Category Archives: Family

Valentine with Love

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vdIt seems just like yesterday I received a beautiful Card- A Greeting Card. It was may be a decade ago. On a Sunday evening I was checking a box of old hand written letters & greeting cards. Few of them have faded and grown brittle over the years. I randomly picked up some of them and my thoughts traveled to the past as I read. They brought flashback moments shared by so many beautiful people who touched my life. My parents initiated the habit of writing letters.My grandmother (my mother’s mother) with whom my bonding grew since childhood was through letters. I met her only once, a very simple and soft spoken lady she was.My mother and all her sisters and brother inherited the humbleness of her. Till her last days, her inspiring stories she shared through letters- simple things of life was the only medium of our attachment.

I was recalling the day when the postman dropped a greeting card in our letter box. An unusually big card it was. Stamped from New York(NY). It was a simple Valentine card  with a big heart outline and few printed wordings. The opening sentence inside the card was hand written in bengali “Pran bhora bhalobasha shobai kay” which means “heart full of love to all my dear ones”. She was my youngest aunt- my mother’s sister who was from NY. Valentine’s day was never a big celebration here in India as it is now.She never failed to amaze us by her mails. It was like a ritual for me too. I learnt from her that Valentine’s Day is for all of whom we “love”. “Love is not just between boy and girl.” She would say, “God loved us and asks us to share His love with everyone.”V-D

We always used to look forward to mails and postman. The thrill of surprises then was unexplainable. These days the e-world changed the dimension of letter writing.Today, the wait, the patience and the fun is missing. We always expect an instant reply whenever we mail someone. In this fast world, everything is instantaneous.

My Aunt fought cancer and gracefully left this world. I still wonder how she cracked jokes in her death bed and made people roll on the floor. The little things I learnt from her will always be cherished. When I look back, I still feel the warmth of her beautiful voice and the letters enrich my soul.

Pictures :Google

Truly miraculous!

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Muffled voices, echo from somewhere far and a feeling of being lifted, Rahul saw sparkling white glow descending and illuminating everything around. What could that be, he wondered. He was all in white and was being transported to someplace else. It was a celestial feeling!

Sunday morning was full of activity as usual. Rahul made the rounds to the kitchen & flower garden; repaired the Iron Gate that needed a fix, brought the car out from the garage and gave it a wash. After a sumptuous breakfast he decided to take Tuli & Ron, his two children for the weekend shopping. Weather was cool.

Rahul was posted as an officer in Public works Department in the North East of India. One needs a lot of nerve to drive through hilly terrain. It was a 20 minutes drive to another hill, towards the cemetery. The daily market was way down, around 200 stone steps downhill. You feel an eerie as you descend down the rugged steps -a rather creepy with mossy old buildings on both sides. Once you reach the market place you will find an open space where you get to see temporary sheds. Pork, mutton, beef and even deer meat etc. are hung in the shops. The locals’ main food is meat. Rarely will you get green vegetables.  Being a Bengali, Rahul was always on the lookout for fishes. He was not always lucky. So the alternative was eggs & chicken other than vegetables.

Once his shopping was done, he drove to a book stall where he mostly frequent while coming back from his work place. That day was also not different. An avid reader, he dropped by and brought newspapers and some magazines. He had a huge collection of novels which he thought useless at one point of time and there were no takers unfortunately. So he gave them for free to shops that sell grocery. They found them useful to make paper bags. His collection is a continuous one till to this day.

Car-accidentBefore he finally decided to drive back home he stopped by to buy some candies for his kids. Several thoughts were coming to his mind as he was moving home ward and within a split second he didn’t know where he was. Everything had gone black. His car suddenly jerked violently, losing control and came spinning more than 100 feet down and got entangled to a tree midway! All the residents nearby rushed to the spot and soon after, the police arrived and pulled Rahul and the kids and hurried them to the nearby hospital. He was unconscious and bleeding profusely from his forehead. His terrified kids were lucky with just few scratches here and there. News already spread to all his friends and colleagues.

The telephone screamed and a police was at the other end. Rahul’s wife received it and without giving a thought to change, rushed to the hospital. The very word “accident” sounds fatal, especially when any car mishap occurs in hilly regions.

The wrenching pain all over his body woke him from the reverie! He was blood soaked. He looked around to find himself in a room with a doctor and two nurses! His tearful wife beside him looked panicky. She hugged him and said everything will be alright.“Where are the kids –our son & daughter?,” exclaimed Rahul. “Do not panic Mr. Bose, they are doing absolutely fine”, said one of the attending nurse. With a pat on his wife’s hand he smiled, trying to recollect what went wrong.

Everything seemed to have changed. Rahul looked thinner and dull once he was done with the attending doctor. The car stuck up on a tree saved his life said many of his friends. It was indeed a challenging job to bring out all of them from a hanging dismantled car. The rescue operation took more than one hour. The steering wheel broke and a part of it struck Rahul’s forehead. He bled profusely and that might have made him look weak. Rahul, his wife and the two kids huddled at each other before one of his friends drove them to their home. Praise the Lord!

n.b.:  incident took place in the year 1980

image : google

Wedding in the Land of Rivers

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There is always a reason to feel elated with any celebrations in a family. With so many ups and downs till the D-day is a bit of an experience I would like to share. It was indeed a journey to knowing so many little things that makes up for the big event. It is also a reason to rejoice. You need the planning thing done & planning a wedding away in another country presents some unique challenges.

Well, its my brother’s  wedding! My sister and brother in law, who lives some thousands of miles away in another country, traveled all the way just to arrange everything for the wonderful event. The day was fixed with few formalities and within 2  sweltering weeks, the budget setting, venue & purchases. etc was done.

The balancing act between work and organizing things needed a lot of scheduling. Inviting guests was the major and final task. Undoubtedly, this was perhaps the most challenging of all as we had to visit the invitees’ family individually.

I share this as I thought that this was something that made me more me in the process of handling situations and knowing more people. Besides, it was the calling, as my father was bed-ridden for nearly 3 months till few days of the D-day! So he could not participate in the whole process.

Oh! Wow! Now that we are traveling to another country was something which made me a bit both excited & nervous. Well, it is Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh where the wedding will take place. Definitely the bride is from this very country. Arranging for the VISA  was one foremost task before the travel.

Our journey was two days ahead of the wedding. We, me and my hubby took the Greenline bus service to Dhaka from kolkata, India. The roads were just excellent and the views on both sides saw the yellow blooms of mustard and marigold plantations. The village life was prominently visible as we moved further. We crossed the Padma River on a huge barge. This was another very interesting experience!

onwaytodhakaIt was the Benapol – Petrapol immigration checks that surprised me. If you wish your luggage to be unchecked, you definitely need to scoff out some extra bucks to the officers, well, on the Bangladesh border.

After about 12 and a half hours journey we reached Dhaka. It was 6.45 p.m. We had to wait for nearly 2 hours at the bus depot for the bride’s family to take us to their house. Now, the horrendous journey started with a snarling traffic jam, very unusual, unlike Kolkata.

We reached our destination around 10.00 p.m. with showers of flower petals!! I was just taken aback by the arrangements made for the haldi ceremony for the bride. The bride looked astoundingly beautiful in a yellow sari. A blend of Muslim-Hindu rituals was prominently visible. After the rituals, it was followed by the beats of the latest hindi film song, “chor charke apne saleem ki gali ,“ with friends and relatives dancing to the tune. It was full masti, fun and frolic! No, no not us. The exhausted bones couldn’t take it any more. After a quick dinner we were taken to a hotel nearby where we were to lodge for the next 2 days.

Both my hubby and I on reaching the hotel, our expectation zeroed down.  It was a mosquito infested room; the telephone was dead and no attendant for the night. Rooms looked very shabby. Oh! What a nightmare!

sleepy-eyes

During my bus journey I was dozing to sleep and jolting awake throughout. I badly needed sleep. It was 1.30 a.m. and I was still wide awake. With the hope, I turned on the television if this can lullaby me. Hubby was rhino skinned (to mosquito bites)..he was snoring to glory and yelled back to lower the volume.Now, what? The volume button doesn’t work. I’m always an over packer and this experience made me think twice to definitely carry a mosquito repellent for all my travel. You really don’t know what surprise awaits you at the destination.

I desperately wanted the dawn to break. Well, the night passed by with no sleep. Woke up around 7.30 a.m. the next day and took a quick shower. It was a bandh day here at Dhaka. That day the groom (my brother) with my sis and brother -in -law (BIL) were flying. Unfortunately, on reaching, they were stranded for 4 hours at the airport before they joined us.

Another strikingly annoying situation was every one of us was put in different floors of the hotel. Communication was so poor, that we needed to run to each room to co-ordinate.

The previous evening my BIL’s aunt expired. He was busy till the wee hours on the day of travel. Their flight was around 7.00 a.m. He couldn’t sleep a wink and to top it they haven’t yet come over the jet lag thing. So, in fact every one desperately needed sleep except my hubby.

It was 3.00 p.m. and as we all tried to sleep, meanwhile, my hubby made rounds to the nearby markets. He didn’t smoke since he came here (though not a regular smoker) was pretty tempted by the variety of foreign branded cigarettes sold in one of the stalls. In Kolkata you need not buy the whole pack. A cigarette lighter in a sling always hangs by the shop, so u need not even buy a match box either. Here in Dhaka no loose ones, so he bought a pack. Just after his first puff, he saw a rickshaw puller puffing the same brand :0!

 I was just trying to get some more sleep when some of our cousins were at our hotel to visit us. This was perhaps our first meet and we were quite excited. They took us around the city and the lighting in and around looked brilliant! I bravely let my spirits high despite being exhausted. One very interesting observation was, we haven’t seen even a single woman on the streets. Every second vehicle is a BMW and what a contrast with endless rickshaws. Heard Dhaka has one of Asia’s largest number of these cycles 🙂

The next day was crucial. Since previous night and the next morning we decorated all the gifts boxes for the bride’s family. In a Bengali wedding fish is supposed to be a very auspicious element. Buying one from an unknown country was pretty tuff but definitely the main mode of communication was Bengali, so it was a hassle free shopping. Decorating a fish is another interesting part, which goes along with the other gifts.

The wedding day started off by visiting the bride’s house with all the gifts early morning. The decorated fish was the major attraction. This is the first part of the ceremony.

We spent the wedding afternoon at one of our cousin’s house. The sumptuous lunch and the adda was just incredible. It was a huge house with spacious rooms. They made us feel so much at home. We decked up for the wedding event from here and was ready by 5.00 p.m. By 5.30 – 6.00 p.m. we were suppose to reach the wedding hall.  A very distressing thing of Dhaka is the traffic jam. All vehicles reached so late that we were already totally drained out. I definitely didn’t want to look tired on the wedding day. My fatigued eyes looked puffy. We reached at around 9.30 p.m. At the destination, we were taken back by the road side onlookers.Hindu wedding in a Muslim dominated country is some what a great attraction!!

 Gate dhora is another interesting part before entering the venue. The bride’s friends and cousins make demands in currency which the groom has to negotiate otherwise no wedding would take place. It is just part of the fun in a Bengali wedding and many Indian weddings.

Finally when we were inside the hall, we were greeted by our other relatives whom we met for the first time. The hall was very beautiful and well decorated. We were taken aback by the bride yet again. She looked gorgeous! Now, let me tell you one very interesting part of the Bangladesh Parlors. They can make anyone look exceptionally beautiful by their skills. Even the ugly duckling will look like a queen! This is one trade I would certainly appreciate. But, it does come with a cost unlike that in Kolkata. I was just awe -struck by most of the women guests. I had no energy to capture them for my camera. Just Google search “Bangladeshi bride”, you will definitely fall flat. The make-up business is doing real business.

By 11.00 p.m. I was already drooling and the ceremony was just on the final stage. Dinner table was very tastefully decorated for the guests and food looked really good – Badshashi layout!  The worst part is when over exhaustion kills your appetite and the display of all yummy dishes becomes a sore to the eye. If only there was a retake.

food

By 12.30 p.m. we were at one of our cousins’ place at the Army cantonment. We spent the night with comfort but the mosquitoes were very cunning here as well. Well, I told myself, next time no risk. I’ll surely be geared up for such menace.

The next morning after a simple but superb breakfast, we headed to the bride’s place for the final bidai (farewell ceremony) for the bride. This is one situation I really hate to see as parents and relatives of the bride weep as she sets out to another family.

Our flight took off at 4.30 p.m. The fifteen minutes flight from Dhaka to Kolkata was just unbelievable but the immigrations and the luggage checks took away nearly all of the time. We finally reached home at 7.30 p.m. In spite of the few hitches, we had a great stay. The warmth and love showered on us was indeed memorable.