I could wrap up 2022 with joy and satisfaction as I hit the send button for book no. 2 (the second in the Detective Raya Ray series) to my publisher. Unfortunately, 2023 began with a shock as my father-in-law had a nasty fall. He underwent surgery for a broken bone. By God’s grace, he’s better now and recovering well. In January, we celebrated Saraswati puja and explored some delectable cuisines at different restaurants.
A month into 2023, I was chasing the deadline for book no. 3, my first commissioned project for a true crime story from the past. It was also the month my seven-and-a-half-year-old was due for his final assessment. Kolkata was under the grip of a deadly virus, and almost everyone I know, including me, was grappling with a weird kind of flu that just refused to go away.
By the beginning of March, things started looking better as I delivered the manuscript within the deadline, and we showed signs of recovery from the flu. The son finished his exams on the 6th of March, and we took off for a mini vacation to Mandarmani the next day.
Since the 7th of March was Holi, we played with colors before diving into the Mandarmani sea. Three days of a beach holiday rejuvenated our minds and bodies as we explored Tajpur Beach and Mohana near Digha Beach, experimented with local cuisine, and spent hours at Mandarmani beach. Of course, we didn’t want to return as the break got over.
The kid has his session break; I have taken another week off to spend time and play various indoor games with him. After three years of working non-stop on both books, writing and editing them, I decided to take time off before getting involved in the prepublication stages of my upcoming books. So, here we are, watching children’s movies like Sonar Kella, reading story books, playing puzzles and brain games, and squeezing out every minute to enjoy to the fullest.
I hope you had a great start to 2023 and that the year is treating you kindly so far.
2022 taught me the value of health. For the first time, I got into a fitness regime and made walking a constant parameter of my daily routine. Losing 11 kgs, walking 10k steps, and eating less junk food brought a positive change in my physical and mental health. Though I can’t do 10k steps anymore because of tendonitis, I don’t go a day without walking, even if it’s just 2.5k steps.
2022 is also the year of travel and outings. We squeezed time out of our busy schedules for gastronomic adventures, multiple day-outings, a trip to Mandarmani, going home to Berhampore during Durga Puja, and taking a vacation to Goa during Diwali. We feel grateful for the time we spent with Baba, my in-laws, and close friends.
I’m not quite fond of March; the reason is linked to my earlier profession as a banking branch head. March meant meeting year-end targets, hectic schedules, and no holidays. However, life as a writer gives me an option to choose what I want to make of any month. Though it comes with the difficulty of not knowing when to stop and take a break, it also means that I hold the power to decide if I can balance my deliverables and afford to take a mini-vacation.
I remember blogging about my intention of writing consistently. Since this is my first post in March, it looks like I didn’t keep my promise. But hold on! I’ve not only been consistently writing for forty days unmanaged to churn out until today, but I’ve also managed to churn out 93k plus words for my second novel. Ideally, I should be able to finish it by this month and work on the editing process next month. As of now, it looks like I’ll end the book at a little over lac words, though I hope to cut it down once I start editing and rewriting.
Despite such a hectic schedule, a vacation was long due. The kid finished his Prep 2 assessment, the husband who’s been on duty since last March faced a high risk of burn-out and my eyes were aching from the number of hours I spent working on my laptop. So, we took off on a beach vacation to Mandarmani for three days after a year, and I’m falling short of words to express how special this holiday was. To see the kid running on the beach, playing football with his father, letting the waves splash against him was sheer delight. However, we maintained every safety protocol from wearing masks to sanitizing our hands at all steps.
We returned feeling rejuvenated. The kid is enjoying his session break, the husband is back on duty and I’m clocking an average of three-thousand words per day as I work towards the finishing line of Raya Ray’s second case.
Amidst all this, I thought of grabbing the opportunity of doing the Blogchatter A2Z challenge 2021 in April for the fourth consecutive year. In the first year, I wrote about Bengal as ‘A dollop of Bengal’ series. In the second year, I wrote about our pathetically ridiculous experiences related to Tuneer’s school admission process. Last year, I tried to bring humor into our grim lives by writing about stand-up comedians and YouTube creators in the genre of comedy. Like every year, I’m yet to decide on the theme this year. However, the thrill of getting back to daily blogging is unparalleled. Wish me luck as I conclude my second novel and take the plunge with the A2Z challenge next month.
Sharing one more gorgeous picture from the sun, sand, and sea vacation this month. Stay safe and take care.
I grew up as a single child in a small town in Bengal called Berhampore. Every year my Professor father ensured that we had two vacations. The first one was always planned and it took us to Kolkata, then Calcutta. My mother had her parents staying in that city and I was amazed at how different a metro city was from my town. But what I would look forward to was the unplanned vacation to a new destination during summer holidays. My parents would keep me guessing until we reached the spot. As I grew up, I would try to open the bags to see if winter clothes were packed because that would mean a vacation in the hills. Every year that I went back home, I took back fond memories of places I have visited and left a part of me in those places.
Much later, when I asked them about this game of suspense, my Dad had disclosed that he wanted me to feel the thrill of exploring the world without any preset ideas. He believed in striking a balance between bucket list, which helped tick off items after fulfilling of wishes and #TheBlindList which taught me to keep my heart and mind open to experiencing new things. This is how began my journey of travel to explore new destinations. Darjeeling, which was one of the first ever vacation spot for me is a personal favorite even today.
As I grew up, I moved to Kolkata for higher studies. This was my first date with the world. An eighteen-year-old was trusted by her parents and Permitted to stay on her own so that she could pursue her dreams. There were deterrents in the form of discriminatory behavior in college, heart breaks in the form of relationships gone wrong, harassment by random men that led to cringeworthy moments but I didn’t let the negativity ruin my journey.
M is for the famous actor Mithun Chakraborty, the mouth-watering delicacy Mishti Doi (sweet curd), the writer and activist who gave voice to the plight of tribal population- Mahashweta Devi, the oldest underground train in Kolkata called Metro and the amusement park near Strand road overlooking Hooghly river in Kolkata – Millennium Park. But through M, let me take you to one of the most favorite beach destinations in the state – Mandarmani and the last site for Murshidabad Diaries – Motijheel.
In the last few years, Mandarmani or Mandarmoni in East Midnapore District has turned out to be one of the largest and fastest developing seaside resort village of West Bengal. Red crabs crawling around the 13 km long beach is a special attraction here. Trying to avoid the much crowded Digha, people have started moving to the more tranquil and serene Mandarmani beach.
The distance between Kolkata and Mandarmani can be covered in 3.5 to 4hours by car (180 kms approximately). Roads are in quite good condition. Train options are available till Contai/Ramnagar/Digha and most of the resorts offer to arrange for a pick up from there. Sher-e-Punjab on the Kolaghat expressway is a great hotel to stop over for breakfast or lunch with aloo paratha being their speciality dish.
While the town has ample options for stay and most of them are on or near the beach, Aqua Marina Drive Inn takes the cake away for being not only right on the beach but having rooms that lets one view the sea from both the room and balcony. For luxury stay, Rose Valley resort and Sana Beach resort are the best options.
Variety of fish items like pomphret, prawns, hilsa etc along with crab dishes are a must try in this place. Most of the resorts have their own restaurants serving local Bengali cuisine that include a large variety of sea food. Tender coconut water is a great thirst quencher in this locality.
Sight seeing –
The beach – The beach is a great place to take a walk around and indulge in sea bathing.
The Delta or Mohana – This is the place where a river meets the sea. It is about 5-6 km from the main part of the beach and is beautiful with a scenic backdrop. On one side of the river there are dense pine trees, while on the other side is the fishing village.
Tajpur – Tajpur beach is barely twenty minutes from Mandarmani beach by car. It is being developed into a port now.
Shankarpur – This beach is around ten minutes from the Tajpur beach. Sea waves get wilder in these beaches.
Water sports – While the Government has stopped paragliding after an accident, beach bikes are still available.
Best time to visit –
Mandarmani can be visited throughout the year. During monsoons,the water level goes very high and waves reach till the walls of the resorts.