Life's Like That

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Wonder Years

What IS with little children these days? My 7 year old cousin has been going around telling her friends "Jaano aamar didiyar na ekta Rahul aachey" (Translation: You know my didi has a Rahul) and giggling knowingly. She and her friends now have great respect for me...I have a boyfriend you see. She wants to know if Im going to marry Rahul and when Im going to do so. She has already told her mother that she wants to wear an outfit similar to Aishwarya Rai's in Kajra Re and wants to paint her nails scarlet for that joyous occassion. (needless to say, my aunt fainted at the thought of her only daughter dressed a la Ms. Rai in that song). Oh and before I forget, a boy aged 7.5 years, living in the same neighbourhood has "proposed" to her...she of course turned it down because she doesnt really like boys.

When I was 7 years old, I firmly believed that my dolls came alive at night and played among themsleves like Enid Blyton's Amelia Jane, I believed in fairies and elves and Santa Claus and pixies and the magic Faraway Tree , I lived in a Famous Five world and went around tapping the walls of my house in Purulia hoping to find a secret passage which would obviously lead to hidden treasure. I played school school with my dolls ( the walls served as my blackboard, will post a picture of that wall soon) and the only TV I watched was Walt Disney cartoons on Sunday morning!

Now Im not denying the fact that I might have been exceptionally naive at that time, but my point is that children in general seem to be waaayyy ahead of us at that age. Its not necessarily a bad thing though. I look at my 14 year old sister (yeah she is 12 full years younger than me) and this little cousin of mine and see how smart and confident they are, so much more savvy and street smart, and reasonably well informed about the world at large. Which is good isnt it? Wish I could keep that aspect and do away with the pakamo (precocoious..is that the right spelling?) aspect of it.

My little sister (yes 14 is little according to me so just shut up) is now causing us a lot of worry by refusing to eat. She is hell bent on avoiding food in general and when we do manage to pin her down to a meal she eats just about enough to sustain a small sparrow. She needs to maintain her figure. (That does not deter her from eating chocolates and pastries though...she gorges on those and skips regular meals to compensate). Of late she has confided certain secrets in me which have left me a little amused and verrrrry worried (have promised not to divulge her secrets to anyone..so my lips are sealed!) Things are soo different from when we were kids. Hell, I don't even understand the language these kids speak these days...what on earth is beyblade..please explain.

Speaking of language, I have been reading some blogs written by school kids..and have also overheard some phone conversations between my sister and her friends, and GOOD LORD!!! I wouldnt have dared to use the kind of language these kids seem to. (Im not sure if I even knew the f-word in school...I could have been exceptionally naive..but there you are). Sayoni, correct me if Im wrong, but I don't think the f word was such an integral part of our vocabulary when we were in school. (I do remember saying F*** very loudly on Ballygunge Phari once...and scandaliasing Sudp and you because people gave us these really dirty looks, but that was much later..we were in college then). But to my sisters credit, she was pretty scandalised with her friends and reacted quite sharply to the language...thank god!!

I have overheard whispered conversations about boyfriends and kisses and I know (never mind how) that modified versions of spin the bottle are popular. Which is fine..who am I to judge, my first boyfriend was at age 15. We held hands and wrote silly notes and made loooong phone calls and all of that nonsense. I also grew out of it soon. I wonder why I ever wanted to date him in the first place.

But it was somehow different for us you know, it was more innocent..one didnt hear of MMS scandals (I know we didnt have mobile phones then, but you get the idea right?) one (at least people I knew) didnt use the f word like a punctuation mark in ones conversations, one didnt stop eating in order to look like an anorexic model, ones friends teased one about ones weight but did not prevent one from eating.

Im not very cioncerend about the school kids on the blogosphere, I don't give a damn about my sisters friends, I am slightly concerend about my cousin but she has a long way to go ebfore that turns into serious worry. I am however very very worried about my sis. I am not sure how to deal with her, telling her she is too young to diet etc is obviously the worst approach, I remember my teenage years only too well, how I hated being told that. How do I walk the tightrope between being a friend, and an elder sister? Why did she have to grow up? I miss my baby sister :-(

Friday, November 25, 2005

The elixir of youth...

They say that it is not a good idea to write about work related things on ones blog...may lead to blog author being sacked from job...but what can one do if one witnesses all sorts of things during the course of ones work and absolutely needs to write about it and get it out of ones system??? I mean no harm..really!!
Yes, well, I know Im rambling, just didnt want to begin every new post with the word "I"..so pompous don't you think??
Now that thats out of the way..I went to a Botox workshop today. Botox, in case you didnt know, is this protein thingy that one gets injected into ones face to get rid of unsightly lines and wrinkles, for example crows feet, frown lines on ones forehead, laugh lines around ones mouth etc. Botox is also used to treat migraines, sweaty palms and even paralysis. It absolutely safe and it does make ones face look smooth and unlined. A client of ours provides this service and I was at this workshop to see how it happens so that I would have the know how when I speak to the media.
So I went to witness this workshiop. I was the youngest, and most unwrinkled person in that room. I was also the only person in that room who had absolutely no intentions of ever trying Botox, I don't care if I'm covered from head to toe in wrinkles, I still won't!
They inject Botox into your face. With syringes!! Near your eyes!!! I understand that there are certain medical situations where injections are necessary (although, I would ideally like to avoid such situations unless I was in actual danger of dying..you know..injection or death type situation),, but why people would voluntarily want to get things injected into their faces is beyond me!! Its not even a one time affair. You need to get it done every 6-8 months to remain unlined!!
I stared horrorstruck at the poor woman lying on the table, wincing with every move the doctor made and I almost squealed in pain when she actually injected the stuff, my hair stood up on end and my eyes popped out of my head(not exaggerating..I swear!). But even through my terror, I noticed that the older women in that room were positvely excited. They stood up, leaned forward to catch a better view, nodded approvingly and asked sooooo many questions. Each one of them was there because they were actually contemplating Botox shots!! And these weren't your Pooja Bedi type Pg3 socialites, these weren't film stars, these weren't stinking rich corporate wives. These were regular ordinary middle class/uppermiddle class housewives and working women. they looked like Mrs. So and So next door, one lady had a striking resemblance to my college professor.
Incredible isnt it? The attempt to keep age at bay is no longer restricted to "high society" and film stars. Apparantly the demand for Botox and other age control solutions has shot up in the last couple of years. These solutions are not exactly cheap..each Botox session can leave your wallet lighter by Rs. 6000 and more. And you would need a session every 6-8 months for the rest of your life; as you grow older you would need more and more Botox and therefore costs would increase too. You are also allowing foreign substances to be injected into your face....near your eyes, into your forhead, around your mouth. None of these seem to deter people these days.
And before you start commenting about the ridiculous lenghts women go to to look good, let me tell you that about 30% of customers who visit this particluar client of mine are men...they go for all sorts of things ranging from acne treatment to Botox ( most men apparantly want to get rid of their crows feet..which is quite sad I think, because I always find men who get these wrinkles around their eyes are very very hot....totally sexy...), and even laser hair removal...for their chests, and even their faces..shaving is apparantly a pain for the modern man (just goes to show how silly men can be...what's a man without a sexy stubble? not a beard mind you,and defintely not a moustache...but a stubble that he can gently rub over your neck and back and....umm...well..nevermind...).
Im totally impressed with the average persons dedication towards looking young (no wonder age control creams are doing so well). Im totally impressed by the adventurous mindset of India's middle aged population when it comes to beauty. I have to admit that even though I was the youngest in that room, I was also the most conservative. I found the idea of allowing people to inject things into my face absolutely terrifying. I am not very open to the idea of laser hair removal, Im not comfortable with injecting proteins or my skin being subjected to all sorts of technogical machine related processes for the sake of looking good, I like the idea of the good old fashioned facials and face packs involving stuff that is external and easily washed off. But then again, as the snooty old lady with too much make up pointed out, maybe Im exactly that..too young and therefore not in need of any of this stuff. Maybe 20 years from now I will be in that room on that chair waiting for my Botox shots.
Maybe...maybe not. Who can tell the future? All I know is that as of now, Im determined to let Nature take its course and age as gracefully as I can!! Considering the alternative is injections...with syringes...on my face...near my eyes.....I have a gut feeling I will stick to this resolution!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

cribcribcribcrib

Its raining!! AGAIN!!! Haven't we had enough rain to last a lifetime already?? I'm sick of the rain. Its soo wet..and sooooo cold!! I want it to stop raining. I want it to be bright and sunny and HOT. I hate this cold!

Yes, I am extremely gifted at cribbing and complaining. My one talent. And I'm in the mood to crib and cry some more. Here goes, things that are annoying/disturbing me right now:

  • I fell down on a table yesterday and hurt..umm..my posterior shall we say? It is still hurting. Certain rude, unsympathetic people saw fit to laugh at me (with their equally ill mannered unsympathetic siblings). You know who you are, and let me warn you, you shall suffer for being so cruel.
  • I was prevented from eating popcorn for dinner by the aforementioned cruel unsympathetic people. Again something that they shall suffer for.
  • Did I mention its very cold? I cannot feel my nose and my feet have turned into little blocks of ice. I think I should invest in some socks.
  • I have been working on PR plans for various clients from morning and Im tired of strategy, media plan, target media, suggested activities and the like. And I still have one more plan to complete.
  • Annoying man next to me. Uff!! Ki oshojjo lok re baba!! He has been talking incessant rubbish from morning. Can I just turn around and SLAP him??? Would do everybody concerned a world of good really.
  • My hands are cold too. Why is the AC on full blast??
  • That horrible orange puliogare I had for lunch. Once it went cold it tasted exactly like boiled shoelaces.
  • I want popcorn but all I can get right now is overpriced steamed sweet corn. And that too if I go out, risk my life trying to cross the road and get it myself.
  • I want to buy 8 new books and I have absolutely no money.
  • I have to work on Saturday.
  • I cannot afford to buy a car right now, which means I will continue to be at the mercy of Bangalore auto drivers. Although I did meet a reasonably nice one on Sunday. He informed me that he regarded all his lady passengers with brotherly affection (something he verified by pointing out several signs that read "welcome my sister") and that all he wanted from his passengers ( both male and female as he pointed out) was a nice conversation. We conversed intellegently about the state of Bangalore roads and the uselessness of Dharam Singh. He was kind enough to enquire if I had eaten lunch and dropped me off at my destination with a firm handshake and "Bye bye enjoy your lunch party, I always remember all my passengers". (Slightly alarming isnt it?)

Thats all for now I think. Will start work on the last remaining plan.

PS: quote of the day:

Branch head to annoying man : " I will have to slap you is you don't stop saying such ridiculous things"

hehe..I feel a little better.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Across the road into the madness..

How do people manage to cross roads in this city? How? How?
Im terrible at crossing roads. I get flustered and scared to death by automobiles bigger than a Maruti 800. I once grabbed this man next to me and dragged him across Park Street...all because I got very scared by this large bus driven by a homicidal maniac which was bearing down on me. Don't ask me why I did it, I think the idea of holding someone's hand while crossing was vaguely comforting. If I remember correctly, once I reached the other side I looked highly indignant and said "Eki!! I don't know you" and proceeded to walk off in a huff with him gaping after me. (Wish I could apologise to him, poor thing). When in Hyderabad I used to stand helplessly on Abids main road till one of my nicer classmates held my hand and took me across (Hyderabad has to have the worst drivers ever!! They seem to seriously think that the red light is a signal for them to start moving).
Anyways, the point is that crossing roads is something I'm unutterably inefficient at. I mostly get about town by waiting for the light to change to red and cars to stop moving ...yes I take forever to cross roads. But now, half the roads in Bangalore seem to have been changed into one ways and the traffic just NEVER stops. There is no traffic light on these roads and vehicles keep coming at full speed. Don't believe me? Try Richmond Road (any point after Vellara Junction before the flyover), try Cunningham road, try even two way roads like Airport Road and Ulsoor Road Cross and tell me if you were able to cross without being afraid of being run over. if you are able to achieve this then you are truly worthy of my admiration, respect, awe..etc etc...can't think of any more words right now, but you get the picture right?
I still have some very kind friends who hold my hand and take me across (or in R's case, hold the back of my neck in a vice like grip and shove me across..jaake bole gheti dhore dhakka...extremely rude btw), but I live on Richmond Road and work on Cunningham Road so situations often require me to attempt a solo crossing...which is very stressful. Ei toh, just half an hour back I almost got run over by a tempo traveller. . I survived by yelping a lot and scurrying across in a moment of blind panic. Tempo traveller swerved, cars screeched to a halt and auto drivers of varying sizes and shapes swore vehemently at me :-( no exaggerations. Really.
I can go on and on and on about traffic and roads and how dangerous it all is, but I think I should go home now. Which means that I have to cross Cunningham Road again!! How people!! How do you all manage to achieve this task so effortlessly? Please please share your secrets! :-(

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Im horribly depressed. Few days ago my colleagues asked me to come up with some ideas for the launch of a new product . I asked suitably intellegent questions about target market, USP, time of launch etc, and proceeded to say the following: "Haan so Christmas time pe hai na. .so play around the charity angle, associate with some childrens NGO, get some kids over..nice party etc, get them to launch it. That should work with the media".
I cannot believe I could come up with this. Has my job de sentisized me to this extent? Am I so completely caught up with getting media coverage that I am turning into the kind of person I claim to detest? Insensitive cold superbitch?
I saw a story on Star News sometime back, on the launch of Jeh Wadia's Go Air. It seemed like a typical PR idea, get a group of terminally ill children (wonder if the PR brains behind this thought, the smaller the kids the better..sympathy works with the media...coz the children were really young, 1year old, 2 year old...) and take them on Go Air's inaugural flight, showcase Go Air as this sensitive, socially responsible corporate, and of course achieve the end objective...fantastic media coverage. Perfect. Except that things went horribly wrong. Maureen Wadia didnt show up. Go Air made these poor little children and their parents wait outside the terminus...they were not even allowed to go into the more comfortable lounge area...little kids with IV drips on were made to squat on the cold hard floor for hours on end..waiting for Mrs. Wadia to finish applying her makeup and show up. And oh boy!! did Star News play it up!!! A one hour exclusive only on this. Heart wrenching visuals of ill children waiting, crying, harassed anguished parents, and the icing on the cake, Jeh Wadia's UNBELIEVABLY insensitive comment. Something on the lines of these kids have never been on a plane and we propose to give them that opportunity. They are anyways terminally ill and don't have too long to live. What difference does afew hours make to them!!'
I remember being SHOCKED at this!! I remember thinking that not just Go Air and Jeh Wadia, Star News too is exploiting these kids. Noone gives a damn about the children...all they care about is corporate image, media coverage, increased TRP's.How insensitive, I thought. Thank god Im not the kind of PR professional who will come up with such ideas I thought.
Arent I????
MSM plays on human interest stories...sensationalising human tragedies, and human suffering for increased TRP/ readership/circulation etc. And people like me help them do exactly that. It was someone like me who came up with the idea of exploiting those poor little children, it was someone like me who said..fantastic!! media will love this!! and proceeded with the event. .it was someone exactly like me!!! For the first time since I started working I HATE doing what I do for a living. I always hated the exaggerating, begging, pleading, convincing...now I'm ashamed of it all. More than anything else I'm ashamed of myself for letting the system beat me into submission and letting it meddle with my sensibilities. Im ashamed of the fact that I don't have the strength to say I QUIT and try to start afresh. Im ashamed of the fact that I have become a slave to the money. I cannot quit my job, change my profession...I need the money.
The worst thing is, I can't blame my job for everything. As a person I seem to be becoming more and more heartless. Read Rimi's blog and was uncomfortably reminded that when I heard of the blasts in Pakistan, my first thought was "Good. they deserve some of that." The fact that innocent Pakistanis died made no difference to me. My god!! What kind of a creature am I turning into? I can't even distinguish between terrorists and innocent people whose only crime is that they belong to the same country as the terrorist or belong to the same faith? And I have never lost a single person dear to me to terrorist attacks thank god!! If Im capable of thinking on these lines, how can I blame the father who lost his child in the Delhi blasts for thinking like me??
Whats happening to me? How could I have changed so much? I don't like this me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen meet the queen of faux pas

I am the undoubtedly the Queen of faux pas. I have a talent for embarassing myself ( and in this case, others too). I have perfected the art. Why things like this keep happening to me I reaaaallllllly don't know. ( Note to self: I donno...maybe because you persist in acting without looking, or thinking, or reveiwing your course of action you moron!!!!)
I have sent an ickily romantic (for lack of a better word) text message to the boyfriend's boss instead of the boyfriend.
There!! I said it!!!Now laugh all you want. Condemn me if you will. The message starts with personalised nickname version of his name (poor thing) which would of course leave no doubts in his boss' mind as to who it was intended for.
Before you ask me why it is that I have the boss' number saved,. lemme explain. His office went to Goa for a holiday. Since his phone is not on roaming he called me from his boss (N) phone to tell me that he had reached. Being super efficient I saved the number just in case I needed to get in touch with him urgently ( you never know, what if I had an accident and wanted to spend my last dying minutes talking to him?) . Anyways, this number was saved right before his number. And today after he got back, I wanted to send him this rather meaningless silly message about how glad I was that he is back etc and I sent it to N instead.(I think my father reads my blog so will not get into the nitty gritties of the message, although that would explain my total embarassment at this point) .
I would like to die right now. Would jumped off the building if I wasnt sure that all that would achieve was a few broken bones and lotsss of pain. Im mortified!!! I never want to meet N....EVER!!! In fact, R, if you want to end this relationship right now I totally understand. I mean really! Who would want to continue to date me knowing fully well that I'm capable of similar faux pas in the future? After all this is not the first time I've done something like this and I cannot guarantee it will be the last.Like I said, I am exceptionally talented at this.
Did I tell you guys about the time I called R's mom instead of my own mom? (Okkkk enough of the wisecracks already.. their numbers were similar). Early in the morning. This was much before they came to know of my existence (The story of why I knew her number is very similar to the "why I knew the boss' number" one..will not go into that again). I realized my mistake soon after I had dialled and hung up immediately. To my complete horror she called back saying "I got a missed call from this number". Quick witted that I am, I wriggled out of that one with this inspired reply: " I am sorry madam. This is a STD booth. I don't know who called you". (I had called from my landline thank god).
There was also the incident where I forwarded a dirty joke to a journalist instead of my friend with the same name. The journalist was much amused (and kept begging me to send him more and even sent me some similar things) though my boss was not..I was subjected to a lecture on being responsible and not taking the media lightly (Fine so this was my mistake, but come onnnn...they are people tooo, why must we treat them as gods? Im sure they too enjoy the occassional dirty joke).
Oh! and just last week there was another incident involving emailed forwards. And the countless times I have said the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong company..or run up to a person on the road, slapped him/her enthusiastically on the back and said hi only to realize that it was a complete stranger and not a friend as I had thought. I was also slapped on the face by a mad woman bang on Gariahat More once...why she wanted to slap me I don't know, and its not very relevant to this particular post so please ignore.
Anyways, I am utterly embarassed. Don't even want to know what happened when she read the message. *hangs head in shame*. I think I shall go home now. Im sooo sorry about all of this. I shall try to be a better and more careful person from now on. Promise.
:-(

Friday, November 11, 2005

movies etc...

I watched two movies over the past couple of weeks. One left me confused as to the the point of it all, the other..well that left me wanting to laugh and cry simultaneously and admit myself in the nearest mental asylum for having bought tickets for it in the first place.

One : Riturparno Ghosh's Antarmahal. When Bengali movies are screened in Bangalore, non resident Bongs like myself get excited..and when one's Punjabi boyfriend suggests that we see this movie together,(subtitles you see) non resident Bengalis like myself do not argue much and just grab the opportunity in both hands and run to watch the damn movie. (Please note: I don't have too many Bengali friends in this city and therefore lose out on some Bengali fun like plays and movies and Chondrobindoo concerts due to lack of people to go with..parents are not always suitable companions).

Im EXTREMELY glad I didn't go for this movie with my mother...or my 13 year old sister (thank you R..ur such a honeybun sometimes...). My aunt put it aptly when asked for her opinion : "Ritupornography"!!!!!

Seriously..one or maybe two explicit bedroom scene to demonstrate the new bride's (Soha) trauma and the heartlessness of the zamindar (Jackie Shroff) I understand...maybe even appreciate (even the 'heaving and panting just before the orgasm' bit) But when a self proclaimed, woman centric movie, that is supposed to depict the new bride's emotional, psychological and sexual trauma at the hands of her husband, merely focuses on the sex and nothing else...it is a bit of a problem. What was the point of all the sex Mr. Ghosh? Could it be a ploy to draw audiences to the theatres? Could a otherwise talented filmaker like you be stooping to such lows? Im afraid I must think that you are.

While we are at it..what was the point of the movie? What was it trying to say? That torture like this happened in pre independance India? That polygamy existed? That men in those times were chauvisnt pigs unable to accept that he is incapable of having children? We know all of that..hell not much has changed even in post independance India. Was it an attempt to talk about a woman's desires and needs? If so, then the gorgeous Soha Ali Khan (she looks exactly like her mother...so preettttty) has completely failed to deliver the goods. She looks beautiful but vacant and devoid of expression (maybe her mother can teach her to express and emote with those lovely eyes). The 2 or three vague scenes with Abhishek Bachchan did not drive home that point either. Although the scene where Rupa Ganguly goes to the new poto in a wet sari...now THAT scene showed flashes of the Ripuparno Ghosh I expected to see...it was poignant, and heartbreaking in its simplicity.

Which brings me to the actors, Jackie Shroff is good. He is the very picture of the decandent zamindar obsessed with having a male heir and having the most impressive Durga Puja in the area. Will not dwell too much on Soha. Abhishek Bachchan does not do much...but is SOOOOO HOTTTT (the scene where he swims in the pond.....oooooohhh...*ahem! gets a grip on self*) the star of the show undoubtedly is Rupa Ganguly, she is brilliant in her potrayal of the ignored first wife. The scene where she breaks down on discovereing that she has her periods and can't therefore conceive was superb (although we didn't really need to see all that blood streaming down her legs you know...kind of gross. We, being reasonably intellegent, would have understood about the periods even without the graphic visual). Hers is a complex charecter and she moves the audience with her performance.

All in all, I don't know how to react to this movie. It simply had no point. Much more is expected from a director of Rituparna Ghosh's calibre. Watch it, but with people with whom you can watch sex sex and more sex. Good performances save the movie from falling flat on its face I think.

The other movie: Kyon Ki. Do NOT ask me WHY I went to see this!!!!!! I have no excuses to offer except temporary insanity!!!!!!! If it makes any difference to you, I came away witha splitting headache and as I mentioned earlier the uncontrollable wish to admit myself into a mental asylum!! To call it garbage would be insulting the word garbage. I think my ability to suffer in silence was broken when Suniel Shetty (who in the movie Kareeena has just jilted for her mentally il patient Salman) drives up to Kareena as she is running away from home (eloping with Sallu who will meet her at some place) and says "Bahar bahut sardi hai, chalo mein tumhe *whatever Salman's name was in the movie* tak chor doon"!!!!!!! THAT, my friends was when I started laughing and crying hysterically and started begging R to take me to NIMHANS. Horrible. Watch it if you must..don't say I didnt warn you!!! *shudders at the memory*

PS: Lest Im accused of unfairly criticising this work of cinematic magic,lemme just list down the good points about it:
a) Salman is fully clothed throughout the movie( weeellll...one leg of his asylum pants is permanently rolled up..but then he is mad in the movie so its justified..and by Sallu standards its almost nunlike)
b)Kareenawears some very nice cotton saris. And she is all freshly scrubbed and wears very little makeup and actually manages to look kind of pretty.
c)Rimii Sen is rather pretty and has an expressive face(she really needs to work on her Hindi diction though, that "tickticktick" dialogue made me want to slap her)
d)um....err...arent three points enough??

Friday, November 04, 2005

of childhood.....

Been looking at old albums and thinking a lot about my growing up years...I had a wonderful childhood. Was the only child for 12 years (which is when my sister was born) and was much pampered by all and sundry. When I think of my childhood the first thing that comes to mind is Purulia. Purulia is a very small town in West Bengal, (remember the Purulia arms drop case?), it was also where my grandparents (Dadai and Maam) lived and where I spent all my holidays when I was little.
I loved Purulia...I even chose Purulia over Europe as a summer holiday destination once( I know! I know! But I was 4 years old at the time so give me a break will ya). My visa was done and we were to leave for the Continent in a few days when I cried and wailed and demanded to be sent to Purulia instead. My parents, recognizing a golden opportunity when they saw one, immedietaly sent me over to Dadai Maam and took off on their own. I stayed with my grandparents for 2 whole months and despite the fact that I was only 4 years old, I cried for my mother only once..(when I had a very bad nosebleed in the middle of the night)..a fact that my grandmother still proudly recounts. Such was the excitement of that nondescript little town.
The excitement started from the last day of school because I knew Dadai would come and take me away the next day. The excitement was in the porota alur chechki that my mother packed to be eaten late at night on the train. The excitement was in waking up early the next morning to see that the landscape outside had changed from the smoggy dreariness of Calcutta to the dew soaked fresh lush green of the Bengal village. The excitement was in each quaint station we passed as we neared our destinations...stations with quaint names like "Anaara", "Kustaur" "Bagalia", "Gordhrubeshwar" and finally "Charra"..the last station before Purulia. the excitement was in those early morning rickshaw rides from the station to our house in Cooks Compound..watching the women lineup before the tubewells, men stare at us as we rode past (people in small town Bengal used to stare at anyone who looked like they were from a different place..especially if they looked "shohure...city bred..I think they still do) kids run behind the rickshaw yelling all sorts of things....
I was the uncrowned princess during my vacations. My smallest wish was Dadai's command. If in the hot summer months I said that Orange Rasna was something I loved, by evening the servant would have been sent to Chowk Bazar (the local market) Rasna bought and made and presented to me in a big kaancher glass amidst much excitement( things like Rasna were too modern and big city ish for my grandparents...so called for great excitement and apprehension about how to make it..specially for my grandmom). Ditto for Uncle Chips (Lays had not entered the market then). If I expressed a desire to eat icecreams, my grandparents would take me to the only shop that sold icecreams where I would consume large quantities of mango icecreams (can’t remember ever eating any other flavour).

Dadai would take me to the circus in winter. Maam would make the most amaaaazing alur bora and alur dom and koraishutir kochuri. She would also sneak fish into my dal bhaat….in a last ditch effort to make me eat maach. Much accusations and suspicions would be raised when I suddenly found a kaanta in my vegetarian fare. But she always had an excuse ready and I somehow never pushed the issue too much.
Unpleasant things like holiday homework would be completed under Dadais supervision and be gotten over and done with as soon as possible before I went to play with my many friends. We would play outside till it grew dark, wherein we would retire to our big “boshar ghor” (drawing room) and play indoor games and talk till dinner time.

Summer in Purulia meant the juicy langda aam from our own aam gach (mango tree) and the yummiest lichu and jaam I have ever eaten..and HUGE bowls of homemade mishti doi after lunch. Summer meant dancing around to catch the hail during the sudden shilabrishti(hailstorm) and almost being blown away by the wind during the kalboishakhi storms, as I stood on the teen tolar chaat (terrace) awestruck as the majestic beauty of this sudden summer storm. (Have not seen anything that beautiful in Calcutta or Bangalore). Winter meant lots of gorom khichudi and water for my bath being heated in that ancient black kettle which was as old as the house, and basking in the sun in the do tolar chaat with Maam after lunch..and eating gorom gorom vegetable chop and hot unadulterated milk. Winter meant Dadai tucking me tightly into the thickest lep (blanket) available and falling asleep with the reassuring feel of him hand on my head. Pujo…pujo meant hanging out in the parar pujo with my friends. Pujo meant going to seethe Jele Parar thakur and the Purulia Club thakur and the Jail Barir thakur in a cycle rickshaw with my family. Pujo meant the yummmmy mishti for Doshomi…pujo meant my chotodadus family (grandfathers brother) coming over and Bijoyar pronaam and writing “Sree Sree Durgoi Nomo” three times each on a “ kola pata”..banana leaf ( a family tradition which has sadly been discontinued. Before I learnt to write Bengali Dadai would write it for me in English and I would copy it on the banana leaf with a scratchy old fashioned quill…later after I learnt to write bangla, Dadai would still write it out for me so that I would get the spelling right)….

When my vacations drew to an end, I would start getting sniffly. The sniffles would turn into full blown tears on the train back home. I would cry and cry and cry for the smallest things for 15-20 days after returning to Calcutta. Ma being ever impatient (and also having to put up with most of my tearful fits) would scold and threaten never to send me to Purulia again if I behaved like this. Baba would say “aar toh kota mash tarporei aabar jaabi” (just a few months more and you can go again). The thought would comfort me somewhat. ..until next time…

The house is still there…my uncles family lives there now (Dads cousin..chotodadus son). Thankfully its not been replaced by a multistoreyed house , thankfully my family still lives there and I can still call it home and visit anytime I want….but I don’t want to. To go to my house and not see the ancient gigantic fridge that’s older than my father, to not see the familiar cabinets in the kitchen, to see that my drawings on the walls have been painted over (I had this bad habit of drawing on walls…and the walls of our house in Purulia were adorned with drawings of birds and caricatures of my grandmother issuing instructions to the maids..I once told Dadai not to paint them over, and for as long as he and Maam lived there, the drawings were left intact)…worse of all to go there and not see my Dadai pacing the puber baranda (balcony on the east side of the house) ….that would be awful . The last time I went to Purulia was for Dadai;s shradhdho….it was the most painful experience of my life….he was everywhere in that house…from the handwritten instructions on the emergency light to the dressing gown in the alna to the smell of his hairoil on his pillow….I think all of us cried everytime we saw something that reminded us that he was gone forever.

No..I don’t want to go to Purulia now. .somethings are better left as memories. My Dadai and my Puruliar bari are safe inside my memories….I want to leave them there. My Maam lives in Calcutta now with my Dad…she doesn’t cook anymore…she is too old…but the way her eyes light up every time she sees me….that will never change. I wish my sister could have enjoyed Purulia the way I have, I wish my own children could enjoy the experience of getting away from the city the way I did....I guess they will have to depend on my memories and stories...thank god for memories.