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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Books close to my heart...

My favourite books...very hard to compile a list...reason being... at different stages and times perspective changes but great books leave you with an impression, a feeling which stays.

1. The Hungry Tide   It will continue to be my favourite...there is a call of this unknown mysterious mangroves the Sundervans...i could feel Sundervans in my senses and get mesmerized by the chemistry of Piya and Fakir.... two characters so different yet so alike. The storms depicted in the forest and eye contact with the man eater bordering between surreal and myth was something which transcended words and you begin to live in the mysterious jungle.. A short book with depth and breeziness of a thriller. My all time cherished book by Amitav ghosh.

2. The River of Smoke  Since i began with Amitav Ghosh it is justified i bring the name of  River of Smoke ,second in the about to be trilogy after Sea of Poppies, history and fiction had this superb blend and the reader gets caught in the lives of the protagonists as they witness changes in the pages of history. The political diplomacy, shrewdness, behind the scene agreements...the doom of a race, the victory of the colonists with tales of deceit...the reader is left with a series of emotions and a virtual tour of Canton city with its cuisine, boat houses where the protagonist meets his love...business centres and deals, the tussle between business and moral ethics as the drug catches on the entire country. Again it has a thriller like aspect which draws one to the book and has the reader captivated till the end.

3. Na Hanyate   I read this book in my teens and  realised that it was a must read for every Bengali growing girl of course at that time. It was this vibrant, intense love story and i was upset that a seemingly blockbuster Hindi movie had been made out of this at least copying the basic idea and some frame by frame remakes without any acknowledgement to the original. But for those who had read the original, the love story between the foreigner who comes for Sanskrit lessons from a renowned scholar and his daughter was a mirror of the society at that times... when a new India was waking up to new values and new education and the winds of modernization had began to flicker a burning passion and love between the two characters. Their love fall apart, the foreigner disciple ousted from their house once their affair is caught... basically the passion of a true love story spell bounds the reader along with the hard reality of Indian society amidst the veneer of modernization. 
I also read La Nuit Bengali ( Bengal Nights) by Mircea Eliade after some years when i could get hold of it just to feel the totality of love and the account of a foreigner in love with an Indian woman.

4. Mother  Being a Bengali brought up in a joint family my entire house brimmed with different kind of books. From religious to literary and from literary to revolutionary!  I read Mother when i was young and through the eyes of an illiterate mundane mother how the seeds of a revolution was being sown and how the lady woke up to the bitter truths she had lived all her life and the changes her son and his group of friends planned to bring to the world. I felt awakened through her eyes, how an entire notion rose to their freedom, how new ideas were coined. Mother left me with strong memories as i grew up.

5.  Lost Horizon   Read in my school days again there was this story of Shangri La  a land away from this material world where time ceases to run. Shangri la caught me in a web of dreams and imaginations in a land somewhere far in Tibet where four characters get stuck after a plane crash. The mystery of Shangri la where abundant gold mines exist and the residents do not fight for gold where nobody ages where the Lamas pray and lead a simple life... a land isolated from he world. The main protagonist Conway gets attracted by the land yet cannot get rid of earthly feelings for the woman who was also stuck here and finally how the real world wins over and he flees leaving Shangri la... the magical land. The book played with my imaginations and perhaps a Shangri la is still imprinted on the mind.

6. Prothom Pratisruti   This classic by Ashapurna Devi was all about the rise of a woman from the shackles imposed on her by the society since her birth. Her struggle with the blessings and love of a tyrannical father and a struggle to write her own destiny and when she fails miserably as her little daughter Subarnolata was married off by her husband and conspiring mother in law in her absence. The struggle of a woman, a powerful intelligent woman well ahead of her times as she tries to be the harbinger of change...the fruits of the change  we are savouring now.

7. Prothom Alo  I have grown on a staple diet of Sunil Gangopadhyay,s books since childhood be it the feisty Kakababu or  took a peek from ' Poorbo Paschim' that used to come on the Bengali weekly Desh or his various novels and rare sometimes his poetry. Prothom Alo was published serially in Desh and i remember we all took turns reading it... starting from my father, my grandma and then finally me. Well along with history there was this lure of adult world for me but the date with hisory takes over as i read about Tagore,s life weaved in the story...his journeys through his Bajra ( decorated boat) his relations and their aspects, his encounter with the Tripura Maharaja...and various other characters like Nati Binodini, Girish Ghosh all who were an ode to the renaissance in Bengal and India...hence the nomenclature Prothom Alo.

8. Gora  Though people say as compared to his poetry and short stories Tagore's novels could not scale the same heights... but Gora cast a deep impact on me during my teens. Though Brahmo Samaj...the debate between formless and idol worship was inspiring, it was basically the intelligence and intensity of Gora and the growing love between him and Sucharita crafted in Tagore,s poetic language had me spell bound and the identity crisis Gora comes to term with.

9. Aranyer Adhikar  I know Bengali books will rule my chart but i do not see a a reason to be guilty... blessed with a language so rich in literature and history...i always have found my soul in books of this language. This novel by Mahasweta Devi was my journey into the lands of the real India.. neglected and overpowered by the shrewd and financially stronger. It was a cry from the dwellers of the forest to give back their land ,their life... their peaceful coexistence with the forest from ages. Birsa Munda,s struggle to claim his land, a life for his people moves the reader to tears...and indeed a reminder of the struggle by the inhabitants of India to retain their identity, claim their rights.. a war which still goes on in the unexplored heart of India.

10. Aranayak  A classic by Bibhuti Bhusan Bandopadhyay, a novel, a travelogue... which took me through the forests of  Munger, Bhagalpur and the virgin lands of Bihar. I remember this book invariably as i travel through the heart of Bihar in my journey to Guwahati from Delhi at least once a year...his dreams woven in this land... i recall the writer riding his pony in a path washed my milky moonlight in a breathtakingly beautiful forest. Well no one can live nature in his writings as Bibhuti Bhusan does and Aranyak remains eternal in my heart.

I know i have missed many, conspicuous by missing few bestsellers... and i do not know whether translations are available for all i mentioned but these gems i carry in my heart..and remember at times.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Zindagi Gulzar Hain....



Television...one of those apparatus...you browse through the numbers in the remote and most of the times i end up switching off the device in frustration... Yeah not much of a news person and not a sports freak either (i guess lots of women might get included in the bracket). I end up with a random episode of ' Friends' which most of the times was an episode i had watched earlier but still evoked some laughter and humour at any aspect which wasn't noticed earlier...and browse through the    odd music channel to catch up with videos and songs of  ' my time' kind and food recipes with my domestic help while we had our lunch....I guess my TV addiction is limited and so are my options. Comedy Central kept me occupied for days but being unable to catch something gripping...quit that as we'll. So it was about Zindagi TV I read in the entertainment section of the daily newspaper and the rave reviews...so gave it a try. Well I hardly watch soaps and not at all the kind shown last ten years...the bitching women with gaudy make up and most of the times they end up doing nothing save keeping their spouse contented....

Anyway...randomly I caught an episode of  Zindagi Gulzar Hain...and caught it up another day or two. Being the cynical person I am .....tried to cast it aside as another love story between a rich spoilt guy and a  middle class girl. The woman protagonist....so arrogant, so rigid...her head covered all the time....nothing felt right and the typical rich boy with his pretty girlfriend. Well like falling in love I never knew when the show took me all over. Initially I marvelled at myself  for still being young at heart...and enjoying a love story still...not only enjoying actually waiting with bated breath...for the two to get together!! I remembered my school days where I,d wait for Fauji...and another romantic soap called Farman...if anybody remembers!! Within a few episodes I was that school girl again waiting for Zaroon and Kashaf to fall for each other!!!!! And i have to admit Fawad Khan...Zaroon as I,d like to remember him always...slowly cast a spell on me with his eyes and intensity...and it may sound obvious but for a cynical like me...well...like exploring an unknown part of me. Well well all these from someone who was reaching  thirty six is a way bit too much...but who,s complaining!!

Yeah it began with Zaroon craze...but then it was the show in all, from the saplings of a sweet romantic love story, somehow it was not repetitive not at all boring, a surprise breath of fresh air witha more surprising realistic element...Kashaf  just could be anyone of us...middle class, cynical after the kind of life she has endured with her mother. A real inspiration was the well etched out character of her mother...and the little tit bits she has about life...though may sound typical...but it grows on the viewer and these little tit bits in a way holds her daughter,s life together. Things as simple and mundane as cooking for her husband...dismissed by her cynical daughter...but these trivial things bring the subtle changes in their lives. Normal discussions between mother and daughter if mother in law can ever replace mother which I believe most women can relate to...and the twist lies in her mothers simple gyan which strikes a chord instantly. Without being a spiritual guru or healer how simply she guides her daughter through the hardships somehow casts a deep impression on the viewer...just the right balance between respect for others and self respect. Sibling relation between the struggling sisters...love and bitterness and more love...and on the other end of spectrum sibling relation between the ' have it all' brother and sister struggling with their own hell in contrast...

There was this sweet intense love story which tickled the young girl in many of us waiting with bated breath to see the two loving fighting and coming together. Only eyes and expressions could create an impact many ' bold' scenes would fail. And yes Zaroon... for somedays I felt can,t take my eyes off him! Hopefully it mustn't,t be his looks rather the intensity he plays his role with!! When the hangover of  the love story begins to fade there is this realistic story with wonderfully etched out characters filling our hearts and ending the lull in Indian television. The sensitive , brilliant portrayal of women  by the writer and director all of whom are women...well just hats off to them. Years after there,s something in television for which we actually wait, which plays with our imagination and make us ponder..   All that from a show across the border....how little we know our neighbours where such sensitive shows can be conceived and telecasted. My friend was telling me she could not remember any soap she had liked or watched after ' Saas' save this one....

The sweetness of the language is also another pleasing factor and so is the realistic make up. Well I believe the writer and director could pluck just the right strings where it just spelt music....music to the heart...music unheard...music buried in some corner of the heart.



Sunday, 17 August 2014

The world at five...



Dear Ninni

You are five !! Invariably this day along with the rush of any small party we plan for you...i will recall once the hospital and the doctor carrying a wailing you and put you in the bewildered arms of your father as i stared numbly.

Well those are bygone days and here we are two proud parents five years hence...still marvelling we did it like all...raise you and still on the job...and almost complacent with it.

You show every sign of a spoiled genY kid who is being spoiled more by your parents and Pishi...who is still being fed hours watching ridiculous tv shows and still being waken with a milk bottle on bed, who would sleep after midnight, being dragged to school in morning...and who would extend her afternoon nap to eight in the evening!!! Sounds bad...don,t worry you have a mom as disorganized and as unruly as can be...yes nothing to be proud of and by now you would have discovered too!! And regarding food you have a fussy eater in the form of your father...to whom i  attribute all things i don,t like in you.

And whom i,d attribute this innocence and softness and all the sweet mischiefs in the world...the completeness and absolute new perspective you give to our lives!! There is a pure heart and soul still unscathed, flawless...how do we save it...or can we...and this love trust and the absolute helplessness when your parents fight...just makes me wish to live long and be there for you... This is what i guess something no respite from...from someone with wings and dreams unlimited and all attachment clipped...here,s a mom tethered to the love you shower, some extent domesticated..there,s always someone who draws me home like gravity...someone whose soft voice fills my heart as i leave home, someone who has just begun to love her story books after my disappointment that she won,t ever read...someone who has remarkable patience as she paints with intricate detailing, someone who would make designs with clay as her mother can never imagine...someone who with her father would finish all school craft work with a creativity which makes me just...speechless.

Well well like all moms i exaggerate too...thats ok..i guess. There,s a lovely heart which knows how to love...the love you show to your pishi and all others...and a happiness you evoke to all around you.... Ninni i know you will be a successful woman...and our success does not lie in that....it lies in the fact that this wonderful soul we brought to the world should not wither by any stupidity shown by either of her parent....only this much and we have a beautiful smart woman who would continue to make us proud...and make me wish to live and live long.


Love...and lots of love
Yours Ma






Thursday, 3 July 2014

Confessions

Dear Ninni

Some confession time. It,s an age old debate in the country we live in. I do not know how people deal  with it in other countries and whether such debates do exist. Well i had always been a working mom (whoever has coined the term with such vivid connotations) and truly i do not know much other way of life somehow i always knew i had to work... it wasn,t ambitions or aspirations just a plain principle of working and living my own life. Well things aren,t so plain really...

First of all i don,t really know i need to confess this but succumbing to spousal and parental pressures let me tell you i am not a conventional mom!! Yes me too am not sure of what that means but i am not obsessed with your school, studies, progress, food like the most moms i know and yes i do have a nice world of my own which supposedly i mustn,t have!! And yes since i have this reliable and sincere help to bring you up ( your Pishi) more often than not i leave you to her while i keep doing the things i love... like visiting social networking sites, little bit of writing, some reading and of course shopping, movies and not only this i have left you with your pishi and father for five full days for a pleasure foreign trip with my colleague!!! I know i sound like a perfect heartless mom...and yes it,s not that i have a self absorbed partner who does not take me out for holidays... he does, plans great trips ( only it,s him who decides and i pack and follow)..of course there should be nothing objectionable in this....

Okay these were the allegations rather are the allegations you will continue to hear against me...and also some toppings like i hardly do any household chores and have enough time for myself and i really can,t blame anyone for infusing these in your heart. Now what do i have for defence and whether i really do need any or as if i am loaded with guilt. Well... Ninni.. i do not get along with a lot of persons. By the time you grow up you,d discover all these about me...never got along with your grandma ( my mother) since i was a child, not much with my brother ( as he puts it i am bearable for a maximum period of 48 hours!!!) and now do not get along with your father and yes with your make-believe pishi. It,s not that i dislike any of them nor i think they dislike me much...just that i am impossible sometimes!!And i wonder if you and me would share the same fate... Anyway since your birth leaving the initial turbulent period... i settled in my job leaving you in the hands of my domestic help and i believe she looked after you very well and loved you with her heart. A slum dweller, she would clean and wash in other houses but she looked after you, dressed and bathed you, dressed you in every new frock i got for you and matching hair accessories . She,d take you to the flock of maids gossipping as she,d wait for me to come home from work  and hand you to me when your feet shook excitedly as you could spot me approaching!! Believe me she seemed an angel to me, though she took numerous leaves and ultimately we had your pishi to settle down with us. After initial tumultuous period you adjusted with your pishi and having a full time help life was excessively easy for me.

I went for transfers and stayed at different places and she was and still is an indispensable help. And on my part i know nobody may vouch for me but i need to tell you that i did all i could to make her life comfortable and she became one of us... though it became so hard to digest at times. Soon you also knew pishi is an utmost necessity in our lives and you share a strong bond with her. It was not because of my absent mindedness rather because of her love for you that you have learned to love and respect her and trust her with all your needs. If i went out for a day of shopping or movies leaving you at home or school...it was always with a feel of guilt i returned home and i believe it would be the same for any mother. I remember sometimes i,d spend the day outside when i have night shifts and yet would never go office directly rather come home and have a look at you once!! I might sound outrageously defensive...anyways while at infant stage all mothers prepared those boiled and mashed food with different recipes..i did try once or twice but since you were such a fussy eater...lost interest in few days. And then i saw all moms fuss about school and studies...i stayed behind with my laid back ( might be mistaken for arrogance) attitude. Most moms complain about lack of time.. work, kitchen, toddler but most of the times i find enough time to read, write though i,d love more really...and almost stopped entering into kitchen barring trying something new.

Wanderlust or whatever...i decided on this trip without you. You have stayed without me for two months as i went for training and i know it was a very hard time for both of us...and yet i took this plunge... I knew what i was doing wasn,t very right but who wanted to be always right and hence the first trip outside country. Not that i enjoyed extremely...without you specially those places meant for children..and sometimes i also wondered what i was doing there without you. That was a minor mutiny, an assertion and i loved it more than the trip. Anyways that was a matter of five days and i was back armed with a lot of guilt and allegations from all.

I really do not know if my efforts as a mother falls short of what should be...and i am really this independent woman who moves around leaving you to maid... no Ninni i know you will realise or you already know that you have one gem of a mother... Ma is someone you take for granted, the first name you call when you wake up, the first person you look for in house and this is the most obvious thing...only it makes me happy and content and with the apprehension that my activities never blow this up and this remains as obvious as ever... at least as long as it lasts. All said and done i just know you have always won me over with your innocence and this undemanding love which makes one learn only to give....and i know from the mother you were born from i,d be the person who would win you over with her love and the woman she is.

Lots of love
Yours Ma

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Yours...

Dear Ashish

I wanted to be yours and only yours.  But...these buts in our life...and those ifs.. Sometimes i feel i moved on too fast and once i started moving on...well i never looked back i guess. Ashish.. present is what makes my life, true i shed tears for you, wrote those silly verses, heard those senti songs over and over again, would ring your number from any phone booth i can find...but then i got this job and left our small town. Once out in the proper world, there was this whiff of success and eyes of men...i had so many men vying for attention..may be i had no peers and i enjoyed all that to the full. And that was when i guess i stopped waiting for your calls or our chat sessions.. you know live men staring and admiring you.. was i so men hungry kind beneath my humble veneer..i might have been...

I was bedazzled by my new life and you no longer held the key to my dreams and hence your charm was loosening its grip on me. Then those misunderstandings...your estranged wife and a dark future with you... sometimes i used to be just fed up and began to enjoy life in the city thoroughly. And one fine day we broke up... we had major hitches before too and each time i felt i just could not make it without you. But this time it was so easy... yes i would admit it was Saurav whose message occupied my inbox and whose number dominated my call logs... and when the break up was official i was more relieved than anything. I hardly shed any tears, Saurav and i got along so well...but Saurav did not want a messed up me and as per his plans he was out of the country after a few months. I don,t know how my boyfriends get international..am i the lucky charm!! I got over Saurav as well.. a few days of shock and see i was again alive and kicking.

I saw a few more men and finally settled down. People say first love and its magic... they haunt you but nothing like that happened with me..i started absolutely afresh...even fell for someone after a couple of years of marital bliss and after the initial turmoil got over that as well. Ashish should i blame you for everything...my dreams love when nothing came near to reality and i moved from one to another...or should i be thankful that we broke up and finally i could lead my life. Had we been together would i be a different person...still dreamy and yours.. totally, fully yours..

Sometimes i wonder... and still love the independent person i have become...

Yours.... i could have been all yours...

Yet i am...

Tanya

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sariska Tiger Reserve

Weekend getaway from Delhi...choices are many. This one was very short and close by but a real getaway from the city to nature. No we didn,t spot tigers..content only with the pug marks but then i wasn,t expecting much given that there are only eight tonine tigers in the entire jungle.

We stayed in Gulmohar Resorts around twenty kilometres from the forest, not much recommendable but suited us economically, food was a pure let down... buffet dinner,  breakfast all were just edible and nothing to savour. What i loved about the resort was the Amla ( should be Indian Gooseberry) gardens which were in full bloom at the backyard.





                                                                           Indian Flycatcher

We took the morning safari, quite disorganized affair in the morning and the sad part all non enthusiast guides who for the most part would drive in a manner that one would simply stop enjoying and wait for this horrific experience to end.




Drongo


The guide somehow told us that it was a bird which migrates from Karachi.. name we could not make out.


                                                             Most probably Sandpiper


Intermediate Egret


This pic i really loved.... Comb ducks


                                                                    Rufous Treepie




Brahmi Mynas


Flameback Woodbecker...


Common Magpie Robin






At work...


There was this eerie moment when a peacock was letting out a cry which surely meant something.. something dreadful was going to happen.. all the langurs jumped up to the top branch of the trees and this uncanny silence broken by the peacock,s cries. Some tiger footprints were near by... a real eerie momemt and my daughter still gets scared by the sound of peacock.


                              They seemed so relaxed... just family time after breakfast.....              






The Marks...

                                                     
                                                                      GPS to trace tigers


Magpie Robin


                An aww  moment... and his effortless movements... my heart skipped a beat







Pandu Pol... the temple in the jungle...Hanumanji was supposed to spread his tail here which Bheem could not lift...


The most interesting part... in the shop near the temple they serve Kadi Kachoris



Kadi Kachori is supposed to be Rajasthan,s speciality.... they do not have kachoris with normal Alu ki sabzi. A must try after the temple visit in the middle of the  forest.


Grey Patridge


Sariska is a nice place to visit... we saw plenty of spotted deer, Sambhar deer, Neelgais, Wild Boars and so many variety of birds... and yes if you visit from Delhi you can stop once in Highway King for a plate of Kulfi Faluda  and Rabri as  is recommended by the show Highway on my Plate...it won,t let you down for sure.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Radio

A tiny rectangular box and in it lay my ticket to escape. Escape to dreams... as i got my own room when my uncle got married and shifted to a double bed room. The room did not have any stuffed toys.. either my parents never got around to give me any or i did not have an inch of interest...may be a few dolls which i got over soon, nor i hung any posters of rock stars or film starts... tried once for poster of soccer players but most of my crazes were very short lived. So i had a tiny bed, a study table and chair, a mirror which had been broken once and then somehow fixed on that room, an old bicycle my grandma used to ride...and yes i never got around to learn cycling and a wooden book rack from where normally i would hide books under my text books! And i had a radio.. well it was not mine but as soon as father went out it became all mine.

Music started from 12 pm in the afternoon and i,d switch it on dot... hindi film songs..most of the time i needed a company as i solved equations or immersed myself in novels. 12:30 there would be this music played and just after that Fauzi Bhayion ka Karyakram , i,d switch between two channels available till the 1,o clock news and after the English and Hindi snippets would continue with music. There would be a normally void time after two and after my siesta i would catch up again with music for a few minute from 5:15 to 5:30 i guess ( news English and Hindi from 5 to 5;10, programme announcements another 5 min and then finally some songs). I was not an avid music lover nor any singer, just the feel of radio drew me close to it and my bosom buddy in school to whom i would murmur excitedly about the song we heard in radio last night in the morning school assembly. Around ten at night just before sleeping, would listen to Chaya Geet and then when i,d study till late night... would surf more channels but with weak weak transmission.

When i left Guwahati, for a few years in Shillong, i did miss the radio as my ear was and still is not tuned to western music barring a limited few. I  had left my little radio at home which i had demanded from my father at my fifteenth birthday and when i joined training for my job at Allahabad... my mobile still did not have ' radio' option... so shamelessly demanded a radio again from the few colleagues i was close to. The first one i got did not work at all, sometimes i had to put it over my tummy for ' earth connection'!! So my roommate had pity on me and again collected money from others for a better radio. Both of us listened to it for a long  time..almost the entire duration of four months after we shifted to Delhi. There was an onslaught of music channels, babbling RJs and the latest songs while in Delhi... i was in for a shock... what to hear old or new, slow or peppy!! Then i shifted to radio on my cell phone as i could not repair my radio in Delhi... as we could not find who would do it.

I listened to the All India Radio channel for good old songs and ghazals... and these days i try to listen to Yaadon ka idiot box as i stroll around in the evening... and i listen to radio a lot while i am driving..my husband would crib as usual..more than eyes on the road my attention is on the buttons for surfing music channels!  Radio led me to my love for music ..and i guess the surprise element  in radio puts it above any other collection i,d  love to hear where i know the next song coming to this unpredictability in radio and this mish mash of surprise and wave of happiness....

One friend who has long been a friend.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Quick Recap

Q... this one is tough. Since i am through more than halfway of the challenge..i am exhausted, compromising with quality and feel somehow just putting some lines together and winding up.

But that,s o.k i guess...i have the feeling of running behind the letters ,trying to keep pace...breathing hard. Well being the disorganized person i have never planned for any topic or any theme so most of the days struggled with the theme. Some posts i felt i have been too energetic and felt drained after the write up and some just wrote hurriedly after office. I have pestered husband and my domestic help with A, B, C, Ds...to the extent they are all fed up, even when i went for a weekend trip where i continuously cribbed about k and l and our friends also began to  get all worked up in thinking about my further posts, giving an idea or two. I pined for net connection in the forest reserve we went and somehow before midnight clicked on ' publish'. This is some kind of craziness and husband has given up now...it had been a proven fact that i am a mom with too much time for myself and little time for my kid. All said and done i am still on... writing, reading.. though not as much as i would like to.

I started A with Adrita, the name of my daughter and attempted a short story on that, the peculiarity of her name in a different land. B was easy.. the aromatic mouth watering Biryani. C i felt was quite good...the short story Charu though i don,t believe anybody read it,  D was a letter to my daughter.. Dear Ninni  a candid confession from my side.

E was Email...it was dear to my heart... teenage love and feelings..i might have done a fairly good job though i am not supposed to say that, F was Fishy Business... about Bengali,s fish fascination, G for my favourite lyricist whose songs play magic on me Gulzar and H was another romantic take with short story Holiday...i was happy with some romantic writings...

I... i made a short cut with a post If... not sure it was a poem or not just scribbled some lines , J was a write up on Jeans...the attire we craved to wear once, K was... again i went for food..something that would be easy and about something i was high on passion.. so Kebabs. L was about one of my favouite classics i read long time back ' Lost Horizon' the book which gave me Shangri La...the Utopian land. For M... i wrote about Minority..little bit of take on social and political hierarchy though i am not good at those kind of writings and not well informed, just tried my hand. N was again a book i read during my teens and made me fall in love with love...Na Hanyate...even narrating the story to someone gives me goosebumps. O... i went easy on Oats.. and varied recipes i have tried for the grain. P was for Polls... the democratic extravaganza going on in our country... though my take was simple and emotional i guess...

A recap was necessary to see where i started from and where i am heading... read some interesting posts, got myself some readers... no less than an achievement for me... will run after the alphabets upto Z...and then breathe...if i can make it. Well i have tried my hand at different themes and enjoyed the process though exhausted after the exhilarating showdown and i know my family would heave a sigh of relief with me when i reach Z finally!! I still marvel at the few persons who could manage time to read my posts among the myriads..and may be that,s why i could go on and reach Q!

Friday, 18 April 2014

Polls

India goes to polls. Yet another time. Democracy...we go to polls and elect our government . Sixty seven years since we had been  on our way to electing and forming our own government. As Indian middle class most of us are very nonchalant about the parties coming to power and i believe end result is what we seek... more money, more prosperity, more roads, more hospitals and more for us.Though we nurture sentiments for some parties but most of the times for weird reasons... reasons which most of the times have nothing to do with development and we end up electing based on those sentiments. What do we do exactly...most of us will say what are the options available... politics is and has been a shrewd game for ages and out of the worst you do not know to select the best. So how do we know...and why are not active, honest, visionary men coming into politics... why not we see anyone like the leaders of yore.

I do not have answers. But as a middle class woman i might say that i am simply not interested. Why..because i have a decent job and the government pays me a decent sum, not exorbitant pay checks but a decent amount to lead my life, to school my daughter not in a government run educational institution but in a ' decent' one , to go and splurge in malls and holidays more than necessary, to own a car and a house. Do i sound complacent..i know there is no end to what one can dream and achieve but as a middle class we have come a long way...where my parents would calculate before spending an extra pence here i am with a debit and a credit card swiping at any step. So there is development...we have good roads, flyovers,sky scrapers... we had this economic boom in recent past. As i have set the benchmark..the domestic helps who had been working in our house in the past and the ones working now... marked difference is visible. They have television if not food, cell phones if not jobs...but progress had been there...  rarely though but they can go to a doctor if required and may be pay the hefty fees at least once. But this nonchalance why am i not interested, i know i might not be speaking for all but at least there would be many like me... why apart from paying government taxes we are not involved, not concerned. Forget decision making in the highest body... why don,t we walk an extra mile for a person who works in our house, the little boy who comes to collect cloths to press on behalf of his father, why do we employ children for work, why we do not take a pregnant woman to a hospital... and why as we are so pissed off with corruption we try to bribe for jumping a red light and we submit that extra false bill in office !!

This is how we are not going to live. We would dream of our children making it big and the next thing we want is success to sweep them away from this country.Corruption, poverty, pollution all cannot vanish in a day but i believe there has been progress... yes lots could have been done, more equi distribution of wealth, more employment...but let us take the plunge at least.. go to the polls.. vote. Yes the leaders never work for us.. but let us work for the ones we can..so easy to say i know..let someone take the step and i will follow.

At least this time a parliament with sober representatives, decision making debates, active oppposition...a parliament which would encourage us to go to the polls.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Oats

Well i had never heard of oats until a few years back and for that matter any kind of cereals apart from rice and wheat which constituted majority of our meals. Breakfast was also nothing different... with age catching up and the need for healthy substitute some were shifting to cornflakes and milk. Utterly tasteless compared to our Indian breakfasts of  Alu Paranthas , Idlis, Upma but easy to make and aggressive marketing led it to our dining tables. I need to mention those ads promising to make you look skinny and petite was also a significant factor as Indians took to cereals and milk.

Soon i was searching for health foods as well... one because i loved too much unhealthy foods..two because i was caught with all sorts of illnesses. High cholesterol was one so the change in diet brown rice, olive oil and oats. Oats could be so so bland and tasteless..i tried different brands...then introduced nuts... walnuts, almonds , sliced fruits and substituted sugar with honey. The end product with milk was good though not wonderfully tasty but can be had as healthy breakfast. At least it would lead to some dietary fiber as the grains claim.

Next my foodie cum excellent cook friend suggested oats with shredded chicken and veggies. Well i thought what was the point of dieting then...but thought of taking up the idea. So olive oil, sauteed garlic lots of vegetables likes carrots, beans, cauliflowers...finally oats and water for sufficient consistency. I added chilly flakes, black pepper or some seasoning for that punch. I did not have that every day of course, used it as dinner every five days as i went for night duty where the dish was appreciated by the girls and i began to put bell peppers, broccoli , baby corn for variety. By that time market was also full of  Masala Oats sachets. 

Finally i had this dish of baby corn-peas oats..in one mix and match day and the product turned out quite delicious and nutritious as well.



Baby Corns, Green Peas, Garlic, Onion

Olive oil and garlic is a good combo for that flavour... i use little bit of oil and then add baby corn, peas and onion... saute lightly and the vessel can be covered until they turn soft, add  salt oats and water for the required consistency. 




The dish is finished with a dash of black pepper, chilly flakes and any kind of seasoning..i don,t have the final pic but the taste is savourable.  Thanks to my domestic help for the pics and being the excellent cook she is as she executes the ideas i conceive and adds her own creativity and the magic of her deft hands!!

Na Hanyate....Indestructible





Na Hanyate...  Na Hanyate hanyamane Sarire... translation says Consciousness is eternal  and cannot be vanquished...in more mundane words soul is eternal and it is the body which perishes. An apt name for the novel.. love survives even as the body gets decayed, even if physically two lovers fall apart love breathes and survives through the soul.

I know such idealistic words are out and out unrealistic and in today,s times more so. But the novel speaks of love and yes surprisingly true love which fought and struggled to survive to withstand the tests of time. Na Hanyate was something most of the Bengali women read and fascinated at the marvel of love. It was about the story of a young girl and the foreigner who comes for lessons from her father an eminent scholar. It was virtually an autobiography i can safely say...and the reader can sniff a real love story blooming in between the protagonists. Diverse cultures, different languages, different continents but would love listen to these.... They fall in love in the conventional Indian society where caste, religion called the shots. Mircea Eliade was having lessons on love and romance along with Sanskrit shlokas and the story weaves their romance intricately with minor details with all their tit bits and all those lovey dovey moments and with two persons of such diverse ethnicity... a common intelligence and humour brought them closer where feelings were expressed with eyes and smiles and love suppressed  in the rigid social framework. I suppose it was the reality of it all which instantly strikes a chord. Mircea chewing chilies to prove to his love that he can go all Indian..and the creeper outside his balcony swinging outside her window... as far as i remember.

Their love falling apart in the ruthless waves of society, the foreigner wandering all over India looking for inner peace..seeking peace in the Himalayas. Pre Independence india fed with a dose of rennaissance and liberation leading to a love story which even her scholarly father could not allow and had to forego the veneer of liberation to get them apart. I could not believe all unless after some years of reading  Na Hanyate i read Bengal Nights by Mircea Eliade...and yes critics said facts were different but no one could mistake the underlying love and the upsurge of emotions... this happens... can happen in real life!! Yes Na Hanyate was something i could relate to in fact many Bengali women would... it was about the society my grandmom would talk of...but reading Mircea Eliade... a foreigner who believed he being the favourite disciple of the guru, getting his daughter would be a cakewalk... little did he know how Indian societies worked  and how losing her he totally loses himself and finally leaves the country which gave him the love of his life.

A true love story, a gem... a union of soul...just by reading you would want to believe...in love and in life. Na Hanyate would always be with me for the love,for the pain may be we all go through.. for the account of an eminent writer and poet exposing the society we were in which hardly ever could give any woman the respect she deserves let alone the love she pines for.


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Minority

I have grown up with this term..lingual minority, religious minority, sexual minority.. It is a deadening term , with consequences far reaching. I was born in a state where i belonged to the lingual minority and it took a while to realise , the language we spoke at home was unutterable outside. I adapted to the local language, gradually took a liking for it...but this minority feeling always struck from behind. Soon i was aware of other minorities as  well..religious minority being the most prominent. The term scared me out of my wits...culture, religion, lifestyle everything becomes a part of our being...but being termed as a ' minority' on the basis of religion or language...is natural i guess or the law of the land. An atheist part of me though can appreciate the concept based on language to some extent.. but.the majority minority based on religion.... is beyond my comprehension i guess...i know believers will disagree vehemently...but most of the times religion creates more shackles then freedom.

Sex based minority is also very common in our country. With a shameful sex ratio this is not really a surprise and the best part there is hardly anyone who can relate to this minority... even the fairer sex as we are called.. we are used to having men run our lives and quite comfortable under the security cover the man provides and who looks for liberation ! The discrepancy is evident as in the number of women in the workplace more so as one goes up in the  corporate hierarchy. And the great sacrifice fables of the women who gave it up all for family and kid!!  

Growing up in a place where i belonged to the local minority, i treasured the books written in my language and the wide range of literature and gradually as i moved to a bigger city i still continued to be minority, more so because my fish eating habits, gulping sweets with tea, not fasting in the mandatory rituals performed here and other Bengali tit bits were continuous under scan till i became a full fledged minority. Even when we go to Kolkata, the hub of  Bengalis... no one really speaks the dialect we do and it attracts more sarcasm and humour than anywhere else!! So much for the uprooted minorities... struggling, adjusting, surviving. And the religious minorities... i think that is the deadliest of all, being alleged as the cause of all things unpleasant..how does one live with it.. they get more strong as a minority and fight for their rights.

This is a complex land.. the country i live in...and there would be majority and minority even as we go global netizens and this would dictate the verdict in democracy more than education, medicines, roads , transports , a receding economy and myriad problems facing the country. Governments would form and collapse and minorities would survive... find their own ways.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Lost Horizon



I had read  Lost Horizon almost when i was a kid. The times after exams.. generally exams ended around December first week...and those long, lazy winter breaks at home. Physical activity used to be almost nil and so were other entertainments, well it worked for me fine..as i gulped down quite a number of books during those times. School being closed, could hardly meet friends who used to stay far off and no there weren,t phones in those days. It was like being in a world of my own...onset of teenage is a brilliant time for those kind of things. Anyway during those days someone gave me Lost Horizon to read.

It took a while to fall in love with Shangri La...but the magic of books they do take you where actually you have never been or never can be..and you actually start living in the place with the characters as long as you finish reading the book. I think it was the world of monastery in the forbidden land of Tibet..and how the four persons from normal world lose track of time there. A place where time stood still and one didn,t age, nor did anyone run after money and other worldly stuff. I think this was what captivated Conway the main protagonist...the mysticism of the east, a world outside the world and the timelessness of it all. The book had aroused my senses..and for a few days i had virtually lived in Shangri la ... can it exist...does it exist...

With Conway the reader is mesmerized by Shangri La, the monastery, the gold mines...but where gold has no value and the mysterious Tibetan woman in the monastery who plays the piano. An insight into the monastery and Lamas...and Conway,s encounter with the chief Lama wherein he was asked if he was ready to take over...  It was thrilling as an outsider was beckoned into this strange land and then trusted with its sacrosanct inheritance and Conway,s dilemma... this timeless land with the mysterious woman... away from the world of turbulent wars on one hand and the normal world he was in, call of normal life and normal needs.. what would he choose...

I waited breathlessly would Conway take up his new role in the monastery...but the lure of life..his assistant decided to flee, arranges everything..and his astonishment at finding the mysterious woman...who resembled emancipation and all things sacred ready to elope to the normal world. I think this shock tilted the balance and Conway deserted Shangri La for mundane life...was i disappointed...may be. The ending was tragic  as Conway dies when he leaves the Utopian world for the lust of life in a normal world where he grows very old at once and he was brought to the hospital by a lady who was very very old...the mysterious sensual Tibetan lady who when out in the world aged by normal standards!!

I do not remember all i read, verified some facts from google..nor i have an excellent memory... but it was the feeling, the sensation i had still carried all these years.. of a forbidden Tibet and a mysterious Shangri la a land defied by space and time.. a land of magic.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Kebabs

Seekh Kebabs from Karims  Near Jama Masjid Delhi

What else for K.. but the succulent sumptuous mouth watering dish.. Kebabs. History says Kebabs came to India from the middle east and being a hot favourite with the Mughals soon was improvised in Indian fine dining.  Basically grilled minced meat or a form of Indian sausage to have a precise idea . Seekh Kebabs i guess are the most popular..and India,s own Shami Kebab , Kakori and Glaouti Kebabs.

Being in Delhi i am spoiled  for choice for kebabs. Plenty of joints serve traditional, spicy, juicy kebabs...Karims, Nizams, Qureshi, Khan Chacha, Arza Biwi ke Kebabs... and specially during the Delhi winters savouring  kebabs out in the open is an amazing feeling which we cherish every year. Old Delhi is a hotspot for kebabs for the bold who has a flair for local cuisine and a strong gastronomical system to bear it all ! In north India Lucknow is another place where wonderfully done kebabs are served in many corners     of the city at a surprisingly reasonable rate with an exquisite taste and flavour. Though I have not  been to Lucknow..another place in the vicinity of the city where i had excellent Shami Kebabs was Allahabad...and who would believe mutton shami kebabs at Rs 15 per piece were served with Roomali paranthas, a must visit for food lovers in Allahabad.


Joint in Civil Lines Allahabd serving excellent mutton Shami  kebabs



Shami Kebabs

 Burra  Kebabs are another delight .... made of mutton, grilled in charcoal and the taste lies in the softness underneath and the marination...I,ve had excellent Burra Kebabs at Karim,s in old Delhi. Galouti kebabs are another interesting form of kebabs...and history has it Nawab,s chef made kebabs marinated with papaya...for a melt in mouth version. Kakoris are also authentic and indianised and a very finely textured version. Tangri Kebabs , one of my personal favourite for grilled chicken breasts and last few years we have Shawarmas...these are excellent Lebanese rolls, done with roomali rotis ( as in without oil) and herbs and tastes nothing like we had here before.. Doner Kebabs i guess from Iran and has a double coating of meat, the outer covering of minced meat and stuffing a different kind of meat.Though high on taste excessive protein content makes it a turn off.
              

Burra Kebabs

Kebabs remain one of India,s favourite starters or a main course dish with Indian breads. I still long to taste it in different countries further down west and marvel at how history and food had travelled through time and globe.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Jeans

A- Z challenge is getting tougher and running after the alphabets more intriguing...

Jeans would be my pick for J.
Indian women... do not they look beautiful , vibrant in so many attires. it wasn,t like this before. I have seen my mother, grand mother, aunts all in one single attire...the quintessential indian Saree...and it was worn without any complaints.. difficult to drape, who would arrange the pleats...no questions asked..it was saree all the way. Then women from my part of the country, eastern India , gradually adapted to the more comfortable and adaptable Salwar Kameez and i guess women started venturing out of their homes for work by then.

I had also embraced Salwar Kameez merrily as i entered into teens, the safest dress to have around, avoid all the weird looks ( well at least i felt safe). But then for me world consisted of two kinds of girls who wore jeans and who do not...!! Strange...does it sound weird... i don,t know how many would relate to me. But believe me the blue miracle beckoned many of us.. and it was not easy in middle class families ,even if you managed to convince your parents and that omni present big brother or cousin..stepping out of the house and having so many pairs of eyes following you and not in admiration necessarily was an uphill task. In my part of the city.. things were more taboo may be because it was a colony of all settlers after partition and economically and socially we were lagging far behind the others who came from the so called well off portions of the city... guess a sort of west Delhi and south Delhi for those who can relate. I had this blue pair of denims but not the guts to wear it. In today,s context things are a bit unbelievable..but girls do assess what they are going to wear according to the looks they would get basically from the men present and sometimes women as well... and somehow in our country dressing is related to the safety of women.

Then you need to look good if you wear something different.. Jeans was different. And being on the healthy and plump side it invited more of the unnecessary attention... i hope things were not my figment of imagination... really who would have time.. but the boys in the locality did.. they would stand in groups, in any shop, in any corner available pass the occasional lewd comment, what made me so paranoid... why i could never speak up!! There was this guilt, burden of being a woman.. no, actually i am not being dramatic... even if in that age i was well read and knew about women,s rights and liberties..even then as i passed the group of boys... i,d feel uncovered ,bare and hopeless. Some girls i remember would never go out alone, tag along mother or sister or anyone...but all were not so lucky. I am deviating from my Jeans post.. my blue pair wore out unused..as i moved from school to college barring few occasions

I took the opportunity while we went out for holidays to wear the cherished jeans team it up with a top or shirt. Was the rest of India more liberal...i don,t think so..but may be you do not need to carry the baggage of your own personality everywhere... Then as i moved out of my house, liberation came with job, money and more importantly the choice of outfits. I remember being proud and happy as i wore my first branded  jeans. Empowerment for women has different meanings i guess..being able to wear the blue magic was the paving stone for liberation. Before, we would talk about girls who wore jeans, species from a different world. Well, well things have changed a lot... we never wear saree, though not fail to buy expensive ones...always complain of sarees being cumbersome, impossible to drape, even disposing off salwar kameez with dupatta gradually.

Jeans had invaded all our homes, comfortable, trendy a must have for men and women of all ages... other outfits continue to rest in wardrobe at peace.. while we pull the jeans and top it up with almost anything and little by little capris, skirts, dresses... all with more dose of liberation.


If....


I was born.... different..with loads of intelligence and lots of good looks...
I wouldn,t have spent my earlier years wondering why i exist.

I cracked more exams with more marks...
I would have been...somewhere else

I was wooed by  handsome young men
With chocolates and flowers...

I had a lucrative job with loads of money
And i,d travel round the world

I could have been a free bird
Working for slum children or shooting movies

I could be slim yet savour the joy of eating
Look drop dead yet vulnerable

I could recite verses like a flowing river
And compose my own

I could change the world
Yet be loved

I were somebody else...
With 100 comments below my blog.....

No end to ifs....


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Holiday

Whats app icon was blinking...another message. I tried not to look at my smart phone and concentrate on my senior. Nodding in affirmative was the key and i did just that.

Hi...what,s going on

My message inbox hurled out the words at me as soon as senior was gone. The words were shy, staring at me beneath their long lashes just the way it happened in the Himalayas, foothills of Himalayas rather. Fingers ached to reply..and wait for her reply..Come on what,s stopping me...

Nothing much.. missing the Himalayan evenings

Fingers shot back..would it have the exact effect i wanted..it would..this little hide and seek game with a few words can do wonders and i was good at it. I knew what she would be reading into this..and i knew she,d be wanting for more. Well so long..i was winding my day at work and about to leave the office when the phone rang. Just stared at the number i have known so well, few years now...and wondered at my aversion to pick it up...men...we get bored...but mechanically i picked up the call as i headed towards the elevator.

You are out of office... more a statement than question... Good i,ll be there in five minutes

Before i could say much, elevator was there in my floor and all of us waiting stormed in. Divya.. my steady girl friend and to be wife..whom i won out of so many contenders in college. I was about to stuff the phone in my pocket..the chirping of whats app message...i knew the sender, my eyes sparkled in delight as i contemplated her next message, before actually opening it!! 

Are you... 

Two words..yes i am missing the Himalayan evenings damn it.. Just before reaching the parking lot i typed in a hurry...

Aren,t you...

How long i will continue this nonsense.. my car sped through the evening city traffic.
The Himalayas, where i went exactly... Dalhousie.. a long due holiday with mom and dad. And there i met her, so young.. fresh...travelling with her aunts. Whose idea was to share the cab...nevertheless i was very happy..she had this innocence and that small town look..and i was going to have a nice weekend. The mountains of Dalhousie..anyone would fall in love there..and i was just...well i am a man. The same hotel, and as i was sent to knock at their door to inform that cab was ready...i almost stopped breathing as the door was opened by this...morning beauty to say the least. Obviously i didn,t remember much of Dalhousie after that...who would...and i knew this Happy-Go-Luckyness of mine is a sure winner..well i had someone like Divya all over me...and this one would be an easy task. Aah i,m not flirty and selfish as i sound, i knew it would happen with anybody...and winning over each woman was a victory..every woman is unique... Three days... i was taken over by Anwesha.. even the name spelled magic. Dalhousie, Chamba, Khajjiar...and i had more of Anwesha, wanted more of her.

Asking her number was easy, yet i fumbled.

In case i send you a friend request...  I had smiled nervously.

It,s fun...this texting, waiting for her texts.. and finally i would call her. It isn,t a crime... men even women get into such things...few texts and chats, one doesn,t feel guilty because of this. That isn,t the problem. Did i want Anwesha..

The light was green, and i whisked my car along. When we started me and Divya.. a few years back..there was this magic of love..we longed for each other,we still do may be but that spell is gone..and i wonder after years of togetherness and under the wheel of ' real life'...where we would stand.

Once way back in childhood , i got a pine sapling from the hills during a school trip. I planted it at our backyard and watered it regularly. It withered after a few weeks

' Pines do not survive at an altitude less than 3000 feet, son. They are made for the hills'   Dad had explained.

Indeed. Some things are made for the hills, for the holidays... they would wither in plains like my moments with Anwesha.

My car took the service road where i could see Divya waiting impatiently.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

G for Gulzar

Yeh saaye hain ,yeh duniya hain parchayion ki
Bhari bheed mein, khali tanhayion ki

Gulzar,s songs would echo through the house..in our tiny radio and with my limited knowledge of Hindi and more limited knowledge of Urdu...somehow there was a magic which held me...the magic of poetry coupled with mesmerizing music. Music has no language...and poetry has a language so strong that even without grasping the full sense it leads to a door half open and a world unknown. The power of his words led me to this world of film music...

Yahan saare chehre hain maange huye se
Nigaho mein aasu hain taange huye se
Badi neechi raahein hain unchayion ki

And the sultry voice of Asha Bhonsle, which would invariably bring me to the music of Ijazat. R.D , Asha Gulzar...

Mera kuch samaan tumhare paas pada hain
Sawan ke kuch bheege bheege se din rakhe hain
Aur..mere ek khat mein lipti raat padi hain
Wo raat bujha do... mera wo samaan lauta do





Haunting, gives me goosebumps and when alone...some moistness in eyes, never fails...
Songs are endless and the poetry captivating.

Humne dekhi hain un aankho ki mehekti khusbhu
Haath se chuke ise rishton ka ilzaam na do
Sirf ehsaas hain yeh rooh se mehsoos karo
Pyar ko pyar hi rahne do...koi naam na do 

I cannot dare to translate.. simply breathe in the soulful music and wonder at the magically woven words.
And more...

Yeh soch ke baithi hu...ek raah to wo hogi
Tum tak jo pahuchte hain
Is mod se jaate hain

And my favourite road song

Raah pe rahte hain
Yaadon pe basar karte hain
Khush Raho ahle watan
Hum to safar karte hain

And the song i love to hear in the hills

Phir se ayo badra bidesi
Tere palko mein moti jadungi...




It is difficult to share what i feel in this script and i am unable to upload the videos as well...but i know all Gulzar lovers we share a bond...bond of music and poetry...eternally.I have left out so many...only three out of innumerable jewels...a world of it own..his compositions.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Fishy Business

Wikipedia Images





So fishy. Ever since a Bengali infant officially and religiously is found eligible for proper eating...he is being fed  with fish. We learn to have fish in all days, macher jhol bhaat ( light fish gravy and rice) for regular meals, sorshe maach ( mustard fish) almost everyday until an overdose of mustard upsets the now fishy digestive system!! Be it weddings, parties any functions..it,s all fishy...

My earliest memories is of the fish made by grandma. And grandpa loading  bags with fish and veggies ringing his bicycle bell impatiently outside the gate of our house... me rushing to the gate first but he would be ringing more until he had the undivided attention of all! That was a daily ritual. Lunch would be an elaborate meal normal  four to five course if not more and fish was an inevitable part. But then there were so many different kinds of fish, so many ways to cook and i cherished grandma,s excellent cooking...from normal maacher jhol to that dry choto macher chorchori ( a medley of tiny fish and spices really) and muri ghanta ( we make it with fish head combined with rice or you can subsitute rice with veg, when it becomes lau diye murighanta.)And to take out the fish bones, somehow each bengali did it automatically and the tongue served as an excellent filter separating bones from the fish and most of the times i loved chewing the bones off as they were done very juicy and spicy. Yes we do not get the bones off and  it is cooked with bones intact!!

Living on the coast of a mighty river had its advantages and having access to fresh water fish was one of them. Preparation was cumbersome most of the times, specially cleaning and cutting in those days. Ladies would squat and clean and peel fish with the special Indian knife used for the purpose balancing it with feet and it would take hours specially for the smaller variety and next part frying them in mustard oil which is supposed to take away any raw stench associated with the fish. Last part is the cooking which is relatively simpler.
No story of fish ends in a Bengali home without Ilish (Hilsa)...the flavour the taste makes it the undisputed  king...not for the meek because of being way bony than its counterparts, Ilish invites the daring to come and fall in love with it and hence i guess it remained confined in bengali homes.


Earlier days there was this pride in hanging the costliest fish available in market and carrying it to home, being the object of  neighbour,s envy!! In a function before my wedding i remember there was this huge fish lying in front of me marked with vermilion, brought by my in laws, being the necessary  talisman. Guess along with being part of daily meals it is integrated into the hearts of  bengalis and their emotions..to the light stew during times of illness to the spicy chorchori fish is everywhere. Cooked with vegetables at times it can be quite healthy, or the simple maach bhaja ( fish fry which we gobble with rice) so many combinations are possible.



So happy Fishing for us!!