Month: September 2020

The World is calling you… by Titas Mazumdar

Medicine check, Power bank check, Charger check, Toiletries Check. Travel pouch check-   ..Check Check….All set—– do you know what was that—- I am preparing for my next trip and that was my checklist….

Kailash range from Kalpa village

Today I thought of touching upon another passion of mine apart from Gardening and that is travelling. I can sometimes call it my obsession too. Wait- My passion list doesn’t end here though. I have a long list  to go….it will come up in all my forth coming writings. By the way writing is also one among my many hobbies which I love to nurture. Today let me talk about travelling and why I am so attracted to this calling.

Luckily me and my better half both of us share this passion….This is the best way we bond.

How many of you love travelling?  I guess all ….right? What are the benefits of travelling?

Travel ready

I truly believe that travelling is the best investment you can do on yourself. Like you go for higher education, professional trainings, certification, and personality development. These are all your investment on yourself right? Travelling to me stands number 1 investment. This investment has huge returns, the returns which are countless, the asset that no one can steal, the most valuable experience which you can pass on to your kids.

Off we go

Travel has given me the experience of life, travelling has broadened the world to me .Travelling has taught me crisis management, risk management, problem management, finance management, tolerance and acceptance. People who love travelling will definitely agree with me. Till date I have travelled 11 countries including India of course. And in India covered 15 states so far… My goal in life to complete entire India and at least half of the world… I know it’s too high a goal to achieve, specially at this time of the year with pandemic situation all around, but who can stop me from dreaming? This will also pass, and slowly the good time will come back. Let me keep all my hopes high.

Travelling to me is not travelling to my home-town or annual visit to friends or families. Travelling to me is not staying in a resort and floating in the swimming pool with a can of bear. Travelling is every time going to a new place. Exploring the world, knowing the unknowns. Blending with culture, knowing the people there, chatting with them, making them friends, eat the local food, stay among them, be a part of them. I prefer homestays over hotels as it always gives a local touch, a personal care.

Bhaktapur, Nepal

Every time I travel to a new place, I learn something new which I might have missed reading in books, seeing in movies. In 2017 I travelled to Nepal, we were walking down the narrow lanes of the heritage city Bhaktapur of Nepal. Just before sunset all the ladies came out to offer prayer as it was some religious day, I was not aware and to my surprises I saw on the plate they were offering to God they had boiled eggs and deep fried fishes. Yes, in their culture they do serve fish and egg to God. Isn’t it interesting?

Have you guys visited the cleanest village of Asia? It’s in our country Meghalaya. Mawlynnong – I happened to stay 2 days there is a home stay. It’s a magical paradise – a 100% literate village with full women empowerment. They just have 2 very small grocery stores and 2 restaurants for tourists. All the houses produce their own vegetables or get it from nearby jungles. One school in the village for all. No morning rush hour, no one is in hurry to reach anywhere or to achieve anything. Every single soul is contended and happy.

In one of our recent trips to Goa we came across an Italian middle aged lady who was staying in Goa for last couple of months and she has been driving in her own car all by herself all across Europe, staying in different countries, on her way to India. She entered India through Kazaksthan – Nepal route. We were amazed and thrilled to hear all her adventurous travel stories. When you are travelling you meet such crazy solo travelers who can be friend in just couple of seconds.

In trips you meet with bad experiences too and you have good amount of lesson learning from those bitter experiences. In 2010 we were in vacation in Bahamas, bright sunny morning, we headed for water scootie ride under the water to see the coral reef and fishes followed by some scuba diving… we were about to get the passes when my husband realized he has been  pick pocketed. He had driving license, different domestic debit and credit cards, metro card, loyalty cards which were of no use in a foreign land. Those cards were in his wallet and it never occurred to us to keep it at home while travelling overseas. We just wasted half a day calling back home to cancel all the cards. So, from next time onwards whenever we travel international we make sure just we have the right thing and not one extra, useless item in our wallets.

Another bad experience we had in Prague in 2009 where we were caught by the local cop in the bus. As usual we chose to stay in not so touristy place as these places come with amazing local touch, but the problem is when you don’t know the local language. The bus tickets are sold in tobacco shops. We asked for a round ticket to and fro Prague’s castle, the lady gave us the ticket but didn’t mention that the ticket is valid only till 2 hrs. So basically, you can purchase tickets based on hours, which we were completely unaware of until the cop got into the bus and directly came to us while were returning from the castle after almost 5 hrs. We were the only brown skins in the bus and it seems that it was kind of preplanned and the cop directly came to us and asked for the ticket and told it was a random check. We showed the ticket and he told the ticket is not valid, please get down from the bus and pay the fine. We realized they targeted tourists as tourist don’t know the local language and it is a very common mistake they make. By default, tickets have 2 hours validity, if you need more you have to ask for it… who knew this law of the land? From then onwards we became double /triple careful and did more research before taking any public transport in a foreign land.

On our way to Valley of Flowers

I have hundred such experiences to share related to my trips and travels… the bottom line is good or bad any travel to a new place always teaches you some life lesson which no book can teach you. It gives you knowledge of history, geography, social science, geology that no school alone teaches. No matter how many miles you travel, you travel to a place near to home or far, village or a city, outside the country or within the country, mountains or desert, it will always enlighten your little world and brighten your future, add to your experience , make you much more wealthier and happier from within. Travelling is a secret for happiness, key to valuing your own life, a secret to de stress yourself. So just pack your bags and head towards the unknown; world is calling you – there is so much to explore….But yes wait for the good time to come back and don’t forget your mask.

Mahalaya

By Heema Roy Choudhury

Mahalaya is widely celebrated as the day when Goddess Durga begins her descend to earth, to grace us with her presence for those five much awaited days of Durga Pujo. As a girl I would wake up in the wee hours of Mahalaya morning to listen to the recital of Birendra Krishna Bhadra. The whole family would gather around the radio to listen to him, invoking the Goddess in his sonorous voice.

There was so much excitement around Mahalaya. I would spend an almost sleepless night lest I missed the recitals, what if mom forgot to wake me up. The medium was audio, but the lyrics, the voice, the songs, and our imagination would bring Devi Durga alive. I could almost visualize her stepping out from her heavenly abode to begin her journey to earth.

Mahalaya also marks the end of Pitri Paksha and the beginning of Devi Paksha (though this year it will be delayed by about a month due to the Adhik Maas (leap month in the Hindu calendar). Like the soft glow of Devi, the golden sun soothes our eyes, the clear blue sky, the cottony white clouds, the cool breeze usher pleasant autumn. The sweet fragrance of Shiuli Phool (a kind of jasmine) and the sound of dhak would add to the magic once, reminding us that Durga Pujo’s round the corner. We could feel the morning dew, the harsh summer giving in to cooler climes. Somehow, though I still feel the season changing, the old excitement is gone. Maybe it’s me growing up, maybe it’s staying away from home so long, sometimes I forget to miss Shiuli flower that would be strewn under the tree in our courtyard. As girl I would string these sweet-smelling flowers into garlands or bracelets. My ears still strain for the sound of dhak, brings back memories, though my heart doesn’t flutter like it used to once.

Mahalaya would also mean rushing to the market to buy new clothes and shoes, badgering mom to finish stitching our dresses soon, planning our outfits for each day, waiting eagerly for four days of pandal hopping and festivities. As a child Durga Pujo also meant holidays and no studies. Now, it’s work as usual, though I make it a point to wear sari and go to the nearby Pujo pandal in the evening. The pandals in Gurgaon do a good job of presenting Devi Durga in all her glory, with dhak and dhunochi dance, yet something’s missing. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe the times have changed!

Twin Tales of Love – by Riti Chakraborty

The girl in a yellow kurti

I think I talked to you for the first time in an abandoned staircase I had begun calling my ‘home’. You had stumbled across from the other part of the building. And I knew because I would see you every day; wearing the same black jeans paired with either a white or yellow kurti, your brown eyes reminding me of how gold shone against the sun, scanning each nook of the society we lived in, maybe in hopes of finding someone as solemn and as meek as you. Maybe you didn’t. I didn’t think I would fall head over heels for a girl wearing bindis in a world full of hoop earrings. And I certainly didn’t think she would, for me, too.

I distinctly remember our first conversation. You had followed a pair of pigeons in hopes of finding their babies. I was smoking at the other end of the staircase. You had no idea. Your first question to me was if I knew I would die if I smoked too many cigarettes. I had smiled coyly. It wasn’t a cigarette. I could see your jaws tense and cheeks go pink. You had realized you didn’t know who I was, and maybe felt as if you came on too strong, giving such opinions on matters that you ought not meddle in. You almost turned away to go, but I stopped you. Weren’t you going to look at the babies you had come for? 

You looked at me, as if you were looking right through my soul. “Maybe the babies were an excuse. Maybe I knew you come here at 7:00 pm everyday after all the kids go home.” 

I don’t think I had ever found someone that appealing. Maybe I had taken you to be shy, but in that moment, we stared at each other as if everything else around us had stopped, and the only thing we felt were the watches on our wrist ticking and the heartbeat in our chests pounding. It lasted for a split 5 minutes before I realized you were gone. Vanished off into thin air. I never saw you after that. 

Love in times of corona virus

Have you ever wandered what it would be like having a relationship with a person who you’ve never met? Sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

How can you love someone, when you don’t even know what their touch feels like?

You keep wandering if they smell like damp Earth on a fresh rainy evening, or like Daffodils in full bloom on a warm Spring day.

And before you know it, you start imaging how it will be when you first meet; will you shy away and shake hands and say hello, like formal lovers, or straight away run and melt in their arms, arms of a person you’ve wanted to sleep in after a long time.

Arms, face, eyes, only reminding you of the same person you talked to till 5 in the morning, when you couldn’t stay awake no more, and yet there was something that just kept, happening; talking about things you would rather not with anyone else.

So how do you go and fall in love with a person, a person who you’ve never met, a person emotionally so familiar yet physically so strange? 

When you hear other people talking about the love of their lives, holding hands while they walk, you cannot help but think about it for a split moment before you blurt ‘but we’ve had so many virtual movie dates, does that count?’ 

And you’re well aware of how it sounds like, but while for others love simply means bear hugs, french kisses and food in bed after sex, for you it means having shared playlists, random movie dates, and sending gifts through E-Commerce platforms, constantly playing IDK you Yet, by Alexander 23 because believe it or not, it’s actually been months you haven’t met, but trust me when I say you already know your first date won’t be an end.

Letter to my Smartphone

My dearest Smartphone,

Hope this letter finds you in the pink of health!

Smarthphone & I

I have so much to thank you for that I don’t know where to begin. You are much more than mobile doorbhash that allows us to talk to people in far off places or even see them now through various video calling apps. Your sassy chats that graduated from simple SMSs to WhatsApp to Snap Chat to what not add spice to our lives. The abbreviations, the emojis and the GIFs (that I often don’t understand) say so much yet say nothing. You give me weather updates, you send me news alerts, you give me directions. I shop with you, I bank with you, I romance with you, I socialize with you, I read with you. Now I have even started keeping notes with you. You are my dictionary, you are my Pictionary, your browser throws up information on anything and everything. You have captured the whole universe in your slim and petite frame (or the universe that matters to you). Life is unimaginable without you!

I look at you as soon as I wake up, I check you out before going to bed. At night you are the closest thing to me, lying at an arm’s length on my bedside table. I pick you up if I hear you ping even at midnight, lest I miss out anything. I am glued to you, I am addicted to you, yet I wish I could go back to the days before you.

You have brought the world to my feet dear Smartphone, but not without a price. You have brushed aside anything that came in your way, everything that your smartness made irrelevant. The sonorous telephones that used to be the centrepieces of our drawing rooms are gone. We don’t need to bother about the neighbours who would drop by to make or receive a call. The letters, that we once wrote fondly to each other and so looked forward to, were your casualties too (and yet I choose to write a letter to you). Your older cousin Hotmail (though not so hot anymore) probably led them to their demise by taking them to the digital realm, and you with your sassy apps just swept them away like dry leaves. Who needs so many words and sentences and pages after pages when you can smartly say so much or so less with emojis and images and videos? Alas, my letters writing pads are gathering dust, my fountain pens long forgotten. Verbose me chockes with words, as I dabble with your chats.   

You kicked out the albums next and the prints of photographs – black & white and then coloured, that would get botchy with times yet smell of the moments gone by. The Sony Coolpix that I bought with my salary is lying in some drawer forgotten. Who needs a Coolpix when your camera is so much cooler? Thousands of photographs are stored on your cloud that I rarely revisit. We get clicked to get likes on social media it seems.

The torch under my pillow, the table clock with an alarm are gone too. For you have a torch, an alarm and you set all kinds of reminders for me. I video chat, I audio chat, I talk to my friends in different corners of the world for hours. That little radio, I don’t need it anymore for you are loaded with music apps. You are with me all the time. I am drawn to you like a moth to the flame. Oh, I so wish I could fly away before your flames devour me or be reborn like a Phoenix.

I have gained so much with you; I have lost so much for you. I have so much to tell that you that your chats will not suffice. I had to resort to the long-forgotten letter that you will probably open with a sneer.

You’re becoming smarter by the day no doubt and I admire you for that. We wait for your latest models to add to our smartness. But dear Smartphone you’ll never know the whiff of the old letters, the smell of the old photographs, the sonorous ring of the telephones. We marvel at your smartness but never get attached to you. You are nothing like old letters or greeting cards or journals that we cherished for years. You’re changed without a second thought the moment your smarter variant is launched.

No matter what Smartphone, I can’t think of a day without you. So, take care and write back, or send me some witty messages.

Sincerely yours,

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