17 June 2022

A Red Bull and my mother in law just do not go together

A Red Bull – as many of you are aware is all about caffeine and sugar. In other words, screaming high energy. My mother in law is anything but. I am sure she will be uncontrollably ricocheting off the walls if she even as much as tasted a drop.

So, you can imagine the surprise on my face when I spotted a Red Bull can in her dining table this morning. I immediately accosted her with my confusion. If you think I was confused, you should have seen her face. She took the can in her hand turned it upside down, gave it a good look over and came up a total cropper in terms of figuring out how she got a Red Bull can.

After some sleuthing around – and the big hint was there was a Sprite can and and a can of Tonic Water also nearby – none of which I assure you my mother in law has ever tasted – I was able to put the picture together.

Remember we were holed up in JW Marriott in Kolkata for five days? And that my brother in law had come over with his family for a night? Well, he had brought a packet of cookies, sweets, water bottle etc for his mom and kept it in the refrigerator in her room.

A couple of days later, while packing her suitcase to check out, she grabbed the stuff he had brought for her. For good measure, she also grabbed those three cans from the mini bar thinking he had brought them for her.

Of course, now the next question is what is she going to do with those drinks. I offered her to buy her some gin to finish off the tonic water. I think she was ready to faint right then and there.

She did not, of course. But if she did, that can of Red Bull would have come real handy!!

16 June 2022


Munnadi was our neighbor since 1979 December. I left home in 1983 July. So, it was a short three and a half years I got to know her. After that, it mostly kept up with her thru other neighbors. About 25 years back, I had managed to meet her and her two sons. Since I had some free time this evening and it had been already 25 years, I decided to spring a surprise on her and her sons. Unfortunately, I missed her younger son Debarpan this time. And I could not even talk with Debarghya (her elder son) about mirrorless cameras. (She gets mad if we start talking about photography).

It was really great exchanging notes about the updates of all our neighbors.

16 June 2022

My uncle’s family

A picture of my uncle’s (partial) family.

Look at the picture on the wall. Now look at the young kid (Rana) in blue shirt in the picture. The picture on the wall is a sketch done by Shreya (to your left in the picture) of Rana at different ages!

16 June 2022

Looks familiar?

That is a painting done by Shreya (in the picture) – my first cousin, once removed (my uncle’s grandchild). She took different pictures of the four of us from Facebook and then stitched them together in a painting.

She did this when she found out that we will be coming to India and came down personally to gift us the picture!

That is very impressive!!!

16 June 2022

That is crazy!!!

If my uncle is the exemplar of industriousness, this dog is a veritable picture of lazy relaxation. Which dog, you ask? Focus your attention at the centre of the picture.

This dog is sitting there – up on the window sill – with no clear way of getting there to the naked eye – with his paws hanging out like a royal being surveying over his kingdom!!

How he got there – I have no clue. My uncle explained to me that the dog literally jumps from the top of the red brick wall to land in a spot three feet away and three feet higher. The spot itself cannot be more than a foot by a couple. That is amazing risk taking and self confidence!!

16 June 2022

My family tree!

Took Nikita and Sharmila to the relative I have always been closest to and admired the most – my “mama” (mom’s brother). My earliest recollections of him is a guy who would visit us and then go upside down on his head. At the age of six, of course, I had no idea what “yoga” was all about.

I took Nikita around his garden showing her the various trees – a guava tree here, a sugarcane clump there, a lime tree here, a gourd tree there and so on. Nikita marveled at all the guavas in the guava tree. I believe she tried a guava for the first time during this trip.

Before I could cry “Uncle”, my uncle had made short shrift of climbing up the tree. In a jiffy he was up there, picking up some ripe guavas for Nikita. And we were like… “Wait, how did you get there?”

This – for a 75 year old. Who beat back cancer before he could turn 50 and then proceeded to lose one kidney later, I believe.

If there is one thing that defines this gentleman, it is self discipline. Over the years, I have never seen him ever overeat, oversleep or miss his daily exercises. Amongst all my relatives, I also consider him the most rational thinker and seldom talks negatively about others.

I am so blessed that I count him in my family tree!

16 June 2022

Another crazy intersection point

“Can you help me locate somebody from Durgapur?” asked Surojit – my friend from Atlanta.
This was about 3 years or so back.
“Who is it?”
“Well, his name is Bappi.”
“How do you know him?”
“He used to play the keyboards with us when we sang.”

A few minutes later, I had sorted it out. Surojit and his (now) wife Apala went to RE College (now NIT) Durgapur. Both of them were into music. Apala sang. So did Surojit – and played the tabla. And they still do. Bappi was somebody who lived in REC campus and was an excellent keyboard player. Bappi’s father was a REC staff member. Bappi himself is my age – which means much older to Surojit and Apala.

“He was a great player and an even greater person. But I have lost all contacts with him. I thought since you are from Durgapur and know so many people, you might be able to track him down”.
“Well, I will try”

My initial attempts came a cropper. And then in one of my India trips, I met Indranil Sengupta. And discussed this hitherto unknown person to me – Bappi. By the time I was on my flight back, I had a phone number from Indranil.

I did not pass it on to Surojit immediately. I needed to make sure I had the right person.

So, from a transit airport (I forget which one it was), I called up that number.

“Are you Bappi?”
“Who is this?”
“You will not know me. I am a friend of an old friend of yours – Surojit”
“Which Surojit?”. That is an understandable question since Surojit is not an exactly uncommon name in Bengal.
“Well, this is going to be tricky. But let me try. You play the keyboards, right?”
“Well, you played with Surojit and Apala. They used to study in REC.”
“Oh! Apala-Surojit? Where are they?”
“Atlanta, US”
“Where are you?”
“Also Atlanta”
“Are you calling from Atlanta?”
“No, I am on my way back from India. But I will pass on your number to Surojit – so he can call you directly.”
And that is how I was able to put the two (well, three) old friends together.

And started a new friendship myself. I kept up with Bappi from that day. He went thru a fairly lean time during Covid – work wise and health wise – and we stayed in touch. I always promised to make some time for him during my trips and finally, I was able to do so this time.

It was great to know about his life history. His successes, his rough patches and then his bounce backs.

But the greatest surprise was yet to come. I was talking about his family and then the topic of his wife came up…

“Is your wife from Durgapur too?”
“No. Monimala is from Burdwan.”
“Where in Burdwan?”
“Oh! Not Burdwan city. Burdwan District.”
“Gram Debipur”?
“Which para?”
“Which house?”
“ I do not know how to exactly locate it”
“Can I talk to your wife?”

“Monimala? This is Rajib”
“Oh! Bappi has told me about you”
“Are you from Debipur?”
“Which house”
“Kundu bari”
“Wait, Kundu bari? Where is that?”
“Near Buro Shib tala”
That took me a few moments to remember exactly where that was.

“Hmmm, that is near the school, right?”
“Do you know the Panjas?”
“Sure. Nobokumar”
“Yes. And Tarapada?”
“He is my grandmother’s brother”
“Yes. Do you know Pnachu Roy’s house?”
“Yes. They are in the other para”
“Yes. Do you know the two huts next to his house?”
“That was our house. One hut was my uncle’s and the other one my dad’s. I was born in the smaller hut myself”

You can only imagine the excitement! I am fairly sure – given the age group – I must have seen Monimala in one of the two Durga Pujas in the village when we visited every year. There were not too many places for young kids to hang around in a small village. Just never knew that I would be talking to her some 40-50 years later.

It did not end there.

“So, how did you come to Durgapur? Thru marriage?”
“No, my dad moved us to Durgapur”. That sounded just like what had happened to me.
“Where did you live?”
“Where in Rahimpath?”
“Quarter number 10/10”
“Hmm… two streets over, my uncle used to live. I used to go there 3–4 times a week. It was 14/28”
“What was his name?”
“Prasanta Pan”
“Dola Pan’s dad?”
“YES!! Dola is my cousin”
“And she was my classmate. We went to school together. I used to go to her house too!!
Wow! What is the chance of that? Looks like I must have met her in Durgapur too!!

That is one great sequence of intersection points. And it all started with somebody looking to create his own intersection point!!!

Next time, I have to meet Bappi’s whole family. I am sure there are some great stories from Debipur and Rahimpath we can go over.