Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Bygone Year--2013

It has been a good year. A year of change. After five months of marriage, I relocated to be with Az (my husband). I quit my comfortable job. I left my home state and moved to Delhi.

It has been a year of adjustments. Adjusting with my new family members, adjusting in a different house, adjusting to a different way of life, adjusting to the new roles I am expected to play. In short, adjusting to a whole new environment. In the same way, Az's siblings had to adjust with me. I feel like a warden or a matron of a hostel and still in process of domesticating them to my ways. And I must say, we have done good so far.

It has been a year of emotions. I have been overwhelmed by the love bestowed on me by my new family especially by Mom and Dad. On the other hand my heart becomes heavy when Ma says that they miss me. Again throughout the year, I have missed home, missed being employed, missed my single life, missed being pampered and have cried many a times. Mostly I have been angry a lot. I know it had affected the people around me and I regret that truly. I had been irritated by smallest of things like why a used cup has not been kept in the wash basin.

This year I had won a blogging contest. Turned a book reviewer. Started as a visiting faculty. Also it had been a year of family time. I spent  good times with Namz (my kid sis) who also stays in Delhi. Mom visited for a month. Maa, Deta and Parul ba too came to visit for a month. But the highlight was the trip Az and I took to the hills on our first wedding anniversary. That was the time I felt unbridled and unshackled.

The bygone year had been a milestone year in my life. 

The coming year, I resolve to become a better person... A better daughter, a better sister, a better wife and a  better human being. I know I need to work on my anger and I resolve not to be affected by trifle matters and see only the good in people around me.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Dream's Mystery

Dreams (the ones we see while asleep) have always fascinated me. Wikipedia defines dreams as "Dreams are successions of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep". I had read somewhere that if we maintain a dream journal, it can be interpreted to reveal hidden significance or even future. Sigmund Freud, who developed the discipline of psychoanalysis, wrote extensively about dream theories and interpretations. He explained dreams as manifestations of our deepest desires and anxieties, often relating to repressed childhood memories or obsessions.

Deta (my father) is a avid reader and has a interesting collection of books of diverse genres. In his collection he had books on interpretation of dreams. There was a time while I was home that the first thing I would do on getting up in the morning was to rush to his room and check out that particular book to interpret what my dream meant.

We are not only less reasonable and less decent in our dreams... we are also more intelligent, wiser and capable of better judgment when we are asleep than when we are awake.  ~Erich Fromm

My dreams had always been haphazard, never  sequential. One moment something is happening and the next something else is happening. Just like everybody else I too mostly forget what I was dreaming about the moment I am awake. But there are certain things that I dream about repeatedly, like:
  • Being back in school.Although the setting is my school, my fellow students are a mix from my school, colleges and university. Sometimes I am writing my exams and my pen stops working or I don't reach the hall on time and so on. Except my kinder-garden, I have done my entire schooling from a single school, that is eleven years. May be that's why I dream about it so much. 
  • The house that our family accommodated for two decades. Different dreams but the same house.
  • Vomiting. Yes I know, that's gross but I do that a lot in my dreams. I am actually kind of sick of doing that over and over again.
Then there is one dream I distinctly remember. I was quite young and was suffering from high fever. I dreamed that I am inside some giant machine I am making my way risking my life through the giant clockworks and hammers. And if I miss a step, I could be crushed. May be I watched too many cartoons but that dream stayed with me.

I have grown up hearing what certain dreams meant from up grown-ups around me. Like if you see white things in your dreams, it is good and black is bad. Good dreams should not be shared or they will not come true. On the contrary, bad ones (nightmares) should be shared or they will come true. Some were silly like if you consume meat in your dreams it means you will suffer from a upset stomach.

Write TribeAs far as I remember my dreams have mostly been neutral, neither happy nor sad. And mostly they are abstract as if they are puzzles to be solved. Sometimes they are absolutely absurd. But whatever they are, they keep the mystery alive.

Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.  ~William Dement

Saturday, December 14, 2013

People Stories

Have you ever considered how many people you meet or simply see everyday? 
  • There is one set of people we actually know. We know them on a personal level. We know about their lives, their stories and about their families. Such people are usually family, friends and colleagues . 
  • There is another set which are mere acquaintances. These are people whom we meet occasionally, i.e. hi and bye types. This set can be our regular grocery shopkeeper, milkman, security guard,  our office receptionist, etc. 
  • And finally, there is one set of people whom we just see or hear about. Everyday as we go about our lives, we see people but don't know anything about them. People on the roads, people we see while commuting, shopping, in hospitals, restaurants and everywhere else we go.
Write TribeBut have you ever thought that each of these people have a story of their own. Every single one of us has a story and yet none of the stories are same. Everyone has a different tale to tell. Each one of us are at a different timeline and each of one of us has a separate deadline. Each story full of emotions, struggles, sacrifices, compromises and triumphs. Each story dotted with failure and despair. Each story rich in inspiration and hope. And yet, each day we go about without knowing about the stories around us. We go about without a hint what each of the people's stories can teach us.

My post The Human Web is on similar lines.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Memory Travel

As a kid, Namz (my sister) and I have traveled a lot with our Koka and Aita (our maternal grandparents). Deta and Koka served in the same university and so we got ample time to spend with them. Whenever Koka had to go any official tour and if we had our holidays then, we would hop into his official white ambassador car. Of course Aita and Maa would also be there.

The journey was mostly to and fro between Jorhat and Guwahati (in the State of Assam) which was a distance of around  300 km. Most of the time Namz would be on Koka's lap. Koka used to be Namz's best buddy and prized possession. The whole way we two would quiz Koka--which place were we passing by, what is the name of the river we just crossed, what is the next town/village we were about to reach, what was the meaning of the traffic signboards with zig-zag lines/ a running boy with a school bag/curves with arrow marks, a railway track, etc. And the best part was Koka never told us to shut up. He would go on patiently, answering all our queries. And that is how I learned about traffic sign boars, rivers and hills in Assam, distance in time between different towns and so on.

We had fixed places to stop for our tea, snacks and other meals. Also we had relatives in the different places along the way and so we visited them also. Koka would also buy us chips (Uncle Chips was the only brand available then), Cadbury gems, tangy candies and dry fruits. Everything was divided between Namz and I equally, down to the last potato chips or gems.

For stretches of the journey, Namz and I would turn around in our seats and watch the road we just covered through the backside window. Another stretch I would just gaze out of the window and follow the moon (if the sun had set) or the electric wires pole to pole by the side of the highway. Of course napping was also on the menu.
Write Tribe
May be because of this traveling routine, I don't mind traveling long distances. I don't get bored or sick. In fact, I learned to enjoy it. And all thanks to Koka for that.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Music in My Life

Most of the people who know me do not know that I had been briefly trained in Indian classical music. Well, it was only for a few years and I did not continue it further. It is a different story that no one actually believes this when they hear me sing!

It was Aita (my maternal grandmother) who pushed my sister (Namz) and me towards classical music. She herself is a good singer and knows how to play the harmonium. Well, she is actually brilliant in all kind of cultural activities. After her it was Maa. Although we two sisters attended the classes once a week and practiced regularly for around an hour, we were never kind of dedicated to it. But yes, we love music. I think music rule our genes! Like my side of the family, Az's (my husband) side of the family enjoy music too. Az and his brothers break into a song at the drop of the hat.

Deta used to listen to and play music every evening. I solved maths problems listening to music. Namz and I shared a room and we would take music breaks between our studies and switch off the lights, lay on beds and enjoy. We would save money to buy cassettes (Yes, I grew up in the era of cassettes) and also exchange cassettes with our friends and make copies. It was time of pop music and pop we did.

Of course, we enjoy music of different genres. I have music for every mood. Sometimes I wake up with a particular song on my lips. And for the whole day it will rerun on my lips like a stuck record. And finally I have to listen to that song. I am sure it happens with almost everyone of us. 

Since cassettes have made way to mp3 music has now become extremely portable. Today, I cook while listening to music. Music it is when I clean my room, fold  clothes and make the bed or sometimes when I take my bath. It makes me happy. I brings a spring to my step. It warms up my heart. With music, whatever I am doing becomes fun.

Write Tribe
More on music in my life in my post "Music Tape Magic".

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Write TribeI have already posted on this theme once couple of years back and the title was Book-Smitten . So I am re-posting the same here as a entry to the Write Tribe Festival of Words-2.


Instant "Noodle'ly" Happiness

While growing up, instant noodles in the house was a strict no-no. Ma would say that one particular spice in the taste-maker was harmful and so instant noodles for us. Our fellow mates would busk in the mouth watering tastes of Maggi and Top Ramen instant noodles, while we would try to reason with Ma. The only exception would be when we used to be sick. And sometimes the concerned companies would distribute their instant noodle packs in our school for promotion and that evening we hungrily feasted on them. But yes, we used to have the normal noodles all the time.

When I moved to Kolkata for my UG course and stayed in the hostel, the most liberating fact was that I could have instant noodles as and when I wanted. As we were not allowed gas stoves in the hostel, we cooked the noodles in electric kettles. But my affair with instant noodles took a leap ahead when I moved to Tezpur for my PG studies. My friends there introduced me to instant noodles cooked with vegetables and eggs. It was lip smacking. Since then I have come a long way. I now cook them with veggies, eggs, soya-bean chunks or chicken sausages/hot-hogs and the dish has become one of my specialties.

As I started working and living on my own, instant noodles became kind of my staple food. I would try all brands available in the market and also never fail to taste the new ones too. Although Maggi used to be and still is popular choice, I was never a big fan of it. Several years ago, Top Ramen used to be my favourite, then came Wai Wai. In between, Knorr soupy noodles topped my list. But now Yippee rules since it hit the market.

As I said Maggi never excited me. But during my trip to Himachal (To The Hills & Back) last month, I saw it in new light. Vendors selling simply cooked Maggi with onions, tomatoes and green chillies tasted awesome. May be it was chill, the weather or the place, Maggi tasted different there.

Write TribeMy idea of enjoying a bowl of my special instant noodles is watching a movie or an episode of my favourite shows on my laptop. And doing this simple thing makes me beam with cheer. And yes, a well cooked bowl of instant noodles never fails to give me instant "noodle'ly" happiness.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Memory of Pain & Care

As a growing kid, I used to suffer from regular leg pain. And often one of knees would get locked. In such situations, the one person I would call for was Deta (my father).

I remember playing and running around on the front lawns and suddenly my knee would get locked. I would only shout for Deta. And he would come and ease out my knee.

Whenever I had my spells of leg pain he would tell me that I was growing taller and so my bones were getting stretched. Pain relief ointments and sometimes a medicinal fish oil would be applied on my ailing leg. He would gently massage my leg, his hands moving from my knee towards the toes of my foot. And he would say that he is pushing the pain out of my leg through the toes.

One would wonder why the memories of suffering from pain would have any significance. The thing is Deta is not known to be someone who expresses his care, concern and emotions openly. So when he attended to my ailing leg, he showed that he cared. That was special. And so the memory of him helping me to ease my pain is also very special.

Write TribeEven today, when my legs or hands pain, I remember how Deta used to push away my pain through my toes. And I would feel special all over again. Deta, I love you.

(When I was writing this post, Deta called.  I could not help but smile.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

To The Hills and Back

On the way to Khajjiar

In the month of November, my husband (Az) and I took a trip to the hills. It was our first wedding anniversary and also the first holiday together after our wedding. We chose to visit Dalhousie and Mcleodganj, including their neighbouring areas, located in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh. My parents and sisters had visited the same a month earlier and recommended the places highly. 

Dalhousie-view from the hotel
On reaching Pathankot (in Punjab) in the morning from Delhi, we took a taxi for our trip. Our driver and guide or the trip was L paaji (brother). It took us around 3 hours to reach Dalhousie. The route itself was beautiful. We made our way through serpentine roads, going around hills vegetated with gorgeous tall pine trees. It usually starts to snow in Dalhousie in the last days of November. As we were visiting in the first week of the month, it was very unlikely for us to witness snow. But I wished real hard for snow as I had never seen snow in my life. We reached dalhousie in the afternoon and L paaji left us for the day. We checked in to a hotel and chose a room on the 2nd for to get a clean view of the valley. Dalhousie is a small town with small population. It was not crowded at all and very peaceful. The weather was foggy , then sunny and then suddenly it started to rain. All in a matter of a couple of hours. And to our pleasant surprise, rainfall transformed into snowfall. My excitement knew no bounds. It was the first snowfall of the season. And I mouthed a silent thank you to the Almighty.

The next morning, we made our way to Khajjiar for sightseeing. Khajjiar is on a lower altitude than Dalhousie, but to reach it we have to cross the higher parts of Dalhousie. So even  though the snow in Dalhousie had melted away the previous evening itself, the way to Khajjiar was still covered in snow. What more could I have wanted! L paaji said that we were lucky to witness snow so early in the season. When Az told him how I was wishing for snow, L paaji asked me if I fast for any of the gods or goddesses as my wish had come true. We stopped on a spot to enjoy the snow. I wanted to taste some of it too but Az warned me against it. But I did put a bit in my mouth when he was not looking.

Panaromic view of Khajjiar
Khajjiar is simply spectacular. It is basically a stretch of plush lawns of natural grass, surrounded by pine hills. And there is a water body in the middle. But the clean and fresh air, the greenery all around and the sunlight makes it a gorgeous view. We spent a good couple of hours there. Then it was time to move to Mcleodganj.


An old church
We reached Mcleodganj in the late evening. Mcleodganj is basically upper Dharamshala. The next morning we went off to visit the Dalai Lama temple in the town. We were in luck as it was a Monday and His Holiness himself was present delivering his sermon. It was a sprititual experience. Then we went to see the nearby sightseeing spots of Naddi, a church, Dal Lake and Panchkula. Naddi is basically a viewpoint from where we could see the valley and snow clad mountains. The view was grand. Panchkula point is basically for trekking. Next to the Bhagsunag temple in Mcleodganj, there is a lovely waterfall known as the Bhagsunag waterfalls. Instead of walking on the pathway leading to the waterfall, Az and I chose to climb down to the river instead. It was a lovely day with clear sky, soft sunlight and cool breeze. We sat for a long time on the rocks of the rocky river.

Dharamsala Cricket Stadium
The next afternoon, we checked out and made our way to Dharamsala. There we visited the serene Norbulingka Institute. It is a institute for the preservation of Tibetian culture. It is a whole different world inside the campus. Then we went to the Dharamsala Cricket Stadium where Az turned quite nostalgic remembering his cricketing days. It was late afternoon, it was finally time to say goodbye to the mountains and be on our way back to Pathankot to catch our train back to Delhi.

Food points:
Bon Appetit, Dalhousie: It is a small food joint specializing in chicken snacks. I had the best grilled chicken sandwich ever there. 

Monga's Cafe, Dalhousie: Even though the coffee is basically CCD, the ambience of the cafe is cozy and nice. 

Maggi--Enroute to Khajjiar from Dalhousie: Maggi is food of the hills it seems. Simply boiled maggi with onions, tomatoes and green chillies never tasted so good as it did near the snow covered stretch in the chilly air. 

Tibet Kitchen, Mcleodganj: We tasted some awesome authentic Tibetan food here.

German Cafe, Mcleodganj: It is actually a makeshift food joint with pebbled floor. Cuisine of various countries is available owing to the foreign crowd. Food is great.

Bakeries in Mcleodganj: Pastry cakes of the town are quite famous and they deserve to be. A variety of cakes are available.

Fish fry in Kotla
Fried fish, Kotla: Kotla is on the way to Mcleodganj. Here we tasted some tasty fried fresh fish with chutney. The fish is from the river which you can see behind the stalls.

In a nutshell, we had an awesome trip. The child in me was completely on loose and Az had to be on his toes all the time because of me! It felt liberating to act irresponsibly for sometime. As we drove down the hills, I devoured as much of the snow clad mountains as possible. I felt genuinely sad that our short holiday was coming to end. I was in no mood to come back home and be the responsible adult once again. After a long time I had let my hair down and enjoyed with every cell of my body. With a heavy heart I bade the mountains goodbye and made a silent promise that I shall come back to them, some other time, some other place.