Friday, June 28, 2013

Pursuing His Heart

Rahul was with me in school. While we were listening to teachers, his mind would always wander to his guitar and music. Needless to say, he did not do well in the exams and after repeated attempts, could barely graze through school.

Bengalis may be a very open minded race, but they could have some limitations too. They think the world comes to an end if you do not do well in studies. His parents were apalled at his dismal marks, and were wondering how to get their boy back on track.

Rahul wanted to be a musician. He opposed his family and was ultimately thrown out of home and school. We had lost touch until one day, after good five years, I met him at a stage show.

Time had changed him, but somewhere deep within, he was still the school boy who studied with me. He recognized me in the crowd and jumped off the stage immediately after the performance. Long hair, confident attitude, a much sophisticated guitar hung around his neck - he seemed to have been reborn.

We exchanged numbers and next day, I met him for coffee, when he told me about his whereabouts in the interim period. He had to face the world on his own, without a place to call home and no money.

"But I had my baby", he said, holding his guitar up. Yes, he came for coffee with the instrument hung on his back.

I probed him for more details... and he spoke his heart out. Life had been harsh, but he had kept his cool and followed his heart. No matter what, he'd not part with his guitar. And gradually, he joined a music band who paid him on performance basis. Later his talent got recognized, and soon, he became a musician much in demand.

Looking at my spellbound expression, he said that he had relished the challenge the world posed for him, learnt a lot the harsh way, but has finally emerged victorious by clinging to his passion.

"No one asks for my degrees anymore", he grinned.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Granny Darling

Married at 17. Widowed at 33, while carrying her 5th child in her womb. My Granny - Mrs Anjali Mazumder.

Destiny threw this challenge at her. She was young and beautiful, widowed and mother of five. And without any source of income. To make matters worse, all relatives distanced themselves from her, for they did not want six extra mouths to feed.

Grandpa was about 45 when he had that sudden heart attack. He was a simple man, and had meagre savings. In those (pre- Indepence) times, salaries were low as well.

As if God was not pacified by Granny's plight, He added more suffering. She lost an eye, one of her knees went stiff. But what God perhaps overlooked was the fighter in the lady.

She struggled, sold her jewellery, did odd jobs and whatever she could do to bring her two daughters and three sons up. All of them are established and successful in their careers, married, have children and even grandchildren. Today, at 96, when she shares her memories from those days, she grins and says, "I've relished being challenged by Almighty, and my success story is being told by the next generations!"

Passionate about education herself, Granny can speak English fluently and has taught us during our childhood too. She has a sharp brain and has an exceptionally modern outlook. We are truly inspired by her.

Her 96th birthday is on this 25th June. May she be there to guide us all our lives. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Stuck up There

My Dad was posted in Gangtok, a beautiful hill station - my Mom used to visit him with me and my brother every weekend from Calcutta, no matter what. We would start on Friday, reach on Saturday, again start on Sunday and attend school on Monday.

It was one such trip in July 1990 when North Bengal and Sikkim had received heavy rain. We were travelling from Siliguri to Gangtok, and midway on the hills, we found ourselves behind a series of vehicles, all stuck up because the road ahead was blocked by a large boulder.

Landslides are a pretty common phenomenon in this part of the world, especially in the rainy season. My brother and I, all of 10 and 11 years of age, got out our taxi to check the situation out. Mom was apprehensive, but she let us move out so long we remained in her line of vision. There were no mobile phones at that time, so there was no way one could communicate with anyone in the outer world.

A chill ran down our spines as we looked down - we were on the edge of a steep cliff, and the landslide had broken the barriers on the edge of the road. The boulder that blocked our way sat on a bed of smaller rocks and uprooted trees, and seemed to hold back the avalanche. The balance seemed delicate, and the slightest disturbance could bring the mountains down. 

There were people leaning against their vehicles or walking around, hoping that help would arrive. Our challenge was not to overcome this critical situation, but keep our cool.

Hours passed, sunlight dimmed. Our mom, along with others, was looking tensed. The idea of spending a night in the wilderness with two children was definitely scary.

We were lucky to be children - worry was something that we were unfamiliar with. The thrill of being in such a critical situation seemed to egg us on, and we seemed to relish the challenge of being completely helpless to Mother Nature.

My brother and I tried to speak to people who were complete strangers, whose languages were unknown to us (we could not speak Hindi too at that stage), and somehow lower the tension. No one had anything better to do, so they communicated with us through smiles, facial expressions and gestures. We kept the spirit up, and would not let anyone panic.

Late evening, an army truck came downhill and took charge of the situation. They put some sandfilled gunny bags and made a stable path for people to cross. They managed to interchange passengers from one side with those on the other; so that they could use each other's vehicles to move towards their destinations.

The present rainy season has brought back memories of a this scary experience. I've been hearing of tourists and pilgrims stuck up in the hills - I can identify with their plight, and hope that this blogpost brings some ray of hope to them.
Photo: An old one scanned for you - the monkey watches human beings in distress.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


We were a happy to be DINK couple - Double Income No Kids. Until one day, when my husband, the member with the larger income, chose to give up his job and go in for full time studies.

While his challenge lay in being a student after a long break, mine was running the family on single income.
We estimated we could barely manage and let him pursue his heart. 

A beep on my mobile phone changed all our calculations. It was a sms informing me that a cheque has bounced. Unable to recognize the transaction, I enquired with by bank and was informed that I would have to pay EMIs for my housing loan from that month.

"Wait a minute!", my brain screamed, "But they were not supposed to start now! I've just come down on single income and you want me to pay half my salary for instalments? That too, above rent?" 

It was a sticky situation - how to manage? Life had thrown a bouncer at me, waiting for me to live up to the challenge.

How I survived those two years is a long story - cutting down on recreation, optimizing on resources. It was tough, very tough. But after the initial phase, I realized that I was relishing the challenge - it was a learning experience. The fighter in oneself is rejuvinated and you can take on any challenge.

Thankfully, we are back to our professional versions. And now we look back on those days of hardship for inspiration, sharing our experience, and feeling awesome about it.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Excellent Wine for You

That's what I thought of the wine, when I tasted the Merlot - a red wine from Four Seasons

Are you surprised? Some of you who know me personally are aware of the fact that I stay away from alcohol in most cases. But when offered a taste of this ruby red wine (its a bit darker - close to the garnet stone), I decided to try it.

We were at a friends' housewarming party, and the menu for dinner was a platter of attractive Mughlai dishes. While I was appreciating the aroma that filled the dining space, my friend grinned and said, "The secret ingredient is the wine you are holding."  

Believe me, the food tasted awesome. Conventional, but hinting at something that enhanced your experience.  The wine tasted perfect alongside - there is a strong fruity flavour in it which lingers in the aroma as well. 

Do try this flavour and relish the experience! 

To know more about this wine and others, visit the Fourseasons website