Passing on the joy of celebration – Mahalaya special


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It’s that time of the year again when the wait for the biggest celebration for a Bengali household comes to an end with the arrival of Mahalaya. For the next ten days, all that one can hear a Bengali talk about is how Durga pujo is nothing short of an emotion. It doesn’t matter in which city you are going to celebrate pujo this year. It could be Berhampore/Murshidabad, Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai, New York or London because the level of excitement always stays the same.

A pandal created out of drums -Pujo 2017
A pandal created out of drums -Pujo 2017

Mahalaya in my childhood meant the beginning of school holidays. Preparation began the night before as Ma pestered me to sleep early while ensuring that Baba kept the radio station sorted out for the wee hours of the morning. Sharp at 4 am, she woke up every year to turn on the radio. I would snuggle up to them with sleepy eyes as Mahishashur Mardini was aired on All India Radio. Birendra Krishna Bhadra chanted the verses of Chandi Kavya/Path while devotional songs played during intervals.

Throwback - Pujo 2017
Throwback – Pujo 2017

And then Doordarshan came up with a Mahalaya special episode of Mahishashur Mardini. My parents would watch till the end as I dozed off intermittently. Baba would next go to the local sweet shop Mitali and get us Kachori, Aloo Dum and misthi. I still feel those were the only motivating factors for me to wake up so early.

Open Air Durga Pujo - Pujo 2017
Open Air Durga Pujo – Pujo 2017

I normally spent the day reading books that I would stack up for the last few months. These were called pujabarshikis because these annual magazines were published only during pujo. For me, Anandamela pujabarshiki meant the world though we also got Shukhtara, Desh, Sananda and Anandalok. This hasn’t changed over the years. Last year I had written a post on how this is a gift from my father that I eagerly wait for every year. This year, I am hoping to get it when I travel to Berhampore this 12th.

Anandamela Pujabarshiki last year
Anandamela Pujabarshiki last year

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A perfect world by an imperfect individual


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2008 – I was in my first year of B-school. Four of us took an all-girls trip to Chennai followed by Pondicherry. The trip was my first sojourn with my girlfriends and the city mesmerized me with its beauty, cleanliness, and calmness. The sea was both rough and serene here. And the environment of the Aurobindo ashram had a deep impact on my thoughts.

2011 – After the sudden demise of my mother, grief had engulfed my life in a way that rendered me static at Mysore.

2012 – this was the first city that my husband had coaxed me to visit. He insisted that a change of location was needed for my mental health.

Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

This picture was clicked from the room of the hotel in Pondicherry where we had been put up. The balcony had the most gorgeous view of the sea. I sat out for hours gazing at the sea. Probably it was the enormity of the sea here that absorbed some of my pain during that phase.

Today when I look at this picture, I see a perfect frame of a beautiful world captured by a person in the most imperfect state of mind, fighting her inner demons.

(195 words)

This is the twelfth and last post (nonfiction) written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign on the theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the previous eleven posts here.

This post is part of the Tuesday Photo Challenge on the theme ‘Our World’ this week.

Linking up with Wordless Wednesday created by Esha and Natasha.

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Occupying a corner of my heart

Delhi is the first city that gave me a feeling of responsibility that comes along with freedom. I had spent three years at the Presidency College Girls hostel in Kolkata during my graduation. But, in 2002, when I moved out to Delhi for my first post-graduation, it was also for the first time that I realized the state of being very far away from home. During my two-years stay there, I made some wonderful friends and was exposed to multiple cultures, languages, cuisines, and festivals.

My friend Alexa
Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

After moving out to Bangalore in 2004, I never had a chance to return back here. Two months back, my husband had an opportunity to visit the city for his official work. Knowing my attachment to Delhi, he booked tickets for both the toddler and me. When we checked into the Taj hotel property, little did I expect the room to become a personal favorite! It wasn’t just the huge glass window pane that provided a gorgeous view of the Delhi sky but also the corner of the room dedicated as a working space that stole my heart. In the game of peek-a-boo between light and darkness, I sat down to write my second detective thriller.

(199 words)

This is the ninth post (nonfiction) written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign on the theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the seventh flash fiction around this picture prompt here and the eighth one here. For the first six posts, you can click here.

This post is part of the Tuesday Photo Challenge on the theme ‘Light and Dark’ this week.

Linking up with Wordless Wednesday created by Esha and Natasha.

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

Mesmerized by the beauty of nature

My son has been traveling since he was 1.5 months old. We have taken him to various beach destinations. But I have always loved mountains a little more than the sea. Last October, after he turned two, my husband and I came up with the idea of a vacation to Shillong and Cherrapunji. Our memorable stay at Ri Kynjai resort, opposite Umiam Lake was followed up by the experience of walking among the clouds in Cherrapunji. The boy loved everything about the trip.

Photo prompt – copyright@soniasmusings

This picture was taken on the way during our road trip from Shillong to Cherrapunji. The windswept Kansh grass caught my attention. I stopped the car and walked outside to get soaked in the beauty of nature. A small house surrounded by hills and slopes was a soothing sight. I stood transfixed for a while before capturing this moment through my lens. This picture is no less than frozen memories of witnessing nature’s beauty at its best for me.

(161 words)

This is the sixth post (nonfiction) written as part of the #MyfriendAlexa campaign on the theme ‘Shades of Perception’. You can read the fourth flash fiction around this picture prompt here and the fifth one here. For the first three posts, you can click here.

Linking up with Wordless Wednesday created by Esha and Natasha.

I am taking my Alexa rank to the next level with Blogchatter

Books, emotions and memories over the years

First Prize award-winning entry of the contest –

Sonia
SuperStar Blogger Award

If you ask me what gift can make me the happiest, I would always say books. The smell of a book or the feeling evoked from touching it is sanctimonious for me. That is why if someone asks me to choose between a paperback or e-book, I will always choose the former.

Books have been an integral part of my growing up years. My father, now a retired Mathematics Professor has always been fond of Bengali literature. My mother would read out stories from the children’s books and my fascination for the written word began. Once I discovered the love of reading on my own, I sucked into a world of my own.

I must have been in class 5 when I was introduced to Satyajit Ray. During summer vacation that year, one of his Detective novels ‘Sonar Kella’ adapted to a movie kept playing on TV. I was enthralled by it. I remember studying hard for the final term exams that year because Baba had promised a double treat of books by Ray if I ranked in the top three.

Thus began my journey with the razor-sharp and intelligent sleuth Feluda aka Pradosh C Mitter. Assisted by his cousin brother Tapesh Ranjan aka Topshe and friend Lalmohan Ganguly aka Jatayu, they traveled from the banks of the Ganges in Benaras to the Thames in London.

Each year, I would eagerly be waiting for the book fair held during winters. I would pick up all the new Feluda books, Ray’s other books, and some more detective thrillers. These books were then kept in Ma’s custody until my second term exams were over. I can never forget the way I would rush back home to claim my most cherished possession after the last exam.

Throughout my growing years, winter afternoons had occupied a special place in my heart. I remember sitting on a carpet spread over the veranda floor, sipping coffee and reading books. Ma would give me company some days and so those afternoons were spent narrating a story from any of my favorite books to her.

Books, emotions and memories over the years
Books, emotions, and memories over the years

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What if death comes knocking on the door!

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WOW Post badge

I woke up this morning with a bad migraine. The wall clock announced the time as 6 am. Looking at the toddler sleeping beside me, I felt guilty. Yesterday had been an extremely depressing day for me. The editing part of the first novel has been pending for quite a while. The boy had been falling sick quite frequently for the past one month. Last week he had come down with viral flu and had to be confined inside the house for the whole week. Yesterday he wanted to go to the nearby play zone quite badly. Fear of an infection again made me discard the idea. When every mode of trying to make him understand failed, I yelled at him. My son is generally a very sensible kid and so, I try to be as gentle with him as possible. The sleepless nights for the past few days and the slack in my working schedule finally got on my nerves and I vented it out on the hapless boy last evening. I regretted it immediately and apologized to him. I don’t think he even remembered the incident when I put him to sleep last night but I stayed up feeling extremely annoyed with myself. Few drops of tears ran down my cheeks at this moment as I ruffled his hair. That’s when I saw the writing on his magic slate. It read,

‘Dear Sonia,

Today is your last day on Earth. You have ten hours left and so go ahead and do whatever you want to.

The countdown to say goodbye has already begun. 

P.S. – This is not a joke.

Yours truly,

‘Death’ ‘

I read the message couple of times to ensure that this was not a prank on me. I tried deleting it by pressing the delete button above the writing area on the slate. The words were still prominently visible. It took me a while to understand what was happening. I was going to die and had only a few hours to savor my last moments on this planet.

today-is-your-last-day-on-earth
Today is your last day on earth – WOW prompt

Looking at my toddler and husband sleeping peacefully, I started shedding silent tears. Oblivious to the grief ahead, they were cuddled up. To get a grip on my emotions, I decided to walk out of the room towards the balcony. My father had arrived here a couple of weeks back to spend some time his grandson. I saw him reading the newspaper in the sitting room while passing through this area. After my toddler started school, I rarely had the luxury of spending time appreciating the beauty of nature. But today I decided to relish every single moment.

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Rat tales – my not so pleasant encounters with the species!

Last afternoon, I was working on my blog trying to brainstorm for the next topic when I  suddenly noticed a small rat run inside the room. The apartment complex, where I reside in Kolkata is getting renovated. It was the turn of our flat to get repainted and repaired this week. Every day I would find some or the other windows/doors kept open by the workers. That would have been the prefect point of entrance for this tiny creature. With my twenty seven month toddler then sleeping on the bed, I had no option but to dial my father who, at that moment was present in the adjacent room. There was no way that I could let my son wake up so fast. Putting him to sleep usually takes more than an hour and I am never willing to let my efforts go waste by waking him up early. After an intense search, we could still not locate it. I couldn’t shake off the entire incident throughout the evening. I am easily intimidated by all insects/animals larger than the cockroach. The moment I spot a lizard somewhere nearby, I scream my heart out. So a rat, despite its tiny statistics is an object of fear for me. I recollected that this was my third encounter with the species, the first being in Delhi.

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