Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ghosts and Goblins and a little Boo

I had a different thing that I wanted to write about, then something heartwarming happened last night and I just had to change gears. The other post has to wait in line till I am in the mood again.

It was almost 8:30 in the evening and we had just finished dinner and were clearing up the dishes when the doorbell rang. Twice. Who could it be at this hour, we asked each other silently and I gestured to B that I would not answer the door in my pj's and he'd better check who it was. While B went to answer the door I scooted upstairs ready to fling on clothes if it happened to be some crazy friends who decided to call on us unannounced. Then I heard B calling me saying that there was no one at the door and he thought it was some kid trick or treating a little early. A little relieved I went back downstairs and saw someone had left an orange plastic pumpkin on our front porch. Inside the pumpkin was a note. I brought the pumpkin and the note inside to read what it said:

"Happy Halloween!!!! You have been Booed!" it said.

And then it went on:

"Put the note that is stapled on the other side of this sheet on your front door to tell the neighborhood that you have been booed. Then pass on the "boo" to two other neighbors with a bag of treats and other Halloween goodies before Halloween.
Have fun!!!"

Then we looked inside the pumpkin and boy were we in for a treat! There were boxes of candies, yes marshmallow peeps and sour gummies and tootsie rolls, and scented candles, a box of herb tea and a packet of herbal bath crystals. I rushed outside to see if I could tell who the mysterious giftbearer was but there was no one in sight. I had a fair idea who it was because of the nature of the wonderful things inside the pumpkin but since the whole point of the game was to be mysterious and ghost-like I refrained from going next door and telling them how happy I was.

Everybody likes getting gifts. Especially when they are so unexpected. To continue on the same note as my last post, there are these wonderful people in the world who derive happiness by making other people happy. I had never encountered such a beautiful way of passing cheer and goodwill among the neighborhood. May be I had never been among nicer neighbors. So here's to D and K who live next door and all the other nice people who think beyond their own needs and go around the world spreading joy and happiness.

I have my "Boo" note all ready. It's my turn tonight to be the Halloween spirit and spread a little magic around.


Friday, October 21, 2005

The little things in life

Have you ever wondered how the little things in one’s day can brighten it up and give it a whole new perspective? Today started out as a really bad day. It was dark and gloomy when I left home and by the time I reached work it was pouring cats and dogs. And by some strange twist of fate I could not find my umbrella in my bag (either lost it or left it at home). Which meant I arrived at work wet and angry and totally not wanting to work.

And then I ran into Joe. Joe is the security guard at the building that I work in. He is a tall, well-built African American guy somewhere in his 60s who is in charge of checking our Ids and our bags and making sure that everyone walks through the metal detector before entering the building. Now there are five or six other security guards who take turns at watching the main entrance. However Joe is the one that I hope will be there every morning because he is one of the nicest persons I have met. Joe always has a smile and a warm and friendly greeting for anyone who walks in. He has something nice to say to everyone and I have never seen him in a bad or sulky mood. With one smile that lit up the whole room he called out to me and said something comforting and nice that was enough to dispel all my gloom and bring a song into my heart again. And it made me wonder how some people were made to be nice and how having them in your life could bring joy and happiness and make life so beautiful.

Thank you Joe for making this very wet and dismal Friday morning special and meaningful.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

For Rabi mama

"Enechhile shathey kore mrityuheen pran
Morone tahai tumi kore gele daan."

Saptamir shokal, 1412


Friday, October 07, 2005

Of kaashphool and Pujor gondho

‘Tis that time of the year. I can almost hear the “kashor-ghonta” (gongs and bells for the Bengali uninitiated folks), visualize the “Sarater aakash” (blue skies with wispy white clouds), and smell the happiness that is all pervasive. Yes, it is Pujo time and I would be amiss if I did not write something about my favorite time of the year to be in Calcutta.

So what is it about Durga Pujo that makes every Bengali nostalgic, happy and sad at the same time? Why do Bongs go crazy just thinking about Pujo? There’s a song that goes “Pujor gondho eshechhe….” That alone could sum up the kind of feeling that is associated with Pujo. And trust me, Pujor gondho is something that seems to be unheard of outside of Bengal. I mean we try to simulate the conditions, make do with every available resource and yet, there is always something missing. The core of Durga Pujo is the atmosphere, the throngs of people who make Durga Pujo so special.

The highly charged atmosphere that almost beckons you to be a part of it, live it, feel it and be one with the feeling. The countdown probably begins a month in advance when shops stay open till late at night to accommodate customers with their shopping after office hours. You have to get new clothes and shoes. And you buy for all your near and dear ones. That is Pujo. You share your happiness with your loved ones. And during those five days everyone is out on the streets wearing the latest in ethnic and western wear. And of course by evening there are hundreds of women limping along thanks to the blisters caused by the new sandal. It’s all an integral part of “Thakur dekha”. Starting from “Chakhu daan” on Shasthi to “Kola-bou snan” on Saptami, “Shondhi Pujo” on Astami to “raat jege Thakur dekha” on Nabami. And “Thakur baran” , “Shidur khela”, “mishti mukh” and “kolakuli” on Bijoya Dashami. And yes thinking of “kaash phool” and “Shiuli Phool” and “Dhaker awaj” and “Dhunuchi naach” brings a tear to my eye. And even as I thirstily search the internet for a glimpse of my favorite pandels and Thakur, it is not the same as walking the streets of Calcutta from Ekdalia Evergreen to Hindusthan park to Triangular park and Samaj Sebi, from 23 pally to Mudiali to Garia Naba Durga and spending hours at Maddox Square checking out the guys (and girls) and eating out every day and not having to work or study for those five days.

And for those who can read and understand Bengali it is all summed up in this verse that someone sent me. I would give credit if I knew who wrote it, but whoever did managed to say it all and more…..

pujo manei pujor kodin porasuno bandho
pujo manei satsakale seulifuler gandho
pujo manei sandhyebela thakur dekhar bhir
hoichoi r utsabete chardeek asthir.
pujo manei patsalate bajlo chutir ghonta
pujo elei chhelebelai paliye fere monta.
pujo manei ma duggar asur nidhon pala
anjali r prosad petam pujor dupurbela.
pujo manei notun jama notun notun saaj
alpona r thakurdalan daaker sajer kaaj
pujo manei pujosankhya didir sathe aari
didi akhon onek dure,didir swasurbari.
pujo manei mahalaya kashfule math sada
pujo mane aponjoner tane poruk badha.
pujo manei sagar pahar ekchhutetei pari
swapne kakhon pouche jetam meghbhasano bari
pujo mane dhaker baddi,pujor bisorjon
asche bachor abar eso monkharaper mon.
ajke pujo anyorokom annobhabe ase
bhorer bela sisir pore? seuli gandho bhase?
hoito ase!hoito sabai bodle gechi aaj
bohumulya samoy akhon sabar bhison kaaj.
bhalo theko bondhura sab bondhu thakuk mone
pujor dine chelebela abar poruk mone.

pujoi jodi thako tumi gharer theke dure
bare bare barir katha ase ghure phire
baje nako dhak ekhane bajenako shakh
suninako hajar loker basto hakdak
pujor dine aamar ar tomar mukh
buker moddhe gumre othe bhison kono dukh
jodi ami petam duto masto baro dana
ure jetam sunnopathe, thaktonako mana
kakhon je ma elo ar kakhon galo chole
hajar rakom kajer chape sabi gelam bhule
tobu tumi eso mago eso barbar
asbe tumi bhebei moder sab akakar.

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