Tuesday, 30 June, 2009

Bride Series 5: Shoe Shopping...

Ok guys today after a long time I am in this mad frenzy of posting. This used to happen the most last year in June/July. Seems like am into celebrating a lil blog anniversary.
Anyways have been delaying this little bride update, the other day Soma and me, we went shoe shopping. We went to New Market. In college I used to frequent this shop in the newer part of New Market, the name I have forgotten. Anyways after 10 years or so my memory was a little rusty and I just wanted to check out the stuff there. It has been ages since I last bought shoes from New Market.

Hence the venture. Omg. That part of New Market has about 10/15 shoe shops all in a row and they fight like mad to attract customers. I do not even remember these other shops but they were all stuffed with shoes.

We had a gala time. Finally we went to this tiny shop manned by two teenage boys. After much haggling picked up the following shoes. But the boys have become my friends for life and promised me discounts forever. I still need to pick up one more pair of evening shoe (I am looking for a silver something which eluded me in this shopping spree) and also a pair of slippers. Since I could not pick up black shoes (black is a taboo colour in Indian trouseau) it was getting rather difficult since I mostly grativate towards anything black.
Some points I had to keep in mind while picking up the shoes:
  • Need sandals/slip ons to wear with the saris;
  • The slippers had to be in gold shades since the sarees are all heavy ones with zari work;
  • Need heels cos Indranil is 6 to my 5.1-- without heels I would look ridiculous beside him.
This one is my favourite, though this is wildly inappropriate, but what the hell, for once the red shoe looked better that its black version....

Well I could not wear heels all the time, this one is a comfort wear....

Little birdie...

Is'nt the little birdie in my blog header really cute? Last Saturday after somehow enduring office, Soma, Nisha and me, we had gone out in search of puchka. We walked to Basantidebi College, well almost walked, dragging a reluctant Soma along the way. Buro was not their but his nephew was there. Had puchka. In that lane there is this boutique called Rinku's, I have seen it forever but never ventured inside. That dat we went in, they have some really nice clothe evening bags, found this cute little key bag. Could not resist it. This purchase so reminds me of our (Anubha and me) mad shopping in Dilli Haat, People's Tree (though here Anubha used to go berserk, I could never afford their stuff), Kriti exhibitions, Khadi....the list goes on.

Enjoy the rains....

Right now I feel like Stephane Meyer's Twilight series hero Edward and his family. No no am not in the mood to suck blood. Another reason. Ask me why. Well Edward was a dracula and his family obviously consisted of father, mother and sibling draculas and whenever it rained they would play basketball. Well am at all into basketball but I sure love the rain. And man it is raining in such a sexy way in Kolkata right now.

I have been in a meeting continously today and the yesterday. By the time I was done today my brain was saturated, head was buzzing ( could literally hear the sound), temples were throbbing and for some reason I was famished. Went out to get a snack, it was all cloudy. While coming back it started to rain. Lovely. Though I didnt get the chance to get wet, the cool breeze, the cloudy sky and the fat rain drops refreshed my mind, cleared my head and filled me with a disproportionate sense of well being. I am happy to be alive and sitting here in front of my computer, the window is open and I can see and hear the rain. I so love this.

Yesterday Indranil was telling me that whenever it rains I write a blog post on it. Maybe I do-- I love the rains and find it a very soul cleasening and life giving process. The sounds remain long after the actual rain has stopped, trees look refreshed and green, earth becomes soft and the weather is so much more better.

Saturday, 27 June, 2009

Bride Series 4: Back with a bang....

ok guys after so much crying/twittering/ boring my friends/ getting confused/ confusing others....I have decided to take a break. I am happily swimming in the maddness of pre wedding jambore and it feels nice. One thing I never considered before-- getting married makes you get a lot of attention...and that sure is fun :)

Friday, 26 June, 2009

Canadian Costalgia....

Today I am wearing this Elizabeth Arden perfume which I had picked up long time back in Canada. Numerous shifts had religated this bottle with several others in a box which got pushed behind other boxes. Today suddenly my eyes fell on the box, curious I pulled it out, only to discover these o0ld goodies. I liberally splashed the perfume and now it is so reminding me of my Canada days.

I remember I used to wear this perfume a lot in Canada, so this smell has got entwined with a jumble of memories. I remember my friends-- Beth, Che, Jen, my apartment on College & Bathrust, U of T, the numerous libraries, hectic school days, lazy summer, walking all over Toronto, the Women's Book Shop, Kensington Market, the yummy bakery, the next door Vietnamese take away, the Orthodox Russian chruch on the other side of my house, sound of the chruch gongs,China Town, Gelato, grocery shopping, Pakistani food, my first snowfall, long never ending winters....seems like ages away, yet so fresh on the mind.

If I close my eyes I can still remember the hippi hustle and bustle of Kensington Market, the flavour of berbequed meat that we had cooked when we went to the Lake Shore for a picnic, crazy things that Beth and me did, Pauline cooking crepes, Ashley with her numerous boy friends, Lisa with her agitations, Jen coming to visit me, facinated conversations with Che regarding her experience as a film producer in the Philipines.

Some of the things that I miss most about Canada--

The University

  • Went there on a state scholarship, so was in a sense a guest of the Government of Canada-- no one had ever bestowed so much of faith on me ever before or after...just winning the scholarship made me feel very special;

  • My first international exposure all alone;

  • Money in my bank, man I was rich, in fact the richest a student can possibly get with schol and TA job-- how I miss the money :)

  • University of Toronto or as they say U of T, much to my surprise the university has some very fine old buildings more like castles than university, beautiful cultural and community places like the Hart House where on any day students could play the grand piano, work on their laptop, do yoga or aerobics or plain stretch out and sleep;

  • The lovely parks and green stretches surronding U of T;

  • Roberts Library with its mind boggling collection of books and video and audio cassettes and nice and welcoming library staff (Indian library staff should go there and learn how to behave politiely and helpfully), rows of computers for student use which were a blessing in pre laptop days;

  • The caferatia of Innis College, just opposite Roberts. It was run by this nice Hungarian/Romanian family-- father, son and daughter. They used to make amazing roast chicken, wild rice and beans salad. People were extremely polite and helpful and the food was cheap and amazing. I am not much of a lone public eater but that cafeteria was one place where I could sit for hours and eat alone and not feel odd. I hope they continue cooking their magic.

  • Piu and her gang of Chinese friends who had helped me a lot initially.

  • International Student's Centre, which I could not make use of much.

  • The huge fitness centre just behind Sidney Smith which housed the Pol Sci dept. I loved the aerobics classes there.

  • The Women's Book Shop on Chruch Street, where I had initially gone to pick up some text books for my Post Colonial Studies class, but I fell in love with this bookshop with their wide range of books on sale, their unique range of stationaries ( I had picked up this ruler which has a list of world's most famous leaders), post cards, magnets, tee shirts, jwellery, bags.....you name it they had it.

  • The hotdog stalls in front of Sidney Smith-- a burger for two dollar and twenty five cents and you pile on as much pickle/mustard/hot sauce/mayo as you can possibly fit into the hot dog.
  • The Chinese mobile food stalls with immensely cheap food, the poutin they served. Poutin is this big styrofoam box of french fries topped with a cheesy sauce. Of course french fries and cheesy sauce was a great combo. Mmmmmm.....

Oh well this is getting too long, will continue some other time with the rest of Toronto!

Tuesday, 23 June, 2009

Bride Series 3: My Life Right Now

Some stubborn streak is keeping me up at quarter to one, when I should be asleep. But whoever said I am good at following the rules. Life is crazy and living upto pre marriage reputation of being hectic to say the least....some of the highlights....

  • Socialisation-- this last weekend there were some 4 lunches/dinners....not counting the dinner on Friday night....
  • Business-- well more than me, its my parents who are busy....
  • Stress-- loads....
  • Countdown has begun, my marriage is less than 2 months away....
  • Prep-- Marraige registration forms have been sent to Indranil.....once he signs and send them back, I will have to sign them and submit to the marriage registrar....
  • Invitations-- not quiet begun, though some friends and family have already booked their tickets....
  • Pick-up-- the wedding cards, which have come out quiet unlike what we wanted....
  • Headaches, frozen shoulders have started.....summer heat & pre marriage blues and stress are reasons enough....
  • Lots of planning...
  • Lots of arrangements....
  • Almost no time to myself....oh I would love to spend a Sunday in the bed with a good book....
  • Treks to the tailor...
  • Itsy bitsy bits of panic attacks...
  • Some more shopping....phew the list is quiet endless......last week picked up lots of cosmetics....
  • Loads of advice....
  • Zero concerntration at work.....

Tuesday, 16 June, 2009

Incompetent Vodafone....

Well I am definitely at the end of my steam here. Vodafone has been successful of driving me up the wall. The list of woes is not one.

  • Ever since I have taken the prepaid connection in December my international sms is blocked. After several customer care calls and smses I have stopped asking for activating my international smsing facility. It seems like they would be doing me a big favour by activating the sms service.
  • I topped up my pre paid connection for Rs 444 and the shopkepper sent the top up to another number. Hre immediately called up Vodafone, they asked to send some sms with promises of money refund within 10 days. That was beginning of April, in the middle of June nothing has happened. I am being bumped from retalior to customer care to distributer and God knows who else. You write them an email and get auto answers saying we will get back to you. I am so tired of waiting. pay my money back, let me make some calls (if you dont blunder and deduct randomly) and spend my money and I shall promptly switch to another service.
  • Yesterday for an international call, I was charged the exact double. So far I have spoken to 4 customer care officials and 1 manager, been kept on hold for an hour approximately by the 5 of them, learnt that stupid song of theirs by heart, but my money? Oh no sir, that has not been refunded. Apparently their system is down! And when you ask them to call you back, they have one standard line "I know Ms Majumdar that you must be busy but we cannot help it". Finally the manager after making me wait for some 15/20 minutes have promised to call me back. Lets see when that happens.

Zoozoos were fun. But I wish the company spends a little less on advertisment and made a little effort to retain their customers. They are frankly worse than a government office and the whole lot of them are bloody incompetent and inefficient.

They say the consumer has the ultimate power in today's materialistic world, where is that power I wonder?

Is it too much to expect efficiency for a service for which I am paying? However many zoozoo advertisments you make they have stopped impressing me long back. But then who said anything about retaining customers, getting the new ones is the motto, right?

Monday, 15 June, 2009

Monday Morning Share of Woes...

Monday morning I woke up with an uneasy feeling. I could feel that some body part of me was not alright. Slowly as I opened my eyes into another bright, hot and sunny Monday morning (damn every Sunday night I go to bed with the hope that it rains so much during the night, that the good old streets of Kolkata could be relied upon to be water logged which will make it impossible for me to go to office, horses being wishes and all that...) I realise that my neck and back are stiff and an experimental shrug triggered a shot of pain. So I technically begin my Monday with a wince. How nice for the whole week stretched ahead in front of me. Wincing I get up and set about finishing my morning chores. Had a brainwave that after bath I would apply some pain relief ointment. Since the human backside is hardly accessible for self application, had to prise away the maid from her work. Now our maid, God bless her, is an over enthusiastic individual who does not believe in doing things half way. I gave her a Voleni and asked her to apply a little since it is pretty strong. She thought that half a tube is less enough and smeared as much as she could, saving the other half for another day of torture. As soon as half a tube of Voleni was spread over my back, I felt like I was being ripped apart or rather my back was. I hollered like mad, jumping around. Man what a way to start a week!

Sunday, 14 June, 2009

Bride Series 2: Of Aiburubhats & Gifts....

Ok guys, I have taken a decision. And the decision is that I will stop cribbing about the traditional Indian way of getting married and just be funny about it. I am going to write this funny series with the original name of 'bride series' and make you all laugh. This is the first of the funny series, please bring out your anti-glare glasses and get ready to read.

Today morning Indranil reminded me that our marriage is just 57 days away. I was just about to go off in a panic puff of 5o-freaking-7-days-away when he not so subtely reminded me of all the aiburubhats I have already started eating.

Ok let me explain to you the thingy called aiburubhat. Aiburu is a state, the state of being a spinster or a bachelor or in today's lingo single. And bhat is rice but in Bengali it sometimes refers to an entire meal. So put together aiburubhat is the last meal as a spinster. It formally happens the day before marriage for both the bride and the groom at their own houses seperately. But before that all the friends and relatives give aiburubhats, i.e. call the bride or the groom over for a meal, sometimes alone, sometimes along with others and sometimes parties are arranged. My marraige may be 57 days away, but my aiburubhat has started. It was kicked off by Anuradha my friend from office. I stuffed myself on red wine chicken, buttered rice and boiled veggies and felt oh so good. This was quickly followed by several others. And the better part is I am getting more than an invitation a day. The rate at which people are inviting me I anticipate the whole of June and July in eating glory. Oh I am loving it, everytime someone wants to feed me aiburubhat he/she asks me where I want to eat, what I want to eat etc. All I have to do is go and eat. I am making a wishlist of all the resturants I want to eat in and all the different kinds of food I wanted to try in Kolkata.

Staying put in far away Copenhagen, Indranil is not liking it a bit. He is a big foodie and not to be able to be part of it, when he is as entitled to it as I am, does not feel good. This is called strategic placement guys, I returned to Kolkata just at the right time. But I say he has some hope, he is landing in Kolkata 9/10 days before the wedding, so I am sure some of his mashis/pishis/mamis would feed him some aiburubhats.

Of course my diet, in whatever weak form I was adhering to, has gone for a total toss. It has been bumped off into the far away trash can, no not even the neighbourhood one with chance of retrival. My mother has also kind of given up on her survilience of my food. I know this does not bode too well for my figure, which to begin with is round. I was trying to reduce the diameter, no the radius, oh whichever to look slightly less dumpy and circular in my wedding benarasi sari. But God decrees that it is not to be and who am I, a mere mortal to go against God's wishes???

Another thing that I am being asked about is what gift I want. Well 3 women I know have suggested that I make a wishlist and ask that person her/his budget and just accordingly tell her/him what I want. Incidentally all these three women are Virgos. Being a Libra, I didnt fall for the suggestion too well. Come on how can I tell people what all I want, a gift is a voluntary thing and I do not want to impose any ways on it. It sure feels good to know that so many people are planning to pick up gifts for me. Oh I am sooooooooo happy. Indranil again is not very happy with the situation because grooms do not get that many gifts, it is the bride on whom people shower gifts. How nice I say :)))))))

There are some suggestions of stag/hen parites. To begin with Indians never had this, but then seeing all these movies on Star Movies/HBO has made us savvy. No one can say that we dont catch up and latch onto phoren ideas. Some smart friends of mine wanted me to throw them a hen party. It struck me like a lightening when I was just about to doze off for the night that it is they who should be giving me a hen party and not the other way round. Come on guys trying to trick the poor bride is not good at all. My Delhi bunch of friends want to give me a hen party but for that apparently I have to go to Delhi. I say please send me the air tickets and I shall oblige. Ohhhhhh wouldnt that make me jet setting. Every frumpy has her day I say.

I do declare guys getting married has some plus points!

Friday, 12 June, 2009

Just Around the Corner....(Bride Series 1)

Remember the phrase "just around the corner" being taught in school? Somehow I have always found this phrase very interesting and of immense possibilities. The shop is just around the corner, exams are just around the corner, durga pujo is just around the corner, spring is just around the corner....to my young mind the anticipation of wait coming to an end used to loom large. In my imagination I could almost trace the journey of whoever was around the corner, slowly coming to my side of the world and then walking up to my house and knocking. Sometimes I would connect the phrase 'is on us' or 'knocking on us' with this and would literally visualise exams knocking on my mind demanding that I prove what all I have studied so far. Funny how your young mind conjours up certain images and they refuse to budge or reform however old you grow.

Well the important event which is just round the corner (for which I gave this whole background) is my marriage. I am getting married in August and my life right now is revolving around discussing my upcoming marriage, preparing for it, dissecting it, bissecting it, tearing it apart and putting it all back together. I was talking to a friend and a fellow blogger about it yesterday and she suggested that I write about it. Funny now that I think about it, i am really surprised that I have not written about this before considering that now a days all my energy goes into it. Sometimes I confuse whether the marriage is for me or I am for the marriage? The marriage is for me right? The marriage is happening cos I want it to happen. But these marriages have an innate knack of seeping in and overtaking much more space than we are ready to give them. I am not even married just preparing for one and already I feel 'taken over' and all the married ones I am talking to are not really encouraging. For an individualistic space freak like me, marriage being the hugely social and traditional event that it is in India,
is quiet something to digest and accept. Dont get me wrong, I am in love with the guy I am getting married to. My problem lies entirely with the role of the bride. You can think then why I am doing it? Simple reason being it is not my marriage, it is my parents duty, my family's expectation and the same applies for the groom's side.

Frankly I never thought that the very idea of being a bride would be so taxing! But it is and it is stressing me out no end. And by now I have bored most of my friends with all imagined and non imagined troubles, potential pitfalls, clash with my beliefs and politics. I have taken innumerable pledges to take all of it with a pinch of salt and a big bucket of humour. But somehow I go back to having a long face and head swarming with marriage mines. This is making me feel guilty too. Especially since Indranil is so happy about getting married to me. But like I keep telling him that I am not worked up about marrying him, it is the traditional role that I am expected to fit in as a bride which is driving me up the wall.

All my life whatever I have experienced or read, brides are supposed to feel in a certain way-- they are supposed to be happy, coy, shy, eager, enthusiastic etc etc etc, that is if they are getting married to the partner of their choice. Why dont I feel any of it? Somehow I dont feel of any of these things. To me a traditional Indian/Bengali marriage is a collosal waste of money, resouce and time and however much I try to tweak my mental sate it doesnt help. I dont feel happy shopping, planning the menu, drawing the invitation list....all i feel is guilt....guilt of blowing my father's hard money. Guilt of being a traditional girl suddenly after all these years of being a free bird and a radical to boot. Oh well my Libra soul is in a severe spree of indecision and since this is going to for sometime....it is exhausting and stressing me no end, while the clock ticks on and marriage rounds the conner and looms large, fingers lifted about to rap on my door.

This last line reminds me of the poem 'The Listeners' by Walter De la Mare. I am getting literary in confusion :)

Wednesday, 3 June, 2009

Aila re....

Aila hit Kolkata....thunder, lightening, storms, falling trees, lashing rains and television channels running full commentary on the storm, predicting the exact moment when she is going to hit Kolkata. All their predictions came wrong....Aila hit in her own sweet time.

Aila was ferocious. In my years of living in the tropical belt with the sea nearby I have not experienced anything like this. Since forever I remember there would be red alerts and then the storm would divert to Bangladesh or Orissa. But this time Aila choose to hit Bengal killing people, destroying property, ripping trees and leaving the government and administration gaping and the general public devasted and angry. Newspapers say that Aila turned this ferocious because of the effects of global warning.

Rains started from Sunday, rains are a welcome right now cos they cool down the temperature. This has been one of the hottest summers on record. Monday morning I woke up to see rains continuing and a gloomy cloudy sky. It was the ideal rainy day. Remember those days when it would rain buckets and suddenly during the third or fourth period school would be announced closed cos of water logging? Or even better would be those days when you wake up to heavy rains and peek outside your window/ verrandh to see completely water logged street. Ah what joy! Anyways to get back to the present I woke up Monday morning to torrents and just decided to skip office. Thankfully that day my mom did not need much convincing. I was happily sipping hot green tea I switched on the television and saw the entire telecast around this storm. Red alrets were sounded and offices were shut. My dad had braved the storm and gone out. He came back and we sat down to a lunch of khichuri and dim bhaja ( rice and lentils and friend egg). The television telecast got gloomier with reports on rising number of deaths and massive destruction of property. I was thankfull that I had skipped office. By evening the storm had subsided to a large extent. But the destruction shown on television was heartbreaking.

Next day got to hear how my colleagues had a tough time reaching home. It took some as long as 5 hours, many of them had to change lots of transports. The trains had stopped because over head wire had snapped off so people living in the suburbs had a tough time returning home. A lot of people had to walk, our maid, poor dear had to walk for more than 4 hours when the train she was commuting in could move go beyond Garia. Had she been stuck in the Ballygunj station she could have spent the night along with the others in the station itself but Garia not being familiar to her, she had to brave the storm and the rain and since there was no transport available walk home.

Aila has destroyed entire villages in her wake, people have been living in relief camps where aid has not reached them. In several parts of Kolkata there was no electricity for 3 days at a stretch, roads were blocked, saw a newspaper photograph where a tree was leaning over a house. Though there was no water logging in south Kolkata, in the north some streets were water logged.

People are not going to forget Aila in a hurry.