29 June 2016

No biz like shoe biz!!

My dad has been gaga this morning about my running shoes. Multiple times he mentioned how great they looked. He even called my mom and showed her – “Dekho ek-i juto kintu duto sundor rong” (‘See, it is the same shoe but two different colors’).

I asked him if he wanted a pair like that. He declined saying his ten year old slippers are still going strong.

Just when I was feeling good about his approval, he threw in “Kintu moja duto tomay thhokiye diyechhe”. This is a old story – he thinks the shopkeeper in America cheated me by charging me for the full socks but gave me only upto the ankle!!

I told him I was getting late for my run and left 🙂

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28 June 2016

The smallest of things sometimes makes the biggest of a difference

This morning, when everything had quietened down, I was just sitting down by myself, relaxing in the front room of my parents’ house when I noticed that dad was engrossed in reading something. From the distance, I couldn’t figure out what book he was reading but he seemed to leaf thru the pages front and back – as if he was comparing notes – and often kept talking to himself under the breath and sometimes smiled. Not wanting to break his concentration – I love watching people – especially kids when they are absolutely in the “now” – I just watched him for some more time. Not even for once, he did lift his head. Just going backward and forward thru the pages and kept comparing notes…

Finally, my curiosity got the better of me. Very softly I asked my mom who was sitting next to me – “What is he reading?”. My mom then told me the whole story (loudly enough that it broke his concentration, but since he is hard of hearing, he did not follow the conversation anyways).

About a year and half back, I was able to take my dad to visit his birthplace. That was after years and years of cajoling him. You can read about it in my blogs from Jan 2015. In any case, having lost his dad when he was two and a half years old, I guess property disputes led to his mom, elder brother and elder sister getting evicted by my grandma’s in-laws (society was cruel that way those days, I guess). He has very bad memories of being put in the streets and the long trek to my grandma’s brother’s place and losing his sister during the trek.

In any case, the important thing was that he was able to get over his scars and visit his dad’s place and his birthplace. He was mesmerized to see the temple that his dad had built (my dad was even named after the same God that the temple was dedicated to). He even had pointed to the street that they had taken his dad’s body away on and how his mom sitting on the verandah and crying then. That trip, above all, lifted a big part of his mental block.

I have always thought that it would go down as one of my biggest contributions to his late stages in life. But I did not realize that the story never ended there.

You see, after I went back to America, I had picked about 50 of the best pictures from that trip and made a photo book out of it – you know those that Apple makes for you. To add to the memories, I had put in the Google map of our route and satellite pictures from Google Earth of the property and the temple.

Little did I realize what special position that book has taken in his daily life. Apparently, he keeps it next to his pillow all the time. Once or twice a day, he pulls it out, my mom said, and spends hours leafing thru the pages. In front of me, twice he touched the book to his head (in Indian culture that is a show of respect). It would appear that those few glossy pages that Apple printed for me is his daily connection to his dad that he barely remembers and the temple that has stayed till date as their common connection. God knows what all thoughts he goes thru when he smiles or compares pictures in different pages.

It did make me wonder what life is like without having a father to look up to throughout the formative stages of life. I have been lucky that I still have not had to face a day without my dad. I dread the memories of missed opportunities to show respect I might have when my Apple book gets printed.

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28 June 2016

The evening routine …

… of course, that means drinking on the sly 🙂
After securing my sister’s place’s main doors – lest our parents walk in on us, I got down to work. Even managed to get my niece to be my “sous mixologist”. Between the two of us, we came up with a concoction involving “jal jeera”, “gondhoraj lebu”, “beet noon” and vodka. With so many Bengali sounding ingredients, we should christen this drink “Royal Bengal Tiger” or something 🙂 Certainly, it was a roaring success, haha :-). The partner in crime missing this evening is my brother who had to rush back to Kolkata to help the nephews with their ongoing school exams. Also missing was my usual drinking partner Sharmila, but that is whole different story…

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27 June 2016

Last leg of the journey…

Landed in Kolkata at a God forsaken time (2:30 am). Now having coffee with my brother at. 24 hour cafe – waiting for dawn to break when we would start driving toward’s dad’s home.

The idea is to reach by 5:30. And instead of going upstairs after parking the car, we are actually going to put a run together first (one of those brotherly bonding thing). Then we will go upstairs, no doubt profusely dripping. That explains the change of clothes before having coffee!!

I can almost see the surprise in dad’s face – “Kolkata thekey dourey eli???” (Did you run all the way from Kolkata? ) 🙂

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27 June 2016

Flying into Kolkata – the “Old Fashioned” way.

After settling down in my seat on my flight to Kolkata from Doha, I started chatting with my new friend – the flight attendant – “DJ” is how he introduced himself. Originally, he is from France. We talked about a lot of stuff – including Brexit and sooner than later, went to the topic of wine. Turns out he is somewhat of an accomplished bartender!!

As the passengers started filing in, he got busy. But eventually, he came to take our beverage orders.

“How would you like to start the evening, once we get up in the air?”, he asked. I was quite sure, he wanted me try the French wines.

“Not the way, you were probably thinking JD”, I said.

“What is your ideal start to the evening?”

“An Old Fashioned”.

He looked at me for a second and said “I will try my best”. And then went off to the other passengers.

I had almost forgotten that exchange. After we hit 31,000 feet and leveled out, he came to me, kneeled down on one his knees and asked me “How do you like it?”. “How do I like what?”, drawing a blank. Like I said, I had forgotten about our exchange.

“Your Old Fashioned”.

“Oh! With Luxardo cherries and extra bitters. But I am not that picky”.

“Ok”, he said and scooted off.

A few minutes later, he came back with this drink. How he managed to get the ingredients, I will never know.

“That was Angostura?”, I asked.

“Indeed!”, he said.

“Why do you stock bitters in a flight. That too to Kolkata?”.

He would not answer me – just gave the corporate line “We will do anything to please our customers! Enjoy!!”.

I tried a sip of the Old Fashioned.

It was a best start possible to this evening. Even at 31,000 feet up in the air floating in an aluminum tube!!

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