11 February 2024

’17 Dec India

  1. The adventure begins… Dec 26, 2017

    “Dad, I want to go see dadu (my dad)”, Natasha told us back in October when I was headed to see my dad in India after his brain stroke and paralysis. That was an uncommon request. Both the girls used to like India for all the cute cows and puppies on the street and the lovely cousins but never quite got comfortable with the dirt and traffic and pollution (relative to where they live, that is). Plus they usually got sick trying to adjust to the local food and water.

    After coming back from seeing dad, Sharmila and I started frantically looking for four tickets to India during the highest traffic season. About three days later, we found something that would work for us. But not before we had a brainwave. If we were going to spend all that money for all of us to go to the other side of the world, why not take advantage of the fact that I am off work and Tasha is going to get busier and busier with her college and internship – and make a full adventure of it?

    So, here we are. After five and a half years, together as a family headed to India. From there, we are going to see two more countries – Indonesia (Bali) and Thailand (Bangkok). Then, we will go back to India again to visit my dad (we have noticed that he likes that I come often rather than for a longer period necessarily). And then back home!!

    The adventure got a rather early push with the airlines messing up my seat and two of our suitcases which we are not sure is actually going to make it along with us. That said, they were all understaffed on Christmas day and they did get my original seat back. Just to be safe, I am packing up all the freebies they are giving in the flight 🙂 🙂

    Like every trip, this trip has its goals too. But instead of who I get to see, this time it is all about what moments I can create for the two daughters. I want them to spend time with my parents, Sharmila’s parents but most importantly, I want them to spend time with their cousins. In the past, it used to be a sheer delight watching the kids – separated by language, customs and age – somehow overcome all those barriers and play together. They had their own way of communicating with each other.

    I would also like to take them around and show some of the old spots for Sharmila and myself. I hope that they will remember in years after today some of the history Sharmila and I shared. I know today, I wish I knew more about my own dad and mom’s history.

    Finally, and this is a special one for Natasha – she will get to see her old college room mate in Bangkok!!

    Intersection points… here we come. With the suitcases or without!!!

  2. Can you spot the Roy family? Dec 26, 2017
  3. Because a 13 hour flight is never enough… Dec 26, 2017

    … now on to another six hour flight!

    I think you can get a vague idea that Natasha is not the biggest fan of me taking family pictures.

    Also, I am under strict instructions not to tag her!!!

  4. He has been preparing for this visit from his grandkids Dec 27, 2017

    The big surprise we got when we walked into my dad’s house is how much he has improved. If you recollect from my pictures from end of October, he was in a pretty bad shape. He could not stay up in his bed without being surrounded by supporting pillows and two attendants. It used to take two of us just to get him off his bed into his wheelchair.

    In under sixty days, he has willed himself into almost the impossible. During my daily calls with mom, she did not accurately convey how much he has improved. Apparently, he has been preparing for this day when he was going to be surrounded by all five of his grandkids!

    A few weeks back, he could not even realize that his paralyzed right arm had gotten entangled under his body. Today, he tried playing ball with his grandkids. It took all his might to get the arm up (notice the grimace on his face) but lift it he did and even did a fair job of throwing it out of spitting distance.

    The greatest surprise was he getting up from the bed while holding on to the walker (needed a little help here) and then taking baby steps all by himself. He labored for about ten minutes but did eventually make it to the other room and sat down there.

    That green cap on his head? There are always risks of trying out something new. A few days back, he was so impatient with his progress that he tried to get up and walk by himself without any help (mom and attendant were both sleeping). Promptly fell down and banged his head. Very very thankfully, he got away with a few stitches only. It could have been far worse.

    As a last point, during my previous trip, I had written about the pains the caretaker (in this case my mom) has to take when a family member becomes incapacitated . Notice in the picture where he is taking baby steps how she is half a step behind him with a chair in hand absolutely ready in case he falls down again!!!

  5. A moment he has been waiting for… surrounded by all his grandkids… Dec 28, 2017
  6. The great uniter! Dec 28, 2017

    Usually, at least in our house, the iPhone is a constant source of irritation when it comes to interpersonal interactions. “Get your nose off the screen”, “Keep your phone down while eating”, “Stop posting those unflattering pictures of mine” 🙂 are part of the day to day vernacular when the four of us are around.

    That same mighty piece of electronics has been a hero, bar none, to my parents, the last couple of days.

    Natasha has kept up with her word to be with the grandparents. Every day, in Kalyani, she has been quietly sitting around my dad or mom. When everybody else is around, she has been watching all the interactions and when others leave, she has been trying to interact with my parents.

    The big challenge is of course, language. As was famously said before, her grandparents and she has been separated by a common language. They speak their own versions of English. If my parents speak at a struggled pace, Natasha’s speeds thru sentences like there is not going to be a tomorrow.

    But I have to say, I was superbly impressed how she and the grandparents persisted thru their communication challenges. The lowest common denominator has been the iPhone. My dad has always been a biggest fan of Natasha’s written English. He makes me bring her newspaper publications every time. But he has never understood what an online newspaper is. Once, he came dangerously close to concluding that the newspaper man delivers a computer to every home each morning in America!

    Unknowingly though, he experienced it yesterday. Trying to figure out how to keep him engaged, Natasha had an idea! She took her iPhone out, weaved thru the slow speed data connections in Kalyani and made him read some of her online publications. Then she held the phone up for him patiently, as he read each line!

    At that point, to give them some time, I left the room. When I came back, Natasha was holding court with her grandmom. My mother is not into written articles. From what I could overhear, Natasha was taking her thru all the pictures in her phone and introducing all her friends!

    “This is Avery”, she was explaining.
    “O Eta aay-bh-aari”, my mom acknowledged butchering the name’s pronunciation.
    “Yes”, Natasha accepted.

    I left the room again! The girl has truly grown up!!

    The iPhone, unwittingly, was the great uniter yesterday!

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  7. This could be injurious to his brain!! Dec 29, 2017

    I was half expecting this.

    My dad, trying to fight back his brains getting scrambled after the stroke, had a hard jolt trying to understand what happened to Natasha’s hair. Tasha, had dyed her hair blonde some time back. Over the last few months as the hair has grown, her strands are natural dark (from the root side) and then after about half length starts becoming blonde.

    My dad’s relatively low exposure of dyeing hair entirely comprises of making the hair look dark again (from grey) but never from dark to any thing else.

    As you see in the picture, he held her hair in his fingers for quite some time trying to investigate what was going on. He asked quite a few questions – much to Tasha’s merriment – and then gave up trying to understand it!!

  8. Rolling down the roof top… Dec 29, 2017
  9. Red Road. Yellow Brigade. Dec 31, 2017

    Signed off 2017 running calendar with a 5K run (3 miles) near Kolkata Maidan with my brother. Like the last couple of years, reaching the annual running goal was made special by ensuring that I reached it while running with my brother.

    This year’s goal was to complete 100 miles (160Km) every single month of the year.

  10. Another moment created for the kids!! Dec 31, 2017

    Most who have been lucky enough to grow up with grandparents around them will vouch for their undeniable influence – especially in the early stages of childhood. While the advent of modern economic growth started breaking up joint families in India, kids – in most of the cases – maintained reasonable access to their grandparents.

    I was lucky to see mine every year. I had only three of them. My dad lost his dad at his tender age of two and a half. My recollection of my grandparents is still of their incredible kindness and generosity towards us. It was as if, as grandchildren, there was no demand too steep and there was no infraction that were punishable in the least bit.

    They were our alibi when we were in trouble with our parents, our go-to when we got scared of our parents, our source for funding when our parents won’t buy us a knick knack and our never ending well of stories.

    Nikita and Natasha, having been born in the USA do not have that easy an access to their grandparents in India. There was a time we used to come every year to maintain the routine I had with my grandparents. Then that stopped as they grew up and their life got taken over by…. well, life!

    You can only imagine how excited I was that this time when both of them expressed the desire to visit their grandparents. One of the moments I was hoping to create – and that is something that had happened only once in my life time for myself – was to see if I can put both them with both side grandparents together under a roof for a day.

    That explains the tiring trip to Durgapur and back (a total of 12 hours of driving – we got stuck in a couple of nasty traffic gnarls on the highway) to get Sharmila’s parents. And then after staying over in Kolkata for the night, we were all in Kalyani at my parents’ place!

    The smile on the faces pretty much captures it all!

    I hope the kids will retain some spotty memories of this day somewhere in their subconscious long after many of us are gone…

    P.S. My dad was thrilled to talk to somebody who is from his old city Durgapur and he had a lot of questions around how the city has fared ever since he left!

  11. Sharing a lighter moment after 40 years!! Dec 31, 2017

    Once in a while, I pick up some mild compliments about my writing style. Mostly undeserved, I must hasten to add. That said, if there are two teachers I lay most of the credit for my writing style, it would be Mrs. Debjani Biswas (ninth and tenth grade English teacher) and Sir Kelvin Donegan (my fifth grade English teacher). I was lucky enough to meet Mrs. Biswas this year in Pune.

    The search for Sir Donegan was much tougher. Most of the teachers in school – in fact all of them, I would say – did not have the faintest idea about his whereabouts. Worse, I had heard rumors that Sir Donegan was no more. Because of that rumor, my intensity to search for him had reduced too.

    Earlier this year, I found somebody who said that she goes to the same church as Mrs. Donegan every Sunday. And she confirmed that the news about his death was largely exaggerated. A few weeks later, I had a phone number in my hand.

    As is my wont, I opened with the breaker-of-all-ices “You won’t know me sir….”.
    He duly confirmed that!!

    I quickly established my credentials by giving him some of the details from 1977.
    If his words were to be believed, he was beyond delight to hear from one of his old students. Apparently, I am the only student from yesteryears that he has had a chance to talk to in over 30 years.

    Turned out Sir Donegan left school and embarked on a completely different career in the merchant navy. Which meant, he was always out of the country. Eventually, he went back to his first passion in life – growing plants! He is into hydroponics and lives near the farm in Himachal Pradesh (1250 miles / 2000 km away from our school).

    The most encouraging news I had from him that day was that he still visited his old house in Durgapur every year during Christmas / New Years time. You can do the math now… went to pick up my in-laws… thoroughly delayed on the highways… there was still some time to be squeezed out to see Sir Donegan!! Last time I talked to him? 1977! 40 years back!!

    To say I had a great time would be a gross underestimation of the exhilaration I had upon seeing him. He had a great influence on me and most of the students. (I had written about him on a blogpost dated Oct 30 this year while discussing the controversy around the word “stoppage” – in case you wanted to look it up in my blog).

    I updated him on all the teachers from school, learnt a lot about hydroponics and also the adventures he had in his life while traveling the world with the merchant navy.

    The facial expressions should give you a good idea about the fun that was had!!

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  12. Hilarious moment with my mother in law… Dec 31, 2017

    Here I am sitting at the breakfast table early in the morning trying to get a few of the blogposts away. Sharmila and the kids are sleeping. The in-laws are awake. I just finished serving the first cup of tea and sat down with them…

    My mother in law, who has been keenly observing my laptop that I was using to post my blogs suddenly asked…

    “Apple-er eto naam aachhey to apple-ta ordhek khaoa keno?
    Oboshyo ordhek noy – ekta kamor deoa”

    Basically, after watching the logo of Apple, she wants to know if Apple is such a big company, why is their logo half eaten?

    🙂

  13. The three girls in Kolkata Maidan Dec 31, 2017

    There is a mildly embarrassing story that dates back to 1989 when I had picked up Sharmila from her college and we had gone out to Maidan and Victoria Memorial. I will save that story for the future. My point is, yesterday, we took the girls to some of those spots in the Maidan.

    Folks from Kolkata probably can recognize the ever present cricket games going on during winter in the background (and soccer during summer) and the Shahid Minar behind.

  14. Fountain Pens from Kolkata!! Jan 1, 2018

    Managed to escape from family for a couple of hours in Kolkata and check out some pen shops. This is the city where I had grown my passion for fountain pens and colorful inks (started with two Wingsung Hero pens I had bought in Garia). I brought my father in law too. I did not have time to go to the “Pen Hospital” where one can pick up some really old time classics. Instead settled for a couple of Sheaffers including a Ferrari 300 series from William Penn. I even got the pen shop owner – Jeet – to take a picture with me to celebrate his first sale of the year!

    Roger, I can’t wait to show you the pens!!

  15. Cousin time!!! Jan 1, 2018

    Natasha and Nikita not only got some great time with the grandparents but also their first and second cousins. Looks like Nikita has picked up quite some Bengali. They seem to be bonding over two very common themes in Bengal – eating food and playing card games!!!

  16. Non sequitur? Jan 1, 2018

    If I ever live in India again, the good news is that I can cancel my dental plan. Going by the billboards, only the really handsome men and the exquisitely beautiful women have teeth issues 🙂 🙂

  17. Guess who I ran into? Jan 1, 2018

    Phase A of our vacation over. Kids spent a good amount of time with grandparents and cousins. Moving to Phase B now. Time for just the four of us to spend time together.

    With that in mind, we reached Kolkata airport quite some time before our flight to Bali, Indonesia. The airport was empty and the checking in, immigration and security check were all super smooth. The girls were hungry. So we headed towards the restaurants inside. I knew one restaurant that I thought they might like.

    We turned left, got past the construction area of the duty free shop and then started cutting across the shop. Just as we did it, I saw somebody walking by. In fact, by her uniform, it appeared that she worked at the duty free shop. Looking at her, I was fairly sure I had seen her before. In fact, I thought I knew who she was too.

    I was looking at her to see if it was indeed the person I thought she was – without making it appear too embarrassing. It was a 50-50 situation and I was weighing the options of how to approach her. (It could be really really weird if I walked up to a random young lady and asked her if she recognized me and she said no. I would never hear the end of it from Nikita and Natasha. Or Sharmila, for that matter).

    Fortunately for me, she recognized me too!! In fact, she talked first!!!

    Although itt was for a brief few minutes (she was on duty), I was able to introduce my family to Anzee. Last time I had met Anzee – in fact the only time I had met her – was in the bar at ITC Sonar hotel. Three and a half years back. She had served me and my brother some wine and I had realized while finding out her story (what else is new? 🙂 ) that she hailed from a place very close to where my sister had adopted my niece.

    Nikita took a quick snap of Anzee, myself and Sharmila. It was delightful running into her and getting a quick update on her and her family!!

  18. Third part of the three part vacation starts… Jan 9, 2018

    Heading back to India for a couple of days. Sharmila and the girls will be in Durgapur with my inlaws. I will be with my parents. All three have declared that they are tired of vacationing now. They want to go back home!!

  19. Curious minds want to know… Jan 10, 2018

    I am all for “Swachch Bharat” (Clean India), but I do have a question for the authorities…

    Are they seriously under the impression that the people who are forced to relieve themselves outside – the poor who barely have a roof over their head, let alone running water and bathroom facilities – they can actually understand words like “defecation”? 🙂

    I am sympathetic to the fact that trying to convey the message thru pictures might be too gross 🙂

  20. Time honored tradition Jan 10, 2018

    The girls are off to Durgapur. My brother and I are headed towards my parents now.
    First things first! Tea by the roadside stall to commence the journey!!

  21. “The child is the father of man” Jan 10, 2018

    In a somewhat different twist to the age old Shakespearean quote… here is a classic role reversal. The child helping the father take baby steps and learn how to walk by himself!!!

    When my brother and I reached home, the first thing dad wanted to do is try practicing some more walking!

    When we are out for a week, apparently he tried again walking by himself when everybody was sleeping and had yet another fall. Fortunately, he again escaped easy – with a bump on his forehead. (Last time he had stitches).

    As worried as I am that he is being too impatient, full points for not giving up on the urge to walk around again in spite of the falls…

  22. Guess who won the staring contest? Jan 10, 2018

    That be my brother (left) !!!

  23. 6K brisk run in Kalyani streets Jan 11, 2018

    The cold weather helped in keeping up with a faster than normal speed. Admittedly, the freely roaming monkeys and street dogs staring at me helped too 🙂 🙂

  24. “Pen, pen, pen… Pilot pen”… Jan 11, 2018

    I have completely lost the moral platform to lecture the girls on all the shopping of clothes they have been doing this trip. I had found out about this place in Kolkata – “Pen Hospital” a few months back. Almost a hundred years old, it is a very small shop in a very crowded Esplanade corner in Kolkata. The owner specializes in fixing fountain pens and has a stack of vintage and new fountain pens. Both used and new.

    After dad and mom went off to sleep, I managed to convince my brother to hit the road again and go back to Kolkata to check out the shop. An insane amount of traffic later, I finally hit pay dirt when I found the shop. It is not often that I come across somebody who really knows a thing or two about old fountain pens and their history.

    Picked up a few pens – which are incredibly inexpensive by US standards. The crowning glory was the Pilot 51 (mistakenly called Pilot – should have been called Parker). A few days back, when my father in law and I had gone to the other pen shop, he had mentioned about the Pilot 51 pen. That was an iconic pen in his days. It was somewhat of a folklore when we were growing up. In fact many Bengalis might even remember our old rhyme “Pen, Pen, Pen / Pilot Pen / Siri thekey nemey elen / Suchitra Sen”!!!

    My mom used to have one of the non-classical versions of Pilot pens that her teacher colleagues had gifted her in 1972.

    The Pilot 51 is an all time classic. One of the few pens with vacuum system for filling ink, it has a very unique nib too. It is a pity that these pens used to be made in USA and I cannot find them in USA any more!! The best part of the pen that I got? The nib is an original 1946 vintage!!!

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  25. He gave his verdict!! Jan 11, 2018

    As impressed as I was, (self-indulgently, no doubt) looking at the array of fountain pens I had set up on the table, my father summarized his opinion in a few choice words…

    “Streeter more-e dnaragey ja. Khodder peye jaabi”!!!

    “Go stand at the street corner. You will get a few customers!!!”

  26. The Dasgupta family!!! Jan 11, 2018

    The challenge with my nephews growing up is that they are getting more and more involved with their studies and therefore has less and less time to spend with me. Last Tuesday, I was going to stay over at my brother’s place but I knew if I went in the evening, that would disrupt the nephews’ studies, homework etc. It therefore seemed as good a time as any to keep an old promise.

    A few years back, I had gone to visit my classmate from school days – Sibapriya – in Midnapore where he was working at that time. I had the great fortune of meeting his dad and mom there. His own family – wife and twin kids were in Kolkata. I talked to them over the phone that time and had promised to visit them too when I got a chance.

    Tuesday was that day!! Finally got a chance to meet Sutirtha, Shubham and Shruti! As strange as it might have sounded to me and Sibapriya if you had mentioned it to us when we were in middle school together, we actually discussed (along with Sutirtha) on the pros and cons of various approaches to raising kids!!

    Also, I was blown away by Shubham’s artistic talents. That kid is something else!!

  27. Guess who donned the jacket today? Jan 12, 2018

    Do you remember that old farmer who I visited a few months back? He is the guy who helped my dad till the land we had and also put me up on this shoulder so I could pick up a mango here and a tamarind there. After my last visit, I have kept up with him thru monthly calls.

    In my first call, I talked to him about how I had put up our picture on the “net” (He would not understand blog or Facebook or even internet) and that my friends liked him and that picture. He was aghast at this. In his mind, all Americans are my friends and all my friends are Americans. And all those Americans have seen him in shabby clothes.

    “Bolbey to babu ektu aagey. Bhalo jaamata porey aastam” (If you had told me before, I would have put on my better shirt).
    “Kota jaama aachhey tomar?” (How many shirts do you have?)
    “Keney? Duto. Ekta bhalo aar ekta aatpourey”

    So I gathered he has two shirts – one for regular use and one for special occasions.

    This Wednesday, not having much else to do, I got my brother to point his car towards the village I was born in and headed back there again. Like last time, Jagannath-da was waiting for us at the Shib-tala. This time, we got him to climb in our car and then we went from village to village as he showed us various points of interest.

    For example, he showed us a house in a nearby village which apparently belonged to my grandmother’s sister. I did not even know that my grandmother had a sister. That night, when I asked my dad, he did say there was a cousin my grandma had in that village.

    One other reason Jagannth-da and we were going from village to village was that we were looking for somebody. It was a futile attempt this time but I have been looking for the first domestic help we had in Durgapur – who I can consider to be my first nanny too. She was a poor girl from a neighboring village that my dad had brought to our house. She got food the whole day and their family got money from my dad and she took care of us when my parents both went for work. It was a win win for everybody. Someday, I will successfully track down Pratima-di but this Wednesday was not that day.

    Finally, we ran out of time. We went back to our village, dropped Jagannath-da and came back home.

    But the remarkable part was how Jagannath-da had somehow whipped up a jacket. Extremely ill-fitting and certainly beyond his ability to know how to put a jacket on (check out the collar or the buttons he has put on), that jacket was nonetheless, his way of putting his best face forward to all my friends. He was aware that another picture will be shared with my friends (who he thinks are all Americans) and his chappals and lungi be darned, he was not going to let any body down this time!!

    “Jacket-ta porey tomay khub manachhey”, I complimented him on his jacket.
    “Sotti kata bolbo?” (Shall I tell the truth?)”
    “Ki holo?”
    “Tomar saathey chhobi uthbey boley ekjonar kaach thekey dhaar niyechhi”.
    He sheepishly admitted that he had borrowed the jacket because there was going to be a picture of he and I together!!

    In my life, I think it is fair to say that I have had more than my share of travel. It is the human beings that I have met during my travels – regardless of who they are, how well off they are – that always make me feel that this is a wonderful world we all live in.

  28. A bridge across to our future Jan 12, 2018

    “Tomra boro hoey ke ki hobey?”.
    I asked the five schoolgirls 0- who I had just met and were now all crammed in the back seat of my brother’s car – what were they going to be when they grow up. The students – ranging from fifth grade to eighth grade – all said they did not know. Except the youngest one. She was very shy to open up in front of everybody. But after we had dropped them off, she did come around to the front door and told me thru the window – “Ami engineer hobo”. (She wanted to be an engineer).

    For about five to six minutes, i had the greatest time with these school kids. Most suggested math was their favorite subject – everybody had one favorite teacher and one – shall we say, not so favorite teacher? They all live close to each other.

    “Ei gaarita AC?”, one girl piped up asking if she was sitting in an AC car.
    Another girl in the group immediately pounced on her – “Of course! Can you not feel the cool temperatures?”. (Which was interesting in of itself since the AC in the car was off given the cool temperatures outside)
    “O! Ami ei prothom AC gari chorlam”. She was excited that she was getting her first ride in an AC car.

    Like I said, I had a great time with the kids (like I often do) getting to know about their classes and school and family and all that.

    Speaking of which, I never mentioned how did it come around that we had five young students in our car to begin with.

    What happened was this – after seeing Jagannath-Da, we were coming back home. At one point, we had to cross the Ganges river. It is a long bridge and you have to pay toll. As my brother pulled up the car to the bridge entrance, I stuck out my hand thru the window with the money. The guy who collected it did not have proper change – so we walked to the stall nearby to get change.

    Right there were five uniformed school girls who were slowly walking towards the bridge. I was looking at how happy they were talking and laughing – undoubtedly going back home after school. One of those kids saw me looking at them and walked up to me. Frankly, I was a little wary of what she might say or ask for.

    “Amader bridge-er opaarey chhere deben?”. She wanted to know if we would give them a ride to the other side of the bridge. I asked them where were they going. I learnt that their school is on this side of the river and they all live on the other side. Every morning and afternoon they cross the long bridge. (Incidentally, that bridge was closed for a year for maintenance last year and when asked, they said they had to take the boat that year).

    In any case, we let the girls know that we can take as many of them as would fit. Not to worry! They somehow fit all of themselves in the backseat of the small car! And that is how I spent some incredible five to six minutes with some bright minds of our future!

    The toll collector in the meanwhile had come back and given me the change and the receipt. Just to be safe and sure, I asked him if the kids live on the other side. He confirmed that. Then he looked at the kids in the back seat and looked at me and my brother.

    “Apnader ticket laagbey na”
    He took back the receipt and change from me and gave the original money back. He asked us to cross the bridge free!!

  29. Beautiful evening Jan 12, 2018

    This guy and I go back forty six years – from the time he was born. Born with a lot of complications and almost lost to a virulent attack of jaundice when he was barely a few days old, he was always the “young” one in the house that had to be protected. Somewhere the big brother protective genes had kicked in due to this and all throughout my life, we have been very, very close. We used to write a lot of letters to each other when I left home and then he left home. Now, we talk every single day and almost always we travel together when I am in India.

    When we came back from the day trip to Debipur, we realized that dad, mom and the attendant were all sleeping. The evening outside was beautiful. The sun was setting and thru those hazy layers, it looked like a perfect orange orb.

    We just sat down with two glasses of wine and enjoyed some quiet time together.

    It had been a good day!!

  30. The difference has been remarkable Jan 12, 2018

    I cannot possibly overstate the improvement in his condition from barely 2 months back. He is actually sleeping, has gotten some memory back, speaking coherently, trying to walk and even having some great moments while chatting with people around him!!

  31. No trip to Kalyani is ever complete… Jan 12, 2018

    … without the evening sojourn to the street side “foochkawala”!!!
    As Nikita likes to describe it – “You poke a hole in the crispy bread, put potatoes in it and then pour dirty water into it”!!

    Heavenly in taste!!! We missed my sister in law who was in Kolkata!!

  32. The great trip is coming to an end Jan 12, 2018

    Dad was too tired to get out of his bed or from under his blanket, for that matter. Natasha and Nikita – and the two cousins who were there – gathered around grandpa to say Goodbye!! For now!!!

  33. One last bow… before we draw the curtains! Jan 12, 2018

    This was a fantastic family trip!

    Big shout out to Natasha whose concern about my dad’s health and insistence on seeing him got the whole ball rolling.

    Also to Sharmila who helped put the meticulous planning behind this – it took us days and days of research and phone calls to put a nearly three week, three country, five city tour together. That involved co-ordinating the schedules of no less than ten families!!

    Special thanks to Nikita for agreeing to drop school for a week to make this happen!!

    And with that we bring a close to all the posts from this trip.