Thursday, September 29, 2005

Potluck

Atithi satkarer sabek rewaj gulo morche pore jachhe. Ma kakimader dekhechi swa-haste panchobyanjon ranna kore sajiye diten pate: teto, nonta, jhal, tak, misti.. ranna gulo hoito sobi chena, sobi purono, steeler sadharon bashone khawa.. tobu swade, gondhe, poribeshoner noipunye amon akta poripurnota thakto jetar antorikata monke sporsho kore jeto. khawar somoy pashe boshe bhalobasa mistrito najordari..

Bartoman projonmer modhye sudokhho grihiniponata sekele. "ami osob pari na". ei na parataye lojja nei barong gorbo royeche. Shikhhita swadhibjibi narira barabari gharoa charitre nijeder maniye nite parchen na. amra "get together" ei beshi obhyosto. je jerakom paro kichu akta rendhe niye chole esho amar bari. kineo ante paro, kintu tate kharoch ta beshi. akta kichu "namiye" dewa. internet ghete akta bohu jotil recipe uddhar kore chamokprodo bahari ranna. grihoswamir saprosongsho chahoni.. sare bottirish bhajar juge bangalir atithibatsalyer abhibekti!

Friday, September 23, 2005

bottleneck

Raka had planned to beat rush hour traffic but luck was definitely out. Everything now moved at a crawling pace. Alternately she sped up and then swung her foot back hard on the brakes. It was no use, this restlessness. The driver ahead flashed his break lights twice to show his irritation. Yeah, she knew he couldn't go any faster... The new pumps pinched her feet and it did not help to improve her mood. She felt rather warm too. Her car airconditioning wasn't working. Now that autumn was here, Raka had decided to ignore the AC problem until next spring. AC s were always cranky at the end of winter...

Her mind wandered a few moments backward. Today she had had a flat while driving on the interstate! It had been a first and it had been very enervating. When the peculiar dragging sort of noise just begun, she had instinctively looked around to see whoes car was it.. surely not hers! Then she watched dismayed as her car started losing speed. At the last minute, she swerved onto the curb on the left cutting accross the HOV lane. A serious accident could have happened in those seconds. Her heart was pounding with excesses of adrenalin. The right rear tyre had burst she discovered, after getting out of the car. Just her luck.. Calm down, Raka admonished herself.

For a few brief moments, helplessly, wistfully, she looked at the cars rushing by. No one stopped ofcourse. She tried telling herself, you can handle this. But did she have a spare at all? She checked in the trunk and couldn't find it. The towing company will charge a forty bucks minimum, she groaned inward. In a moment of inspiration, she looked under the mat in the trunk and located the spare. Some what boosted, she pulled the parts out on the road. Uncomprehendingly she turned the wheel brace and the jack in her hands. She had no idea what she was supposed to do with these things! Then she remembered the car manual and went to get it from the glove compartment. The manuals were so tersely written! She never had much patience with instruction manuals. As she crouched on the curb wrestling with the bolts on the hubcap, she was intensely afraid of the cars inches away going at 70+ miles per hour. She was ready to cry out in frustration. Thank God, the safety patrol guy got there when he did! Or she would be still there on her hands and knees. All in all, she was delayed 45 minutes and now stuck in peak time traffic. A dust mark from the roads on her black skirt proved impossible to brush off. She rubbed it with a bit of spit for the umpteenth time...

She was itching for a cigarrette she did not have. From an ocassional smoker she was now fighting a losing battle with the habit everyday. She longed for a release from this feeling of being cornered, but it was inescapable. It does not matter, she tried to tell herself. You will get there when you will get there. She pulled her windows down to let the breeze in and cool her down. A child was crying out loud. Raka looked at the car in the next lane from where the voice came. A distraught mother was looking at her crying baby in the car seat behind but did not know what to do. Why doesn't she pull over?, thought Raka. Some loud music was coming from the car ahead of her two lanes away. Some teenager probably - they listened to those songs at all hours of the day! A toyota camry rolled to a stop by her side. Oh, its the same one, she realized. She had been watching this woman put her makeup on for quiet a distance now. Imagine doing that on the highway! God, she'd get there faster from the city roads! What exit was it anyway? Only 32. Hers was 47. She wondered if she should sneak in to the HOV. No, she'd probably get caught. There were cops around this road all the time. Wasn't worth the trouble, she reckoned. Anyway she wasn't supposed to speed on the spare tyre. She wondered about how much it will cost to buy new tyres.. so much for putting the AC work away. But it couldn't be helped. You can only do so much to protect yourself.

Her exit came at last, not a moment too soon. She let out a slow breath of relief. Her mood began to improve as the car picked up speed and she rest her foot uninterrupted on the accelerator.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

green

Mala and her husband rent one of those cheap, characterless apartments that crowd the suburbs of big cities... but to them, that is home and Mala strives her best to spread a bit of soul around. Her sage green panels have softened the harsh lines of the white blinds; the morning light streams through the sheer fabric of it creating a lovely effect. There is a hapless paisley sofa next to the window; piles of bright cushions give it a cheerful air. She and Dev often snuggle there together and look up at the sky while sipping their morning tea.. life does not seem so hopeless then! A painting here and a painting there breaks the monotony of the bland walls. A mosaiced tapestry reiterates the mix-n-match flavor of their lives. A stray mattress adopted by them sits wrapped in tripple sheets topped by a warm pastel bed spread. It invites Mala to roll and stretch on its yielding softness. But its a Saturday morning and a host of household duties await her attention and such indulgences will extract a heavy price every day of the following week. So Mala moves on.. She pauses a moment to sniff the pair of sandalwood elephants she bought from Calcutta on her last visit to India.

"The bills just have to paid this Monday first thing", Mala muses as she lines the washer with liquid soap and dumps the laundry quickly checking the pockets for stray coins or bills. Why cant Dev make sure his clothes are really soiled before putting them in the basket? This one surely has a couple of more wears left! Mala has put the dahl to boil on the stove before she left for this quick trip to the laundry room. That cooker might blow up if she doesn't hurry now. And then she has to resume the hunt for quarters for the drier. She is only one short and surely that'll turn up some place if she really looked.. but she's already looked almost everywhere and this bothers her a bit. Mala flops back to the apartment in Dev's slippers. The skimpy shorts and shirt she had carelessly donned compliment her smallish frame and beautiful skin. A mexican smiles an extra friendly smile as she passes by. What the hell!

Mala's favourite spot in the house is the little garden on her sun warmed kitchen window-sill. Lovingly tended, the thick foliage overflows the little earthen pots. The bright light green of sweet basil contrast with the more greyish and rough sheen of the greek oregano. The chives stand tall and thin with weedy little blooms. A mixed tangy-punjent aroma fill the air as Mala picks off the dried leaves and a few fresh ones for her cooking this saturday. Two cacti with red and yellow flowers and a pink graft stands stoically on the sides to balance the levity of its neighbors.

Mala has made palak paneer and sambar dahl and spiced it with home grown curry leaves - it emanates a delicious flavor as it is laid out on the table and she waits for Dev to get out of the shower. The air in the kitchen is a bit stuffy.. Dev has a wonderful voice and Mala can hear him singing some of her favorite songs. She hums along and pounds on the bathroom door. Mala is hungry and the food is getting cold. Dev's wet head emerges to placate Mala.... Feeling a bit wet but happy Mala goes to stand near the window.

On an impulse, Mala turns off the air conditioner and opens the dust clogged windows that remains tightly shut most of the week. Outside, a strong autumn wind is blowing and the nearby sprawling maple tree dances riotously to its rhythm. The spirit of it is touches Mala too. Suddenly she percieves a festive sparkle to everything in the room. The slight chill from the winds bring with it the long forgotten heady smell of Siuli flowers from another time and place - the white and the bright orange of it reminiscent of the red bordered white garod saris of durga puja celebrated at this time of the year. The azure blue skies and the huge flock of black birds specking it high above, beckon her to fly away with them and fill her lungs with a deep breath full of fresh air.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

pujo manei...

dujoner kothopokakhon:
ishh.. aj kancha rod ta ki sundor utheche, nah?
hmm..
ar akta misti thandao poreche..
akash tao khub neel.. sarot kal sarot kal mone hochhe...
akdom pujor weather!
sotyi! barite phone kore ki je mon kamon korchilo! panch bachor hoye galo deshe pujo dekhi na. attdine pandel bandha shuru hoye jeto paray.
hotoi to... amar ei prothom pujo kolkatar baire. tao atodur je pujor anch porjyonto pachhi na..
sostir ratei truck bhara kore amra thakur dekhte berotam proti bachor. sara rat hete hete pa fule jeto. takhon jhere notun juto ke galagal.
Hah! Ei je pa diyechish e deshe, bhor rater mohaloya theke bijoyar khirerchop-jibegoja – sob bhule jao. pujor egg-roll-chop-cutlet, notun jama, mike er gan, osob ekhane pabe na. er por deshe pujor somoy firleo dekhbi, swad tai bodle gache...
ekhane to bhaloi pujo hoy shunechi. calcutta web jure probasi bangalir pujo prostutir khabor.
Hah!!
bangali association er pujote jash na tui ?
jai.. ami ar mousumi protibari jai. tuio chal amader sathe ebar. dekhbi kamon pujo probasi bangalir.
ekhankar mondop sojja kamon ?
dhur dhur osob koi! fencrick road er pashe baro hall ta bhara nay, okhanei pujo kore. pray sat atsho lok hoy. guti katoker barojor mukh chini amra.
jah! pujor lighting ar pandel na hole pujo pujo mone hoy kakhono!! aha, ar dhaker awaj? dhunochi nach?
Ta ar ki korbi.. ekhane cassette e dhak bajay.
ami tahole toder sathei jobo pujote, bujhli ? kauke akta khujchilam. Aka aka jete kamon bandho bandho lagchilo..(kichuta theme) oder to bipul ayojon. internet e dekhchilam. dudin dhore pujo. soni bar ta asol saptamir sathe coincide o koreche.. akkebare desher moton hobe bole.. emnite $50.00 kintu studentder $25.00 chanda, ID dakhate hobe.
ta dokhhina to ditei hobe baba...

pujota khub jak kore hoy thiki. ak bangali daktar pujo koren. english e translation kore kore montrer sob mane bole dan. tobe precise translation noy, nijeder interpretation of god, durga puja, ja ichhe jure day.
babbah, englishe durga pujor montro !!
ha, asole second generation er bachhader pujote jate interest develop kore - se jonye.
Ora sone ? amra to choto balay montro gor gor kore bolte hobe, ei jani. or je abar mane fane hoy jomme bhebe dekhini!!
(hashi) ekhankar bachha gulo sobi bujhe bujhe korte shekhe kina! etai ekhankar culture.
inrigi montrer bole probasi projonmer modhye "pagan gods" e biswash jagorito hoyeche ?
(hashi) bolte pari na. bap mayer ja chiri! sebar akjon mohila ke bolte shunlam akebare microphone e "bhalo kore make dako.. e bachor ma jano anek taka kore dan.."!!
(bhuru kuchke) ishh.. e abar ki!
erai hochhe puja committee members.. kothabartar oi chiri, kono editing nei..

mukhe jatoi i love my india gao.. hindi cinemar gan geye ki ar sanskritik sachetanota toiri hoy !! obosso, amra amader chelemeyeder katodur sachetan kore tulte parbo ke jane!
ichhe thakle ki hoy na!
na re, ekhane thakte thakte sob byapartatei kamon morche pore jay. saroter sei amej koi je durga pujor mormo bojhate para jabe!!
hmm.. achha, sari porbo to ?
Hya hyan sari porbo.. ki saj goj je loke kore ashe pujor okhane bhabtei parbi na! je kono biye bari ke har maniye debe. ak gada sonar goina ar rongchonge benarosi sarir bhire thakurer theke beshi jholmol korbe tor char pash ta.
advance katle $5.00 kom per ticket. kete rakhbi naki?
kete rakhle hoy.. tobe oder organizational abilities er opor amar khub bhorsha nei. tarpor hoito receipt tai accept korlo na ba credit card e kono golmal hoye holo... tar theke baba sorasorii dish, laguk $5.00 extra.. at least reliable..
sei bhalo.. $25.00 e ki khawabe re?
eta khubi dicey byapar.. majhe majhe darun khawa hoy.. abar gato bar jamon churanto abyabostha... ake to khete dite prochur deri korlo, tarpor ak hata kore khichuri ar ak chimte tarkari dhoriye khalash. sobai khubi chote gechilo.. kono hashi nei mukhe, khichurir harir samne aro baro harir moton mukh kore dariye thakbe sob..
eta khubi baje.. swajatir sathe misti byabohar korte pare na ektu!
Aro shon, ak jaygay mistir line. achha, tui bal, limited quantity akta ki duto neben. bole dilei mite jay.. sesob bola nei.. bangali atithyeotate bandche.. jato ichhe nin.. nilei kintu tatkhanat bhrukuti bhoyal mukhe edik odik asosthikar chaonir prosad peye jabe mistir songe!

ema... amader parayo to pongti bhoj hoto.. parar chelerai sob jogar korto.. kakimara poribeshon korten.. kuchutemi je chilo na ta noy... tobu kato antorikata, hashi, thatta..
are ghabrale cholbe ? nijer desher lok tor.. jato din jabe, dekhbi dekhlei ga jwole jabe..

tor kotha gulo khub kata kata shonachhe... ato dislike korish to jawa kano ?
ki korbo bal!! mayer samne anjaali dite ichheta to kore... siuli fuler gondhota apna thekei tan day mondirer dike.. khichuri bhog ar begun bhajatao bachore ei akbarti khete baro poritripti lage!! Internete pujo porikroma dekhte dekhte bhison bicholito hoye pori..
tahole ar mon kharap kora kano…
bikeler function e thakchish ki ?
hu hu .. $25.00 e function hobe na.. function er alada dokhhina.. ajoy bhaduri ashche gan gaite bikeler bichitranusthane...
ebarkar moton barong pujotai dekhe ashi..
yep.. thikache, tobe oi kotha roilo.. pore jawar details ta thik kore nebo..
tata...
tata...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

till death do us part

There's more to love stories than passionate romances and the elusive promise of forever - I was forewarned of course. But like many others I have taken the plunge throwing caution to the winds. I was drunk on the fragrance of newfound love, all wobbly kneed, almost no serious decision-making was involved.. The tiny voice of whats ifs were successfully drowned in the fierce conviction I felt in my heart that I belonged by his side.. It has been 3 years since. In these 3 years the wobble in my knee has steadied and the flutter in my heart has disappeared as per predictions. I have learnt that just sharing the vision together simply isn't enough; we have diametrically different views on how to realize that vision. We never realized how differently we wanted to live our lives until we got our feet wet and tried the marriage soup. In the beginning it was soft remonstrances, followed by brows creased in disapproval, graduating to nagging and then screams of frustration.. all to get across the message of exactly what we wanted the other to be. But we remained who we were, are. Inevitably, these setting-each-other-straight would escalate a domestic Armageddon, but the storms pass by and all differences are deftly shoved under the carpet. We kiss and make up and go on.

A pattern has emerged of these earth-shattering occasions of marital strife.. Its always the same issues. Issues argued over and over, rationally, irrationally, interminably, with no hope of winning the rounds; we know exactly which inches belong to whom. But our livid tempers have their cyclic peaks and troughs. At the peaks nothing short of the loud clunks of breaking china or the satisfying noise of ripping fabric will suffice to calm our nerves. But one cant be too careless. The food finds its way into the sink or at least hardwood or tiled areas and never the carpet. The fabrics attempted are ones that will easily give way. Important papers are scattered, never torn to ensure full recovery later. I shed my silent tears and contemplate somber issues of the general meaning of life and cool off. He steams, stomps, wants to drive off with the car, whose keys I promptly confiscate.. we sometimes even engage in scuffling with each other on our hands and knees.. then, whoever regains a little sense the sooner stages an elaborate retreat by freezing off, establishing a sense of "you have made my life hell".. this impasse lasts for about a day, while we continue our daily chores, cooking, eating, driving to work together... Cracks emerge in our frosty demeanors, a smile here or there quickly hidden behind an expression reminiscent of previous hostility, but more token than genuine irritation.. this extreme politeness is the last of the wintry weather. My husband starts a hopeless and token effort at re-organization and his utterly hopeless efforts irks me to do my thing now without further ado before things get really out of hand in that I am left with no clue of what is where.. As I pick the pieces back together, I try to recall which way he'd aimed the stack of papers from this corner or that in earnest consternation!!

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