Monday, July 01, 2013

Gift #4

Since I missed a week in June, I shall have my last giveaway in this, the first week of July.


So far I created giveaways based on writing, handicraft and food -- three very important parts of my life. This last one is about Calcutta. I love this city, as well you know. It is the city of my birth and it is the city that gave me, an uncertain 18 year-old, wings. Clipped ones perhaps, but wings nevertheless. It is a city that fills me with indescribable hope in my worst moments.

This week's giveaway is a set of sketches by Samir Biswas. Usually his work is sold in sets according to subject, but I put together a collection of sketches of subjects which mean a great deal to me personally, and that's what I'm offering you this week.

To win, you will please tell me in the comments why you love where you live. It's easy and there are no wrong answers and you can send in as many entries as you like.

Contest open till midnight IST, Friday, 5 July 2013. Winner will be chosen by lucky draw, as always. Please don't forget to leave your email id or some other contact information so that I can reach you if you win.

I shall miss these giveaways. Get writing, folks.

UPDATE
Mahithi wins the sketches. Mahithi, I hope you enjoy them. I'll be in touch with you about contact information.

16 comments:

palsworld said...

I live in Bombay (or as it's more commonly called now, Mumbai) and have lived here all my life. I was born here, studied here and have changed three jobs in this city. I love this place because of several reasons. Bombay is a city of dreams; people come from outside Bombay with dreams in their eyes hoping to make it big here.

The city lets me be myself; it lives at such a fast pace that nobody is really bothered about the other person. However, it also lends a helping hand whenever required. As crowded as the local train is, a hand will always be outstretched to accommodate one more person running to catch the train.

The public transport is outstanding; be it the local buses, trains, autos or cabs. It is one of the safest cities in the world; women can and do travel alone at odd times during the night.

As modern as the city appears, I love it for its heritage and history. One trip to the old areas of Fort or Colaba and you are transported back in time.

They say life here is tough but then that is the price one pays for staying in such a fantastic city - a city that accepts all immigrants with open arms into its melting pot; a city where only hard work is discussed & spoken about; a city which celebrates all festivals with equal fervour - be it Holi, Diwali, Ganpati, Eid or Christmas.

Finally, I love the city for its sea - one look at the ocean and your worries fly right out the window.

Suchismita said...

I had written this a while back on my blog, and I am putting it up here again. I do believe that this tells you best why I love living in Goa. Oh, and in case I do win, you can reach me at majumder[dot]suchismita@gmail

You know the rainclouds are wafting in when suddenly you can’t keep the lights on any more. Insects of every shape and size hover over you, and try to choose the most comfortable place on your body to sit on, and take a dive down your glass of wine. You know monsoon is here when you wake up to the shrill call of crickets and the symphony of frogs. And you know monsoon has arrived when you hear the rain patter away endlessly on the corrugated roof of your garage. You look out to see if you had remembered to cover your car, and you see a bunch of school kids happily jumping around in their bright raincoats, and cars trying to navigate around frogs on the road.

At lunch you are served chicken or something vegetarian. There was no fish in the market, you are told. Yes, monsoon has definitely arrived as the government imposes the fishing ban. Trawlers and smaller fishing boats sit idly at the jetty, hoping the spawning season is going well downstream. Traditional fisherman stand on the Mandovi bridge with their makeshift lines, desperately praying for some fish to catch the bait. Goans love their fish, and will manage with the smallest fry even if they are in favour of protecting the spawn for nearly two months every year.

Elsewhere, people are readying themselves for Sao Joao. The more sedate are planning the dance, or Mando, while others are chalking out the route they will take when they jump into wells in revelry after a swig of feni. In Divar, people are busy planning their tableaux for the Bonderam festival coming in August. The promised feast made by the womenfolk and the carnival-like atmosphere around the time keeps them going. The only thing that would pause their planning for a while are the boys playing football on the fields, kicking up muck with every step. Was that a goal? Oh no, it probably just hit the post because they couldn’t see through the dense curtain of rain!

Red flags flutter on the beaches, warning everyone that getting into the choppy sea is a bad idea. The shacks that held parties even a month back now bear a forlon, deserted look. Their owners and waiters have gone back home, or are putting their feet up on the table as they watch the football match too. They will clear the dust settling on their tables in a few months again, when the first tourists trickle in. Till then, it’s sussegado for them.

When it’s time to head back and get out of the wet clothes, you still haven’t had enough of the beautiful monsoon of Goa. Streams and waterfalls emerge out of nowhere, and paddy lends the fields a luxuriant green. Raindrops pirouette on you as you take one final glimpse of the rain and then go back inside for some hot kanda bhajji and chai. You smile to yourself, knowing cool weather and abundant beauty is here to stay for a while.

Anonymous said...

Why do I love where I live? Well, first of all, where do I live?

To answer that I have to think about where I am most alive - and that is without a doubt Delhi.

Call me a liar - because you know I live in Bombay. But I really "live" in Delhi - it brings out the "me" in me.

Tattooed across Delhi are markers of my memory. Like height-marks in pencil on a kitchen wall, these chronicle my passage from childhood to adulthood - be it the grounds of India Gate where I learnt to play badminton or the shaded, shady bus-stops where I spent hours waiting to go places in life.

Most of what I learnt in life and about life I learnt in Delhi. It is where I have learnt to love, to fight, to mourn, to move on, to confess my weaknesses and to celebrate my strengths. Delhi has seen me naked - before I learnt to put on faces to meet the different faces I meet. From a sheltered child to a college-goer on the loose, to a young professional determined to prove herself, to a woman in love - Delhi has seen me at my best and my worst.

It is base camp for the heights I've climbed, and anchor for the depths I've plumbed - always elastic in letting me go, always firmly pulling me back into a cocoon of familiarity and unconditional love. Growing up relatively nomadic, Delhi was always the home I came back to. And even now, 7 years after I left the city, I have never been away longer than 6 months. I cannot imagine it any other way.

And even today, 7 years after leaving Delhi, I still say "I'm coming to Delhi" rather than that "I'm going to Delhi." Doesn't that tell you all you need to know?

Thinking Cramps said...

Why do I love where I live? Well, first of all, where do I live?

To answer that I have to think about where I am most alive - and that is without a doubt Delhi.

Call me a liar - because you know I live in Bombay. But I really "live" in Delhi - it brings out the "me" in me.

Tattooed across Delhi are markers of my memory. Like height-marks in pencil on a kitchen wall, these chronicle my passage from childhood to adulthood - be it the grounds of India Gate where I learnt to play badminton or the shaded, shady bus-stops where I spent hours waiting to go places in life.

Most of what I learnt in life and about life I learnt in Delhi. It is where I have learnt to love, to fight, to mourn, to move on, to confess my weaknesses and to celebrate my strengths. Delhi has seen me naked - before I learnt to put on faces to meet the different faces I meet. From a sheltered child to a college-goer on the loose, to a young professional determined to prove herself, to a woman in love - Delhi has seen me at my best and my worst.

It is base camp for the heights I've climbed, and anchor for the depths I've plumbed - always elastic in letting me go, always firmly pulling me back into a cocoon of familiarity and unconditional love. Growing up relatively nomadic, Delhi was always the home I came back to. And even now, 7 years after I left the city, I have never been away longer than 6 months. I cannot imagine it any other way.

And even today, 7 years after leaving Delhi, I still say "I'm coming to Delhi" rather than that "I'm going to Delhi." Doesn't that tell you all you need to know?

Mama - Mia said...

Can I write about Bombay, where I don't live anymore? But it still lives on in me! :-)

Mama - Mia said...

Can I write about Bombay, where I don't live anymore? But it still lives on in me! :-)

Cee Kay said...

I live in Norwalk, CT. And over the (almost) 14 years that I have lived here, I have come to think of this place as my home.

This was the first place where I found my freedom, where I have really been able to live judgment-free. This is where my daughters have grown up. I love the people who live here - they love and welcome diversity. During my early years here, when I was very conscious of how different I looked and sounded, people would approach me and start conversations openly oblivious (or appreciative) of the fact that I was different.

This is where motorists stop for pedestrians, people still open doors for each other. I could leave my door unlocked and come back at night to find every thing still in place. There have been numerous occasions when I have left the garage door open by mistake when leaving for work in the morning and came home at night to find everything untouched. This is where the director of the city bus company calls me back because I complain about one bus driver from his company speeding on the road where I live. I am heard here. This is where my 14 year old daughter can go out for a run on her own as it is getting dark. In my 14 years here, I have had negative experiences that I can count on the fingers of one hand. I feel at peace here.

Did I mention that I LOVE this place?

Mahithi said...

Hi Sunayana, I've been a Sunny Days reader for a few years now, so I guess it's only appropriate I'm delurking to celebrate the blog's tenth birthday. :) Following is my entry for your giveaway (I'd written it when I started my blog), and in the off-chance that I win, you can reach me at backtoblack13(at)gmail(dot)com. All the best to you and Sunny Days!

---

I’m home.

Of all the blogs I have read, the ones dearest to my heart have all been about the blogger’s memories. There is something magical in the realization that, for a moment, you had stepped into a world that held the blogger’s best and perhaps worst memories. Over the years, I have thought of blogs as repositories of memory; the sort of place thoughts came home to. A space where one could set loose all their fears and at the same time where one tucked away the most memorable moments of their life.

Whenever I close my eyes, and try to think whether there is any such place I know of, all I see is a quiet little house in a sleepy little town. Pearl white walls, sky blue gates, the creepers snaking up its front, the hibiscus stretching over the walls. I see the bougainvillea arching over the gate, the Ashoka trees swaying in the wind. And when I see the verandah, I can see myself there, spinning round and round in pleasure, dancing in the rain, chasing after tiny hailstones. And then the feeling sweeps over me. I’m home. All my memories, all the pleasure, all the pain, the tears, the laughter, all the dancing in the rain. They are all safe somewhere, in that house that will always be home. Tucked neatly into the folds of Udaipur. That’s where my memories come to rest, and that’s the place my thoughts come home to. 1 kha 1. The place you could come calling for me for the first decade of my life. As the second decade wanes, I have moved on, 1 kha 1 has moved on, my sleepy little town has moved on without me. But 1 kha 1 will always be home.

And so, even as I nervously write this post here, at my blog, I know for sure that somewhere in these posts, these lines, these words, a bit of that home will shine through. Somewhere, you might be able to glimpse that small town girl. And if you chance upon something here that strikes a chord, or just something that makes a difference to you, do let me know. You’ll always find me home, at 1 kha 1.

dipali said...

Home is wherever we live- the place with my music and paintings and books, my bits and pieces of pottery, my beautiful durries, the things the colour my world..... all the artefacts of my life which make the space I'm in my home.
Cities across the country have been home at various times. Right now I'm a very happy Kolkata resident, though of course Delhi has a special place in my heart, as the city in which I grew up.

Mahithi said...

Since you said more than one entry would do just fine, here's something I wrote about my favourite part of living in Bombay. Email id is backtoblack13(at)gmail(dot)com as before.

---

Tonight, it rained.

Not the moody, absent-minded showers of the last few months. Not the indifferent drizzles the skies have been sending down for a while. Not the blustery downpours that tear the leaves off the trees and crash helplessly against glass panes.

No. Tonight, it rained.

Tonight it rained the way it should. It was the rain of separation. Of a journey to distant lands. Of insincere promises of an early homecoming. Theatre of the absurd, all sound and fury, crashing, crashing, crashing with impotent rage.

You let the rain pummel your flesh, stand just a little bit straighter and turn to see the iridescent sky shatter with every furious flash of light. Around you, sandstone centenarians stand unmoved. They’ve seen this before – this thirst and its quenching, this elaborate farewell, this last, tempestuous goodbye before the nomadic monsoon leaves the city for good in search of new ports, new coasts, new homes. And though its loose tiles and panes tremble in the dark, the cold stone knows this passion is evanescent. For all its bluster, the monsoon will move on, dissipate over the mainland and erase its existence from public memory till it wakes up a year on, refreshed, revived, renewed.

But it rained tonight.

I’ve been in Bombay long enough for rain theatre to be a fact of life, just like the overwhelming dead-fish air of the city or the distinctive slum topography of its suburbs. It is as much a part of Bombay as are blue tarpaulin sheets, mezzanine floors and 1bedroom-hall-kitchens. And yet, while others greet the arrival of the rains with a litany of recycled complaints and the quiet fatalism that acknowledges the need for an extra pair of clothes at work, I struggle to contain my excitement at the prospect of gazing at swollen, grey clouds again. No amount of downpours can slake a marusthalwasi’s (desert-dweller’s) thirst for the rain. And though Udaipur is certainly not in the heart of the desert, it was always arid, barren, coarse enough for us to crave a little hint of grey in the sky.

Thirteen years since I made this city home, my heart still aches for the rains each year. It swells with joy at their arrival, and dutifully mourns their departure. Even the surly, indifferent showers this year could do little to discourage me. Because, though the wait was long and uncertain, it rained.

Because tonight, it rained.

Mahithi said...

And here's my last entry. That's three now, about my life in both Udaipur and Bombay. Hope I luck out, Mr. Biswas's work looks fabulous. Again, best wishes to you for the future. Email id is backtoblack13(at)gmail(dot)com.

---

Winter reminds me of home.

It reminds me of foggy breath, of the touch of cold metal at the main gate, of immersion rods leaning against colourful buckets, of steam floating free.

It reminds me of late school mornings, of hiding under layers of quilts, of pulling the covers just a little tighter around myself when mum came calling.

It reminds me of the cloth drill that followed baths on winter days: undershirt-sweater-shirt-sweater-skirt-pyjamas-blazer-gloves-scarf and muffler for good measure. Our Udaipur routine makes the one-jacket winters in Bombay seem almost amateur.

It reminds me of students huddling in open rickshaws, of vehicles trundling across the sole level crossing in the city, never quite sure if a goods train would suddenly come ripping through the mist. It reminds me of short, sun-lit days, when the teachers would be in a good enough mood to excuse flagrant day-dreaming of all kinds.

It reminds me of Christmas, and Christmas reminds me of Amul. It reminds me of our not-so-secret Santa, the lovable senior teacher who would don every year the baggy red sack and bushy white wig that are the mainstay of Santa costumes around the world. It reminds me of the day before winter break, when our ‘Santa’ would distribute Amul chocolates in their distinct green, orange, red and gold packaging to the entire school. It reminds me of little kids marching up to the stage in neat little rows, planting sloppy kisses on the headmistress’s cheeks and blurting ‘MewwyChismassSisterGracy’ before escaping with the aforementioned chocolates.

Back then Christmas, or for that matter any of the ten thousand beautiful festivals that pepper the Indian calendar, meant dressing up in our going-out clothes, fighting for our chosen seats in the car and looking out of the rear window counting tongas or autos or cows till we reached the warm, cozy homes of family and friends. Us kids would say our ‘MerryChristmases’ and ‘Thankyous’ and then go look for Baby Jesus in the painstakingly-made nativity scenes, lined with fairy lights and filled with the same warmth that was present in the homes.

Winter reminds me of New Year’s Eve parties, where the kids would be let loose in some corner of someone’s vast garden or home, all of them alternately taking off and putting back on the layers of woollens their mammas forced them into. The mammas would be in one corner, chatting and laughing, while the daddies would warm themselves with drinks around a slow fire. The New Year would be brought in with togetherness and a lot of love. And the occasional drunken, funny rendition of ‘We wish you a Merry Christmas…and a happy new year.’

Winter reminds me of warmth streaming down the skylight, a diffused energy that no bulb or tube since has been able to match. It reminds me of the water tank on the terrace, and I perched on top of it, huddled inside a warm quilt, gazing at the edge of the Aravallis in the distance. Back then, as it does now, winter reminded me of the future and the past in the same breath, a time when one could look back on the best that the year had to offer while stringing together new hopes, dreams and prayers for the year to come.

This winter, the only place I want to be is home.

mim said...

some beautiful writing up there sue... the writing can be compiled into a book with lovely pix, me thinks.

i do feel like looking at the cities from the perspective of the writers -- for the cosy lived-in feel, rather than the outsider visitor feel...


my favourite city is my beloved kuala lumpur -- where my blog gets its name.

--
this is a post i wrote on my own blog when i lived in malaysia... i am ctrl - c ing it here...


--
today I am grateful for having learned to live in silence,

I was once wary of the quiet… i thought i needed the background buzz of a radio, the traffic, a mother in law…

even with two boys, my home here is an oasis of calm (provided the spouse is travelling — he still needs the buzz of TV, traffic or a mother in law)

today, firstborn is working out what eight times seven is and baby param is having a two-car race on the sofa, and only the whirr of the fan fills the air.

and i feel blessed that the silences have slowly acquired beauty…for me.

I miss it when i am in india,

I miss the still morn when i can hear the first of the birds waking up. i wake happy in the knowledge that my thoughts aren’t loud enough to drown out the chirping.

I miss the dreamy blue afternoons: when baby param is napping and firstborn is not back from school, and the home is a peaceful hush.

and the silent nights, after firstborn has slept and so has his brother, I sit on the floor and face the moonlight and see if the stars will come out and watch maybe a plane go by.

I want to remember that I have embraced these silences, very happily. not interrupted by a cellphone,sms, or a book or a friend or the www.

That the peaceful stillness was a part of my life as much as my children and husband. And it is a part of Malaysian culture… that i have absorbed neatly.

The attitude to NOT take yourself too seriously, the big laughs, the unique concept of the “never mind lah” , the idea that a crowd can be 100 per cent no-fidget in a minute of prayer, that there is such a thing as patient waiting…

I was very impressed about a tribe from Kelantan here in Malaysia: they never argue… If they are embarrassed by a questioner, they avoid conflict by quietly leaving. Their code of behaviour is strict: ‘Never talk to your mother-in-law; never shoot poison darts at humans; and don’t laugh at butterflies’.

I am afraid the silences won’t seek me out in my new life in chennai. the impatient world is already pounding at the frontdoor of our new chennai home, and we haven’t even moved in.

But I want to remember that for four years, I never laughed at a butterfly

OrangeJammies said...

Sue, this is such a great idea! So many beautiful home stories, and your gift of sketches is so thoughtful.
If I could write about my city, I would, but I'm using a borrowed laptop and it wouldn't do to flood the keys.
Hugs, and a happy 10th again!

Sue said...

Thank you for the entries, everybody. I shall post the names of the winners tonight. I hope they've left email ids!

Mahithi said...

Oh yaay! :) Thank you Sunayana and Rahul for this lovely giveaway. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Sue said...

Mahithi -- Your pictures are on their way to you. I hope you enjoy them.