Durga Puja 2022 – Bijoya wishes!
The first post for October comes nearly after half the month has passed. Honestly, I didn’t even realize it as the month began with the most awaited festival for Bengalis – Durga Puja. Like every year, we went to Berhampore – the place I still call home.
The kid wasn’t well since the night of his birthday because of a severe viral infection. We weren’t sure if we would make it home for puja this year. But we had underestimated the collective power of grandparents’ love and the resilience of our son. On the day of Panchami, we decided to take a chance and drove back home.
Like every year, I spent Saptami and Ashtami at Baba’s house, offering pushpanjali at our para pandal. Nabami and Dashami were at my marital home. We went pandal hopping on Ashtami and Nabami afternoons while spending the evenings at UCC puja pandal – the puja organized by my husband and his friends.
As we bid goodbye to the Goddess on the last day of Durga Puja, I couldn’t help but feel grateful for the love and warmth of being surrounded by family and friends. Since our son was born, we have consciously tried to be back home for Durga Puja and keep the vacation schedule for Diwali. I’m glad that this year is no exception too.
We had a small get-together two days before we returned to Kolkata. Old friends and their families caught up over delicious lunch and long adda sessions. It was heartwarming to see the new generation bond with each other just like their parents. The kid also watched his first movie in the theatre – Karnasubarner Guptadhan, a Bengali detective thriller featuring Abir Chatterjee as Sona Da.
Drafting this post from my writing desk in Kolkata, I won’t deny the tinge of sadness I feel while away from familiar surroundings. But there’s so much happening on the writing part that I can’t wait to share some good news related to my upcoming books soon.
This Ashtami brought the first joyful news related to my latest book. Yesterday, my literary agent surprised me with another piece of information about the second Raya Ray novel. I shall update you with all the details once the necessary formalities are completed. Stay tuned, and I wish you all love and light.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy Holi 2022 – may our lives be filled with colors of joy and hope
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Z for Zooming Out
I feel a mixed bag of emotions as I write the last post in the A2Z challenge 2019. I had finished my first A2Z challenge last year by balancing my writing with the needs of a toddler who started preschool in the first week of April 2018. This year, it became a little more difficult as the toddler moved on to a new school and I was left juggling between multiple tasks. Between getting the kid ready for school, preparing his breakfast and dropping and picking him up from school, I was left with limited time to write my posts daily and read some great pieces from my fellow bloggers. Probably that is why I feel an extra dose of happiness on reaching the finishing line for the second consecutive year.
When I chose the theme of school admissions, I had no idea if I had experienced enough number of situations to convert them into posts for twenty-six days. I must mention that none of these real-life stories seemed funny when we were going through the experiences. My father often says that when we look back at life in retrospect, we often find a lot of instances that could have been handled in a very different way if we could have added a pinch of humor to them. I realized the depth of this statement only after I started writing this series. There are so many times when I published a post and then thought to myself, ‘What made me react so much to rejection?’ or ‘Why was I affected the most by this new phase in Tuneer’s life?’
U for Unapologetically Human
I grew up in the eighties when life was much simpler. The options for entertainment had more to do with people communicating with each other in person than staying hooked on to their mobiles. All the nine houses on the street (para in Bengali) that we stayed at had neighbors who knew each other well, visited each other’s houses frequently and celebrated festivals together. My closest friend in the neighborhood came from a family where both her parents were working. Her father, Uncle K was also my father’s close friend and colleague. Despite the fact that they had full-time help to take care of her and her elder brother. I don’t remember an afternoon where she wasn’t having lunch or taking a nap at my place.
I studied in a primary school for four months before my parents applied for admission to the only Convent school in my home town. Unlike Tuneer, I loved going to school. In the first primary school, a few of the teachers happened to be the wives of my father’s colleagues. Because of their occasional visits to our house and vice versa, I was already familiar with the aunties that school never felt any different after I saw them in the classrooms.
My life at the Convent school started amidst turbulence. On the night before the scheduled date of interaction, my paternal grandfather passed away. As per his last wish, his dead body was taken to his native village for cremation and my father had to go for the last rites. The rules of the admission process had clearly mentioned that both the parents had to attend the interaction session along with the kid. Ma had lost all hopes of getting permission for attending the interview alone with me. But Uncle K took it upon himself to go to the school and explain the situation to the authorities. My friend and I both had our separate interaction sessions after Uncle K convinced the authorities that I deserved a chance. For him, I could never be his daughter’s competitor but her best friend.
Both of us studied in the same school but in different sections until she moved on to a different institution for high school. While we went ahead and made many more friends in school, I don’t remember any of us crying beyond the first day because we had each other. While there was competition in academics and extracurriculars, it was never reason enough to cut ties or devise strategies to beat so-called ‘friends turned into opponents’. My interaction with my core circle of friends went beyond the school boundary walls because their parents always made me feel welcome at home. A couple of months back, when I went to the birthday celebration of the daughter of one of my best friends from school, it never felt like we were meeting after two decades.
Passing on the love of traveling – a nomad’s perspective
“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”
I was five years old when I went on my first trip to Darjeeling with my parents. Higher studies and corporate stints made me a resident of cities like Delhi, Bangalore, and Mysore. This was also the period when I traveled with my gang of girls to places like Chennai, Pondicherry, and Ooty and groups of friends to Pune, Khandala, Lonavala, Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, Ahmedabad, Agra, and Goa. Once I discovered that I was essentially a nomad at heart, my solo trips took me to Hyderabad, Mumbai, Mangalore, Coorg, Madikeri, and Chickmagalur.
When T and I got married in 2011, it was a delight to discover that we shared the same enthusiasm for travel. Munnar was the first place that we visited as a married couple. Unfortunately, I lost my mother in the same year and life came to a stand-still. In 2012, an impromptu road trip from Trivandrum to Varkala and Kanyakumari helped me get a grip on my life again. Together we managed to visit Thekkady, Periyar, Alleppey, Athirapally, Cochin, Wayanad, Goa, Coimbatore, and Kodaikanal. If writing helped me cope up with my mother’s loss, traveling gave me the reason to live.
Three years back after my son was born, the trips became more planned and less on an impulse. From Goa and Mumbai in Central India, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Shankarpur, and Digha in the East, Delhi and Noida in the North to Guwahati, Shillong, and Cherrapunji in the North East, the three of us have explored both the tranquility of nature, humdrum of the city, sea and mountains alike.
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