Total = ??

Like most families around, I also come from one with a lots of branches.

My mom has 5 siblings, and loads of cousins, while my father has 2 brothers and a bunch of cousins as well. Funnily enough, out of these branches of the extended tree, I was closest to mostly my 2nd and 3rd cousins, that too just a few of them. And while I knew them, sure, I can’t say I stayed in touch with them all my life growing up.

Different cities, schools, colleges, residential schools, no internet and mobile, age differences, all played its part in keeping all us brothers and sisters a little distant from each other.

But when we were lucky, and we were lucky once in a while, we would meet up. And when we would meet, it would be crazy. CRAZY in caps.

And that makes me try to do this more, and more and MORE.

And if that doesn’t add up to my total in life, what does?



via Daily Prompt: Total

For the love of reading

Many years ago, on a warm and sticky day, I was roaming on the streets of Kolkata. Not just any street though. This one exudes a kind of divinity that I had known from my childhood days.
Continue reading

Coming home

My mom used to change the house a lot. When we were kids, my mom would regularly move the furniture around the rooms, trying to see if the house yielded more space than before. It was great fun for us kids. We got to push the chairs and tables around once in a couple of months, and felt very strong. At that time, dad was mostly out of town, posted in towns far from us. Given the travel involved, and the safety issues associated with it, dad would usually visit us once in a fortnight, sometimes a month.
Now that I think of it,  I wonder sometimes how it made dad feel. Coming home to a new home time and time again, at the same address and with the same people in it, but just different in little ways.
When I left home to go to college, we lived in a flat in Baroda, a city we had moved to 2 years ago. I still didn’t have a hang of the city, but I was slowly getting a feel of the house. It had a basement that I studied in, a balcony out back with potted plants. And then I moved.
While I was in college, we bought a house in Baroda. The first time I saw it, it was a half constructed house, but the walls already felt of home, and it came associated with a permanent address, something I had never experienced in life.
In a few years the house was finished, we moved in, we made it home. All this while, I was in a bigger city, far far away. Every trip home I would find new additions. A new show piece in the drawing room, a microwave in the kitchen, new sheets that I hadn’t seen being bought, and other things small and large that were part of the house.
Last trip, it was a new room. A room with cement walls, large windows, a fancy design. Wall color and furniture choices were the questions most discussed. This will be my room, and hence my choices are important. What should the shelf look like, will there be a low bed, or a study table, where’s the best light.

What I couldn’t voice , and probably will never be able to, is that I never want all this. I just want to come home and be the little me again, happy with what I painted in drawing class, feeling strong and invincible. That’s what coming home should be about.

Summer days of Yore

Summers, especially if you are a kid in India, should hold so much of your memories as it does. Its the hottest time of the year, and for many parts of the country, its just basically the same as the rest [My brother in Chennai would agree]. And yet, these months that come after the winter chill has vanished, and before the monsoon decides to wash away this land, somehow, manages to hold each of our imagination. It plants itself in our memories forever, refusing to let go. And I guess this time, the heat has got to my head. I can’t see any other reason why I would decide to write this post. Except this post that brought back old memories..

*** I think this is going to be a long post. Leave now, or grab your glass of chhass, sit back, and enjoy ***

Summers, according to me, can be classified in many ways, some of which I display below. 150 possible combinations I see.

Classifying Summer

Now, of course I mention these because I have lived through all these. And until I made this table, it never struck me how versatile life has been.

I grew up in the state of north eastern state Tripura. I lived in three of its eight districts, and have traveled to all but one. And the thing about summers there was it was always hot & humid. Sticky, actually.

I would spend a few bored days at home every summer during the summer vacation, before we would get out of the house and travel somewhere, anywhere. Thanks to the LTCs that dad would be eligible for, every 3-4 years we would do a mega trip. The other years, we would just land up in Assam with my grandparents. So, when not bored during summers at home, I would be out travelling through India, or getting bored in a different location.

Then, at the turn of the millennium, with board exams in sight, we shifted to Modified Gujarat. In the middle of the summer, no less. The Oh So Hated humidity vanished magically from the air. And I realized soon how much I missed it. The heat was excruciatingly painful to bear, and my usual ways of coping would no longer help. When I was in Tripura, I used to spend the afternoons idling around a open window, with a book. The window would, now and again, let in a whiff of wind. And that would bring immense sense of comfort, even if there was a long powercut. In Gujarat, this didn’t work anymore. The air that would travel into the room was capable of drying out your skin with such quickness that you would feel short of breath very quickly. And if you closed the windows and hope for liberation, you would be stuck in a furnace. The solution, the aforementioned chhass, and other myriad drinks concocted out of mangoes and what not. It kept you hyderated, in a constant battle against the Sun and the dry wind.

Don’t get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted. A new addition happened to my life while I enjoyed these summer days. The old, angular, TVS Scooty. Red. With a stepney. This was my ride, zipping through town, to school, tuitions, … ya that’s all. It brought a sense of freedom, an end to boredom, on those long summer days. Though I would still not dare to venture out during the midday, the evenings at least were made artificially Kooler.. And of course, there were the breaks, to Mount Abu, the closest hill station, and then to Himachal, way cooler, of course.

After this, of course life moved on. Gujarat phase got over, and a new summer dawned on me. But that’s a different story. At another time.

The unforgettable things out of those old summers:

  • Rains in the hills, rolling in from far away, in the middle of the summer season. You could hear the thundering herd roll in from the horizon, engulfing you suddenly and ending quickly, leaving you thirsty for more.
  • The thunderstorm of the evenings, with a rich buildup. The wind would stop, the clouds spiral up in rage, the lightning stride across the skies, and then it would open up and go on for a good couple of hours, at the end of which we would all feel cooler and better.
  • The plane rides and train rides that would take me to exotic destinations like Puri, Goa, Haridwar, Gangtok, Shillong, and other locations that would fill my memories and fuel my imaginations. Always loved that part of life. I guess that’t why I try to get out and travel as frequently as I can.
  • The books, oh yes the books. The Bookfair would fill my coffers each year, and summer would be the time to go over them again and again. Also, there would be the language books from other schools. Oh yes, I used to read up the english books from other schools and other classes. My little pass-time.
  • The cooling agents- juices, coconut water, chhass, all came later in life. In the beginning, there was the banned pepsi, and the malai icecream from the street vendor.

A new experience (একটি নতুন অভিজ্ঞতা)


এবার পুজো-এ মা আমার বল্লেন “বাছা এবার যে আমি নাচবো গাইবো আর ফুর্তি করবো। খুব ফুর্তি করবো।  কিন্তু তোকে যে বাবা আমাকে একটু এদিক ওদিক নিয়ে যেতে হবে.”
আমি বল্লাম “মাগো আমার , তোমাকে নিয়ে যাবো যেথানে বল।  আচ্ছে আমার লোহার ঘোড়া তৈরি। “
মা বললেন “চল তাহলে , বেরিয়ে পড়ি, দেখবি আমার নতুন বন্ধুদের।”

সেই থেকে শুরু।  দেখলুম মহিলারা কিভাবে মজা করে, নিজেদের মতন করে, এই পৃথিবীতে আরো কিছু লোকের ভালো করার জন্য একটু কিছু করেন।

Part 1 – এইভাবে  শুরু। স্রোতস্বিনী -র  পরিচই।

Part 2 – রিমঝিম বর্ষাকাল। মেঘলা দিনের একলা কাহিনী। কে তুমি , কে তুমি ?

Part 3 – ছোটোবেলা।  চরুই পাখি।   আব্বৃত্তি। বন্ধু তোমাএ এ গান শোনাবো বিকেল বেলাএ।

Part 4 – jiggle baam …. খাওয়া  দাওয়া গপ্পো। ভালোবাসী তোমাএ।

Part 5 – কফি হাউসের আড্ডা আর নেই।

Part 6 – আমরা কি এতই আলাদা ?

Part 7 – তা তা থৈ থৈ।  আএ আএ আএরে ছুটে খেলবি যদি আএ।

লুঙ্গি ডান্স , পথ ছার !
এবার  হবে ধুঞ্চি নাচ।
“জয়  মা তারা “

Part 8

দেখলেন সব গুলো? চললেন কোথা ? আরো আচ্ছে।
সাবস্ক্রাইব করুন।  যেই লিখবো আপনার মেলবক্স এ কলিং বেল বাজবে।

“আসছে বছর আবার হবে “


Last year, on Feb 7th, I got a call in the middle of the morning, that went on to change my life forever over the course of the next 7 days or so.

Munidi called me to ask me to come to Agartala, as Tinidi was admitted in the hospital, and was in a comatose state. I didn’t know what to do, and booked travel tickets for 9th Feb. I had to go. After all, she was my sister.

Munidi and Tinidi are my elder sisters, and cousins as they may be, they are closest siblings I have. I have very fond memories of times spent together during my growing up years, planning our next day, next week, next year, and our far-in-the-future life. We were inseparable. Also, Munidi and me, the elder ones in our respective families, shared common traits – heavier builds, bookworms, etc etc, and Tinidi and Kutu, the younger ones, had similar features. We were a great gang. 🙂

On the fateful morning of February the 8th, 2011, Munidi, in a broken voice, called me and told me it was all over, that I can cancel my tickets, and there was no need to travel.

The moment froze. I can’t exactly remember what happened. But I found myself standing next to  Durgamcheruvu, a lake near office, with a colleague, trying to make some sense of what was happening. In a matter of maybe 30 seconds, I had experienced death, loss of a loved one. But I don’t think I cried. I was shocked, sad, but somehow that wasn’t equal to tears streaming down my cheeks.

Only after a couple of days, when I reached Agartala, my Agartala, that the truth slowly started dawning on me. Uncle and Aunt, shocked, sobbing, like little children, trying to cling on to memories for support. Munidi was suddenly all grown up, handling the house. It was a mad house. People dropped in at any time, sit, try to talk to uncle and aunt, who broke down each time someone walked in. After some time, I felt like locking the gate and not let anyone enter the house. I sometimes went around town, met friends of Tinidi and Munidi, who were helping with all arrangements. There was so much to do. Death didn’t bring peace. It brought struggle, grief, and a pile of work. In the valentine season, in the season of love, we were out completing tasks deemed necessary by death.

There is one person on this planet who, I think, can tell me the exact numbers of seconds passed from THAT fateful moment. I am damn sure he kept count, at least for the first few months. Maybe even now. He is living his life, not the way he expected to, but he’s going along. That’s whats expected out of him, isn’t it.

The last time I met Tinidi was in 2009, I was on a short trip to Agartala, and she introduced me to him. She was shy when she told me about him, and she wanted my approval. My approval. I was younger than her, by years. She had known the guy for about a decade, if not more. They had been ‘going-out’ for years. Everyone in the family knew about them. But still, she wanted me to approve. It was sweet, and tender. That’s how much I meant to her, I guess. Well, I had her talk to my girlfriend when I was in a relationship. I guess we meant that much to each other.

We didn’t talk often. There would be a phone call in months, an email, a greetings card sometimes. That’s all. I wish I knew her better. I wish.