Thursday, December 23, 2010


Dear A,

I may curse you for sleeping peacefully (and snoring even) by my side, when I am awake all night biting my nails in anxiety...
But here’s a confession.
I love you for being Mr. What’s-there-to-Worry.

I may tell you how I hate you for spending hours trying to fix a broken pump or a rusty lock.
But here’s a confession.
I love you for being Mr. What’s-there-to-Give-Up.

I may scream at you for tearing my hair...and messing it with your sweaty hands...
But here’s a confession...
When you clumsily hold my hair straightener... narrowing your eyes and wrinkling your forehead... trying to focus on the back of my help me straighten the strands of hair that I find hard to look the cutest.

I may tell you that I’d rather watch a movie with you...or go for a drive...than spending time in the kitchen...
But here’s a confession...
When you cut and chop and grate and stir and mix and blend and grind and me, you are no less than a magician creating magic with his fingers.

I may nag you every morning for taking so much time to take a bath...
But here’s a confession...
I love listening to the happy tune you whistle when you are in the shower.

I may tell you that sometimes you are such a child...
But here’s a confession...
You taught me all that is to be learned...for you taught me how to love.

Happy Wedding Anniversary.


P.S. Loved the anniversary gift you got me...a Sheesha to sit perfect in my Bali corner.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas in a Bottle

Imagine a scene from a Hindi movie, where the protagonist is about to find out that he has lymphosarcoma of the intestine. The sombre hospital bed....white linen... and a tired looking patient with dramatic dark circles around his eyes. The doctor removes his glasses, pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs, before pronouncing the words that would trigger temple bells to ring for the next five minutes. And then the various levels of zoom in and out on the patient’s face, temple bells, doctor’s face, temple bells, patient’s mother’s face, temple bells and patient’s face again.

It was something similar. Though in my case, it was my school hall instead of a hospital...and my Arts and Crafts teacher instead of a doctor. But it was with the same drama (same removal of glasses, pinching the nose bridge and sighing) that she broke the news to my mother at a Parent-Teacher Meet at school. “I am afraid Mrs Sengupta...your daughter will never be able to make an embroidery or even as much as sow a button. I have never seen someone as clumsy and untidy as her. Keep her away from glue, scissors or anything related to art and craft. She is just not meant for it”.

That’s how bad I was (err...still am). I cannot even wrap a gift neatly or cut a piece of sticky tape without making a mess.

But with all the wonderful DIY projects in the blogosphere, can’t I get tempted? Have I lost the right to pick up a pair of scissors just because my Arts and Crafts teacher had passed such a verdict years ago? Absolutely NOT.

So this is what I did this weekend. I picked up empty beer bottles, which looked like this:

And glued some Christmas-coloured (red, green) ribbon at their mouths to make them look like this (please ignore the wrinkle in the ribbon...that’s just the lymphosarcoma of my clumsy fingers):

And placed a flower and butterfly in the bottle, like this:

Aren’t my butterflies cute?

Linking to Patty's Weekend Wrap Up Week 11.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's that day again...

When a day is special for a particular reason, we celebrate it in a particular way.
For birthdays, we cut cakes and blow candles.
For wedding anniversaries, we renew our vows with a romantic candle light dinner.
For Valentine’s Day, we proclaim our love to dear ones.
For Durga Puja, we eat, pray and dress up.
For Diwali, we make sweets and light firecrackers and diyas.
For Christmas, we have a turkey roast on the dining table and gifts under the tree.

But when a day is memorable for not one, but several reasons, pray, what does one do?

It’s that day again.

The day when the sun rose, the birds chirped...but it was night all day long.
The day when we regretted every harsh word we said to one another...and rejoiced at every loved moment we shared.
The day when we recognised our true friends...and realised there were quite a few.
The day when the house was full...but we had never been so lonely.
The day when even the wisest amongst us didn’t have answers.
The day when we lost our faith...but found it at unexpected places.

The day when I woke up as a child...but never went to bed again as one.
The day when Ma lost her best friend...and I lost my Baba.

Baba, remembering you every other day. I haven’t got you flowers...but got another bamboo plant (like I did last year). I will watch it grow...and remember how you smiled.

14.12.2010 - 9 years since you left...

P.S. I tried to write a positive post as last year's...but it didn't happen.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


It's been three years now that a lolly tray has been an integral part of my Christmas decor.

My definition of "festivities" is "fun", "nostalgia", "good company" and of course
"indulgence". A lolly tray is one of the very few things that ticks all the boxes (can you think of any better company?)

So here's what I did this year:

You are supposed to ring the bell (notice the little thing hanging on the black handle?) each time you take a treat. That spreads the cheer
and is a signal for me to refill the tray. The bell, by the way, is my anklet...terribly re-purposed :)

Linking to Patty's Weekend Wrap Up Party!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Philosophy of Friendship

Sounds like a crude metaphor, but friendship is like an investment. If you can invest your time, emotions, efforts and thoughts, you will reap a lifetime of support, companionship and fun.

For those who don’t know me, let me tell you, that I have been a GIANT of an investor in this sector. Friends have often meant more to me than family.
Millions of people have zillions of theories on friendships. In the years and years I have inhabited the Earth (yes, I have started using anti-wrinkle creams and hair colouring will soon be a need, not a want), I have seen my own philosophy of friendship changing quite drastically. It started off as pretty simple. A friend is someone I can have a good time with.
I met people who can keep me entertained through a tsunami of troubles. They are gems in their own right...and it is such a delight just to be with them. Funnily enough, I can laugh with them but can never trust them with my innermost thoughts/beliefs. Whether it is the comfort level, the fear of being judged /misunderstood, or the sheer lack of “attachment” in the relationship....I do not know.
Obviously, I realised that there was something missing...and it was time to modify my philosophy to: A friend is someone I can have a good time with...and someone I can open my heart to.

I have people who I can be completely honest with. No problems opening my heart (and untying a few of my arteries even) in front of them. But I wouldn’t really call them my friends. Some are aunts or cousins or family members who have assumed the roles of mentors or well-wishers. Many would argue that these people are “friends”...just like a “mother” or a “sister” can be a person’s best friend. But my definition of a friend also pre-supposes the fact that I “chose” the person to be my friend, from a thousand other options. Family is not a matter of choice really....
So I added another frill: A friend is someone I can have a good time with... someone I can open my heart to...and someone I chose among the rest.

Every person, I believe, has a pattern in their friendships. Call it my unfulfilled desires to be a philosopher or a French filmmaker, but I do believe that every person goes through a friendship lifecycle/pattern, which is typical of that person. We may not be aware of the pattern...but if we give it a thought, it isn’t hard to identify.
Mine is something like this:
Meet a person> Like or dislike immediately> If dislike, keep a mental distance/a degree of detachment from the very start>If like, invest all I have got...and open my heart (and arteries) to them, almost on the way back home from the first meeting. And THAT is the root of all troubles. Because, with time, I realise that the person is far from what my initial instincts were. More often than not, the Red Riding Hood turns out to be the Wolf himself...and I wallow in self-pity and self-criticism at being so naive.

After some bitter experiences, I decided to polish my theory yet again. A true friend is someone I can have a good time with... someone I can open my heart to...someone I chose among the rest...and someone who stands the test of time.

I thought this was a pretty robust theory that I could carry to my retirement home. But no. After a few years away from family and childhood friends, living amidst peer pressure, jealousy, competition and general nastiness, a funny thought descended. A friend is someone who you can share your joy with, almost to the point of being shameless. Need an example? OK, you buy a shiny new car...or get a promotion, you should be able to run to the friend and “show off” almost in a child-like way. No maliciousness in that “showing off”, mind you. Just the sheer joy and excitement that bubbles up from your stomach and lands straight on to a friend’s hug. If you have to hold back, or think about the consequences or rehearse your actions/words when sharing good news, you are not really dealing with a friend. At the cost of sounding strange, let me make a confession. I have no inhibition sharing my sorrows/troubles with people. Most people will be secretly happy at other people’s sorrow...which is why I don’t mind spreading some joy by sharing my grief. But when it comes to joy, I am cautious (quite opposite to the norm I think).Because I believe that only a true friend can be genuinely happy for your happiness.

So, here I am, with what looks like an epic of a statement:
A true friend is someone I can have a good time with... someone I can open my heart to... someone I chose among the rest...someone who stands the test of time...and someone I can share my joys with.

P.S. If I revise this yet again, will keep you in the loop. Or maybe not. Where’s the fun in living life by the book, even if the book was your own writing? So girls and boys, go give your friends a hug...or call them to say how much you miss them...or invite them over for a cuppa and some gossip...or send them a handmade card...or visit them with a flower from your garden....or pack your bags and get away for the weekend...or simply go through your photo album and remember them fondly. Whatever you do, don’t forget to tell me about it (or tell me if you have some philosophy yourself). I’ll come back with my cuppa to read every word you write...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Blessed or Deprived?

A sparking stainless steel tea kettle now stands on my gas top. I find myself aimlessly walking into the kitchen numerous times during the day, just to take a peek at it. Kitchen was never the favourite part of the house for me. But seems like that’s going to long as the kettle looks shiny and new. It’s the highlight of the last weekend shopping, when I bought loads of feel-good stuff ranging from incense sticks to tea lights. The kettle, however, is not just a feel-good item. It’s a saviour for me, really. No more making a mess when I pour tea into cups from a saucepan. Tea in a saucepan!! I hear you exclaim. Yes, I had an electric kettle that boiled water for practically all my kitchen needs ...from instant noodles to tea-bag tea. But occasionally, on Saturday evenings, when there was no plans to step out of the house, I’d make that much-loved masala-malai tea... and the two of us would huddle under a blanket, lie together on a sofa and watch a movie. That’s when I used a saucepan to simmer my tea leaves and let the milk boil and froth for ages, to create that thick malai layer on top. And that’s when I poured the tea all over the bench top and spent hours cleaning it afterwards.

But the kettle is going to change all that. I can now have a taste of India, without all the mess of an Indian kitchen. And it whistles too, when the water reaches boil! What more can I want? OK, I do understand I am over-doing the excitement...but that’s because I did feel a child-like excitement at a new toy.

I dragged A from the study to show him how cutely it whistled...a low, meek, whistle that seemed to say “yes-the-water-is-boiling-but-there-is-nothing-to-panic”. He looked at it for a second and with the nonchalant face of a sleepy sea-lion, he said “Don’t tell me you have never used a whistling kettle before? My mother probably got one as her wedding gift and has been using it ever since.”

Now, I am not the kind of person who turns into a live wire at the slightest comparison with the mother-in-law. I get along pretty well with her, touchwood. But his statement made me wonder...

My mum never had a whistling kettle in her kitchen, so I hadn’t grown up seeing one. True, it was not the first time I had seen one...but it was the first time I owned one. And hence all the excitement. For A, it was like looking at a telephone. Something we had all seen, used, over-used... and taken for granted. As life goes on, we will grow older...acquire more things, see new places, be able to afford much more than what our parents could back in their times (partly because they were in India and partly because technology hadn’t advanced that much anyway). Does that mean we will forget what it is to be excited? The real, pure, innocent, unadulterated, child-like excitement! The kind of excitement that needs an exclamation mark at the end of it, just for emphasis!

Will our children ever say “Wow, I love my new pencil box!” Or will they just say “thank you” and head back to their rooms nonchalantly with their booty? Will they ever spend sleepless nights, waiting anxiously to go to school the next day to show off their new pencil box? Will they ever nag us to let them sleep in the garage on their shiny new bicycles? Or keep the new CD player beside their pillows? Or wipe their new school boots with the edge of their school uniforms on the way to school?

Is excitement a fast-fading, soon-to-become-extinct emotion? Is “taking-for-granted” the new epidemic that will change “living” as we knew it? Are we “blessed” to have everything we ever want? Or “deprived” because we can’t feel the purest of feelings anymore?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Of Cats and Real Estate...

Disclaimer: Cat lovers may find this piece un-cool.

I am not a cat-lover. That doesn’t mean I throw stones at cats that I spot on the road....or intend to hurt them in any way. It simply means, I don’t LOVE them. In fact, if they were on facebook, I don’t think I would have clicked the “Like” button either.

Those who know me well would say that I am terrified of cats. I wouldn’t contradict that. It’s no big deal, you know. I recently discovered that there are so many like me that they actually coined a name for it i.e. ailurophobia.

Ailurophobia specialists would understand (if they exist) that I am not sure why I am scared of cats and since when I developed this fear. I have ALWAYS been scared of them, let’s put it that way. So much so...that with my first salary, I actually hired people who covered the windows of our house in Kolkata with a net like material, to prevent the intruders to creepily walk into our ground-floor flat and give me a heart attack. Which was the main reason why I always wanted to stay in an apartment, preferably on the 15th floor (because cats wouldn’t really know how to use an elevator...and it’s possible that they take the stairs up to the 10th floor. But it would take a super cat to climb more than 10 floors).

But alas, we bought a cottage style house. And bought it from a person who had a pet cat. And this person sold the house to us and started renting the house next door, because he is building a palace elsewhere and would rent till that palace is completed. So the cat owner is now our left-hand neighbour. And the house on the right-hand also has cats. And we have a cat magnet in our backyard...a fish pond!

Now, let me make things clear. I love my house. But I doubt if I would have bought it if I knew I was entering a catty neighbourhood. Now, how would you make a cat understand mortgages and real estate and ownership? The previous owner, who is now our neighbour, probably didn’t even try. So his cat still thinks that our house still belongs to him. I spot him on the kitchen window sill, wagging its grey tail and demanding a hug. Sometimes it sits on the fence, grinning at me. Watching my koi fish seems to be its favourite pastime. Oh, and did I tell you that it chases butterflies in my lawn? How picturesque, I hear you say. How tummy-rumblingly scary, I would say.

Sometimes I feel like photocopying the “Land Title” and “House Ownership” documents, highlighting our names on it, magnifying the Council’s rubber stamp...and keeping it on the fence for the cat to read. But I spent two days teaching the letter A to my 2 yr old niece. I would have to spend a lifetime with the cat to make it read the legalese. And if cats really have nine lives, I may have to spend nine lives with it (because this cat doesn’t look exceptionally bright to me).

As if this wasn’t scary enough, this cat seems to be quite the chocolate-faced heartthrob (it’s brown, in case you wanted to know). For I have often seen it loitering around aimlessly with the other cats of the neighbourhood (yes, there are many more). I concluded it was a male when I saw it chasing two other cats down a lonely alley (what’s eve-teasing called in the cat world?).

I think its owners have been pretty liberal with its upbringing and apparently told him that it was OK to get his dates home. And because he thinks our home is HIS home, one night I saw it hosting a pool party in my backyard, with what looked like, a million other cats. Needless to say, I did not sleep that night out of fear...and I mean the hand-shivering, teeth-clattering, nail-turning-blue kind of fear.

Today, however, would go up in my biography (everyone has their biographies written these days...and I haven’t totally given up on the idea of becoming famous), as a black-letter day. I saw the cat squatting on the lawn and staring at me sternly. From behind closed doors, I said “shoo-shoo” (just before I passed out). And instead of “shooing away”, it shat in my lawn and then also puked a slimy green substance. And at this point, I must have passed out.

Now, I am serious when I say that I feel exploited wronged, betrayed and horrified. I can’t walk into my own backyard without sending someone to inspect the premises before I step out. Can I sue cats? Or sue my neighbour for not keeping his cat under control? Can I be that person who brings about revolution in the legal scene and has new acts created because of them and named after them? Is there a chance that a Scribbler’s Act will be created some day, making it mandatory for cat owners to tie their cats up or restrict them in their house, unless they want to be fined heavily for breach of privacy, disruption of peace, destruction of mental sanity and loss of sleep? Tell me, you legal minds out there any merit in my case?

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Diwali Decor for 2010

Diwali is about light and love and laughter. And am so happy that we were blessed with all of it, this year.

Over the years, we will grow as a new people...create new bonds...paint new dreams...and most importantly, grow as individuals. But this Diwali will always be special... because it was the first one we celebrated at our own "home".

So it was all about my home this year.

I started with the window sill...

And then I thought that the blue vase might feel lonely. So I brought in the green vase (actually a beer bottle). And because I did not have flowers to showcase, I picked some weeds/grass flowers from my unkempt backyard (the joys of being a lazy gardener)...

I brought the new cushion covers out...the ones picked from the Bali handicrafts market.

What a riot of colours they are:

And then waited patiently for the sun to set, when I could light my candles.

Some floating candles on a glass bowl that reflects the light from all sides...

And how could I forget the outdoors?

My puja place and a happy Ganesha...

The yellow handcarved showpiece is a gift from a friend after his trip to Rajasthan.

And the corner that everyone loved...

My favorite light feature. Bali again :)

Oh! And did I tell you I made my first Rangoli this year?

This is not the Sydney Opera House, by the way. Was meant to be a lotus. Be nice...don't laugh.

Do you like my little plants?

And though he looks scary, he is a gentle me. All set to welcome you at the door.

The relaxing of the favorite housewarming gifts we got...

And since when was home decor complete without lights from Ikea?

This lantern can just create magic with its colours....

And finally...the Bali inspired corner that we absolutely love! Where drinks and sheesha will be in abundance....and the whiff of ghazals never quite die.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

All things Bali and Beautiful...

Bali is paradise for sure. But what I am not so sure about is what kind of paradise it really is:

A shopper's?
A surfer's?
A foodie's?
A beer-lover's?
A silver-craver's?
A home decor maniac's?
A massage-o-holic's?
I don't have the answer yet. But maybe I will...after a few visits (for surely one is not enough).

But I know what it did to me. It turned me to a bundle of senses.
The five senses that human beings have, I mean. For the grilled lobster tickled my taste buds like nothing else did...the fragrances from the massage oils look me to another land....the massages themselves were a tactile treasure...the art and craft (stone carving, wood work, silver engravings) were a treat to the eyes...the sound of the waves breaking on the rocks seemed straight out of meditation music....

Sometimes, you want to express so much....that words fall short. So I leave you with some pictures...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Puja 2010

It’s that time of the year again when you curse the day you left home. “Was it really worth it?” Leaving friends and family behind....for bigger homes, better roads and a so called “work-life balance”. Where is the “life” without friends and family? Where is the life when you eat oats for breakfast and yearn for the luchi-aloo dum that’s being served in the puja mandap back home? Where is the life when you take the same route to work on Ashtami morning, remembering how you pandal-hopped in new shoes that gave you shoe-bites the size of craters?

All you can do is call up friends, who will be kind enough not to ask “So, what plans for puja?" The kinder ones will not talk at all...will just let you inhale the sound of dhaak and kasha in the background and imagine the whiff of the sandhya arati...that fascinating mix of flowers and dhoop and ghee and prayers.

Or perhaps you can download a dhaak beat as a ringtone. Each time the phone rings, your heart misses a beat. But it’s always the mower or the doctor’s receptionist or a credit card seller. It’s never the people you want to be with....because everyone back home is too busy with festivities. You can call your mother at the usual time...Saturday morning. But the phone rings away. She must be at the puja mandap, cutting fruits with the other kakimas and talking about her favourite article on the Puja Barshiki of Desh. And suddenly, you can see Baba....closely inspecting the caterers at work and instructing that the beguni better be crisp and warm when the afternoon bhog is served.

Confused, disoriented and totally out of place, you take resort in Facebook. Status messages range from “Bolo bolo Durga Ma” to “Ya devi sarva bhooteshu”. You smile at the para youngsters chatting about their dance and natak rehearsals. Weren’t you one of them not so long back? Weren’t you awake all night before your performance, practising your lines in your mind and thinking of the make-up man and the costume-designer, who could turn you into Sita, or a tree or a soldier or a princess or a monkey with their magic wand? Weren’t you in the best of behaviour a month before puja, just so that Ma would let you wear her favourite saree for a dance drama?

Nostalgia makes you sick to the core. But the launch of the new website means that you need to be at work. Vivid before your eyes is the scene of the kakimas in red-bordered white sarees, betel-leaf in hand, smearing Ma Durga with vermilion. But all you can do is munch that cheese-and-lettuce sandwich and talk about the Commonwealth Games with your colleagues at lunch. And when voices saying “Asche bochor abar hobey” float into your ears from distant lands across the seas, you cannot hold back the tears anymore. Blaming it on hay fever, you excuse yourself from the lunch gathering. Because it's almost impossible to express how it feels to miss home during durga puja. You tried to explain to some... “It’s like our 5-day long Christmas”. But you knew that wasn't even close.

And so you go for a walk by the river, close to your office building. Where there are some flowers that will pass as kash phool...and some waves that remind you of the Ganges on the night of bishorjon.

Monday, October 4, 2010

This or That

As my social life has blossomed and bloomed lately, I am spending more time pruning, watering, fertilising my priceless social-networking theories.

WarningPlease do not try these at home. There is a high risk of alienating people you like and attracting those you can’t stand. Practice under close supervision of self-proclaimed experts is recommended (and my diary looks pretty full at the, don’t practise at all).

OK, so here’s my first theory called This or That (my take on “there are two kinds of people in this world”). Basically, this involves categorising people as per a list I have created. It assumes that every person can be either this or that.

Click image to enlarge.

Am sure there are more kinds...I’ll just have to keep updating the list from time to time. If you are 1, 3, 11, 37, 39 or 41....good for you. If you are 5 or 8, you don’t know what you are missing. If you are 14 or 20, shame shame. If you are 25, stay away from me. If you are 34, are you retarded? (and that includes me).

If you think you are 2, 7, 12, 17, 21, 28, 29, 36 and 38... STOP COPYING ME!

But don’t forget to tell me whether you are this or that...and whether you can think of anything else to be added to the list.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Pursuit of the Idiosyncratic

So here’s the deal. Idiosyncrasies make a person interesting, or so I’m told. Agreed.

I can’t deny that I love watching my colleague kissing his fountain pen (no puns) every time he starts writing...and refusing to sign anything, even group birthday cards for other colleagues, if he can’t find a fountain pen. The logic being, ball point pens are not pens at all. Fair enough.

But apart from him, I can’t pin down anybody else who has an idiosyncrasy of some sort. And the fountain pen syndrome is far from being a true blue idiosyncrasy.
What about a person who doesn’t shave because he believes that hair is an extension of God’s love? Or the lady who married her dog, adopted his name as her middle name, took him on a honeymoon to Switzerland and left everything to him in her will? Now, these characters may well be fictitious but aren’t movies infested with idiosyncratic people? What about Dr. Evil’s account of his father in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery?

He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes, he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament

Or for that matter, the pinky-sucking Dr Evil himself, whose account of his own childhood is:

My childhood was typical: summers in Rangoon ... luge lessons ... In the spring, we'd make meat helmets ... When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds — pretty standard, really. At the age of 12, I received my first scribe. At the age of 14, a Zoroastrian named Vilmer ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum — it's breathtaking ... I suggest you try it.

Or closer home, Dr. S. Asthana, played by the brilliant Boman Irani in Munna Bhai MBBS, who laughs when he is really angry and insists on calling himself Dr. S. Dot. Asthana.

Or even more close to home, Gobeshok Gobochondro Gyanotirtho Gyanorotno Gyanambudhi Gyanochuramoni, played by Santosh Dutta in Hirak Rajar Deshey, whose name, gait, profession, appearance and very existence define “idiosyncratic”.

Where are the Dr Evils and S.Dot. Asthanas and Gobeshoks of the real world?

Not sure about you, but I am so typical that I often fear that I may bore myself to death. I was better off when I was small. As a baby, I liked twisting one end of my mother's saree to make a pointed tip, and rolling it on my face. That’s how I went to sleep every day. I did not need my mother to sit beside me and sing me lullabies or read me stories, as most other children did. I just needed that ONE particular saree. This continued to an age when it was no longer cute or funny. One day, my mother hid the saree and told me that she had thrown it away. My child psyche couldn’t handle the shock and I developed a peculiar reaction. I started fluttering my eyelids constantly...all day...for many days. Concerned, my teachers in school reported it to my parents, who took me to a doctor. On careful investigation it was found that it linked back to the shock of being forcibly detached from that saree. Helpless, my mother returned it to me and the fluttering stopped magically. Eventually I outgrew that habit, thank god.

As an adolescent, I insisted that my two ponytails aligned perfectly and were of equal shape, size, height etc. So much so, that I had a ruler beside the mirror and when Ma was done with my hair, I would measure the alignment. At the cost of missing my school bus, I made her open and re-tie my hair in that perfect straight line that I wanted.

I was such a fine idiosyncratic baby and adolescent; so what suddenly happened when I reached adulthood? True, I like my toast burnt and my nails clipped so short that you would think I have some sort of a disease. But nothing close to a peculiarity that “only the genius possess”.

That makes me sad. Real sad, believe you me.
So KG, Manikarn, Debanjana, Madmax tell me about your idiosyncrasies (or the lack of it). Surely you are doing better than me in that field.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dil to Bachcha Hai Jee

After years, even a decade perhaps, found a song that feels like sunshine on a naughty river. It’s like that warm sunlight that makes me happy no matter where and how I meet it. Whether I am sitting on the terrace of my grandmother’s 18th-century house, amidst poppadums and pickles....or on a beach looking at happy lovers holding hands and sharing candy floss, sunlight always makes me happy.
So does this song.

When the rest of the world seems to be gushing about the latest in sound technology, digitally morphed voice tones that sound almost robotic, this song uses the most archaic of musical instruments...flutes and even a harmonium I think. Its utterly hummable melody reminds me of an abandoned tree trunk...untouched, raw, unpolished, yet majestic in its sheer strength of character.

It woos me with the innocence of a black and white Bollywood movie:
...when heroines were still coy and heroes were content writing pages of poetry on their beloved’s eyelash...
...when “sweet” was more attractive than “sexy” and “melody” reigned over “beat”...
...when songs were songs and not item numbers...
...and music was happy being just the “food of love”...not a political statement or a voice of the materialistic world...
It takes me to such a time....

But today, when the sky was dark and sunshine was on a holiday, the song did something that it hadn’t done the numerous other times I listened to it. It made me made me sad.

Old age doesn’t scare me. But what if I am too young to understand it? What if I am naive in not being scared? As if aching joints and coughing all night weren’t bad in old age is like living in a courtroom. You wear red...the world will call you garish and unsophisticated. You enjoy food...the word will call you gluttonous. You fall in love...the world will prosecute you with the meanest of comments.
What if this isn’t a happy song at all?
Can someone please listen to it and tell me if it's supposed to be sad or happy?

Koi to rokey, koi to tokey
Is umra mein ab khao ge dhokey
Dar lagta hai ishq karne me jee
Dil to bachcha hai jee

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Snail in our Mail

If you thought that that our family was 11 of us only, you were wrong.

Our mailbox is home to a family of snails. They think our mails are their meals. I think their favourite dish is important bank documents. Our pin numbers and bank statements are digested and excreted overnight. All that is left of those is the ANZ Bank logo. They don’t seem to like the junk mail at all. The fliers from cheap Chinese restaurants in the neighbourhood....or the price list of the local grocery shop are left untouched. It’s just the mails with our names on it that they like. This makes me sure that it’s a conspiracy. They do it deliberately. If paper was food, surely they wouldn’t let go of the colourful brochures, which look (and maybe even taste?) much better than the bland looking bank documents. But no. They want to chew our financials. True, our savings account balance is $0.00 (after buying this house). But come on. Some respect? At least leave the “minimum balance due” and the “due date” intact?

We have to call up the banks and redirect our mails to our office addresses. But the softy that I am, I don’t want to starve them. So I have decided that after I pay the bills, I will put them back in the mailbox for the snails.

If Sister Anne Mary (of Loreto convent) was reading this, she would know that I may never have memorised the Christmas carols, but I was paying attention to “All things bright and beautiful...all creatures great and small”.

But most importantly, I hope the snails realise what a kind lady I am and leave my “End of season VIP shoe sale discount vouchers” alone, which I was told by the shoe shop had already been dispatched and cannot be redirected. I have spent thousands of dollars all year to win these (and that explains our savings balance too). If anything happens to them, the “creatures great and small” better have their tombstone ready.

Graphic - Courtesy Google.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Our family is growing...

And suddenly, we are a family of 11. Some of us...2 to be more precise, prefer to stay indoors. While the other 9, prefer the pond outside. Yes, we have a new house now....with our very own fish pond too!

Introducing 9 new characters in the Sen family. I apologise to them for not coming up with gender-based names; but I thought they would hate me even more if I held them out of water to inspect their bottoms to determine their gender (not sure if that’s where lies the secret):

Anarkali, Kathakali, Peyajkali - They are coy, Japanese coy (Koi)...and their names are part of an aquatic experiment to see if fish can get an identity crisis if they are named after legendary humans, dance forms and vegetables.

Katrina – The prettiest gold fish named after the Bollywood actress. No prizes for guessing who named her. If you know why I am forced to watch trash Hindi movies starring Katrina Kaif, you will pretty much know why we have one in our pond. She exercises all day (swims every second, while the others often float lazily, enjoying the sun and the moss). And really watches her diet (eats the least) to maintain that figure of hers. She may have won quite a few pond enemies and I am praying there are no cat fights in there. (Can fish have cat fights anyway? But I do have catfish in the pond too!)

Gupi and Bagha – The 2 catfish, rather shy. My tribute to the legend that Ray was....and hopes for some good song and drums for the pond mates. Again, not sure if fish enjoy song and drums. Maybe their version of it involves sending out bubbles of different shapes and sizes and creating ripples of varying lengths. Will need to watch them for a while to know.

Utpal Dutt – Another Japanese Coy (JC). Need some good quality sense of humour in the house, considering that Amit’s and mine are pretty rotten.

Dilip Kumar – JC, again. What’s a home without some drama?

Arjun Rampal – Another JC. I thought I needed some macho presence in the pond... to keep Katrina motivated and to stop fights and maintain pond peace.

So that's that. I have christened them now...and I already worry if they don't eat their food. True, I don't need to change nappies. But I still deserve a belated Mother's Day gift. Anybody listening?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Survival of the Fattest - Fat Fact 3

Always envied that dream dimple? Well, wait no longer. You can now have 10 dimples…not on your face, obviously.

But on the back of your hands (nails facing upwards). If you can gather enough fat so that the bones that join your fingers to the main bones of the hands are carefully hidden inside spongy fatty skin tissue, you can flaunt ten cute dimples!Yahoo!

For fat fact 2, visit:

Monday, May 17, 2010

My First Live Footy Game: A Not-So-Brief History

It would be fun to watch a game I did not understand and had no interest in, I thought. I could concentrate on the crowd and the food and could wear my Eskimo jacket that I can’t wear anywhere else unless I want to look retarded. In a stadium full of mad fans, no one would notice me...and even if they did, it’s an open stadium on a winter night; not totally different from the Arctic anyway.

Thanks to the new “Win tickets to AFL” initiative at work, we would finally get to watch a live match in the Subiaco Oval...something we always wanted to do, just for the experience (and also because Subiaco has the best restaurants).What? You seriously must be kidding if you thought I would actually carry homemade “dabba” with roti, dal and chicken curry to the stadium...or even homemade chicken sandwiches for that matter. And surely you don’t suppose that the burger and chips available inside the stadium at half time could fill me up for dinner. There you go...every finger was pointing towards a restaurant in Subiaco. What joy!

I had witnessed the AFL madness for the last 2 years... having shared my office cubicle with two Dockers fans who could sell their wives if they had to in order to see a game. There were at least a dozen others at work who chatted in the office kitchen every day, sharing notes, renewing their loyalty pledge for the purple team, showing off statistics like school kids at a quiz.

This bubble of excitement was punctured right when it was at its peak, by our Office Manager who thought she brought me good news. “By the way Deblina”, she said “hope you know that you have premium seats in the stadium and both Jack (MD) and Jill (CEO) will be there with their families to watch the game”.

And before you think that I work for Nickelodeon, where the MD and CEO are called Jack and Jill...let me assure you that those are pseudo-names for the purpose of this post.

WHAT! Both Jack and Jill would catch me at my dumbest best? I don’t even know who’s playing who....had been planning my dress and dinner instead! What the hell am I going to talk to them about? My Eskimo jacket? Shit. Shit. Shit.
I was covered in shit.

So I did what I do when am in trouble. I Googled. And there it was... “12,500,000 results”. That could keep me busy for the rest of my life! But with my post-graduation in “Skim Reading: 100 ways to read a little and know a lot”, I was sure I could do it. I could fool the University of Calcutta...I believed I could repeat that with Jack and Jill.

So after an afternoon of frantic research...brief history, rules, teams, players...I wasn’t looking too bad.

We took the train to Subi, as chances of getting a parking on a footy night was as strong as me playing for the AFL. The Peth station looked like Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus. And am not exaggerating like I usually do. Only difference was that it was painted purple. The Dockers fans in their purple jumpers, socks, scarves, t-shirts, caps, bags, wallets…even lipstick (trust me on this), were quite a sight. Amit and me were the only “plain clothed” passengers on the train. And now I stand corrected…Perth does not have a population of 400. It has at least a little more than 41,283 (the stadium attendance on the night). Little more than that I say, because I know 2 friends who have flu and could not go to the Oval that night.

With my head crammed with footy facts, I reached our seats. There there…I could already see Jolly, a company shareholder (again, not real name) from a distance…so Jack and Jill wouldn’t be far away. But Jolly did not know me, thank god for that.
In a few minutes, neither Jolly, nor the constant fear of seeing Jack and Jill mattered anymore. The game got addictive…the excitement, contagious. Beers were passed around like water bottles…Aussie swearing, and flags and whistles and cheering and all that it takes to make a spectator sport fun. And I ended up loving the game that I did not understand and had no interest in…

P.S. Turned out that Jack was out of station and Jill couldn’t make it either. So much for my cramming.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

When the days are short and the nights are cold...

We know it's winter. But this year, May though it is, we were not convinced.

It's been like that for the last few weeks. The winter wardrobe was out already...washed and dusted and sun-dried almost. The leggings and scarves brought a dash of colour to my otherwise drab closet. The cute little hand knitted caps flaunted those flawless patterns we often see on knit-books. The black leather boots...the one I picked up from the Myer sale...the one that had the pretty laces near the calves...stood up straight, promising to keep me warm and comfortable...and also secretly assuring me that I need not shave my legs all that often.

The personalised twin thermos flasks that we kiss every morning, all through winter, all through our drive to work, till the last drop of coffee is licked from the lid...lay on the kitchen bench top....spotless and unsipped since last winter.

The electric blankets were fitted but not connected to the power sockets yet. The ugly stand-fans were replaced with the cosy room heaters that had not been brought to life either. They stood there waiting to show off their radiance and light.
The stage had been set. Yet there was something missing.

So while we were all asleep last night, the Heavens sprinkled some dressing on Earth. Magic fingers hovering over the masterfully cooked dish that lacked just a bit.

Yes, that’s what the first rains felt like.
Welcome winter.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Survival of the Fattest - Fat Fact 2

If your bum size is not big enough to be scary, you can never enjoy a Lazyboy leather recliner to its fullest potential.

If you can fill up the recliner with your body mass, every part of your body is in contact with that superbly smooth leather that feels like silk. For the lankier mortals, what do you plan to do with all that space between you and those luscious hand-rests? Grow weeds? Or build the next Pentagon?
For Fat Fact 1, visit:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Poyla Boishakh (Bengali New Year)

I never thought of Poyla Boishakh as a “date” really. It was always like the name of a festival like Bhai Phota or Holi. It was my favourite festival for long (as long as I was the youngest member of the extended family, to be more precise). And that was because our family, quite a run-of-the mill family otherwise, had a fantastic nobo borsho ritual which we called “thol-khoroch”.

How it worked:

Step 1 - Wear new clothes and reach Mejo Jethu’s place as early in the morning as possible (that was the only day of the year when didi or me did not need an alarm clock or an angry mother to get up from bed).

Step 2 – Keep a bag, preferably with many pockets and at least a zipper, ready at hand.

Step 3 - Bend down to touch the feet of anyone who is older (even if by a day).

Step 4 – Smile and stretch your hand to collect the “thol khoroch”, which could range from anything between Rs 5 (some miserly pishis) to Rs 50 (generous uncles or aunts with cataract who mistook the 50 rupee note for a 10).

Step 5 – Put it in your bag and add up (for the zillionth time) how much money you have made so far.

Step 6 – Close the bag and keep it with you at all times.

Step 7 – Scan the room/house for anyone who you might have missed…or anyone who you can approach the second time for the same purpose (old dadus with failing memories and a heart of gold were the best targets for this approach).

Step 8 – Stay away from cousins who are a few days/months younger. You never know, they might just drop at your feet for that crazy thing called money.

Step 9 – Call the relatives who haven’t yet arrived at the central venue and ask them to make it fast as you are already “missing them” too much.

Step 10 – Force your father to take you to the houses of those relatives who are sick (or just pretending to be sick).

Step11 – Come back to Jethu’s house and add the money for the final time in the evening.

Step 12 – Decide on a menu with your cousins and order home delivery. Tell the adults that you’ll would pay it with the money collected but quietly sneak away when the delivery boy arrives with the food and the bill.

Step 13 – Eat to your heart’s content while still holding on to your bag (the wicked cousins know that this is the best time to catch you off guard).

Step 14 – Form a committee of “We Have Been So Good All Year; So We Deserve A Raise And Will Not Accept Anything Less Than Rs 10 Next Year” and let the adults know about it.

Step 15 – Go back home and hit the bed, making sure that the bag is under your pillow (own siblings too cannot be trusted on matters such as these).

Years have passed since then and today Poyla Boishakh is about:

Step 1- Set a reminder to call people in India.

Step 2- Exchange wishes and “virtual” thol khoroch over the phone.

Step 3 – Go out to eat (if not too lazy or tired) and sound like your dadu who always said “those were the days…”

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cleaning Bras

It’s so annoying to know that school days are fun. Annoying, because my 1GB human memory hasn’t archived experiences from so long back. I try to tell myself that it’s good to travel light. But having forgotten your camera, and toothbrush, and medicines and slippers is not really “travelling light”. It’s like taking off in your thongs!

If it wasn’t for those school photographs that my mother preserved…where the whole class sat with the class teacher, in neat rows (in ascending order of height) I would have thought that I was born married. But apparently not.

These days, I get some more proof. I get flashes of those ancient days (surprisingly, they are not in black and white). Suddenly, on a lonely afternoon, I laugh out loud. I stumble upon a funny tale from those apparently fun days of pigtails and acne and heartaches and calculus and rolled-down socks and Maggie in lunch boxes and, God bless us, Home Science classes.

I am not sure why I took Home Science as my additional subject (I think Accounts was the only other option and I never really liked anyone or anything that asked me “where the money was spent”). Anyway, before making this life-changing decision (NOT) of selecting my additional subject, I spoke to a few seniors who had been there and done that. Just to get a view of what I was getting myself into.

Me: So what is it that you do in Home Science?
Senior: Oh, nothing much. We knit tea-cosies, lay dinner tables, bake muffins and clean bras.
Me (shocked): Clean bras!! Yuck. Whose bras?
Senior: Mostly Ms Sabarwal’s bras. But sometimes other teachers lend theirs too, if they are exceptionally dirty.
Me: Yuck Yuck! How can someone make you clean their bras? It’s so…yuck!
Senior: Well, I know. But we have no choice really. If we refuse, they will fail us.
Me: Am shocked and insulted! Knitting tea-cosies is stupid and archaic (who uses tea-cosies these days, anyway?)…but cleaning bras is outright degrading.
Senior: Yeah, but we are at their mercy.
Me: So you clean them with …err…your hands, and detergent?
Senior: Oh no no! That’s the first thing they will teach you. Detergent is not good for brass at all. We use Brasso.

(That’s when I first learned the importance of every “s” … and that detergent was indeed very bad for any metallic object at home, including those made of brass).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Good Samaritan

There was a buzz in my ears and my head went light. There were strange creatures in my stomach…and my heart skipped a beat.
(No, I wasn’t about to experience the Mills-and-Boonsy first kiss. Have been married for 3 yrs…what were you thinking?)

It is just that being “good” sometimes makes you sick (especially if you are out of practice). This time, literally.

I had bravely volunteered to donate blood in response to an email at work, urging employees to be noble. Am sure the sudden popularity of vampires (thanks to Twilight and True Blood) has made blood donation pretty fashionable. But my reasons were different (am too old to buy vampire stories or santa clauses). I volunteered just for the experience…and of course, to feel good about doing something good.

It was pretty amusing in the start, especially answering questions like:

  • Have you had male-to-male sex? (which was a compulsory question irrespective of your gender!)
  • Have you ever been paid for having sex i.e. received gifts, cash etc? (Amit does give me flowers occasionally…does that count?)
  • Have you had un-protected sex with multiple partners? (with my luck, NO!!)

Anyway, our group entered the Australian Red Cross office at 10.30am. We would be done by 11.30am at the most, we were told. We all had meetings to go back to. So we were donating two things really…our blood and our time. Having worked for some blood-sucking companies in India, this would be cake-walk.
Or so I thought!

After a formal round of interview with a handsome and kind Red Cross officer (I was beginning to reap the harvest of my noble work already), I had my blood pressure, blood iron content and body weight measured. What I lacked in the first two, I sufficiently made up in the last.

And then I lay in a reclining chair, watching Australian Open on a Plasma screen in front of me. There were at least 50 other people lying on similar chairs, elbows resting on colourful cushions and holding spongy balls to squeeze on to ensure a rhythmic flow of blood. You could make out between first timers like me, who clinched their fists and put in more effort than needed to look relaxed. And then there was the “been-here-done-this” category who chatted and laughed with the nurses.

I was doing pretty well, I was told. Except one time that my blood flow wasn’t enough and the nurse told me to change the rhythm at which I squeezed the ball (sounds pretty gross…but that’s exactly what he told me). So I changed the rhythm…and the happy corpuscles oozed out in joy, as if liberated from a body they didn’t fancy much.

When the 500ml pouch was filled to capacity, the needle was removed. I felt a funny buzz in my ears…and the cells on my face seemed to dance a little. But in 5 minutes, I was fine and I headed to the cafeteria for some refreshments.

I asked for a cold coffee…and the next minute, someone was telling me to quickly lie on the floor with my legs up on the chair. This rocks, I thought. Not only free refreshments, but a free body massage as well!! But before I realised, people started fussing over me. Someone fanned me…a colleague made sure my skirt wasn’t on top of my head in the incorrigible position (thank god I was wearing my tights underneath!)…someone said “Call a nurse”, while the one who was fanning me, snapped back “I AM a nurse”. I hadn't a clue what the chaos was about…but I couldn’t stop laughing either. A wheelchair arrived from somewhere and I sat on it, feeling happily dizzy. By this time, my colleagues had caught my contagious laughter…and I caught one of them holding her stomach while she laughed. At this, another nurse asked her “Are you feeling sick too?” And she couldn’t stop laughing to muster a decent reply.

Anyway, I left that chaotic scene on a wheelchair. I was taken to a small corner with curtains all around (guess that was because they didn’t want to scare off the other donors). They took my blood pressure, and it was considerably low. I had managed to stop laughing by now and stared at the blood pressure measuring machine, praying for some decent score. No luck, still. Seconds turned into minutes. I was forced to eat two chocolates (They said “It’s good for you”…wow, no one has ever said that before. I was falling in love with the place). After about 20 minutes, the monitor looked happy and I was allowed to go.

How my colleagues blackmailed me (with posting pictures on facebook, or at least the intranet, of me lying on the floor with my skirt up, laughing like one possessed) is another story. But they also said that just before I …errr…”took the floor” my face went white as paper and I did not respond to a question someone was asking me. How could I? I was concentrating on the buzz in my ears. That’s when they realised I was crankier than I usually am.

Only last week I was telling a friend that I haven’t been blogging for a while because nothing “interesting” seems to happen around me anymore. As they say, be careful what you ask for!