Monday, November 21, 2016

Randomly took the day off from work. Watched 8 episodes of Modern Family back to back. Ate a laddu for lunch. Took a long luxurious shower. Drank a good cup of coffee. Finished a long-pending magazine.

Haven't been this happy in ages. It was as if I was almost... content?!

Are coffee and solitude really the answers to my life's problems?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

I didn't realize Pujo in Delhi would be *this* underwhelming.

More than Pujo, it's just...home that I miss. I haven't been home in months. Haven't slept on my own bed, haven't lounged around on the hideous red sofa, haven't taken the auto to the Golpark CCD. I miss Kolkata and my grandparents and my half-boiled eggs for breakfast. I miss my mother and my brother and Champa mashi and my whole extended, annoying family. I miss life as it was before 2014.

I think I need to take a week off just to go home and lick my wounds. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Didimoni

In 1947, when didimoni abandoned her ancestral house in Mymensingha to make that fateful journey to the west, she left behind a lot of things. Most of her sarees, the certainty of her life as a district topper, and, more importantly, almost all her prize books. They had her names inscribed on them, she would recall wistfully. Leather harbound books, with golden letters. Certificates praising her for her memorizing things. But that was okay, she said. She was going to a new country, and memories could always be remade. Besides, she could always memorize new things.

My earliest memories of didimoni involve her memorizing things. She would put me to sleep, reciting all of "Abol Tabol" from memory. "You're just making this up", I would insist. "That's really not how it goes." "Yes, that's exactly how it goes", she would smugly assert. And that really, was, exactly how it went. To this day, the genius of Sukumar Ray and the brilliance of my grandmother are inseparable in my mind.

I remember two kinds of people from my childhood - the talkers, who would discuss things endlessly, and the do-ers, who would skip the discussions to get things done. Didimoni was, very firmly, in the latter group. She would cook, knit, sew, advise, mend, create, and comfort - mostly simultaneously, almost everyday, without breaking a sweat. When I remember my grandmother, I remember a flurry of movements, with just a few, brief flashes of pause. The soft, cotton saree anchal, the turmeric-stained fingers, the paan-bata with the supuris, the best mutton curry and patisaptas in the world, the wavy hair that I inherited, the sharp intellect that I didn't quite come into.

In an age when women weren't, really, out and about, my slip of a grandmother - a refugee in a strange country - managed to quietly thumb her nose at the world. She enrolled in a college, got incredible marks, got married, raised two children, ran a household, got herself a job with the RBI, gave it up, and then finally settled on an auditing position with the state government. My mother tells me how she would leave every morning, in her starched sarees and ironed blouses, hair in a bun, spring in her steps - *after* cooking a full meal for the family, packing off children to school, and dealing with a cantankerous mother-in-law. Me? I can barely manage to get my solitary self to work on most days. And most of my t-shirts are rumpled.


Didimoni taught me to memorize. She taught me to love Pujabarshikis, Russian literature, and Darjeeling tea. She taught me to admire Sukumar Ray and afternoon soaps and piping hot jilipis for breakfast. She taught me to cook, to count,to observe the world. To juggle responsibilites and to love Charles Dickens and to always keep a clean handkerchief handy. She kept a cold glass of lebur jol ready for me in summer, and made mowas on misty Saraswati pujo mornings - the smell of warm jaggery seeping into her pores. She taught me to not slow down. She taught me to survive.

Didimoni used to read after lunch. Every day, after the table was wiped down and the food was put away and the extended family hunkered down for the afternoon siesta, she would lean back with her favourite "Desh". We spoke about the world on those magical afternoons. My five-year old self frantically trying to keep up with her observations about world affairs. Never stop looking outwards, she would say. Kupomonduks are the worst.

My grandmother - Sati Sen - Partition surviver and household runner and starched saree-wearer and life tip-giver, passed away yesterday. She was 85. The nature of grief is that it comes in waves. Losing dadumoni and didimoni in quick succession means that, every few minutes, I'm being hit by waves of finality so overwhelming, that it takes my breath away.

I spent my childhood in a rundown house in south Calcutta, being mostly brought up by my two eccentric, lovable, efficient, exasperating grandparents. These two, like millions of others, immigrated across the border during tumultous times, and then set about building a life in a strange country with characteristic aplomb.

And that's what I keep telling myself. That they've just moved across the border somewhere. And it's okay, because they've done this before. And they're out there somewhere, setting up house and cooking mutton and watching cricket matches after lunch. And maybe, sometime, they're looking down at me too.

They're just somewhere else. That's all that it is.



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

My list currently includes:


  • Neil Gaiman
  • David Tennant
  • Benedict Cumberbatch
  • Lin Manual Miranda
I obviously have a major thing for pale, thin (mostly) British men.

How is it, then, that I ended up marrying a decidedly non-thin, non-British person? Ah, the mysteries of life.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jonmodin!

Things I did on my birthday:

1. One full-on-all-out lunch party the day before, with about 15 guests, in my tiny apartment. This actually included getting up at the crack of dawn to score nihari and bheja curry from Old Delhi, cleaning house like a maniac, and preventing the cats from destroying the rugs. I was very proud of myself, but old, creaky bones meant that I passed out before the last guest had left. (which was, admittedly, at 11 pm. And I had been up from 5:30. But still.).

2. A day off from work on the actual birthday.

3. Afternoon nap under the blanket, warming my toes in the buttery winter sun.

4. Cuddling with the cats.

5. Finishing one whole Neil Gaiman book.

6. Ordering and eating one whole pizza by myself. (It was a small pizza, but I think that still counts.)

7. Walking around CP and stuffing my face with sushi and nasi goreng and tiramisu ice cream for dinner.

In short, a pretty awesome time was had, even if I say so myself.

The rest of the week has meetings and office dinners till 10 every day, and, to put it mildly, looks bleak. I am so glad I have this stuff to think about when shit hits the fan, as it is often wont to do in this corporate jungle.

[I wonder if I should change this blog to a confessional style page, where I write about such mundane happenings in my decidedly average life. Would that help me write here more often? Hmmm, I wonder.]

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bottoms of my trousers

People want to reach for the stars, be famous, write novels, break down (metaphorical AND literal) barriers.

Me? I just want to get back home, cuddle my cats, read a book, and maybe have some cake. Cakes and cats versus all-encompassing ambition and white hot brilliance. Cakes and cats always win. Always.

I like my friends. I like to socialise. I like to dress up and put on my party face. But mostly, I like to get back home and watch some TV. Cook some mutton. Read some books.

I spent most of last Saturday under my quilt, drinking coffee in bed, and watching Jessica Jones.  It was the most perfect fucking Saturday I've spent in a long long while.

Does that make me boring? Average? Passé? All of the above?

I grow old, I grow old. Are the bottoms of my trousers rolled?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Because, some things are traditions

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?
  • Visited Cambodia and Thailand. Sat on the steps of the Angkor temples at dawn, effectively crossing off one thing from my bucket list.
  • Adopted a cat, my first pet ever. 
  • Adopted another cat.
  • Re-learnt swimming. Swam relentlessly all summer.
  • Started volunteering at a community library for underprivileged kids (It soon became my highlight of the week)
  • Set up a translation blog that people actually read.
  • Completed my 2015 Goodreads Challenge (30 books were successfully read in 2015.)

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Kind of. Yes.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
No.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes.

5. What countries did you visit?
Cambodia! Thailand!
Also, the following places within India: Jaipur, Gushaini (Himachal), Bangalore, Bikaner, Jim Corbett National Park, Kashipur, Benares.


6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Job satisfaction. Money.

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory?
19 December, for heartbreaking reasons

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
  • Finally getting my act together to change teams within my company
  • Making Cambodia happen

9. What was your biggest failure?
  Money, mostly

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing horrific, thank God (fingers crossed, knock on wood)

11. What was the best thing you bought?
 Tickets for Cambodia. Sushi for my birthday lunch. My first ever smartphone.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Mine. S'. D's (surprisingly enough)

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
K's, I think.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Travel. Food. Cat stuff.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Cambodia. My cats.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2015?
"Matargashti."
"Mohakaler koley eshe, gouri holo mohakali..."
"Everything is awesome."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
1. Happier or sadder? The same, I think.
2. Thinner or fatter? Fatter.
3. Richer or poorer? Richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Swimming. Dancing. Reading. Spending time with my grandfather.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Procrastinating. (Good God, the procrastination. I think it's become some sort of a disease.)

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas with good friends, eating cake and biriyani, and drinking mulled wine. It was a good Christmas.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
The mother and the mother-in-law. (Such domesticity. Shudder.)

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?
Nope.

23. How many one night stands in this last year?
None.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
  • True Detective
  • Masterchef Australia
  • Inside Amy Schumer
  • Lizzie Bennett Diaries; Pitchers; Permanent Roommates (Evidently, this was the year of the Web series.)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
No

26. What was the best book(s) you read?
Ooh ooh, this was the year of author discoveries. Fell in love with Chimamanda N'gozi Adichie and read "Americanah", "That Thing Around Your Neck", and "Half of a Yellow Sun" in one go. I also discovered Margaret Atwood, and was riveted by "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Stone Mattress: Nine Tales". This was the year of much good reading.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The existence of 8tracks

28. What did you want and get?
A new job

29. What did you want and not get?
Money. Peace.

30. What were your favourite films of this year?
Masaan. Asa Jawar Majhe. Ugly.
(This was also the year I discovered Star Wars, which should, I think, get at least an honorary mention.)

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
27. Sushi for lunch, and a party the day before.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
 More money. A bit more spine. 

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Lazy.

34. What kept you sane?
 Cats. Books. In that order.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
 Ranveer Singh. Neil Gaiman. Chimamanda N'gozi Adichie. John Oliver.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The "intolerance" debate, and everything that happened around it.

37. Who did you miss?
Dadumoni.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
M and M. Hands down.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.
Mortality is a bitch.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
"Here comes the sun/ And I say, it's all right.
Little darling, it's been a long, cold, lonely winter..."