La Dolce Vita – The magical Amalfi Coast!

Two summers back, I had spent a memorable  time in Italy, Europe. While the rest of Italy remains well charted out in the Indian travel scene (that includes the bus full of people doing Europe darshan), Amalfi and the beautiful coastline of Southern Italy was quite a chance discovery for me.

We were staying in Germany and I used to switch on to German television channels to learn Deutsch. It was a trick that my “lehrerin” (teacher in Deutsch) from language school had suggested. Germans are known for their wanderlust and it is during one of those binge watching of travel shows on television, that I discovered the dreamily romantic and the holiday hot spot for the rich and famous – Amalfi Coast.

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#HomeKahon – The story of my Indian Home

The story of designing my first home from scratch.

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They always talk about first love, but rarely in our documented history do we prefer talking about our other firsts?

The first job, the first salary, first car, first home….

You may call me severely materialistic, but all these hold a very special place in my heart, just like my first “Aam Panna” I shared with my husband, the first story that got published or the first ‘Phuchka’ that I had in Calcutta after returning from Europe after a year and a half.

Designing and making a ‘home’ out of a ‘house’ is always a challenge, especially if it is your ‘first’ one. You want it to be special and unique. My wishes were no different. I was a never a big ‘home decor’ enthusiast.

In fact, I often scorned at my mother who would scold me or my sister at the very sight of us sluggisly sitting on the sofa and squishing away her cushions. I was always the lethargic kid (“lyadhkhor”) as they call in colloquial Bengali), who loved her sleep.

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Making memories together….

I am writing for the #ShareTheLoad activity at BlogAdda.com in association with Ariel.

Household work in India is often undermined as ‘no work’. I remember having a conversation with a friend where we were discussing how being a ‘housewife’ in India meant that you are completely unproductive and have nothing to do in life. Even a few years back, people rarely understood the value of wholesome support that our mothers’ and probably their mothers’ generation have put into our upbringing and running an entire household. The house continued to run like well oiled machinery, with everything in place – well dusted living rooms, book shelves, warm home cooked food and ironed clothes in the morning, and yet our mothers never got paid anything for all that. I realised the true value of that wonderful support system when I ventured out to make a home of my own.

It is often told that when you educate a woman, you educate a generation and with our generation, women became aware that it was important for every human being to have world of their own. And so today we are taking flights in every sphere of life. Needless to say, all that would not have been possible without the strong support that we get from our better halves – our beloved husbands!

I got married 3 years back and I wanted to be a strong home maker just like my mother. But I had other ambitions too. I have a day job as a lawyer and I follow my creative pursuits in the form of writing. I love doing things for my home to make it a cocoon of peace and love, but sometimes I am short on time or patience. It is probably the story of every young family today.

My husband has been my strongest pillar of support since our marriage. He has always encouraged me and supported me in all my ventures. Apart from the moral support, he has shared the load of household chores with me. I remember I was the hesitant one to ask him to do some housework just after our marriage since we have traditionally seen female members of our family doing everything related to the household. But it was he who insisted that we sit down and sort out all our ‘to do’s and responsibilities’ for the week.

So while I was good at cooking, I hated doing the laundry and he took up the job. He appreciated that I had a career of my own and when we both returned dog tired from office after work, it was not only my responsibility to make the evening tea or cook the dinner. We both took turns and as a result, we enjoyed the best of both of our culinary talents. I am the more traditional cook while he remains the experimental one.

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The DDLJ trail – In search of the Bollywood fairy tale in Switzerland

Every year thousands of people from all over the world visit Switzerland and a vast majority of those tourists are people from the Indian subcontinent. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most beautiful countries of the world. But apart from that there is one very important thing that has influenced every one of us – the ones who grew up on the staple diet of Bollywood, SRK and the nostalgia of the 90’s, to visit the nation. No prizes for guessing the answer – Yashraj Films.

We have to accept it that when Sridevi romanced a ‘starting to be potbellied’ and sweater clad Rishi Kapoor, while wearing impeccable Chiffon sarees and pearls and singing – “Tere mere hoton pe meethein, meethein geet Mitwa” in Chandni in the lush green Swiss valleys – we all wanted to be there and do a role play!

And then came the game changer called “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” (DDLJ) which has probably defined romance for everyone who belongs to my generation. When a young SRK flashes his dimpled smile and looks at his best onscreen partner Kajol to mouth the golden words – “Koi baat nahi Senorita, bade bade deshon mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hain“, we have no other alternative left other than going weak on our knees.

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Relinquished

I

Dalia stood at the very end of the balcony that she once called her own. Like this city, this house, the family- this balcony too did not belong to her anymore. She had left the city and this house out of her own will. Customs told her that she had severed all ties with the family that had been her own since birth. Apparently, she had relinquished her own “Gothra” to take up her husband’s one, during her wedding.

All that happened, ties of a lifetime were severed and nobody noticed, not even Dalia. Her one business decision could determine the accountable balance sheet profits and losses, but here she was unable to perform the last rites of her maternal grandmother during her “Shraadh” ceremony as she belonged to a different “Gothra”. The Purohit told Dalia that she could have performed the ceremony along with her mother, who herself had curtailed rights of mourning for her own mother, if she was still unmarried.

And that precisely gave her the freedom to not offer ritualistic holy water to the soul of  one person who had seen her journey from the shy girl in the primary section of her school who felt scared about informing her teacher that she needed to use the toilet to the one who could herald the attention of an entire board room full of people.

Dalia had heard stories that even before she was born, her maternal grandmother had started stitching dresses for her as she was almost sure that Goddess Lakshmi would bless her eldest daughter this time. Dalia had two elder brothers who enjoyed almost as much attention from her grandmother, but it was she who was her ‘Dimma’s’ favourite. She was almost overjoyed when Dalia got through one of the premium B school of the country and fetched a big ticket job. She was even happier when Dalia got married. It was on that fateful day that Dimma had told Dalia that all her wishes had come true and she could die peacefully now – the day Dalia officially relinquished her right to ritualistically mourn Dimma’s death.

II

A few guests had arrived. Dalia’s parents had preferred not calling many guests as her maternal uncle’s family was still in mourning. Some of them asked Dalia about her life. She smiled and they smiled back. From a distance she watched both her brothers and her mother completing the rituals and offering a “Pranaam” towards the departed soul.

She offered a prayer too.

It was that moment when she realised that she could manage mergers and acquisitions at ease, but for her own self a mere “Kanyadaan” is enough. Enough to relinquish her right to mourn her own grandmother’s death whom she was most attached to and probably sometime later in life, her right to mourn her own parents’ death too.

And she still did not understand how can a few mantras change her “Gothra”, her lineage and the very bloodline she belonged to, since her birth.

Anniversaries!

Ours was an arranged marriage.

Or that is how the society prefers to call it. If you ask me, I am yet to understand the difference between a ‘love marriage’ and an ‘arranged marriage’. Can a  marriage survive without love, is a much debated question. The naysayers opine that marriage is the end of all the romance. Well! I married early in life. I was 23. But that does not mean I did not have an informed opinion about everything under the sun. I was always very clear about the kind of life partner I would ideally want. And that somewhere made my friends, family and peers believe that I was the ‘love marriage’ kind of girl. Presumptions! I tell you. They kill many a love story.

In my mind, my ideal man was an obnoxious mix and match of Tagore’s Amit Ray, Vikram Seth’s Kabir Durrani, Will Darcy (this had to be there!), Sourav Ganguly, Shahrukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan and what not! Happens! And after all that I met my husband….one who was self confessed “Bihari bong” at heart. One who knew his gadgets, technology, world war history and trivia and financial equations better than the Tagore’s “Amaro porano jaha chay/ Tumi tai, tumi tai go”. That was one song that I had intended to sing for my dream man after I met him. And I fell in love with this man, head over heels!!!!

Love is a wonderful thing, actually. And one should always be open about it….in my case, yes! it was the parents who talked first…but I would not have married him if I did not find an absolute crazy reflection of myself in him. And the opposites too! Needless to say this works out in a vice versa. We talked and talked….and talked..exchanged old fashioned love letters (emails!) across different time zones and what not. Did some crazy stuff during the short lived courtship period. And we still do.

There comes the second volley of questions. You guys are so mushy and stuff…are you sure it was an arranged marriage? And I have a serious objection to that…in fact calling any marriage by names. Love can happen in your life at any time. In our case, it was the matchmaking….in your case it might be the college sweetheart you later decide to marry. But one thing for sure, no marriage can survive without the ‘love’ factor. And the absolutely madness that two people need to share. After all it is all part of the madness called life!

Two years have gone by since the day I wore that laal benarsai sari, decked up, took the “paan” leaves and exchanged sweet nothings with him under an overtly decorated flowery mandap (stage). There were whistles and catcalls from the friends which we always laugh about…and there was the absolutely delicious food which we could not eat due to all the tiredness. And there were friends and well wishers. Some of who who had travelled all the way from different corners of the country to be with us for our big day. I had to deal with a big make up disaster during the reception in Jamshedpur, but apart from that, everything else was perfect…grand and absolutely the way he had planned for me. There were numerous gifts from both sides but the treasured ones are the family members and well wishers which we both added to our kitty.

The memories of that day and the Reception day are still afresh in our minds. And that makes our parents think “Oh! my god! 2 years have gone?” A similar thought which often strikes us too.

2 years…and all the craziness! And then we think about the cynicism- “Marriage is the end of all romance”. Really? Well! if you ask me, I will recommend marriage to everyone. It is a wonderful thing. How you make it a beautiful one depends on you. This one fairy tale that Grimm brothers assigned you to write. And it is not necessary that you need to have grand wedding, a lavish ‘destination’ one, an expensive make up artist or photographer, a pre wedding shoot, diamond jewellery and all that jazz!

It is perfect when it turns out just the way you want or just the way it is better!

We celebrated this anniversary away from home and loved ones, but with a bunch of new friends. There was a small party afterwards but the day was mostly spent indoors- he cooked dinner for me and uncorked the champagne. We exchanged some gifts (I am very materialistic :P) and that was it. But at the end of the day, we were happy…and that is all that mattered to us and our families and well wishers.

That happiness was all about being with someone who is your guardian angel, best friend, crazy laughter and acts partner, partner in crime, fellow travel enthusiast, an amazing support system…and everything else rolled into one! *Touchwood*

Here’s to many more to come! 🙂

Thank you!

P.S.-I was subjected to much caustic remarks over Facebook recently for something I wrote in my last post. While I am extremely tempted to make a even more caustic reply to all, especially in the wake of the ridiculous Supreme Court judgement in the Naz Foundation case, I decided against it. There are some absolutely brilliant pieces available over the internet and I do not think that apart from making a point, which will again be lost in the question of “what is right’ and ‘what is wrong’ kind of black and white, I can contribute more. Moreover, the brilliant man in my life made me understand a few things. One of them being that criticism- bad and ugly ones are very important for your growth as a writer, more so if you are planning to take it up seriously. Interestingly, this brilliant man and I also celebrated our second wedding anniversary on the day marked by the outrage over the Naz judgement. Irony!
To tell you the truth- my absolutely beautiful

anniversary day was somewhat marred by the judgement.
But, anyways! this post is not about all that. It is more about the mush, the absolutely Yashraj types that I am so famously fond of. The “tujhe dekha to yeh jana sanam” types. 

The Wedding Story!

It’s quite exciting you know when three months after the wedding, people are still gung ho about eagerly waiting to know your story 🙂 the story. Well! I never officially published it on the blog. Never expected that there is an audience for the story too….then I never expected people to actually read the blog and write me warm emails about how my blog constantly remind them about Kolkata. And they being eager whether I will reply back or not 🙂
Woah! I am surely not a snob…neither a celebrity who gets fan mails by the dozens…but truly speaking your mail or word of appreciation truly makes my day 🙂 Like every other Bengali woman worth her salt, I too wish to publish my book someday, soon enough :P…..just wasn’t sure if somebody will buy a copy or not….Kind of relieved now. A few will see the light of the day I think 😀 Thank you is surely not enough :))

And for those who wanted to read my story…our story rather (Mine and Deep’s) you can surely do that on our wedding website, the one we had prepared to share the moments of the big day with our friends and family before the wedding-

http://www.biswawedspaush.com/

Please do sign the guestbook. We treasure your good wishes dearly. It’s kind of late and awkward but may be that’s the way it was meant to be. I began content writing for it vehemently, but the wedding preparations took its own sweet toll. But then again…..have I ever plunged into anything which looks certain? No, and I don’t want to also. Being certain is boring. Welcome to the tanginess of life. A hint of Phuchka laced with tamarind water.

Did it make you lust? Yes! that’s life for me 🙂