Friday, October 3, 2014

Pujo, the big circle of red plastic chairs and other stuff.


The time of unlimited excitement and cheer for all the residents in the state I call my home. The Pujo talks in my hostel always start after midnight and always during the tests we have to give before we could claim happiness over a ten-day long holiday. It is always about which side of Kolkata has the best Pandals and Pratima, which outings have the best food (because food is an inevitable topic in all our conversations :P) and all the plans to be made and dresses to be worn during the festive time. 

I am a listener in this conversation because not being a resident of Kolkata has me feeling left out in many conversations of a friend circle who belong to the City Of Joy. I enjoy these conversations as much as the ones I take part in though, it is fun just to listen sometimes. 

Pujo in Kharagpur is completely different (Or that is what I have concluded from my listening sessions over three years of pre-pujo talks at hostel). Rather, I should say that Pujo in IIT Campus Kharagpur is done in a different style. Technology Staff Club which organizes the Puja, has a huge ground with a concrete pandal built on it which is basically for the Durga Puja but is also used for multitasking like a bicycle exhibition to rob the freshers (:P), Khadi merchandise exhibitions, Marriage buffets etc etc etc. 

Try going to any Puja Pandal in Bengal. I swear that even if it is a moderately famous place, you would have to stand in a huge line, be herded like sheep inside, and shooed away mere minutes after you extract your leg from the crowd and pause to take a breath. I say this because it happened to me just a few hours ago. My poor already sprained ankle :'( 

But at Staff Club (The hub of Pujo festivities inside the campus as mentioned above), things are very very different. You don't visit staff club to see the replica of some famous place made in absolute beauty or to gawk over an ingenious pandal. Because the pandal isn't makeshift. It is (as I said above) PERMANENT. And it is merely covered with cloth over bamboos in a simple way that would (if I am not mistaken) escape your notice. 

So exquisite pandal- Nope.
Out of the world decoration/lighting- Na na na.
Unique Murti of the Goddess maybe- *shakes head* They do it the traditional way every time. 

So what is it that attracts such crowds to this place?

The moment you enter the gate of the ground, you would see a crowd, yes, because come on, it is PUJO, why would there NOT be a crowd at a pandal? But there is no rush you see everywhere else. There are no lines. There is no squabbling to get inside the pandal and take a picture. The moment you enter the gate of the ground, you would see clusters of people everywhere. Clusters of aunties in beautiful tant sarees, clusters of school kids, clusters of college guys united with school mates, clusters of uncles discussing about NaMo NaMo, clusters of people standing and chatting outside, clusters of people sitting on red plastic chairs in circles of varying diameters, clusters of people around the cement barricade around the Pratima chatting about how Pujo robbed them out of a day of celebration this year and clusters of people chatting about one thing or the other in general. 

So Pujo at my home place has got everything to do with ADDA. 

People sit and talk for hours put together. You just need to enter the Staff Club once and you would see faces you haven't seen in the last two eternities before you. I went to give the Ashtami's pujshpanjali this morning and I saw what seemed to be like the entire staff of my school and I had to run from one teacher's feet to the other in rapid succession. I saw people I know who do not live in the campus because that is how famous the Pujo of Staff Club is, it is the magnet to people living in the whole of Kharagpur. 

It is wonderful to see faces being lit into smiles on seeing a buddy you haven't seen after school and the delighted exclamations over one's saree or one's general appearance after a year. It is a wonderful place to be. I only wish I wasn't expected to go along with someone to this place. 

There are many things I have come to know about myself after I joined college. And one of them is that I don't operate in crowds. I just don't. 
I find the idea of being reunited with all my school friends and sitting in a big circle like they do at the Staff Club and laugh and have pictures taken and pose and laugh some more very exciting but I have never been able to do the thing. 

Believe me, I have tried. 

And that turned out to be my worst Pujo ever, back in my first year of college. It is only today that I read in the comment section on a HONY photo- "Loneliness is horrendous but the worst is being surrounded with people who make you feel lonely" and the memory of that day washed over me and I felt a mixture of sadness and incredulity over how silly I was and how naive. 

I lied to myself that I was as close a friend of the people who came to my house for reasons other than just taking me along, I lied to myself thinking that people I had never even talked to at my school would open me with welcoming arms and pretend to know all my interests and swap college stories with me, I lied to myself in even thinking that the reserved girl from school who had zero guy friends from class would suddenly be greeted by all the guys in question as if we were buddies. 

Wishful thinking anyone?

So, with my doing, I was sitting in a big circle like I had always imagined I would in school days, I was staring into the faces of people I had known for 8 years of my school life, I was trying my best to smile and laugh at the jokes that made absolutely no sense to me and yet there was something breaking inside me with each attempt; the laughter around me was so loud, yet I could hear someone sobbing inside.

But I refused to admit it to myself. 

I was miserable and I did not even know it! Award for the stupidest girl alive anyone? 

I came back home that day and was entirely normal and then, out of the blue, deep into the night, I started crying uncontrollably :P 

I felt friendless, unwanted, unloved and there is no saying how much, how much hurt I felt that day. Kirti, the girl who always laughed in big groups at school, the girl who shared tiffin with no less than 10 people at school was excluded out of all conversation. 

The next day, my tears continued flowing and Arpita whom I freaked out with my emo messages on FB called me some time later to ask me if I would go out with her in the evening. Her parents took us both out for Pandal Hopping that day. They gave us a treat at CCD and then left us to walk back home. I will never forget that day. Did I say that year was my worst Pujo? It was also the best for this one reason.

I felt extraordinarily small that day. Arpita is a girl who is awkward socially or at least believes to be. I was always the person who (according to her) has a huge group of friends and could socialize easily.When that myth of mine got broken so harshly that day, I marveled at the simplicity with which she accepted the fact that she did not have many friends at school. And here was I, lying and lying to myself, forcing to believe something that was not true! How many friends did I have from school despite all the facade? 

It makes me laugh now, the stupidity with which I hung on to what wasn't the truth.  

I stopped pretending after that. My closest friends from my batch Antara and Sattu, never came to Kgp during Pujo. Arpita always packs off to Cuttack. Sushmita was the only one who stayed and I went out with her, just like I used to do during school days. I kick myself even now for even trying to be different after I joined college. 

Tanamika is the only one who cared enough about me not making an appearance at the Pandal to come over to my house and ask what was wrong.  

Suranjana is another friend I love to hang out with during this time. We catch up only during Pujo and getting nostalgic over school days and bitching about the people we didn't like with someone you used to sit beside for two years of High School is so refreshing. And no one makes better jokes than her :D 

With Suranjana this year, even the sting of being called in and then excluded from the big circle of school-buddies-rejoined was forgiven. The shock over a specific someone being extra sweet to us was forgotten. Friends give this gift to you and we should be so thankful for people in our lives who don't make us feel lonely.

I had fun this year. I had fun in my own quiet circle of few friends and friendships that run deep. I had fun this Monday when I went out of town with my best friends and saw a crappy movie but took the best from it anyway. I had fun showing the cards Sushmita made for me over the years to Sushmita herself and laughing over how silly we were back in 7th grade and how creative she was from the very start. I had fun laughing over Mania Ki Duniya with Tanamika yesterday and hogging that delicious Samosa Chat with her. I had fun waking up early for the Pushpanjali today and sitting with Surajana and Sushmita at the Pandal and pulling each others' legs. 

I will keep these laughs with me. The aren't very loud, but they are strong enough to drown the sobs I might heave some day I am sad. 
The plastic chairs around me aren't too many. The don't even make a circle, a triangle maybe on my best days but then, it is not done for everyone to have everything. And the big circle of red plastic chairs just isn't for me. 

Happy Pujo :) 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Catching up with times

Things have been weird lately. 

Well, nothing can get more weird than me not writing the usual crap I write on my blog and for that I will have to apologize to my imaginary readers because I don't believe I have any left anymore :P

So, I am actually getting the feeling that I am talking to myself which shouldn't be very surprising because I tend to do that sometimes. Most of the times. 

I am not mental. 

There was a time when I used to read about a dozen books a week. Reading in a KV with the most amazing library ever has to do everything with that. And now, when my bookshelf is just overflowing with books that I have always wanted to read and always wanted to buy, I find that I don't have that much time to actually finish what seems to be like a overlarge, pending To-Read list. Those really were the good times.

I don't know what this post is about. A product of having too many incomprehensible thoughts in your mind maybe. Right now, there might not be an answer on my lips if you ask me if anything is troubling me and yet I would sit by the window of my room brooding the whole night. 

There are some times when you wish there was someone who would find the answers for you. But there never is. Not really. You have to find them on your own. Or give up trying and be influenced by the people who have been influencing your decisions (read-taking your decisions) from the beginning of time. 

I am not whining. I swear I am not. 

Things are pretty normal with me though a change of hostel and two whole new roommates can be unsettling in the beginning. But apart from that, it is the usual five-days-of-college-then-rush-back-home routine for me. And apart from getting progressively lazier, there has been no stark changes about me either. 

As for my college life, it seems like a monotone but is at least better than what it was in the first year. It is just the feeling of indecision gnawing me day and night. What after this? What choices do I have? What do I really want? 

One thing has been very clear from the very beginning though- what I am doing is definitely not what I want. 2 years of engineering and I still don't have a subject that I love reading, that I would love teaching because teaching is all that I had ever wanted to do.

But the funny part is, I had always imagined myself teaching a class full of awed students a Tennyson poem and not Fluid Mechanics to a room of sleepy teenagers who are waiting for the class to end. Because that is what I do- wait for the class to end. 

The truth is, the above statement is not funny at all. It is actually as sad as sad can get.  

I think I just swore I won't whine a few lines ago. You must forgive me :D

Maybe this is just a midnight rant. Maybe in the morning everything will be normal again and this would seem old. But would any morning change this truth and some certain realizations I have made about my life?
Realizations that I am too ashamed to share, too fearful to express? 

I would hope it would, but then that would be just wishful thinking.

-A Kirti who fears for the dreamer in her. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Energy Boosters of My Life

There are some things in our lives that bring us out from the darkest of times. They add that pinch of spice in an otherwise uneventful lives and make our outlook much more brighter. In other words, they add zeal to our lives. Everyone has their own list of such things and here is mine:

1. Books: 

"So many books, so little time". This has to be the most commonly used quote ever but it gets across my feelings so precisely. I have been addicted to books ever since my brother put a Enid Blyton book in the hands of a 7 year old me and I haven't looked back since then. It takes me just a good book to make me forget all my woes and miseries. Every time I open the pages of one, I forget the entire world around me. Books are divine- they give me that hope and zeal to keep walking on the path that I had chosen. 

The Book that has me bankrupt now :P But no regrets!

Just a few racks of my book shelf

2. Music:

Friedrich  Neitzsche says, "Without music, life would be a mistake" and I am glad that my life is not a mistake. Music is the biggest inspiration for me; it is amazing how vividly I am able to imagine a particular song as a story with all the emotions put into it coming alive.Good music never fails to move me, touch me, and raise goosebumps on my arms.
So be it the childhood favorites of Hannah Montana's This is life, Rockstar and If we were a movie, the amazing fusions of Coke Studio India or the beautiful melodies of Yiruma, music defines me and adds infinite zeal in my life.

3. Friends:

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” This is a line from one of my favorite favorite books, Winnie the Pooh by A.A.Milne. I find myself really lucky to be saying that I do have such people in my life whom I would want to keep till the day I stop breathing. It is very hard to find good friends and I wonder sometimes how I landed with having such amazing friends. They know me better than I know myself (It IS true), can make me laugh in the worst of my moods (and I sure can be cranky as hell), love me for the way I am and make my life so awesome. 
Best friends :)
Good friends= Greatest zeal in life.

4. Walks:

I love walking. Period. 

Be it a stroll in the campus alone or the chatter session with a close friend, walking is my favorite way of spending my time. I have been taking walks since my childhood days- we would wrap up a day's play in the evening and walk to the huge grounds of Tatasteel stadium in the campus. And when I became too big to be jumping around in a playground with kids, walking was the way all my evenings were spent going on walks with friends. We would stop at a favorite haunt to hog, successfully gaining four times the calories we might have lost by mistake :D But who cares right? 

And when I would be all alone in the town, I would take my favorite walk circuit and it would clear my head amazingly, make me think on the stuff that I had stashed in the pending drawer of my mind and help me have a clear approach on everything. Walking is like a huge release to me and needless to say, it is a big source of zeal in my life.
A walk with a close friend Sattu :)

5. My mother:

Me and Mummy :)
If there is anyone who fills me the most with enthusiasm and positivity about every thing under the sun, it is my mother. She is this amazing person who would find the bright side of everything and encourage me to do whatever I started because most of the times, I am filled with self doubts and leave it unfinished. She would take interest in WHATEVER I did right from painting a circle on a paper to washing my socks. She is the most creative person I have had the good fortune to meet and her touch is like magic. She can transform even the most mundane things into something very beautiful. She is patient and kind and loving and the best mother one can possibly dream to have. 

So yes, all the credits for filling my life with energy and zeal would hands down go to my mother!

This post is a part of the #ZestUpYourLife activity in association with TATA Zest and

The Black Wishes

Who DOES NOT love black? Black, I have always felt is the color of non being. And that is where, as McGonagall  so wisely says, all vanished objects disappear. I love black because it mixes with everything and still stands out. It is, I my opinion, the classiest color imaginable. So whenever  I am in doubt, I go with black. Confused with my mobile body color? Chose black. Cannot decide what the hell I should wear? Put on a pair of black jeans. Shoes for college? Duh. Black floaters of course. If there is a color that you could choose with eyes closed and rest assured, it would be black. It looks good on EVERYONE and it can never go wrong.
Though there are about a hundred black things that I would absolutely like to covet, these are my top five

1. A black notebook-

I have always, ALWAYS wanted a notebook like this one. A plain, black cover, with a rubber band to close it shut and a small holder at the side for a pen. It is elegant, handy and simply AWESOME. I have goosebumps just at the THOUGHT of running my fingers over the black surface of such a notebook. Too perfect for words!

2. A black Kindle-

I have ALWAYS had people suggesting me that I get a kindle because I appear to be living in stone age to most of my friends with a good for nothing phone and absolutely no internet access. But more than the necessity to do FB and play candycrush, people suggest it to me because reading novels would be so simple then. I had never really considered the idea of replacing the amazing feel and of paper with an electronic gadget so when my grandfather told me that instead of buying so many books, I could just buy  a kindle (I bristled at the idea, let me tell you) and be done with it, I retorted with a ‘I don’t want all my books looking and smelling the same’. But now, after I had a go on my friend’s kindle, I kind of started entertaining the idea of a kindle. Don’t get me wrong, I am a bibliophile and I LOVE buying books so my sleek, black Kindle(If I ever get one) would be for all my engineering text books (which are WAY too expensive) and with the money I save on them, I could buy myself more novels! Great plan huh?

3. A black wand-

To say I simply want this would be an understatement. I NEED this. Every living cell of my body craves for this ever since I read the Harry Potter series. I have probably spent the better part of my childhood trying and making a beautiful, black wand like this one but needless to say, it has always been a huge fail. And whenever I look at THIS one and just see the sleek black handle of it, the magnificent body with the slender vines like structure it, I weep for its absence in my life. 

4. A black treasure chest-

Do you see that? Do you see that perfect, beautifully engraved black chest? Well, now you know what my dreams look like. I would KILL to have a chest like that standing on my shelf. All the things I treasure- letters from my friends, a pocket radio given by my best friend, the amazing cards that my best friends have made for me over the years and the tidbits that I love a lot. I do have a wooden chest but a black one? Would die to own it any given day.

5. Sirius BLACK-

Okay, so this character has been in my fantasies ever since J.K.R’s created world and my real world met. Sparks flew and BAM! Mr. Darcy and Phil of the future got blown away only to be replaced by Sirius Black. Have you ever read about a character that is super cool, super brainy, super funny, super troublemaker and somehow, super single at the same time? I give you Sirius Black. He's my favorite marauder, he made dog my favorite animal and gave 'cool'ness a whole new turnover. And yes, it is my secret wish to sit on that motorbike of his.
No, I refuse to entertain any idea that says that he is *gulps* DEAD. Sirius Black is very much alive and is in every way the man of my dreams.

But as Mr.Black is not a ‘black thing’ technically and despite my belief, impossible entity to possess, I would settle with the wish for a black Alsatian whom I would obviously name Padfoot. I have always wanted a dog and what would be a better thing to wish for than this!

This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Dream Come True

It was a sweltering hot summer afternoon. After a vehement refusal of joining my parents for the marriage ceremony of some far-off cousin, I lay down on the sofa finally hoping to cherish a few heat-free hours in front of the TV. But that is too much to wish for in the middle of the summer, isn't it?

Cursing the human race for increased Global Warming and its effects that were made to suffer by the poor me, I looked around helplessly waiting for a miracle to happen that would somehow erase the heat from the surroundings.

And Voila! There appears my brother carrying a tray with two glass mugs that seemed to be brimming with some golden colored liquid.

What would life be without that instant reaction your body gives on smelling and seeing something delicious? There is something inexplicably wonderful about the way a burst of saliva floods your mouth in the anticipation of food to come, something joyful about the gulp you take to stem that flow of excitement in you.
And when the food in question comes to in you beautiful, crystal clear glass ware of Borosil that enunciates every particle of the dish, the anticipation just inflates to the brim. Needless to say, precisely that happened in my case and those few seconds my brother took to reach me were like those long moments stretched to slow motion (like they show in the movies) with my eyes feasting on the drink.

"Guess what this is!", my brother asks me. 

"Just hurry up and give me the mug" I say impatiently.

"You will get this only if you guess correctly" replies my brother annoyingly. And that is when, I give a closer look to the beautiful beverage in his hand. 

At the bottom was a beautiful light brown syrup with the soda that was aerated with tiny air bubbles escaping to the top one by one. The middle layer was an amazing caramelized brown that stuck perfectly to the sides of the glass mug serving as a transition between the syrup at the bottom and the layer on the top. I could already hear the crunch 

And on the top was a thick layer of butterscotch in a mouthwatering shade of yellow. I could clearly see the white cream floating midst the layers of ice cream. Looking at it, all my childhood memories and fantasies came back to me in a whirl. 

Harry Potter and all the seven books, the extent to which I went trying to believe that I was a part of the magical world, the wait for Hogwarts letter, the tears on not getting it, the makeshift wands, the LED bulb at the front of it which I would switch on with glee while saying 'Lumos', the fantasy of trying of every tiny thing related to the world J.K.Rowling had created came back to me and the answer to my brother's question rose to my lips as easily as if it was always sitting there...

"Butterbeer", I whisper in awe and ecstasy.

"Butterbeer it is but with an opposite effect!", my bother smiles and hands me a mug. 

I sip it with a greediness that showcased 8 years of devout Harry Potter fandom... It was like a dream come true. 

With the first sip itself, I saw what my brother said- instead of the warming sensation as described by the book Butterbeer, our Butterbeer was amazingly chilled and instantly filled my insides with a cooling sensation.

And as I gulped down the rest of it leisurely, I felt that my wish of finding a chilled solace in the unbearable heat was finally granted.

Hail Butterbeer!

This post is written for My beautiful food contest from Indiblogger in association with Borosil.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Feast For The Eyes

Sometimes, the weather inspires you to do things that are literally out of the box. A cup of Hot coffee with crisps in rain, a bucket full of soup in winters with a cozy armchair laid beside the fireplace and what not.

One of the most cognitive things is the apprehension of what has leaded us to crave for such fantasies or wild wishes. One day, it was a wintery morning like never before. The sun refused to pay us a visit and it was afternoon already. It was so cold that the moment you put your feet on the floor, you will feel like you’ve spent hours in the freezer. The thick woolen rug appeared to be my lone savior.  It was then when my angel of a mom came up with this brilliant cashmere biryani that made my day.

One thing that is worth mentioning here is that being strict vegans, we are denied anything that is meatish. And I don’t regret it, or so, the things that my mother makes prove that. So the biryani; in Japanese there s a famous saying:

Eat with your eyes before you taste the food.

Visual entrapment of food leaves a longer blueprint of what you have eaten and helps you cherish the memories till eternity. So, I prefer glass or crystal ware while devouring delicious, mouthwatering recipes. It helps you see better of what you are consuming and enjoy the strange happiness.  And when it is a glassware of extraordinary quality like Borosil wares, it is more than just a feast to the eyes.

The biryani was a vibrant mixture of yellow and white. Yellow due to the rich saffron that went into it. With chunks of dried sorrel mushrooms, juicy pineapples, apricots and figs, it was a diners’ delight. The mild essence of saffron lingered on the taste buds after a mouthful of flavored rice, fruit and dry fruits stirred in clarified butter. The sorrel mushrooms gave it an earthiness which provided a depth to the dish. The addition of seasonal dry fruits like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts and chestnuts imparted this wonderful nuttiness that they carry. The addition of coconut milk to the rice provided it with a creamy richness that was cut through the palette due to the presence of right amount of acidity from the figs and the pineapple.  The balance of flavors did the magic and brought back the nostalgia of the Kashmir trip that we had during the summers. There are no words to explain the rich visual treat of the dish through the glassware, colored rice with layers and layers of brown, yellow, red, black, pink and green ingredients with a whiff of white coconut cream spread across like a streak of the milky way.

I kept on eating both with my eyes and mouth until there was nothing left in the bowl, and once that realization hit my senses, they craved for more and more and more. But alas, such good food is seldom meant to be left untouched and by the time I went to get a second helping, there was nothing left but an empty dish.

This post is written for My beautiful food contest from Indiblogger in association with Borosil.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Escape

The wind cut on her face untraceable patterns as she walked a well-walked road. She paused for a breath on the sight of a familiar tree, then smiling to herself walked till she reached the house directly facing it. She raised her head and cupped her hands around her mouth to shout out a familiar name.

But no sound came out.

She tried again and again but only empty air passed through her fingers. The comfort of the words she was so well versed with, didn’t reach her ears. She stared at the house with almost a feverish longing, trying to place what had gone awry, why were things so different.

It was then that she saw her hands; a startled gasp escaped her lips on seeing the fingers that seemed so strange and yet felt like her own. They were longer, the palm attached to it wider and strewn with more lines than she remembered having. Her forearm was fleshier, as if someone had taken a few cotton puffs and stuffed it under her skin. On closer introspection, her hands seemed different altogether! As she raised her other arm to look more closely, she found an unfamiliar black object clinging to her palm.

A phone, her mind registered slowly. Similar to the ones she had seen on her parents. But what was she doing holding one? Then with a jolt, she realized, it was her phone. But since when did she start owning phones! Who owned phones in class 8!

Despite her bafflement, curiosity made her press a random few buttons on the object her mind suddenly claimed as ‘her’ phone. The contact list popped open. With growing horror, she scrolled down the names in ‘her’ contact list. Who were these people? How did she know them? How were they a part of her life?

Her fingers of their own accord opened the message section next. She felt a terrible sense of foreboding as she read the texts in her inbox and the replies ‘she’ had sent back. What was she saying? Why was she writing in a language she didn’t know properly? Hindi, Hindi was what she talked to her friends in wasn’t it? Then why was she conversing in something else?

A million questions rang in her mind in dull cacophony. She looked around her scared as all of them started coming towards her- the new names, the new language, and her hands that weren’t her hands anymore. She heard laughter then; a hollow, cynical laughter as if mocking over her current plight. She looked in all directions to spot the source of the laughter but there was no one in her vicinity.

It was disembodied. Just like her thoughts that had suddenly grown identities of their own and sprung up to haunt her.

The laughter increased and she heard new voices in it. They called her name but who did the voices belong to? She couldn’t recognize any!

Or, could she?

Terrified now, she started shuffling towards the one familiar house as all the new disembodied beings crawled towards her. 
She looked up again to the balcony of the one room she had loved so much; she could almost hear the rocking chair creak inside, almost see a chest full of amazing things waiting to be marveled, almost hear the dull static of a radio perched on the window sill, almost feel the soft ink-stained fabric of the sheets. 

Her eyes took her to the place inside that held all the wonder of the world, all the sunshine, two people whose head bent along with hers waiting for the laugh that was sure to come soon. She opened her mouth again to call out the familiar name but no sound came out. 

Tears leaked from her eyes.

She saw her new being running towards her with determination bringing its scattered battalion along that seemed to cry in unison- “You are ours now. You are ours.” But she didn’t want to be theirs, she couldn’t be theirs.

She ran.

She put in whatever force her new, unfamiliar body had, put in whatever strength it took to urge her new mind to run away. But what was she running from? How could you leave yourself behind?

She skidded to a stop in front of the potholes on the road ahead her. Cursing the drainage system and looking anxiously over her shoulder, she tried to find a way ahead.

As she searched frantically for a way out, her eyes fell on her reflection in the muddy puddle. She touched her face twice to believe it really belonged to her. It did look like her but yet, was so different! Everything about her seemed different. Her hair was swept back into single plait instead of her standard two ribboned ones; her brow was arched gracefully and her eyes were hidden behind glasses that she couldn’t remember possessing. Her arms and legs were longer and she herself seemed to be a bit taller. She was always whining about being short wasn’t she? Then why didn’t her taller being fill her with terror than elation?

And then, the mystery behind the entire thing dawned on her. All the complicacy had arisen from such a simple thing really. And the thing was that she had grown. She had grown in the inevitable way time demanded living creatures to grow.

And that is how everything had changed.

* * *
This one is for you Sushmita. And for you Arpita. 

I don't know if it is just me who feels like running away back to the past sometimes. I don't know if the irrational feeling of being suffocated by the people around is something only I seem to have. You will your eyes to stay shut sometimes but when they open, you are blinded by that flash of sudden light. 

These sudden flashes of painful light did not exist in the times when we were kids. And together.When 4 o'clock used to be the favorite time of our day and Tatasteel our favorite place in the world. When Arpelo running away from his leash was the only worry on our minds and books and Disney was all we could think about.

Uncomplicated lives. And such warm, amazing friends. 

Whatever triggered this, I am thankful things worked this way. Sometimes, some things that pain you very much bring into light the people who never fail to make you happy.

You are two such people. I can't be grateful enough for having you in my life. 

My childhood was awesome thanks to you. And my life would never fail to be awesome with friends like you. Having said all this, I still wish we could go back in time. 

As I sit on my bed strewn with all the cards you people have so lovingly made for me over the years, I can't help but wishing for those times to come back. I want those times back. Why can't we have them back?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Crisis Situation and How My Hair Still Shone Like Jaime Lannister In His Armor-II

Read the previous part here

"You!" I said, a bit louder than necessary.

He raised his eyebrows questioningly. "Shouldn't I be the one showing that reaction?" he asked, a faint smile quirking his lips.

"Yeah whatever." I mumbled as I took my seat and shoved my suitcase inside. I sighed sadly and was just getting ready to call my sister and tell her the news that would certainly make her go crazy with anger when I noticed the guy staring at me.

I stared back at him quite defensively when I saw that same muted smile that was starting to feel pretty annoying on his lips.

"Look, if you are expecting me to fall all over you thanking you for saving my life or something, then you better stop right there. You are not getting any of it" I said. I regretted the very moment I opened my mouth. I sounded like such a mean bitch.

"Okay, wait. I didn't mean that. I meant, thank you for saving my life and all but there is no need to smirk over me like you had nothing better to do than saving girls having bad hair days who is probably going to get whacked by her sister the next day, not to forget the shouting she is gonna get from her mother for nearly missing her train, getting almost killed TWICE and also, talking to a random stranger she doesn't know, well stranger MEANS a person you don't know, and making no sense either. And that is where I should probably shut up" I let out in one breath and fell silent.

The guy who was watching with his eyebrows shooting further and further into his forehead as I made my speech, burst out laughing.

"Shhh...." I whispered, as the person sleeping on the berth above his rolled in his sleep.

"And you don't have to laugh" I told him whispers, "Everyone has bad hair days. Even you..." My eyes strayed over to his head where an impressive crop of jet black hair, silky and slightly ruffled sat which seemed to look upon my hair in the same amused manner he was looking at me.

"Or maybe not..." I finished my sentence.

I forced myself shut again and told myself to do the task of telling my sister instead of rambling like a crazy person when I saw him staring at me again, with the same weird smile on his face.

Okay, now it is very hard not to be conscious when someone is staring at you especially if that someone, I quickly checked him out, was pretty good-looking. And feeling conscious in my present situation of Ms.Tail-bird's-nest-instead-of-hair, was like a suicide mission.

"What?" I said defensively, sounding less fierce than I intended to be. Great. Mr.Good Looking Stranger  had begun to take over my reaction mechanism already.

"I was just wondering what made you almost miss your train and almost lose your life. It couldn't possibly be a clip that had to go with the suit you are wearing tomorrow" he said, with the same smile playing in his eyes.

Grudgingly, I allowed a smile too. It was just so hard to stay pissed off around witty guys.

"You wouldn't be interested. And anyway, it is a long story" I said in reply.

"I bet your long story would be interesting because your short whatever-you-had-said just now, was pretty much so" he answered.

Open flirting huh? Two could play that game beta, I thought mentally before launching into my story. I needed a sympathetic ear anyway and well, he had asked for it.

He was a pretty good listener; as I rambled on about my pathetic state that day, he held a very sympathetic look. I took a deep breath after I finished, asking if I could drink water from his bottle as mine was left in the hurry of climbing down the previous train.

"Hmmmm. So no time to make up your hair tomorrow. When are the Ladke-wale coming?" he asked.

"6:05" I said.

"So you won't be able to go home?"

"No because it would be easier to just pick them directly from the station itself. I was assigned the task in the first place because I would happen to be at the station at the same time. Hence all this fuss about being ready when I get down" I explained to him.

"Our train is running late by 20 minutes. Lets take 10 minutes as tolerance limit. So that makes it 30. If all goes well, you would be at VSKP station by 5:30. Even if you take 10 minutes to get to the waiting hall, you would still be left with 20 minutes..." he counted off.

"What am I supposed to do in mere 20 minutes? That will hardly be enough to change! What about my hair" I nearly cried in frustration.

He bent down and took out his roller bag, threw it open (I couldn't help peeking. It seemed to contain a large amount of wrapped boxes), and took out a gift wrapped box from it. He paused for a moment to look at it, then tore off a little card that was stuck on the front and gave it to me.

I took it nonplussed as he said "20 minutes will be plenty if you have THIS".

Realizing that he was giving me a gift he hand wrapped for someone else, (possibly his girlfriend. Good-looking, witty guy who are sympathetic listeners don't roam around single do they?) I backed off.

"No no no. I can't take this. I don't even know you. I mean, it was nice of you to listen to me ranting and all but you don't have to go to such limits." I started gibbering.

"Okay, let's just say that I met a girl in a fix who managed to make such an interesting story out of it and though that girl would probably hate to be a damsel-in-distress, I still would like to give her story a happy ending." He smiled. "My bag happens to be loaded with gifts anyway, one less would make no difference"

I couldn't deny then could I?

Okay, maybe I could, thinking about mysterious strangers passing bombs wrapped in gift paper and charming smiles but let's just say at that moment, I was so desperate with worry over my hair, that getting blown up was more welcome than anything.

Still, taking another tack, I said "Look, mere shampoo-ing wont help (I said guessing what could be inside). My hair, wildly curly and eternally frizzy except when it is under the strict coconut-oil and tight braid policy of my mother is unmanageable generally. The parlor girl nearly cried over the state of my hair. It took hours to get it going. All that's in vain though now. What I am saying is, I don't think it is gonna work." I said sadly.

"Trust me, it will" he said earnestly. "Better sleep now. Else you would be worrying about dark circles next" He smiled wickedly, his eyes glinting and shutting down my worries about sleep ruining my hair further, I slept.

When I woke up the next morning, he was gone. Left behind, on my bag though, was a note.

"As for the clip that was to go with the dress you would be wearing tomorrow, I don't think you will be needing it to stop your hair from cascading down anymore".

I couldn't help smiling.

I rushed to the waiting room as soon as I got down, as Mr Good-looking-I-am-a-bad-hair-day-saver had calculated, it was 5:30 by the time I reached there. Apprehensive, I ripped ope the package he gave and out fell Sunsilk shampoo and a conditioner. Not pausing to think, I washed my hair thoroughly, dressed as fast as I could and finding 10 more minutes to spare, blow dried it using the connection in the waiting hall. 

Still apprehensive, I went to the mirror to make out my appearance. To my surprise, my hair looked... nowhere close to the ugly and un-presentable I had imagined. It looked... recharged, brimming with energy. There was a bounce to my curls and it was with absolute pleasure that I combed through it. No tangles, no loose hair. And as the Mr.Mysterious Stranger said there was absolutely no need to restrain those curls from falling down my back.

Rejoiced and recharged, I skipped through the platforms and waited where their train was about to come. My father and few relatives joined me too, exclaiming on what they thought to be my 'new-look'. I bet they all were just relieved to see my hair... well, not look like how my hair usually does.

The train came and out gushed what seemed to be horde of my sister's would be in-laws. I piped in to greet my Jiju when I saw someone peep in from behind his shoulder. My jaw dropped, (for the third time in this story) and I am sure my eyes popped out. I even missed out the introductions in my shock.

I just stopped myself from shouting a "You!" again as I saw him, (you must have guessed by now) Mr Good-looking stranger-who-happened-to-be-my-sister's-in-law smile the same wicked smile at me. 

As the long procession of the ladke-wale started to move finally, he ambled behind like me and said a casual "Hello" as if we were meeting for the first time. The amusement in his eyes though, was unrestrained. 

"How come you got down before me if this was your stop too?" was the question I asked, instead of the thousand others that were springing in my mind then. 

"I got down in the previous station and waited for this train to come along. I guess I just wanted to see your face" he said impishly.

"You are crazy" I voiced.

"So are you!" He retorted grinning.

As we walked together to where the cars where standing to take us to the mandap, I asked him "Which poor relative of mine is going to go gift-less because of my hair disaster and your chivalry?" 

In response he reached to his shirt pocket and took out a card which he handed to me. It was the same that he had torn from the packet. 

Opening it, I saw my name written neatly.

The traitor.

"So you knew ALL ALONG?"  I asked him.

"Not initially. But bad hair day, marriage, sister... It wasn't hard to guess. Bhabhi is always telling your hair stories" He said somberly but his eyes glinted with the mischief I was started to find endearing.

"Oh God! My sister will be the death of me! Dishing out my embarrassing stuff to her in-laws already!" I groaned.

"We are now part of the same family aren't we? And anyway, good hair-day or bad hair-day, you are exactly how Bhabhi said you would be.."

"And that is?" I asked curiously.

He leant it and whispered in my ear "Beautiful and smart".

I swear I blushed then. But whatever Mr. I-am-a-master-at-flirting said, looking presentable even after a terribly eventful train journey to receive my sister's in-laws was a cool enough reason to recharge my hair which thanks to Sunsilk I did. And as for my life? Looking forward to a marriage that was definitely going to be interesting thanks to a Mr. Someone whose name I was yet to know, my life was recharged in delightful ways too!

This post is written for the Sunsilk Recharge your hair, Recharge your life contest on Indiblogger.
Visit their official website here:

A Crisis Situation and How My Hair Still Shone Like Jaime Lannister In His Armor-I

I grabbed my suitcase and rushed to the train door. I nearly tripped and fell as a loud 'oye' came from behind. It was Jagruti, my friend. "Your bag!" she shouted, waving a large floral print hand bag. I mentally cursed myself. As I started turn to fetch it back, the train lurched and started moving. Panicking, I started running in the direction I was initially going, shouted "Throw it from the window, I will catch it!" in a general direction hoping Jagruti would hear it and just as the train was picking up speed, cast my eyes to the heavens above, muttered a quick prayer and jumped, case and all.

I fell out of the train in a most un-filmy way as possible, landing rather hardly on my behind. But instead of checking for broken bones, I urged my hands to go way up and check my hair. Now that should remain perfect. I patted it anxiously and finding no lasting harm was just congratulating myself on such a splendid last-moment train jumping when a large spongy thing came out of nowhere and hit me on my head. Hard.

I was about to show the power of my vocal cords to whoever was responsible for ruining my hairdo when Jagruti peeped out of the moving train and grinning cheekily, waved. I grumbled to myself as I picked my bag that I had left behind and which my friend had so gently returned back to me.

Just when I was about to do another check on my hair, my eyes fell on the huge digital clock with the annoying red digits that seemed to infest every railway station. My jaw dropped on seeing the time.

It was 9:58 PM.

I mentally cursed myself once again and also the person behind the railway ticket booking counter who had convinced me on taking a break journey to Vishakapatnam.
"The trains are pretty regular ma'am. Plus you have one and half hour waiting time in Khurda road till your connecting train comes. Absolutely nothing to worry." had been his exact words.

"But I am going for a marriage see? The train will take me to VSKP at exactly 5 in the morning (if by any good luck it is not late). And apart from being a NON morning person, I have to go and receive the groom's side so it is a pretty tight schedule this way and I am not sure if this would be a good option..." I had trailed off anxiously. But the man, with his unwavering belief in the Indian Railway System convinced me nevertheless to take the chance.

I did and there I was- stranded in the middle of Khurda Road station from a train that was TWO hours late with absolutely no idea about the connecting train whose arrival time was 9:38. For all I knew, it had already come and left. I was ready to slump in some bench and weep about missing my sister's wedding when the loud-speaker blared and announced the arrival of the very train I was so sure I had missed. The woman's voice announcing regretted for the inconvenience caused by the twenty minute delay of the train but I had never rejoiced more on a train being late!

I jumped up, recharged over the news and rushed to the said platform. Only to realize that the train was already speeding in on the tracks that were two over bridges and 4 platforms away. I stared in horror as it came to a stop. I would never make it if I went for the over bridge route. The stairs itself seemed a mile away.

Then, I did something that my 21 year old self would never have dreamt of in normal situations. But then, it wasn't exactly a normal situation was it?

I jumped off the platform and onto the tracks.

Surprised by my own action, I proceeded to carefully but speedily make way to my train that was standing a few tracks away. Praying to the almighty and trying not think about painful deaths and statistics of people who died in India while crossing tracks and forcing my literary side shut from writing a eulogy that I would like to be written for my death, I was just a couple of tracks from my destination when an engine started coming in my direction.

I heard loud yells from people on both sides and it would have been very romantic if I just closed my eyes till a Knight in his shining armor came and protected me in his arms but since that was not the case and I was very much single, thank you, I hopped away just in time, allowing the engine to honk past me and billow an absolute avalanche of dust and soot over me.


Dust and soot. Oh no.

My horror over the ruins my hair was probably going to make me miss my train when I reminded myself of the more pressing matter on hand and proceeded towards my destination.

"Yes, yes I am coming" I said to no one in particular as the train honked. I flung my bag inside a random AC compartment which was empty at the door except for a young man standing, was just about to heave my suitcase up when the clutcher that was holding the last remains of my hair together fell. I watched it fall in slow motion like they show on the television and an audible gasp escaped my lips as it disappeared into oblivion of the dirty railway tracks.

"Nahiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" I shouted dramatically and forgetting my suitcase that was hanging precariously from the doorway and started to hunt for my clutcher.

It was the clip to go with the suit I have to wear tomorrow, It was the clip to go with my suit... I chanted, looking up for a moment to the see guy shout something at me. See, because I only saw his lip movement that was obviously directed at me. 

"Huh" I said, looking obviously very stupid when he suddenly bent, took my hand and yanked me up.

"Have you gone mad?" He shouted at me, pulling me inside the train as it started to move gently.

"It was the clip... IT WAS THE CLIP THAT GOES WITH THE SUIT I WEAR TOMORROW DAMN IT!" I shouted back at him, feeling and acting (I am sure) quite crazy.

The guy stared at me for a while in disbelief, then shaking his head, left. Instead of feeling happy that I managed to catch my train, I was feeling quite sad over the loss of my clutcher. What will I wear with my dress tomorrow? Thinking of hair and clips, I rushed to the small mirror Indian Railway provided over the basins and looked at my reflection. My jaw dropped again for the second time in running that day.

Forget about my face, that was manageable with a few minutes of scrubbing with soap but my hair. My HAIR.

I groaned as I looked at it. It looked like a bird's nest. Coming away in tangles, filled with dust and what not, it looked an absolute mess. All the hours spent at the parlor to fix it, all the trouble to make it perfect for my sister's wedding down the drain.

I guess that was that then. I had already admitted defeat. There was absolutely no time for me to attend to my hair the next day. Reason why Jagruti had dragged me with her to the parlor to set it up so that just brushing it and touching up on the style would be enough.
My sister had entrusted me with the ONE task of receiving her in-laws and I had failed her utterly. The sister of the bride-to-be couldn't just walk in looking like an alien in frizzy hair to get her Jija-ji! I was blanching mentally thinking about the class I had coming from her. I had already been a trial to her by deciding to come on the VERY day of her marriage instead of a week earlier.

Sighing and lamenting on my situation, I had already given up on my story if it hadn't been for the one person who was going to be my co-traveller that night.

As I lifted the curtains of the berth I was assigned, I was surprised to see one person occupying the seat opposite to mine. It was the very guy who had (possibly) saved me from getting becoming a mince meat...

(To be continued...)

What happens next? Will our heroine be able to fix her hair in time? Read on the second part here

This post is written for the Sunsilk Recharge your hair, Recharge your life contest on Indiblogger.
Visit their official website here.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Night After The Storm

This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 45; the forty-fifth edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton.
Photo taken from Google Images

Parul was the first one who saw it. She had been waiting outside their hut the entire day, hovering around their calf in the hope that it would give a bit more dung to make into cakes. But the calf had been strangely nervous that day; tossing its small head and moving around the post to which it was tethered.

After finishing her morning chores, Parul hung around the tiny stretch of land before their house, collecting flowers and spinning out a game to pass the time.

She was a ‘Phool-wali’ that day, a woman who sold flowers. At the same time, she was also the ‘Memsaab’ down from Kolkata who was in search of beautiful flowers untouched by the pollution of her city. Varying between the coarse, local language used in her place and the polished Bangla she had seen Heroines speak on Gopi Kaku’s black and white television, she had great fun playing the roles of the two imaginary women.

She paused in her game only to make faces to her neighbor’s kid who purposefully came to show off his school-going status every day. On asking why she wasn’t allowed to go to school anymore, she had received a slap in answer. Her dreams of going to school had gone with her father who had taken his life when his crops failed two years back. Parul had been 8 then.

Her mother was never the same after the incident; she relapsed into long stretches of inactivity and silence frequently. The tiny piece of land in their village Dumardari they had leased for cultivation was their only income.

The daily inventory games were not too bad but Parul missed school. Just as she missed her Baba. As she was wrapping up the day’s play, she felt a cold, wet thing hit her face. She blinked in rapid succession, and lifted her hand just in time to catch another one on her palm. Her eyes widened at the size; they were as big as 2 Rupee coins. She glanced up then, to see clouds as black as soot rolling in.

“Ma!” she called excitedly, rushing in. She announced her find and started dancing, “Brishti hobe, brishti hobe!” unable to contain her joy. Her excitement on the possibility of rain was wiped clean at the sight of her mother’s face though; she had a look similar to the one she had sported when the news of her Baba had come. She tugged at her mother’s arm asking what the matter was but she never got a reply. Instead, her mother dragged her inside, collected all their belongings in one lump and waited, with a haunted look in her eyes.

Wind howled around their hut like a hundred handed monster that had come to rip their lives apart. Trees clashed as if in a wrestling match, intent to bring each other down. And it rained, Oh how it rained!

Parul wordlessly pointed to a stream of water that trickled down a small fissure in their mud hut. Her mother averted her eyes away from it, drawing her head into her lap. But Parul couldn’t take her eyes away. She was entranced by it- that small river that slowly crawled from the walls and seeped beneath the mat they were sitting on. When she next lifted her eyes to trace it, it wasn’t there anymore. It was replaced by two rivers much larger, much wider, much faster and within the blink of her eye, they were beneath her.

Everything became cold then, not a surface of their hut was dry anymore. When the first tree hit their house and shook her very bones, Parul started feeling afraid. It hadn’t been like this the last time. Last time Baba had been with them and his powerful build was enough to comfort her from all storms that came and went.

Parul hid her face in her mother’s damp sari, trying to gain comfort from her body smell but soon there was no smell except that of the earth along with the water that was spinning out of control to cleanse it. The next time Parul dared to lift her eyes up, there were no rivers anymore. The rivers had all conspired to swallow their house till it became one.

Bit by bit it crumpled, the hut her Baba had built so painstakingly year after year every time nature found its prey. By the time the roof was on their heads, Parul was shivering with cold, her fingers interlaced with her mother’s frozen blue.

She lost count of days it rained; it seemed like a night with no morning in its tow. Her mother’s prayers had fallen silent after a while so she picked up from there, offering all her rag dolls to all the Gods she knew in turn.

When the storm finally ended, night had fallen.

Her attempts to get a coherent action from her mother failed; the haunted look in her eyes on seeing the ruins they were left in wouldn’t just go away. Parul tried her best not to cry but the sight of their hut buried in the ground floating in water weakened all her resolution. She glanced one last time at her mother before leaving, her small steps hurrying her away from the place and she never once looked back.

The next morning, when Parul’s mother finally realizing her daughter was missing forced her weakened body outside, she was met with a sight that brought tears to her eyes.

Parul was patting the place where the wall of their hut had once stood with fresh mud, refusing to get defeated by the water that seemed to engulf her each attempt. Her hands worked with a feverish determination and her eyes told that she had been at her task the whole night.

Feeling her mother’s eyes on her, she looked up and smiled and that moment, her mother’s heart lit up with warmth she had not felt in years.

If her daughter could see a flicker of light in the darkest night after the storm, she had to be blind to not see the radiance of the morning after. She knelt down beside Parul and gave strength to her small hands working on their home and bit by bit they built hope again. 

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