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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A few “Happy New Years”

Sona looked at the clock on her desk yet again. It was one of those fancy corporate gifts she had received this year on Diwali.
The clock said that only 5 minutes were left to ring in the New Year. She could hear some joyous chants and sounds of fireworks outside.
She smiled and submerged herself to finish the pending work. In her mind, she was thinking about the car she planned to gift her parents in the next 2 months. The “best employee” award also had to be taken care of again.


Mrittika enjoyed dancing. One day she dreamed of taking the centrestage. One day the world would be her stage, but as of now she had to satisfy herself by being a background dancer. She waited for her act to begin. This was one of those elite parties in the city where the who’s who visited to celebrate the new year.
It was cold outside. Everyone submerged themselves in gallons of alcohol while a few like Mrittika entertained then to make it a party to remember for the who’s who. The skimpy clothes and flashbulbs of lust were their tickets to fame on Page 3 the next day.


“Business has not been good today Raju bhai”
“Yes, hardly any sale in this holiday season too. Everything is available online these days”.
Raju said while counting his day’s earning. His son wanted to buy a new mobile phone. Kamala, his wife wanted to go for the picnic organised by a few of their neighbours. Each person needed to pay 300 rupees for the picnic.
300 Rupees – a figure that his sale of posters and canvases during this entire festive season had failed to achieve. He had set up a small roadside shop near Victoria Memorial. Thousands thronged the place everyday during the winters, but few bought the pictures.
He needed the money. He had promised his family to bring home the money in return of their permission to be absent during this time when the entire city indulged in being happy.
Raju wanted that money to buy a smile for his family.

Refugee

“Basically, you are a Refugee!”

A huge round of thunderous laughter serenaded Shambo’s living room in Gurgaon.

It was the occasion of the house warming party for the new apartment that Shambo had managed to buy in one of those luxurious apartment blocks in this new city. The EMI will cut a deep hole inside his pocket, but the name plate on the door would more than make up for it.

Shambo’s mother still refers to Gurgaon as “Dilli”. Shambo had failed to explain that Gurgaon was more of an excuse in the name of a city. He went out one day to find a proper book store nearby his house, but had failed to find one. The look of disgust on his face was so palpable that the “autowallah” had to ask – “Kya hua bhaissab, sab thik to hain na?”

Yet, this place was his home now. He has managed to buy his own house here, with his own money. For every single thing that he hated Gurgaon for, he respected the place for giving him a job, an identity and the financial independence that his home town could never give him. Gurgaon valued his hardwork and tenacity.

“What happened, Refugee? Can we have some more beer please?”

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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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