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Friday, 30 November 2012

Our first visit to the zoo

Dear Ninni

Winters are just on the doorsteps..some warm clothes taken out, most of the times we remain confused what to wear, if the cloths are a bit too warm braving the scorching sun during noon or the chill of the evenings causing a slight shiver..which indicates normal cloths are not just enough. Fog, smog.. Delhi sky remains veiled most of the times but a pleasant feeling freed of extremities of the Delhi weather.

So one fine day we decided to visit the zoo. Actually we have been planning since many days but our work schedules, weather, other commitments did not allow. Your grandparents are here and thanks to your father's over enthusiasm when they are here..do i sound cynical..let me.. you will be discovering my cynicism and eccentricities gradually and may be find them irksome...but.. no i won't say thats how i am..i will try to be better..anyways we set for zoo one early sunday morning.

We are always late for everything, reach everywhere just about when entry gates are about to close, or the movie is past 5-10 minutes, or the shows are over, mall entry is closed but that day somehow we reached early when the crowd has not yet built up..and as your grandma remarked even the animals were not up from their slumber!! A lovely morning and we started with white ducks, then made our way for the White tiger. You know in Guwahati I've been to the zoo many times in childhood but with you it is like looking through your eyes again and hence the thrill and me and your father getting more excited than you!! With you it is a backward journey be it enjoying Durga  Puja, Deepawali, visit to the park and now zoo..like we are going back in time and finding those lost joys....

The tigers... one lazing in the sun, other too seemed extremely lazy drinking water near the ditch, you know it hurt seeing them forced out of their habitat and left idle here, nothing to do!!  One was kept confined in a cage like area and it was moving ferociously inside..out of its abode, out of its instinct, out of prey..may be it did not yet succumb to the environment thrust upon it...

Next was reptile house, a disappointment i must day barring a few pythons, most of the cages are empty,clay models of turtles and snakes... wonder where all the species have vanished! Yes i loved the white swans lazing about near a pond and a strange big bird called ' emu' resembling ostrich. Then we could see the ' sloth  bear' dark and all bear like..talk of bear hugs.!! And we absolutely loved the two giraffes loitering in the woods.. as your grandma remarked they seemed the most amicable  may be because of the fact that they had a partner or rather a compatible partner was my analysis!! Or may be as the day progressed the animals were waking up and caught up with the day.. and most of them were nocturnal as well. We had passed by a crocodile which your grandma swore was made of plastic, though your father and grandpa argued for the contrary, i was in doldrums as well doubting if the crocodile was real. And to dispense with all the doubts it opened its eye body position remaining same!! We remembered one famous line by Tagore from his story wherein one character  believed to be dead by all had to commit suicide to prove that she was not a witch and indeed she had been alive!!

Ah.. now all of us were beginning to get exhausted and you changing from one shoulder to another, Choco Bars, Biscuits...but no you won't walk. So some coffee and we had plans to skip the ' lion, elephants' part and moved in to the bird cages. Peacocks, pheasants, parrots ( other names i cannot remember)  all were chirping, chattering fun to watch. A ferocious cheetah banging on the cages...freedom Ninni is so sought after may be you realise it only after losing it, a lonely chimpanzee snuggled at the top of a cage with its back to us, it never showed its face once, another lonely rhino looked totally lost in the huge space meant for it.

You know while i went as a child i remember the ' fun' part which was getting tepid as i grew up, but this time though the loneliness of the animals, their lack of freedom and natural habitat was a sore sight but i won't complain...they the zoo authorities had put in effort after these animals so that they thrive and breed  and thats how we can see them.

Last was the algae lake with lots of cranes and other migratory birds, that was very lively as no one was caged there. The birds were catching fish from the pond, protecting their eggs and chics.. you know some of these birds come from far away countries unable to bear the cold there..strange how they find their way thousands of miles across the border and return home once winter is over

Panchi Nadiya pawan ke jhoke..koi sarhad na inhe roke..

It was a fun visit, we had lots of fun with you and as i said it was just like going back in time for us, taking a look at the animals through your eyes, gaping at the size and shapes like seeing them for the first time removing the layers of cliches already embedded deep in brain, just looking at things without preconceived ideas. I was telling you father.. i cannot find a proper children story to tell you, Cindrella, Snow Ehite were so cliched  with mother dying father getting a step mom!! He told me why not Panchatantra tales, i tried to tell him those fables we grew up with.. now while i tell you sound irrelevant most of the time. I gave example of the fox and grapes story.. hungry fox trying to have grapes but not being able..i feel sad for the fox!! Yes your father looked at me with unbelievable eyes trying hard not to laugh. I tried to reason, we grew up with these tales they are printed in our memory but when i begin to tell you the cliches become so conspicuous....

So where do i find non cliched things for you as i let you gobble up super cliched episodes of doraemon and chota bheem while i laze about in blogs and facebook !!  Anyways this post was about our visit to the zoo and the fun we had and the pics we clicked. Hope you love it when you read it.

Yours Ma


The Ferocious One

Growing up in Baba,s shoulders!!

In Happy times.. with your grandma

White Pheasant

Migratory Birds...

We visited Purana Quila as well

The Team

Thammu  Dadu and you

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Prelude to a Short Story

A short story on ' Real love in new India'..my short story may not have the format of a conventional story.. climax,anticlimax and specially the punch on the end so characteristic of a good story. The story begins and perhaps ends with the reflections  and introspection of a woman who has read about this contest and while trying her hand at participating in the contest delves deep into herself from where she had began and where she is now. Yes, I know it might sound a bit auto biographical but more or less all stories have the shadow of the author as the soul underneath it ..get heavily influenced by the life of the author and hence lends the ' reality touch' all readers craves for in reading fiction.

Strangely though fiction is seemed a getaway from hard core life, in some way all of us look for a bit of ourselves in any fiction we read and it rejoices us when similarity strikes, ' this happened with me' feeling and the writer stands complacent somehow her writing has struck a cord with readers. Will it happen with me..nice to muse..

The story hovers over the protagonist,s quest for love and the subsequent void she has reached in her life where perhaps love has no place or has it... she embarks on the journey of her life trying to decipher what she missed, what she achieved, her apparent loveless life, her past. She toys with all the pros and cons and ifs and buts and though unsure and confused somehow she knows love or no love in her life.. this is the life she is in love with. She has reached a stage where she had begun to love all she had, and her curious adventurous mind has stopped yearning for someone new..someone who would arouse her senses and make her alive. She had been attracted to men and men to her, but somehow like every mortal being each relation had its birth, life and death, some died young..some lived longer . Anyhow she could not outlive death and has moved on in life.

 She has grown on books where love is ethereal, perennial and wished to love one person in life, or spend life mourning for one..but she is not the character of the books she love to read, she is a realist and the force of life has made her love the real life she leads more than the mystery of the unknown. She accepts her life with her husband and amidst the hard core real life they lead with careers, emi,s,sales pressure, customers, a daughter to take care of.. may be somewhere far away there is a glimpse of love she has longed all her life or being the intelligent realist she is..may be  over the years she has painted this obscure picture of love..and will channel  the entire forces of her life believing this picture to be true.

This is my entry for the HarperCollins–IndiBlogger Get Published contest, which is run with inputs from Yashodhara Lal andHarperCollins India.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Durga Puja.. Looking back and forth..

Dear Ninni

Owing to a complex cross cultural upbringing we are giving you where Navaratri, Dusshera, Karva Chauth, Diwali are being celebrated with full pomp and festivity, we took special care this year to give you a feel of  ' Durga Puja'.  Strange something which has been such a vital part of our young days , me and your father,s, something which we would long forward to the whole year,something which would begin with the whiff of ' Shefali or shewli ' flower in the air, sky a shade bluer and gear up with the beginning of  many shopping trips by ma and neighbouring aunts. Many shopping trips didn,t mean they used to shop like we do now, it was like one saree at a time  after a lot of shop scanning and the next trip to return it as neighbour aunty has remarked something negative or may be simply raised an eyebrow in disapproval!! I have seen my father,s extreme irritaion but guess that was the fun of Puja shopping and  final envious nod by neighbouring aunt and Mashi...the battle was won!!

You of course have seen malls and supermarkets by the time your senses worked, learned to take a trolley and pick up your stuff, have seen your ma shopping, learned to check the price tag as ma does though unable to decipher the meaning. While we were young, when lucky, ma used to take me along for shopping  and believe me it was a very boring affair.We would sit in the shop, the salesman would get out sarees, after around a dozen is seen colour, design demanded , price bargained..it was a daunting task to walk out, but the trick was if you walk out and if your bargain was correct salesman would call you back ' Arey boudi.. madam suniye to' .. still you have to pretend to walk out till he gives a call again!! Since my mother emulated our neighbour aunt and it seemed ma always felt she was a master at bargaining and walking out so she followed it when we went for shopping. It never worked as fine and the salesman always did not call back!! If he did.. ma would doubt not only doubt but try to bargain further as she thought he agreed a bit too soon!! 'Perhaps her face.. she makes it so grim.. they give in' she would remark about her neighbour.  Shop hunting in the busy alleys of Fancy Bazar  Guwahati before the pujas.. was an experience into  itself.

After Ma,s saree part , our outfits.. sometimes ill fitting (no trial rooms that time), shyness and awkwardess dominating during teens, white based typical Bengali sarees for oldies, totally white dhoti like cloths for the widows in the family (though things changed gradually..widows were given normal sarees but white had to be dominant), father,s cloth came last and sometimes he went without new cloths..may be to cover up for the expenditure incurred or as he would put it.. ' I don,t need new cloths..'  By Mahalaya ( It marks the beginning of Devi Paksha in simple words the Puja season) preparations would gear up..in the Mahalaya day Ma would invariably switch on the radio at wee hours of the morning and Birendra Krishna Bhadra,s unmistakable voice year after year ' Ya Devi Sarva bhuteshu'...and in the early years all would wake up in the morning, the entire neighbourhood, collect ' Shewli' flowers. These subsided gradually with just lame playing of audio cassettes then CD,s and no early morning walks.

Finally Pujas would begin. Shoppings completed, gifts distributed, showed to all and sundry who come home. No parlour hopping that time by Ma or aunts..things were simple. In the Shaptami day Baba would give the first report of the idol in the morning of the Puja in neighbourhood. We collected flowers..those Shewli strewn in the ground..filled our baskets..not an easy task..braving vector bites (thankfully no dengue that time), squatting all the time and then stitched garlands to be put across the photo of Goddess at home..these seem a fairy tale to me as well now!! And yes all those Sharadiya Bangla magazines ( Sharadiya because of Sharat season I guess), we would finish the novels one by one me, Baba, my aunt, grandma later my brother and discuss which was the best. You know one of the most loved writers, creator of ' Kakababu' expired this year and i have read Kakababu from the first Puja magazine i learnt to read. But this is life... some new writings are good, some are average and this year I haven,t read a single one because I could not go to C.R. Park and get the magazines in time. Another young character i was so fond of when kid ' Gogol' also disappeared with the writer,s early demise like happy Puja days.

In the evenings we would go out with parents mainly, sometimes with Bubu (my aunt), pandal hopping and inspite of father,s strong dislike me and ma would go for the carts selling hot chaats!! Ma used to be extremely happy as she was relieved of cooking at least in the evenings though no formal 'eating out' then.In the Ashtami day sometimes we would visit Ram Krishna Mission offer Anjali amidst the huge crowd, stand in queue for Khichuri served as prasad. When a bit older i started visiting with friends, neigbouring didis and there was a different aspect to Puja.. getting dressed in your best and longing for attention...i understood that gradually as i noticed them getting all attention from boys and they laughing it off with  pride..there was envy for the pretty girls and extreme consciousness and gawkiness in the teenage days would lead me to stick to parents  or friends and never venture out alone.

In the Dashami day when the idol was immersed i also went behind the truck with my neighbouring aunt ( four years older to me) and her father when we were kids and saw boys dancing in Mithun Chakraborty style and i remember she also trying some moves with slogans like ' Asche bachar abar hobe!!' Evenings were reserved for offering ' pranams' to elders, tying the sacred thread around wrist and then gorge on coconut ladoos , nimkis, sweets.. gradually less home made stuff and more outside stuff.

A void used to be there after Puja was over, though holidays continued but the climax was over.. While we grew, up me and brother, some years we used the holidays to go out for a trip with parents and sometimes got the chance to watch the Kolkata Pujas or Delhi Pujas, sometimes we missed it altogether but now..since my brother moved out of Guwahati , coming home is a must for the Pujas and me.. after you have come is a diligent pandal hopper though before you in Delhi i longed for the cultural programmes and the big names who performed but with you i want to feel the ' Durga Puja', both your father and i.. just like bygone days brushing us with a breeze, to show you a part of us we left back home in a different time, balloons, toy pistols what not...we got them only in Puja time and my neighbouring aunt i talk about ( tutu pishi) , she preserved her cherished balloon beneath the lid of a drum containing rice ( earlier we used to have drums or tins containing rice and we used to have rice thrice a day) so that it survives a longer time and believe me it did to my surprise and she would open everyday and show me her blue balloon!!

Last year in Barapani i was not able to show you Durga Puja, this time we took you around Delhi and though we thought it was more for you guess it was more for us..to find a bit of lost days again, a bit of togetherness in this tight paced life..
Leaving you with some pics.

Yours Ma

During childhood we used to have idol counts to boast of to friends and peers so just an idol count for you

Elite Puja of GK II.. Pandal is all empty before 11.. good for clicking pics

Olympic rings at Matri mandir Safdarjung Enclave

Dont miss the huge vessels of delicious prasad..:)

Pious you...

Original you?

Mayur Vihar Puja had Rabindranath theme

Your mom going all traditional