Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Well, I wanted to participate in SHUTTER LOVE TUESDAYS ( Check out this beautiful blog and the event !! ) . This week's theme is BLUE..
I had posted a write-up long back,when I started this blog ( My old post ) and soon after we returned from our trip to the Bahamas on BLUE.I wanted to link that up too here,as well as post some new photos from the same trip,which would be my interpretations on this week's theme " BLUE " . 




Thanks to Trendy Treehouse ( http://thetrendytreehouse.blogspot.com/ ) for this lovely event !!

Out & About

THE BAY DURING SUNSET.....That's my sister-in-law in the pic

I went to visit my brother and sis-in-law in California two years back..During my stay there,we all went to this beautiful Marina Park in Alviso.Alviso is a tiny,quiet-almost sleepy town,with few thousand people and old,wooden houses.The town is surrounded by mud flats,freshwater creeks,bay shallows,sloughs,salt ponds,marshes -with miles and miles of beautiful quiet trails on the levees for walking,jogging & biking..Some of the levees are closed to public to protect the rich wildlife in this area..The trails are dirt-surfaced..which reminded me of rural India.We went during the afternoon,after the sun has mellowed down a bit ..We walked on the trails,encircling the salt ponds and the bay..The wind was very strong,coming all the way across the marshes,miles and miles of it...and picking up the moist,coldness with it on it's way over the bay.It was a beautiful afternoon..There were these structure tucked in the dense growth of reeds and rushes..which we loved..We posed on them and took some pictures ( pic below )..

 The marsh was mostly covered with thickly growing bullrushes,rendering this eerie touch to the entire area,specially as the sun started going down and the gorgeous sunset led to a beautiful twilight,which in turn gradually succumbed  to the oncoming dusk......We basked in the warming touch of the last rays and the cooling kiss of the gale,taking in the sights and sounds of nature,of all the different birds and all that salty,marshy smells...Then for the second time that afternoon,we heard a train whistling by ...We rushed to a clearing nearby and managed not only to see it but also to take a quick picture !! 
       It was an afternoon to remember,an evening well spent ..A beautiful outing with my loved ones !! 


I'm sending this off to " Out & About " photography challenge,hosted by Faith, in her beautiful blog ( See here  ). 

Thanks a lot for such an oppurtunity ~ ~ 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Pujo Journal !!

Kolkata and the suburbs were for vacations and family functions..My brother and I have spent our growing up years,until he went off to being a techie and I got married,in various small towns of West Bengal and Jharkhand.My dad is a Civil Engineer ( now a new retiree since April 2010 ) and we grew up in townships which formed around some Thermal Power Station or Hydroelectric Power Plant,located in the outskirts of some important city..We were detached from many things which normal city life might present on a daily basis-some were disadvantageous and some were a blessing in disguise for us and our parents..

SHIULI from Ma's garden 
During Durga Puja,we almost never went to Kolkata,mainly because Baba almost never got leave from work and we didn't want to spend this time of the year apart..and then also because we got used to the quiet life of  a small town and we wanted to avoid the crowd,sweat and traffic jams of big city Pujo ..And surprisingly,we never missed it-all the big pandals,all those hopping around all night long which our cousins gave vivid descriptions of.Well,maybe Ma missed it..She had spent her entire life in kolkata until she got married ..and when I was in college,she confided in me that when we were younger ( and she was younger as well ), she used to terribly miss Kolkata-all the hustle-bustle,all the sounds,smell,crowd..everything called her home.I feel so bad when I think of all those times when she had to cancel her plans of going because of us !!  

Ma calls this JHUMKO JABA

So,we spent our Puja days in our small township,sitting all day long at our Officer's Club Durga Pujo Pandal or making quick rounds to other mandaps which our township had to offer..Saptami and Ashtami were days reserved for going out-to nearby towns and cities for Pandal Hopping...
Dad was so enthusiastic about all these-We used to look forward to these trips during Puja-sometimes with other families,sometimes just the four of us-we used to go visit pandals in Chittaranjan,Burnpur,Asansol,Durgapur,Raghunathpur,Bankura,Panchet..and so many other small towns and cities surrounding us.And then eating out on these days were also part of the attraction !! 

Sometimes our grandparents visited to spend the puja days with us..sometimes other relatives visited us to experience the small town puja thing ..And if on one hand,they were bored with the not-so grand pandals and almost inaudible sound of the " DHAAK " and blaring microphones..they loved the quietness and less crowded streets for a change on the other !! 

Ma's Garden

        When I was considered fit to be called a grown-up and was eligible to spent some time away from the constant supervision of Maa ( but only when there are Ma's friends present to supervise me in her absence ) - I used get up early ,bathe and Dad used to drop me off at our Officer's Club Pujo Pandal....I brought supply of flowers from our garden-which Dad had picked up even earlier in the morning,when he did his morning puja ..I helped all the Kakima & Kaku in their prepwork for that day's pujo,whatever way I could- That was the first time I cut fruits and the only time before marriage..which was fun-because Mom never allowed me to do anything at home ( And now I know,that cutting fruits is not fun at all-now that I have to do them all the time !! ). Making garlands,chosing perfect " Bel-pata " and " Dubbyo Ghaash " , " Chandan Bata " , making garlands of 108 Hibiscus flowers in the evening of Ashtami,for Sandhi Puja ...And then Dad used to come after about 2 hours to pick me up..I used to go back home,dress up and come back with family for Puspanjali,prasad,chatting,planning for the evening and so much more fun ~ 
 Fun,which meant eating the " Niramish " ( vegetarian ) delicacies Ma was having on Shoshti and Ashtami and then going out and having non-veg food as well ~ wearing new dresses right from Panchami...and even after going through 2-3 changes of clothes on all the 5 days,we had new dresses left for diwali and bhai-phonta..

Lonka Jaba from Ma's garden

Durga Puja was fun..although there were times when we had Half-yearly exams when school reopens,in which case we had to study and then only allowed to go for the Puspanjali..But no matter what happened,the two weeks following Lakshmi Puja ( Kojagori,the one which comes immediately after Durga Puja ) were always set aside for our trips to different parts of India..Dad used to start planning for this trip well ahead of time,specially because tickets had to be booked promptly on the day the reservations opened ( which was typically 2 months ahead of the day you are planning to set out )...Books were brought out from Dad's huge collection,which Dad researched in details..and then when those huge road maps ( Dad has this collection of road maps of entire India ) where ultimately spread out on the living room floor,we knew we are all set ..Although we would travel by train and later on other conveyances,Dad always made it a point to know the names of all the stations we would be crossing,all the roads,junctions,by-lanes and everything a person can possibly want to know..
            I loved this part  when Dad called and pointed to us different things on the maps..we used to run,leaving our homeworks and books aside,because that reminded us of the vacation we are about to go on,very soon !! And throughout our 2-nights journey on the train,I wrote journals and I always knew even if I failed to look at the name of a station we just passed-Dad would know it and he did..He remembered all the stations that we left behind and the ones we are about to pass... 

      Dad planned those trips and Mom looked after the other details-There were always delicious foods for us on the train..we never ate from the pantry car..Mom made such foods which won't go bad in this long journey like Chhatu'r Kochuri ( poori with sattu filling ), Keema,gulab jamun and sorts.........Sometimes Rajasthan, sometimes Madhya Pradesh and at other times- places of Orissa,Uttar Pradesh and other states of India called us and we answered to their callings !! There are so many stories to tell about all those trips....

I feel sad that I'm not able to share any of the photos from all those times..Everything is in albums at Ma-Baba's and I don't have their soft copies.

Those were the days of fun,frolic and enjoyment..So much happens around one festival like Durga Puja for bengalis..So many memories are created to be cherished for days to come...
My hubby and I enjoyed our 1st durga Puja together in Pune.It was another beautiful experience ..wandering around the beautiful city of Pune in our bike..After moving to US, we had a very sad 1st Pujo here...We didn't have a car and couldn't go anywhere...

Pujo in Austin,TX

                   From a small -scale one day pujo at the nearby Hindu temple..to not-so-small One and half day pujo - We are now about to celebrate two whole days of  pujo this year ..Our local Bengali Association is getting bigger and better with each passing year.My hubby and I are active members of the Pujo committee this year,which has given us an oppurtunity to experience a lot of things apart from having fun and actually feeling like enjoying Durga Puja to the fullest,maybe for the 1st time outside India. And we are so happy that although like all other years,we are celebrating Pujo on the weekend - this year those dates have coincided with the actual days of Nabami & Dashami ~ ~ 

I'm sending this post off to Pree's " BEYOND 5 DAYS OF DURGA PUJO " event. She has a beautiful space here . Thanks again Pree for this wonderful event..

Friday, September 24, 2010

Beyond Five Days of Durga Pujo EVENT

Durga Pujo..quintessence of Bengali festivities..Like all other bengalis,I've limitless memories,flashing in front of my eyes right now..I was wanting to write about my memories of durga pujo,but then there is so much to write..I have been holding myself back,afraid to run out of space and then leading all my dear readers to boredom.Pree of  PreeOccupied  posted a beautiful article today,inviting everyone to contribute something about Durga Puja-stories,pictures,recipes..And that got me started..
      After so many years,we were in India last year for Durga Puja-I left early from US to arrive just in time for the monsoons leaving the sunny skies and fluffy clouds to do their thing, cute li'l KAASH starting to take their forms in those grassy brushes..Everything smelled of my familiar pujo days...
                    I'll be talking about my memories in a different post..This one's for the photos only..I chose a few, from the pictures I took during my India trip last year..Hope they serve their purpose of telling the story I want them to tell of those beautiful time spent with family,feeling at home...Last but not the least,my brother got married about 2 years back into one of the oldest families of Kolkata-They have been celebrating  Durga Puja and Jagadhhatri Pujo for over 200 years in their home..I had the most unique time during the Durga Puja days last year at my sis-in-law's parental home,starting right from Mahalaya,watching the " PROTIMA ( IDOL ) being molded from clay,being painted,jewelleries being put on the Goddess and so on...I've shared a few pictures from those days too !! 

My Didama's ( maternal grandmom ) daily morning ritual- beautiful pujo arrangements...I have been waking up to her pujo bells ( ghonta ) every morning,whenever we are at her house..

DIDAMA'S PONCHO-PRODIP  which is lighted up every morning and every evening..for AROTI 

Bhaat-Paturi-Mocha'r Ghonto ( Banana flower sabji )- LUNCH on fresh-cut Banana Leaf fro m the garden !!
  Among the myriads of dishes Mom makes everytime I'm home..I managed to take a picture of " ILISH MAACHER PATURI " cooked by her this time ..Pujo holidays and good food,preferably home-made and Mom-made :)

 The roadside splendor of KAASH..on our way to Kolkata from Maithon..The day was " Biswakarma Pujo "

KOLKATA CALLING ..Family,food,fun...Yayyy !! 

 Day of Mahalaya-Jethu ( that's what I call my bro's father-in-law ) called me to let me know that the PROTIMA ( IDOL ) is ready,they are putting the finishing touches on the painting part..Tonight, Maa ( Maa Durga ) will be adorned with the " SAAJ "  ( Jewelleries )..The Goddess is getting ready..I was so happy and grateful to them for giving me an oppurtunity to experience something so beautiful, and captured a few photos..


Freshly bloomed  SHIULI at night

Those five days of pujo came quickly and left even quicker-Spent those days as wonderfully as any Bong would possibly spend - eating out and in,shopping,Pandal Hopping,lazing around on Didama's bed with rest of the family...chatting,having home-made Paan ( beetle leaves ), piping hot darjeeling chai with singara ( samosa )..


 The next couple pictures are from the archives of Girish Bhavan,taken by a relative-Thanks to my Sis-in-law for sharing them with me !!



 Now,my post wouldn't be complete without a few chosen photos of the pandals of Kolkata...And many of them are weirdly taken because of the flood,of people,knocking you out from every directions..It's amazing that I managed to take any pictures at all :)

Here's welcoming this year's Pujo whole-heartedly....
This post is off to Pree's event...Thanks Pree for such an oppurtunity !!

Another photo challenge-SIMPLICITY





Another one, for which I have to thank Kamalika ( Please see here !! ) again..The theme for this one is " MOOD "..I chose a few photos from my collection,which I think would aptly fit the topic..
Be sure to take a tour of http://faith-simplicity.blogspot.com/ and  look at some fabulous photographs..

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


My interpretations of the items of the Scavenger Hunt Sunday Event on Ashley Sisk's blog ( see here  ). She's a great photographer and I'm so happy to get an oppurtunity to take part in such an event..Thanks to Ashley and to Kamalika ( visit her blog here ) as well,because of whom I came to know of such an event in the first place !!
My interpretations of the items :-
  • Wish / Dream
  • Clean
  • Currency
  • Pair
  • Square   

1.Wish /Dream
Wishing I could go back to my hometown,take an early morning boat ride in the nearby river,which runs along our house..

My very cute broom,which keeps my bed clean ..

I got this coin bag from a boutique in India...Love to keep my quarters in it !!


A pair of Mottled Duck,feeding in the poodle formed by the fresh rain..

Very handy when I need to weigh my baggages before a trip....Reminds me of the times when I go home !!

 Hope you liked my photographs...Thanks a lot !! 

Monday, September 20, 2010



A feast to the sore eyes

Zebra Heliconian
Blue Dasher 
I'm an avid photographer..Seldom do I go out without a camera..Sometimes,I slow down and take pictures in a weird manner from the driver's seat..Sometimes, I take a walk just for the sake of capturing nature's mundane affairs..For me,photography is a pastime,an obsession,an easy route to rewind and relax...
Thanks to Kamalika of  http://silencesings.blogspot.com/ , I became aware of the " Macro Monday Event " . And I wanted to share a few photographs from my collection...

Have fun, friends....
.......Till I write again :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

The flock ~

I’m still waiting for that sunshine…I’m looking for it,if you’ll believe me..While I’m on the road,driving ..I’m looking out..When I’m outside,in my balcony-I’m searching for it…Only yesterday,I was waiting for the lights to turn green –and I was looking at the clouds-They are almost there,to that texture ,look and feel which I want them to be..to get in the Puja-mood..It’s almost there,but not quite.Something’s still missing and I’m not satisfied till they are perfect..But something beautiful happened,when I was staring at those beautiful white clouds,spread out like cotton ,when beaten up with a bow..The entire canvas of the sky was full of these fluffy clouds and then suddenly two different flocks of doves , from two parallel overhead wires stirred up…and took a beautiful flight of fantasy…They floated around for quite sometime,in wave-like movements,dancing around in the afternoon sun..I was uncommonly happy that the signal was taking it’s time to turn to green..They made swoops and glides in unison,as if dancing to some beautiful classical music,inaudible to me but audible to the sky,those clouds,the trees,the air..and whole of the big,wide world.. And then they gradually alighted back on those man-made wires..

This beautiful sight made me happy ,although a bit sad because I couldn’t capture this moment in my camera..But I felt refreshed nonetheless…

When I came to think of it,I realised how little things can make you happy and how less you need to be happy,even for a little bit,everyday !!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Fresh and better !!

In those initial years after coming to US, I didn’t pay much attention to certain things around me-Perhaps I was too busy getting acquainted with the life here,too  busy getting myself adjusted to the everyday chores that I was not habituated to do …But all those times  I went back home,Mom’s cooking tasted ever so  heavenly and finger-lickingly scrumptious…Nothing struck a bell except the obvious facts like I have missed this food so much and there’s nothing like Mom’s food !! And I continued to nurture these beliefs up until the time when I had some relatives over in our place from India..They were quick to point out to the fact that certain things tasted so much different here than in India..Different as in tasteless..Certain vegetables which we use in our daily meals in India had no taste here..The chicken tasted “ different “ not being freshly-cut  and such..That opened my eyes to a lot of things …more precisely,to lots of thoughts linking up to the days of our childhood.

When it comes to vegetables and fruits,you can get everything nowadays all year round,even in India..although this  was not the case even a few years back.And which seemed a big difference to me when I came here.I used to tell Ma about the different vegetables that I can get here ,irrespective of the month or the season and their sheer sizes..Peeling garlic is almost fun here due to the bigger sizes of the cloves !! I thought of all the frustrations and troubles Ma must have gone through when she wanted to prepare some dish and found out  that the vegetable was not yet in the market or is too much priced due to being in the start of it’s season ….

But this spell was broken a little when I realized that food didn’t taste as good as  I’m used to having  it..I’m preparing the exact same recipe but still I couldn’t do it like Ma - Well,obviously I’m far from being as good a cook like my Ma…and although everything here is fatter ,bigger,fresher and easier to get ….there’s that factor of faster,better and mass production which changes the taste and value of certain things..

And then,there’s no one to wave  the magical wand on them..How can something,even organic for that matter ,taste as good as home..if there’s no dad to go out on Sunday mornings to get the fresh-cut mutton from the butcher,or the vegetables from the bazar …or on Tuesday evenings,on his way back home from office..stopping by the “ haat “ and picking up a few good stuff ??? 

It’s those things-smells of Ma’s cooking,sights of dad’s  grocery bags, realizing those toils of our parents,  those childhood days,those memories which seemed routine when they were present but seems so magical,now that they are a part of the non-existent past  - those things,that serve as the ultimate enhancers.

( I added a photo of Jamrul/Bell fruit from Ma’s garden – See how they beam in the sun,those babies !! )

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Today was one of those days when I looked about me and felt like I knew this sunshine from somewhere- The day I was about to leave home for hostel life,for the first time..had this exact same tint to it..Not a sunshine which one associates with happiness,but  one of dejection-Memories of leaving the love and constant protection of your parents to one of struggle.Although hostel life is not all bad,and I personally feel everyone should experience it..but still,for me it marked a big change in my otherwise tranquil life...
There are lots of such days when I can relate to the color of the sunshine …There is a particular time of the year when it happens more often..I’m still waiting for it to happen this year..It’s almost time though- Days when I start to feel durga puja is just around the corner-the cottony clouds,the bright sunshine,the sky..everything has a different feel and look-something which I can’t  express in words so well but only can be felt..specially if you have spent your lifetime looking forward to durga pujo every year and observing the gradual changes which marks the advent of autumn or “ Sharat “ in bengal....Monsoon gradually takes her leave, and Kaash fuul starts taking form in the clumps of grassy brushes,in the fields and roadsides…mostly around those places left wet by the rains. Sunshine starts to abound and clumps of milky white,fluffy clouds start floating around like little boats in the vast blue ocean of the sky….

In my mind full of memories,durga pujo & Sharat kaal are representated aptly by two things- Kaash Fuul and Shiuli Fuul..And as puja holidays started to get closer,bamboo poles started piling up at tentative spots for “ pandals “, you hear the word “ pujo’r bazar ( pujo shopping ) “  and ongoing decision-making at home regarding  pujo gifts to relatives…I knew it’s time..And immediately my eternal lookout for any signs of Kaash fuul started. 

I was in India last year for durga puja-after many years..And on our way to Kolkata via G.T.Road , I felt like I was in a dream..The roadsides and the fields ..as far as eyes could see,were covered with whiteness..Kaash fuul…my favorite…abounding everywhere..in all the nook and corner..It was a sight which made my trip worthwhile…it was a sight which brought back floods of memories and fed my hungry mind and soul with material to make whole new memories….I asked dad to stop so that I could step out of the car and imbibe this sight….A few days later,there was a big storm,which often happens this time of the year..and all those whiteness were gone…some dropped off  to the ground,others were slumped by the torrent…a few remained to brave the wind.But I’ve taken in one of the best sights and I was not that sad. In my parents’ garden,like every year giant pink “ sthal-padma “ ( Land-Lotus ) started to bloom..Shiuli came a little later..I remembered how my brother and I used to tire ourselves out by collecting loads of shiuli fuul,which covered the grounds below the tree in a thick carpet,every morning..There’s no fragrance like the shiuli-It’s just out of this world..and the fact that it comes only during a particular time of the year and that too during the durga puja-makes it all so much more special. Shapla,shaluk,Padma ….made their appearances in the ponds and lakes…Yes,durga pujo is definitely here…

So,in this far-off land…it so happens that that the imminence of durga pujo arrives some way or the other to me-Sometimes,from the advertisements and announcements in the online radio,or a little chat with Ma when she tells me about all the shopping she’s been doing since there’s only a month or two left …Or sometimes,one fine sunny day..I feel and smell that durga pujo-ness in the sunshine..and when I look up,I see those exact same clouds and the clear,crisp,blue sky i’ve been seeing all  my life.What I do then is to add my own spice to it-those sights of kaash,shiuli,shaapla,shaluk,sthal Padma ~ those smell of dhoop,dhuno,haziness around the pandals due to all the smoke ~ the sounds of stotro-paath ( chanting of mantras ),blaring microphones,puspanjali ( offering to the goddess ) in progress ~ and everything else I need to do to transport me back home, to the voices of  my parents telling us to hurry up..to those days of durga puja..

I’m still awaiting that kind of a sunshine this year…eagerly  ~ ~

Monday, September 6, 2010

The sound of music !!

The hills are alive, with the sound of music,
With songs they have sung, for a thousand years...
The hills fill my heart, with the sound of music...
My heart wants to sing every song, it hears.

My heart, wants to beat like the wings of the birds,
that rise from the lake to the trees....
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies,
from a church on a breeze...
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
stones, on its way..
To sing through the night, like a lark who is learning to pray...

I go to the hills, when my heart is lonely...
I know I will hear, what I've heard before...
My heart will be blessed, with the sound of music.....
And I'll sing, once more..
I hold this song very very dear to me..like the movie itself- When my mom was a teenager,she watched this movie for the first time..and like every other adolescent girl,she fell in love with it-With the songs,with “ I’m sixteen,going on seventeen “,with the soft yet passionate chemistry between Fraulein Maria & Captain Von Trapp…
When I turned 10,my mom brought this movie from the store ( those were the times of big fat black video cassettes ) for us to watch it for the first time..I guess she must have waited eagerly all these years to open my eyes to the aspects of deep love, soft romance and intense passion...which could all be found beautifully in this movie. 

I was mesmerized with everything,just  like my mom had been in her teenage days.Such is the character of this movie,I believe..that through the generations it has created the same  kinds of feelings in all the girls of a certain age..That was the time I fell in love with Christopher Plummer , the romantic moonlit night in the glass house,when Maria and Captain Von Trapp confessed their love for each other …that delicately soft love and deep passion displayed in the  most gentle manner !!  

And I fell in love with the idea of love..and started to understand the meaning of the word “ romance “ – romance in the ripples of a lake,in the gurgling sound of water-when it flows over the rocks…in the moonlit nights and in the leaves changing colours during fall….I fell in love with Julie Andrews, and her voice…So much was the love,that I went back to watch this movie innumerable times till date,and I always felt the same charm and joy…The movie itself, to me ..stands for everything positive- love,respect..for each other,for your homeland ...

I’m madly fond of the prelude and the song ( the one which I started this post with ) – It gladdens my heart when I can relate to the lyrics of a song with the feelings of my heart-and this is one of such song which I can relate to,every word of it ~ ~ 

Something’s doesn’t change with time and I believe,there should be some such things which will always be beautiful and remain unchanged with time & create the same magic  for all ages....For  moms and daughters to cherish,enjoy and treasure,individually and together……