Archive for the ‘love’ Category

This is the first day of the rest of my life”, I thought as the tires touched the wetness of the concrete. And I reminisced – “I had left this country at an hour when India was fast asleep. I come back to this country, as India is getting ready to start a new day.” Almost a decade back, I had packed my life into two suitcases and landed in Detroit, which was then fondly popular as the Motor City. It still is, just that the fondness has given way to sympathy.Sadly.

Welcome to America. Enjoy your stay” – she had said from behind the plexiglass. My good friend and his faithful Marlboro Lights had greeted me as I stepped out to a chilly fall afternoon.That was my first ride in a Ford. I was naive and excited, about everything that was to be. There was the factor of the unknown, about how life would shape up to be, in the next few years. First came the University, the jobs followed and then getting married, and then our child. And finally came the “decision“. The one which we had talked about for years. To move back ! But when it really happened, it was too surreal. It swept us off our feet. Into the air.Literally.

Namaste Sir. Enjoy your visit. How long are you staying?” he asked from under his neatly trimmed mustache. “For a while”, I beamed under the neon. “We are back for good, at least for the next few years”. We dragged our bags into a pleasing Bangalore air. And before I forget, let me tell you. The airport is beautiful.And wonderfully maintained. And so is the Mumbai airport. From the time we landed in India, I have flown through a lot of airports. Let me correct that. I have been flown by the most obliging pilots. And I have loved each one of them. And let me tell you, all those flights have been on time.Technically.

There has been so much that I  have experienced in the last few weeks. Couple of them are most impressive on the memory. Like how, I got to smell the smoke, from the noise of crackers during Diwali, laughing out with D in his Navi Mumbai high rise, as we put away some cold beers with freshly grilled kabobs. Our baby, soaked in tears as he lost all his silky hair under the skilled razor of the pundit in charge at Tirumala. And the warm air as we sped in awe on the wonderful – NE1 from Vadodara to Ahmedabad.Really.

As I wait for my PAN card and hopefully get employed with any company that has a loaded cafeteria, it is but most understandable that my LDL will be duly entertained by samosas,dhoklas,pakoras,pani-puris,medhu vadas,paneer puffs,khakras,mysore paks,gulab jamuns, and a few others. As I do justice to all of them , I should be able to catch up on my blogging and primarily with following my favorite fellow bloggers. If you still remember me, please do visit again. If you are  here for the first time, welcome to my world of reclosion.This is the beginning to a new journey and would love to have you with me.Truly.


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Today could have been a perfect day. Being a Saturday, we woke up pretty late (~ 07:15 am …thanks to Onga who slept a full 15 minutes more than his usual quota). Usually, he wakes us up by dropping Thomas on our heads. But today, it was the  disgusting stench sweet aroma of the brocolli and beans from last night. The man was carrying a lot of  load, very early…. in the day. Once fumigated attended to, we were ready for the rest of the day.

I was famished wanted to lend a helping hand, just like any smart good husband should, over the weekend. So I took up  slow death the privelege of feeding the baby !! This would mean, that his mom could  go fix breakfast  relax, unlike other days during the week. Instead, she wanted to fix breakfast and I just did not have the heart to say ….”NO”. Afterall, she is a great cook, and I was ready to eat a cow probably getting a little hungry.

I told her …. “take it easy huh …. just make something simple …. something like … that ….spicy onion masala uttapam…that should be easy …right ?” Suddenly, she became very quiet. While I started flipping channels played with the baby, she got started on the masala (stuffing) part of that simple breakfast. There was hardly any noise from the kitchen. Like the calm before a storm. It was a little creepy, and in retrospect, I think that she let the oil fume,  before she relocated the cut onions from her hand onto the pan.

Now ..let us pause for a second,  shall we ? This needs a little flashback, if you will. Let us try to recollect what a very hot   knowledgeable  Miss Joseph had taught on a warm summer afternoon, several years ago to some ogling diligent students. Sometimes two unlike molecules cling to each other due to attraction and that is defined as adhesion.  In addition, I would also like to cite a Bengali phrase – “taile jale ek hoye jawa” (the phenomenon of oil and water forming a homogenous mix).

Back to present day. You see, in the heat of the moment, some water droplets (from the cutting board), decided to get  some of that adhesion action going, ….with them, young and juicy, cut onions. This catalyzed, ….what society would taint as an illegitimate union of the hot oil and the water. 9 nano seconds later : the spluttering oil, singed her right arm and gave birth to several blisters of all kinds of shapes and sizes. At that very moment (almost an hour late than usual),Onga dropped Thomas on my right toe . This was not good timing … at least not for me !!

I had to limp and  get a bucket of cold water for her to drown the sizzle to feel better. I called M to find out what else I could do to heal the pain. “apply ghee..” she said. We did not have any. So I cut a half-inch slice of  butter and rubbed it over the wounds, slowly and with extreme care, ….not to spill any on the floor.She looked up and smiled at me. And that is when things got bad. I mean really, really bad.For me !!

I grinned back at her….” you were in labor for 11 hours … this must be nothing…huh ??”

You see, some days it is best to shut the fudge up and let the DNA (that makes a good husband) do its work !! Today, could have been a perfect day for that !!

image courtesy : here 

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One of the incentives of being married to a girl from South India is easy access to kick ass South Indian food! ” After having gained hundreds of pounds, since I transitioned from “self” cooking to “herself” cooking, it is but natural of me to delight in my wife’s culinary skills . Now, if she was not a great cook. I would have started this post slightly different. I would probably say, “One of the perks of being married to a girl from South India is easy access to some of the greatest movies”. Now that is a fact, which by the way sits perfectly well with me as well. I am not sure if she can say similar thing(s) about being married to a Bengali. But for that she needs to start her own blog.

My love affair with South Indian movies (mainly: Tamil) began almost the same time, that I started ogling my “baby momma” from the last bench of our engineering class. Back then, I was always humming Tamil songs, watching Tamil movies and gawking (from behind myopic glasses) at a certain Telugu girl…and let me tell you, I was committed to all three responsibilities to the best of my ability. I listened to the songs, for they made me happy, even the sad ones did. Once I had listened to a song I needed to go watch the movie. Unless of course it was movie like Padayappa, in which case, the music would suffice!! And being new to South India, I wanted to feel safe in the company of someone who could speak Tamil and was a treat to sit next to, in the theatre!! For the first time in my life, there was purpose to everything I did!! I journeyed with the stars during those several hours in at Devi theatre and Satyam complex.

Disclaimer : Before I go any further I would like to remind the reader that anything that I say beyond this point on, is from within my limited knowledge about Tamil cinema. I am just another Bengali who used to live in the Kodabakkam area during my undergrad and was exposed (rather densely) to the Tamil film world, both on and off-screen. I am no movie expert and my views are purely based on how I have felt towards each of these creations of art. So what follows is not a review, but an attempt to collate how I felt as a member of the audience.

The most significant characteristic about Tamil movies (from recent years) that I find so absorbing is the style of narration. A film maker picks a simple story and makes it into a 90 minute package of pure entertainment. These are great movies made from everyday life events. They are rich in emotion and easy to relate to.

One of the Tamil directors that I am a huge fan of, is Cheran. I have watched all his movies, the early ones without even knowing who he is. It was not until recently when I found out that Porkaalam is one of his movies. It had one of my favorite songs – “Thanjavur man eduthu . Beautiful words woven with the popular “gaana” style of music by Deva. I digress. It was the brilliance of his movie, Autograph, that got me sitting up and paying more attention to his work. I was moved by the sensitive elements of life in his stories, masterfully played out by artists (including Cheran) who did full justice to every character they portrayed. Maya Kannadi felt too close to me,  since our neighbours in the building we used to live in were two girls who worked as assistants to a make up artist.  

Pokkisham is the latest Cheran movie that I watched. I had not read any reviews. I never do. I think it ruins the “wow” factor that cinema deserves. It is a love story, one which is spun out of pain and emotions that will make you want to reach out into the lives of the characters and redo the story all over again.Parts of the movie were filmed in Calcutta and the scenes portrayed, brought back to me, glimpses from my childhood memories of the city. What was most admirable was how Cheran was successful in preserving the 70’s look of Calcutta. Cheran is just perfect in his role and as always so is Padmapriya and together, they acquaint us with how one’s love and life can sometimes part ways for good. And when that happens, it hurts bad and truly nothing can ever make that pain go away. We get through life with that pain, every moment of it, knowing that things could have been different. Sure, there are other movies which touch similar topics, but nothing I have watched stirred me the way this movie did. And I think art like this is not to be compared.

What Pokkisham brought to me, was an aide memoire about the definition of true love!! What a lot of us hear about, some experience and some will never know. Over the years, I have become, what I would like to believe – Cheran’s biggest “non Tamilian” fan. Someday if I do meet him, I wish to stand up in honor, shake his hand and tell him – “thank you for sharing all that beauty!!

I leave you with the  last scenes (sorry no subtitles), when Nadheera sheds silent tears for a love she deserved for a lifetime!! A lifetime, too late!!

 photo courtesy :here
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The Howrah Hatia Express 8615 sneaked in, through the smoke, from the coal ovens of the railway quarters and the tea stalls. The coolies (porters) , hopped onto the still moving train and pushed their red uniforms through the almost empty compartment (most passengers disembark at Ranchi). The softness of your eyes, smiled at me as I waved back at you through the rust of the window railings. We stuffed the auto rickshaw with our baggage and after some gyrations of reckless maneuvering, found ourselves at the new place in the HEC Colony.

This house was better – more room, lots of sunlight and a train of dahlias woven around the perimeter of the property, like a garland. While the rest of the family got busy with conversations and interruptions, I followed you along the red soil driveway. I can still smell your khadi kurta (home spun cotton shirt) and the early morning air, as I held on to you tightly, perched on the back seat of the Vespa – en route to the dudhwala’s (milk man). For the next few days, I was the devoted nephew, absorbing every bit of intellectual conversation feasible between an adult and an adolescent.

The days bloated with constant chatter of the family. The evenings were calm, and that is when, you and I used to go for our walks. Stepping away from the colony walk ways, onto the main road and then bridge over the skinny brook. Our daily little secret was the daal vada (lentil dumplings) from the dimly lit kiosk run by the tribal couple. Any evidence of this atrocity, was neatly wiped out on the greasy square cut out from the daily newspaper, that the vadas were served on.

Somewhere along the path, you  pointed at the lights from the houses, behind the eucalyptus trees and mentioned how there was a son/daughter from each one of them, studying in one of the élite engineering/ medicine schools of India. “This is a great neighborhood ” – you had said, “a great place to build confidence and feed ambition !! ”

That was in the summer of 1994……

After that, the last time we met, was at the hospital in Bhowanipore. You lay there among strangers putting up a brave fight. I could see, that you noticed how much I had strayed. I was not going to be the protagonist of the success story – of your vision. Shame caught me unawares, for a few moments of true self appraisal. My life, as it was then, was clouded with superficiality and restlessness.

Over the years, change (for the better) picked me up on its way We spoke long distance and not too often. You got better but then it started getting worse. I prayed. There was a guilt of not spending enough time with you, when I had the time of your day. And then one day the phone call happened. Our conversations were over – for good !!

That was a year into the new decade. ……2001.

Almost another decade later …. this summer (of year ‘09) ….

He walked out on a relationship, one which he had believed would find him happiness!!  As brave as he is, he survived her lack of commitment and fought back to find himself at a better place. Professionally !! Now, the two hour commute to his desk, finds him at peace with his new life –  the cafeteria et al.

His likes are strong and his dislikes stronger. Over the weekends,  he devours the works of the best and the worst of authors , some in and others from out of town. He critiques with brutal honesty,  silver screen creations of the famous and the infamous. I can imagine how his apartment has not been cleaned in ages. Some days, when mischief pokes him,  the building plummets into  total darkness, thanks to his ancient iron box from the past. His laughter is loud, like that of a  child and his advices are crisp, like those of a good lawyer – one just like him !! That is all I can tell about his day job, almost like the Friends, about Chandler Bing’s.

We talk about everything, from Tarentino to family gossips, from shaadi.com to thin crust pizza, about our days near Nona’s Corner to the cheap vodka, that we downed during our last reunion. He confessed that he was jealous and often times, wondered what his father and I talked about, during those walks, several years ago. Back when he was a kid drowned in books and I was a teenager oblivious to his existence.  We speak to our memories for details and try and put the pieces together. We speak almost every day – me buried  under the Atlantic snow storms and he resonating from a local train in Bandra.

And  in my heart, I realize that our conversations are not over. When I talk to him,…… I talk to you !! You are gone …….but he is here for me –  as I am for him. I know I have to make up for lost time. We live in a cynical world and it is not every day that we know and love someone ……who can complete our sentences in a seemingly intellectual conversation!!

Someday, when I can get myself to see him again, on that balcony, somewhere in  Navi Mumbai, we are going to look up at you ….. and we know you would softly smile back at us ….and say – “Go ahead , ……take that walk….. down that road, ….over the bridge….. from behind the eucalyptus trees !!”

Photo Courtesy: here

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Sunday afternoon is bad timing …for any kind of activity . That is ….if you are a recovering lethargy addict, who needs to take it easy…..which I believe mean the same thing.”tomar phone” ….(it is a phone call for you) heard him drag the Bata® flip flops across the mosaic floor. He retired into the corner, …..where the red receiver lay waiting to be spoken at. That was the first time …she had called to speak to him. Purely academics. But to him, it was the best phone call ever. That was the phone call that would change their lives …. (how dramatic is that..??)

From that day on…(for the next few months). …..at the same time every evening…. he would Super Glue® his left ear to that red receiver, tapping away on the redial button …….until some very amused junior (student) at the dorm would giggle out her name…loud!! They
had about three minutes to speak …..about “nothing really“.They never spoke in public. It was a secret world, that they had grown for themselves. A world of nods and blinks ….of paused glances as they crossed paths like strangers in vicinity !!

And then one day ……they finally met !! This is the part which Kukunoor narrates as…. “boy meets girl….(if you have not made the connection ….please watch Hyderabad Blues … Parts I and II). When she told him about the free counseling thrust upon her …”stay away from him..he is no good” …….his heart beat ….to a silent pride…. !! Wah Taj !! After that ….their lives took some superfluous ……and some welcome …….exits and entries…kinda like the effects of too much Haldiram® and cola…… while watching
KKHH…(…yikes !!)

A few Sundays later ….. he is still a recovering slob … she still has an apetite for books ….. and they still talk about …..nothing really !! The glances are now …..(for lack of better metaphor or incorrect usage of the English language) ….focussed … on their respective laptops !! Only and only after ….every “one” else is asleep ….PG -14 “months” !! And yes ….. he can still hear ….his heart beat …. (actually ….no) ….he is now used to a loud bang from the kitchen ……as the two feet “piece of chocolate”……. hurls the cake mix bowl onto the fake mosaic of cheap (not a figure of speech…literally) apartment flooring.

Here is my personal one (more) year warranty to Her Highness …..”complete insanity”… guaranteed!! I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Mr.Mani Ratnam and ARR ……for sourcing music and “reel” situations …….for our real moments of rendezvous…from several Sundays ago !!

Photo Courtesy :here

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As the rental vehicle cruised out of the parking lot, he held out his hand to touch her henna smeared fingers. Her other hand held on to him ..the one she was going to spend the rest of her life with. This was the first day of the rest of her life. This was the first morning, the morning after two very exhausting days. The massive barrage of rituals felt insignificant to both of them, but they had played along. It had been a spar with ignorance and orthodox conventions and they were glad that the closure worked out in their favor. But then, a wedding is a wedding is a wedding !! No matter how hurt you are, if you are the daughter, you do feel sad to be leaving your Dad and his aura….. to be swept away in the delight of a much awaited matrimony. The speed breaker catalyzed the effects of gravity ……her tears shook him back to the present. She turned to him with those eyes (the reason for this derangement of emotions) and asked him …. “you alright?”

Sometimes life is all about saying the right thing at the right time. He did not know what was the right thing or if there was even a right thing for that moment !! Instead he let out a weak smile. All he could think of, was the father who he had turned to look at …. wiping his tears. And he told to himself ….”I wish I can keep her happy!”.

In the next few years the henna began to blend with the colors of her married life. She liked to ask him, about everything. He was amused at her innocence. She blushed, about how he had been completely brazen about his emotions which in turn had induced unrest in her !! They reminisced about how the conductor (who knew about their then “clandestine affair”) always cared to warn him that the bus was nearing “the neighbourhood”. They laughed about how they would change seats, and then later the same day ….he would take the same bus back to the city. She would wave at him from the balcony as the bus went over the bridge. As the vehicle went over the bridge on that day, he had looked at the balcony. He had missed seeing her there …. and then it had all come back to him … they were together. The families had given in …. they were a couple !!

And then motherhood came, and she glowed like he had never seen her before.He wanted to take care of her even more. All the time. He called everyone from across the seven seas. The medley of information from online forums, visits with the doctor and the family beliefs took a toll and they decided to just follow what they had learnt and what they thought was best…under the circumstances. They looked forward to the images and tried to imagine how “he” would look like when he arrives. And then the day arrived and the other rest of her life began. This was the first day of the rest of her new life. She was a mom. Just like you were to her … !!!

You completely missed my”know it all” grin. You missed my ending sentences with ..”you know what I am saying?” You also missed how she fought against the whole world to be with me. You missed taking care of me when we visited home. You missed taking care of her when she carried the “extra weight around”!! You missed when she cried during her labor and reached out …..to find my hand. You missed when she held “him” in her hands and shed her tears. You missed how when “he” wakes up and smiles ..she tells me … “right there .. he looked just like her“.You missed it all….. !!!

It is not today, but every day that you are missed. We never met, but she thinks that you would have liked me…a lot (I think …). Wandu Ma (the name of love ….. that everyone called you by) ….I want you to know…. I miss ….not meeting you in person !! But I am glad that I found you, when I met your child !! I see her and I know that you must have been a great mother. I know that you know …. if not all the time ….there are moments ….when I do make her happy !! You see it is a learning curve and I am a little slow……!!

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Rs.45/- M.S.R.P (tax included) ……..the eager teenager counted every bit of his savings, over and over again as he dreamt to match that price tag….The Aiwa® Walkman that he owned, had tacky wires spewing magic to the speakers, that lay face down peeking into the obese neck of the matkas(water mud pot) strategically placed in the storage area above his head.It was only a matter of time before he sped through the crowd and then halted to murmur …Dangerous cassette please!!

He knew all his songs..every word.And he used that to impress the girls, when he lip synced while attempting the moon walk in his rubber band stalled socks and white keds.. .those were the days of the Magnasound® tapes which he guarded with his life…making sure that he dabs the magnetic reader with some after-shave lotion (his Dad’s) after every couple of days …..cannot afford to miss any beat ….”King of Pop deserves the royal treatment”…..

That boy is now the father of a child……discs have replaced the tapes and THX® has taken over from the pots….the narrow streets built out to speeding highways ….the boy does not stop running, to break into a dance move …not anymore …he did not care about all the lawsuits ….his love is untainted …he still knows all his songs ……..and he knows ..he would have never wanted his hundredth post to be a homage to you …..adieu !!

Photo Courtesy:here

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