21 March 2016

What bird is this?

Found this near a village called Raghudebpur (in Howrah district). This bird walks with a distinct style where the tail keeps bobbing up and down.
Does anybody know the name of this bird?

[Edited later: This is a white wagtail – “khonjona”]


19 March 2016

One final tryst…

It was getting close to lunchtime on Friday which meant that I needed to get going back to Kalyani. However, there was still time for one more set of parents – the thirteenth one this trip, if you are keeping count.

One call to Chandigarh where my friend Sandeep lives now and I had the local Durgapur address of his parents. Armed with that and about an hour at hand, I headed towards Mr.and Mrs. Banerjee. Who used to be literally our next door neighbor. As in, our houses shared walls.

It was great to see both of them but unfortunately, age has extracted its toll from both of them. There were occasional glimpses of the jovial nature and the smile of Mrs. Banerjee. It was at least heartening to see that both of them are able to move around by themselves and seemed to be happy with their lot.

I still remember when we moved into that neighborhood, on the very first day, I had gathered the local kids around (I was elder to most of them), drawn three straight lines on the outer wall of the Banerjees’ house with a small brick piece and that is how the local cricket game that day got started. Even Mr. Banerjee got into the game – he volunteered to be our umpire!! All that was fine, but I remember him not declaring my brother out on what I thought was a clean catch I had myself caught. He told me that younger kids deserved a couple of more chances.

I bitterly reminded him of that incident yesterday. Unlike that day, on this day, all of us laughed. Including me 🙂


19 March 2016

Tidbits from today’s morning walk…

The three siblings – we got up early this morning and went for a long walk. In fact, we covered over 5K. There are always some interesting moments when the three of us go for a walk in Kalyani.

For starters, there are always those intriguing posters. Look at the couple on the right bottom corner of the picture. The first one literally says “Reduce your fat and beer belly. Without any medicine or machinery” (yes, it says machinery). But the best is the last line which says “If required, we can help you put on weight too” 🙂 I was getting flashbacks from my Thermodynamics chapter on mass transfer 😉

The second one basically promised to get you flight tickets, rail tickets and even passport RIGHT THERE. Never mind that was stuck to a lamp post with nary a building in sight!!

My brother and I were intrigued by quite a few plastic bottles seemingly filled with a bluish purple liquid in front of many houses. Our sister educated us that it was done to dissuade dogs from relieving themselves in front of those houses. I found that logic extremely unscientific. To begin with dogs do not have that high capability to decipher colors like humans. Second, it was colored water (which we confirmed later) with no other chemical in it. I just did not see the connection. My sister, however, insisted that it was even featured in local newspapers and indeed there is no explanation why this happens. In the middle of the picture, on the left side, you can see my brother engaged in a discussion with a house owner. If you carefully notice, there is such a bottle on the ground. The house owner told us the same story as my sister. Purple colored water in a plastic bottles keeps dogs away from relieving themselves? I still do not believe this.

In any case, as my brother was having this discussion and I was overhearing, we suddenly realized that my sister was not near us. Sure enough, she had picked up a cute kid from the street and was playing with the toddler. The rather amused dad and brother of the kid was just watching her playing with the kid.

That is the one thing about the Roy family. A small kid or a dog – that is all that it takes us to get distracted and be totally absorbed for hours together. And yes, my brother and sister managed to befriend a dog during that walk too!


19 March 2016

Mrs. Sarkar

One of the challenges of visiting the parents of my friends during this trip was that more often than not – one of the parent is no more. In some ways I am glad that I, at least, got a chance to meet the other one. Who knows if I would get such opportunities again?

One such person was Mrs. Sarkar during this trip. I got an opportunity to visit her on Thursday. She was a neighbor of ours near the house where my parents lived for about twelve years. I spent only three years there – after which I was packed off to a residential school.

Mrs. Sarkar is the mother of two of the boys in the neighborhood – Dipten and Soumen who were constant companions for all my playtime.

She was rather overwhelmed upon seeing me. Remember, this was all a surprise. I frankly, I was a little overwhelmed by her rather generous show of affection. I was not quite prepared for her tears but I was hoping against hopes that those were tears of joy!!


19 March 2016

One more promise kept…

Less than two months back, as in every year, I called up my friend from middle school – Bhaskar to wish him a very happy birthday. Like every year, he did not pick up the phone (he works in a steel plant and it is not convenient to make calls from there). Unfortunately, in India, somehow the concept of voicemails is still not very prevalent.

Usually I would have just followed up with an email – but this time, for whatever reason, I thought I would call him at home. (My first call was to his mobile). He was not at home either. But his mom, Mrs. Bhattacharya picked up the phone. What was supposed to be a “please pass on my birthday wishes” call became a much longer call about how things have been for her after uncle passed away a few years back.

She was my next person to visit last Friday morning when I was in Durgapur. Bhaskar was not home on Friday (no surprises there 🙂 ) but I was able to chat with his mom for quite some time. Most of the time was spent discussing the conditions under which uncle had passed away and Bhaskar’s and her own health.

What was even more interesting was when she started telling her life history – about how she and a couple of siblings had made the trek to India during the riots and violence in post-independent Bangladesh. Her parents stayed back in Bangladesh. It was a great story of how one of her brothers was the anchor and helped the entire family get a foothold in Kharagpur!

I had been to her house so many times when I was young but I had no idea about her lifestory. These kind of stories often ground me on how blessed and lucky I have been in life…