#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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A trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia – A bit Closer to ‘Heaven’

Last Sunday, I returned home after completing an epic Euro Trip of sorts. For most of the part of my trip, I was travelling with my best friend, one who is known as ‘the husband’ for the more mundane and prosaic world, to some places which have been on my bucket list for quite long.

To tell the truth, a year and half of my stay in Europe, did change my perspective towards life. I love the utter chaos of Calcutta but somewhere down the line I do miss the quaint little coffee shops and those cobbled streets of European cities. The story with omnipresent ‘honking horns’ of Calcutta is that I abhor when I am here and I miss them when I am outside where driving on a road is actually a civilised affair. Alternatively, I miss the serenity when I am back in my hometown. The traffic itself is a a jarring reminder of the adventure ahead on the road.

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Memory Closet

Piu stopped to look back. He did look familiar.

There was a glint of “recognition” in his eyes too. Did he smile? Was it that same impish grin.

Piu started hurling out those cardboard compartments from the memory closet really fast.

Somewhere deep down, that smile brought about a lot of happy memories. The smile was almost like the touch of her grandmother’s, her thamma‘s, hands which smelled of Boroline. The touch that she yearned for when that long drawn divorce battle drained her off, emotionally and financially.

And now she was back in the city where her thamma once lived, the city which always made her feel at home and at peace.

This time she had a mission. She wanted to get rid of that very house where she had met Ranjeev. That same very old house on Southern Avenue where Ranjeev asked her out for their first date. She remembers that Ranjeev tried hard to impress his father’s ‘Tolly Club’ membership, while she continued being snooty and explained to him why ‘Calcutta Club’ was a class apart.

Ironically, Ranjeev’s father wanted to bring down her thamma’s house and develop the property. That was a decade ago. They fell in love and the house remained to stay on, as per her wish.

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Maggi Memories :)

So Maggi has been banned and Nestle India is surely in for long drawn legal battle to get it back on the racks. As a lawyer, I will follow the twists and turns that will make the TRPs soar. In a parallel universe, a reigning God will proclaim victory and declare verdicts on Indian television while shouting his way to glory. But media trials, newshour debates and all other related adult life complications are not the staple of this post, rather its about a life saviour and a friend.

Maggi was not quite a regular part of my life when I was a kid growing up in 90’s India. My mother was very strict and careful about our diet and she did not quite like the idea of instant noodles. That did not stop me from wondering about whether Maggi could actually be made within those 2 minutes. On those rare Sunday mornings, when I had the privilege of having Maggi, I would make sure that my mother saved a little bit of the tastemaker that came alongwith. I liked the tangy taste, the chicken noodles one tasted better. Mind you, this was still 90’s and all those other variants like “Atta noodles” and “oats noodles” were still not in vogue.

(Image Source: Here)

And then law school happened. Our campus was strictly residential and we had the privilege of sampling NALSAR mess food. I will rate NALSAR mess food as one of the better hostel food served in the country, but then if there was a true saviour for those innumerable days of hunger pangs and home sickness – it was Maggi. Strangely enough, even when my mother abhorred the fact that I often skipped my meals and substituted them with Maggi as my dinner, she got me an electric kettle so that I could prepare my first ‘self made’ meals at my hostel room.

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Being the Bengali Jamai!

Last week, a friend of mine who traces his origin to the Indian state of Bihar expressed his desire to exchange places with my husband, for the grand “Jamai shoshti” lunch. The conversation arose when I had shared a hugely popular picture of a Bengali son in law sitting and sampling a wide(st!)variety of dishes cooked and served only for him, on social media.

Truth be told, I do not know about any other culture in this world, which celebrates their son in law(s) or “Jamais” with such fanfare and gluttony. We have an entire day dedicated to them, as if being the cynosure of all eyes for the rest of the 364 days, was not enough. And to follow the ritualistic conclusion of any Bengali festival, “Jamai Shoshti” essentially is all about celebrating our love for food.

All these give rise to a belief that the ‘Bengali Jamai’ is a very pampered lot. Indeed, they are. But then again, it is not a very easy job either!

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Stories from Barcelona – La Boqueria Market

Barcelona is a city that I immediately felt at home. While the whole of Europe and especially German cities takes pride in being prim, proper and every thing nice, Barcelona is that wild untamed spirit who refuses to follow rules. In my mind, Barcelona is a lot like Calcutta.

The city has a unique feel which is hard to describe and anybody visiting the place can feel the pulse while setting foot on the majestic La Ramblas. Barcelona is often called the party capital of Europe and a pitcher of Sangria while walking across the La Ramblas will make you understand the precise reason why it is called so. But make no mistake, Barcelona is more than just La Ramblas, the beautiful beaches, or for that matter those masterpieces by Gaudi or Camp Nou. The die hard Calcutta girl within me will suggest that you take a walk down the Gothic Quarter ( a part of the erstwhile walled city) or walk past the Barri Gotic and you might just feel that you have just walked past one of those much photographed and iconic North Calcutta lanes- probably of Hedua or Shyambajar. Does that sound lustworthy enough?

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Of cities, short stories and memories of a lifetime – Paris

Prologue:

Every city has a tale to tell of her own. Some are rather bland, some colloquial enough to hold your attention, some refuse to leave your mind long after its all over and some are just timeless…just like Waheeda Rehman. I cannot imagine any city to be a man. In my mind every city is distinctly a woman – with a scent of her own.

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