Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blaring Horns

Why is it that I feel like seeking sanctuary at the Osho ashram in Pune everytime I'm out on the roads of Kolkata ?

Is it because I seem to hear nothing but car horns honking all the time : a cacophony that penetrates into my eardrums and threatens to deprive me of my sanity for good...a noise that I've been used to since school-going days and which I still can't suffer without feeling my blood beginning to boil and my senses reel from the almost tangible assault on my ears, my mind, my consciousness, my being ?

Is it because I feel like doing what many there were allowed to do (I wonder whether it's valid even now) : get into one particular sound proof room and scream their guts out like Preity Zinta's character in The Last Lear ?

Would that help ? Would it help get all that anger, frustration, annoyance, disgust, agony, angst, stress out of my system once and for all ?

Would it ?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Re : updates & a Birthday

It seems like ages since I've last posted. And indeed, so much has happened in between !

Bapi turned 60. For the first time, all the members of our apartment celebrated Saraswati Pujo together, as one big family. K and I participated in the Republic day annual sports at my baaper baarir para (the locality my parents reside in) and didn't fare as miserably as we thought we would. One particular Sunday, we survived a whole night of dirty abuse, brick and glass pelting precipitated by our attempt to get rid of some rowdy neighbourhood mischiefmakers and had TV channels and the police put us all under literal house arrest as they seemingly took action against the anti-social activities of the former. Our ancient (the style, I mean) windows are about to be replaced by aluminium sliding glass ones and the entire house painted. I'm back in academics, doing an evening course on Editing & Publishing at Jadavpur University. Rashi and I visited the Kolkata Book Fair after several years and found it as poorly managed as ever, probably just a wee bit less dusty. Yes, there's a lot that you guys have missed and which I hope to be able to update you about (well, not at one sitting perhaps, but soon).

Let's get started. Bapi turned 60 and we decided to host a party at our flat. It was on a relatively large scale, considering our flat isn't big enough to comfortably contain 30 plus people at any given moment. We decided to save ourselves from overexerting ourselves and so outsourced the food. The menu consisted of crispy chicken and vegetable pakoras from our local favourite GOCS, as starters, while dinner comprised chicken biriyani and chicken chnaap from Shiraz or veg pulao, dal makhani and matar paneer, home-made raita and payesh and store-bought nolen gurer (molasses) rosogolla. The highlight of the party, I personally think, were the cake itself and the decorations (the latter courtesy me). Each experience has its bitter side, though, and this was no exception. Some invitees showed their utter lack of social etiquette by trying to be forcibly didactic in the kitchen (which already contained too many kitchen paraphernalia and four very hard-working people, two of them by nature extremely antagonistic to any unwelcome intrusions). One (gentle)man unabashedly announced that chicken biriyani with chicken chnaap was a silly combination (we should have considered asking him to sponsor the event). Another (lady) behaved as if our kitchen was a public hotel,placing random demands for onions etc to the concerned staff. A few people claimed they were ill and yet, continued to talk into their cellphones nonstop, as if there was nothing called society to take into consideration. Somewhat miraculously, all these histrionics - besides my cutting my fingers on some shards of glass while cleaning our bathroom and taking a painful tetanus injection that very evening - did not result in impairing my mostly stoic appearance. Titai (my sister-in-law) was a revelation though, managing to manoeuvre all the tortuous challenges of entertaining with consummate and disarming ease. I must say that I was very glad when the rigmarole ended though. One can only put up with a circus for a limited amount of time.

The cake :

The gathering :

Dinner :

Adda :

Nicotine and alcohol :

I hope to be able to update you all about the other events too in equal detail. Next day ! :-)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Baby Banerjee

My friend D just had a caesarean. She was supposed to be operated on around late February, but due to complications (which involved a sudden and sharp decrease in the amniotic fluid, triggering breathing trouble in the baby), the entire process of delivery was precipitated much earlier than it would have been otherwise. Her hubby, B, a close friend of ours, called us the day before the procedure took place to inform us about this unexpected development. So, one the next day, we reached the Bhagirathi Neotia nursing home (supposedly the best in maternity and child care right now in Kolkata) and narrowly missed seeing our friend being wheeled into the OT. There was a period of anxiety, excitement and feverish anticipation as I waited downstairs in the lobby in the company of both sets of parents, D's elder brother (who insists on addressing me as a senior each time we meet for reasons best known to him), B's maternal aunt and uncle and a colleague of B. I proved to be an unexpected moderator for the smalltalk that was evidently a strained effort to conceal the concern underlying the apparent composure on everyone's faces. K informed me later that he and his friend were extremely jittery as they sat upstairs, just outside the OT, wondering whether the operation would go off uneventfully or...

Fortunately, everything turned out fine. Debarati gave birth to a bonnie (if slightly premature) boy of 2.7 kg weight at around 11.45 am on Sat, 6th Feb 2010. Everyone immediately embarked on frantic efforts to trace similarities between the facial features of the parents and that of the newborn, much to our mirth. The only assertion that one could possibly and justifiably make at that point of time was that Baby Banerjee sported a fine growth of hair already on his baby head. The proud mama (maternal uncle) insisted on treating us each to Rs 8 worth of gooey, high-cal gulab jamun at the T-Junction stall within the premises of the clinic. We went home, a happy couple, calling up friends and relatives on the way to give them this good news and assuring them that we'd provide concrete follow-ups on the former by way of photos on orkut or via email.

The entire incident succeeded in creating one serious point of contention between K and me : if I insisted on being Mashi (maternal aunt) to the baby and K insisted on being Kaku (paternal uncle); how exactly would bystanders interpret our own relationship ?


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