The Festival called Durga Puja

It is that time of the year again,
  • when bengalis all over the world wish they were at home, with their near and dear ones.
  • when tiny baskets of cotton-clouds float the clear blue skies.
  • a long drive anywhere in the out skirts of the city would take you to green fields with kash flower bushes everywhere.
  • new stocks for garments arrive at every store in the mall.
  • pandals are constructed at all the famous and not-so-famous puja committees.

Yesterday was the beginning of yet another Durga Puja...yesterday was Mahalaya..

My office is located near the two most famous puja clubs of the city...The Mudiali Club and Shib Mandir club...I actually grew up in these localities, so the pujas have always been extra special. Any festival actually becomes special due to the special people around you...We used to be a big group. That was around eight years ago....when we were still in school. All of us made the five days special just by being with each other...long long adda sessions...pnpc's, new clothes, new fashion, new hairstyle, was so colourful.

Today, we are all far far away from each other, in separate worlds, being special to some totally new people, who didn't even exist eight years back. Funny eh! what life shows us with time...How the reason of our existence keeps changing, what we had thought and what has become of all our dreams...all the promises that we had made....of never losing contacts, always keeping in touch, slowly vaporizing into this harsh reality...'tis really strange how the presence (or absence) of a few people can alter the happiest festival called Durga Puja...

Remembering and Missing all of you - Tania, Jinia, Mou, Pompa, Sarmishtha, Sweta and Pali

Rapid Fire...

Below is a set of questions I found in a blog over the net and even if nobody tagged me with this, I sure have tagged someone in the end :)
Okay, so my answers are as follows :

1) If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?
Tell him "Tata Bye Bye"

2) If you can have a dream come true, what would it be?
Go back to my childhood days, sing a duet with Sonu Nigam, put on a few kilos...

3) Whose butt would you like to kick?
Liars' and hypocrits'

4) What would you do with a billion dollars?
Chuck my job...get a two storeyed house built with a colourful garden all around it...make my self a walk-in a convertible...take my parents for a world tour...

5) Will you fall in love with your best friend?
I'd prefer falling in love first and making him my best friend later...

6) Which is more blessed, loving someone or being loved by someone?
Believe you is always best when way hurts...

7) How long do you intend to wait for someone you really love?
Eternity...(honest...provided the wait is worth)

8) If the person you secretly like is already attached, what would you do?
Not his fault...neither, I'd wait for my Mr. Right.

9) If you like to act with someone, who will it be? your gf/bf or an actress/actor?
Actor, ofcourse..I can't act and if i'd act with my bf(who I presume wud be equally bad at acting) then the director wud have to be either deaf and blind or insane to cast the two of us...

10) How would you see yourself in ten years time?
With the same eyes, still without any spects...okay..seriously.. Mother of two adorable kids and wife of a loving husband...

11) What’s your fear?
That I am not being able to trust anyone again...lately..marriage

13) What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?
:( no one tagged me...I took this from a blog I found on the net... :(

14) Would you rather be single and rich or married but poor?
Happily married and acceptably poor... :P

15) What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
Count the number of days to Saturday..

16) Would you give all in a relationship?
No no...I'v gotten mean...

17) If you fall in love with two people simultaneously, who would you pick?
Two people at the same time?...I dont think so....

18) Would you forgive and forget, no matter how horrible a thing someone has done?
I know forgive...but who is 'forget'?...

19) Do you prefer being single or having a relationship?
It is a beautiful feeling to be loved and equally beautiful to love...Yes, I would want to be in a relationship.

20) The person you want to tag.

Mandarmani Part II

Saturday 13th Sep
The day of our journey. We were unable to put our entire concentration to work and waited impatiently for the clock to strike 2:30 pm, the time for our official logout. God had been benevolent throughout the trip, read on, and please count the number of times, for me.
We did not have to wait for long, there was a major fault at some nearby electric post and there was no electricity from 1 in the afternoon. We had candle-light lunch together, chatted, planned and at around 3:00 hopped onto our Scorpio. There was another car as well, a Honda City. Our Scorpio had a more experienced driver and Laltu(our driver) knew the route so the other car had to follow. It was tremendously hot and sunny the entire day, but the moment we began loading our luggages, the weather changed and it started raining just as we started. We drove through the slow traffic initially for jam due to heavy showers, but once we reached the Vidyasagar Setu (Second hooghly Bridge), there was no stopping us, the cars kept racing ahead. After about two hours of journey, we received a call from the Honda City, which had lagged behind. Their car was making terrible sounds, the silencer pipe needed welding. They had stopped at a garrage and would take some time to re-join us. We were stuck near the Kolaghat bridge traffic jam, one flank of the two-way road was being repaired.
I had the sole responsibilty of handling the finances for this trip, all the money as well as the bills were with me. After more than two hours of our journey, just before Kolaghat bridge, Bappa-da asked me, "Sunrita, did you bring that file? It had the bill for the hotel booking". I was unable to speak, my hands went numb, felt light in the stomach and head, I could only manage to shake my head from right to left in response. There was a dead silence. "What are you saying?" said Sud from the rear end of the car. Then there was silence again. I always carry a 'jjhola' with me, because of the journey, I had myself cleaned the bag the previous night and got rid of every piece of unnecessary paper. Even then my bag looked like it was nine months pregnant. It seemed like eternity. "Had this been the world of Harry Potter, I could have done an 'accio' charm to bring that bill from my office", I imagined in silence. I could clearly visualize my desk at office and the yellowish file lying innocently just next to my system. Tan spoke, breaking my trance, "Check out your envelope"...and I reached for it inside my pregnant bag, almost as if I was under some spell. There it was, the photocopy of the bill, neatly folded in between the five hundred rupee notes, I had completely forgotten about that at the freak of the moment, thank 'Prabhu' it was xeroxed in the first place.
We reached Sher-e-Punjab dhaba, Bappa-da called up the hotel and enquired about road conditions and dinner facilities while also confessing to them that we were not carrying the original bill. After hanging up, he came to us with a big smile,"It's alright they said, it does not matter". Phew!! I started speaking again after I don't know how long. We had samosas and egg pakora, the other car had also arrived at the dhaba by then. We started off.
It was drizzling and the Honda City could not be sighted at the back. We called them up, Dipu, from the Honda, informed us, their wiper was not functioning. We stopped, waited for them, found a mechanic, repaired it and after forty-five minutes resumed our drive. The drive was fabulous, the roads were deserted and there was a sparkling moon, only an 'ant-bite' short of being the full circle. It was a very long journey.
The last 5km of the journey was beautiful. We had to drive the entire length on the beach. The only lights visible in front were emanating from the car headlights and in it we saw hundreds of red crabs scattered on the shore. Some local people had adviced us not to ventu
re outside the track marks already left by other cars on the beach, the reason being that, there was quicksand and our car tyres could easily sink. On seeing the crabs, Shanky got so excited that he actually drove out of the marks and came next to our car, and just as we were about to enter our hotel, their car tyre sank in the sand. At long last when we disembarked in front of the hotel gates, a manual clock was struck twelve times.

Sunday 14th September : Dinner was served at 1 am. Next morning we woke up early at 5:30 and rushed to the beach.

My pet "Sunday"- a Red Crab The most co-operative member of our group - Tinnu and Sheikh Sammad-a local boy, showing us how to catch a red crab

Mandarmani bade us a teary adieu while we left the hotel early next morning at 5:30 am. God was good to us for the entire trip like I have already mentioned. We realised that for the nth time when we saw The news headlines (both print and tv) next day - please CLICK HERE

Thanks Arindam-da for everything, this was my life's first independant trip, I learnt a lot from you...Thanks Tanusri for being there with me for Mandarmani partII....Thanks Binod...Thanks Rima..Thanks Sudeep for being such a sport and also for ALL the lovely snaps...Thanks one and Thanks all

Mandarmani Part I

It was May 2007. We were a happy team in office. Our Team Lead was a psycho, but we managed to smile in spite of all odds. Seven of us were almost the same age-group and had a lot in common. Never-ever did we have a calm day under Him. On one such summer morning, when we were all tensed as usual, one of us suddenly came up with the idea of a tour – somewhere....anywhere.
Suddenly the entire room started chirping, an idea from here, a suggestion from there. The Google search engine helping us in finding out nearby places...
“Digha”, someone said....”Naaah”, was the chorus response..”Shankarpur”, another suggestion, “Ummm, what else ?”, then came the name - “Mandarmani !!”, a senior had gone there recently with his wife for a short honeymoon ( I personally believe, honeymoons should not be short and should never be to a place close to where you stay...), anyways, so Mandarmani it was going to be. We downloaded snaps of Mandarmani from the net and set those as our desktop backgrounds. Looked up everything we needed to know about the place. Counted the number of heads, decided on the mode and date of travel, calculated the per-head costing. Only thing that was left to be done, was to GO.
Then, the issues started coming up, somebody had to attend a wedding, another one did not get the permission, blah blah and blah. Mandarmani did not happen.
I was amongst the two most excited people, with few of us having issues at homes and otherwise, I became very sad at the cancellation of the trip and my colleagues never mentioned “mandarmani” in my presence again 'cos I gave them the, 'you better not mention, or else I will blast you' look whenever they did.

August 2008, lunch break at office...same process repeated...same name came up...someone said....”Mandarmani”.... [ there were two major differences this time, (a) it was a different TL...thank God and (b) old team mates replaced by new ones....the old ones are scattered all over the country in Chennai...another in Mumbai...still another, in a separate company...only one colleague still remains ].
It took two days for all the decisions to be taken, I am the cashier, therefore in the thick and thin of things...yet...I lack the enthu which I had a year ago. Initially I thought..may be because there is still some time left for the trip I am not getting into the mood, but now this is too late, I mean, we are going this Saturday and I still do not feel a thing... Strange huh ??
Someone called me 'melodramatic' few months back (that really really hurt)....ever since then I completely have turned emotionless...God knows what He has in store for me, but I simply do not get moved by ANYTHING these days. I smile for a short while, I do get angry at times...but all for a very very small period of time.

I just hope, I get into the tempo soon enough....need to get back home and start packing my bags. More on the trip to Mandarmani along with snaps coming up in the next post. Until then...stay tuned.

Food for thought

Food for thought
Design courtesy : Sudeep Dutta
I have always taken keen interest in birthdays and zodiacs. There are hardly any dates that I forget. Everybody who knows me, is aware of this passion of mine. Arindam-da forwarded me the following e-mail this morning. Hope you also find the information interesting.
Match your birthday with the tree and then scroll down to read the description that follows. Read it, it is quite cool.

Dec 23 to Jan 01 ---------- Apple Tree
Jan 02 to Jan 11 ----------- Fir Tree
Jan 12 to Jan 24 ----------- Elm Tree
Jan 25 to Feb 03 ---------- Cypress Tree
Feb 04 to Feb 08 ---------- Poplar Tree
Feb 09 to Feb 18 ---------- Cedar Tree
Feb 19 to Feb 28 ---------- Pine Tree
Mar 01 to Mar 10 --------- Weeping Willow Tree
Mar 11 to Mar 20 --------- Lime Tree
Mar 21 (only) ------------- Oak Tree
Mar 22 to Mar 31 --------- Hazelnut Tree
Apr 01 to Apr 10 ---------- Rowan Tree
Apr 11 to Apr 20 ---------- Maple Tree
Apr 21 to Apr 30 ---------- Walnut Tree
May 01 to May 14 --------- Poplar Tree
May 15 to May 24 --------- Chestnut Tree
May 25 to Jun 03 ---------- Ash Tree
Jun 04 to Jun 13 ----------- Hornbeam Tree
Jun 14 to Jun 23 ---------- Fig Tree
Jun 24 (only) -------------- Birch Tree
Jun 25 to Jul 04 ----------- Apple Tree
Jul 05 to Jul 14 ------------ Fir Tree
Jul 15 to Jul 25 ------------ Elm Tree
Jul 26 to Aug 04 ----------- Cypress Tree
Aug 05 to Aug 13 ---------- Poplar Tree
Aug 14 to Aug 23 ---------- Cedar Tree
Aug 24 to Sep 01 --------- Pine Tree
Sep 02 to Sep 12 ---------- Weeping Willow Tree
Sep 13 to Sep 22 ---------- Lime Tree
Sep 23 (only) ------------- Olive Tree
Sep 24 to Oct 03 ---------- Hazelnut Tree
Oct 04 to Oct 13 ---------- Rowan Tree
Oct 14 to Oct 23 ---------- Maple Tree
Oct 24 to Nov 11 ---------- Walnut Tree
Nov 12 to Nov 21 --------- Ash Tree
Nov 22 to Dec 01 --------- Chestnut Tree
Dec 02 to Dec 11 ---------- Hornbeam Tree
Dec 12 to Dec 21 ---------- Fig Tree
Dec 22 (only) ------------- Beech Tree

TREES (in alphabetical order)

Apple Tree (Love) -- quiet and shy at times, lots of charm, appeal, And attraction, pleasant attitude, flirtatious smile, adventurous, sensitive, loyal in love, wants to love and be loved, faithful and tender partner, very generous, many talents, loves children, needs affectionate partner.

Ash Tree (Ambition) -- extremely attractive, vivacious, impulsive, demanding, does not care for criticism, ambitious, intelligent, talented, likes to play with fate, can be very egotistic, reliable, restless lover, sometimes money rules over the heart, demands attention, needs love and much emotional support.

Beech Tree (Creative) -- has good taste, concerned about its looks, materialistic, good organization of life and career, economical, good leader, takes no unnecessary risks, reasonable, splendid lifetime companion, keen on keeping fit (diets, sports, etc.).

Birch Tree (Inspiration) -- vivacious, attractive, elegant, friendly, unpretentious, modest, does not like anything in excess, abhors the vulgar, loves life in nature and in calm, not very passionate, full of imagination, little ambition, creates a calm and content atmosphere.

Cedar Tree (Confidence) -- of rare strength, knows how to adapt, Likes unexpected presents, of good health, not in the least shy, tends to look down on others, self-confident, a great speaker, determined, often impatient, likes to impress others, has many talents, industrious, healthy optimism, waits for the one true love, able to make quick decisions.

Chestnut Tree (Honesty) -- of unusual stature, impressive, well-developed sense of justice, fun to be around, a planner, born diplomat, can be irritated easily, sensitive of others feelings, hard worker, sometimes acts superior, feels not understood at times, fiercely family oriented, very loyal in love, physically fit.

Cypress Tree (Faithfulness) -- strong, muscular, adaptable, takes What life has to give but doesn't necessarily like it, strives to be content, optimistic, wants to be financially in dependent, wants love and affection, hates loneliness, passionate lover which cannot be satisfied, faithful, quick-tempered at times, can be unruly and careless, loves to gain knowledge, needs to be needed.

Elm Tree (Noble-mindedness) -- pleasant shape, tasteful clothes, modest demands, tends not to forgive mistakes, cheerful, likes to lead but not to obey, honest and faithful partner, likes making decisions for others, noble-minded, generous, good sense of humor, practical.

Fig Tree (Sensibility) -- very strong minded, a bit self-willed, honest, loyal, independent, hates contradiction or arguments, hard worker when wants to be, loves life and friends, enjoys children and animals, sexually oriented, great sense of humor, has artistic talent and great intelligence.

Fir tree (Mysterious) -- extraordinary taste, handles stress well, loves anything beautiful, stubborn, tends to care for those close to them, hard to trust others, yet a social butterfly, likes idleness and laziness after long demanding hours at work, rather modest, talented, unselfish, many friends, very reliable.

Hazelnut Tree (Extraordinary) -- charming, sense of humor, very demanding but can also be very understanding, knows how to make a lasting impression, active fighter for social causes and politics, popular, quite moody, broad mind, honest, a perfectionist, has a precise sense of judgement and expects complete fairness, love nature and animals.

Hornbeam Tree (Good Taste) -- of cool beauty, cares for its looks and condition, good taste, is not egoistic, makes life as comfortable as possible, leads a reasonable and disciplined life, looks for kindness and acknowledgment in an emotional partner, dreams of unusual lovers, is seldom happy with its feelings, mistrusts most people, is never sure of its decisions, very conscientious.

Lime Tree (Doubt) - intelligent, hard working, accepts what life dishes out, but not before trying to change bad circumstances into good ones, hates fighting and stress, enjoys getaway vacations, may appear tough, but is actually soft and relenting, always willing to make sacrifices for fami ly and friends, has many talents but not always enough time to use them, great leadership qualities, is jealous at times but extremely loyal.

Maple Tree (Independence of Mind) -- no ordinary person, full of imagination and originality, shy and reserved, ambitious, proud, self-confident, hungers for new experiences, sometimes nervous, has many complexities, good memory, learns easily, complicated love life, wants to impress.

Oak Tree (Brave) -- robust nature, courageous, strong, unrelenting, independent, sensible, does not like change, keeps its feet on the ground, person of action.

Olive Tree (Wisdom) -- loves sun, warmth and kind feelings, reasonable, balanced, avoids aggression and violence, tolerant, cheerful, calm, well-developed sense of justice, sensitive, empathetic, free of jealousy, loves to read and the company of sophisticated people.

Pine Tree (Peacemaker) -- loves agreeable company, craves peace and harmony, loves to help others, active imagination, likes to write poetry, not fashion conscious, great compassion, friendly to all, falls strongly in love but will leave if betrayed or lied to, emotionally soft, low self-esteem, needs affection and reassurance.

Poplar Tree (Uncertainty) -- looks very decorative, talented, not very self-confident, extremely courageous if necessary, needs goodwill and pleasant surroundings, very choosy, often lonely, great animosity, great artistic nature, good organizer, tends to lean toward philosophy, reliable in any situation, takes partnership seriously.

Rowan Tree (Sensitivity) -- full of charm, cheerful, gifted without egoism, likes to draw attention, loves life, motion, unrest, and even complications, is both dependent and independent, good taste, artistic, passionate, emotional, good company, does not forgive.

Walnut Tree (Passion) -- unrelenting, strange and full of contrasts, often egotistic, aggressive, noble, broad horizon, unexpected reactions, spontaneous, unlimited ambition, no flexibility, difficult and uncommon partner, not always liked but often admired, ingenious strategist, very jealous and passionate, no compromise.

Weeping Willow (Melancholy) - likes to be stress free, loves family life, full of hopes and dreams, attractive, very empathetic, loves anything beautiful, musically inclined, loves to travel to exotic places, restless, capricious, honest, can be influenced but is not easy to live with when pressured, sometimes demanding, good intuition, suffers in love until they find that one loyal, steadfast partner; loves to make others laugh.