Friday, October 31, 2008

Bhai Phonta 2008

I really can't think of any other title for this post. Nothing that captures the varied day it was.

I worked the day before and came home and packed gifts, cleaned the house, laid out crockery, linens etc. for the next day. Baked a hurried cake. Parked Ally in the middle of the night since V had fallen asleep. Finally went to bed at 2 a.m.

Woke up soon after 7 a.m. Luckily maid came on time. An hour passed in supervising her and trying to get the sleep out of my eyes. Was just settling down to a mug of tea before starting on the preparations for the lunch for my brother and my cousin brothers when V told me that [one set of] his cousins had invited him for the phonta at 9 and that they were hoping that Rahul and I would be able to make it too. Hurried baths and dressing up and so on, and we made it by 10. Three of his cousins gave Vicky the phonta and his aunt did it for Rahul -- a very cute sight given that the boy was trying his best to evade the whole thing!

I called up Dana because I needed to borrow a couple of casseroles for lunch and then I heard that Uncle Sundar -- Aunty Hy's husband -- passed away early in the morning. So I ran to Park Circus. I know he has been showing his age this year but I guess I wasn't ready for it. I had been thinking that this time I really must order our Christmas wines early from him, that it was about time I took R to visit them again. Anyway, I don't care to talk about it. Aunty was coping marvellously, given how unexpected it was, and I left after a little while. Cabbed it back home. Vicky insisted and I think he was right. One less stressful thing. V and R were home already and after hurriedly starting on some of the lunch stuff (peeling, cutting potatoes and stuffing them in the fridge, laying out the utensils to hand, things like that) -- Vicky kindly iced the cake -- we went off to Munna's sons's annaprashan.

The puja was still going on there so we came back home -- luckily so far except for going to Aunty Hy I'd been in Lake Gardens all morning, so it wasn't as if travelling had been a hassle. Rahul was fed a sandwich'n'milk lunch while I started on lunch trying not to worry about it being 1 already and Dada and gang being expected to land up any moment. Luckily the raita was made and the chicken well marinated so I basically needed to cook the chicken and rice and put the biriyani together. Just as I was thinking that things were going reasonably well -- rice was done and chicken almost done and my brothers were all very late -- Dada called to ask when they would come. Almost as an afterthought he asked me if I had remembered to make veg stuff for Ganesh, who has taken a vow to eat vegetarian only for this year.

What would you have done?

After some sound cursing, some of it into the phone and a lot of uncousinly thoughts I started on some more rice and dal and papad. I had most of it done by the time they reached. I handed the last adjusting of the salt and sugar in the dal to Lakshmi, who had been with the brothers and who I had asked to tag along last minute, and did the phonta for all three. It's strange but I suppose I must acknowledge Ganesh and Mahabir as young men now. To me they've always been my kid cousins. Dada had got me the gift I asked him for, bless him.

And then we went to the dining table for the most important part of the day -- the food. I don't think any Bong brothers or sisters ever really delude themselves over the real importance of the day. You can pledge your affection for each other any time of the year but this is the day when the sisters cook and the brothers fork out gifts. (That's why we cook.) The biriyani turned out very well -- the overnight marination showed in the taste and I'd been salivating anyway ever since that lemony smell began to waft around the kitchen while it cooked. The recipe is here and I followed Mon's recipe faithfully all through except that I added some shahjeera and it added to the fun. Went wonderfully with Mon's cucumber-tomato raita.

It was actually quite pleasant, the five of us cousins sitting and chatting around the dining table in the late afternoon sun. I think that's why I had craved the dining table so long. It's what I think every family needs, a place to sit around in a circle and talk of everything possible.

Vicky and Rahul returned from the annaprashan and pretty soon R was falling down with sleep so the cousins left, R went for his nap and I started the clearing up. I've still not reached the stage where I abandon my beloved Corelle set for paper plates, but I may just reach it sometime soon. There seemed to be mountains of dishes, what with all the cooking and lunch just had by seven people with dessert afterwards. Oh well, bhai phonta comes only once a year.

V tried to work but the 'net conn snapped so he went off to his parents' to work there. I cleared, washed the chinaware, did the laundry and hung it out to dry, dressed at top speed, packed the assorted things I needed to carry to different houses and eventually, Dada, Rahul and I landed up at Jodhpur Park. R's grandmother quickly did his phonta and gave him his gift (I'll blog that later) and we went off to Giga's. Another phonta for Rahul -- Giga wanted to do two more, one for each of her sisters in Atlanta -- but he soon put paid to that. Fab food (frice, chilly chicken and kosha mangsho) as expected and we finally went to Vicky and Rahul's last lot of bhai phonta at Tupsididi's. Tiya is walking. Such a pleasant surprise. The kid gets cuter by the day and her mother dresses her well, too.

I was tired, but it was a nice end to such an exhausting day. These cousins of Vicky's all get along very well and they are a warm, welcoming lot. What a day, though. And I thought last year was packed.

Because Being An adult Also Means Being Big Enough to Admit A Mistake

I'm overcoming my embarrassment and writing this post because, well, because I just read about Winkie's little accident and I wanted to tell him, kiddo, you're not alone!

Bhai phonta night, I came home so tired, so very tired. A single malt hadn't helped matters and the soft drinks and frequent sips of water after a spicy meal meant that I needed to pee really badly when we got home. I sipped some more water and was on my way to the bathroom when the water went down the wrong way and I coughed and coughed and coughed.

To my utter humiliation I found myself peeing in my saree. I couldn't stop coughing and I couldn't stop the peeing and all the while I felt so bloody helpless. I'm thinking, this was Somebody Up There's little reminder of what pregnancy had felt like, what with my recent broodiness...

But you know, it's almost as if I need such reminders of what it's like to be unable to control your body. Because if Rahul has an accident -- and to his credit he rarely does, these days -- I scold him for it even when I know I should know better. Well, now I really do know better.

*sigh*

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

For Your Delectation

I'm sure you've received some version of this mail some time. This was one of the best I have ever got so if you have nothing better to do, scroll on down:

My dear I am writing this mail with tears,sadness and pains. I know it
will come to you as a suprise since we haven't known or come across each
other before, but kindly bear with me at this moment. I have a special
reason why I decided to contact you. My situation at hand is miserable but
I trust in God and hope you will be of my help. My name is Ishia Bare
Mainassara 25years old girl and I held from Republic of Niger the daughter
of Late General Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara the former President of the
Republic of Niger who was ambushed and killed by dissident soldiers at the
military airport in the capital, Niamey with his driver and a former
Prefect. You can see more detail about my late father here
http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/9/newsid_2463000/2463
927.stm

I am constrained to contact you because of the maltreatment which I am
receiving from my step mother. She planned to take away all my late
father's treasury and properties from me since the unexpected death of my
beloved Father. Meanwhile I wanted to travel to Europe, but she hide away
my international passport and other valuable documents. Luckily she did not
discover where I kept my father's File which contained important documents.
I am presently staying in the Mission camp in Burkina Faso.

I am seeking for longterm relationship and investment assistance. My father
of blessed memory deposited the sum of US$17.7 Million in one bank in
Burkina Faso with my name as the next of kin. I had contacted the Bank to
clear the deposit but the Branch Manager told me that being a refugee, my
status according to the local law does not authorize me to carry out the
operation. However, he advised me to provide a trustee who will stand on my
behalf. I had wanted to inform my stepmother about this deposit but I am
affraid that she will not offer me anything after the release of the money.
Therefore, I decide to seek for your help in transferring the money into
your bank account while I will relocate to your country and settle down
with you. I have my fathers death certificate and the account number which
I will give you as soon as you indicated your interest to help me.

It is my intention to compensate you with 20% of the total money for your
assitance and the balance shall be my investment in any profitable venture
which you will recommend to me as have no any idea about foreign
investment. Please all communications should be through this email address
only for confidential purposes.

Thanking you alot in anticipation of your quick response. I will send you
my photos in my next email.

Yours Sincerely
Ishia Ibrahim Bare


In particular, the stepmother touch bowled me over.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good morning, world.

So Mon and I are sharing a cup of tea across the continent as I type -- well, she's having her green and I'm savouring my Darjeeling -- and all is well in my little world for just now. The Bhablet and the Vicky are fast asleep, facing each other on the bed like two halves of a funny-looking bangle and I wouldn't dream of disturbing them. It's a wet, chilly morning, just perfect for sleeping in. MayG just joined us.

...

Last night when I finally went to bed, it was completely dark and I found myself lying on a lynx ("bagaa"), a Himalayan bear ("balloo"), a hippo ("aati") and a dog ("kukku"). I have thus far been extremely happy with the interest the child takes in his little collection of animals but I think the time has now come to draw a line. How come the menagerie is left for me to sleep on while he snoozes in the uncluttered comfort of his cot?

...

I need new underwear, specifically what Ma would call "oporey porar bhetorer jama" ("underclothes for the upper body"). The child weaned himself eleven months ago and I'm still wearing those ill-fitting nursing bras, even though my size has changed since then. I'm also going to regretfully retire my favourite Marks and Spencers bras, the ones I bought at Rs. 100 each from an acquaintance before the chain came to India. That is how old they are and one is now officially sacred. (Or, if you want, hole-y.) Any ideas on what I should buy? I want pure cotton, preferably jersey material for the fit and I would like to pay not more than Rs. 150 per pc. Am I being hopelessly outmoded here?

After all, as Jack says:
Thought for the day - Though the eyes are the windows to your soul, the zipper is the window to your underwear.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Batteesi All Out

So Vicky turned 32 yesterday and once more I had to face the fact that I'm married to a pretty geriatric sorta soul.


It was a peaceful kinda birthday. He worked and after he came home, I went to meet the folks at ContAd, where I'll be joining come November. (Website under construction, btw.) I was done with them early and home with cake in time to get ready in a leisurely sort of way for the evening. Cakes 1 lb truffle, of course. Took it over to Jodhpur Park where his mother was waiting with the birthday payesh.

After an hour or so we went on to Mocambo where he had a sizzler and I had my Chicken a la Kiev and Rahul climbed up the back of his chair and was ultimately taken away to admire the machhhh (fish) by a desperate Sue.


Actually, all things considered, he was not entirely ill-behaved. The restaurant, for instance, was still standing, when we left. No, I suppose given all the ruckus around the blog world on ill-behaved children I oughtn't joke -- so he climbed his chair and dropped the menus and played with the cutlery but he didn't give any servers any extra work, nor did he disturb other guests at all. He was not boisterous. Vicky and I were quite nervous, to tell you the truth, about taking a two year-old to a place like that.


Now I'm thinking, finances permitting, we could do this now and then.

Dessert was cake at Dana's, where we ended up watching the last hour of Transformers.


Then home, a soothing of hurts and bed. Then sex. The man may be old but he's still got what it takes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Food Allergy Awareness Month

For the next one month, some of us bloggers are participating in the Food Allergy Awareness drive begun by Tara.

I shall put my post up a little later but in the meantime if you have any thoughts you want to share or you would like to do a post of your own, do mail me at sunayanaroy@gmail.com so that I can link. I may not be able to answer your queries but I may also be able to point you to folks who can.

In the meantime, here is Sujatha with an essay on bringing up a child with severe childhood allergies.

I just killed myself laughing

...reading Amrita's post on breast milk ice cream. Do read.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Raining Jobs (Sort Of)

So I tried out the school for a week and although I enjoyed working with the kids and the other teachers were extremely welcoming and headmistress would have been a pleasure to work under (where on earth will I get a combo like that again, I wonder) I regretfully decided that teaching nursery school is not really my thing. I''m running after a little one at home anyway, I need a change when I'm out.

At around the same time as the school was making me a very attractive offer -- money vs. time being decently combined -- I also got into talks with Ashokda, who has been looking for copywriters for his ad agency. I'd vaguely considered the idea and then dropped it because of the time involved. But once I actually spoke to him, he turned out to be willing to provide some flexi time and the salary isn't bad either, so... you know where this is going, right?

After nearly two and a half years I am going back to work full-time. I'm so nervous I'm almost hoping things don't work out! I suppose I've had too much time to think about it. Call Cutta gives me a comparable salary but this will be the start of a career, should I survive it. Anyway, while all this went on, Calcutta Walks asked me to take one last walk since they were short-handed last Sunday. 29 visitors from Switzerland, to be taken around Hatibagan. Somebody called up to ask if I could take a few classes on Fashion at an institute. People emailed to ask if I could do a little writing.

It all jumps on me together. Just as I think I need to slow down a little. I hate to let a chance, any chance go, but I also want to spend some time with Vicky and Rahul. Time when I or Vicky are not so tired that all we do is lie around listlessly. Also, even though I bargained with Ashokda to give me some days off soon after I join so that I can visit Madras as planned next month, I do know that will be the last trip anywhere for a while. Which is a slightly depressing thought.

If I continue in this vein I shall soon reach the "Who needs a career anyway?" stage, so I'll stop. And remind myself, as E did, of all the shopping I can do with all the money I will make. That always works.

Wisdom -- Painfully Bought

I've never claimed to be the best, the most patient or even the most understanding of mothers. I'm quite sure no-one who's seen me at it is going to say I am any of those things either. But I did think that I showed quite extraordinary patience with the Wee Bhablet-that-was when the child was teething. He didn't have any problem with the first half dozen, but was in a little pain during the molars.

And I thought to myself, come on, it's only a few teeth. I vaguely remember growing teeth some time in my childhood. I'm sure it doesn't hurt so much. Shut up with the whining already. Of course, I kept my thoughts to myself, but Somebody Up There heard me anyway.

So I've been in terrible agony Terrible Agony since last week. Toothache kept me up and crying several nights until I gave in to superior knowledge and popped a couple of Combiflams. Went to the Extremely Expensive dentist yesterday. (She's a helpful and friendly soul though, so I'm loath to change.) She says it's a wisdom tooth coming up, that they hurt. That this will go on, on again off again, for some months.

So I hope the child is happy already. Everybody conspires against me. Even my own teeth. Dammit.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Realisation

There was born to us a little Fidgety Fudge. Who's now too old to be called a Bhablet, especially a Wee one.

I'm off now, folks. Got some cuddling to catch up on now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Walking the Talk

First, go check this poster out. You can read the post and the reactions here.

If we start out with the basic assumption that the city you live in is as much yours as it is anybody else's, live they and their ancestors there ever so much longer than you and yours; if we agree that it is a basic human right to be able to walk down the street without having to cross your arms across your breasts or swinging your body from side to side to avoid contact with the crowds: what, then, are you doing to defend or exercise this fundamental human right of ownership?

I am not preaching on a soapbox here, nor am I asking you to do any of the brave/dangerous/foolish/misguided (take your pick) things that I do. But I am asking that you insist on your right to your own city streets. You don't have to push and fight and scream perhaps, if somebody invades your privacy. In fact, very few of us are brave enough to do that, and I myself only manage it some of the time. But you can convince yourself that the road is not for others to dictate to you. If you can rid your own mind of this vague discomfort or fear, you will be doing your bit for your city.

When I went to Singapore, I remember how Ravi and I got really late at the zoo. I came back home at midnight, and part of the way I was on my own in the MRT. I revelled in the feeling of safety that I had in this unknown land. There were girls everywhere, on their own or in groups, wearing all manners of dresses and hemlines, and nobody gave me a second look, far less a call as I walked down the silent stretch from the station to my friend's house, where we were staying.

That is what I want in my own city. It may not happen in my lifetime, but that does not mean I shall stop trying. I'm a more conservative dresser these days and I do travel much less than I used to. But I try to go out late at night if I want to, to wear what I want to wear when I want to wear it. And when I walk down the streets, I do try not to worry too much about what somebody else says/whispers/sings. It's not enough, I do understand, but what is? What more should I be doing? What are you doing to exercise your rights to walk freely down your roads?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's Your Religion?

It's a question I used to get asked a lot in school. In the conservative South Indian small town where I grew up, to have an unusual name like mine and to not wear a bindi meant a lot of people thought I was Christian. Which in itself was not at all insulting; the mother was a Jesuit convent school product and we'd never been taught to think of Christianity as an inferior religion in any way at all. But it was rather insulting to be hesitantly asked if I knew who Krishna and Ganesh were!

I'm older now and I think I'm a lot surer of who I am and what I want to be. A large part of this reassuring state of being has to do with being comfortable with the religious contradictions in my life. I talk to a lot of non-Hindus and sometimes they find it weird that somebody as level-headed as I would believe that a clay idol comes to life for a few days each year; that it can move me to tears when the goddess goes away; that on Janmashtami I feel a little as though a baby boy entered my house. Sure, it's weird all right. It doesn't make sense to you, but the beauty of it all is, it doesn't have to make sense to you. So long as it makes sense to me -- and it does, funnily enough -- that's all I require from you and me. I'll even let you smile at my religion, so long as you acknowledge its importance to me.

So I really never have been able to understand the reasoning of religious terrorists. Not all the movies, the books, the newspaper articles and the interviews make it easier for me to understand how anybody can truly believe that blowing up buildings, breaking up families, killing people -- directly and indirectly -- how any of this can help people understand your religion or respect it or give homage to it. I have always felt that such people must be very insecure in their own religion. It does take a lot of personal security to feel so comfortable within your own religion that you don't need to convince anybody else to convert. I have Muslim friends, as I've mentioned before. I have a Muslim name, which for me is a big part of my identity. It's my name of love, the one that my mother and husband call me by. I celebrate some Christian festivals, for the fun of it, and sing songs to my son which I suddenly recognise as hymns only while I'm in the middle of a stanza. I'm interested in other religions and I don't mind joining in their festivities at all, especially when it involves singing and dancing and food. And I don't think any of this compromises my Hinduism in the slightest.

I eat beef, you know. I don't really think the cow is a sacred animal. I don't think my God minds this. I think if he wanted me to not eat beef, he wouldn't make me like it. Yes, my religion is very convenient, but bound by the morals and ethics my parents and schools and reading have instilled in me, I do think it's fairly well rounded. And my morals tell me to believe what I like, just as long as I don't force it on other people.

That is not always so easy, though. Vicky's mother is a big believer in rings and stones and amulets and wants him to wear them. I quite dislike them because I think it's an easy way to not take responsibility for your own choices. (Perhaps it's a little like my beef-eating argument but hey, my beef-eating argument doesn't involve heavy jeweller's charges and it involves only me.) Anyway, so she gave V a ring recently and it really upset me. Because I don't want those things in the house. Because I'm really nervous that his mother will try to make Rahul wear some such one day and then all hell will break loose. Because rings and amulets make me nervous.

I fought with V over it for days until we reached a compromise. He could wear it but not in our bed and not near me when possible. I still dislike the ring but I'm trying to live with it.

There are other times when my mother's superstitions put me off and times when we've actually fought over her beliefs. But at the end of the day, unless you are this close to me, and even when you are, I will always respect your right to your own beliefs, so long as they don't tread on mine. Why is this such a difficult line to walk? Why must children of mixed marriages be called mongrels and homosexuals considered godless?

As a Hindu I want to state that I do not need anybody standing up for my religion by attacking any other religions. I propagate my religion by sharing it and what I know of its background with those who want to know. I do not need anybody else to do my work for me, least of all with weapons and by killing or maiming. If you need to burn a church that's your outlook but don't justify it by telling me you are doing it for me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Because Call Centre Employees Are People Too (They Are?)

I got a call today from some male voice from Bombay who wanted to speak to "Sourav-Shorabh-Sharebh? Neeyegee."

The call centre accent gave his game away so I, taking pity on the poor blighter, explained soothingly that I was Sharabh Niyogy's mother, and he could tell me whatever he wanted to say. In the way they do, he only heard about half this, determined that I was not "Sourav-Shorabh-Sharebh? Neeyegee" and hastily said that he would not speak to anybody but the person in question, so he would call back after a couple of hours.

I counted to five (I was in a good mood) and told him, quite nicely, that this Neeyegee couldn't talk to him because he was only two, TWO years old, so would he please tell me what he wanted to say?

And for the first time ever, I heard a call centre dude laugh out loud on the phone.

I'm thinking I shall start being nicer to them in the future. It was a nice laugh.

Friday, October 10, 2008

How to Wear A Saree -- Bengali Style I

Wearing a saree in the old-fashioned Bengali way is, contrary to appearances, quite a simple affair. This style has less folds and tucks that matter and it all crushes down as you go about your day so you don't really look as balloon-like as you may think you do.

You start by tucking the saree around your waist, going left from your navel, round your butt and back to your navel from your right. The photo shows a mistake that many beginners commonly make -- carelessly pulling the saree to the left they as tuck. It's best if you ensure that the saree falls ramrod straight all through this first round, for this and all other styles.


Now cross all that remaining material over to your left once more, making one single fold and tucking it in at your back, just over your left hip. Tuck in the portion that just crossed your waist on the left. At this point the underside of the saree will be uppermost and that's how it should be.


Cross it over in front once and repeat that single small fold and tuck over your right hip at the back now. Tuck in the portion that crossed your midriff.

Now the saree will have turned the right way around once more.

Taking it from the tuck at your back on the right, drape it over your chest, laying the excess material on your left shoulder. Let the rest of the cloth (there will be lots) puddle behind you.

Start folding the saree into neat pleats over your shoulder and don't pull the cloth too tight. It needs to hang comfortably in front of you. The pleats needn't be perfect either because a little imperfection at this point actually adds to the charm of the look. Pin the arrangement carefully to your blouse at your shoulder when the pleats are done.


The only thing you need to ensure is that the border hangs straight down to the left of your left knee.

This honestly is the only part of this drape that needs a bit of practice. It needs to look like this:


The fall stitched on the back of the border should not show, if this is draped right, but even if the border does show, it's not a real problem because no matter how well you drape the fall will show when you move. The only real solution to the problem is to not have falls stitched on your saree.

Now comes the fun part. Get out your key-ring and tie it to the end of the anchal (pallu). The corner you want is the one that will be uppermost if you bring all that excess cloth around to the front under your right arm without twisting it.

If you're not a householder and have no key-ring then you can always tie a bunch of coins in a neat bundle at the corner of the anchal. That's what I used to do and that's what grandmothers did to keep loose change handy.


Throw it over your shoulder.

Now, as you can see, I'm draping a silk saree, so it was a bit slippery. It made sense to me to let the cloth settle and then just pin those few upper folds of the pallu so that not all the weight was on the key-ring.

The anchal will fall asymmetrically across your front and somehow, this looks beautiful no matter what the style. You can pull the portion hanging loose behind your back over your head to make what we Bengalis call a ghomta (ghunghat) to cover your head during worship or just to keep the sun off.

The beauty of this style is that it's very loose and comfortable to wear and there always seems to be enough cloth to cover you when it rains or it gets too sunny. It's also great for highlighting the work on the anchal and borders since both are showcased, so to speak.

Note: In movies and on telly they show the key-ringed anchal being draped over the other (right) shoulder. Well, I've always seen only one shoulder bearing both rounds of cloth in real life and I think it makes more sense. Certainly more comfortable.

General Tips:

Wear your petticoat and then do your hair and makeup. These fifteen minutes will give it time to settle so by the time you drape the saree you'll be able to tell if you need to tighten/loosen the petticoat waist.

When tucking at your waist always try to ensure that the material is smooth next to your skin (under the petticoat). This ensures a slimmer silhouette.


UPDATE:
How to wear a Madisar (Iyer style)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Subho Bijoya, Everybody

The tenth day -- Dashami -- is ending on a fairly quiet note.

We went over the Dana Roys for dinner on Navami. Trina came over, as did Beanie and Dhruv. We had mutton biriyani from Zeeshan and watched Om Shanti Om -- the perfect moodsetter for a Navami night! Rahul danced to all the songs, obviously. Then we bundled him into his new pajamas (a birthday gift from Tojo's parents) and went out for a drive. Ended up on Park Street where we stopped for coffee at Barista. Actually, we stopped at CCD and it was a pretty bad idea because the morons who run the business have abolished a simple cup of hot coffee during the festival. You have to have it with cream and sauces, even if, like me, you have a bad cold and only want some coffee. Anyway, so we walked out and went around the corner to the Barista where we both had very nice lattes while the boy napped on my shoulder and his parents played with another littler boy at the next table.

Some more driving around, this time mainly around our para, and we were in bed and falling asleep well before 3 a.m.

...

Dashami started on a lethargic note, even though I did get up at the crack of dawn (7 a.m. no less!) to find out about the sindoor khela at my adopted puja. V was kind enough to wake up an hour later to fetch me the necessary paan, betel nuts and sweets. There are days like these when the man leaves me speechless. I mean, I want to say something rude about him but can't think of a thing off-hand, dammit.

Anyway, so I napped some after checking my mail. R slept late, luckily. Got out of bed well after 11, bathed, brunched and dressed in a hurry for the sindoor khela. V and R came along as well. It was actually quite tame though, nothing like the crazy fun at Madras last year. Went over to Jodhpur Park afterwards and exchanged sindoor with V's mother while we were at it. Finally came home for a very late lunch (for R) around 2 p.m.

In the evening though things picked up. Rahul and I walked down to the pujo pandal for the bishorjon jatra and we saw that the procession had just left. Everybody, young, middle aged and in one memorable case, fairly ancient, were dancing the happy dance and R and I joined right in. Vicky joined us soon after and we went along with the procession, dancing and clapping. The fifteen minute walk took us over an hour and we had such fun on the way. This is how I've always wanted to be part of a pujo, but never have been after leaving Vizag. We danced like crazy and Rahul was utterly fascinated by the dhakis. Best of all, Vicky danced. He never dances. That just shows you what it was like.

We popped in at the Jodhpur Park pandal for a few minutes afterwards and then walked home. V got some naan and mutton for our dinner and Rahul had Maggi. From tomorrow I suppose I shall cook once more. Ah me...

...

She's gone and, well, I got a bit teary-eyed but I didn't cry. I'm a big girl now.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pujo State of Mind

It's Panchami night and I'm at work for another hour yet. My rehearsal has been canceled but the streets are such a mess, the cars will only leave once and for all at 9.30.

...

Then it was Shashti and the three of us went to drop off Rahul's old stuff at Shishu Bhavan. Then lunch at Jodhpur Park. Vicky mother made a great prawn something with fried rice and some pomfret grill.

In the evening we dropped in on Mr. and Mrs. Niladri. Met Anindya and Nota there. I wasn't in the right mood for an evening of bawdy stories and drinking but somehow, one is always comfortable around folks like these. For one thing, they are all excellent story-tellers. For another, their stories are so funny! What with laughing my head off at Nota's tales and Anindya's imitations and eating enough Chinese takeout to fill me up for hours, I had a nice enough time.

...

Saptami morning was spent in tidying up the flat because I did not intend to do that any more after this one time. I also cooked a chicken curry-rice for emergencies.

After our afternoon naps we went to the fair at Deshapriya Park. All three of us enjoy fairs -- Vicky and I bonded big-time years ago over buying fairings and going on silly rides -- and Rahul had a Ferris Wheel ride for the first time in his young life. He hung on tight to his Baba and grinned. I think we can safely say that he enjoyed himself. And he wasn't sick afterwards. We also went to watch the amazing Suzuki Circus, where two cars and three bikes went around climbing the sides of a giant drum, and ate candy floss and a chaat. Rahul had two rides on the little roundabout that had cars instead of horses.

Afterwards we dropped in on DrD and his missus. Spent a pleasant evening with them. The boys, I mean, the men, drank and the women chatted and The Bhablet ran around and ate milk'n'rice. Home at a decent hour and in bed before midnight.

...

I woke early and washed my hair for the Ashtami anjali at Evie's puja. After Vicky and I were done fighting he and Rahul managed to make it in time for the anjali too. Which may have been a less than brilliant idea considering that the child spent the four rounds of prayers pulling the hair and clothes of the aunties in front (who were not amused) and then pulled my hair into a curtain to play Tookie (peekaboo) with the folks behind us. Then again, as I reflected, the goddess is a mother herself and I think she knows what it's like.

We went to meet Nunu, Nunulet and Ghocha right afterwards. My precious little boy is nearly seven now and doesn't know any Sunnys. Oh well. He's every bit as precious as he was four years ago, when we first met, and that's good enough for me. His cousin is getting to be quite a cutie in his own right and perhaps one shouldn't call him the Nunulet much longer. Tempting though it is. Ghocha's mum invited us to the Suren Tagore Road bhog and that's where we had lunch -- delicious! Ghocha and Rahul of course turned their noses up at most of it.

In the evening we went to Salt Lake to meet Barry and his family. Then we went out for a couple of hours, the six of us. Chinky's quite the young lady now. We went around a few pandals, ate some phuchka and eventually ended up having dinner at a little known Chinese joint hidden behind Sector V. A decent dinner, although I only had soup since my cold had flared up by then. Met Sulagna's elder sister and family.

Came home with a fever and poor V went out to find a chemist open past midnight for some Crocin. There wasn't any but he did find Sona who got him some from his home.

...

It's Navami now. We went for the bhog at Jodhpur Park now and I cannot say I think too much of the arrangements. The food was all right. It's nice having organisers as in-laws, I must say. One walks in wherever and gets special treatment all around.

Now it's evening and we're going to get dressed up and go to Dana's for anjali. Enjoy your evening, everybody. Our 'net connection is iffy so I've not been around all week until now. I'll post more later, and till then, you can see the photos here.

Friday, October 03, 2008

A Tag I Forgot

But then, forgetfulness is one of my foremost quirks. Unless you are Vicky and have forgotten a chore. I never forget that.

So anyway, RV (mother of my ickle wee doula baby) tagged me for this one months ago. Came across it tonight while going over some pretty random Google searches as to what brings people (and I mean you) to my blog.

The rules of the tag are simple:

1. Link the person(s) who tagged you

2. Mention the rules on your blog

3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours

4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them

5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged


To start with, I think I've done this tag already. But hey, let's not call it quits already. I'm sure I can think of other, er, cute little eccentricities of mine.

1. I believe in symmetry when I'm being touched. So if an insect bites me on one cheek it does annoy me that the other cheek is sting-free. If I'm kissed on one hand I need the other hand kissed too. Stuff like that.

2. I like to keep things in their original condition. Sarees, once worn, are re-folded to the arrangement the laundry sent them home in. I think I would seriously like Rahul to keep all his toys in mint condition just because. (V ribs me endlessly on this one.) I took a deep breath and brought out a lot of my table and kitchenware when we moved to this flat. But I hung on to the boxes. In case I ever need to repack them exactly as they were, you know.

3. I do not like unwashed clothes sharing space with the washed ones. Makes me throw the washed stuff right back into the machine, especially garments like hankies, underwear or socks. I haven't figured out the logic behind this but I'm quite sure there is some.

4. Things have to be in their place. The bowls in the kitchen have been intricately stacked, so I can see each one from where I stand, and I need things to stay in this condition. I'm at my worst in the kitchen, though, Elsewhere father and son have got me tamed.

5. I can write in the style I've been reading. I'm not as good at this any more, not as I used to be, but it's a fun thing to do.

6. I would rather carry my footwear in my hand and walk barefoot through flooded streets than ruin my pretty slippers/sandals.

I can think of more, but I'll stop here. And I tag D, Indian Home Maker, Cee, ThreeDrinksAhead, Chandni and Dipta. Folks, some of you have already done this once, but feel free to come up with new ones. I find that I have many, many more than a mere dozen quirks in my quiver.

Kittens. Bah!

Yesterday (Wednesday) morning was an incredibly rushed one since we had two invitations to lunch -- Badshahda's grihapravesh and Manashi's shaad. V was to run out for a couple of things early in the morning and rushed downstairs almost as soon as he woke up. In a few minutes he was back up, explaining that a kitten had been startled by the sight of him and had jumped under Ally's bonnet, near the engine. So he couldn't even back the car out of parking, what should he do?

Kittens. I've taken care of plenty and I tell you, there are few things quite as stupid as a kitten.

So I rushed down with an umbrella and generally poked around until I saw it. The eyes were still pretty blueish and it looked tiny, what little I could see. I worked out that it was quite nervous what with Vicky and me on either side of the bonnet and the wall in front of the car. So I sent Vicky upstairs to get me something (I forget what) and by some encouragement, coaxing and judicious umbrella-poking, managed to get it out.

That was episode one and quite bad enough, if you ask me. What kind of a moron would hide near an engine???

In the evening, Vicky and Rahul were to go out on an errand before Shuktara's birthday party. I was pottering around the flat, catching up on the chores, when Vicky came back, looking exasperated, saying that the kitten had done it again. It had gone and lodged itself somewhere under the bonnet and best of all -- since it was now dark, it couldn't even be seen.

I went down, tried the encouragement and umbrella routine but it's difficult poking a kitten you cannot see. I had no idea where it was, only somewhere near the front left. After several frustrating minutes Vicky and I gave up, hoping it had slipped out before we could see it. Vicky started the engine and slowly started reversing Ally, when that idiot kitten jumped out from under the bonnet and promptly went under a wheel.

I was in front of the car and saw it all. My scream stopped traffic and nearly caused Vicky to swerve into the lamp-post. Heck, it nearly gave me a heart attack.

Stupid kitten. It survived, limped away. Nothing seemed broken but one never knows. Bah.