Wait for Shiuli

Durga Puja is a special time for a Bengali. We start planning weeks before the festival. My father had planted a shiuli(night jasmine) flower tree in our house. This flower blossoms during Pujo. It has amazing fragrance which reminds one of festivals. There are songs and poems dedicated to this flower.

This year I was at home after a long time. Everyday from the month of July, the first thing I did after getting up is to go and see the tree. There were no flowers even though the tree was watered regularly. I used to ask my mother if the tree needs any manure. My mother’s response was “Patience, the season is yet to come”. This continued till September. I was excited the day I saw the first few flowers. It meant Pujo is coming. I ran indoors and informed, shiuli flowers have come. This just reminds me, everything has a specific time whether its studies, opportunities or vaccine. One needs to be patient and things will happen. We have a tendency of rushing towards things inspite of being aware of haste causing failures. Often in this process we ignore many things. The seasonal flowers remind us to wait for the right time.

The years 2020 and 2021 taught us the important lesson of being patient. Life is precious. We need to spend time with our near and dear ones instead of running behind worldly things. The shiuli flowers only blossom during season. Let us sit back and enjoy the moment.

Saved by Chocolate

Today is World Chocolate Day. Like most of us, there are many memories linked with the word chocolate but today I would like to take up the most recent one where chocolate saved the day. I had eaten the chocolate crêpe in the photo above while roaming around the city. The presence of chocolate syrup simply enhanced the taste.

I was used to baking with ready to cook cake mixes. When the lockdowns started in 2020, I started trying new things in the kitchen. One day I decided to bake from scratch, so I checked out a number of Youtube videos, made notes, discussed with mother and prepared a list. I got all the things, then prepared the mix and baked. The cake was baked properly and smelled so good. It even came out from the baking dish easily. I was so happy that I clicked pictures and sent to my mother. Then I had first bite and realized, it was not as sweet as expected. Maybe the quantiy of sugar was not right. I was disappointed and was wondering how I would eat this cake since its not so tasty. All my expectations went in drain. Just then I opened the fridge and there it was, the chocolate syrup. I remembered how the crêpe tasted so delicious and immidiately poured some syrup on the cake. Then the cake was just what I wanted, tasty. This way chocolate syrup saved my day. I hope this blog brings a smile to you as it made my cake sweet. Happy World Chocolate Day.

Full Pocket Search

The market is full of backpacks because the schools reopened in June. The rush is less this year since the classes are held online. I came across this backpack. It has a number of pockets. This reminds me of a school bag I bought when I was in sixth grade. It had seven pockets. I thought I would be able to keep my things organized in it so I requested my mother to buy it. The bag I used the previous year had less pockets. It was difficult to keep everything arranged in it.

On the first day of school, I kept the textbooks and workbooks in one of the two larger pockets and notebooks in the other. There was a separate pocket for tiffin box. I kept my handkerchief in one of the remaining small pockets. The classes began, and everyone noticed my bag. After 2 classes, I felt a loud sneeze approaching. It was one of those moments when the teacher had asked for pin drop silence in the class because one of the students was reading a lesson. I frantically started looking for the handkerchief in my bag but was unable to find it. The movement caused noise and so the teacher sternly looked at me out of thick rimmed glasses and said “Stand up! what is the need for so much unrest”. She had barely said this when I sneezed loudly. The entire class jumped on their seats. The teacher again scolded “Where is your handkerchief? You should keep it handy”. She would have continued scolding but the bell for recess or break rang. I was saved from further scolding. It seems I had forgotten the pocket in bag where I had kept the handkerchief so I had to do a full pocket search of all pockets to find it. From then onwards I tried to keep the handkerchief pinned to my uniform as that was the easiest place to find in case of emergency. Even today, I prefer a backpack with 3-4 pockets as too many pockets end up confusing me.

The Patient Teacher

There are so many things that our parents teach us by their actions. The best part of their teaching is their patience. They would correct us no matter how many times we go wrong. There is one such activity which I learnt from my father. During my school days, it was required to dress up in properly ironed uniform. Our uniform included a shirt and pleated pinafore. I started ironing my uniform when I was in fifth grade that too after observing my parents. My father was very good in ironing. He taught me how to iron the shirt. He used to iron his clothes on Saturday evenings or Sunday afternoon. I would wait with my newly washed shirts while he ironed. Once he was done, I would iron mine. If my work was not up to the mark, he would iron it again to show me how a properly ironed shirt looks. Many times I used to do a poor job and he would correct it. In the process, he would iron all my shirts. This continued till I was in 9th grade. I was so lazy that it took me years to learn ironing like him. Recently when I was ironing a shirt for office when my mother told me Baba(father) always knew that I did poor ironing in school because I was lazy. He was so patient that in spite of knowing I was lazy, he continued to teach me.

Whenever I go to a new city, the first thing I buy is an iron. The habit of ironing clothes on weekends has stuck with me even today. There are times my roommates have complemented it. The credit goes to my father. He was the epitome of patience while teaching me. Ironing the clothes on time and keeping the shoes clean and polished were habits which he kept up without failure. We learnt this just by following him. He was the Patient teacher who taught us again and again regardless of the number of mistakes we did. Today on Father’s day, let us take an opportunity to thank the most patient teacher of our lives, our father. Happy Father’s Day.

Board Game Matches

Today I came accross an old board of Snakes and Ladders. This used to be my favorite in school days. There were days when me and my sister used to play this game with Papa and Mummy. We even used to maintain a score board for these board game matches. This was a good way to reduce screen time and spend quality time. Those were the golden summer vacations of school days.

Although the game seems easy, one does not win easily. There are so many times one slides down after encountering a snake. There were moments when me or my sister would start crying and almost give up. Our parents would then console us with stories of how people have risen from failures. A simple game would end up in a story session with a lesson. I think those were the ways our parents chose to teach us the virtues of patience, perseverence and sportsmanship. Whether we won or lost, mummy would cook some sweet or one of our favorite dishes. As I look at that board today, it reflects the struggles of life. We do not reach our goals easily. There are times when we feel we have almost reached but like the snake at 98, we may encounter something and end up a number of steps behind. Sometimes we are unable to proceed at all. But everytime we start we try to rebuild our strategy which means we learn to be careful. Life would be so boring if it were straight forward like accessing a channel in television. Just like the game, each up and down makes our life interesting. We remembered the good times and played a game of Snakes and Ladders. Although we are not kids anymore but this game managed to bring out the child in all of us.

International Labour Day Celebrations

Today, the First of May is International Labour Day. It is a day for celebration of labourers and working classes. Here is a story from the time when I started working. I was given a posting in Mumbai. Life in a big city teaches one a lot of things. I used to stay in a rented apartment with few of my colleagues. We used to get monthly salary. There were many freshers like us in that building.

There used to be an ATM and a few shops in the first floor of our building. They knew us within a few weeks. In the first few months, the arrival of salary used to be a big event. We would look forward to the first of the month. We hadn’t yet connected our cell numbers to our bank accounts. We would plan to check our accounts at the ATM while leaving for office but there was always a queue outside the ATM. While returning home, one of us would check her account in the ATM. She would come out with a big smile and announce “Salary has come”. This was a sight to see as everyone including the shopkeepers of the shops near the ATM and the security guard used to smile with us. This had happened once or twice. After that we all were placed in different projects which made it difficult for us to return home together. Still we used to get the news of salary arrival. It was from the security guard or the shop keeper. Your friend announced “Salary has come”. Our profession gives us an identity along with the freedom to make our choices. Everyday, the completion of work gives us a feeling of satisfaction. Our work motivates us to learn more to enhance our skills. I wish everyone Happy International Labour Day.

A day for Books

Today is World Book Day, a day to celebrate books and the love for reading. I was always fond of reading so the presence of this day simply means a lot to me. Whenever I go to a new city, the first thing I look for is the library. I still remember the first book exhibition held in office. It was my first year of job. I was still learning to live in a new city with room mates. Books were my best friends. Smartphones had not yet entered the markets then. I went around the books and the first thing that caught my attention was a Pocket Dictionary or a Mini Dictionary. My eighth grade English teacher used to say “If possible, always keep a Pocket Dictionary with yourself”. Like an obedient student I bought the dictionary.

This Dictionary was a huge help everytime I came accross a new word. During the same time one of my room mates was preparing for open tests for Management studies. One day she was confused about a word while solving the english questions. I had pulled out the dictionary, found the meaning and helped her solve the question. I could see the appreciation in her eyes when I completed. I told her once you find a meaning using a dictionary, you will always remember it. From then onwards, she too used to follow the same method. A few weeks later there was a long weekend, all of had planned to go home. Before leaving, she too bought the same Dictionary. Books allow one to inspire others. I still love the fragrance of fresh binding. There is a book for each mood, whether sad or happy, bored or relaxed, fiction or non-fiction, etc. Whenever I find a person liking a book that I like, I immediately am able to connect to him or her. People say with the advent of various gadgets, the habit of reading may get impacted but I feel the excitement of having an interesting book will always remain the same. I would like to keep this day to set up a checklist for reading for the entire year. That would help us in continuing this hobby. How do you think one should celebrate the World Book Day?

Small but Unavoidable

Few years ago I had attended a cousin’s wedding. The dressing room was crowded because the bride was being dressed up there. So I and a few other cousin’s decided to explore the wedding hall primarily the menu. We were just going to begin with the starters when one of the aunts called us to the dressing room. She seemed very tensed. There was mayhem in the dressing room. The moment we reached, the bride’s mother instructed us to start looking for a blue colored box. We were expected to get to the task immediately. I thought one of the expensive jewellery was lost. Suddenly a small girl shouted “Found it”. The box was handed to the beautician. I asked her what is there in the box. She said safety pins. It seems the bride’s dress was so heavy that additional safety pins were needed to tuck it. Since so many valuable things were there to be taken care of, no one bothered about safety pins. It turns out that was the most important thing since it was impossible for the bride to stand for so many hours without being tucked.

It is not just in wedding. Once I was standing in line at the airport, suddenly I heard “Madam do you have a safety pin in your purse. I need it to restart my cellphone”. The person behind me said “Its for you”. I looked around, there were 20 guys behind and 20 ahead of me. No matter where you are, you may be requested for a safety pin. It might be small in terms of cost or size but its use is unavoidable. Today, 10th April is International Safety pin day. It just reminds me, one should not be judged by their appearence but by their abilities. Next time you go out, please ensure you have a safety in your purse, since it is small but Unavoidable.

April-2021 The Month of New Years

First quarter of the year has passed. There are a number of New Years in April in India. They are based on the Hindu Calendar. We visit each other, offer respect to elders by touching their feet and wish everyone. Its the time to eat home made sweets and wear new clothes. There are special songs dedicated to these days. In some places fairs are held on these days.

The schools close by mid April for summer vacation so these new years also mark the beginning of holidays. It is the time to grow beyond studies and be carefree for kids. As children of a cosmopolitan city, it used to be a month long celebration for us since everyday one or the other person had New Year. Personally I feel these traditional New Years give us an opportunity to rekindle our lives. It is common to lose motivation on the resolutions of 1st January. One can take this time to assess ones progress and motivation, if needed, can also modify the resolution. They give us an opportunity to assess the first quarter of the year and decide whether we want to spend the rest of the year in the same way or make changes. As the covid counts are rising again, it is time to assess our activities and be careful again, so that we can control the counts and beat the pandemic. Wishing everyone a very Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year.

Penning on the Pen

Something came out while re-organizing the old cupboard which motivated me to pen my thoughts on the pen. It was my Grandfather’s fountain pen shown in the image above. I was in third grade, when I saw it for the first time. It was very special to my mother so one had to be really careful while holding it. I just wrote an ‘A’ with it and was simply amazed at the smoothness. From then onwards I started looking forward to writing with fountain or ink pen. Every time my mother re-organized that cupboard, I would take up the opportunity to use the pen. Most of the great litterateurs like Rabindranath Tagore, William Wordsworth, etc used to be shown with a Fountain pen. Seeing them a childhood fantasy began to take place in my mind. I started thinking, holding a pen would motivate one to write better.

We were allowed to use pens from grade 5. The results of an academic session use to come by post during summer vacation when I was in school. From the day, my Fourth grade results came, I started pestering my mother for an ink pen. The moment the ink pen came, I started studying the language textbooks and solving the assignments. Everyone was surprised since this happened 2 weeks before the school opened. They thought I was going through the change phase when mischievous kids become responsible. The reason was the fantasy. I always wanted to excel in language and have a beautiful handwriting. That is why I had took on the language textbooks. Even after the school started, I used to love doing anything which involved writing using the fountain pen. My school work was always up to date although my dress and fingers had ink stains. I realized my fantasy when I was in grade 8 and had moved to ballpoint pens. It is one’s thoughts and dedication which motivate a person but sometimes a fantasy inspires one to improve. Luckily I found a few fountain pens in an old pouch. Its so nice to look back and smile on those childhood fantasies.