Wednesday, 14 December, 2011

Being back....

Ever since I got back from India, friends have been asking me 'how was your trip home?' I tell them it has been great, it was so nice to be back, be with my folks, meet friends and the whole family. After repeating the same answer a dozen times or so it started to sound a little lame to me. I was wondering if I asked myself the same question what would the answer be?


After a gap of two years home was....

Lovely.... the smile on my parents' faces...their oh-so-familiar faces looked a little older, bit more weathered but the smiles were bright and luminescent...for that smile alone the trip was so worth it....

Two years and not a single thing had changed in my room...walking into my room felt like walking back in bangle hanger stuffed with glass bangles which I have long overgrown, my little bedside self filled with presents from friends, some long lost, some still in touch...old college and university notes in my book shelf....I smile and tell Ma 'you should have cleared all this junk'. She says 'its your room, you do that'. Ah yes my room....I left home in 2002 since then lived in numerous houses but if there was a place which I call my own it would be this room....coming back to it was so gratifying...

Waking up in the morning to the smell of gorom cha (hot tea) and paar ar dokan er kochuri torkari ar jilipi (vegetable curry with fried Indian bread and a desert from a shop near our house). The best breakfast in the whole world as far as I am concerned. Oh I do love my share of pancakes and eggs benedict...but I did not grow up eating those, I grew up eating this breakfast on Sundays and other holidays. The breakfast was as awesome as ever....

Meeting my family...the nice ones, the happy ones, the bitchy ones, the gossips ones...the whole jing bang. I know people turn up their noses whenever the word 'family' crops family is the same as everyone's...a little mad, a little kind, a little critical, a little supportive, a little genuine, a little fake....But do I enjoy being with them? Boy yes! I would not change them for anything...the nicer ones I absolutely treasure and the not-so-nicer ones, oh well if we cut them off  from our lives whom would be gossiping about? So the lot of them stay...big family get together at home means a lot of work but also means laughter, old stories retold a thousandth time, little groups talking about different things, everyone squeezing in small places for one big adda (chat) family was as entertaining as ever....

Meeting old friends is like a sepia photograph coming take up where you left off..... like you have never been may have become  older, fatter, bald-er, richer, poorer, successful, unsuccessful but to these people you can be just yourself, no need for pretence, no need for explanations, you laugh at silly things, you cry if you need to, go a little mad but still you know they will welcome you next time you visit....

And can I not mention the confusion, the chaos, the muddle, the dirt, the craziness that is India? Being back felt good, really, really good, like I was sleeping for so long and suddenly I am awake.

So a trip back home was like replenishing the wine carafe with your best wine and hoping that it would last till the next trip home......

Wednesday, 5 October, 2011

Celebrating Durga Pujo

Prelude: This post is about Durga Pujo which happens every year in autumn and the most important festival of the Bengalis. We believe that Ma Durga or Goddess Durga comes to visit her parents' home with her four children Lakhi (Goddess of Wealth), Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge), Ganesh (elephant faced God of Wisdom) and Kartik (God of Good Looks). Ma Durga kills Mahishashur who is a demon and symbolises all things evil, thus bringing in peace and prosperity. The festival starts on the sixth day of the Hindu calender which is called sosthi, and goes on till doshomi which is the 10th day and in between are saptami the 7th day, ashtami the eight day and nabami the 9th day. On doshomi it is believed that Ma Durga and her children go back to Mount Kailash where her husband Lord Shiva waits for her. This is symbolised by dunking of idols in the Hoogly River. 

Bengalis kind of live for this festival, before the festival there is major shopping done and gifts mostly clothes (saris for women and dhooti punjabi for men) are exchanged. It is essential to wear new clothes and shoes on the days of Durga Pujo. The prayer and rituals are conducted by Bramhins and the general public offer prayers during anjali which happens each morning from soptomi to nobomi. Bengalis usually fast for this and soon after anjali they are given prosad which are fruits and sweet offerings given to Goddess and then distributed. Bhog is the rice offered to the Goddess and then distributed about the public generally during lunch. 

After doshomi people visit each other's houses to offer bijoya greetings and are generally offered home made sweets and savoury stuff.

Clubs in Kolkata go all out for this festival, each club tires to have the best pujo and this results in fabulous idols and decorations and lights. The city decks up for those 5 days and it is definitely worth a visit!

Facebook feed is filled with various Durga pujos happening all over Kolkata, some photos of Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore as well. Sitting in my London home on nabami, twiddling my thumbs and wondering what my parents in Kolkata and my brother in Bombay are up to. By now, I think to myself my parents must have come back home for a brief rest after lunch in one pujo bari, before they go out for the sondhya arati. My brother is supposed to be acting in a theatre in a pujo pandal tonight. Wonder if he got off early from office.

I do not call them, there is no point, right now they are all too busy. Let the pujo madness get over, bijoya is the time when we exchange greetings and reconnect. To catch up on the gossip, to know who came home to Kolkata this year, which or rather whose sari had impressed my mom the most, who wore the most flamboyant dhooti, which pujo won the most number of prizes etc etc.

If I close my eyes, I can eye Kolkata in my mind's eye. After the frenzy of ashtami night with the pujo reaching its zenith with sandhipujo when Ma Durga  kills mahishashur, nabami is always a slower day.

*By now people are mostly tired, *they have been out since panchami or sasthi checking out all the favourite clubs and the last few year's winners, *been stuck in long traffic jams, *driven around in circles for car parking, *the late nights, if not all nighters, *their new shoes have wrecked pretty thorough damage on their feet resulting in bad limps, *new clothes on all the previous days made their bodies uncomfortable, *the best and most often the most uncomfortable (read heavy kanjiveeram saris and gorod er dhootis) has been worn on asthami night,  *and oh the constant eating out-- the puchkas, jhal muris and bhel puris followed by the long queues for biriyanis and chaaps starts taking a toll by nabami.

So nabami, the third day of durga pujo, the ninth day if you translate from Bangla, starts slow. Then suddenly mid morning there is announcement on the para ar club er pujo or mike about anjali starting soon. Suddenly that announcement brings home the fact that you are late, no terribly late, today is the last chance for anjali, lets hurry. Anjali and prasad over, time to check out the winners of Asian Paints Pujo competition-- yes like always Maddox Square has got the best pujo ambience award, which is that obscure club which has got the best idol? 'You know luckily we checked it out on Sashti itself' one or two smug Bengali is sure to say to his/her friend, like they got a tip from Ma Durga herself that club would win in two days time.

It is like I am not there, but yet I am there. In my mind's eye I see it all. The rush for anjali, how the pujo mandops empty after the anjali, a few kids sitting on the chairs, shooting caps on their toy pistols, the smell of faint gunpowder in the air, a few people helping thakur mashi  getting ready for Ma er bhog, incense sticks giving off that sweet sticky smell, Hemanta's rabindrasangeet blaring out from the loud speakers. The restaurants start filling up, those who had fasted on asthami are ready to eat on nabami. Already  there is an air of despondency. Nabami heralds the end of the pujo, dashami is all about Ma going home. There is a heaviness in the hearts of the Bengalis, pujo is almost over for another year. So make the most of nabami evening. Soon after lunch, people will head back home for a brief rest, before decking up for the last evening of the festivities. The next day's evening is all about Ma ar jawa, so very different in tone and mood.

For this Bengali, pujo this year is in Camden Town Centre. Done the two essentials of pujo anjali and bhog, missed out on sondhye arati and pandal hopping. A small slice of Kolkata replicated in Camden Town Centre...old friends meet, grown up kids shock their parents' friends accompanied by 'oma koto boro hoye gechis' (how big you have grown, Bengalis are over keen of saying this). Yesterday we ate our bhog listening to three ladies chatting about how someone's in-laws are so liberal as to allow her to wear trousers (in traditional Bengali household wearing Western clothes was a strict no no till very, very recently, some still cling on). My husband made a snide remark about how much these ladies can talk. But I loved their was a slice of home. It was just the kind of conversation I can hear my mother having with her friends or my aunts. It might sound petty to someone from outside, but having grown up in that society, I know what this means to its matrons. Teenage was the time when I revolted against these notions, now I smile fondly, ready to defend those ladies if needed!

Being away from Kolkata pujo for so many years has changed my definition of pujo. Pujo no longer means shopping till I drop, pandal hopping, long queues, traffic jams, rushing for anjali, hom er tika, bhog er means a time steeped in nostalgia, time for fond memories to resurface, a time to miss home so much that it becomes almost a physical pain. I may not be physically present, but my heart and soul definitely is. Pujo is when every Bengali goes home, at least in his/her heart!

Thursday, 22 September, 2011


With my birthday knocking rather loudly just round the corner, thought I would jot down some bits and pieces of who I am this pre-birthday-y gloriously sunny Thursday afternoon. Why today of all days? Don't know, just in the mood to write I guess. Purpose: Nothing really. Okay found one---they will make me laugh in a couple of year's time.

So onto the bits and bobs...

I type with one hand while my other hand clutches a Cornetto cone which is threatening to melt and drip onto the keyboard. The fact that the laptop is perched rather precariously on my lap, while I am half hanging from the sofa while trying to nudge the cushions into a comfort giving position is not helping matters either. If there was ever a wobbly set up, this is the one! You may ask why do I have to type like this? Specially since I am using my husband's beloved laptop. Frankly balancing is a bit of harmless fun (since husband is not at home, he cannot get a heart attack from what he does not see)....and I do not worry about dripping the ice the cost of my humility I have to say I am the very expert at not wasting even a bit of ice cream!

I read romance books every night and often during the day too. Reading romance makes me happy, relaxes me and brings a silly grin on my face.  Are these not good enough reasons? Do you need more? Mmmm okay....reading romance is infinitely better than reading about another hanging order, mother locking her children up, floods destroying entire villages, gruesome murders, politicians messing the world up, mother earth dangerously warming up etc etc etc....if you are still not convinced just open today's newspaper!

I HATE a dirty house, bedroom strewn with clothes, kitchen counter in a mess with dishes piled up, cushions on the floor, sofa filled with bits and pieces and no place to sit in the drawing room....but more than that I HATE cleaning this my home it is like a constant one-upmanship with the mess. This vexes me no end....even my dreams have changed, knight-in-shinning-armour has been replaced by an expert maid and a pristine house! I so feel middle aged....

I am so boringly normal that it is pitiful! I wish I were a witch, or a magician or a fortune teller or even a tarot card reader. But, no I am just a boring ol' me and sadly tea leaves look just like tea leaves to me. Wish I could be a gypsy or a sailor.....though I am sure after a while I would tire of moving around so much and would just want to be home! If I have one thing in spades that is paradoxes!

It is almost 3 months since I have given up chewing gums. Yes you read it right the first time more chewing gums for me. Why? Leaving apart damaging the pearly whites, did you know one teeny tiny chewy gum takes 50 years to degenerate? That is longer that many people live on this earth. I cannot leave behind an earth full of chewed gums when I depart hence the decision. And best bit is I do not even miss it. If only I could leave carbonated drinks this easily and firmly....*sigh*....

Glorious, fantastic ideas (THE IDEA) crowd my head always at the wrong moment, mostly when I am drifting off to sleep or miles away from my laptop and then when I need to remember them, they obstinately refuse to come back! Which is frustrating because I am convinced that with the right ideas I can change the world, or at least have a go at the laborious chore....

I have something of a world kitchen happening at home. My husband is never sure what dish is going to hit him for dinner--last one month I have cooked up Filipino, Korean, Mexican, British, Italian, Chinese, American and of course Indian cuisine. Not all have been glorious success. My attempts at sun dried tomatoes resulted in sad charring of two kgs of juicy ripe tomatoes. RIP tomatoes. I shall always remember you.....

I am in art &craft mood recently and painting lots of stuff with Indian kitsch and how I love all the glorious colours :-)

I am going home for a visit soon and it is still a few weeks away and am trying to control my excitement and act cool. Lets see how long I can do this cool act. Just the thought of home makes me smile crazily. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy....

I am disappointed that summer has come to an end yet thrilled at autumn.....autumn means durga pujo, dhak er awaj, kash fool, notun jama, narkol naru, bhog, dhup dhuno, lokkhi pujo, bhaiphota, khawa dawa, hasha hashi, golpo adda..... autumn means festivals, meeting friends and family, smiles, laughter, cuddles and joy, cosy jumpers,  old trunks, oranges, long walks, falling leaves, childhood memories, nostalgia, coming of winter and of Christmas......

I have a to-do list as long as both my arms (mmmmm not long enough, throw in the feet too) and here I am day dreaming and wishing away!

[Dialogue with the self: Please lets not talk about shrinking duties and other baddies, two years later I will definitely not be wanting to read about this! I want good stuff, so that I can smile fondly at myself and think 'oh I was such a sweet young thing back then'. Seriously Suchismita sometimes you are such a spoil sport! Okay, okay sorry, you carry on, just later don't tell me......NO, no I won't tell you anything, shut up and let me luxuriate in happy thoughts!]

Birthday wishes....

I want a total make-over this birthday. I want new hair (curly permed type), new body (size eight), new height (5.6, no 5.8), new eyes (green or violet), new nose (any nose would be better than what I have) new clothes (gypsy skirts with tinkering bells), new shoes (red, dangerously long heeled boots but which will be miraculously soft and a joy to walk even run in, but hold on if I 5.8 then would I be needing heels?)....I want to retain my skin, my ear rings and my hair colour.

I want a bank full of money at my disposal, to spend as I wish, to shop till I drop, to buy anything I want, to be my own queen (you get the point right? No, no, not you.  Money Goddess Lakshmi ji please hear my pleas).

Of course world peace, withering away of class and caste and all things bad....

I also
want........................................................,................................................even....................................................................also..............................and............................oh yes and also.......................................and of course...............last but not the least..........................!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am not daft enough to wish all my wishes openly....some wishes should be kept a secret.....pssssssttttttttt.......

Thursday, 28 July, 2011

Train, train hurry up....

Have you ever been on those trains? Those slow moving ones which start at okay speed, but something happens pretty early in the journey and they  gradually loose all speed, let numerous other trains to overtake them and  seem happy to move at a snail's pace, if at all. They seem to forget that some unlucky passengers are travelling in them, and have absolutely no urge to speed up and reach the final destination. They stop at each and every obscure and sleepy station and also at times in the middle of nowhere. Once the train comes to a screeching halt, you look out expecting to see a busy platform and people hurrying about, instead you see a deserted platform, the shutters down on the stalls, no sign of any waiting passenger or any porter. You can see the gate of the tiny one platform station and outside looks equally dismal. You wonder where this place is and if anyone stays here at all. But more importantly why did this train stop here? No one alighted here and there is no sign of anyone wanting to board the train. It is as if the train is waiting for the passengers to make up their minds, to journey or not to journey. As if the train is saying, 'do not worry I have infinite time, you make up your mind, I will wait for you here'.

 The train whose journey never seems to be coming to an end, neither it seems like the train wants to finish the journey. Sitting inside your blood pressure steadily rises at the inane behaviour of the times you feel like throttling the driver, shake him/her hard, something, anything to make him/her to speed up. The worst part is not having any control over the situation. I know wise people would say not to freak out when you cannot control external circumstances. But easier said than done.  I agree some of the passengers seem least bothered and are happily taking a nap or reading a book. Unfortunately I am not one of them, I cannot relax while the train refuses to behave like a proper modern day train living in a busy world, carrying people who are keen to reach their destinations as quickly as possible.

Sometimes I wonder why these trains behave the way they do? It is that the driver suddenly looses all interest in driving the train? Maybe s/he had a fight with their partner or got a scolding from their boss or generally not feeling up to it. Maybe that day they want to visit every obscure station on the route so that these stations do not feel left out by their busy cousins. Who knows? The possibilities are endless and fodder for idle brains such a mine!
Cartoon train image is taken from here and the rail tracks image is taken from here.

Wednesday, 27 July, 2011

Knitting? Who me? Couldn't be...

Lately I have been going through a lot of inspiring knitting and stitching blogs. Regular, everyday people like you and me are doing such incredible work! Imagine knitting yourself a long scarf which protects your throat from the chilly wind and goes all the way down to kiss your feet or piecing together a patchwork quilt for your bed or stitching a cheerful bunting to add a splash of colour to your window! How I wish I could do all or even either one of these. *Sigh*

There are usually two kinds of emotions which surface while I ogle at the designs and the handiwork. Deep respect for the artists who knit/stitch these dreams and a wee bit, (no, feeling self-righteous I shall not lie) even deeper envy. There I said it, I am envious of all those people who can knit and stitch and create such fabulous things. As you may have guessed by now, I cannot stitch even a button properly without drawing blood from my finger and knitting, lets not even go there. I just do not get it how the knitters poke the two needles into each other with a bit of wool and out comes a gorgeous scarf! Yes it seems way too much like rocket science to me!

As if not having any of those skills was not bad enough, I feel like I am letting down my genes by being so talentless. Okay let me start from the beginning and tell you the whole story. My grandmother is an expert at stitching clothes. I have grown up wearing her lovely creations. And she was just not any clothe maker, during my teen-ages, if I wanted to wear a particular design worn by an actress in a particular movie, she would watch that movie and soon that dress would come to me, all lovely and ready for me to wear and show off.  Her talents did not stop here, among other things she is good at complicated embroidery, crochet, knitting. You name it and she can do it and do it so very well. She is the sort who do not need patterns, she can look at a design once and knows what the pattern is.

My mother did not inherit the whole range from her but she is an amazing knitter and also does crochet stuff. Between my grandmother and mother, we never had to buy any sweaters or caps or scarves. Once the summer heat ebbed a little, my mother always had knitting bag with her, whenever she had a little leisure, the needles would come out and she would be clicking away while chatting with us, drinking tea, watching television or even talking over the phone.She got my aunt who lives in Japan to get her crotch books from there. She never could read the instructions in Japanese but just looking at the photographs she could decipher what was going on and hey and presto we had lovely pieces of crochet all over the house. When I looked at the books all I saw were designs similar to spider webs. I just loved looking at the glossy after products and the way they did the photo shoots.

 Talent is not sparse in my family-- almost all my aunts are good at all these stuff. There are so many lovely Indian stitches like kantha, Gujrati and some of my aunts got trained at the Viswa Bharati University at Shantiniketan to take the tradition forward. One of my favourite cousin sister has also started doing this work. My favourite aunt creates little pieces of handicrafts with scraps of clothes, bits of lace, odd buttons or broken pieces of ear rings. When I was young she used to make me little coin pouches, pencil bags, dresses for dolls, hair clips and many more such lovely stuff.

While growing up I loved being at the receiving end, and sadly I took all this creativity for granted. Our school being a coeducation there was no stress on knitting, there were a couple of easy assignments, but mostly we were left alone to manage traffic and fix electricity circuits with the boys. Which was a huge relief to me, as I realised early on in life I do not have the patience or aptitude to knit or stitch. I just do not. In fact I used to scoff at girls studying in girls only schools who were taught knitting and stitching. To the feminist me, girls being taught knitting and stitching was as stereotype as you could get.

This idea carried me through my life easily. In my mind there was a very clear distinction--traditional women sit at home and stitch/.knit, while dynamic young women like me went out into the world.

Now that I have grown up a little, hopefully have become a bit more mature and most importantly have loads of time on my hands my thoughts are no longer so tightly boxed.  Now when I see lovely handmade stuff, I wish that I could do these. I regret not learning the skills from my grandma and ma when I had the time and opportunity.I realise that because of my ideas, it is me who lost out on learning great skills. Had I learnt how to knit or stitch I would have not become less feminist but maybe a more creative person. More importantly I shudder to think what will happen if I ever have a daughter. It seems in our family there is a steady decline in the talent quota with each passing generation. Maybe we are slowly going back to where we came from. Now that is not a pretty thought!

All you fabulous knitters/stitchers carry on with your creativity and  I promise to admire you and your creations from afar. If you ever have a bit of a spare time and some wool or a piece of cloth lying around, please do hesitate to make me something. I maybe rubbish at knitting/stitching but I am very good at thanking kind people and taking care of the handmade stuff! So long....!

Girl knitting image is taken from here, stitching machine image from here and the basket of wool image is taken from here.

Tuesday, 21 June, 2011

Earth laughs in flowers*...

Look what I found growing in abundance in our back garden! It is what in Bangla we call togor phool. Google calls it the Crepe Jasmine. I love this flower and the mild sweet smell it gives out.

Since this flower grows in abundance where ever it gets a little space, even a city child like me was familiar with it. In my mamarbari (maternal grandparents house) there was a togor gaach/ tree which grew in one part of their uthan/back yard. How I loved the tree and to pick these flowers, since they were within my easy reach and playing with them on lazy summer afternoons when everyone else was taking a siesta. 

Holding a handful of the flowers in our London garden, I smell them and  it takes me right back to my childhood days. My grandmother used this flower to decorate her prayer room. She, my grandmother has moved several houses since then, but that quaint prayer room with its shutters drawn to keep out the scorching sun rays, decorated with flowers and alpona (motifs drawn with rice powder), smelling of flowers and incense floats in my mind's eye. It is as if my mind has opened an old album and memories, old yet vivid in their intensity, tumble out. It feels just like yesterday and not two decades ago that I was a kid who played in that room. The smell, the sound of laughter, indulgent smiles on my grandparents' faces, small feet pattering on the cement floor all come rushing back. I feel cocooned in love and warmth.

A train whooshes by in a gust of wind, rattling the fences, a small bird flies away in fright and my reverie is broken. Memories of childhood fade borne away by the hurrying train and I am left standing in the garden in bright sunlight. The memories linger, leaving a smile on my face.

The tree in our back garden does not belong to us. It is actually our neighbour's tree, but it has made our garden its own by climbing over the fence. Finding the flowers in bloom in our back garden is actually like finding a fragment of my childhood back :-) 

Ever since my brother and cousin sister went back to India, I have been in the grip of a strange lethargy. I function normally, but my heart is not in it. I started at least three blog posts, but finished none. Stumbling upon these flowers made me sit up and smile!

* A quote from "Hamatreya",  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, 18 May, 2011

The Garden Cafe, Tottenham...

We keep passing this cafe on our way to the Seven Sisters Tube Station. Kept seeing parts of the book shelves from the bus, so one day decided to check this place out. It is a lovely cafe, right next to the bus stop on the main road. They have both garden and inside seating. Since the couple of days we went there, it was pretty cold, we generally have sat inside. But must check it out their lovely garden, now that the sun is out and shinning (oh well at times!).

The best thing about this cafe is its ambiance. They have a wall full of books and also space for musicians to play. The space is pretty big and you can spread out and not feel cramped. I would happily go back there any day just for the space. It feels more like sitting someone's home, than eating in a cafe. This is an ideal space to go with a big group of friends just to chill out.

The menu has a mix of all day breakfast and Turkish fare. The food is wee bit over priced compared to other Turkish joints in and around North London.

For starters, we had our staple--humus, olives and Turkish bread. I love this bread, it is so soft and fluffy and we can literally finish a whole basket of bread just with humus. The humus was fresh and tasty, much less dripping in olive oil than other places, but no less flavourful.

For the main I ordered grilled chicken breast which came with rice, salad, grilled veggies and mint sauce. The chicken was good, succulent and juicy, the rice much less greasy than I am used to and the salad lovely but the grilled pepper stole the show.  It was perfect, crunchy yet well done. The tomato went to my husband, who said the tomato was as good.

Of course my husband cannot go to a Turkish place and not order lamb. Forgetting the name, basically it was chunky pieces of lamb meat served with mashed potato and veggies like mushroom and pepper.

Loved the mint. In most of the Turkish restaurants they serve something on the house at the end...we have had Turkish tea, small piece of Baklava and here they serve mint mouth fresheners. If you are wondering around Tottenham, this is a good place to visit.

Tea With Friends...

Went to this place in Covent Garden, was so busy chatting, did not notice the name of this place. We had coffee and awesome desserts!

Waffle with maple syrup and fresh fruits

Dark chocolate tart

Strawberry tart with clotted cream

Thursday, 12 May, 2011

Shri Rathiga....

My husband tells me that Rathiga is Radha's Tamilian version. Do not know if Rathiga/Radha was a good cook, but this quaint restaurant, just off the Ilford town centre is super awesome and delivers good food every time we go there.

We found this by chance, we had gone to the Cineworld in Ilford to see 'No One Killed Jessica' and got hungry. Most of the places looked unappetizing, walked along the High Road, directed by my husband's android phone to this place called Shri Rathiga, where the web announced authentic South India cuisine is served. By the time we landed there, they had closed for lunch. But a nice waiter kindly let us in and said he could serve us just doass and idlis. We were famished and I was in a dosa craving phase, so we settled down. The food that came swept us off our feet and cost us less than a tenner!(They had a lunch special going on at that time) Ever since we have become regulars, never mind the almost one hour bus journey. We happily settle ourselves on the upper deck of the London double decker buses in anticipation of good food and pass the hour gazing out of the window (which I hog by my birth right) and chatting (spending quality husband and wife time).

A few weeks back during our lunch there, I ordered Chicken 65 which is absolutely yummy and  is quickly becoming my staple starter there. It is chicken marinated in spices and deep fried. It has a kick but not too hot and super delicious. I can easily polish off two/three such plates! My husband ordered Guntur Kodi Vepudu-- boneless chicken fried in a special Andhra sauce and served dry. Man this had a super kick. When you put the first fork full into your mouth, it gives you such a kick, that kind of wakes you from a deep slumber and makes you come alive. Once your taste buds have gotten over the heat shock, you become aware of the rest of the spices. This being several notches over my usual heat standard, I told my husband that he could finish it himself. But I just could not stay away from it.

This time we ordered meat dosas-- I ordered mutton dosa and my husband chicken dosa. A sneak peak into mine. The meat was soft and succulent and was not too hot, but super flavorful. But truth to be told I prefer my dosa vegetarian. I was missing the aloo ka sabji. I think in future I will stick to their ghee roasted paper masala dosa. Apart from the masal inside, the dosas are light and crispy, just like they should be.

Ah the chutneys. No review of Shri Rathiga can be complete without the chutneys they serve. The first time when we went there, they put this tri colour chutney pot right in front of our nose and went away to prepare the dosa. Like I mentioned I was famished and the chutneys were so yummy that I almost finished them before the dosas made an appearance! My husband kept teasing me that they will not let us eat here next time cos we finish off all their chutneys. The four times we have eaten there, the chutneys are always fresh and oh so tasty.
And their sambar-- my husband having lived in the South for over 5 years and having eaten in  numerous friends' homes, is very sambar specific. In London's most popular South India chain restaurant he hated the sambar, calling it watered down and some other choice words. But here he loves it, he claims they make it Tamilian style, a little sweet or something. Every time we eat there, I get a lecture on how the different Southern states make sambar in different styles, but now when I need to write about it, do not remember a word of it! Shows where my attention was during those lectures. Me, am not a sambar aficionado, but I do like the taste of a good sambar. 
I think this restaurant can safely be called London's best South Indian food joint and we love going back there. We hope their chef does not run away till the time we are in London!

Wednesday, 11 May, 2011

Some new additions in our home...

Ever since we moved to this house last September, we have been working hard to make this our home. Over the months, gifts given by family and friends and stuff bought by us has helped us in that effort. Glimpses of some new additions!

Let me start from left hand side top. When Dupu, my brother-in-law visited us last September, he got us this wall hanging. Finally Indranil mounted it and much to our surprise it has fitted in perfectly with our colour scheme.

An attempt to bring some colour in our kitchen cum dinning space!

Our flower basket in the back garden...

This lovely sun hanging with bells was given by Anubha when she came to visit us. Our garden looks more homely with the sun dangling in it!

A poster and a couple of plants to cheer up the loo!

We set out to create light bulb plants, gave up and instead decorated regular tubs with beads. I had these ornamental hooks lying around from my Delhi days...we have a plant wall now!

Our new workspace and book shelves rolled into one.

A closer look at the sun to wrap this up!

Friday, 6 May, 2011

Sushi Has A New Job...

The day Sushi had to appear for her interview for the job of personal shopper she was almost shaking with nerves. 

Meeting Tanya to discuss her chances, she realized that they usually employed people with five/six years of experience and that too those who came highly recommended. With her seven months experience as a  sales assistant chances of her getting this coveted job seemed really slim. However Tanya was upbeat and  genuinely thought that if she gave a good interview, her chances of getting the job was fair. She was grateful to Tanya for giving her this chance. She realized that if Tanya had not recommended her, she would have never been shortlisted.

For the first time in her life, Sushi seriously started to prepare for an interview. Initially she asked her friends' advice but they were as clueless as her. In desperation she asked Snow. In Snow's academic world interviews were very different, realizing that, Snow advised Sushi to visit the career counselor in their local community centre. Sushi was a bit nervous about visiting the career counselor, but the lady was kind and did a couple of mock interviews with her, also directed her to the library. The helpful librarian gave Sushi a couple of books on how to crack interviews.

First thing Sushi read was the chapter on dress code and started discussing with her mother and best friends, what to wear for the interview. She wanted to look smart and  fashionable. Going through her wardrobe, she pulled out several skirts, trousers and shirts. But they did not seem appropriate. Then her mother reminded her about the suit that she had brought  four years  ago. Ah yes the suit! Sushi had bought it on a whim when she fancied that one day she would become the secretary of a company's CEO. She had shopped as soon as  she joined an organisation as a temporary assistant. That job lasted for a week, the only good thing that came out of the job was the suit. It was a smart two piece suit in jet black with silver lines running through it, the  pencil skirt was till her knees and the coat was cut fashionably fitting her snugly. But the problem was four years ago Sushi was twenty pounds lighter. Now she had to literally wrestle herself into the slim pencil skirt and then also the zip. Once zipped she could hardly breathe in the fear of her skirt bursting!

For a day or two Sushi toyed with the idea of buying a new suit. In fact the next day on her lunch break, she even tried on a couple of suits. But the ones she liked were really expensive and adding another five/six hundred to her already pending credit card bill put off the newly wise Sushi. But she could bot resist the temptations of black Italian leather pumps. They looked perfect and were so comfortable and would look perfect with her suit. So she had to buy the pumps.

Sushi was wondering whether she should get a suit on hire when she got a call from Anna that due to some internal problem the interview dates have been pushed back by a month. That left Sushi with one and a half months, she calculated that if she went to the gym for at least five days a week and did a spot of serious dieting, she may be able to loose all that weight.

So much to Snow's surprise Sushi started getting up at an ungodly hour every morning and dragged herself and her kit to the gym. He was even more surprised when she refused refused pizza for dinner and instead drank low fat soup. But Snow was not much worried, all Sushi's health madness lasted for a maximum of two to three days. Usually after a bout of exercises, once her muscles started aching in protest, she stopped going to the gym till she made the next year's resolution. 

This time even though Sushi grumbled and complained a lot about her aching muscles, she did not stop going to the gym. Neither did she give up on her dieting. Snow was most impressed when she had a weight watchers microwave dinner while he had fried chicken.

Sushi was feeling horrible, her muscles were aching, moving became a pain and she had to move around the shop the whole day. When she bent down to pick up a shirt dropped by one of their customers, she almost could not stand up. On top of that she was feeling light headed with hunger. The soups and the microwave dinners that the dietitian at the gym had prescribed hardly seemed to fill her up and within a hour or two she started to get hungry. She was also tired of eating yogurt, veggies and fruits. Never in her life had she ever eaten so much of healthy food. Every day at lunch she looked longingly at the fast food joints while eating her yogurt and fruit salad. Yet the interview was steadily coming closer  and  sheer nerves made her stick to this torture. Every evening she tried on the black suit to see if it fit any better.

Sushi kept herself from the temptation of weighing machine, vowing to weigh herself only after a week has passed. On the seventh day she weighed herself  and to her amazement found that she had lost seven pounds. Out of her target of twenty, she had lost seven pounds on her first week itself. If it went on like this, in one and half  weeks she would be twenty pounds lighter. It made her feel on top of the world and also a little too confident. She felt that she had discovered the key to weight loss and that the programme would work the way she wanted it to work. With this new found confidence she went out and gorged on a burger meal. Once her binge was over, she felt extremely guilty and decided to work harder at the gym the next day. But when at the end of that week she weighed in, she had lost just three pounds and she was extremely disappointed with herself. She realized that if she wanted to achieve her target within the timeline, she would have to be firm and resist all temptations. When she told her instructor at the gym how she had binged, she suggested that she weigh in after a month, rather than every week. 

So Sushi trudged on, never before in her life had she had to work so hard. She had to get up really early every morning, go to the gym, come back, take a shower and dash to the shop. By the time she came back  she felt so tired that she started falling asleep around eight-ish in the evening. She gave up all her usual evening activities-- watching television, chatting on the phone with her best friends and mom and trying on clothes and make-up.Once she even fell asleep while watching her favorite soap in the television. She woke up to a concerned Snow peering at her worriedly while shaking her. It took her about an hour to convince Snow that she was not sick just plain tired.

Since she could not keep awake in the evenings, Sushi started reading the books that the librarian had lent her during her lunch break. She realized that reading kept her away from temptations-- both shopping and eating.
Over the weekend Sushi called her best friend Polly over and did several rounds of mock interviews with her. They even watched several videos on interviews. Finally a bored Polly suggested an outing of the mall, but Sushi refused because she had too many things to prepare. Again Polly though that Sushi was sick and it took  Sushi the bigger part of an hour to convince her that she was not, just busy. Sushi was starting to get exasperated by the way everyone kept thinking that she was sick when she refused junk food or a trip to the mall. Sushi sighed to herself thinking, it was not the fault of other, it was the way she usually behaved. She vowed to stick to her healthy lifestyle as long as possible. But she knew in her bones that once the interview got over, it would be really difficult to stick to this punishing regime.

Finally the day of her interview loomed. Even though her interview was in the afternoon, Sushi had taken the day off, so that she could dress at her own pace and reach the venue a little early. Her mom came over to help her with her hair. After an early, light lunch Sushi went to change. By the time she came down, her mom had cleaned up the kitchen and was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs. After having lost almost 25 pounds, yes five pounds over her target, the suit fitted Sushi perfectly and went really well with her new black pumps. Seeing Sushi, her mother almost had tears in the eyes. Sushi also felt choked with emotions. It felt like she was back in her parents, about to go out in one of life's important occasions. She knew others would laugh if they got to know that she and her mom were getting emotional over a smart dress and an interview, but it was more than that for them. For the first time, Sushi was getting a serious chance in life and more importantly she had worked really hard over the last one and half months to prepare for this interview. Kissing her mom goodbye, Sushi confidently marched to her car. She knew it would be tough, but she felt ready for the battle.

By the time the secretary showed Sushi to the waiting area, there were five other candidates already waiting. They all seemed to be sizing Sushi up the moment she entered the room. No one seemed in a mood to talk, everyone looked busy with their phones. Muttering a general hello, Sushi sat down to wait. Unable to control her curiosity, she decided to check out her fellow interviewees. They all were smartly dressed in similar suits like her, with perfect make-up and hair and all of them were rake thin. Sushi felt thankful for having lost those pounds.  After a brief wait, the first candidate was called in. Sushi felt as if a bunch of butterflies were fluttering in the stomach. She wished she had skipped her lunch. To calm down she slowly sipped a glass of water, just like the book on interview had suggested. But she was afraid that too much water may make her want to peel and also bloat her tummy. To distract herself she started to read one of the glossy magazines that were lying around.

Sushi was the third person to be called for the interview. There was a panel of five people sitting there, waiting to interview her. Sushi almost felt faint with fear. Thankfully Tanya was also there, she smiled at her encouragingly and that helped Sushi to get a grip on herself. The interviewers were all nice people, they smiled at her and asked her to relax. Someone even offered her a drink. Sushi had read in the book on interviews that having a glass of water and sipping it occasionally helped relax one's nerves and also gave one sometime to answer questions. So she asked for water. Then the interview started. They asked her all kinds of questions regarding her experience in the shop and how she dealt with customers--the rude, the difficult, the short and the demanding. Then she started asking her how she convinced them to buy stuff. After about twenty questions or so the interview came to an end. By the time the interview came to an end Sushi was almost disappointed. She was on the roll, talking about the job, the customers she loved serving and how much fun it is when she suggested some cloth to her customers and they actually picked it up. They promised to call her tomorrow or day after and let her know the outcome.

After coming out of the interview Sushi called her mom, Snow and her best friends to let them know it went well. Since she had nothing to do for the rest of the day, she decided to meet up her best friends and go for a movie. She was in the movie hall with her mouth full of buttery pop corn and sipping Diet Coke in a middle of a teary scene when she got a call from Tanya. By the time she managed to locate her phone, the call had already gone into a voice message. Tanya had asked her to give her a called back. With beating hearts Sushi called up Tanya. Without beating about the bush, Tanya said that Sushi had got the job. She was to come in tomorrow and talk about the details. Sushi could not believe that this was actually happening to her. She, Sushi, the girl who floated from one job to another for a week or so, was being offered one of the most coveted jobs of retail! These things happened in movies and in other people's lives. If someone told her this even two months back, she would have never believed them. Suddenly she heard Tanya's voice on the other side. With a start she realized that she has not said a single thing to Tanya. Hurriedly she said she was really happy and she would be there tomorrow.

This was how Sushi got the job she had not even dreamt about. Suddenly there was a metamorphosis, Sushi was no longer a happy-go-lucky girl, she was a professional earning serious money.

In her new job she was loaned smart clothes, had a good salary, sat in her cute cabin. But the best bit was the customers. She dealt with some really rich people but to her amazement they had no clue about fashion or what suited them. She got a kick out of suggesting them clothes and when they often got back to her thanking her for taking care of their wardrobes. It hardly felt like she was working, except for the dreary meetings they had to attend every week. The jargons used by the managers often flew over Sushi's head. Often in meetings she sat pondering over her clients and their tastes and deciding on their wardrobes. Then much to her amazement at the end of quarter, it was announced that she was a highest seller in the department, exceeding her target by almost thirty percent. Sushi almost fell off her chair. Initially when she joined she saw her colleagues were rather perturbed about sales. They kept pushing people to buy more and more and kept calculating the sales target they met. Sushi knew she would never be able to work that way. So she had a chat with Tanya, who suggested that she follow her own style. So when it was announced that she was the highest seller, Sushi got really surprised. Because she did none of the stuff her colleagues did, she was just herself with the clients. From being a wannabe on the block, she felt she had arrived. Her colleagues sat up and took notice of her. Later coming back home, Sushi decided that success was sweet and she enjoyed being successful!

Thursday, 5 May, 2011

I'm nobody!

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us-- don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know

                                          Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

How perfectly these lines describe the present me. Me, the present tense is surely a nobody and an outsider to boot! Hmmmmm......

Thursday, 14 April, 2011

শুভ নববর্ষ /Happy New Year

On the eve of the Bengali New Year, as Facebook feeds fill up with new year greetings, I sit in my London house, listlessly surfing the internet. I stumble upon some animated e cards in Bangla which I promptly send to some friends, get bored, move onto blogs discussing special menus for Poila Bhaishak. The menus look elaborate and a quick skim shows I need to do grocery before I can prepare the meal. Tomorrow's dinner is already planned, so I give up the idea and look for another diversion.

I am in a strange mood, I feel nostalgic, yet I do not feel like making any effort to make the day special. I miss those times when one did not have to work hard to make a day special, it automatically became so,or maybe our parents put in all that effort and we just lapped up the fun. 

Growing up in Kolkata, Poila Bhaishak was  a very personal celebration as in we celebrated it at home. This day always came/comes in the middle of April, soon after our annual examinations got over. Though it  became hot, the weather was not as stifling as May. And if we were lucky evenings would cool down with  a kaal baishakhi  (tropical storm which comes in from the Bay of Bengal with some fierce gales and rains,  it brings sheer bliss, specially if you get a good drench standing on your terrace!). The odd cuckoo still sang to announce spring, filling the summer air with music.

To get back to Poila Baishak,  it fell within our holidays.  Those were  really special holidays since annual examinations were over and results were not yet out, so no studies at all. Ah those long, lazy days of just not doing anything in particular, no studies, no pressures, one could float around the house and amuse oneself without being scolded by any elder for wasting time. The house would abound with fresh seasonal fruits-- mangoes (both ripe and unripe), lychees, jack-fruits, jamrul/bell fruit and you could have those to your heart's content. Also the fridge used to be stocked with our favourite squashes and my mother's special kulfi malai (Indian version of ice cream) My favourite time of the day was the afternoon. After lunch, we would draw all the curtains, make the room cosy, the ceiling fan would swirl monotonously and Hemanta Mukherjee or Subir Sen would sing soulfully in the background while we played Ludo or Chinese Checker-- my mother, brother, whichever cousin was available and of course me. There was always a lot of laughter and some sneaky cheating too. The evenings were also nice, once the sun set, the temperature would go down a bit, a nice breeze would start and the sweet smell of bel ar jui  phool/jasmine pots in our and neighbourhood terraces would fill up the evening air. Most people would be out in their terraces, neighbours sharing jokes or waving at each other. Good days!

So in the middle of this idle came Poila Baishak or the first day of Baishak maash/month and of course the new year. My parents would start planning for Poila Baishak a month or so ahead-- shopping for new clothes, usually cotton ones in light pastel shades to beat the heat, organizing a pujo at home, picking up the new panji (a fat thick pink book with details of Hindu calender and auspicious dates which was/is published every year around this time), my mother would start stocking up on home made sweets like malpoa and narkol naru for the expected visitors, plan a special menu for that day and of course a long series of visiting relatives' houses for exchanging greetings for the rest of the month.

Invitations from shops/businesses we frequented would start coming. In Bengal this is also the beginning of the business shops/workshops would start their new accounting book known as haal khata (a hard bound, red covered note book with coarse thick white paper inside). The shops were throughly cleaned and freshly painted and decorated with flower garlands and they would hold a Ganesh (God of Wisdom) and Lakhhi/Laxmi  (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) pujo. The regular customers were invited to the shop in the evening, where they were treated to cold drinks and a box of sweets and given a Bengali calender with the business advertised prominently. So these invitation cards would start arriving in the post.

The rule of the day was that you have to behave yourself, because how you behaved that day would set the tone for the rest of the year. So my brother and me, we would get up early in the morning and promise to be in our best behavior like I would drink milk without any fuss. Also since it was a special day, our parents would abstain from scolding us. In my mother's words "bochor kar din ee bokte chai na" (in this special day, I do not want to scold you). So the day had  an extra charm, we felt  whatever our dosh/ faults we had, we were protected by the special day! But, but if we were not model children that day, the whole year would go terrible. So extra care was needed to be on best behaviour. Such innocents we were. We were put on our best behaviour and then told that we would not be scolded. And that thrilled us to bits! It never entered our thick heads to question this duplicacy!

Mornings were dedicated to Shib/Shiv pujo. We have a family shivlinga and a special pujo was/is organised to usher in the new year. I remember as a little girl, quickly taking bath and then wearing a sari and rushing upstairs to the thakurghor (prayer room) for a solemn little pujo (it was tailored according to our sizes!). Once that was over, it was time for the prosad (food offerings from the prayer to be consumed by us) and touching every elder's feet for ashirbad (blessings). Since our's was a joint family it was quiet a chore. Lunch was always special-- as far as I remember there would be polao (Bengali sweet fried rice) with roi maach er kalia (fish in a rich gravy) and kosha mangsho (goat meat), chutney etc.

In the evenings we wore our new clothes and went to Charok er Mela/ spring fair in the neighbourhood. Oh what fun that used to be--the crowded stalls, the glittery lights, the loud music blaring from the juke boxes, the merry-go-rounds, all kinds of amazing stuff to buy and eat. My father used to pamper us no end there. I  loved the glass bangles and spend hours in that stall gazing at those amazing bangles in magnificent hues. My father would also stand beside me patiently and help me choose the bangles. Soon my two hands would be full of bangles and I loved gazing at my own hands in awe!

The day would end with a visit to a couple of relative's house. And before drifting off to sleep needing reassurance from parents that we had truly been well behaved and that the rest of the year would go well for us.

I feel a little better, having written this post. The memories do not seem so hazy, home does not seem across continents...I realize yet again it is all here in my heart. Whenever I feel down or sad or nostalgic, all I have to do is take a walk down my memory lane. I may have grown up, Choroker Mela may have disappeared but in my mind's eye I am still a little girl gazing with wonder at those brilliant glass bangles and my mother still asks us to behave ourselves on the special day!

May you have a wonderful new year and may it be filled with beautiful memories of both the past and the present.

N.B. The photographs used are sourced from Google's image search.

Monday, 11 April, 2011

A lovely pot of spring!

What lovely weather here in the UK. I am simply loving it, it is almost like spring and summer have rolled into one with super long days and glorious sunshine. Last week did not go too well for me, being sick and all, but this week it is much better. I feel almost normal and ready to get back into the groove of things.

Photographs of some of the interesting things we have been doing in the last few weeks.

After ages of wanting to play the piano (precisely 27 years in his words), my husband has finally bought this. Even since he was a little boy, he has been fascinated with pianos, but never got the chance to learn to play it. Finally after much research on the internet, he decided to start with this second hand one. We traveled for two hours on the train to go pick this up. And ever since it has come home, my husband has been at it. His excitement is pretty contagious! Not that I am planning to play the piano or anything like that.

Our new replacement vase has finally come in. The old one broke in an accident. I am mighty pleased with this one. I have stuffed some potpourri in this one and the room smells so nice.

Few weeks back, I picked up a ceramic jug and ever since I have been planning to create a flower arrangement like this. Finally did it. So now we have a little pot of spring in our home!

Projects underway: A flower basket for our backyard, getting the BBQ grill started, mounting a canvas for the sitting room and oh yes I have bought a jewelery making kit, so tinkering with beads and all.

Thursday, 31 March, 2011

Marriage: An Over-rated Institution?

A friend of mine shared an article called 'Marriage: An over-rated institution?' which was published on women's web. You can find the link here. The author Rs Mom basically wrote about an office washroom conversation of three married women. What I find interesting is the comments which were posted in response to this article. Some women were pro-marriage while others insisted that it is a highly over-rated institution and marriage and motherhood does not suit or fulfill every woman. Also some of my husband's school friends are having a discussion on romance in married life and most seem to think  that after 5 years or more of marriage you should be given a Nobel prize if you do not strangle your husband!

Not that I am an expert of any sort on this, being married a measly one and a half years. But so much discussion on marriage got my idle brain thinking and I realize that just by observing married people around me since childhood I have picked up a lot about human beings and this institution. Without going into the complicated observations, some of the lighter ones:

Each marriage is as unique as our finger prints--Hold on, I am not asking you to appear for a biometric test for a perfect marriage (urghhh my brain is running wild). All I am saying is not only are no two marriages same, even an individual has varying perceptions of marriage depending upon the partner and the circumstances. So if a marriage ends in heartbreaks or tears, does not in any way mean that person cannot have a happy and fulfilling marriage with another partner in another time. Generalizations do not really work in case of marriages. Each one of us approaches it differently and behaves in it differently. So if your marriage is not going the way you feel it should and your smugly married friends or busybody female relatives tell you how perfect their marriages are, do not be disheartened. Work at it the way you feel best. They do not live with your husband, you do dahling.

Marriages are not made in heaven-- Come on whom are we kidding or passing the praise buck too? Why bring in heaven in this very earthly endevour?  Max I can do is thank my guardian angels for introducing me to my husband err through a mutual friend, so she should also be thanked, right? And all the work, effort, adjustments, compromises that go into making a marriage work is ours, just ours-- ours and our partners. So pat each other backs. That might bring in some romance in life as well.

Marriage is unfortunately a 24/7/30/365/all your life thing-y--wish it was like our jobs, wish we could switch off after 8 hours. But the sad news is once we marry it permeates our whole life, a bit like the sand particles creeping into all those tiny, almost nonexistent nooks and crannies of your self and filling up them tightly. The freaking truth is that marriage is a combination of rocks, pebbles and sand. So if you are not careful, marriage will creep into your being and totally take over your identity and before you realize you have no other identity except for your married self. This is how most women approached marriage for centuries. Sadly some girls still do it like that. Be careful, do not let this happen, stop the sand particles from seeping into those nooks. Whoa those  are yours and yours only, guard them zealously.

Marriage is about the good and the bad-- okay first the good bits
*You have a permanent date for life-- for all the weekends, movie nights, Val Day etc-- gone are the days when you had to frantically search for someone to go watch a movie with you
* You do not have to do dutch every time you go out (complicated calculations of dividing 77 rupees among three people and some such-- all those laborious ticking on the mobile calculator)
*You can force your husband to listen to your girl-y woes, involve him in the excitement of reading a chick lit or watch a rom com and/or bitch about people (though be careful he will give you solutions to your problems much to your frustration, will get bored with the chick lit and point out the illogical bits in the movie just when it got really mushy or ask for the thousand-th time why girls think/behave like that and discourage bitching or worse still ask you to go and clear the air with person about whom you were bitching  or more horrible call you an emotional fool...okay we were discussing the positives, lets be + guys)
*Sometimes he will be the perfect sweetheart and pay you compliments, get you gifts or flowers or both (happy days), give you surprises, take you out to dinner, organize superb holidays or basically do something really nice and kind and sweet [before you get too excited-- like all married women know these are really occasional (read far apart) incidents *sigh*]
* Hopefully you have found a best friend for life...but hey you still need your girl friends same as ever
Now for the negative ones--
* The snores (they can turn you deaf or mad or both), taking up way too much space in the bed [forget all those romantic cuddles, at that point all you want to do is push him off the bed]
* The mess in the house--however much you clean up the house, he goes around messing it right back...I know, I know some men are not like this, but sadly ladies most men are...continuing in the same vein every time he cooks, the mess he makes in the kitchen is simply unimaginable and the funniest thing is he thinks he is really neat...poor dear
*The tendency to skip baths, wearing the same tee shirt for seven days in a row[God has deprived them of half a sense-- smell of their own sweat], same jeans for a year[Conversation: Wife: You know you need to wash your jeans, you have been wearing them non stop for months without even washing  once! Husband: Really? But I just bought it last year. I wore my last jeans for three years and then it got really tattered (with a surprise in his voice) I had to throw it out and buy this one. So do not worry this will last me for two more years. We men do not need to shop like you women do (with a snigger). Also you know what washing is not good for jeans. Ha Ha Ha! Okay have your laugh. Just for records we women smell much better than you men, thank God and yes jeans can be washed too]
*We all know the manly characteristic of being glued to the television set for matches, news and other boring stuff and addiction to most juvenile video games (yawn) won't do an in-depth on those...

Some marriages come with expiry tags-- Yes sad but true...some partners choose to finish it formally/legally and some emotionally while continuing to coexist.  I know this goes against all the Yash Raj/Meg Ryan/ Julia Roberts movies you saw or the M&Bs you read. What makes it harder to accept this is that marriages come with 'in life and death, in sickness and health' tag and not 'going to expire by so and so year' tag. And looking at the smiles on the faces of brides and grooms in their wedding photos you would not guess that they want to end it in sometime, maybe except for Rani Mukherjee's teary expression in that extra-marital movie of Karan Johar's. Best thing to do is enter a marriage with an open mind and give it your best shot without tearing your heart into bits and pieces and get out in case it is not working.

Marriages is one big package of romance +friendship+ companionship-- Okay, okay do not throw stones at me. It is merely an idea worth thinking about. I know you all married men and women do not agree. Do not take me wrong ladies, but 'some' of you almost take a perverse kind of pride in telling the world how inane your marriage has become. To be fair to the men, they actually do not publicly bad mouth their wives. Come on lets lavish compliments where it is due. Tell you what ladies this view of marriage as some kind of boxing match is rather passe. Lets move from this clichéd perception and create this evergreen image of marriage where you enjoy spending time with your partner, even if not so much as your dating days, there is still some romance in your lives and you are happy being with him. And before you start thinking that 'let this novice spend 5 more years with her husband and then we shall hear her talk'...I am talking on the basis of some couples who have been together for more than thirty years. There something to ruminate over.

The list can go on and on, but time I stopped.

P.S. All the images are taken from the ever ready supply of google image search.
Disclaimer: Husband dear I love you very much, really I do!

Monday, 28 March, 2011

House Cleaning...

I know it is spring time and all, but no I am not talking about spring cleaning. As far as I am concerned, that is an added chore that I am not interested indulging in at all.  I am talking about normal day to day cleaning of one's house.

We live in this small  ground floor flat which has an abnormal knack of attracting dirt and rubbish. |I wonder how all that dirt comes into the house? The windows are all double glazed and sealed up cos of the cold, the back door leading to the garden is kept open for an hour at the maximum every day and the front door for as long as it takes for us to pass through it, either way. It is almost like there are secret doors and windows which magically open up to let all the dirt and rubbish come in from outside while we are sleeping. I abhor to think of the dirt drifting in during the summer months when we will have to keep the windows open!

Phew. I never knew what a mammoth task it is to keep a house clean. To add to the agony, my husband is happily oblivious of it all, while I am ultra sensitive, so it has become my pet domestic chore( read pet peeve in life). Another part of growing up which I never bargained for and truly am not ready for. I love shiny and squeaky clean houses but I hate cleaning up the house--why cannot the rooms  just behave themselves and remain clean or better still clean up their own mess? But apparently not, like the rest of the world, they also like to be waited on hand and foot. So it has become part of my daily routine to clean some part of the house or the other.

To add a little routine to the madness I have decided to be organised and systematic about it. So for each room of the house, I have designated a cleaning day of the week. Like on Mondays I do the sitting room, on Tuesday the kitchen, so on and so forth. I must confess in this process the bedroom almost always misses out on a clean -up. By the time the turn for the bedroom comes I am tired and bored with all the cleaning up. And since guests rarely venture into the bedroom (they cannot with the bedroom door firmly closed, though I am sure it would not deter our relatives in India, definitely one of the perks of living abroad!) I keep deferring the bedroom cleaning. Poor room.

So thinks my husband!
My husband is no help. Whenever I grumble about the cleaning, he says he is fine living in a 'slightly' (please insert a man's definition of slightly here) messy house and so should I be, it would definitely make my life easier. And when I demand that he should clean up for a change he gives the example of 'that one day when he did clean up'. So done his duty and for the next six months no cleaning is needed in his opinion and no nagging or complaining will be tolerated. It was how he lived when he was single and mingling with me and he sees no need to change the routine. Irritated though I am, I cannot fault his logic. It is a life style choice, I choose to live stressing about cleanliness while he thinks it is a waste of time. For marital shanti, I have to respect his choice. So it is back to me with the cleaning duster. Honestly I would not mind it so much, if  after cleaning up a room, it remained so for at least a day or two. Much to my frustration, after I have laboured to put the house right, once we start living in it, it starts getting messed up right then and there. I know this may sound verging on the obsessive, if I had my way, after a through cleaning, I would quietly stand on one corner of the house, so as not to disturb the cleanliness. Another idea my husband dismisses so firmly that I have to but helplessly watch him mess up the very kitchen which I have slaved to put right.

Another thing which irritates me is after returning from office, when he fails to notice how clean a certain room is looking. I mean come on when he left in the morning, it was not that clean but now it is almost sparkling. So any sensible human being would stop right there, take in all the cleanliness and shower the cleaner with compliments, right? Whenever I go to a clean house I always compliment it. In fact my estimation for the people living in the house positively goes up. But no, this man is oblivious, he just marches in, fails to notice the subtle changes, and continues to be so till I point it out to him! Okay truth to be told compliments about a clean house is as vital to me as compliments on good looks are to some women. There, I have confessed it!

Had I not inherited my cleaning obsession genes from my father I could have at least blamed it on gender. But alas cannot even do that. But I firmly continue to believe that with a little bit of practice each of us can fit in cleanliness into our regular routine.

Disclaimer: All the images are taken from Google's image search.