Sunday, May 31, 2009

Down the Ages

Calcutta 1985/86


Calcutta, 1991


Hyderabad, 1992


Madras, August 2005

Madras, 2005

What do you know about pain?

A little. Un tres peu. Il suffisait.

Dana, Shuki and I were up all last night, talking in circles. I'm in the trough phase, so to speak, and talk pays no toll but it does keep the blues at bay, so I'm talking.

My problem, and I do have one, is you. Yes, you. You know me offline. I don't really want you reading my blog. It tells you nothing new. But if you do come (cheap thrills, cheri?) I don't want to talk about it off the blog. If I did, I would. Since I don't I wish you would just fuck off with your views on my life.

Occasionally, there's a friend or two who's permitted to bring this stuff up. Shuki. E. Beq even since he has the class not to. But this permission has not been extended to you. I don't want to be your Facebook friend and I don't want to know you on Orkut and I don't care if you think you and I lead parallel lives. Your empathy embarrasses me.

Yes, I'm talking to you. Piss off.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thank you, Mashi!

I'd almost forgotten how delicious stroopwafels were. Mashi got us a packet some years ago.

Surfing around, I came across the site linked above and Mashi, thank you!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ek Anokhi Si Kahani

Vicky and I were at Anokhi one day last week, browsing as I always do because I can’t afford the stuff there. Yet another time I was clutching onto yet another pretty spaghetti top trying to remind myself why I oughtn’t buy it and this one time I was failing, my other hand was reaching for the wallet, when another hand came shoving away mine, pulling the top next to the one I was holding when I refused to let go of the one I had.

And a loud female voice said in Hindi, to another equally loud-voiced female, “I think I’ll take this one. Of course, I can only wear it at home at night, I couldn’t possibly face Uncleji (her father-in-law) in it.”

And I quietly released my hold, turned quickly and rushed Vicky and myself out of the shop so that we could laugh in peace and decency outside.

So much for cool clothes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

You Only Honeymoon Once. Or Twice. Or Thrice.

Our first honeymoon was a stolen one. We ran away without telling the enemy and had a few days to ourselves. Our second was one unanimously sanctioned, by society and indeed by the gods – we went to Benaras and while you grin, allow me to tell you it was rather nice despite all the fighting. And we’re nearing the end of our third one. Six days to ourselves putting each other first. Quite a novelty because unlike the first honeymoon, this time we don’t have parents calling up to ask where we are and unlike the second, we don’t have a Fidgety Fudge (in utero) with us!

So, the Sunday was a lot of fun.

Monday was a quiet day, spent trying not to fall asleep over our respective keyboards. Stayed late at work and had an early dinner at Smart Kolkata. They do have the most ghastly bathrooms.

Tuesday was another long day at work. Family friends came visiting so I went to Jodhpur Park from work and that took up most of the evening. We had a fairly blah dinner at the Dhakuria Indthalia, which was a pity given the quality of food at Hindustan Park, and drove around a bit, I think, before heading home.

Wednesday I went to visit Ahana and her grandmother. M4 and I had a pleasant chat that evening, too. Things looking up although of course, the paperwork is going to be a major headache in the months to come. Anybody know how to get a disability certificate in Kolkata, please help. Email me or leave a comment telling me how to get in touch. It’ll be much appreciated.

Came home lateish and made a sexy chicken fryup for dinner. Stir-fried chicken and diced onions tossed in Ching’s All-in-One Stir-Fry Sauce, garlic paste, a wee+ bit of green chilli sauce neutralised by a splash of vinegar. Says who I have no culinary imagination? It tasted fab with white rice.

Then we picked up Cousin J and spent all the money I’d saved by cooking on gelatos and soft drinks. Hurrah for consumerism and cousins old enough to come for midnight drives!

Thursday Vicky met me in my neck of the woods – New Market, which is next door given that I’m on Free School Street – because we’d planned to catch a movie at New Empire. But they were showing Ghajjini, which I’ve seen, so we wandered around a bit. Had some of that yummy lemon soda from the soda carts and I met Brat, who was shooting something in the area.

We went to Forum, eventually, hoping Inox had better fare. Eventually went to see Merry Christmas which sounds crappy but is actually a French film on the first Christmas of the First World War, which I’ve read about before. It was a very good movie and we both liked it even though neither of us were in the mood for upsetting stuff. For dinner we went towards the momo joints but ended up in 64, Chowringhee Lane which served us an excellent Nawabi Chicken with roti dinner. The fresh lime soda was not as good though but the service was very friendly. Home in a taxi since Vicky had come by the Metro.

And now, today is Friday and we seem to be piled under with chores and office work. Hopefully we’ll get a wee slice of time in the evening. Vicky’s off early tomorrow morning to Madras.

Monday, May 18, 2009

You know you need a break from parenting

when you find yourself giving the child’s war cry in response to foreplay. As Vicky did point out.

Well, good thing we were on that break already. Rahul went off to Madras on Saturday with my mum and will be spending the week there. Vicky goes to pick him up on Saturday.

It’s funny, I really thought I’d miss him like mad, and I don’t. I mean, I do miss him very much but if I don’t brood about it, I’m OK. And he’s really having so much fun with my folks (not to mention my brother, the Mama) that I wouldn’t want to end it for him by dragging him back home if I could.

When did my baby get old enough to go off on his own separate holidays? When did my baby get secure enough to wave us goodbye and urge his Diddi on towards the aeroplanes before she changed her mind and took him back home instead? When did my baby grow up on me and why did it have to be when I was stuck at office?

On the other hand, Vicky and I are alone now for the first time in years. Alone and I’m not pregnant and ill and paranoid. We are spending our time doing whatever we feel like doing. The joke is, now that there’s no child in the house demanding it, I have all the energy in the world.

Saturday was a rushed sort of day as I scurried around packing Rahul’s things, trying to fit in one last chat with Ma. Vicky and I, both miserable at the prospect of a child-less week, fought but luckily we stopped before it got too nasty. Their flight that night was delayed so we hung around the airport for ages. They eventually left at 10.30 pm. We were on our way to dinner somewhere when we decided to drop in on Nilu-Shoma’s instead. Somehow, Anindya-Ruma ended up there as well and we made a night of it, sitting and chatting till past dawn. Then we went for a drive to Prinsep Ghat. That was rather beautiful, early in the morning, and we walked around and laughed a lot and took some pictures.

We were too late for the Chinese breakfast at Poddar Court but too early for the one at Flury’s so we compromised and went to Hotel Pan Asia Continental’s 24 hr restaurant. For the first time, the waiters were actually pretty rude. Funny, that. The breakfast buffet was not too bad, all considered, and the small fish fries were quite tasty. The behaviour of the staff did put me off though, I don’t think I’ll go there in a hurry.

We came back home, and I napped for an hour before a Niyogy clan meeting at Jodhpur Park. That was an eventful end to the morning and ended with a nice clan lunch. We were back home around 3 pm and I got down to housework. AB and Sanjuktadi came over to discuss the Contad website (Vicky’s making it) and after they left, Vicky took a nap while I re-arranged drawers. A whole lot of rearranging later, I’m reasonably content. Many more things are safely inside now.

Vicky brought some dinner (rolls and chicken cutlets) and then we decided to hop over to South City for some chocolate truffle pastry from Kookie Jar. We ended up wandering around Pantaloons’ newly arranged children’s section en route. After the dessert, on a mad, mad whim, we found ourselves queuing up for tickets at Fame. Since we’d already seen The Reader (with Shuki, Dana, Joy and Samrat) we went to see 99. I don’t know why the reviewers panned it so thoroughly because we really enjoyed it. In the genre of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, it was a very funny, well-made movie. Soha Ali Khan could have been substituted by anybody but she did look the part, at least, while Kunal Khemu, Boman Irani and Cyrus Broacha were really entertaining. Heck, they all were. I never knew Vinod Khanna could be so sleazy. The movie is not high art but it’s just what you need on a Sunday night.

And now, on Monday afternoon, I’m dropping. I’ve had less than eight hours of sleep spread over two days. When the boy’s away his parents do play!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I just discovered 'Momnesia'

and I found them talking about my son. He doesn't have a purple bwankie but he does have lots of CAIN!s and them darned little engines with assorted tracks and whathaveyous are working hard to put a period to my already shortened lifespan.

Why me, I want to know.

[Thanks, MayG.]

Friday, May 15, 2009

Of Numbers and Books

Kiran tagged me twice of late. Once for the number tag.

ONE love.

TWO of us. Side by side.

THREE’s company too.

FOUR in the afternoon, I need my tea. And snacks.

FIVE fingers. I’ve counted them a lot since 25th September, 2006. Ek, dui, teen, chaar, paanch! My reward? A Bheblu-babu who counts, “ek, teen” and considers all numbers counted. I’m guessing he’s not winning any Nobel Prizes for the sciences

SIX senses. Very important to me, especially during sex.

SEVEN Deadly Sins. Sung by the Traveling Wilburys.

EIGHT years I lived in the South. Some part of me will be firmly Gult/Tam till the day I die.

NINE years I’ve been in Calcutta now at a stretch.

TEN-nis, anyone? Yes, I’m a Wodehouse fan.

---

And then she tagged me again for the literature tag.

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Elinor M Brent-Dyer, I suppose. I have all but a few of the Chalet School novels.

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
Right now probably Rainbow Valley by L M Montgomery! My first copy was ruined by termites and I forgot I’d replaced it!

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
A little, yes. :)

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
Sven. Nothing secret about it.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life?
Don’t know. Perhaps the Narnias or The Little Princess or the Anne books.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Ooh, the Narnia collection. For afternoons in bed with bhujia!

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?
I’ve read surprisingly few bad books, possibly because I’ve been re-reading old favourites and reading either recommendations from readers I trust or books like M’n’Bs whose poor literary qualifications only enhance the enjoyment.

8) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
Off-hand, I loved Devdutt Patnaik’s The Pregnant King, but given I read close to twenty odd books every month, there must have been many others I liked as much.

9) If you could force everyone to read one book, what would it be?
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I’m reading it now and I find it very interesting. Not necessarily because I agree with every point but because the book is making me re-evaluate all my relationships, including with my Bhablet of a son.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for literature?
Vikram Seth. The man makes more points with fewer words than most writers I’ve read. Yes, I've read A Suitable Boy.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
From Hell, properly done. With Johnny Depp again, please.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Calvin and Hobbes, any of the books.

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
The one where I broke up with Beq, went to Liverpool, met Paulie and took a photo with him and sent it to Beq with a “Hah!” Actually, this dream would count as the funniest.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?
Oh, come on. I love reading low-brow for cheap thrills. You don’t expect me to actually rate them now?

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?
Some of my textbooks. I shall not raise my professors’ eyebrows by naming names. But I would like to remind them that I did in fact finish all the texts I claimed to have read. Except for Volpone, of course, but there I had Shuki for company.

16) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare. He’s a dude, man.

17) Austen or Eliot?
Austen

18) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
The huge, empty space where Bengali literature should be. Or other regional literature.

19) What is your favorite novel?
I genuinely don’t know. I can’t pick one and hurt the others.

20) Play?
Macbeth but only because of Sukantada. Otherwise I loved The Proof.

21) Short story?
A Temporary Matter by Jhumpa Lahiri.

22) Work of non-fiction?
In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

23) Who is your favorite writer?
Anybody who can make me forget my surroundings and make me laugh.

Anyway, so for the number tag, I tag Evie and Mona.

And for the literature tag, I tag my friend the writer, Parul. (Pliss to overlook the little self-conscious cough of pride.)

P.S.
A lot of the links here are messed up. I had trouble with Blogger when I wrote the post and I had to redo it in a hurry. Will fix them all later, esp the music links. Sorry!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

On Mourning

1. Not being able to wash my hair or eat non-vegetarian food for close to a fortnight has a strongly detrimental effect on my temper and general ability to spread sweetness and light. Being asked to cease and desist from such strong statements have an even more negative effect on my temper especially when I’ve kept away from the meat and the shampoo for a week already. No, I never claimed to be rational.

2. I can sit next to the body of a man I loved and respected and keep a steady head and remember to do all the things that need doing. But the sight of mourning clothes for my husband and brother-in-law can make me go to pieces. The sight of their shaved heads still upsets me, although I wouldn’t dream of letting that stop me from pointing out to Vicky that now his ears stick out more than ever.

3. Vicky looks more like his father now (his father had nicer ears though). He was gifted a kurta that is similar to one Baba used to wear and it startles me when I catch glimpses of the cloth around a corner. It is, however, not a bad thing. Some fragment of him remains. And Vicky, in memory of his father who was a legendary dhuti-wearer, wore dhutis all these days. Some fragments, as I say, of the father-in-law remains in his sons.

4. Sharabh Niyogy gifted his grandfather an umbrella to give him shade in his final journey. They tell me it’s an especially holy thing if a grandson can give it. I know it was an especially beautiful moment when Vicky and Rahul held the umbrella over his ‘Thakur’s photograph.

5. The deep rituals of mourning do bring you to a sense of closure because there is a sense of relief when you can return to your normal clothes and diet and so on. One is finally ready to let the departed go, which is exactly as it should be. This is the first close death in my family since I’ve been old enough to follow the rules and understand what they do to me.

6. Vicky’s mother is doing much better but she looks dreadfully fragile. I’m considering a divorce when I turn forty so that I do not get that dependent on a mere man.

7. When a little boy loses his ‘Thakur’, he turns more clingingly to his ‘Ramdadu’.* One can never be replaced by the other, but the other can understand this loss like nobody else in this little boy’s world. Grandmothers are good things, but little boys have need of grandfathers too.

8. I thought there was nobody left to refer to me as his ‘putrobodhu’ (son’s wife) but Baba’s oldest sister called me that when introducing me to some relatives and it comforted me strangely. Not all is gone while some remain.

9. There is a strong bond in sitting down with Vicky for a pujo. We both gifted six items (land symbolised by grain and some cloth; clothes; food; water; a towel; and something else I can’t remember just now) to Brahmins as offerings for Baba. It was a puja we performed together and I felt a wife to him in the truest sense of “life-sharer”. Marriage has its own ties.

10. So many people came to mourn him and their grief was so genuine. I’m not the kind of person to inspire that simple kind of liking but I hope when my turn comes the grief is that genuine.

*Rahul called his paternal grandfather 'thakurda', a very old-fashioned term that his grandfather requested for. A true Gemini, he always recognised the power of words. I didn’t realise how beautiful it would sound until Rahul actually started saying it. Mostly, he’d shorten it to “thakur” which means “God” and that sounded even more beautiful.

My father has always called Rahul “daduram”, another very old-fashioned and very non-citified term for a grandson. A few weeks ago Rahul pointed to Bubbles’ grandfather and insisted that grandfathers were called “daduram”. Or, alternatively, Ramdadu. Which is roughly where matters stand just now. Dadu or Ramdadu. All the more since Thakur is not around.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

My father-in-law

He passed away at his home on May 1st, 2009 shortly after 1 p.m. Vicky was with him. He had been fighting cancer since December and we suppose his body just couldn't take any more.