Saturday, July 31, 2010

Modesty, Thy Name Is

... not Rahul Niyogy, for sure. Or "Ra-gul", as he refers to himself.

I was in a bit of a snit earlier this afternoon and Vicky decided to fix matters with a hug, which was sort of working until Pintsize came up from behind and said, "Ami o aador korbo!" (I will cuddle too!) although if he were being strictly honest he would have said "Ami o aador khabo!" (I want to be cuddled as well!) because his idea of cuddling us is to present us his cheek or his full self to do with as we wish.

So where was I?

Oh yes, first he attached himself to our legs and then, as we pulled him up higher, he beamed and annouced, "Ami Babu-Baba'r "fav'rite" Bheblu." (I am Babu and Baba's favourite Bheblu.)

Ahem. I do not know if Emily Post would think this was quite in the best of manners.

Although I admit that it was entirely accurate, as statements go.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Psycho Suitcase Stickers

I wouldn't use the heroin sticker anyway, but this?

Go check out the comment thread at the article. (Link via Jezebel.)

I must have a real runt of a sense of humour.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Best Friends

Once upon a time a little girl came home excited in her first week of school and announced that she had a new best friend and the friend's name was "Rupkini". Her mother tried to gently suggest that perhaps she actually meant "Rukmini" but the little girl insisted that she had it right and got quite indignant at the idea of not knowing her own friend's name.

A couple of decades later her son came home from school everyday with tales of his best friend "Abhishal". She gently tried to suggest that the name would probably be "Abhilash" but since her son seemed determined to go with "Abhishal", she thought of her own childhood and gave up.

This post should have been written a year and a half ago. They were inseparable (as Rukmini and I once were) and when Abhilash moved to another town at the end of last year, it hit Rahul hard. He has a new friend but keeps referring to Abhilash. He knows that Abhilash now lives in another city but speaks of him as though he were in school. It's hard not to feel sorry for such a little boy. Reminds me of the first time I watched him go through such heartbreak.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


My father-in-law's first death anniversary was on May 1. Since then there was a continuous stream of deaths and death-related ceremonies that hopeully ended last week. First Pinujethu's prolonged illness and eventually passing away. Kajolmami's father's passing. Then P mashi and mesho's batshoriks. Shejomamidida's shraddha and niyam bhanga last week. Other deaths in the extended family and friend circles. Thankfully, all the people in question had been seriously ill, largely suffering from incurable cancer, so one is relieved that they got out of it rather than otherwise, but it never fails to surprise me how these things come in streaks.

Rahul is finally starting to speak in English a little or at least is less stubborn about refusing to speak it. It probably has something to do with me speaking to him in English now. I made it a point to speak to him in Bangla for the first couple of years so now I need to remember to use English in my dealings with him, but I do and he's responding. He is also picking up many Bangal pronunciations from Vicky which tend to jar me but I suppose that's what you get when you give birth to Undivided Bengal, as I have been known to refer to him.

It's been a busy time at the agency. Also, when Rahul was away for all of June I got into the habit of staying for longer hours at the office and it is now a bit of an effort to wind up my work in time.

Last Wednesday Vicky succumbed to a nasty attack of flu that started with a badly upset tummy. Rahul started his version the next day. I started mine on Monday. I'm feeling quite sorry for myself. Rahul started antibiotics last night though, so things should look up soon. Also, Vicky's doing much better now, touchwood.

On the other hand, my parents reach Cal tomorrow. My dad retired and this time, they are coming here for good. This weekend promises to be hard work. Moore Avenue, where they will live, is an unmitigated mess, with cartons half unpacked all over the place, cupboards overflowing with decades of 'treasures' and I have rashly promised my mother that I will help her sort it out. I went over on Saturday to see the state of things and discovered old letters and cards and schoolbooks, projects and records from high school. I need to dispose of much of that before Vicky sees them because there is enough in there to keep him laughing at me for the rest of my life.

On a related note, I cannot get over what a cheeky young kid I was. When I think back I recall a sober and sedate young lady, very conscientious and, well, sober and sedate. The letters, from friends I made in different cities as we moved with my father, tell a different story and are such fun to read. I even discovered a book of rules for a club we once formed when I was 10 or so. Ridiculous stuff. A card I got for my mother when she had her hysterectomy and was away in the hospital. I missed her very badly so Mejopishi took me to the shops and we got her a card and flowers to welcome her home. It's funny how the card brings it back so vividly. Birthday cards and letters from Shejomama who always remembered to send one in time every year.

Tonight promises to be fun. A bunch of us friends are going out for dinner, if all goes well. Tomorrow my parents will stop at Lake Gardens on their way home from Howrah for lunch so I need to make sure there's enough food and clean bathrooms and so on.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kol Kol Kol

This post is contributed by Mukut, via Sen, for the Tulika Blogathon 4: Rhymes, Chants and Playground Songs.

This rhyme, like Mukut, is from Assam, and you can tell, from its interest in elephants!

Kol, kol, kol
Kol ebid phol
Kol khale gaath hoye
Hatir shoman bol

Topa mura paluane thali ahar khaey
Dotal hatir shurot dhori nogor ghuraey

Kuhi paat kumoliya gochor agot
Kuhi paat kumoliya amar hatot


Banana, banana, banana
The banana is a fruit
Eating bananas gives me strength
Makes me strong like an elephant

The bald strongman eats from a plate piled high
On the trunk of a tusker around town I fly

New leaves lie before the tree
New studies lie before me

The translation is a loose one, in an attempt to keep the merry rhythm of the original. The sense I hope is transmitted even where the exact words aren't.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


IHM has this tag she's started -- My Sins Against Gender Stereotypes. It's funny and like all good tags, you're left thinking deeply about what you posted. Starry tagged me a while ago and I almost made up my list with the usual suspects -- drinking, smoking (pot) etc -- but then I thought, those are just the superficial symbols. Where do they come from?

They come from a girl who sees more and more of her father in herself every new day.

1. I come home from work wanting to have a hot drink (or cold, depending on the weather) and I almost expect V to serve me something along those lines when I walk into the door. And I expect this because I've just had a long day in office and think I deserve some fussing over, no matter the state of the person who's been running the house all day and working full-time too! If that's not MCP, I don't know what is.

2. I also like to be served meals and while I do enjoy cooking, I tend to consider it a favour I'm doing the family!

3. I didn't want to get married until I could afford my own car. As things worked out, I bought Ally off my dad a scant two months before the wedding.

4. I consider my finances my own business and do not appreciate any nosiness into the state of my bank account from spouses. (V is thankful for this aspect of me, I think.)

5. I can make quick decisions and in fact often get exasperated when people can't decide. These decisions can be for anything ranging from clothes or groceries I'm buying to flats I wish to rent, judgment calls at work, schools for Rahul etc. And I can be quite unsentimental and 'cold' when I make my calls.

6. I think women, especially our mothers, ought to be treated like porcelain dolls not because they are particularly delicate but because they work or have worked just so damn hard. So I think women should have doors opened for them, flowers bought for them, their opinions respectfully treated even when disregarded.

7. I order at restaurants, decide on car routes and plan holidays.

8. I don't think anybody has the right to tell me what to do, not even my parents and certainly not my husband. An elder or a well-wisher may of course guide me, and I don't usually have a problem with unsolicited advice but all my life I have believed I am perfectly capable of handling my own matters -- just like all the MCPs I know!

9. I suspect that I think of myself as the centre of my universe with the rest of my world existing to serve me in their little ways. In this I'm more patriarch than matriarch.

10. I don't accept that there is any place I ought not go or any time I ought not be out or any people I ought not know. Restrictions along these lines were placed on me more than on my brother. He shrugged all such off and I, wanting everything he had, did the same.

Now I need to do a companion piece on how I am excessively feminine as, indeed, I mostly am!

The tag's nearly over, so I'm not passing it on to anybody in particular. If you'd like to pick it up, please do your post before Tuesday night, IST.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Just To Set the Record Straight

It's my birthday today.

Now you may wish me. Also, I'm celebrating the seventh anniversary for Sunny Days (since I never remember to actually celebrate it in early June.) So you may wish her too.

Thank you. :)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Sporting News

Reading the hysterical reports of Dhoni's wedding reminded me of Ma's accounts of Rajesh Khanna's wedding. Girls going nuts, refusing food, feeling suicidal, the works. I have a minor soft spot for the man because he reminds me of an ex in a sexy sort of way but come on. He's not all that cute.

Paul the Octopus has picked Spain for the match tonight but Paul the Octopus was wrong once, in the last cup. I read a lovely account in the papers this morning of him having been accused of 'treachery' for not picking England despite being born in Weymouth. I daresay NRIs across the world will understand the feeling.

I'm sure you are all delighted with Nehwal's triumphs as am I but no harm mentioning it once more. You go, kid. I've been supporting her (moral support, is all) ever since she first started appearing in wee columns buried somewhere at the end of the sports pages. But gosh, she makes me feel good because I do love a good game of badminton.

Blogger is playing havoc with comments. Just sit tight, cross your fingers and hope they come through.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Life after Retirement

Baba retired on June 30, 2010. Ma and I have long dreaded the date and this morning, a bare week after the deed, our fears have been realised.

I was dozing in bed when Vicky came into the room and said, "Your dad's retired."

I: "Huh?"

Vicky: "You can tell. He sent us a mail this morning with a statistical analysis of the boy's height and growth pattern."

I: "And what did he deduce?"

Vicky: "That he's growing at the rate of 1" every 100 days."

And this, gentle readers, will be the pattern for the rest of my miserable life until Baba Roy finds gainful employment again. Looking on the brighter side, the rest of my miserable life should not be very long.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The End of an Era

I have a birthday coming up and it's a special one. 28, you see, was to have been 5 years from the time I completed my formal studies and in that time I was to have sorted out a great many things about my life or at least know where I was headed in certain matters. I was also to have accomplished quite a few entirely personal goals.

Stated like that, it sounds a shade over-ambitious. But I was fairly pragmatic when I made the list. I knew I wanted to be married by 28, hopefully a mum, and I wanted to have achieved a certain amount of independence.


I've learnt to drive and I've learnt to cook. I still do both with some hesitation but I think I can claim to be both a driver and a cook. I am learning the basics of financial management, going beyond the stage of making my salary last the month to also learning to save a little willy-nilly. Since I can be quite parsimonious, a bigger achievement would probably be my learning to spend. I can now happily claim to have learnt to splurge over a thousand on a meal, a pair of shoes, a dress -- something I would never have done before.

I have learnt to be kinder to my body. That was sorely necessary and yes, that pun was entirely intentional. The most unexpected milestone I crossed was suddenly becoming comfortable in my own skin. Admittedly I have much to be comfortable about. I am neither very thin nor very fat. I do have nice hair and my face gets me by. Nor am I unbearably hairy nor prone to much illness. On the other hand, like any self-respecting young girl I have moaned over my shape, my weight, my hair, my complexion, everything ever since I woke up to the fact that I could. Somehow though, somewhere down the line, I grew to quite like the body I live in, weak knees, stretch marks and all. It's heavier now and I no longer fit into my Uni clothes, but the little bulges around the midriff and the thicker arms seem more in keeping with the person I want to be than that skinny-minny I was used to seeing in the mirror.

I learnt to keep my hair long and I really enjoyed the fall and the weight of it. I have wanted long hair since I was a little girl. And then, quite suddenly, I found myself cutting it all off and now the memories feel like a distant, pleasant dream. Short hair feels more natural to me.

I'm learning to turn my aptitude for sewing to some purpose. That is proving to be great fun. I have accepted my lack of creativity and am mostly satisfied with the degrees of ingenuity I occasionally reach. I have many extremely creative friends, so it was not easy accepting that I would never achieve what came to them so effortlessly, but on the other hand, what I find commonplace is not easy for a lot of other people I know, so I really oughtn't complain.

I have held down a full-time, fairly conventional job for an acceptable length of time and I've freelanced, earning myself pocket money. I have learnt to value my financial independence very highly. I don't think I could live to be financially dependent ever again.

I have learned to live with both my father and my mother-in-law, and they (mostly) with me. But I better cross my fingers and touch wood when I say that!

My biggest achievement has been my relationship with Rahul rather than Vicky. Rahul and I have our good days and bad but the bond holds true for all the strain we put on it. I have grown to value it more than I used to. Having motherhood thrust upon me made me take it for granted, but these days, when I count my blessings, I include Pintsize.

I have carped my diems in so many ways that looking back on the last 18 years is mostly as pleasurable as it should be. I have travelled alone and travelled with a young kid. I have run away for secret holidays and honeymooned in Benaras. I got married in the most conventional way to a most appropriate 'boy' without compromising too badly on what I wanted out of marriage. I have learned to discuss marital troubles, rock music, dosa pindi, baby slings and PSUs with equal ease. And I can tie both a dhoti and a saree. In more ways than the one each.

I have been turning over my failures in the last few days. My friends talked sense into me when I felt the full weight of them. And yet, all my regrets fade into nothing next to my biggest one. But then I remind myself that I'm turning 28, not 78. Hopefully I can one day make amends.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Feeding a Bheblu Babu

... requires no less ingenuity than feeding a Bhablet, I find. In between that post and this there were a couple of years when the boy gobbled up everything you put in front of him (more or less) and yelped for more and had things like raw fruits and curds every day. As he grows older and more articulate he has more opinions on what he will and will not have. Peas, for instance. So mealtimes now resemble one of those workshopping sessions all management types will recognise. Where thinking 'out of the box' is mandatory.

Those of you who know and love Calvin and Hobbes will see what's coming. Those of you who don't, will get the picture from this strip.

So one day, when the mother-in-law lovingly brought some pasta over for her ungrateful grandson, I only got him to eat some by promising him that it was in fact 'pasta poka' (pasta insects). Little grubs that had been cooked with vegetables in white sauce. And then the child gobbled them up.

My mother got him to try Chicken a la Kiev at Mocambo this January by telling him that those big, round things were 'ghoNra'r dim' (horse's egg, a nonsense word in Bengali). And, of course, he gobbled his up. She has also fed him sundry other things under the generic name of 'beral'er boo' (I have no idea what that means) -- so he associates good food with 'beral'er boo'.

In Madras two weekends ago Baba took us to lunch at Mainland China, where M Bhabbles refused to touch anything. Until I showed him the little bits of 'cheese' (tofu) that were swimming in my soup and trying to escape from him. I even had to do tiny voices crying out in fear as the Bhabzilla slurped the soup to trap them in the spoon and then gobbled them up. Sometimes, he needed a bit of spinach or some corn to help catch them.

Two nights ago I made three-layer parathas with masur dal cooked with paaNch phoron and onions. He came into the kitchen, asked what I was cooking and instantly announced that he wouldn't have any.

Eventually, he consented to have some 'boltapoka'r dal' (lentils with wasp) -- the white bits that floated in the dal were the wasp wings and bodies, while the paaNch phoron was actually the eyes.

These days, I read Calvin with a bit of a shudder.