First time joys for the kid during Janmashtami’22

Last month, we traveled to Berhampore for Janmashtami celebrations at my marital home. Though the kid has traveled by train a couple of times, he was too young to remember. This time, we chucked the car and took the train. Our son enjoyed the onward and return journey as he ate a variety of food, purchased items and toys from the hawkers, and enjoyed the view from the train’s window. Here’s a snap of him at his naughty best on the day we traveled back to Kolkata.

The fun ride on the train

Berhampore sky was at its sunny best for the first two days of our trip. On the third day, the skies yelped and shed tears as I prepared for our return journey. Strangely, by evening, it was back to its gorgeous state. My marital home is located in the busiest part of the town. Surrounded by the local market, the place is forever buzzing. Most of the residential properties are decades old, though some have been demolished to build new age apartment complexes. Our son was amazed by the thriving market area and surrounding landscape that smelt of nostalgia. We spent a lot of time on the terrace.

Berhampore sky and the landscape around my marital home

The boy loves birds. Even in Kolkata, he ensures to leave some food items on our balcony grills for the birds. But in Berhampore, he had the huge terrace to himself to run around and have fun. Every evening, he spread puffed rice, bread crumbs, and biscuit pieces all over the terrace and called out to the pigeons. Almost every day, a few pigeons and some crows came to nibble on the food as we sat at one corner, away from the birds. Though he had done this ritual before, it was his first time acting responsible and feeding the birds by himself. His father and I were mere spectators.

Feeding the birds

There are many other things that the child did for enjoyment. I found him giving signatures on paper to the guests present during Janmashtami puja as a permit granted to them to go upstairs for eating prasad. He spent hours playing the dholak while ensuring that the pen he used to give his autograph was safely tucked into his t-shirt.

The boy with his dholak and pen

Inside the room, he spent hours swaying on his father’s rocking chair that he has already claimed to be his property now. From tasting yummy malpoa and taler bora to eating spicy dum aloo along with polao as part of the bhog offered, the kid experienced it all. These small gestures keep him close to our roots and experience things that were integral to our childhood spent in the small town of Berhampore.

Hijacking his father’s rocking chair.

Food, friends, and fun – summing up July’22

July usually is an uneventful month in my life with no birthdays or occasions to celebrate. It’s also when my son has his first term assessment, leaving us with little time to enjoy. However, his school preponed the assessment dates by two weeks, and we began the month with exams on the 1st of July. But that meant we ended it within the 15th of July, leaving us with half of the month to have fun.

Dessert @Golden Joy

We experimented with a lot of new cuisines in new cafes and restaurants. While we celebrated his finishing the exams on a high with Chinese food at the Golden Joy in Tangra, my son and I went on a book shopping spree to the Storyteller store, followed by sandwiches at The Wise Owl cafe in Golpark.

Snacks @The Wise owl

Last week, I met Kasturi, one of my closest friends from the writing world for the first time. We had breakfast at the Roastery Coffee House in Gariahat. It became a memorable experience not just became of the ambiance and delectable food but also because of the best company I had.

Breakfast @Roastery Coffee House

We ended the month with the best continental food in town at Mocambo, Park Street. While Chicken-Ala-Kyiv satiated our taste buds, Baked Alaska thrilled the kid with its unique presentation.

Baked Alaska @Mocambo

A lot is happening in the health/fitness of my life. Also, there are quite some exciting updates to share about the completed and writing-in-progress books. But that’s for another day in the upcoming blog posts.

The gorgeous Kolkata sky at dusk

The New Town sky

On Tuesday, we took a day off to explore New Town and its surrounding areas in Kolkata since the kid finished his first offline term examinations. We lunched at the Golden Joy in China Town, went on a long drive to Khoribari for hot and tasty tea, and shopped at the old Shyambazar/Haitbagan market, followed by book purchases at the famous boi para on College Street.

Dessert at the Golden Joy restaurant

Here’s sharing some memorable pictures from a day where we spend quality family time while soaking in the beauty of nature. It rained the entire day, and I captured some gorgeous photos of the blue sky at dusk.

At Khoribari
College street – clicked in front of my alma mater, Presidency University

Happy Saraswati Puja – 2022

Yesterday was the puja of my favorite Goddess, Ma Saraswati. When I went through the archives of my blog this morning, I realized I’ve always published a blog post on or after the day of Saraswati puja. It started the year my son was introduced to reading and writing (hathekhori). Now that he’s in class 1, I’ve no desire to make an exception.

Goddess Saraswati

Like every year, my father took up the responsibility of carrying out the puja at home. Since last year, my son has become his self-proclaimed assistant, and I’m reduced to a mere audience at home. The enthusiasm was a bit on the higher side this year since my husband could manage a day off from his hospital duties.

My father and his tiny assistant

After fulfilling the rituals of worship, prayers, and pushpanajali, we couldn’t resist overeating the prasad called bhog in Bengali. From luchi, dum aloo, suji in the morning to khichdi, labra, beguni, and chutney in the afternoon, we ended up with an overdose of the delicious bhog.

The phase of preparation

His books, notebooks, pencils, and even the laptop were kept at the feet of the deity to seek the blessings of the Goddess of knowledge. Thus, the kid didn’t have to come up with another innovative excuse for not studying. It was a no-study or workday for all of us, and as a family, we relished this time for fun and bonding.

The ritual continues

I hope and pray for the Goddess to bless the world with wisdom and knowledge so that we make the right choices for ourselves and the generations to come.

A special birthday celebration this year!

The year was 2011. I turned thirty on 29th May and was about to get married in three weeks. I had taken a week off in April for the engagement (ashirwaad, as we call in Bengali), and had applied for 2 weeks’ leave in June for the wedding. So, the birthday celebration was restricted to office colleagues and a couple of friends in Mysore. When I spoke to Ma that afternoon, she insisted that I buy a new set of clothes for my birthday. I laughed it off, saying that I was already getting an ensemble of clothes for my wedding. That was the end of the conversation, or so I thought.

On the day my husband and I left our hometown to begin a new chapter as husband and wife, Ma handed me a new salwar kameez set. During the peak rush of wedding preparations, Ma and Baba hadn’t forgotten my birthday gift. Little did I know that it was going to be my last birthday gift from her. In five months, her love and gifts became a memory for my survival.

A special birthday celebration this year

In the last decade, I’ve restricted my birthday gifts to usually books, journals, pens, cakes, or items related to my writing journey. I never accepted a dress for my birthday. But this year, I made an exception. When Baba asked me to purchase something of my choice, I asked him to buy me a new dress. It took me a decade to get over the fact that Ma would never coax me to get a new dress for my birthday again. Besides, 1.5 years of the pandemic taught me that it is essential to savor every moment with those who mean the world and hold on to them as tightly as possible.

The gifts from the child

Amidst all the gifts, the kid gave me the most thoughtful one. While drafting the second novel, I wrote the plot, updates, and scenes in a journal simultaneously. By the time I sent the story to my literary agent, I reached the last page of the journal. While I got a few amazing notebooks/diaries as gifts, the child made his father search for an identical journal and pilot pen sets so that I feel happy and write a story for him next.

Notebook lover

Tender moments and thoughtful gestures like these make me believe that we still have hope left in the world.

Birthday, anniversary, & vaccination

On 29th May, I celebrated my birthday with the three men in my life – my father, husband, and son. After a decade, I asked my father to buy me a new dress on my special day instead of my usual requests for books and journals. When Ma was around, she refused to listen to my resistance; birthdays always meant a new dress. After she passed away, I never found any joy in the ritual of a birthday dress as a gift. Eventually, Baba let it go.

The first birthday cake

But this year, I decided to celebrate for two reasons – I had finished writing my second novel, and I finally had the three special people in my life under one roof on the day. From cutting cakes to ordering food, we indulged in small moments of happiness. But we also shared these little joys with those who keep us going through their support – our cook, house-help, driver, security guard, and a few more helping hands. I’m going to cherish these memories for a very long time.

The second birthday cake

On the professional front, I completed numerous rounds of editing the book and sent the initial documents to my literary agent. We are working on the marketing plan and publisher details. But, I finally decided to take a break from the second novel (BTW, it has a new title; stay tuned for the announcement). The next item on the priority list was to get my first dose of vaccination. Getting a slot on the Cowin app seemed tougher than cracking UPSC exams.

Fortunately, my residential area organized a paid vaccination drive for the 18-44 age group in collaboration with Apollo hospitals. Thanks to an alert and aware husband, we managed to get a slot for me for 3rd June. From document verification to getting jabbed, it took me less than twenty minutes to complete the process. Except for the pain in my left arm that subsided after nearly two days, I didn’t have any side effects.

Vaccinated

June is a month as precious as May since we will complete a decade of our married life on the 20th of this month. While it’s been more than twenty-two years of knowing each other as friends, best friends, and a couple before making it official, the past one-and-a-half years have taught us both to cherish every opportunity of hope and togetherness.

While I’ll resume the work related to the launch of the second novel very soon, I also intend to start writing for magazines, digital platforms, and other mediums going forward.

New adventures in writing

I hope you have taken the vaccine and got your friends and family vaccinated as well. Please help out your support staff who might find it difficult to use technology for booking a slot. And keep the mask on; we can’t afford to lose this battle.

Y for Yin and Yang

The dictionary meaning of Yin and Yang stands as two complementary forces that come into play to balance and create something bigger and better. When I began writing this school admission series, I had mentioned the protagonist as my 3.6 yr old son Tuneer along with Sr. T and me as the supporting cast. Through the last twenty-four posts, I have written about our experiences and emotions related to this phase. Today’s post is dedicated to those who bring equilibrium to Tuneer’s life filling it with joy, love, affection and protect him from those who might be the reasons for stress and undue pressure (yeah me!).  Introducing his lifelines –

Tuneer with his family - paternal grandma, paternal grandpa, father, maternal grandpa and mother (l to r)
Tuneer with his family on his 2nd birthday – paternal grandma, paternal grandpa, father, maternal grandpa, and mother (L to R)

1. Babai aka his father

I have an exclusive post dedicated to this man and his adorable equation with the kid. Yet I need to reiterate the fact that the boy had the maximum escapade from my scoldings because of his father. According to him, there’s nothing that the boy could do wrong. It didn’t matter if the boy refused to answer any question, showed no interest in picking up English or denied his knowledge about my name. His standard reply to any exasperated statement of mine went as “But he’s such a sweet boy”. The apple of his eye is getting so sweet every day (read naughty) that I’ve started fearing for our enhanced blood sugar level (read stress).

2. Dadai aka his paternal grandfather

Until Tuneer was born, I had always been a favorite of my father-in-law. He was more supportive of my decisions than those that were taken by his son. Equations changed between us the day he became a grandfather. His unconditional support towards his only grandson exceeds all limits. He refuses to listen to anything against the ‘innocent’ child. He was the toughest to convince about the interview preparation. As per him, any school that considered English speaking skills to be a selection criterion for nursery admissions deserves to be trashed by every single parent. According to him the fact that Tuneer could answer his name and recite a rhyme should have convinced every interviewer about his intelligence level. No amount of argument could convince him otherwise.

Continue reading “Y for Yin and Yang”