Friday, August 31, 2007 

Crossing Thirty Five ......

It has been quite a long time since my last post. The reason being, my having started working again. It's been two months and the last two months were spent in trying to get a grip of the new work and in settling down in the new set up. I have been thinking of writing for some time in the last two months but have not managed to do so, as mentally I have been so pre-occupied in learning the new job that trying to rein my thoughts would have been impossible.
However the actual reason I'm back here though I have had to literally steal the time to, is because another birthday just went by and how could I not have a post to sum up all the celebrations in order to cross over to the other side of 35 as I just turned 36. This year unlike the last, I though I would celebrate my birthday with my closest family and with people to whom the day matters as much as it does to me. Having said that it was obvious who would be the first one on my guest list- Ma. About a month back I sent her the tickets to come to Chennai on the 17th of August so that she could not, not turn up. The day before she came, my sister reached, as she had managed to club a work assignment in Chennai for about the same time.

I had decided that Pondicherry would be a good place to getaway over the weekend to celebrate my birthday as it is barely two hours from Chennai. The drive is so beautiful, as the road that is the East Coast Road, winds along the sea side all the way to Pondicherry. There is another reason I chose Pondicherry and that is my sister and my-self had gone to boarding school in Chandannagar, another French colony equi-distant from Kolkata as Pondicherry is to Chennai, on the banks of the river Hoogly. The river strand and the strand road which our dormitories overlooked is much like the beach side in Pondicherry. The two towns are quite similar with their French style buildings and beautiful river/sea side views. In fact both have a Duplei house which are now museums and the arrangement of the buildings are identical.

Mom and Dad came every birthday to meet us and bring us our birthday cake and goodies which we shared with our friends over tea time and distributed the sweets and chocolates to everyone in the refectory at breakfast time. Birthdays in those days were happy events which we spent with our friends but some how I would want to go home at the end of the day to spend the evening with my parents so the fact that I could not and in fact not even go out of the school premises also made me sad and feel jailed in. I never liked, well that I should say is very mildly put and an understatement as I actually detested boarding school and was a very sad child throughout. I was quiet , reserved and very shy. I still remember Sister Angelina once having a chat with my mother in the school field just beside the high/broad jump pit asking her to take me home and make me study as a day scholar as she felt that I was too timid and staying with family would draw me out of my shell. Ma was not convinced or she might have had her reasons, as I remained in the boarding all of my school life.

I am not sure till now who was more right Ma or Sister Angelina as it was only after school and college when I started living at home and working, that I actually came out of my shell and underwent a drastic change in my personality. Now I am better known as extroverted, friendly and the like but till I was out of my teens I used to be painfully shy and withdrawn. Honestly I had hated school and everything about it while I was there but as I passed out and moved on in life I started to think back fondly about life then, as I could now watch my life from the freedom of being out of what at that time I thought was prison. I hated being told when to wake up ,when to bathe, eat or sleep as in spite of being shy I was very independent since I was a kid and did not take well to being told to do anything. That is the case even now but conditioning from those days has lasted with me and I am an organized and disciplined person by and large.

Life in boarding school made me strong, stronger than I could ever have been had I lived at home in addition to the discipline that is an inherent part now of who I am and able to handle so much capably. It is what I learnt in those days in the so called "prison" that has made me what I am today so after all I have to admit now more that 20 years after I left school that Ma was right to keep us there after all and not that I had not realized it earlier. I realized quite early, just about when I started working that what I had learnt there was much more than academics. There were so many skills I had acquired in my days there that has helped me both personally and professionally. However Sister Angelina was not wrong either as till date I am a person who can sometimes feel lonely even in a crowd and still take time to open up to people or be demonstrative about my feelings or have a great dependence or closeness to family. Perhaps if my mother in law understood this about me she would know that my not so great affinity to her is nothing personal about her but just the way I am and would perhaps accept that she was not blessed with a daughter-in-law who could be a daughter after all .

Talking about school could fill pages but the choice of Pondicherry as a place to spend my birthday with my Ma and Sister had a totally nostalgic reason and I could actually picture my -self in the blue pleated skirts, white shirts and ribboned plaits on the banks of the Hoogly when we were taken on walks in straight files of two or three. Pondichery seemed like such a perfect place in addition to it being so close to Chennai to go with Ma as she has so many good memories of the time she spent on her visits to Chandannagar over the 10 years that we studied there. In fact our school, with its French roots also has a branch in Pondicherry.

My husband was somehow very opposed to the idea of going to Pondicherry then for some reason but I was adamant and had even decided that we were going with or without him.
We that is Ma, Sister, hubby and my-self planned to leave at 8 am but finally made it by 9am .My brother-in-law was also supposed to come but could not make it due to an urgent meeting which had come up. On the way we also stopped at a nice resort MGM on the east coast road by the sea side for a buffet breakfast and spent some time there. On the entire drive my sister was adamant on having the AC on, while my husband would have preferred the sea breeze. While she listened to his CD’s of old Hindi film songs on the car music system seated in front to ensure she had total monopoly to the choice in songs. My husband sat behind with the ear phone of his ipod place, listening to his "own" music. Ma and me however looked out at the view and chatted. I could not help wondering at my effort to have my closest family close to me for my Birthday.

We reached Pondicherry by mid after noon and checked into this really nice heritage villa called Hotel-du-parc which is located right infront of the Auro ville gift shop close to the beach, the Aurobindo ashram as well as the Ganapati temple. We had two adjacent and connecting rooms which was convenient as we left it opened and that made the whole room nice and big. Some time after reaching we decided to go on a drive around the city as Ma was not up to walking and moreover it was a Saturday and she fasts on Saturdays since even before I was born so there was little energy that she had, trying to keep at her fasts at the age of 67.

I was caught in between trying to do what my sister wanted to do, how my mother wanted to rest and my husband wanting to explore the town. In the evening we all went for a stroll and though I was really tired, freshened up and went out to the hotel restaurant with my husband while my Sister called room service. Anyways I remember going to sleep thankful that the day ended peacefully and I was able not to displease either of them. The next day we had breakfast in the open rooftop restaurant which was very pretty and then went out to the Aurobindo Ashram and then later checked out and drove down to Auroville. My sister wanted to go as she thought she may never get the opportunity again and my husband did not want to go as he knew there could be other trips when he would visit Auroville. So again there I was in the middle of conflicting choices but I decided that we should go as it was my idea to bring Ma and Sis here so I would ensure that they did not miss anything as there is little chance of Ma coming back here again.

Auroville was a beautiful place and I just loved the quaintness of the village which is home to over 1600 people of numerous nationalities who were well occupied in various charitable jobs there and seemed so peaceful. I could not help thinking that some day I would love to live there too where the sole purpose of your living is to be of use to others instead of living life running after what you can get for your-self and never being satisfied with what you have. I wondered if that is what I wanted out of life having crossed over to the wrong side of 35, but wasn't it a little early in life to feel the desire to denounce life and live in an Ashram after all. Somehow whenever we go on a holiday I dont want to return home but we returned to Chennai by evening and my sister took the last flight back to Bangalore that night while Ma stayed on till after my birthday and I went back to work the next day to continue living a life I feel has not much meaning other than just a sheer existence.

Saturday, June 30, 2007 


Two days after my Kolkata trip my husband and myself went to Bangalore where my sister lives. While in Kolkata I had told her that I would visit her before I started working again but she insisted that we come right away as there were so many parties lined up on the four nights that we spent in Bangalore.
The 6th of June was their third wedding anniversary so we decided to leave them alone for the day and reached Bangalore on the 7th. We took the morning Shatabdi Express and their driver picked us up from the railway station and took us to her office on MG Road and having collected the keys to her apartment we went for lunch to this nice place on Cunningham road called Fresco which happened to be a favourite of my husband's, it was my first time and it was nice. I also liked this place "100ft" on 100ft road, Indira nagar which was quite similar in that both are boutique restaurants to which my sister had taken me on my last visit, and kept insisting on taking him there but gave in to his wish .
Though we wanted to leave my sister and her husband to celebrate their anniversary by them-selves, they waited for us to come so that we could all go out to dinner together with some of their other friends as they were taking a seven day trip to the Maldives to celebrate their anniversary in a few days anyways. We went to their place after lunch and met up with them at the Windsor Manor poolside restaurant called The Afghan where they had reserved a table for 9pm. The food was good and the weather was excellent so it was a very pleasant evening.
The next evening we went for this party at the Leela Kempenski " which was a fashion show and launch of the new lines of some well known designers like Anamika Khanna, Tarun Tahiliani and "Kipling" bags. A close friend of mine from my early work days who happened to be in Bangalore, and another close friend from college and her husband who are also settled in Bangalore joined us and overall we had a really good time. The evening after that we went to the launch party of a health club and spa and the event was organized by FTV and most of the people there were same as the night before.
Since my sister and her husband were leaving on their Maldives trip and since my close friend from college also lives just a block away from my sisters we decided to stay another day at their place and were entertained to very good Bengali food as her mother happened to be there on one of her visists and she knew me for ages and my taste in food.
We returned to Chennai early monday morning. Reaching Chennai from Bangalore is in many ways a shock, for one the heat strikes you hard on your face and so does the visibly vastly different culture.

Monday, June 18, 2007 

Moving On

The fifteen days that I spent in Kolkata were very eventful. I made up for the lack of socialising for the last year in Chennai, as I hardly know anyone here yet. I met up with all my friends and relatives who still happen to live in Kolkata many of whom have also moved out like me . Most days I would be invited to lunch or dinner to someones house and on certain days my friends even had get together's so that I could meet up with everyone without having to go meeting everyone individually.

My days enfolded like this..... I would go for a morning walk to the Central Park in Salt Lake or take a walk around my neighbourhood in Salt Lake. The first few days I went along with Ma but soon realised that walking at her pace would give me no real exercise as I badly needed it from the amount I had been eating since coming to Kolkata, what with all the invitations and everyone making my favourite dishes.

After the walk I would return home to the morning tea and newspaper reading at my favourite place either on the cane chair in the front balcony if the sun was not up too hot or at the head of our huge dining table so that I could spread the pages of the newspaper all out. Then when Ma returned from her walk I would have an elaborate breakfast as Ma was trying to revive my lost one time good looks as she would put it.

Then I would spend the morning chatting with Ma and once it was time for her to leave for work( she still looks after Baba's Printing Press) I would get ready and go to catch up with my friends or whatever else I had to do and try and be back by 8 Pm by the time she returned. All dinner invitations I would take Ma along. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her as once I left she would be alone again.

In addition to everything else I did in kolkata I also happened to meet up with my ex-boyfriend and his wife. Now its not like I had not been in touch with them earlier. Strange as it may sound his wife actually had been calling me up lately in Chennai to take my advice on various factors of her new life that is her husband and her in-laws. He had introduced her to me over the telephone and somehow she seemed to have taken a liking to me and felt she could trust me enough to complain about him and ask my advice on how to deal with him and his folks.

We met up on a couple of occasions and they even took me out to dinner at the restaurant "Tangerine" and we managed to have a wonderful time though I have to admit it seemed strange at some points. His wife for one would go into total silence for a few seconds while I kept talking endlessly to fill in those silences. We ladies even shared a plate of lamb chops which they make excellently as well as had the same cocktails, two bloody Marys each and she could not stop raving about my choice of restaurant and the food. I was surprised that they had not been there earlier considering it was such a favourite and it was the first restaurant I had taken my husband to on our trip to kolkata.
Watching the two of them together was like looking at old photo albums, you look at each picture and remember the situations around the picture and smile at those thoughts as most of them would have happy memories attached to them.
Now isn't "moving on" all about forgetting the bad, remembering the good and being happy in the present.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 

Home Coming.....

I came back from Kolkata on the 4th of June, after a fifteen day stay which was absolutely relaxing, fruitful, enjoyable and perfect. But isn't that how a trip back home to mama after a year of being married and taking on all the responsibilities of a new household is supposed to be.
I would love to recount the incidents of my visit but I will take it one at a time and start with the day I reached.
I landed in Kolkata Airport on the 21st of May at 6.30 Pm to a thundering sky and lashing rains. It seemed like the perfect welcome and respite from the immense heat of Chennai. I felt like even the Gods were blessing my visit or was it Dad showering his love from the heavens because it is there that he lives, in the heavens over kolkata.
I had asked Ma not to come to the Airport as the driver was on leave and so I proceeded to take a pre-paid cab home but not before nostalgically looking about the airport which once not so long ago used to be my second home. I was working with one of the premier airlines of today from 1995 to 2001 and looking after service quality knew every part or rather nook and corner of the airport like the back of my hand. Most of the staff of the airline except the loaders have changed but the airport authority staff as well as the guys in the snacks and coffee counters and the very loyal Indian airlines staff remain the same.
Most of these people still love me and consider me an integral part of the airport and flash me the most welcoming smile when I pass.The pre-paid Taxi counter guys give me my token out of turn asking why I bother to queue. I stopped and said Hi to as many people as I came face to face with all of them asking me where I now was. Now wouldn't you call all of this a real home coming.
When the Taxi reached our gate our twenty year's old watchman whom we lovingly call Darwanji came and took the bags from the car dickey and handing the taxi token to the driver as well as beaming a broad smile at Darwanji and asking how he was rushed upstairs to the second floor where Ma lives. She has let out the first two floors as it helps her maintain the house and provides some company in the huge house where she is all alone except for a full time maid.
Looking at Ma I was both happy as well as sad. Happy for the very obvious reason but sad because each time I see her lately she seems to have aged more. One reason being the sixty six years she has lived but more so from the loneliness and sadness of living in a house which just a year and more back was inhabited by the family she loved. My sister moved to Bangalore and got married three years or so back, then Baba passed away about a year later and then I got married and left a year back.
Often I wonder at has a family and all when one has the strength to live alone and believe me Ma is one of the strongest women I or rather the world has seen and then just when you need a family the most you ironically are left to deal with time alone. I was so happy to be home and happier that I would be staying for sometime. I quickly took a walk around the house to see whether everything was like the way I left it and believe me it was intact. Ma does not move a thing since we all left, not even the things she should, somehow all that makes things at home just the way they were even twenty years back and that's what I love about the place.
The familiarity, security, warmth and the memories all frozen in time as if nothing had changed. Ma has not thrown away even the bed clothes and table cloth that were there a couple of years back when we all lived there, though they are immaculately taken care of. At the dining table I sat at my usual place at the head of the table which I had shifted to, the day Baba passed away so that the emptiness of that chair which Baba had occupied for years would not haunt me and Ma.
I still remember the moment when I sat on that seat after Baba's death, Ma looked at me with a strange look which I have not been unable to decipher till date. Was she relieved that it would not be empty after all or was she uspet that I had sat at his place. Somehow I could not bear to see the place vacant as it would constanly remind me of Baba's absence and that was the reason I had shifted there. Our housekeeper whom we call "mashi" (auntie) had prepared an elaborate meal with so many items that I had to skip the rice and roti to be able to taste them all.
I kept all my stuff in my room which had been mine ever since we moved into the house in 1987 and though I wanted to sleep there that night for old time's sake I slept with Ma on her side of the bed as she had since the night of Baba's death shifted to his side of the bed for the very same reason that I had taken Baba's place at the table. Somehow I could never get my-self to garland Baba's photographs at home or allow anyone to do so. All of Baba's photographs, even the portraits we had put up after he passed away were never ever garlanded. All the pictures stand till date like he were still alive and alive he our hearts and in our home. My mother says she feels his strong presence there and stongly believes that he wathces over her........ I am sure he does and its still feels like when we all lived there.

Friday, May 18, 2007 

One Year Gone by - My first wedding anniversary

It has been so long since my last post that I thought of starting out again with a totally new look front page. The reason for my rather long absence being the multi-faceted happenings of my life. The first happening being that I quit my job in time for my first wedding anniversary so we could go for our so called honey moon as we have not had the time to take one.

I should have taken a break much earlier or maybe just after I moved to Chennai after I got married. I really don't know how many of you careerists out there would think it was a wise decision, or would consider it suicidal to my 14 year career. On the job front things were not going the way I had wanted it to and the unhappiness with the current organization and responsibility added to my totally stressed out live, made me quit without sparing a thought to what it could do to my career. No good advice or logic would have made any difference then. I still don't regret it .

This break, I hope will rejuvenate my overwrought nerves, emotions and body and give me time to do some real soul searching about what it is that I really want from my life and how I plan to achieve it. I just felt that I could not go on any longer. I really wish I had not waited to reach such a state of absolute frustration. In the last one year and more, I have had all the impediments to a stress free life as one would see mentioned in various stress buster books.

I had started a new life so to say, a new man (got married), ended a previous over six year relationship, a new city(totally different cultures), two new jobs -- the last handling various different responsibilities and products and much need for multi-tasking, added to that a new life style including the total adjustment to my sleeping, eating and every other habit. As if all that were not enough there was the added responsibility of turning my husbands bachelor pad into a home and keeping it too. I am still struggling with the new language and my maid and driver seem to have picked up more English than I have mastered Tamil in spite of my very diligent attempts at learning the same .

I quit a good five days before my anniversary on the 20th of April so I could get some time to wrap up household responsibilities before we headed for Munnar which was the nearest getaway from Chennai and absolutely beautiful. We stayed at the High Range Club there and how I wished I could just settle down there somewhere among the mountains and never have to come back. I recall having mentioned to my husband a couple of times to just leave me there for some time by myself but the impracticality of the situation brought me back to Chennai and the heat once more. On the way to and from Munnar we also stopped over at Fort Cochin and Alwaye which were beautiful too. Overall it was a wonderful trip.

Two days after we returned, my in laws came over for a fifteen day visit which was the first in our one year marriage. The mention of this situation to anyone newly married might conjure up very stressful thoughts and for me it is no different. Though they tried their best not to act like guests but pitched in to help me every way they could I was the one who was responsible to ensure that there was food on the table, all meals as well as clear up after my mother-in- laws insistence to cook( obviously it was some time since she had fed her son). Then there was the perpetual cynicism to my house-keeping and culinary skills. But overall I must pat myself on the back, for a totally calm and composed demeanor as I now had no job to get stressed out over so I remained cool in spite of all incitement and thereby the visit went off pretty peacefully except for the few instances of arguments between my mother in law and husband where he tried to ward off her cynicism.

The break cannot obviously be a break without a trip back home to Kolkata and my mom where I can be royally pampered for a while and I do not need to worry about the day to day responsibilities of running a household. I am going to miss my husband but I keep telling myself that I have actually more than earned this "absolute break" at my mom's and of course I miss Kolkata which if hubby had come along would be home even now in spite of being a year in Chennai. However the trip to Kolkata is only a 10 day visit so I will be back to decide what to do next.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 

Love on V-Day

Today, the 14th of February, being Valentines Day, there is no other topic that I would rather think or write of but the obvious: "love". This is one thing that I have been thinking of since morning. In all of my life of having looked for love, finding love, losing it and again finding it, I am not so sure I really know what it is.

It has some broad descriptions but to every one love is as different as it can get. Is love all about flowers, candles, chocolates and the usual? Is it the quiet, unspoken, understanding and empathy of the loved one? The constant proclamation of love verbally, the quiet and sustained love for a lifetime in spite of being jilted, first love, any one great love of your life, or what else?

I have somehow been fortunate or maybe unfortunate to have experienced all of the above and yet am unable to summarise love and decide which of them I would wish for myself again.

The day went by like most others. I woke up with a lot of anticipation, considering it was our first Valentine's Day together and for which I had cancelled an official trip to Mumbai. I was expecting some sign of romance from my husband to mark his acknowledgement of the day but there was none. No flowers, cards or gift.

However, since I am the one with all the expectations, I also kept up to my own expectations of myself by gift wrapping a bottle of the Polo Black perfume and keeping it just under his pillow just when I thought he was about to wake up, guarding it to ensure it didn't fall off. My husband woke up, went to the washroom and found the gift which I was desperately trying to make him notice. On opening the wrapper he told me that my gift was due. I was disappointed but did not show it.

Hubby went to office but I had taken the day off hoping we would do something so I spent the day anxiously waiting that he would have made reservations at a good restaurant or something and we would go out just after he returned. None of that happened either. When he got back he told me lets go somewhere after I have a drink or two like it was any other day and by the time we left home after his "one or two drinks" it was about 10.30.

I was all dressed up in a black and red Georgette Saree so I suggested that we go to the Verandah at the Taj Connemara where, I had read in the paper, there was a party of sorts. However, by the time we reached, the party was over and they were cleaning up. We had dinner in the dimly-lit coffee shop. While I sulked and tried to justify to hubby my reason for doing so, but obviously pride prevented me from mentioning how disappointed I was with the day.

A week later I did get my over due Valentine's gift in the form of a pretty pink skirt and a sleeveless gold top to match but the disappointment of not having romanced on Valentine's Day remains. I guess by next year, being the optimist that I am, I may forget today and once again wish a romantic day unfolds. Aren't these tiny hopes that life is all about?

Saturday, January 27, 2007 

Hitting rock bottom...

After having said what I had to in my previous post I now feel so much better and free from the sadness over Baba's death which had once again gripped me since his death anniversary and my visit to Kolkata. Somehow the anger I felt at my husband too seems to have dissipated with the outpourings of my soul over the last post which was written while he was away.

By the time my husband returned I was calm and composed without a trace of the the tumultuous emotions I had been through shortly before his return except for the thickened and swollen eyelids from all the crying, which went unnoticed.

Later in the evening we went out to the Leather Bar at the Park and with all the calm and poise that I could summon in the situation clinked my glass of Bailey's Irish creme with that of my husbands one time stay over girlfriend and one of his friends who I have known for a while now.

Incidentally this girlfriend, I discovered from one of the notes she had signed and left for him, to get her breakfast from Murugan Idli after he woke up, say about a year and a half back .

Anyways as I started by saying that the anger I had been feeling was gone, so in spite of her efforts to make me see how familiar she was with him, I was at my coolest best.

Writing your heart out is really therapeutic. I had heard about it but for the first time I realised how true it is. Overall I had a good evening which ended after dinner at the Park coffee shop by a futile attempt to shake our legs at the dance floor in Pasha the discotheque as the last number was playing even as we entered and the lights came on signalling the end of the evening.

We came back home and after a good nights sleep went to work this morning with renewed vigour at life and much more love in my heart than I had felt in a while.

I definitely needed to bounce back up as lately with everything going on in my life I had somehow touched rock bottom and the only way from there was up.

Life is so much like diving plunge deep, deep down and till you touch rock bottom you wonder how far its going to be and then in an instant you bounce back up all of a sudden .

About me

  • I'm Shree
  • From Chennai / Kolkata, India
  • Living in the present, reminiscing the past. This is the story of my life in the present, entwined in the longings of the past and anticipation and optimism about the future.
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