If “thanda legey jaabey” (“you will catch a cold”) is a Bengali’s trademark remark, a close second contender for that status would be “ombol hoyechhe”. (“you have indigestion”). Regardless of your symptoms – stomach cramps, short of breath, headache, broken finger :-), the latent doctor in a Bengali will invariably sprinkle that wise diagnostics phrase “ombol hoyechhe”. By the way, every Bengali is a freelance doctor!!
You probably also know that Bengalis are famous for their consumption of sweets. We have sweets for breakfast, lunch, snacks,dinner… Our long breaks for sweet-eating is interrupted only by our short breaks of sweet-eating. For whatever reason, sweets do not give us “ombol” 🙂
For years, I dodged all my relatives offering piles of sweet by lying to them “I have a sugar problem. My doctor said No sweets”. Like I explained before, doctors trump sweets for Bengalis. That was that. Till my sister decided to go ahead and marry a real doctor 🙂
That story later! Here, you can see how last night my mom was setting the “table” for dinner. Note that the food had not arrived yet. But four different varieties of sweets were already there. Just so that we are clear on our priorities..,
There can be nothing more comical for the villagers in a village which has no schools, paved road, hospital or any house with running water or indoor plumbing than watching a guy with clean shaven head, seemingly cannot afford full pants or wear his baseball cap frontside front going around with a video camera desperately trying to save his Asics shoes from the animal droppings on the road while suspiciously following an elderly lady!!!
Reliance on technology paid off!! Terrible phone connection and terrible roads – but we made it to my mom ‘s birthplace alright!! This is the house she was born in. I have a couple of hours of video of mom going from house to house like a small kid and reconnecting with her old friends!! One amazing thing – one look at faces she had not seen in 40 years, and she nailed their names immediately. And most of their siblings’ names too!! As thrilling as the whole experience was, she also had to deal with the painful part of hearing half of her old friends are no more…
New Year adventure: For the last few years my mom has been wistfully talking about the small village she was born in and her childhood friends. She has not been there for over 40 years. I have some vague recollection from the only visit i had ever made there. Last night brother and I decided to take her to visit her birthplace.
That was the easy part. Finding the place was a whole different ball game. Mom was not too helpful with her directions – “it is by a big canal”!!! And Google maps has nothing on a village called ” Upalati”.
Internet to the rescue!!! Wikimapia had some place called “Upalati” but all it had was latitude and longitude and a whole page of irrelevant ads. Unless all the folks in Upalati have suddenly started selling life insurance policies 🙂
Armed with that latitude, longitude, iPhone, google maps, car phone charger and a whole lot of reliance on technology, here we go!!
Surprise start to the New Year. Brother and I started the day with a 7K run. Dragged my sister and brother in law for the first 2K too! Not sure whether my dad was inspired or got terribly worried about us but when we came back found out that he had grabbed his new walking stick, left the bed he has been confined to after surgery and went downstairs for a few hundred feet walk. The security guy downstairs had to help him back in the last stretch but what the heck – I will take that anyday over he complaining about dragging my sister and brother in law for a run 🙂
You probably remember from previous blogs about the surprise visit I paid to my ailing dad last year end. I also had mentioned that I sat down with my sister for a music session on New Year’s eve and we played till the New Year rolled in. After three decades I sat down with her. Three decades back, it was the fear of our parents and our teachers that got us to practice music. This time we sat down because we wanted to. (We have always regretted that we did not stay closer to music than we did – although she did a better job than me in that department). I recorded it for our families. (How I had to get myself a tripod in a small town like Kalyani is a hilarious story I will share with you later). If you are so inclined, here they are…
If it is all about how it ends, 2012 was one of my best endings. In a dream come true event, played tabla with my sister singing for over five hours. And that is when we realized that the New Year was upon us.
It has been at least 30 years since I sat with her for a music session. Every Friday when I play at home by myself, I always remember her as that small sister I had that I wish I could sit again some day for some music.
And that day was today!!