Sunday, 3 March 2013

Of phones and vegetables.

Looking at the numerous shops in wide-eyed wonder, I was was ambling through the roads of Mussoorie, one winter, long time ago. I was in class 5 and was fascinated by the shops and wanted to buy everything--spoons, combs, shawls--everything. Baba's voice shattered all such grand plans- 'Egulo shob Kolkata tei pawa jay'. 'All these things are easily available in Kolkata.'  He bought a red cutlery set and a woollen cap both of which I guess he thought would not be available in our beloved city. (Parents!)

This dialogue was repeated on every holiday. In Puri my mother wanted to buy a hnari , (a vessel we use to cook rice etc.), now don't ask me why, (this was a woman who brought home a honuman-kola-khachche soft toy from Fonria Pukur). She did get the hnari but not before Baba could grumble - "Ki dorkar chilo? Egulo Kolkata tei pawa jay".

Anyway so basically going somewhere with Baba, and buying something without him grumbling was a rare experience. If you needed the thing then no problem but if it was a thing you want to buy just on a whim then God save you! Buying around 10 kilos of fruits and then washing them and displaying them on a huge dining table in a not-so-huge room is perfectly normal but buying some clothes just like that is what demented people do!

He is lucky enough to find friends who are equally abnormal. One of his friends has a farm somewhere in Baharampur and whenever he comes to Kolkata, we don't shop for a week. He brings a supply of vegetables and fruits that we have trouble storing in the kitchen. Once this friend of his brought this huge bunch of litchies and after displaying them on the dining table, my father expressed his wish to have his photo clicked with the litchies. FINE. I indulged, brought the camera as my mother looked from the kitchen where she was busy admiring brinjals. The woman loves her begun
and if there is an abundant supply at home, rest assured that the goddamned vegetable will be on the menu, sneaking its way into every dish like James Bond, shukto with begun or better still neem-begun, mach with begun, two slices of begun bhaja and some aloo-begun er torkari--till we are ready to scream . . . and then gauging the situation, she camly says "ponka chilo , na banale kharap hoye jeto" (it had pests, so would have rotted had I not cooked it all).

 -- I digress... where were we ? yes, Baba and litchies. So I got the camera and was ready to click and through the lens I saw a grown-up man smiling like a silly kid pointing at the litchies. I asked "Is it necessary to point?' 'Yes! My friend has brought litchies, this is what friendship all won't understand click.' (Of course I won't ... we are a screwed up lot who buy cups of coffee for 100 bucks and don't send kilos of fruits to each other's house--how would we know!)

Something about buying useless things like clothes irks my father which now that I think of it, is good--great in fact. Because he is convinced that he looks good in two colours--red and yellow. After various shocking episodes of him bringing home shirts of both these hues, now only my mother and I shop for him.

So on one birthday, I decided that I need a new phone. I wanted a particularly expensive model and that was supposed to be my birthday gift. I don't know what sort of a miracle happened and he agreed. In reality I never expected him to. But he insisted that we walk to the store (which is at walking distance but I take an auto... actually once I took an auto and realised that the distance is embarrassingly short so I got off a little further than the intended stop.) So we walked to the store and I got my expensive phone (earlier I owned a black and white Nokia so EVERYTHING was more expensive than that!) and we waked back. He was not grumbling but his face was swollen... like Akbar's flaring nostrils in Mughal-e-Azam. I knew what he was thinking-his first salary was perhaps half the phone's value, some families survive on that amount, he was perhaps spoiling his daughter rotten, how did he EVER agree to it... and so on. So on that day I told myself that until the day comes when the phone just falls apart and fails to come together again--I will continue to use it. (I loved it ...but that was secondary.) My resolve was strengthened further when during a family gathering someone spotted this phone and asked me the price, I innocently revealed it and the concerned relative pinched her sister in a not-so-subtle way... (look-how-kaku-is-spoiling-her was the subtext of that pinch I guess!)... And that's why my darling I am not changing my phone, I am not buying those 'smart' phones, those touch-screen phones. I am happy with my dinosaur-age relic.

The last bit was all that I wanted to say when I started writing but you see my first class-teacher was damn right when she had said -- "she is very talkative".


Saturday, 2 March 2013

Sugar and spice and all things nice

At times when I take the metro to work I cross this bakery, located right across the Iskcon mandir. I look at the bakery with its shining door amidst the squalid surroundings and my mind conjures up images of a delightful chocolate cake, cheese sticks and other goodies ... for a few seconds the music of the earphones die. Then I cross the shop and the spell is broken.

My room has one window with a long blue curtain, it is never opened, because ... I really don't know why. Once I tried and was hit by a dust storm and I never tried again. A part of the window is blocked out by a piece of wood, that's where the rented AC will fit in another month or so. The point is that throughout the whole day little or no sunshine enters my room. So this particular Saturday, having spent a good amount of the day in bed, I decided to take a walk to that bakery.

Dodging autos and cycles, which were being driven by people who had sworn to bump me off the road, I reached the bakery--Golden Fiesta. Bikes and vans blocked the entry, squeezing through them was not an option so somehow managed to find a gap. Inside there was everything that I could possible ask for... cakes, pastries, bread, chocolate sticks, low-fat milk coffee (shoot me if I ever drink that!), eclairs and what-not. Having ordered two savoury puffs and one pastry to be packed, I took a walk around the store, trying my best to ignore the two aunties who were ordering dozens of cakes.

It's not the best cake-shop in town, it's definitely not the best cake-shop I have been to but all the same it's a shop full of bread and cake that brought back memories of days when I happily walked inside Kookie Jar, bought a loaf of bread and returned home happy,  the day my heart did a dance seeing the bright pink box with a golden "flury's" scribbled on it, the day when I bunked a disastrous French exam and went to the French Loaf instead and gleefully shared coffee and cake with my partner in crime and of the day when a crazy friend dragged me to a cake shop called Rouge, in a god-forsaken part of the city where I had the most amazing red velvet cupcake packed in a beautiful box.

At times it's bags, at times it's a book but today... today I am happy with my cake.


I spend a good amount of my very precious weekend browsing through people's albums on FB, looking, gaping, laughing and then kicking myself for being such an ass. Here are my favourite ones!

I me mahself: One album. One face. One particular angle. 300 something photos. Need I say more?

Mah new job: Congratulations. We are happy for you. You have joined the bandwagon of individuals who earn their own living. But (Surprise! Surprise!) you're NOT the first one in the world to do so. Your parents have done it... and they did not have the time to click pics of--mah desk,mah computer, mah coffee mug and mah god-knows-what-else!

Mah wedding: Some albums are nice, sweet. Some overdo the "sweet" bit. Seriously if it's been a while ... and you've been married for quite sometime but your DP is still that of you and your partner's cheek-to-cheek photo then the cover pic should be that of Digene.. we'll need it!

Also sick of moshari hata salwars, anarkalis, red/orange pants, babies, ugly wedding makeup.

Okay bye.