The place that saw my mom make uncountable cups of tea for us. And often where we had to drag her out of because she would be making yet another snack for us.
Many of you may remember the hilarious story of how my mom went from being upset about our wine drinking to agreeing to it and even tacitly supporting it. Don’t miss the one wine glass sitting out like a misfit among the traditional Indian household kitchenware from the 70s in this picture. She used to make sure that three things were ready before I would arrive – toilet paper rolls, bottles of “mineral” water and that wine glass duly washed!
So many memories of surprising my parents by showing up unannounced… And the entrance gate that saw many a cricket game with all the siblings, niece and nephews together…
I had heard about this small little town outside Kolkata called Kalyani when I was growing up. Even there, the context was that the gentleman who was credited with envisioning Durgapur (where I grew up) had also envisioned Kalyani. (He was the first chief minister of West Bengal) Beyond that, I knew nothing.
In any case, the first time I came to this town was about 15 years back when my sister moved here. Most of our meetings were not in Kalyani though since my visit would be a good excuse for all of us to land up in our parents’ place in Durgapur.
Then my parents moved here 10 years back. That is when I started coming to Kalyani every three months or so. In the span of 7-8 years that I visited my parents here (about 20-25 times), I got to know every part of this town and a lot of the locals. Especially the tea vendors – thanks to my brother and I stopping at various tea stalls during our runs. And then there was that one tea stall in front of Kalyani stadium where a local had asked us if we were in town for the soccer tournament. Looking at our running attire (which was fairly good by local standards), he assumed we were here as formal players. In fact, his question was “Dada, khela-ta kotaaay shuru hobey?” (“When will the game start today?”).
With the impending sale of my parents’ house, this town will also start becoming a distant memory. Now that my niece is in college in Bangalore, most of our sibling meetings will be in new places that we will visit together to explore India.
This small sleepy town had slowly, imperceptibly but undeniably grown on me.
Perhaps knowing this would be one of my last few trips to Kalyani, the authorities had put up this new sign I saw today!
I have to somewhat sheepishly admit that this item was one of the reasons that I chose to stay in Royal Bengal this time instead of my usual JW Marriott. You might remember from an earlier post how I had discovered this in March this year in this hotel.
I had to start breakfast today with it. If you know me at all, you know that I am not a foodie by any remote definition of the word. I eat so as to not get hungry. I try to stay on time with my meals and with age, have started to get a little disciplined with what I eat.
And “panta bhaat” is not exactly for the weak of the heart. Or generous of the waist. This is white rice, white potatoes, mustard oil, raw onions and raw chillies. If those “white” calories were not enough, it might serve well to remind you that the rice is actually fermented overnight – which gives it some alcohol content. So, there is that! And all these when you are trying mightily to get up!
But what I am in favor of – is nostalgia. Re-living old moments. Life visited is wonderful. Life re-visited makes it memorable. “History Of My Future”, as it were.
Mid 70s – when our family was still struggling to get a financial foothold, this is what mom would make for breakfasts on weekend days. What was sorely missing today is the “knacha posto“!
I duly filled in the suggestion card 🙂
Going around the incredible spread of food for lunch at the Royal Bengal, I was dilly dallying on what cuisine to settle for. After some time, thought will go with the local Bengali food. (Coming all the way to Kolkata and eating sandwiches seemed somewhat out of place).
The spread was pretty much in line with mom would make for lunch every time I visited her – “gobindo bhog chaal”, “begun bhaaja”, “uchhe bhaaja”, “lau posto”, “daal” and “aloo jhuri bhaaja”.
The only way these folks could have made it any closer to my mom is by dumping multiple big ladle full of all these stuff on my plate before I could even protest!!
Went from the airport straight to the hotel in Kolkata. My brother – who also came in to town around the same time as me – met me there.
Taking advantage of the rains, we grabbed a couple of chairs under the umbrella by the pool and started chatting. The ever helpful servers got us drinks and snacks in regular intervals walking thru the rains! It did help that we were the only guests anywhere near the pool area!!
Reminded me of the old days when we would love to get drenched in the rains together. Now, nobody is however left to berate us with the much respected Bengali tradition of “thanda legey jaabey”!
I was checking in at the boarding gate in Doha for my flight to Delhi when I saw a jacket button sitting at the desk. Curiosity got the better of me.
“Who left a jacket button here?”
The person at the gate said something from behind the mask that I could not comprehend. I continued with my puzzled look. For a moment I thought may be he did not understand my question with the muffling effect of my mask.
He repeated again… “It is a microphone, sir!”
It was a microphone!! I touched it – sure enough it was stuck there. Very carefully masquerading as a button.
It was not till I had walked straight into the plane that it struck me – What was a microphone doing on the desk? For gate announcements? That would be fairly uncomfortable bending all over to speak into it. And if you did not have to reach near it (very powerful microphone), it was bound to pick up a lot of background noise.
I think I will ask them on my way back…
This is a sample of invites I get these days. Has Linkedin completely given up on doing some basic checks on bot accounts? Maybe we should have Elon Musk make a bid for Linkedin and then back out.
And how lazy are these bot algorithms getting? Coming up with names by just chopping off English words in the middle?
Interestingly enough, if you go to the profile (https://www.linkedin.com/in/licity-fe-07625a248/) to see how these algorithms work, you will realize that first they always have an important college name as education background (Harvard in this case). And then when you try to see what they have studied, you realize that it is just a few paragraphs scraped directly from the college’s website and inserted in!!
Worse, these algorithms can’t do some basic math. Apparently, this profile, while holding a Manager job in Taiwan from 2010-2015 also managed to do her 2 year MBA course in Harvard (2011-2013)!! Has Harvard relocated to Taiwan these days?
And why are only attractive looking young women inviting me to have a professional connection? Whose profession are we talking about anyways?
Just an overnighter and my laptop backpack. 36 hours of flight, 48 hours of dealing with Indian bureaucracy (related to my late parents’ properties) and 36 hours of flight back. In between, hope to see my siblings and their families and if the court documents are settled with early enough – one quick dash to the see the last of the parents surviving – my mother-in-law. What is a trip to India worth without the constant back and forth of her badgering me to eat more and me steadfastly refusing to do so?
One thing though – India still has some attraction for me to go back to. After all, I have been making quarterly trips even after the parents passed away. I still long to spend more time with my brother and sister (an evening without my brother narrating “Ami Kono Risk Niy Na” is almost a wasted trip for me) but without the excitement of being able to see my parents, the attraction of the location is fading. I keep asking myself – why can’t we meet somewhere else? That way we can all see a new place together.
Have you ever gone thru this?