Friday, November 30, 2012

Bay Decoration at Office

There is a saying that, "too many cooks spoil the broth". But what I felt in the last few days, was just the opposite. Bay decoration Competition taught me how simply and smoothly things can work out if we want to.

I asked my close friends, in turn they asked theirs and within half an hour we were a group of 13 people interested to participate in the event. We called up everyone and shared our views. Rohit had a theme already in his mind "Halloween". He showed the snaps in picassa. We did not have much time to plan out everything from scratch. So we all decided to go with halloween/scary house theme. We now had basic idea and the photographs helped to visualize the clear picture of what exactly we should do. The pointers, footsteps, dustbin bags usage was known to us and then started the real work.

So many people together at work; No need of assignments to anyone. One or two people themselves took the responsibility and started working on it. Resources allocated and project tasks were assigned module wise without any manager. First Day from 2 PM to 8 PM - Two people cutting, two people painting, two covering entire bay, two covering lights, two making web, one person cutting cellotape, two went for shopping; together with it decorating dustbins and packing dustbin bags, setting up black magic zone, downloading scary images from google, taking print outs and sticking them everywhere possible, drawing murder scene sketch and putting handprints on white boards. Ladies left but two guys stayed till 9:30 PM and prepared witch caps, desktop cover and horns and sticking footprints in roof.

Next day I reached office a bit early only to realize that our decorated haunted house was actually scary and I could not enter initially. Called up one by one and then I started cleaning up the place and by next half an hour people started coming. Next slot of tasks started, the final finishing tasks - sticking covers and horns to systems, downloading scary sounds and copying those to all laptops connected in the bay, setting up screensavers in the systems, setting up hanging ghost, spreading hay grass and stones, keeping  eagles, spiders and bats, creating crystal ball and masks using diwali lights, stuffing jackets for showing them as dead bodies, making the skeleton sit in chair and cleaning up the mess in all cubicles and finishing all tits and bits of last minute.

Final outcome was really worth watching, we really scared few people. Everyone gave comments like awesome, gr8, scary, excellent etc. We didn’t win 1st prize but we won hearts, people came and saw our bay and then told their friends and like that from 1:30 till 5:30 PM we were busy in scaring people, there was a queue infact in front of our bay. People were coming twice, thrice just to take snaps with us and these comments and their responses was the true reward for us.

A team is a team only when each compliments the other’s ideas, recognizes the other’s energy and respects the other’s feelings. No one took the other’s credit; whenever someone asked, “whose idea for this?” we did not lie and that made everyone stick together as a team. There were no opinion differences, everyone listened and implemented everyone else’s idea and plan. No one commented or compared negatively and result was that all gave their 100 % and had an equal and significant share for the whole work.

Too many ideas and hands helped us enhance our imagination and creativity and make something spectacular and incredible.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Faith V/S Coincidence

I being the younger one of two kids was more pampered and adored. I was my mom’s tail, used to go everywhere she went. She was a post graduate but my dad did not allow her to do B. ED, if she would have done it, she must have got chance in government school and had earned nice salary. But men and their egos! Then we were born so she preferred to be the full time devoted mother. She had plans to work later and for that she wanted to learn some courses. She had few savings and registered for different courses like ice cream, baking, food preservation, fabric painting, beautician, mehndi in a courses academy. I used to go with her; I was an all time companion for mom.

Dad’s office and our school was going on smoothly, we were more independent, those days were over when mom and dad had to sit with their kids and make them study, it was more a need based support now and tusharika was there to help me. Mom was getting free time and she felt that it’s time to do something on her own. She had found new friends now. One evening while having tea together the five ladies thought out a plan to start some small business. My mom knew recipes for food preservation items like jam, jelly, sauce, pickles and other such things and everyone were house wives who had ample knowledge and experience of cooking, so with minimal investments they started this venture. Initially they took small samples and distributed to the neighbourhood and friends and relatives, later when everyone liked the items they started taking orders and preparing them and selling. From our school also we were getting few orders. It was little embarrassing for me because few of my friends used to tease me that she sells of things in school, but few teachers also took from us so that was not a problem. It was flourishing not in a huge way but the ladies were earning some profit and lot of confidence. As more orders started to came it became hectic for them because work was more and hands were less and then my dad got the government quarters so we had to leave the rented house. We shifted to the new house. That was very near to my school. But it became difficult for mom to manage the business from far, daily travel was not possible anymore. Since the mastermind behind this idea was far now, orders by customers and seriousness of ladies, both reduced and finally this business was dropped. Mom was not upset because for her we were more important, our school was near, dad’s office was near, it was the posh area of Raipur so she was happy to leave that place. In that rented house our studies was impacted because there were many kids around and they were not studious kids, playing and roaming around was their forte. We, being with them were also becoming notourious so for our future, sacrifice of the business did not have importance.

Mom was not the one to sit idle at home. Bengali cotton sarees is always in demand and she started of getting the sarees from Kolkata and selling it of here. But she was not satisfied with this. Then with my uncle’s help she got a sign board prepared “Hobby Classes : Icecream, Baking, Food Preservation, Fabric Paint, Beautician, Music”. It started off slowly. She ran these classes in delhi also but not in full fledge way, few ladies when told together she did for them. But now she was doing in a proper way. Those were nice days. Continuous batches were there and maximum were for ice creams, one batch started and when they liked it they referred to others and so one by one many people did. It was tiring for her, continuously talking, teaching them, she prepared yummy ice creams, casata, tuty fruity, coffee ice creams. So many times she had to stir the batter, every few hours because the next day everyone will be tasting it so it had to be the best. In our house jams and sauce and pickles were never brought from outside, she used to prepare everything at home. Cakes and biscuits also she prepared. She was earning well. With that money slowly and slowly she was buying few things and doing small enhancements for business. She learnt different styles of painting like golden grass, glass painting, ceramic work. She learnt making soft toys also. By this time di was grown up, she helped mom in various things. She was a trained classical singer and my sis was classical dancer so she also started few batches. There was a time when the whole day there used to be some batch going at home. Our house was full of people. That was a creative phase of our life. This rush was more during school summer vacations.

She was interested in teaching so one day one of my aunts who was teacher called her up and told that in a nearby pre primary school there is a opening for a teacher, if she is interested she can go with her and join the school. She went and accepted the teachership offer, her salary was 500 rupees. Because of her school she reduced the hobby classes. Dad did not like her joining the school and he did not talk to her for many days but mom was determined this time. She knew what she wanted to do. She struggled a lot to save each and every penny. School was four kms and rickshaw used to take 5 rupees each way. To save 10 rupees daily she used to walk from home to school and back. Two months in a year she used to run the classes which were on full bloom and the rest ten months she was busy with school. It was a pre primary school so smalls kids were there, and mom loved them all, they used to get flowers for her. Chocolates were common. After two years she left the school and joined another, she was a PG in economics and in the new school she was hired for economics and commerce and accounts for a salary of 1200 rupees. She was favorite teacher of the students and gained reputation among all the students and teachers. She also started getting tuitions. Dad helped her with accounts. She was happy and she reached where she wanted to reach. She did network marketing also for sometime. After six years she left that school as well and joined another school and here she was paid 2500 bucks.

When man in the house earns the necessary expenses are done but if woman of the house earns then that money is spend for luxury and investments. She gave Kodak camera, a thousand bucks gift to my sister on her eighteenth birthday. My dad’s mom did not wear any jewellery so she got bangles and chain for her. Di was in college and mom wanted her college going daughter to wear a chain and ring, so she got those for her.

Dad was cool with government quarter but mom wanted own house. Previously also many a times she tried and booked but everything in vain because dad used to spend the money. She was not earning that time so she could not do anything but now she wanted to do. When mom and dad got married my grand pa(mom’s dad) gave her a plot which was worth five thousand then. She sold off this plot and earned 25000 now and with this amount she with my uncle bought another plot in Raipur. That area was not developed so they decided to not make the house there. She wanted another plot for house. She with her savings bought another one in a nearby area for 44000 bucks. Now it was time for mom to push dad and built our own house in that plot. Dad was least bothered, he trusted people easily, he used to give money to the contractor without receipts. Whenever mom forced dad to see and supervise the construction, there used to be fight between them and days of silence. After four long years, after lot of struggle and pains our house was completed,and we did house warming ceremony. Dad took a bank loan for the house. Those days for loans person had to go to the bank so many times for loan sanctioning and dispersement. Not like now when you get phone calls atleast 5 times a day to take money from banks.

She stopped taking hobby classes now and was fully into teaching and tuitions. Our house was rented to a family. We did not move to that house because my school was near to the quarter, we waited till my 12th class. I completed my schooling and di completed her graduation and post graduation and then we moved to our house. Moving to own house makes a lot of difference, quarter was a normal 2BHK but this one was huge. This was the time for competitive exams, every weekend I had some or other exam. I was selected for architecture in himachal Pradesh, but it was very far and would prove costly also so finally ended up in joining a private engineering college in Raipur itself.

New house, new friends, new life started. Di joined the college where she did her PG and mom continued her school. Days were fine but then dad got transferred to a nearby place, it was a journey of 3 hours from Raipur, to travel daily was not something which we wanted. He with his friend took a house on rent and used to come on weekends. They had to stay for atleast a year before getting transferred back to raipur. We three were in Raipur. Daily sis used to go college, she was like Chachi 420, wearing sari and going in luna. She never left on time, just before five minutes she will leave and after full speed driving she will reach college.  She with her salary bought a kinetic zing. In our lane of the layout ours was the only house and beside to us construction was going. Labourers who were constructing stayed there. We being three ladies alone at home were scared, so in one room only we all used to sleep, I on bed and di and mom on floor. Di had a stick on her side and mom had red chilli powder on her side. I being the younger one had no such responsibilities. Nothing happened anytime it was just a safety measure. That year mom and dad’s had their 25th wedding anniversary as well. I was studying so did not contribute much, sis saved money and we celebrated nicely. We booked a hotel and gave dinner party for around 100 guests. Mom told, in her wedding reception she did not get these many gifts as she got now. We were all happy.

One year passed by and dad got transferred back to Raipur. We thought to construct the first floor next. We started, construction minimum takes 3-4 months and by the time it started and finishing things were going, it was time for my 3rd semester finals. Papers started and dad used to be in office, sis was more involved in college. I and mom stayed at home and were responsible for the complete construction. Giving the labours water, storing water for construction, I went to order cement also once and when the “thela” for cement came I kept down the books and went to push it through road because those people were shouting. Dad came back now di was going to Pune for CDAC. She left from home for the first time and mom was very sad, I was the sole companion for her now.

All of mom’s exertions and hard work showed their real face now. Day by day mom started suffering from several health problems.I was in 6th sememster of college. Mom went through a very tough time. She had a cist in her stomach for which she was suffereing from severe pain in her stomachache and fever. Check up was done and she was under medication for a month and after that doctors had to decide whether they need to operate her or not. But situation got worse when x-ray was done and the size of the cist just doubled. Doctors had given the wrong medicine. Next day they took her for operation. After cutting the stomach they told her to go for scanning. I was in college. I had cell, I called up dad and asked about the operation, but then he told that they have gone for scanning. The doctor who had scanned told mom and dad that you want to survive just leave now only for some better doctor and hospital. My mom decided that we will leave for Ahmedabad where my masi stayed. Meanwhile dad scanned all her reports and sent them to my uncle and they were searching for doctor there. Di was in Pune that time and so we did tatkaal tickets for three of us and left for ahmedabad. I was in shock. Did not know what will happen next. Mom was not at all well. In the entire journey she was just lying down. We reached our destination. Did not know what this place has for us. We went for check up to the doctor who was very famous gynaecologist. She went through her case history, did her scanning and told us clearly that the cist is very big and also since the infection has spread so it might be cancererous. She was not sure but she was preparing us. She asked us when can go for the operation. My mom told as soon as possible. After hearing cancer I was almost crying, everyone else was scared but mom was so brave and courageous. Doctor gave us the date for operation and told us told us to get her admitted a night before the operation. Hospital was good and costly. Thank god dad had a credit card, we had to pay 70K before then only they admitted her. They had to do few tests and so a nurse came with a syringe and took blood in it. Tears came in my eyes when I saw them injecting mom with needle and taking her blood. I was sad because of her condition and for the pain she had to go through. The ward where she was shifted was cancer department, all cancer patients were there. For few days some or other test was done and doctors used to discuss her case, I could not understand everything but could make out that they are predicting it to be cancer. For so many nights at home I could not sleep, I used to cry and tell god to please make her well, cure her problems. So many kids were there in the floor where mom was there, there head was covered, they were going through chemotherapy. I felt that god is so unfair, why does he make such innocent people suffer.

It was the operation day and I went to the hospital morning only. Di came from Pune as well. They took mom for operation and while going doctor told that if they come out of the OT in an hour that means cancer is there and we have to start chemotherapy but if it takes longer then it means that cancer is not there. Operation was complicated because the cist was tied between different nerves. That day I was just praying to god that they come out of the OT late so that would mean no cancer. I and di were in home. I was calling dad every half an hour and wanted to hear from him that she is still in OT. Mom was out of the theatre after six hours, she was very weak. Doctors told that operation was successful, it was tough but they were finally able to take the cist out. She was brought to the room. Doctor came and checked and told that since my mom used to do lot of yoga, her kidney, liver and other parts were fine and there was no such complication from other parts. She needed bed rest and was there in hospital for around ten days. She needed complete rest and required six months to recover fully. Mom says that she was worried about me, because if anything happens to her then dad will be fine, di was also more mature and was working and settled but I was studying, she prayed to god to keep her alive because I was young and not settled. God answered both of our prayers.

Life settled a little because from the time we came to ahmedabad everyone was disturbed, everything was uncertain, we were only roaming around hospitals and doctors, we were praying and going to different temples. Now mom was fine so that mental tension and worries were not there. Morning till evening I used to be there in hospital and from evening to morning dad used to be there. I used to take some snack in hospital. Dad once gave me 100 bucks, with that money I used to have idly daily, for 9 rupees they gave 2 idlys. After few days mom asked that I did not ask for money for so many days, then I told that I have, dad then realized that long back he gave me 100 bucks and by this time that money should have been finished, then they asked what I was having, I had to tell that I was having idly for last few days, she asked dad to pay me more and ordered me to have something else. Home food was not allowed in hospital so dad used to bring food from masi’s home and I took that food sitting in the parking area keeping a newspaper on the floor and sitting on that I had lunch for so many days. I had my six semester final exams after a month and so I had to study, I had taken few books with myself and studied in hospital in the room. I had to leave from ahmedabad because I had to take my admit card from college. Mom was recovering slowly and she could not travel and also she had to wait for a month there only because of few more checkups. I could not go alone. After mom was discharged, we got her back to masi’s home and she was to stay there for another month. Dad got all medicines, dry fruits and different food supplements for her and kept in her room. She could not get up herself or do anything by herself. We stayed for few more days so that atleast she gets used to this routine. Dad got the tickets and we left from there. Mom came to the balcony to bid bye to us. I was again crying in the auto. For another month she had to be there and none of us will be with her. Relative’s house is after all relative’s house and not yours. You cannot be free and follow your routine.

We reached and called her up and then came to know that has got high fever. For another four days we were in so much tension, very very high fever, temperature was not coming down at all. Doctors gave medicine but that was also of no use. We could not go back and my college was also important. When there is question of life a well educated man also turns to various other ways which initially he thought to be nonsense. Masi’s maid told that nazar lag gayi hai, so she did something with water and bowl, don’t know what it was but mom’s fever came down, it was coincidence or really the result of that we were not sure. My dad who never lights an incense stick, was going to a famous far off temple by walk, he said that he will go for seven times by walk if mom gets fine. I had an old habit of bribing god with one coconut and this time I bribed many gods. All is well that ends well. Mom was fine now fever was not there anymore. I was physically not there with my mom and mentally there only, I was not able to concentrate on my studies. Now I had no option than to focus for my semester. Mom was recovering, no cist no fever, she had reduced lot of weight. They went for checkup and doctor told she is fine but it will take some time to recover and get back to her original shape. I stayed alone with my dad for 36 days, I was cooking that time. Thankfully in that semester I had only one paper a week, so I had ample time to study and my uncle was also coming to india, he planned to visit mom and then take her with him and come to our place so dad need not go to pick her up. I was counting days when she will come.

Finally the day came, I went with dad to pick them up, I saw her standing in station, I hugged her, she was very weak, but I was happy that her internal problems are not there anymore and I will take good care of her. We went home and days passed by. I dad did everything for her, we were happy to see her back to what she was before. My exams started and among all my semesters I scored highest percentile in that semester. I was so happy, we all were happy, it was tough period of our life. But I learnt one thing that these turbulent times bring out the best of you. Tough times bring family closer to each other.

Good times were coming now. In sixth semester I got selected in campus. I had job before completing my engineering. Mom and dad were proud of me. The day I got selected, my dad sat on sofa and took the phone and called up all his friends and told that I am selected in campus. Mom gave party in her school. Di treated her friends in Pune. Di got a job by this time and was working in a mnc. First floor was also completed and was on rent.

For my and my sister’s all major decisions were taken by mom. She was very clear that she will educate both her daughters and make them independent and then only she will get them married. My sister was a step ahead, she wanted to go to onsite on her own and then only she will get married and she was strictly against of arrange marriage. She did not want arrange marriage at all. There was no restriction as such for any of us. Dad always worked in air conditioned office so mom always dreamt of us working in a sophisticated environment.

For our school also while in class 11th , for choosing subject she came with us and made us choose mathematics. For that coching classes were required and mom gathered information about different coaching classes and did our admission there. Apart from studies for extra curricular activities also mom was very eager and wanted us to learn different arts. When my sis was in class 1st, she admitted her in dance class and made her learn for eight years when we were in delhi. She made her karate as well. After coming to Raipur she admitted me in music class. I learned for 2 years then for 3rd year she gave the fees but I did not go, I did not like the teacher so left. She was very upset. Again after 1 year I took admission and learnt for another 2 years. But could not complete 6 years because I had board exams in between so learnt for only 4 years. Mom regretted always that I could not completed my music course.

Di already left and it was time for me to leave now. I had to join the company. There was a five months gap after my final 8 semester exam and joining the job. In those months I was crazy myself and making everyone else as crazy as me. In those months I used to go for movies with mom, go for shopping, I helped her in house works, I experimented a lot with my cooking skills and go to different places. I already got the offer letter but did not get the actual call and date. Got it just before two months of joining and became tension free after that. Uncertainties create confusions. After I got the date, we booked the tickets and on the date left for mysore with all the bag and baggage. Mom and dad came to drop me. When your parents are with you and they know that from next day morning you wont be with them, they get anxious, they get sad but they are not left with any option because they know that kid is leaving for their better future, it is for the good of their child, they get upset but cannot show that, they feel that it will weaken the kid’s excitement. They do not know what they do or say, they become sad. They become crazy. And after you leave they cry silently but hide from you.

They dropped me and came back to Raipur. They were alone now. Out of four now only two people are there. Once you join the job you come home as a guest. I completed my training and was posted to Bhubaneswar. For two years I was there and every month I used to go home. Then I got married and frequency was less but thankfully you have something called mobile now because of that I am always in touch with mom and dad. I am just a phone call away from them. Skype and mobile are the greatest technologies if you want to stay connected. We do video chatting and every day we talk atleast twice. Marriage has not changed my life atleast in this aspect. My relation and friendship is still the same infact more close.

Responsibility of a woman as a mother never ends. No matter how old you are it is your mom only who asks you that whether you have taken your breakfast, lunch dinner, yes she will enquire about all your meals. She is the most worried if you are not well. Mother first is a teacher, then a friend and when you get married she becomes your inspirer and guide, and when the daughter herself becomes mother then she spends again many sleepless nights like the time when daughter were born.

When di was expecting she went through many complications and mom was there with her to take care. From morning till evening she was with sis, she was admitted for few days, mom stayed in hospital. Mom herself got fever but she did not regret, for initial few days when a baby is born it is very tough time for both mom and baby, both need extra care and mom did everything possible for her without thinking of her own health. Now she is behind me to conceive and deliver. Before 30 I should deliver because for few more years only she will have that strength to care for me and my baby as she can do now. She always says one thing that you will come to know when you will be a mother yourself.

HATS OFF to all the mommys, I salute your strength, your vigor, your courage, your love, your affection and you. You are above all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mom Knows Everything

For a child, the parents mean everything in the world, whether it is the kid of the animal or human being. My mom asked my maid’s daughter once that whether she will continue her school after tenth or not. She said, “Didi, in my family only I studied so far, my grandfather studied till fifth and my father did not study because grandfather could not afford. But didi, you know my dad is very intelligent, he is the most intelligent person in the world. He does plus and minus operation so fast, faster than us.” There was so much innocence, love and respect in what she felt for her father. He might mean nothing for others but for her, he was the hero.

I got my first watch, a titan sonata, in class 8th, I was very happy. I tied it in my hand in the shop itself and removed it from my hand only before sleeping when mom asked me. I opened it and kept under my pillow and slept off. Next day was holiday so need not go to school so there was no question of wearing the watch. I woke up early in morning and thought to wear the watch but then thought that everyone will laugh. If anyone asks me why I am wearing the watch, what will I tell then? I did not want anyone to know my curiosity. After sometime one aunty came home, mom and she were talking standing near the door. I thought that if I go to take bath then I can just wear the watch, no one can say anything and no one will ask me anything. So I told mom that I am going to take bath. Mom laughed and told me to go and told to that aunty, “yesterday we got watch for her, so she is going for bath so soon so that she can wear the watch”. I was amazed, how she came to know this.

I am a foodie from childhood. I can think of food whole day, I dream of food.  I love mangoes. In our home it was a trend, in summer season after dinner mom will cut two mangoes and four of us used to have it. We were in my grand mom’s house and my uncle got big boxes of alphonso mangoes. We all the kids had finished our dinner and went to sleep then I heard my uncle telling my mom to cut mangoes for everyone. I heard this and could not resist, smell of mangoes was tempting me so much that I got up from the bed and went to my mom and sat beside her. Uncle asked me whether I was fine because I got up from sleep, mom looked at me and smiled and said, “She has come to have mango”. I smiled and she gave me to eat. Till now when I am 27, whenever my mom prepares omlette, I take commission from dad for getting his plate from kitchen to his hand. When they get biryani from outside they miss me because when I was at home and dad used to get biryani at home, I will leave everything behind and take a plate and have the biryani. Both of them will have and little will be left always and they will tell me that my portion is left.

In childhood I hated going to vegetable market but loved the ride from home to market in scooter with Tusharika. There was a small shop in that market which was famous for Pattis and ice cream. Throughout the way I and tusharika talked about which ice cream we like and which one, our friend had recently, which is tasty and yummy and which is not. We were indirectly telling dad that we wanted ice creams but pretended as if we are modest and not asking for anything. We infact told dad, “We are not asking for ice creams we are talking just like that”. And when we reached there, dad made us sit in the shop and buy Pattis and ice cream and give us and in the meantime he finished the shopping. After coming home, we informed mom clearly that dad fed us ice cream, we ourselves did not ask for that.

In the 90s 1 or 2 rupees mattered a lot. Every Sunday, breakfast was brought from outside and I went with dad to bring those. And I always asked for that free chutney which the shopkeeper gives with the snack. If someone forgets also I will remind the person and ask him for the “muft ki chutney”. Everyone named me “muft ki chutney” after that. For the change what was returned back, 1 or 2 rupees, I used to ask dad whether he checked that the coin given is of one rupee or two rupees. 

Mother is the angel; she is the God’s supreme gift to the child. She is the only one in the world who you can blindly trust. She can understand the tears behind your smile , she knows why you are crying, why you are happy, when you want her to be at your side, when you are telling lie to her, she knows what is going on your mind and heart, she knows and understands your every movement, your every wish. She is simply great.

I just love these childhood memories :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Diwali Offers

With Diwali offers round the corner I sometimes wonder about diwali offers and schemes which are offered to attract the customers. How people belonging to each profession announce various "free gifts" so that customers buy goods and items in order to receive that free gift.  

I feel how the different diwali offers could be:

  • Doctors will give the offer: "Broken one hand/leg, plaster of other hand/leg for free". 
  • Terrorist's offer for police: "Arrest one person, we will send another criminal for free".
  • Manager to employee: "Apply one day leave and get one more day off for free. Offer applicable for the first hundred employees only."
  • Tuition Teacher: "Pay fees for one subject and get free assistance for another subject."
  • Bank Employee: "Take home loan and get car loan without interest."

Together with offers for clothing and eateries, i wish we could get such types of offers also :-)

Friday, November 9, 2012

We the People

When you travel, you are exposed to the outside world, you gather some valuable experiences, you like something, you hate something. You travel by so many means, bus, train, hand pulled rickshaws, autos, trams, metros, cruise, flights, everything adds up to the pages of your life. In one of our train journey, there were five fellows with us in the same compartment. Four adults and one kid, one of the guys told that he is hungry and then his wife opened a box, having many boiled eggs. One by one she was peeling them off and passing it to them, there were two guys and each of them had 6 boiled eggs. Yes, I counted and was equally shocked, how can anyone have something so much? Another time we saw a newly married couple, who were ill-mannered, they did not know difference between bedroom and railway coach. Some people boast of their knowledge, money and power and some are so quiet that you doubt them to be terrorist. You will see people fighting with each other, you will see them reading books, you will see them taking contacts, you might see relationships getting build, you will see guys trying to impress girls, and so on, journeys are a whole new world.

That time there were no ATMs, so for the total number of days of the trip dad and mom used to take cash with them. For a 30 day trip, they used to take approximately 50 thousand cash. The first day when we left from home, whole cash was with us, once we reach the first destination, and we go to the inspection quarter and keep the money there securely they were a bit worried. If cash gets stolen then there is no option than to come back. Before the trip mom used to tell us to be quiet and not talk in the train about the trip. While going for the north east trip, we were in train for siliguri, the plane area before darjeeling, and one chaayewala came, and mom asked me whether I wanted to take tea, I told, “not here, I will have tea in its original place (meaning Darjeeling tea)”, mom gave me an angry look. If people come to know they could make out that we are having lot of cash with us.

One more incident happened with mom in train. I and di went with my dad’s sister to Calcutta to attend some marriage of relative of her side. And meanwhile my parents went to Mayihar and khajuraho. One couple with two kids were sharing the same compartment. That lady asked my mom where they were going, mom told Mayihar, mayihar is a religious place of Goddess durga, many people go to that temple and ask for wishes. Since only my mom and dad were travelling, that lady thought that my mom does not have kids and they are going to mayihar to ask God for a child. That lady had two kids and both were very naughty and were jumping throughout the boggie. She started telling, “bachhe to bhagwaan ki den hai, acha hai darshan kar ke aayiye, apki goad bhi bhar jayegi”, my mom stared her and then told her she is simply going to visit the temple and not for asking kid, she already has two daughters and both are quiet grown ups. Then that lady scolded her kids for shouting so much and she also became quiet.

Wait and Taste

Travelling across so many places meant exposure to different cultures, languages, costumes, people and last but not the least food and delicacies. Forget about east, west, north, south or central India, each township or district within state has its own unique flavor. There is so much of difference in the urban and rural part of any place, everywhere everything is distinct.

Kolkata’s rosogolla and maacher jhol is no doubt world famous, apart from that there are so many other varieties available which you will not found anywhere else. Not only Kolkata, any state in India has so much of its own flavour and taste which will be absolutely unique in that specific area unavailable anywhere.
Panipuri or golgappa or phuchka are all names of the same snack but when it comes to taste it varies from UP to Maharashtra to West Bengal to south. Kheer can be of rice or sewaiya or paneer or carrot or sabudana, somewhere it is called payesh, somewhere payasam, somewhere phirni.

Whenever we used to go out of station, it also meant having all meals of the day outside in some restaurants or hotels or in prebooked inspection quarters. Whichever place it may be, their local food was 99 percent liked by each of us, definitely we used to miss mom’s cooked home food, but for few days for some change and for some rest to mom, that was good.

Many delicacies of various places I still remember and which I will never forget in my life. On our trip to Gujarat, we had dhoklas, khandvi, handwa, thepla, sweet kadhi, bhakris, those were quiet simple foods but definitely very different and of course healthy and tasty. From Junagarh we had boarded a bus, it was a night journey, around 2 AM the bus stopped and we were very hungry, there was a small hotel from where dad took pao bhaji, it was awesome, bhaji had a lot of oil and butter in it, but in those hunger pangs, having such a tasty food was worth the pain of getting up at 2 AM. While going to Mandu and Dhaar in MP, we went to a highway dhaba and had sev tamatar ki sabji and rotis, it was mindblowing.

In our north east trip, in gangtok we went to see sunrise to the famous mountain peak, while coming, on the way we went to a monastery, we were hungry and eagerly wanted breakfast. We saw a small shop, not even a shop actually, it was a thela and a lady was selling momos. We did not have any idea about momos, but since that was specifically a momos shop and everyone was having momos there so we also ordered for it. Lady gave 6 chicken momos with some chutney. We were wondering how it would be? But when we tasted it, it was divine, plain steamed chicken momos with hot and spicy coconut and chili chutney. That was the first time I had momos and last time that I had such tasty momos.

Parathas, name only is so much mouth watering. We had been to brindavan, travel by road means exploring dhabas. For our dinner we stopped near a posh dhaba and all sat in dining table and ordered for Butter naan and dal makhni and aloo parathas. That was a complete waoooo.

Dadar railway station in Mumbai, the city of dreams, has a famous shop, “Jumbo vada pao”, each vada pao costed 5 rupees, that was perfect Mumbai taste, mirch, mast and masaledar. Goa, a place famous for beaches and of course sea food, I had my life’s best prawn biryani there. In a beach side restaurant, we went and checked the menu. We saw prawn biryani and asked for it and we did not regret our choice. In goa only, I had pomfret fry and it again was a spectacular dish, pomfret fish slit in between and coated with poppy seeds, it was amazing.

After finishing my training in Mysore, we went for city tour. One of my friend knew a pani puri wala, we went to his shop, and customized his pani puris to that of Kolkata and it satisfied our taste buds. Bhubaneswar and Kolkata are two places which have plenty of fish and sweets. In a costly restaurant of Bhubaneswar, Swosti Plaza, after finishing our meals we wanted to have some unique dessert, and I saw fried ice cream in the menu so asked for one. When they served it, it was some sizzling hot brownish red sphere of coconut and dry fruits and when you cut it, it has chilled vanilla ice cream and as you take this hot and chilled combination in spoon and put it in your mouth, it melts, you just close your eyes and enjoy the taste and feel the taste. So many times, we had prawns there. Chilli prawns, Bali prawns, everything was yummy. Chicken chowmein outside metro station in Esplanade station (Kolkata) was superb.

There might be infinite recipes which I liked, I am a foodie, I love to eat, in my dreams also, I sometimes think of food only, my husband laughs at this. Be it some plain and simple thing or some heavy and oily stuff, be it litti and sattu of patna or be it rasam and rice of kerala or be it radha pallabi of nabadip (west Bengal) or be it tikki chole chaat of UP or be it faluda and kulfi of delhi or be it daal baati churma of Rajasthan, everything tasted excellent.

Howmuchever you try preparing these recipes at home, they don’t come out that well. That taste or I should say that authentic taste of the traditional food which you taste in hotels of that particular location is far and much better there, than at home, while eating outside who thinks about oil and ghee, purities and impurities, at home we may be very much concerned about health but outside it’s a strict no no. It may be that when you go somewhere outside and taste their food for the first time you will like it to the fullest and that of course marks an impression in your tongue, heart and mind and it becomes incomparable to that same food prepared anywhere else. So when you try and prepare the same food at home it is straightway compared to the first impression of that food and the food which we had the first time, it’s taste becomes unbeatable.

Favourite Travel Destinations

It was part of our routine to travel to different places during vacations. Sometimes it was a week long trip and sometimes it was even a month long. Month long tour was tiresome because staying out and having outside food four times a day is difficult, for few days it is fine but when it is a long trip we used to get fed up. Now when I am unable to go anywhere because of dependencies and busy schedule I remember those days and cherish those memories. Some of the places were the most memorable and even now when I think about those I get goose bumps.

I remember our trip to Dwarika, lord Krishna’s place. It is one of the four dhaams of hindu religion. We reached Dwarika on a weekday evening. We went to guest house, changed and got freshen up and started planning for next day darshan. Suddenly everyone decided why not visit the temple that evening itself. We all got ready and left for the temple. It was not that much crowded. Evening aarti was over and people were leaving. People say for darshan, you should go only in morning, but I feel that there is no proper or improper time, every moment is auspicious for anything good. We went inside and the sight was unbelievable. Very few people were there in the garbhagriha, so without any trouble we could go and sit just in front of the place where Krishna’s idol was there, there was hardly a distance of may be 3-4 feet. We could see the idol clearly, no crowd, no pundits, no one. It was like I am meeting Krishna without any disturbance. I was mesmerized by the shine of the idol. I was completely lost, I was saying some mantras and I don’t know what happened to me, I did not want anything, I did not know anything, I was only chanting the mantras and looking at the idol. It was a different feeling. I was in a state of complete peace yet completely lost. Heart and brain both were completely calm. I did not know anything except Krishna and the mantras. No wishes, no problems, no desires, no dreams. I did not experience that feeling again, till date. That was something I can never forget.

Beauty of Vivekanand Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari was another out of the world view. There were few steps and you get down and what you see is simply marvelous. Water, which has no end. Till whatever distance you can see, you can see water. Indian Ocean, tides, rocks, cold, pure white water.  On my left side it was Bay of Bengal and on my right it was Arabian Sea. And it was sunset time, slowly and slowly sun was setting in the Arabian Sea, the orange colour of the setting sun and the colour of water changing from its natural colour to orange, waoooo.., nothing else I could say. Fire getting into water. Huge tides of Indian Ocean perfectly complimenting calmness of Arabian Sea. And Bay of Bengal had crabs which were coming towards the bank. That was perfect evening spend in nature. Depth of Ocean and view of Sunset and chilled breeze was a heavenly experience that made my day.

Jagannath Puri is a prominent place and being one of four dhaams it stands to be very significant one also. It was middle of May and we went for puri darshan. We reached the temple campus and were walking towards the main block. Huge rush was there, prasad was being prepared; big handis had mahaprasad in them and were carried by people. Just outside the temple they have a small channel which has water in it so that before stepping inside, your feet gets washed and then you enter the temple area where the three gods are there, Balbhadra, Subhadra and Jagannath. We entered and were moving towards the garbhagriha and I don’t know what happened, tears started coming out of my eyes. I was not crying intentionally but my eyes were full of tears and I was walking, before I had planned to ask so many things from god but when I caught a glimpse of the god’s idols I was staring them. Eyes full of tears were staring the idols and I did not ask anything. Heartbeat increased and I was sweating and crying, and came out. As soon as I came out I was thinking what happened, why was I crying? But I did not have any answer. Whatever it was, it was a very holy and divine experience. I was not regretting for not asking anything, in fact I was amazed for what had happened.

It is said that temples have cosmic energy because of their structure and god’s presence; they have something unique in them which pulls you towards them, that you are blindly attracted. Morning and evening aartis, dresses and shringaar of the idols is all very sacred. Evening aarti of Somnath, huge shivalinga, and all devotees standing in front and watching the aarti, morning aarti of Mahakaaleshwar, Ujjain the shringaar of shivalinga with ashes, those big eyes, the moustache, travelling at 3:00 AM in jeep through seven hills and going to Tirumala for Tirupati Balaji darshan, all bhajans were being played, people were chanting “Govinda, Govinda”, were all very saintly experiences.

Trip to gangtok and from there to Nathula pass, “India Tibet border” was another blissful journey. Going by jeep, we were around 10 people and we being kids were sitting backside, travelled to a height of 14,430 feet. It was fully covered of snow, everything was white there, we were many tourists standing there near the border fence, and in other side there were tibetian tourists, we shaked hands. But police was very strict there, we were not allowed to take pictures, another point was there which was at a little lower level, there we were allowed to play and take snaps, everyone came there, and we all started playing with snow and took lot many pictures. It was -3 degree centigrade at 12 in the afternoon in the month of may, chilling cold, but we took out our sweaters and jackets and took pictures and enjoyed weather and nature’s scenic beauty.

Nature’s splendor is absolutely stunning and whimsical, continuous rains of Cherrapunji, view of waterfalls, sound of flowing water, boating through deep water in Bhedaghat in between the innumerable different coloured marble and granite rocks, waterfalls of Panchmarhi, the huge rock stuck between two mountains of Jatashankar, sunrise view in Darjeeling, the peace of Vishwashanti Stupa in Rajgirh, the remains in Nalanda university, water of Prayaag (Allahabad) where three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Sarawati merge into each other, the ghats of banaras, the aarti of haridwar, the valleys of Ranikhet and Gangtok, the forts, the palaces, the temples, the Gods, the rituals, the festivals, the beaches, the mountains, the rivers, each and every view was mesmerizing. 

I wish I could visit all these places again in my life. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Week of Vacation

Logged to facebook, twitter and netlog after a long gap of 7 days. For many, this much gap is not long but for me who is sort of addicted to social networking, a break of 7 days is quiet a long one. Its nice to login and find something new and fresh.

Travelled by road, having awesome food prepared by mom and meeting all my relatives after years was a memorable experience. Looking forward to be in touch with them all throughout my life.

We feel tired and lazy to give a call and talk but when you take the step forward and do something to share moments of your life with them, you feel good and great.