Monday, January 22, 2007

2/22/2007 - 0204 IST [GMT +05:30] - Calcutta...sorry...Kolkata, India

As I sit here late at night at the one place I do consider home in all the world, the only thing that enters my mind is that I am so tired at this point that I cannot feel the emptiness that usually follows a Marat Safin loss (of course, the Indian cricket team did win today...but I have long steeled myself against their sporadic highs, so I won't get sucked into their prolonged lows).

The good thing about being in Business Class was that we got out early and made it to the front of the immigration line. All the time we saved was negated by the fact that (a) the luggage conveyor belt was so old, that they had to step every few minutes to offload bags so as not to break the safe operating weight limit; and (b) our bags were the last to arrive.

It was great to see my father (Baba), mother (Ma) and especially my paternal grandmother (Mummum) make it out to receive us. My indomitable Mummum may have slowed down a wee bit recently, but she still has that terrific fortitude intact.

The ride back was not as dramatic for the wife (Rosanne) as it was so dark. Luckily Ma, Baba and Mummum were able to satisfy her natural curiousity about the motherland in a way that I would not have been able to without having instant access to wikipedia.

It was great being back at my maternal grandmother's (Didu) place (7 Bondel Road...Bondel for short). It is obvious that Didu has become very lonely recently with the death of her siblings, but it was nice to see that she has improved from the last time I saw her. My parents' dog (Rose) was the same - a loveable little ball of enery. I don't think I have ever seen a friendlier and sweeter dog before, and since they've had her since she was a tiny little puppy, I have no doubt that she seems them as her parents.

The welcome home dinner was exactly what I had been dreaming about. Didu's luchi, begoon bhaja, dhokla, daal, and especially her incredible prawn malai curry (with giant prawns) hit the spot. Of course, the opened Blue Label helped things along as well. Didu has made her famous narkul naru, and had the box of kheer kodoms waiting for me from the Saeed Anwar Road branch of Mithai.

Things just could not get better.

Since it was not a done thing for Rosanne to be sleeping under the same roof with me, we dropped her at my cousin's place. They had finished it since I saw it last and it looked amazing. My uncle (Potu Mesho) was his usual welcoming self, as were my sweet not-so-little-anymore cousin (Anargha) and wife (Sonya). Anargha had picked the original artwork himself and I was more than a little surprised at his keen eye and eclectic taste. There was a painting of Jesus that was truly breathtaking, and one of the most intriguing pieces of art I had seen up close in a while. Sonya had picked out most of the furniture, including buying traditionally Bengali pieces like those old wooden window shutters (I've always loved those), cupboards, mirrors and such. She had desinged the latticed grill-work to also mimic the traditional Bengali style. She had designed, sketched and gotten made a lot of the more interesting pieces. Of course, the most important thing about these two 23-year-olds is their precocious 2-year-old daughter Raina, who was fast asleep, as was their mother, and my one-of-a-kind aunt (Anannya Mashi). Poor Anannya Mashi had been suffering from food poisoning,

Since Baba had to get up early to receive my mother's sister (Mashi) at the airport, we left. Rosanne was going to stay the night with them. When Ma asked if there was water available for her, she was informed that Potu Mesho had already left instructions for a case of mineral water, which had been bought and put on ice for her.

I tell you...there really is nothing like a Bengali family.

Of course, this is just the beginning of the whole thing...ask me again how I feel about them in two weeks!

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