Tag Archives: vacation

The past that lingers on…

I am in my hometown, Durgapur, on a break for a week. It is the month of monsoon, and what greeted me first was the all-encompassing greenery and the damp weather. Durgapur primarily has a tropical climate: hot, sweaty, sticky. For the most of Summers the city is brown, but with the advent of monsoons, the shrubs and bushes and the trees claim the land – it is no short of an invasion. The bright, rich green is unashamed in its exploitation, and claims every inch of the land it can touch. It has a raw quality to it which soothes the eye and makes me remember the years in which human beings lived in jungles.

Durgapur is where I grew up, went to school, played with friends. It is a well planned city, with mostly good, wide roads lined with trees. The neigborhoods are calm and silent. Traditionally, people used to work in the steel plant that Durgapur is famous for. Nowadays, kids study and move out of the city all the time, settling down in different parts of the country, and sometimes, even the world. Durgapur has a few good schools which lay the foundation for good careers. Today, while I was on my morning walk, I saw schoolkids in variety of uniforms, in buses, pool cars, on parents’ scooters and bikes, rushing towards school. One of the girls was behind her father on the scooter and she had a bunch of papers in her hand that she was studying; probably for a test at school. This took me back to my school days, when I used to climb onto the school bus, and find myself a seat next to the window and go over the copies one more time before we reached school. The world has changed a lot since I graduated from schools: I did not own a mobile phone until I went to college. But to see that still some things remained same – some kids to this day are as studious that I used to be – was weirdly satisfying. Note that now that I am grown up and have seen how professional life works, I realize that the number of hours put in studying is not always proportional to professional success and I would probably not encourage my kids to study while we were dropping them to school, but nonetheless, it is interesting to see that my hometown to this day remains similar to how I saw it growing up.

On my morning walks, I also walk beside the fair ground which hosts the Annual Rath Yatra to celebrate Lord Jagannath’s visit to his aunt’s house. In my childhood, this ground used to be a place of wonders: lots of snacks places, shops which sold cheap jewellery: necklaces and rings with shiny stones, toy shops which sold trains and cars and dolls and tiny houses. There was also a book fair, which was my favorite haunt. I used to wait for the entire year to buy one book at the book fair and read it many times in the coming months, over a bowl of muri and samosas. Today, when I walk through the narrow lanes of the fair ground, all I can see is the amount of dirt on the sides of the road and the crowd. It bothers me, even though as a child I looked forward to it. Today, I feel more at peace at home, enjoying the silence of the rooms I grew up in, sometimes going through the diaries I kept when I was younger.

Every time I come home now, I discover a piece of myself in those old notes in the diaries; I understand the things which drove me as a child, the things which made me happy. I miss the prayer ceremonies at school, where all the school kids stood in lines, as per their classes and in order of their heights, singing songs that glorified the country and the state and the mother tongue. I miss the ceremonies we used to host in the school where I played the role of an anchor, guiding the ceremony to a successful end. I miss standing on the stage to make a speech (even though it was something that made me immensely uncomfortable). I miss dressing up in sarees and bangles and wearing make-up and flowers in the hair for the occasional dance performance. These things are no longer there in my life – somewhere, I have lost the creative influence that surrounded my childhood likes clouds around a snow-capped mountain. I miss it and I crave it and I want to become part of something similar again.

In all my writing, I have realized, there is a craving for the past, of something that exists in my memory (sometimes in the vague, muddy manner that is characteristic of dreams). It feels strange that I have lived through my childhood and it is really over, for in my heart, I somehow never grew up.

Durga Puja Vacation Begins…

Today I went with my brother and my mother to do some last minute shopping for Durga puja. I did buy couple of clothes myself before I came from Bangalore, but my mom, being the parent, wanted to gift me some more.

So, we went to Big Bazaar and Junction mall.

When I was in school, all these malls were not so much in fashion. In fact, they were not even there. Durga puja was the only time when we bought new clothes. I do not remember if I waited eagerly for that day when the new clothes would come; I suppose I did.

However, buying clothes, in the past, was never a comfortable experience because my father dominated the decision.

I remember this one time when I wanted a fancy white-and-red frock and my father was not at all convinced. In the end, we bought something else. I can imagine my disappointment.

Now, grown up, there is a sense of independence. I am free to choose my own clothes.

As far as clothes are concerned, my choices are simple and practical. What I am not convinced of is how branded clothes are priced. Having grown up in a middle class family who were used to shopping non-branded clothes, I do think twice before investing in a shirt worth two thousand bucks. I really do not understand if the piece of cloth is value for money. However, with the way consumerism is going, we have few choices.

Anyway, Durga puja is in full force. I am meeting some old friends from school and later going to my maternal uncle’s place. Holidays are in full swing!

Be back with more updates over the vacation.

Until later!

Shantiniketan Day Trip

On Feb. 18th, to celebrate my parents’ 25th anniversary, we went on a day trip to Shantiniketan.

Shantiniketan is situated at roughly 50 km from Durgapur, my hometown. It is home to Viswa Bharati, the unique educational institution that Rabindranatu Tagore, the much-famed Bengali poet, set up. Shantiniketan has seen footfalls of noted personalities throughout the Indian history. From Gandhi to Amartya Sen, this place has hosted many.

It was an honour to breathe in the same air that these people have breathed in, to stand on the same soil, same buildings where Tagore once walked.

We spent most of our time in the Rabindra Museum, knowing Tagore, understanding his life. The other part of our trip was spent inside the houses around the museum in which Tagore lived and hosted guests.

I also happened to witness a baul singing under a tree. Also, saw some great creative artwork like Slate Sketches in the adjacent Shonibarer Haat. Had the good fortune to watch Santhal women dance in the same hut.

Here are some pictures, relishing the moments of the day. Hope you like them!





Yours truly, under the Banyan tree


Open air classroom



The Fish by Artist Ramkinkar Bej




Santhal women dancing




Highlights from my Home Trip

I am back to Bangalore after a week long vacation to home. Even though my mother kept complaining that it was too short a vacation, I had the most of out that time.

Highlights from the trip:

  • Surprised the brother with a wallet, as a gift for bhai phonta, which is observed in Bengal to celebrate the brother-sister relationships. He literally flipped when he saw the gift. His expression was priceless – made my day
  • Had a long-planned lunch with the brother and a good friend – it was a treat from me. It feels really great when you get to feed people who love to eat
  • Gorged on too many lovely dishes made by Mom. It had been so long since I ate a meal with more than one side dish! Absolutely relished it
  • Visited my maternal uncle’s place. Gifted sari to Grandma, bought from my salary. Feels like an achievement
  • Met cousins, chatted and had some good time with fried snacks. Had my fill of junks for a month
  • Spend two hours each on two consecutive days standing in front of State Bank of India to deposit old currency notes
  • Started writing a short story while standing in the bank queue. The first draft is now ready – will polish it some more and send to some people for feedback. I am hoping to send it to some magazines once I have the final version ready
  • Finalized an offer to host a guest post by a published author on this blog. If all goes well, the post should be live on Nov. 25th

The trip really refreshed me! I met so many people, was part of so many conversations. It felt good to step out of the shoes of an analyst with an ID card. In fact, so many times, unconsciously, I was feeling for the missing lanyard – have gotten so used to have the ID card around the neck.

I am especially happy about the creative liberty this trip gave me. I have a couple of ideas that might flesh out into short stories in near future. I promised myself I will try to finish the non-fiction WIP on Fear and publish it by end of 2016. Hope to get some work done on it this weekend.

Have you been on any trips recently? Do you want to talk about how a trip rejuvenates the mind? Share your experience with me in the comments below.

Until later,

Write On!