoot. I think he was one of the first – if not the first – businessman in our group. He is still the same person – looks at you from the top of his glasses, has a booming voice and full of energy and joie de vivre! And since his business is in selling alcohol and liquour, I obviously had a lot of questions around the more common alcohol types and brands here. Unfortunately, not too many people here go for cocktails, as he educated me. Most go for beer or scotch whiskey.

    Anyways, the three of us had enough of catching up to do that I canceled the schedule for the rest of the day and we went out for lunch in a nearby restuarant.Β 

    I am really really glad that I had made that birthday call earlier this month…


  29. It is never easy to say “Good Bye” Sep 15, 2014

    My dad was really upset…


  30. Iconic Howrah Bridge Sep 15, 2014

    Taken with my iPhone from my flight to Dubai. You can see the Howrah staton as well as the second Hooghly bridge…


  31. Iconic Howrah Bridge Sep 15, 2014

    Taken with my iPhone from my flight to Dubai. You can see the Howrah staton as well as the second Hooghly bridge…I lucked out as the plane took off southbound and took a westward turn right before the bridge and I happened to have my phone in my hand…


  32. Chop Chop Chop! Sep 19, 2014

    My mother-in-law’s first attempt at using chopsticks. My father-in-law’s reaction to this is rather pronounced πŸ™‚


  33. From my dad’s balcony – the sun Sep 19, 2014
  34. From my dad’s balcony – the moon Sep 19, 2014
  35. From my dad’s balcony – the rains Sep 19, 2014